And The Dogs Came Running 5.4


Edam’s mind swam. The cell felt suffocatingly small and bare. Five walls, and a set of bars on one side. Kallin was deemed large enough to have a local jail for containing suspects and those that needed to be arrested, and to have a judge of their own, but space was a commodity of its own in the city. That meant that the cells were even more cramped than one would expect in an Antipode. Anywhere that might have had even a slightly sharp edge had been sanded or filed down into smoothness. The bed was made of hard ebony without a mattress – they couldn’t have anyone scratching in refinement into it, after all. It was the only furniture in the room besides the latrine. Likewise with the blankets, which there were none of, and the cell across from her, which was equally bare. Still, she traced her finger over it in the shape of what she might write there.


She tried not to pay much attention to her body. It was almost impossible, though. She had come quietly, and said she wanted to go to trial. That meant that she still had the privilege of clothes. They were under no obligation, though, to give her good clothes. The long sackcloth shirt she had been given reminded her of the tigharti – the special garments that some Machevins would wear as a sign of repentance. This one didn’t have metal hooks woven into it. It certainly felt like it did. The rough bristles made her want to itch and stopped her from sleeping. It made her uncomfortably aware of her scars.  

She had seen them once, those mendicants and flagellants, the open professors and proselytizers of their synodoxy. They were a traveling group. They moved on a long circular route that took them from their village all the way through Agora to the Sepulcher and then back around as often as they could. They brought the sound of whips and wailing wherever they went. She remembered the first one that she saw keenly. He might not have been tall as she remembered him – she was only eight or so at the time – but then he seemed like a giant, gleaming muscles and scars showing under the hot sun. She hid her eyes from him as he brought down the whip again and again, rivulets of blood running down his back. As he did, he screamed aloud every sin he had ever committed, so loud and harsh that he could barely be understood besides the deep and fundamental knowledge that he had committed terrible crimes, and wanted to remove their stain from his soul. 

Her uncle forced her hand down. She watched the rest reluctantly. He bandaged himself up again, and looked to the crowd before prostrating himself, and thanking them for witnessing his repentance. He urged them to do the same, and then rejoined the rest of the flagellants.


She traced it over the hard wood of the bed. Che-Mav-Rema. The three letters in the old Veleda script. They didn’t use vowels in the old script, so the implied meaning was chimre. She knew it as chimra in Agoran, and it was one of the first words she learned of Veleda. The three letters could be put in a simple triangle or other arrangement while focusing on the intent behind them – shield – and it could produce a warding effect if you didn’t want a ward shaped like a heptagram. It was one of the first things she learned of sorcery. 

It wasn’t much use to her here, but it felt better to go through the motions of that process than pray. She tried once already, and felt sick to her stomach when she did. So she went through her old textbooks and protocols in her mind. She drifted in and out of sleep, in and out of nightmares, in and out of study. Invisible machines and foci appeared under her hands and she imagined for a while creating one that would break straight through the stone wall. It wouldn’t be hard with the right materials. A stave of iron, heavy, with wooden accents or maybe beads. The stone would all shatter, and she would walk free out into-

Into the open air. They had taken her quite a few flights of stairs up. From this height, the fall would kill her. That was a problem. She imagined then what she might use to scale down the side of the wall, or perhaps simply fly away. That idea appealed to her more – being weightless, without a body to ache, without a mind to trouble.

They had given her the light of day, but that was no comfort. All she had was a set of three holes in the back wall, each smaller than her closed fist. She could see feathery clouds through them, and a clear blue sky. Nothing else. Wind would whistle through it on occasion, bringing the warm summer air to the cold stone and hard bed. That comfort and the space she could make in her mind, the calming process of invention, were all that she could muster to keep herself sane. 

Flying is impractical, she thought, Too much mana. Climbing would be far easier. I could probably improvise something from this sackcloth…

Three times a day a thin woman – a priestess, Edam presumed – would enter, and pass a bowl of food between the bars. It was mostly tasteless bread and water, sometimes with an apple to keep her from boredom. They wouldn’t give her anything that required a utensil to eat. The woman would watch the whole time she ate before taking the bowl back. Edam didn’t even look at her. She couldn’t bear it.

Her cousin didn’t visit. Some part of her had expected him to. Her lawyer, on the other hand, did so a day before she was supposed to go to court, just as the light from the slits began to fade. By then it had been three days – or four, maybe. It was hard to tell. The windows gave so little light, and she got so little sleep. The days blurred together. All she knew now was that the light had faded when she heard him enter the hallway to the jail. She heard the shifting of stone and the heavy footsteps of his boots. He was a short, bald man in half-dress and he bore a heavy limp. A thick goatee adorned his face and when he arrived, he extended his hand between the bars.

