Slowly the hysterical cries of women and children pierced the veil of pain and nausea. Through swollen eyelids the priestess watched helplessly while many of the villagers were forced onto their knees before a gaunt faced man wearing a rough woollen cassock. His head was clean shaved on the crown, the same as brother Alisdare.
Brother Alisdare had come to the village three moons ago. He had attempted to teach the villagers the way of the new religion. He now stood silently beside the soldiers while the women and children were separated from the men. She tried to move but was unable to move. She was tightly bound to a wooden pole, the very same pole they had so carefully decorated in preparation for the feast.
“So the sorceress awakes! And about time too, we thought we had lost you for a while there. Your so called powers must be more powerful than we thought."
Striding purposely towards the priestess he struck her with a long wooden cane.
“I am Cedric, leader in these parts of the battle between good and evil, and you my dear are a child of Satan." He struck her once more leaving a red welt across her bruised shoulder.
“Britain will be unified under one king, our Lord in Heaven. With the help of the Holy Roman Church we are systematically converting all of Britain to the one and only true faith. Your old gods and idols, magic spells and superstitions are a thing of the past." Lifting her head painfully the priestess glared at the gaunt faced man, the light of fanaticism shone from his beady eyes. With a flick of the wrist he commanded brother Alisdare to approach.
“I would like your report brother." Alisdare shuffled uncomfortably, all eyes of the village were riveted on the man they had permitted to enter their lives and welcomed into their homes. He could not meet the eyes of the blacksmith and his family. Even though the blacksmith had crafted a beautifully decorated iron cross for brother Alisdare he had toiled each and every Sunday working on it. Sunday was the day of rest and no one was permitted to work on this holy day. He would condemn the blacksmith for labouring on the Sabbath. A crime punishable as the bishop saw fit. Unfortunately this usually meant death. He read a long list of sins perpetrated by members of the village ranging from immoral acts to idolatry. Quivering in terror brother Alisdare finished his report crumpling the yellowing parchment in his fist. Begging for mercy he hurried from the village. Falling to his knees beside the tall oak tree where the priestess wove her spells and charms he prayed to both the old and the new gods for forgiveness. He covered his ears when the first screams echoed through the lush green countryside. Knowing full well what was about to happen he fled towards the sanctuary of the abbey.