A version of the Easter Story.
Syrene adjusted her cloak as she peered past the people to see what was stirring the cauldron of trouble. Through the crowd, she could see the figures standing firm and upright like trees. Helmeted men, at least forty, surrounded one, keeping him trapped.
One soldier, whose coat of arms glistened on his armor, pointed at the captive, then at an immensely huge chest sitting comfortably on indented ground.
The man limped to it, and with much help, balanced it on his wilting back. He travelled but a few steps, until, with a horrible thump, slumped and collapsed, the chest crashing to the ground beside him.
This released much hearty laughter and jeering from the soldiers and the watching crowd. One soldier gruffly shoved a farmer spectator forward, who, shivering the whole time, took the chest the fallen man had dropped across his own back. The company resumed marching forward along the dirt road, Syrene trailing softly after, unsure if anyone would try to stop her.
Pity for the two men, the exhausted one with the pained back, and the farmer, caught Syrene as she followed, yet she was so engaged she did not ponder over it.
The group only stopped once all reached the top of a hill overlooking the empire. There the soldiers commanded the chest to be lowered and opened. Another group of soldiers appeared over the opposite side of the hill, leading two criminals to there deaths. However, no crowd followed them eagerly, for all their attention was for the man with the wounded back.
The commander of the soldiers encouraged the crowd to cheer and mock whichever of the three men they choose. He then nodded to the farmer offhandedly, who immediately darted back to join the mass of people.
What are they going to do to them? thought Syrene, fearing the answer.
The soldiers unlatched the chest to remove the six thirsty swords within. Granting each prisoner one, three soldiers selected opponents and began to duel with them. The man Syrene had followed along with the crowd held his weapon loosely in his hand, as if he knew there was nothing he could do to.
What is he doing? This is his chance to fight for freedom! Syrene thought anxiously, biting her lip.
The man’s opponent acted like a wild animal compared to his own calm demeanor. Immediately, the soldier fighting him stabbed him through the palm of his sword-hand.
Syrene’s stomach lurched as she wished to avert her eyes, but found she was frozen in shock and horror.
The man remained silent, although the crowds’ volume increased greatly by this.
Syrene frowned as she saw the man speak, but over the crowd she could not hear what he was saying, only whom he was speaking the unheard words to. He was talking quietly to one of the other prisoners. The captive nodded, his face of one who just learned he is saved from this gruesome death, but his companion spat in the man’s face and joined the crowd in mocking him before turning back to his own fight. The man accepted the reaction, a feeling of trying without gaining buzzing about him. The soldier facing him smirked, and with a quick and expertly aimed flick of his wrist, sent his sword into the man’s other hand, searing straight through it.
Cheers erupted, though the man did not show any sign of pain. The people began chanting one word, over and over, and Syrene, caught up in the middle of it all, feared she would never get from her mind.
“King! King! King of us all!” the mocked, spitting and throwing small stones at him as they did so.
“He saved others, but He cannot save himself!” a lone voice declared.
Many grunts and screams of agreement followed this remark.
“If He is really who He says He is, let Him strike His opponent down now without touching him! Let Him stop all of this in a moment! Let His Father rescue Him! Or His warriors! Angels shall come to obey Him! So prove it!” another agreed.
As they laughed, as He hung his head, the noonday sky darkened, slowly at first, before speeding up. Soon, the whole land was trapped under a blanket of darkness.
Syrene noticed, however, that there was a cluster of people, mainly woman, huddled a ways away, sobbing to themselves. She wondered who they might be, and if they knew this man.
The fight wore on, the two captives now dead on the ground, their defeaters smugly anticipating the same for the single match remaining. The man was pushed against the crowd, who in reply, roughly shoved him back into the ring of soldiers. Yelping a sound of triumph, the soldier thrust his sword through both the man’s feet at once while He was still staggering forward.
The man fell to His knees and cried out, the first noise He had made. Then, while the crowd watched, every breath being held, the man crumpled and was gone.
All Syrene remembered after that was the cheering, the screams of joy and panic, the noise of large fabric tearing, and the earthquake that rattled the foundations.