'Magi' part 1
First a word from me
It's the end of winter here in New Zealand, and that means that Christmas is only a few months away, no I'm not meaning to drive you crazy with worry about Christmas and how to afford it but it did start me thinking about some things, one thing I've always been fascinated about is the story of the wise men so earlier in the year I began writing a few ideas about them, now I've decided to turn those ideas into something a bit more 'concrete'
Not sure how far we'll get, and before I start I don't think the story of the wise men ended at the visit to the infant Jesus so we'll probably go a little beyond Christmas as we explore the novel.
The plan's for one hub each month, but we'll see how we go with it, anyway, here's the first installment.
Just saying hello
Date 530 BC
Location Babylon in modern day Iraq.
The sun had risen high into the sky by the time that the four old men had finished their breakfast, but then again it didn’t matter too much to them as there wouldn’t normally be a lot for them to do. And even if there was they were at that age when it didn’t really matter anymore! They were well beyond the time of worrying ‘what the boss thought’ and besides there was only one ‘boss’ on earth they were concerned about and he always knew that this ‘tradition’ for them was important and keeping his best advisors on side was always a good idea. Besides there’s been a lot to discuss!
“I’m telling you” the oldest and most senior of them said as he leaned across to dip the last piece of bread into the minted yoghurt “It was the same one that came before!” There were suspicious looks from around the room, waiving the bread around it spattered a little on the exquisite Persian rug they were on, “He told me it was a message of things to come!”
The others were somewhat sceptical, but it didn’t pay to be too sceptical with the Prime Minister of the Great Medo-Persian Empire, even if he was an ‘old goat’ you’d known all your life as these four friends had known each other.
“You’re absolutely sure?” the next oldest, Hanni sat there playing with a stuffed onion he’d had for the last five minutes. “Or is it a figment of a fertile imagination?” he gave a mischievous wink to the others.
“You think I’m a senile old goat?” Daniel retorted back in a good natured banter, from anyone other than these four he’d have known it was an attack and the prelude to an attempt to remove him from his position at court. “Sorry Hanni, but the marbles are still all there, despite the age!” that drew guffaws from around the room as there wasn’t a person under the age of eighty present, “Things in the future!”
“You mean like the dream?” Shemi the one opposite was playing with his beard as he spoke, “The one you interpreted for King Nebuchadnezzar?”
Seventy years or so before the King at the time, a tyrant by the name of Nebuchadnezzar had brought these four along with thousands of others from their homeland in the Kingdom of Judah as slaves and servants to serve the vast Babylonian empire in whatever way he saw fit to use them, Daniel and his friends had been fortunate and unfortunate (depending on how you saw things) to be selected to serve in the Palace and be trained as ‘wise men’ or counsellors to the King, only it had nearly turned into disaster when the King, suspicious that the astrologers and wise men his father had used were just a bunch of charlatans.
The wise men his father had used had failed to see an assassination coming! He was assassinated because they didn’t warn him! Or did they see it and decided to allow it just to get rid of him so they could get more power ‘from the son’? If that was the reason it backfired big time and he’d set a test.
It had been a simple test, “I’ve had a dream he said. “And you’re going to tell me the meaning of it!”
“Ok King” the wise men thought it’d be easy, “Tell us the dream”
Nebuchadnezzar had actually smiled at that point (so the guards on duty had later told Daniel) “Oh, that’s not the test” he replied in a very soft, almost silky voice, “That would be too easy; you’ll need to tell me the dream as well!”
Panic is the only word that can accurately describe the situation that followed as the wise men flustered and blustered their way and tried with increasing desperation to get the King to relent, the King on the other hand was firm “ENOUGH! IF you men have the ears of the ‘gods’ then it shouldn’t be a problem for you!” he retorted at the end “Now bring me the answer or face execution at sunset!” and with that the orders had been given to round all the wise men up for execution.
Maybe you want to read my other novel?
