December 18th, 1618.

Caria Calvert- formerly Mayoi- glared daggers as Alata Mayoi- her accursed ex-husband- took to the stand.

“Mister Mayoi,” Anne Rozberg, a female Sylph serving as the Lawyer representing the Izala family, began with a calm demeanor. “Could you tell us exactly what drove you to divorce your ex-wife, Caria?”

“A number of things happened,” Alata began, his blue eyes narrowing back at Caria with an ice cold determination. “You’ll have to be a bit more specific. Do you want a full list, or just the final straw?” He turned to look at Miss Rozberg.

“Why don’t you just give us the highlight reel, then give us the final straw?” Rozberg said, her mouth twitching into a faint smile.

“Well, first of all we didn’t marry out of love,” Alata began. “It was an arranged marriage set up by our respective parents. My family ran a company, you see, and I was the heir to the corporate throne.”

“You say ‘Ran,’” Rozberg inquired, “what happened?”

“Caria ended up taking direct control of the company soon after we were married.” Alata paused, then added, “I suspect it was part of the deal, honestly.”

“And what does your Company do, Mister Mayoi?” Rozberg asked.

“I wouldn’t know anymore. I got cut out of the management side of things with the divorce,” Alata answered. “That was almost… two decades ago, maybe. I heard they went through some heavy re-branding and restructuring at one point. As for what we used to do, it was shipping, I believe. As to what, I wasn’t fully in the loop even before Caria and I married.”

Rozberg nodded, then said, “Continue on the highlight reel.”

“Well, after we got married, Caria insisted on having a heir to the corporate throne of her own.” Alata answered. “Once our daughter, Kana, was born, all interest in raising a child simply vanished. Caria was never all that present at home.”

“I see,” Rozeberg mused, “so you raised your daughter on your own, then?”

“For the most part, yes,” Alata glanced into the audience at Kana, and they shared a brief smile before he returned his attention to the Prosecutor. “I’d like to think I did a fine job of that, given the circumstances.” He thought for a few moments, then said, “Honestly, Caria’s actions were all centered around the company. It was only when one of us did something to jeopardize her plans that she got really involved- typically very angrily.”

“Actions like…?”

“Kana wanted to become a Mystryal Detective,” Alata said. “Caria had found out because she’d had our phones tapped with a recording device. I had no idea she’d done that, and neither had Kana, which I felt was wrong.”

“No doubt there were a number of private corporate conversations held that only Caria had recordings of. Right?” Rozberg supplied.

“Almost certainly,” Alata nodded.

“Objection!” Caria and Rhutowski’s defense attorney, a dragon man named Alain Furmint (Like a Fur covered Mint, not a type of wine) hastily interjected. “Relevance, your Honor?”

“Miss Rozberg?” Judge Sapphire looked at the Sylph woman.

“Merely supplying the fact that Caria Calvert- then Mayoi- had illegally wire-tapped her phones to record private and business conversations that the other participants were not aware of, your Honor,” Rozberg said.

“Objection overruled,” Judge Sapphire said. Furmint growled, but accepted it and began harshly whispering with Caria over what had obviously just come up. Seeing this, the Judge nodded to Rozberg. “Continue.”

“So, this wire tapping, was it the incident that lead to you filing for divorce?” Rozberg asked.

“Yes,” Alata nodded. “At that point, I feared what Caria would try to pull to keep Kana at home. I’d been considering it for a long time before, but after hearing that she’d recorded our private conversations… I couldn’t wait any longer.”

“Thank you, Mister Mayoi,” Rozberg bowed her head, “I’ve no further questions.”

“Mister Furmint?” Judge Sapphire asked of the Defense Attorney. “Any questions?”

The dragon man looked up, an irritated scowl on his face. “No, your honor. No questions. In fact, I’d like to move for a recess, actually.”

“What?!” Rhutowski began to protest, “But that’s not what we pla–” He stopped upon noticing that Caria was now was glaring at their lawyer. The one eyed Lamia wisely shut up, a sudden bit of understanding clicking into place. The first of many, he suspected.

“May I ask why?” Judge Sapphire asked. “You did request to talk with this witness as well, after all. And to call for a recess so suddenly…”

“My Client appears to have forgotten to inform me of one of her past deeds,” Furmint said, crossing his arms. “I need to take the time to ask her if there was anything else she’s ‘forgotten’ to mention. I don’t want any more surprises.”

