Microscope RPG--Rise and Fall of an Empire: Scene: Murder of the Politician’s Daughter
Scene: Murder of the Politician's Daughter
Focus: From Faction to Ascendancy
Question: Did the politician get justice?
- Advocate for the murderer's case of some sort (possibly the murderer). Chosen by Glyptodont: The murderer's advocate, Colomona: a woman lawgiver among the refugees who has gained some respect among the native Port Hellenes in the past due to her role in negotiating disputes between the natives and the refugees.
- Port Hellen politician. Chosen by xrayzed: Lord Tennapallas, Protector of the Eastern Approaches.
Banned characters: None
- Chosen by Jarite: Lord Xalos, an up-and-coming politician whose power base is his land holdings. He claims to be neutral in the dispute, but it's an open secret to politicians and the public that he's really out for his own power.
(Threlicus opts not to take a character this Scene.)
This event is during the Wars of Independence, so all this is going on at the highly inconvenient time of a war for political survival. The refugees have (probably) been here a while (at least one Period), and have advanced the Port considerably by giving them bronze working. This is, however, a double-edged sword- the Empire desperately wants to capture the tin supplies and thus presumably have bronze themselves. Eventually the Empire will lose and the refugees take over the city politically and culturally, but nobody knows that at this point- the event could still go either way.
Setting the Scene:
Supporters of the refugee faction and their enemies, currently led by the aggrieved politician and defector, face off in the town square. A mostly neutral crowd watches on, as orators of both factions appear. Despite, or perhaps because of the war, tensions run high on both sides.
Lord Tennapallas wonders why the refugees have betrayed his trust, and the good will of the people of the city. He is prepared to withdraw the offer of refuge if the murderer is not held accountable. (xrayzed)
Lawgiver Colomona knows the murderer is guilty and has no illusions that this crime was anything but a reprehensible act. But counter-intuitively she sees this as an opportunity for the refugees to become more accepted among the native society. The refugee's creed rejects both retribution and compensation as punishments for wrongdoing. According to their faith, only by making the criminal feel the same anguish as the victims, can the balance of justice be maintained. Hence, the murderer must surrender his daughter and experience the same pain of loss that the victim's family feels. Colomona believes that if she can convince the local people of the wisdom of this course, they would be more accepting of the refugees--and possibly embrace the refugee's religion. (Glyptodont)
Lord Xalos wants to back the refugees into a corner so they are forced to give him massive concessions for his support. He's worried, however, that his bad reputation may make this harder than it sounds. (Jarite)
Playing the Scene:
Colomona speaks to the crowd, addressing the common-folk locals as well as the angry upper-class allies of the victim's father: "The murderer, Maalah, is beyond a doubt guilty of this heinous crime and all of us here wish to see justice done. But merely killing Maalah will not bring true justice. For his death will remove him from this world and whatever fate he meets in the next world, he will never understand the anguish Lord Tennapallas feels for the loss of his daughter. Killing Maalah in fact cheats justice by allowing him to escape our reprobation forever. But, if we take his daughter's life in his place, he will have suffered a loss equal to that of Lord Tennapallas. He will have to live with the same anguish as the noble Lord and the balance of action is maintained since no one will gain profit or loss from this crime."
Lord Xalos listens to the argument, attempting to appear careful and thoughtful. Given his reputation as a scheming power-monger, this is likely a futile gesture- but any scrap of a pretense, in his view, is better than nothing.
"An interesting position- and one that your people have apparently put into practice for some time. Still, there can only be one justice in this city- a matter of which is better, of course."
In a tone which blatantly implies a willingness to bribe the crowd, Xalos continues. "I have brought a small guard and significant savings with me. To help decide the issue, of course."
Lord Tennapallas leaps to his feet.
"Xalos! What games are you playing at? Is the blood of my daughter no more to you than another opportunity to serve your own interests?"
He turns to the refugees. "I am too old, and to aggrieved, to listen while expert liars bicker and jostle for advantage. Bring forth Maalah, and let me hear his words."
"Think what you will of me Tennapallas, but you know my terms. If there were to be a... clash I believe my help would be desirable. And surely an aggrieved man would do whatever it takes to get justice? However reluctant he is to attempt such a means?"
