Author’s Note: Yes, it’s finally here, the rewritten first book! You don’t need to read anything of this if you already read it before the rewrite, the outcomes and events remain largely the same, but feel free to read anyways to get some new insight into the world and the lives of the main characters, you’re surely find something new. Also feel free to leave comments and rate or review the new chapters.
On a clearing by a cliff face deep in one of the many vast forests of Sturreland, over two hundred witches, druids, shamans and mages had gathered. They wore their best robes, grey with dark green borders, it was the formal attire of the Lodge. They sat on branches, which the trees surrounding the clearing had oriented and aligned for their comfort. This clearing was an important place of power and where the highest organs of the Lodge of Sturreland would gather, and today, they had come to see a trial. Many of them knew not the crime, had only heard from various gossips what it was about or who the accused was. Indeed, many of them did not even know the actual accused, for her existence had been a closely guarded secret for a while now.
Trials by the Lodge of Sturreland were usually in halls and chambers in the small towns of Sturreland or on larger clearing nearer to the edge of the forest. This ancient clearing by a cliff however was as deep in the vast forest of Sturreland as the shame of the crime was deep, that one of Lodge’s apprentices had committed.
Just before the stone cliff face, the Arch-Druid Loganna and her twelve Trusted Judges had taken seat behind a long shale slab table. They wore even more elegant robes, with colourful stitching abound, covering almost all of the available cloth. The three accused knelt on the opposing end of the clearing. A woman with long dark hair, wearing a simple dress, usual work clothes for a witch of the Lodge, next to her a broad man with a well-kempt, blonde beard, his figure was framed in bulging muscles and thick sinews. His eyes were dark and full of spite; both of them were in iron shackles and wore iron cages over their heads, but they were merely accomplices of the crime. The main culprit knelt between them, it was a girl of maybe fifteen years and weird appearance. She had fur, of the colour of fields of grain just before the harvest, with a sheen like brushed metal and dark red mane like well-aged wine adorned her head. She wore a white prison gown, and had been wrapped in a long chain that was carved from the trunk of a tree that once stood above all others in Sturreland for centuries, but fell during the Great Sundering more than thirteen centuries ago. Each of the wooden links was engraved with powerful runes to bind and contain anyone or anything within. It was an important artefact of the Lodge and weighed the sinner down heavier than any guilt.
An elderly woman with a burl wood cane came closer to the accused. She was of small stature, hunched over and leaning on her cane. Long straight white hair was hanging down from under the hood of her robe. Her eyes were sunken in deep and her skin full of furrows and wrinkles. On her shoulder sat a large black raven. She seemed to bow down to the girl, speaking words of encouragement, stroking her head. The girl seemed not to care much for the gesture.
The crowd was still talking among themselves, discussing the severity of the crime, eying the weird accused, discussing her half-beast half-human appearance, and weighing her chances of leaving the clearing alive.
The arch-Druid Loganna beckoned the crowd to calm down. The crowd fell silent. The trial was about to begin.