Rare Things for a Rare Life

The Knights of Joshua

by Tiana Dokerty © 1984-2021

Home | Chapter 9 | Chapter 11

Chapter 10: Deliverance – 144 AK, Late Autumn

Psalms 82:3-4 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

 

Dunis Glen

Jonathan rode cautiously but steadily. If there was anywhere that was easy to ambush a lone rider, it was the wilderness between Lorness and Dunis Glen. Many of the trails there ran through wooded ravines.

His fears continued to ride with him. Fears for his wife and daughter. Fears for the lost courier who’d ridden east with copies of the proclamation. Fears for himself, that he’d fail to complete this task.

Jonathan passed through Dunis Glen’s gates as the sun peeked over the horizon. The herald half nodded as he read the document, his eyes growing ever wider. “This is astonishing news. I’ll proclaim it immediately. Many hereabouts have been affected by this. Thank you. What’s your name?”

“Jonathan O’Toole, Knight of Joshua. I took a petition about these vile acts to the king. He gave us relief.”

The herald donned his coat, went outside, and rang a large bell affixed beside the door.

People came out like wine from a press.

“Hear ye, hear ye,” the herald began. “A Proclamation by King Edal, Ruler of the Kingdom of Freislicht….”

People cried, laughed, and hugged each other.

Jonathan was overcome by their joy. He felt as if he was a stringless kite being swept away by the wind. It was both glorious and humbling.

Having read out the proclamation twice at the insistence of those present, the herald pointed toward Jonathan. “This Knight of Joshua appealed to King Edal for our relief. His Majesty responded. Thank the God of Truth for his faithfulness. He has not left us powerless. Sir Jonathan, please give a word to the people.”

Still feeling euphoric, Jon stepped forward and trusted the spirit to guide his words. “People of Dunis Glen, we each must submit to God every morning, acknowledge His loving kindness, and ask forgiveness for our transgressions. If you turn to God and repent for each thing that comes to mind each day, He will forgive you for His Son’s sake, and He will inspire you to take on every Goliath, and give you the stones to do so.

“Keep the fellowship of your circles, not because it is required but so you have strength in numbers… and spread that comfort from the holy spirit. A day is coming when we must all stand against the darkness. Together, we will be victorious.”

The crowd cheered.

Jonathan took it as praise for Joshua and the God of Truth, not for the small part he’d played. He bowed, as courtesy demanded, then mounted and rode out as he had entered.

I have completed the trip in less than a moon. That might be a record.

He was not in a hurry to leave. There was nowhere to go.

I no longer have a home.

He wanted to be alone, so he headed toward the river to pray. When he was empty of words, he rode back to Lorness.

Jonathan woke well after dawn and prayed. “Father, what would you have me do? I am finished with the king’s mission. Where would you have me go? Will you tell me where to find Rebekah and Sarah? I miss them so.”

He prayed in the spirit as he got dressed and packed his things. He had breakfast, found his friends, and said his goodbyes.

Still wondering what to do next, Jon thought of his son in Esthlanis.

I should go to David. Perhaps Rebekah and Sarah have gone to him already.

 

River Town

Rebekah-as-Mister-Beck entered River Town, the second stop on her circuit, and headed to The Sapphire for a meal. Not only was the food there better than at her lodging, but she had information that the weasel used it regularly.

 After eating, she paid the bill and left. Rosewood might be able to sit there, buying drinks and talking away the afternoon. She could not. There were seven customer inquiries waiting for her.

While silently praying for direction, she noticed a man watching her. She entered a variety of shops to see what he would do. In each, she bought what she needed. Yet, when she left the fifth establishment, the man had not moved.

It concerned her.

Who was he? What was his intention?

Had someone put a new price on her head… or that of her alter-ego, Tomas Beck?

The man was still leaning against the hitching post in front of the butcher when she entered the cobbler’s shop. It was the sixth and last store she needed to visit.  Yet, when she departed, he was standing outside the fletcher’s.

She considered walking away, taking the first alley that presented itself. Yet, if he’d been watching her long enough, he’d have identified her horse. Instead, she decided to confront him. Without causing a scene, if she could help it.

Adjusting her parcels, she walked over to the fletcher’s shop, stared at the wares on display in the window, then frowned. As if she’d just noticed him, she asked, “Have you bought arrows from this shop before?”

He blinked. “No, no, I haven’t. The Lord told me to ask: do you know Joshua?”

It was her turn to be surprised. “I… do…” She chuckled. “I was wondering why I noticed you. Do you belong to a circle here?”

“My family leads one that meets tonight. I’m Patrick Gunnels.” He offered his hand in greeting. “Would you like to join us?”

“Tomas Beck,” she responded with a firm handshake. “What time and where?”

