Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 147

nostrils, and Elvienne sitting cross-legged on the floor regarding her with a birdlike gaze, Onelle felt better able to speak. trembling in her gut, and do the same. “The candlefire,” she said. “It’s traditional in Whitewood; it has been as long as memory. Adultery, you see,” she swallowed, feeling the liquid coat her throat, “the people of this village prize a woman’s fidelity above everything. If a man is worried about being cuckolded, it makes him less able to do his work, and the whole community suffers. I know Hawn doesn’t want to pass his business down to an illegitimate son; no man would. But it’s a poor excuse for what they do.” She stared into the depths of her mug, and Elvienne had to prompt her to continue. “I have a harp, but I haven’t played for a good few summers. Why?” “What do they do? The accused woman is taken to the White Tree, and bound to a stake. The maidens of the village,” she drew in a deep shuddering breath and closed her eyes, the memory of the horror still fresh, the heat, the scent of charred flesh driving out the smell of the herbs, “they burn her with candles, set her a