Please read "Beware the Captive Innocents", then "Secrets in the Cellar" (Part Two of the 'Captive Innocents' story) before reading the conclusion below.
|Image Origin Unknown|
Jackson tried to shove the images of the nightmares out of his mind. He had a big day ahead of him after filling his over-sized gut with some hot food. He secretly hoped the guards wouldn't bring in any more of them damn witches for him and his pals to cater to down in that stinking cellar. He'd lost count of them after forty or so.
Jillian sensed it was morning even though the cellar seemed more dim than usual. Through the small window equipped with iron bars, she couldn't make out the time on the clock tower. It would be another foggy, overcast April day. Her judgment day. She looked over at Sarah and Mary, aching inside for them and for their pain. In the darkness, their forms were merely slumped shadows, but she knew the desperation and degradation they'd endured. In many ways, she was looking forward to the end of her own miseries, even if the end of suffering was to come in the form of her own, painful death.
William, Jackson and Marcus entered the dank cellar with whips, prods and chains. You'd think they had come to gather strong, stealthy dragons rather than the three half-starved and tortured women who had become shadows of their former selves. They each led one of the women, at times having to drag and pull due to the wasting of their leg muscles, up the stone steps to the world outside.
Jillian sucked in a deep breath of the damp, foggy air. It made her a bit light-headed - the freshest, most pleasantly fragrant air she had inhaled in over a week. Maybe in - forever. There was a hint of springtime and newly-formed leaves. She heard the call of a swallow some distance away. At the least, her last breaths would be good memories to carry her through to her grave. Crowds of onlookers flanked the expansive courtyard, yelling profanity, spitting, cursing and praising God - her God - all in the same sentences. "Ye shall not suffer a Witch to LIVE!", one angry voice yelled out somewhere to her right. Others whistled and cheered the comment. Hot tears rained from her eyes and burned her cheeks. Unable to reach up and wipe them away, she gulped them back hard. Jillian squared her shoulders the best she could, raising her chin to hold her head up with pride and dignity. These people - this confused and raucous bunch - would see the woman they were about to take joy in murdering. They would see the truth.
The crowd quieted and bowed as the King and his Court appeared, positioning themselves to prepare for the trial. Jillian stood firmly, looking upon His Majesty as if she were his equal. His gaze met her stoic posture and their eyes locked. How DARE this scrap of evil flesh deceive his authority! No one, no Witch would stare down the King and LIVE! He stood, raising the staff in his right hand and preparing to speak when...something happened. The End.
(Just kidding, sorry I couldn't resist!) ...He stood, raising the staff in his right hand and preparing to speak when a lightning bolt shattered the atmosphere with a jolt. The ear-splitting "crack" was followed by the rumble of thunder, sending squeals and startled screams through the crowd. It was gone as quick as it had come. Once the crowd had settled in once more, the King spoke, "On this, dies Veneris; God's Friday, in the month of Aprilis, we shall hear the testaments of the three who stand before us now, under God's Mighty..." the King's voice trailed off and became a murmur in Jillian's ears.
Within her, she felt the rise of ...what she could only describe as...her Spirit, strengthening, rising, filling her with goodness, strength and light. THIS must be what others were describing when they had talked of being filled with God's holiness, she thought to herself, it comes from WITHIN. But she had denounced God. She had embraced the craft of the wise - Wicce-craft - for her own wielding. WAS she a Witch? Or was "God" a manifestation - a culmination of every element and energy around everyone at all times, absorbed and melded with one's own instinct and will - forged, too often, by the FORCE of others - to be sent out for the purpose of good or for destruction?
The fog had slowly burned away beneath the growing sun. The day had grown brighter. For the first time in two weeks, on the day before the feast of Saint Tiburtius, Jillian smiled. Power and understanding rose from deep inside her and culminated in a bright aura of azure blue. The bluish glow encircled her body, growing and reaching further into her surroundings. As she focused on the King, she saw the light touch him, reflecting off of his brilliant crown. Coupled with the sunlight, an intense array of bright light mirrored off of the crown's surface and spilled among the crowd...covering everyone in turn - as a wave slowly creeps over the sand at the shoreline. Jillian forgave him. She forgave all of them for their misdeeds and malicious thoughts. Her first "spell" had been cast.
As the crowd gasped and carried on in awe, they reached their arms up to touch what they believed was a manifestation; a message from the Supreme meant personally and individually for each of them in turn. Jillian laughed out loud. No longer had pain and heartache consumed her. Her spell would weave its' magic through this lot...and for generations to come until one day, all of humanity would come to understand. We are all of the same fabric, unified with every other living and inanimate thing among us. We share the same emotions, the same desires, the same fears. The inner spark within each of us is searching for the same thing - peace. The methods we use to achieve it will - someday - no longer inflict torturous acts and cause pain.
Jillian sat proudly on the back of the big, black, high-stepping Morgan horse. Reining the horse was the most beautiful Sorceress - dressed in flowing white robes - leading Jillian to comfort, further training in the Craft, and freedom. Freedom never tantalized her senses the way that it had in this moment.
Behind her the sounds of the dispersing crowd grew quiet as she and the Sorcerer-Goddess moved further away. Every person who had attended the "trial" left with secret feelings of deep confusion and small pangs of remorse they had never felt before today. It would plague them - through their lives and through their genes for centuries to come. This re-awakening of deep, inner instinct and rational thought processing would slowly reclaim the inner will so freely given on demand. For lifetimes to follow, and especially every time the 13th of the month fell on a Friday, it would wax and wane and grow stronger. Jackson, Marcus and William were busy preparing to dispense of the three bodies hanging lifeless and twisted from the gallows; the spirited souls of Mary, Sarah and Jillian no longer confined to their battered shells.
Her spell would weave its' magic through this lot...and for generations to come with each life she was reincarnated into...until one day, all of humanity would come to understand the truth.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * The end * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Author end notes and references: I am unfamiliar with the correct terminology for the period of time that grew out of writing this story. For example, I don't know if worker's quarters were called barracks or bunkhouses, and so forth in old England, so please excuse any inconsistencies or inaccuracies.
I tried to determine how to best describe that the actual "date" that this ending occurred was Friday, April 13th and used the following for references to help me.
This story was written for Magaly Guerrero's birthday and her Sexy, Dark and Bloody 3rd Blogoversary Party! Check it out and read from other amazing writers while browsing the incredible hand-crafted works of many talented artists!______________________________________________________________
Inspired by her Native American roots and Bradbury lineage, Polly Taskey is a writer and grandmother in the northern USA. She shares her wisdom and pagan interests through Pagan by Design and The Moonlit Grove.