“My parents offer hospitality to all. I could take you there once you’re done in town. You’re not from around here. I know everyone. I grew up here.”

“I long for fellowship. I’m done shopping. There’s nothing that cannot be put off until the morrow.” Rebekah smiled inwardly. She needed information and, it seemed, the Lord was providing. Who was she to say ‘no’?

“My horse is at the stable down the road getting a new shoe.” Mister Gunnels pointed. 

Beck retrieved her horse, affixed her supplies, and followed Patrick to the stables.

When both were mounted, the local man led the way. He was a major in the army, home visiting family before starting a new posting at High Castle. “I’m excited to be stationed in the capital. The spirit inspired me to apply for it,” he paused. “Just as it told me to watch, follow and move into your path.”

They marveled at the Lord’s works.

The farm was a goodly spread with many fields ready to harvest. In the yard was a middle-aged man sharpening an axe and a woman plucking clothes off the line and dropping them into a basket on the ground.

“Welcome, visitor.” The woman wore a blue dress and plain muslin apron.

“Mother, this is Tomas Beck,” Patrick announced, “a follower of Joshua from the south. Mr. Beck, these are my mother, Clara, and my father, Winston.”

Mister Gunnels laid aside the axe. “I am pleased to meet you. Come inside.”

They spoke about the Writings and general topics until she heard, tell them your mission.

Beck told them of the debt collection, her daughter’s kidnapping, and the human sacrifice she’d discovered. She cried at times, overwhelmed by the enormity of it.

Patrick’s mother embraced Beck with sympathy.

“We feel your burden and its truth. We’ll help any way we can,” Winston said.

Their care and love made Beck think of her parents.

As she told them of the five-fold plan, a vision formed within her mind of all the land’s circles united and, somehow, the Gunnels playing a central role in what was to come.

Thus, with fellowship and food, a movement began. Its name would be translated as ‘light against’. To those within, it was Licht Gegen.

 

Magistrate Gorum’s Estate

Esthlanis was a beautiful, tranquil place. Its wide-open plains rolled out like a golden blanket dappled with wild horses, welcoming all under a pure blue sky, granting feelings of openness and freedom.

Jonathan wished Rebekah and Sarah were with him, under the heavens.

Keep them safe, Lord. Cover them with your peace.

As he traveled east, there were pastures everywhere filled with horses, mares nursing foals, and proud stallions stomping the ground valiantly.

He slept under the stars for three nights before arriving at Magistrate Gorum’s estate. As he approached its gates, four riders intercepted him, each coming from a different direction. He was impressed. They were intimidating, all wearing short swords in simple scabbards.

I bet these are his sons.

“Hallo, Sir, can we help you?” one asked.

“I am Jonathan O’Toole. My son, David, is apprenticed to Magistrate Gorum.”

“I’m Jathan. These are my brothers. I’ll take you to our father.” He turned to his siblings, “Continue inspecting the fences. I’ll find you later.”

The knight followed, admiring the gait of Jathan's horse.

“David’s a fine boy, Sir Jonathan. He learns fast.”

“Jon!” Gorum bellowed, waiting for his son and the knight on the large porch. “Come, have some tea. You’re not taking my favorite student away, are you?”

“No, he is in good hands here. I hope he appreciates the opportunity you are giving him.” Jonathan dismounted. “There is…” His voice caught, filled with emotion. “…bad news. My wife, her parents, and my daughter were… set upon by debt collectors. The house and barn were burnt down. There is… no sign… of any of them.”

“Those drecksa!” Gorum snarled, striding forward to clasp Jonathan’s shoulder. “What can I do? If you know who’s behind this, my sons, my ranch hands, and I’ll ride with you. I don’t care how far. I don’t care who we must face down.”

“I do not… know… who. And am honored by the offer, but…”

“But what?

“I, and others, appealed to the king, who interceded, declaring such takings unlawful.”

“That’s something… but your wife and daughter are still missing. I see it on your face.” Gorum pointed to chairs on the porch. “Sit. Please. Maria, bring drinks – strong ones – we’ve a guest!”

Jonathan collapsed into the offered chair and told his tale, as Gorum poured drinks.

“Keep your faith strong. You’ll have what’s needed when it’s needed.”

Jon looked into the distance. “I know… but… being separated from them is…”

“David can stay as long as you want. He’s as family to us all. What can I do for you?”

Jonathan exhaled slowly, trying to regain his calm. His soul was in turmoil. This was the first time he’d spoken to an old friend about the situation. Somehow, that made everything more painful, more immediate, more real. “Rebekah knows where David is.” He sighed. “She may end up here at some point, with or without….” A sob escaped Jonathan’s lips. “…Sarah.”

“My sons and I will protect them with our lives,” Gorum stated fiercely.

