It was a dark and stormy night. A woman walked fast through a graveyard.

"Dearie! Dearie! Where have you gone?" She yelled. "Oh, there you are."

Suddenly, a hand popped out of the ground.

"Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!"

Then, a deep voice could be heard: "Rest in peace."


February 13, 9:55 AM

District Court- Defendant Lobby No.3

POV: Athena Cykes

A yellow suited girl walked nervously around the room. Why isn't he here yet? The trial is about to start. It's not like him being late.

"Is something wrong, miss?" A deep voice said. The girl turned to see a big man with long,raven hair and stubble on his face. He wore an open black overcoat over a dark brown jacket, gray suit pants, black boots and a black hat. He was pushing down his hat, which covered his eyes.

"Mr Stone!" She replied. " Have you seen Apollo?"

"The loud mister from yesterday?" His voice was very deep and he spoke slowly.

"Yes, he usually comes before me, but he's not here yet."

"There is no need to worry. A morning with a soft breeze and a cloudy sky with some sunny spells. It's a good time for the last breath. He will surely rest in peace.

"What? No, he's not dead! Okay, I'd better call him. She reached into her pocket, looking for her phone, but she found nothing. Shoot. I forgot it again.

"We have a special discount on coffins today: two for one. But someone else would have to join your friend in his last journey. Are you feeling healthy today, miss?

"I'm not dying, Mr. Stone!"

"What a shame."

My name is Athena Cykes and I'm a rookie defense attorney. This man here is my client. He's been accused of murder. He's kind of creepy, probably the reason why nobody else wants to defend him. But it's the job of a lawyer to look out for the people who have no one on their side. That's what my boss always says. And I know from experience how huge the difference between being alone and having people supporting you can be. That's why I took his case. My co-worker, Apollo Justice, was supposed to be here as my co-counsel, but he's nowhere to be found. That doesn't mean he's dead. I think. I hope.

"Athena, are you crying?" A young girl dressed in a magician outfit approached her.

"Trucy! What are you doing here?"

"It's for Polly. He's at the graveyard:" Oh, no. So it was true. Athena hugged Trucy.

"I'm s-so sorry." She said, crying. "Cry if you n-need it. I know you two were really close."

"I don't know what are you talking about, but Polly asked me to bring you something."

"You mean...like his last will?"

"Still don't know what are you talking about. Polly told me that he woke up early this morning and decided to go and investigate the crime scene. Apparently you couldn't do it yesterday."

"Yes. The police didn't let us do it." Wait, so he's alive?

"Are you okay? You keep crying and crying."

"Apollo is alive!" Widget beeped, glowing green.

"I know. I talked to him earlier. He's been calling you, but you didn't answer the phone, so he called me. He wanted me to tell you that he would like to do some more investigation, so he would be late". She stopped to pull out a big book with a brown cover. "He also gave me this for you."

Book added to the Court Record

(A huge book. Apollo sent it to me.)

"A book? What I'm supposed to do with it?"

"Maybe... read it?"

"But the trial is about to start! I don't have the time to read such a huge book right now."

"Then...why don't you check it in detail?"

"Check it in detail?"

"Yeah...Polly used to do that a lot when we worked together. I'll show you how to do it. First, you choose an object." She pulled out a golden badge. " And then..."

"Wait! That's my attorney badge! When did you...!?"

"A magician never reveals her secrets." She said, tilting her hat. "Back to the point, you just have to look at it from every possible angle and point out whatever that catches your eye. In example, this badge has a number on the back."

"That's my ID number. The bailiffs always check it before I can enter the courtroom. That's how they make sure that I'm me and not a phony."

"Really? I don't remember anyone checking Polly's badge in his trials. Or Daddy's, for that matter. Maybe they just don't believe that you are an actual lawyer." Should I be offended, or worried about the lack of proper security? Because I'm offended. "Well, now's your turn. Check out the book."

"Got it!" Athena said, taking the book to examine it."Let's see. The title is 'Court Manners 101'. Wait a moment. Is this some kind of innuendo!? Is he making fun of me?" She threw away the book in anger.

