Warrior Prophets Chapter 26
Akavish sat on his new throne in his father’s throne room. He had burned his father’s heavy wooden throne and constructed a dark copper one instead. Akavish loved the feel of the cold metal on the skin of his one healthy arm. Even more so, he loved clanging his metallic arm on the chair and watching the cringing reaction of the attendants in the throne room. The large stone chamber was regularly filled with people whom he was never quite sure why they were there. He frequently cast suspicious glances upon them.
His latest arm was a marvel of technological genius. Akavish could now choose from a selection of poisons, a built in cross-bow, or a dart-launcher. He was still working on installing a launcher for his famous stars of death. All his weapons were, of course, poison-tipped.
“But my liege,” Bardes, the chief servant, pleaded on his knees in front of Akavish, “you are asking me to burn down my son’s house. He meant no disrespect or attack when he bumped into you. He merely tripped on a loose cobblestone. Please reconsider.”
“My decision is final.” Akavish placed his metallic arm on the servant’s shoulder. A hiss of silence pervaded the room. “I do not appreciate being argued with. If you cannot carry out my orders, I shall find someone else more loyal.”
Good help is so hard to find, Akavish thought, as he flicked his mechanical arm, stinging to death his third chief servant in as many months.
Bardes collapsed to the ground and writhed in pain for a few seconds before freezing in a most unnatural position. Why don’t people listen to me, understand me, Akavish griped to himself.
“Remove him,” Akavish commanded the other court sycophants hanging in the throne chamber. “And send his family the usual payment with instructions to leaveAshkelonbefore nightfall. I don’t want any moping or vengeful relatives about. Burn all their homes down.” Two servants hauled the dead Bardes out of the throne room.
“Aldas,” Akavish pointed at a young man in the corner of the throne room. “You look reasonably intelligent. I name you my new chief servant. Fail me, and your end will be as swift as his.” Akavish gestured at the departing chief servant.
Aldas trembled as he walked to Akavish’s throne and bowed at his feet.
“King Akavish,” Aldas intoned. “Your merest whim shall be as an ironclad command.”
“Well spoken. Now fetch Krafus. He should have been back from his mission by now.”
“Congratulations on your promotion, Aldas,” said Krafus, as he sipped slowly from his mead in the tavern hall. “I hope you last longer than your predecessors. I’m in no rush to see Akavish. I need to consider the information I’ve learned and how to use it. It’s a shame Bardes’ son was a bumbling fool and couldn’t kill Akavish when he had the chance.”
“Akavish seems to sense every plot and move against him and is somehow able to protect himself. He suspects you most of all.”
“I know, but he still hesitates to kill me. He still likes to hear what I have to say. We must be careful with this latest piece of information. I’m sure it can serve our purposes.”
“What is it?”
“After many years of silence, Akavish’s old nemesis, the Israelite Boaz, the one who cut off his arm, is being spoken of again.”
“What do they say?”
“He has organized a militia that is exterminating band after band of ruffians. He has vanquished Midianites, Ammonites, Moabites, all with growing success and popularity.”
“How will this help us?”
“Akavish’s blood will boil when he hears of his old enemy’s success.”
“Then I would rather be elsewhere when you give him the news.”
“Are you fearful, Aldas? Perhaps you should leaveAshkelonif you cannot confront our tyrant.”
“We are doomed if we do not bring the madman down. He is crazed enough that he would hunt me down if I abandoned this city. He has wrecked it and our livelihood. Commerce has slowed to a crawl. Sailors are docking atAshdodinstead of here and all the merchants are taking their business there. He has burned down half the city. Soon there will be nothing left to save.”
“Have faith, Aldas. There is an additional bit of news that is sure to drive Akavish mad and send him to chase his old adversary. Boaz will have to destroy Akavish for us. Boaz has been ever-fortunate. His god smiles upon him.”
“What news? How will you break it to him?”
“Come and see. I’m looking forward to the pain it will inflict upon Akavish.”
“Welcome back, Krafus,” said Akavish, as he clanged his metallic claw on his copper throne.
“Hail, King Akavish, Ruler of Ashkelon, Scion of Larus and Battler of the Israelites,” Krafus announced with great pomp as he approached the throne, staying out of reach of the menacing claw.
“Stop it, old man. Just tell me what you’ve learned.”
“As you wished, I’ve studied the movements of the Israelites and they are no threat toAshkelonor to any of the other Philistine cities.”
“Let me be the judge of what is a threat. Details. Give me details.”
“Joshua, their great sorcerer and leader, has retired. Their regular army has disbanded with each man awarded land. The Israelite soldiers are all busy planting their fields and grazing their animals. They were actually quite orderly about parceling the land, dividing by tribe and then by family. They have not succeeded in conquering all of the Canaanite cities though. Several do pay homage and taxes to the Israelites and there are even a few that are still independent.”
