The Trial of Prince Kobal of Dark Comedy

Cast: (played by in parens.)

Archangel Dominic of Judgment - The Judge (Pat)
Prince Asmodeus of the Game - The Prosecution (Pat)
Prince Kobal of Dark Comedy - The Accused (Hitherby)
Daimon, Free Lilim in the Service of Dark Comedy - Kobal's Defense Attorney (Daimon)
Ashterk - Djinn of Fate (Hitherby)
Ebiasaph: - Habbalah of the War (Pat)
Cozbi - Balseraph of Dark Comedy, Captain of Repartee (Daimon)


The Unnamed Malakite Bailiff (Pat)

SCENE: A courtroom. At one end sits Kobal, chained and still smiling. At the other, Asmodeus, frowning behind his briefcase.

Bailiff: [A shadow-winged figure clears his throat.] "This court is now in session. For the prosecution, Prince Asmodeus, the Game. Defense, Prince Kobal, Dark Humor. Presiding, Archangel Dominic, Judgment."

Dominic: [The robed figure seats itself.]

Asmodeus: [Muttering.] I can not believe this.

Daimon: I will be defending Prince Kobal, your Honor.

Dominic: [Nods. Turns to Asmodeus.] The charges?

Kobal: Placed and armed.

Bailiff: [Glares at Kobal.]

Kobal: Would you rather not know?

Daimon: Shhhh... Boss, this is a trial.

Dominic: [Six eyes fix on Kobal] This is not the point to present extenuating circumstances.

Kobal: [Whispers back to Daimon.] I know. I'm being trying.

Daimon: [Blinks and sighs]

Asmodeus: [Clears his throat, rising. He looks peeved as he faces Dominic.] We bring the criminal before this Court on charges of Heresy and High Treason, Your... [He shakes his head] Your Honor.

Kobal: [Whispers to Daimon] Protest. Heresy is not admissible in court.

Daimon: [Looks at Kobal, and then stands up.] Your Honor, I must object. Heresy is not admissible in court. Being a heretic is not a crime, your honor.

Dominic: [Looks at Daimon and nods. It turns to Asmodeus.] If you wish to bring charges of an ecclesiastical nature, Prince, we shall arrange for an Inquiry. Is that your desire?"

Asmodeus: [Clenches his jaw and shakes his head.]

Dominic: May I also remind you that Prince Kobal is to be referred to as 'the accused'. A verdict has not been issued."

Daimon: Thank you, your honor. [Sits.]

Kobal: [Smiles sweetly to Asmodeus.] You may also call me 'my lord.'

Asmodeus: [Shuffles a few papers and looks at the Bench.] Then the charges stand at High Treason, Your Honor.

Dominic: [Turns to Daimon.] Do you wish to enter a plea?

Daimon: [Stands.] Yes, your honor. We plead 'Not Guilty'.

Dominic: Very well. You may make your opening argument, Prince Asmodeus.

Daimon: [Sits, shuffles papers.]

Asmodeus: [Clears his throat, and takes a swallow of water.] Your Honor. The cr...the accused has been arrested on grounds of High Treason for his incessant mockery of the Infernal Hierarchy, and the subversive activities both he and his Servitors encourage. It is his desire to undermine the foundations of Hell itself, and to reduce our society to an anarchistic gathering of madmen. It is our desire that the Court find the accused guilty of all charges, and remand him into the hands o f the Game for due punishment.

Kobal: [Whispers to Daimon.] Kinky.

Daimon: [Whispers] My Lord, I don't think it will involve three Swedish stewardesses and a can of Cheez Wiz. Sorry.

Dominic: [Turns to Daimon.] Your defense.

Kobal: Up to you, kid. Personally, I cannot imagine how spreading sedition, backstabbing, mockery, and raw comedy is doing anything but upholding the foundations of Hell.

Daimon: [Stands.] Your honor, these charges have been invented out of the air as machinations of the Game. While Prince Kobal certainly practices in some heretical acts of some consequence, and has been known for some mockery on his part, I contend that they are hardly subversive to the inner workings of the Infernal Hierarchy. In fact, by supplying a separate point of view, they strengthen it. I contend that my Lord hardly desires to undermine the foundations of Hell, and works firmly withi n it s bounds to further the Word and furthers the workings of the damned in which extends the reach of the infernals. I also contend that our society is already an anarchistic gathering of Madmen. It is our desire for the Court to find the accused innoce nt, and set him free. Lord Kobal only spreads the workings of Hell through mockery. This is hardly treasonous behavior.

Dominic: [Turns to Asmodeus.] Proceed.

Daimon: [Sits.]

Asmodeus: I call Asherk, Djinn of Fate, to testify.

Asherk: [A three-legged wolf, dark and clearly rabid, walks to the stand.]

Dominic: Your Name?

Asherk: Asherk. Get it over with.

Kobal: I protest. The witness is badgering the judge.

Asmodeus: [Approaches the stand.] Where were you on the 5005th year of Creation, third month, twelfth day?

Asherk: Earth. Mongolia.

Asmodeus: And what were you there for?

