Three days had gotten him nowhere. Trying to wade through the stack of legal documents on his desk had proven unprofitable. He needed to just admit that he was no good at this but he could be stubborn if he put his mind to it. A promise had been made and he would not break it. Still though, it didn’t make his task any easier.
It was late in the day and the orange rays of sun played across his office. But Lumiale paid them no mind. Another late night lay ahead and it was starting to really take a toll on him. A knock irrupted him from reading a paragraph over for the third time. He looked up with a hand to his temple, “What is it?”
One of the many aides peered inside, “Oscar-sama has come to see you.”
Oscar? What could he want? Best to just humor him. “See him in.”
With a quick and heavy step, the Fire Guardian approached the desk. “Going to be burning the midnight oil again?”
Lumiale was in no mood to be joked with, especially not by him. “Oscar, I’m very busy. Please just say what you want and leave me to work.”
Sensing the tension, he did as he was told. “Okay, I’ll be frank with you then. You’re going about this the wrong way.”
The Water Guardian turned back to his documents in annoyance.
“Hey, give me a chance before you give me the cold shoulder.” Oscar moved in front of him. “You know as well as I do that you can’t do this alone, no matter how much you want to, nor is any of this really your forte.”
Without a good argument, Lumiale sighed in frustration, “Then what do you suggest I do?”
“Let me help.”
Now that was funniest thing he’d heard in a long time. But he politely kept his expression to a slight snicker.
Oscar knew better though. “I’m serious.” He crossed his arms indigently. “I’ve come here with an olive branch and information and you just laugh. See if I do help you.”
He bowed in apology. “I’m sorry. I just never expected help from you. I mean, Julious-sama has taken the prosecution and I assumed you would follow.”
“I understand that. But I don’t agree with him in this case.” He paused thoughtfully. “Despite everything wrong with him, Arios is a good man. I respect him not only as a fellow swordsman but also as a person.”
Lumiale glanced to the side. “But do you believe that he isn’t guilty?”
“Of course! I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.” He leaned on the desk. “So, are you going to let me help?”
For a moment, the Water Guardian considered the offer. He really could use the help and on his own he’d gotten nothing but frustration. Perhaps he couldn’t do this alone. He extended his hand. “Politics really does make strange bedfellows.”
Oscar shook in agreement. “And that’s what I’ve come to talk to you about. You see, you’re just going about presenting the facts. What you have to know not how to sway but who to sway.”
“Alright.” He nodded. “Continue.”
“May I borrow a sheet and a pen?” He motioned to the large stack of papers with beside the inkwell. After another nod, Oscar drew out three columns and labeled them “Not Guilty,” “Swing,” and “Guilty.”
He wrote as he spoke. “Okay, here is you in the not guilty column and Julious-sama on the guilty side. Those are the set official votes.”
“So where does everyone else fall?”
“That’s what I’ve been looking into while you’ve been researching. Anyway, I’m also here on the not guilty side and from what I gather Mel is too.”
He frowned slightly, “Really?”
“Yeah. He and Arios may have fought but they liked each other. Plus, Mel is pretty forgiving and understanding,” Oscar elaborated.
“Okay. Keep going.”
“On the other hand, I’d put Victor, Timka, and Randy in the Guilty side. Victor will follow the Queens and they seem to be leaning guilty. Timka isn’t a moral relativist in the least so he’ll vote Guilty. And Randy-”
“-is so upset over Marcel’s reaction that he’ll be swayed to vote guilty.” Lumiale finished.
“Exactly. You’re not as out of the loop as I thought.”
He raised an eyebrow. “I’m good at reading people, unlike legal documents. Well, that leaves Clavis-sama, Luva-sama, Ernst, and Olivie as the swing votes.”
“Luva and Ernst will go whichever way the facts points. Clavis-”
“-leans more towards not guilty.”
“Alright. And Olivie is a wildcard. I have no idea which way he’ll go.”
“I think he’s also closer to not guilty.”
Oscar nodded. “That’s how things seem to be falling right now. What we should do is concentrate on the swing votes. We have to do research anyway so it will be easy to get to Luva and Ernst. You can talk to Clavis, and I’ll try and handle Olivie.”
The implications of the conversation hit Lumiale. “We shouldn’t be thinking of everyone as just votes.”
“Just for the Council. If you’re uncomfortable with his…”
“No, no…” He shook his head and sighed. “But thanks for the consideration. Anyway, we’ll have to keep working on the factual part of the case.” Though just the sight of the workload made him ill.
“Why don’t you take a break from that for a while?” Oscar suggested. “I’ll organize things for you here.”
Standing, Lumiale smiled softly in appreciation. “Thank you, Oscar. For your help and everything. I know we don’t get along normally, but it’s good to know I’m not alone in this.”
“Same here. Now go get some rest, okay?” He patted the other Guardian on the shoulder.
“I will, I will. But, I have to see someone first.”
No real OAR this chapter. Actually, this is more of a recreation of the thinking I had to go through to decide where to plot everyone’s loyalties. (Yes, I’m projecting my Machiavellian plotting on Oscar.) One of the most interesting re-aliments I had was the focus of this chapter i.e. Lumiale and Oscar working together. Personally, I do see them in a kind of sibling rivalry. But Oscar is a good friend of Arios and would be willing to forgo his problems with Lumiale to help. Anyway, keep the loyalties in line when reading. For easy reference here’s Oscar chart along with those who aren’t participating in the Council -
|Not Guilty||Swing||Guilty||Not Involved|