Previous Update: Mag Mell
Lack of Jurisdiction
This lore update reflects the outcome of the November 29 special Featured Matches between Demacia and Noxus, for the fates of Demacian prisoners captured during the Battle of Shurima. (Demacia says that they have prisoner of war status and should be returned to Demacia now that hostilities have ended, while Noxus argues that they are war criminals over whom the League lacks jurisdiction.) Demacia had the support of the Freljord and Ionia, while Bilgewater and the Shadow Isles supported Noxus.
In the matches, Noxus won 2–1.
The next day, Zaun beat Piltover 3–0. There, too, Bilgewater and the Shadow Isles joined forces to support Zaun, while Ionia and the Freljord backed Piltover. Zaun thereby won full control over the new pyrikhos seam, enabling some variety of mad science which will be duly described in time. I decided to write this one first, as it has more impact on the developing Nyroth storyline.
Swain scowled as the advocates prattled on in the League’s audience hall. It was merely show. The substance of the matter had been settled on the Fields, and not fully to his liking.
They should have been undefeated. The Summoners and Champions who had failed Noxus would be duly chastised. He thought of all the valuable intelligence that Zaun’s PsiKorps could have torn out of those one hundred and eight minds that were now being sent back to Demacia, largely intact. Precious knowledge, vital secrets…and then there was the morale value, the political value, the opportunity to humiliate Demacia…they would be duly chastised indeed.
High Councilor Kolminye raised her hand. Swain glanced up at her raised podium. Took you long enough. She addressed the gathered representatives.
“Those member-states party to the dispute in Nyroth, how side you in this matter?”
Ashe spoke first. “The Freljord stands with Demacia.”
Nami next. “Bilgewater supports the Noxian position.” He could hear her voice faltering. Now sit down before you do anything lethally heroic. He watched as she sank back into her seat.
Then Karma. “Ionia joins the Freljord and Demacia in urging the Council to adhere to the laws of war.” What a pity Zed failed to catch you in Shon-Xan.
Finally, Karthus. “We endorse the motions which bear the seal of the Noxian High Command.”
Kolminye nodded at these profanely unsurprising statements. “Representatives of Demacia and Noxus: your final pleadings.”
Swain rose. “Noxus demands that the League decline jurisdiction in totalis as to all three hundred and fifty five of these Demacian cowards captured in their unlawful attack on Shurima, to answer for their crimes there, and for the destruction of the Noxian fleet en route to Shon-Xan.”
That nuisance of a prince, Jarvan IV, stood on the Demacian side. “He speaks of a declining of jurisdiction, but let there be no mistake: those are death warrants now before this Council. We urge the Council to honor the laws of war for which it stands. These men and women are soldiers captured in battle; the battle is done, and they must be released.”
Swain read the tension on Kolminye’s face. For just a moment, he feared she would break, do something foolish that would require correction. But she played her hand as expected.
“The Battle of Shurima was an unlawful act of aggression, in violation of a peace edict issued by this Council and agreed upon by the nations that then broke that peace. Although it establishes trespass upon private, in this case Zaunite, property, that cannot independently suffice to deprive the prisoners whose names appear before me of their rights as captured soldiers. The Council hereby declares that those persons named on the following list, numbering in total one hundred and six,” Six? “who were not involved in the attack on the Noxian fleet sailing for Shon-Xan, but only in the Battle of Shurima, are prisoners of war. The League hereby takes jurisdiction over them, and commands Noxus to return them at once to the custody of Demacia, without further violence or interrogation. Demacia is accordingly ordered to compensate Noxus for the costs of their provisions and lodging during captivity, in an amount to be determined by subsequent hearing.”
Kolminye handed the sheets of parchment to her assistants, who hastened to deliver them to the tables of each nation’s representatives. Swain snatched his copy from the verminous yordle’s claws and scanned it over, searching for the missing two. That was two more prisoners he was keeping. What had happened?
He glimpsed Kolminye looking toward Jarvan.
“Do you have something to add, Prince Jarvan?”
Swain saw eyes around the room turning toward him. He scowled. “Don’t wait for me to object. By all means. Let the prince prattle on as he likes.” It’ll be all the sweeter when he realizes his words have no force here.
