A thunk from the window made him recoil from the scene he’d been watching outside. A stone was thrown in his direction because he was someone near a window, more than any personal affront. A riot had started once the pyre had been built; it was always the case when a much-loved member of the community was revealed to be a heretic. Why did they always turn from Dion’s Grace and into the shadows? Why, when the College of the Arcane Arts sanctioned them. Made them and the practices they undertook safe from the mirror-verse.
“I’d move away from there before they break it.” Said Thrazo, when another rock hit the window.
“Bleak work, this,” Elijah stated as he did as his henchman suggested.
The orc just smiled, having heard those words so many times before. He had a knife in his hands and with it, he was picking the dirt out from underneath his thick fingernails.
“Always is,” he answered. Although he often agreed with this statement, nothing in his line of work would change. He’d be there to keep the braying crowds at bay, stop someone from stabbing his boss in the back or punch someone for spitting in his face. His boss paid well and that was something that Thrazo could respect.
Outside the window shouts and jeers sounded. The gathering was surrounding the tavern that the Witchfinder had commandeered; usually, they’d stay on the church grounds with the Lights Minister, but the small village was currently between Ministers and no one knew where the key was and considering it was the mayor’s wife that had been on trial, and found guilty, the man leading the protests below, it wasn’t prudent to pester him for a key.
“I still don’t understand why they do it.” Elijah lamented, not for the first time. His vision was so narrow that reasoning from another point of view was often beyond him.
“She thought she was helping people.”
“By bringing demonic entities and undue risk toward them?”
“That’s not exactly common knowledge. She thought she had a healer’s gift. How was she to know?”
“Scripture?” Elijah suggested.
“Not everyone carried the Lights Word in their pocket.”
Subconsciously, Elijah’s hand moved to his breast pocket where his own copy of the book pressed against him.
“Even then, they probably don’t understand it.” Thrazo continued. “I sure don’t, it’s so vague and the language,” he waved his hands around, “Talk of mirrors, illumination and what-not. You’d need to spend years picking it apart to make sense of it.”
“That’s what Church-going and Ministers are for, Thrazo.” The Witch Hunter deflected.
“This town doesn’t have one.”
From outside the window, heated voices were in debate with the Landlord of the tavern. Bringing him to the window to peer out once more. The protestors were trying to gain access to argue further with the Witch Hunter. It wouldn’t be the first time that Elijah had talked down a mob crying out for him to save them the pain of loss. Ironically, they’d lit torches; one of the many symbols of The Light, to accompany them on their rampage. A few of them littered the cobbled street, sputtering in the attempt to stay alight. A glance down the street showed him the hesitant hand of a young man reaching out for the torch.
“Thrazo,” Elijah called to his henchman with an urgent sense of alarm. “Get down there and quell that crowd.” He ordered, picking up his broad-rimmed hat and pulling it over his roughed-up hair. “Meet me near the pyre when they’re abated.”
Without another word, the Witch Hunter hurried out of the room, along the corridor and down the flight of stairs. Behind his footfalls, he could hear the heavy-set orc gathering up his weapons of war to bully, threaten and entice the gathered crowd back to their homes. At the bottom of the stairs a worried woman was watching through the door; the Landlady. Her expression was full of concern for her husband. Looking to the gathering himself, he asked “Is there another way out?”
“Aren’t you going to help?” She pleaded.
“No time, the way out?” He pressured.
She pointed vaguely towards the back of the bar. “Through the kitchen.” She informed him, but her eyes were still begging for his help.
“Thrazo is on his way,” Elijah stated before dipping out and away from the conflict. He followed where the woman had vaguely pointed. Crossing the near-empty tavern room, a single soul was snoring in the corner, drooling over himself in his drink induced slumber. Elijah scoffed in disgust at the man’s lack of self-respect. Behind the bar itself, a step led down into the kitchen. Past the stove, pantry and worktops a wooden door creaked open into a small back alleyway. The Witch Hunter kept his hand upon the hilt of his rapier as he snuck a look around the corner. He could hear the crowd barraging the tavern owner with questions and them being brought to silence by the Orcs booming shouts. As their attention was wrapt on Thrazo, he slipped passed the unaware gathering and down the street towards the pyre. He arrived with half a heartbeat to spare.
“I wouldn’t do that,” the fearsome Witch Hunter suggested.
In front of him, the young man was holding the end of the torch near the foot of the pyre, mere inches from setting it all aflame. The man turned to face him. His left eye was twitching uncontrollably.
“Why, you’re going to burn her.” The man said his hand holding the flame still outstretched towards the pyre.
“She’s a heretic, it’s no less than she deserves,” Elijah replied, his own hand moving to the single-shot pistol holstered at his waist. He disliked the idea of using the gun, for it’d alert the crowd to his presence, but if he had to, he’d use the potent weapon.
“She saved my life,” the young man screeched.
