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In nomine Patris
The fever was catching up to him. Slowing him down.
His knees buckled. By the grace of God and the sheer force of will that sustained him through his long journey, he forced himself upright.
His only thought was to put one foot in front of the other. He would think of nothing else. For to think would be to remember.
And to remember would be his downfall.
His foot slipped. He fell to one knee, sinking into the slime. His will faltered and he ceased to struggle. He welcomed death, but not yet. Not before he completed his mission.
The bundle he'd carried from France to Scotland slipped from numb fingers. He fumbled the precious package, catching it before it landed in the mud and gently cradled it against his chest.
For his brothers he forced himself to stand. For his master he moved forward. For his lost love he wept.
...et Spiritus Sancti...
Mud sucked at his boots, shackling him, its cold fingers pulling him down. He dropped to both knees and slowly pitched forward. He lay on the cold earth, his lungs burning with sickness, struggling to breathe, the rain running off him in rivulets. Through the driving storm he glimpsed the rough outline of a building. A chapel mayhap, but it was too difficult to tell and his vision kept fading.
With a last burst of energy he curled his almost frozen fingers into claws and dug at the mud, creating a hole big enough to hold the treasure entrusted to him.
This watery cavity was not what his master intended when giving him this mission, but it would have to do.
He rose to his knees and pulled the white tunic emblazoned with the red, eight-point cross from his satchel. Holding the piece of clothing to his chest, he rocked back and forth, muttering disjointed prayers. Prayers a sinner like he had no business voicing.
He kissed the tunic before lining the hole with the cloth that had once brought him such pride. And had ultimately been his downfall.
He carefully placed the wrapped package inside the hole and pushed the mud over it until nothing remained but a scar in the earth.
With the last of his strength spent, he fell to his side. He accomplished what he'd been commanded to do. The precious treasure was safe from the enemy. He now welcomed the death that shadowed him for close to two years. Mayhap, if God was willing, he would meet the missing half of his heart on the other side.
He closed his eyes. His lips moved, but he did not know if sound escaped.
"In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti."
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
He breathed his final breath.