“If you see them, tell Rebekah I will go to the Knights’ School every first day of the Ram, the Crab, the Judge, and the Goat. Have them meet me there…”

“No.” The word was flat and cold. “Old friend, if they reach here, I’ll keep them safe… here… and send word to your School. With all that’s befallen you, I’ll not risk fate snatching them away from you again. Anything might happen.”

Jonathan snorted. “I have no doubt of your good intentions, but do you really think my Rebekah can be ‘kept safe’ anywhere?”

“Perhaps…” Gorum shook his head. “…you are right. I could no more contain her than I could cage a southerly wind. That does not mean that I cannot provide her with an escort, weapons and whatever else she might need.”

“For which, I am grateful. Now, where can I find my son? I won’t keep him long. Then I will be on my way.”

“Nonsense, rest here for a few days,” Gorum commanded.

“Thank you. I await Joshua’s guidance, so will stay until I receive it.”

“Your boy’s in the north barn. Jathan will take you there.” Gorum signaled his son.

David squatted beside the mare, watching a foal wrangle its skinny legs and stand shakily. His face lit up as his father entered the barn. “You’ve returned! Did you see it?” He leapt to his feet and bounded toward his da. “The foal was birthed only minutes ago. It’s a wonder every time.”

“No, I missed it,” Jonathan responded as David hugged him.

“I’ve seen six foals born here. Master Gorum says, ‘you must know horses to be a good horseman’. So, he started me here. It’s my job to care for the mares and foals. Why’d you come back? Are you taking me with you?”

“I cannot. This is where the Lord wants you. Can we go outside and talk?”

David looked to Jathan and the breeder, seeking permission. When both nodded, he followed his father outside.

“I do not want you to worry,” Jonathan began, “but need you to pray.”

David frowned. Something is terribly wrong.

“When I came home, our house and barn had been burned to the ground.” Jonathan cleared his throat and a single tear rolled down his cheek. “There was no trace of your grandparents, your mother, or sister.”

“What…? Why…? We must find them!”

“I fear your grandparents are dead. The Lord has confirmed that…” Jonathan hesitated.

The single moment’s pause in his father’s speech terrified David. Were they all dead? What had happened?

“…your mother and sister are alive. I have not found them yet. I will continue to search.”

David hugged his father tight, sobbing, relief flooding through him. When he pulled back, his young eyes questioning, his da told him all that had happened. It left him with more questions than answers.

How could this have come to pass? How could there be such evil in the world? What could he – must he – do to put an end to it?

Placing a firm hand on David’s shoulder, Jonathan instructed, “I need you to pray for each of us, so each has the strength and wisdom to do the Lord’s will. He will bring us all back together. Especially, I need you to pray in the spirit as much as you can.”

“I will, father. I should go with you. I need to help you find them.” I cannot – no, I will not – sit idly by while others act.

“You will, son. Prayer is more important than anyone knows. It grants the Lord permission to work on our behalf. Because of the first man’s sin, the Serpent owns the world.”

“I know all this, father.” David controlled himself. He wanted to rail against what would be required of him, but knew such behavior would not change his father’s mind once set… and it was clearly set.

“As man has free will, he must ask for aid,” Jonathan continued, repeating a lesson David already knew by heart. A lesson that only confirmed his father would not take him away from Magistrate Gorum’s. “It isn’t magic, everything takes time to work out. We struggle and learn as we go.”

David paused, considering his father’s words, and – despite its futility – tried again. “I can pray and go with you. I—”

“We have an agreement with Magistrate Gorum. He expects your help. We cannot break our promises. Besides, I have no information on where to find your ma or Sarah.”

David sighed, looked down at his feet, and nodded. So be it, father. If I cannot travel with you now, I can learn everything possible to be ready for the day when we venture forth together.

His da lifted David’s chin. “Your mother may come here. She knows where you are. I need you to be here for her. Tell her to meet me at the Knights’ School on the first day of the next season. Tell her to leave a letter if I am not there. I will do the same. I will write to you as much as I am able.”

David nodded, allowing his disappointment to show to hide his inner thoughts. I will never again be unready to act. Never. Nor will I permit any evil I encounter to survive. I shall strike it down. My father requires that I bide my time as I am still a boy. I shall not as a man.

“That’s my boy.” Jonathan smiled at him, tousling his hair. “Do you eat with the family?”

“Yes, Da.” David felt the righteousness and certainty of his decision. It comforted him, easing his fears for his mother and sister. As did Joshua’s peace that flowed into him, prompted by a still small voice that said, ‘The way is clear when it is needed.’

“Then I will see you at dinner. It is time you get back to that foal and her mama.”

“Yes, Sir.” He hugged his father again. “I’ve missed you so.”

“I have missed you, too. Go now. O’Tooles are not idlers.”

Jon stayed at the estate for two more days, spending time with his boy in the evenings.

