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Bless the child, save the child…”

The monk wielding the whip lifted it aloft and with a malignant glee, and brought it down on the back of the faceless someone that stood or knelt in the center of the circle. It was then, through the searing agony that he felt as if it were his own, Aaron heard the child’s tortured scream.

He was absolutely horrified and unable to suppress it. An image of whomever was within that circle fluttered through his mind, and before he could even blink, he was standing over the quaking frame of a child of perhaps six or seven years. The child’s back was heavily scarred from whippings too numerous to imagine, and even now dripped obscene amounts of blood from the fresh lash wounds that crossed it.

The whip crashed down on the back of the child and laid open another weeping wound. The child visibly braced himself, and howled with the pain again, crumpling to the floor at the feet of the friars. Aaron sucked his breath in through his teeth with the fire that traced its way across his own back and laid open another wound that he felt weeping his own blood.

Terror and rage crashed over Aaron. The horror of what he witnessed, the agony the child endured, churned his stomach with a mixture of blind fury and contempt. The voices of the friars rose again in chant; each time they repeated their litany the child suffered another grievous wound from the whip that the monk wielded with twisted glee.

Bless the child, save the child…”

The whip cracked, and the child cried out again. Aaron braced himself, for he knew that he would feel the lash. He heard his clothing rip and felt the stinging welt that rose on his back followed by the wet warmth of the blood.

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