A bead of blood sat precariously on the corner of her mouth. With a slow, deliberate motion Josiephine licked the drop off with the merest tip of her tongue then dabbed at her lip with a callused thumb to make sure she got the last of it.
The gathered tormentors dropped the remaining rotten fruit and vegetables they brought to throw at the now smoldering accused witch.
The crowd gasped when Josiephine’s bindings had fallen away, the knots no more substantial than wet straw. The fire lapping at the hem of her frock fizzled. Pale gray smoke, wispy and sweet, wafted over the market square where her penal pyre was set. The rabble gagged on its cloying perfume.
“Your greatest failing is attacking vulnerable, innocent women. Women who have no one to champion them, no money, no standing to defend themselves against heinous accusation cast by ignorant, malicious, or simply a bored, wretched child from a family with status. Accusers who are above reproach.”
Josiephine flung the last of the rope used to bind her hands into the crowd. The people shrieked with panic as the tatters fell on them, burning their skin in the same spots were it touched Josiephine.
“Your mistake was taking on someone like me, someone who can fight back and fight back with apocalyptic fury,” Josiephine walked out of the pyre, the sickly smoke trailing behind her.
She stopped in front of the inquisitor magistrate. Pulling herself up to her full height, Josiephine stared him down until he turned away muttering curses. A tall woman, Josiephine stood half a hand above magistrate.
“This is not done,” she said. “Your own sins will be your downfall.”
Once Josiephine was clear of the village, once she was safe inside her dark, wild wood, she gave into her injuries, stumbling toward her cottage. The magistrate’s guard was none too gentle in binding her and dragging her to the pyre. She needed to find Flynn. Injured when Josephine was captured, Flynn needed her help. They needed to find somewhere to heal, and she knew where they would be safe and protected – Cat Paw Island.