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Library: Wither's witch trial

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Author: wermine
Date:Jan 19 2007

They were possessed, that was the rumor which circulated among the Townsmen,
the Wither twin sisters. Their mother was desperate, nothing conventional
medical care did seemed to help the poor girls. The doctor could find no
physical evidence of any ailment. The mother had no other choice but to summon
the town Reverend. A horrid sight was waiting for the Reverend: The girls had
almost gouged their eyes out and they were repeating some strange chant
ceaselessly. They were constantly moving, contorting themselves into weird
positions. Their reaction to the Reverend's arrival was overwhelming. As the
Reverend started to preach, the girls covered their ears and screamed even
louder. The holywater made them hiss and spit. The Reverend was swift in his
judgment, the girls were indeed possessed and they would face the charge of
witchcraft.

It was the dark ages. Wars, diseases and death were always present, Winston
Withers, the father of the twins had passed away earlier this year. He had
gone hunting and never returned home. After two months, his rent remains were
found, it was obvious that wolves got him. Now though the situation had
changed, perhaps it was those devil girls, who had sacrificed their father in
some dreadful ritual to the dark god himself. All this imminent death and the
fear of it strengthened the faith of the people. Logic and reason soon fade
away when people are looking for comfort and shelter from religion. Even
Wither's youngest daughter was under suspicion and she was just four years
old.

Three women were brought to trial: Darleen Wither, 14, for witchcraft and
making a covenant with the Devil. Holly Wither, 14, also for witchcraft and
making the same covenant. Finally their mother, Sarah Wither, 33, who was
accused of witchcraft and cursing her daughters. When these women faced their
charges, Sarah's youngest daughter, Shirley, confessed to being a witch as
well just so she could be near his mother during the trials. All four accused
were arrested and imprisoned in the county jail. Before the imprisonment, all
four prisoners had to endure a ritual where their demonic powers were
suppressed. The ritual included eating an angelina plant and their torso's and
hands were rubbed with salt.

The accused were granted one final way out of the charges. If they would
renounce their heresy and return to the church, forgiveness would be granted
and a penance would be imposed. Sarah and Shirley refused to renounce
anything, Sarah knew she was innocent and Shirley didn't want to be apart from
her mother. Darleen and Holly just screamed insults and blasphemies when they
were asked the same question. The prosecutor wanted to use the traditional
questioning method, torture. The attorney for the defense rejected the
proposal mainly because of the young age of the daughters. This was no help,
even if the accused confessed during torture, she must repeat the confession
in the trial room in the next day voluntarily. The magistrate allowed the
torture but only for the mother and the twin sisters.

The next day Sarah was brought to the chamber of purification. There it was,
the instrument which would give the grand inquisitor all the confessions he
would need: the iron maiden. It was a big sarcophagus-like apparatus, on top
of the apparatus was a head ornament, which had the face of Mary, the mother
of Jesus. The maiden had sturdy double doors, which had sharp spikes inside of
it. The maiden was made of iron and its imposing look made Sarah shiver a bit,
but even at this moment, she refused to confess.  
The Grand inquisitor placed Sarah in position inside the iron maiden. The
spikes inside the iron door were placed so that they would not puncture any
vital organs nor they would cause fatal blood loss. All three daughters were
summoned to witness the interrogation. The twin sisters had been shouting and
screaming ever since they were captured, but now there was silence.

The doors started to be closed, there was a small aperture in the maiden, so
everyone could see victim's eyes. Sarah was quiet when the spikes pressed her
skin. The Grand inquisitor's assistants felt the pressure behind the doors.
They started to use more force while closing the doors, Sarah moaned faintly.
The moaning got more tense every second until it turned into screaming. There
were no blood, spikes choked all the wounds they caused. Sarah's eyes were
wide open, they were staring straight at the grand inquisitor. Sarah was
asked, if she would confess. After three hours of questioning, Sarah finally
admitted that she was a witch.

There was no use questioning the twin sisters, the grand jury found them
guilty of witchcraft on the grounds of the Reverend's testimony. The youngest
daughter, Shirley, had earlier confessed voluntarily that she was a witch. Now
with the confession of the mother, they could face the verdict. The accused
who were found guilty of witchcraft were condemned to be burned alive. The
sentence would be carried out next morning at dawn.

There were four stakes in the courtyard, each had a pile of wood at the base
of the stake. Sarah, Darleen, Holly and Shirley stood before the magistrate
and his servants, including the grand inquisitor. They were asked one final
time, if they would renounce the Devil and embrace the church. None of them
said anything. They were all tied to a separate stake and oil was poured on
them. A priest approached them with a torch but before the priest could do
anything, the church behind them burst violently into flames. A pressure wave
threw everyone to the ground, fire spread rapidly in every direction but the
Wither family. The magistrate, the grand inquisitor, the priest, all their
servants were swallowed by the flames. The mother and the twin sisters were
watching this event in awe. Only Shirley was tranquil. Whole town was turned
into one enormous funeral pyre. After everything had burnt down, Sarah managed
to loose the ropes. She quickly set free her daughters. The twin sisters
seemed to be normal, they were crying in their mother's lap. Shirley looked at
the ruins of the town with a sad look on her face. "All I wanted to do was to
play a little".


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