About the Craft


A Harper's Life


Events in the Harperhall


Meet the Harpers


In the Vaults

Seamus' The Foundation of Guilt

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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

  2. Hold Methods

  3. Hold Courts

  4. Hall Methods

  5. Hall Courts

  6. Weyr Methods

  7. Weyr Courts

  8. Harpers: A Special Note

  9. Conclusion




My greetings to you, reader, and hopes that you will find this work to be satisfactory and informative. Through a month of research and much ponderings, I was able to compile the work you hold within your hands. I pray you will find it of some use and note its potential value in the hands of Law...

Within these pages, I intend to demonstrate to you the similarities and differences between the court system within Hold, Hall, and Weyr. Though quite similar in method and proceedings, it is important that separate the 3 works into their own respective sections. Seeing how a CraftMaster would not be required to read through the various passages written on Hold and Weyr Law, I've broken them apart in the following manner.

Chapters two and three deal primarily with the Laws of the Holds. It attempts to explain what proceedings are used when investigating a crime and how a Hold trial functions. Chapters four and five deal with the gathering of evidence and the court processes of the Halls. Chapters six and seven fall within the domain of the Weyr, pointing out what forms of evidence are required for an investigation and what occurs within a Weyr trial. Chapter eight demonstrates what additional responsibilities we Harpers have. So, without further tedious reading, allow me to dismiss you from my rantings and enter the wondrous world of Law...



Hold Methods


When a crime has taken place within a Hold, investigations are usually called into action to establish the likely suspects and
the guilty. With the expanse of the Hold in question, and countless persons residing within its walls, one has to wonder what steps are taken, what methods used, and how such an act is possible. Hopefully, these pages will answer some of those likely questions that will undoubtedly arise in such an event...

Naturally, the first step any Hold Guard should take is to limit the flow of suspects and accused down to a bare minimum. By asking even the simplest of questions, one can quickly narrow a possibly large list of persons down to a likely few. Did the person in question have a motive or reason for even attempting such a crime? Or could the accused have a chance at performing such an act? By consulting the various witnesses, one can easily establish the suspect's alibis, his or her motives and reasonings, maybe even the likelihood of the suspect having done the crime.

Which leads to the next step, the actual questioning of the witnesses themselves. It is highly important to question any witness who had actually been present; afterall, an innocent person may be wrongly found to be guilty if proper measures are not taken. Once a statement has been taken from any or all likely witnesses, one should always verify the reliability of the witness' words. Was the witness ever convicted of crimes before? Has he or she been know to lie often? Naturally, rank plays an important factor with questioning. The words of a Lord Holder will undoubtedly carry more weight than that of a drudge, such is the benefits of rank... 

During the times of investigation and questioning, a suspect of a Hold crime will usually find themselves locked within a cell
until such time that they are proven innocent or guilty. As the investigation progresses, the Guards will be searching for additional clues and evidence. Again, one is trying to establish the suspects motives and the likelihood of having done the crime. If further evidence can not be found, but an endless stream of witnesses who had been present support each other, a suspect may be convicted on the grounds of spoken word. Rarely should such a case ever appear within a court.

The whole of the investigation is headed by the Guard Captain of the Hold in question. He or she will decide how much man-power can be spared in search of clues, evidence-gathering, and the questioning of witnesses. It is also possible that the Hold may involve exterior sources of information, such as animals. Though unreliable, animals may prove extremely helpful, especially if the animal in question had been present. Watchwhers, for example, may be able to identify an assailant or thief by scent alone, something that we, as humans, could not possibly do... 


After all possible evidence has been gathered, a trial may be called into being, often by the Guard Captain or the Lord of the
Hold. Naturally, a Lord Holder has final say over the calling of such a trial, but most Lord Holders are reasonable enough to
leave such things until enough evidence has been acquired to establish the suspected guilt of the accused... 


Hold Courts


Working along the lines that a trial has been called into existence, one now wonders what takes place within such a trial, how are the proceedings handled, what measures are taken to weigh the evidence and verify witness accounts. This chapter will attempt to answer those questions as thoroughly as possible. Unfortunately, not even the author has as extensive knowledge as necessary to cover everything. 


At the formation of the trial, the setting of time and place, the Holder of that particular area will act as Judge, the person with a final say, so to speak. If the Holder is not available or not willing to do so, the Hold's Steward may take the Holder's place.
As noted above, the Holder, or whoever has final decision, has the capability to make a judgement and find a proper sentence. Others may appeal the decision by bringing the trial to a Lord Holder's attention, but this will be covered in a separate work...

