They rode into the camp to be greeted by Chief Andrid, Davrael’s father.
‘You were gone a long time, son,’ he said.
Davrael slid from his horse and embraced his father.
‘We had some problems,’ he replied. ‘We found some of the Prowling Lynx on our territory. We followd them for a while, then approached. They attacked us, so we had to retaliate.’
‘Were any of our men hurt?’
Davrael shook his head.
‘Those Lynx are no match for the Swooping Hawks. We easily defeated them. But they had stolen some horses from the settlers at the far side of our territory. What’s more, when the settlers tried to regain their horses, the Lynx took a young woman captive. We rescued her.’
‘Well done, son,’ Andrid said. ‘That’s typical of the Lynx. What were they going to do with the girl? Ask for ransom?’
‘No. The chief was going to make her marry his son.’
Andrid’s face grew red and he clenched his fists at his side.
‘What!’ he exclaimed. ‘That is against all our laws and customs. The Tribes do not force marriage on anyone.’
Davrael then brought Kimi forward and introduced her to his father.
He smiled at her and said, ‘We will make sure you are returned to your family, but we need you as a witness to what these men have done. We will begin the trial tomorrow.’
Davrael gave Kimi into the hands of his mother. She smiled warmly at the girl and told her to call her Mimola. Kimi smiled back and soon found herself telling Mimola all about her ordeal with the Prowling Lynx. That night she slept in Mimola’s tent. the best night’s sleep she had since her capture.
The following morning, true to his word, Andrid sat on the only chair in the camp, on a raised dais made of wooden planks laid across tree trunks.
‘Bring the prisoners forward,’ he commanded, and half a dozen of the Swooping Hawks led the Prowling Lynx warriors to the space before the chief.
Around this space stood the rest of the Swooping Hawk tribe, all agog to see what was happening. All kind of rumours had been circulating during the previous evening and night, and the people wanted to know what was going on.
Kimi stood to one side, with Davrael. His presence reassured her as she did not know what was going to happen.
As soon as the Prowing Lynx arrived, they stood, hands tied, before Andrid.
‘You have been accused of trespass and stealing horses,’ he said, ‘but what is worse, of kidnapping a young woman with the intention of making a forced marriage. This is against our laws, as you know, and so you must face this court.’
The chief of the Prowling Lynx stepped forward.
‘I do not recognise this court,’ he said, and stepped back.
Andrid laughed. ‘You may not recognise it, but it is perfectly legal. You are a chief and are being tried by a chief, as the law insists. Your men should be tried by your own chief, by rights, but as you are on trial, too, for the same crime, then that is not possible. I will try them also.
‘What do you have to say?’
The Prowling Lynx Chief said nothing.
‘Then I will ask a witness to come forward. Davrael, what have you to say?’
Davrael stepped forward and gave an account of how he and his men had been patrolling their territory when they came across the Prowling Lynx men. They challenged them, but were met with an attack. When they finally beat the Lynx, they found Kimi in one of the tents.’
The young man who Kimi understood to be the Prowling Lynx chief’s son shouted out.
‘We were not trespassing. We were just on our way back to our own lands. We had to cross yours. We had no intention of doing any harm, notr interfering in any way with your horses.’
His father gave him a stony stare, but he continued.
‘We only took horses from the settlers. Everyone knows they’re not proper Horselords. and ;the girl asked to be taken. She came after us and attacked. What were we supposed to do?’
Davrael stepped forward.
‘You should not have stolen their horses in the first place. Then she and her family would not have followed.’
‘They’re settlers for the gods’ sake. They aren’t proper horselords.’
Andrid scowled at the young man.
‘Settlers or not, true horselords or not, although on that point I agree, we do not steal.’
Andrid then turned to Kimi.
‘Kimi, come forward and tell me what happened.’
Then it was Kimi’s turn. She told how she had been captured and how the chief had told her she would be taken to their camp and married to his son. She told of the abuse she had received at the hands of that son, and how frightened she was. then, with a smile at Davrael, she told how he and his men had rescued her.’
The trial continued and lasted all day. Each of Davrael’s men gave evidence, as did the Prowling Lynx men, and eventually, their chief.
As the sun began to set over the plans, Andrid gave his verdict and sentence.
‘You are all guilty because not one of you stood up to say what happened is wrong. However, I accept it is difficult for warriors to go against their chief. Therefore, you warriors I am going to allow to return to your territory. However, if any of my men see you within five miles of our territory, then you will be recaptured.’
He turned to the chief and his son.
‘As chief and probable next chief, you have more responsibility for what happened. I cannot allow you both to go in the same way I did your men.’ He turned to the chief. ‘You hold great responsibility as chief of your people. You uphold the law and are responsible fora keeping it. Therefore it is doubly worse for you to have taken part in this theft and kidnapping. I sentence you to be beaten and kept in custody for two full years. Every day you will receive four lashes.’
There was an intake of breath from the crowd at the severity of this sentence. Andrid then turned to the chief’s son.
‘You were fully complicit in this. You could have had some influence over your father. but instead, you used the situation to frighten and abuse a young girl. You I sentence to be kept in custody for only one year, but because of the way you treated a young and frightened girl, each day you will receive six lashes.’
Andrid then dismissed the court and the Prowling Lynx warriors mounted their horses and rode off.
As he as taken away, the chief of the Lynx shouted, ‘What is going to happen to my tribe? They will be without a chief for two years.’
Andrid turned and said, ‘Your problem. With any luck, they’ll decide to reject you and choose a better leader.’
That evening, Kimi and Davrael talked long into the night. The next morning, his father had told him he was to accompany Kimi to her home. He chose a few warriors to accompany them in order to drive the horses, and his mother to act as chaperone.
How will Kimi’s family respond to her return?
Find out on the first Tuesday of December.
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You can find out more about Kimi and Davrael in their adventures with The Wolf Pack;
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