Serapha: Chapter 3

“None of the laws apply to a judge except two.

A judge must never consort with demons or the powers of Hell.

A judge must report to his people once a year to stand trial so that they may decide by stone whether he should live or die.”

—from The Edicts of the Order of Judges


The next morning, Corvala and Exodus entered the village, passing through the gate and walking down the main lane lined with log houses. People peered out their doors and windows, whispering and pointing. Corvala kept a composed face, but she rubbed a finger around her palm in circles. Exodus kept looking forward as he walked, but he could tell she was nervous.

“Don’t worry, my daughter,” he said in low tones. “God cuts our path.”

“It’s a horrible path.”

“Tell him what you think. But then walk it.”

The two of them entered the main square where a multitude had gathered, everyone from the valley. The crowds parted before Exodus, murmuring as he passed. The village guards pushed people back so that a wide circle formed. Corvala stood at the edge of the circle, but Exodus went on to stand in its center, alone.

He stood passively as the guards came to him and stripped him of his clothing. First they took off his mark as judge—a thick leather strap that ran over his shoulder and across his chest, the buckle bearing the image of a broken pot with fire coming out it. They took off his jerkin and buckskin pants, leaving him with nothing but the cloth over his loins. The guards then blindfolded him before they left him naked and exposed to the crowd.

Corvala noticed her father’s wounds from the night before. In the daylight she could see that the claw marks on his arms and chest were worse than she had thought, deep enough that they needed stitches. Exodus had tried to patch himself up with a needle and catgut but had done a shoddy job. She suddenly felt angry at him for not asking her to stitch him. Probably hadn’t wanted her to worry. Although the wounds he bore weren’t serious, he was coming to the trial not fresh and strong but already weakened.

I should have never crossed into those woods!

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