Reginald’s mind was still swirling when he heard the sound of the latch being set on the outside of his quarters at Cerra Castle. It had all been an overwhelming ballet of confusion as he was confined to his apartments. He reopened his neocom to glance at the exchange of messages he had received–the warrant for an arrest placed on him by Lord Tigerfish Cerra.
This evening I was informed about an incident that took place at Winer Castle last night; an account that was later verified by security footage taken from the security system in the Great hall.
In this video, you were seen not only kissing my wife (against your very word – that you wouldn’t try anything of the sort again), but soon after, that you stabbed her to death with a knife. How can I possibly allow such an insult to stand within our court? You of all people, Reginald; one of our own holders. You know that I allowed you to keep that title following all that happened between you and my wife. Yet how can I possibly allow you to maintain your rank when you’re responsible for not just breaching that boundary, but killing her in cold blood?
Until this matter is resolved, your status of Holder has been revoked. Further, upon your return to Winter Castle, you will be placed under arrest by Templar Vadam, who will confine you to your quarters until such time as I can complete a thorough investigation. I do this with Shalee’s backing. Should your actions be considered malicious, you’ll face criminal prosecution, and the wrath of everyone loyal to Lady Lianne.
I will keep an open mind until I’ve studied the security footage further. Until then, I’d suggest you return to the Castle, unarmed, and place yourself voluntarily into Templar Vadam’s custody.
The Lord Tigerfish Cerra.
How could he have done such a thing? Murder Shalee? After everything she had ever done for him? It was insane! Ridiculous. He said as much in his response:
I assure you that I have been fraught with as much confusion regarding the event as you, especially considering that I did not set foot at Winter Castle at all last night–patrols in null sec kept me to my post. How else could I have shared a drink with Lady Lianne a few minutes after the event occurred? Regardless, confident in my innocence as I am, I will turn myself in willingly and without resistance. I further request that I maintain my title for the duration of this investigation, as I have committed no wrongdoing.
And that is exactly what he had done. The guards had set upon him immediately as he stepped through the security cordon, before being hauled off to his quarters like a common criminal.
I would like to give you the benefit of the doubt in this case, despite our petty disagreements of recent times. I therefore will extend to you the courtesy of your previous request, and will allow you to maintain your title whilst I conduct this investigation.
Naturally you can understand the difficulty of my position. If I were dealing with mere heresay, I would have little hesitation in declaring your innocence, yet with security footage to the contrary, it makes me question who was truly responsible for killing my wife; If not you, then who?
Nothing would make me happier than to stand in your defense over these allegations, yet at present I have too many unanswered questions, reinforced by a video of you delivering the fatal blow.
I pray you’re truly innocent of these charges, Reginald.
Lord Tigerfish Cerra.
And now, here he was, trapped in his own quarters, which, though luxurious, nonetheless felt like a cage. He slumped into a chair near a writing-desk and rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands. It was all so tiresome. All the same, he was confident in his alibi. Surely that would exonerate him of all wrongdoing. His thoughts turned to Literia.
My Dearest Literia,
A matter of immense importance has come to my attention. I am being erroneously charged with the assault and murder of Lady Shalee Lianne and have been summoned to stand investigation by Lord Tigerfish. As I am confident in my innocence, I am certain that I will be able to continue my holiday with you and Amitel once the truth of the matter is brought to light. I have an alibi at the time of the alleged murder, serving in nullsec under a Triumvirate banner. Though you may disagree with my decision, I shall be turning myself into Lord Tiger’s custody.
Fear not for me, my love. I trust that God will deliver me from the evils and machinations of lesser men. Once my name is cleared and I am free once more, I shall be in your arms once again.
I love you desperately.
He had done his best to craft the tone in such a way as to be reassuring, though even he thought it was saturated with the sort of the poetic prose more akin to love letters from a bygone era rather than as a quick note assuring someone of his safety. Regardless, she had contacted him almost as soon as he had sent the message via neocom. She was beside herself with worry, begging him not to turn himself, to simply run to the safety of the Republic, where Imperial law wouldn’t have touched him.
But how could he? He was a Holder and an Imperial subject. Even if Imperial law could not reach him, God’s wrath was sure to find a way. A wrath he knew all too well. A wrath that had ended with his divorce and son’s bastardization. A sin on his conscience he would never be able to clean. Besides, to become a fugitive of the law was a crime in itself and he had simply not murdered Shalee Lianne.
He sighed heavily, turning his attention to the darkening light of the window. Snow was falling yet again in this winter retreat of the Cerra Family. He wondered if his interrogators would share his perspective.
And if he wasn’t the one who killed Shalee Lianne Cerra, then who was to blame?