>The Witch of Gloucestershire


The Witch of Gloucestershire
by The Shark

   These were dangerous, turbulent times. Famine, disease and plague walk among us. England is a nation at war with the Welsh and our kings are either being murdered or deposed. Punishment for crimes commited are carried out swiftly and cruely. Torture being amongst the favorite form of punishment carried out by crimes commited against the king or a lord. Stealing was rewarded with the amputation of the thief's hand or arm, for example. Often times it even led to death. The death penalty was used against peasants revolting against unfair wages, anyone suspected of blasphemy or heresay. Anyone conspiring against the crown would face certain death using various forms of torture in coercing a confession, whether true or not. It was the practise of witchcraft, however, which brought upon the bearer the most gruesome of deaths known to man. This was usually a woman's crime, accused when delivering a daughter at birth as opposed to a son, or simply when the man's roaming eye fell upon another damsell and he simply wanted to be rid of his wife. 
  It is in the small village of Lower Slaughter, in Gloucestershire, that our tale begins. For there, at the village market cross sits a woman chained to the pillory. Her name is Serena and she has been found guilty of witchcraft. No one knows from where the charges stem, nor do they care. For at dawn she has been sentenced to die. Most convicted witches are burned at the stake but the village of Lower Slaughter does things a bit different. They intend to live up to their name, for Serena shall be tortured within full public view. She has been placed in the pillory for the village people to view and ridicule. Some stop to spit on her and to cast profanities. Others throw stones or thrash her with leather strips, though careful not to cause her too much harm, lest the festivities be not needed. Still others, mainly the men or young lads, look upon her and behold her beauty.
Serena was a comely lass of the tender age of six and twenty years. She had short dark hair and large round green eyes of which she constantly looked about her in fear. She could not understand these charges which had been thrust upon her and, without warning, was removed from her cottage and sent before the councillors of The Slaughters. Dazed, she could not comprehend what it was they were saying. Something about curses and black magic. They called her a witch. Without being able to speak for herself, John Sudeley the blacksmith of Lower Slaughter, proclaimed her guilt and her death was decided. The whole trial, if that is what it could be called, lasted exactly thirty minutes, twenty of which had been spent with each one of the councillors congratulating themselves on the conviction of this poor woman and vowing to rid Gloucestershire of witches forever. The last few minutes consisted of the sentance of death being outlined. First, in full public view, the woman would receive a red-hot poker inserted into her rectum. She would then be tortured by having one limb after another removed while she was still alive. The limbs would then be fed to the lions who were to be borrowed from the royal menagerie. All of this would be in plain view of the victim herself. After her limbs were torn from her body in numerous ways, she would be left to lie in agony and pain until, finally, the royal lions were allowed to eat her body, again while still alive. As the sentence was being passed, Serena fainted and fell to the floor. When she awoke, she found herself pilloried at the market cross. Here is where our story truely begins.

   In the wee hours of morning's breath, two village councillors unchained the fair maiden, Serena, from her shackles and led her to a raised dias erected the previous day. The poor woman shook with fright and just before she reached the platform, she caught sight of the four royal lions which had been spoken of only four and twenty hours before. What little clothing she wore was removed from her. For those men who had looked upon Serena's beauty the day before could not remove their gaze from her lovely body. A body, indeed a woman, of this stature would be enough for most men to write sonnets over. Instead, a tragedy was to occur to this poor woman which caused many to weep for her. They were the minority, however. Most were eagerly looking forward to the event as there hadn't been a good witch execution for as long as anyone could remember.

    It was almost time. The nude Serena was strapped down to a cold stone slab. Her wrists were tied together to eyelets above her head. A rope was tied around each lovely ankle and was then itself connected to a pulley above. As the rope was pulled her legs were raised above her. The crowd became silent in anticipation of the first of many events. The blacksmith was holding a poker over his fire, hammering it's tip against his anvil. The tip was glowing with such intensity that one could not look upon it for the light. As the blacksmith came towards the helpless Serena, two other councillors stood on either side of the victim and spread apart her legs. The rope was pulled higher, bringing Serena's legs far above her body. The two men then pulled apart her buttocks so that the iron poker could be administered.

    Serena lay defenceless upon the dias. She could feel her nakedness and the eyes of the hushed crowd on her. She knew that their hungry eyes would devour her long before the lions. As her legs and buttocks were spread apart, she felt the fear and utter humiliation of this event. She braced herself for the certain pain that was just moments away. Even before the red hot iron was applied, she began to cry with both fear and rage. The rage of being helpless, powerless to stop this from happening. Then, the first deed of the day made itself known to her. It was a pain that her mind could never have conjured up in a million years. The sharp and searing heat of this poker entering her delicate anus. Just inches away she could sense the pain, once applied it became three-fold.

