The Halberd Road by Edward Bonadio

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The Halberd Road

On a chill winter’s eve
beyond the last roadside inn
a pilgrim came abruptly upon
the count of seven murdered souls
stacked much like cord wood
hewn by a woodsman’s axe.
It was uncommon fear,
that strange sensation
of rushing blood cells
through tightened arteries
and a lump in the throat
that caused him to tarry.
He strove to understand
the method of their demise
and to reason within reality
justification for such violence
against those unwitting victims
left to whither in the elements.
Turning away from the carnage
he spied a monstrous shadow
looming large in the moonlight
an ancient weapon at the fore
thrusting out like a boar’s tusk
its stiff blade bearing down.
Too late the realization came
as the blow caught his arm
cleaving flesh near to bone
but in sudden desperation
he turned to make a stand
and by so doing, perhaps perish.

Rage, that sudden rush
of uncontrolled madness
supplanted thoughts of fear
and with unbridled resolve
he met head on in combat
the assassin’s next assault.
As the second strike missed
he disarmed his grim assailant
and turned the tide against him
using the cruel weapon’s blade
to bludgeon the highwayman
with a series of short swift blows.
As his rage subsided
the victor gazed in awe
at the weapon’s handiwork
feeling the sweet rush of power
never before experienced
in morbid thought or deed.
Briskly, he disposed of his kill
and returning to the bodies
surveyed the twisted remains
with a new sense of respect
for the instrument of death
now secure in his possession.
Slipping into mindless bliss
while holding fast in hand
the blood-stained staff
with its smooth shaft of ash
supporting the killing tool,
his newfound calling stirred.
Bloodlust consumed his thoughts
and in nightmare shadows
he crouched, watching and waiting
for a next unsuspecting soul
to chance life at death’s door
on the perilous halberd road.