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Shattered Mirror

Tidying up

Peace returns to the Earth shrine, and Antarius takes over rounding up the remaining villagers and Oilamlians. Mara assists him in this, though she also takes Dori aside for a long talk, and returns looking even more grimly determined on justice than before.

What with one thing and another, it is late afternoon before things settle down, too late to hold any trial today. Antarius will start proceedings at dawn tomorrow (which will be Wildday, Disorder week, Fire season). You are all invited to stay the night - and no suggestion of being pushed off to the campsite, now, instead the headman's house, now empty, is at your disposal. Not that all of you will fit...

Some no doubt rest, and some spend the night in meditation. Dori at least returns at dawn, having spent the night alone in the desert.
Unusually for Fire Season, an icy North wind seems to have been blowing for most of the night.

The trial is as brief as may be - Antarius asks for Humakti assistance in determining that the Truth is told throughout. You also give evidence yourselves as to what had happened. Dori fills in much of the earlier part, though referring to Cavos' elder daughter in the third person, as someone she had once known, and seeming almost inhumanly remote and detached from the entire story. Mara intervenes at one point, to point out that whatever Ioanna had done to her own newly-born grandson was irrelevant, since the guilty party was now beyond human justice, and details need not be described.

The story that emerges is simple, if horrifying. Cavos Gilthelm and his young family had lived here many years ago, then moved to Pavis to further his career. At that time, Cavos had been a normal Yelmalian, if a little more ambitious than most. They returned to the village under a political cloud after the events of 1613, having apparently failed to gain the favour of the new Count. Both Cavos and his wife were forceful and comparitively cosmopolitan, and he soon became headman of the village. At this point, he started to recruit the local men into his method of gaining power beyond the norm. Some joined him - most were simply intimidated into staying silent about his activities. The ancient temple was revived, the Mirror brought from Pavis installed, and sacrifices held there every year. Four victims. A Humakti, and a "stranger" - the first to be seen that day - these were of little concern provided that no suspicion attached to their disappearance. But those chosen to take the parts of Yelmalio himself, and of the Earth - they were always from the village. And always those who disagreed with Cavos, or his wife. They had hoped, for a while, that she might help defend them, but while the rites she led gave her power enough to protect herself and her followers from Cavos, they meant even more deaths from the village, and even more evidence of a curse on the fields. Eventually the senior remaining Earth priestess, Azdala, had sent for help, and both Anatarius himself, and Mara, a powerful Earth Healer, had been sent in answer. Azdala's message had been vague, and they had expected to find an external threat, not internal treachery.
The hastily concocted cover story of trolls had distracted both for long enough that they had been captured as easily as the Humakti and prepared to be the next sacrifices.

Those found guilty of joining in either dark cult are sentenced to immediate execution - the rest, guilty only of silence out of fear, will be referred to the Count's judgement. Punitive taxes seem the most likely sentence, along with a new headman to be appointed by the Count.
Cavos himself is declared outlaw and criminal, to be executed with extreme prejudice should he be encountered (the prescribed process starts with blinding, removal of hands and tongue, and other parts, and goes on to involve an excessive quantity of salt and abandonment in the Wastes).

Given that there are devotees of Humakt and of Babeester Gor here, Antarius is quite happy to have the executions carried out by experts if they so wish. And while Gorgorma is in the normal sense an "accepted" part of the Earth pantheon, sacrificing one's own babies is not normal, even for her. Kristen is only too delighted to do her part.

For those lucky enough to be granted a swifter and cleaner fate, the condemned have the possibility of swift and emotionless Death by the Sword at the steady hands of Hu. A Devotee of Death offers his services to the court.

For the occasion Vastyr has put aside the stout mail and helmet of a soldier, and has put on the ceremonial surcoat and overcloak of Hu. The stark black of the garments are off-set only by runes of Death and Truth on the edges of the cloak and the elabourate Sword done in silver and gold on the front of the surcoat.

Those condemned that must die will be despatched with a quick beheading. Separating them from Life is done with mechanical precision. And the last the guilty see is the scarred face that has no anger, no revenge, just grim duty.

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