The Centurion

The dead soul of a centurion rose from the dust, surprised by an almost forgotten but familiar wind from the western sea blowing down the clean streets of an unknown town sparkling under the azure of another time. In a courtyard, standing by an old tree like the blade of a sun-dial and sword-thin like smoke, one gaunt man strummed his guitar and sang a bastard form of the imperial idiom in the manner and tones of its ancient enemy. In the cryptic shade of a crumbling edifice, a woman in black prayed before a wooden crucifix and spoke to a criminal crowned with thorns. The centurion wandered the streets and passed into the countryside, lost in a daze. On a hill looking down at the coast, he heard the song and the whispered prayers once again. Then with his ghost-white hands, the centurion grasped the branch of an olive tree burdened with the deepest, blackest fruit.

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