036Mature

I got put into a carriage with Maidie, who admitted instantly that she was only with me because everyone else had insisted on not sitting with me. 

Gee, was I popular.

The carriage itself was much better furnished than the one the old couple had ridden in, with plush seats and new paint and carvings.

The world rolled by, gardens and pastures under the new morning sky. 

We passed by something of a crowd, a bunch of villagers around a platform. 

I squinted to see what was happening and hit the side of the carriage. Dread washed over me.

"Stop!" I yelled, stepping out as soon as the driver slowed the horses.

Maidie leapt out nimbly after me, grabbing my arm and twisting it behind my back.

"What do you think you're pulling, Preston?"

Somehow when I looked back at her she was shocked enough to let me go. I took the opportunity to wrestle forward into the crowd, gazing up to the platform. 

Lilith and Ronald were standing there, their hands bound and ropes dangling in front of them.

"You, Ronald and Lilith Somers, are sentenced to hang by the neck until you are dead for your perjury against His Excellency the Duke of Suffolk. Do you have any final words?"

"We're innocent!" Lilith cried, "Please, this is all a misunderstanding!"

Ronald found my eyes in the crowd and looked on, probably marveling at his misfortune.

"Take care of our children." he pleaded, before looking at his wife and then the ground.

"May God be with you now." the priest who had been speaking declared, watching as the executioners put black bags over their heads.

The nooses were looped around their necks and tightened.

It was only a matter of seconds before the ground beneath their feet disappeared and the crowd let out a chorus of dismay and horror. 

I stared, even as Maidie dragged me back into the carriage and sat me down, shutting the door as we started moving once more.

"They helped me." I managed to say hoarsely, "They helped me, and now...they're dead."

My head was pounding hard. Everything hurt, more than it had when Mercy beat me or I was drugged. 

My eyes were stinging but no tears could come. I was too numb, the sight of those dangling corpses swimming in my vision.

"Preston." Maidie said with surprising gentleness, "There was nothing you could do."

"They barely even knew me," I continued, almost hysterical, "And they cared enough to help me. It's my fault they're dead!"

"This is Elizabethan England." she explained, "Executions happen on a regular basis. They just need an excuse."

I didn't hear any of whatever else she was saying, I was too busy drifting in my own mind. 

The End

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