The Shadow of Death
The trip has become more pleasant since the extremes of heat and cold are no longer so great. We have traveled so far that it has become easy to be complacent.
The path we follow twists like a snake through the mountains. We ease our way in single file, like a colorful parade. We must still trust the bright starlight and our torches to help us find our way.
I met the morning weary from the ride. The sun was about to rise and I looked forward to setting up camp. My mind was numb. Then our parade halted abruptly.
“Zachariah!” I heard the voices calling from behind. “What’s the trouble?”
At first I couldn’t tell what hindered the caravan.
“People are dismounting,” I finally called back to my friends. In the first light of dawn I watched the shadowy figures ahead climb the hills nearby.
“I have someone here,” I heard a voice call in the distance.
“Here is one!”
“There is another poor soul--over there!”
“What are they doing? What is happening?” I cried out in the darkness.
After a few moments a single word, was mumbled back to me. I felt as though I had fallen into icy waters when I heard the word bandits.
The guides were gathering the bodies that bandits had left behind. It could just as easily have been us. Our wealth made us targets for any wild band of robbers. We carry valuable treasures as gifts for the young king.
As the sun rose, we became even more alert, straining to see what was happening. Soon we could make out the images of the destroyed campsite before us. Our sober task was to bury the remains. We did the job quickly and with very little ceremony.
We decided that it might be wise to sleep in shifts. This would mean less sleep, but we had allowed ourselves to become forgetful. We forgot that there could be real danger hiding beyond any turn in the road.Though I believe that I still can, and should, find some pleasure in this trip, I must remain vigilant. I am on a mission and represent my people. I must not fail.