Kobal: [Whispers to Daimon.] He's got to be lying. He's supposed to work for Fate, but everyone knows the Mongols whored.

Asherk: [Glares at Asmodeus.] On a mission for my Dark Lord. I was serving in the personal guard of Genghis Khan.

Asmodeus: To what end?

Asherk: To protect the Khan until he could reach his Fate, a brutal dictatorship over China.

Asmodeus: A worthy service of your Lord's Word. If I recall correctly, Genghis Khan did not reach his Fate, is that correct?

Asherk: [Grunts an affirmative, and nods.]

Asmodeus: Can you tell me why? Surely you were not remiss in your duties. No rivals cut him down? No assassins in his tent?

Asherk: No. I didn't let no one I shouldn't have near him. That bitch had him wrapped around her finger.

Asmodeus: Bitch?

Asherk: One of his bitches. Lilim.

Asmodeus: Oh dear. Can you tell me what happened that night?

Asherk: [Shakes his head.] Don't wanna.

Dominic: [Looks at Asherk]

Asherk: Whaaaaat?

Dominic: You are a witness in this trial, Djinn. Remember your place.

Asherk: The bitch was in his tent. She was always in his tent. My job was to guard the flap and make sure no one interrupted their little romps. This night, she comes walking out and drops Genghis' loincloth on the ground of front of me. She gave me this wave, and sez 'good bye, cutie'. She ain't never said g'bye before. I never saw her again, until I ran into her in a club in Shal-mari.

Asmodeus: Didn't that strike you as unusual?

Kobal: [To Daimon.] That someone would call that cute? Yup.

Daimon: [To Kobal.] You are familiar with sarcasm, yes?

Asherk: No shit. I go in there, and there's Genghis. His face is all blue, and he's on his furs with nothin' but this dreamy smile. Bastard cacked off in the middle of the horizontal bop, and we weren't halfway to Nanking yet.

Kobal: [To Daimon.] No, but it sounds vaguely interesting.

Daimon: [To Kobal.] Don't try to out wit yourself, sir.

Kobal: [To Daimon.] Impossible. I'm far too clever an opponent for someone of my meager intellect.

Daimon: [To Kobal.] They have a column in Reader's Digest for people like you.

Kobal: [To Daimon.] Do you suppose that, because he didn't achieve his Fate and all, Genghis Khan wound up in Heaven? That would be pretty terrible.

Daimon: [To Kobal.] Seriously doubtful, sir, if my recollection of history is any good. As funny as that would be.

Asmodeus: [Turns to Dominic.] Your honor. The accomplishment of Genghis Khan's Fate would have furthered the purpose of Hell, in that the Mandarin-controlled society of China would have been set back centuries in culture and education, causi ng Marco Polo to be executed upon capture, denying the Western world of a great deal of knowledge, crippling the development of civilization. For the sake of a corpse in flagrente, the Word of Dark Humor was served at great cost to Hell. I have no further questions .

Dominic: [To Daimon.] Your witness.

Daimon: [Stands.] Thank you, your honor. Asherk, do you have a head for history?"

Asherk: Yeah.

Daimon: What is your recollection of the political situation during the Sung dynasty of China?

Asherk: Um.

Daimon: Correct. You don't know. Shall I refresh your memory?

Dominic: Do so.

Daimon: At the end of the Sung Dynasty, the court was ripped apart by warring factions, lead by the Emperor's head advisor, the socialist Wang An-Shih. The court had become decadent and had fallen into the hands of those who were powerful, a nd the meritocracy of the court was quickly becoming a very un-Confucian power play. The court was so obsessed with itself that it dismissed the claims of the Mongol Hordes raiding the northern border, so much that much of Canton fell under the sway of th e conqueror Genghis Khan. In this, many villages were destroyed, supply lines were cut off, and thousands of women and children were murdered. As the invasion progressed, the court was forced, for its o wn safety, to flee Nanking to the sanctity of the so uthern Provinces, causing much of China to fall apart for the next two hundred years. Would you not consider this the machinations of Hell?"

Asherk: That's just China. My Lord had plans for the whole world to suffer because of Genghis' cruelty.

Daimon: [Beginning to pace.] But I'm not done yet, my dear Djinn. Is it not true that China would become a warring nation of factions until it reformed again? And that, under the new reformation, that it would give rise to Neo-Confucian Orth odoxy in the Yuan Province, as an 'alternative' to the Confucianism which had failed under the previous regimes of the Tang and Sung?

Asherk: [Looks confused.]

Daimon: Apparently you don't know history. Neo-Confucianism is the basis for Mao's Chinese Communism. Genghis's destruction of the Sung would lead, historically, directly, to the formation of the People's Republic. But let me go in a differe nt direction.

Asherk: [Grunts assent.]

Daimon: Would the leaderless roving Mongol hordes be a hazard along the Chinese border for a millennia? Would it not lead to the building of the Great Wall?" He continues, "And further, where is Mongolia today? It is a failed nation, whose n omadic troops continue, to this day, to terrorize northern China and southern Russia. Correct?

Asherk: Because of that comedic bitch.