Now, with the trial in session, the suspect and witnesses debate the case formally. The suspect involved must furnish his own proof and any witnesses he feels can verify his innocence. Fortunately, most people are honest when dealing with legal procedures, especially since perjury itself can have dire consequences. Armed with that knowledge, the suspect is set to present his case. As the suspect accounts for himself, witnesses provide their side of what happened, attempting to explain what they saw or heard in attempts to find the suspect guilty. The burden of proof is on the shoulders of the accusers, not attempting to make the trial biased in any way, just trying to keep innocent persons from being wrongly found guilty.
Throughout the course of the proceedings, certain experts may be called in to testify the reliability of the evidence presented. For example, a Guard may be called in to verify that a certain weapon may have been used in such a manner, or a Herder may be summoned to verify bite marks or the capabilities of animals brought into question. Evidence plays an important role when it comes to being presented in court. Without which, it'd take a strong effort by the accusers to convict a man purely on the whims of heresay... 

After hearing all the sides possible in this trial, the Holder is now free to find his decision. It resides purely on the Holder's
shoulders to find a proper punishment for the criminal, if found guilty. An unnecessarily harsh ruling may find the Holder himself in trouble...


Hall Methods


Chapter 4 deals specifically with a Halls methods of determining the guilt of a suspect. The difference between Hold and Hall are minor but existant. How do the various Crafts go about and find the possible criminal amount the innocent? In what way do the Crafts differ from each other when it comes to legal processes? Most importantly, how are they similar enough to each other to allow them to be grouped together under one chapter... 

First off, the Craft in question will narrow the list of suspects down to a select few. Questioning takes place during this phase,
as well as the gathering of evidence. The respective Craft is attempting to gather the necessary motive and opportunity of the
probable suspect. They need to be absolutely positive that the person in question has a reasonable enough motive to even be
considered a likely suspect. 

When it comes to Craft questioning, the witnesses are asked extensively about their experience during the crime in question.
Highly intensive, this phase can be very stressful, though one method, torture, is never used. Establishing the creditability of
witnesses is handled at this point as well. With the slightly more autonomous nature of the CraftHalls, rank plays a lesser role
within the questioning phase. Still, a high ranking person may hold more weight than anyone else. 

Seeing how most CraftHalls are located within or near a Hold of some sort, they usually have free use of the Hold's detainment cells. A more secluded CraftHall might utilize a spare room as a temporary prison. With the suspects locked safely away, they now go about gathering evidence. This is a step where the Crafters attempt to further their proof of motive and opportunity. Any physical types of evidence are taken and alibis noted. At the start of the gathering, a CraftMaster or Second will most likely assign Journeymen and Apprentices to go about looking for further evidence. Other methods may be employed by the various Crafts, depending on what Craft they represent. A Herder is far more likely to employ the aid of animals, while the Dolphineers might look to their Dolphins for aid.

After all the evidence has been taken that they might find useful, a trial is called into being. The suspect is taken, with the
witnesses, into the Hall to await the start of the court... 


Hall Courts


When a trial has been called within a Hall, several steps are taken to insure the court proceeds in an ordered, workable fashion. One needs to remember that Hold and Hall are two separate concepts, two similar yet different ideas. Knowing how a Hold trial works is not going to insure the survival of one within a Hall. This chapter will make an attempt at explaining the differences... 

The first notable difference is the fact that a CraftMaster or the CraftSecond presides over the trial. I feel I need to remind the
reader that a Craft is distinctly autonomous when compared to a Hold, two separate entities. As the Holder does in a Hold trial, so a CraftMaster or Second does in a Hall's trial. Their responsibilities are remarkably similar, as the CraftMaster has the final decision over the outcome of the trial. The suspect represents his side, calling forth any witnesses or evidence he feels is necessary. The suspect must keep in mind that he is innocent until the accusers prove him guilty, the suspect attempting to counter any evidence brought against him or her. As the trial unfolds, the suspect states his case and alibis that are likely to save him from undue punishment. The suspect will soon realize the Hold can't protect any longer...

Within the proceedings of the trial, the accusers will try to establish the guilt of the accused. As with the Hold, the burden of
proof is upon them. As much evidence as could be found is brought forth in their attempt at proving the guilt of the suspect. The evidence brought into play is weighed heavily, the more proof, the better the accuser's chances of doing so. Similar to the Hold trials, outsiders may be called to prove either side's case. The Craft itself may prove helpful when it comes to such. Afterall, what better place to question Herder ability than the HerderHall itself?


