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04 December 2009 @ 04:40 pm
The Diary of Prince Rupert von Landbeck  
The diary of Prince Rupert von Landbeck is a thin volume made of cheap paper, bound with twine, and is kept hidden between the prince’s mattress and his bedframe, the only place which the servants do not regularly clean. It does not bear his name or any other identifying marks on the cover, and it is kept in a barely legible scrawl, which is not made more decipherable by the Prince’s decision to write his diary with a lead pencil rather than using a pen and ink.

Dear Diary,

Do you think it’s childish that I’m still writing in my diary as if I was writing a letter to another person? Of course you don’t, you’re only a book, not a real friend with opinions. But I couldn’t talk to my real friends the way I talk write to you, dearest diary. I can’t take the chance that whatever I said might get back to Father. He’d kill me if he knew about some of the things I’ve told you. For that matter, I rather expect that keeping an uncensored diary would be a serious offense in Father’s eyes in and of itself. It would be “a weakness, lending itself to spying and blackmail”. You’d be burned if father found out about you, and I rather expect that I wouldn’t be able to sit comfortably for a while. I am surrounded by people, but I am truly alone in the world. A neat paradox, wouldn’t you say, my diary?

Isn’t it odd that I’m so maudlin on the eve of the Incarnation? I really think that the saddest thing in the world is to be unhappy when everyone expects you to be happy. But given the events of this morning, I think my mood is understandable.
Father held court this morning, of course, as it is the custom of Bavaria for the monarch to personally judge matters both high and low on the eve of the incarnation. Today, however, Father decided to frighten me by requiring me to decide several cases involving commoners.
In truth, I doubt father intended to frighten me, but the effect was fright in any case.
The worst case was of two men, tanners, I think they were, who were accused of beggary. I ended up dismissing the case for lack of evidence because the only evidence against them with any weight was the testimony of their apprentice (around 12), who claimed to have caught them in flagrante. However, my cross-examination of the witness established that he had been beaten for stealing on the same day he claimed to have observed the unnatural act, the tanners, fortunately, had not admitted to any guilt, and so I was able to declare that the testimony was false and invalid, thus dismissing the case. However, that led to me being forced to sentence the apprentice to 40 lashes for greater perjury, which was a hard thing to do when I knew that despite the beating his testimony was true.

Why, you ask, did I know the ‘printice spoke true? Well, (and this is the part, dearest diary, that I cannot tell another soul) I know men of my own sort, for I, as I have told you before, would gladly commit unnatural acts with mankind if only I had the opportunity to do so. As the first tanner saw the second for the first time in weeks, his face lit up like a knight errant’s when gazing upon the countenance of his ladylove. Tis not a thing that a man who is not unnatural would spy, for they would not look, or would dismiss it as mere friendship, but I know it was not mere friendship, it was love! How, dear diary, could I condemm two men to death or the mines, for a love which I hold should be no crime?

However, you must understand, dear diary, that when I dismissed the case for lack of evidence, I had not realized that Father would immediately order the arrest of the apprentice (I think his name was Bill), for perjury and rule that his gult was automatically proven, then make me decide the sentence. Fortunately, the tanners spoke for the apprentice’s good character, which meant that I could void the term in the mines that a grand perjury normally carries, and his tender years (thank God he was not 13) meant that I could impose forty lashes with a cane on his bare buttocks rather then 20 with the whip on his back. He may not thank me for the difference now, since the humiliation is so much greater- I know how hard it is to strip for a spanking, even from my father or his butler, in private, so I must imagine that stripping in front of a crowd for a public caning would be 10 times worse, but 20 lashes on his back would leave the boy scarred for life! The scars of the lash would condemn him to the life of a common soldier, a beggar, or a thief. This way, the boy can go on to become the good tanner his masters say he can become, and in time a husband and a father, as is proper.
Later, father told me that I had been too merciful in that matter, but I let the sentence stand. All in all, he says that I err on the side of mercy more then he would, but that there was nothing technically wrong with my judgments. I am very pleased that I was able to please Father, even in a small way. Thank God I had been paying attention to my law tutor! If I had rendered an invalid judgment at Incarnation Court, Father would have made me most sorry afterwards. He would be right to do so too! He is, I think, right, when he says that “a prince must be strictly punished for his errors, because when a king errs an entire kingdom suffers”.

Oh, one exciting thing- fun exciting, not scary exciting- happened at the Incarnation Court. A bandit from the wastes who had been wounded on a raid had been taken to Munchenberg for judgment because his raiding party had included undead! It must have been terribly exciting for the paladins who captured him to face down the forces of Darkness in their purest form! He was hanged for banditry, of course, (and that’s always a nasty sight to see), but he gave the most fascinating testimony, which I will tell you, dear diary, once I can convince old Eorl to give me the transcript he made because I’m not sure I remember it right, and I want to be exact, like Father is.

Oh, before he was hanged, he gave Father a sealed letter, and charged him on his honor, as a last request to deliver it to a woman named Elana in a village called Ingleston. He did not ask for it to remain unopened, He was smart enough to realize that Father’s honor wouldn’t go that far, I think. (Thank goodness he didn’t know Sir. Gotwelt would do something like that!) As it turned out it was a letter from him to his wife and children, which he hadn’t seen since he was outlawed for poaching, explaining to them that he was about to be hanged and they would never see him again. I nearly cried when Father read the letter to me in his study, but fortunately I controlled myself. Father called it a “silly sob story”, and said that the man was “horribly irresponsible” for running away without his family. I don’t think it would be more responsible to let himself get hanged- he’d be just as gone and just as unable to provide for them. Of course, if he hadn’t poached his lords game in the first place, he would never have had to decide between being hanged and being an outlaw and eventually being hanged anyway, which shows why it’s always best to do as you’re told.

I’m sniffling a little as I write you this, though. Outlaw or not, he had an incredibly sad story. Anyway, I need to say goodbye now because it’s almost time for the Incarnation feast and the servants will be coming to dress me soon. I will tell you all about the feast later.

Sincerely Yours,
Prince Rupert


Here's the plain text, for those who prefer it
 
 
 
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