ARMOUR(5)

He bent his knees and he lifted his arm if only, maybe, to shield his face. But when then he heard the solid bang, like hail hitting a roof. The hiss that followed was the unmistakable sound of an extinguishing fire. Several other sounds just like it followed.

He opened his eyes and the most scary but fascinating sight met his eyes. Right above him he saw purple, fiery silent ripples being created right above his arm as if they were meeting a solid glass surface and then the fire would seem to get sucked in. The safety was no bigger than what could cover him. Fiery darts hit the floor right around his feet and burrowing their way into the ground, creating small craters. It was like watching a mauve waterfall of deadly fire and feeling the flashes of heat thereof but with each thud on his unseen protection, he could still hear the thud of his heart beat. He was alive. And kept safe…. somehow.

As the last of the pellets fell and burrowed itself in the ground, he cautiously stood to full height and looked where the other armour clad figure was.
But both the clad one and the creature were off in the distance now. And for a brief moment he saw that the armoured figure stopped and turned to see him.

“I am okay!!!”, He shouted, waving his hands in an unbelieveable laugh.

The armoured figure’s shoulders shuffled up and down a little in what may have been a slight chuckle and then it took off after the creature.
He looked at where the armoured one stood in the tyraid of purple pellets. And right there was a huge patch of unharmed ground. But it was the shape that got his attention. THen he looked around his feet, he stood in the same shape of unharmed ground, though much, much smaller. But the shape was certain, the unmistakable shape of a cross.

“Trust me.” The voice was calm and authoritative.

“I am your shield and your exceeding great reward.”

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ARMOUR (4)

“I believe.”
He felt his arms jerk up as he arched backwards with his feet planted firmly to the ground. Both his hands smacked the creature squarely in the chin. Knocking it back in surprise and immediately, a sword of fire was swung at the creature but it dodged the blade, hopping back and running away in a full sprint. In hot pursuit was a brilliantly clad figure. Green embers seemed to burn brightly in the back part of the breastplate. The fire in the boots seemed to burn in liquid sapphire as he ran after the creature.

But as they took off the creature turned around quickly with its chest expanded and and it’s head up to the sky like it was about to howl.
And instead of some musical note uttered from its chest, there came a shower of fiery, mauve pellets. They quickly rose and were now quickly descending on them both.
“Put up your shield.”

He looked down, for the first time at his wonderfully armoured arm but there was no shield. He frantically patted his back. No shield.

“Where is my shield!?”

“On your arm.”

“There is no shield.”

“Trust me. There is a shield.”

“No. There…”

“Trust me. Lift up your right arm, now!”

ARMOUR(3)

The creature’s eyes flashed blue and it retreated back and crouched.”Oh. That was easy.”

“You have not believed.”

The creature looked up and then that is when he realised that this was not the creature bowing down but getting into a crouch to sprint like a deadly athlete in the blocks. Its talons slowly moulded together to form what seemed like a single mauve blade above each claw.
“Believe.”
The creature’s shoulders heaved once.

“Believe that this is your armour.”

The creature’s shoulders heaved the second time.

“Believe that this was purcased especially for you and that it is yours.”

The creature took off towards him.

“Believe that no weapon formed against you shall prosper.”

“I can’t move!”

“Believe.”

“Do it for me! Help me!”

“I can shield you thus far but you must believe.”

The right claw, now blade, hit him. But this time there was no thud just a searing heat and he knew this was different, this was fatal.
“Please. Believe.”

He closed his eyes in expectation of the of the next blade but he closed his eyes in in submission.

“I believe.”

ARMOUR (2)

He screamed as the talons came at him and hit his chest in full force. Right claw, left claw, right claw. Each blow was louder now, the screeching sound was now more defined and the sight of the mauve flecks of fire that rose up from each blow made it even more terrifying. But even though he was hit, solidly, he was not hurt or tossed aside.

He looked down as far as his eyes could without moving his neck to see the burning and probably poisoned cuts and bruises across his chest. But there were none to speak of. Instead there, where his chest should be he saw the sparkling glint of pure silver that seemed to be alive with marble white veins.

“Make me blind! Make me blind! Please make me blind!”
“No.”

The creature now stood back and stared at him. It was about his height but hunched over and bulky around its shoulders.

He realised that the purple slits in its shadowy , shield-shaped face were its eyes. And though the rest of this creature was human-like, it’s features were blurred in shadow and scarlet smoke that rose off of its body.

“Please close make me blind again.”
“I said no, because that is not the answer.”

“But can’t you see that I am stuck! I can’t move in this prison. They’ve got me!”

“Prison!? No. Oh certainly not. For a prison keeps what is bad away from what is good. This keeps the good intact, safely away from evil’s harm.”

“What?”

“This is your armour.”

“Aaaaaah”
The creature came rushing forward again. Right, left, right. Each lumbering blow aimed at crushing him but again only rattling him severely but not moved. It stepped back and he could have sworn it rolled its eyes.

“You are going to have to start moving.”
“What do you mean!? I can’t even move my neck!”

“You really don’t have to shout.”

“But I can’t move!”

“Ask me how to move.”

“Really!?”

“Stop shouting. I am right here.”

The voice was not raised but there was a certain authority to those last words.

“Please show me how to move.”
“Believe.”

“Believe?”

“Believe.”

ARMOUR

There was darkness all around. If it was not for the warmth of his own breath he would have thought he was dead. That and the fact that he could hear the heavy thuds ringing in his ears.

The sound was so heavy that he thought he could feel it hit his chest. No, wait that was not just a thought.
The thudding rattled him from head to toe rhythmically. Three thuds and each thud followed by a sharp screeching sound like taking an iron nail to a solid concrete surface. Then, it would stop. Only to return a few moments later.
Return to rattle him, to shake his senses and then leave him to wonder just what was going on and did he really want to find out?”
“You can’t stay like this forever.”
Naturally, despite the pitch darkness, he tried to turn his head to see who had said that. He only then fully realised that he couldn’t move his neck either.

“Who are you !?”

He regretted shouting immediately. His voice barked right back at him and rang in his ears.

“You don’t have to shout. I am right here.”

The loud thud returned and shook him once again. Three times with its accompanied screeching and then the silence.

“Is that you?”, he now whispered.
“No. That is not me.”

“Where am I? Why can’t I see anything? Am I blindfolded?”

“No. Not blindfolded. But you certainly can’t see.”

“I know that. But why can’t I see?”

“You didn’t ask to see.”

“Are you being serious? All I have to do is ask?”

“Yes.”

“Well, then let me….”

“Ask nicely.”

“….Okay. Please let me see.”

The multicoloured light dazzled his eyes and a small breath of fresh air hit his nostrils and chilled and tickled his lungs. But immediately the light was overshadowed by what seemed to be a violent shadow running towards him with a 5 taloned claw raised to strike him.

Echoes From a Hill (6)

Part 6 : Marching Out

The barracks were only just starting to get back to normal, if you can even call it that. The rhythm of the marching thud of armoured boots punishing the earth. The shout of men following commands, forming different formations. And from what it looks like these are not formations of war but for the crushing of any civil rebellion. You could almost taste the dust in the air, mingled with the smell of sweat and a tinge of cheap wine.

One solitary figure knocks on a door, helmet under arm and makes its way in to present himself.

“Good morning, sir it is a good morning.”
“Ciricuse, tis nearly evening, nowhere near dawning.”
“Ah…. Right you are. You forgive me if I’m a bit confused.”
“No, that’s something to which, sadly, we have all gotten used.”
“I know something to which I could get used.”
“And what might that be? Another wineskin Ciricuse?”
“O! That might be alright, if you are buying.”
“You know, Ciricuse, that’s my last nerve you’re trying.”
“Alright, alright. I will get straight to the point, then
Where is the next grave we are going to be gaurding?”

The silence was followed by the closing of the door, so that nobody esle could perchance hear a thing. He walked back in and sat in front of Ciricuse.

“What do you want? What did you come here for”
“I want more sir. The gold. I want more.”
“You have been given what was yours, to make it last.
How could it all be gone before a night has past?”
“You, know how it is. My luck and the lots I cast.”
“Ciricuse, no! No! It’s enough.
I can’t keep supporting your worthless stuff.”
“Then I’ll talk. I’ll tell it to every Philip, Samson and piece of wood.”
“You wouldn’t.”
“Oh! Yes I would!”
“Go ahead then! Shout it on the roof tops, see if I care!
That’s if you don’t gamble away your ladder before you get there.”
“Hey! That’s not fair!”
“Fair, you say!
You think it’s fair that I have to watch my big brother
Gamble away his life for this that and the other!?”
“Well, Centurion hot-shot…”
“No! Ciricuse you have cast you lot….
We cast our lot.”
“…We?”
“Don’t you realise that we sold our dignity!?
And maybe the souls of so many!”
If what we saw was real and He is out there somewhere.
We just saw a man defeat death, fair and square!”
“Ssshhhh…. That’s alright now, settle down…”
“No Ciricuse, I cant settle down!
Every time I close my eyes, the thoughts rebound
The rolling stone shakes the ground
The angelic voice resounds
The Man walks out unbound!”
“If what we saw was real…”
“You know that it was more than real.
It was ultimate reality.
And we keep it to ourselves for what? A Golden lumpsum
What have we become
What if people actually believe the tale we spun?”
“We are not the ones who made the tale.”
“In any fair judgement hall you know that will fail.”

