The city had the stench of death. Neither Victor nor any of the seventy mostly men with him ever witnessed such misery. Reaching the town square, Victor’s hand went up: “Let’s stop,” he said. No one wanted to, not there, not then, but they obeyed. Quickly, danger encircled them like hungry hyenas. Their dropped packs were back on their shoulders as they each anxiously sought an escape route. There wasn’t one.
Victor singled out the leader, a man with an arm severed below the elbow. Stepping toward him and reaching out, Victor said, “Be whole!” In an instant he turned to those behind him and showed two hands. “It’s a miracle. It’s a bloomin’ miracle,” he said with a loud laugh.
A woman bent over at the waist shuffled up to Victor. “Be healed!” he commanded and she immediately stood erect. The woman cried out, “It’s been thirty years!”
“Lift your eyes and arms to heaven and give praise to God,” Victor said. Radiant with joy, she did as he said.
What happened next was more of the unexpected. People flocked to anyone who came with the stranger. They assumed that if they were with Victor they’d do what he did. So with their diseases, afflictions, missing limbs, tumors or facial disfigurement, they believed. To everyone’s surprise, power went out from the fellowship–all except two that is–and all were healed. Together they sang and danced before the Lord while onlookers clapped and shouted God’s praises. The place of misery had become a festival of rejoicing. Heaven had come to the city square.
Standing on a bench, Victor silenced the crowd. “We are no one special. What you saw did not come from us, but from our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. He sent us to proclaim his kingdom.”
One of the first men healed spoke up, “Who is this Jesus that we might believe in him?”
Victor’s right-hand man, Arndt, jumped up beside him. “Jesus, is God’s Son. He wants to do more than heal your body,” he said. “He wants to wash your soul of all wickedness, greed and hate. Jesus is ready to forgive. Eternal life will be yours, if you surrender your heart today.” And so it went. Three-thousand were saved. More than that, they all became followers.
Victor’s fellowship was eager to repeat what they had just done. “One man came to me with demons,” a long-time sister of the fellowship testified. “We told demons to leave and they left. We saw them go screaming and cursing.”
“Do not rejoice that the demons submitted to you. Rather, rejoice that you’ve been chosen by the Father, and your name is in the book of life.”
Approaching Victor was a kind-looking older gent. My name is “Harmon,” he said. “You recognize the name I see. Please come to my home. Meet my wife. I’d like to hear more.”
“I would be honored. Any man loyal to the king should know his plan. May I bring my brothers Arndt and Jacob,” Victor asked lightly slapping his men’s shoulders.
Harmon bowed, “They are welcome indeed. My home is humble but your presence will be like a visit from angels.”
When they entered, Harmon’s elderly wife greeted the strangers with her best curtsy. You must be the son of Leonidas, our Sovereign. You look so much like him. Sit while I make something.”
Just then a man burst in. “Excuse him,” she said. “This is our son Pilar.”
“Father, may I have a moment,” Pilar said, trying to catch his breath. He leaned over whispering to his father. After awhile, Harmon said, “We can tell them.” Turning to Victor, he repeated what he just heard. “It seems you have a traitor among your band. In fact, two.”
With that Arndt turned to Victor and muttered, “Shev and Saffron. Could be none other.” Jacob nodded in agreement.
“Before you reached the square, they were seen talking with one of our loathsome black priests. The three were seen heading to the temple–an evil place–next to the Hall of the Regents. (You know about the regents I’m sure.) No one dares go there lest they have fallen for their deceit. I’m afraid of what might happen next.”
“Your king and my father prepared us well,” Victor said. Arndt added, “We came to free you from the power of the Dark Lord, but we must fall into his hands first.”
As tea and a crust of bread were served to each man, they sat and spoke of the king’s plan. Rising, Victor said, “We have a charge to keep. With the new moon, gather everyone still faithful to the king. Arndt and the new believers will follow. They cannot be seen. Lead everyone through the secret passage you led your king’s sister many years ago.” Harmon smiled as he remembered that night. “Flee to the mountain. Judgment is about to fall on this city. All who’ve oppressed my people will perish. Yes,” Victor repeated, “My people.”
“Before we can do as you command, my lord, we must know your full name,” the lady of the house said.
“I am Victor Emanuel Leonidas Salvador,” he said with pride.
“Our king,” the dear couple said, doing their best to bow.
“Come Jacob, let’s meet our enemy and embrace our fate!”
Next, Pt. 4, “The Purifying Fire”