A medieval girl criminal who still has terrifying nightmares after seeing her mother burnt alive six years earlier unwittingly submits herself to a far more terrible fate.
Edith was just 12 years old when the new king's soldiers attacked her family's hamlet. It was in reprisal for their support for a pretender to the throne when the old king died childless. She had wandered into the edge of the wood gathering fruit when the soldiers came. She crouched terrified in the thicket of brambles where the blackberries abounded, watching as the soldiers forced everyone into her parents' wood and thatch cottage at sword-point then set it alight. As the flames rapidly spread up the walls and across the roof she covered her ears to shut out the high pitched screams. The thatch started to fall into the building and the door, complete with its frame, collapsed outward allowing a flaming human torch to run out from the flames and smoke towards her. Edith knew it was her mother. The soldiers ran towards the screaming figure which ran, arms flailing, clothes and hair alight towards where Edith was hiding. Although she knew it must be her mother the open mouthed face she saw was black, all the teeth exposed where the flesh from her cheeks having burnt away. Shreds of burning fabric blew away from from her mother in the wind as she uttered a final unearthly scream then fell face down on the ground only ten feet from Edith's hiding place.
As the soldiers turned back from the charred corpse towards the rapidly collapsing cottage Edith madly tore through the brambles and undergrowth, heedless of the tears both to her clothes and to her delicate flesh, desperate to flee the nightmare scene.
Six years later Edith still had nightmares about that terrifying day, sometimes seeing her mother still burning reaching a hand out towards her but heat from the flames making Edith back away, other nights she would dream that she was being burnt alive herself and would wake up screaming and flailing her arms and legs, her body sodden with sweat.
Effectively an outlaw she had at first survived like a wild animal, hiding almost naked in the woods, eating fruit and berries but the winter forced her to creep into villages at night to steal food and clothes and to shelter in barns. Several times she had been caught and beaten almost to death when caught by villagers. As she fled from the most recent village where she had been caught eating stolen food several youths chased after her for about a mile throwing stones at her several of which struck her thinly clothed wraith like body bruising her thighs and grazing her ribs until she fell panting to the ground. The boys, all younger than her, roughly rolled her onto her back. Two held her arms outstretched while the tallest one kicked her repeatedly in the stomach until she violently threw up stinking vomit, consisting mainly of raw egg and bits of raw turnip, down her front. He then ripped off her soiled clothes, carelessly using a small knife which left long shallow cuts in her hollow belly and down her left hip. once she was completely naked one of the other boys let go of her arm and grabbed her right breast tightly in one hand and started fumbling with his breeches with the other. Frantically she almost managed to roll away from him before her right leg was grabbed, rolling her back onto her back. The tallest boy then jabbed at the inside of her thighs with the sharp point of his knife until she spread her legs wide while a short stocky boy repeatedly punched her in the face, cursing her as a dirty thief while blood from her nose splashed across her face and trickled down into her hair.
But just as she felt the tall boy's fingers probing into her vagina a man on horseback appeared and the youths ran, trying to hide their faces. Lying flat on her back, naked, legs spread Edith realised she was now totally at his mercy. He appeared to be in his early twenties, but when he dismounted from his horse he gathered her torn rags and helped tie them round her to provide some modesty.
Roger helped her steal some more clothes from the next village then, having sent away the horse which he had apparently stolen two days earlier led her to his lodgings in Canonsford. "Would you rather have a safe, comfortable life in future?" he asked her, pulling her towards him and looking into her eyes. She didn't reply immediately, neither did she pull away from him. He opened his bag and showed her what he had made his journey for. Some pieces of base metal, a very small amount of real gold and, most precious of all a pair of dies, perfect copies of those used by the King's mint.
Edith readily submitted her body to Roger as it soon became apparent that no-one could tell the difference between their forged coins and the King's currency. Roger had screwed many women before but delighted in the way Edith usually climaxed ay the same moment that he came. She was now almost as happy as before her family was killed, and the nightmares came only occasionally now. Her only worry was whether Roger would stand by her once she became with child as she surely would soon.
To help in passing on their forged coins Edith cut her hair short in the style of a pageboy so she could also pass as a boy, amongst other disguises. Of course they were blind to the fact that their new found wealth had no apparent source, while the Sheriff started to become aware of a number of forged coins turning up in markets and in the taxes he collected.