"Woah. Talk about an overreaction."

"Sorry."

"Hey, look." Trucy pointed to a white card on the floor."That thing dropped from the book."

Athena leaned down to pick it up. It had an horribly drawn Apollo's face and the words 'You're fine' written on it. "What the heck?"

"Maybe Polly feels bad for leaving you all alone and this is his way of trying to calm your nerves."

"I'm not nervous!"

"Yes, she is." Widget chirped.

"Shut up, Widget."

"Well, I'd better get going." Trucy said."If I'm not back at school soon they will realize that I'm not there."

"You're playing hooky!? That's a no-no! But how did you manage to leave without anyone noticing?"

"Magic." She knocked her head and stuck out her tongue."Goodbye and luck in there." She left the lobby, as happily as she had entered it.

Then a bailiff spoke: "The trial is going to start. Please come in."

Athena looked again to the card she was still holding. So I'm fine, uh?. I'd better believe it. She headed to the courtroom door and punched her palm. "Let's do this."

Last time I was alone behind the defense bench...well, it didn't go very well. But that's not gonna happen today!...right?


February 13, 10:00 AM

District Court- Courtroom No.2

"The court is now in session for the trial of Mr. Tom Stone." The judge said, banging his gavel.

Behind the prosecution bench, there was a bald man, although the sides of his hair remained and were grown to his neck. He wore a yellow suit and a red tie, and the light reflected in his glasses.

Meanwhile, at the defense bench, Athena was sweating jets.

"Are you okay, Ms Cykes?" The judge asked. "If you keep sweating light that, you're going to dehydrate."

"Yes!" She replied, crossing her arms and grinning "I'm fine! And ready! And psyched! And ready!"

"She wants to run out of here." Widget beeped.

"Widget! I'm trying to bluff!"

"It's natural for her to be scared, Your Honor." The prosecutor chimed in. "For she is facing Winston Payne, the older brother of her most feared enemy." Most feared enemy? Well, he certainly creeps me out, but... "She must be living a nightmare right now. You're right to be scared Ms. Cykes" He flicked his hair. Now that was definitely nightmarish. "I'm like my brother, but hardened by experience." More like worn by age, if you ask me.

"In any case, I would like to ascertain Ms. Cykes' readiness with a small test." the judge said.

What? A test? Now? That's not the standard procedure. Or it is? Great, now I'm blank. What I'm going to do? Wait, I have this book, 'Court Manners 101'. It has all the basics about the courtroom. If I can't remember something, I can always take a quick peek of it.

"First question: Who's the victim in this case?"

The victim? Okay, all the little information I have about the case should be in the court record. "Got it! That's a trick question. The victim in this case hasn't been identified yet."

"And how comes that?"

"Well" Athena moved her finger across the holographic screen in front of her. "The body was discovered yesterday at the graveyard, but according to the autopsy report, he died over a week ago. That's why the corpse was too deteriorated to be properly identified." Eeeeww.

The judge nodded. "You seem ready enough. But there's something I don't understand. If the crime occurred over a week ago but the body wasn't discovered until yesterday, why does the police have already a suspect?"

"That's an easy one! They found traces of blood on the gravedigger's shovel, and consequently arrested his owner, the gravedigger, Mr Tom Stone."

"OBJECTION!" Payne shouted." It's not the job of the prosecution to give the opening statement?"

"That may not be necessary, Mr. Payne." The judge replied. "The defendant seems pretty guilty right now."

Hehehehe. Take that, Payne. Who's running the show now? Wait. "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack" Athena flinched in shock.

"HOLD IT." Everybody was surprised. Stone took the stand. "I have a problem with the defense statement"

"Wait, is the defendant cross-examining the defense!? Shouldn't it be the other way around!?"

"But Miss Cykes has said earlier something awfully wrong." So this is not going that bad, after all. Finally a bit of luck. "She said that 'The body was found yesterday at the graveyard'.''

