BY DR. AGONSON
At each step the cobblestone grows harder;
his aching feet wish to go no farther.
But, by unbreaking resolution spurred,
he overcomes his sharp pains undeterred.
A brewing storm whips the man’s coat about,
wind throwing him back like a giant’s shout.
But comes he on, leaning into the gale.
Against him mean whether could not prevail.
The fading sun, darkening grassy fields,
to the premature shadow of night yields.
The blowing squall struggles to stop his quest,
forcing him to seek out a place to rest.
Into a farmer’s hut, the man stumbles,
while outside the mighty thunder rumbles.
Around the table he finds four others
adorned in robes, an order of brothers.
The monastic quartet, in one motion,
turn their faceless hoods on the commotion.
Under shadows their identities hid;
Wordless, they neither welcome nor forbid.
The intruder, in the doorway standing,
leaves a way for the wind’s dismantling
gusts to discover each brother’s features.
In a moment he knew them: The Preachers.
Their heads, robbed of a robe’s hood a second,
felt their scalps’ chilly bareness, and reckoned
they were discovered by this invader;
with one accord they made themselves safer.
The four, as a body, leapt upon him,
and with nearby rope bound tightly his limbs.
Held fast by the cord, on the floor he lay.
Fearing himself lost, he began to pray.
“Peace, brothers,” he mournfully entreated.
“Or you’ll gain nothing of your maltreated
friend who now at your feet is bound with cords.
Loose these, and my tongue will give you rewards.”
The Preachers were silent while the wind raged,
and the door from its hinges disengaged.
The weathered wood flew into the small room,
landing beside their guest with a loud boom.
The furious heavens poured forth their wrath,
drowning the traveler in a rain bath.
From the open portal lightening’s brightness
overfilled the room in blinding whiteness.
The hut shook with the responding thunder,
unsettling the foundations under
this convenient clandestine dwelling place.
Then one looked upon their prisoner’s face.
And such are these four, you may wish to learn,
that what one can see all others discern.
Multiple bodies together played host,
obeying dictates from a single ghost.
“Friend?” says a Preacher, “Is that what you are?”
Another adds, “From the truth that is far.”
“Traitor,” condemns the third voice, “Deceiver.”
“Of our malice, you’ll be made receiver.”
As the fourth member said, so they all did.
Kicking the betrayer, they mocking bid:
“Friend, let us serve you well for that title.
Get up. Your sins are merely a trifle.”
The helpless man screamed, but found no mercy.
After many fruitless pleas then cursed he:
“You damned monsters, bitter inhuman things,
hold fast your vengeance; learn what good it brings.”
Ceasing pursuit of barbarous justice,
they let the man speak, whom they once trusted.
Groaning, he rolls himself onto his side,
and shifting sits up. Slowly, he confides:
“My course, interrupted by this weird storm,
was to a meeting where I would inform
The Seventy of a coming assault.”
This news produced the desired result.
Hands grabbed his hair, and jerked him to his feet.
His battered face, with bleeding wounds replete,
now drearily gazed at The Preachers four.
A spreading smile said he knew the score.
“Would you not need a friend to guide you there?”
his hoarse voice broke. “Tell me I’m in error.”
The monks had no answer to give their guest,
his betrayal was their only protest.
“I would lead the way,” he said with a sneer,
“But bound hand and foot I find that I fear
The Rebel’s council will be short us five,
and the attack will leave not one alive.”
Around the five the wind’s clamorous screams,
pealing and wailing, sings of war it seems.
The party leaves the hut to the storm’s rage.
Soon, the roof from the walls is disengaged.
Both were sworn to see the other one die;
the weakness of man made their oaths a lie.
In the foul madness of nature’s recourse,
they had but each other for a resource.
The thickness of the cascading rainfall,
the savagery of the boisterous brawl,
and the coldness of the darkening night
soon made them forget their murderous fight.
A sad bunch, to imposing paths resolved,
facing daunting mires were soon appalled
that the swelling river they were to cross
over its bridge the hungry waves now toss.
Standing was sinking for presence of mud.
Before them was an impassible flood,
but it was a wall set behind their backs,
nothing would make them recover their tracks.
The once allies, pressed to ally again,
were soon made sure that the weather would win
by the clapping thunder above their heads
fiercely striking the ground where their path treads.