You have been sent to gather wood for the abbey as punishment for falling asleep in class. You hate it — not the work, which is easy, but the shame that surrounds it. You cry all the way out to the woods, hot, angry tears that do nothing save feed the burning coal in your chest.

You work quickly, efficiently. The monks have taught you well.

When the skies darken you look up, hand poised on your hood. Rain. Well, of course. Only it’s not rain; the skies are black with leather wings, pierced but not illuminated by the smokey lanterns carried by their riders. You stand frozen, in awe at the grim beauty of their flight, in terror of what it means, and, shamefully, spitefully, because suddenly you are vindicated. Now they’ll be sorry. Now they’ll pay!

You run and run, but of course you’re too late.

For the rest of your long life you wonder if you might have made it in time to die with the others if you hadn’t stayed to savor your revenge.