Tim Boucher
Oct 9, 2018 · 6 min read

WWhat follows are excerpts of the proceedings of the trial of the three Pentarch sailors for the death of the performer Jan Re, in portrayal of Assenzju, the Betrayer, as part of the Dark Dance Cycle. Adapted from the original, c. 1642 ‘Quastrish Tales,’ (Lepnom)

Notes on language:

Lepnom asserts that certain of the Bards were conversant in a form of ancient Kremellian, such that the Chief Bard was able to speak in plain enough terms that the Pentarch sailors could understand and respond roughly in kind, enough that the proceeding was considered legal, under the Quatrian Consensus System.


In attendance:

  • The High Augur, titular head of the House of Song (in reality, subject to Bardic Council)
  • The Chief Bard, chieftain of the Bardic Council, and current Protector of the House of Wealth in Exile
  • The Archpoet, a dedicated Subservient of No Rank of the House of Sorrow
  • Not in attendance: an attendant of the House of Silence, who was elsewhere officiating over the funeral preparations of Jan Re, but the quietude of whose spirit did participate silently in absentia, and was considered sufficient to make the hearing binding
  • Benda, leader of the Pentarch sailors, whose blunt costume sword had fatally punctured the gut of Jan Re, during a performance
  • The other two sailors: Tendar the Tall, Ofend the Round, who accomplanied Benda during the incident

Artist’s reproduction from original manuscript

Proceedings

CHIEF BARD: (to Benda, in ancient Kremellian)

We have established that you all understand why you are here, and the significance of this proceeding.

I have only one question: did your sword enter the body?

BENDA:

The sword I held, sir.

CHIEF BARD: (who translated to Quatrian the responses of the sailors)

The sword you held?

BENDA:

I claim ownership of my actions, sir. Not of these accoutrements. The sword was thrust into my hand in the dark. As were we helmed, and clad in mail — myself, and my countrymen.

ARCHPOET: (to the Chief Bard, who translated)

Were they not aware of the nature of this ritual?

BENDA:

I take you to mean, sir, the theatrical performance we witnessed in the Grand Plaza on entering the Temple Mount, with our hosts from Elum.

HIGH AUGUR: (in reply to the Chief Bard, who translated)

Theatrical performance?

CHIEF BARD:

It means a kind of public entertainment.

(He repeated this as a question to Benda in his halting ancient Kremellian)

BENDA:

It does, sir. An entertaining fantasy. The delight is in the knowledge it is not real.

ARCHPOET:

Oh, but it’s very real.

HIGH AUGUR: (in agreement)

Quite.

CHIEF BARD: (to the sailors)

Granted that, in your understanding, the events into which you were thrust were a kind of play-acting only…

(Benda nodded.)

It would follow, then, that a man of sound mind would lower his sword in such a situation, to avoid inflicting harm on his fellow player.

Are you not a man of sound mind?

BENDA:

I am, my lord. I claim no feebleness after our storm-at-sea. The people of Elum have restored me, body, and spirit in my brief time with them.

HIGH AUGUR:

Then how came you to murder Jan Re?

BENDA:

I claim ownership of my actions, sir. I am at fault. But murder it is not. Caused by an accident, a confusion in the moment. I, we, bear him nor any of your people any ill-will or malice.

I am aggrieved by the harm I have caused, and accept your proper punishment. I beg leniency for my fellows, whose hands were not bloodied.

ARCHPOET:

Death bloodies all in equal measure.

CHIEF BARD:

We have heard your testimony, Benda the Pentarch, sailed over seas from Kremel, ancient lost ally of Quatria.

The Consuls will now deliberate. You may respond if you are asked to do so.

We begin.

HIGH AUGUR:

The crime is murder.

CHIEF BARD:

A case was made for accidental death. The merits are compelling.

It is argued that these men, though they acted the part wrongly, had not full comprehension of their role in the pageant.

