Emery had to admit, even if only to himself, that he was nervous. He was rarely called upon to do more than submit his written report into evidence. Today, however, since the defense attorney had called the evidence into question, he had to speak in support of his own findings. “I hate talking in front of people,” he muttered to himself.

“Pretend you’re just talking to the lawyer or the judge,” Franklin said softly. Emery whirled around to face him, startled that he’d been listening. “Sorry,” the young warden continued. “I didn’t mean to intrude into your private thoughts.”

“No, it’s fine,” Emery assured him. “It’s probably good advice. Have they found out why the guy was killed?” The forensics mages rarely touched on the whys and wherefores, focusing their efforts on the hows and whos.

“The suspect apparently didn’t like him socializing with his daughter. He was a bad influence,” Franklin said.

“Isn’t he a criminal?” Emery said in wonder. “He has a record of assault and battery a mile long, or that’s what Hassett said anyway.”

“Yeah, but his victim was a mage; he has standards to uphold, after all. He can’t have his darling girl hanging around with someone who can’t even leave nature alone.” Emery shook his head in bafflement and the corporal said, “Emery, crooked things can be just as stiff and inflexible as straight.”

The young mage shrugged and nodded his understanding as he entered the courtroom. His turn would come soon. He understood now why the lawyer had seen fit to question his findings. If the suspect distrusted mages, he likely hired a lawyer who held the same views.