“So war has ended for the Israelites?” Akavish asked, confused.
“There is one who still fights.”
“You know him.”
“Boaz?” Akavish’s pulse quickened.
“Yes. He has created a militia that has been attacking the various bands that have been stealing Israelite flocks. Boaz has demolished Moabite, Ammonite and Midianite raiders. Apparently he singled-handedly destroyed an Ammonite stronghold. He is feared by his enemies and loved by his people.”
Akavish’s face turned red as he forgot to breathe. He scratched his throne with his claw, creating a horrible screech. All in the throne room scrambled to cover their ears. Krafus tried to hide a grin.
“I should have killed him when I had the chance,” Akavish finally said.
“You can’t mean to pursue him now?” Krafus asked.
“And why shouldn’t I?”
“We need you here. You have duties to your city, to your people.”
“My people hate me and plot to kill me, with you at the head of the conspiracy. Boaz has love and fame and glory. It should have been mine. Instead he leaves me a cripple and is adored by his people. Why should I not kill him?”
“Remember he always bested you when you met. If anything, now that he’s an adult I have heard that he has become an even greater warrior and leader of men. If he was incredible as a child, he must be formidable as an adult and a commander of battle-proven soldiers.”
“Perhaps you are right. I am king, am I not? I have the fear and obeisance of my people. Why should I seek trouble with the Israelite. Let him play soldier with the nations of the east. I am comfortable here, and as you say, the Israelites are no threat to us. You are wise as always, Krafus.”
“I’m pleased that you follow my guidance, King Akavish. However, I did not finish my report.”
“Boaz is to be married this summer.”
“What!?” Akavish jumped out of his throne. “To who? How? How does a professional soldier have time for marriage as well? Have the gods poured all their blessings upon my enemy?”
“Yes. He is marrying the love of his life. A beautiful woman from his tribe. I believe she is even a relative. It is reported that they make quite a handsome couple.” Krafus paused and looked at Akavish’s claw and balding, greasy head with open distaste, as if to say: You were handsome once too. Now, what woman would want you, unless you forced her or threatened her family?
“More. Tell me more,” Akavish grunted through gritted teeth.
“His success has not only been military and romantic. He has started a bakery. The most famous in his tribe. He has become quite wealthy for a young man.”
“How? When? Is there nothing the gods have not granted him? Why do they tease me like this? There is more. I sense you are withholding more. Tell me!”
“Joshua will be at his wedding. And so will Caleb, and all the princes ofIsrael. Joshua has no sons. It is rumored that Joshua may appoint Boaz his successor as leader of all the Israelites, though I still don’t know how succession works amongst these people.”
“Enough! I’ve heard enough! We shall destroy Boaz. It is against all nature for a being to be so blessed. I shall be the weapon of the gods,” Akavish raised his claw heavenward, “and exact justice and retribution from this insolent Israelite. By Baal and Ashtarte! We shall be there for his wedding celebration. We shall annihilate Boaz and the entire Israelite leadership. They will not expect an attack at so joyous an event in what they consider peace-time. Then all of the Israelite lands will be ripe for the picking. I shall become Akavish the Great. Akavish the Conqueror. All will fear my name, not just the worthless citizens ofAshkelon. I will trample upon the dead carcass of Boaz and then kill his bride. Or perhaps his bride first. Yes. He should see her die first. This is what I was meant to do. Krafus, tell the other cities. There will be enough land for everyone. Promise them vineyards and olive groves and flocks and herds and wide pastures. We cannot live long enclosed in these cities, relying just on the sea. We must expand eastward and this is our opportunity.”
“Excellent, your majesty. I shall send word immediately.” Krafus could barely contain his glee as he left Akavish.
“Aldas!” Akavish called for the new chief servant.
“Yes, your majesty.” Aldas approached.
“Call for the blacksmith and the apothecary. I need more darts, arrows and especially stars of death. Lots of stars of death. And much poison. This is going to be a massacre!” Akavish spoke with such joy, even those in the room that wished him dead couldn’t help but smile.
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Biblical Sources: Judges Chapter 1 details how some of the tribes did not conquer all of the cities in their territory:
27 And Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its towns, nor of Taanach and its towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and its towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and its towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and its towns; but the Canaanites were resolved to dwell in that land. 28 And it came to pass, when Israel was waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to task-work, but did in no wise drive them out. 29 And Ephraim drove not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them. 30 Zebulun drove not out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributary. 31 Asher drove not out the inhabitants of Acco, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob; 32 but the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out. 33 Naphtali drove not out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, nor the inhabitants of Beth-anath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became tributary unto them. 34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the hill-country; for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley. 35 But the Amorites were resolved to dwell in Harheres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim; yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributary.