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  --  Index to Roquana


Book IV: The War of Independence
***
Chapter 14: The Tribunal


    It had been agreed that I should present the case against the Government of Sunday and that Monsignor Gulls should present their defence.  We therefore waited, standing all together in the courtroom aboard the Ark Royal, until the three judges filed in and took their seats on the Bench.  The Lord High Admiral was, of course, President of the Tribunal.  On his right sat the Papal Nuncio, His Eminence Cardinal Blinkunsouppe, looking portly, well-fed and generally benevolent.  On the Admiral’s left was the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor, His Eminence Monsignor Fronsus DaClue, cadaverously, indeed skeletally, thin, looking as if he were a prey to some terrible wasting disease.  He slumped into his seat, leaned forward, put his left elbow on the table and supported his bony chin on his hand.  His eyes were half-closed, and he looked as if he were so near to death that he could scarcely stay awake.
While I spoke, telling yet again of the adventures of Roquana and Tommuz, Monsignor Gulls smirked at the Nuncio and the Inquisitor, avoiding the eye of the Admiral, who, he knew, had seen through his wiles, and thrusting his sharp nose into the air as if smelling out untruths and drawing the court’s attention to them.  The Papal Nuncio smiled at him benevolently, while the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor’s half-closed eyes gleamed and his thin lips assumed a sardonic smile.
Roquana told her story, nervously but clearly, and then Gulls was allowed to cross-examine her.
    “You admit to attacking Lord Savark by kneeing him in the groin.  Might one ask whether this action was prompted by Inquisitor Tadler, who, as we have heard, was linked to your mind at the time?”
    “I was afraid he was about to rape me,” replied Roquana.
    “Lord Savark, the founder and father of Sunday, is also President of the League of Purity.  Is it likely that such a man would even think of raping a servant girl?”
    “But he did,” said Roquana.
    “Did Inquisitor Tadler prompt you to attack Lord Savark?”
    “He urged me to resist.”
    “And suggested a blow to his Lordship’s testicles?”
    “Well, yes … but …”
    “No further questions!” honked Gulls and sat down.
    Tommuz was next into the witness box.
    “You allege,” said Gulls, “that after you had given the President the information that precipitated her illness, you were seized by a gang of hoypyu, and that these hoypyu took you to the Crypt and handed you over to the Guild of Eunuchs”
    “Yes,” said Tommuz.
    “Eunnngh!” honked Gulls triumphantly.  “As the Court is aware, the feral youths, known as hoypyu, form violent gangs, competing with one another, and their aggression often takes the form of pitched battles in the streets.  Not even a peaceful and morally blameless world like Sunday is free of such an underclass.  Their ideal is one of hyper-maleness and contempt for anyone who does not share their predilection for violence.  They are particularly hostile to contemplative religious orders and have an absolute and abiding hatred for the Guild of Eunuchs, a monastic brotherhood who have sacrificed masculinity and everything that involves to devote themselves to prayer and to live in humble reverence in the Crypt below the Pantheon.
    “The hoypyu regard these peaceful, prayerful brothers as beneath contempt and would lose no opportunity to attack them.
    “Is it then likely that the hoypyu would hand over their captives to the Guild of Eunuchs?  Is it even likely that the Eunuchs would open their doors to a gang of hoypyu?  Your story is obviously a tissue of lies!”
    “Perhaps they weren’t hoypyu,” said Tommuz.
    “Perhaps not,” smirked Gulls, “and perhaps you want to change your story now that you find it doesn’t stand up in court.  Perhaps they were Government Guards in disguise – sheee-heee-heee-heee, shee-hee-hee!
    “I suppose they could have been …” Tommuz began.
    “No further questions,” honked Gulls, and sat down.
    I next called Old Wullum, the gardener, for additional evidence about the events that had taken place at Savark Court.  Gulls sniggered, rolled his eyes, and smirked at the Nuncio and the Inquisitor during his evidence.  Then he cross-examined.
    “I imagine that you were fond of your boy, Moiku,” he said, “in fact, working so closely with him as you did, I imagine you were very fond of him.”
