“Right with you” meant three days. I lay on the hay mattress, which in all honesty wasn’t terribly uncomfortable—perhaps for a soldier. I lay and think about Merette and what a fool I had been. Yet, over and over in my mind I replayed the event that landed me here, and I can’t fully say what possessed me to swing. The man was wrong, I knew it in my gut; his smile torched my soul. I didn’t enjoy removing any of those heads, especially that first man, Mr. Galish. His tortured, miserable face haunted me. But Tynir… I wanted to see his head roll. I wanted to feel the slight tremor of his body falling to the ground at my feet… but I can’t remember swinging. It was as if for a moment everything went blank, and an instant later I was staring at the deed.
When the priest did finally see me he greeted me with a court summons. I was to face the block the next morning and I wasn’t at all scared or sorrowful… until Merette came to visit me. We cried together while struggling to embrace through bars. We had but minutes left to ever see each other again, and neither could speak a single word of comfort. After the guards removed her I clung to the iron bars that still radiated the warmth of her body. I held on to them, my last remnant of my heart.
The execution was to be held outside today, in the courtyard. The grass looked unkempt today; as the guards lead me to the block, I heard a monk chastising a gardener.
“What was it you people were doing all day? I told you the judgment was to be held outdoors.”
“Aye Sir, but we whacked all of this yester-evening, why it’s long now’s a mystery Sir.”
“I’ll whack you the next time this…” he went on about it as guards pushed me on.
In the center of the courtyard, I was lead up to a large wooden platform, which had been set up for the weekend executions. These more public displays were open for a much larger audience and any citizen was permitted to witness. Those saved for public executions were typically selected by the high priest himself. The judging block sat in the center of the platform, already tainted by blood? I heard some from the crowd say,
“He dropped the axe on Tynir!”
“The one that tainted it!”
“Oshrildin damn the guilty Knight!”
“Spiller of innocent blood!”
I tried not to look out or pay attention to the crowd of condemning strangers. I kept myself secluded in my mind as I felt myself being lead to the block. They had never removed my armor. Veterans where permitted the honor of dying steel-clad. One veteran tried to convince the clergy to allow him his helmet to escape the axe at which he was granted, and then hung.
I knelt and laid my head down against the stone. As the priest read off my allegations, I turned my face to the side.
There were peasants choking… many of them. The coughing began to spread widely through the crowd, and I noticed a rising fog coming up from the earth. The guards began to panic and those stationed on the ground began climbing up to the execution platform. Behind them civilians attempted to climb as well, but where kicked back by guards. The smoke nearly covered all the heads below and continued to rise.
“Enough!” cried the priest. “End him now!”
The axe came down upon my neck and shattered. Starting with the blade, traveling up the shaft of the axe, the gilded metal splintered into a hundred pieces and collapse worthless on the ground.
“End his witchery!”
I rose and the fog had nearly shrouded the stage as well. The guards began choking. The executioner attempted to raise his greatsword to smite me, but instead lowered it into the wood to prop himself up. Within moments they all collapsed helpless on the stage and ceased breathing. The priest muttered a mix of curses and prayers and never broke gaze with me, even after he stopped breathing.
After I had fled from that nightmare, and tripped over my share of bodies, running through the mysterious fog that claimed all lives but mine, I found myself confused and helpless in an alleyway bordering a forgotten old inn and an unkempt home. I panted, trying to catch my breath, when a green-hooded figure collapsed into the alley panting, catching his.
“My *pant* Gods, how do you *gasp* run so fast in that armour?” He walked over to me and slouched heavily against the opposite wall.
“Right, so I’m supposed to bring you to the council, but I say we’ve had our fill of exercise; we’ll let the council come to us.”
He blew a small whistle that hung around his neck like a medallion and just moments later a crow swooped down from the sky and perched himself on the figure’s shoulder. He pet the bird behind its neck thrice, wrote out a small memo, and attached it with twine to the crow’s leg, then flinging his arm upward, sent the bird back into the sky.
“Right, that’s taken care of. Let’s say you and me take a peak in here. Maybe they’ve got something with a kick. Inns have rum right? You’re good for rum yeah? Well, rum it is then, on me.”
He helped lift me to my feet under one arm and lead me inside the old inn. I could smell its age and filthy nature before we even walked inside. Inside was a whole other mess.