Roquana


by
Robin Gordon

Auksford crest: a great auk displaying a book with the words "Ex ovo sapientia"
Auksford 2013

© Copyright Robin Gordon, 2013

Auksford index.  --  Index to Robin Gordon's works.  --  Roquana: index.


Book III: New Jackrusselham
***
Chapter 11: The Trial


    It was immediately apparent that a trial before the Holy Synod bore little or no relation to a trial before a court of law.  There was to be no presentation of the respective cases for the prosecution and defence, indeed there was no defence counsel at all, and the functions of prosecuting counsel and presiding judge were united in one person, the acting President of the Holy Synod, Monsignor Gulls.
    He was at his most silkily persuasive, and his careful laying of stress on prepositions and conjunctions gave his discourse a spurious air of significance and authority while at the same time, lulling his hearers into a semi-soporific state in which he could slide imperceptibly from truths to half-truths, from half-truths through increasingly damning innuendos to downright lies.  Like the hypocritical Wizard in the surviving fragments of the Gospel According to St Joyur Tullkine he could have convinced the most sceptical among us that black was white.
    “In the absence of Her Excellency, President Bananas,” he began, “it necessarily falls to me as Procurator of the Holy Synod to undertake her functions and in particular to preside over this trial which has unfortunately become necessary.  I am sure that all Members of the Holy Synod will join with me in sending to our beloved President our very best wishes and our hopes that, following a course of medical and psychological treatment, she may recover from her very grave illness, be fully restored to health and resume her duties as President of our Colony here on Sunday.
    “The reason for our beloved President’s indisposition, as we all know, was that she received a severe shock and was so appalled by certain slanderous misinformation that she suffered fit of apoplexy and had to be immediately placed under sedation if her life was to be saved.  What those slanders were, and who was responsible for them, will form part of the matter to be discussed at this trial.
    “The accused is Sulamun Tadler, a long-standing member of the Holy Inquisition, an institution for which I, and indeed all members of the Holy Synod, have nothing but the greatest respect.  The Holy Inquisition is a guarantor of liberty and freedom from oppression by criminal elements not only here on Sunday but throughout the Commonwealth.  The continued moral health of the populations of the multifarious planets within the Commonwealth depends absolutely on the rectitude and uprightness of the guardians of the Commonwealth ethos, that is of the Inquisitors.  They are entrusted with the very grave responsibility of access to the minds of everyone right across the Commonwealth – with, I suppose, the possible exception of Her Majesty, the Queen, and that responsibility carries with it the need for absolute probity to guarantee that no Inquisitor would ever seek to influence his subject or to use any information discovered during the course of an inquisition for personal gain.
    “Here on Sunday we have been very fortunate in our Inquisitors, and I am sure the Holy Synod would wish to put on record its appreciation of and gratitude for the magnificent achievements of the Grand Inquisitor and his staff in maintaining the admirable moral purity of our planet, which has become virtually proverbial throughout the Commonwealth.
    “The temptations which must constantly assail any Inquisitor are of an order of which few if any of us can conceive, and the absolute honesty with which the Grand Inquisitor and his staff have carried out their onerous duties is deserving of our sincere admiration, for, should an Inquisitor ever fall below the high standards set by the Grand Inquisitor, the damage that he could inflict on our society is inestimable in its destructive effects, and, unfortunately, it has to be faced that one Inquisitor, namely Sulamun Tadler, has fallen below those high standards, and that is why we face the unpleasant task of investigating just how far he has lapsed from grace, and what, if any, damage has been done to our community.
    “Inquisitor Tadler is accused of misusing an inquisitorial examination for his own purposes.  His subject was a young girl called Roquana Smuff, who lived with her mother in Beddleham.  While Dr Tadler was investigating Roquana Smuff she was recruited to work as a housemaid at Lord Savark’s country residence, Savark Court.  It must have been at this point that Sulamun Tadler saw his chance to pry into the private life of one of the most prominent families on Sunday, to spy on Lord Savark himself, the leader of the Sunday Development Corporation and the man to whom, above all others, we owe the peaceful and indeed moral development of our colony.
    “Sulamun Tadler is not a senior Inquisitor, he is hardly the stuff of which Eminences are made – shee-hee-hee – and he had therefore never been given the task of investigating any really prominent member of the Establishment.  As I have already pointed out, Inquisitors must be utterly and entirely dependable, so that they can be trusted not to take personal advantage of any confidential information they may uncover during the course of their investigations.  How much more important this is when the people undergoing inquisition are members of the Government: Senators, Ministers of the Crown, persons possessed of state secrets which, if they fell into the wrong hands could imperil the peaceful governance of Sunday.
    “So, as I have said, Inquisitor Tadler had never been entrusted with conducting enquiries into the lives of senior members of the Establishment.  Perhaps at this stage it was merely curiosity that led him to remain with Roquana Smuff at Savark Court, or perhaps he had already conceived the project of seeking out information that he could use for personal profit.  At any rate he was able, through the eyes of his subject to obtain sufficient information about the layout of Savark Court and the life of the household to give the slanders that he was later to concoct a semblance of truth.
    “Having conceived this plan, Sulamun Tadler had to remove Roquana Smuff from Savark Court and bring her to New Jackrusselham.  This he achieved in a most cunning manner.  Realising that a young girl travelling on her own through the wild woodlands of Sunday was in considerable danger of being attacked and eaten by the Tohu, his first move was to obtain for her a companion.  Contrary to all the principles of the Holy Inquisition he set out to influence his subject – indeed to take total control of the mind of the unfortunate Roquana Smuff, and, having done so, he deliberately manipulated her into seducing a young footman, one Tommuz Crumptin.
    “Roquana Smuff, under the control of Inquisitor Tadler, behaved in a way that was totally out of character for her – indeed a way that is foreign to all of our young maidens on Sunday.  She led the young man into isolated parts of the garden, into copses, shrubberies and deserted summerhouses.  There she kissed and cuddled him, fondled every part of his body, unfastened his clothing, excited him beyond all bearing, and eventually seduced him into the act of copulation.
    “Still controlled by Inquisitor Tadler, Roquana Smuff now blackmailed Tommuz Crumptin into agreeing to accompany her if ever she left Savark Court and to go with her to New Jackrusselham.
    “Tadler’s next move was to precipitate Roquana Smuff’s flight.  It was obvious that Tommuz Crumptin would never agree to follow her into the wilderness under normal circumstances, in fact he probably dissuaded her from leaving on more than one occasion.  Tadler now used the occasion of one of Lord Savark’s house-parties, which was the only time Roquana Smuff had ever come close to His Lordship.  Controlling the unfortunate Roquana Smuff like a puppet, Inquisitor Tadler sent her to speak to Lord Savark, who was standing at the top of the stairs looking down on the decorous conversations taking place among his guests.
    “Roquana Smuff, under the control of Inquisitor Tadler, approached Lord Savark with some fantastic tale about Jamal Fittlutt, and when he turned to speak to her, she launched an unprovoked attack on him – on the Father of Sunday.  I hope members of this Holy Synod will forgive me if what I have now to say proves shocking in the extreme: under the control of Inquisitor Tadler, Roquana Smuff raised her knee and struck Lord Savark as hard as she could in the groin, attacking our benefactor most indecently in the very essence of his manhood.
    “His Lordship collapsed, and it is only by the very greatest good fortune that he did not tumble down the stairs and break his neck.  Let us give thanks to the gods, for they watched over him and preserved him.
    “Roquana Smuff now sought out Tommuz Crumptin, told him – still under the control of Inquisitor Tadler – that Lord Savark had attempted to rape her and that she had been forced to attack him to preserve her modesty – hardly her virginity, for that she had already given to Tommuz Crumptin.
