“Witch.” They had called her. “Bride of Satan.”
They had accused her of causing the crops to fail. Of the starvation and disease. Of the attacks by the native tribes. Of being allied with the Spanish.
For that they sought to kill her. So she ran.
Branches and brush caught her as she ran. Tearing her clothes and wounding her flesh. She ignored the pain and hurried on.
She was short of breath and her lungs hurt, oh so much. But still she ran. Her hope was to make it to one of the tribes. There they would understand why she had come, and there they would protect her.
But all of that was forgotten as soon as she burst into a clearing.
A figure of a woman loomed before her. She stopped, too paralyzed to move as she stared at the lifeless body. The moonlight illuminated the lifeless corpse as it swayed in the wind, hanging from a tree limb. Empty eye-sockets stared out from her putrefied face, the noose around her neck having torn loose gobbets of flesh.
“No, oh no.” She fell to her knees as wracking sobs overtook her then. She was too late.
The first efforts to establish a colony had failed. Due to a disagreement over a silver cup, a native village was destroyed. In retaliation, the fort was attacked, but held. When the relief ships had failed to arrive on time, the colonists had been all too willing to return to England with Drake and his privateer crew.
However, the attempt to stop the relief fleet had only served to delay its arrival. When they reached the colony, they found it to be abandoned. But being stubborn, they left a group behind to protect the English claim to the island.
That had required an extraction team to be sent in. It had been a confusing mess, but the ordeal had been resolved with a minimum of casualties and the complete relocation of the colonists. All that remained was to prevent the last group from re-establishing the colony. That responsibility had fallen on her.
While the rest of her team had been working with the natives, she had insinuated herself into the colonists bound for the little island. Once they had arrived and discovered the fort to be abandoned, it had been easy to persuade many of them to want to continue on toward the Chesapeake bay.
But that damned Fernandez would have none of it. He had heard the siren’s call of greed and was in a hurry to get back to privateering. So he forced them to stay at the colony while he sailed onward.
Their leader, John White, had tried to make the best of the situation by seeking to re-build shattered relations with the native tribes. However, a man had been killed and one of the ‘enemy’ tribes was held responsible. She had hated to do it, but there had been precious little options.
It had the desired effect, and White then left for England to seek aid. With as many setbacks as already had been seen, the colonists were sure to be recalled, or at least relocated, and the oncoming Anglo-Spanish War was sure to discourage future attempts to colonize the island.
But the following setbacks had not been foreseen. Foul weather had snarled their plans, as well as the greed of captains who should have done what they had been contracted to do. She and her team were then on their own.
A plan had been constructed to convince the colonists to take their small ships and sail up the coast toward the proposed settlement of the Chesapeake Bay. However, scouts sent on ahead never returned. Thus necessitating their last-ditch contingency plan — the allied tribes convincing them to move on toward the mainland.
She had been in communication with her team when she had been discovered. Her communications equipment had been destroyed, as had her transponder. She was effectively trapped in this time for the rest of her life. But if she could otherwise succeed in this mission, then she could live with it. But in order to do that, she needed to get to her team with the tribes…
She was still huddled on the ground, sobbing, when they reached her. “Jane Jones, you are accused of Witchcraft and of conspiring with the enemy. As punishment, you are to be hanged by the neck until dead.”
Her arms were tied behind her back and the noose was placed around her neck. And then she was wrenched upward. As she was dying, she realized that her mission had failed. The event was now time-locked, and she would travel back, fail, and die. Over and over again.