"You have failed our people for the last time, Rooster." Yammy's declaration was intensified by the kneeling man with his hands tied before him. Briefly, a hole parted in the grey cloud cover, allowing a single sunbeam to illuminate Yammy's face as he looked out at the crowd assembled in front of him. "Out with the old and in with the new, as they say," he chuckled.
"Just you wait," spat Rooster, an angry and determined expression on his face disregarding the foot pressing the side of his head into the wooden stage. "You'll run down the village just like every other leader before you. Mark my words, you'll be overthrown one day — and that is when I shall return from my exile and restore balance."
Yammy twisted his foot harder into Rooster's head, but threw his own back and laughed. "Exile? You think you'll be going into exile? Oh, no, my old master, don't you remember what you taught me? 'The best way to deal with your opponents is to not have any opponents at all,' you said. That's what this," he said, flicking a hoop made of rope suspended in the air by a wooden beam, "is for. You will not live long enough to see my permanent rule." Yammy brought his foot off of Rooster's head and tapped it twice against the ground. "Bring forth the steps!"
Two men in heavy armour parted the crowd by hoisting a set of light-looking wooden stairs up the stage.
"You bastard! I would never — in my twenty years as head of this village, I have never executed a single person!"
"Maybe you should have, to get rid of your opponents," Yammy winked. "Take him up!"
There was little struggle as the two guards roughly yanked Rooster to his feet and pushed him up the steps to the gallows. "You'll never get away with this!" His attempt to turn his head back to yell at Yammy was ruined by a guard shoving his head into the rope hoop.
"Whenever you're ready." One guard motioned to the other, who nodded and took a step back. Rooster closed his eyes, ready for the inevitable.
A swish above his head and gasps from the crowd immediately let him know something was off. A sweaty hand tugged on his own, and Rooster turned to see a stout young boy dragging him along as he stumbled out of the iron armour set, which was cut in two. "Master, let's go!" he said, face shiny and flushed.
Yammy was furious. "Traitor! Apprehend them both at once!"
Rooster didn't hesitate and threw the rope around his neck behind him. Before the second guard could impale them both with his deadly-looking spear, he sped up ahead of the boy off the stage and onto the dirt road, looking back occasionally to make sure he could keep up. "Move, boy, move!" he yelled as he felt the tension on his hand increase. "You should have ridden those pounds years ago!"
The clank clank clank of iron on ground became quieter and quieter as the duo put more distance between them and their pursuers until they reached the edge of a thick line of trees. "Do not let go of my hand, boy!"
"Stop!" Yammy ordered as they reached the tree line shortly after, holding the guard behind with an outstretched arm. "We will never catch them if we chase after them in the Forest of Git. But no matter. The forest will take care of them for us."
"Foolish boy. Napbot, that was incredibly reckless of you and not at all necessary."
The boy sat with his back against a tree, heaving. "I…couldn't…let you…go like that, master. Yammy…what he's doing is…not right. And I would have been executed soon after because of you."
Rooster sighed. "That…is true," he admitted. "I must apologise for associating with you. From this day on, we will live as fugitives off of the Forest of Git — until we can reclaim what is rightfully ours."