"And what's wrong with that?"

"Well, Happy Ending Cemetery is not just some dusty graveyard." Everybody stared at him. "We're a proud institution that dates back to the nineteenth century. A sacred place where those who are no longer among us can finally rest in peace, providing all the necessary amenities to ensure a comfortable eternal sleep." I though the eternal sleep was already ensured without any amenities. "And all at incredible prices and with special discounts every day of the week." Stone handed flyers to everybody.

Happy Ending flyer added to the Court Record

(Sunday: Artistic ending. Pick your free new-fashioned coffin from the exposition in the funeral home. Monday: Partners ending. Two coffins for the price of one. Tuesday: Mourned ending. Free wreaths and bouquets. Wednesday: Cultural ending. Guided tour around famous tombs. Thursday: Luxurious ending. Rank A coffins at Rank B prices. Friday: Famous ending. Guest star in the ceremony. Saturday:Personal ending. Make your own coffin.)

"Oh! Today is 'two coffins for the price of one'." The judge said.

"Interested, Your Honor?" Stone asked. "Are you feeling healthy today?"

"The defendant will refrain from making unpleasant insinuations regarding the health of those present." He banged his gavel. "Should we now proceed with the verdict?"

"OBJECTION!" Athena shouted.

"What now? Do you also have a problem with your claims, Ms. Cykes?"

"Actually, yes. Mr. Stone was arrested because his fingerprints were found on the murder weapon. But he's the gravedigger and that shovel is his tool! It's natural for his fingerprints to be all over it! That's far from enough to render a verdict! Anyone wearing gloves could have used the shovel to commit this crime!" Yeah. Now you're on the ball, Cykes.

"OBJECTION!" Payne screeched, moving his hand. "And that's why the prosecution should always be the one to give the opening statement."

"Just get to the point already!" Widget chirped.

"All of the tools of the gravedigger are kept in a locked storage room in the funeral home. And the one and only key to that room, belongs to the defendant!"

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!" Athena flinched. "But, but...Mr Stone! Tell me that you lost the key."

"That would be difficult." Stone said, reaching his collar and pulling out a chord with several keys hanging on it. "I always keep all the keys around my neck."

"All the keys?"

"Yes. Let me explain. Please, look at this plans."

Cemetery plan added to the Court Record

(The funeral home is on the the right side of the cemetery. Inside it, there's a hallway with two rooms on each side. On the left, the storage room, with a door leading outside, and the shop, with a door to the hallway. On the right, the Farewell Room, with a door to the hallway, and the Crematorium, whose only door connects to the Farewell Room.)

"All of the rooms in the funeral home are locked when not in use. That's why I have keys to the shop, the Crematorium, and the Farewell Room along with the keys to the cemetery, the funeral home main entrance and the storage room. Nobody could enter them without my permission."

Keys added to the Court Record

(The keys to the cemetery, the funeral home, the storage room, the crematorium, the farewell room and the shop. Mr. Stone always keeps them with him.)

"So, in a nutshell, you're the only one with access to the murder weapon?" The judge asked.

"No." Stone replied. "Actually, I lost the shovel last week. I didn't find it until yesterday."

"OBJECTION!" Payne yelled. "That's just an excuse!"

"OBJECTION! There aren't any basis to deny my client's claim!"

"It seems we've reached a deadlock." The judge said."Is there anything against Mr. Stone besides the murder weapon?"

"But of course." Payne flicked his hair. "But first, I'd like Mr. Stone to testify about the discovery of the body, for the sake of clarifying the case. He happens to be one of the first persons to the scene."

"It seems like a good idea to me. We need to know everything related to this case to reach a proper verdict" The judge agreed. "Any objections from the defense?"

"None, Your Honor." Athena replied."

"Witness, state your name and occupation." Payne demanded.

"My full name is Tom Bartholomew Stone. My job is to build the final and eternal home for those who have already closed their eyes forever." Never thought I would meet a pretentious gravedigger.

