The Nightmare Plague: At the Crossroads

The night was soft, gentle, easily lulling people to slumber,

And yet, a rumble came through the distance,

The sound swelled, as a great tide before crashing into the shore,

What may have been thunder took on something less welcome,

That of a multitude of horsemen, all too familiar to those whose ears it touched,

Those what paid heed to their grandsires, the whispered words of mother’s mother,

Not all tales are tall, nor are they stretched thin with time,

Diluting the cautionary retelling from one generation to the next,

Putting into words the terror inherent to particular sounds,

Cries and screams of men mixed with the whinnying of horses,

Silver studded harnesses, tarnished black with time,

Dull, and lacking in their inherent glitter for all of eternity,

Insubstantial hooves, connected to phantom steeds,

Yet still striking sparks from stones as they pass,

Seemingly recalling when possessed of a body,

The shrieks of beast and rider were cacophonous,

Mocking the voices that once uttered from their throats,

Sound made physical, rattling shutters and throwing avians to the ground,

The world was an audience for the notes of rage they sang,

Sending those who knew scurrying for any shelter that might conceal them,

Salvage what tattered souls that a person might possess,

Trembling at the thought of being forced to join the ride,

Women were dumbstruck, men rocked in silent tears,

Praying as one that the things wrenching peace from the night never stopped,

Going rigid when the sound disappeared in a flash,

Some few brave souls found that wonder and hope could be dangerous feelings,

Stealing away to see what had disturbed the unhallowed riders,

Gobsmacked to see a man in the crossroads, barring their way,

Challenging them with his insouciant demeanor, standing haughty and unconcerned,

His lips were twisted with disdain at the sight before him,

A man neither young or old, seemingly timeless, contrasted by the unkempt linen shirt,

The breeches so old and worn from use that they shined in the moonlight,

An unusual sword held negligently in his hand, 

As insulting a gesture as the snort of derision he spared for the assemblage before him,

And, raising the sword in a languid hand, bellowed his defiance with the words:

I will end you!


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