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Aug 13, 2020 8:08 PM
Two pacifists in Verity
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(Nico threw his sword into a river rather than -- why would he murder his family -- it doesn't make sense.)

He's briefly curious who the person in the third memory is -- he looks a little like Nico -- but that's less important than figuring out what happened.


If the memory of him actually carrying it out hasn't surfaced yet, it probably won't, but maybe he'll see something related -- Nico planning for the murder, perhaps -- no, but based on the surrounding memories it was probably a moment of drunken rage, not something planned -- but that doesn't explain why he would murder Bian--

He keeps looking.


There's a ten-year-old Nico shouting at his brother, "go away!" and "you always ruin everything!" and "I wish you weren't my brother!", when really Erasmos hadn't done anything except try to enter their shared room, their father is the one he was actually angry at —

There's lying to his father about how much he loves alchemy, about how much it might help Dunark financially if he could learn to turn regular metal to gold, when really the gold thing is most likely impossible and he just wants an excuse to keep Marlin as his teacher now that he's done learning to read —


Neither of those seem to have anything to do with the murders.


--he was upset at his brother because of something his father did--

--maybe the same thing happened with Bian--

--but that's a stretch, and it wasn't like Nico had killed his brother over it--)




He can figure this out. Either Nico somehow went from unwillingness to kill anyone to murdering his entire family and then forgot about it, or he somehow wound up covered in his family's blood and surrounded by their bodies despite not having killed them. Neither possibility makes sense.

(--maybe he was framed--

--or maybe he was pretending very well--

--people change--

--but do they change that much in a few days--)

He keeps looking.


There's the day he met Timon, when he just left Carmian at the tavern without saying goodbye, that was kind of rude —

(The store of really shameful memories might be starting to run low.)


That's much less bad than murder.

He's probably not going to learn anything new this way, but maybe he'll get lucky.

(And the longer he spends doing this, the more time he has to figure out what to say.)

He keeps looking.


…there's the fact that there's still some small part of him that's scared of what's going to happen at the great square, soon. He shouldn't be, he deserves it he deserves it there's blood on his hands —



--he's not going to let that happen, even when he'd known people had done something like that he never--

--most murderers don't start out thinking they deserve to die--

--but maybe Nico would--

--but maybe he didn't do it--

--if this is how he's reacting to possibly having killed someone--

--killing someone isn't instantaneous, he'd have had time to regret it after the first one--

--but in the scenario where he killed them he's already drunk and angry, maybe he wouldn't have--

--what if he didn't do it--

He looks away, and a moment later thinks that maybe he should have waited to see if there was anything else similarly relevant.


At some point during the read, Nico started crying, because he is worthless horrible an awful person who has done so many bad things —

 — and some of that's probably from the shamer magic but it's also true, isn't it, because they're dead and there's blood on his hands —

He just sits there, crying.


--oh no Nico--

(He needs to focus.)

He turns towards the guard. "I -- I don't think -- I didn't see -- I didn't see any memories of him killing them I don't think he did it."

His voice is shaking; he'd sounded more confident defending people he knew were murderers than defending someone who might be innocent.

(He's messing this up and Nico is going to die and it'll be his fault--)


…he has their blood on his hands, though, they were dead and there was a sword on his floor and blood on his hands and who else hated his father that much —

Oh. Timon's lying to save him. 

He doesn't deserve it, he doesn't, but he's also scared, and — and he should probably say something but he can't quite get the words out —


Meanwhile, the guard gives Timon an incredulous look. "That's — not really possible… are you sure you didn't just miss something…? — I mean, not that I'm the one you'd have to convince, but —"

(He's not really sure who is, though, the normal hierarchy lost its head overnight. All because of that monster.)


"If there were a memory of him murdering them to see I'd have seen it -- I'm very confident of that --" he wouldn't be with everyone but he is with Nico "--unless he somehow murdered them and forgot about it--"

(This is not how to defend Nico, the guard'll just assume that's what happened--)

"Who do I need to talk to, I can talk through this as many times as necessary but if there's someone in charge of what happens to him it's probably easiest if I just explain it to them--"


"…you know, I'm not really sure? He kind of destroyed the whole line of succession. I mean, I still know who I report to, but that's sort of it."


…that's just a factual question, right, he can answer that one without having to — to make a decision —

His own voice feels distant as he says, "Everyone important will have gathered somewhere. Trying to… to figure out the answer to that question. Great Hall, probably — up the stairs and to your left…"


It would probably look suspicious if he listened to Nico without at least checking with the guard. He turns vaguely in that direction, careful not to meet his eyes. "Should I -- should I go -- should I go up there --"


He shouldn't leave the shamer alone when the castle clearly isn't secure, when there's still a small chance Nicodemus wasn't acting alone. He shouts for one of the guards at the dungeon entrance to come take over his post.