Weyr Methods


The following two chapters concern the methods and operations of a Weyr trial. Similar in structure to the preceding ones, this text will make an attempt at showing how different a Weyr trial can be. Weyrs can afford to be the most autonomous groups on the face of Pern, seeing how they are integral to the survival of Pern and the glory bestowed them by the ownership of Dragons... 

Like any crime, a Weyr must stem the flow of likely suspects filling their list. With the usual questioning of motive and
opportunity taking shape, the Weyrfolk go about trying to find likely suspects and discredit unlikely ones. Alibis are taken,
witnesses thoroughly questioned, and the ethics of the witnesses involved come into play. Seeing how independent the Weyrs can be, rank won't play as important a factor within the questioning process. A drudge is as likely to be believed as a Lord Holder... 


As the evidence-gathering progresses, the likely suspects are held within the Weyr's holding area. Looking for further clues, the weyrfolk try to differentiate between the guilty and the innocent before a trial is called. What other evidence is possible? What could take an innocent person and set them free? When the entire process is begun, a Junior Weyrwoman or a Wingsecond may be called upon to lead the investigation. It is entirely up to them to decide how many weyrfolk and dragonriders may be used to investigate this crime. As a high ranking rider, they have enough power to command whatever is deemed necessary to further the investigation. A key that dragonriders have over Hold and Hall are their Dragons. Dragons, with their intelligence and the link they share with their riders, may prove very useful within the search and potential witnesses. With their amazing ability to jump between, they're able to search for the clues wherever hints will lead them... As the evidence is slowly wrought together, a trial will be set into motion. This is where the important areas lie, where the suspect
may finally prove his innocence or proven guilty. Noting the above notes, one will be able to see how a Weyr trial will progress. Which leads us to the next section...


Weyr Courts


The statements that follow attempt to describe what could happen within a trial held within the Weyr. As one reads through the passages, questions will undoubtedly come to mind: Who leads the trial? How important is the evidence that had been gathered? Hopefully, the following section can answer the questions and quite a few others that may come to mind...

Soon after enough evidence has been brought forth, a trial is called. Led by either the Senior Weyrwoman or the Weyrleader, the court takes form as the ones within the Hold or Hall. With the same responsibility as a Holder or CraftMaster, it is up to the individual to find the guilt or innocence of the person in question. Presiding over the court is no easy task, as either of the chosen individuals must also remember their responsibility to Pern. Leading the trial, a Weyrleader has final say over the verdict, only being appealed in the most dire of circumstances, when a Council would be called into being. As previously mentioned, it is entirely up to the individual that is standing trial to counter any of the arguments presented against the suspect. Calling forth any evidence or witnesses possible to prove his or her innocence, the suspect tries to discredit whatever words
are said against them. The only safety that the suspect can look to is that simple fact that the burden of guilt falls on the accuser. 

Evidence does play a major role when it comes to a Weyr's trial. Words alone will rarely, if ever, convict a person. Any sort of evidence that the accuser can bring into play will give the person that much more leeway, a firmer grasp around the suspect's throat. Outside help is rarely called upon for aid, since the Weyr will rarely call upon the work of experts or animals. Relying upon the help of dragons is not unheard of, since the rider and the dragon share that special bond. Why would a dragon need to lie? 

So ends the trial of the Weyr, with the Weyrleader or the Senior Weyrwoman deciding the guilt or innocence of the accused. With the above work, maybe a guideline can be established. Perhaps the reader, being of a non-Weyr lineage, will find the reading both interesting and informative...


Harpers: A Special Note


It needs to be noted that Harpers serve a special role when it comes to trials. Harpers, by nature, are also Judges and expert witnesses. When a disagreement is brought forth, be it in Hold, Hall, or Weyr, a Harper may be called to act as judge or advisor to the respective court. We serve as best we can... 

It is also important to realize, while it is impossible for anyone to be unbiased and neutral, that a Harper at least set an example by making such a valiant effort. The mantles we bear within our great society is no easy task and should not be viewed as such. That's one reason why this work was done, so Harpers that are new to the Craft or not Law specialists can understand another facet of our needs. I hope it serves its purpose...



With all the words written above having been completed, I feel that anyone reading this work in its entirety will have a small grasp of what happens within the court systems of Hold, Hall, and Weyr. I have hopes you, the reader, will understand that this is only the beginnings of a much larger work, far from being complete... 


I've taken you on a brief journey, one that showed you the workings of our court system, Pern's court system. I've demonstrated what takes place during an investigation, all within the Holds of Pern, the multitudes of CraftHalls, and the secluded Weyrs. Read through this work as often as needed, but remember to use the knowledge with as much understanding you can find; it isn't so easy...


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