Blood flooded the dusty foreign streets and beaded upon the sword of the crusading knight. As years passed the knight's armour grew crisscrossed and his face wizened, leaving him satiated to return to civilized lands. Turning home he saw a fellow countryman fallen on hard times, swaddled in rags. Hefting him up onto the back of his horse, the knight told him
"Come, we return to the warmth of our own hearths."
The thin man stared, saying nothing as a weakened flicker of joy seemed to wash across his gaunt face. The two rode across the continent, backtracking the knight's scorched and blasted path.
The days passed silently. "You say nothing, friend, but your companionship means much. Though I worry your health seems worse." The passenger stared at the knight, who himself seemed tired by their journey. On their many stops for water the knight found himself too weak to carry on, but his companion held him up in support.
"Resolve fills me as I look upon you, so ill and yet mustering strength enough to aid me. These sores pain me so, and spread 'cross my body in mockery of our righteousness spreading across heathen land. Looking upon you I'd swear you were dead, but your compassionate efforts betray you as a saint!"
The knight's eyes welled with tears, and in his vision a corona formed around the now starkly thin passenger's head.
Lolling in his saddle, but supported by the gaunt man sitting behind him, the knight pointed feebly to his hometown in the distance. The sudden baleful braying of the passenger's horn drowned out the knight's last rasping breath as it rattled in his iron helm.
The townsfolk cry out in joyful congregation at the sight of the single man upon his horse; not seeing the curled figure of pestilence crouching behind him, only bearing witness to their errant knight's pregnant homecoming.
Art prints available here: Pestilential Advent art print