Verse Crucifixion

From the path at the bottom of the steep hill a procession of people, at their front Carpenters from the barracks. A stoning they told Petalengro a few hours before and here was Eliphas and Irontius (a drunkard) carrying their tools, behind them carrying rough hewn Yew wood that leaked their blood coloured sap, fresh cut. A crucifixion. ‘Bastards’ Petalengro thought, they took hours to die on a crucifix. Blabbering hunks of flesh that would moan, entreat, offer bribes as their lives wore away. For hours! Food this poor soldier of Rome needed, and some rest. Now he gathered he would play nursemaid to three criminals. Did they not dispatch criminals with a sword to the neck and minutes later enjoy food and laughter with comrades. The wind on this Golgotha is cold. Petalengro was not happy.

 

“Petalengro my friend, you have drawn a shorter straw today” Eliphas joked. His comrade Irontius grumbled and set about construction of the cross. One length of Yew that stood the height of three men was placed in a small pit and upon it another shorter length perhaps the height of one man fastened with an iron spike. The infernal torture machine would form a T shape and the condemned were lashed upon it and left to die.

 

Behind them a rabble of Hebrews, some criminal elements, a general cacophony of wailing and hair pulling that seemed to follow these people around like a cloud of flies. More wood was carried to the top of this Golgotha.

 

“How many of these to die today Eliphas?” Petalengro asked. Eliphas paused and replied “Three criminals, robbers I suspect, crucifixion as you can see” Eliphas grunted as he hammered a cross piece onto an upright with sure swings of an iron hammer. Three men were thrown down under guard into the dust and Petalengro walked to them. There was a commissioned officer present, a rare thing, normally they sit and whore, drink wine and gamble. Brutus of Gaul he was named, he was marshalling a rough line to separate the crowd from the condemned. One of the robbers, a man lay motionless in the filth, upon his back a scored mess of flesh. He had been scourged, the other two were untouched.

 

“How so has this man has suffered scourging?” Petalengro shouted above the wind which was blasting now from the North, cold heartless throwing the dust into pillars of filth. “No worry of mine Petalengro, I cut wood, build tables” Eliphas said. The man scourged lifted himself to his knees in fatigue, it dripped from him, here was a weight that could not be lifted. Petalengro had seen this many times in my comrades tired of Empire and war. His hands were roughened obviously a man of trade now stripped. The fools at the garrison had fashioned him a crown of sorts from Hawthorn. The barbs dug deep within his scalp amongst the crusted blood. Upon his shoulders roughly tied about his neck an old crimson cloak patched and worn. He was naked underneath. Petalengro was disgusted.

 

“Is it policy of Rome to mock the condemned now?” He grabbed Brutus who was using the flat of his sword to beat back some of the crowd who were either trying to reach the scourged man to beat him or console him, either way the sword they got across the head or shoulders.

 

“This is not my doing Petalengro…” Brutus smashed a woman to the ground, she fell upon the feet of Petalengro feet imploring. “ …i do as ordered, this man has a witchery and sorcery about him and my men are want to cast their swords down and flee, I must let this be done” Brutus said. The woman was mouthing platitudes to him in her language which Petalengro did not understand.

Petalengro turned back to the condemned. The ‘Sorcerer’ had been lashed to the beam of the Yew with rough hemp rope. The crowd howled with the wind. The sun had begun to set behind the black clouds that rolled from the North. A torrid night this would be, and this Petalengro was too much of an old soldier to complain. He had walked the world for 30 years with the empire of Rome. Fought so many battles, killed many men, spent a near lifetime on watch. There was argument, a Hebrew priest spat upon the prone figure of the sorcerer upon the crucifix.

This day again?

 

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