   Without the slightest of hesitations, John Sudeley administered the first part of this poor woman's sentence. Her anus was exposed to him and, slowly he brought the instrument of torture to it's mark. As the iron was inserted, the screams from this convicted witch bellowed above the cheering of the crowd. The pain caused her urine to spray out of her and on to the hands of the chief councillor. The hissing of the hot iron as the amber liquid hit it caused smoke to rise between her outstreached legs. Her screaming was so intense that some of the women in the crowd had to be carried away, fainting. John Sudeley enjoyed his role, he enjoyed the complete control he had over this woman's body and he knew how to use it. As he retracted the still hot iron from his victim, feces was expelled from Serena's rectum. Her cries could be heard throughout the small village dispite the noise now being made from the crowd.

    Serena thought she would die from the pain alone and almost prayed she would. She would then be spared from the other events that would befall her, knowing that the worst was yet to come. As the poker entered her body a wave of indescribable pain, more intense than any could ever imagine seized her. She could feel herself urinating and knew she could not control herself. She felt as if her belly were going to explode from the intense heat and, as the poker was being removed, she defecated. The idea of being humiliated in public was far out weighed by the pain. She could smell her own flesh burning as the iron was withdrawn, then thrust into her for a second time before finally being removed for good. The first event was over. It had simply prepared her for the pain she was about to receive.

    John Sudeley removed his iron for the last time, his hands wet with Serena's blood and urine. Even as he stood, facing the crowd with his weapon raised above his head, Serena lay defecating upon the stone slab for all to see. It was time to move to the second event. Slowly the men at the ropes lowered the poor woman's legs as another councillor approached her brandishing a two-sided axe. Holding the weapon for the crowd to see, they cheered their welcome to this next event. The man with the axe stood beside the crying Serena and informed her that her was going to cut off her right arm in three pieces, starting at the wrist and working his way up. Another man began untying her wrists, bringing her right arm to her side and holding it down at the elbow. The axe was placed upon Serena's wrist to indicate the area of the first blow and was then raised above the man's head. A dull sound was met with a slight spark as metal met stone. The hand had been severed at exactly the spot indicated. The fingers of the poor woman twitched and the hand actually move a few inches across the table on it's own. The crowd was mesmerized by this and some even stated that this was proof she was a witch. The councillor then picked up the hand by the thumb and held it up for the crowd. Blood dripped from the severed end.

    Serena felt the cold blow of the axe and saw blood spurt from her wrist. Again she cried out from the pain and her fear. She saw her hand being raised up to the crowd who were actually cheering her slow torture and certain death. Then she heard the roar from the royal lions who were fenced in beside her. She could look down into their stable and she watched as her severed hand was thrown in and immediately eaten by one of the beasts. She saw her fingers breaking in it's jaws, she heard the crunch of bone and saw in horror, the lion swallow her appendage. Immediately after, she felt the cold steel resting on her elbow and saw the man with the axe marking the area with her own blood. Again the axe fell, again the spark and the blood. And again, to her disbelief, the cheer of the crowd as her arm was severed at midpoint. She thought she would die before the arm was entirely removed from both fear and pain. Once more the bone and meat torn from her body was thrown to the lions and eaten before her very eyes. Finally, the steel axe tore through her armpit, spraying blood over her face. Shards of bone protruded from her shoulder and with it, strands of meat. The second event had come to an end with the total removal of her right arm.

    The third event brought with it a horse and another councillor with a rope. With this rope, the man wrapped the left arm of the screaming Serena, from her wrist to her armpit. The other end of the rope was fastened to the horse. The third councillor informed her that her arm was going to be torn off at the root by the force of the waiting horse. Tears streamed down Serena's face as yet another cruel punishment was presented to her. The length of rope was long enough for the horse to gain the speed needed for this event. The crowd became silent once again in anticipation of the removal of the woman's left arm. Finally, the signal was given. The horse gallopped off at top speed and in a matter of moments, a "snap" could be heard among the onlookers. The arm had been savagely torn from the screaming Serena as she writhed upon the stone slab in agony. Blood had sprayed into her face as the arm was pulled away from her body. Not even bone could be seen as the arm was torn from the socket joint. Bloody pieces of meat were hanging from the shoulder, swaying to and fro in her agony. Her arm was then retrieved and held up for the masses to see and cheer for before being thrown to the lions as food. Two of the beasts fought over the limb, tearing it apart at the elbow with a "pop". Serena could see her hand hanging out of the side of the lion's mouth as it chewed on her lower arm. In seconds, the arm had been devoured, bones and all.

    The fourth event brought a man holding a weapon resembling a small sword. He approached the armless Serena and informed her that he was going to cut off each one of her toes before finally removing her right foot. It was unclear whether the screams coming from the torn Serena were in reaction to what was told to her or for the pain she had already received, for she squirmed in agonizing pain the whole time. Taking hold of Serena's big toe, the man placed his blade between the toes and, with a sawing motion, removed her toe from her right foot. This done, he then went to the next toe, repeating the procedure, all the while Serena lay screaming, pleading for mercy. Soon, Serena had all the toes on her right foot removed. The man with the sword held the toes in the palm of his hand, showing them to the curious crowd. He then threw the small digits into the lion's stable where they were eaten.

