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The blasphemy echoed uncomfortably in the ears of the lean but firmly built fifty-five-year-old man as he stepped out of the Chief Priest’s quarters. He frowned in disgust. 

“I must get to the others before dawn,” he whispered to himself as he glanced over his shoulder to ensure no one followed him. He hurried into the nearly empty street. His heart was heavy as the words of the chief priest throbbed within: “Pilate has approved our request to send guards to the tomb so that his disciples will not steal the body and proclaim a resurrection.” 

The laughter that ensued had been like whips lashing at him. Though he laughed as loud as everyone, his’ connoted a different meaning.  

He walked briskly in the star-lit night, sneering at the stupidity of guarding the tomb; this information was vital to Arch’s leadership.

The people’s yearning for freedom from the Roman authority resulted in several revolts instigated by different rebel groups in Judea. While many caused the Empire little trouble, there were influential groups that incited great unrest.

One such group was Arch. When they were younger, Arch’s leaders were bandits, but as they grew older, the liberation of Israel became a paramount concern. They were appalled by the acts of injustice against fellow Jews and decided to join the struggle. It is pertinent to add here that nothing else was more of a motivation than the boldness of the carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth.

He defiled the orders of both the Roman authority and the heads of the synagogue. He wasn’t afraid of anyone – and his courage inspired the people.

“The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” he would shout over the hilltop where they camped after their onslaught. They would tremble as his fiery words stung their conscience to the extent that their robbery operations halted. However, after some soul-searching, considering that they had families to cater for, they stopped robbing Jews but continued to take from foreigners. 

Asa, the leader, gave a summation. “Regrettably, we could have found some other noble means to earn a living, but our skill-set is best suited for banditry. Even God must understand.”

And the others enthusiastically agreed. Asa couldn’t have been more succinct; Ahithophel thought, relieved that he didn’t have to beg for a living.  

The message of the kingdom kept them awake. They wanted to know when God would restore the Kingdom to Israel. This curiosity lured them to Jesus. Although they were not followers or disciples, they followed him to learn more about the coming kingdom.

From investigation, Asa gathered that Jesus was going to die for the Jews and rise from the grave to destroy the Roman Empire. It was the most significant news Asa, their leader, had heard in sixty years. Though Ahitophel had tried to explain that he misunderstood the message, he argued until the gang believed his version. He took a further step by convincing them to give up robbery completely and position themselves for a new mission. 

He planned that immediately Jesus was raised from the dead, they would quickly loot the spoils of the Romans who must have been driven away by the angels of God that accompanied the resurrected Jesus. And this will make them the wealthiest Jews and be given places of honour by Jesus, the King of the Jews. 

The others had agreed with their leader, Asa; he happened to be the only natural-born Jew. Ahithophel, the most outspoken, was an Ethiopian-Jew; Menelaus was a Grecian-Jew; Pathos was an Egyptian-Jew; and most controversially, Titus was a Roman-Jew; his mother was a prostitute impregnated and abandoned by a Roman soldier. Nonetheless, they had equal power, even though they respected Asa and looked up to him for leadership.

Asa was a reliable leader with admirable skills; he was outspoken, witty, and generous. They believed he was always fair in the sharing of duties and rewards. He never cheated anyone of them; neither did he lie to them. Titus described Asa as “an honourable thief.” 


It was for this reason Ahithophel had gone to Asa first. When Asa saw him approach his house, he jumped up from where he sat with an adrenalin rush. It was late. He had expected Ahithopel to wait until morning before coming with any information he had gathered at the chief priest’s place.

“What is the matter?” he glared at the skinny man. 

“Urgent news that can’t wait.”

“Tell it already.”

“The chief priest believes Simon and the other disciples of Jesus would rob the tomb and claim a resurrection.”

The sturdily built man in his early sixties was agape. He appraised his partner in crime to decipher if he was either joking or beside himself. Eventually, he scoffed. “You can’t believe that, do you?”

