167 Impartial Arbitration 2
Anan realized that something had gone terribly wrong from the way Draco was behaving so casually. He had been hit with a prototype consumable called an Evil Bead which had been created by a collaboration of the best Alchemists of the Nshaw Tribe.
After some youths of the Nshaw Tribe had tried to harass Riveting Night and Sublime Notion during the time they had both been exploring the Paradise Lands, Sublime Notion had threatened the indigenes.
After a small fight had broken out in which Riveting Night managed to kill a few of them, rest had escaped and reported these events to their seniors.
The elders of the Nshaw Tribe took this very seriously, as they understood a lot more than their juniors. They had felt a sense of crisis after the Gods had mandated them to tolerate these Immortal Adventurers.
Unlike the other NPCs, they felt directly threatened by them, as they would be yet another party to covet their precious land. As such, they had decided that countermeasures had to be taken against the Immortal Adventurers who seemed to be like undying cockroaches.
And so, the Evil Bead, after many days of intense research, as well as the infusion of many precious resources, was created. It was only a prototype, and the Nshaw Tribe were actually unsure if they even could produce another one.
After all, just where were they supposed to get the main ingredient, which was an ounce of Destruction Energy? Assuming they could find it, who would dare to harvest it?
The Nshaw tribe were still unaware of the Ruined Plains of Deriam, which turned into a haven of Destruction Energy. Yet even with such knowledge, they wouldn't rush to claim it at all.
After adding various ingredients to the Evil Bead, it had been refined to make the effect of the small Destruction Energy present much stronger, with the end goal of destroying Immortal Spirits.
However, Anan and every other NPC in the world of Boundless could never account for the fact that Draco was the incarnation of a Black Dragon, which meant he was immune to Destruction Energy unless it was as thick and forceful as what the Metal Dragon shot.
Or something like Omega which was Destruction Energy in its purest form. Only attacks like that could harm Draco.
The Dragorugio armor wasn't damaged in any way either, because his bloodline had fused with it after his transformation, making it possess 100% of the Supreme-Rank Black Dragon's Source Origin.
All of this lead to the scene which was occurring right now. The Fake Energy Dragon Vitae had summoned connected its claw with Anan's chest while the latter stood there in a daze, not understanding how he could have failed.
His clone had returned to him after distracting the Energy Dragon for a picosecond, which was all he needed.
With that hit, the Assassin Emperor got blown back with unparalleled force. He barely managed to recover his footing after hitting a wall and spitting out blood.
Anan was chilled when he realized that he just lost about half his total HP from just one claw attack. If this Energy Dragon used any breath attacks which Dragons were known for, what would happen then?
This was to be expected though, as the Energy Dragon was a being summoned from the Aether Hall's attack function. It had low HP for its Rank and very poor defense, but its speed and attack power was frightening.
Just when the Energy Dragon was about to kill all the terrified members of the Nshaw Tribe, Draco raised his hand and stopped Vitae. The Dragon receded his claw, but the terrifying beast remained on standby.
"I can understand why you would attack me like this out of anger, but you failed to account for my side of the story. Why don't you sit down and we can resume our talks?"
Draco's smile and gentle entreaty threw the whole group off guard. They gazed at the still present Energy Dragon, and then at Anan who had barely managed to climb to his feet with a disbelieving expression.
They all sighed internally and moved to sit down quietly.
Anan himself regained his composure and sat down. He understood at this moment that trying to escape would be futile. It was better to listen to what Draco had to say and then leave.
After they left, they could find more opportunities to end his existence.
"His Majesty claimed to kill a whole outpost of our youths as well as kidnap one of our daughters. How can this be possibly rationalized?"
Draco laughed. "First, let me invoke the Impartial Arbitration Process."
｢System to Player Announcement
You are about to invoke the Impartial Arbitration Process. A random Arbitrator from the system will be sent to hear the dispute between the two parties. The Arbitrator's decision is final and cannot be changed.
Are you sure you wish to proceed?
