I knelt in the open plains, my head bowed against the sun despite the large shadow cast by my umbrella. My trinkets glimmered and jingled in the breeze. I did not feel the wind, though, as my mask covered my face and beak.
West winds bring plagues they said. My feathers were already beginning to molt from the sun’s kiss. I could not afford a plague on top of it.
How will you get the plague in that mask?
My fingers curled around the amulet that hung from my neck. “It’s the very best. Kings wish for masks like this.” I coughed, despite my words, and retreated further into the shade of my umbrella.
Fatigue, weakness, headache, light headedness. I listed the symptoms of heat exhaustion first, mentally checking off how many I had. Nausea, fever, tender skin, boils. Next was the plague. No boils…yet.
You do not have plague. I have already told you I would never allow it.
Ignoring the voice, I distracted myself from my ailments by looking at the trinkets that hung from my umbrella. I counted and sorted each one of the eleven trinkets. “Gotta collect all twelve.”
I felt my the back of my neck tighten uncomfortably at the thought of the set being incomplete. My fingers twitched towards my belt where my purse hung. Almost enough for the last piece.
The feathers on the back of my neck rose, and I cocked my head to the side. Something was coming. The stench of wrong doing.
I rose and gathered my belongings. It was easy to pack, and I was quickly on my way. I followed the stench easily enough. There was little out here to block my senses.
As I drew closer, my amulet pulsed. I felt every pump in my soul as I felt the pump of my heart. Sure. Confident. True. Trust your heart, and you will be okay is what they say. It led me straight to the man dragging a chest towards small out cropping of trees.
“Halt!” I cried out as I approached.
“What the?!” The man spun about, hand going towards his waist until he saw me. “Get out of here kenku. This doesn’t concern you.”
My head cocked to the side as I looked at the man. “That’s not yours.”
“I told you to git.” The man waved his hand at me and turned.
My fingers curled around my amulet as I looked at the man. “By the gods of Astor, I beseech thee, bind this man so that he may be judged.”
As I finished the prayer, fiery tendrils emanated from the amulet and towards the man. He screamed, trying to run, but my heavenly restraints were faster. Soon, he was bound by wrist and ankle, kneeling before me on the plains.
“You are charged with violating the laws of this land. How do you plead?”
“N..not guilty.” His eyes were slightly wide as he looked up at me.
I leaned forward ever so slightly. “I knew you’d say that.” Leaning back, I began to pray again. “Lords of Astor, reveal his crimes.”
Above my head, a blazing eye appeared and turned down onto the man. I saw how he had snuck up on the carriage in the early morning and taken the chest while everyone still slept. When the vision diminished, he was weeping silently from the effects of my patron’ s ways.
“You have committed theft and have been shown to be…”
“Wait! Please!” The man was crying openly now. “My village is starving. This would keep us fed til winter. I didn’t hurt no body. This was for the greater good.”
I could feel the flaming eye descend over my face as red-orange wings erupted behind me. “The law is greater than good.” My voice echoed the booming mental command of my patron.
“You have been accused and judged before the gods. In their names, I declare you guilty.” My feathery arms rose towards the heavens. “Great lords of Astor, carry out the sentence.”
The man cried out as one of the fiery tendrils about his wrist heated and tightened. In a blink, his hand was severed from his arm; the wound was sealed shut by the gods’ fire and power. The remaining tendrils disappeared, as did the images of flaming eyes and wings surrounding me.
With the sentence carried out, I turned to leave. The man still held his wrist and wept behind me. I stepped off to the north. There was a village near by with a good collection of items I wanted to buy.
What about the chest?
“The law does not care about property after trial.” I shrugged at the thought and scratched my arm. “My skin itches. Did they look rashy? I feel a rash.”
Today’s image is from wanderinginpixels on deviantart. Go check them out. Also, don’t forget to check out D. L. Spartan and her post from the same challenge. Tell her #teamstash sent you.
If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free. And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.