The barbarian camp was just what Mac Crieche had come to expect from a barbarian camp.
Though no one objected at the sight of their uninvited guest, he still gave
them a wide berth. The men around their bonfires were both drunk and
dirty in more ways than one. He had no interest in the sorts of things
that interested them.
...Which isn't to say they weren't religious.
Quite the contrary, some of the more devout had set up a commemorative shrine
to their pagan deity. To this, they offered sacrifices of food and wine,
which Mac Crieche could at least tolerate. He had to turn and walk away,
however, when they began offering up gory souvenirs taken from the enemies'
The maiden from earlier stood watching the holy ceremony and was surprised when
she saw Mac Criechie walking the other away.
He sat so far from the fires that the night began to chill him and he had to
pull his cloak tighter to keep warm.
At once he heard a voice, "You no worship En?"
He turned and saw her standing over him. He was a little surprised that
she spoke more Latin than the Illicrians.
He asked about this, but he was ignored.
"You..." she waved her finger in the air as if to circle his entire person
while she thought of the right words "...religious."
"You no worship En?" she said again. Her words made it sound like this
was an illogical contradiction to be both a holy man and not worship her peoples' bloodthirsty pagan deity.
"No. I worship The Lord God in Christ."
Her eyebrows furrowed.
He tried again. "Jesus, the Christ, of Nazareth. Have you never
heard of Him at all, then?"
She shook her head, still visibly confused.
Is this it, LORD? Mac Crieche
silently prayed. Is this truly the
quest you've called me to?
He was more than a little disappointed.
In the background he heard a commotion -- heard the archers rush for their
Probably spotted an animal of
some kind. He dismissed the noise and returned to his thoughts.
No! Mac Crieche couldn't grasp it. Sure, the Lord wanted all people
to be saved, but he, Mac Crieche, was supposed to go to Jerusalem.
Lord, this canna be from you! He
protested. You called me out for a
holy pilgrimage. I've no time to stop and be bothered by every unwashed
heathen person along the road. Lord, if this is you, give me a sign or
I'll follow that wild goose till his wings fall off or my feet do!
He didn't realize it, but the woman had spoken again while he was lost in these
thoughts. She watched his heavy expression as he absently scratched
something in the dirt with a stick.
"I'm sorry. What was that?" he asked.
"I was asking if you will talk more if I get you some food for to eat."
He stood and was about go with her when something caught his eye.
There, carried on the cool evening breeze, was a single white feather. He
watched it spin on an unseen up-draft and be carried away into the night.
"Oh look." she said happily, "It looks like the men shot a goose."
Mac Crieche's knees gave out from beneath him, and he felt himself sitting in
the dirt, eyes growing full with tears.
He snapped the stick and threw it dramatically aside.