Alive on the Altar

My name is Carlos, and Im a Spanish author. While perusing about a museum I met a descendant of a man I would like to tell you about. I was told great stories of this man who was humble and even-tempered, but possessed a great strength. I will recount my favorite story.


When met with the right conditions, virility can quickly turn into fragility. We more often speak of our amazement when the opposite occurs, although much less significant.

Pleading to the dead on bended knee, a man sat in the middle of a cemetery. He would have done well to know that you do not seek the dead for answers to the living. Carrying his own disdain on his breath, he found himself in “the place”. The place that is home of the unlikely hero, where greatness tucks itself away in humility until it emerges in full strength. However, this too is the place where beautiful simplicity can turn into weary dread with a simple adjustment of one’s perspective. Our Hero was looking downwards, fatigued from the heaviness of defeat. 

He was “the one”. By no volition of his own, bound to a destiny he had to claim.  He was called to be a living sacrifice. The convolution of this situation comes from the truth that sitting there perched on the altar, not only are you alive to endure the suffering, but you are able to remove yourself from it.  But he chose not to, he sat there as pig over the fire and roasted. It is in this paradox you find his insurmountable strength. To be chosen: The gift and the curse tussling in a constant conflict and he chose to sit midst it all.

He wasn’t immaculately conceived or even particularly handsome. He never looked backwards or too far ahead.  He was a man of simple ambition. He cared about his family most and his country next. Greatness has a peculiar habit of choosing its masters among the populations of the coy. His name was Rahul, he was a Spanish farmer around 685 BC. The times were no different than what they are now, they never change. They are defined by passion to which we continually struggle to find a definition for. He would wake up bright and early every morning effortlessly and mindlessly going about his chronic life working the fields. What his circumstances may not suggest is that Rahul possessed a great gift.

He was equipped with a hidden light that made him a diamond in the rough, one among weathered pebbles. Rahul could solve his way out of the most dire straits. He could reason with a fish to walk on land, or even a wealthy man to stay humble. So great were his mental faculties that the members of his community would come to him for advice about any and everything. He was patient with them and his answers in response were always thorough and delivered with great equanimity.

During this time, Spain was under Italy’s rule. The European rumor mill turned swiftly and it moved a whisper that the Germans were preparing arms for an attack on the Italian empire.  The king at the time, Ancus Marcius, feared most that the Germans had indeed conjured a strategy to capture his kingdom.  Seemingly, wide spread territory evinces great strength, but in truth the Italians were made vulnerable from it. With vision polluted by pride and threat of great loss, the king was made a desperate man. In his frightened state he reacted and had some of his elite officers survey the lands of the extended empire for a man whose foresight could possibly predict the pattern of the impeding German storm. They traveled about asking the people, “Who among you is known for his wisdom, respected for his insight?” As you may imagine it wasn’t long before they were lead to Rahul’s humble farm. They sat down at Rahul’s diner table, and within moments understood how he had earned such complete reverence among the people. Almost swept away in the allurement of his charm, the officers remembered that this occasion was ordained for business. They asked him if he was willing to work for the King as an adviser. When five soldiers show up to such a meek land equipped so thoroughly as to cut down a forest, a question easily becomes a commandment. Rahul was no fan of King Marcius. He did not believe in exploitation or greed and thought a man weak to be empowered by them. Thus he resisted, answering that he didn’t think himself fit for such a project. The mood at the table changed instantly. As if threatened, the soldiers replied with threats. They made no hesitation to remind Rahul that his people, his land, and especially his family were all under Marcius’s rule. Rahul acquiesced.


After the day’s journey to the palace in Rome, (which only added harm to Rahul’s affect) he arrived before the king.  King Marcius had him get straight to work.  He was shown the details of past German military pursuits, statistics on their strength in numbers and weaponry, and finally the geographical characteristics of the land. Within moments Rahul sat down with the gathered information and labored away with remarkable adroitness. He was Beethoven in front of a piano. For eight continuous hours he worked. Anxiety spread through King Marcius’ body as he sat in the corner of room watching Rahul. When Rahul finally felt that all considerations were thoroughly tended to, he looked up from the pile of papers and notes and said with his usual poise, “They’ll attack the Accona Desert within the next month. They’ll know that the troops will be centered in Rome, and as a result there will be very little opposition in Tuscany. They will establish a base in Tuscany in which they will secretly gather many soldiers. They’ll seek to slowly attack the surrounding cities of Rome and enclose your army in there, by then in full strength. If you do not send troops to Tuscany now, Rome will be taken.” There was only sureness in his tone.

The king was skeptical at first and hesitated. But like a virus over time, his anxiety had spread both to his head and heart. Worry is a disease known to make a man hasty and so he eventually complied. He would send his men to Tuscany.

Two weeks later, every word Rahul uttered was found true as if he had prophesied instead of predicted. The German army was absolutely perplexed by how their plans were somehow foiled.  Being so unprepared and outnumbered the Germans put up very little resistance. Proper war etiquette would have it that the Italian army would assert their power driving the Germans back out of their land. This would keep the number of casualties to a low, and the message would be received. However, King Marcius showed no mercy. The German invasion was an attack to his ego more than his land. He had their soldiers brutally slaughtered and beheaded and carried the bodies back to Rome. Marcius ordered a cemetery built to bury the German remains in irony. One can only be in awe of the extents we are willing to go to protect the fragile and bruised ego. Maybe in truth to conquer pride, is to let it die.

Back in Rome, the King was in a joyous high having renewed his self-esteem. He went about singing Rahul’s accolades through the palace corridors. He had Rahul’s family brought to the palace for a celebration feast that weekend. The family ate then more than they had seen in a month. They were profoundly captivated by all of the beautiful architecture and paintings of the Roman castle, swimming about the Italian artistry. Rahul’s mother having always been very fond of art had found heaven and was afloat in bliss. Rahul caught sight of his mother’s face and saw tears. These were the kind of tears that would bring life to a desert, mend a torn soul. Rahul was moved.  He was nudged out of his reverie by the king’s hand on his shoulder.  He brought Rahul aside and whispered, “If you will bring me victory like that again, your people will be good for life. Everything within the palace will be open to them. They will live as royalty.”

Rahul’s heart was heavy. Late that night he went on a walk to visit the cemetery he was responsible for, looking for answers. He fell to his knees, and there he lay on the altar.  This was exactly what he wanted to assure the safety of his people, and the life he wanted for his family. He knew that this was the only way. “But not like this,” he would whisper out loud to himself. He hated bloodshed and everything the King stood for he loathed.  He had to pick his poison. And then there was his mother’s eyes, there was no intellectualizing strategy to approach that battle. So he chose to stay and burn in the flames. A choice he would have to live with until eternity beckoned.

Staying up all that night, Rahul approached the king the next morning in a sleepless daze and signed his soul away with the words, “Marcius, I am yours. Honor my life, by giving my people there’s.”

The end.


 I refuse to comment on Rahul’s decision, in regards to it being “right” or “wrong,” for that is none of my concern.  What must be understood here is that he was first chosen and then he chose. This is man’s greatest, most noble project. You have all been chosen. To choose to live on the altar, for something greater than you, that is what makes man great. Suspending the ego and giving way to the universal asks the strength of a hero. One the people will be forever in debt to. 

bended knee




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