Daimon: Think for a moment. If Genghis Khan had been allowed to continue, he would have joined Russia, China, and Mongolia under a strong leadership, correct? One nation instead of many warring nations. And if there was one large nation, aft er the conquest, would this not promote peace? Genghis would have deposed the warring, self absorbed Sung. He would have invaded the warring Ukraine. He would have united the hordes into an army.

Asherk: A barbarian army.

Daimon: Would he have not, and in successive generations following, end up following community? Nationalism? Strength in standing together? The Chinese are not barbarians, and neither are the Russians. They would have formed, over time, into one na tion, under one ruler.

Asherk: They would have been barbarians under the Mongolians.

Daimon: [Stops pacing.] Take the long view. No wars in the Ukraine. No wars in the southern Russian states. Mongolia would have been united, and China would not have fallen apart for hundreds of years. They would not have been barbarians for long, I'm afraid. They would have grown into a stronger Dynasty. Think several generations following Genghis, in the Chinese tradition, of strength, unity, and power under one leader, one Emperor. Heck, you would have been doing China a huge favor . The Dynasty was dying.

Asherk: [Snarling.] Fate is never a favor.

Daimon: I'm afraid you need to read the Analects again, my dear Djinn, to understand the Chinese people better. For you would have united the people of Asia into one country of strength. And then, who would have been the traitor to Hell? Ins tead we have a rather large, funny, historical joke. And a thousand years of pain.

Daimon: [To Dominic.] "No more questions, your Honor." [Sits.]

Dominic: You may step down.

Asherk: [Snarls and walks away from the stand.]

Dominic: [To Asmodeus.] Your next witness?

Asmodeus: [Stops glaring at Daimon and turns back to the bench.] "We call Ebiasaph, Punisher of the War, to the stand."

Daimon: [Shuffles papers.]

Ebiasaph: [A Habbalite, half-flayed and narrow-eyed, takes the stand.]

Dominic: You were once Dimoniel, Power of the Sword.

Ebiasaph: That was my lesser service, yes. I now serve a higher truth.

Dominic: We shall not discuss your delusions in these proceedings. [To Asmodeus.] You may begin questioning.

Asmodeus: [Steps towards the stand, fixing Ebiasaph with a glare.] Please state your duties to the War, Punisher.

Ebiasaph: [The Habbalite smiles, showing carefully etched teeth.] "I serve on the corporeal realm as a courier."

Asmodeus: In the eighteen hundredth and sixty-fourth year of the current human calendar, where were you stationed?

Ebiasaph: I held a Role within General Lee's inner circle, Dread Lord. My corporeal duties were to relay messages between his commanders. My duty to my Prince was to alter those messages as necessary, to spread the fog of war."

Asmodeus: You were charged by Lee to relay the news of the peace suit, were you not?

Ebiasaph: I was.

Asmodeus: And what were the directives of your Lord Baal?

Ebiasaph: [Smiling]. I was to deliver news of a failed suit, and the resumption of hostilities.

Asmodeus: Were the purpose of these orders explained?

Ebiasaph: The war would have dragged on, leaving the Southern states in a far worse position, and when the North was forced to crush them, the bitterness and inequity would cause a permanent rift in the nation.

Asmodeus: This is not the outcome I recall. Do you mind relating to the Court what actually happened?

Ebiasaph: I stopped in a tavern in Carolina for lunch.

Asmodeus: Pardon?

Ebiasaph: [Taking a strip of its flesh and gnawing on it.] I stopped for lunch. I shared my table with a satirist from the local newspaper.

Asmodeus: I see. And was there anything odd about this lunch?

Ebiasaph: [Shakes its head.]

Asmodeus: Please tell the Court, then, precisely what message you delivered to the Southern commanders.

Ebiasaph: A shopping list, Dread Lord.

Asmodeus: [Clears his throat, producing a yellowed paper.] I have the list in question, to be submitted as evidence.

Dominic: [Nods.]

Asmodeus: [Reading.] One dozen eggs. Milk. Salt butter. Three tons hardtack. Two dozen pairs silk stockings. Two copies, 'The Nurse and the Soldier'.

Asmodeus: [Addressing Dominic.] As a result of the confusion, the Southern command requested clarification from General Lee. A new message was sent by a mortal courier, detailing the peace settlement. The war was ended shortly thereafter. We have no further questions." [Sits.]

Dominic: [Nods to Daimon.] Your witness.

Daimon: [Stands.] "Thank you your Honor." [Walks around the tables to give the Habbalite a very long look.] Ebiasaph, you were ordered to deliver this message, and edit it as you saw fit?

Ebiasaph: I was given the corrected message, written by a Balseraph of the War.

Daimon: And you trusted this Balseraph of the War to write the correct message and give it to you, and you never even checked?

Ebiasaph: I checked upon receipt. It did, indeed, give orders to continue attacks upon the Damned Yankees.

Daimon: You are convinced the letter was swapped as part of a prank?

Ebiasaph: I am.

Daimon: Not, perhaps, misadventure on your part?

Ebiasaph: Misadventure?

Daimon: Misadventure. Are you requiring a definition, sir?

