Below is my offering for Trifecta’s week 91 challenge word, which is ‘brand’. As you will see from the Trifecta blog post, the challenge is to write between 33 and 333 words of fiction, non-fiction, poetry or prose, based on the 3rd definition from the Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary. This week the 3rd definition of ‘brand’ is:
a (1): a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership;
a(2): a printed mark made for similar purposes: a trademark
b(1): a mark put on a criminal with a hot iron
b(2): a mark of disgrace: stigma <the brand of poverty>
Here’s my offering below – I hope you like it! By way of backstory, this is a tiny extract from my work in progress novel (first edit done, second edit underway), which I first began as part of NaNoWriMo in 2011. It’s very rough and sharing this feels like I’m walking naked in front of you all, but for the word prompt it fits very well, as the issue of branding people runs right through my whole novel.
The Penitents halted their circling and stamped their feet together abruptly. The noise echoed across the landscape – a crow rose from its perch in protest, a jagged ‘V’ in the sky. Dragging Gregor to his feet, the men pulled him to a nearby tree, binding him to its trunk face first.
A hooded figure marched forward and with one movement ripped Gregor’s cloak and shirt away revealing his target – the brand that lay beneath. In piteous defence, bare skin puckered with goose flesh against the dawn chill, but nothing could protect Gregor from the slash of knives as they flew, glinting in the winter sunlight, carving deep clefts from which gory jewels dripped, splattering the rocks at his feet. Flint struck stone, a muffled woomph followed as a torch was lit. There was a moment’s hesitation, cut short by a swift nod and flames were set against the bloody flesh, consuming and devouring with sickening greed. Gregor’s body sagged – the flame was extinguished.
The hooded man surveyed his prey for a moment then spat on the ground. ‘Not a squeal from him – how disappointing. Unleash him. He’s not worth the rope. Dispense with the formalities, he will soon understand his fate when he wakes. He is Discarded, for the record. Let us return to The Portal and continue our task.’
The Penitents untied Gregor’s senseless form, and cast him to one side. For good order they too spat on the ground before gliding away.