Chapter 12: The Trial

Kitti took a deep breath, gasps of cold air being sucked past his thin, pink lips and into his hungry lungs. Ahead of him, Matthias was pacing the corridor, his floppy hair concealing his anxious features as he took several steps forward before turning to double back on himself for the one hundreth time.

The two boys were stood in waiting outside the headmaster's office. Inside, Mr Lockwood and Mr Spline were both telling their own side of the story, each of them hoping for the other to stumble, each waiting to notice a flaw, in the other's tale. The youngsters could not hear the words unfolding behind the heavy oaken door. Both had pressed their intent ears upon the wood numerous times in order to catch a hoarse whisper which might indicate which one of the tutors was in the lead, but with each attempt only silence had followed.

"Lockwood won't lose his job, he'll come out innocent...I know he will..." said Kitti softly, leaning against the wall beside the door and lifting his sympathetic gaze to his friend.

But Matthias did not answer, only continued to pace, fists clenched tightly in his jeans pockets.

Matthias had been quiet all day now. He hadn't spoken a word to Kitti since they had arrived outside the office with Lockwood and Spline. And even when Lockwood had ruffled Matthias' dark hair and told him not to worry, the young boy still had not uttered a single word; only stared on the tutor with desperate eyes, silently pleading for the elder to reconsider his actions.

Now, watching as Matthias trod up and down the dingy corridor in the flickering candle-light, Kitti longed to reassure his best friend that everything was going to be all right. He longed to tell Matthias that no matter what happened he would always be there for him. He longed to tell Matthias that Lockwood would come out fine. He longed to tell Matthias that Spline would get what was coming to him and Lockwood would be found innocent. But no words seemed to want to spill from the small boy's mouth and so he stood there in silence, gazing on as his companion stepped ever swiftly onwards.

"Matt!" said Kitti suddenly, diving at the office door and clinging to it, his ear pressed firmly upon the smooth wood. "Quick, listen!" Matthias halted, darting his attention to his comrade and then hurrying to press up beside him, ear firmly flattened to the polished oak.

"Tell me, Mr Spline. How long have you known that Master Swifte is the son of Matthew and Elizabeth Swifte?"

"Since he arrived here, sir. Right from the moment I saw him."

"What evidence is there, to back up this statement, Mr Spline?"

"The boy holds no records, sir. No previous schools or previous addresses. His name, sir, is exactly the same as Matthew and Elizabeth Swifte's son and he has no birth certificate."

"Mr Lockwood. I understand that you plead guilty to telling Matthias Lee Swifte of the Degenais murder, of The Rite of the Pentacles and of the Degenais claim of his inheritance?"

"Yes, sir."

"Am I correct in saying that you also plead guilty to making Matthias Lee Swifte aware of your presence as a vampire?"

"Yes, sir."

"Why is that Mr Lockwood? Why do you plead guilty when it would be less on your shoulders if you pleaded innocent?"

"Because he cannot deny what he has done!"

"Mr Spline! You will speak when I give you permission to do so and not unless!"

"Matthias Lee Swifte and Kyne Ivan are the innocent parties in this situation, sir. They needn't be brought into it. I shall plead guilty and they shalln't have to give evidence, sir."

"Oh, but Mr doesn't matter how you plead, Master Swifte and Master Ivan will still be seen. Bring in the boys, Palfrey."

With swift jerk, the door opened, causing both Matthias and Kitti to jump back out of the way. Mr Palfrey's bald head peered around the doorcasing, a sly smile playing about his podgy lips. "The headmaster will see you now..." he drawled, his small beady eyes glittering. Looking first to Kitti and then back at Palfrey, Matthias nodded, taking a deep breath as he stepped in through the door, Kitti close at his heels.

The room was long and rectangular, though at the bottom, where the boys now stood, was nothing but empty space. Further up, however, were two plain tables, one at either side. Behind the table on the right sat Mr Spline and the one on the left homed Mr Lockwood. Both were turned to face a rather extravegant desk at the very head of the room.

It was behind this huge desk that the headmaster was positioned. Matthias had never seen the head before and stood there for a few moments, marvoulling at the ancient leader. He was a very tall man, very thin and very drawn looking. His head adorned a light wisp of grey hair, combed backwards so that it fell over the back of his shoulders in fine strands. His eyes were nothing but dark slits in his pale skin and his nose was long and pointed. Over his shoulders draped what seemed to be a white cloak, concealing the garments which he wore beneath.

A sharp nudge in the back from Mr Palfrey, made Matthias tread slowly onwards, his eyes now fixing on the back of Lockwood's head, willing him to turn around and look at him, so that he could gain some sort of knowledge about who was in the lead. But Lockwood did not turn. Neither did the tutor lift his blonde mopped head, as the young boy's came to a halt inbetween the two tables.

The headmaster's eyes bore down at Matthias and Kitti, as he sat there in all his glory ahead of them, his face stern and stone-like. "I first of all need you to answer a few questions for me." he said emotionlessly, his long fingers stretching out across the surface of the desk, "Are you, Matthias Lee Swifte?" he asked, turning to peer at Matthias.

"Yes sir..." was the boy's quiet reply and the headmaster nodded, turning his cold gaze to Kitti.

"And are you, Kyne Ivan?" he asked.