Dominic: Clarify your meaning for the record, please.

Daimon: Your honor, the definition of misadventure is a minor yet sometimes ridiculous mishap.

Dominic: I fail to see how this conflicts with the testimony.

Daimon: It does not, your honor. But maybe I should move onto a new line of reasoning.

Dominic: [Nods.]

Daimon: Thank you, your honor. [Turning to the Habbalite.] Ebiasaph, are you aware of the state of the Confederacy as of 1864?

Ebiasaph: They were in pretty sad shape.

Daimon: And, as a servitor of the War, how long, in your estimation, do you think the Civil War would have continued, if you would have given them the order?

Ebiasaph: At least another year. They would have been crushed, though.

Daimon: Most certainly. And exactly what came to pass would have come to pass anyway. The Confederacy was forced to rejoin the Union under President Lincoln. Oddly, though, in 1865, in the Ford Theater, Lincoln was assassinated in the Ford T heater by a Southern Sympathizer, correct?

Ebiasaph: Correct.

Daimon: Let's talk about the Reconstruction, and the assassination of Lincoln, shall we? Even if the Civil War had dragged on another year - and there is little doubt that it could not have gone on much longer - the reconstruction was a peri od of madness. Over $4 billion in property damage. Hundreds of Thousands out of work. The Railroads destroyed. Carpetbagging. Certainly not a good time. But of course, the soon to be assassinated Lincoln had emancipated all the slaves, now there was a hug e unemployable workforce, correct?

Ebiasaph: Correct.

Daimon: Tell me about the emancipation of the slaves and its historical impact, please.

Ebiasaph: [Sneering, a sliver of skin surling free.] I have not studied such things. I was recalled to Hell after my failure.

Daimon: It is unfortunate that we do not see fit to educate our demonic forces so they get a better perspective of history. Let me help you, Ebiasaph. A huge uneducated workforce was an enormous economic burden on the society of the South, i n which parts would never pull out. Interracial hate raged across the landscape. The Klan continued to track down black men and kill them. Segregation in schools, on buses, in washrooms, all across the country. It was almost a hundred years before the bla ck man even received anything near to equality. And even then, their greatest leader of the 20th century, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated like Lincoln, the man who freed them originally. Riots. Hangings. A hundred years of raw hate, Ebiasaph. Tha t's the historical legacy left by the Civil War. Now I have a question for you. If the war was going to burn out in less then a year anyway, and the South was going to surrender in early 1864, how does your message to attack make any difference, except fo r the loss of life which is minor in the sweep of history?

Ebiasaph: Humiliation. Resentment. A lingering antipathy between the North and the South at levels significantly higher than exists now. It was predicted that there would be another war within seventy years.

Daimon: Are you suggesting, after that one battle, that Lincoln would not have once again pursued peace?

Ebiasaph: There is still pride in an honorable surrender. Being driven into the ground is another thing entirely, Lilim.

Daimon: You admitted yourself that they were already 'driven into the ground', did you not?

Ebiasaph: No. They were close. They needed the rest of the War.

Daimon: Are you suggesting that they still would not have had an honorable surrender?

Ebiasaph: Not if we did our jobs without interference.

Daimon: [Slowly paces.] So what happened to that three tons of hardtack, the two dozen pairs of silk stockings, and the two copies of the 'Nurse and the Soldier'?

Ebiasaph: Huh?

Daimon: The grocery list you delivered. What happened to the two dozen pairs of silk stockings and the two copies of "The Nurse and the Soldier"?

Ebiasaph: Beats me.

Daimon: Gee, I would think that would keep an army going just a little bit longer, don't you? Especially one as starving and dying as the Southern Army. So what happened to the shopping list?

Ebiasaph: It was absurd. I don't know what happened to it.

Daimon: Don't you think, for a moment, that if you had delivered it, and it had been filled, that the war would have dragged on a bit longer?

Ebiasaph: I did deliver it. The commander was as confused as I was. He berated me for pulling a jest, and demanded to see the true message.

Daimon: And what did you tell the commander, Ebiasaph?

Ebiasaph: That I must have been deceived.

Daimon: And do you think that if you had delivered that message as the message, that there is a possibility that the supplies would have been filled, and the War would have dragged on longer?

Ebiasaph: Those were not my orders.

Daimon: Your orders were to deliver the message. You had a message. You did not deliver it.

Ebiasaph: My orders were to deliver the corrected message I was given. My Lord was very explicit.

Daimon: You are a little weak on your follow-through, Ebiasaph. Do you think you were recalled because you stopped in that inn to have lunch? Were your orders explicitly stated for you to stop?

Ebiasaph: Maintaining my Role was a standing order.

Daimon: Let's walk you through the events. You were given a letter by a Balseraph, which is suspect in itself. You stopped to have lunch, even though you had a mission critical document to deliver. When you reached the camp, you had a document which would continue the war to rage on for several more years, but you failed to deliver it. I fail to see how you can continue to maintain your integrity. No more questions, your Honor.

Dominic: [Nods to Daimon, and turns to Ebiasaph.] You may step down.