Inevitably the Sheriff's men eventually raided their home and found the dies, metals etc. of their trade. Edith and Roger, arms bound behind their backs , were taken before the magistrate the following morning after spending what she thought must surely be their last night together, shackled to opposite sides of one of the town cells, for this would certainly be a hanging offence.
However after only a couple of minutes hearing the evidence from the Sheriff's men their case was adjourned, for he said that counterfeiting the King's currency was High Treason, and would have to be tried by the Judge on his next visit. They were taken back to the prison and locked into one of the dark basement cells.
No longer shackled they clung to each other, Roger said "thank God we have some more time together" and as darkness fell Roger tenderly removed Edith's clothes and they had the best sex they had ever experienced, the background thought that they were soon to be executed now almost thrilled Edith, much of whose short life had been spent in abject misery before she had been rescued by Roger. A sense of contentment yet lack of fulfilment drifted over Edith as she lay back, Roger gently covering her with her clothes to ward off the chill of dawn.
HORROR ... Edith's worst nightmare suddenly came into her mind! She suddenly recalled, wasn't the punishment for treason by a woman to be burnt at the stake! She recalled men were hung drawn and quartered but, in the interests of decency women were burned, she panicked and shuffled away from Roger's sleeping form.
After that first night in the cell Roger couldn't understand Edith's frigidity towards him, in fact she showed no interest in anything at all but just sat hugging her knees looking blankly into space, not eating, just occasionally drinking a little water when the thirst became unbearable. Every waking moment she was thinking about various ways of avoiding the flames, every time she drifted off to sleep her nightmares returned, more terrifying each time, the screams she uttered as she awoke both saddened and irritated Roger. She fervently hoped she could starve herself to death before the Judge arrived. Other times she wondered whether to ask Roger to strangle her, but she was scared to put her innermost terror into words and, certain that he would almost certainly refuse anyway, said nothing.
As the weeks passed she absently thought, gazing at her lover as he slept that, with his growing straggly hair, he could almost pass as a woman if his beard were to be shaved, then could he take her place at the stake? In her obsession with avoiding the flames she never once though about the details of the even more terrible punishment he really faced.
Then one morning the usual gaolers were replaced by soldiers and she understood the Judge was about to come into town. Panic stricken she recalled her various fantastic plans, then seeing the pottery plate Roger's last meal had been served on determined to break it in two and to slash her neck or wrists rather than face the Judge's sentence. Should the broken pieces prove sharp enough she thought she might even try driving one deep into her hollow, empty belly which now so pained her.
Hearing her smash the plate Roger awoke and rapidly guessed what she was going to do. He quickly stood and stepped over to her seizing the pieces of plate from her hands, but hadn't reckoned on the strength that madness and desperation could bring to her frail starved body. As he held the sharp pieces of plate out of her reach she suddenly grasped him tight about the throat. Too late he realised that her delicate hands had summoned enough strength not only to crush his windpipe but to almost cut off the flow of blood from his head. He frantically clawed at Edith for a few seconds, tearing the front of her dress down from her shoulders before suddenly deciding he would rather die in this way than face the tortures the Judge must surely condemn him to. It pleased Edith to see a look of contentment on Roger's face as life slowly left his twitching body. To be sure he was dead not just unconscious she tied a thin strip from her torn dress tight around his neck.
Yet now a wave of guilt came over her, even if he had seemed glad of his release from this like she had committed a mortal sin, and against the man she had once so loved. Suddenly she made up her mind. She quickly but carefully removed Roger's clothes and exchanged them for her own, it took precious minutes to tie the torn front back together to cover his chest, then with a piece of broken plate she desperately scraped away at his beard. The resulting shave was more bloody than elegant but she then beat about his face desperately with her fists, both shattering his nose and splitting her knuckles to the bone, which just added to the blood.
She was still pounding at his face when the soldiers came to take them to the Court. One soldier knelt down in the dark cell and felt first Roger's wrist then the side of his neck. "The bastard's killed her" he pronounced, then they left the corpse in the cell as they took Edith before the Judge.
Judge Fitzhenry had already had a busy day determining a land dispute between two barons and, the case against Roger the Counterfeiter having already been thoroughly investigated by the magistrate, quickly pronounced his sentence that he was to be Hung Drawn and Quartered within 48 hours. The matter of his murder of his lover was quickly dismissed as irrelevant in view of his guilt of the far more serious charge of High Treason.