This lack, coupled no doubt with nerves, and little experience in the physicality of Quatrian religious ritual, caused their leader to respond improperly, and without actual malice, resulting in grave injury to Jan Re, playing the Betrayer.

ARCHPOET:

Malice or not, there is a blood debt to the family of Jan Re.

CHIEF BARD:

Blood debts are the prerogative of the House of Wealth, and will be considered in due course.

Is lack of malice conceded?

HIGH AUGUR:

It is.

However, in difference, at least one compared value is lacking. It was this detected difference which the Bell-ringers transmitted to the Pillar of Song, and which the High Augur heard, all the way from Raggath and Yagar. It is the sound which initiated the Dark Dance Cycle, a ritual rarely performed this time of year, but which the omen suggested, and with which the ancient tables corresponded favorably.

ARCHPOET:

In difference, too, may be surplus. Not only lack. We dwell on lack in time of loss or suffering, where we would do well to re-assign our surpluses.

CHIEF BARD:

The House of Wealth proposes to absorb the blood debt owed to the family of Jan Re.

HIGH AUGUR:

It is seconded.

ARCHPOET:

It is accepted.

HIGH AUGUR:

Let us turn, then, to the ritual debt.

ARCHPOET:

Aye, the legends speak not of the Betrayer dying in such a fashion. Harmony needs be restored.

HIGH AUGUR:

The tales speak not of Betrayers dying. They cannot die. They can only be transformed, until the deviation is recalled by the one we need not name.

CHIEF BARD:

When one speaks of deviations, one speaks of turning away from the normal and expected. That is precisely the nature of this case.

In the epic, the Betrayer captures Delroy’s Best Men, besting them one by one in single combat, using his powers of deception. The goal is to draw Delrin out of the Great Forest, and into the waiting arms of the magician Morbat, and the culmination of their betrothal.

ARCHPOET:

If your point is that a deviation is at hand, it is well taken. The Betrayer may already be in our midst.

HIGH AUGUR:

Indeed, the Betrayer is at hand.

Which is why the Dark Dance must not be further delayed. For it is only in the full and complete performance of this ritual may the land be expiated another cycle from his dark influence.

CHIEF BARD:

It is agreed, the pattern will continue. Who will pay the ritual debt?

BENDA:

I will pay the debt.

CHIEF BARD:

Would that you could, but you cannot without a sponsor.

HIGH AUGUR:

By initiating this cycle, it is the High Augur who effectively put the swords into the hands of the Pentarch sailors.

ARCHPOET:

It is fate, though, that brought them to the role.

HIGH AUGUR:

And I am but its instrument.

It is proposed the House of Song pay the ritual debt.

ARCHPOET:

It is seconded.

CHIEF BARD:

It is accepted.

It is proposed that same Good House undertake the sponsorship of Benda the Brave, Tendar the Tall, and Ofend the round, Pentarch sailors from Kremel, in measure equal to their crime.

ARCHPOET:

It is seconded.

HIGH AUGUR:

It is accepted by the House. Is it accepted by the Pentarch sailors?

BENDA:

As it please the Lords and Houses, we do accept.

CHIEF BARD:

It is witnessed herewith that these three sailors enter under sponsorship and protection of the House of Song, and that they will pay the ritual debt by assisting in the full and complete performance of the remainder of the Dark Dance Cycle.


It thus came to pass, that Benda the Brave was renamed Benda Betrayer; Tendar the Tall, Tendar Trustless; Ofend the Round, Ofend Fool. And the three were quickly educated as to the roles, chants, recitations, and dances they would be expected to play during the remainder of the ritual. After its completion, it would be decided as to their final fates.

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Quatrian Folkways

Legends, Folklore, and History of Ancient Quatria and the Pantarctican Diaspora

Tim Boucher

Written by

Quatrian immigrant & history buff

Quatrian Folkways

Legends, Folklore, and History of Ancient Quatria and the Pantarctican Diaspora

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