Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Raven

I am too old to enter 500 Words! But this is my model to get the children writing theirs.

The Raven stared intently with his one remaining beady eye. Perched high on the ramparts, he surveyed the small group making its way from the dark, dank dungeons towards the centre of the courtyard.

A single bell tolled; steadily, relentlessly marking the march of time, the march towards the ultimate end for the ultimate victim. The steps of the guards matched the strike of the hammer on the tarnished bronze of the bell, crunching the gravel beneath their worn boot leather as a crowd gathered, silent and nervous in anticipation at the tumultuous events that would soon unfurl.

From his vantage point the Raven surveyed the growing pack as it swelled and swayed, agitated and anticipated. A draught chill of breeze rose from the river, ruffling the feathers of the proud bird but not raising so much as a quiver from the silent sentinel.

The most intimidating figure in the group came at the back, dressed entirely in black. Leather chaps protected his muscular thighs. Fingerless gloves would allow a firm grip for the gruesome and thankless task that lay ahead. A black mask concealed his identity from all within the castle confines that morning. They had eyes not for the man, but for the object held firm in both hands before him. Glinting in the pale watery sunshine, it would dispatch the unfortunate victim within the coming moments.

The Raven chose this moment to break his silence. A shriek, a punctuation of breath and a further guttural call brought a momentary gasp from the band of witnesses below. One more call, a smattering of wing beats and a push from the sharpened talons on the stonework below launched the ebony feathered brute above the crowd. He circled and swooped scattering the few pigeons and sparrows that braved his territory this morning before settling on the highest tower, claiming the best view for himself.

A murmur, then a mumble emerged from the spectators, silenced by a single glance from the commander of the guard, his scarred face evidencing days on the battlefield serving his royal master. The reason for the interruption? The presence, unannounced, of the unwilling star of today’s performance; her one and only opportunity in this part. The chance of a reprise would not rear its head again but, then again, neither would she.

She betrayed no fear at what lay ahead as she maintained the grace that her position of the three previous years had demanded; the weighty headwear replaced by a simple silk cap.

After a few words from the attendant clergyman she knelt on the rough-hewn boards of the platform. She closed her eyes, placed her palms together and began a prayer that only she could hear. The raven affixed his stare on the man in black. He raised his burden parallel to the ground and level with the pale neck of the woman. One swing, one strike and the call of the single feathered member of the audience. Henry’s second Queen was no more.

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