Mahnör Manor

Disclaimer: This is a non-profit work of fiction. It uses one character from Capcom's Ace Attorney series and generally takes inspiration from it to create a pastiche, a celebration of the original work. However, this is more a story centering around personal tragedy, rather than a traditional murder mystery.

This is part 2. Part 1 can be found here.

27 January

Regional Court

The next days were a proper ordeal for Tyson, the worst they ever had lived through. The stress and anxiety caused by something as horrible as a murder accusation, even worse that it was their own father they were accused of having sent to the afterlife. Yet it all coming from the most official and powerful source added another layer of horror, and with no surviving relatives or close friends living in Germany left almost the sole silver lining was that they had managed to stay in touch with Franziska von Karma, a prosecutor who they had met in America and had become their friend. She had promised to visit them regardless of where it would be, not having abandoned them even after hearing after what had happened at the castle. In fact, it seemed to have introduced a certain sense of urgency to her voice that Tyson had picked up during the few calls they could have with her. She was really the only friend Tyson had left, as David had not visited them even once. Clinging to the hope that he was just busy being questioned by the police felt increasingly futile with every passing day.

The other thing that was giving them some slimmer of hope was the odd confidence of the defense lawyer they had been assigned and the relatively short time they were to spend in pretrial detention. They had no idea how, but their trial ended up being scheduled just 10 days after the murder happened.

And now the day had arrived. Standing in the courthouse lobby, describing the person in the black hoodie, face hidden inside the hood, as nervous would have been a rather polite understatement. On the inside, they felt like an emotional wreck only held together by the hope for a miracle and the strong desire to help find the true culprit behind their father's death, in whatever limited way they could. Unfortunately, as the suspect their testimony was effectively worthless. Their lawyers, when informing them of their rights, told them that in Germany suspects are legally allowed to lie as long as they do not try to incriminate other people in the process.

All that was left was trying to help their lawyer's case as much as possible, and hope they had done their investigations at least as well as the lawyer Tyson had testified for in the US. Over the past days they had tried to remember and share with their lawyer every single detail that could under any circumstance prove to be important. It took hours every day, but Tyson enjoyed having at least someone to listen to and wanting to help. And it meant they had at least in some way come prepared.

Regardless, Tyson's mind was still a jumbled mess, oscillating between thoughts of "Oh no, oh no, oh no" and "Keep calm, keep calm, keep calm", so they involuntarily jumped a bit when their lawyer tapped them on a shoulder, momentarily getting them out of their stupor. The man that was to represent Tyson was certainly standing out among the other legal officials they had seen around. They were wearing a bright red suit and even more unusually for a court of law, a red baseball cap that simply had the word "RED" emblazoned on it in white letters. It was a welcome reminder of the lawyer's name.

"Hello... Mr. Red" Tyson stumbled over their own words, not sure what the proper way of greeting lawyers was.

– "Just call me Red, there's enough formality in the court as is already." he responded with a grin. "Don't worry about today. I have a plan. We will get the prosecution to do the work for us and then let them run into the trap they laid out themselves."

"Ah... that's nice" Tyson almost whispered, still lacking the confidence that Red exuded.

– "I can see that you're not convinced yet. But that's fine. Just watch me in action. I will tell you when you can help." he said, adjusting his cap. "You'll see that all the witnesses will end up testifying in our favor in the end. The first one is the detective in charge of the case. I know her well. She usually does her job well, but ... she can be overzealous and a bit careless."

In that moment an announcement came from a speaker. "Regarding the case against Tyson Sagurl, the parties concerned are asked to enter the courtroom"

The moment of truth, or rather moments of truth were there. At least cameras of any sorts were not allowed in German courtrooms, so there was a bit more privacy. Less eyes observing and judging them.

Tyson walked slowly, almost noticeably so, eyes fixated on the courtroom carpet. In front of them walked their lawyer, with his head raised.

"Please take your seats" the judge began, evidently the chairman of the judge panel that had taken place at the bench today. He was no younger than the American one they had seen before, but the gaze was penetrating and strict, not having the sort of friendly, grandfatherly look. The other judges, while younger, seemed no less unforgiving.

It was like a bad sign, that Tyson tried to ignore as they took their place at the small table directly facing the panel. The discomfort from the tension in their body reached almost painful levels that made them wince once their thighs made contact with the spartanic seating surface that was just a simple wooden board. The chair must have been the most uncomfortable spot they had ever sat at. Standing would have been preferable, but was sadly not an option, and so they clenched their teeth and tried to avoid looking into the eyes of the judges, especially the chief judge.

The voice of the chief judge matched his stern expression, being harsh and pointed. "We are here today to hear the case against Tyson Sagurl, submitted on January 20 2028. I can see the prosecutor Gabriel Klavier is present, the defendant is present and the defense lawyer Red Alabastia is also present." It was already grating on Tyson's ears.