Jarvan stood again. “It is an insult to this Council that the likes of Swain would invoke the memory of that war. The Noxian fleet that we intercepted en route to Shon-Xan was an invasion fleet. It was armed with Zaunite techmaturgical weaponry that would have laid waste to Ionia’s southern islands. It carried legions that would have once again slaughtered soldiers and civilians without distinction. By their own choice, it also carried Noxian refugees. We did all we could to save the survivors, but—”
Swain caught the moment and interjected in a loud voice. “Don’t insult our intelligence, Jarvan. The war began when Ionia defied the Council’s request that all member-states of the League accept Noxian refugees from the Void War. You threw your lot in with them. Ionia started that war because it would rather kill refugees than allow them in.”
Jarvan thrust a finger at Swain. “And when you lost on the Fields, and an Ionian army surrounded your refugees’ settlement, they offered peace under terms most generous. You had already deployed legions to burn and kill, and they had burned and killed, for weeks upon weeks, after your assassins had waged a campaign of terror by murdering Ionia’s most beloved leaders in their beds! And yet Ionia, with your settlement surrounded, still mourning its terrible losses, offered those refugees sanctuary in Shon-Xan, asking only that they lay down their weapons and live peaceful lives.”
Jarvan looked around the room. Grandstanding fool. His eyes returned to Swain. “And you, Grand General Jericho Swain, you ordered those refugees to refuse those terms. And then you bombed them with Zaunite techmaturgy, slaughtering Ionian soldiers, civilians, and your own refugees by the thousands, so that when night fell and the truce went into force you could claim a blasted patch of wasteland for the great glory of the Noxian High Command!”
Jarvan turned to Kolminye again. “This craven half-man has no right to speak to this Council about war crimes.”
Swain rapped his cane on the edge of the table until he saw Kolminye turn his way. He didn’t bother meeting her eyes. “I have a rebuttal.”
Kolminye hesitated, then nodded. “Very well.”
Still seated, Swain made a show of casually glancing over all those gathered here. He let their anticipation build before he spoke.
The Noxian delegates beside him laughed and jeered, striking their fists on the table in support.
Kolminye raised her gavel to call order.
Swain held up his hand and she froze. It was a delightful moment, seeing the High Councilor at his beck and call. “No need for that, High Councilor. Their mirth is part of my rebuttal!” he snarled, before bursting into laughter himself. Beatrice cawed joyously on his shoulder.
He pointed at the secretary transcribing the meeting. “Write that down as ‘You lost’, period, and then, ‘riotous laughter from gallery’.” He watched Jarvan, counting every twitch of his haughty aristocratic face, as the secretary put pen to page and dutifully recorded it as instructed.
His lackeys laughed all the more heartily, until he rose and they fell into obedient silence.
“And seeing as you’ve lost, let’s move on to the lion’s share of these Demacians wasting valuable space in our cells.” He slipped a bit of cracker into Beatrice’s beak. She greedily gulped it down.
“As for the two hundred and forty nine names on that other list you have there, High Councilor, Noxus motions for an immediate ruling.”
High Councilor Kolminye nodded slowly. “The motion is heard.” Oh, don’t be so dramatic. “We are inclined to conclude that, with recent clarifications to the Charter Concerning Prisoners added by contest of arms upon the Fields of Justice, as to those two hundred and forty nine persons, the League lacks jurisdiction.”
Jarvan stood again. Yes, yes, bring up the sob story. To think this man dared challenge me on the battlefield. “Concerning the matter of Tarvin Laurent, we request separate findings on an independent basis: original jurisdiction of the League over its Summoners. Tarvin is a boy of only nineteen years. He served in Shon-Xan and Shurima as a cook and herbalist. He was recently granted entrance to the Institute of War, there to become a Summoner. This renders him subject to the League’s original jurisdiction concerning Summoners.”
Swain turned his cane, checking the fittings on the grip. “Not a Summoner yet. Original jurisdiction does not attach. In re Yockley, 18 CLE.” He saw Kolminye glance at one of the League’s lawyers, who nodded back to her.
