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Criminals Cross – by Natasha
Remember your rage. Remember that this is all for her. Ariav repeated the words in his head as he slipped through the dark streets of Capernaum. The words played like a mantra, blocking out the voice of reason. The foolish voice inside that kept saying what he was going to do was wrong. They killed your wife. They deserve to be punished. He clenched his fists tighter and moved quicker. Eventually, he reached his destination – a small two room house on the other side of the city.
In the darkness of night, he crouched behind the crumbling wall and plotted his next move. His hand brushed the hilt of the small knife by his waist. He kept his breathing slow and even, his eyes half closed as he focused not on sight, but sound. Inside, his target shuffled about. The moon was nearing its midpoint. It had been almost two hours since he had crept into this hiding spot, near the open window of his target’s house. Soon, the opportunity to strike would present itself.
A few minutes later, a slight creak signaled the door opening. Swift footfalls on the dusty ground echoed as his target started to walk away. Ariav waited, counting his own breaths. One…two… three… He peered around the wall, catching a glimpse of his targets back as he rounded a corner. Rising to his feet, he darted after him. His target walked quickly, glancing over his shoulder every now and then, but Ariav had little trouble staying unseen. He followed the man all the way to the outer edge of the city. As the man passed an alleyway, Ariav rushed forwards, grabbing the man and pulling him into the darkness. He wrapped his hand over the man’s mouth and pressed his knife to the man’s throat. The man squirmed, and Ariav tightened his grip.
“Silence, or you will never see tomorrow,” Ariav hissed. The man stopped moving, his body tense and still. “Your leader. Where is he?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about-” the man stammered.
“Last chance.” Ariav pressed the knife in a little harder. “Tell me where he is.”
“I swear I don’t know!” The man whimpered. “He doesn’t tell us anything. I haven’t seen him since all the riots.”
Kill him. Ariav gripped the knife tighter. It would be easy. There were no guards around. No one would see him do it. But this man didn’t kill his wife. He may have been part of the same band of criminals, but he hadn’t done anything. Loosening his grip, he growled and shoved the man to the ground. With a huff of disgust, he turned and raced back to his house.
“Brother, would you please come with me?” Mahir stood in the doorway of Ariav’s house, his hands pressed together in a gesture of pleading.
“No!” Ariav snapped. He heaved a pack of supplies onto a cart, turning his back to his brother. He paused, wiping the sweat from his brow. He swallowed a yawn and rubbed his eyes.
“Are you not curious about this man? They say he has healed the sick and dying. They even say he casts out demons.”
Ariav rolled his eyes as he began to harness his donkey to the cart. “I don’t have time for rumors, Mahir. All this talk is just stretching the truth. This so called messiah uses some medicine to cure a few people, and hire people to pretend to be possessed. Everyone thinks he’s come to save us all. But it’s nothing but trouble.”
“Then why don’t you come see for yourself?”
“Because-” Ariav turned away and walked into his house, taking a small coin purse from under his mattress. Mahir followed him. “-unless he can “magically” replace everything those robbers stole and fix my pottery wheel, then I’ll be living on the streets.” Ariav walked back outside. He locked his door tight, double checking that the windows were all boarded. Hopefully that would deter any more robbers.
“Please, just leave me be. I would like to reach Magdala as soon as possible, and you are slowing me down.”
His brother tried to catch his eye, but Ariav ignored him. He checked everything one last time, then started down the road, leading his donkey. He could still sense his brothers eyes on him, but he didn’t look back.
The sun had just crossed its highest point in the sky when he arrived in Magdala. He hurried as swiftly as he could through the streets. Thankfully, it wasn’t too crowded, so it didn’t take long before he reached the shop he needed. It was one of the closest towns to his home of Capernaum that he could get a new potters wheel from. When he arrived however, he saw no sign of the owner, Tamid. Swallowing his frustration, he headed for Tamid’s house.
After knocking on the door several times, Tamid finally answered. The man’s hair was scraggly and unkempt, and dark circles hung under his eyes.
“Ariav. Ah… I’m sorry. I haven’t had a chance to open the shop. My wife hasn’t been feeling well and I’ve been trying to look after her. Did you need something?”
“I need a new wheel-”
Tamid began to shake his head.
“I’m afraid I cannot help you right now. I don’t have any time to make more and I sold my last one several days ago. Maybe you could come back in a week?”
Ariav frowned. “I don’t have a week. I need one now.”
Tamid gave him a pitying look. “Perhaps you should try Korazin. There is a man there who sells wheels.”
“Very well…” Ariav tried to hide the bitterness in his voice. “Hope you wife feels better.”
Tamid nodded in thanks before closing the door. Ariav trudged back to his cart and began to lead his donkey home. He’d planned to be back home with a new wheel by midday. Now he’d have to make an additional trip. At least he’d left early in the morning. Korazin was a mere two miles from his home in Capernaum. He could easily make it there and back before nightfall.
As he entered the city however, he began to wonder if some unseen force were conspiring against him. The streets were thronged with multitudes of people. Far more than could have lived in the city. Most seemed to be heading in a particular direction. His frustration peaked when he was forced to leave his donkey tied up at the city’s edge. Instead of trying to force his way through the crowds, he tried to go around to the northern edge of the city. As he circled the west side, he came upon a large crowd gathered near the base of a hill. With sigh, he started to work his way through the multitudes.
As he did, many gave him dirty looks and hushed him. Their attention was fixed on something to the north. He huffed and glanced in the direction everyone was looking. A lone figure climbed up a hill until he was a short distance above the crowd. He took a seat on a large rock. The crowds murmurs died down, and the man began to speak.
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