Interlude: Suffer No Compromise In This

“Fifth of all Choirs, sternest Judgement
They who cannot abide the repugnant;
None more farsighted than the Tribunal,
And none as even-handed or as brutal.”
– Extract from the ‘Hymn of Hymns’, Atalantian sacred text (declared heresy in Procer and Callow)

Anaxares had been a boy when he’d first heard the song of rage.

He’d been seven when thousands boiled through the streets of Bellerophon in wroth, for the lot-drawn iakas had mismanaged the People’s wheat and rationing was announced. He’d heard myriad voices howling out the same displeasure, like a great beast made up of an entire city, and it had been a thing of awe. So many voices, all telling of the same belief: this may be, yet this is not how it should be. The iakas were dragged out one and all, and before the citizens they had failed were made to answer for that failure. Tribunals were called by the People, held by the People, and the People handed down their bloody verdict. As a boy he’d watched the fear on the faces of the iakas with curiosity, but it had felt distant. Like a glimpse of another world entirely. His own was easier grasped for it was made up of the pounding of a thousand feet, the shouts of a thousand throats. The people, he’d dimly grasped then, were the river that carried them all. No single man nor woman could command the current, and like any capricious river-god it could bathe or drown as its whims demanded. What purpose was there to fear, when naught of this could be changed? And so Anaxares the Diplomat had let the river take him where it would, beyond care or worry.

Yet the river had brought him to a shore where none of the people should ever know.

What a terrible thing it had been, to watch the sole thing he truly believed in turn against itself. Your services to the people have made you a Person of Value, the kanenas had told him. And in that blasphemous betrayal the seed of a greater folly was planted, for the People cast their vote for Anaxares the Diplomat and that worst of treasons saw him elected the Hierarch of the Free Cities. Long had he wondered of this, of the purpose to it. Could there even be one? Forbidden to take his own life through action or inaction by the decree of the People, he had been left to wallow in the absurdity of his continued breath. And with every moment the world had hounded him for further treasons, flies swarming to him like they would to carrion. Named and kings and queens, princes high and low, a buzzing flock of foreign despots that wanted him to sit at their table and pretend they were anything more than ticks sucking the blood out of those they claimed to be ruling. And all the while Kairos Theodosian, Helike’s bloody son, had taken the spurs to his flanks until this day came. This hour, this moment, this reckoning for all the many balances left uneven.

Anaxares was not blind. He knew well the Tyrant had paved the road to this for his own foul reasons. It did not matter to him, for the destination was of his own choice, and no part save that one weighed on the scales. It’d been a choice forged in that terrible, lucid moment where the creature that called itself the Wandering Bard had tried to clap him in chains, but he had not grown to regret it since. Anaxares had been a boy, when he’d first heard the song of rage, but he heard it still as a man grown. It had stayed with him, seeped into his bones, and as the great despots of the east and the west entered under his watchful gaze the tune was so loud he grew deaf to all that was being spoken. The Tyrant flew above on his gargoyle-carried throne – a familiar twitch of revulsion went through him at the sight, the clenching muscle of Thrones Are An Unforgiveable Abomination Unto The People, To Be Met With Scorn And Thrown Rocks – and addressed the lot of them, weaving his exact truths into the finest of lies. The song ebbed low, though it did not leave, and the Hierarch cut in through the chatter.

“Be seated or you will be expelled,” Anaxares stated.

“Lord Hierarch,” a fair-haired woman said. “I greet you-“

The diplomat twitched.

“There are no lords in a court of the People,” Anaxares of Bellerophon coldly said. “Neither crowns nor the petty tyrannies of those claiming them are of any weight here. Be seated presently or you will be expelled-”

He did not know her name, unfortunately, and so glanced at the Tyrant in question. The mad boy grinned back.

“Cordelia Hasenbach,” the king of Helike helpfully provided.

Was she? It would explain why she might be under the mistaken impression her words carried authority here.

“Yes,” Anaxares said, “that.”

His eyes swept the crowd, recognizing only a single face: Catherine Foundling, the so-called Queen of Callow. The Black Knight of Praes was not here, which was displeasing. The man had also committed crimes under the laws of the League and would not have been unfit to stand trial today, were he present. A woman at the back of the pack, bearing a large unstrung bow, raised her hand.

“Speak,” Anaxares said.

“Is that the Dead King?” she asked, pointing behind him.

