Final Debt by Pepper Winters

Description : Final Debt
“READY TO DIE, Nila?”

Cut’s voice physically hurt me as he forced me to my knees. The ballroom splendour mocked me as I bowed unwillingly at the feet of my executioner.

Velvet and hand-stitched crewel on the walls glittered like the diamonds the Hawks smuggled—a direct contrast to the roughly sawn wood and crude craftsmanship of the guillotine dais. No finesse. No pride. Just a raised podium, framework cushioning a large tarnished blade, and a rope dangling to the side.

“Don’t do this. Cut…think about what you’ve be. You can stop this.” My voice mimicked a beg but I’d vowed not to beg. I’d seen things, understood things, and suffered things I never thought I would be able to endure. I refused to cry or grovel. I wouldn’t give him that satisfaction.

“In five minutes, this will all be over, Weaver.” Cut bent to the side and collected a wicker basket.

The wicker basket.

I didn’t want to think about what its contents would be.

He placed it on the other side of the wooden block.

My lungs demanded more oxygen. My brain demanded more time. And my heart…it demanded more hope, more life, more love.

I’m not ready.

Not like this.

“Cut—”

“No. No more talking. Not after everything you’ve done.” Ripping a black hood from his pocket, he didn’t hesitate. No fanfare. No second guesses.

I cried out as the scratchy blackness engulfed my face, tightening by a cord around my throat.

The Weaver Wailer chilled me. The diamond collar that’d seen what I’d seen and whispered with phantoms of my slain family prepared to revoke its claim and detach from around my neck.

This was it.

The Final Debt.

Cut pushed...
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