Ebiasaph: [Steps down, with a last glare at Daimon.]

Daimon: [Sits, and shuffles a few more papers around.]

Asmodeus: No more witnesses, Your Honor.

Dominic: [Looks at Daimon.] You may call your first witness.

Daimon: [Stands.] Your Honor, I call Cozbi, Captain of Repartee, Balseraph of Dark Comedy as my first witness.

Dominic: [Nods.]

Cozbi: [A large, silvery six eyed leather winged Balseraph takes the stand. The Balseraph is making every attempt it can to look smooth and suave.]

Dominic: You may begin your questioning.

Daimon: [Nods to the bench.] Thank you, your honor. [Addressing the Balseraph.] Please state your duties, Liar.

Cozbi: Why, I do television, man. Hollywood is my bag, if you know what I mean.

Dominic: [Frowns.]

Daimon: In the nineteen hundred and thirty-eighth year, you were involved in a large project for your Prince, were you not?

Cozbi: It was a great job, man. A perfect bag. I was working with the Mercury Radio Theater.

Asmodeus: [Scowls.]

Daimon: [Beginning to pace.] And what did you do at the Mercury Radio Theater in 1938?

Cozbi: I arranged for a little radio show that would come as a series of news broadcasts.

Daimon: And what was this little radio show?

Cozbi: Well, I thought it was hoaky, man. I thought it was lame, because the story had been written in 1898, you know? But we put on H. G. Wells's 'War of the Worlds', as created by Orson Welles.

Daimon: And what was your role, Cozbi, in putting on War of the Worlds?

Cozbi: I was the radio producer.

Daimon: [Stops pacing.] So Cozbi, what happened during the radio broadcast?

Cozbi: It was great, man. It was a fuc-er, frickin' Fantastic practical joke. It was great, you should been there, kid. You all shoulda been there.

Daimon: Can you give some details?

Cozbi: There was mass panic across the United States. People were tryin' to get away from where the 'Martians were landing'. Some even committed suicide! There was madness. It was more then I could have ever asked for.

Daimon: Panic? Suicide? Madness? This surely had to help the cause of Hell.

Cozbi: I told ya it was great. [Looks up at Dominic.] It was great, man. Even you should have been there.

Dominic: [Frowns.]

Daimon: Whose idea was it originally to radio broadcast War of the Worlds?

Cozbi: The Boss. He had the great idea.

Daimon: [Starts to pace again.] Can it be said that, sixty years later, we are still seeing 'little green men', and 'faces on Mars' and 'hearing voices from above'?

Cozbi: Yeah, man.

Daimon: And has this not caused everything from Alien panics to bad movies to cults killing themselves to ride on a comet?

Cozbi: Yeah, I think so.

Daimon: Cozbi, do you think that producing the War of the Worlds furthered the aims of Hell?

Cozbi: Hell yeah.

Daimon: [Nods to the bench.] No more questions, your honor. [Sits.]

Asmodeus: [Stands.] Cozbi... How long did you work with Mercury before this broadcast?

Cozbi: 'bout 10 years.

Asmodeus: And can you tell us your impression of radio's influence during that decade?

Cozbi: A profound impact. People couldn't afford too much in the way of extravagance, and there wasn't T.V. People were very big on their radio shows.

Asmodeus: A credit to your profession, certainly. Did they trust the radio?

Cozbi: Of course, man! They wouldn't have believed it if they didn't trust it.

Asmodeus: Would you say it held an authoritative position in their lifestyle?

Cozbi: Yeah, I'd think so. At least when it came to news reports. Although, they had their newspapers, too. And the nickelodeons.

Asmodeus: [Stills for a moment, considering.] It helped, didn't it? With the trust they put into the news reports.

Cozbi: Before each show, we had Orson Welles's monologue, which said it was just a show, man.

Asmodeus: But apart from that, it sounded exactly like their beloved, trusted news reports. Yes or no?

Cozbi: Yeah, man, it did. It was written in a series of news reports. But it was of invaders! From Mars!

Asmodeus: [Grips the bar and leans forward, staring into all six of Cozbi's eyes.] So a voice and a style that they trusted, that they counted on, told them Earth was being invaded.

Cozbi: [Starts back away from Asmodeus.] Man, I hate to point this out to you, but I am a Balseraph.

Asmodeus: [Straightens.] I know. Your intention was to be believed, then?

Cozbi: Yeah, man. I'd never outright lie.

Asmodeus: Congratulations, then. The broadcast did, indeed, further the immediate cause of Hell.

Cozbi: It sure did. It was great.

Asmodeus: [Steeples his fingers.] Now, I'd like to talk to you about the cost.

Cozbi: [Folds his wings down, and waits nervously for the punchline.]

Asmodeus: [Starts pacing, in true lawyer fashion.] Did you continue your work with Mercury after the broadcast?

Cozbi: Yeah, man. A few years. Then I went on to Hollywood to make pictures.

Asmodeus: Can you tell the Court about any of your later accomplishments with the studio?

Cozbi: With Mercury?

Asmodeus: Yes. After the War of the Worlds broadcast. I assume you held your position of responsibility?