"The witnesses, Ame Seay, David Ekans... where is Franziska von Karma?"

There was an empty chair next to David, who in turn was sitting next to a woman in her 20s, wearing an oversized green jacket and black leggings and carrying a bag covered in various pins. Tyson's friend was being weirdly silent. He hadn't even acknowledged their presence yet.

A bailiff handed a paper to him.

"Delayed? Stuck in traffic? And we are informed so late? This will have consequences. Any additional costs caused by this for the court will have to be paid by her."

It didn't seem like today was Tyson's lucky day, and it was still early in the morning.

"Anyway, I have to caution all the witnesses that you have to say the truth, otherwise you will be guilty of an offense. You also can not withhold any information. But if you can not remember some details, it is better to stay silent. And now, please leave the court room, and wait to be called upon to enter."

The witnesses got up and left. David still hadn't even looked in Tyson's direction yet, who was feeling a shiver go down their spines. They had never felt so alone in the world. Their lawyer turning to them and giving them a confident nod did little to ease the anxiety that kept building up inside. Tyson was really fighting to not have another outburst in court like in the US, especially in front of a judge that seems much stricter.

"We will proceed with the personal data of the defendant. Your name is Tyson Sagurl, yes?" he began.

– "Yes."

"Born on the 9th of September 2005 in Xanten, unmarried with no children, unemployed, living in Mahnör in your parents' home, 7 Oak Street, with German citizenship."

– "Yes..."

"Mr. Prosecutor, your opening statement, please."

Tyson winced internally. This was one of the moments they had dreaded the most.

"At January 17 the defendant was visiting the manor of Mahnör to attend the retirement party of their father, the victim. Over the course of the evening, there were several arguments. The last one took place in a small hall with a suit of armor hanging from the ceiling, holding a sword. This sword was at one point grabbed by the defendant and in a moment of rage rammed through the victim. The defendant is hence accused of murder, punishable by ..."

Tyson tried to tune it out. It was already getting too much to bear, and things had just started.

"Would the defendant like to make a statement?"

The words of the judge lingered a moment in the air, and Tyson hesitated, swallowing hard, unable to get a single word out. This was noticed by their lawyer.

"Test, test, test" Red said into his microphone, while looking the prosecutor in the eye. He was a young man, about the same age as Red, but was wearing a dark blue suit with what appeared to be the black t-shirt of a rockband beneath it. It showed a giant bandname in blackletter that Tyson couldn't read from their position.

– "You're making a soundcheck, my friend? Are we here at a concert?" the prosecutor said, pushing a strand of blond hair from his tanned face. "Shall I take out my guitar?" and made an air guitar riff, grinning.

The spectators in the back began murmuring, and some chuckling could be heard, which did not please the chief judge.

Unlike in the US, he had no gavel, so he resorted to a simple "Silence in the courtroom!" before looking towards his left. "Mr. Prosecutor, please don't change the subject and stick to the case at hand."

– "My apologies, Mr. Chairman." he answered, driving his hand through his hair.

"My client would like to make a statement" Red said.

Tyson's lawyer gestured towards them with a slight, knowing grin. Had he planned this? To relieve some of the tension in the room? In any case it had worked. Tyson actually felt a bit better, ready.

"This murder... I didn't do anything!" they began. "I was just standing there the whole time and had just talked ... to my father, when this whole suit of armor came crashing down, still carrying the sword, and then pierced my... the victim! It was the worst sight of my life, and I have no idea how it happened."

– "It is very simple, you took the sword and then stabbed them. The suit of armor was hanging low enough for you to be able to reach it in the heat of the moment." the prosecutor answered.

"BUT WHY WOULD I DO THAT?" Tyson shot back. It was too loud. Before they could continue, the judge reminded them "no shouting in the courtroom! We can all hear you well enough." to which they just muttered a "Sorry".

– "I can tell you why you would do that." the prosecutor continued. "You had a motive. It is as clear as the sound of a decent tuning fork! These arguments you had on that day weren't the first ones by far. In fact, they had been occurring for years. It was a major factor that led you to study in the US, and then your father forced you to return, give up a promising job and soon after, the arguments resumed and became increasingly harsher."

Tyson looked away again, eyes fixated on the floor, as the prosecutor gesticulated, a bracelet becoming visible from below his suit jacket.

"On this day, they had culminated in something that made it become violent for the first time, and your father at one point started charging at you. While you managed to dodge it, you became so enraged you decided to put an end to it all. There was no one else who had a reason to, or could have done it."

"That's not true! It's not how it happened at all. And my father wouldn't even do that, we had difficulties getting along, but we always managed to reconcile in the end..." but their voice betrayed their lack of confidence.

– "Don't lie, defendant. It isn't befitting of your pretty face."