There did indeed seem to be some sort of crowned skeleton there, the Hierarch noted. It was holding a cup full of blood, which after a long moment he was forced to concede was not against any law he knew of. The diplomat once more cast a glance at the Tyrant, who equivocated with a wiggled palm.

“More or less,” Anaxares replied.

She raised her hand again, to his irritation.

“Speak,” he repeated.

“I see the Dead King got refreshments,” the woman said. “Which is most terribly unfair, as we have not.”

“That is not a question,” the Hierarch peevishly told her.

It was, however, true. And damning. Anaxares turned to glare at the Tyrant.

“My staff are on it,” the boy assured him.

It would suffice. He was not concerned with the matter beyond the perception of willingly allowed imbalance.

“I will not repeat myself a third time,” Anaxares bluntly said. “All attending must take their seats or depart.”

There was offended shuffling from the band of Avaricious Foreign Oligarchs, but they heeded the reminder. Not that the diplomat spared them much attention, not when the accused himself was stepping forward. The White Knight, Hanno of Arwad. No longer a citizen of Ashur by their own laws, inquiries to the Thalassocracy had established, and seemingly claimed by no one in particular. No one mortal, that was. The White Knight was a tall and solid man, plain of face but of calm bearing, and he strode to the stand reserved for the accused without need for prompting. Anaxares approved. He waited until the man stood amidst the gutted altar to Above before speaking up.

“I am Anaxares of Bellerophon,” he informed the Named. “The elected Hierarch of the Free Cities.”

“I know who you are, Anaxares the Diplomat,” the White Knight replied.

The afternoon sun filtered in though the stained glass and the gaping walls, casting the court in mixed and coloured light. It made the White Knight seem as if he had been painted on, as if this entire court of law was some delirious stretch of Arcadia. Anaxares remained seated at his table, facing the accused with a quill in hand and the parchments he had prepared for this day ready.

“Then you know why you stand now before me,” the Hierarch said. “A grievance was lodged by a member of the League concerning crimes you committed, and my judgement was sought over the matter.”

“I am not a citizen of any nation of the League,” the White Knight said.

That was true, and to be entered in the record, though of no repercussion on the proceedings.

“That is irrelevant,” Anaxares flatly replied. “Crimes committed against citizens of the League on the grounds of the League fall under its jurisdiction nonetheless.”

He paused.

“I am told,” the Hierarch said, “that you willingly agreed to submit yourself to judgement.”

If so, that was a principled action. Not one that mattered in the slightest when it came to culpability, but the principle was laudable regardless.

“I agreed to stand trial,” the White Knight corrected.

“Then as is allowed the laws of the League of Free Cities, you are allowed to request someone to advocate in your name,” Anaxares said. “So long as they are a citizen of a member-nation, that is.”

“I have volunteered to serve as your defender, should you desire it,” the Tyrant called out. “Otherwise a band of seven candidates was arranged.”

Those had already been refused, which the boy knew even if he now implied otherwise, and so Anaxares made note of the Tyrant’s petty obstruction.

“Your candidates were judged unlawful,” the Hierarch reminded the Tyrant. “Gargoyles are not citizens, even when words indicating otherwise are painted on them.”

His gaze turned to the former Ashuran.

“While remaining here in containment, you have an hour to send for such an advocate should you so wish,” Anaxares informed him. “Or you may accept the offer of the Tyrant of Helike.”

“It was my understanding,” the White Knight said, “that it was the grievance of the Lord Tyrant that led to this trial.”

A moment passed.

“That is correct,” Anaxares conceded.

“I would seek to be impartial in both offices, naturally,” Kairos Theodosian cheerfully assured the accused, “You have my solemn vow in this.”

“A kind offer,” the White Knight drily said. “I will be serving as my own advocate, Hierarch. Who is to be my accuser?”

The song stirred at the man’s mellow manner, the way he seemed to take none of this seriously. Anger, anger the white-clad killer who had walked the Free Cities and killed as he pleased and never once thought there might consequence to this. That a Name and the blessing of angels set him beyond such petty matters.

“There is no accuser,” the Hierarch harshly stated. “Your crimes are not in dispute, they are a matter of known record as certified by sworn witnesses from Delos, Stygia, Helike and Nicae.”

“Then the actions you deem as crimes should be listed, should they not?” the White Knight said. “Unless you intend to simply pass sentence.”

“I deem or dismiss nothing,” the Hierarch said, grinding his teeth. “The law is writ, and known to any who care to know it.”

He brought forward the first parchment, his own familiar writing providing the list that the Named was asking for.

