‘Morana, how could you accuse me of this, when you know the story?’ I ask, grabbing her arm.
‘I know nothing for sure,’ she says innocently. ‘If you are blameless, you will have no cause for worry.’
‘We’ve been friends our whole life.’
‘Hunh, friends. Yasna, the good and pure. She thinks little of herself, yet she tells everyone else what to do.’
‘Is this about Vladimir? I know you think you love him, but love is not something to be gotten by trickery.’
‘Yasna, you’re so wise. But men fall for women’s tricks and can’t tell goodness and nobility from evil as long as a pretty face and a plump figure is presented before them.’
‘You can make choices how to live your life,’ I say.
‘Can I? We all have our natures and mine is such.’
‘To be malicious?’
‘We’ll see who will win, ‘ she says, shaking off my grip and flouncing away.
The trial was set. Yasna was taken and held in the pens. The Outlanders arrived, great Lords on their fine horses, clad in mantles of sable and fox and armor made from silver filigree and pared horses hooves.
Yasna wore her only fine dress, the one that Tsveta had given her, and though she was dirty and her hair matted, a hush came over the men when she walked in the room.
She said nothing when the charges were read. She looked at me with frank contempt and refused to look at the Outlander, the one they call Yakshah.
The Lords asked her if she had a hand in Vesna’s death, and she said, no, she had neither cursed her, nor pulled her into the water.
They say there are tribes who subject the guilty to trials by fire or water, but there is no such thing here. We swear our oath which is considered holy. She swore to her innocence and said nothing more.
The chief of the Outlanders, the one with the ferocious yellow eyes they called Mitar, called me to testify, and I said I had found the doll and knew Yasna had the powers and could have easily willed Vesna into the water where she was drowned.
‘Why would Yasna do that?’ Mitar asked.
I replied, it was all for the sake of Vladimir. But Vladimir stood and shouted, ‘Yasna would never do such a thing.’ And all the Lords could see that he still loved the woman, and it made the case against her stronger. The one called Mitar said they would take time to discuss this.
When they retired, Vladimir caught me by the arm and called me a little bitch. ‘Everyone knows what you have done.’
‘Then why doesn’t everyone stand against me, ‘I replied. ‘No. It is you and Yasna they suspect,’ for now I could see he loathed me, and I would never have him.
When the Lords returned, they called Yasna and asked her about the doll, and she said, ‘I called Vesna back from the dead to hear her story. She told me she died of grief for one unnamed, whom she loved deeply. Yet he did not return her love.’
The Lords exchanged looks, and Mitar said, ‘This is a great power to have, one like no other. Can you call Vesna forth again so that she may tell her story?’
Yasna said, it only worked if the dead chose to return, and Vesna had chosen to go to the light and would not come back now.
I could see the Lords did not believe her now, and she was taken back to her cell.