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Pen Your Pride

Prologue

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1300 YEARS AGO


Atropos stood with her sisters in the back of the grand hall, watching in mournful silence as the Witches and Demons arrived.

Shadows danced in gleeful anticipation, their presence darkening the aura of the room, making the air thick and hard to breathe, their very presence a taint which poisoned all they touched.

Things were not right and had not been for quite some time.

But recently, something had changed.

What had started out as simple acts of selfishness, strongly worded arguments and minor fights for freedom had turned into all out acts of war and brutality.

The current display being the most depraved.

Atropos looked on as three women strolled into the hall. All with white hair, white skin, and white eyes.

They called themselves the Elder Witches.

Although their years did not show on their faces, they were three of the oldest Witches alive.

The sisters had just recently taken control of the Witches' Kingdom and had organised these public executions as a display of power. And to show Her that they no longer abided by Her laws.

The sound of metal chains dragging across stone floors echoed throughout the hall.

All present turned to face the door where two guards walked in, both gripping the arms of a semi-conscious girl.

Her head was down, her long golden hair—matted with dirt and blood—was loose and obscured most of her face from view. Her clothes were torn and filthy, her pale skin covered with dark purple bruises, making obvious the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her captors.

Her feet barely touched the ground as they moved her; it appeared as though she was so limp that the guards were carrying most of her weight.

It was easy to sense—with the dimness that weighed on the girl's usually bright, vibrant aura—that the Elder Witches had somehow managed to bind her Powers, knowing that if she were to have access to her Magic she could have easily brought an end to every being present with no more than a flick of her wrist.

The guards brought the small girl to the centre of the hall where a wooden stake awaited her. One of the men held her upright, keeping her back pressed against the wood, as the other tied ropes around her to hold her in place.

As they let her go, her body slumped forward slightly. She was so weak and powerless that she would barely notice what was happening until the pain became too much for her to bear.

Atropos felt a cold rage swarm through her veins, causing her stomach to turn with revulsion at what she was witnessing. Making her more furious with herself for not having enough Power to stop it.

The girl was no more than an innocent victim, caught in the middle of a war.

She gripped her ancient scissors so tightly it almost sliced through her hand.

Atropos felt a soft brush against the fingers that gripped the scissors. She looked down to find a hand holding onto hers. "Do not stain the scissors with your blood," whispered Clotho. Atropos looked at her sister, seeing in her eyes the same guilt and sadness that she felt within herself.

She turned towards Lachesis who was staring straight ahead with unseeing eyes. "This isn't right," Atropos mumbled, fearing the repercussions if anyone else should hear her objection to these murders.

"There's nothing to be done," Lachesis said. Her voice cold and unfeeling. "Fate has been sealed. The prophecy has been written."

A shiver ran down Atropos' spine, making her stomach feel sick. She turned to find the source of her discomfort . . . and there he was.

The cloaked figure in the corner of the room.

A faceless evil shrouded in darkness with shadows seeping out of every pore.

The cause of all of the chaos, all of the bloodshed, was him.

There was a crash from outside the hall. A murmur of confusion swept through the crowd.

Atropos looked towards the door where she saw two more guards dragging with them a man who was struggling with all his strength to escape. His wrists were bound with chains, his face bloody and bruised.

Another innocent soul that had been sentenced to death.

"Don't!" he cried out as he looked up and saw the girl tied to the stake. He attempted to run forward but was pulled back by the guards who were keeping him chained. "Don't hurt her! Please! She's done nothing to you!"

"Why has he not been spelled into silence?" asked one of the Elder Witches, the first time any of them had made a sound since entering the room.

The guards looked to one another, trying to decide which of them should answer. After a momentary pause the one to the left answered, "He spat the potion out. We couldn't get him to keep it down."

The Elder Witch stared at the guard for a moment, appearing personally insulted by his incompetence. She turned to look at the man who was still struggling for his freedom. She sighed in boredom and waved her hand in his direction, sending out a current of energy which subdued the man, causing him to fall into unconsciousness.

"Bring the others in quickly!" ordered the Elder Witch in impatience.

The guards tied the now unconscious man to a second stake as more of the Elder Witches' guards came into the room. Each pair with their own semi-conscious person.

In total there were thirteen stakes and thirteen victims. Each one innocent of any crime.

The room filled with an orange glow and a wave of heat surged through the hall as the fires were started.

Atropos turned her face away,not wanting the image of the burning bodies to be forever seared into her mind.She took a breath to calm her shaking hands and began cutting threads.

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