Whilst continuing with the blatant implication that he was willing to plunge the city into a warzone, Xalos was trying to calculate would happen next. He had guessed earlier that Mallah must have asked Colomona for help because he thought she'd defend him better- if forced to speak for himself, he wouldn't speak as well. Thus, it could be a tooth-and-nail issue whether he was brought forth at all.
Colomona addresses the whole of the crowd but alternates the focus of her attention from the neutral onlookers to Lord Tennapallas specifically. "Lord Xalos raises an important point, although perhaps not the one he intended. There can indeed be only one just in this city--but what sort of justice shall it be?"
To the neutral crowd of locals she says, "How many times have you seen one of this city's poorest punished unmercifully for a crime whereas a wealthy family's son who commits the same crime only has to pay a cartload of grain as restitution? The crippling or imprisonment of a father condemns his whole family to starvation. But while a cartload of grain may be worth more than a peasant produces in a year, it is but a speck to the wealthiest families of this city. Can this be truly called 'justice'?"
Then, looking directly at Lord Tennapallas, Colomona says, "Lest you think I would try to turn a people against their sovereign Lords, I say to you, Lord Tennapallas, that this city's justice betrays its highest members as much as its lowest. Your daughter is dead and should be mourned, yet there are those who would seek to profit by this crime--men other than the murderer himself. If a peasant girl were murdered, no one would sully her memory by seeking wealth or power from such a vile crime. Yet when the child of a Lord is murdered every uninvolved party swirls around like carrion-birds, concerned only will their own gain. I ask you, Lord Tennapallas, will you allow true justice to be done for your daughter's memory and restore the balance of this city? Or will you allow others to use your daughter's funeral pyre as a stepping stone to further their own greed? What say you, Lord Tennapallas?"
Colomona waits resolutely for his reply.
Uncowed Tennapallas looks at Colomona, unflinching, resolute, defiant.
"I seek now, as I have ever sought, justice. Are there any you would bring forth who would condemn me, who would say I value greed and power over what is right? Have I not always been an advocate for others who have been unjustly victimised? Even these strangers, who sought refuge amongst us, outsiders with no standing in our polity. Even to them I extended the hand of mercy, offering shelter, because I believed it was right."
"No longer do I see a clear path before me. I am weary. My soul is lost, wandering in the shadowed places."
He wipes the tears from his face.
"If you would know my will in this matter, bring forth Maalah. Let Maalah speak. And then, perhaps, shall the way be clear."
Lord Xalos looked on as Colomona spoke. Her style was beginning to remind him of his mother (the same mother he recalled with disdain as the woman who had tried several times to disinherit him in favor of his brother 'for the sake of the family'). He wasn't inept, Lord Xalos insisted to himself, and here he was going to prove it...
"Tennapallas, will you let this woman treat you like this? You know my price, and you know what you could easily do! If you want justice, grab it with your own two hands! You can avenge your daughter here and now!"
Xalos wasn't sure if Lord Tennapallas would be willing to start a battle here, but it was worth a try. He hadn't actually said he was willing to start a civil war, and it seemed absurd for Tennapallas or Colomona to put the political effort necessary to ensure his execution into doing so at a time like this. If Tennapallas moved, as far as Xalos could tell the battle was theirs and he could recieve some gifts of Tennapallas's lands later...
To a group of young refugee men standing behind her, Colomona says, "Bring forth the murderer Maalah and his daughter before Lord Tennapallas." Several strong youths drag out Maalah who has his hands bound behind him. Another group escorts Maalah's 15-year old daughter who is unbound, but stands meekly with her head down.
"Ask what you will of this murderer, my Lord. But you already know what his answers will be. He will either make excuses how he was wronged or beg for mercy or even admit to everything he is accused of and ask for execution. However, there is no word he can speak, no action he can take, nothing he can give you--not even his own life--that will bring you peace and justice. The only one who can do that is Maalah's daughter." Colomona gestures to the young girl next to her.
In contrast to his more courageous daughter, despite having heard Colomona speaking Malaah cannot hold back his tears. "Please don't kill me! I'll do anything you ask! Just please don't kill me! It was a mistake- I thought I was just killing a peasant girl!"
Meanwhile, Lord Xalos makes a gesture to one of his men, who slips into the crowd with his bow and arrows. Since the all-out conflict Xalos had planned has not materialised, his backup plan is to use assasination to achieve his end- the signal being Xalos finding an excuse to point at a person, who will be killed after a discreet interval.
