It was a sign of times that Ryney had been given a trial. Just a few years back and you would be instantly executed if accused of stealing Lord Ary's green dragon. But that was then, and this was now. It was truly a sign of times he was given the right to be killed in an almost dignified way. If only the crime had occurred a few years later, then perhaps he would also be given the chance to defend himself.

But unfortunately, Ryney's tale began back when trials consisted of two long speeches followed by an execution, occasionally involving a break between speeches where a trained mage entertained the audience with fireballs. Arguments in trials had not been deemed as acceptable yet. The Count often made speeches about how arguments would only lead to a lack of justice, which many agreed with, but none quite understood.

The first time an argument was made in court was when an elderly man from the kingdom of Arcadia, after being sarcastically asked why he should be let go by one particularly drunk Judge, replied he had an alibi and as such could not be guilty of the crime. The legendary trial that gave birth to the improved legal system of the kingdom of Torre would not happen for another two hundred years after Ryney's incoming trial.

Ryney, who knew none of that, and who would have little interest in it had he known, paced around his cell waiting for his incoming trial. The thought of being executed didn't particularly bother him. He had been poisoned four months before the crime happened, and now estimated he had slightly more than a week left to live judging by his occasional hallucinations of Death coming to take him.

"Hello," Death would say, "ready to go yet?"

"Yes," he would respond. "I quite frankly am."

Death would always look discontent with his reaction, and demand him to be more appreciative of life. He would sigh and demand to be killed. Death would then angrily leave the room, promising to come back later. He wished that time would come as soon as possible.

Ryney generally enjoyed being alive, but the poison had killed most of his old self. Despite his apathetic state, he recalled a year ago he used to be a reckless pirate who sailed through the four and a half seas in search of adventure. Thinking back, but not as far as a year, and he remembered chasing after the legendary druid Tylor, who could save him from his poison.

But now, he no longer wanted adventure, nor did he want to save his own life. Which is why the small blue sphere in front of him annoyed him so much.

"I can save your life," it said. "I can find the true man responsible for the theft of the dragon."

Ryney was especially annoyed that his imagination was not clever enough to come up with a more interesting hallucination than a small blue sphere, unable to even float, and that seemed to communicate with him through telepathy. He told the sphere was much. "If you looked slightly more interesting, I might have wasted my last few minutes giving in to my own madness. But quite frankly your figure does nothing but remind me of how little I care about everything. I'm even half-heartedly going mad. I couldn't even put some effort into my precious, final moment of insanity."

"I am not a hallucination," the blue sphere protested. "Can a hallucination hurt you?"

Ryney frowned. "No, and neither can you."

"That is where you are mistaken. I can, and will harm you. It is just that the harm shall not be physical, but psychological. If you do not listen to me, I shall not give you a moment of peace even after death."

"Sounds terrifying," Ryney sighed. "I'll take being burned rather than diving into a volcano. What, my dear hallucination, do I need to do to make you shut your nonexistent mouth?"

"Ask me a question," the blue sphere said. "About your case. You are being framed, Ryney. And it is my duty to help you prove so. But I'll need you to understand why you are being accused and what you are being accused of before we get anywhere."

"Because you can't speak to anyone else," Ryney stated nonchalantly.


"Because you are a hallucination."

"No. Because I am The Truth."

He sighed. It was the second most condescending hallucination he remembered having over the past two years. He might as well get it over with.