Cozbi: [Looking suspicious.] Sure did.

Asmodeus: All right. What else did you accomplish there?

Cozbi: Just some general shows, man. Lil' Orphan Annie, that sort of thing.

Asmodeus: I see. Nothing to quite match that sterling moment, hm?

Cozbi: Not until Hollywood. But man, was there a piece out there.

Asmodeus: [Running a hand along his jaw.] Hm. Do you have any theories as to why that is?

Cozbi: World War II, man.

Asmodeus: World War Two? Why, I would think that would be an excellent time to further abuse the people's trust of the news.

Cozbi: It certainly was, and it was done so, man. Where were you?

Asmodeus: Then why didn't you list such?

Cozbi: Because I was off to Hol-ly-wood to hang with the Stars.

Asmodeus: Well, then. I'm afraid this next answer will have to be an opinion, as you lack a factual basis. Do you feel that the trust had been shattered by your deception?

Cozbi: For a while. I think. Then they were onto us. It's okay, radio was on its way out anyway.

Asmodeus: And what about other news media?

Cozbi: Well, in time, the public was 'on to us' from that standpoint. But there were hoaxes pulled later. Roswell, for instance. Humans love little green men."

Asmodeus: And how much faith did they put into the news reports on the subject?

Cozbi: 'pends on the humans.

Asmodeus: As a whole.

Cozbi: Not really, man. But it's the 90's! We have a whole new slew of pranks!

Asmodeus: So. For the sake of one epic joke, a conduit directly to the trust and belief of humanity was turned into something doubted and mocked.

Cozbi: Yeah man! Now you're getting it!

Asmodeus: And how did this advance the far goals of Hell?

Cozbi: It was damn funny.

Asmodeus: I see. And being funny, of course, takes precedence over a hold on the minds of the mortals. No further questions.

Daimon: [Frowns.]

Dominic: [Turns to Cozbi.] Step down. [To Daimon.] Next witness?

Cozbi [Slithers off the stand, and cools his way out of the courtroom.]

Kobal: [Hums idly to himself. Artistry-encoded words in his hum mention - "Of course, Heaven couldn't possibly take advantage of a hold on people's trust."]

Daimon: [Stands.] Your honor, I call the accused, Prince Kobal, to the stand.

Dominic: [Nods.] Please rise and take the stand, Prince.

Kobal: [Stretches, long and slow, then gets to his feet and pads over to the witness' box.]

Dominic: You are aware of the gravity of these proceedings.

Kobal: [Smiles politely to Dominic.] It is an interesting dilemma. If I follow the tenets of my Word, assigned by the dark master Lucifer himself, then I risk alienating the worthy judge in whose hands my future rests. So, what're you doing afterwards, cutie?

Dominic: [Frowns. To Daimon.] Proceed.

Daimon: [Folds his hands at the base of his back, and looks contemplative.] My Lord, can you outline for the Court what your Word means and how it furthers the power of Hell?

Kobal: Humor is the spark that divides humans from animals -- souls from minds. A man whose life is lived in utter cold seriousness, who tortures young children and burns down forests, has no soul at all; but if even once he looks down at on e young child in the throes of agony and laughs, he becomes a font of corruption and decay, essence and Forces dedicated to Hell. That is one half of my Word: the dark side of bright humor. The other half is the bright humor of a dark life, the laughter t hat is all a soul -- or a demon -- can hold on to in Hell. Laughter that appreciates horrors, or pain, or despair, but does not cause them. Without it, Hell would spiral so far into the darkness that not even Lucifer could reach the Earth.

Daimon: [Beginning to pace slowly.] So, my Lord, we require humor to really allow humans to become lasting monsters, and to keep Hell from getting so sick it spins into the cold darkness forever. How do you apply your Word to the Corporeal w orld above?

Kobal: I teach the humans to laugh at others. I teach them to laugh at horrors. On the one hand, it brings them release in their darkest hours -- but this gift does not affect the destination of any soul. And on the other hand, it teaches th em all that the pain of others, that the horrible things in the world, that the fires of Belial and the callous lusts of Andrealphus and the dooms of Kronos and the mutations of Vapula and the twisted mind games of that Djinn fellow are all -- just fine. Fun. Someone else's problem. Not something that should be fixed.

Daimon: So you further the aims of Hell by teaching the humans to simply accept that they are going to Hell and there is nothing else they can do? You help them to accept their loss of hope?

Kobal: Oh, no. I help them to accept that everybody else is going to Hell.

Daimon: [Stops, nods, and resumes pacing.] So you spread acceptance of other's fate. You teach them to mock other's pain and embarrassment. You teach them that the way the world is going to Hell is just fine, and, is in fact, just material f or another good joke?

Kobal: I believe you have the gist of it.

Daimon: [Stops pacing again.] Thank you, my Lord. Would you consider your Word to be just as pervasive, just as harmful, just as powerful in furthering the machinations of Hell as, say, for example, Lust, or Factions, or even the Game?

Kobal: Does the Game further the cause of Hell?

Daimon: It certainly believes it does.

Asmodeus: [Scowls. Scribbles a few notes.]

