Knowing the time had
finally come, the priest said one final prayer and stood up. His
chamber door creaked open and the elders of the church bowed
humbly to him when he turned to face him.
"It's time for you to accept your fate, Brother Craven," they said quietly. "We shall go with you and remain until the very end."
Brother Craven nodded as he placed his hood up and followed in silence to the monastery's spacious courtyard. The harvest moon lit up the night sky like a strange and wondrous sunrise. Standing in the very middle of the courtyard was an elegantly dressed young woman whose age was undeterminable.
"Brother Craven, here before your fellow priests you shall be sacrificed for the unrequited murders of thirteen young children in the year of our Lord sixteen hundred and seventy six. How do you plead?" the woman asked in a hauntingly melodic voice.
"My lady, I have prayed to our Lord in Heaven for forgiveness and have received no answer from Him. The only thing I can do now is to accept my fate for the wicked and utterly vicious deeds which I have no recollection of performing in the first place," Brother Craven said hollowly as he knelt before the woman. He glanced around at his fellow brothers one last time and removed his hood and robe. Unbuttoning the collar of his shirt, he leaned across a flat stone with his neck in the very center. He closed his eyes as the young woman raised a sword from its sheath and held it over him for a moment.
"Good journey to you then, brother. And may you suffer in the fiery pits of hell for the crimes you have committed against God," she said savagely.
There was a shrill whistling sound as the young woman swung the sword, followed by crackling and then silence. The blade chopped off Brother Craven's head with ease and it rolled a few feet away from the prone body. The eyes stared blankly at the frightened priest.
The young woman smiled sadistically as she licked the blade of the sword clean. The priests fled back into the monastery, bolting the door shut to keep the woman out. Left alone in the courtyard, she calmly lifted the decapitated corpse and the wide-eyed head. Placing the head on top of the fence surrounding the courtyard, she opened a gate and walked out with the rest of the body while singing softly to her.
No one knew her name in the
village, nor did they know where she had come from. All anyone
knew was that she played executioner to all those who had done
unforgiveable deeds. She never harmed the children who lived in
the village and she always gave money, food, and clothing to the
families who were considered good. While she possessed the very
essence of a goddess, the young woman was completely human and
always knew when her services were needed.
She kept to herself, living alone in a modest house outside of the village. In her backyard, she buried the decapitated bodies and always left the heads on fences or gates. It was her personal way of showing others what their fate would be if they broke the laws in any way.
After burying Brother Craven's decapitated body under an old ash tree, the young woman sighed and walked into her candlelit house.
"One day I shall tire of this and move on to something more enticing," she said softly as she changed out of her blood-drenched clothes. Efficiently washing the blood from her body and hair, the young woman put on a beaded blue gown and pinned her long flowing red hair back from her exquisite green emerald eyes.
From out of the shadows surrounding her bed, a young boy appeared and smiled shyly at her. She knelt down as he ran into her waiting arms and placed a light kiss upon his cheek.
"Mistress Jeshicka, did you destroy another bad guy tonight?" he asked in a small voice. Jeshicka nodded and the little boy close. He was the only thing in her life that she truly cared about. She had found him one year ago, crying as he sat alone among his dead parents and brothers. Jeshicka had been called upon to execute the ones who killed the young boy's family and decided after doing so to bring the boy home with her to live.
She gave him and snack and then tucked him into his bed, promising to spend the next day with him. Jeshicka fell asleep hours later only to be awakened by the rising sun. She rose from her bed and made her and young Andrew breakfast. They spent the morning eating their breakfast and cleaning the house. In the afternoon, she put on her oldest dress and tool Andrew hunting and fishing. They arrived home a little after sunset, placing the rabbits and fish in a wooden box to be cut and cleaned after their supper. Just as they were finishing up with their catches of the day, a loud knock sounded on the front door to see who had come bothering her.
The stranger bowed humbly before her as she stared at him in silence. "My lady, I don't mean to disturb you from your work here. I only come because your services are direly needed in the next village. The people are being harassed by characters who are crying witchcraft. They say a number of townspeople are being hung on trumped up charges by these characters who claim that the Lord told them these innocent people were doing the Devil's work. Please mistress, will you come and save the innocents who are at this moment awaiting death in darkened cells?" he asks pleadingly.
Jeshicka sighs and says slowly," Give me but a few moments and I shall leave with you. I need to get my things in order and change my clothing for this unsavory task that I'm about to partake in." The man nodded and waited patiently on the porch for her. After closing the door, Jeshicka called Andrew to her and explained that she had to leave him for a short while. If she didn't return by sunrise, he was to go to the nearest neighbor and beg leave to stay there for a little while. Andrew nodded and watched as she changed into different clothes and packed her trusty sword.
