Koda’s Breath was roused from his meditation, unsure of how many days had passed since he had been locked in the cage. He was escourted through the Eastern Watchpost under armed guard to the Great Lodge. There, he was chained to a heavy boulder, and forced to sit on a stool.
Norn justice was stereotypically haphazard. Trials were set up in a style that was convenient, not that could provide consistent results. They abstained from tribunals like the charr, or the complex adversarial system of the humans, and opted for tests of the great spirits.
Chairs had been set up in the atrium of the Great Lodge. Before Jormag’s tooth sat five people. The Havroun from each lodge, and Knut in the middle. They spoke between themselves quietly. Ulfridda sat beside Koda’s Breath, straight-backed and rigid, eyes staring into the distance, deep in thought. Next to her was a large bag which sagged under its own weight. He could smell barbequed meat being cooked in the distance, and his stomach growled ferociously. He calmed himself, focussing inwards, and settled his nerves.
Norn were filing in, taking seats in the rows behind, and the noise in the chamber steadily grew. When the sun had reached its zenith, Knut stood, and bellowed for silence. The room hushed, but the conversations continued in whispers.
“I stand before you today to determine the guilt of the kodan ‘Koda’s Breath’” Knut’s voice echoed across the cavernous room, his deep voice heard by all.
“Beside me sit the Honourable Havrouns of our Lodges. Bear Havroun Grechen, Raven Havroun Weibe, Snow Leopard Havroun Svena, and Wolf Havroun Valda, all rise.”
The row of norn stood, and bowed their heads to Knut, before sitting again.
“I shall act as Lawspeaker” Knut bowed to the Havrouns, and sat down.
“We meet for there has been a great evil. First, two youths were killed in the Might and Main. Next, we were led to believe it was the corrupted wolfmaster and lost further friends in this endeavor. Finally, Mara, the apprentice healer, was murdered in cold blood.” Knut paused to take breath.
“Today we meet to assign guilt or innocence. Koda’s Breath, Voice of The Spear Of The Sea has been assigned guilt and must prove himself innocent. Do you have a representative to speak on your behalf, kodan?”
Ulfridda stood. “I recognise the Honoured Havrouns and Knut Whitebear, Lawspeaker and Master of the Great Lodge of Hoaelbrak. I speak for the kodan in matters of our ancient laws.”
“Ulfridda, Slayer of Modmagniir, Legend of the Mists, Champion Magus and Elder of Bear Lodge, you are recognised.”
Ulfridda sat down. Knut shuffled through some papers, and spoke again.
“For these crimes the punishment is permanent Outlawship. It shall be a crime to aid or abet you, either knowingly or unknowingly. You shall be turned from every steading, every outpost and from the presence of every norn.” Knut read from the paper. “The Havrouns are here to administer our tests of innocence. Bear tests the strength of innocence. Raven, the wisdom of innocence. Snow Leopard commands speed of innocence. And finally, Wolf, your loyalty in innocence. Do you submit to these—”
“Koda’s Breath rejects the assignation of guilt, Knut. And we have proof” Ulfridda interrupted.
Knut’s eyebrows rose, and the Havrouns all sat forward, listening intently to her words.
“By all means, Elder Ulfridda” Raven Havroun Weibe spoke. “Show us, and hopefully we can all go home early.”
“Come here, little one” Ulfridda called.
A young girl Koda’s Breath had never seen before walked from the back of the room, where she had been standing with Kaelbarn. She walked timidly, clutching a stuffed dolyak, and stood next to where Ulfridda was sitting. Ulfridda turned to the girl, smiled and brushed her hair out of her face.
“Be brave now, Signy”
The girl turned and faced the five norn, and squared her shoulders. Ulfridda stood, and began to speak.
“Two days ago, while Koda’s Breath was confined, your family was attacked”. Signy nodded.
“Who attacked them?”
“Was it this kodan?”
“No.” A collective gasp ran through the audience.
“I would like to call upon Hinrik the Mindhealer to provide us with an image of the attacker” said Ulfridda.
“As you wish” Wolf Havroun Valda allowed.
Hinrik made his way through the crowd and kneeled by Signy. He focussed on her, and projected an image in front of the judges. Ulfridda opened the bag, releasing sand from inside, channelling it to fit within the image being projected. When she was done, a sandstone statue of the phantasm stood, a kodan whose face was full of rage wearing tattered red robes. Hinrik stopped projecting and took Signy’s hand to lead her away. Stopping by his mother to kiss her cheek, Koda’s Breath heard him whisper.
“Eir still makes statues better”. Ulfridda smiled.
“This is the real culprit?” Havroun Greta asked.
“We believe so. He murdered Signy’s family in a blood rage. The claw marks from Taigan Groves match the youths from Hoelbrak perfectly. Koda’s Breath is innocent and has been unjustly accused.” Ulfridda turned to sit down. As she sat, she saw the look on Koda’s Breath’s face.
His mouth hanging open, his eyes wide, and tears building in the corners, Koda’s Breath was shocked. Before him in sandstone was the perfect depiction of Serene Wrath. He looked down, and twirled the Memory Shard hanging around his neck. Suddenly, he understood. He looked at Ulfridda, and she mouthed two words.
Knut sat back in his chair and spoke quietly to the Havrouns. There was a lot of nodding and gesticulating before he spoke to the crowd again.
“We shall consult in my loft. It shouldn’t take too long. Please bring Elder Ulfridda and Koda’s Breath some food.” He and the Havrouns stood, and made their way behind the Fang of the Serpent to his loft. Meat and fish was brought to Ulfridda, but she didn’t eat any, opting to give it all to Koda’s Breath.
The norn in the rear of the hall spoke loudly again, until the racket reached deafening levels. After awhile, Koda’s Breath turned to Ulfirdda.
“How did you find her?”
“I’m the chief healer of Hoelbrak, Koda’s Breath. She came to me.” Ulfridda wiped a tear away from his eyes, smiling gently.
“I know who that was.” Koda’s Breath said.
“I think I do too.” Ulfridda turned to Koda’s Breath and looked him straight in the eye. “His name was Serene Wrath?”
“My Claw.” Koda’s Breath nodded. “But he cant escape the Memory Shard.”
Ulfridda paused, thinking hard, before she spoke again. “Could he do it while you meditate?”
“Possibly. While I meditate my mind is connected to the mists. He might have some control when I am meditating. Serene Wrath was—is a powerful mesmer, Ulfridda. If anyone could use my mind to escape, it would be him.”
“In which case we need to find a way to keep him in there. At least until we find his body, or a suitable alternative.” Ulfridda sat up straight. “Quiet now, do not speak of this, they’ve returned.”
Knut and the Havrouns filed out and sat down again. Knut coughed, and the room fell silent.
“We have decided. Guilt shall no longer be assigned to Koda’s Breath. It shall be assigned to this nameless kodan. A bounty is placed on his head for 100 gold pieces, and a Favour of the Great Lodge. Have a good day everyone.”
Ulfridda and Koda’s Breath breathed a sigh of relief, as a cheer resounded from the surrounding norn.
“I’m free” Koda’s Breath rubbed his wrists, now released from the manacles.
“Lets get you a bath.” Ulfridda guided him out of the Lodge towards his tent. “You smell worse than a skritt.”