   Serena watched the man who had just cut off her toes, grab hold of her foot and saw through the ankle. He then twisted her foot off and with it came a crunching sound. This was more than Serena could bear. She was being torn limb from limb to the applause of the village people who showed no remorse for her. She then saw her severed foot thrown to the lions where one of the beasts chewed and swallowed it. Next, the man with the sword plunged his sharp blade into the upper thigh of her right leg. Serena looked down to see blood spurting from where her foot had been and then watched in horror as the man opened up her leg from thigh to ankle, exposing the bones in her leg. The meat was then spread on either side of the bones and stripped off as a butcher would do. Soon, only the bones of her leg were left with small pieces of meat hanging from them. The meat that had been cut away was then offered to the lions who devoured the sweet flesh. The man then took hold of Serena's femur and twisted the ball of the bone away from the socket and threw them into the stable as well. Serena stared down at her torn body knowing that the next event was about to unfold.

   A cheer rose from the crowd as the fifth councillor made his way to the stone dias. He held in his hand what appeared to be a sickel and approached Serena, announcing his intention of removing her entire leg with the use of his weapon and his bare hands.The poor Serena knew that the end was nigh. Dispite the pain, she could not erase the image she had of being eaten alive by the royal lions. Suddenly, her thoughts were silenced with the slow circular cut of her flesh. The man with the sickle cut around her upper thigh deep enough for blood to spurt from her artery and spray the revelrous crowd. This brought more applause from the onlookers and fresh pain to Serena. After making these cuts, the man then grabbed hold of her leg and twisted and pulled, from left to right. Serena screamed again from this, tears streaming down her face. At one point the man had twisted her leg to such an extent that her toes were brought up to her face. Soon, a "pop" indicated that the leg was free from the socket joint. He then twisted the leg around until the toes were facing the table. Then he pulled, with all his might and the leg was no longer attached to the poor woman's body. He held the leg up by the calf for those to see. More agreed that the fact that the woman's toes were moving on their own was proof that she was a witch. The leg was then thrown to the lions.

   Serena bit through her tongue, the pain was so intense. She was now covered in her blood, completely limbless. She looked over to see her leg being eaten by the royal beasts. Even now, her toes still clenched and unclenched while inside the mouth of a lion. The animal had torn it from it's ankle and was eating her bare foot, her toes protruding from it's mouth. It's teeth sank into the soft and tender meat of her sole and tore through the delicate meat between her toes, cutting the foot in half. Her toes had no sooner hit the ground than they were picked up by the great cat and eaten. She knew she was next. The lions were still hungry and she knew they would tear her apart. She prayed it would be quick, maybe she'd be lucky and they'd tear off her head. Then, as two men approached her, she knew it was time for the final event.

    The crowd began to roar with delight as the final event was about to begin. One of the men informed Serena that she was to be taken to the stable where she would no doubt be devoured on the spot. The lions had already enjoyed the limbs of the poor woman, now it was time for the main course. With one man at her head and the other at her buttocks, they lifted Serena from the blood splattered stone over to the stable. The crowd cheered as Serena's nude, limbless body was carried past them. She looked wildly around her for someone, anyone to save her from the worst death she could ever imagine. No one came forward, instead they shouted insults at her. As she got closer to the stable, her terror caused her to defecate again. A pass thru in the fence was opened and her torn body placed inside. The crowd gathered round the fence and watched as all four cats pounced on the screaming woman. One of the beasts had turned her body over and put her right buttock into it's mouth and tore off the meat. Another wrapped it's mouth around her vagina and anus eating both. Bloody urine and intestinal muck went into the animal's mouth. The perineum was torn wide open exposing the woman's rectum and vaginal canal. The beast pulled her rectum out and with it bowel contents that spilled onto the ground as well as into it's mouth.

    Serena lay helpless and defenceless as these beasts ate her nude body. Her belly had been sliced open with the swipe of a paw spilling out her intestines and her liver. She was defecating uncontrolably as she watched herself being eaten. One of the cats placed it's entire mouth into her belly, pulling out her viscera. She vomited dark red blood as one by one they tore her apart. The worst of all the pains came as one of the beasts chewed into her vagina and her anus. She could feel her clit and her pee hole being torn apart, then her labia along with the hair around it being pulled off. The beast would then raise it's head long enough for Serena to see her rectum hanging out of it's mouth. Then it would swallow and bite again. Next, she felt her right breast engulfed in the lion's mouth to the ribs. When it bit down, it tore off the breast meat and pulled out her ribs. Blood was gurgling from her throat now and she knew the end was near. The next bite came to the left side of her belly, removing her kidney, pancreas and her stomach. Her head was now swimming and she knew it was about over. The last thing Serena would ever know was the hot jaws clamping around her throat, tearing off her head.

   The lions had torn off the now dead Serena's head as they ate what little was left of her body. Practically nothing was left at all of the woman. The villager's had ridden Lower Slaughter of its witch. One by one they each made their ways back to their homes and their work places. Life would go back to normal and by the end of the day the conversation would turn to other things. The lions were returned to the royal menagerie, well fed, and the head of the dead woman had been placed on a spike for everyone to see just what happens to witches in Gloucestershire.