The Judge had already left for his next session at Coventry when the crowd assembled in Canonsford market square to view the execution. The filthy condemned man looked surprisingly small and frail as he was brought, blinking, into the bright sunlight. Women and children dutifully spat at him as he was led past them to where a hurdle had been laid out behind the horse which was first to draw him round the town as a humiliation before its inhabitants.
Four strong men grabbed the condemned by his hands and feet and spread him on his back over the hurdle. Then two of them tightly fastened his feet to the upper corners close to the rear of the horse, the other two grabbed his wrists stretching them as tightly as possible to be fastened at the lower corners. Boys cheerfully ran amongst the crowd handing out stout sticks to the public with which they could beat him as he was drawn past.
The magistrate then stepped forward, he drew his sword and roughly ripped open the traitor's tunic from waist to neck. As he then thrust it beneath the waistband of the prisoners breeches to tear them away, the torn tunic fell away to display a pair of pert female breasts on a skeletal chest, one breast bleeding profusely from a deep cut where the tip of the sword had caught it. While some watching youths cheered and threw their hats in the air with excitement, women gasped in horror and tried to usher their children away.
The magistrate had already ripped open the top of her breeches exposing her pubic hair between a pair of protruding hip bones before he realised her sex. Horrified he quickly threw his cloak over her emaciated nudity then had her untied and carried into the Town Guildhall nearby. The magistrate was now himself seized with terror at the decision he had to make. He sat for a minute to gather his thoughts then summoned the Sheriff to help him make a decision. Why, oh why, did the Earl of Canonsford have to go off trying to ingratiate himself by fighting at the King's side on the continent. Could they recall the Judge, probably not within 48 hours and in any case his report to the King would most likely lose the magistrate his job and quite likely his liberty, for he knew Judge Fitzhenry had extremely high moral standards.
The Sheriff glared at the magistrate as he tried to explain what had happened, the corpse in the cells having now been identified as Roger's. The Sheriff quickly summed up the situation as he saw it "the Judge has pronounced sentence, had he known it was a woman he would have sentenced her to be burned at the stake". He paused "only the King or a committee of Peers of the Realm can overturn the Judge's sentence, so in the unfortunate absence of Earl Canonsford it must be carried out". The magistrate gasped in horror at what the Sheriff was proposing. "Of course it would offend public decency to carry it out before the townsfolk" he added, but it must be a public humiliation so witnesses are essential.
The two good men sat in silence pondering the problem. The Sheriff, being as usual the more decisive then turned and said "send for the Constable" so a rider was quickly despatched to Canonsford Castle, about four miles away.
The Constable had little to do, his most important job to do in times of peace being to guard the occasional debtor incarcerated in the dungeon at the base of the north-west tower. He had just scrambled up onto the roof of the gatehouse with his servant to investigate yet another leak in the roof which was letting rainwater into his quarters when he saw the horseman arriving and had to go all the way back down the ancient spiral stairs again to greet him.
Out of breath and red faced from all the unusual exertions the stout Constable dismounted from his horse and entered the Guildhall to listen to the Sheriff - first with annoyance then with slight amusement as the days events were recounted.
Between them Edith's fate was decided. The Judge's sentence would be carried out but within the Castle, with only selected witnesses unlikely to be offended by the indecency of Hanging Drawing and Quartering a woman.
As dusk fell Edith was slung, bound hand and foot and wrapped in hessian, over the back of the magistrates horse. The Sheriff and the Constable followed up the hill to the gloomy almost deserted castle. Canonsford Castle's glorious days as a formidable fortress were now in the past, it would now be largely forgotten until many years later it would be hurriedly repaired and defended by Royalists before its final almost complete destruction by Cromwell's roundheads.
Ediths bonds were removed as they entered the north-west tower from a short flight of stone steps. A trapdoor in the wooden floor was lifted and a rope ladder dropped down into the darkness. At swordpoint Edith was motioned to descend, it brought back her memories of her mother being forced into their cottage before it was set alight many years before. As her head descended below floor level she froze, but the Constable's servant jabbed down at her shoulders with his halberd, tearing aware more the tattered remains of the ripped tunic to now expose her shoulders as well as her breasts. As she still refused to climb further down he inserted the point of the halberd into the hollow between her skinny neck and her collar bone and pushed hard down, with a scream she let go and fell to the dirt floor below, her left foot twisting unnaturally as she hit the floor. The Constable pulled up the ladder and shut the trapdoor to muffle her screams and they went to prepare for the next day's execution.