“Good evening, Edamosfa-Iforfit Miaza. I’m your lawyer.”

Achingly, she rose from the bed to meet him. She shook his hand.

“Inquisitor Odh Marat. Order of the Severed Jaw,” he added, “Before anything else, I think we both know that it would be best if I had honesty from you. That way, they can’t surprise us once we’re in court.”

She nodded before sitting back on the bed. 

“What do you need to know?”

“The official indictment is a breach of oath by lust. What did you do, and what evidence are they bringing to support that?”

“I… my former partner,” said Edam, “We found that we were starting to have feelings for each other. We didn’t realize right away and by the time we both did, neither of us was sensible enough to send for a reassignment or the like. She kissed me one night.”

She was lying, of course, right through her teeth. She was the one who had engaged the kiss after all. It would save her skin, though, to say that Ana had started it, and in many ways she had. It was mutual attraction that they felt for each other after all. Odh nodded.

“I see. And this was a moment of passion, then?”

“Yes, but they’re bringing my diary to the court. Which could be used as evidence of premeditation, a guilty mind.”

“Well, it’s well-established that these things are very dependent on context. Were you struggling with these lusts for a long time?”

Edam looked at the blue sky outside as she nodded.

“Well, then that evidence is just as counter to your guilt as it is proof of it, I’d argue. You were struggling, and in a moment of weakness your judgment erred. It is a mistake many inquisitors have made. And you never had a sexual relation with this woman?”

“No,” she said. 


The word bounced around her head a little while before she spoke again.

“There was another occasion where she held me closely for a long while,” said Edam before she coughed.

Odh smiled.

“Do they have physical proof of that, too?”

“Not that I can think of.”

“Any witnesses?”


“Then as far as I and the court are concerned, it didn’t happen. I’ve gotten priests and inquisitors off lightly on far worse than a kiss and a hug. In order to sentence you to death for such an emotional affair, they need a guilty act, guilty mind and a verifiable lack of remorse or regret or a high indication that you would do it again. And I’m certain that you would say that you regret all this, right?”

“Right,” said Edam listlessly. 

“Good. We can focus on reducing them down to only having definitive evidence of a guilty act, then. We can talk after that about actual sentencing, but that’s our goal for now.”

She traced che-mav-rema with her fingers again over the hard black wood. It wasn’t a prayer but it calmed her spirit all the same. 

“You’re going to be fine,” he added, “I’ve done seven or so cases of this type. I’m actually probably the only Inquisitorial lawyer in the country with that kind of experience and expertise in this area. Often, they’re mudslinging contests or else a mess of mixed testimony with two criminal parties. This, by comparison, should be much simpler.”

“My cousin is prosecuting,” she added, “Or at least he should be.”

Odh seemed startled by this. He turned suddenly and took on a more serious demeanor.

“I see. He would know you well, then. It’s rare that we have blood relations between a prosecutor and a defendant. Protocol dictates that he recuse himself from the matter outright. If he refuses to, the case could be thrown outright.”

“And if that happens?”

“So long as you or I disclose the relation, I think that Judge Tyeli would do so immediately. That’d mean an even longer stay in jail for you so he could get a new investigator from the Order of Tattered Skin to recollect and verify evidence.”

Edam nodded.

“Alright, besides that, I’m going to give you some hints here. When you testify about the person you offended with, respond as naturally as you can.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means, act with what comes to mind. Don’t try to put up a front. Even if it’s pleasant. I’ve had a few cases with Tyeli before. He values honesty in a defendant. Since you do seem to genuinely regret it, show that. Even if it means that you also show that you were genuinely offending at the time.” 

She shifted uncomfortably, rubbing her bare arms. If he noticed her scars – how so many of them were clearly self-inflicted – he didn’t comment on it. His name was Agoran. Perhaps he was accustomed to the sight of Machevins, or was one himself.

“I’ve never been good at showing that sort of thing on command.”

“It’s fine. Just do your best. I’ll handle the other half. Besides that, they’re probably aiming for a charge of second or third degree, or both.”

The first degree was a sexual relation; the second, a physical relation; the third, an emotional relation beyond the bounds of normal Inquisitorship and celibacy. Each one had to be proven to meet those three criteria of guilt to receive a full punishment. In truth, she felt guilty of all three even if she never did consummate with Ana. She was too close to her heart to feel anything else. 

“It’s tricky to get first degree in cases like this,” he added, “You typically don’t get much proof of the act proper, and that’s when someone’s actually done the act. They can seek an execution for an offense of the second degree in this case, but I have reason to doubt that Tyeli will accept that as a sentence.”

