My pores ooze moisture beneath the supple leather covering my face. The flowing brown hair, concealing my own, tickles the nape of my neck. I look upon the world though eyeholes like visor-slits. My mask though, has no metal, and shields my identity, not my flesh.
Through the mouth-space my words carry across the glen to the keen ears of hundreds. Gathered before me they listen as they always do, in all weathers, in all adversity. As I stand high upon an outcrop, I lift my chin and speak clearly, ‘…no mortal man shall lead our church, no tyrannous king…’
As I’m nearing my sermon’s close, a startled cry rings out from the fringes of the congregation. “The king’s soldiers!’
I discern an approach; hoof-beats and the rattle of metal reach through the settling mist. Beneath the false locks, my own neck hair tingles.
The crowd disperses, leaping away through the heather. I move with them; my once nimble limbs now jarring on rocks, my breath sucking through the mask-holes.
Mist thickens around us, aiding our retreat as the soldiers reach the abandoned site. I sense their presence behind me; hear bridles jangling, whinnying, forceful shouts.
As I near the cave, my left knee twists. I almost collapse; lurch onwards through the pain. The mist is thinner here and the low-lying entrance just visible. Relief overwhelms me as I scramble down the slope.
I cast the mask down on the earthen floor, now nothing more than a misshapen lump in the gloom. No light in its eyes, no movement in its mouth, no breath through its nose.
Another escape lies upon my aged shoulders. My bones ache, my stiff hands curl. As I slump against the rock-wall, my head begins to loll. My last sense before sleep is of a soft wind seeping into the cave, stirring the hair of the mask, bringing it to life just a little.