“Murder of citizens of Helike and Stygia is the first charge,” Anaxares said. “On one hundred and seventy-three counts assured, forty-two alleged with proof in only the second degree.”

Which was to say, less than two witnesses and no writ evidence.

“You speak of soldiers,” the White Knight said, “fought in time of war.”

“In time of war between members of the League of Free Cities,” the Hierarch said. “You are not a citizen, and so not legally part of such a war, unless you took coin as mercenary in the service of a lawful government. Do you here claim to have done so?”

“I do not,” the White Knight said, “though I worked in lawful accord with the Secretariat in the defence of Delos and with the permission of Strategos Nereida Silantis in the defence of Nicae.”

“The Secretariat has provided records that put truth to your words,” Anaxares acknowledged. “Basileus Leo Trakas, who speaks for Nicae, has declined to do so. Yet in the absence of payment from Delos that would qualify you as a mercenary in the employ of the Secretariat, the point is irrelevant. The askretis cannot absolve a crime, only abet it.”

Anaxares reached for his papers, where he had put to ink the names he could not all remember. There were many, some he had known when he was still entirely a diplomat.

“You also murdered sitting members of the Magisterium, the exact list of your victims being-”

“Has the Magisterium then made complaint to the League?” the White Knight interrupted.

The song rose in pitch at the interruption, not for the words themselves but at the disrespect for the trial they implied.

“It has not,” the Hierarch replied, brow creasing in displeasure. “It has, however, granted rights to another party to seek redress in its name.”

“That would be me,” the Tyrant gleefully said.

“That is correct,” the Hierarch agreed. “You have also attempted to murder the ruling king of Helike-”

“Also me,” the Tyrant added, still with unseemly glee.

“- and in the attempt claimed to hold the authority to pass judgement over King Kairos Theodosian of Helike,” Anaxares continued unflinchingly.

“That is incorrect,” the White Knight said.

Someone in the benches loudly cursed, but the Hierarch paid it no mind.

“Speak now, if you would amend the record,” Anaxares said. “It has until now been understood that in your role as the White Knight you spoke for the Choir to which you are sworn and passed judgement in their stead.”

Was the man now renouncing the authority bestowed upon him by the Choir, in an attempt to exempt it from consequence? If so, it was a cowardly thing.

“I do not judge,” Hanno of Arwad said, “and passed no judgement over the Tyrant of Helike. The judgement was passed by the Tribunal, and I sought to execute the sentence it as is my duty.”

The song, oh the song swelled. This was, Anaxares understood, so much worse than he had believed. Had the Tyrant known? No, that did not matter. Law was law, no matter what capering gargoyle brought it to the fore. Yet mistakes here could not be allowed.

“Clarify what you mean by ‘the Tribunal’,” the Hierarch ordered.

“The Choir of Judgement,” the White Knight replied.

“You then allege,” Anaxares slowly said so there could be no mistake, “that the Seraphim of the Choir of Judgement have claimed the right to pass judgement over citizens of the League?”

“It is not a subtle thing, what you attempt,” the White Knight told him. “Do you understand this? That you have not tricked or fooled any in this hall. That your intent is clear as day.”

“What I attempt,” Anaxares of Bellerophon softly repeated. “As if this were some sort of plot, a scheme against you or your masters. Is that what you believe, Hanno of Arwad? That the Seraphim and your service of them are owed abeyance? That the world entire is to twist and bend to your verdicts, unasked for and unsought?”

We are all of us free, the song whispered in his ear, or we are none of us free.

“Madness,” the White Knight said, “is no excuse for baring steel at the Heavens.”

“If the Heavens would have part in this trial,” the Hierarch coldly said, “they may be seated and silent, like the rest of the gallery. Speak not otherwise of those that cannot be called to account.”

“This will not end as you wish, Hierarch,” the White Knight calmly said. “Yet if you cannot be turned aside so be it: the Choir of Judgement acknowledges none to be beyond its jurisdiction, save for the Gods Above.”

The song filled him, up to brim, but that wroth was as much his own as the tune’s.

“There is no law, writ or known, that grants this right to the Choir of Judgement,” Anaxares of Bellerophon said with excruciating calm.

“And yet it is theirs nonetheless,” the White Knight said.

We are all of us free, the song hissed in his ear, or we are none of us free.

“No,” the Hierarch coldly said. “It is not. And if it would pretend otherwise, let it stand before this court and defend that crude arrogance.”

“I warned you,” the White Knight sadly said.