Draco selected yes without hesitation. The surprised Nshaw Tribe members saw a tiny fairy spawn in mid-air from the ambient Worldly Energy. She was a bit cute with her big eyes and white fairy dress.
However, her expression was cold and very neutral. She spoke in an impartial tone, sounding more like a robot than an actual living being: "I am Fei, the Arbitrator for the dispute concerning Vita City State and the Nshaw Tribe. Please state your case for the arbitration to begin."
Anan was slightly worried deep down since Draco had unhesitatingly summoned the Impartial Arbitration Process. It meant that he understood a lot about the world and might know of a few facts that would negate their argument.
As such, Anan decided to speak first so that he could tilt the flow of the arbitration to his side. He would go on the offensive and place Draco on the defensive.
"A few weeks ago, His Majesty Draco sided with an invading force to destroy a settlement full of our tribe's youths, killing them all and kidnapping one in the process to be used as a living incubator."
"After that, he obtained the permission and help from the invading force to build a settlement here without our permission. However, we tolerated it due to its meager size and His Majesty Draco's contributions to the human race as a whole in killing Ratchet."
"However, he had arbitrarily expanded his settlement too suddenly and claimed sovereign ownership of this land, as well as the whole of the Paradise Lands in general. How are we, the natives who have lived on this land for generations, supposed to feel when it is suddenly claimed by a murderer and kidnapper of our people?"
Fei listened without any change of expression and just stated: "I have identified five issues in need of a resolution."
"The first is the legitimacy of Vita City State's sovereignty."
"The second is the genocide of your youth present on the surface."
"The third is the legitimacy of the Nshaw Tribe's claim to the Paradise Lands."
"The fourth is the abduction of a member of your Tribe."
"The fifth is the legitimacy of Vita City State's claim to the Paradise Lands."
Anan was a bit flabbergasted as he wasn't a legal practitioner, but an assassin. He might be astute at handling social scenarios, as this came with the trade, but legal scenarios weren't the same thing at all, especially one as formal as this.
Nevertheless, he felt that Fei was living up to her title, since the issues she brought forth were not partial to any side. As such, he nodded his head that these were the issues he put forth.
Fei turned to Draco and gestured to him. "Does His Majesty wish to add any more points? If not, please proceed with presenting your defense, as most of the points are direct results of your actions."
Draco smiled. "Thank you, Arbitrator Fei."
Draco then turned to face Anan and began to speak.
"In regards to the issue of the Sovereignty of Vita City State, I can proudly claim that it does, in fact, possess this characteristic."
"What is sovereignty? It is the right of a state to govern itself without the interference of outside forces."
"Who grants a state sovereignty? Is it the state itself…"
Draco's lips curled up in a mocking smile. "… or is it other states who decide to recognize that state as sovereign?"
The members of the Nshaw Tribe froze as they heard this. Other states granting a new state sovereignty? How was this possible? Wasn't it the right of a group of people to decide that they would govern themselves?
Anan retorted as such. "The people of a state have the right to govern themselves, it is not the word of other states that can grant them sovereignty."
Anan had willingly placed himself in the trap Draco laid because the fellow was clever. He now understood why Fei had included an issue that questioned the legitimacy of the Nshaw Tribe's claim to the Paradise Lands.
His earlier words in explaining their case were truly foolish. They attacked from an angle of fairness and morality, which was how most arbitrations were handled. After all, there was no arbitrator who didn't have emotions or partial thoughts.
However, the Impartial Arbitrator was just that. It seemed to only listen to the facts of the matter and processed the logic behind words, not the feelings or emotions.
Draco smiled. "If we accept that other states grant a new state sovereignty, I can say I possess such qualifications since many Kingdoms and Empire recognize the Vita City State."
"Not only that, Vita City State possesses a representative in the Cario Continental Council, which is the recognized governing authority for the whole continent."
