15. A Brush with Breitheamh (Brehon) Law
Tinktinktink..Tinktink. Bronwyn’s small hammer made musical notes on the tiny anvil that her husband and best friend made for her out of the finest bronze. She worked her gold carefully into the decoration that she had carefully chiseled into the back of an unfinished bronze mirror. Kane would polish the mirror after she finished inlaying the gold.
She was looking forward to when Kane would return. He was trading for more gold and some gems he had heard were available in raw form at the harbor. He had been gone seven days now and the fine work she had left to do in the little shop would bring them enough trade to keep the tuathe they lived in comfortable enough for a year.
In the last two years after joining the family, they had become accepted with laughter and hugs. Such was their ways of dealing with the humans. At first, Kane kept his distance, but the love of the people and kindness towards wandering strangers impressed the ex-demon.
Kane developed a habit of staying up late with the men and women, telling tall tales of adventure and heroic acts. Little did they know that the stories told were only slightly modified to fit into their world. The concept of flying machines holding entire families and horseless powered chariots were quite beyond the concept of the average person, so stories told of land and sea based adventures where dragons lived and giants grew. Stories that made people laugh, cringe in fear, cry and laugh again as they fell in love with the characters that were in the stories.
Kane for all his disdain for humanity in the beginning, enjoyed the attention he got with his skills of telling of things that were and things to come.
With the skills in artistry and the stories told, they rose in the hierarchy of the tuath and became well-known as skilled artisans and hospitable hosts.
It was late in the afternoon in the outbuilding while Bronwyn tinkered on her designs when two strangers walked out of the oaken forest.
She smelled them before they walked around the wall of the shop. Looking up, she saw they were just standing there, taking in the displayed shiny things that she had made, they were not of the area, indeed looked like men of the northeast. Cruthin or Ulaid perhaps.
“We are hungry.” Said the larger of the two men. They had not bathed in some time – they reeked.
“Do you have food? Our hunts have been without success. We have not seen a deer since we left our fine. Give us food and the comfort of your company, when we have our fill, we will go on our way.”
“I will feed you and give you water and wine, but the company I hold is mine to choose.”
“You WILL!” Shouted the smaller man as he grabbed her by the hair and yanked on the copper-hair.
She grabbed at the hand and pinned it to her head then, twisting around, pinned the man’s arm and smashed his face, with a bang, to the finely carved table, causing dust to fly up off the flat surface and the legs to bounce on the floor. An old move, but so very effective when used against those that were overconfident. Bronwyn did not even wonder about the attack, she just responded with ages old skill.
A back kick to the knee of the other, larger hunter who shrieked in pain and dropped to the floor. Gasped twice for air, then growled with anger while his friend begged for mercy while Bronwyn bent the arm backwards to the breaking point.
The larger hunter pulled a dagger made from an antler spike, leaping on to Bronwyn’s back, sticking the sharpened spike into her shoulder. Bronwyn screamed in agony and let go of the smaller hunter who pulled away and rejoined his and his partner’s attack
She felt it. In her heart, it burned like a bonfire. Men who would come and would take that which was not theirs, who felt that her body was theirs to do as they pleased, caught off guard by the burning fury of a soul rescued from ashes.
It was an intense rage like she had not felt in a long time and never on this plane of existence. She wanted these takers, thieves and those who would pillage because they felt that they could.
The sound of a gong echoed in the small shop as Kane use the head of the large man as a bell clapper against a copper pan he had picked up and swung like a club.
The smaller man was a little more difficult, attacking Kane with his fists, trying to beat the human-demon into the ground. Each punch aimed and thrown to hurt was only batted away with the red-metal pan.
The sound of a bell gonged through the shop again.
The smaller hunter’s knees buckled and he fell forward face-down on the floor of the shop.
Looking at Bronwyn, Kane shrugged holding up the heavy copper skillet.
“Frying pans. Who would have thought?”
Brought before the Breitheamh, which was less than a day’s ride from the community of the clan. The men stated they were Cruithni and what they had done. In their tribe, lone women were always available to men who were traveling or hunting. Never had they seen a woman who would fight back or refuse a request of favors.
A Breitheamh, (pronounced Brehon), a skilled judge of the law, agreed upon by the Tuathe Ri. Found that the penalty of the attack was the income of four deer, however how long it took them to hunt, dress and cure the deer meat.
Bronwyn’s wounds healed far faster than the time it took the men to satisfy the words of the Breitheamh, which were also upheld by the Queen of the Tuath.
Messengers ran to the other houses of law of the clans and took messages of findings on the attack by the hunters and their punishment of working off their fines to the community.
No prisons, the theory being that everyone works for the community. In other societies where the rise of the warrior class gave birth to taking life or spending one’s life in jail, the punished worked for the good of the community.
This pleased Kane.
He began to study the laws of the land. This ancient place in history seemed to have a better view of life. All life was precious, all freedoms honored.
He began to speak to the Society of Draoi, the Druids of Hibernia for admission to school of Breitheamh law.
Kane, late of being Hell’s demon of chaos, was becoming a representative for order.
Later that month after he had chosen this path, then thought of the irony of it, he laughed at himself for the first time in many ages.
If ever there was good humor in a situation, this was it. The Demon of Anarchy and Chaos, studying to act as the champion and warrior of law.
Kane laughed again.