It was harder to track down a willing spirit medium than Manfred thought it would be. He could not ask the medium that the police were using as he had to make sure that there was no way that this case could be linked back to him.
Although it was hard, it was not completely impossible, and Manfred finds himself kneeling across the medium on a straw mat in a badly illuminated room. It is not long before Gregory Edgeworth is sitting before him, with a somewhat dazed look on his face.
The dazed look doesn't last more than a matter of moments before Gregory's face hardens. "Manfred von Karma."
Manfred smiles. "Gregory Edgeworth."
Gregory's eyebrows furrow. "Why are we introducing ourselves? I think we are already well acquainted with each other." He turns his head around and asks more to himself than Manfred, "Where am I?"
"Shouldn't you be asking a different question, Gregory Edgeworth?"
Gregory freezes, then turns back to face Manfred. "What do you mean? I think the question of my whereabouts would be the most important one of all."
"I didn't expect you to be so selfish," Manfred tuts. "You only care about yourself, do you? If something happened to either of my daughters…" his hand tightened around his cane, "…I would make sure that the bastards responsible would never walk away."
It's as if everything starts to fall in place for Gregory; Manfred can see the cogs in his brain try extra hard to put all the pieces together. When Gregory speaks again, his voice is choked. "Did something happen to Miles? I…I didn't know…I don't know where I've been…or where I am…"
"Peh!" Manfred shouts, "I'm not your son's babysitter, Edgeworth! If something happens to him, it's hardly my fault, is it? It's yours. You should really be a better father."
Gregory nods. "I should. Do you know where Miles is now?"
Manfred wags his finger in the air, in front of Gregory's face. "Well, well, I'm glad that you've finally got your priorities sorted out, Edgeworth. It just so happens that I know exactly where Miles Edgeworth is right now."
"Where?" Gregory asks frantically, getting to his feet, and not wanting to put himself in a vulnerable position, Manfred follows suit.
"Why should I tell you? You would just lose him again."
"I didn't lose him, von Karma!" Gregory objects angrily, jabbing a finger in the air that stops short of Manfred's chest by a few centimetres. "He was right in the elevator with me, before I ended up he—" Gregory stops abruptly. "The elevator?"
"Don't you remember? Manfred asks. "You both suffered from oxygen deprivation after the power went out when you were in the elevator. I would suggest that you take the stairs next time, but there's not going to be a next time."
Gregory's face pales, and his hands start shaking. "Miles is…dead?"
"How quickly you jump to foolish conclusions. You wish that your son is dead? You're an even worse father than I thought previously."
Fists tightening, Gregory replies, "If it's a foolish conclusion, Manfred von Karma, then tell me the truth. Where is my son?"
Manfred feels his smile growing wider. He quite possibly looks insane now, but there is very little Gregory can do about it anyway. "He's living with me, of course." It's a little white lie; Miles Edgeworth is not in Manfred's custody yet, but what Gregory doesn't know won't hurt him.
Gregory's eyes narrow. "He won't be—not after you go to court, von Karma. I refuse to let you anywhere near my son."
"'Go to court'?" Manfred quotes. "Why, are you insinuating that I've committed some sort of crime? Pray tell, what crime would that be?"
"You've kidnapped my son, locked me up in this dark room, not to mention all the forged evidence you've used in the past twenty-five years. These are your crimes, Manfred von Karma." Gregory glowers, the lines in his face settling angrily. Maybe Gregory does actually care about his son after all.
Gregory is wrong, of course. Manfred hasn't kidnapped anyone's sons, or locked anyone, let alone Gregory Edgeworth, in any manner of dark rooms. Maybe Gregory is right about the forged evidence, but he doesn't need to know that. The crime that Manfred is guilty of is murder, but there is no need for Gregory to know that either. It is much more convenient if he doesn't, for now.
"Even if I had committed these foolish crimes, which I assure you, I have not, what are you planning to do about it, Gregory Edgeworth?"
"I'll reveal you for the monster that you really are."
Manfred's question is simple. "How?"
"Any way I can," Gregory answers, and Manfred can see the determination burning in his eyes. It's such a shame, really.
"I'm afraid that's not possible, Gregory Edgeworth." Manfred's voice is not sorry at all.
"Well, yes, I'll have to get out of this room first, but I assure you, that once I do that, Manfred von Karma, that I will not rest until you get what's coming to you."
"You will not 'rest', hmm?" Manfred ponders. "That is an interesting choice of words. I don't think you'll be able to do anything but rest, personally, for the rest of your eternal existence."
He didn't know it was possible, but Gregory's face turns even paler. "What do you mean?"
It's time, Manfred thinks to himself. "It's not your son who's dead, Gregory. It's you." Manfred takes great interest in seeing Gregory's face fall, his mouth fall open, his arms and legs tremble until he loses his balance and flops back to the floor. His eyes have taken back their initial dazed focus. It is the stance of a man completely shattered, and it is utterly brilliant. "Do you see now, Gregory Edgeworth, than there is nothing that you can do?"
