Chapter 984 Blood Judgment Part 2
Jirni gave her cousin the special paper with Balkor\'s calligraphy, the hit list, and the venom, trusting her judgment about when and how to strike.
The less Jirni knew the more natural her reaction would be when she received reports of the attacks, and the lack of an alibi from time to time was the small flaw her cover needed to be perfect.
Valeron, Capital of the Griffon Kingdom, Throne Room, present day.
This isn\'t the first time I hear such wild accusations. Jirni\'s voice was indignant.
Yet this never before someone dared to throw them in my face right in front of my peers and the Royals themselves.
Duke Nuragor has slandered my name and I demand justice.
I invoke the right of Blood Judgment.
If not for the array sealing the mouths and the limbs of those present, the room would have gone into an uproar.
The Blood Judgment was an ancient ritual dating back when the Griffon Kingdom had been first unified and most feudal Lords needed a way to settle grudges with their neighbors without causing a civil war.
Valeron, the First King, had forbidden nobles to have armies of their own, yet they were still entitled to have personal guards.
Each side would appoint a champion that would fight until the first blood was shed or the opponent surrendered.
The ritual forbade the use of any kind of magic, even chore magic, and artifacts.
It allowed households who lacked the talent or the money to have a powerful mage among their ranks to defend themselves and also to avoid casualties.
To avoid one challenge triggering another, Valeron had decreed that killing the opponent resulted in a defeat and that to issue a Blood Judgment, the offended party had to provide solid evidence of the damage suffered.
The entirety of the Court had witnessed the events, putting both the King and Duke Nuragor in a bad spot.
The King wanted to keep things from escalating further while the Duke had no desire to put so much at risk.
Losing a Blood Judgment meant not only to be forced to publicly apologize to the winner, but also to be banned from all kind of social events for a year and pay half of the household\'s annual income as compensation.
Becoming a social pariah would cause the loser to remain out of the loop and to be cut out of the major business enterprises.
It would cripple both the loser\'s wealth and influence in the long run.
On top of that, the Crown would pay the penalty up front, so that the defeated party would not be indebted to the winner, but to the Royals.
Not paying a gambling debt would worst-case scenario incur reproach, whereas not paying what was akin to taxes meant having their assets seized.
Valeron had devised Blood Judgment to be as unpleasant as possible, so that no one would invoke it without a very good reason.
The deeper the pockets of a noble were, the less inclined they would be to put their wealth at stake on a whim.
Archon Ernas, the Nuragor and Ernas households are valuable assets for the Kingdom.
The Duke\'s family recently gave us a Great Mage.
I\'m sure he\'s willing to apologize for his rudeness if you are willing to reconsider the challenge. Meron glared at Nuragor while trying to solve the issue peacefully.
Duke Nuragor had no desire to ask for Jirni\'s forgiveness and he wasn\'t scared of losing some money.
He was scared of losing a **load of money.
To add insult to injury, the ritual required that the loser had to kneel.
Between the blow both his wallet and his reputation would take in the case of defeat, he couldn\'t afford to gamble several generations of hard work out of something as trivial as pride.
The Ernas\'s situation was completely different.
Even if they lost, Jirni would still be an Archon, Orion would still be one of the best Royal Forgemasters, and none of their children\'s careers would be hindered.
Aside from being the heir of house Ernas, Gunyin had no career while Tulion was the black sheep of the family.
Phloria was already ruined, Friya was just a lowly mercenary, and Quylla was an Assistant Professor.
If someone like Manohar could still retain his spot after committing countless crimes and social blunders, the academic world wouldn\'t so much as raise an eyebrow at something like a lost Blood Judgment as long as she produced results.
Kallion, instead, was both the heir and the only mage of the Nuragor Household.
Becoming a social pariah would cripple his chances for a good marriage while losing the money would force him to put his magical career on hold.
To not share his merits with anyone, Kallion worked for no institution and used for his missions mercenary groups that accepted a non-disclosure agreement in exchange for a hefty sum.
This strategy had allowed him to quickly rack merits, but it also made Kallion dependant on the family wealth to found both his magical research and the jobs he carried out for the Association.
Words are cheap, your Majesty. Jirni replied before the Duke could swallow his pride and apologize.
Accepting hollow apologies after being publicly accused of assault and murder would be like admitting he\'s right.
The words of a powerful man have weight, hence they should also have consequences.
Since I\'m the offended party, I will also be the Ernas\'s champion.
Do you have the guts to stand your ground on your own as well, dear Duke
Duke Nuragor cursed his big mouth one last time and started to think about how to exploit Archon Ernas\'s bravado.
\'Demanding the Blood Judgment to take place now and revealing the identity of her champion would be a perfect move in a bard\'s tale, but this is reality.
Rightful anger gives her no special ability and she\'s still a middle-aged short woman.
\'Without the magical marvels her husband provides her, Jirni is not even half the fighter she usually is.\'
\'Maybe this is actually a blessing in disguise.
With all the money I\'ll get from her Grand Duchy and Deirus\'s support, my lands will develop dramatically.\' He thought.
Your Majesty, I\'m ill-fit and prepared for this unexpected challenge. Duke Nuragor said.
I\'m forced to ask your help to contact my chosen champion: Lord Ifram Irehein.
Jirni flinched hearing that name.
It belonged to one of her husband\'s deputies who had quit the Knight\'s Guard because his love for money outclassed that for his own country.
He was a young, talented man that after turning mercenary had achieved many great feats and racked lots of merits that he had converted into the title of Baron with its attached lands.
Once the King accepted, it took a few seconds for Lord Irehein to step through a Gate and minutes to define the terms of his deal with Duke Nuragor.
Jirni used that time to get changed and study her opponent.
Ifram Irehein was a man in his late twenties, about 1.9 meters (6\'3) tall, with military short pitch-black hair and ice-blue eyes.
Having enrolled in the army at 16, he had nearly 15 years of battle experience and his body was still at its prime.
Every muscle of his body was well-toned and trained with the discipline Orion had ingrained in his daily routine.
Jirni was now wearing a black tank top and a pair of light blue pants.
Being barely 1.52 meters (5\') tall, Jirni looked incredibly small and frail in comparison with the newcomer.
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