“She’s a witch, just like her mother,” Thomas Thompson growled pointing at the petite redheaded girl inside the pillory stock on the other side of the room. “She was standing in the middle of the freezing river in the dead of night, unaffected by the cold and unmoved by the current that would’ve swept away men three times her size, moving water into the air with her hands! Streams moving above her head at her very command.”
“Plus she put Jacob Hanley’s boy Kayleb under a spell,” James Mitchell added from his seat in the crowded courtroom.
Mayor Smith looked at Kayleb who was staring at the girl, Raven, somberly. “Kayleb is that true? Did Raven Fredrick cast a spell on you?”
Kayleb was hesitant to look away from Raven as he stared into her bright green eyes; she returned his gaze with a somber look that said it was okay for him to answer. Kayleb silently sighed and looked from Raven to the mayor, rising as he answered. “Yes sir she did. I had passed the river last night to send a message for my father when I saw her in the river moving the water with her hands. I tried to return to the town to report her but she saw me and called out to me using her witchcraft to make my limbs immobile as she approached me. She tried to seduce me but when I would not yield to her she surrounded us in a cocoon made of water and forced me to mount her. Had Mr. Thompson not walk by in time I would have made relations against my will with it,” he forced himself to say the last word in disgust.
Kayleb sat back down and looked back to Raven who had a tear in her eye as Thomas continued his case, “See Mayor, Raven is a witch and must be executed.”
“Two testimonies are not enough to convict and she is only a child of fifteen,” Jacob Hanley cried as he jumped out of his seat.
Thomas looked at Jacob shocked. “Jacob how can you defend her when just last night she used her witchcraft on your only son?”
“I will not say that my son in the most reliable source of information and as for defending her well we all remember the tragic death of John Fredrick many years ago and how on his deathbed he requested that I take care of his wife and daughter on his behalf, an oath I made happily.”
“John was a respected man and we are sure that he was unaware of the witchcraft of his family, but-” Thomas interrupted.
“I am also sure,” Jacob continued, “but when his wife Susan was hanged eight fortnights ago I felt as if I have failed in my oath, so to make up for all that is left I will be damned if I let his daughter be executed as well.”
“I am sorry Jacob but you might as well consider yourself a part of the damned for-“
“I am a witch!” Raven cried from her place in the pillory. Her face was puffy and her eyes were red as if she’d been crying but there were no tears.
“LIES!” Jacob cried.
“As was my mother!” Raven continued.
“Raven stop lying this instant!” Jacob commanded.
“Silence Jacob let the witch confess!” Thomas shouted.
“We began the practice of witchcraft as an attempt to bring my father back,” Raven continued as if no one else was talking, “but when it did not work I began to use my powers in other ways.”
“How so?” Mayor Smith asked her.
“To try to seduce Kayleb for I have been infatuated with since before my father died,” Raven answered looking at Kayleb longingly who refused to meet her gaze for reasons different than how the court would’ve thought.
“I told you she was a witch! She must be handled accordingly and one less witch will do nothing but good, which is why I call for exe-“
“Enough Thomas,” Mayor Smith interrupted holding a hand up to the ranting man. He looked from Kayleb to Raven to Jacob and cleared his throat. “An oath is an oath and she is only a child, so for respect of a great man John Fredrick I sentence his daughter to be exiled along with the other children proven guilty of using witchcraft.” The mayor bangs the gavel. “Court is-”
“Mayor Smith!” Kayleb cried as he jumped out of his seat.
“I would like to be a part of the party that escorts the exiled.”
“Have you gone mad?” Thomas cried. “She had just cast a spell on you and from how you have been starting at her throughout the trail I would be mad myself not to guess that you have fallen under another.”
“Most of those who are exiled during this season do not survive and I would like to be there when she falls,” Kayleb argued. “I am a man now and this is my wish but your blessing would leave me grateful.”
The mayor looked at Jacob, “What are your grievances?”
