Samuel Ruark was a vile and hideous wretch of a man.  Had he been born several hundred years later he would no doubt have been a serial sex killer....a human monster whose pleasure came from the terror and agony of his prey.  He was very lucky however, to live in the time he did.  As Lord High Executioner during a time of witchburnings he was able to rape and murder with complete sanction of the law.  True, he wasn't officially in a position to pick his own victims but that really didn't matter.  He'd discovered on the occasions that a lovely young wench had caught his eye that whispered rumors about the wench, no matter how untrue, into the right ears would ultimately result in her arrest, trial and death sentance...effectively delivering the poor girl into his clutches.  He didn't bother doing that most times; because of the seemingly frenzied paranoia about witches, the law delivered a steady stream of delectable young ladies without any help from him at all.

    One of the perks of his job was the privelege of having his way with a woman prisoner the night before her execution.  It was a privelege he availed himself of with gleeful sadism. 

  Samuel was indeed a man who enjoyed his work.

    He made his way to the cell where the latest beauty awaited her doom with even greater enthusiasm than usual.  This one was a true prize with her beautiful face, piercing blue eyes, long raven hair that hung below her waist and from what he'd been able to tell, a gorgeous body with a delightful bosom and darling curves in all the right places.  Samuel had become almost painfully erect at the sight of her.

    Almost as exciting as her beauty was her demeanor.  He'd seen them bring her in for "questioning" then again after her trial, and she'd had the same haughty look about her both times.  He was very much looking forward to erasing that haughty look through degradation first....then unbearable agony when the fire he was to light would begin to devour her tender flesh.

    Samuel, wretched though he was, did possess intelligence, and he no more believed in witches than he did fairies or other such nonsense.  He knew that the women he executed were merely unfortunate enough to have been put in his path by the accusations of jealous or hostile neighbors, political reasons or even something as simple as spurning improper advances made by someone influential in the village.  It meant nothing that they'd all confessed to witchcraft at some point before they became his.  The confessions were nothing but a formality.  The tortures inflicted on them would make them confess to anything.  Knowing these things didn't cause Samuel to feel any compassion for his victims; indeed he saw their misfortune as his gain.

    As Samuel unlocked the door to her cell--his newest charge, whose name was Miranda, he was aware of an excitement he hadn't experienced for some time.  She was kneeling on the stone floor facing the opposite wall, her back to him, her hair like a black silk curtain covering the back of her torn and dirty gown, nearly covering the gentle swell of her backside.  She seemed to be praying, a sight he'd seen many times during a condemned witch's final hours. 

    The sound of the heavy door opening caused her glorious hair to ripple, then swish aside to reveal her face as she turned toward the noise.  Then Samuel saw something he'd never seen before under these circumstances; instead of the terror and despair that usually greeted him upon his "visits", the eyes that met his were clear, free of the redness of endless weeping, and unafraid.  As he watched her, somewhat surprised by her lack of fear at this point, he felt a momentary but strong misgiving--almost a premonition of doom when she smiled at him sweetly.

    "Hello Samuel," she said in calm, almost lyrical dulcet tones as though they were old friends, "I've been waiting for you".

    Samuel Ruark was so momentarily stunned that he didn't question how she knew his name.

 

To be continued....