“Very well, Recess Granted,” Judge Sapphire brought her hammer down. “We’ll resume in one hour.”

“Mizar and Alcor- I can’t believe that just happened,” Ayako breathed out as she and her mother watched the Jury retreat to the Deliberation Room. “What just happened!?”

“I’m still trying to figure that out,” Kana continued to stare blankly at the now empty Defense Table. Had her mother honestly not thought to tell her Lawyer once in the last four months about the events that lead up to the Divorce? Illegally recording business and private dealings were two separate tiers of crime in and of themselves. That Caria hadn’t told Furmint so he could prepare a counter argument…

Just what the hell was her mother thinking?! It couldn’t be anything even remotely resembling “sane” at this point. Considering all the troubles they’d had just getting a single lawyer for the two of them to even stick around for more than a month… These thoughts were still sticking with her even an hour later as court resumed.

Kana Mayoi was called to the stand to testify next- first retelling the experience she had early on in her days as a student. When her Mother, summoned by one Jonathan Rhutowski, had come and tried to take her away. Then, she talked about the encounter in Tategami where she’d arrested her Mother for much the same stunt and faking wounds- a thing that Caria’s Lawyer was once again caught off guard by, even after the recess, and that Rhutowski found so embarrassing that he buried his face in his hands. Yet another click within his brain’s puzzled think pan.

When Rozberg was done, and Furmint came up to question her, Kana found herself surprised when she was only asked one question before being dismissed.

“Has your Mother ever used self harm in a similar manner before this event that you are aware of?”

Kana closed her eyes, thought back far, far, into her past, and dug up an answer that she’d long ago forgotten had even happened. “Yes, once when I was three. She hurt herself on a letter opener and then threatened to have a man she was arguing over a contract with that if they didn’t comply with her demands, she’d have them arrested for trying to kill her.” One final Click, and Rhutowski seemed to make up his mind on something.

“I see,” Furmint grit his teeth, and turned back to face his client, who very clearly was trying his patience. “No further questions.”

As Kana was dismissed and went back to the audience, Alexa Izala was called up to the stand. After several trying minutes in which Alexa corroborated Kana’s testimony, and then explained in excruciating detail the moments of her attempted murder- at least, up until she’d been released from the choke hold. “At that point, I was too busy catching my breath to pay attention to everything else.”

In an echo of the previous trial with the Changeling, the Defense Attorney had no questions for this witness. Instead, he listened to his other client, Rhutowski, whispering into his ear, and he grinned like a shark that smelled blood. Caria, meanwhile, had simply been too busy glaring daggers at Alexa Izala to even notice this exchange.

A few moments later, she would regret this failure at keeping tack of her surroundings, as Attorney Furmint stood and called, out of order, his own client to the stand.

“What!?” Caria’s head snapped around almost comically as Rhutowski stood up from his seat, and began slithering across the floor towards the stand.

Kana had an inkling of a feeling about what was going to happen a moment before it did. The strangest feeling that even Jonathan Rhutowski was at the end of his rope involving Caria Calvert. The Lamia sat down, was sworn in, and then…

And then he sang like a harpy after drinking a truth serum. Event after event after event- things that Kana and Alata had never been aware of. Every single personal dealing that Rhutowski had with Caria Calvert was spilled out into open court. Shady business deals and more blackmail attempts than even Hecate could shake a quiver full of arrows at.

With each and every thing that Rhutowski said, Alain Furmint’s grin grew wider and wider. With each and every secret spilled, Caria Calvert’s face grew redder and redder with a rapidly boiling rage.

Some members of the Jury began to look sick when Rhutowski began to talk about how Caria had his own shipping company caught up in a scheme that he’d wanted no part of. Kana had to cover Ayako’s ears upon hearing the start of one rather shocking tale involving a Tail Piercing service that went horribly wrong.

By the time it was over, Rhutowski was gulping down a glass of water, and Caria was being dragged away by the Court Guards while yelling death threats and obscenities towards Rhutowski.

“Ahhem, well,” Judge Sapphire adjusted her collar as she looked at Furmint curiously, “that was… rather interesting. I take this turn of events to mean that you’re now solely representing Mister Rhutowski?”

