Standing among the group of spectators at the front of the chamber, Kelemvor stared at the vulnerable form of his former lover as she was forced to kneel before Mourngrym. The fighter studied the cold, inaccessible expression of the dalelord and understood why his petition for a private audience with him the previous evening had been denied. Mourngrym's fury over the loss of his friend was obvious, though he was attempting to put aside his personal feelings and act with impartiality.

Mourngrym raised his hand, and silence fell upon the court instantly. 'We have gathered here to perform a solemn duty, not to howl like hungry dogs in the night. Let us act like civilized men. Elminster would expect us to do nothing less.'

A murmur rose from the spectators, but as the noise died down, the low, growling laughter of one man continued. Kelemvor turned to his left and jabbed his elbow sharply into Cyric's side. 'Shut up, you fool!' the fighter whispered.

Cyric sneered at Kelemvor and shook his head. 'Wait until the trial is over, Kel. Then we'll see what you think of the dalesmen's grand claims of justice.'

When Cyric turned back to the dais, Mourngrym had his gaze locked on the thief. Raising one hand in mock apology, Cyric bowed slightly. A rumble of angry whispers was rising from the crowd again, but Mourngrym raised both hands to still the sound and cleared his throat noisily.

'Midnight of Deepingdale and Adon of Sune, you stand accused of the murder of the sage, Elminster,' Mourngrym began.

The silence of the crowd was shattered like a fragile crystal by Mourngrym's words. Shouting for quiet, the dalelord unsheathed his sword and held it high in the air. Torchlight played off the blade and seemed to transform it into a mystic weapon, brilliant, hard, and unyielding. The guards all drew their swords and held them up in like fashion. The angry murmuring was silenced.

'Justice will be served,' Mourngrym said. 'I swear it!' There were cheers, and Mourngrym allowed the crowd to settle once more before he continued. 'This is a military trial,' he pronounced. 'As such, there will be no jury. As lord of the dale, the responsibility of judgment is mine.

'Since magic is unstable, we dare not attempt to look into the minds of the accused. Facts alone will shape my verdict.' Mourngrym gestured to the silver-haired woman beside him. 'Let the prosecution introduce its case.'

Storm Silverhand stepped forward. 'There are two inescapable facts. First, a body was discovered in the Temple of Lathander. True, it was battered and torn beyond recognition, but the body was found near scraps of Elminster's robe and fragments from a number of his ancient spellbooks.' The bard turned to the crowd. 'Our sage and protector was missing, obviously murdered.'

Storm Silverhand turned to the prisoners and gestured toward them. 'Second, these two were seen running from the temple only seconds before it was leveled by magical forces. Yet they survived unscathed.' The crowd's screams and threats echoed in the room.

Unlike Mourngrym, Storm didn't wait for the crowd to quiet down. 'It is obvious that these two murdered our good friend,' she cried over the noise of the spectators. Midnight tried to protest from under her gag, but it was no use.

'Hold!' Thurbal cried, waving his cane in the air. The captain of the guard turned to face Mourngrym. 'We must not assume the guilt of these people. We are here to determine what happened, not to lynch these two!'

A storm of boos and hisses erupted from the spectators. Cyric glanced at Kelemvor, but the fighter was staring straight ahead. Thurbal shook his head and sat down, and Mourngrym rapped the lectern with the pommel of his sword.

'One more outburst like this and we will hold these hearings in seclusion!' the dalelord warned in a loud voice. The crowd quieted down while the guards removed a few spectators who refused to stop shouting.

'The prosecution calls Rhaymon of Lathander,' Storm pronounced, and a blond man dressed in bright red robes with thick bands of gold trim was led forward by a guardsman.

'Tell us about the last time you saw Elminster alive,' Storm said.

The priest frowned thoughtfully, then began to speak. 'My final duty on the day of the Battle of Shadowdale was to stand guard at the Temple of Lathander until Elminster arrived.'

'Stand guard? Against what?' Storm asked. 'What were your fellow priests worried about?'

Rhaymon frowned, as if he had been asked a foolish question. 'Earlier that day, the Temple of Tymora had been attacked. We were all badly shaken. The priests of Tymora were slaughtered, the temple desecrated, and the symbol of Bane painted in blood on its walls. Also the healing potions stored in Tymora's temple were stolen.'

'So you feared, naturally enough, that the same thing could happen at your temple?'

'Yes, that's correct,' Rhaymon said. 'Elminster said he had something important to do at the temple. He said he would guard it for us.'

'Even with his very life?' Storm leaned close to the cleric.

Thurbal stepped forward, gesturing with his cane in protest. 'She's putting words in his mouth. Let the man speak for himself!'

Mourngrym's eyes smoldered. 'Get on with it, Storm.'

The silver-haired adventurer frowned and backed away from Rhaymon. 'Was Elminster alone when he arrived at the temple?' the bard asked after a moment.

Shaking his head, the priest gestured toward the prisoners. 'No. They were with him.'

'Can you describe Elminster's mood at the time?'

Rhaymon seemed put off by the question. 'Are you serious?' he mumbled quietly.

'I assure you, no one could be more serious,' Storm said grimly.

The priest swallowed. 'He was a bit cranky, but he was Elminster, after all.'

There was some laughter from the crowd, but no hint of a smile crossed Storm's features. 'Would it be fair to say Elminster seemed agitated? Did the presence of the prisoners upset him?'

Rhaymon looked serious. 'I couldn't say what the cause of his uneasiness was. I do know this,' the priest said quickly as he pointed toward Adon. 'The one with the scar stopped me as I was leaving and told me to make Bane's soldiers pay for what happened to the worshipers of Tymora.'

Storm nodded. 'I have one final question. Do you think the prisoners killed Elminster?'

Thurbal rushed to stand before Mourngrym. 'Milord, this goes too far!'

The expression of the dalelord grew dark. 'I will decide how far this goes.' Mourngrym turned to the priest. 'Answer the question.'

The priest tensed as he looked down at the prisoners. 'If I could run them through, here and now, I would gladly do so. Many men, some hardly more than boys, died to save this town. While those heroes were giving their lives, these two were making a mockery of their sacrifice!'

'That is all,' Storm said, and she took her place beside Mourngrym.

Thurbal eyed the priest carefully before he spoke. 'Did you see either the scarred cleric or the woman harm Elminster in any way?'

'Our way of life has been destroyed! We will have to rebuild the temple — '

'Answer the question,' Thurbal said calmly.

Rhaymon shook with anger. 'I saw nothing.'

'Thank you,' Thurbal said. 'You may go.'

A guardsman took Rhaymon's arm and led him away. The priest looked over his shoulder and wrenched free of the guard. 'I did not see the sun rise this morning! Does that mean this trial should be cloaked in darkness because it did not rise?'

'Enough!' Mourngrym declared firmly, and two guards gripped Rhaymon's arms.

'They are guilty and deserve no less than death!' Rhaymon shouted. Instantly the crowd was stirred into a frenzy. As the robed man was dragged away the guards grabbed several others from the crowd and forced them out of the audience chamber. The noise from outside the tower was growing steadily louder.

Cyric sat down on the bench and ran his hand through his brown hair. For this we risked our lives, the thief thought. We saved these cattle so they could put us on trial.

Then Cyric's attentions turned to Adon. The cleric was slack-jawed and seemed unaware of the gravity of the proceedings around him. There was no gag to prevent the cleric from declaring his innocence, but instead Adon chose to remain silent. Say something, you worthless slug! Cyric thought. If not for your sake, then do it for

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