Draco leaned back into his throne. "But even if we go with the other condition, the one which says that other states have no right in deciding the sovereignty of another, would this issue still be valid? After all, it would be the Nshaw tribe trying to judge the validation of our sovereignty."
Fei showed no real response inwardly and outwardly. She just nodded and processed the facts before speaking. "The issue concerning the legitimacy of Vita City State's sovereignty has been reasonably debunked. Move onto the next issue."
Anan grimaced and the Nshaw Tribe members squeezed their fists. They couldn't even get angry, because this claim had been handled perfectly by Draco.
Still, hearing Fei just toss it out the window was painful and extremely uncomfortable.
"Towards the claim of genocide to your youth, I first have to ask… in what capacity were they acting on the surface land?"
Draco's words made Anan suspicious. He had tasted the fellow's craftiness from how he debunked the first claim, so Anan parsed his words carefully before answering.
"They were acting in the capacity of defenders resisting against an unfair invasion."
Draco nodded as if that was what he had expected to hear and Anan began to feel a slight worry.
"In any conflict, there are two sides. There are the attackers and defenders, invaders and indigenes, rebels and governments. The right or wrong of either party is subject to individual interpretation."
"However, the key issue is that during war, there is another category of people that are far more important than choosing who is right or wrong in the conflict."
Draco leaned forward with a sharp glint in his eyes. "They are the combatants and the non-combatants."
"Combatants are those who are armed and partake in active fighting during the conflict. By doing so, they have acknowledged that they are willing to kill and in turn, might get killed. Combatants are awarded by their respective parties based on their merits during the battle."
"Non-combatants are the innocents who do not or cannot fight. These are usually the children or the elderly, and sometimes include females, depending on the gender dynamics of a race. It is seen as a universal evil in war to include non-combatants, no matter the reason."
"Once a person takes up arms to fight, they become a combatant. A person who does not take up arms to fight is a non-combatant."
"In this scenario, the outpost I cleaned out was full of combatants who had killed many of the invaders. Not a single one had been a non-combatant, because the Nshaw tribe regards the invasion as an opportunity to train their youths."
Draco sat properly and smirked. "Am I right, Brother Anan?"
Anan's face was completely neutral at this time.
He had finally realized that the Nshaw Tribe had messed up big this time, and things were not going to end well. Using facts and a bit of general law, Draco had debunked two issues right off the bat.
It was likely he could debunk them all unless Anan thought up something quickly.
"That, I cannot be certain of. I would like to inquire from Arbitrator Fei as to whether I can summon a legal practitioner from my Tribe to speak on our behalf?"
Fei shook her head. "Denied. You are the one to have stated the issues you have with the other party. You have thereby agreed to start this arbitration process. Those who are not present at the time of arbitration cannot join in."
Anan took a deep breath. "Might I then inquire from Arbitrator Fei if I could send someone to gather evidence from my tribe? I fear that my presentations might be slightly off the mark."
Fei paused and pondered over this. Then she turned to Draco. "Does the ruler of Vita City State approve of this?"
Anan turned to Draco with his heart pounding. He was sure Draco would reject, as the new development would be unfavorable to him. Fei asking for his permission made Anan feel worried.
"Denied. I am not free."
And just as he expected, Draco denied.
Hahaha, why should he agree? Was Draco an arrogant fool who would risk giving his enemy an advantage just to look cool? This was a battle of wits, not a battle of swords.
In a battle of swords, the outcome was usually predictable. In a battle of wits, anything could happen. It was important to keep every advantage one had, or one might find the situation quickly reversed.
This was an Impartial Arbitration. There was no partiality to either party and final decisions could not be changed. If Draco lost an issue, that was it. He would have to suffer the consequences no matter how he felt about it.
Fei accepted his denial and passed her second judgment. "The issue concerning the genocide of the youth of the Nshaw Tribe has also been debunked. Move onto the next issue."
Anan felt like he was tasting bitter fruits in his mouth. Things were not looking good, especially with how great Draco's momentum was and how important this current issue was to the Tribe as a whole.
