“My Lord,” a guard said hesitantly. “It is finished.”
Ambroise turned around to glance at the guard as if disturbed by his deep thoughts. “So it is. Yes, so it is. Right. We need to be on our way to the castle to inform the king of our deeds. Onward.”
The guards and Ambroise mounted their horses and rode off into the night, leaving Lord Cartier hanging by his feet. The animal skulls knocked into the trees and into each other, giving off a hollow and eerie sound. The girls waited for a few more moments after the sounds of the horses disappeared to make sure they weren’t coming back. They finally stepped out of their hiding spot and into the clearing where Lord Cartier was swaying in the breeze.
“This isn’t right,” Sarah said softly. “I wanted to curse him, but I didn’t want him dead.”
Anne approached him and put her hand in front of his mouth to feel for any breath that may still linger. She then felt for a pulse on his neck but alas could feel no beat. She pulled her hand back and saw the blood on her fingertips. His spirit had left his body, and there was nothing left but an empty vessel.
“He’s gone,” Anne said. “They did this intentionally. They did this to implicate us and every other practicing Pagan in the region all because of some unpaid taxes!”
Growing more enraged, Anne pulled her hunting knife from its sheath on her side and sliced through the rope wrapped around the tree. He fell to the ground like a sack of grain and laid there cold and stiff. Sarah came forward and knelt by the dead man before her.
“We must bury him. We need to consecrate his body to the earth so that his spirit may be at peace and rest. He deserves that much since he met a cruel and brutal death. Who is that monster, Ambroise? What did he say to him before he killed him—did you hear?” Sarah, as soft-hearted, as she was towards all living creatures, felt tears start to fill her eyes.
Anne remained silent. Her rage and sadness were overwhelming. This could mean death for them both if word spread of this. She began tearing down the animal skulls and scratching out the marks on the trees. She would not let them fall for this.
“Anne? Anne!” Sarah pulled her friend away from the mark on the tree she was trying to erase with her hunting knife. “We must give this man a proper burial!”
“Then what are we going to do?” Anne retaliated, her anger rising. “Hope the grave is never found? Hope no one comes looking for him?”
“I...I don’t know,” Sarah said sullenly. “I don’t know.”
Anne gazed upon her friend, knowing that everything was about to change for them and their little paradise. The witch hunt would be knocking on their door soon, and there wasn’t much she could do to stop it. Anne faced her sister in arms.
“Neither do I.”
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