Power coursed around the court, first the distant weavings the Tyrant had laid around this place and then the blooming protections the tyrants high and low garbed themselves in out of fear. And then it came, the answer he had asked for. There was no ceiling above them, nothing save the cloudless blue sky, and through it the wroth of Judgement came down on him.

The Hierarch burned.

The Tribunal gazed down upon him, and its fury broke his bones and scoured his flesh. All around him shattered, even the very ground, and even as his body tore apart claws dug into his mind. Force him to look where they would, to see what they wished him to see. Before his eyes unfolded and endless shifting tapestry, made from all the decisions that were made and could be. The depth was… too much to grasp. The threads of every action and consequence, of the reasons and the endings. This was, the Hierarch grasped, what the Seraphim saw. The truth of their judgement. And as he tried to parse it, he felt his mind begin to unravel. He could have looked away. It would have spared him the horrendous pain going through every fiber of who he was. But that would be admitting that their judgement was right. That it was correct, for they knew things mortals could not. And so as he stared unblinking Anaxares of Bellerophon found oblivion snaking her arms around him. Oblivion, and with it would come rest. Would that not be a relief? And yet there was one thing he could not help but see.

It was a woman, carving words into a stele of stone that somehow reminded him of a great bird’s corpse. Around her was a sea of people in rags, thin and sickly and hungry. Yet there was something in their eyes, as they looked at the stele and the woman, that made him want to weep. And the words, oh the words he knew them. Every child born of Bellerophon knew them. All are free, or none. Ye of this land, suffer no compromise in this. The woman was wounded, bleeding within, and with the last letter she died. But the words, the words stayed. And as the city rose around them, around the stele, blood splashed stone. Suffer no compromise in this, the stele had told them, and so they did not. And they bled and they bled and they bled, and they bled but they never bowed. Not once did they look at the world, even at the very bottom of the pit, and bend their neck. It would have been easy, light as a feather. And perhaps they would have been better for it. And from mother to son, father to daughter, the words on the stele had carried down. Until they ended up told to a small boy, who one day would be a diplomat. Suffer no compromise in this, Anaxares thought, and the world sang it with him.

His body was a ruin yet there was a need for it, and so the Hierarch decided it would have to Mend.

Bones set back in place, soldered by will, and flesh knit itself anew. Teeth made by heat into black and broken stones flew back into his mouth as the table and the chair snapped back into place. The Hierarch of the Free Cities dipped his quill into the inkwell, tongue lolling out of his half-broken mouth as it reformed.

“This will be added to the record as evidence of guilt,” he informed the Choir.

Attempted murder of a sitting judge of the court, he penned. The Seraphim had expressed their displeasure yet not bothered to attend, but that would not be enough to spare them judgement earned. Mind clear and still as a pond, the Hierarch closed his eyes and allowed himself to Receive what he required. Silhouettes stood before his gaze, bearing each six wings of bronze and a conviction like a fire that nothing could put out. They gazed back, and in their fury struck again. The world broke, and Anaxares with it, but without pause it was mended anew.

“Petulance,” the Hierarch said. “I address now the Seraphim of the Choir of Judgement, also known as the Tribunal, and Indict you for the following crimes-”

They smote him again, and he mended. It did not matter, for now his Name sang and filled the world. As it had in Rochelant, a blank slate on which all could write their accusations and have them known by all.

“- despotism high and low, arrant and illegal intervention in League affairs, attempted regicide –”

The Tyrant of Helike was laughing, he realized as he mended anew.

“- disturbance of the court, three –”

It was desperate now, the burning that consumed him tinted with dismay.

“- four times,” the Hierarch adjusted. “And repeated attempted murder. Given the overwhelming evidence-”

It no longer hurt, the Hierarch mused as he mended, as if the ability to feel pain had been scoured out of him.

“- the verdict cannot be in doubt,” he continued. “I pronounce you guilty and sentence you to-”

The words choked in his mouth, for something has seized his throat. Not the Tribunal, no. It was a great presence but not that, and as the grip tightened around his throat the Seraphim prepared to strike again.

“I win,” Kairos Theodosian laughed.

And the grip was gone.

317 thoughts on “Interlude: Suffer No Compromise In This

  1. First thought on this chapter: Ha, it’s fun how I immediately know that Cat’s the one that cursed and… Oh no, Cat cursed when Hanno said something. This is bad…

    Second thought: Can I get some recognition that in this story, THIS story, one of the most badass moments we’ve seen is a man mending not only himself together but also his selfmade table and quill so that he can write down something while being smitten again whilst still mending?