"As for the issue concerning the legitimacy of the Nshaw Tribe's claim to the Paradise Lands, I have some doubts."
Here it comes… Anan's heart began to pound and the various members of the Nshaw tribe felt extremely uncomfortable.
"First of all, the Paradise Lands are recognized as a Neutral Zone by all authorities in the world, whether they be human, monster or demi-human. This means that the land is either unclaimed by civilization or contested."
"The Nshaw Tribe claimed to have owned this land once and were forced down into the earth by other parties who wanted the riches of the Neutral Zone for themselves. After doing so, they suddenly managed to reverse the situation and repel those who pressed them underground?"
Draco shook his head. "This sounds a bit illogical to me. If the Nshaw Tribe were beaten to the point where they had moved underground, it only seems logical that this must have been the case after their main forces had been crippled. They would then seek to rebuild and repopulate, rather than fight the victors aboveground."
"Thus, the most likely scenario to have happened was that the Nshaw Tribe had been attacked by multiple powers who pushed them underground. After that, those powers were unable to divide the land fairly, and eventually declared it a Neutral Zone without a true owner."
Anan's fear dispelled and his eyes glinted. Even though he was shocked that Draco knew the shameful truth of their history, he was also excited by the fact that Draco seemed to have made a grave mistake.
"That is true. We lived peacefully on our land, which we had claimed sovereignty over, until we were suddenly attacked unfairly by other powers due to their greed. We were forced to live underground all those years, while our land was pilfered and stolen."
"It was only after centuries of suffering that we managed to build ourselves back up and have successfully attempted to resist the incursion of the foreign powers on our rightful territory."
After saying this, Anan leaned back into his seat with a satisfied smile. The other members of the Nshaw Tribe were also excited and looked triumphant. Even Fei seemed thoughtful of the matter.
However, Anan and the Nshaw Tribe members lost their happiness when Draco started laughing uproariously. Their faces locked into one of anger as well as irritation, and even Anan couldn't take it.
"Might I ask what His Majesty Draco finds so amusing about our plight?"
Draco cut his laughter suddenly and his smile became mocking. "I was just surprised at how ignorant Brother Anan was regarding the laws of war and territory on the Cario Continent."
Anan's heart jumped. Laws of war and territory? What was that?
The Nshaw Tribe had never paid attention to such trivial things because they felt that they were not under the Cario Continental Council or whatever other power existed out there.
If they did, they would be bound by those laws, so it was better to ignore them.
However, the situation right now was special. The dreaded Impartial Arbitration was used, so established and well-recognized laws were given more importance than feelings or morality.
If Draco knew laws that would favor him that were also recognized by the majority of the continent, it would become binding against them.
"Territory is divided into two types. Claimed and unclaimed territory. Claimed territories are those that are recognized as the property of a certain person or faction, through lawful means of acquisition. Unclaimed territories are those that are inhabited by non-sapient monster races or have not been rightfully acquired by any party."
"According to the laws of the Cario Continental Council, the Paradise Lands used to be classified as an unclaimed land up until two days ago."
Draco twirled his hand in the air lazily. "This means that this land was free to be claimed by any party as long as they followed the correct means."
"The laws of acquisition of territory are fourfold. One can acquire territory through occupation, accretion, cessation or conquest."
"Occupation simply refers to a group of people who move into an unclaimed land and build a settlement there. If they reside there and develop their own government, they can lay claim to the land."
"Accretion is when new land is formed by an extension within the general territory that is already claimed. The state that presides over that territory is automatically given claim to the new land that has formed."
"Cessation is where a state gives up a part of its claimed territory to another, whether as a gift or through an agreement. They lose all rights to the land thereafter."
Draco smiled menacingly. "And finally, there is conquest. Once a party moves in to conquer a land, they can lay claim to the conquered property as long as they adhered to the laws of war that is accepted by any sapient species."
"Tell me, which of these methods of acquisition does the Paradise Lands fall under?"