Wounded and weary, with what was left of his shield strapped to his back, the grizzled veteran walked through the storm. He didn’t care that the people where looking out from behind their shutter slats at him. Knowing that the hated and despised him was not the cause of either his mission or the darkness of his mood. For years he had been taking the hardest assignments, flinging himself into the hottest part of the battles, charging onwards wherever the odds were against him and his men. It had earned him honors and promotions, as well as choice assignments that he had requested to be excused from. He was a haunted man they said, behind his back of course as no one would dare say it to his face, but he knew anyway.
“They are right you know,” he told his commander one dark night.
“I am a haunted man, haunted by the memories of a post I served long ago.”
“Ah yes, Silas” he said, “ We’ve all had some of those posts. Let me guess, Palestine?”
“Yes sir, that is where it was, nothing has ever been quite like it I suppose.”
Silas stared into the night thoughtfully as he considered how much to tell.
“ It wasn’t so much the stiff-necked and ungovernable people though, as it was…”
As he was trying to put it into words, the sound of swords crashed through the night from the Eastern watch interrupting their conversation. As it turned out, they never got back to that conversation.
Casting a glance out at his surroundings Silas pulled himself from his memories in time to throw a hard glare at a group of young men that were coming down the road towards him. They took the warning and went past in search of someone who would be less trouble. After all, soldiers didn’t usually travel alone without good reason, and without being able to take care of themselves.
“Not much has changed” he thought to himself as he continued on towards the city. “except, perhaps that they are a little bolder than they used to be”.
“Never thought I’d be glad to see this town loom in the distance, what a wearying time to be journeying through this terrible land”.
His thoughts turned inwards again as the path cleared before him.
They had come out of nowhere, in a nicely done ambush closing front and back as he came around a bend in the road. All might have been lost without the split second warning of his mount as it snorted in response to their approach. It wasn’t much time, but it was enough to set his spear into the first one and pull his sword. It was the wildest melee of his long career in the Legion. Wheeling his horse he charged the closest part of the line, bursting through it and catching them by surprise when he turned back upon them instead of fleeing into the country side. The brigands were tough enough, if ill equipped, and managed to unhorse him as he made yet another pass through their ranks. If nothing else, that had been their undoing, for now he was afoot with sword and shield among them, avenging the horse that had carried him through countless battles. Fighting with a skillful savagery, as only a Centurian in his prime can do, Silas dispatched the rest to meet whatever gods they belonged to. Taking a few moments to drag them out of the road and bind his wounds, Silas slung his riven shield across his back barbarian style. Picking up a well made belt dagger from the body of their leader he continued on, gathering what he needed to carry from his saddlebags and marching onwards towards his destination.
A chilling drizzle brought him back to the present as he continued his march towards the city gates.
“Yes, a dreary time to travel indeed.” he muttered as he entered the city.
Finishing his journey at last Silas came to the Governors mansion where he could clean up and have the package delivered by the Watch. Somehow he would find out who it was that got him on courier duty before this was over, although at least with him the delivery was able to be made, unlike some of the recruits that would have been in that ambush otherwise.
“It’s been a long time since I was here last,” he said to the watch captain. “I take it things are still restless here in this province?”
“Aye, sir. Judging from your wounds you’ve already met some of the rabble.”
“Yes indeed, and you will find what is left of them, as well as my horse 3 hours march out of the Eastern gate.”
“I’ll send a detail at once sir”
“Thank you.” said Silas, “now if you will excuse me, I still have some business in the city, which may take me until late tonight. I’ll be back afterwards to rest and see if you have found out who they were.”
Declining the offer of a fresh cloak, he went off slowly towards the garden.
He knew he would have no trouble finding it again, since it had haunted his dreams every night for all these years. The sun was setting when he arrived at his old post, only a three day assignment it had turned out to be. Yet it had made such a mark upon him.
“Yes, this is where it was” he said.
“This is the place where He lay” I’ll never forget that day when They came to get Him.”
“Terrible and mighty they were” “as only the Son of God would command”
“We were so wrong” he cried out to the storm above, “so wrong”
“how could we have been so blind!”
Falling to his knees, the warrior knew he had to ask forgiveness of this God whose followers he had wronged so badly. This God he had insulted by insisting that His body had been stolen, instead of the incredible truth.
“ I’m sorry Lord Jesus… so sorry, I know you are alive…