That night Edith again dreamt of her mother, burning, and herself backing away from the heat of flames. She awoke bathed in sweat despite the cold of the dungeon, but calmed slightly as she remembered she was at least not going to be burned. Her sweat now chilled her upper body but the tattered remains of Roger's tunic were too shredded to provide enough cover to warm her so she removed it altogether and used it to try to wipe away the chilling dampness. There was no indication whether it was night or day once the trapdoor was shut so she just drew her knees up under her chin, despite stabs of pain from her ankle, and cried again. She had been used to hunger pains since she had started trying to starve herself to death but this night, or morning - she couldn't tell which, her empty belly felt as though knots were being tied in it. She clenched her hands together and pressed them into her hollow stomach which gave slight relief, allowing her to drift off to sleep again.
Once the gibbet, hurdle and brazier had been fetched from the town they went to fetch the girl. the Constable's servant descended the rope ladder taking the end of a long rope which he bound round the protesting girl's chest beneath her armpits. Together the Constable and the magistrate roughly hauled her up,the rope tightening and cutting painfully into her ribcage squeezing the air out of her lungs. Then one seizing each bare arm they dragged her down the steps into the castle courtyard, Edith screamed from the pain of her twisted ankle as her left foot struck each the stone steps on the way down.
She was bound again to the hurdle as before, but this time the magistrate removed her breeches altogether so that she was now totally naked. The castle steward hurried the horse forward, the other witnesses running behind. The hurdle, with Edith bound spreadeagled on it almost upside down, bounced over the rough ground within the castle. The men were delighted by the way her small yet perfectly formed breasts bounced and joggled with the hurdles violent motion. Not wanting to be accused of shirking from their duty they set off for a second circuit of the castle grounds (except for the Constable who had been exhausted trying to keep up the first time). The Sheriff and the Constable's servant removed their leather sword belts and ran alongside flailing enthusiastically at Edith's writhing body, making her hoarse broken screams even higher pitched.
Panting and excited they stopped by the gibbet and told the Constable to get it ready. "The traitor bitch needs more beating I think leered the Sheriff. Dropping his breeches he mounted her on the hurdle. Bracing his knees into her hollow armpits he grasped her ankles, making her scream and arch her back in pain so making it even easier to penetrate her, he enthusiastically raped her for King and Country for a long ten minutes before rolling off her panting in ecstasy. The Magistrate dutifully followed his example before beckoning over the Constable. The Constable's stout knees forced the breath out of her chest as he tried to clamber onto her and even as he clutched at her legs to steady himself he slid down her semen soaked body painfully catching his balls on her bony chin. The Magistrate helped him to his feet while the Sheriff sympathised "you'd better take care at your age old chap, its not supposed to be your execution!"
As the tubby Constable got his breath back the servant fetched a barrel of ale and poured them out mugs while they sat and gazed at the exquisite, if filthy, body on the hurdle, her chest rising and falling in time with small sobs.
Edith was limply compliant as they untied her from the hurdle then lay her face down on the ground to bind her arms tightly behind her back. She was then dragged to her feet and stood beneath the gibbet. Neither able nor willing to stand on her own the Magistrate steadied her as the noose was placed around her neck and tightened. The Constable, who had now recovered somewhat and wanted to play his part, hauled on the rope to lift her off the ground. Her sobs were replaced by a brief croaking sound then her legs flailed in a hopeless search for something to relieve the weight on her neck.
Although she was being hung on a cold, still morning Edith felt as though flames were consuming her body. As her vision became hazy she felt it must be due to smoke. She writhed trying to free her wrists from their bonds, convinced now she was bound to a stake. The burning sensation crept from her chest, full of air she couldn't exhale, to her sore ravished vagina, to her constricted neck. She couldn't scream, she couldn't breathe. As she weakened her kicking was reduced to twitching movements, now she remembered Roger's body twitching beneath her as she had squeezed the life from his neck. Then her consciousness faded to a woolly greyness...
The men watched fascinated at her erotic writhing, her skinny body arching towards them and then her knees lifting high as she spread her thighs, followed by more wild kicking and twisting. Gradually her movements lessened, yet half an hour later she was still twitching her legs and her hollow belly still fluttered as small amounts of air made it down her throat. The Magistrate had watched many hangings but few had stayed alive this long, he put it down to the light weight of her emaciated, dehydrated body. Suddenly a tiny trickle of urine splattered onto the ground and frantically the Magistrate shouted "get her down, quick".
