THE lone robin sang a melody of reflective sorrow, piercing the late afternoon light in the amber lit forest. With bitter sweet tones, it roused the softly sleeping form of an aged man, sitting in strained contemplation on the stump of an ancient tree by the small abbey nearby. His thoughts curiously drifted to his childhood of solitude and perseverance. Time searched his aging soul in this damp season of the fall. Straining his head ever so slightly, he peered up at the intermittent sky above, fading light running through intertwining branches in order to reach the shadowed soil of the forgotten land. The years had gone by at seemingly different states. From bright, exalting heights to wintry isolation, swept by the wind. At times, the years carved a dark path of resignation for the tired journeyman. All bound by duty. To one’s kin and fellow man, to the eternal forces of life, and the single enduring faith of the resolute abbey, sitting peacefully at the forest’s edge.
Rising ever quietly, the old man began his walk towards the sacred entrance from whence he had come, clutching his weathered tunic. The stone walls and hollowed space of the abbey welcomed all, forsook none. An old hymn could be heard in the man’s mind, stirring memories of old friends long gone, companions of a time forgotten, withered away to dust and endless sleep amongst the stars. Yet still he remained, wading through the tides of life.
The rustling leaves bent under the weight of his feet as he traversed the last stretch of ground that led to the steps of the secluded abbey. At the foot of the entrance, the man stopped. He could hear the approach of a powerful steed beyond the line of trees yonder. He could almost sense its strange approach. Neither hurried nor suppressed, but filled with purpose that was beyond his wise understanding. The light had almost faded as, paying no heed, he resumed his slow procession into the shrine of his destiny.
Softly lit candles lined the old walls of the abbey, creating an enchanting aura of serenity. Fate now guided the old man as he glided towards the stoned sepulcher at the far end of the building, hidden behind the altar. He kneeled before it, gathering within himself a prayer for the unknown knight who lay there in eternal rest. The hymn had finally faded from his distant thoughts, this moment permeating all of his existence. Closing his tired eyes, the aged figure began his prayer in isolation. For a while he knelt in complete equilibrium with time itself.
Then, with the summoning of fate’s hand, he was not alone anymore. The silent, hooded rider had entered the holy midst of the secluded corner, his stout gauntlet resting on his sheathed sword. Time’s futility had come forth in the shroud of darkness, beckoning fate.
The old man ceased his quiet whispers, eyes opening unto the immovable figure behind him, rigid and resolute. He could not see his face – suppressed, like the robin’s song.
No muffled scream, no harrowing struggle. Only the swift synchronicity of violence and death. The dagger momentarily stained in the echo of stillness.
The abbey doors yawned open, spewing out into the night the bitter form of the hooded rider, walking the steps of his own destiny, rued in blood. The moving specter now mounted his horse, the eyes of the night watching his shadowy exit. Sitting high on his protected steed he slowly took off his right gauntlet to gaze at the prize he had procured: Betwixt his silver-ringed forefinger and thumb, perched a key of glistening beauty, the bringer of ominous deeds.