Kobal: [Smiling.] I have Fallen once out of Pride, Daimonique, and I fear that if I did so again, I would fall out of the universe altogether. Still, that considered -- is not Pride intertwined on all levels with laughter and dismissal of ot hers? And is not Pride the first of all sins, that brings slaughter, war, atrocities, blasphemy, and which, long ago, brought on the Fall of the Archangel of Light? -- Daimonique, it sometimes seems to me that my Word is the very keystone and cornerstone of Hell. Funny, huh?"

Daimon: [Swallows hard.] Yes, sir. Quite ironic, I would say." [Spends a moment pulling himself together.] Would you say, My Lord, that being a Word which does not require the immediate death of many humans at once, but instead requires a ce rtain amount of survivable pain, that it has a 'lasting effect' on human history and the human psyche as a whole?

Kobal: I remember when humans thought 'a bad thing' was pissing in someone else's cave. If they can make jokes about genocide and nuclear catastrophe today, then I think I must say yes.

Daimon: My Lord, you have been accused of High Treason, yet you claim to be the 'cornerstone of Hell'. Can you please outline for the court your ongoing argument with the Game?

Kobal: Certainly. Asmodeus is afraid that if any of Hell's other demons have the least bit of brightness in their life, he will start feeling sorry for himself again.

Asmodeus: [Glares at Kobal. He's barely restraining himself.]

Daimon: [Purses his lips together, and stands silent for a moment.] Brightness, my Lord?

Kobal: Asmodeus has attempted to focus this trial on complaints against my operation on Earth, but it is not my operation on Earth that he objects to. It is the other side of my Word, humor in a dark life, which is most apparent in Hell itse lf. This is also, as you are aware, his power base. If demons live their lives with nothing but fear, sorrow, loathing, hatred, and all the songs of darkness, they are vulnerable to apathy -- to reaching the point where there is nothing to strive for, whe re not even momentary satisfaction is possible. Then they are useless to Hell, and may even go over to Heaven. I have made my small contribution to reducing the Sloth in Hell, but ... It is an ongoing job.

Daimon: So you contend, sir, that you are the 'grease' in the metaphorical 'gears' of Hell.

Kobal: Again, I believe you have the gist of it. You show a remarkable understanding of my Word. Perhaps I should recruit you."

Daimon: I... ah... um... Thank you sir. My Lord, much of this trial has been about the possible allegations of a certain 'High Treason', which is, to whit, the cooperation of ones forces with the forces of Heaven in which to further the Word of God. We have not, unfortunately, seen any physical evidence to support this, but only testimony. We are working only on here say, so I must ask, my Lord. Have you, in any way, used your Word to further the aims of Heaven and reduce the reach of Hell?< /P>

Kobal: Reduce the reach of Hell? Not that I can recall. Further the aims of Heaven? Of course. And so has the Prince of the Game. As the judge can personally attest.

Dominic: [Says nothing.]

Daimon: Sir, can you elaborate on how you have furthered the aims of Heaven?

Kobal: God has decreed that there be humor. I turn it to the cause of Hell, but I promote it as well. In this, I resemble my cousins Andrealphus, Belial, Vapula, and others.

Daimon: And in accusing you, the court accuses most of Hell. I believe, on this point, the defense rests. No further questions, your honor.

Daimon: [Sits, and takes notes.]

Asmodeus: [Rises as Dominic gives the nod. He approaches the stand.] Prince Kobal. What is your opinion of the War?

Kobal: Fine chap. Very dedicated.

Asmodeus: [Clearing his throat.] I was referring to the ancient conflict with Heaven.

Kobal: I believe that if we take the Earth, Heaven will Fall; not at the hands of our blades, not by the power of our souls, but from the angels' despair.

Asmodeus: You feel, then, that the Earth should be the primary battlefield?

Kobal: Perhaps you are suggesting that both God and the Lightbringer are wrong in this assessment?

Asmodeus: Not at all. Just clarifying your position.

Kobal: Then yes, I do feel that this is so.

Asmodeus: Do you believe, then, that you are capable of taking Earth by yourself?

Kobal: [Considers a short time.] Under current conditions -- that is to say, with the current level of angelic opposition and capability -- no.

Asmodeus: What about the other Princes? Do you feel you have levels of insight beyond theirs?

Kobal: Yes.

Asmodeus: Please explain.

Kobal: In all matters relating to the proper application of my Word, I have insight beyond any other Prince. Further, my Word itself depends on insight. Just as Vapula can create technical achievements others would boggle at, and just as you can manipulate lesser demons with ease, I may perceive certain deep patterns of reality -- the better to be amused by them."

Asmodeus: That was not the question. Do you feel your insight, in the general, is beyond the rest of Hell?

Kobal: The term has no meaning in the general. Unless you are asking if I can see more than all of the rest of Hell combined -- which, I admit, I cannot.

Asmodeus: That was my question. Since you have admitted such, though, I would like to ask why you see fit to select much of Hell as the victim of your Word.

Kobal: [Rests his head in his hands and shakes silently with laughter.]

Asmodeus: [Waits.]

