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Law in Karameikos

by James Sachlas

Ever wonder what a court of law might be like in Karameikos? The following excerpt from a lengthy Karameikos campaign makes use of the description provided in the gazetteer. The events described follow the conclusion of module B6 - the Veiled Society:

* * *

A bailiff loudly proclaimed for all to rise as the Honourable Judge Anastasius made his entrance, and then for all to be seated once the judge took his seat.

The judge began, "I've already heard the evidence at the initial hearing this morning, agreeing that it is sufficient to hold a trial. The accused, Cartha Radu, is charged with having committed Murder-Spontaneous, a class 6 crime. The party murdered was Anton Radu, Cartha's brother and former head of the Merchant's Guild of Karameikos. I now call upon the state prosecutor to present his case.

"Thank-you, your honour", a man said, rising from the table in front of the party. "I maintain that Cartha Radu, head of the infamous Veiled Society, killed his brother Anton when he refused to join him in his criminal empire. As head of the Merchant's Guild of Karameikos, Anton Radu would have lent immeasurable strength to the already powerful criminal organisation. As my first witness, I call upon Zweiss Radu, Anton's eldest son.

Cartha Radu glared at Zweiss as the young man made his way to the witness box.

"Tell us what happened last night, Zweiss", asked Varis the prosecutor.

Zweiss cleared his throat and began. "My uncle had invited my father to the Blue Water Mead Hall last night. Not trusting his motives, I accompanied my ailing father to the Hall. When my uncle took us to a secret chamber and revealed that he was, in fact, the leader of the dreaded Veiled Society; and furthermore demanded that we join his corrupt organisation, my father would have none of it. This angered Cartha so much that he lost his temper and slew my poor father.

Zweiss avoided Cartha's deepening glare as he spoke, and his voice faltered many times.

"Thank-you, Zweiss", said the prosecutor. "I realise that you've had a very traumatic experience. No further questions, your honour.

People in the courtroom started murmuring among themselves as Cartha's advocate rose and approached Zweiss. The ratty little man wore a pince-nez, and his voice had a whining quality to it.

"Zweiss Radu, is it true that your father favoured your brother Antonito over you, the eldest?

"Objection, your honour", exclaimed the state prosecutor.

"Objection overruled", said the judge.

"Well, no, not really", said Zweiss.

"Ah, but if he did, would that not be sufficient reason to kill him and become head of the Merchant's Guild yourself, now, before Antonito was ready?

"Objection!", exclaimed the prosecutor, rising to his feet.

"Overruled!", proclaimed the judge.

"No! I would never kill my father! Our family is loyal to each other! All except Cartha, that is", said Zweiss.

"All the same, I maintain that it was you who killed your father when he attempted to hand over the reins of the Veiled Society to Cartha Radu. It was your father who masterminded that criminal empire, wasn't it? He was the real head of the Veiled Society! He -

"No!", shouted Zweiss, as the state prosecutor shouted out another "Objection!

"Sustained", rumbled the judge.

"No further questions, your honour", said the advocate with a sneer.

The prosecutor then called upon each of the adventurers in turn, as he and the advocate took turns questioning them. When Manfred took the stand, he felt vertigo overwhelm him. Not from his hangover, (that was making him feel nauseous), but rather, from a vivid flashback . . .

The chamber is brightly lit by hundreds of sputtering candles that give the room a warm, yellow glow. In the centre of the room is a table piled with books and papers. On the floor is an old man. He lies face down in a small pool of blood.

Standing over him is a middle-aged swarthy man holding a sword to a younger man's chest.

The younger man shouts "Stop him! He has slain our father! He is a murderer!"

"Get back you fools or die now!" says the man. "I've had enough meddling and foolishness." He then leaps forward to attack you. . .

". . . and that's what happened", proclaimed Manfred. After the rest of the party had taken the stand, the judge called upon Cartha's hired advocate to present his case. The little man rose and cleared his throat.

"I maintain that Anton Radu, when he attempted to pass his power along to his brother, Cartha, was violently murdered by his own jealous son, Zweiss Radu. Cartha disarmed the excitable youth just before the bungling party entered the room. As my witness I call upon Cartha Radu."

Cartha rose ominously from his place and stalked to the witness box. Once seated, he began his statement.

"I always knew that there was something funny with my brother's business dealings, but chose to ignore it. When he called me to the Blue Water Mead Hall last night for what he termed "a profitable business venture", I had no idea that he would reveal himself as the head of the dreaded Veiled Society! Imagine my surprise when he told me he was getting to old to run the criminal empire, and that he would like me to take over! Before I could refuse, Zweiss the fool drew his blade and slew the old man before my very eyes. Then he tried to slay me! But I overpowered him and seized the weapon from his grasp. That's when the party burst into the room. Of course I fled them! Wouldn't you?

There was some chuckling from the courtroom as the advocate said, "Thank-you, Lord Cartha. I have no questions, your honour".

The murmuring resumed anew as the state prosecutor took the floor.

"If you were so innocent, why is it that you threatened to kill Yolanda of Luln?

"I was trying to save my own life until the constables arrived, you fool! These overstuffed Glantrian brutes were trying to shorten my height by the length of a head! I had no choice!" spat out Cartha.

"If that was indeed the case, then why didn't you run straight to the constabulary, instead of taking a circuitous route throughout the city? I understand you passed many guard posts, giving them a wide berth.

"I wasn't about to let Specularum's finest muck everything up! I had to take things into my own hands.

"Yes, you took everything into your own hands, didn't you? Including the law! I have no further questions, your honour" said the prosecutor.

"Well, then I'll have to ask both you and the advocate to make your closing remarks before ordering a short recess to make a decision.

"Your honour", said the prosecutor, "Cartha Radu is a dangerous criminal who deserves to be hanged. The grip of the Veiled Society has finally loosed it's hold on Karameikos. I have nothing more to say.

"Your honour", snivelled the hired advocate, "a great injustice is about to be committed. An innocent man is about to suffer for the transgressions of a criminal mastermind. If Cartha is convicted, Zweiss will simply pick up where his father left off, and we will never be rid of the menace of the Veiled Society.

"Thank-you, both. I'm calling a short recess to deliberate, and will come back shortly to inform you of my decision.

As the bailiff called for all to rise, there was an explosion of conversation. Many people started moving for the doors to the stuffy courtroom to go outside and get some air.