The Spear of Destiny - By Julian Noyce



The man sat alone, lost in his thoughts. The world in front of him hazy and pink. The sun warm on his face. He sensed the weather would change soon, he could taste it in the air. The wind buffeted his cloak around his legs. He tasted the breeze on his lips but it told him nothing. Somewhere nearby some women were sobbing, earlier they had been wailing. There were four of them, four mourners. Even though they had been wailing as one he had picked out each individual voice. Now though, their sobbing affected him even more. He could feel their individual grief.

Then their sobs were drowned out by the racous shouts of men to his right. One man shouting louder than the others. Then the sound of click - clack as dice were thrown across the playing table. The dice were gathered up and the lone man could hear them rattling inside the leather shaker before they were ejected onto the playing surface again. More racous applause followed as the twelve dice players shouted with excitement.

“I just need another five,” the loudest man shouted. He was a Centurion, Atronius.

He shook the one remaining dice in the cup longer than was necessary. Then when his colleagues could wait no longer he launched the dice once again. It hit the far wall of the small table, bounced back across, hit the near wall and stopped in the middle, spinning very fast. The twelve players leaned in close. The dice slowed, then stopped as the twelve watched. They could all see it was a five.

Atronius jumped up.

“YES!” he roared.

Two of his friends slumped back on their small wooden stools. Most stood and shouted. The last man punched the table making the dice jump.

“That’s it! Hand it over,” Atronius ordered.

He held up the robe handed to him.

“That’s it. Come to me,” he said examining it, “This should fetch a good price. Hey! Longinus! I won his robe,” Atronius cocked his thumb at the man on the cross.

Longinus, sitting away from the others, didn’t play dice. There wouldn’t be much point. Though he could trust his friends not to cheat he wouldn’t be able to see the dice. No. Longinus was blind.

He hadn’t always been blind. Longinus was a fine soldier. A Roman legionary whose eyes had begun to cloud over many months before. Intense bright light was also a problem for him sometimes, causing intense pain and headaches. There was a milky film across both his eyes that gave him a demonic appearance to anyone who gazed at him. His friends sometimes used his affliction to scare children to their great amusement.

Atronius lifted up and held the robe.

“There we are. The robe of a King.”

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

“Eh? What?” Atronius said openmouthed.

The twelve Romans turned to look at the crucified man. They chuckled.

“Your father’s not here your majesty,” Atronius said, mocking the man on the cross with the crown of thorns on his head to the delight of the Romans present, “But your mother is.”

Atronius slapped his thigh at his own humour.

The others were no longer laughing. They were staring over Atronius’ shoulder. All except Longinus.

“What’s the matter with you lot?”

“Behind you sir.”

Atronius turned.

Strange, black clouds were forming where before there was only blue sky, building fast and billowing up and out, blocking out the sun. Longinus felt the shade fall across his face. The figure on the cross raised his head weakly to the heavens and then his head dropped to his chest. Blood dripped from his nose and chin from where the thorns had gouged his forehead. Longinus heard and felt the man’s last breath as it escaped his lips. The Romans were still staring at the sky as the brooding black clouds built.

“What is happening?” one of them asked, “Sir you’ve served in the province longer than anyone else. Have you ever seen anything like it?”

“No I haven’t, “ Atronius answered.

They continued staring.

“It must be something to do with him,” Longinus said nodding towards the crucified man.

“You don’t believe all that rubbish do you Longinus? About him being the son of God,” legionary Lucius asked.

Longinus didn’t have time to answer.

“Look lively!” Atronius said, “The Tribune’s approaching.

Tribune Plinius strode up as the men saluted.

“As you were,” Plinius said, stopping when he saw the dice table.

“Oh. Uh! Me and the lads, sir, were just having a friendly game sir.”

Plinius nodded, pleased to note there didn’t appear to be wine cups present.

“Well as