The villagers had been gathering in the square since first light. Most of them were laughing, talking, joking, hailing their friends loudly...several had brought picnic lunches. There were children playing cheerfully, chasing each other in a noisy game of tag. To a casual observer the scene resembled a fair or some sort of holiday--that is, if the observer failed to notice the newly-erected stake rising from the pyre of wood piled about five feet tall. Both the pyre and the stake had been built in the middle of a raised wooden platform about six feet high--its boards were blackened but sturdy enough.
Some of the villagers were somber and were praying, but the majority didn't bother to pretend that this witchburning was anything other than what it was to them--entertainment. Many of them didn't believe in witches any more than Samual Ruark, who was doing last-minute preparations and looked as cheerful as the others even behind his ceremonial executioner's mask. Who cared if the law wanted to call these lovely unfortunates witches? A burning was exciting to watch...one of the few forms of entertainment the hard-working villagers had available. This attitude was unspoken of course, but prevalant.
Their waiting was nearly over. At the sound of the guards approaching, the arms of their prisoner gripped between two of them on either side, the crowd was momentarily quiet, then swelled with an even louder sound than before as they roared their approval of the beauty they would see burn this day...truly she was the lovliest yet.
Atop his nearly twelve-foot perch beside the stake, Samuel observed Miranda's procession, a fairly short walk from the prison, and was somewhat surprised to note that she'd somehow managed to mend the tattered remains of her red gown he'd torn from her so brutally the night before. It wasn't completely whole, but it covered her body just enough to be tantalizing. Her neck and shoulders were bare, her breasts to the tops of her thighs were covered, and the rest hung in strips that only concealed her long legs in glances, calling attention to them. Her feet were bare. He considered tearing it from her once more and burning her nude, then reconsidered. Something about the way what was left of her garment clung to her curves made her look even sexier. Samuel liked to put on a good show.
He was slightly dismayed to see that even while approaching the stake she maintained an outward calm, her lips curving into a smirking smile at the jeering and cheering crowd. He shook his head in bewilderment...this one was definitely strange...disturbing even. He felt an odd connection with her this morning--something that went beyond his usual cheerful cruelty and fleeting interest that lasted as long as it took each of his vicims to burn. He felt a stirring in his groin caused as much by memory as anticipation when he recalled how...volcanic...it had felt inside her. The witch-slut had drawn more orgasms from him than any other woman had and they were by far the most intense he'd ever experienced. As much as Samuel would enjoy watching her burn (the true climax to most of his sexual encounters) he couldn't help regretting that he couldn't keep her for a little longer....maybe one more incredible night....
Miranda squinted at the sudden daylight when she was led from the prison. There was a crowd gathered just outside the prison as well as in the square to see the witch be led out and follow the procession to the stake. A few of the bolder ones had already begun the cries of "Burn the Witch!", and were quite startled when Miranda smiled at them.
When her eyes adjusted to the light Miranda eagerly gazed about her at all the faces...the laughing ones, the jeering ones...and met every one of their stares with her own strange and beautiful eyes. They seemed bluer than ever and appeared to flash with their own fire. During the short walk to the square Miranda looked nearly as cheerful as the crowd.
Only once did her smile slip, then disappear entirely. Seeing some children in the crowd, their games momentarily halted in order to gaze at the beautiful witch as she passed by. Miranda looked directly at the woman she sensed was their mother. All her outward good cheer and defiance vanished as she spoke to the woman in a voice that was low but carried to her clearly.
"Please....take the children from here....before it's too late..."
The woman recoiled in surprise that the witch had spoken to her, but when she met her eyes she trembled with real fright. She could swear there was light spilling from them...bright yellow-white light, as if her pupils had been replaced with candle flame. Badly shaken, the woman could only nod mutely as she seized her children's hands and started backing away.
"Tell the others too.....as many as you can..."
Frantically the mother ran ahead to the crowd gathered in the square. The witch's voice had been deeper that time, as if another were speaking thru her. Indeed it had sounded as if two voices were speaking at once. Miranda allowed herself a small smile--it was a simple trick of course, meant to scare the woman into action. She could only hope the others listened; she wanted no harm to come to the little ones. DAMN these stupid mortals, she thought bitterly. Was it not enough for them to revel in their own cruelty? Why did they have to teach it to their children? It just made the vicious circle go on and on.
When Miranda and her entourage of guards reached the platform in the square her two escorts walked her up the steps to Ruark who was waiting at the top; he would be the one leading her and tying her to the stake.
