Seeing Red

Gransys. A city of beauty, strict laws and dark secrets. Here anyone with hair of fire (as the people call it) is evil. Here red hair is an abomination. So how can one young girl survive here?

Living alone in the cathedral belltower away from the outside world. How can she be accepted? How can she finally belong?


12. Final Choice

After what felt like no time at all, a guard threw open the cell door and violently shook her awake.

"Get up!" he ordered.

Ezra staggered to her feet dazed, "What's going on?"

The guard seemed to soften a bit, "It's time."

She stood up slowly but for a moment didn't move. She felt strangely calm, accepting the approaching end. The guard stood aside to let her walk past. Before she could go any further her wrists were bound behind her. She could hear the crowd shouting outside but couldn't make out any words.

As they walked out into the open the sun burned her eyes, but she couldn't shield her eyes, her wrists were bound too tightly. The crowd parted forming a walkway to the waiting gallows. Eyes turned to watch her as she passed them, her head bowed, eyes to the floor. Now she could hear what they were saying. She was surprised to hear that this time, they were not jeering, in fact, they were sympathising.

"Cleeves, you can't do this!"

"Ezra's done nothing wrong!"

"You can't kill her for being what she is!"

"You would kill an unborn child?"

Ezra smiled a little. Aldawin had been right all along. Change was spreading fast. She looked around hopefully, Aldawin was nowhere to be seen.

Please don't give up on me now.
She climbed the steps to the gallows where Cleeves stood beside the masked executioner. Both watched her intently as she approached. A sudden sense of dread chilled her bones.

I don't want to die.
She wasn't ready. This couldn't happen yet.

I don't want to die.
"Release her! She's done nothing wrong!"

The crowd gasped and Ezra looked up to see Aldawin pushing his way through the crowd. Clambering up to the gallows he stood between Ezra and Cleeves.

"Step aside, boy." Cleeves' voice became low and menacing.

"Let her go free first." growled Aldawin.

Cleeves laughed, it sounded mad, "You have no authority. But you have handed yourself in. Now step aside."
Aldawin turned away then held Ezra and kissed her. The crowd gasped and some close up seemed to choke up. Cleeves snapped his fingers and two guards grabbed Aldawin, dragging him off the stage. He kicked and clawed at as hard as he could but they just tightened their grip on him. Ezra was led to the trap door and the noose was placed round her neck.

I don't want to die.
Cleeves stood in front of her, his back the crowd.

"Please, let her go!" cried Aldawin but Cleeves ignored him.

The crowd continued to shout in protest. Cleeves snapped his fingers and guards began to move amongst the sword, swords unsheathed. There were a few screams then the crowd fell silent.

I don't want to die.
"You now stand on the brink of the abyss." Cleeves was smiling and there was madness In his dark eyes, "But even now it's not too late."

Ezra glared at him defiantly. Fire burning from her eyes. But she couldn't hide her terror and he knew it.

"I'll give you a final chance to choose me."

He recoiled in disgust as she spat in his face.

"Never." she hissed, "I'd rather die."

The madness intensified and the lustful look vanished as Cleeves' face blackened with fury. He turned away from her to address the crowd,
"She has refused to surrender her guilt. Now she must face her sentence."

"No!" yelled Aldawin struggling in vain against the guards.

"To cleanse the city, and for her own salvation, this demon will now be sent back where she belongs."

Ezra bowed her head and closed her eyes.

"We'll be okay." she whispered to herself.

"No! Ezra!" Aldawin's voice was beginning to choke with tears.

Cleeves gestured to the executioner who took hold of the lever that would seal her fate. She heard Cleeves mutter under his breath, "If I can't have her no one can. I must be rid of her."

"I love you!" she cried to Aldawin.

"I love you, Ezra! I always will!"
"Aldawin, I l..."
She wasn't able to finish that sentence.

The executioner pulled the lever.

The trap door opened.

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