    Wullum agreed that he was.  “He was a good boy,” he said, “and he would have made a good gardener.”
    “You were obviously extremely fond of poor Moiku, and doubtless very upset when he left you to join Mrs Bonpoint’s kitchen staff as a eunuch.”
    “I was.”
    So very upset that you were prepared to slander your employer, Lord Savark, the Founder and Father of the Sunday Colony, and Mrs Bonpoint.”
    “She lured them boys with cakes …”
    “So you have said, but I put it to you, Wullum, that Moiku’s reason for joining the Guild of Eunuchs was because your inappropriate sexual behaviour towards him had undermined his masculinity, feminised him, and so disgusted him that he had determined never to become like you and chose to join the emasculated brotherhood of prayerful devotees to the worship of the Gods in the crypt, as I shall later bring witnesses to prove.  No further questions.”
    “That’s not true … “ began Wullum.
    “No further questions!” snapped Gulls.  “Stand down!
    Wullum left the witness box, while Gulls smirked and sniggered at the Papal Nuncio and the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor.  Cardinal Blinkunsouppe smiled and nodded.  Monsignor DaClue was still leaning on his elbow, most of his face concealed, only his half-closed eyes gleaming between the hand he was leaning on and his shock of unruly white hair.  He seemed to be enjoying the proceedings.
    Next into the witness box was President Bonita Bananas, or, as she now preferred to be called Lady Ontoonia Furtescyow-Broyne.  After she had given her evidence, Monsignor Gulls stood up again.
    “It gives me great pleasure to see our beloved President restored to health,” he purred.  “Given the delicate state of her psyche, and all that she has had to endure during what one might call the Tadler Conspiracy, I have no wish to subject her to any further distress.  I fear it may not be possible for her yet to distinguish between what has happened and what she believes may have happened, and what has been suggested to her as having possibly happened, and I shall therefore forgo cross-examination.”
    Vayhal the Translator was my next witness.  He revealed that his former name was Moiku Stoon and that he had been a civil servant until he had found documents revealing that the Sunday Development Corporation knew that the people they called Tohu were in fact human but wished to exterminate them in order to maximise their profits.  He told how he had been forced to flee and found refuge with the wild people of the woods.
    “Nnnngh!  When did you discover this?” Gulls asked, and Vayhal replied that it must have been about seventeen years ago.
    “I ask the Court to note that this was three years after Sulamun Tadler was transferred to the Inquisition on Sunday,” said Gulls.  “No further questions.”

    The Elders of the Tohu appeared next, with Vayhal translating for them.  They confirmed that they were human, that they had always lived on this world, and that it was in fact the long-lost and ever-lamented home planet of humanity: Earth.
    “I ask the Court to note that the evidence of the Elders of the Tohu is presented entirely through the translation of Moiku Stoon, a renegade colonist as none of us speak their, nnng ‘language’.  No further questions.”
    It was then the turn of Gulls to present his case.  His opening remarks were short, surprisingly so given his tendency to loquacity.  He contented himself with saying that he would seek to prove that the evidence I had presented was untrue, then he called his first witness.
    The President of the Bank of Sunday, and after him his friend the High Court Judge, both swore that Roquana’s tale of an orgy at Savark Court was entirely untrue.
Mrs Bonpoint was called, and she claimed that many of the gardeners’ boys came to her for comfort because the gardeners were in the habit of sexually abusing them.  She particularly remembered young Moiku.  He was an especially attractive boy and she had felt sorry for him as soon as she heard that he had been assigned to that ruffian Wullum.  After several months of humiliating sexual abuse, Moiku had begged her to let him join the Guild of Eunuchs.  It was, of course, totally untrue that she had castrated him in her kitchen.  She had dressed him in female attire and allowed him to join the kitchen maids until she could have him sent to New Jackrusselham.  There, as was normal, he would have been asked three times at his initiation whether he wished to join the Guild, and only if he replied three times that he did, would the operation have been carried out.
    As for Tommuz Crumptin’s allegation that he had been seized by hoypyu and handed over to the Guild for forcible castration, nothing could be further from the truth.  She had noted Tommuz Crumptin at Savark Court as a trouble-maker, and had not seen him since until he led a rabble of rioters to attack the crypt.   She had not been inside at the time, but Tommuz Crumptin had spotted her in the square and incited the mob to attack her.