    Third thought: Oh crap, Hierophant is here to see all of this. Either providence must really be in a tight spot to allow this, or they’ve really been pushing the scales to allow Below to propagate their own bit of providence to enable Masego to see this. And after we’ve seen it confirmed in the last chapter or maybe the one before that, that Masego is still one of the more heavy-hitting Named.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. The Gods Below are painting a Fresco with demonic painters with bone brushes and blood pastels.

      The tyrant laughing surrounded by gargoyles dressed in human cloth, the dead king casually sipping a cup of blood. The Judge(hierarch) half broken half mended as he continues to write down the heaven’s objections. The white Knight standing resplendent pridefully shining the heaven’s tool through and through.

      The crowd Calernia Nations leaders as a dark Queen face palms her forehead, near her a Blind man stares in awe, while a woman with a giant bow is served a drink by a gargoyle.

      This was the day that the heavens paid for there sins, they were brought to task.

      Liked by 6 people

        1. You know the sad thing is the angels are like well win we always win we are good, don’t worry every thing is going to turn around now(Angel forced to resurrect a villain)…any time now(Holy Crusade fails)… any(Dead King invades)… time now(Saint withers away/Pilgrim stabs himself)…(Trial of the century).

          ……..

          Okay guys I think it time we accept that things have gone down hill way fast.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. laguz24

            I like to think they have yearly board reviews, It’s like, “Let’s see, Contrition, you resurrected a villain, Endurance, you failed to protect your chosen hero, Judgement, you got judged by a Villain. Mercy, you made a deal with the same villain that forced a resurrection out of Contrition. Seriously what is with you all this year, we are seriously in the red on victories this quarter.”

            Liked by 7 people

            1. *A bureaucracy demon strolls in* Hate to interrupt your meeting guys, but Mercy, if I can have a minute? This is about that paradox you’ve gotten yourself in with the Tyrant. Technically he did win, so he didn’t lie, meaning you smitten him for telling the truth. Which puts you in an even more nasty position because now you’ve not only gone and done this but also did it on unrighteous claims. And our current favourite dead boi is going to press charges.

              Liked by 1 person

    2. “one of the most badass moments we’ve seen is a man mending not only himself together but also his selfmade table and quill so that he can write down something while being smitten again whilst still mending?”

      Oh.

      Oh, you’re right.

      Holy shit I love this story.

      Like

  2. Big I

    I for one applaud the Hierarch’s adherence to the rule of law. The Tribunal has no standing to pass judgment except through force of arms.

    I’m reminded of a quote from the writings of the late great Terry Pratchett, which I will paraphrase : “The law applies to everyone, or it’s not the law. It’s just a way to keep people down.”

    And another one: “There’s nothing the gods hate more than a fireproof atheist.”

    Liked by 7 people

      1. Mary Gentle

        The usual democratic social contract is that the state has the monopoly of coercive force, but uses it only under the law decided by all. Ultimately, if that contract is broken severely or often enough, the state fails, as it fails to hold that monopoly.

        Not that I think a world in which angels can stick their fingers into mortal affairs would work like that — up until now, at least, any state on Cat’s continent has been outgunned in terms of force of arms, simply by virtue of the ability of Above or Below to exert superior force of … miracle, I guess.

        Hence why, if the Hierarch can judge, the world changes.

        Except I suppose that what the Hierarch has done also allows the direct presence of Below. If Seraphim can turn up, who’s to say that Devils can’t arrive next?

        If they don’t – why not? They’re facing an absolutely open goal. Plus, if a Devil does turn up in the Hierarch’s court, s/he will probably have the sense to follow its rules… and subvert them. I heart Kairos, but I wonder if he’s thought through what having a direct agent of evil here might do?

        If he has anticipated it – there’ll be even more fun. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. laguz24

        That is an argument between above and below. Below thinks Might makes Right or Might makes. While Above thinks Right makes might, or Right makes. They are both wrong.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Atheists can believe in a god of Atheism, as long as said god can be explained scientifically and be proven reliably in modern times. The notion that such a being once explained would still be called a god rather than a more apt name likely synonymous to their original name is to underestimate humanity’s ability to give new names to things.

          The God of Atheism is actually an Accumbinant whose powers are generated from a totally scientifically explanable collective charging of the people who rely on him through calming the parietal lobe until the nucleus accumbens is activated combined with the release of ocytoxin hormones specifically aimed at the name and image of this so-called ‘God’ to power them through a to them specific psionic wavelength of power freely given.