Ciricuse reached inside of his breastplate. And out came the seamless robe. The one that came off the Man a the cross.

“Well, if you won’t give me the money
how about you buy this off your unlucky old, big brother me?”

He reached out to grab the dangling vesture out of his hand. But Ciricuse snatched it back and rubbed his fingers against his thumb. Money. So he turned and reached into a compartment in the wall and pulled out a small leather bag of money.

“You know what? If you desire this so bad
Take it, it’s all I have.
Just give me back what little dignity I have
And that seamless robe.”

Ciricuse tried to grab the money greedily, he snatched it back and then dropped it to the floor. Ciricuse wimpered as he scattered to collect the bruised coins. And as that was done the Centurion grabbed the vesture out of the air and walked out, throwing off his gauntlets.

“It is enough. It is finished
I am finished….”

Echoes From A Hill (5)

Part 5: Do You Believe?

The sun shone down on the horizon, revealing the dust that hovered in the warm rays, lingering, before being whisked away on the dusky breeze. The call of the eagle was clear over the chorus of little bush birds chirping closer to the road. The variant melody was a refreshing sound after such a gloomy time in the town proper. Actually it had seemed like the little singers were muffled in their tunes since…. Or maybe it was that they were singing louder now?

Either way, their song mingled with the constant beat and shuffle of two pairs of feet. Two travelers whose feet seemed to be as unsure as their speech.

“So what are you saying, that the Priests and Scribes and elders, all of them missed it!?”
“No… Well… Yes. Just hear me out, okay?”
“Well, if we can’t listen to the Priests, why should I listen to you?”
“Oh come on. You almost make it sound like they are not human. Can’t they make mistakes?”
“Of course they can. We both know that! But they can’t make a mistake of such catastrophic proportions. I mean if anyone could pick out the Hope of our nation it would have been those who have been studying, anticipating His arrival.”
“Oh. They picked Him out alright.”

He was not sure how to respond to that. So he shifted his bag on his shoulders a bit and looked away.

“Hear me out. What if He was the Hope we have all been waiting for? What if He came here to establish an everlasting kingdom. What if He came here to give hope to the hopeless, to give sight to the blind, to make the lame walk, to set the captives free, to raise the…”
The excitement in his voice came to an abrupt halt as did the shuffle of both their feet.
“Raise the what? Go ahead say it.”
“……”
“Raise the dead?”
“……”
“So where is our Hope now? You saw what I saw! He died on that tree. They bruised Him. They spat on Him, called Him all sorts of names, He cried out. You saw what I saw! They took that spear and…”
He hadn’t realised he had raised his voice and that he was breathing heavily until the emerging tears choked him.

The faint sound of shuffling came to their ears. The man tried not to give them an awkward look as he passed by them in this tense moment, pulling on his horses stirrups like he didn’t want his horse to catch the crazy, or get scolded. It’s a good thing he was going the opposite direction. Walking behind him would have made the journey awkward. And as if he hadn’t been shouted at he waved at the man as he passed by and then waited for his friend to continue the journey. Which he gladly did.

He gave him a few minutes to cool off, although with the sun making its descent in the sky now, cooling off really wasn’t best thing to hope for.

He continued anyway.

“So do you believe?”
He sighed in a way that seemed to align with the cry of the circling eagle above before responding.
“I don’t know what to believe anymore. I mean, He was the Man. He was the one we were waiting for. I know it. I can’t seem to shake it off. Even when… nay… for some reason especially when I saw Him on that tree. So why didn’t He just come down off the tree? Why didn’t He vanquish the enemy? I want to believe. But how can I believe what I can not understand?”
“…. That’s alright and all. But I was asking whether you believe the story of the women?”
“The ones that say He is alive?”
“Yes. What do you make of it?”
“I make nothing of it.”
“They say the stone was rolled away. Joseph’s tomb is empty.”
“I would love to believe it, but where is He?”
“I don’t know. But what if? Imagine what it would mean.”
“It would mean has been defeated.”
“And who can defeat someone who can defeat death?”
“Precisely!”
“Dare I say it. He would have to be God.”
Then his enthusiasm dulled to a whisper for the first time. His eyes looked to the floor.
“And could it be… But no…”

And then they heard the soft but sure feet of someone beside them. They both looked at the same time. And then looked behind. He had obviously been with them a while now, they could see the footprints.

His face couldn’t be seen through the cloth that hooded from the lowering sun. But for some reason was not really threatening. Actually it’s almost like this presence of calm surrounded this traveler. A Peace, you might say. His stride was sure and the voice was clear.

“What kind of conversation is this that you have as you journey along the way to Emmaus?”