The court-yard was turning quickly into a barn-yard.
It was intended to allow for Animals, of course; that was why it was outdoors. But it had been intended, by the worthies who had designed it, that there would be, perhaps, an Animal plaintiff or defendant, in a court otherwise composed of Humans of one ilk or another.
Judge Dernbian Occut stared at the court-yard. Stared, and then closed his eyes, which did not help, because he could still hear and smell the whole thing quite well, thank you very much. There was a bleating over there, and a complaining over there, and one rather young and incontinent Sheep had lost itself all over the pavers.
And the lawyer. The lawyer for the Prosecution – and all of its clients – were Llamas. At least, Judge Occut hoped they were Llamas. He had only, so far, heard bleating.
He banged his gavel and glared at his bailiff, who should have known better and, somehow, made this go away before it happened. “This court will come to order.”
The Bailiff, who was nominally Human but had, Judge Occut was sure, Bulldog blood in the lines somewhere, barked out at the crowd. “Silence! Silence! The Court of the Honorable Judge Dernbian FitzeGondalf Occut is now in session! Sit down if you’ve got it. Stand quiet if you don’t!”
A moment, a blessed moment of silence. Then the attorney for the defense wheedled forward. “Forthright Estiman, your Honor.”
“I know you.” The sleaziest sort of barrister, Forthright Estiman.
“I move that the charges against my client be dismissed. After all, the plaintiff, your Honor, is a Llama.”
The Llama stepped forward, and bowed, deeply, and very impressively. “If we could bring the Court’s attention to the case of Morinda v. Werwin, or the case of Lucy the Red v. the Sheep Satire, there is more than sufficient precedent for an Animal bringing suit. And as we are bringing a financial suit against one Kaber Bennidict, who has been more than willing to take Animal gold, I cannot see why he would suddenly think that an Animal is not worthy of his presence.” The Llama nodded toward the defendant’s seat, noticeably empty. “The charge is fraud and corruption, your Honor. Surely the esteemed Sir Bennedict could bring himself forward for that charge?”
Judge Occut cleared his throat, rather than sighing visibly. “Motion to dismiss denied. Forthright, you have ten minutes to produce your client, or I’ll pen you both up in contempt of court.”
It was the first time the Judge had found himself in sympathy with an Animal, but, then again, Forthright always could sway your sympathies against him.
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