Judge Hovrel grabbed his robe off the hook on the back of his chamber door and tugged it on, bracing himself for yet another day of administering justice for the UnderWorld. If it wasn’t gremlins picking-pockets or demons running amok in the Dicken’s World Emporium, it was bootleggers running counterfeit Elixir of Life in speedboats across the river Styx. With a weary sigh, the judge reached for the list of cases assigned to him today and scanned it over. First on his docket was a civil case with the UnderWorld ferryman, Charon. Hovrel let out a small groan. It seemed every few months, Charon was back in court, either accusing a spirit of underpaying for the boat ride to the UnderWorld gate, or himself being brought to court under the accusation of overcharging for the ride. Shaking his head in disgust, Hovrel read over the details.
Interesting, thought the judge. It wasn’t about ferry fare this time. This time, Charon was levying an assault charge against one of his ghostly passengers. That had never happened before. Well, the judge supposed, it really was just a matter of time before a ghost resorted to violence. Despite Charon’s assertations that he was an honest ferryman, every spirit in the UnderWorld knew, firsthand, that simply was not true. Unfortunately, no ghost has ever been able to prove Charon’s swindling, and so nothing ever came of their complaints.
Grabbing his gavel, Hovrel entered the courtroom to the usual, “All rise for the Honorable Judge Hovrel,” bellowed out by the bailiff. After taking his seat at the podium, the judge responded, “You may all be seated,” and placed his gavel onto the well-worn wooden circle he banged on whenever he needed to call the courtroom to order. Hovrel knew he was well overdue for a new one; the wooden base had been beaten nearly to a pulp. Keeping order in an UnderWorld courtroom was almost impossible–not at all like the courtrooms when Hovrel was a living judge.
Hovrel looked at the prosecution table and grimaced. It appeared the head prosecutor decided to assign this case to his assistant: A Skeletal named Jeziale. If Hovrel failed to rule in his favor, the bone demon would likely go into full-out lamentation, especially without his boss here to calm him down. Hovrel wondered if that wasn’t perhaps the prosecutor’s motive all along—to sway the verdict his way through sheer intimidation. The prosecutor knew full well how greatly the judge hated the high-pitched shrieking and wailing of an unhappy Skeletal in his courtroom.
With an annoyed grunt, Hovrel’s eyes moved to Charon, seated next to Jeziale and leaning casually back in his chair, as if he hadn’t a care in the world. The ferryman was wearing the same outfit he always wore–baggy brown pants with a red tunic, topped off with a green conical hat. What was new, however, was the white bandage wrapped around the ferryman’s right forearm. That must be the injury the ghost allegedly caused.
Hovrel swiveled his gaze to the defendant: a frail elderly phantom with round spectacles perched precariously on the end of his nose, clad in a thick cardigan sweater. Hardly looks the violent type, thought Hovrel. Looks more like somebody’s sweet old Grandpa. Still…Charon did have a reputation of pushing spirits to their limits. Maybe he finally met one willing to fight back physically.
His curiosity piqued, Hovrel motioned to the assistant prosecutor. “You may begin.”
To be continued….