    “Struck by the enormity of what she had done, Crumptin agreed to take her back to her mother’s house in Beddleham, but, on the way there, she convinced him that her tale of attempted rape was true, and she also slandered all of Lord Savark’s guests: members of the Senate, of the League of Purity, and of the High Court of Justice.  Not even the octogenarian President of the Bank of Sunday escaped her calumny, for – still acting under the control of Inquisitor Tadler – she convinced the gullible Tommuz Crumptin that this frail and saintly old man had engaged in perverted sexual assaults on young girls.
    “On their arrival at Beddleham Roquana Smuff and Tommuz Crumptin sought the aid of Mrs Smuff, whom they also persuaded to believe their slanderous allegations, and with her help were able to find transport to New Jackrusselham.  I have to admit now that I sincerely regret not having tried to persuade the merciful Lord Savark to pursue them, for His Lordship, being, as we all know, a kindly and generous man, was all too inclined to make light of his pain and of the very great danger that Roquana Smuff’s unprovoked attack at the very top of the grand staircase had put his life in.
    “When they reached New Jackrusselham Sulamun Tadler was ready to put the next part of his plan into action, for by now it had become nothing less than a cunning scheme to destabilize the government of Sunday and to seize power for himself.
    “By this stage, his constant repetition in Roquana Smuff’s mind of his version of events had left the poor girl so confused that she really believed the false memories planted there by Inquisitor Tadler, and her belief communicated itself to the infatuated Tommuz Crumptin, who was now as deluded as she was.
    “Sulamun Tadler was at last able to leave the mind of Roquana Smuff, confident that she would continue to believe his version of events and to spread the lies, slanders and calumnies that he had devised.  Using his position as a member of the Holy Inquisition he now sought an audience with President Bananas, and, when it was granted, he used an Inquisition carriage to bring Roquana Smuff and Tommuz Crumptin into the Government Quarter.
    “He took them to see the President, where, constantly prompted by him, they slandered Lord Savark, his family, his whole household, his distinguished guests, and even accused Sunday’s best loved entertainer, Jamal Fittlutt, whose work with orphans and other deprived children has gained him well-deserved recognition as a modern saint – even Jamal Fittlutt was accused of the most disgusting pederasty.
    “It is scarcely to be wondered at that our beloved President was struck into total paralysis by these wild accusations.  She had agreed to meet with an Inquisitor, one of the guardians of the ethos of Sunday.  He had brought with him two young people, who, under his influence, (though the President did not know that), told her that Lord Savark, the founder of the Sunday Development Corporation, the Father of our Colony, and, as President of the League of Purity, the wise and moral inspiration of our young people – that Lord Savark himself presided over wild orgies in which naked Senators and High Court Judges cavorted with young girls, not to mention young boys; that Jamal Fittlutt assaulted underage girls for his own pleasure and for the entertainment of the aforementioned Senators and High Court Judges; that Lord Savark and his guests watched and applauded while His Lordship’s own son, Sir Muckswill Savark, stripped and raped a housemaid.
    “Worse, much worse was yet to come, for Roquana Smuff, convinced by the brainwashing to which Sulamun Tadler had subjected her, and who, you will remember had launched an unprovoked attack on His Lordship which left him collapsed in agony and, but for the intervention of the gods themselves, might have resulted in his death, now told Her Excellency that Lord Savark had attempted to rape her, and that she had been obliged to resist.
    “Even worse was still to come, for our beloved President, although already reeling with shock, was now informed that the Tohu, who have attacked, killed and eaten countless numbers of our citizens, were not carnivorous apes but humans, members of our own race whom Lord Savark had set out to exterminate in order to maximise profits for the Sunday Development Corporation.
    “Perhaps we should not blame Roquana Smuff and Tommuz Crumptin too harshly, for all this time they were mere puppets acting under the control of Inquisitor Tadler – but Sulamun Tadler himself cannot have been unaware of the effect of his slanderous calumnies on the obviously distressed President Bananas.  Yet he still continued with his campaign, even though it was clear that she was on the point of collapse – such was his determination to undermine the legitimate government of Sunday and to seize power for himself.
    “Leaving the President prostrated by grief and confusion, Sulamun Tadler next took his two puppets out of the Government Quarter and sent them back into the city with instructions to stir up the populace into rioting and anarchy, which they successfully did.
