Book 1 of the Sundered Crown Saga- Heir to the Sundered Crown can be bought here http://authl.it/3hw
The girl whimpered as the jeering crowd roared its hatred towards her. Men, women and even children she had grown up with, all were there, all with hate in their eyes and vile words pouring from their mouths. She cried out as strong hands shoved her forward, the force of the blow sending her crashing to the mud-filled street, which wound its way through the village and led to an ominous wooden scaffold. Her white dress was now covered with mud and filth.
“Keep moving witch,” the guardsman growled. With one hand, he violently grabbed the girl’s golden hair and hauled her back onto her feet. In his other hand, he held a long spear, which he used to shove back those in the crowd who drew too close. Behind him were other guards, a dozen in all and each escorted similarly terrified people.
Rotten fruit and excrement flew from the screaming crowd to pelt the pitiful prisoners. Some tried to shield their faces; others simply took the extra insult. Finally, the sad procession reached the scaffold, a dozen nooses hanging from the wooden frame.
The guards roughly shoved their charges into place behind each of the hoops. One terrified man pleaded with the baying crowd. Another pissed himself. Fear was evident in the air. Once all of the prisoners were lined up and stood on square wooden blocks, a large man with a black hood upon his head stepped up onto the scaffold. Upon seeing the executioner the crowd’s cries grew more excited, they knew that death was fast approaching.
The hangman stood silent. He raised his arms into the air to quiet the crowd. The guards formed a line in front of the gallows their spears pointed outwards towards the increasingly excited mob. A tall man adorned in a long leather coat and purple coloured trousers stepped forward from the sidelines. His long gaunt face was fixed with a long bony nose, thin lips and cruel grey eyes. A wicked smile creased his lips as he stared at the pitiful prisoners. The magistrate had long ruled the village with an iron fist.
“Behold! Here stand those who have deceived us all. Those wretches who made you believe that they were just like us. These villains have broken the sacred law; the wretches have hidden their wicked powers from us and the eyes of Niveren. Magic users brought doom upon Eclin, they brought doom upon the world!” the magistrate shouted above the roars of the crowd.
“Under the laws of our King, Alderlade the First you are all sentenced to die!”
The man gestured to the hangman. The prisoners screamed in terror as one by one the hooded man kicked awaythe blocks. The first to die was the blonde haired girl; the snap of her neck could be heard above the crowd’s shouts. As the executioner reached his last victim, the yells had stopped as the horror of it all sunk into the minds of the villagers.
Women wept and the men stared on, white faced and ashamed.
The final prisoner stared out over the crowd his shoulder length black hair hanging loose over his shoulders and the rope about his neck. A scar ran down his right cheek. His brown eyes stared at the crowd. To the people’s surprise, the man chuckled.
“Something funny worm?” the tall man snarled.
The condemned man’s chuckle turned into a mocking laugh. He turned his fierce gaze upon the magistrate.
“You’re all going to die you fool. Whilst you wasted time arresting magic users the Fell beasts that I have spent the past week hunting have entered your village, you have condemned me Ferran of BlackMoor, the only man who can save you from death. I find that ironic and amusing,” Ferran replied humourlessly.
A scream came from the rear of the crowd. Quickly another sounded and then another. Soon the villagers began to push and surge forward towards the scaffold. Over the panic the sounds of came unearthly roars. The magistrates face drained of colour.
“Cut me free you fool, or this whole village will be destroyed, and bring me the items you stole from me. I’m going to need them to save your wretched hides,” Ferran snapped.
The magistrate stared in horror as a pack of snarling beasts appeared down the muddy street. Squat brown creatures stalked their way towards the scaffold. Their long talons holding an assortment of iron weapons, saliva dripped from their fang-filled jaws. Upon their heads, the creatures wore material stained with the blood of their victims, which gave them their name of Redcaps.
The magistrate bellowed at the hangman who was holding an axe in his large hands, the man’s fear was evident even through his thick black executioner’s hood.
“Free him! Cut him down hurry!” the magistrate yelled his voice filling with panic. One of the goblin like creatures had cornered a petrified woman against the scaffold and was advancing menacingly towards her.
The hangman swung his axe, the blade slicing clean through the rope tied above Ferran’s head.
Ferran sighed in relief as the pressure eased about his neck. Angrily he removed the knotted material from his throat and threw it to the ground.
“My affects if you please magistrate,” he demanded, holding his hand out to the terrified man.
“Here take your things! If you get rid of these beasts I will spare you I promise!” the magistrate pleaded as he handed Ferran a sack containing his valuables.
Ferran tipped the contents of the sack onto the ground, sighing in relief as he saw the hilt of his Tourmaline sword. The magic item was the weapon of all Nightblades. When inactive it looked just like the hilt of an ordinary sword minus the blade, but activated by the power of a Nightblade a bright blade of pure magic came into life. It was a weapon made to fight dark magic, and nothing was darker than the Fell beasts of the Void.
The hangman turned and fled pushing the magistrate to the ground in the process. The tall man scrambled about in the mud in a desperate attempt to regain his footing. Before he could regain his balance, a snarling Redcap leapt onto his back. The magistrate screamed as the beast plunged its dagger like teeth deep into his neck.
Ferran simply watched. As far as he was concerned the magistrate was getting what he deserved, he was the murderer of innocent men, women and children. He was a man who ordered the deaths of people simply because they were different.
After a brief struggle, the magistrates pitiful cries stopped and the Redcaps gorged themselves on his flesh. Slowly Ferran moved away from the horrific scene and jumped from the scaffold. There were too many Redcaps for him to fight alone. This village was doomed and he was not sad to see it be so.
Using the skills of his trade, he sneaked out of the village doing his best to ignore the pitiful screams of the folk who had moments before being lusting for his death.
He ran from the chaotic scene jumping over a low fence to reach the open fields beyond.
Ferran refused to look back. The smell of smoke drifted on the breeze as the monsters torched the doomed village.
Copyright 2015 M.S. Olney
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