Featured Review on this writing by Sue Harris

It Was Inevitable

Reads: 111  | Likes: 4  | Shelves: 2  | Comments: 9

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Cover photograph: joel-overbeck-657174-unsplash

Submitted: February 10, 2019

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Submitted: February 10, 2019

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It Was Inevitable

I knew they were coming. Before I heard them or caught that first glimpse, their approach was clearly visible to me. The birds brought the news with their agitated fluttering, going from tree to tree. The rabbits, the foxes, the deer brought the news too, fleeing from the approach of those who never meant anything but harm. They would be safe with me.

Their approach could mean only one thing. The King was dead.

He had been failing badly. All their medications, their blood-lettings, had done nothing but weaken him further. By the time the Queen sent for me it would have taken a miracle to save him, and me, I have no belief in miracles. I leave that for him – their chosen man of God. It will be him leading the approaching party, full of his self-righteousness and looking for a scapegoat.

It was inevitable, this moment. I could not turn my back on the Queen, refuse to visit her husband on what was clearly his deathbed. There was nothing I could do to help him other than to ease the pain of his passing. The fact that I had attended him, that I had been inside his chamber, condemned me. That I was there at the Queen’s request counted for nought – someone had to be held guilty for the Royal death and that ‘somebody’ was me.

And look, here he is, their priest, pretending to be representing some ‘higher power’, while the gullible fall for all of his false words. I see him for what he truly is, a power-hungry manipulator. He knows that I see through his disguise and he has hated me for it for years. The death of the King has played in to his hands, finally giving him a way to be rid of me forever.

I could run. I know the forest like no other, and even with their dogs I could escape. I also know the consequence to running. The entire woodland would be set to burn and I cannot do that to all of the creatures that have become my friends.

I am innocent but I will pay the price.

Brianna! Give yourself up. It will go easier for you.”

What is the point of those words, for I am not fleeing? He and his henchmen can take me, unprotesting, to their sham of a trial. They have already found me guilty as charged, have already prepared the stake, built the bonfire. All that is left to do is to bind me in place and strike the match.

They don’t even have to restrain me. I take up my place in the center of the mob and I stumble my way forward as I am pushed and shoved, tripped and punched. My eyes are dry, my cries of pain are held silent within my throat. I will not allow them an extra satisfaction.

I can hear them following at a distance, the crows. They are not here as a threat to me, they will not feast on my flesh. The corvidae in all their many guises are my friends and companions. They understand my sacrifice, my motivations, and they are here to offer their support.

Many more people are gathered at the site of the stake. The Queen, I note, is not among them. I hope for her sake, and for those of the kingdom not yet corrupted by this false prophet, that it is not a mistake. For should this man seize his chance and claim the throne there will be no leniency shown towards any that do not follow his words exactly.

Brianna, Witchwoman. You have been tried and found guilty of killing our most esteemed and respected King.”

I cannot help but let a smile flick across my face. This man, this traitor, this charlatan, never showed the King any true respect during his reign, but plotted in the background, always putting his own interests to the fore.

Do you have any final words to say?”

I could do it now, expose him for what he really is, but again, fear for the retribution it would bring to my friends and former companions bids me to hold my tongue. Let the fools follow him if they cannot see through his falsehoods.

I shake my head. The crows caw mournfully in the trees.

You will burn at the stake until no part of you remains.” With that, this priest nods and four hooded men step forward to bind me to that wooden pole, stumbling their way as the jostle me up the heap of branches and timber. The wearing of hoods does not fool me, I know the identity of the four before they so much as lay a hand against me.

I start to fall and one hand grips my arm, prevents me from falling face first into the gathered firewood. “Thank you, John,” I say, and can imagine his skin blanching beneath that heavy hood. Will I curse his family along with those of the others? That question will now surely eat away at his misplaced faith for it is one that he’ll never be free of.

The wood feels dry under my feet, apart from where it cuts, gets dampened by my own blood. Dry wood is a blessing. The fire will catch and quickly ignite into a conflagration of hungry flames. Much better than on where damp branches smoulder, struggle to release the dampness before the flames can really get a grip.

It is the difference between a death that is quick and one that is tortuously slow and lingeringly painful. My release will be quick.

The chanting starts as the first flame is lit. He stands there, slightly ahead of the others. He does not even try to hide his satisfaction, but revels in the fire’s swift thread. Maybe if his followers saw his face as I do now, the light of flames flashing across his skin, perhaps they would look at him more as their Devil than as their God.

I close my eyes and embrace the pain for it will be excruciating but swift. The smell of my own skin burning assaults my senses as the crows let up a mournful cry, that is picked up by others and is carried through the woods.


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