In the Glare of the Multicolored Beast
WritersPost - Blog hop Week #63
Hosted by Michelle Liew
Aquina grabbed Gerome’s arm crouched low and dove for the cover of the scrub at the side of the road. Beginning to sputter, she slapped her hand over his mouth and drove his face down into the dirt. Then he heard it. A sound like no other. The largest wings in the world flapping overhead. Eyes wide, Gerome pulled her hand from across his lips.
“Don’t look up.” Aquina whispered into Gerome’s ear. “The sun will play off your eyes and give us away. It’s a trick we use to hunt with underwater also.” They lay there, huddled in the brier bushes for most of the afternoon.
The beast had dropped out of the sky with its catch. It chose the strong wooded canopy just above them. Alighting gracefully, for one so large, it dined with flourish and great noise. Much crunching of bones and smacking of lips, it dropped scraps around the two huddled figures below. With the forest so quiet, out of fear, the eating habits of the beast were all the more disgusting.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, it dropped the rest of its meal to the ground. The massively horned head of the stag plummeted to the earth landing inches from Gerome. Hooves had previously been dropped, now came the hide, billowing to envelope Aquina and Gerome.
The great beast began to preen itself. The iridescent underbelly which had, at first seemed to be scales like a fish, now showed the plumage of feathers. Gerome had always thought dragons had the face of a crocodile, but this appeared more as a bear. It didn't preen with a beak, rather lapped at itself as a cat. With loud flapping of wings, the great beast launched itself from the tree top canopy. The two figures stayed under their ragged “tent” until they could no longer hear the wind gushing in the beasts forward movement.
“Lord Alfred must be made aware! Now I wonder if the ruckus we heard was not cheering for Lord Alfred, but screams from seeing the beast!” Aquina nodded furiously, and the two set off towards the village as quickly as their legs would carry them.
The village was indeed quiet upon Gerome and Aquina’s entrance. The Suit of Arms seemed almost empty. The two toothless old men, who seemed to have set up residence sitting on the front bench, were still at the post just outside the entrance doors. Upon spotting Gerome, they hailed him. “Gerome, what think you of this magic? Should the woman be put to death?” The questions hit Gerome. He nearly stumbled with his befuddlement.
“What woman? Death?”
“Nearly the whole village is at the Great Hall. They are to sentence the woman for bringing black magic to the village.”
As Gerome and Aquina neared the Great Hall, they could hear the elders questioning Cook. “Did she ever take any food? Did you see her bathe?” and from Lord Gorgan, “Did she brew any of her spells in your presence? Did she tell you where she was keeping her poisons?”
Elbowing his way through the crowd, the sea of people begrudgingly parted to make way for him. As he made his way to the front of the room he heard the whispers of the woman being dragged into the village by Lord Alfred himself.
When Lord Gorgan spied Gorgan he called out. “So, hunchback, you finally arrive to push your way to the front of the crowd? Your stink seems to have parted the minions. You too have always been suspect. You have always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Far too convenient.”
Ignoring Gorgan, Gerome addressed Lord Alfred. “Your Lordship, you and I have always held the “Pact of Truth” in the highest. I invoke the pact and call upon the panel to hear me.” Exhausted and dirty he slowly moved into the open space of the circle near the dais. “This woman should not simply be tried upon the questions you have put to her. Did not Lord Gorgan’s hounds scent the golem Mildred? Did Lord Gorgan not scent the golem Mildred? Why would he now question this woman if in fact it were she who practiced the arts? It is quite obvious she has been made a pawn in some deviants plan. It is the deviant and their plan we need to oust, not some poor wretch as this.”
Someone shouted from the crowd, “We’d rather not take any chances, kill her and get on with it.”
Gerome spun, as best as he could, “You would think twice were it you accused to death.” He could hear the crowd debating his words.
Lord Alfred finally addressed Gerome, “And where have you been? Why has it taken so long for you to travel from the river?”
“I have been under the glare of the multicolored beast.” There was an immediate hush over the crowd. Then, just as when straw is lit in the hearth, a gush of noise and heat. Women ran from the great hall to their homes to gather the children from the fields and woods. The men, many already carrying pitch forks and staffs, cried out for a hunt.
An ugly unruly mob turned even uglier when someone shouted, “If it weren't that woman, it musta been the Gypsies that brought this evil upon us!” The ensuing roar was deafening.