Death Dances in the Shadows: Wyndwrayth Chapter 17 excerpt

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“I’ll have to have something prepared for Alan to look at, or at least listen to over dinner, or it’ll just be two blokes having a boozy lunch and we’ll end up having to do it all again,” he said under his breath. He’d already looked into the published documentation regarding the house, so he was going to have to be a little more inventive about this investigation. He ran his eyes down the list of possible sites to check out and dismissed everything he’d tried already. It was not an easy task, trying to discover the history of a people who didn’t like to ‘take notes.’

Nick was about to give up with this search, when he spied a link that he’d not tried before. “‘The Dark Archives,’ who could resist a name like that?” He remarked to Heddi and quickly clicked onto the site. At first, it disappointingly appeared to have been put together by a young man, who was purposely cocooned in his imagined cave, complete with posters of Bela Lugosi on the walls and plates with half eaten Pizza shoved under his single bed. “Well, I’ve come this far, it would be a pity to spoil the job for a lick of paint,” he said with exasperation, “so let’s have a gander at the goods,” and placed the curser on, ‘Dark Events’ one of the dozen or so options he was presented with and opened the link.

Suddenly, there was a rather impressive Knotted Celtic Design on the screen, with “In The Beginning” written below it. Nick was hooked, things like this intrigued him on a very youthful level and he’d never learnt to resist this kind of naive invitation. Though, as he discovered when he investigated further, his initially somewhat comedic impression was a long way from the truth. It began by mentioning much of the early history of the lake and its island, information that was already in Nick’s possession but then, just a little more reading revealed a strange tale, which rang some bells a little too close to home.

During what, as Nick knew already, were The Plague years, ‘a pale creature’ was reportedly seen, feasting on the exposed brains of those about to die. One report, given to the sheriff’s clerk by John Carpenter, intriguingly told of a ‘cutting and removing of the cap.’ This phrase was gruesomely explained later, when Nick came across eye witness accounts of the trial and subsequent execution of John, the Carpenter, who was condemned to suffer, ‘Animus.’ This was a truly grim way, to meet your death. None of the local Burgers had believed there was a ‘pale creature,’ involved and instead, laid the blame for the defiled bodies, squarely on the shoulders of the unfortunate carpenter.

These were not the kindest of days and ‘The Pestilence,’ had left ugly scars on the populations’ consciousness. So, they were not feeling too merciful at the time of his judgement. Animus, inflicted an identical punishment to that which the perpetrator had inflicted on his, or her victim. It was a particularly popular sentence, often handed down when dealing justice out to women who had offended the populace. Adultery, was the favourite offence but not the only one covered by this particularly brutal piece of legislation. The offense of ‘Defilus Mortem,’ which John Carpenter faced, was exactly the kind of crime, that it was supposed to deter.

He was delivered to the platform and introduced to ‘The Mercy Seat’ as it was parochially known, in an open cart, with his hands bound and his head shaved. His path from the delivery vehicle, to the point of execution, was up a long narrow pathway, with the crowd lining both sides of the road, throwing both faeces and buckets of urine, mixed with sputum and any manner of vile substances, over the condemned as he slowly passed by, towards the inevitable end of his life. When John, eventually reached the centre of the stage, a single rope was placed around his neck and winched up. This exercise lifted him a mere couple of inches clear of the ground and he started to thrash around futilely, as his air supply was restricted. They let him choke, for about one minute and then, when he’d lost control of his bladder and bowels, excrement running down his legs and pouring into his boots, they cut him down and bound him on the heavy wooden chair.

Then, they got one of the victim’s relatives to cut off his still twitching fingers and stick them in his still gasping mouth. Then, they fitted The Animus Cap, onto his head. The executioner started to turn the ingenious threaded top, which with each turn, cut deeper into his skull. When the turns became easier to apply, the cap was removed and the executioner parred away the top portion of the skull, revealing more, or less the whole of his brain, for the crowd to see. The guilty individual, was then left there to die, unable to move as the birds pecked away at his brain and shit into the cavity. One victim of The Animus Cap, reportedly lived for hours with his brain exposed to the crowd’s curiosity and they, in turn picked and prodded at the drying organ, until long after he died.

Even then, the defilement wasn’t over.  The mutilated corpse was then beheaded and the severed head along with what was left of its exposed brain matter, was placed on a pike and left on the platform, until the birds had reduced it to a hideous empty vessel.

“Yuk,” said Nick. “Talk about fucking horrid, these devils take the biscuit and then some,” he said wincing. “Typical,” he exasperatingly commented “and I thought The Celts were bad but they’ve got nothing on The Vikings! Yuck, yuckety yuck yuck!”

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