The cart creaked and rocked as it moved along the rough cobblestone road pulled by a horse that looked like it would rather be back in the barn munching hay.
For that matter, I would have been happy to join him. There were four of us riding in back, our hands bound, with an imperial guard driving the cart while keeping an eye on us, ready to whip out his sword at the first sign of trouble. None of us wanted to be here though because we knew that we were being taken to the headsman’s block. Well, three of us knew.
Imperial guards had ambushed us on the road near here. Two of the passengers were rebels that the empire had been after for quite a while. I was here because I’m one of those “outsider” types that aren’t quite trusted in these parts and I happened to be traveling through there at exactly the wrong moment. The last guy was busily complaining that if not for the rebels he’d have been able to steal the horse he was after and been halfway home by now.
As the cart came to a stop in town he asked why we were stopping. Ralof told him “what do you think? it’s the end of the line”, nodding in the direction of the waiting block in the town square, the headsman waiting with his black hood and deadly axe.
This sent the horse thief into a panic. He tried to tell the guards that he didn’t belong here, that he wasn’t a rebel and how this just wasn’t fair.
The two rebels were called and calmly walked to line up at the block, knowing that with all the soldiers present it would take a miracle to change their fate. The horse thief was called next. He panicked and ran. The soldiers didn’t even blink as two of them lifted their bows and with two expert shots, cut him down in mid-stride.
Next it was my turn. I saw little choice but to cooperate with the soldiers and move to my place in line. Mind you I had no desire to have my head removed but if I had to go it was bloody well going to be with as much dignity as I could muster. We Kajiit are a proud race, running off in terror like that thief would have been beyond shameful. Besides, it didn’t do him any good now did it?
What I didn’t expect is that I would indeed live beyond this day, or the manner in which I was spared from the block.
(to be continued)