Elijah narrowed his eyes to the youth before him. Suspicion quickly rose in his mind. The weapon in his fingers was slowly drawn from its holster. “You and she were close?” He asked, having not seen this young man until now. A missing piece of the puzzle slotting nicely into place.
“She was everything to me,” the young man wailed, the teeth in his mouth pointed and dangerous. “Like a mother.” He added. A dark, ebony tear slipped down his face. The man’s face turned from sorrow to aggression and he made to thrust the torch into the pyre; stopping the inevitable. Before the fire could take the pistol rang out. An oppressive crack shot shattered the young man’s hand. His forearm was in ruins and when the smoke cleared from his vision, Elijah could see the extent of the damage done to the youth. His limb had completed vanished from the forearm down, the torch had fallen to the floor with the hand that’d been clutching it. The youth’s face was a mask of abject horror, his mouth wide open as he screamed. The sockets of his eyes appeared hollow as they were clamped down so hard with pain, his hair made a wild halo around his head as he moved. Staggering backwards from where the twice-blessed bullet has severed his arm. Confidently, Elijah moved towards the youth and grasped him by the scruff of his neck. The young man wriggled and writhed, trying to free himself from the Witch Hunters grasp, but was stilled the second a set of prayer beads was slipped over his head. He twisted enough to keep the star-shaped icon of The Light away from his skin, but as Elijah carried the youth back towards the now placated crowd, the youth changed.
“Behold,” Elijah spoke from behind them. His voice demanded their attention as he lifted the youth in a single hand for them all to witness.
The youth’s skin slowly blackened to deep coal. A flood of deep black gore dribbled from his forearm onto the cobbled floor. A sickening crunching sounded, slurping from the body as his legs shrivelled and two limp wings erupted from his back. Agonised face twisted from humanity to evolve into a half-formed, revolting animal-esque maw. The youth’s throat let out a strangled whine. Only the right arm of the boy remained the same, familiar and human. Elijah threw the wretched creature to the ground and put his foot on its neck.
“The missing piece of the puzzle.” Elijah mused to the crowd. “Your witches familiar.” Not one for giving fervent speeches to those he deemed below him, he motioned for the major to come forwards. “You want further proof of your wife’s misdeeds, look no further than his arm.”
“That was Jimmy!!” Someone in the gathering gasped in horror. Several of the townsfolk had gathered together, holding one another up lest they faint from what they’d just witnessed. One man had paled completely, the colour draining from his face in disbelieving horror.
The major, a well-dressed, portly man with an alcohol reddened nose reached down to the scrambling horror and picked it up via the sleeve on his arm. He dropped it once again with a gasp. Around the wrist was a wooden chain, woven with intricately decorated beads. “This was Isabelle’s” he croaked. His voice strained with emotion.
“Familiars wear trinkets given to them in return for blessings. Your wife’s healing has improved tenfold lately. You told me such yourself. Now we know why.” Elijah explained. The creature beneath his foot writhed once again, struggling with its mismatched human arm to get free. A long tail lashed between its legs the tip of which was curved, like a mushroom, but it was confined by the pressure of both Elijahs foot and the blessed beads alike. “Your wife made a mockery of our laws and risked all your lives with her witch craft. In the morn she’ll be burned on that pyre and her ashes returned to The Light. Only then can your town be safe from monstrosities such as this.” He passed a glance over the stunned crowd. “I’d to be wary of those that she healed, left the bare the mirrors reflections.” The crowded men and women looked to their neighbour, the seeds of suspicion sewn, the control once again restored into his hands. “Return to your homes. Give praise to The Light that your souls will be spared when the Witch is slain.”
Slowly, the crowd started to disperse. They avoided coming too close to the Witch Hunter and the abomination beneath his foot. Thrazo cautiously came up towards him.
“You have your axe, Thrazo?” Elijah asked.
“Of course,” Thrazo untied the axe from his waist, clicking off the hasp that kept the blade from cutting his flesh as he wore it. He brought the vicious blade down on the fiend’s neck as Elijah moved his foot, not giving the warped abomination time to react. It gurgled as it choked on its own blood. Thrazo sneered. “What a way to go.” He spat on the floor near the half-human fiend.
“Is that easy enough to understand, Thrazo?” Elijah asked, returning to their conversation about being unable to understand The Lights Word, he lent down picking the corpse from the floor by the base of its dubious-looking tail. He carried it over to the pyre, where he’d burn in the morning, along with the still living witch. Hatred for the heretic burned piously within his soul and his faith was restored in his wretched work.
I was uploading my prompts and fiction to a Wattpad account. But, felt like here would be more suitable. Its another aspect of who I am, so… why not? I’ll just avoid uploading the plethora of smut that I’ve written! No one needs to endure that!
I use prompt lists and give myself a word goal of roughly 1000 words for a scene inspired by the prompt. Some, are longer. Some, shorter, depends on inspiration. As for the characters chosen, I roll them randomly with a d20 (Because I conveniently have 20 characters.) and see where they take me.
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