"If you hurt him…" Gregory's sentence lingers off in the air, and Manfred finishes it for him.
"There's nothing that you can do about it."
Gregory looks at the floor; Manfred is delighted to see that Gregory is ashamed. "I've failed him."
"There you go with your foolish assumptions again," Manfred mocks, and Gregory's head snaps back up. "Why would I want to hurt your son?"
There's a glint in Gregory's eyes now; he pushes his glasses back up his nose; Manfred can see the sweat glistening on the former defense attorney's face. "I ruined your perfect record, Manfred von Karma, and you will never forget that."
"So you are suggesting that I'm the type of man to extract my revenge on innocent young boys, are you, Gregory? You may be such a coward, but I am not."
There is a sliver of understanding reflecting in Gregory's eyes now. "So, you say that I'm dead, and somehow, I'm communicating with you. Then…it was you that killed me."
"You're not as slow on the uptake as I thought you would be." Gregory has to understand, because if he does not, then the full impact of their little conversation is lost.
"You disgust me."
Manfred doesn't respond to that. It's even less hurtful than childish name-calling. "Be that as it may, there is still nothing that you can do about it."
"If I'm here talking to you," Gregory muses, "then maybe someone else from the living world will talk to me, and ask me who murdered me. Then I will name you, Manfred von Karma."
"What makes you think that?" Manfred is curious now; maybe Gregory isn't as intelligent as he thought. Maybe Gregory still doesn't see the disadvantage he is placed under.
"I do not let murderers go free."
"Yet, you are a piece-of-scum defense attorney. If you were really interested in the conviction of murderers, you would be a prosecutor." Gregory stares at him blankly, and Manfred has to repress a sigh. It seems as though Gregory still needs another hint. "This is something I wish to teach your brat."
Gregory finally understands: He is dead, and he cannot save his son from Manfred. "No. You're wrong, von Karma. Miles will always want to be a defense attorney. Always."
"Is that all you're worried about?" Manfred asks. "Once again, you have shown that your priorities are grossly out of order. Instead of concerning yourself over if your son decides to follow in your footsteps or not, shouldn't you be worried about what happens to your son if you do name me as your murderer?"
Gregory inhales deeply. Apparently, dead people still need air.
"The police are planning to channel you, there is no doubt about that. When they do, you are going to name Yanni Yogi, the court bailiff, as the murderer. Isn't that right…Gregory?"
"What are you going to do if I don't?" Gregory asks defiantly, lifting his chin into the air.
Manfred doesn't even have to answer the question, because a few moments later, Gregory seems to have answered it for himself. He holds his head in his hands. "I can never win against you, Manfred von Karma."
Manfred smiles again. "I would ask you what failure feels like, but I suppose you've grown quite acquainted with it."
Gregory picks himself up off the floor, and stares at Manfred. "I'd ask you what being a bastard feels like, but I don't think you'd know the difference."
"Is that the best you can come up with, Gregory, really? I guess I shouldn't be so surprised. Your defenses in court were always rather…lacking." After seeing Gregory's eyes flash with anger, Manfred continues. "I do not see what you are so worried about. Miles will be brought up in a disciplined household, with a caring father that will not so carelessly lose him and be trained in a prestigious career with the famous Manfred von Karma as his mentor. Or are you saying that you don't want the best of the best for your son? Because if you don't, then I dare you to name me at the police inquisition, and you will be seeing your son again very soon."
"You're right," Gregory replies despondently. "There is nothing that I can do anymore."
"Of course I'm right. I'm Manfred von Karma. Just remember your answer when the time comes. If any of the police even suspect my involvement—" He doesn't have to finish his sentence before Gregory interrupts him.
"I'll do it, I'll do it—just…just shut up."
Manfred raises a hand and runs it over Gregory's cheek, marvelling at how he can almost feel the man's face tense underneath his fingers. "That's a very good decision. You can go now."
Gregory backs away, not understanding that when Manfred says 'go', he means to depart the body of the medium of he is occupying. The medium did tell Manfred though, that sometimes, spirits did not leave until they were ready. Gregory just wasn't quite ready yet. "I hate you, Manfred von Karma. I will always hate you. You are one of the most reprehensible men I have ever had the displeasure of meeting. You have no morality, no sense of human decency, that it makes me feel physically ill. One day you will get what's coming to you; I guarantee it."
Gregory probably just needs one last reminder, Manfred realises. "There is nothing you can do about it," he repeats once more. "Absolutely nothing."
He will remember Gregory's scream forever; the sound of deathly despair as the spirit leaves the medium's body. Gregory Edgeworth had been horribly wrong when he had though that he could put a stain on Manfred's von Karma's perfect record. Even with Gregory in the afterlife, Manfred still wins.
The spirit medium is stirring and sits upright on the mat. "How did it go?" she asks, brushing the hair back from her face.
Manfred's lips curl. "Perfectly".