As the imposing spaceship drew closer to the palace, it gracefully descended, hovering above the lush gardens that adorned its surroundings. A luminous radiance emanated from within the ship, casting a soft glow over the land beneath. Gradually, as the light receded, the scene revealed ten enigmatic figures, each cloaked in a hooded mantle, accompanied by an equal number of attendants.
To extend a formal welcome, both Brandon and Adam had assembled a group of workers, prepared to receive the hooded figures who had descended from the impressive spaceship. As the figures closed the distance while remaining suspended above the ground, an air of intrigue enveloped the gathering. While the specific race of the enigmatic Ravenbard remained unknown, it was well-known that their presence could compel truthfulness â a unique trait that nobody could defy. Another distinctive characteristic was their inclination to remain aloft, never touching the ground.
Functioning just below the council, the Ravenbard's primary role was to maintain planetary order and administer punishment to those who transgressed. Their arrival at this moment signaled their intent to investigate and potentially impose sanctions upon the planet's leader, Brandon, should they find any wrongdoing.
In a display of deep reverence, both Brandon and those in his vicinity knelt before the Ravenbard figures, acknowledging their authority. "Rise, child," one of the hooded figures spoke, prompting everyone to stand. Another figure added, "Lead the way. Time is of the essence. This matter must be expedited."
Their telepathic communication bypassed the need for vocal cues, making it challenging to discern the sequence of speakers. Brandon took the lead, gesturing towards a designated area within the garden where a makeshift court was to be established.
As Brandon led the procession to the designated area, the hooded figures followed in an almost ethereal manner, their feet never making contact with the ground. The gardens, usually a place of tranquility and beauty, now held an air of solemnity as the group gathered in anticipation of the impending trial.
Upon reaching the chosen spot, Brandon turned to face the Ravenbard, his expression a blend of seriousness and respect. "Honored milord Ravenbard, we have prepared this space for the proceedings. Please, let the trial begin," he requested, his voice steady despite the weight of the situation.
At its center stood a raised platform, serving as the focal point for the trial. Constructed from sturdy, weathered wood, the platform provided a clear vantage point for all those gathered to witness the proceedings. Its surface had been meticulously cleared, leaving ample room for the essential figures involved in the trial.
A small, ornate table was positioned at the forefront of the platform, its surface adorned with a few scrolls and objects of significance. Surrounding the platform were rows of simple wooden benches, hastily arranged to accommodate the member of Ravenbard.
The hooded figures arranged themselves in a semi-circle, creating a focal point that drew the attention of all present. Their mysterious aura seemed to intensify, filling the air with an almost palpable energy. With a subtle gesture from one of the figures, the atmosphere shifted, and an invisible force seemed to envelop the area.
Moments later, translucent images materialized in the air, displaying scenes from various incidents that had taken place within the planet's domain. The images spanned a wide range of events. One of the images was of the hidden 6th army hideout, another of Chris who could be seen chilling inside his room drinking and reading something.
The hooded figures maintained an enigmatic composure, their inscrutable gazes riveted to the shifting images before them. After a prolonged period of observation, one of the hooded figures finally spoke, their voice carrying an air of authority. "Leader Brandon, after scrutiny of the charges, you have been found guilty of multiple offenses that are punishable by death. First, employing space magic without the requisite authorization from the council. Second, sheltering an unregistered 4-star mage. Third, utilizing forbidden spells capable of unraveling the very fabric of reality. To compound this third transgression, the fourth charge pertains to the external repercussions caused by the damaged reality."
A deliberate pause ensued, allowing the weight of their pronouncement to resonate within the minds of those present. The hooded figure then resumed, their tone measured yet unyielding. "Any single one of the aforementioned offenses would warrant capital punishment. However, you stand accused of all four. Do you have any defense to present before us?"
At Brandon's signal, he stood, addressing the hooded figures directly. "No, milord. But I do possess a piece of information that might intrigue you." A subtle smirk graced his features as he extended a document to one of the servants nearby.
The document was promptly presented before the Ravenbard figures, just as the previous images had been displayed. Audible disapproval emanated from one of the Ravenbard servants upon reading it. The document highlighted that it was Corth 5LU that had alerted the council about the widespread betrayal across various planets. However, the council received this crucial information too late.
As the Ravenbard figures concluded their scrutiny of the document, a collective chuckle reverberated through the minds of those present, punctuating the unveiled truth. "So, it was your hand that sent forth this communication. Tell us, what are the rewards you seek in return?" inquired one of the hooded figures.
Brandon's smile was unwavering as he responded, "My desires are modest. I request the complete exoneration of all charges filed against us, and the freedom of our 4-star mage." He presented his terms with a sense of resolve.
The response from Ravenbard was measured yet firm. "Considering your noble actions, your first request is amicable and can be granted. However, the second term poses a challenge. Crossing the threshold of the 4-star realm entails certain commitments, particularly military service. We cannot circumvent this fundamental principle."
Brandon's voice tinged with a hint of bitterness as he replied, "Milord, I understand the constraints, but I intended to grant him the freedom I never had. To unshackle him from the confines of duty."
"We acknowledge your intentions, young one," Ravenbard responded, empathetic yet unwavering. "Although we cannot grant your exact request, we propose an alternative. The 4-star mage in question may choose the officer he wishes to serve under, as well as select a companion to join him."
Another Ravenbard figure interjected, "However, your actions cannot go without consequence. For your orchestrated upheaval, we shall strip you of the 6th army. You shall henceforth be limited to the ownership of five armies, and the current 6th army shall be integrated into the council's official forces."
Brandon lowered his head in deference, acknowledging the verdict. "As you command, Milord."
"With these terms accepted, the trial now concludes, and we extend our well-wishes for your endeavors ahead," the solemn pronouncement from Ravenbard marked the definitive closure of the trial. Their words held an air of finality.
As the final decree resounded, the hooded figures began to withdraw. Their movements were deliberate and graceful, their enigmatic presence fading into the backdrop as they embarked upon their journey back to the towering flagship that loomed above the planet. The air seemed to regain its normal rhythm, though the residue of their presence still hung like an intangible thread.
After Ravenbard's departure, Brandon and Adam returned to the palace, the weight of the recent trial still hanging in the air. As they entered Brandon's office, Adam couldn't hold back his curiosity any longer. "How did you manage that, Father?" he inquired with a puzzled expression.
ραndαsΝοvεl ƈοmBrandon's smile was both knowing and melancholic. "What are you talking about?" he replied, though he understood exactly what Adam was referring to.
Adam's confusion deepened. "You know exactly what I mean. How did you lie in front of Ravenbard? You were never bound to this place; you've always had the freedom to leave. As far as I recall, my grandfather opted to bind the soul of one of his servants to the planet, granting you the gift of freedom."
With a faint smile, Brandon chose to remain silent, his thoughts echoing in the stillness. "Go, convey the verdict to the 6th army and the commander. There is much to be done, especially now that we find ourselves considerably weakened," he instructed, his voice carrying a weight of responsibility.
Sensing the futility of seeking further answers, Adam left the office, his mind already racing to fulfill the tasks at hand. As he departed, Brandon let out a resigned sigh, the weight of a secret he bore revealing itself in his weary demeanor. "I'm sorry, Adam. I can't allow you to learn the truth about your father's transformation," he whispered to the empty room, the weight of his decision settling upon him like a shroud.