Her name was Patience, and she was good.

She told herself that just before the smoking torch dropped into the hay that was worming its way between her bare toes. The rough strands of straw ignited in a blink of her raw, red eyes. In knee-jerk reflex, she attempted to kick the burning kindling off of the platform.

She might have succeeded, bought herself another minute of life, if not for the shout from the crowd and the hurled stone that crashed into her stomach, drove the air from her, and dimmed whole patches of her vision to black.

When she caught her breath, she choked on smoke.

She realized that she was terrified as the flame licked her ankle.

She was also fuming. The beasts watching her would walk free while she died, bound to an overgrown stick. She craned her neck to look at the blue sky where the clouds drifted carelessly past. "Oh, Father," she whispered, "please," and left it at that.

She closed her eyes and didn't scream, not then.

She would.

Over three centuries later, not far from the patch of earth where the good Patience burnt away to ash, a group of teenagers were busy doing what teenagers so often do best: joyriding.