11. The Beginning of the End
Blaze took her back to the bell tower dropping her off with ease. But he didn't fly away immediately. Instead he stayed with her for a few minutes, watching her with his shining dark eyes. Something in those eyes seemed to show sympathy. She gently stroked his head much to the dragon's annoyance.
Footsteps on the stairs below signalled Blaze's time to leave. Spreading his wings, he leapt out the window and quickly vanished from sight. The trap door opened and Cleeves entered the tower room. Ezra was surprised to see him. He normally did not return so early.
"Master?" she asked, suddenly feeling nervous.
Cleeves lowered his gaze, he seemed almost sad, "Arrest her."
As soon as those words came out, three guards sprinted up two of which grabbed Ezra who didn't even try to resist.
"You are under arrest on suspicion of high treason." said Cleeves.
Ezra's eyebrows lowered. What was he talking about?
"One of my guards overheard you talking to the boy we are searching for. It is believed you are now pregnant with his child."
"What does that matter?" shot Ezra to everyone's surprise. This was the first time she had ever spoken back.
"People of your kind cannot be with those who are pure. You know that, Ezra."
The dragon growled startling the guards but not loud enough for Cleeves to hear. Ezra gave a small smile.
"Take her to the cells until I decide on her sentence." Cleeves sounded strangely sad. This was another first. He had never shown any sympathy or showed he cared for her before.
As she was dragged down the stairs and out of the cathedral, the archdeacon rushed forward and grabbed Cleeves' arm.
"I will not have this disturbance in the house of God." he said sternly, "Remember twenty years ago."
Cleeves angrily wrenched his arm free, "I have unfinished business with this demon. This time you will not interfere."
As Ezra sat in her cell, awaiting her sentence, she picked at pieces of straw from the floor in frustration. Lost in her thoughts, she was surprised to see a guard opening the cell door to let Cleeves in.
"What do you want?" she growled.
Clearly stunned at this change in her behaviour, he knelt in front of her, "Your sentence has been decided."
Breathing deeply she waited for him to continue.
"The court wanted you to burn but being judge I was able to change it."
"You are to hang until you are dead at sunset."
Well, at least it would be quick. But he wasn't leaving. There was clearly more.
"But you can get a reprieve."
Now Ezra was interested, "How?"
"The physician will give you an abortion."
"Is that it?" her eyes flashed with anger.
"Or you can choose me."
"What!" this time Ezra was furious.
"If you agree to spend your life with me, I can get you a reprieve. I will also allow you to keep your child."
"Continue to live in the bell tower as your slave?"
Cleeves was taken aback this, "Ezra, I tried my best to raise you as my daughter..."
"Then you wouldn't force me to choose."
"You could leave the bell tower and be with me. I could force the city to accept you. You would be a free woman." he tried.
"What's in it for you?" Ezra hissed menacingly.
He tried to take her hadn't but she sharply pulled away, recoiling in disgust.
"I love you, Ezra."
"I know you don't. The way you look at me. That's not love."
The word lust entered her mind. She finally knew how he saw her. She felt sick at the thought.
"I'm giving you a chance to live, Ezra. Do not take it so lightly."
Ezra said nothing, just glared at him.
"What do you choose?"
"I'd rather die than be with you." she hissed.
Cleeves' eyes flashed angrily, "Then go to your death."
With that, he stood up and swept out of the cell. The guard slamming the door behind him. Once again, Ezra was alone, counting down her final hours.