Jarvan continued uselessly. “He was awarded a scholarship, which we assert established a contractual relationship between him and the Institute. The League has original jurisdiction over business partners in active contractual relationships.” The lawyer beside Kolminye shook her head.
Kolminye took a breath. “The special motion is denied. By the recent adjudication, even those in noncombatant roles are considered to be under the jurisdiction of the complainant-state, here Noxus.”
“Councilor, please. We have failed Demacia on the Fields, and that dishonor is ours to bear, but can not this lad at least be spared?”
Swain stroked Beatrice. Now it was his time. He watched Kolminye. You know you’ve got no room to maneuver here. You’re not stupid enough to try. Swain always considered that League bureaucrats were like shrubs: served a purpose, needed to be trimmed down from time to time, no harm in giving them a good kick here and there.
Kolminye spoke. “The Council has made its ruling.”
Swain watched Jarvan carefully. “It might take Demacia’s lawyers a few days to come up with the rest of their objections. As a time-saving measure, I propose to resolve them all here and now, so that absolutely no doubt remains that these Demacians belong to Noxus now.” He glanced aside at Kolminye. “I trust I am recognized.”
Swain addressed the room once more. “These two hundred and forty nine Demacians must now answer to Noxus, and will be tried under Noxian law alone. As to the League’s jurisdiction?” He gestured to Kolminye. “That’s where you say you don’t have any.”
Jarvan was right on schedule. “Demacia objects, and requests League oversight of the Noxian trial process.”
Kolminye spoke. “The League lacks jurisdiction to hear Demacia’s objection.”
“And on behalf of the High Command, with whom jurisdiction rests, your request is denied.” Swain grinned, sinking his gaze into Jarvan. Starting to see how this story will go, Jarvan?
He continued. “We grant them no right to counsel, no right to present arguments, no rights of any kind, except as may please the High Command. As to the League’s jurisdiction?”
Jarvan looked genuinely outraged, even surprised. “This is a mockery of League law!”
Kolminye answered in the same voice. “The League lacks jurisdiction to hear Demacia’s objection.”
Swain continued. “I’ve had enough of you lawyers. Let’s settle this right here. I hereby convene the trial of all two hundred and forty nine individuals on that list, in absentia. By appointment of the High Command, as recorded in Exhibit 27 in our submissions today, I stand as sole judge and prosecutor.” He relished the tension in the room for a few delicious moments before continuing. “I find them guilty! As to the League’s jurisdiction?”
“He has sentenced them to die without even the pretense of due process!” The clarification is appreciated, Jarvan. But we haven’t talked about sentencing yet.
“The League lacks jurisdiction to review the legal processes of Noxus, and cannot hear Demacia’s objection.”
Swain waited to catch Jarvan’s eye once more. “Without ‘pretense’? Pretense is for the weak, Jarvan. That makes it your provenance.” He looked over each of the Demacian delegates in turn. “They will now be sentenced. … They are sentenced to death, in whatever manner most pleases the High Command! As to the League’s jurisdiction?”
“Will the Council be complicit in this savagery?”
“The League lacks jurisdiction to review the legal processes of Noxus, or the appropriateness vel non of its sentencing, and cannot hear Demacia’s objection.”
Swain noticed the fish-girl from Bilgewater, Nami, staring in shock. There there. Don’t fret about Demacia. You have stronger friends now.
“My thanks to Prince Jarvan for bringing Tarvin Laurent to my personal attention. The would-be Summoner with a scholarship for…the study of arcane science, I believe. The League shall now enjoy considerable savings, as I doubt he will be able to collect his scholarship. He will instead pursue a more economical course of study in Noxus, as he is chained down in a public square and sequentially injected with Singed’s latest innovations for so long as he lives—we hope to stretch it out for at least five days. It shall all be duly recorded, in the interests of science, with full-color hexgraphs enscribed and sent home to Demacia. His sister, Rosa Laurent, a knight of Demacia, will watch, before she is mind-stripped by our Zaunite friends for any useful information she may possess. Whatever is left of her will then be left to rot beside her brother’s filthy Demacian carcass for so long as the display amuses the High Command. And so it shall be for all who oppose Noxus!”
Nami was beginning to go pale. All things considered, I’d rather have your fear than your love. Cross me, fish-girl, and I’ll have you fileted for my plate.