    “The first atrocity was the attack on a Government Guard who was on patrol near the Pantheon.  Stirred up by Roquana Smuff and Tommuz Crumptin, a mob set on the unfortunate young man and beat him almost to death, simply for being in the service of the legitimate government of Sunday.  They also stole his uniform, doubtless in order to infiltrate the Guardroom, probably with the intention of throwing open the gate so that the mob could invade the Government Quarter, smash up Government buildings, and attack Ministers and officials as they went about their legitimate business.  I hope we have prevented that by alerting the Guard Commanders to redouble security along the periphery of the Government Quarter, and I can report that a ferocious attack on the gates by a huge and riotous mob led by Roquana Smuff and Tommuz Crumptin, was repulsed by the Guards.
    “The next atrocity inspired by Inquisitor Tadler and carried out by a mob inflamed by Roquana Smuff and Tommuz Crumptin, was an attack on the Guild of Eunuchs.  As we all know, this peaceful brotherhood, who live a communal and monastic existence in the humble and semi-subterranean darkness of the crypt beneath the Pantheon, have sacrificed their very manhood to expunge from their lives every trace of competitive aggression, of lust, of ambition.  They are, in short, the truest exemplars of the ethos of helpfulness, love and duty which governs our colony here on Sunday and makes it so very different from other, less civilised frontier worlds.
    “Despite this, a raging mob battered down the great bronze doors of the crypt, invaded this holy and sanctified place of prayer and contemplation, and drove the brothers out with kicks and blows, pursuing them along the street and throwing stones and clods of earth at them.  What has happened to the brothers we do not know, but it is feared that some at least have been driven out of the city and into the wild woodland, where they may fall prey to the savage Tohu.
    “Even harmless passers-by in the street have not been safe from the attacks of these violent and aggressive mobs of rioting anarchists stirred up by Roquana Smuff and Tommuz Crumptin under the malign influence of Inquisitor Sulamun Tadler.  Lord Savark’s cook, a respectable woman of mature years and not inconsiderable girth – shee-hee-hee-hee – was attacked by a raging mob, howling for her blood, and forced to flee for her very life.
    “We have suffered from insurrection in New Jackrusselham, anarchy, violence and attempted murder on the streets of our capital city – and who is responsible?  Inquisitor Sulamun Tadler, who, misusing his powers as one of the guardians of the moral code of Sunday, has stirred up the populace in order to seize power for himself, to make himself ruler of Sunday at the head of a violent mob, and to institute a reign of terror aimed at the elimination of all members of the Senate, the Ministries of the Crown, Holy Mother Church, the Holy Inquisition and indeed this Holy Synod itself.  Has he not already started this reign of terror by driving our beloved President into a breakdown from which it is doubtful that she will ever recover?
    “For such treason there can be only one penalty, and already several ministers and prominent Senators have urged me to demand it – death!  The constitution of the Commonwealth prescribes the death penalty for treason, and we can be quite sure that the Privy Council will insist on it.  Her Majesty herself, merciful lady though she be, would insist on the elimination of such a traitor, purely and simply for the protection of her subjects.  That is why I – though I do so with great reluctance – must insist that the penalty for Tadler’s treacherous stirring up of the violent forces of anarchy and disorder with the intention of overthrowing the Government and everything our civilisation stands for, has to be death – and that his execution should be carried out without delay as the only possible means of bringing to an end the insurrection he has called into being.

    There were murmurs of agreement and heads were nodded as Gulls brought his speech to its triumphant close.
    “There being no dissenting voices,” he honked, “I shall call in the Government Guards to take Sulamun Tadler back to his cell and make the necessary arrangements for his execution.”
    Having only a short time left, I determined to write this account of what had happened and, if possible, pass it to my colleague, Dr Drow, in the hope that the truth would eventually emerge.


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Roquana:  Index.  --  Chapter 10.  --  Chapter 12.

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