This was by far, the bleakest and blackest of Fridays, at least to the inhabitants of the northern lands of Shek.
Sir Cornelius of Aaroness mounted his steed Urgeox just outside the border of the twelfth village, and turned the animal in a tight circle in order to look back at the conflagration consuming that community. The flames were reflected in the lenses of his helmet, while the filters made certain that no soot or any slight remnant of the dying bacterium brought here by the priests could offend, let alone harm him in any way.
“A beautiful sight, isn’t it Urgeox.” A gloved hand patted the beast’s shale-colored hide on his muscular neck. The Grendel, for such is what they were named by the first exploratory team to visit Chandra Beta as a prelude to human colonization, stood impassively, a marvel of adaptiveness and exacting training. “I know. You care not. Your only concern is food, shelter, and my ministrations to your base needs.”
Cornelius chuckled to himself, and then it occurred to him to check his schedule. He pressed the hidden stud of the gauntlet on his left wrist and the digital chronometer appeared. “It’s Friday already and this is my final assignment,” he muttered. Then in a louder voice, he made a joyous announcement to Urgeox. “Good news, my friend. We get to go home. We have sterilized the last hovel in this forsaken wilderness. Time to ride back across the border for Hrothgar, civilization, and home.”
With a commanding grip on the reins, he again turned his mount in the opposite direction and, at canter, proceeded south along the trading road. “Within a day, you will once again be cared for in your beloved stable at my Chateau.”
“Ah, Friday, a black friday to be sure, at least for the low-born scum who had been granted deeds to these lands. A farm colony. Such rot. What need we of such, when genetically enhanced organisms supply all our needs in the civil lands. But then who’d have thought the surveyors of the High Aristocracy would have discovered a fortune in rare metals and petrochemicals in this place, hitherto unknown to the spacefarers who had established us on this world those long centuries ago.”
The knight delighted in the memory of his having been summoned to Alton Castle some months ago, his being one of the keener military minds of the realm. It had been his idea to use the Priests of Castile. rather than a gauche military coup, which might have offended the Kingdoms of the Eastern Continent. The aristocracy was fiercely atheistic, but tolerated the Priesthood and their followers because they were popular among the commoners, and it behooved the highnesses and their barons and lords, to pacify their servants with religion rather than the sword.
So it was with great gratitude, when Her Highness Isabella informed Bishop Sebastian Grande, that the population of the independent northern farmlands of Shek were in desperate need of their “salvation.” Further, she feigned satisfaction for the Order’s ministrations to the common folk, and strongly suggested that should his missionaries be successful in turning the farmers to the faith, that she might be persuaded to convince the royal house to heed the words of redemption themselves.
“Fools,” spat out the knight into the mouth filter that also acted as an amplifier for his voice. “Gullible fools.”
Twelve groups of priests, one for each farming community in Shek, were assigned to cross the border and make the attempt, completely oblivious to the fact that they had all been covertly infected with a particular variant of the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The missionaries had been welcomed by the farmers into their lands, their towns, and their homes, only to all die together to the last man, woman, and child. Cornelius volunteered to perform the task of incinerating what remained, in the name of the public good. The tragedy would be blamed on the Order, so it had the additional benefit of suppressing the faithful, making them even more dependant upon the ruling class.
“It is so good to be a knight, my noble steed. So good, indeed.
I wrote this for Tale Weaver/Fairy Tale – # 198 – Knights – November 22nd and First Line Friday, both hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The former challenge suggested using the concept of “Knights” to craft a poem or short story no longer than 500 to 600 words, and the latter to use the first line, “This was by far, the bleakest and blackest of Fridays” for the same purpose, but with no stated word count limit. My word count went somewhat over and is an even 700.
Recently, the news reported that a tourist and Christian evangelist, attempted to visit a remote island to convert the indigenous population to Christianity. The island is isolated by law and no one is allowed to visit for fear that the islanders will become infected by diseases to which they have no immunity. This, and many other tragedies, have been caused by missionaries historically, so the law makes good sense.
The person in question was killed by the island natives.
While probably most of the Christians I know will consider him a martyr to the faith, I don’t think his need to evangelize should have outweighed the more immediate needs of those people, and certainly it cost this young man his life.
In my wee story above, I attempted to replicate some of the arrogance colonizers in our history have demonstrated, this time using the religious as pawns to eradicate an unwanted population in order to steal their natural resources. Sound familiar?
I know it sounds cruel and cynical, but while a life of spirituality and faith is very rewarding, as is serving our Creator and sharing the good news to others, it is no excuse for blatantly risking the lives of an already endangered population.