The Sheriff swiftly cut the rope with his sword while the Constable was still fiddling to undo the knot he had tied. Edith crumpled to the floor with a loud thud, oblivious to her foot twisting yet again as it hit the ground. They worked hard to revive her, the Sheriff and the Steward rubbing her chest vigorously, the magistrate removing the noose then pouring cold water over her face, the Constable's contribution was to spread her thighs and vigorously massage her vagina!
Just as the Sheriff thought they had left her too long, and was about to admonish the Magistrate, who was supposed to be the expert, she gave a weak cough. They spent a further hour reviving her to make sure she was fully conscious, dragging her by the ankles (more screams, damaging her vocal chords!) closer to the brazier, then encouraged by the Constables contribution the Sheriff and the Magistrate enthusiastically raped her again. Then just to make sure she was fully revived the Sheriff picked up her still limp body and lay it over the ale barrel to perfectly display its concave belly contrasting with protruding ribs above and the bushy mound below and raped her a final time. He grasped her breasts tightly, clawing his fingers tightly into them, enjoying her rasping attempts to scream in agony, then he moved his hands to grip the bottom of her protruding ribcage, pressing each thumb hard up beneath the bottom rib until the bruising pain to her diaphragm stopped her from either breathing or screaming. As he enjoyed the feel of her heart beating against his right thumb he came ecstatically to a fantastic climax as her pelvis thrust up against him in a futile attempt to throw him off..
They now had a problem with the prescribed sentence, the next stage should have been castration, throwing the removed genitals onto the fire. Instead the Sheriff chose to set alight the end of a stout stick in the brazier then once well alight he extinguished it by thrusting it, not without difficulty, into Edith's dripping vagina. There was a prolonged sizzling sound but due to the extremely tight fit surprisingly little steam issued, though Edith's body buckled and twisted and fell off the barrel, her screams were now increasingly hoarse while her eyes were fixed on the flaming brazier.
As Edith's pelvis kept bucking in a futile attempt to get rid of the smouldering stick they re-tied her abused body to the hurdle, now flat on the ground, making sure she still had a good view of the brazier, which she continued to stare at wide eyed.
The magistrate then produced a sharp broad knife, he knew he had to act quickly now. He made the first deep cut from just below her ribs right down almost to her crotch, swiftly followed by a cut right cross her belly cutting through her navel. Swiftly he made another transverse cut just below her ribs then, with a pair of tongs in his left hand hurriedly started ripping out her entrails, severing them from the stomach with his knife, then quickly pulling and winding them round the tongs until her could slash them free from deep down in her abdomen as close to her anus as he could, immediately throwing them into the fire which spat and issued great clouds of steam.
Looking back at Edith he saw her wide eyes still stared at the fire. Had she seen her entrails burned before she died? She gave a tiny choking cough and her chest heaved slightly, dropped, then lifted again ... she was STILL alive and breathing! The Magistrate ran to position himself between her legs, he cut her ankle bonds, pushed her legs apart, then lifted her hips towards him then pulled out the rapidly cooling stick and replaced it with his erect cock. Thrusting his hands into her empty, bloody, belly cavity he pulled her pelvis up towards him from the inside and ecstatically fucked the dying carcass. The Sheriff decided things were going too far so he reached beneath her still quivering ribcage and, grabbing the Magistrates knife cut out her beating heart, as he did so the Magistrate climaxed while fountains of blood spurted over the Sheriff from the severed arteries and Edith's eyes rolled upwards to show just the whites.
"You did get in an extra fuck earlier" pointed out the magistrate, the Sheriff laughed. "We're not finished yet" and the Sheriff borrowed the magistrates knife to slice the breasts off the carcass and throw them in the fire, then to carve away all signs of its sex from the crotch area. Then the Magistrate resumed the task with a broad axe, cutting off the head then chopping through the spine to separate the hips from the chest. Next he had to smash the pelvis in two to separate the hips with legs attached and finally the most difficult part, smashing the ribcage vertically into two.
Her severed head was despatched to London to be displayed as "The Head of Roger the Counterfeiter and Traitor" for twelve years until stolen by some drunks to use as a football! One leg quarter was also despatched with it to London, being rapidly buried once Judge Fitzhenry had viewed it, another leg quarter was briefly displayed in Coventry. An arm and piece of shattered chest was sent to York as a deterrent to suspected counterfeiters there. While one piece of chest and an arm were briefly displayed in Canonsford, where of course it attracted much attention as, although no-one dared mention it, it was widely known to have belonged to a young woman.