A Murder

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A songbird perched in a tamarisk tree sang with joy. Her fledglings were trying out their wings for the first time. They would soon find mates and have hatchlings of their own. Morning rains encouraged little worms to emerge from their hidden places within the Earth, making food plentiful for the flock. All was well with the world.

Seeing two approaching men startled the bird; she abruptly ceased her morning concert. Humans were predators. Worried about her nearby young ones, she carefully listened to the words the two men exchanged as they neared.

"Why did you ask me to accompany you so far afield?" the younger man asked of the older.

"A benefactor of renown presented me with a gift. He is cunning, possessing of prodigious talent and can craft simple ore-rocks into wondrous objects."

"Where is this splendid gift?" the younger man asked.

The older one glanced back over his shoulder as if worried about being followed. "Yonder copse of trees."

The songbird kept watch as the men stopped walking directly beneath her tree. The breeze whispered a warning. Dread welled within her breast.

"Here, by this rock." The older bent to a rock and rolled it over. From her perch, the songbird glanced something wicked and sharp. The older man plucked it up and held it for his companion's inspection. "Behold!"

The younger man studied the object. "What is this tool so exotic in appearance?"

"Refined ferrous, its edge sharper than chert. Imagine me, a lowly cultivator of the ground receiving such a prize from my benefactor."

"What of it?" the younger one asked.

"Can you not see its worth to you, a herdsman? Such an edge would greatly ease your task during butchering and preparation of your sacred offerings." The older man danced, swinging the thing around in the air. "Are you not envious?"

"Nay, the lord I serve has already blessed me to overflowing."

Alarmed at the older man's bizarre behavior, the songbird called out a warning to her fledglings.

Puffed up with pride, the older man stepped within reach of the younger and spoke in a threatening tone. "Finally, I have bested you."

His companion raised his hands. "There exists no enmity between you and I. Not according to me."

"Not according to you. According to Him."

The songbird sensing the elder's hatred and jealousy of the younger's blessed existence unleashed a cautionary shriek. As she witnessed the ensuing brutality, her melody turned forlorn. The younger man's pierced heart spilled its life blood onto the ground.

Falling to his knees, he grabbed the arm of his assailant and sputtered, "O, my brother, why?"

The older man shook loose from the younger's grasp and wiped the stained blade clean against his victim's garment. With disdain he uttered, "Die away from me. I am not your keeper."

The songbird and her chicks burst into flight, up and away from the grove of trees. Great evil had just entered the world, and they needed to spread the news.

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