Tears of rage and of sorrow blinded the acolyte. He knelt at the edge of the pit and wept until the images faded and he became aware of the whispering of hundreds of voices.
He wiped his eyes on his sleeve and got to his feet. The pavement rippled, and the monk’s body slid into the pit. The acolyte watched, and, full of shame for all it represented, he undid the beads about his own waist and tossed the rosary after Brother Constantine. The shadows returned, soft as doves’ wings, to fill the space. The ravens wheeled, sending the darkness swirling, like giant wings, and departed, their silhouettes black against the moon. He took the amulet and hung it around his neck. The amulet spoke.
Go now and keep the secret. This is a holy place. Let not the barbarians return to profane it.
The acolyte nodded, his face set, a cold glitter in his eye. The dove wings, children’s hands, touched his hands, his robes. Older hands stroked his face, gentle as a summer breeze. Moonlight filled the ruins, softening the rough edges, washing the pavement with silver.
The acolyte made his way back to the waiting horses and turned their heads towards a new life.