Samera

A chance meeting between a prince and a peasant results in consequences that will not only change their lives, but also the kingdom.

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37. Chapter Thirty Seven: Samera

      “Samera, can you pass me the burdock?” asked Myra.

      I reached for the jar, barely noticing what I was doing. I was thinking about Mariella. It had been lovely to see her again. She had gone to the Church of the Goddess to pray that her baby would be a boy. Mariella was slowly warming to the idea of being a mother, and she was starting to get a small bump. I had informed Mariella of Omer’s return knowing that she would in turn tell Khyber.

      “You’re distracted,” said Myra, pausing in her salve making. “What are you thinking about?”

      I said the first thing that came to mind. “Princess Leanda.”

      The Princess had left for Dulmire several days earlier. She would marry the prince as soon as she arrived.

      Smiling, Myra said, “Everyone is getting married. I imagine Prince Khyber soon will be too, once the King returns.”

      My throat tightened at Khyber’s name. I knew that we couldn’t be together but that didn’t stop me from loving him.

      “Myra! Myra!”

      The door burst open and Kushla ran inside. Her skin was pale and her curly hair was unbound.

      “You have . . . to come . . . quickly,” she said in between gasps for air. “They’ve taken Celeste!”

      Clutching at Kushla’s hands, Myra asked, “Who has?”

      “The witch hunters!” she cried.

 

      Kushla led us to where the witch hunter had set up a pyre. It was in a small square in the lower town near the outskirts. A surprisingly large number of people were gathered around a tall man with long black hair wearing an amulet decorated fur coat. Two men were restraining Celeste who was shaking.

      “Let her go!” shouted Myra, pushing her way through the crowd.  

      Kushla and I followed after her.

      The witch hunter’s eyes were black and when they fell on me I felt my blood run cold.

      “This woman is a witch. She must pay for her sins.” His voice was deep and reverberated around the square.

      The crowd cheered at his words and threw their arms in the air.

      Making my way to Celeste, I cried, “She’s a healer! She’s never hurt anyone! She helps people!”

      The witch hunter’s hand snapped out and grabbed my chin. “You’re defending her?” His gaze pierced my soul and his grip tightened. “She’s a witch too,” he proclaimed loudly.

      Hands wrapped around my arms and I was yanked backwards. Glancing up, I found myself staring at Remy’s face. He had a smug expression.

      “Let me go!” Fighting against his hold, I was seized by more people.

      “Burn them!” someone yelled and soon everyone else was saying the same thing.

      The witch hunter set the pyre on fire and Celeste and I were shoved towards it.

      “You monster!” Myra screamed, trying to make her way over to me. “Let them go!”

      Myra and Kushla were apprehended as well and soon the four of us were stood beside the flames. It was hot and sweat rolled down my face. A sob escaped my lips. I didn’t want to die but maybe the Goddess had decided that I didn’t deserve to live any longer.

      Grinning wolfishly, the witch hunter raised his arms in the air. “Justice will prevail!”

      Without warning, Celeste was thrown onto the fire. Her screams filled the air and I gasped in horror.

      “No!” I squirmed and tried to escape but Remy pulled me closer to him.

      Lowering his mouth to my ear, he said, “You’re gonna burn in hell, witch.”

      “Stop!” a familiar voice bellowed. “Let them go!” Omer hobbled through the jeering crowd. “They’re not witches!”

      Narrowing his eyes, the witch hunter asked, “Who are you?”

      “Release my mother and fiancée,” growled Omer. There was something frightening about the look in his brown eyes.

      “Burn the curly haired one,” ordered the witch hunter.

      Flinching, I closed my eyes, unable to stand the awfulness of what was happening. Remy shook me and forced me to watch as black smoke rose upwards.

      “You wish to save both of these sinners?”

      “Let them go.”

      Regarding me, the witch hunter said, “You can have one of them but the other has to burn.”

      “No, you can’t do that! You can’t make him choose!” I cried distraught.

      Myra glanced at me, her expression grim. “Save Samera,” she said quietly.

      “No! Throw me on the pyre. I have sinned. I should burn!” My throat was raw and tears were streaming down my cheeks.

      Amused, the witch hunter turned to Omer. “Make your choice, boy.”

      Resting his gaze on me, Omer spoke without hesitation. “I’m saving Samera.”

      “No!” I screamed.

      Myra gave me a sad smile and didn’t protest as she was forced into the flames. I would never forget her dying screams of agony.

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