The Fate of Ankneela – 2

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The Fate of Ankneela – 2…All day Ankneela stayed inside, her mind once again whirling with unpleasant possibilities…They came for her after dark. The food-girl led the way towards the central clearing, while the guards walked behind her, silent and stoic as always. The sky was lit by an ominous red glow. Nearing the clearing, she saw that it was filled with people. They moved aside to let her and her escort pass.As they moved through the front ranks of people, Ankneela saw that there was a large fire burning to the left of the space. To the right was what looked like an altar. Standing near the altar were the witch woman and her acolyte, though they did not appear to be in control of this event, merely honored spectators.In the center stood one of what Ankneela had come to call “the feathered-ones” – a statuesque older woman d****d in a cloak that was completely covered in white feathers. She had seen them occasionally on her wanderings through the village. The other women accorded them obvious respect. Although they always seemed to pay her close attention, she had never directly interacted with any of them, and bornova escort bayan had wondered what their function might be. “Executioner” had never crossed her mind, until now. The feathered-one took Ankneela by the shoulders and turned her to face the crowd. She noticed as the guards departed that there were no other men in the crowd, and she recognized many of the faces. This caused her a particular feeling of horror. She was not afraid of death – death was an ever-present companion on the hunt. But she had always imagined that if it happened, her death would be in a whirlwind tangle of claws and teeth and a****l rage, not passive like this, in front of people she knew. She felt weak at the knees, and fought for some measure of control.The feathered-one spoke out in a clear voice. Of course Ankneela understood none of her words, but she knew that the answering sound of the crowd was one of assent. Were they agreeing to her death? Had they come here to witness it, perhaps even revel in it? She could not bear that thought.She felt the feathered-one’s hands lift from her shoulders as the woman turned escort bornova and took a few steps towards the altar. She lifted something from it and turned back towards Ankneela. Out of the corner of her eye Ankneela looked for a glint of steel reflecting the firelight, but saw none. The woman stood behind Ankneela again, her shadow revealing that she was lifting something in both arms. It was not a blade, but Ankneela could not tell what it was.The feathered-one kept her arms raised, holding up the altar thing, while she addressed the crowd again. Again they gave their assent. She lowered the thing onto Ankneela’s shoulders, wrapped it around her, and secured it at the neck with a metal pin. Ankneela was astonished to see that it was a cloak, entirely covered in white feathers.The crowd erupted in cries of joy and celebration. Ankneela’s mind reeled. She had expected to die, but now this – what did it mean? Before she had time to think, the food-girl appeared before her, smiling and bowing, and led her away from the celebration back towards her hut. As the crowd parted to let them pass, the women bowed as bornova escort Ankneela had seen them do to the other feathered-ones. Was she actually one of them now? But she still had no idea what they were.When they reached her hut, she saw that the entrance had been decorated with more white feathers. The ever-present guards were nowhere to be seen. The girl lifted the hide covering and ducked inside with Ankneela. She saw that there was fresh food and drink, and was glad of it for she had been too anxious to eat all day. There was also a new item of furniture – a kind of stand made from a tree branch, sun bleached and polished to a silvery patina. The girl stood behind Ankneela, removed the pin, and slid the cloak from her shoulders. Then she turned and hung it on the stand with great reverence, bowing towards it before turning back to Ankneela. She knelt down, making a sweeping motion above the floor with her outstretched hand, looked intently at Ankneela, and shook her head several times. Ankneela understood – the cloak was a thing of the air and sky, it must not be allowed to lie upon the ground. Seeing that she understood, the girl bowed and left.After eating and drinking, Ankneela rested, mind still whirling as she tried to make sense of these unexpected developments. But there were no answers, and eventually her eyes closed, and she slept unguarded in her hut…

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