I will not die today.
Csilla's unspoken words crowded her mind. She never dwelled on death—there was no reason to in the life she lived. Death came, it took, and it did not give back. She hadn't even given much thought to how she would die, but she assumed it would be bloody and brilliant.
As she walked through the crowd with her wrists shackled behind her, her fingers ached for the leather hilt of her sword. If she could, she'd fight until every Elshire soldier lay dead or until her last breath wheezed through her lips.
Around her, the weathered courtyard overflowed with harbor-folk who'd normally be selling wares or watching the soldiers' demonstrations. On this day, however, they'd be witnessing her execution.
The soldiers marched before her, parting the path. To onlookers, she was a stain on their garments they couldn't scrub out, a plague they couldn't be rid of. Every time their eyes ran over the scars along her skin, the piercings that lined her ears, and her one blind eye, their anger flickered with fear and their shouted insults grew louder.
Csilla ignored them. The distant crash of waves and the briny scent of sea was enough to calm the frenzied beating of her heart—for now. It was impossible to truly be calm when time was running out.
The noose loomed across the courtyard.
If the army thought to humiliate her in her last moments, they would fail. She held her chin high and stepped gracefully. No one would see her break. No one would see her falter. She'd only show them a girl proud of her pirate heritage and willing to die for it.
"Filthy pirate!" a woman's voice yelled, her words slicing above the crowd's jeers like a sword.
Csilla glanced to her right, her good eye coming to rest on a woman whose worn face showed years of alcoholism, snarling at her like a beast. If she curled her lips more, saliva would drip down her chin. The woman wove through the crowd, following as the soldiers pushed Csilla forward. Then she stopped, reached down and slipped off her shoe, and hurled it at Csilla. It smacked hard into Csilla's cheek. She ignored the searing pain, as well as the taunts and laughter that rose from the crowd.
Rage burned through Csilla like wildfire. She stopped walking, pulled against the rope binding her to the soldier, and cut her sight to the woman. When their eyes met, the old lady shriveled back, casting her gaze to the ground. It wasn't the first time Csilla had received this reaction, which was why she usually wore her scarf to cover her white eye, but today she embraced her difference. Today, she was glad the soldiers wouldn't let her wear it.
"Sobel liitena shobenasku," Csilla said, repeating the same words that had cursed her half-blind. "Sobel miitesa jaharren eto."
The woman's face drained of color, her eyes growing wide and frantic as she realized Csilla's incantation was a curse. There was no magic in Csilla's veins to fulfill the venomous words, but the woman didn't know that. The soldiers dragged Csilla forward, their fingers digging into the muscle of her arms, adding more bruises to her body.
"Witch!" the woman continued, shrieking. "Pirate Witch! You'll rot in Limbo!"
"See you there." Csilla locked gazes with the woman, her lip twisting into a smirk.
The sky was a blanket of clouds, but the heat of the sunspur season still hung in the air. Sweat from the humidity gathered at the nape of her neck and traced down her spine. She wore only filthy rags that the fort had graciously provided after they ripped her from the bed of her betrayer and stole all her gear and armor. Though she hated the way the fabric scratched her skin, she felt a twisted satisfaction that the soldiers, clad in their clean pants and multiple frilly layers, had to withstand the humidity. Sweat dripped down their temples, soaking their collars, their underarms stained.
YOU ARE READING
Crossbones (Kingdom Of Bones #1)Fantasy
When the Pirate King dies without an heir, three teens join a deadly treasure hunt to compete for the island throne. ***** Seventeen-year-old Csilla yearns to prove her strength...