          So take your theistic nonsense and leave this place, plebian, and let us good atheists continue meditating in order to power the Great and Mighty Carl who was once but a simple Accountant until he ascended into Super-Carl who now fights demons and guides our culture and society with his vast wisdom. Which of course we oppose until it has been properly proven that he is indeed suitable for dictating culture and law and/or has the omniscience that he has been hypothesised to be capable of.

          Liked by 2 people

    1. Shveiran

      The Hierarch doesn’t adhere to the Rule of Law, he adheres to his idea of Law.

      The difference is between holding a convict accountable because he broke a law that binds the whole community, and demanding someone abroad behaves like you think they should / like your laws say you and yoru countrymen have to.

      Yes, that is what the Tribunal does.

      No, the Hierarch dealing it back to them does not make it right.

      A wrong is a wrong, even when you do it to someone who has wronged others.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I mean… to be fair, he was very much holding Hanno to Account for laws broken IN HIS COUNTRY.
        He doesn’t get tangled up in anything the foreigner does in foreign lands, just what he did while visiting.

        If a Dutch person smokes weed in the US, they can still be charged under drug laws, even if Weed is legal in the Neatherlands. Probably the US wouldn’t go after them once they left the juristiction, but that’s more to do with severity of the crime, not legality of it.

        Or perhaps put another way…. If the US or Russia or any other super power were to say… use drone strikes in some other country, the fact that the superpower thinks this is legit does nothing to change the fact that the government of that country may well desire to charge those soldiers as murders given the chance…. and if they got the chance to charge the generals giving the orders instead, would that seem like an overstep?

        To me it wouldn’t. To me the generals saying “Oh, but we have better intelligence than you and that person really was bad” would mean nothing to the judicial system of the smaller country which would be like “You can’t show up here and drone strike people just because you say so”.

        This is just Heirarchs Idea of the law, this is what’s written down.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Shveiran

          There are several problems I see with this reasoning.

          1) The interactions between jurisdictions are not based on rules of nature, as jurisdiction doesn’t exist; they are based on international treaties agreed by enough nations they became the norm in our world.
          There is no evidence Calernia has nothing of the sort, and I doubt they exist since the Accords are going to be groundbreaking especially because there is no precedent for a standing agreement between this many kingdoms of different positions in the Good-Evil spectrum.
          Without an agreement on jurisdiction, Anaxares is saying “MY law says I can judge you” giving zero fucks to what the other laws say (most relevant among which are the Procerans’, on whose ground they stand, and the Tribunal’s, of which Hanno is a “citizen”).

          He has no jurisdiction, because jurisdiction requires an agreement between nations. What he has, is a claim that he does signed by himself.

          2) he is holding him accountable for trumpt up charges. The powers’ Hanno fought on behalf of either confirmed the association with him or were bullied by the Tyrant in order to ensure they did not.
          The “but you took no money” claim makes no sense.

          3) he is holding Hanno accountable for killing soldiers in a war he didn’t cause on League territory, while being on NON-League territory at the head of an invading army who answers to him and that killed many, including procerans, aka the non-foreigners in this land the League has invaded.
          That’s like being judged for theft by a judge that robs banks and a jury of pick-poketers.

          Bottom line, if you find what he is doing morally justifiable?
          Fine. I mean, I don’t, but this is a judgment call. Not that you needed my approval nor anything, but you get what I mean: I disagree, but you don’t have to change your view because of it.

          If you wish to argue that he has a legal case? No, that I really can’t agree with. It’s a matter of professional pride, you understand 😉

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Amicus Curiae

            My professional judgment is different than yours. If we take what the Hierarch is saying at face value, he is not trying to impose his own personal law, or that of his own city, on anyone. He explicitly is trying Hanno for actiosn taken by Hanno against citizens of league cities, in league city territories. The Hierarch explains here that there are established league laws governing conflicts between the free cities in their territories. Citizens may fight on behalf of their city, and so can paid mercenaries, but outsiders are not permitted to simply show up and volunteer tostart killing people. The issue of whether Hanno was paid seems like a technicality (which doesn’t mean it doesn’t legally matter, of course), but on reflection I sort of see a sort of sense in the law. Mercenaries taking pay at least have a clear and known reason and incentive to take direction from league member authorities, and so perhaps may be counted on to show greater obedience to league authorities, and follow any codes governing how one conducts war.