Kitti nodded, "Y-Yes sir...that's me." he replied, nervously fiddling with the dove at his chest.

The headmaster diverted his attention to Lockwood for a moment, "Graham Lockwood...can you confirm that these boys are indeed, Matthias Lee Swifte and Kyne Ivan?"

"Yes." Lockwood said. Though he never once lifted his eyes to look at either the headmaster or the boy's beside him.

Nodding slowly and turning to Mr Spline, the headmaster went on again, "Henry Herbert Spline...can you confirm that these boys are Matthias Lee Swifte and Kyne Ivan?"

Mr Spline smiled, nodding his own head perkily, "Yes, yes that's them." he confirmed.

The headmaster then cast back to the boys. "Matthias Lee Swifte, can you please confirm where it was that you were born?"

Matthias blinked, a large lump suddenly forming in his throat as he glanced to Lockwood for help, but the tutor's eyes were fixed on the table in front of him and the boy hesitated a moment, "I-I was born in River-Dale." he answered, "I was orphaned...sent to Ukraine."

"I see. Matthias we have cause to know that Graham Lockwood told you certain details of your past yesterday afternoon, is that correct?"

Once again Matthias hesitated, casting a worried glance to Lockwood, "Yes...that's correct." he answered softly, closing his eyes. It seemed somewhat easier to answer if he blocked out the sight of the innocent, crumpled Mr Lockwood sunken beside him.

"It is known that he told you of your mother, Elizabeth Swifte and of your father, Matthew Swifte, is that also correct?"


"And we are also aware that Graham Lockwood told you about the Degenais murder, The Rite of the Pentacles and of the Degenais' claiming your inheritance, am I right?"

"Yes sir."

"One more thing Matthias, Graham Lockwood also revealed to you that he is a ?"

There was a long silence, Matthias, with his head down and eyes still firmly shut, could feel the three sets of eyes bearing into him from different angles. Mr Spline, Mr Palfrey and the headmaster, were all watching him closely. Kitti and Lockwood, however had turned their attention to staring at anywhere but at the boy and after a timely pause, Matthias replied, "No."

There was an audiable shuffle and Matthias opened his eyes to see, first of all, that the headmaster had vanished. Secondly, that Kitti was staring wildly at him. Thirdly that both Spline and Palfrey were craned over the table on the right peering anxiously in his direction and fourthly, that Mr Lockwood had indeed removed his attention from the table-top and was blinking on at the boy, his beryl eyes wide with protest.

"Graham Lockwood, did not reveal to you that he was a vampire, Master Swifte?" the voice came hushed and cool at his ear, and Matthias suddenly realised that the headmaster was standing right behind him.

"No sir." Matthias answered, shaking his head innocently, "Never."

"You are lying." hissed the headmaster, whisking around the boy to stand in front of him."You are lying!" he repeated, pointing at Matthias with a knarled finger.

Matthias shook his head again, glancing momentarily to Lockwood. The raggy tutor was now curled over the table in front of him, head in his hands, his blonde hair tousled around his fingers. Turning to stare up at the headmaster, Matthias' eyes narrowed, "I am not a liar." he said defiantly.

"You are LYING, boy!" bellowed the headmaster.

Over to the right, Spline and Palfrey were grinning madly, their evil eyes glittering. "I am NOT!" Matthias answered, his anger beginning to rise inside of him. There was no way that he was going to give Spline and Palfrey the satisfaction of seeing him succomb to disloyalty to Lockwood. Whatever the cost, Matthias was determined to prove that he was on Lockwood's side, even if it did mean expulsion.

"Do not argue with me, child." replied the headmaster. His voice was incredibly low and controlled and Matthias shivered, if anything scared him in an arguement, it was when his opponent suddenly became calm. It usually signalled that they had something playing ahead that he wouldn't be able to get out of no matter how much he tried. "Graham Lockwood has already confessed to telling you of his presence, Master Swifte..." he added at a length, "Thus...I ask you, Kyne Ivan, did you or did you not, hear Graham Lockwood reveal to Matthias Lee Swifte, that he is a vampire. Considering, boy, that your answer controls your fate here at River-Dale..."

Matthias scowled, the headmaster was playing a very sneaky game indeed and he clenched his teeth as his gaze fell on Spline and Palfrey again. Both teachers were leaning closer across the table in eagerness. Mr Lockwood however, had lifted his eyes and was intently watching Kitti, his hands clenched together before him.

Kitti bowed his head. If he told the truth, both Matthias and Lockwood were going to be banished from the school. If he lied the two of them, plus himself, would be banished from the school. The boy waited, trim fingers winding about the locket, until he finally lifted his head and whispered, "Yes...I heard him..."

Matthias' jaw dropped, Lockwood closed his eyes and Spline and Palfrey stared on in star-struck wonder as the headmaster swept back behind his desk and uttered those final words which made Kitti's heart sink. "Graham Lockwood, you are no longer welcome to inhabit the school. You have exactly an hour to go back to your office, collect your belongings and leave the grounds without raising a fuss. Matthias Lee Swifte, you are expelled from River-Dale Boarding School for Boys, you also have precisely sixty minutes to go back to your dormitory, collect your possesions and depart from the grounds quietly. The rest of you may go back to your duties..."