Execution at any time in history wasn’t something to be enjoyed, but in Babylon it was particularly brutal, they were the first to crucify men, and that’s exactly what Nebuchadnezzar had in mind for his ‘wise me.’ A fate that would send a message ‘loud and clear’ through the empire, “Don’t mess with the new King!”
They found out the hard way when Arioch, one of the eunuchs who attended the King turned up with half a dozen guards to escort Daniel and his friends to escort them to the prison.
“Open up in the name of the King!” Arioch banged hard on the door.
“Not so loud” Michael, the youngest of the four in the classroom shouted “We’re trying to study here, and what’s the matter anyway?” they’d been working hard at their studies and were unaware of the commotion in the palace.
“Orders of the King Arioch pushed past the boys and headed for the one in charge, looking directly at Daniel he signalled to guards to start putting the boys in chains “All wise men and their trainees are to be arrested and executed!”
“What?” all four spoke in unison, shock forced them to drop the tablets they’d been studying, thankfully the rug stopped them from shattering. “For what crime?” Daniel demanded.
“I’m the King’s eunuch” Arioch shot back as the soldiers placed the bronze shackled on Daniel’s wrists. “He doesn’t have to tell me why!”
“But you know!” Daniel asserted as they pushed him towards the door “So explain, or I’ll go before him not knowing what I’m accused of”
“Something to do with a dream he had” Arioch replied as they began frogmarching the boys down the corridor.
“Take me to him” Daniel had forcibly stopped and was turning to face his captors, “And get these off, NOW!”
“What” the sergeant of the guard was unused to having two court officials issue conflicting orders, especially when the one was actually the one under a death sentence.
“Get these chains OFF! AND TAKE ME TO THE KING NOW” Turning to his three friends he simply whispered “pray like crazy”
“No” Arioch replied. “The King has already decided”
“To execute without giving us a chance” they were already in the courtyard. “What have you got to lose, if he agrees to see me and I fail to deliver then I’ll be executed anyway”
“And so will I” Arioch replied, “I don’t like that idea, especially with the mood the King’s in”
“And if he finds out one of his counsellors COULD tell him what he wanted?” Daniel shot back, “What then?”
Taking a young teenager to see the most powerful man in the world wasn’t the best of ideas and naturally the soldiers were reluctant to say the least but as Daniel pointed out, he was going to be executed anyway so what had they to lose?
“Our lives” was the sergeant’s reply when he was asked that but Arioch finally overruled him and said the consequences would be on his head, they weren’t happy but they obeyed.
“Your Majesty” Daniel bowed low enough to give homage, but not low enough to plead, “I have heard of your dream Highness, and would like time to pray to my God for an answer!”
“You mean you” Nebuchadnezzar half rose in seat, “A mere teenager who hasn’t finished his training, you mean you can tell me the dream?”
“I’m also one sentenced to death without being asked for the answer” Daniel shot back, “and no I can’t tell you the dream your highness, but my God can and I plan to ask him for the dream and the meaning”
Take a look at the city
The 'Dream's not for now!'
Nebuchadnezzar was stunned at this young upstart. ‘How dare he speak to me, the King in this way’ was his first thought, and the interview almost ended right there, but something asked him. “What if this boy is right? What if he can tell me the meaning of the dream?”
“And you think the gods will talk to you?” the King was almost laughing, “If they won’t listen to their own priests then what hope do you have? Permission granted, this I have to see”
But that was seventy odd years ago, Daniel had built a reputation as one who had the ‘ear of the gods’ but this was a different time and with very different rulers.
“Dan” Hanni began, “You don’t have the ear of the King like you used to!”
“Don’t need it for this” Daniel replied, “It doesn’t concern Persia!”
“How can anything about the future not concern Persia?”
“When this happens the Empire will be history” he looked round at his friends, they were confused and being totally honest, he was enjoying in, there’s something about knowledge that gives power, and while he never went looking for that power, he always enjoyed watching the others try to work out where he was ‘coming from’
That's all for now folks
As I said this is a bit of a test and I want to see if folks like the writing, there is more, but I want to see if people like the story so far.
Please leave your thoughts in the comments below and let's see how far we can get with the story.