That evening, while the noose was readied in the town square and everyone milled around uneasily to watch as Aiden was led to his fate, Caeli remained in her home, watching the hanging in its entirety from her second-story hallway window. Unconsciously, her hand clenched tightly as they fitted the rough rope around his neck. What if we make a mistake again? What if we've killed one of our own?
But that was not to be. As the life slipped out of Aiden's limbs, he howled with his last breath - and then his fingers became claws, and the villagers beneath gasped as they saw the mark of the Thorn appear on the back of his hand.
Quickly, Caeli rushed to her writing desk. Grabbing her peacock quill from the inkwell, she added to the list she had written up last night, as she'd wondered what they could do about the Thorns. They didn't know how many of the enemy were in their midst... But from the way the votes had fallen, she could now rule out some people as Thorns: Kazyth, because Aiden had voted to lynch him; and Maeven and Bliss, who had voted to lynch Aiden.
There might well be more than one Thorn among them; legends never spoke of them acting individually, but always in small groups. And if they were disguised as regular villagers, they would not vote to lynch their own unless it was a dire circumstance.
Four of us who are most likely not Thorns... but that yet leaves many others who are the enemy.