Chapter XVII: Invidia (9/11)Mature

Will and Andrel reached the front where they relocated her, salient in her purple coat.

'Tayna, what are you thinking?' Will chastised, 'we need to get out of -,' his voice was cut out by a scream piercing the chilled air. The children looked but couldn't see, all they could hear was the sound of footsteps struggling, scraping across the ground, and the desperate shrieks of a woman. A door opened and the crowd parted to allow them through. 

The first to a centre was a man with a harsh, chiselled face, his brown hair pulled back into a neat ponytail, his beard expensively trimmed and shaped. Like everybody else's, his clothes were black like he was in constant mourning, excepting the golden medallion around his neck, the rings of a slimmer predecessor chafing on his chubby fingers.

It wasn't difficult to tell that he was the mayor of Holloway Village.

He walked through the crowd superiorly, a frown contorting his lips - dried and reddened by the cold, behind him came two broad men, between them they carried a young woman. Will guessed that she was in her thirties, but everything about her showed that she had been imprisoned - and with that, mistreated - for some time. Her hair was dirty, greasy and frayed, dried mud across her face and clothes, as the men pulled her forward, everybody saw that her dress was torn at the back, the threads of her corset broken, revealing crusted whip lines crossing her emaciated flesh.

The villagers jeered and hollered at her, she answered the clamour of humiliation by shouting and struggling, twisting her arms to break free, but to no avail. Just as she was to be led up onto the pyre with difficulty, one man readily clasping rope to bind her wrists - somebody from the crowd pushed forward. He carried a pail in one hand, sloshing with a liquid dark and strong-smelling, to a serenade of approval, he threw the contents over her. The shock sent her to the ground, crying out as the liquid stung her eyes, gagging as it burnt the back of her throat.  Heartlessly, the guards pulled her up and attached her to the stake at the pyre's centre.

The smell soon drifted across the wind to the children. 'Eugh,' Will pinched his nose and turned away, 'what is that stuff?'

Tayna's eyes grew hard, her stance resolute, 'it's paraffin oil,' she said, 'easier to burn.'

The End

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