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> Judgment regarding Shackle, Kreel and another
post Aug 1 2017, 06:58 PM
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This is my judgment in the case of Shackle, who appeals against the automatic sentence of outlawhood placed upon him for the killing of Kreel and one other, a native priest of Mourat whose name has not been provided to me. These two individuals were fellow mercenaries employed on a hire in the Heartlands on Sunsday 16th Jurle IM1017.

Shackle states that, having been drained by a ritual strike which incorporated a form of the Wraith’s Touch miracle, he was spiritually mastered by some cursed creatures. He was separated from the group when one of the creatures used powers to fear him, and then caught close enough for it to cast the spiritual mastery miracle upon him. He was unable to shrug this off, and compelled to attack his companions, resulting in the two deaths.

Shackle claims he told the others he was possessed after the killings, a fact confirmed by them. Alabaster Smoke states that Shackle also at this time warned him he was resistant to fire, thus to my mind hinting at how he might best be (and indeed was) rendered unconscious and disabled.

Shackle says he attempted to apologise to his victims once they had been restored, although was forced to flee when Kreel tried to kill him (entirely legal, although regrettable). He subsequently handed himself in to Gregore, the Watch Captain of Thimon. There is some dispute as to the point at which he was in custody, and criticism has been made of the conduct of Gregore in allowing Shackle to escape custody when he fled after the assault by Kreel. I make no comment upon this other than to state that Shackle will be given credit having handed himself into Imperial custody as this is what he did at the end of the mission.

I will add for the sake of completeness that this is not the first time that Shackle has killed fellow mercenaries as a result of a possession. In Martius last year he killed two fellow mercenaries, Shadow and Hariq bin Kal, after being dominated. Both victims forgave him, accepting he was dominated, and accordingly Magistrate Willoughby Chase removed the sentence of wolfshead automatically imposed by the Imperial Seers. Whilst this has no real bearing on the issue here (as I have accepted this case also involves genuine possession), I am disappointed that this was not brought to my attention by Shackle.

I have received statements from Shackle’s victim Kreel, Alabaster Smoke of the Circle, a summonation of the Church of Dead Heroes named Igor and Professor Wacksplatter. I have not received a statement from any others on the mission, nor the other victim in this case, despite delaying judgment to seek such. There is no obligation to give a statement, but it does mean I have reached a decision without any knowledge of this victim’s views. That is regrettable but I will not delay this matter further.

Kreel follows an entity named Nula the Vengeful dedicated to vengeance. Kreel states that Shackle was otherwise helpful to the group and he did not feel threatened by him, and that the Shackle who killed him was entirely different. He says he was informed by others in the group after being restored to life that Shackle was mastered, and indeed accepts that Shackle was mastered.

Kreel questions why Shackle did not say he was mastered to those he attacked, before killing them, as he was able to tell the rest of the party this afterwards. Alabaster Smoke makes a similar point. With respect to both of them, I do not think much turns on this point – I cannot see how the command “kill your allies to the best of your ability” would permit a warning, before attacking (as this would limit the ability to kill), particularly given Shackle was weakened and unable to seek to bend the terms of his instructions. I do not know why he was able to give a warning afterwards, perhaps the command could permit such a statement when it was clear there was no hope of killing the rest of the group, now alert and hostile, where a direct attack would be tantamount to suicide? However, it does not matter for these purposes, because I accept he could not give a warning before he attacked, as it would render the attack less likely to kill.

Kreel says he tried to kill Shackle because he was concerned that Shackle might harm the group further, as he was not in Gregore’s physical custody, having run away, and because his patron demands vengeance. After Kreel’s assault, Shackle left the group, whereas Kreel continued with them to complete the mission. Kreel does not forgive Shackle and indeed states This hasn't stopped my burning desire for vengeance and should I deem Shackle not to have paid for his crimes, the next time I see him I will take rightful payment for his crimes by sending his soul to Nula's side, regardless of the consequences”.

Igor, a summonation of the Church of Dead Heroes who was present, states that Shackle was spiritually mastered and that it was confirmed at the time that he could not have shrugged off the possession. Alabaster Smoke also accepts that Shackle was possessed, that he appeared repentant, and that others said at the time that his actions were out of character. Professor Wacksplatter, another mercenary present, confirms that he removed the possession.

I accept that Shackle was possessed. I further accept that he could not have shrugged off the possession. Whatever the truth of what he said after the killings, I also accept that he could not have warned his victims before attaching them. Finally, Shackle has handed himself into custody to face Imperial justice.

In the circumstances, I overturn the sentence of outlawhood placed upon Shackle by the Imperial Seers. He is free to go about his business.

I am aware that Kreel wishes vengeance for his death. I would state that in my view the cursed creatures that possessed Shackle, or their summoner, were responsible for Kreel’s death. Shackle was simply a tool utilised by them. I hope that Kreel will accept this, but should he not, I will make clear that Shackle has been subject to Imperial justice and is now protected by the law as is any other mercenary.

Finally I will add that I am not able legally to compel Shackle to ward himself from possession. However, in the light of the fact that he has now killed 4 mercenaries as a result of possession (and I refer again to my displeasure that the first instance was not brought to my attention), I would most strongly suggest that he does so. Should he choose not to take that advice, and a similar situation arise again, the Magistrate hearing the matter may make of his decision what they may.

My thanks to all those involved who have taken the time to provide statements.

Petulia Hylos
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