Tennapallas holds his hands high, to still the crowd.
"Colomona, you say you know what Maalah will say, but all I hear are your pretty words, painting pictures that serve your interests. And Xalos, your words are transparent as well."
He motions to Maalah. "Yet perhaps they are right, despite this, especially Colamona. Perhaps you bring no insights, Maalah, but nonetheless I call upon you to speak the truth, before your gods and ours."
"Tell me, Maalah, what is the just path here?"
On his knees Maalah whimpers, "It was not my fault! My family is poor and we haven't enough to eat. I have no land to till and no gold to trade. I had heard there was a peasant family who discovered a treasure in the hills and were secretly hoarding it in defiance of Your Lord's tribute laws. I was only going to kidnap their daughter and ransom her for some of the gold. But it was night and your daughter was traveling the road far ahead of her guardian. I wasn't going to harm her, I swear! But she screamed and the guardians came running up the path--she fell to the stony path, and... and it was an accident. She died because of me but it was not my hand that took her life, I swear!"
Colomona sneers contemptuously at Maalah and says to Tennapallas, "You see, my Lord, this thief and murderer has broken the trust of both the refugees who raised him and the noble Lords of this city who have given us protection. You are correct, my Lord, when you accuse me of offering nothing but pretty words. I cannot give you justice with my words, Maalah cannot give you justice with his excuses, and Lord Xalos cannot give you justice with his wealth and power. Only the daughter of Maalah can offer you true justice. And as the father of the murdered child, only you, Lord Tennapallas, can decide to accept justice today.”
As Tennapallas and the people wait for the answer, a refugee notices the assassin slipping through the crowd...
"Transparent my words may be- but does that really justify your course of action? Think about what I'm proposing here- saving you all the trouble and giving you sucess with one-"
Suddenly the assasin draws a knife on one of the refugees, making his presence obvious to all. Lord Xalos winces for a second, then switches to look of feigned shock.
"What- what are you doing! Stop it at once!"
The assasin tries to sheathe his knife, but is already grappling with the refugee over it. As this happens, Xalos begins to worry...
Colomona shouts to the other refugees, "Stand back! Let all here see how the greedy begin to make their move to enrich themselves at the expense of Lord Tennepallas's daughter."
As the refugees nervously back away from the refugee and the assassin struggling with the knife, Colomona shouts, "Lord Tennapallas and Lord Xalos! Tell us how this brings justice to the murdered girl!"
Xalos panics, and begins to try and disown his assasin as quickly as possible.
"This wasn't me, I swear! Why would I send such an inept assasin?"
As the assasin continues to grapple over the knife with a clearly strong refugee (and starts losing), Lord Xalos represses the urge to shout curses at him for his incompetence. A voice at the back of his head begins to wonder if his Mother was right...
As Colomona concludes his speech, Maalah bows his head, sweat in his eyes, trembling.
"... Maalah cannot give you justice with his excuses, and Lord Xalos cannot give you justice with his wealth and power. Only the daughter of Maalah can offer you true justice. And as the father of the murdered child, only you, Lord Tennapallas, can decide to accept justice today."
I am a fool, and my foolishness will destroy my people.
Maalah raises his head to look up his daughter. Her composure shames him. And I have murdered my daughter. May the gods forgive me.
He rises to his feet, uncertain how to respond. The youths grab his arms, roughly.
The fight breaks out between the assassin and his fellow refugee. He shuts his eyes, and prays. The gods have offered him a solution. A way, just maybe, to save his people and his daughter. May they now give him the courage to follow through.
The youths who were guarding Maalah, distracted by the fight, loosen their grips. Maalah breaks free, running towards the scuffle.
The youths, momentarily shocked, chase after him. Maalah's bound hands make it difficult for him to run, and they rapidly close the distance. The fastest is mere feet away as Maalah screams out "Forgive my people, Lord Tennapallas!"
The assassin spins at the call, knife ready, and Maalah hurls himself upon the blade.
"What! What the- What! What!"
Lord Xalos is momentarily too stunned to speak. The idea that anyone, let alone Malaah, would actually sacrifice themselves of the own free will had actually never occured to him as a serious possibility.
"Uh- um- er- ah.... I... I..."
Question: Did the politician get justice?