The Trial of Belkar Bitterleaf (Abridged)
Order of the Stick comic
Comic no. 420
Date published 1 March 2007
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Belkar receives summary judgement for his crimes, and gets off pretty easy.

Cast Edit

Transcript Edit

Panel 1, Page 1

Two guards lead four prisoners to Hinjo.
Hinjo: This is it?
Solider #1: All the prisoners that were in the jail that were over 5th level except—
Solider #2 : —except those in there for a capital crime, like treason.

Panel 2, Page 1

The guards leave, stage left.
Solider #1 (whispering): Why didn't you tell him about the three prisoners that weren't on the jail records?
Solider #2 (whispering): Lord Hinjo has too much to worry about right now without hearing about prison bookkeeping errors. It can wait.

Panel 3, Page 1

Hinjo: Good morning. As some of you may already know, Azure City is being threatened by an invading army of Hobgoblin soldiers and their undead allies.
Hinjo: I have just received word that this army is on the move, and should be here in a few hours.

Panel 4, Page 1

Hinjo: All of you are guilty of crimes against Azure City and its citizens...
Hinjo: ...ranging from Grand Larceny...
Hinjo: Unnatural Acts of Wizardry...
Hinjo: Kidnapping...
Hinjo: Voluntary Manslaughter.
Belkar: Manslaughter? I thought I was going down for at LEAST Murder 2!
Belkar: This'll wreak havoc with my street cred...

Panel 5, Page 1

Hinjo: You are all also fairly high level in your chosen classes. And right now, your city needs all the high-level characters it can muster.
Hinjo: We are willing to reduce your prison sentence by 5 years if you contribute to the defense of Azure City by helping defeat the invaders.

Panel 6, Page 1

Hinjo: If you accept, your sentence will be reduced after we drive off the hobgoblin horde. Or, you can refuse, and pray to the Twelve Gods that their catapults don't hit the prison tower while you're still locked inside.
Hinjo: Either way, this offer expires in five minutes. I've got too much to do to wait for your decision.

Panel 7, Page 1

Grand Larceny Prisoner: Yeah, OK. I'm in.
Tsukiko: I suppose.
Kidnapper: Not me. I've got 14 years left, I'll take my chances that the goblins plaster ya.

Panel 8, Page 1

Hinjo: Belkar? What about you?
Belkar: Well, I'm no legal expert, but I'm pretty sure I haven't actually been convicted of anything.

Panel 9, Page 1

Hinjo: That's a good point. Very well, I'll summon the guards to take you back—
Roy rushes up to Hinjo.
Roy: No, wait! He pleads guilty!
Belkar: Gah!

Panel 10, Page 1

Belkar: What? No, I don't.
Roy: Yes, you do.
Belkar: No, I don't!

Panel 11, Page 1

Roy: Yes, you do! Look, I'm the one who talked Hinjo into reducing the charges to manslaughter, since you were imprisoned falsely by a ruler acting outside the bounds of the law.
Roy: Now, the minimum penalty for manslaughter in Azure City is four years in prison.
Roy: Now do you see where I'm going with this?

Panel 1, Page 2

Belkar: ...
Belkar: No.
Roy: *sigh*

Panel 2, Page 2

Roy: You plead guilty, get sentenced to four years, then defend the city, we kick Xykon's ass and you sentence gets reduced by five years.
Belkar: How the hell do I serve -1 years in prison?
Roy: You don't, you idiot, you get set free!

Panel 3, Page 2

Belkar: Oh, I get it. OK, then, I plead guilty.
Hinjo: Very well. Since we don't have a magistrate available, it falls to me to pass sentence.

Panel 4, Page 2

Hinjo: Belkar Bitterleaf, for the crime of voluntary manslaughter, I sentence you to spend a term in prison equal to—

Panel 5, Page 2

Hinjo: —six years.
Belkar: What??
Roy: Ah, crap.

Panel 6, Page 2

Hinjo: Yeah, well, you probably shouldn't have discussed how you're going to beat the system in front of the guy charged with upholding the system.
Hinjo: I still get to make Listen checks when I'm three feet away, you know.

Panel 7, Page 2

Hinjo: However, I'll make you a separate deal, Belkar. If you help defend the city, I'll have my Wizards remove that mark of Justice from you afterwards.
Belkar: Uh, hello? I was getting that taken off now anyway. My trial is over.

Panel 8, Page 2

Hinjo: Nope. Because, see, Azure City doesn't use the Mark of Justice as part of its legal system. That was strictly the act of my uncle, working above the law.
Hinjo: Therefore, technically, I'm not legally bound to EVER remove it from you.

Panel 9, Page 2

Hinjo: However...when Miko was charging at you, swords drawn, you stood there and blocked her path, even though you were almost certainly going to be cut down.
Hinjo: That says to me that perhaps your time with the Mark has taught you something about yourself. That maybe, you're a better person than before it was put on you.

Panel 10, Page 2

Hinjo: I figure that if you acquit yourself well in this battle while still under the Mark's influence, then you deserve the chance to prove it.
Belkar: I am so confused...

Panel 11, Page 2

Roy: He's doing it because he thinks that you've learned your lesson, and with my guidance, you'll stop resorting to violence to solve your problems.
Belkar: Ohhhhh. I get it.

Panel 12, Page 2

Beat. Hinjo leaves.

Panel 13, Page 2

Belkar: So, he's doing it because he doesn't really know me at all, then.
Roy: Pretty much.
Belkar: Cool with me. Let's go massacre something.

D&D Context Edit

  • Listen skill checks allow a character to hear things around them, especially when the sound is unlikely to be heard. In this case the check is against a very easy DC (Difficulty Class).

Trivia Edit

  • The guards realize that three of the prisoners are not duly recorded: Nale, Thog, and Sabine.
  • Only one of the prisoners rejects Hinjo's offer of amnesty. The other three will have future plot significance to various extents.
  • The dialogue establishes that the guards somehow know that all four prisoners are above 5th level.
  • Belkar killed a prison guard when he first escaped the Azure City prison in #265. In most U.S. jurisdictions, 2nd degree murder is for intentional spontaneous acts of murder, whereas manslaughter is a charge for when a death is caused unintentionally.
  • This is the first appearance of Tsukiko, the Mystic Theurge.
  • This is the first appearance of the kidnapper.
  • This is the strip which gives Grand Larceny Prisoner his name.

External Links Edit

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