"Please, testify about the moment when the body was discovered."

"As you wish."

Witness Testimony

-Discovering the body-

"The body was discovered yesterday.

It was a cold and foggy evening. A good time for the last breath.

A lady came to me with a complaint.

Her father's grave was supposed to be dug by then, but apparently it wasn't.

We walked to the tombstone, and I could see that she was right.

I immediately started to dig.

Very deep under the ground, there was a coffin.

And inside it, a body long abandoned by its soul."

"So, who's that other person who was there when the body was discovered?" The judge asked.

"That would be Ms. Helen Pick. Her father's funeral was scheduled for today, but his tombstone has been settled in the graveyard for a while." Stone replied.

"I'd like to present this photo taken where the body was found and the coffin as evidence." Payne stated

"The court will accept them into the record."

Photo of the grave added to the Court Record

(Three tombstones can be seen on the photo: John Donat's on the left, Joe Pick's on the middle and James Onmey's on the right. In front of the middle one, there's a deep grave.)

Coffin added to the Court Record

(A silver coffin decorated with flowers motifs outside and red, quilted velvet inside. It's muddy outside but unpolluted inside.)

"That's one of our special new-fashioned Rank-A coffins." Stone explained. "Cozy, right?" Well, it does seem kind of comfortable, but I doubt our victim would care about that. "What's the matter, miss? Want to test it?"

"Maybe another time." Athena replied, sweating. "Let's go back to your testimony."

"The defense may now cross-examine the witness."

Right, the cross-examination. I've done this lot of times. Well, maybe not lots, but a few. And I can take a peek of this book if I need it. Press, present, I can deal with it. Oh, you can present profiles, too? That's a new one.

Cross-Examination

-Discovering the body-

"The body was discovered yesterday.

It was a cold and foggy evening. A good time for the last breath.

A lady came to me with a complaint.

Her father's grave was supposed to be dug by then, but apparently it wasn't.

We walked to the tombstone, and I could see that she was right.

"HOLD IT." Athena interrupted. "So, you didn't notice that the grave wasn't dug until Ms. Pick took you there?"

"Yes, that's right."

"Do you have a problem with the witness statement?"

"Of course I have!" Athena slammed the desk. " Mr. Stone, you are the gravedigger! If a grave that should have been dug wasn't, then you should be the first one to notice!"

"!"

"Ms. Cykes has a point." The judge agreed. "Why didn't you notice it?"

"So it has come to this." Stone muttered. "I wanted to keep it a secret but it seems I have no choice. I must confess."

Wait, confess? I hope this is not going where I think it's going.

Witness Testimony

-Confession-

"Ms. Pick is a very exigent client.

She wanted her father's grave to be dug next to her mother's long before the funeral.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to fulfill that task.

When she complained about it, I pretended to be surprised.

I have a reputation to uphold."

The judge opened his eyes in shock. "So you didn't actually dug the tomb?"

"No."

"But there was even a body buried there!"

"That's someone else work, I'm afraid."

Well, that wasn't that bad. But...there's something there that doesn't add up. What could it mean?

"The defense may cross-examine the witness."

Cross-Examination

-Confession-

"Ms. Pick is a very exigent client.

She wanted her father's grave to be dug next to her mother's long before the funeral.

"OBJECTION!" Athena shouted. "Are we to take that Mr. Pick wanted to be buried next to his wife?"

"Correct."

"But that's weird. Please, look at this photo of the grave. None of the tombstones next to Mr. Pick's belongs to one Ms. Pick!"

"That has to be a mistake. I personally set that tombstone next to Ms. Pick's long time ago."

"Long time ago?" The judge asked

"Yes. Many years ago, actually. Mr. Pick was so keen about being buried next to his wife that, short after her funeral, he made me put his own tombstone next to hers."

"Someone booking a place in the graveyard is certainly not an everyday matter. " The judge said. "But the tombstone has definitely changed his place since then. Any theories at this respect, Ms. Cykes?"