“I love you, son. Pray for your mother and sister.”

“I will, father.”

The spirit then led Jonathan, not back to Freislicht but deeper into Esthlanis.

A new mission was forming. The circles planted in this foreign land needed support. He would feed them, tend them, and help them grow.

But first, he had to find them.

Those circles had been planted many years before his birth. However, for all of the accomplishments of the Fellowship, they kept few – if any – records. It was not their way. They went where they were guided to by the spirit, when they were guided by the spirit, and did whatever the spirit inspired them to do. Thus, he knew the Lord would direct his steps… and that the journey likely would wend its way to his destination.

Straight lines were for others, those who only considered their travel’s end. For a Knight of Joshua, traveling was its own reward, an opportunity to commune with Joshua Ha Mashiach, and to be open to whatever the God of Truth placed in their path.

Yet, as he rode, his only thoughts were of David.

I suppose it is different for him than for me. When I was sent to High Castle for my apprenticeship, my father was dead. So, I did not miss him the same way.

Heading into a small wood, bird calls announced him and fell silent as he passed. Only the rustling leaves complemented his thoughts.

I don’t see any solution for it, though. Men must learn a trade or develop skills. The best time to start is at seven or eight, when the mind is agile, and the body is not yet ready for the rigors of physical training.

As he rode out of the woods and into the town, homes and a dozen buildings were arranged before him.

I will write once a week, relating everything I would say to him if he was with me. It will have to be enough.

He asked the first person he saw if they had a herald or a place to read messages.

“There’re postings on the outer wall of the Sheriff’s Office.” The man pointed the way.

“You are very kind, sir,” Jonathan acknowledged, tipping his head.

As he approached that building, a small gathering was in serious discussion. Their excited talk stopped as he dismounted.

“Where can a hungry man buy a good meal here?” Jonathan asked.

“I’d be happy to show you,” a tall, brown-haired man replied. A wide-brimmed hat hung down his back. His spurs jingled as he walked.

Jonathan followed along, leading his horse to The Braying Donkey Inn.

“Are you a Knight of Joshua? It’s many years since we’ve seen your kind.”

“I am sorry to hear that. I would learn about your town.”

The inn provided a good wholesome meal, followed by a drink called cofaidh mixed with honey and cream.

Blake Tolmach, the owner of the jingling spurs, was a friendly soul, offered great conversation, and talked in much detail about the circles in his village. “We have three that I know of. One is led by a near kinsman. Would you like me to introduce you?”

“That would be wonderful.”

After their meal, Blake offered hospitality for three days, where the knight shared fellowship with them and two of the local circles.

Jonathan traveled as far as the mountains on Esthlanis’ eastern border, then north to the country’s farthest point, a township overlooking the Sea of Glass. He was astounded at their understanding of the Writings and of their love for all. He ministered to them and encouraged them to continue in the Writings and manifestation of the holy spirit.

All those he met offered to pray against the spiritual darkness in Freislicht, for the believers there to grow in wisdom and understanding, and for the safety and return of his wife and daughter.

In Esthlanis’ capital, Jonathan met Mathu Duine, Steward to the Premier of Esthlanis. After sharing several meals together and speaking for many hours, Mathu insisted the knight meet the current Premier. Together, the three of them spoke of the state of Freislicht, its problems, the evil that grew there, the threat it posed to neighboring countries, and how it might be countered.

Two days later, Jonathan was formally summoned to their Court, where the Premier of Esthlanis, his successors, and all of the apparatus of state pledged to help the Knights of Joshua eradicate the pestilence that plagued Freislicht.

Elated, Jon thanked him, committing to inform both the Fellowship and King Edal of the Esthlani’s decision.

Yet the still small voice did not urge him to return home, but to continue in Esthlanis.

After several more weeks, Jonathan returned to see Blake.

Talking as they watched the moon rise one evening, Jonathan noted, “I have learned much and am especially appreciative of your people’s understanding of liberty.”

Blake smiled. “Every man in Esthlanis must wield the sword to defend against any that would subjugate them, especially rulers. Our wise men teach that Freislicht fell into darkness because your people became complacent, relying on the Fellowship.”

“There is more than a little truth to that,” Jon agreed. “But how do we reverse that?”

"More cofaidh,” Blake joked.

“I am not sure that drink will catch on in Freislicht.” Jonathan shook his head, enjoying the bitter brew. “Perhaps, the journey towards redemption must start with the Writings. Your bookshops sell complete copies of them. Could I buy some to distribute on my return?”

“Every home in Esthlanis has the Complete Writings. On their twelfth nameday, every person – boy or girl – receives a copy and is given their first metal sword, to ensure they learn both. Let me provide you with fifty – copies, not swords – as a sign of our joy in helping you.”

 

Home | Chapter 9 | Chapter 11