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With each step through the soft, sweeping grass, the girl took the time to survey the area. It was a simple set up, there were vibrantly coloured canvas tents and a freshly constructed wooden stage. The top of the hill was crowded with villagers who paid little attention to the small street urchin.
People of all standings were chattering and laughing in anticipation for the main event. The scent of freshly chopped wood wafted towards the child, who carefully made her way to the stands under the canvas tents and through the cavorting crowd.
It didn't take long for the chattering to quiet down as the executioner stepped onto the platform. The executioner clapped his hands for the audience's attention as the condemned was shoved onto the platform by two guards. The crowd started to jeer.
At first glance, the girl didn't see the cursed man's face.
At first the urchin didn't see the man's face. After all, the child was only sorting through the leftovers on the side of the road in a tiny village.
The man was riding on a trade wagon, his hood covered most of his face; he didn't seem as if he wanted to be noticed by his surroundings, which was suspicious to the small urchin. But that didn't matter, the girl had stomach grumbles, shivering hands, and skin that clung to her bones: finding and getting food was more important than anything at this point.
The girl stepped away from the little scraps she had wrestled from a street hound, and went across to the moving wagon, hoping that the hooded man didn't notice them sneaking onto the wagon. The girl found chests of undiscovered treasures, and as she opened one she wished what she found was edible; but all she found was sharp, shining weapons.
"Step from the wagon, bastard merchant, those weapons would be better for the rebellion than the kingdom. Hand them over." Spoke a man from the front of the wagon. The ringing sound of a sword being drawn from it's sheath was the only thing she heard.
"Most respected citizens," called the executioner, his arms waving dramatically as he paced across the stage. "We are gathered here today, to witness the hanging of one Harold of Arlington, who is guilty of petty treason, highway robbery, and the murder of the son of a highly respected merchant."
The girl heard several gasps from the crowd before the shouting started. Several of the people in the front stands were calling out macabre suggestions on how this man should die. The executioner was supporting and disapproving of several ideas provided by the crowd. She was horrified as they looked around from their spot in the stands, thinking that they were the only one who saw the injustice about to occur.
"Rebel scum like you don't deserve such fine weaponry." The man in the hood had said, as the child hid in the back compartment of the wagon. Looking through a gap in the cloth covering the wagon, the girl saw the other man, the rebel, chuckle lightly before swinging his sword; missing the hooded man's neck by mere inches, causing the man on the wagon to jerk back, frightening the horses from the yanking of the bridles.
The girl cowered in the back of the cart, as the sound of struggles and the gurgles of a dying man were drowned out by the shrieking of horses.
It didn't take long for her to notice that the wagon was then moving at a frightening pace, shaking from side to side as it jostled from the frantic movement of the horses. The girl screamed.
The executioner took a step back as the condemned rebel was brought forward to the noose that was tied prior to the rebel's appearance on stage. His face was grim, and his clothes were bloodied and tattered, but he stood straight and met everyone's gaze.
The rebel opened his mouth and spoke strongly to crowd.
"I don't ask for your forgiveness, I can only be forgiven by god himself."
"She recognized the man's voice; everything had happened so quickly that the urchin hadn't been able to thank the man or even see the man's face. The girl looked at this man, trying to memorize his face as the executioner tied the noose around his neck.
She found it hard breathe as she was being crushed by chests of heavy weaponry. The horses were running, the girl didn't know where, but there was no sign that they were going to stop.
She heard the sound of feet hitting the wooden boards of the wagon and then cursing. She felt the pressure of the chests being lifted from her and knew that someone was on the wagon with them.
"Child, grab my arm. I won't be able to save this cargo, but I can save us," the rebel said quickly, "well, not us. Just you."
The rebel cut through the canvas covering the wagon and held the girl close to him as they jumped off the moving wagon. Rolling through the dust. She looked up from the body of the rebel and saw the boots of several guards approaching in the distance.
Jumping up, the girl left her hero behind.
"This is for your crimes against the kingdom" The executioner shouted as he pulled the leaver opening the hatch underneath the condemned.
The audience held their collective breaths and the child had tears running down their face as the sounds of struggling eventually quietened down.