This, she thought, Meaning between two women or two men. They don’t leave children behind as evidence.

“Yes,” said Edam, “I suppose I’m lucky in that sense. What should I plead?”

“If they go for a first degree offense, not guilty. You don’t think they have any proof for that, and they have no witnesses for it, so it would be a frivolous charge to draw things out at best. Second and third? Plead to lesser guilt. Again, honesty is the best policy here. The court will then proceed with the rest of the trial, but the fight will be a lot less difficult. Trust me.” 

Edam nodded and exhaled heavily. A strand of sackcloth scraped across her belly uncomfortably.

“What do you expect out of your cousin as a prosecutor? Whoever takes him up after he recuses himself will probably be taking from his notes, after all.”

She shrugged.

“I’ve never seen him at trial before,” she said, “But I can guess. He’s… got a sense of theatrics, I suppose. He likes to impress. I’d expect him to try to create a very distinct narrative for the judge. Just not sure what of.”

Odh smiled.

“Then it’ll be my job to set fire to the theater. Unless everything else is done, I will go back down to my office to prepare. Our first day in court is tomorrow.”

Edam tried to smile back. 

“See you then.”

“Alright. Get some shut-eye. It’ll be a big day.”

He left with the sound of shifting stone, and she laid back in bed. 

“Chimra,” she whispered under her breath, “Chimra, chimra, chimra.”

In spite of her better reasoning, she kept thinking wings; of feathers bursting free from her scars and letting her fly free out into the cool air. To be a bird, without a single care in the world, freed from the guilt and the bonds of the earth. Her heart keened for it. Sometimes, through the slits, she swore she might hear them – the screeching of hawks and the cooing of the pigeons and the shrill cries of the ravens and jackdaws. 

“Godhead, please,” she prayed before she fell asleep. Bile rose to her throat. She wasn’t sure what she was praying for.


Two guards cuffed Edam and took her from her cell, and she went with them quietly down the many flights of stairs to the courtroom. It was an austere, empty place. Though she had been provided with rough leather sandals to protect her feet she could still tell that the stone floor was cold. Most of the seats were empty except for a few figures at the front of the room. Verat, Tarnye, Varna, a man she did not recognize, and a scrivener who sat waiting to record whatever was said. She couldn’t meet Varna’s eyes, but she could tell that she was worried. Tarnye anxiously bounced her leg. Verat was as still as the stone beneath their feet. To the left, Odh was waiting at the attorney’s table with a soft, confident smile. They guided her to him, and she sat down beside him.

Off to the right were Imera and Danza. Danza glanced at her with trepidation. Imera didn’t so much as look at her. Instead, he focused on the judge. He was a tall, gaunt man. His face was marred by what looked like scars from smallpox. It made him look almost skeletal; and the years had only amplified that effect, wrinkles and scars bleeding into his high cheekbones. His eyes were gray and cold as the vast marble wall behind him. In relief, the seven Founding Saints were there at their ministry, each speaking to crowds of praying and kneeling people. Highest was St. Gelon, a sword in one hand, scales in the other, a halo about her head. In the distance, high on a hill, there was the Sepulcher itself – an image of a grand palace that consumed the hillside and was fortified by strong walls. The windows had been placed so that the light shone from that same direction towards the court, and thus the light emerged from the Sepulcher and put everything into stark contrast. The stark marble hold seemed to hold only the longest of shadows and the brightest of light. 

The judge looked around the court for a moment with a grim certainty before raising his gavel and slamming it down onto the wood. The scrivener readied his pen.

“I, Judge Tyeli of the Order of The Slit Belly, call to order this Ecclesiastic Court, under the law of the Sepulcher, who serves the true Godhead, in the name of all the Saints. I name our law-givers the Saints and the Prophet in the Sepulcher, and all Prophets before him, and I shall abide and serve that law to the fullest extent. I begin here on the case of the Church against Edamosfa-Iforfit Miaza. I will now hear the parties to this case. Edamosfa, you confirm that this man, Odh Marat, shall be your legal representative in this case?”

In spite of his age his voice was incredibly clear. It was touched with gravel but still potent and commanding.

“Yes, your honor,” she said. Her voice echoed through the vast space of the courtroom.

“And you, I-Mera-Lluar Miaza of the Order of Tattered Skin, do confirm that you likewise will legally represent the interests of the Church, the Scripture and the Prophet to the fullest extent?”

“No, your honor. I bring forward a conflict of interest. I am related to Edamosfa-Iforfit Miaza by my uncle’s marriage. I henceforth recuse myself, and limit myself to an auxiliary role in aiding Danza Karona, who will be prosecuting in my stead.”