"Good morning witch-slut", he grinned. His voice was mocking but his smile was almost genuine...ah...if only...
"Good morning Samuel", she replied pertly, "sleep well?"
Samuel didn't bother to reply. DAMN this bitch! He decided it would be a true pleasure to burn her and a huge relief when she was gone. Her strange bravery was just too unsettling for his taste; he liked his victims crying and scared and pleading for their lives at this point.
He snatched her from the guards none too gently then swiftly marched her up the temporary steps he'd constructed to the stake--it was much easier than a ladder or attempting to climb the stacked wood with his prisoners. Samuel was a powerful man but many of the terrified women came to violent life during that last climb. Miranda of course didn't fight him, just as he knew that she wouldn't--oh NO...she was way too proud to degrade herself that way, he thought in disgust. He was so looking forward to her struggles and screams of tortured agony when the fire reached her--he could hardly wait to see her break once and for all.
When they reached the stake Samuel roughly turned her around and shoved her back against it, gripping one of her wrists tightly. Quickly he grabbed her other wrist, savagely yanking them behind her and the stake she stood against. Her wrists didn't quite meet behind the thick stake, but no matter. Samuel pulled them together as close as possible behind the wood, tying them tightly--tighter than usual for spite, first one wrist, then the other in a figure-eight pattern. Moving to the front of the sexy witch he was pleased to note how her position had caused her breasts to protrude even further...straining at the thin red scraps of material that covered them. Squeezing one of them playfully (to the laughter of several in the crowd), Samuel bent over to get the rest of the rope he'd already expertly cut and measured that morning. Appealing as she looked already he wasn't done tying her. Samuel considered himself an artist with a rope and a stake and a pretty, doomed girl. He took his time.
One length was wound around her neck several times....not too tightly--it wouldn't do for a victim to strangle before the real fun could begin. The next length he crossed into an X between her strained-forward breasts, the remainder circling her waist several times. Another length was tied around her knees; the last one lashed her delicate ankles to the stake. Samuel yanked the last knot as tightly as possible with a small grunt of satisfaction then arose, standing back some to admire his work. He was quite pleased with the sight of the lovely Miranda being forced to stand unnaturally straight by her tight bonds....but something felt strange...wrong. He didn't know what. Besides being a total fiend, Samuel was also quite the showman and sometimes after the binding was complete he would kiss his terrified victim goodbye before descending from the stake, to the lewd cheers of many of the men. Miranda was the most desirable of all the women he had burned and he'd planned to give her a long lingering kiss (and several gropes) before leaving her side. Now that the moment was at hand however, he suddenly felt a mad desire to be away from her. There was no logical reason for his sudden panic, as she was more than adequately bound, and he didn't understand why he was passing up a chance to get the loudest cheers yet, but there it was. He could actually feel the hairs on the back of his neck and arms rise as he nearly stumbled in his sudden haste to reach the bottom of the steps.
Feeling foolish, Samuel pulled the makeshift steps away then he and his assistant piled the remaining wood in its place. As was the tradition, Samuel then took the lit torch from another assistant and waited while the village magistrate came forward and addressed Miranda.
"You have been found guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to death by fire. Do you have anything you wish to say before sentence is carried out?"
This was when the condemned usually declared her innocence (often hysterically) one last time, despite the confessions tortured out of them. The crowd grew quiet...all were curious to hear what this one would say...and how she would say it.
Miranda had been staring straight ahead as if in a trance ever since the binding had begun, her face devoid of all emotion, her gaze ignoring the large crowd. At the magistrate's words she blinked as one awakening, her eyes sweeping the crowd once more before lifting above their heads and studying the horizon again.
"I am a witch" she stated simply in a calm, clear voice.
There was an uneasy collective gasp from the crowd since no one had ever actually seen a witch admit it while at the stake. It was a first for the magistrate too. He cleared his throat and nodded to Samuel.
"Executioner....do your duty, sir".
Anxious to be done with this one, Samuel ignited the brush and smaller dry twigs at the bottom of the pyre, touching the lit torch to several spots, then tossed it in with the rest of the wood. The dry brush burned eagerly, causing the small individual flames to spread outward then crawl hungrily upward.
At the sight of the growing flames the mood of the uneasy crowd lifted, became almost jubilant again. Samuel himself was smiling again, still feeling foolish for his earlier case of the spooks.
That's when things began to get strange....
To be continued....