    A procession of other witnesses came forward to cast doubt on everything that my witnesses had said, and then Gulls came to his summing up.
Frisking, sniggering and almost winking at the Papal Nuncio and the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor he repeated the misinformation he had put before the Holy Synod, using almost the same words.
    He started, as before, with praise of the Inquisition and recognition of the responsibilities of Inquisitors, moving on to a eulogy of the Grand Inquisitor of Sunday and his staff for their sterling work, and then identifying me as the bad apple in the barrel, the Inquisitor who had fallen from grace and misused his privileges to spy on influential members of the ruling establishment for his own purposes.  The information about Lord Savark’s household, which I had learned through using Roquana to pry into matters that did not concern an Inquisitor of my limited talents and rank, would be used to slander the founder and father of the Sunday colony in order to destabilise the Government so that I could seize power for myself.
    Having gained illegitimate possession of this information through my puppet Roquana, of whose mind I had by then taken complete control, I used her to suborn the unfortunate Tommuz Crumptin, to whom Roquana promised and gave sexual delights that she should not have afforded to anyone until properly married.  Having convinced Tommuz and brought him too under my control, I then precipitated their flight by using Roquana to launch an attack on Lord Savark which, but for the intervention of the Gods, might have resulted in his falling to his death, which would, of course, have suited me very well.
    “Inquisitor Tadler lied when he claimed that Lord Savark and his guests indulged in a sexual orgy, as we have heard from a High Court judge and from the President of the Bank of Sunday.  Where he did find sexual licence, and I may say, sexual licence of a particularly disgusting kind, was among the gardeners, the outdoors staff, the ignorant labourers who tended the grounds of Savark Court because they were unfit for any more exalted occupation, men like the atrocious ruffian Wullum, who, as he himself admitted, was extremely ‘fond’ of his young apprentice Moiku, an attractive youth, who, as we have heard, fled for comfort and eventually for sanctuary to the cook, Mrs Bonpoint, and, rather than submit to further sexual attacks by Wullum and his cronies, rather than submit, I say, to, nnngh, sodomy and buggery, chose to join the Guild of Eunuchs.
    “Such were the allies Tadler used to conceal the escape of his puppet Roquana, for Wullum, by his own admission and that of Roquana Smuff and Sulamun Tadler himself, led the searchers, concerned for Roquana’s welfare, for they were as yet unaware that her attack on Lord Savark had been deliberate and, indeed, engineered by Sulamun Tadler – led those concerned searchers on a wild goose chase, allowing time for Roquana Smuff to disappear into the forests, where, assisted by her, nnngh, ‘Voice’, that is: controlled by Inquisitor Tadler, she was able to evade the search and rescue dogs by wading along streams.
    “Such, I say were the allies chosen by Sulamun Tadler, and whether Wullum was sufficiently incensed by the loss of his paramour, for which he blamed Mrs Bonpoint, and, through her, the whole of Lord Savark’s household and his Lordship himself, or whether he was further manipulated by Inquisitor Tadler we cannot be entirely sure, though it seems not unlikely that Tadler used his puppet Roquana Smuff to offer sexual enticements to reward Old Wullum for his co-operation, though, given his proclivities, it is more likely that she persuaded her accomplice, Tommuz Crumptin, to offer himself to satiate the foul lusts of Old Wullum and his cronies.  Doubtless similar rewards were given to the carter and the boys who brought Roquana Smuff and Tommuz Crumptin to where Tadler knew they could be picked up by the renegade colonists posing as Tohu.”
    The next part of what Gulls was now calling the Tadler conspiracy, was for the Tohu to bring Roquana and Tommuz to New Jackrusselham, where I had organised a meeting for them with the President.  It was not entirely clear what I had planned next.  Probably, after having met the President, my intention was to link my mind to hers in order to spy on the deliberations of the Senate and the Holy Synod.  Being then in control of the President herself, I would have been able to influence decisions in those august bodies to further my own advancement and to persuade them to appoint me Supreme Ruler of Sunday.