“Yes, your Honor,” Furmint nodded. “Miss Calvert has proven to be too unwilling to share critical details that could have aided in her defense. May Mizar help the next Lawyer that works with her. Mister Rhutowski, on the other hand,” he smiled, “has decided to come forth on these shady deals in exchange for clemency… or at the very least, a jail cell far, far away from Miss Calvert. Perhaps one a continent away?”

“I think that’s manageable,” Judge Sapphire looked to Rozberg, and asked, “Any objections?”

Rozberg conferred with Alexa for a few moments, then said, “No Objections, your Honor.”

The Jury didn’t take long to deliberate.

“In the case of Alexa Izala Versus Caria Calvert, we find the defendant Guilty on all charges, and then some!” The lead Juror announced. “We recommend as harsh of a punishment as possible.”

“Understood,” Judge Sapphire banged her hammer down. “Caria Calvert is thus sentenced to the maximum amount of jail time for a Dragon. Fifty years.”

The now bound and gagged Caria yelled and screamed through her muzzle, glaring promised death at the Jury.

“In the case of Alexa Izala versus Jonathan Rhutowski, we find the defendant Guilty of Coerced Association.” The Juror continued. “We recommend five to eight years in jail, with allowance for probation and good behavior.”

Judge Sapphire nodded, “Eight years of Prison for Rhutowski, with probation after five.” She brought the hammer down, sentencing him.

And so as the Trial’s final moments occurred, Kana Mayoi sat in her seat, almost certain that something was going to go wrong. Something, anything…

But it didn’t.

And as the words “Court Dismissed” were uttered, Kana Mayoi breathed out, almost unable to process it all, “It’s over.”

And it was.

In a daze, Kana found herself heading home through the Way-gate, only half focusing in on the discussions of her friends and family floating around her.

Just what the hell had even happened?

Mikari Yuki had gone out for a walk. Lightsygn was a fairly normal town. Unlike Rainbow Line, it didn’t have much of a claim to fame. It simply existed further down the train tracks and people lived their day to day ordinary lives without much trouble. Just about the only unique thing about it Mikari could think of was that there was…

There wasn’t anything really special about it at all. Even Faye had said that the only reason her parents had even come here that one time was because some other company was moving out and there was an opening to move into. Both of them had concluded rather firmly during the late hours of that night that it was just a Town. Not even a fun one like Rainbow Line… That was it. It was just a town. Identical to all the other ‘towns’ that existed out there in the world that didn’t have some gimmick to exploit or sell or promote or… Anything, really. It was just there.

And thus, it was perfect for mulling over her thoughts.

Lizzy had uncovered very little to do with Ahr’tur Llewellyn save that he had once attended Mystryal Academy some fifty years ago, that he’d gone instead into the field of Archeology, and then… Somehow???… ended up as a teacher for a Black Arms Certification class that there was no record of himself ever taking.

What few surface level reports of him existed said that he was abrasive, commanding, and rarely didn’t get his way. What few underground reports said the same, but with more colorful language.

At this rate, they’d have to start actively cultivating inquiries with the Cat’s Guild in order to find out what the fuck was wrong with Ahr’tur Llewellyn’s invasive, stalker-ish desire to meddle in the lives of the people closest to Mikari.

So, imagine her surprise when she came across a familiar Undine boy perusing a candy shop’s window display.

“You!” In shock of seeing someone from four months earlier, she pointed at the teenage member of the Lucky Cat’s Thievery Guild while exclaiming, “What are you doing here!?”

Eugene Gohan looked up from the display, his mouth face scrunching up in a “Oh crap who did I rob this time” way before he recognized who was talking to him… and then he flashed her a dashing grin and said, “You know it’s rude to point at people, Miss Yuki.”

“That’s-!” Mikari stopped that obvious sentence at the point of no return as she lowered her hand and shoved it into her jacket pocket. “That’s only because I was surprised to run into you here. That’s all,” her tone of voice returned to something a bit more casual. “But seriously. What the hell are you doing here, Eugene?”

“My cousin has a food allergy,” Eugene replied, jabbing a thumb at the store, “These people make stuff that doesn’t trigger it. I was seeing what was their order load was like before I went in.”

“Oh…” Mikari frowned, then nodded. “I have a classmate who’s got pretty bad allergies too.” She glanced at the window- and indeed, there was a sign part of the window display that read a number percentage, 55%, In any other situation, Mikari likely wouldn’t have known what it meant.

