Blood flooded the dusty foreign
streets and beaded upon the sword of the crusading
knight. As years passed the knight's armour
grew crisscrossed and his face wizened, leaving
him satiated to return to civilized lands. Turning
home he saw a fellow countryman fallen on hard
times, swaddled in rags. Hefting him up onto
the back of his horse, the knight told him
"Come, we return to the warmth of our own
The thin man stared, saying nothing as a weakened
flicker of joy seemed to wash across his gaunt
face. The two rode across the continent, backtracking
the knight's scorched and blasted path.
The days passed silently. "You say nothing,
friend, but your companionship means much. Though
I worry your health seems worse." The passenger
stared at the knight, who himself seemed tired
by their journey. On their many stops for water
the knight found himself too weak to carry on,
but his companion held him up in support.
"Resolve fills me as I look upon you, so
ill and yet mustering strength enough to aid
me. These sores pain me so, and spread 'cross
my body in mockery of our righteousness spreading
across heathen land. Looking upon you I'd swear
you were dead, but your compassionate efforts
betray you as a saint!"
The knight's eyes welled with tears, and in
his vision a corona formed around the now starkly
thin passenger's head.
Lolling in his saddle, but supported by the
gaunt man sitting behind him, the knight pointed
feebly to his hometown in the distance. The
sudden baleful braying of the passenger's horn
drowned out the knight's last rasping breath
as it rattled in his iron helm.
The townsfolk cry out in joyful congregation
at the sight of the single man upon his horse;
not seeing the curled figure of pestilence crouching
behind him, only bearing witness to their errant
knight's pregnant homecoming.