They’d come to bless him before his final rest. He wondered if he would escape his Lord’s judgment. Sure he’d spent the past thirty years of his life trying to atone for the sins he committed when he was a young man, one who intended to serve the Lord as a monk. But his path had led him elsewhere, because of that day.
He’d willingly admit to his exulansis on the matter, but if he was going to meet his Creator he would do so with his soul unburdened. For all that he didn’t speak of it, he could never really forget that day. The images had blurred, their edges softened until only a sense of guilt and sin remained. Feelings he’d never been able to drown in his work to make this world a better; more just and tolerant place.

He was what? Maybe 17 years old. And he was tasked with finding out witches by the abbot. They knew a few to be living in the village, pretending to be wise women, knowledgeable of herbs. So he’d been standing at the end of the market watching a particular stand when he noticed her.
He marked that she kept her head down. The bonnet hid her face but he noticed when she crossed into the market place. He noted too how adroit she was moving among the crowd, never actually touching anyone. He’d rarely seen anyone so apt; most people in a crowded place would bump against someone. They would apologize and resume their haggling or shopping. Not she.

He narrowed his eyes when she stopped at the stand he was watching. She bowed politely to the old woman who was selling her herbs and plants. The crone’s features softened into a smile. He wasn’t a fool: he knew the diabolist uses these herbs could be put to. The knowledgeable called it the Craft but it was nothing more than a name to hide its vile purpose. He seethed; how dared they stand here in the view of every faithful.

He couldn’t intervene though: he wasn’t supposed to arrest the witches, merely observe them and report to his superior. He knew he wasn’t knowledgeable enough to do things properly. He would merely create a mess, which would accelerate the discontent of those who would undo the holy power of the Church. No he wouldn’t do anything that could jeopardize their divine mission to uproot all diabolist practices in the land.

But he marked her features and the way she left. So when later that week the abbot asked him he could recognize her likeness. He didn’t hesitate an instant; he pointed her to the abbot. They followed her to her home and arrested her. She went without fanfare, without a fight. She protested her innocence but once in a tone so shy and polite, they didn’t listen to her.
They offered her the chance to prove she wasn’t a servant of the Devil; she didn’t answer. Not that they’d given her an opportunity. If she were a practitioner of the “Craft”, she would float on the waters. They bound her hands and feet, before throwing her into the lake. She sunk not even struggling; he remembered that. So precisely. The peaceful face despite the fear she must feel. She’d drowned; she was innocent.

He hadn’t understood until then: they had no chance. If they floated they died because they practiced witchcraft. But if they sunk they died too. What was the point of being innocent? It was for the greater good… And yet. Why had she not fought? Why had she gone without struggling? Was she a martyr? Was he wrong? He could never forget her eyes as they met his when her head fell under the waters of the lake. There had been pity and forgiveness. And that changed him.
Now he must confess this sin of sacrificing an innocent life: he didn’t expect the priest to understand. He would say he’d done his duty to God and her soul was saved… But he would confess and if he couldn’t expiate the sin of murder at least he could face his Maker with his soul unburdened.


In response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Wordle 141 prompt.
1. Escape 2. Exulansis (n. the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it—whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness—which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.) 3. Diabolist (activities designed to enlist the aid of devils, esp in witchcraft or sorcery, worship of devils or beliefs and teachings concerning the nature of devils, character or conduct that is devilish or fiendish; devilry) 4. Polite 5. Likeness 6. Fanfare 7. Seethe 8. Soften 9. Adroit (expert or nimble in the use of the hands or body.) 10. Drown 11. Mess 12. Accelerate
Use at least 10 of the words to create a story or poem
The words can appear in an alternate form

And in response to the Daily Post writing prompt Craft


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael says:

    Fabulous story Stephanie, I would imagine there would be a few such tales from those times…realising it was no win situation no matter how you looked at it…..and the realisation of your own complicity in the sin itself was a burden you understand he wanted to be unburdened of before he died…most enjoyable and thought provoking tale..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joyfrida says:

    Wow this is a very nice tale and a great take on the words. Can you imagine how many innocents died during those times? I enjoyed reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. 🙏🏻
      Unfortunately I think way too many died this way. Not sure we’ll ever know how many.

      Liked by 1 person

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