The judge leaned back and raised an eyebrow. It was unusual for a prosecution of an Inquisitor to be performed by anyone but a member of the Order of Tattered Skin. It wasn’t impossible, but it was certainly rare. This was a clear play to strengthen his case. If he actively recused himself to someone of a lower rank and of lesser experience, that might make the evidence seem all the more convincing by comparison. From his mouth, it might be diluted by his relationship. Now, he had rid of that disadvantage and traded it for coaching and advising Danza through the process.

“I will allow this,” he said after a heavy moment of contemplation, “Thank you for recusing yourself so swiftly. Danza?”

Danza rose. 

“Your honor, I, Danza Karona of the Order of the Bloodied Head, swear solemnly that I will represent the Church to the fullest extent.” 

The judge shuffled some papers on his stand before speaking again. 

“Prosecutor, name the crimes you intend to prove in this case.”

Danza cleared her throat.

“We bring forward charges of breach of oath by lust, in three counts; in the first, second and third degree with the accomplice Ana Metremte, former member of the Church, current apostate, fugitive and witch. We believe she has done so at least once, possibly more times.”

Edam shifted. Was this part of Imera’s plan? To throw the entire book at her to humble her? She couldn’t read him. He wasn’t paying any attention to her whatsoever. It certainly fit into his dramatics – this raised the stakes, if only by a little. The other alternative chilled her equally. Did he really hate her so much now that he wanted her dead? 

That seemed wrong to Edam, but she couldn’t otherwise explain why he wouldn’t meet her eyes. His expression was blank, as cold and stony as the marble saints behind the judge. She looked back at them for guidance and saw only reflections of him. Their empty eyes judged her and the scars on her arms that were now exposed wholly for the world to see. Then, when he looked back at him, she could have sworn that his eyes were on the scars as well. It was only for a moment, but she was certain of it.

“Edamosfa, how do you plead to these charges?”

“I plead not guilty to a breach of oath in the first degree. I plead lesser guilt to all other charges,” she said quietly.

The judge rolled his shoulders.

“Your plea has been heard and noted. The trial shall proceed. Prosecutor, I bid that you present your evidence.”

Danza walked out in front of the desk. Carefully she pulled the diary from her coat, and then a sheaf of papers. She held the diary high for everyone to see.

“This is the diary of Edamosfa-Iforfit Miaza. It was found in her room and it contains her writing, her name, and records of events only she would know of. It is written wholly in Agoran, a language that I am less familiar with than I ought to be. To this end I have employed my comrade Imera in translation, and to supplement this and maintain impartiality, I have also employed Mr. Kukyar over there, who has worked in translating and scribing for over ten years, and is a specialist in Agoran.”

The man whom she didn’t recognize stood and nodded, confirming that he had done so to the judge.

“Between them, I have copied all the relevant sections I wish to bring to the court’s attention, in both Agoran and translated Kolet. I give Edam full opportunity to contest or explain any of these passages after I have explained their relevance. These sections not only constitute a full confession to several of her crimes, but also reveal a pattern of troubling behavior unbefitting of her office.”

She sighed. It was heavy – abnormally so. The standard here would be that she would stay confident and of total clarity about her goal during prosecution. Imera shifted for a moment. Whatever Danza was doing wasn’t wholly to his plan. He had shaved himself clean for the occasion, and now he had no stubble left to stroke in consternation, leaving him absently touching his cheek. 

“I had wished to keep this wholly professional and solely focused upon her crimes as of the present, and to keep private and sensitive matters out of this. However, I cannot do so. I wished to prevent this from becoming a fount of baseless and needless accusations and hearsay. However, what is written here has-”

She paused again, looking to Edam. She didn’t want to accuse her. Not really. Something in her eyes was deeply apologetic.

“Disturbed me. Deeply. And I am forced to bring it forward.” 

She walked carefully to the prosecutor’s desk once more before dividing up the paper, extracting a passage and its copies. She handed them out one by one to the judge, and then to Odh. Edam craned her neck to see what had been written, to see if she recognized it.

When she saw what was there she paled. She couldn’t even think of a response – a single protest she could raise. Silently, she cursed Danza and her cousin. The first page alone she recognized very well even when it was translated. A vignette of sorts between her and her uncle. More than that, she felt a deep and total fear in her that Imera now knew of this. That she had defied her uncle’s command so soon after he had left, and that she hadn’t even truly castigated herself for it. And worst of all, it was almost totally her fault.

Damn them, she thought, Damn me. Damn my poor judgment. 

“Again, I say this not to create baseless or unkind aspersions upon Edamosfa’s present character. However, there is a pattern here that must be acknowledged and brought to the court’s attention. And at the beginning of this pattern is the fact that Edamosfa is not a virgin.”

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