“Hah, funny coincidence that,” the thief laughed. “So… are you here buying for them too? Or should I ask you the same thing you just asked me?”

Mikari laughed and shook her head. “Nah. Nothing quite that mundane. I was just out… trying to get my thoughts in order. Although I might go in since you brought it up. Maybe they’ll have something for her too?”

“Who knows,” the Undine shrugged. “Only one way to find out?”

“Last minute gift shopping?” Mikari retrieved her hand from her pocket and offered it for a shake.

“Last minute gift shopping,” Eugene said as he took her hand and shook it… a moment later, his hand withdrew from hers, and nothing happened.

“Right then,” Mikari nodded, and together, they entered the candy store.

Working at the counter was a teenage Spriggain girl no older than either Mikari or Eugene were. Her skin was a shade of green like all Spriggains, and it contrasted sharply with her bright red hair that was pulled back into a ponytail. When she looked up at the sound of the door opening, Mikari saw a set of blue eyes that seemed to reflect the color of the sky. “Howdy, Eugene! I had a feelin’ I’d bee seein’ you!” She stepped out from behind the counter and smiled as she approached them. “What can I get for ya?”

“Two different people with food allergies,” Eugene explained. “My cousin, her classmate.”

“Ah, gotcha. So how severe we talkin’ about?” Aysha asked, looking at Mikari. “Can’t eat certain foods orrr…?”

“Can’t touch just about anything without a reaction,” Mikari said, which made Eugene raise an eyebrow. “I know a pretty small list of things she can eat, though.”

“That’s pretty bad,” Eugene remarked. “Sounds a bit like my cousin, actually.”

“Well, don’t your worry ’bout a thing, Miss,” Aysha flashed a smile Mikari’s way. “We have clients who deal with quite a few nasty and rare allergies.” Aysha nodded her head at Eugene. “Eugene’s cousin’s one of those severe cases too. So anything safe for her is likely safe for your friend too!” She grinned. “So! Tell me what your friend can eat, and I’ll tell ya what’s available for her!’

“I guess so,” Mikari nodded. “Okay, so…” She repeated the list of things that she’d heard from Olivea just a few days ago. Some of the things she had trouble with pronouncing, but Eugene or Aysha both seemed to understand what she was talking about.

With that done, Aysha grinned, and began to talk Mikari through the various products that could be tailor made for Olivea, and the how involved. Over the next several minutes, the Spriggain girl explained the intricacies of certain non-allergenic food productions and so on and so forth. All of it Mikari would have found it all rather enlightening if a vast majority of it wasn’t technobabble that Mikari was sure she’d understood if she had a better understanding of how specific allergies worked.

So, for the most part, she stood there and nodded along where appropriate. It was through this that she noticed Eugene doing much the same thing, though for a rather obvious different reason.

He had a look on his face that Mikari had seen several times over the last few months. If he’d had ears and a tail that she could see, it would have been a perfect match to one that Tony had when he was just watching Ayako talking about something she was excited about.

In fact, comparing it in her head, she could pace it out. Contented smiles just listening to her voice, check. Nodding in agreement whenever she looked his way, or even when not, check… Actually, now that Mikari was looking she could see the same love-struck reactions Ayako would display as well in the Spriggain girl. A smile forming shyly, check. A subconscious stepping closer, check… Mikari could spend minutes listing it all between the two of them, but there wasn’t enough time in the day for that.

Mikari was sure of one thing: One or both of these two lovebirds were completely and utterly oblivious about how the other felt. There was one major difference between how Ayako and Tony acted and this Aysha girl and Eugene acted: They both seemed to tense up and try to pretend everything was normal when they realized she was staring at them, where-as Ayako and Tony would just laugh and play it up.

“…What?” Eugene asked, frowning, “Do I have something in my teeth?”

“Nope!” Mikari smiled, shaking her head. “I just realized that I’m completely out of my league when it comes to this allergy stuff.”

Aysha, at least, seemed to buy it, and relaxed back to her previous stance. “Well, dang! Well, how about we just get you something small to start with, eh?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Mikari agreed. Eugene was still frowning at her, so she just winked in return, much to his obvious frustration. She was going to tease him mercilessly once they left, that, Mikari vowed on Mizar’s name. It was her sworn duty to get these two together! It would be a Glitter Festival Miracle! (Or something like that, anyways.)


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