MeraGuilty/InnocentHow do you plead?
Never had Mera been brought to trial before. Not that she hadn’t broken laws in one place or another. After all, she was a traitor to Xebel, and technically an enemy of Atlantis. Even with the fact that Mera had not killed their king, some people would never accept a Xebellian. It was the equivalent of the worst prison on Earth becoming a nation of its own, and Mera was the heir to that nation.
In Xebel, might
made right, single combat being the acceptable means of solving civil issues. From a young age, Mera’s mind was filled with the ancient lore and traditions of her kingdom as well as the strict combat training she would need as her people’s champion. She knew about tradition. She knew about ritual. This was just a test. Cetea was goading
her. Prodding at her sense of pride and swift temper. Addressing the Council at large, but keeping her eyes on Reverend Mother Cetea, she answered with a stony expression. “With respect, I’d ask that my accusers explain to me exactly how I have been negligent and destructive. How have I chosen surface dwellers over Atlantis? With no evidence to refute these claims, you stand guilty of slander to my name.”
Mera wasn’t in chains yet, so there was still time to argue her position. Even then, she didn’t think she could keep herself from defending her own actions. How far had she really come from her Xebellian upbringing? Mother Cetea lifted her chin minutely in a gesture of superiority from her position on the dias. One of Mera’s brows perked, and she barely resisted scoffing.
Was this trial wholly due to the actions of one petty old woman with delusions of maintaining the security of Atlantis through her control of the throne?
In Mera’s mind, that’s the way it seemed.
The gathered citizens were quietly observing, no doubt curious of what Mera had to say about the things she was allegedly guilty of. The redhead didn’t turn to them or attempt to garner their sympathy. What would that help? She was standing in defense of herself. Alone.
No one would come to a queen’s rescue, and she wouldn’t want them to, anyway. “According to our laws, your Majesty, you bear the burden of proof, not your accusers,”
Cetea began with that smooth air of unruffled dignity she so often displayed. It served to rile Mera’s ire further, but she let it simmer beneath her slightly amused veneer. “We’ve not found the parties responsible for the attack on the outpost. You could have prevented this from happening, but instead you were harboring a surface fugitive from the authorities,”
unbridled disgust was revealed when the aged woman spat ‘surface fugitive’. One could only guess what part of that title earned her disdain.
Many Atlanteans still were not comfortable with the surface knowing of their existence, but Mera was not to blame for that. “Who is this man to you? More importantly, is his life more valuable than all those lost at the outpost?” Cetea’s eyes that condescendingly watched her gave a measuring look now.This was the crux of the whole ordeal.
This is what the problem really was. A question of who was more important to Mera. Was the surface valued above the Atlantean kingdom she ruled? The answer was unequivocally ‘no’. In her eyes, the value was equal. She didn’t see an Atlantean life as being more worthy than a surface dweller.
When she began to speak, she kept her head held high, though she made no attempt to appear haughty as the Reverend Mother did. “I see our lives as equal to the air breathers. If we are to be in a strong alliance, that is how we must try to see things. We can’t hide any longer. That time is past,”
Mera’s tone was so strangely calm, even to herself. When she continued, she finally turned to the onlooking Atlanteans seated within the room as the audience for her trial. “The man, the fugitive she’s talking about, he helped me. In his way, he was punishing a disrespectful act toward me, just the way that my guard might do were I suddenly attacked.”
This got their attention. Heads nodded their agreement. They could understand this explanation. “What happened at the outpost is still a mystery to me, but I intend to continue investigating and searching for the cause. We will have justice for this terrible crime, and I have a feeling the cause is closer than we know,”
she dropped her tone ominously, and slowly turned around to let her words settle.
Murk was behind her as she faced Cetea again, the sneer his face was forever warped in somehow a comfort compared to the cold complacency of the older woman that still looked down on Mera from the platform. This council could unseat the redhead. They’d done it to Arthur. The throne didn’t even grow cool before Rath was placed upon it, and the same occurred with Mera’s coronation. She’d accepted the position out of her sense of duty, but it wasn’t what she truly wanted. “The embassy is important to the solidification of an alliance with the surface. My image with them is important in this delicate time. I implore you to consider why you’ve accused your queen of valuing anything more than the prosperity and safety of Atlantis and the surface world.”
Mera’s tone was sharp as flint, and just as likely to spark an inferno were she truly angered. Auburn brows twitched down and Lord Epher, who had been stoically silent through this little exchange looked at Cetea with a grim expression. Something passed between them. Disappointment? Worry? “We have much to consider with this knowledge, your Majesty. Regrettably, until we announce our ruling, you must be considered a prisoner.”“Lord Epher. You do not mean to--”“Murk, please escort the Queen to the high-security prison cells.”
Immediately, Mera’s head snapped to the side with a look of pure venom cast toward the scarred warrior. He had not liked her when she was betrothed to Arthur, and she knew he still didn’t truly respect her rule at heart. When he moved toward her with bulky hands outstretched to grasp her arm, she smacked the appendage away with a warning look. “Do not touch me.”
From behind her, two of the sorcerers of the Silent School were already conjuring a visible seal with archaic symbols. It was circular in shape, fiery orange and soared through the water toward her just as she was about to turn back in outrage toward the dias. The magical seal crashed into her like a hard punch to the gut, snatching the water from her lungs instantly. Recovering quickly, she tried to take water into her lungs, her temper boiling as her hands clenched.“Ack…”
She couldn’t breathe…
Mera’s hands lifted to her throat as her lips parted, eyes bulging out as she sputtered, ultimately gasping in water to lungs only fit for air. She ultimately crumpled to the floor with her hand to her throat, her teeth clenched as she fought to stay conscious. There was no using her power to thwart this attack, the magic used against her was stronger yet than her own, stealing her ability to weave and control water on a whim. They had planned
this. They knew exactly how to subdue her, were she to fight, from the beginning.
Light sapped from her eyes. The creeping darkness solidifying from the corners of her vision, no stars in this velvety black. Thick like molasses, oozing into her veins and turning her cold to the waking world. Loss of control was more than she could bear, but as her body loosened to a limp shell, it was a blessing.
The sound of her own breathing, and oh, great Neptune,
it was a beautiful sound, made Mera stir slightly. Her arms and legs could not fully extend, and as she realized--as she remembered what happened before she lost consciousness, her eyes opened to see the mask she wore over her nose and mouth. A long tube fed fresh blended oxygen into her lungs, and she felt instantly ill at the sight of her prison. She reclined in a loose fetal position, her limbs going slack as she controlled her breathing and her heart rate in turn, listening to the light hush of her inhale and exhale through the breather. Would this tiny sphere of a cell be her home for now, until she was found guilty or innocent by the Council of Elders?Rebel of Xebel/aquatic