Swain gestured to Kolminye. “As to the League’s jurisdiction?”
“Demacia asserts that the equity clause of the Charter Concerning Prisoners applies here! If the Council has any sense of equity or mercy, it will speak against this atrocity!”
Kolminye obeyed. “The Charter is inapplicable to domestic criminal proceedings within member-states. The League lacks jurisdiction, and cannot hear Demacia’s objection.”
“Demacia further objects that the Pact Concerning Telepathy forbids mind-stripping, and requires the presence of neutral League Summoners to oversee all psychic interrogation!”
Swain watched Kolminye consult with her lawyers again. He savored the sight of their shaking heads.
She spoke. “That Pact has no application to domestic matters. This Council cannot hear Demacia’s objection, for lack of jurisdiction.”
Swain spread his free arm. Beatrice fanned her wings. “We proclaim that the High Command shall do as it likes with these prisoners, answerable to none outside Noxus. Does the League possess the tiniest shred of jurisdiction over this affair? Does Demacia have any foothold whatsoever, through arguments advanced to date, or shall any further argumentation be heard on this matter at any time?”
Jarvan, for once, was silent.
Kolminye took the papers in her hands. “The League lacks jurisdiction to hear any present or future arguments from Demacia concerning the matter of the two hundred and forty nine. It is closed.”
She handed the papers to the clerk beside her.
He took them into his hands, then dropped them across the floor. That did surprise Swain. “I’ll have no part in delivering these death warrants! I resign, Councilor, and shame upon this Council!” The little man was shaking. “Shame upon the League!”
Kolminye said not a word as the man left. She nodded to the others, who picked up the scattered papers and began distributing them.
Jarvan looked the sheet over slowly. “Know this, Swain: justice will be done.”
Swain snickered. He’d hoped he’d say something like that. “Justice will be done?” He waved his copy of the list in the air. “We just did justice, two hundred and forty nine times.”
He looked across at Jarvan. This part was important. “Although…perhaps you’d be willing to make a deal that would change that, Prince Jarvan.”
Pain seized the Prince’s face. Well acted. “We will not bargain with the likes of Noxus. Any deal we would make would only cost more lives.”
Swain grinned. He sank his talons into Demacia’s absurd ideals, fluttering about like a cape on the battlefield, asking to be seized. “Let me pose an arithmetic puzzle for you, Prince. Is one greater than or less than two hundred and forty nine? We’ll trade the whole bunch for you. You’ve lived a full life. Just a few more years before you start getting creaky in the joints. Let me tell you, it’s not an enjoyable experience. Let us put you out of your misery, and all these prisoners go free. We’ll find a place for you in the Fleshing. The stadium would be packed. We know you’re a bit hard up for cash at the moment, given the Shuriman sanctions, and we’d happily donate proceeds from the concessions sales to Demacia.”
Jarvan’s eyes did not waver. “And why would I settle for killing a few Noxians at a time in an arena, when I could break Noxus on the battlefield? And when I do, your prisoners will be sent back unharmed, for Demacia respects the law, even when it sustains vermin such as yourself.”
Swain sneered. “Unless a wild-eyed ocean spirit tells you otherwise.”
Fiora Laurent slammed her palms down and stood. “Tarvin and Rosa shall be avenged. Upon my life, I swear it.”
Swain was beginning to get into it, and Kolminye was too stunned to speak. Did she skip her breakfast? “What about your father, Jarvan? The Prisoner-King Jarvan III? The League is taking so long with him. Send him over in exchange for the prisoners, and we’ll give the coward a swift royal death. And you can cease to entertain the illusion that he’ll ever return from the League’s jails.”
Fiora looked about ready to lunge across the room and stab Swain, or try to, but Swain was not quite that fortunate today. Jarvan placed a hand upon her shoulder, and after an admonishing look from him, she sat. Good little dog, obeying your master. Only Demacia could so thoroughly enslave those its laws have made slavemasters from birth.
Jarvan looked down either side of the table of Demacian delegates, then took his seat. “I’ve said all that I will say to this carrion crow.”
Swain scoffed. “Really. Another pun about birds.”
