The Cries Of The Blackbirds
The villagers hurled rocks and insults as the procession made it's way through the town square. They spit on her, tore at her clothes, and threw sand, flour, shit, anything they could reach. She refused to bow her head.
They foamed at the mouth, thirsting for blood. She stared through them. She had told herself this day was coming. All the nights she crawled into bed with the human officer that offered to spare her in exchange for her company. She told herself this was coming when she traded her body for food and her complacency for a warm place to sleep. She knew this was the price she would pay when they held the knife to her throat after killing her husband and demanded she welcome his killers into her arms.
The other elven girls cried and begged for the people to stop as they were led, bound, to the city square. In the distance, Omylia could see the gallows, stark black against the setting sun. The smell of burnt flesh assaulted her senses, the smoke stung her eyes, but she refused to let them see her weep. The war had already taken her tears.
Along the streets hung the bodies of the other "unclean" elven women who had been accused before her group. The "race traitors" were hung nude, their ears cut from them, their throats slashed or their bodies burned. The villagers had suffered from the humans' occupation of their country, and with the treaty, that suffering could not be revisited on their enemies. Instead it would fall on their neighbors, their sisters, their daughters. The eyes of the dead women watched her as she passed them by, begging her for an explanation that would no longer give them any solace.
From the crowd stepped a woman in black, her servants bowing their heads as they sprinkled dried flowers beneath her feet. Omylia felt her mouth twist in a wry smile as this hypocrite made her way to the stage and the beasts fell silent.
"Brothers and sisters. I come to you today with a heavy heart." The woman stroked the cheek of one of the wretches as she walked by him. "But our Lord has given me a noble mission. He has led me to this place, to cleanse you of the sins of the past. Only when we are clean, can we be reborn."
The crowd roared as one of the girls in the group was dragged off by her hair, screaming and pleading as the guards threw her to her knees in front of the priestess.
"This creature has abandoned her people. She has chosen a warm bed and a full stomach over the lives of all of us." The priestess knelt before the girl, laying a long slender finger beneath her chin and raising her gaze to meet the eyes of the inquisitor. "How do you plead?" She purred as she slid a crooked blade from her waist.
"Please, they would have killed me!"
"Then you would have died pure!" The inquisitor flicked her wrist, removing one of the girl's ears and tossing it to the crowd. Her scream was drowned out by the howls of the crowd as they fought over the grim trophy like dogs, clawing and biting for a piece of this moment. A taste of justice.
The girl's blood and tears ran down her face as the guards held her down, removing her other ear and stripping her nude. They beat her, and wrapped a rope around her neck, hanging her over the crowd like bait. She tried to scream, tried to fight, but her struggling began to weaken, her eyes began to glaze over, before mercifully, it ceased, and the inquisitor set her ablaze.
The spectacle continued for hours, each girl in the procession brought before the inquisitor, accused, and "cleansed" appropriately. A thief had her hands removed. A spy had her tongue and eyes cut out. All the while, the horrors were met with roaring applause and prayers to God as the rabid villagers were swept up in the ecstasy of the inquisitor's macabre circus.
The air was thick with the smell of burnt flesh and blood. The calls of the crows echoed above the villagers as they circled, waiting for their chance to feast. The hours went by as a symphony of death and religious euphoria until the conductor pointed grimly at Omylia.
She held her head high as the guards led her towards her fate. She felt no shame for her survival. "Let them look at me and see the cost of war." She spat.
The inquisitor purred as she made her way over, tracing her fingers over Omylia's skin before tearing off her clothes.
"This creature chose to lay with the enemies of our people. This whore has watched as this village suffered. How do you plead?"
Omylia spat in the inquisitor's face.
"I plead to noone."
She held her gaze on the crowd, never flinched as the crooked blade removed her ears and they wrapped the rope around her neck. As the inquisitor came closer to her, a self-righteous smile smeared across her milky white skin, Omylia tested the strength of her bonds.
A guard grabbed her hair and bent her back, casting her gaze to the sky. The inquisitor slid the dagger along her chest, drawing a long, crimson line. "You are heartless. Your time here is at an end, you can plead your case to God."
With a flash Omylia rose, driving the crooked dagger into her own shoulder and wrapping the rope around the neck of the inquisitor. She kept her eyes on the guards as she twisted her arms, tightening the rope until she heard the snap of the woman's throat. The people wailed in anguish behind her, and scattered, retreating to their holes to escape her wrath. As one of the guards rushed her, she lifted the inquisitor, using the body to catch the sword and swiftly twisting her arms, using the blade to cut her bonds.
She drew the dagger from her shoulder and drove it into the side of the first guard's surprised face, sending him to meet his God. She stood, placing a foot on the chest of the dead ringleader, and drew the sword from the corpse's chest. The next guard made it just within striking distance before she kicked over the brazier, setting him and the stage on fire. The other guards were already running away before her eyes adjusted to the smoke.
She knelt and removed the inquisitor's robes. She cut strips from the hem and wrapped her arm before putting on the robes and sheathing her newfound weapons. As she turned to leave, her eyes met those of a white owl perched above the flames, it's snowy features sitting in silent vigil of the chaos.
Omylia pulled up her hood and left, the cries of the blackbirds echoing behind her.
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