"I'll walk you there, how about. Then if he's wrong, we'll look for my superior and ask her if she knows."

(They probably won't be walking straight into an ambush. The Great Hall's too central for that, someone would've noticed.)


He nods. "Okay -- thank you --"

He follows the guard and tries to figure out what to say to stop them from killing Nico -- from killing anyone, it won't start being okay if it's someone else who gets executed.


(As they leave, Nico curls up in his cell again.)


When they get to the hall, two people in city guard uniform stands at the door. The guard escorting Timon explains that Timon is a shamer, just looked at the murderer, and they're let through.

He recognizes several of the people in the room - the army general, the guard captain, the guy that's in charge of money and stuff — and most are wearing the kind of clothes that'd cost him a year's salary. Their eyes all turn to them as the door slams shut, and he nervously stammers through a repeat of his previous explanation.


Someone found a shamer already. Goes against his plan, he was going to offer to fetch one, then he'd have basic control of what they knew and who they talked to — but plans never quite survive contact with reality — should be able to get things back on track if he just changes his prewritten lines a little — all this flashes through Drakan's mind in the span of a second while his face displays no emotion. Then he makes himself look relieved as he crosses the floor and says to the shamer, "I cannot tell you how happy I am to see a shamer so quickly. Erasmos was my friend, you see, and to lose his father, wife and son only a few months after we lost him —"

He adresses the room, now. "It'd mean a lot to me if you'd all let me take charge of the investigation."

Everyone nods, or shrugs, just like he expected. They all assume the question of guilt has the obvious answer, and that they'll need to stay in this room if they want a say in who inherits Dunark. Neither of which is true, but he won't let them know.

He adresses the shamer again. "Shall we?" Without waiting for an answer, he starts walking towards his study.

(He needs to know what the shamer thinks before he lets him talk to anyone else.)


(This man looks familiar -- oh, he was in one of Nico's memories.)

"Yes, of course -- I know this must be really hard on you--"

(That sounded stupid, didn't it -- he should be able to sound more sympathetic -- and he is, losing a friend is awful, losing that friend's family must make it even worse --)

He follows after Drakan, continuing to talk as he walks.

"I -- I know this sounds unlikely -- I -- I -- I think he might not have done it --"

(He's doing such a bad job of protecting Nico. For once, someone who might be innocent, and he can't even defend him. This shouldn't be hard, and yet somehow the uncertainty makes it more difficult -- but that's not an excuse, he needs to sound confident.)


(There's nobody within hearing distance, it's fine, he managed to contain the problem.)

He dons hist best surprised face. "…really? I guess he might not remember it, he was seen acting drunk a few hours earlier… but you do realize how he was found?"

He keeps walking as he talks. The faster they get to a closed room, the less likely someone will overhear.

(The shamer did phrase it as "think he might not", so convincing him might still work. If it doesn't, well, that's what the contingency plan is for.)


"I -- I guess -- it's not impossible --"

(It's not, it's really not, but he can't say that, Nico's life is at stake.)

"But most murderers remember committing murder -- and, and it didn't -- it didn't fit with the rest of his memories -- I'm not saying he definitely didn't do it -- but normally I'd be able to say for sure that he did, and I can't -- he might be innocent --"

This is not a remotely adequate defense.


They reach the study. He closes the door behind them.

"I hope you understand that no one else had motive to do this. Adela and Bian looked like quick kills, or as quick as a drunk person could reasonably expect — probably they just surprised him, and they might still be alive if they hadn't. If only little Bian hadn't had such frequent nightmares ever since his father died…" He makes himself look sad and wistful at the thought, playing his role.

"Ebenezer himself, though, that was brutal. Personal."

(That's not even a lie. It'd been terribly personal when he killed the father who'd never acknowledged him.)

"If you've really seen his memories, you must know how much he hated the man. It fits, shamer."


"--Obviously you know him and I've just seen his memories -- look, of course you want whoever did this to be --" (he hesitates a fraction of a second too long) "-- to be brought to justice -- but if -- if he didn't do it, and he might not have -- then killing him won't get you that, it'll get you an innocent person dead, and a guilty one alive --"

(He hates this, hates implying that killing people somehow becomes okay -- but he doesn't have much choice, not if he wants to persuade him --)

(And that explanation doesn't quite make sense, surely if Nico had the -- presence of mind -- to kill witnesses, he'd have had the presence of mind to at the very least wash the blood off his hands -- but it's not like he has any better explanations --)

(--This poor man--)

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