He stared Jarvan down. “We’ll take our time, should your begging slaves change your mind.” With his contemptuous gaze still upon Jarvan’s face, he spoke to Kolminye. “There is one procedural matter over which you do have jurisdiction, High Councilor. Council Code Section 33.”
Kolminye frowned as the words sank in. “Pursuant to Section 33 of the Council Code, I hereby adjourn this matter. …may Runeterra know peace.”
Swain grinned as he watched Jarvan leave, followed swiftly by his lackeys. Seeing the desperation on that wriggling, juicy worm’s face, he entertained the idea of doing exactly what he’d just established his legal right to do: torture and kill them all, hang their bodies on display, further fracture Demacia’s spirit. It would be an indulgence, but what a delicious one.
It was too early to say. He’d made his leading move; now it was time to watch how the little pieces skittered about the board in response. He looked forward to the next phase of this game. The greatest prize he had already won. No longer could any sane observer question his control over the League, or the reality of Demacia’s utter powerlessness. Demacia’s tepid animosity toward Bilgewater had been replaced by seething hatred. He had been concerned that Demacia might succeed in drawing the Marai into its sphere; after today, the fish-girl would be torn to flesh-ribbons if she ever entered Demacian territory.
Beatrice’s wing was itchy; he gave it a scratch.
As for the prisoners, well, they were a bonus, which might take any number of forms. It was possible, though unlikely, that Jarvan III would martyr himself. What a treasure trove of secrets lay beneath that crown; Swain found himself salivating, quite literally, as he contemplated a King’s entire life of whispers and schemings laid out for his review. As for his humiliating demise, such a choice cut of meat would call for his most cherished recipes.
He tucked a morsel into Beatrice’s beak.
More likely, and admittedly more troublesome, was the possibility that the Marai brat would tell another sob story and win over some of the softer-minded residents of Bilgewater. The Noxian and Zaunite Summoners he’d surrounded her with had shown their competence in securing her assistance in winning this contest—at least largely winning this contest—but she might overrule them here. She might then plead for the prisoners’ lives on Bilgewater’s behalf, and that scenario would call for the utmost care, lest she be redeemed in Demacia’s eyes…although, provided he sank his hooks deep enough into her soft fish-flesh, even that might work to his advantage. With her at his mercy, whatever trust and friendship Demacia placed in her could become an asset, so long as he kept her on the hook. It would be a dangerous gambit, perhaps too risky for one in a position as dominant as that which Noxus now occupied, but worthy of further consideration.
Beatrice squawked and nipped at his shoulder.
Perhaps there would be a rescue operation. From the Noxian perspective, that was a low-risk, high-reward opportunity. Demacia could scarcely survive another round of sanctions. They’d have Jarvan begging in the streets to keep candles burning in the palace at this rate. Ionia was by far the most likely candidate. They thought they were so stealthy, so clever. And it was almost as though they’d forgotten that the Noxian flag still flew over the settlement in Shon-Xan. Ionian lawyers were dutiful and even crafty; had they noticed the significance of a landlocked territorial claim in the dense network of treaties and regulations surrounding sanctions of a party-disputant? Yes, Karma, please. Send your new Kinkou past Noxian lines. We won’t stop you. And then you can join Jarvan in his beggary. He caught Karma’s eye as she stood speaking with representatives from Bilgewater. She seemed confident enough. How he’d love to finally break her.
Given this spread of delectable possibilities concerning the prisoners themselves, the most likely outcome was somewhat underwhelming. He’d let Nami run off into a corner and cry for a bit, then arrange to have a deal pushed across the table. Bilgewater was pulling in a truly unseemly amount of wealth from its Nyrothian explorations. He’d take a large share of that in exchange for these prisoners. And, while a monetary gain was somewhat underwhelming in the short term, the legions he would be able to restore to active duty with those funds opened up whole new vistas of opportunity.
He slipped Beatrice an especially generous wedge of cracker, and stroked the back of her neck as she gobbled it up. They had some interrogations to oversee.
Noxus has gained 7 points of Military strength from its interrogations, and its increased morale.
Demacia has gained 3 points of Military strength from those prisoners who were freed.
Next Update: Kibu