            Normally, there would be jurisdictional issues. And perhaps normally the Hierarch might ignore these. But here, Hanno has waived any jurisdictional defenses by willingly submitting himself to this trial, and the First Prince of Procer has clearly consented to this trial taking place on Procer’s soil. So right I think Hanno’s trial is completely legitimate.

            A thornier question is any judgment the Hierarch seeks to render on the Tribunal. I would think that the Tribunal’s actions would have to be adjudicated under Proceran law, by a Proceran judicial body—though the Hierarch’s court presumably has some sort of inherent authority to punish contempt of court, which attempting to kill the Hierarch certainly qualifies as.

            Liked by 4 people

            1. A clear illustration of why this law would exist is Amadeus’s actions in that very same law. Note how Hierarch notes it’s a shame he didn’t show up because he’d make a fine target too. A foreign provocateur who arrives specifically to foster war on their own initiative? Yeah, they have laws against that. And Delosi should have explained this to Hanno and insisted on paying him at least a symbolic sum, if they didn’t want to fuck him over.

              Like

          2. You make a fine case.

            In terms of “Is he morally justifiable”, I think I would say something to the effect of “Him calling out the Angels as being an alien force that maybe shouldn’t get involved is legit. That doesn’t change that he is a dangerous crazy person, whose ethics is bunk”.

            I think I was specifically arguing with “The difference is between holding a convict accountable because he broke a law that binds the whole community, and demanding someone abroad behaves like you think they should / like your laws say you and yoru countrymen have to.”
            in that Hanno was IN Hierarchs community when shit was going down. THIS MATTERS. The fact that Hanno left afterwards is irrelevant.

            In response to your other comments:

            “1) The interactions between jurisdictions are not based on rules of nature, as jurisdiction doesn’t exist; they are based on international treaties agreed by enough nations they became the norm in our world.”

            Right- and in this case we specifically have the leaders of Procer, and Hanno himself in some sense handing over a mandate. They may be granting such a mandate due to diplomatic pressure, but that is hardly Hierarchs bussiness.
            It is totally legit for Heirarch to say “You broke a law in our country, and given the opportunity, I will hold you accountable for it”. The fact that this normally doesn’t happen is a comment on the practicalities of international diplomacy and power, not a comment on how Law functions.

            “2) he is holding him accountable for trumpt up charges. The powers’ Hanno fought on behalf of either confirmed the association with him or were bullied by the Tyrant in order to ensure they did not. The “but you took no money” claim makes no sense.”

            The Phrase “trumped up charges” seems to imply that the charges are untrue.
            Are you trying to argue here that the charges are stupid (based on their being a stupid law), or that they are false.

            If the later, do we have any reason to believe the charges are false?
            If the former, then yes, I agree, the charges ARE stupid. But you specifically claim that he doesn’t have a LEGAL case. If the heirarch is making stupid judgements using his stupid laws this erodes his moral case, but not his legal one. And unless you happen to have a legal degree from the university of Bellephorone then I’m not sure how you would make this argument.

            “3) he is holding Hanno accountable for killing soldiers in a war he didn’t cause on League territory, while being on NON-League territory at the head of an invading army who answers to him and that killed many, including procerans, aka the non-foreigners in this land the League has invaded.
            That’s like being judged for theft by a judge that robs banks and a jury of pick-poketers. ”
            Okay, so here’s a question, suppose you have a war veteren how serves time for his country, then becomes a judge, and then is asked to preside over a murderer. Do they have a mandate?
            I’m not saying its the same, I agree, Hierarch is clearly crazy, and I’m not arguing his moral case. But at the same time Heirarchs point is “Legally, you are not a soldier. What the hell are you doing killing people on our streets?”
            Sure, he has soldiers, but they are legit part of a war. Heck, at the moment they are part of a peace conference.

            Put another way…. if there was a civil war in… say… Australia… and someone British dude showed up with a magical rocket launched and mech armour and took a side in that war, because they had opinions on some other countries stuff…. would a judge from Perth later have the mandate to prosecute? If they were in england, and the english crown and the accused said that they could.

            …..
            Actually, now that I think about it, a lot of modern analouges, and ethical/legal arguments start to fall apart, simply because the modern world is not BY DEFAULT in a state of war. Now peace is the expected norm as opposed to “Everyone is eyeing each others borders all the time”.

            I’m not really sure how to parse the ethical/legal difference between “Soldier in a war” and “Random Murderer”, particularly when we involve mercenaries, thrillseekers, very opinionated foreigners with super weapons etc.

