Prologue


 

 

The moon rose over the countryside one dark October night.

A lone stone house sat atop a hill that, from a distance, looked as though a river of flame ran from its front door—flame that belonged to torches which, in turn, belonged to villagers baying for the blood of the occupant.

“Elizabeth Knotts. Thou standeth before us accused of witchcraft. How pleadeth thee?”

“Judge me would thee, Gilbert Morris?” said the woman. She was once pretty, but the years and a hard living had robbed her of that one-time beauty. “I who have cured your cattle of the foulest of pox? I who have aided thine own wife upon the birthing of thy children? How can thee judge me so foully?”

The man looked away, but the crowd cried out and jostled.

“’Tis her fault,” called one.

“She be the cause,” called others.

“She must be tried. It is the law...”

“I be sorry, Elizabeth,” whispered Gilbert before turning to the crowd. “Take her to the square.”

A cheer went up as two burly men took hold of the woman and between them, marched her to the village square.

Upon their arrival, Elizabeth observed the large trunk set amidst piles of kindling and firewood - evidence of the outcome which, it was evident, had already been decided.

“Hast thou anything to say afore I pronounce judgement upon thee?” she was asked.

“Only this, villagers,” she spat. “I know each and every one of thee behind this and I know that this is not just. Thou hast made a grave error in thy judgement of me, for I have done nothing but aid thee.” She swept a gnarly finger across the assembled villagers, each of whom took involuntary steps back. “All of thee. Is this to be my repayment of that aid?

“Mark these my words,” she hissed in a tone that struck fear into the hearts of each and every one of the villagers present and although her words were softly spoken, each of those present had no difficulty in hearing them. “Thou wilt find my wrath descending upon thine offspring. Whether it be in one year or millennia, I shall return and I shall take mine revenge on the descendents of each and every one of thee...”

Silence fell upon the assemblage. No sound - save for the rustling of the trees and the guttering of the burning torches - could be heard. Gilbert Morris turned to the Mayor.

“Are we being perhaps too hasty?” he asked, trembling at the thought of his descendents being punished for this.

“Surely thou canst believe her blasphemous spoutings; her heresy?”

“Forgive me, but it’s obvious that you do, my Lord. Otherwise thou canst believe that she could possibly be responsible for the crimes thou hast levelled against her.”

The Mayor “harrumphed” and gave the order.

“By the power vested in me, on this, the thirty-first day of October in the year of our Lord fifteen hundred and nine, I condemn Elizabeth Knotts to be burnt at the stake for the crime of witchcraft.” He raised his voice and demanded, “Burn the witch.”

The crowd cheered as they each threw their torches into the wood around the base of the stake.

“I shall have my revenge, mark my words, I shall.” With that, the flames rose to the sound of an evil cackle.

That was the last time anyone saw Elizabeth Knotts. No-one really knew what happened to her on that fateful All Hallows’ Eve as nothing was found in the remains of the pyre. The only things left at all, were a pack of Tarot cards, undamaged in the ashes…

 


 

 

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