After giving Andrew a hug and a swift kiss upon his cheek, she said a silent prayer and stepped out to where the man was waiting. He eyed her sword that hung by her side and knew that she would use it on the people who were hanging innocent men and women. It was an hour long hike to the village and they trudged along in silence. Jeshicka was lost in her thoughts as they walked along the darkened path, remembering her lost past and how she became the executioner to the surrounding villages.
Almost 10 years ago, Jeshicka lived a peaceful and blissful existence. She had a wonderful husband who treated her like a princess and 3 beautiful children who were the lights of her life. One gloomy evening, her husband had come home from work earlier than usual and bolted the door behind him. "My dear wife, take the children down into the cellar and keep them as silent as you can. I will remain here and try to hold them off while you and our darlings escape," he said frantically.
Jeshicka stared at him in wide eyed fear. "What is it that has you so terrified? Tell me what is going on so I can help you with it," she said. He shook his head and jumped as he heard the sound of horses approaching the house. The children shuffled sleepily into the room and stared in confusion at their parents, wondering what was happening. The eldest child said timidly," Father, did something happen at work today? Please tell us what we are to do."
"You are to go down to the cellar with your mother and take the tunnel leading to the barn where the 4 of you will escape from. I am going to remain here and keep the bad men who are coming from finding you and harming you," he said as he opened the hidden door that lead to the cellar. Jeshicka shook her head at her husband as she entered the cellar. Right before the children could follow suit, the door to their home was kicked open with such force that the bolt flew across the room and hit into the wall.
Before a word could be said, the children stared fearfully at their mother and slammed the door shut and locked it. No matter how hard she tried, Jeshicka wouldn't force it open. Heavy footsteps sounded on the bare floorboards and the children's terrified screams mingled with the anguished cries of their mother. She sobbed uncontrollably when she heard 4 solid thuds and felt rather than saw the blood dripping through the cracks of the floor.
After straining to hear the last of the horses' footsteps fading into the distance, Jeshicka stumbled out of the barn and toward her home. When she stepped inside and saw the bloodied bodies of her family, she fell to her knees in utter despair and sorrow. One by one, she took their broken bodies out to the backyard and buried them.
She knew the men who murdered her family by their voices. They were 5 of the most prominent men in town and also the most corrupt. She knew in her heart that her husband had witnessed one of their crimes and had been murdered for it. Not only that, they had murdered her children so there wouldn't be witnesses.
After burying her family and washing the funeral dirt from her hands, Jeshicka changed her soiled dress and tied her hair into a bun. Opening a cabinet in her bedroom, she took out a sword that her husband had inherited from his great grandfather and tied it to her waist. She packed only her most treasured valuables and strapped them to the back of a horse.
She took one last look around her home, said a farewell prayer for her family, then mounted the horse and started into town. She thought nothing of the consequences of what she was about to do, she merely thought about seeking justice for her husband and children's untimely demises. As she stopped at each home of the condemned, she rattled off the crimes they committed and used her sword to execute them.
After executing the last murderer, Jeshicka climbed back on her horse and left her town behind her forever. As she realized that they were close to the town where people were being accused of witchcraft, Jeshicka pulled her thoughts out of the past and concentrated on her mission. The man bowed and shuffled away from Jeshicka, heading toward the center of town where a group of people were standing perfectly still.
As her heart beat faster and he blood ran cold through her veins, Jeshicka realized too late that she had unwittingly been led into a trap. As the group closed in on her, Jeshicka dropped her sword to the dirt and waited to hear the sentence she was about to receive. An elderly man stepped forward and introduced himself as the governor of the town.
One by one, he recounted all of the deaths that had been done by Jeshicka's hand. It took almost all evening to name all of them. After naming the last one, the man said loudly for all to hear," This vile young woman has committed these horrendous crimes not for our Lord in Heaven, but for Satan himself. Therefore, due to the severity of the deeds that she had done, she shall be strung up by her neck and set on fire."
The crowd cheered and as she fought to escape their grasp, Jeshicka had a noose placed upon her neck and froze. "Hear me now before you send me to my death!" she yelled out. "My spirit will return every generation to torment your families. They will suffer for this injustice that you are about to deliver unto me!" They did not heed her warning and she was hauled off her feet. After the jerking of Jeshicka's body went still, the townspeople set her body on fire and buried her in an unmarked grave.
Every generation, Jeshicka's spirit visited each family member of those who had sent her to her death and hounded them until they went insane from fright. Her spirit still haunts the descendants of the townspeople, unable to seek eternal rest due to the terrible deed that had been done to her centuries ago.