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He wasn’t looking at the knife, but past it. His vision focused on the stone and the runes etched upon it. The message was clear but without detail. His brothers learned from the crusades that real horror lies not in what has happened. It lies in what people imagine happened. In the vaguest language the inscription recounted their fate.

Eight Geats and 22 Norwegians on an acquisition journey far west from Vinland. We had a camp one day’s journey north from this stone. We were fishing one day. When we returned, we found 10 men red with blood and dead.

The involvement of his Order in the endeavor was purposely omitted due to their disfavor with the Church. Their mark was left in subtler ways.

The inscription was ended with Ave Maria, a prayer for safety from evil. But it had not been evil they needed saving from, it was their sins. In this New World, they encountered an ancient God, one they had not bargained for. In this New World, there was no forgiveness, only judgement. He did not wish his faith to be found wanting. The consequences frightened him.

The cold of the blade licking the skin of his trapped arm pulled him from his thoughts. There was no place left for thought. Only the deed remained. He was hyperventilating now with the knife hovering in his hand. There were times in his past when going through with a thing had not been so easy. None were so difficult to go through with as this. Perhaps that is why it came to this. The things a man would perpetrate against others he would never act upon himself. God certainly moves in mysterious ways.


The End

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