Dear readers, tonight with us is a defence lawyer from a fantasy world. He’s here to tell us about trials, gifts, curses, and the supernatural.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I grew up in Rynland, one of the two easternmost realms of the known world. It’s on the Great Ocean, so everyone learns to swim and sail a boat. I think I spent half my childhood swimming in the ocean or playing on the beach. Rynland is also prosperous, respectable, peaceful and boasts well-educated citizens—in other words, dull. Yet I always find my way back there—until I get bored and take to the road again.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
I was especially fond of a pair of hand puppets. I often had them arguing with another about some little matter, usually reflecting a dispute I’d had with my mother, like finishing my turnips before she’d let me have some honey cake. [Laughs] Those puppet battles no doubt foreshadowed my becoming an advocate. My eldest sister tells me I had a loud rattle, which she says I shook with such vigor and persistence that it nearly drove her to infanticide. [Laughs] Now that I think of it, that noisy persistence may also have foreshadowed my work as an advocate. My most cherished memory, though, is from when I was a young student of the law at Rynland Wister School. My loresman took me to see Zauph Rauthen, one of the few virrlings left in the known world, and the three of us talked about law and justice and other matters until dawn. Despite the enormous amount of wine we drank, I gleaned so much wisdom from those two that I’m forever in their debt.
And now you’re a famous defense advocate.
Infamous, more like, at least among the lying sheriffs, bribe-taking constables, corrupt prosecutors, stone-hearted judges, dishonest nobles, and greedy landowners. The common folk don’t think much of me either, at least until they need my services. But in the world of cutpurses, smugglers, burglars, whores, gamblers, brawlers, and sneak thieves, I’m well known. That’s another reason I don’t stay long in Rynland—folks who need an advocate like me are more likely to get in trouble in other realms.
What can you tell us about your current trial?
I’m defending Ansin Semble, a thirteen-year-old boy accused of using his peculiar gift to cause the death of a young man. This gift—or curse, more like it—enables Ansin to send someone on what is called a journey of the mind. The traveler on such a journey experiences vivid dreams and illusions that seem as real as the ground under your feet. Wealthy men are willing to pay in gold for the experience. And though it’s true my client possesses this gift, he’s more victim than criminal. He can’t speak and has little knowledge of the world. I can’t divulge more until the trial concludes, but I can tell you that Ansin has a minder who has profited greatly from the boy’s so-called gift.
What did you think when you entered Skunnik and learned that a young woman who had befriended your client had been arrested?
I was outraged, but no more so than the sorceress Astil, who had tracked me down and brought me and my partner to Skunnik to collect on an old debt. When Astil learned of this injustice perpetrated by the lord prosecutor against an innocent young woman, she hired me to help her. And I did.
What do you worry most about during this trial?
Some months ago, a man who took one of these journeys of the mind suffered harm. The lord prosecutor plans to call the man as a witness, and his testimony could be devastating. He’ll be a sympathetic figure, so it would serve us ill to browbeat him. As for defense witnesses, I have one special one in mind. But I don’t know him, he’s in a place few visit, and he may not arrive in time even if he agrees to testify, which he may not. Lastly, a witness from a previous trial, a slinking scoundrel on whom I cast suspicion, has gone mad with rage against me and shown up here in Skunnik, most likely to murder me. Other than those three concerns, I’m not too worried.
What is the best thing about working as a defense advocate?
The courtroom battles. They’re like jousts. And my reputation—well-earned, I don’t mind saying—gives me an advantage before a trial even begins. Whatever anyone thinks of me, whether good or ill, everyone knows that when I step into the pit I’m as fierce and relentless as a wounded blayger. In legal circles I’m known as the human battering ram. I don’t back down, ever. When necessary, I’ve ignored judges, threatened witnesses, and insulted prosecutors rather than let them take advantage of a client. My tactics in the courtroom have gotten me fined, held in abuse of the court, and landed me in jail. I regret none of it.
Tell us a little about your friends.
My closest friend, who’s also my partner and protector—I often need one—is Teren Dunkton, known to all as Tunk. One reason I love the man is because he’s so unlike me—he’s calm, quiet, restrained, uncomplaining, and patient. As I said, nothing like me. I met him some years ago when he asked me to advocate for his mother, who had been falsely accused of stealing a necklace. They were poor, so I wanted to waive my fee, but Tunk insisted on paying. That’s Tunk. I’ve also become friends with the sorceress Astil, known as the most dangerous woman in the known world. She is that, but she’s also brave, loyal, witty, and sharp as a Vothan dagger. Just don’t ever get on the wrong side of her.
Any romantic involvement?
There was a healer once, a beautiful woman with a big secret. She was accused of murdering her husband with poison, and I was committed to defending her. But the case—easily the strangest I’ve ever engaged in—didn’t turn out the way anyone, including me, expected. I still have fond memories of the lady, but I confess those memories are mingled with more than a little melancholy.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
At the moment it’s my courtroom opponent, Lord Prosecutor Brayce Rizen, an arrogant schemer who cares nothing for justice. It was Brayce who arrested Elnora Nimm, the young woman who helped Ansin. Her arrest was a travesty and a disgrace. I was happy to put things right.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
My color is blue because it stands for justice and perseverance, my bywords. As for drink, it used to be Telnan mellowine, but I developed a taste for Vothan strong red last time I was in Skunnik. For relaxation, I enjoy stage plays. After all, an advocate in a courtroom is not unlike a player on a stage. I must use my voice well, portray confidence without arrogance, show sympathy for defense witnesses and subtle skepticism toward prosecution witnesses. So, while I enjoy plays in their own right, I also observe players with an eye toward gleaning techniques I can use in the courtroom.
What does the future hold for you?
We’ve gotten wind of a crime that took place recently in a village not far from Skunnik. A pearl, a fine big one, we hear, was stolen. A baker has been accused and jailed, and I want to find out if he needs an advocate. If he does, I’ll most likely offer to defend him.
Richard Dalglish is an author and freelance editor and writer in Yardley, Pennsylvania. He’s the author of four fantasy novels, Day of the Fastle, The Grenling Abduction, Murder in the Querl, and The Last Witness: A Fantasy Legal Thriller. He’s the former managing editor of Jewelers’ Circular Keystone (JCK), a business magazine covering the fine-jewelry industry. His nonfiction articles have appeared in JCK, New York Diamonds, High-Volume Jeweler, The Giftbook, Lancaster County Magazine, Philadelphia Magazine, and the trade fair publication Baselworld Selections: Stones and Pearls.
You can find Killandrio on the pages of The Last Witness.
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