The Trial of Sonny Silver
Harrylock pointed to the metal canister.
“Where can I get one of those?” The villager smiled. “A grail? You can’t buy one, they are not for sale. You have to live here.” He touched the top and the grail unfolded to reveal cartons of drinks and food; tightly folded swathes of cloth and packets of other unlabelled things. He held out a packet of sweetmeats. “Come, share with me.”
Judson and Harrylock found that there was no inn or market in Grailstone; the grails provided everything. The population was mixed; there were humans and Varjellen. The Varjellen lived in an enclave outside of the aldeia itself; a series of low triangular buildings surrounded a larger hexagonal structure.
Following the grail burst and breakfast, many people started flocking towards the hexagonal building. A door stood open; Judson entered into a trapezoid room with a triangular device in the centre. A metallic voice spoke.
“State name and purpose”
“Judson Deathdancer, here for the trial”
A panel slid open to reveal a triangular yellow badge that adhered to his clothing. A door to his right stood open and he passed through into a triangular chamber set out as a courtroom. Harrylock joined him. They saw Galadiir and Sonny at the back of the chamber, flanked by two humans and two Varjellen.
A sharp chime sounded and the mayor of the village spoke.
“This court is now in session; to pass judgement on the murder of the scientist Couleen and its workers by Sonny Silver.” She went on to introduce the members of the court.
Herself, Lebab Sollars, Mayor of Grailstone
Constable Brandick; constable of Grailstone.
Tienne, Varjellen, leader of the Varjellen community
Mallis, Varjellen scientist
Voornis, Varjellen commander of the squad that captured Sonny Silver.
To one side stood a Scrivener.
“We have inconvertible proof that Sonny Silver killed the scientist Couleen and its workers. Scrivener, step forward. Draw what you saw on the day of the murder. That is Sonny Silver. Scriveners cannot lie.”
Sonny suddenly had an echo; like the one in Shallamas. He looked around in amazement. He was in a scientific area; a laboratory of some kind full of apparatus he didn’t recognise. He saw himself and three Varjellens who lay dead and he was just smashing the skull of the fourth. As the echo faded, the man looked up and Sonny saw that it was not him; but someone who looked identical to him.
“Sonny Silver. Where is the scientist Couleen Soul Stone?”
“I don’t know; I’ve never had it.”
A series of demonstrations was done to show that grails could only be opened by their owner. Judson and Harrylock remarked on the high number of twins in the human audience. It was impossible to tell if any of the Varjellens were twins.
Then Constable Brandick produced another grail.
“This was found in the laboratory after you killed the scientist Couleen. It is yours and contains its Soul Stone. You will open it.”
Sonny tried; he put his hand on the grail. Nothing happened. He tried again and still the grail did not open. Galadiir stepped up.
“This is proof that my client is not guilty.”
“Scriveners cannot lie. Sonny Silver was there and murdered the scientist Couleen. This obviously is not his grail. We must search again.”
Mayor Sollars stood. “We will adjourn to consider this. The court will reconvene tomorrow.”
They all left the building, returning their badges.
Judson enquired about records of births and deaths. He was told that there were no records kept as no-one had ever seen the need to bother with them*. He then asked about where people were treated when they were sick; the reply was that the Varjellens looked after them. Hmm. Somewhat unusual; Varjellens are visitants and have a limited knowledge of human physiology. The Varjellen hospital is in the hexagonal building. Judson got Harrylock to punch him on the nose so that he could get in to the hospital**
Judson assumed that he would need a Varjellen to get inside, so he approached the nearest one.
“I need help, I am hurt. The robot went berserk.”
“Can it not reforge?” “No, I am a human.” “It is leaking bodily fluids. It will take it to the hospital.”
“State name and purpose”. “Judson Deathdancer and I was attacked by a robot”. The panel slid open and a yellow badge appeared. ***A door in the far wall slid open; Judson was escorted through a series of triangular corridors to a medical centre. Synth walls and white-lit; eighteen beds surrounded by diagnostic and treatment equipment. Eight of the beds were occupied by young human twins, asleep and linked to diagnostic devices. Two beds held young Varjellen. Judson was shown to a bed next to a human male who had a deep slash wound across his stomach. Judson lay back as a triangular device fastened itself over his nose and face.
The man turned and looked at Judson. “Hello. The name’s Kasten. Thank the Faith for the Varjellens and their medicine. I was out exploring round the village; I didn’t see what it was but something slashed my guts open. I barely made it back.”
“Was your twin with you?”
