Trial of the Elders
Editor's note: This article was originally published in number 3 of the digital print editions.
The Naurulian Empire, specifically the Elders, were convicted of bombing Port Qi’Shen on Friday, June 12th. The conviction, delivered by Judge Terpomo of the Wardens of Wraithwood, reaffirms a controversial conviction given by King Torvald of the Valderkal two weeks earlier. Both trials concerned the terrorist attack that took place at Port Qi’Shen on May 28, one day before Torvald’s ruling, in which the peaceful Feast of Evermoon was interrupted by a violent explosion which Port Qi’Shen still has yet to recover from.
Though, in the immediate aftermath, Archmage Qi’Shen demanded an emergency summit to determine the perpetrator, the summit, held in Teronkal, was by many considered illegitimate. A significant portion of the dozens of attendees argued that Torvald, who presided over the trial, ended the debate portion of the trial too early, and that the means of determining the perpetrator - having all attendees vote - was illegitimate and little more than an inverse popularity contest. This objection was not just voiced after the trial, but during it, with chaotic results up to and including open revolt against the trial’s mechanisms. Another portion of the attendees, which overlapped significantly with the former, felt that Torvald and the Valderkal exerted undue power over the debate and/or limited the options for accusation. The trial did pass down a ruling - Nauru - but it was questioned even by those who felt that Nauru had committed the crime.
The resulting retrial, initially advertised by Grand Warden Raiyoku before his departure from the world of Atlas, was held at Galeshire and had no imperial representation - only player nations and the defendant Elders. The jury, rather than the complete mass of attendees, was five sworn-in selected jurors: swift1203 (who replaced Diggerdoge99), Takvori, litchgath_, Totum, and Jasonhz.
The prosecution was ledd by Vedd of Morvia, with evidence from four affidavits (yodabird19, SilentStormSix, _ItzChris_, clckwrkGhost) as well as expertise from Wardens’s self-proclaimed bomb expert, Bruce_Wolfpaws. The prosecution’s first and chief argument was that the premise of Archmage Wei Zhengyi’s ‘gift’ being the epicenter of the explosion was false - all four affidavits and Bruce_Wolfpaws, for various reasons, concluded that the blast - which they decided to be a conventional one - came from underground. Though the defense, which argued that no Elder had been present at the event, had no defense, Elder Tee did proffer that Archmage Qi’Shen described finding TNT within the ‘gift’.
The defense, at this point led by Elder Tee, questioned Bruce_Wolfpaws’s sobriety and his conviction that a deep explosion must have begun underground, bringing up the alternative of the blast being surface-level but lit from the top, spewing explosives downward. Tee’s premise, however, that the explosion was lit on the surface, was dismissed by Judge Terpomo as all of Tee’s justifications were declared either hearsay or speculation, and the question of sobriety was dismissed as ad hominem.
easy_beans also presented a second piece of prosecution: the well-described smell prior to the blast. SilentStormSix brought forth soil samples from the blast area, to the objections of the defending Elders on account of the evidence not having been shown to them prior, which the court denied as the Elders had had every ability to examine it. SilentStormSix confirmed as a witness that the soil samples smelled the same as the blast, a similarity that easy_beans argued proved that the smell was due to a release of gases from the soil. This, the argument was, paired with slight traces of magic at the site, which had initially been disregarded as irrelevant, showed that it was probable that the conventional explosive was magically transported to an underground location prior to detonation. Elder Tee retorted that SilentStormSix’s smell may not be reliable and/or that the smell may have been coincidental and/or that the magic traces may have been coincidental.
At this late point in the trial, as the defense summarized its case that one or more Elders had magically transported a conventional explosive to beneath the event, the Galeshire Court as well began to devolve; the Elder (Prophet) Ajaxan began to angrily deny the description of the event on grounds of the evidence/witnesses being unsatisfactory, to the objection of easy_beans. Beans denied, for the third time, that Bruce_Wolfpaws was, either at the event or the trial, drunk, however Bruce_Wolfpaws began at this point to appear visibly drunk and to speak slurredly. Bruce, drunkenly, insisted that he had never touched a bottle, leading to clamor that the Elders were attacking witnesses with unknown magic. These accusations rapidly devolved into a shouting match, and Ajaxan officially denounced the court, before disappearing wordlessly. This action refuted Tee’s claim that the Elders would have had to speak magic to make Bruce drunk, and led to Ajaxan officially being declared, in absentia, in contempt of court.
easy_beans’s analysis of means again pointed to Nauru (as opposed to the distant Arkayo), specifically the Naurulian Theives’ Guild, which, he argued, acted on behalf of the Elders, and his analysis of motive did the same, on account of Nauru’s gains from the War of Athera. Beans also presented an as-yet unused piece of evidence, wherein Ajaxan, questionably jokingly, said (of the Shen) that “those filthy magic users had it coming” and that the Naurulian Council had sanctioned the action. Tee’s defense was that Nauru in fact had nothing to gain from a continued war, and that their military and military production were both small, and that the Elders as a whole did not unilaterally back any cause in the war.
With these arguments, the trial ended, and the jury went to deliberation. Though the deliberations were obscure and lengthy, litchgath_ eventually delivered the result: guilty. Elder Tee’s response was, after formally stating his opposition, to mockingly wish the court a “good day” before, like Ajaxan, disappearing wordlessly. The formation of a coalition to enforce punishment on the powerful Naurulian Empire was suggested, and Terpomo adjourned the court.
The implications of this trial are unclear, but what is for certain is that, in the course of just over two weeks, the political landscape of Atlas has shifted permanently; Tee’s formal denunciation was a declaration that “if Athera stands against Nauru, then [Nauru] shall stand against [Athera] too”, and the Elders made no subtle showing of their influence at the trial; the threats did not go un-returned. Now, the once-neutral Nauru is faced with a situation that it had fought for years to not encounter.