Daimon: [Stops taking notes to look up.]

Kobal: My lord Prince, you have dared to claim that I am subject to your Word, and you ask this question?

Asmodeus: Answer the question.

Kobal: Very well. [He glances at Dominic: smiles a moment, and then looks back to the Prince of the Game.] My lord Prince, I have not set my Word above any other -- outside of my own thoughts. If a Servitor of mine makes mock of a Warrior of Baal, this does not make him less of a Warrior. If I tease Lilith about a bad hair day, she does not become less the Princess of Freedom. I make much of Hell the 'victim' of my Word because this has nothing whatsoever to do with whether my wisdom or powe r exceeds another's.

Asmodeus: You will maintain this even when your mockery hinders the work of Hell on Earth, as witnesses have testified?

Kobal: Indeed. Do you suggest that we divide the Earth into thirteen zones, so that only in Canada and Alaska may Andrealphus tempt, and only in Russia can Malphas divide?

Asmodeus: Rather, I would suggest that endeavors not be interfered with. Divisiveness serves Hell not at all, and no Word save that of Malphas. All has its place, and you have failed to recognize that.

Kobal: I find it hard to compass that this trial is an indication of the staunch unity and brotherhood that you envision in the folk of Hell.

Asmodeus: I envision order, Prince. I envision a conquest of Heaven and Earth under the thrust of a codified movement, not the scattershot approach you seem to find such amusement in. I have no desire for small victories, for a good laugh. I want to win, and I want to see Hell win as well. Your capriciousness threatens that. That is what this trial is an indication of.

Kobal: So some minor encroachments on the territories and rights of others are necessary when the greater cause is served?

Asmodeus: Are you implying you serve the greater cause at all times?

Kobal: Yes. My Word has been awarded me by Lucifer; therefore, service to my Word is service to Hell. High service to my Word is high service to Hell.

Asmodeus: I believe the testimony belies that implication.

Kobal: I understand that you are a little bit slow, Asmodeus, but I have described my ultimate goals and the methods I use to achieve them. Demonstrate how even your hand-picked examples belie this.

Asmodeus: The evidence is in the record. I rely on the good Judgment of this Court. I have no further questions.

Kobal: [Winks to Asmodeus.]

Asmodeus: [Sits down.]

Dominic: [Looks at Kobal.] You may step down.

Kobal: [Stands and looks at Dominic for a long moment. Finally steps down, and without transition is sitting next to Daimon again.] D'you think I'd look good with six eyes?

Daimon: No, I think you're fine with two. Unless you have bicycle reflectors.

Dominic: [Looks at Daimon.] Does the Defense have any further witnesses?

Daimon: [Stands.] No, your honor. [Sits.]

Asmodeus: [Organizes his papers.]

Daimon: [Shuffles papers.]

Dominic: [Nods, rising.] I will return with my verdict.

Bailiff: [Gestures for all to rise.]

Daimon: [Rises.]

Asmodeus: [Rises, not without another glare at Kobal.]

Kobal: [Rises easily to his feet.]

Dominic: [Files out. Moments, not very many of them, pass. Return and sits.]. We have reached a verdict.

Daimon: [Rises for the verdict.]

Kobal: [Rises, as well.]

Asmodeus: [Rises, looking smug.]

Dominic: [Looks at Asmodeus.] We find the prosecution guilty of the sins of Pride and Anger. However, as the prosecution is not on trial, there is no sentence.

Asmodeus: [Face falls.]

Dominic: [Turns to Kobal.] We find the accused guilty of Vanity, Sedition, Malice, Impiety, Disrespect, and Bad Taste.

Kobal: [Gives Dominic a thumbs-up.]

Dominic: As these are the charges that resulted in the casting out of the Prince from the Heavenly Realm, this court stands by the original punishment. Kobal, you will remain in exile in Hell, removed from the Light and Will of God, until su ch time as you have repented of your crimes and seek Redemption. This is the final Judgment of this Court, and the case shall not be brought again." [Six eyes turn to Asmodeus.] Are we understood?

Asmodeus: [Nods, grudgingly.]

Dominic: [Continues to stare at Asmodeus.] Are we understood, Prince Asmodeus?

Asmodeus: You are, Your Honor.

Kobal: Hell again?

Dominic: [Rises.] Court is adjourned.

Daimon: [To Kobal.] At least you have a pad to crash at, sir.

Asmodeus: [Closes his briefcase and stalks out.]

Daimon: [Bows down to start putting all his papers in his briefcase.]

Kobal: [Smiling gently at Dominic.] Thank you. And not for the verdict.

Kobal: [Fades into a shadow, which shatters, and he is gone.]

Daimon: [Realizes that he's stuck in a court room with Dominic.]

Daimon: Thank you sir, for fairness.

Dominic: [Leaves.]

Daimon: [Picks up his briefcase, and leaves.]

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh." - Voltaire

 Emily K. Dresner, 05/27/98

Flaming edge graphics from Our Domain Gallery of Graphics
The "In Nomine" and "flaming feather" graphics are
(C) 1997 Steve Jackson Games, Incorporated.
Used with fnord.