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The accused, and object of the accusations, Merrus noted, was the only person who did appear to be listening. Troius the Jewel Pated, Wizard of the Nine Pointed Stars, Binder of the Ten Demons of Georathe, stood in the center of the Circle, disdaining the chair offered to him. The rotund and feared wizard listed like an overloaded Siltrosi scow from side to side, his twenty or more stone of body mass coming dangerously near the tipping point more than once. Despite that, the huge tankard of Ammenian fortified wine never spilled a single drop, until the massive sweating mage brought it to his lips when like as not twin streams would pour from the sides of his mouth to join the older stains on his yellowed robe. When not taking a pull, Troius stared blankly ahead, mouth quirking into a smile as a recitation of one of his crimes seemed to touch upon a fond memory. He looks, Merrus thought, like a man being feted, the stories and legends of his grandest achievements sung before us all.

With a near-silent sigh Merrus looked down at the list of offenses each Patrician had before them. Some of the charges were superfluous – Study and Practice Of Necromancy was illegal in name only, a way to placate the outsiders who knew little of the true ways of the arcane. Others, however, were troubling, and still more actually chilled the Elder Patrician to the core of his being. The lists of murders, mutilations, and worse were bad enough, but the indifference displayed by Troius at every step made Merrus question the obese wizard’s basic humanity.

The sharp voice cut off Escalion’s flourishing recitation and jerked Merrus’ head up from the paper. “Ridiculous,” Troius said harshly, beady eyes now locked on Escalion. “That charge should be stricken. Lord Nesior had his lovely daughter returned to him.” Merrus, like the other Patricians around him, sat in shocked silence. His mind turned unerringly to the horror of seeing the once-beautiful girl shuffling around the nobleman’s estate, marks of strangulation shadowed black on her pale neck, her dead eyes and dead limbs moving about in a parody of the life she once enjoyed. After seeing her daughter’s “return”, Lady Nesior was held under restraint at House Nesior’s seaside villa for a month before she reportedly died peacefully in her sleep. Merrus believed that report as much as he believed in Troius’ innocence.

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