Epilogue: The Beast Condemned

The guard pulled the cords tightly around Finrael's wrists. His final meal sat like a lead weight in his stomach, but he hadn't the energy or the will to expel it.

In a fog, he allowed himself to be led from the cell, down the corridor, then out into the parade ground. The gallows loomed large and foreboding against the bright blue sky.

...turned tail and ran... saved his own skin... left Kara on her own without protection...

Finrael jerked out of his memories and glared at a man in passing, one who'd been among those chasing the girl and the orc. He'd borne witness against Fin, like all the others had. Not a one saw his side of the argument.

...Shot her right in the back, he did. Then he laughed...

Each of the dozen men was at attention on the grounds, and each had given testimony. Finrael sneered.

...sure, it looked like mischief was goin' on, but we learned otherwise, didn't we?...

Blind. They were all completely blind. Ignoring what was right before their eyes. Did they have to watch the beast mount her in front of them? Would that convince them?

...know about that. All I know is, there was orcs what attacked the farm. If he had anything to do with that...

Anger boiled inside him. Did they honestly believe that he would consort with orcs? Really? Conspire with them, even? If he had his way, they'd be roasting in a fiery pit, every last one of them. Starting with that smug son of a bitch rutting with the harpy in Lothlórien right now.

...yes, but you gotta understand, yer honors. The beastly thing weren't tryin' to attack any of us. He only went for Finrael...

Ah, there he was, that deceitful, lying bastard. Finrael glowered at Maklin as he passed.

...carefully examined the signs, and yes, one could interpret them as indicating defilement took place. But Kara denied such indignities occurred...

Of course she denied it! He tried to make them see it would be in the woman's best interests to refuse acknowledgment of such vile debauchery, considering she'd thrown her legs wide open to the monstrous creature particularly in order to bring shame upon him when the disgusting whelp she undoubtedly sought to conceive came to light.

...would say the orc, Ufhau, had nothing whatever to do with the attack on the farm, and in fact dispatched the ones who destroyed it quite handily. Further, he did not kidnap Miss Willowmeade. She confessed that she accompanied him of her own free will, out of fear for her life...

His most hate-filled gaze fell upon the Captain as he mounted the steps. That son of a whore, with his respected position and calm delivery, utterly destroyed any protest Finrael could make. Regardless that the village council deliberated for a week over whether to condemn him, it didn't matter now that the rope was dangling overhead.

...carefully weighed the evidence and eyewitness accounts, and we have concluded that Finrael Greendale did, in fact, attack Kara Willowmeade with the intent to do harm. Though we do not feel enough evidence has been presented to associate Finrael with the orcs' attack upon the farm, his subsequent behavior is considered questionable enough that we have noted our doubts as to his innocence of that charge. More damning, in the council's opinion, is the choice made by Miss Willowmeade to cast her lot with an orc rather than remain unprotected where Finrael would undoubtedly find her. That this orc has been granted sanctuary by one of the most respected of the Wise speaks to her wisdom in such a choice. Her own written statements regarding the disposition of her land and remaining goods, to the council's wise discretion, have been duly noted. There is only the... unpleasant business of Master Greendale's fate that is left to be decided...

Hmph. It took them a week to decide they didn't know if he was guilty of conspiracy or not, and an hour to put the noose around his neck for shooting a whore. Of course, the 'gift' of her lands had nothing at all to do with their decision. What was this cursed world coming to?

As he waited for the count to end, and the floor to fall away below his feet, Finrael scanned each face, memorizing their features. If he saw any of those sons of bitches in the Halls of Mandos, he'd certainly have some choice words for them.