Four men are accosted by bandits on their trip East.
|Huge Smiles and Broken Backs
Four men were walking the road to Adrianople one dry evening. The sun was setting behind them and the Moon began to rise over the Star mountains ahead. The men wore their coats as the Thracian night set in. They walked with quick, worried steps. There was no safe place nearby where they could spend the night. They did not see a cave or a camp. No rocks, no trees. Only the fields of west Thrace.
It was only a matter of time before they were accosted by bandits. Three armed and armored thugs arrived then and there. The four men did not possess the fatigue nor the physique to fight or flee. The bandits demanded gold or blood. Optionless, the four men obliged. They began to take off their coats to reach their purses. While they struggled with their heavy garbs, the Sun dissapeared behind them and darkness loomed over the sky. They grabbed their purses and looked towards the bandits.
When they turned their gaze eastward, they did not see the bandits. The Moon had risen over the Star mountains, and it was beautiful. Enchanted, the four men stood there. It was the brightest, whitest and widest full moon they had ever seen. Their gaze was fixed on the lunar lady and her luminous dress. They did not see the stars. They did not see the Star mountains. They did not see the bandits. The four men saw the Moon and the Moon alone.
The moonlight illuminated their astonished faces. The bandits saw the four men in the white halo. Curious, they turned around to look. When they turned around, they only saw the barren road. They looked and looked to see what had captivated the four men, but they did not see the Moon. They looked back at the four men. They did not see the reflection in their eyes or the beauty of the moonlight on their cheeks. They looked at the four men, and all they saw was the purses in their hands.
The bandits reached out and plucked the purses from their hands. With their gold in hand, they dissapeared into the Thracian wilds. The four men however did not move. They stood exactly where they were as the Moon travelled across the night sky. The moon rose above the Star mountains and began crossing over their heads. They turned their head upwards as the Moon reached its apex. When the Moon began to fall towards the road behind them, they did not bother to turn around. Mesmerised by the beauty of it, the four men bent their backs to keep their eyes on the Moon.
When sunlight crowned over the Star mountains, the Moon had fallen way behind the four men. They bent further and further. Soon enough, the Sun rose and the Moon left the sky. Under the sunlight, the four men that had set off for Adrianople were four dead bodies with huge smiles and broken backs.