            Point 3 is probably your most compelling point, hence why I am most confused on it. Point 2 seems the weakest to me, on the grounds that “Trumped up charges” and “Very stupid laws” seem like separate things.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Majeflyer

              Re Juristiction 1).
              Jurisdiction is likely to emerge because there are borders. While there is no system for extradition and treaties regarding this like there is today, It is generally understood that if there is a crime in the Netherlands, France is not responsible for enforcing justice, the Netherlands govt is. But what in particular started this distinction? At what point in time did the Netherlands and France gain this respective power over it’s citizens? This in this particular story, jurisdiction and government territorial sovereignty would be etched into “Natural Law” through story, repetition, and custom over time making the process ingrained. The narrative that certain lands within a country’s borders are subject and subordinate to the ruling government of the country becomes naturalised and the country becomes “stable”. Encroachment upon that “Natural Law” by a foreign agent is unnatural, and should be stopped.

              What makes The Diplomat of Bellerophon so important here is that his justice is given to him by the people. His story is justice, in that at any time, those watching him may remove him from his power, but they give him consent to wield the power of law, more-so than any other king or emperor or named. As he has been named a Person of Value, he has become a representative of the people of an entire nation’s will. As “The Story” is often swayed by social constructions, this investment of power into the Hierarch makes him not only backed by the ongoing role of the unitedness of the league, but by the children’s stories… the cultural fabric of Bellerophon. . This belief in the Hierarch makes him a hero of Bellophoron. This is crazy, because Bellerophon normally can’t have Named,having them would mean that there is an unjust tyranny of power that some hold over another. The rarity of such also increases his power (through the narrative rule of the “exceptional exception” to the world). This power and justice is enough to see a natural heirarchy that has presided over the rest of the world overturned (Angels >Named > Demons > humans > Non-human entities.) This is a huge precedent that not only affects the Choir of Judgement, but all celestial entities, This trial is a declaration of power.

              Good lord that was rambling

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Archayts

    My theory for Kairos’s “I win” statement:

    We have seen before that Kairos himself doesn’t know ahead of time whether a statement he makes about the future is true or false:

    “This is not,” Kairos Theodosian guffawed, “the last you’ve seen of me.”

    Mismatched eyes going wide, he looked up and waited. A moment passed and he did not die.

    It appears Mercy is the arbiter for these statements.
    Now, especially in a trial setting, if you are the arbiter of a matter, you cannot participate directly with it.

    So when Karos says “I win” it effectively forbids Mercy from making Kairos a liar by forcing Mercy into the arbiter’s role and this is why their grip disappears.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Questionare

    I saw it coming from a mile away and yet somehow my expectations for this event and the entire story have been thoroughly shattered. Might as well rename the story to just A Practical Guide seeing how Good has been shown to be completely ineffectual one way or another. You would expect some actual meaningful conflict between good and evil in a story literally titled Practical Guide to Evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure what you’re talking about. There’s been plenty of conflict between Good and Evil, ranging from the Lone Swordsman fighting Catherine the Squire to the freaking war between the greatest powers of Good and Evil on the face of Calernia (which happens to have a few Evil powers eventually join the Good side).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sinestere

    My dear friends, what no one has commented on (that I have seen) is that the attention of the heavens, and the movers and shakers is right here where Kairos wants it to be. It’s the greatest show in the world right now. What is Kairos up to while everyone is watching this circus? Maybe other things are happening while everyone is distracted?

    Liked by 4 people

  6. roobee

    The interesting thing about this story is that you can’t predict it because anything can be spun as following narrative. You could argue for the Heavens winning or losing narratively.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fun facts about Heirarch:

    Most Champions of Justice are reported to get killed but the choir of judgement while applying (Hanno’s origin story interludes).
    Hanno himself was considered to have extreme endurance in that he refused to blink under their gaze…. while agreeing with them.

    Heirarch by contrast doesn’t just endure, he endures, sees everything they see, and turns around and says “You are wrong”. Which is… pretty hardcore.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I always respect anyone who hears someone claim that the gods/their servants approve of their actions, and asks why the hell that matters. The Republic of Bellerophon has consistently been portrayed in a negative, comedic light, but there’s plenty of good in their brand of Evil, and that’s the greatest of all. Who the heaven cares that some guy in the sky says you’re right, if they’re not willing to come to earth to justify that?

    Liked by 1 person

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