the_scapegoat: (Watching from above)
"It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time." - Samuel Johnson

New Mexico Territory, 1884

Azazeal leaned against the frame of the second-floor courthouse window, cheroot tucked into the corner of his mouth, watching the fascinating scene below. The freshly white-washed triple gallows sparkled in the strong sunlight as three condemned men were led up and took their places directly behind each of the nooses.

Two of the men were hardened criminals. Their list of crimes stretching back years, and nearly all of them violent. They didn't matter. Whether they died today or next week or next year, there was no doubt where their souls would go. It was the third man, a young man barely out of his teens, and he looked up at the courthouse window with fear, knowing that he would find no stay of execution from this judge, who had earned a swift reputation as a hanging judge. The charges were false, the conviction a foregone conclusion. The boy's family had appealed to the judge, begged and pleaded to let their son live -- he's a good boy, never meant no one no harm -- but Azazeal wouldn't relent, and there was something in the tone of his refusal that stopped their pleas and encouraged them to leave quickly and quietly before they shared the same fate.

"It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives..." The preacher was now standing before the condemned, facing the crowd and holding his bible up high, the man's high collar hiding Azazeal's mark. The young man stood shaking, barely able to stand and not from the gut-wrenching fear of facing death, but from the torture and from what Azazeal had made clear would follow. No death would be very quick, the fires of Hell eternal. However, to the expectant crowd, he looked strong and healthy, a man capable of the rape he never committed.

From his vantage spot, Azazeal turned slightly as he felt an arm wrap over his shoulder and greeted Perie with a smile. Her glamour on the boy was working well.

The preacher continued his sermon, bidding the crowd to bow their heads at the end to join in a prayer for these poor souls before them. "...And may the Lord have mercy upon their souls. Amen."

"Amen." The crowd echoed in blissful ignorance that such prayers fell upon deaf ears.

The hangman went from one man to the next, asking for last requests and then covering each man with a hood and then the noose. The boy, when asked, shook his head dumbly, Perie's magic not letting him speak and protest his innocence once again and say that it was not him who raped the Mexican girl, but that she had been seduced by the judge himself. With nothing to say, the hood was placed over his head and the rope tightened about his neck.

Off to the side, the hangman then stood by the levers that would release the trap doors simultaneously. He looked up to the window, waiting for the judge's nod.

Azazeal was about to give it when he saw a figure making their way through the crowd towards the gallows. Even if she hadn't had the flame-red hair there was no mistaking who it was. He hissed in sudden anger, nodding quickly for the hangman to send them all to Hell. The doors opened, but just as they dropped there was a flash of bright light and the boy's rope broke, dropping him to the ground.

Even Perie had drawn back from him, seeing the demonic seep into his eyes and not wishing to be so near to his rage as he turned and stormed out of the room.

Ella! This time he would get that interfering witch.

June 2010

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