“I have none; my son is a man and has his own motives for his actions, therefore he may do as he wishes.”
“Kayleb Hanley you may accompany the exiled party.” Mayor Smith banged his gavel once more. “Court is adjourned.”
Two men from the crowd walked over to the pillory and unlocked the young girl. They used shackles to restrain her as they took her out of the courthouse and into the main road where specters threw rocks, clumps of dirt, and anything else they could find on the ground at her. She said nothing and kept her gaze forward looking past the townspeople she had once thought of as friends. She only looked into the crowd when she saw a Jacob Hanley shook his head and mouthed ‘I’m sorry.’
The men took Raven to the holding cell, a giant stone box with one side made out of bars and no floor on the outskirts of town, with all the others who were to be exiled and pushed her in.
“They mayor should’ve done away with the lot of ‘em,” one of the men said.
“Yea’ one less witch in the world will do us some good,” the other agreed.
Raven sunk to the floor as the men stalked off.
“You too, Raven?” Michael asked sitting down next to her.
Raven shook her head, “I was careless; it is my fault I’m in here.”
Michael shook his head, “No it is not, the people of this town are imbeciles.”
“Then what are we if we have been imprisoned by imbeciles?” she asked staring at the dirt beneath her feet.
Michael sighed, “Careless imbeciles.”
Later on that night when the other accused witches had fallen asleep Raven rested her head against the bars that held her. It was for the best that she was imprisoned, better her than Kayleb, she thought. Their bonding would cause a scandal anyway for she was too young and he was courting one of the more promising in the town’s daughter. Yes it was for the best; they could never show public displays of affection because of the unnatural glow that emitted from their bodies on intimate contact. If anyone saw they would both be deemed patrons of witchcraft and be in the same predicament as she.
“Raven,” Kayleb whispered from the brush on the right of the cell.
“Kayleb!?” Raven cried quietly, shocked to see him there.
“Yes Raven, it’s me. I can’t bear to part away from you so I’ve come to set you free. We could run away together my sweet. Far, far away,” Kayleb smiled as he crept forward.
“Kayleb the idea is idiotic. Be grateful your father did not allow Thomas to have me hanged.”
“I am grateful but I would not have allowed them to hang you; I would’ve done the same as I am now, setting you free and running away.” He smiled at her again wrapping his hand around the bar she had just had her head rested on.
Raven shook her head, “No Kayleb. Can you not see? We were caught for a reason: this relationship is not right. You must go off and marry Olivia and forget about me.”
“I refuse. Raven I do not wish to live if it is not with you.”
Raven gazed deeply into his eyes; she saw nothing but sincerity but still she shook her head, “Kayleb go before someone sees. You need to be home when the party assembles to escort us tomorrow. You will see me then.”
“But I cannot speak to you with love or touch you with sincerity. I must treat you with the false malice of one who has been scorn but in reality all I am accomplishing is scorning you.”
Raven sighed and stuck her arm through the bar as she placed her hand on his shoulder. “I am not scorned. Kayleb I understand.”
He instantly grabbed her hand and began to stroke her. “I am not returning if you cannot.”
Raven had her face practically pressed against the bars as she tried to get her point across to Kayleb. “Kayleb-“
Kayleb pressed his face to the bars and kissed Raven cutting her off. Instantly their faces started to glow as bright as ray from the sun. Raven pulled back quickly cheeks bright pink, the light caused some of the imprisoned to stir slightly.
“Kayleb you are mad!” she whispered pushing him away.
Kayleb smiled at her, “I love you Raven and I am going to be with you in exile.”
“What was that light?! Who’s there?!” One of the men from the courtroom that had been put on guard duty called as they began to run up to the cell.
“Kayleb go!” Raven hissed as she pushed Kayleb back towards the brush where he ran and disappeared into the trees.
“Witch who was that?” the man growled staring off after him.
“No one,” Raven sighed looking down. “Twas no one.”