“I don’t have a twin. Not all of us do, you know.”
The following morning Judson left the hospital; his nose fully fixed. Kasten shared food out of his grail with him; Judson speculated as to why the grail worked without being placed on the grailstone. He found Harrylock waiting outside the door and they were first in line as the trial reconvened. Again they had to state their name and purpose to the security device.
The trial opened with a recap of the previous day; despite the fact that Sonny could not open the grail; there is the incontrovertible evidence that the Scrivener cannot lie; it recorded Sonny as being there and therefore he was. Galadiir proposed a demonstration using two pair of twins out of the audience; he managed to demonstrate that although the Scrivener cannot lie; it can be fooled. Constable Brandick refused to accept this; Galadiir used his mind-reading esotery to establish that Brandick was what he seemed to be (a narrow-minded prick who just wanted an easy life).
Mayor Sollars proposed a visit to the murder scene in the laboratory; Tienne was reluctant to allow this.
“It can serve no useful purpose to see where the scientist Couleen was murdered.”
“Why?” queried Galadiir. “It may have been something they were doing in the lab.”
“It will serve no purpose. The scientist Couleen was working on new ways of growing food for the village.”****
A vote was taken on the bench and Tienne was outvoted. Voornis casts the deciding vote and earns the enmity of Tienne. They were escorted along a corridor that smelt of ozone and into a trapezoid room. Four elongated transparent cylinders were arranged horizontally against the long wall; surrounded by a tangle of bio-organic machinery. In the centre of the room was a tall cylinder of green fluid, filled with floating pulsating blobs that constantly merged and separated. Another closed door was in the short wall.
Sonny gave a start. He has been here before, as a very young child.
Just as Sonny was about to say something to Galadiir, a Varjellen rushed in and spoke to Tienne and then to Voornis.
“Today’s trial is adjourned; we will reconvene tomorrow,” announced Mayor Sollars. “There has been a killing.”
Outside the building, a small crowd had gathered. Two Varjellens, twins*****, have been found dead. Both have been bitten in two. The Wayfarers exchanged glances – this sounds familiar.
Judson and Harrylock decided to get back into the building to have a snoop around – obviously Tienne is hiding something. Judson was of the opinion that they needed a Varjellen with them to get round the building. Harrylock suggested they talked to Voornis; after all, he had voted against Tienne.
Voornis agreed with them, it did not believe that Sonny killed Couleen. It did reveal that Couleen was the twin of Tienne. A spectacular show of persuasion by Harrylock convinced Voornis that they needed to investigate further; however it warned that it would have to uphold Tienne’s orders if required.
Once inside (all you had to do was walk to the door and state your name and purpose to get a security badge) they headed down the corridor. Harrylock opened another door and a short passage led to a triangular room with a floor to ceiling mesh grid. On the other side of the mesh was a tall column of silver metal. Rotating around it are globes of energy; at ground level they are green coloured. As they slowly spiral upwards they gradually change to purple; at the top of the column they discharge a purple bolt into a large globe set in the ceiling; then spiral down to the base of the column again.
“Didn’t the grailstone discharge with purple energy? This is what powers it.”******
In the centre of the triangular room was a tall cylinder of green fluid, filled with floating pulsating blobs that constantly merged and separated. They looked at this, but left it alone.
In the laboratory, they searched around for clues and other items. Judson found that the blobs in the cylinder reacted when he touched the cylinder; some moved towards him, some merged and moved away. In a total fit of madness, he embraced the cylinder and got Harrylock to do the same from the other side. The results were startling. The blobs broke up into thousands of swirling motes and a chirruping alarm sounded …
To be continued
* They were forming the opinion that the Varjellens controlled the village.
** Yes, this was the best plan they came up with!
*** Even with a broken nose, Judson noticed that the Varjellens did not have to wear badges.
**** Galadiir picked up on this and tried to read Tienne’s mind – why did the village need to grow food if the grailstone provided everything? However, all he got was a jumble of strange alien thoughts.
***** So many Varjellen are twins as well.
****** Don’t you just love it when the players make these connections themselves!
I used part of the GUMSHOE system in this session. Rather than have them roll for clues; I gave them the important clues and let them draw their own conclusions. Secondary clues were either given on a successful roll or sometimes given as a freebie (e.g. the stuff that Voornis told them.)
There were no red herrings built in – the players provide those themselves. For example; Judson was convinced that you could only get into the building with a Varjellen present because he had not seen anyone enter without one and he didn’t try himself (because he needed to be taken to the hospital and he didn’t know that it was in the same building.)