Before this could go on any further, the judge interrupted it. "We'll find out how it all actually happened today. That's why we are here. Any more questions to the defendant?" He shot a stern gaze to the prosecutor, who wasn't even noticing it. He was absent-mindedly playing with his hair again, eyes closed.

– "No more questions." he answered, not opening his eyes.

Red laconically replied "None."

"Then we will begin with the taking of evidence. The defendant may now get up and sit down next to their defender." the chief judge said, then spoke into a microphone in front of him. "Ame Seay, please enter the courtroom"

A moment later, the door to the courtroom opened and the detective entered, a conspicuous smile on her face. She seemed to be rather happy to be there. Her oversized green jacket was almost touching the floor, mostly hiding her black leggins, white shirt and red tie. The bag she was carrying not only was covered in various colorful pins, but also had what seemed to be evidence and equipment sticking out of it. Papers, plastic pockets with photos and various items, a camera.

Red rolled his eyes, but retained a confident look. Ame, the detective walked casually and slowly to the seat and table in front of the judge panel.

Tyson's heart sank, their mind racing, imagining all the ways it could continue to get worse, how the detective somehow will have gathered enough evidence that proves they did it, that they had just blocked it out and – a hand on their shoulder, which it turns out was Red's, and another friendly smile put this to a stop. It was a reminder that Tyson didn't have to face this alone and it helped.

The chief judge began the questioning of the witness.

"You are Ame Seay, 27 years old, single, not related by blood or marriage to the defendant, correct?"

– "Yes." the detective answered.

"So you can tell us a bit about the crime scene, right?"

– "Absolutely!" she beamed and started rummaging in her bag. "We arrived on the evening of January 17. It was a grizzly sight – " she said, eyes still focused on her search.

"Ms. Seay, please look to me while you are talking."

She didn't respond, and only turned her eyes towards the judge once she had taken out a photo, and held it up triumphantly. It showed a toddler eating chocolate pudding, which had been smeared all over their face and fingers.

A few seconds later, when no one gave her any responses but glares, stares or befuddled looks, she realized her mistake.

"Oh! That is my young cousin. How did his photo end up here? Apologies."

The judge didn't comment and simply stated: "The court already is in possession of the photo in question as part of the evidence for the case."

– "Right, of course. I totally forgot..." she replied, then seemed to immediately regret saying this, looking ashamed away again.

"So what can you tell us about this photo?"

– "It shows the murder victim. And... – "

Tyson didn't hear the rest. They didn't need to anyway, the scene had been burned into their mind, leaving an imprint like a hot branding iron. Just the reminder of it made them break into sobs, although they tried to stay as quiet as possible. Red wordlessly laid a hand on them. Eventually, Tyson managed to stop, once the description of the photo was complete.

The detective had moved on to the next piece of evidence, the blood splattered clothing. They could still not bear to look at it and were choking back tears, head buried in hands. All the while the judge continued unfazed. It was the worst thing they had ever been put through, even counting the last night they had talked to their father.

But at least they weren't alone. And through fits of crying they noticed that even the prosecutor was giving them a sympathetic look, mixed with even if mixed with some condescension. Was he looking forward to trying to pin this on them, but wanted to frame it as some tragic drama he can write a song about? It just made them think of all the ways they could have avoided having to be here. All the decisions that led to the moment. All the split-seconds during which they could have acted differently. But it was no use. The thoughts were rapidly spiraling.

There's something wrong with me, they thought. Why else would I be here? It can't just be bad luck. It has to do with me in some way. My father was right, if he was still ... aaaah. It was even worse than he thought. I got him... he died because of that stupid argument we had! This didn't have to happen! Why couldn't I just be ... nicer? Or whatever it would have taken to prevent this.

Despite, or maybe because the moment had replayed itself maybe thousands of times in their head by now, they were no longer sure about everything. It increasingly felt like the specifics, the details became unclear and blurry, like smudged writing obscuring what really had happened.

Amidst this, the unbearably chipper voice of the detective kept going on and on. It sounded more like she was talking about her vacation than a crime scene.

"And then there's the bloody clothing of the defendant, the fingerprints, and we also have a motive AND a witness! It should be enough to settle this case fast and then we can all go home early! Isn't that great?" she exclaimed, with a high-pitched voice that matched her basically beaming facial expression.

It wasn't like nails on a blackboard. It was worse. It felt like needles piercing the inside of their skull, tearing at the base of their mind and threatening what little stability and strength Tyson was still able to muster up.

"We will go through the evidence one by one. The photo already established that the defendant was at the scene at the time of the murder, and you said their clothing implicates them?" the main judge said.