    “The illness of our beloved President as a result of hearing the slanders to which Inquisitor Tadler’s puppets forced her to listen, prevented the fulfilment of this devilish plan, though it still had the effect of sowing disconcerting levels of anxiety in the upper reaches of the Government of Sunday.
    “Luckily, in one of her moments of lucidity our beloved President was able to confide in her doctors, who immediately informed me, as Acting President, of the reasons for her collapse, and I immediately had Sulamun Tadler arrested.
    “Our intention was to hold a preliminary enquiry to ascertain exactly what his plot consisted in, and then to inform the Commonwealth Inquisition and the Privy Council.  Unfortunately these intentions were thwarted by Tadler, who used his puppets, Roquana Smuff and Tommuz Crumptin, to stir up riotous insurrection in New Jackrusselham.  Innocent bystanders like Mrs Bonpoint were attacked.  A Government Guard, caught in the public square, was brutally stripped of his uniform and beaten within an inch of his life.  A mob, bearing revolutionary banners, rampaged through the streets between the city gates and the Pantheon.  The crypt of the Pantheon itself was attacked by gangs of rioters intent on driving out the Guild of Eunuchs, a peaceful brotherhood dedicated to prayer, contemplation and worship of the immortal gods.  Another mob of insurrectionists attacked the gates to the Government quarter, and would have caused mayhem, widespread destruction of property and great loss of life if the Guards had not stood firm.
    “It was in these circumstances that the Holy Synod begged Lord Savark to take control of the situation as Supreme Director and Protector, and, in order to capitalise on the respect and loyalty of the populace for Her Majesty, we conferred on him the title of Viceroy, which the common people have somehow misunderstood as King.  I am sure you will understand that this was never intended by the Holy Synod, and the misunderstanding merely shows the immense respect of the people for Lord Savark.
    “In fact, the Holy Synod and I are delighted that the Lord High Admiral, the Papal Nuncio and the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor are here to take charge of the enquiry, for there has already emerged the final part of the jigsaw, revealing the full extent of Sulamun Tadler’s conspiracy – namely the involvement of Moiku Stoon.
“Stoon was a renegade colonist, a civil servant who fled to the Tohu about seventeen years ago, just three years after Sulamun Tadler had secured an appointment to the Inquisition here on Sunday.
    “The Informatics Unit of the Sunday Police had been aware for some months that a skilled and highly-placed operator had been corrupting the Government Database, and that as yet unidentified changes were being made to the records of the exploration and settlement of Sunday.  Although it was not then possible to identify exactly what changes had been made, the trail led inexorably to the office in which Moiku Stoon was employed, and he was about to be arrested, when, probably forewarned by Tadler, he fled.  We now know that Stoon described the renegade colonists as savage, flesh-eating apes in public pages and as humans in restricted documents, so that we would appear to have knowingly attacked intelligent beings.”
“It is now clear to us that all the difficulties that have arisen on Sunday stem from the Tadler conspiracy, and that Sulamun Tadler had already taken control of Moiku Stoon within months of his arrival, and that, in his overweening ambition, he had planned, from the moment he secured a transfer here, and probably from the time he first became an Inquisitor, to seize control of this world.
    “I therefore humbly submit that Sulamun Tadler should be held in prison until he can be handed over to the Privy Council on a charge of High Treason, and that the courts here on Sunday should deal with his accomplices.”
    “Do the members of the Tribunal have any further questions,” asked the Lord High Admiral.
    “None at all,” said the beaming Papal Nuncio.
    “I should like to congratulate Monsignor Gulls on his skilful presentation of a very convincing case,” said the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor, “but, before we send Dr Tadler to the Privy Council, we need to be sure that it is absolutely watertight.  Tomorrow, perhaps, we could spend a little time on that, just tidying up a few details, if Your Royal Highness agrees.”
    The Admiral nodded.  He had thought he had the measure of Gulls, now it looked as if he would be outvoted, and even he wasn’t sure of the truth any more.


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Roquana:  Index.  --  Chapter 13.  --  Chapter 15.

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