The world has a strange feel to it at night. After everyone is asleep and the noises fade, quiet enters and you become calm. A serene peace settles over the world once its participants are asleep. Night time is special for everyone. It is at night that one reveals its true colors. The darkness making one almost disappear. She was so intrigued by the darkness that she only noticed that she was falling when she hit the water. The impact made her curl up into a ball and as water filled her lungs she forgot. Forgot who she once was, what she once wanted to be. Forgot the world she had lived in, the one she wanted to live in. And after giving in she just let herself be carried by the gentle, swaying waves of the never ending ocean.
2 years earlier Kokoshavn (Summer-time)
The market square was bustling with activity. People coming and going. It was a never-ending cycle of movement. The giant crowd allowed Sheza to hide from the patrol chasing her. Once she was in midst of the market she slowed down her pace and tried to match the hordes of tourists and merchants. After doing so she took off her disguise piece by piece. First the most obvious parts had to be changed. So she took off the short blond wig, holding her hair in place and let her long black hair free. Then she pulled at the string of the tunic tied to her neck letting the additional fabric slide down to her feet, morphing the outfit into a dress. Lastly she took out the perfume bottle containing the makeup-solution, sprayed it onto any skin that was visible and thus took off the makeup that she had applied with such care and precision, changing the complexion of her skin from the ivory white with light freckles to her actual skin tone, a smooth ebony. Soon the patrol would rush into the market, close off all exists with the sheer number of them and start their systematic searching of the culprit they had just lost. They would, of course, never find him, as he had never existed. The image of the scrawny boy, with fair skin, short blond hair was the only clue of finding him.
Now the patrol was pushing anyone, who fit the description of the boy into an abandoned alley and lining them up against the wall. About eleven boys were chosen and questioned separately. The swords of the patrol officers were drawn, obliviously to intimidate the kids. They were allowed to behave roughly with them, but were bound by law to not do any permanent damage. They didn’t need to as the boys were already wetting themselves. One even had a stain on his pants, suggesting something more than just piss. Sheza sat at a nearby stall, bargaining halfheartedly with a merchant, while keeping an eye on the alley. The officers had started to check everyone individually for the illegal herbs that the boy had been carrying.
Perhaps it was a coincidence that Sheza in the midst of changing her appearance had also slipped the pouch with the herbs into the pocket of a boy she knew. A boy called Jason that looked exactly like her disguise. Or maybe she had planned all this on purpose. Her appearance, her gestures even her voice pantomiming Jason to such a detail, that there was almost no way to distinguish them. Why would she do such a thing you ask? Why would she, knowing that the punishment for the crime he would be framed for was death, do such a gruesome deed? Well maybe Sheza was a twisted character of questionable morals, who would watch someone hanged just for shits and giggles. Or it could be because the boy she was framing was also of questionable character. A boy that impregnated a girl through rape, thus forcing her to marry him just so she would have to give all the money she earned through hard labor to him, just so he could gamble it away day in day out.
The priests told you to love everyone, regardless of their character and sins. Every sinner had a chance at redemption, that’s what they believed. But Sheza thought differently. Sheza knew that after a certain point you had no chance of redemption.
She knew that because she was at the brink of crossing that point. Even now the resurfacing of that moment, that dreadful moment filled her with anxiety and fear.
But there were more important things that she needed to worry about. Jason was currently being checked. Even though his mouth was set in a grim line giving an illusion of annoyance, his eyes were laden with fear.
The officer reached his pant pocket and that was when he took out a small pouch, containing forbidden herbs. Jason’s face lost all its color. The whiteness of his actual skin mixed with the paleness that his skin had now, gave him a ghostly look.
“Theesse, do not belong to me”, he stuttered, almost inaudibly. The officer, clearly unconvinced, shoved him against the wall of the damp ally and whispered something in his ear that Sheza could not hear because she was too far away. But it clearly weren’t pleasantries being exchanged.
Meanwhile an entire crowd had gathered to witness the spectacle taking place. The officers did not mind this, in fact they even preferred a crowd, as the judicial-system of this city heavily relied on public whippings and executions.
Jason was now being transported into the middle of the city square, where the officers were readying the guillotine of the temple. Jason was kicking and trashing, trying to free himself from the grip of the officers. But it was all in vain. These men were used to this sort of violent behavior, in fact the relished it. It gave them a sense of power that they rarely felt. These were people that were starved and humiliated by the king. Hunger and lack of dignity brought out the worst in men.
After being brought to the front there was a man dressed entirely in black from head to toe. His eyelids were covered in kohl, so were his ears and his chin. The only thing white were his lips that were sewn together with a red thread. Even though these were people that found entertainment in watching someone being beheaded, not one person dared to look into the direction of the man that was called Death’s messenger. In fear of catching his eye and becoming a candidate on Death’s personal checklist.
The man standing on the raised platform, on which the guillotine was placed, raised his arms in a question that every person of every place understood. This person would die, this was certain, but it was up to the audience to decide how he would.
Would they sign with their hands facing downward, suggesting that the could have his eyes on the floor while the sharp blade cut through his neck or with their palms facing upward, as the sign of him having to watch the blade fall slowly into place, looking his death straight into the eyes.
The crowd answered as one, with their palms facing upward. With their answer the boy was tied to the guillotine. If one was close enough, you could see the metal glistening in his dark eyes. The Death’s messenger held the string to the blade in a dramatic pose, while the wind was blowing around his robes, making the threads dance. Meanwhile with every inch the blade fell the crowds eyes darkened a shade with violence and excitement.
When the Death’s messenger finally let go of the string the entire audience collectively took a deep breath. And just as the blade was about to sever Jason’s head, a scream pierced through the heavy silence. And millimeters above the boy’s head the blade came to a halt.
The Death’s messenger raised an eyebrow in the direction of the woman who had dared to stop the proceedings. It was a girl barely sixteen, who came to the front and said with a voice loud and clear:” Take me and let him be.”
The messenger looked at her with dead eyes, again a question. The woman replied with:” I know a crime has been committed and the Gods demand a retaliation but I am ready to take it upon myself. Just let my husband be.”
The messenger clearly contemplating again looked in the direction of the crowd, urging them to make a choice. The crowd raised their thumbs in agreement and as the places were being switched, Sheza felt a pang of disappointment. This was the woman she had wanted to save. It was her return-gift for a warm meal in a cold night that this woman had so kindly given Sheza once.
And as the worthless life of Jason was being exchanged with the loving and kind life of his wife, Sheza made the realization of the inscription on the Temple-walls meant. Not even the gods can free those, who don’t see beyond their own cages. And that day, with the blood of the woman as sacrifice and witness Sheza made the promise to never intervene in fate’s planes ever again.
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