The Trial(Parliament House Books Book 1)By: John Mayer
~ The Parliament House Books ~
Prologue : Et In Arcadia Ego
EDINBURGH : PARLIAMENT HOUSE : 10 YEARS AGO : Around the perimeter of Parliament Hall, pencil-thin night lights cast their ghostly glow down through the high Gothic arches onto the heads of white marble statues. Along her cold stone corridors in the judges’ chambers, bundles of orders and interlocutors lay signed and sealed; bound in red tape and awaiting delivery. Parliament House had settled down for the night.
In the darkness of the Advocates’ library the King’s clock struck 1am. As the final chime came to rest, Brogan McLane flung open the high double-doors and stepped into Parliament Hall. Marching to dead centre, with the smell of the night's celebration on his breath, McLane allowed his eyes to adjust.
In the stillness he could feel the power of those old judges. Immortalised in white Italian marble, there they were; pronouncing verdicts that resonated through the centuries. Regardless of the pace of change outside, in Parliament House their tiny tight-knit world endured intact. The handing down from father to son of high judicial offices was timed to perfection. From pre-school to university and as young men dining in each other’s country estates, they expected power over others as a birth-right. Some got there on merit and lived up to their judicial oath. But others schemed their way to the top and once installed, immediately ignored their sworn duty. Living according to their own casual moral code, theirs was a case of ‘low life in high places in the old town’.
That much McLane had learned in his year of training. He also knew that having been born poor, far away from this centre of legal power, he could never rise to be 'one of them'. But for all that, he bore them no ill will. In Parliament House, that was just the price of admission.
The following morning at precisely 10.30 in the forenoon, the Dean's Procession arrived at the old oak door to Court 12 in Parliament House. After striking the door three times with the Golden Mace, those leading their latest Member to the Bar of the Court filed in. Taking the nod from Lord Aldounhill on the bench, the Dean bellowed: ‘My Lord, upon this fine day Mr Brogan McLane has been approved as suitably qualified and trained to become a Member of the Faculty of Advocates in these Supreme Courts. Indeed, one of us. It is therefore my pleasure to invite your Lordship to administer the Oath.’
Looking down on this unknown newcomer, Lord Aldounhill began: ‘Mr McLane, you will see the Roll of Advocates on the Clerk’s table there and you will by now, know of its significance. It contains the signatures of every Advocate who ever practised before these courts since 1532.
In a moment I will invite you to sign the Roll but before I do, tradition demands that I offer you a few words of advice. Always respect the court and your fellow Advocates. Get to know the ways of the macers, the messengers, the jailers and the clerks of court. They will be invaluable to you in years to come. One more thing is very important. Always be yourself. Never be anyone else’s man. That is a route to obscurity and we, the judges, don’t like it. We prefer men of independent mind. Now with that I invite you to step forward and take the Oath of Allegiance.’
Lord Aldounhill stood and raised his right hand. As he did so, the wide ermine-trimmed sleeve of his judicial robe dropped almost to his waist. Stepping proudly forward and turning his open right hand slightly away from the judge, Brogan McLane hoped no-one would spot the fading red X-scar on his palm; where as a boy he'd cut it before pressing it into the bleeding palm of his closest friend and swearing to be blood-brothers.
Looking the judge right in the eye, he swore the oath. ‘I, Brogan McLane do solemnly swear that I will be faithful; And bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth; Her heirs and successors; According to law.'
Out of court, in the grand Parliament Hall amongst family and friends, in clothes that would have cost his father a year's wages, Brogan McLane wore the proudest smile of his life. Standing slightly over six feet tall, a few strands of his jet-black wavy hair contrasted with his new legal wig. But what gave his face its most distinctive mark were his thick eyebrows over those steely blue eyes. They looked like a barrier between his head and his chiselled face. They said to the world that while under that legal wig was a prize-winning mind, the face belonged to someone from tougher stock than the usual Parliament House pack. Marked like an animal, everything about him was more like the prisoners being led through the stone corridors underneath Parliament Hall than the refined faces of those sitting in the Advocates' Library.