Why does he always have to ask me? Let's think about this. Mr. Pick's tombstone used to be next to his wife's, but now it isn't. It couldn't have move on its own, and if you think about what else happened, it becomes obvious who moved it. "Your Honor, I think the person who moved the tombstone...is none other than the culprit behind this case!"

"You mean, the same person who killed our unidentified victim also moved the tombstone?"

"Yes. After killing the victim, the culprit buried the body in the graveyard to hide their crime. But what if by chance a grave was dug at the very place where the body rested?"

"Then, the body would be discovered."

"Exactly. That's why, to keep this crime hidden forever, they disguised the body as a buried person. They put it inside a coffin and moved a tombstone on top of the grave. Everything to prevent other graves to be dug there!"

"That seems likely." The judge agreed. "But does this mean anything to our case?"

Does it means anything? "Of course it does!" That's it. My opportunity to get the upper hand. "Despite all of the culprit's efforts, the body was discovered anyway. That's because they made the mistake of picking the only tombstone in the cemetery that still didn't have anyone buried under it. That begs the question: Who would commit that error?"

"Well, that information is not common knowledge. Most of people could have made a mistake like that."

"Yes, it'd be easier if we count who wouldn't commit that error. And the first person who should come to our minds, is the person in charge of the graves, the person who put that tombstone there in the first place, someone who knew for a fact that there wasn't anyone buried there. The defendant, Mr. Tom Stone!"

"But, then that means..."

"That he is, without a doubt, not guilty!" Athena yelled, grinning.

"Nyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" Payne flinched

"Ms. Cykes logic is very sound." The judge said. "It's hard to keep labeling Mr. Stone a suspect, given the facts."

"OBJECTION!" Payne screeched. "The prosecution is not done yet. There's a decisive witness that I'd like to call to the stand."

"If there's a witness, the court will heard what they have to say." The judge banged his gavel.

Athena sank on the bench. Why there has to be always a decisive witness?


Court record:

Profiles:

Tom Stone (Male;42): The defendant. He works as gravedigger at the Happy Ending Cemetery.

Apollo Justice (Male;23): My senior co-worker. He was supposed to be my co-counsel, but decided to investigate at the graveyard instead.

Trucy Wright (Female;16): My boss' daughter and also my co-worker. She wants to be a magician.

Winston Payne (Male;63): The prosecutor for this case. He lacks presence.

Evidence:

Attorney's badge: Nobody believes that I'm a lawyer unless I show them this.

Court manners 101: A book about the basics on courtroom procedures and manners

Autopsy report: Victim: Unidentified. Cause of death: Blunt force trauma to the head. Death was instantaneous. Time of death: Over a week ago.

Gravedigger's shovel: The murder weapon. It has traces of blood and Mr. Stone fingerprints on it.

Happy Ending flyer: Sunday: Artistic ending. Pick your free new-fashioned coffin from the exposition in the funeral home. Monday: Partners ending. Two coffins for the price of one. Tuesday: Mourned ending. Free wreaths and bouquets. Wednesday: Cultural ending. Guided tour around famous tombs. Thursday: Luxurious ending. Rank A coffins at Rank B prices. Friday: Famous ending. Guest star in the ceremony. Saturday:Personal ending. Make your own coffin.

Cemetery plans: The funeral home is on the the right side of the cemetery. Inside it, there's a hallway with two rooms on each side. On the left, the storage room, with a door leading outside, and the shop, with a door to the hallway. On the right, the Farewell Room, with a door to the hallway, and the Crematorium, whose only door connects to the Farewell Room.

Keys: The keys to the cemetery, the funeral home, the storage room, the crematorium, the farewell room and the shop. Mr. Stone always keeps them with him.

Photo of the grave: Three tombstones can be seen on the photo: John Donat's on the left, Joe Pick's on the middle and James Onmey's on the right. In front of the middle one, there's a deep grave.

Coffin: A silver coffin decorated with flowers motifs outside and red, quilted velvet inside. It's muddy outside but unpolluted inside.