The entire time, Red was silent. But he didn't seem at a loss of words. More like he was very careful and deliberate with when to speak, knowing that interrupting the detective, or any witness, when they talk with a judge would not endear him to the panel. He was apparently waiting for his attack like a cat hiding in the shadows, ready to strike the mouse at the right opportunity. Surely it would come soon, and then he would turn this case around. At least, that is what Tyson hoped, looking at him from the side, still holding back tears.

* * *

The detective continued her explanation, with the same entirely inappropriate cheerful tone of someone very excited about their work. She was holding up a shirt that had blood all over the center with some splatters on the sides but virtually none at sleeves.

"Bloods on the clothing belonging to the victim clearly show that the defendant wasn't just at the scene, they were right next to the victim! And the fingerprints on the murder weapon make it clear where exactly, and what they did – behind the victim, to stab it."

A soundless scream went over Tyson's lips, whereas Red's formed into a grin.

"Is that so, Ms. Seay?" he began. "Does this evidence really prove the guilt of my client? Far from it, they point to their innocence!"

– "W-what?" Ame Seay wide eyes were now staring into Red's, her mood having abruptly changed.

"Please describe to me exactly how the sword of the big suit of armor was used to kill the victim. I'm sure you have reconstructed the crime in its entirety by now? After all, you do so pride yourself on your skills and work, from what I heard."

She frowned and crossed her arms, ready to protest, but the main judge spoke up first.

"The defense makes a good point. We do need to get the full picture and not just the individual parts. How did the crime happen, exactly?"

– "Well..." She suddenly seemed at a loss for words. "They ... grabbed the sword and pierced the victim. Rather straightforward, I'd say." Her nervousness was palpable.

Red was grinning now from ear to ear.

"Grabbed the sword?" he asked, although it sounded more like mocking.

– "Uh, y-yes?"

"Grabbed where? There was no way to grab a sword hanging up high from the ceiling in the hallway. You needed to be on the balcony for that! But that would have been clearly visible and audible, and so immediately noticed by the victim, so how do you figure it really happened?"

– "The sword was fetched ahead of time... ". A barely audible "... maybe" followed.

"Now how would that be possible? This is a small corridor we are talking about. Not the best lighting, but the space is small enough for a huge shiny sword to catch anyone's attention" Red's voice was dripping with gloat. He was clearly relishing the moment.

The detective gave no answer, looking dejected.

"And it's not just that. The victim was not hard of hearing. He would have heard a sword being picked up and turned around immediately."

– "My... current working theory is that the scene was a set up. To conceal the actual murder."

"Ah, so you agree that the defendant has been framed?"

– "What? No, I mean..."

Red just chuckled.

He didn't see the prosecutor throwing a pose, as if getting ready for a song, and then replied, his words carrying an oddly familiar melody:

"What the detective meant is clear to me, that the defendant tried to make us see
a murder looking like an accident, but they were all too soon interrupted,
and so the scheme became quite evident, their crime was then quickly reconstructed"

This man seemed intent on making the court his stage, Tyson thought. But why? It was just strange. At least for a moment all eyes were on him, and not them. Maybe they should be grateful for him trying to center himself so much.

If it just wasn't for his eyes often finding themselves crossing with theirs, even winking once. Almost as if he was wordlessly flirting. It was enough to make them even more uncomfortable, but not enough to make them look away. There was something oddly captivating about him.

"My sing-song comes to an end
To the witness stand I'll send
Someone who can testify
And answer the how and why" he continued singing, finishing with a great gesture that mimicked another guitar riff. He then raised both arms above his head and uttered a single, oddly silent "Yeahhhh...".

A single person began to clap, but quickly caught themselves and stopped There was also some whispering, but it quickly disappeared once the chief judge began to speak.

"Silence in the courtroom!" he exclaimed. "Bailiff, bring in the witness. And Mr Prosecutor, with all due respect, this is a courtroom. No place for singing, inappropriate gesturing or crowdpleasing interludes."

– "Ah, once again I beg your pardon, Mr. Chairman. I was just trying to liven up the courtroom a bit, in particular to try to lift the spirits of our young defendant here, who seemed so horribly at unease. Perhaps this will make it easier on us all." he said, locking eyes with Tyson, flashing a shining bright grin that was somewhere between arrogance, mockery and a genuine desire to help. Tyson just smiled nervously.

But that smile faded fast as terror spread across their face. The young man entering had the same short black hair and the same cute blue scarf as the man they had gotten to know at the manor before it all happened, who had flirted with them and more. Tyson had expected to see him again and see if something more develops. And now this development was that he was going to testify against them!

"My boyfriend is the prosecutor's witness?" Tyson involuntarily exclaimed, loud enough to be audible. Calling him "boyfriend" was more than a stretch, more wishful thinking, a slip of the tongue.

"Ah, young, troubled love!" the prosecutor sighed, looking into the distance while playing with his hair again. "The subject of the best songs. I think I'll use that phrase as the name of my next song, if you don't mind."