“Of course not,” Ahithophel shot at him. 

Asa relaxed and crossed his strong arms around his chest and sat down, wearing a worried expression. “What is this?” he said mostly to himself.

“I think we should get everyone out here tonight.”

“You are right,” Asa muttered, lost in thought. 

It wasn’t long before the others joined them. They conferred together and decided that it was a stupid idea. How could the disciples of Jesus, knowing the benefit of His resurrection, steal his body? 

“It was impossible,” Menelaus the Grecian-Jew declared, and they all agreed.

Early the following day, Asa felt compelled to act. He was not the sort of man to take chances. “Humans are stupid,” he scratched his full rough beard, “and can do this stupid thing.” 

He sent for Issachar, the assassin who believed in neither Moses nor God. If there was God, how could he kill for a living and go unpunished? He was tall and slim like a pole and had well-toned and uniformed muscles, unlike his foster father, Asa, who was short and stocky. 

Issachar has light brown hair, which was held neatly in a ponytail to make his deep-set grey eyes penetrating. There was no blemish on his skin. Women who shared his bed or hoped to say he was very handsome, but it meant nothing to him. He killed for a living and was no slave to anyone. He cut his beard low like the responsible sailor that his neighbours knew him to be. 

He was the son of Caleb, the friend of Asa. Caleb was once a leader in the Boanerges, the most formidable rebel group at the time, but died in battle when Issachar was just a little boy. Asa decided to adopt him. The boy had joined the Boanerges and was valiant. One day two men came to Asa and told him the boy had gone the way of his father. The news broke Asa’s heart.

However, two years after Issachar’s disappearance, he returned with a new identity and name to Asa’s surprise. He told Asa that he was no longer interested in the liberation business. He was now the man who helped people do what was necessary. Asa, who had been a man of the underworld, understood.

But he had been sober. “Promise me that you would not take an innocent life.”

“I promise,” Issachar replied. 

It was for this reason he had become a living legend. Everyone talked about the Just Assassin even though no one knew who he was. He would investigate any job given to him before killing the person. If the target were innocent, he would protect the person.

Asa, who had never had use of his son’s service, was compelled to have him secure the tomb of Jesus; he didn’t trust anyone else. He was ready to destroy anyone who stood between him and greatness. 

“Issachar,” he sat down, shaking his stocky hairy legs, “if you see anyone going into the tomb, kill before you ask questions.”

Issachar looked quizzically into his eyes. “Seventeen years ago, you told me not to kill the innocent. How come you’re telling me to kill someone who wants to rob a tomb? What is the crime in robbing the dead?”

Asa smiled warmly and beckoned for Issachar to move closer. “What I’m about to tell you must not leave this room.” He shared the plan with him. “If Jesus resurrected, we could become the greatest men alive.” 

Asa’s inspirational words made Issachar a believer of Jesus, and on that day, he became the sixth leader amongst the Arch. He swore to protect the tomb with his life. Jesus must be raised! 

Although he had once listened to Jesus when he went on a job in Capernaum, Issachar had written him off as a charlatan, howbeit he confessed to the girl that shared his bed that night. “Jesus could pass for a magician; his miracles are real.” 

Now he swore to be the protector of Jesus – the dead body of Jesus. Without much time to prepare, he set out to the burial site. He mounted his post. He saw Roman soldiers laughing at the idea of protecting the dead.

“These Jews are funny. The dead are supposed to protect us,” one of them said aloud. The others greeted his words with agreeable laughter. 

A tall, muscularly built soldier called out to one of them. “Have you done the routine check?”

“Yes, commander.” He stood at attention. “The body is there. And I need-.” 

The commander turned and walked away before he finished speaking. Issachar knew that where he was would soon be inspected, so he squatted and threw a grey blanket over his shoulder to give him the visibility of a rock. It was a trick taught to him by Mother.

Meanwhile, Asa called the others and informed them that he sent Issachar to the gravesite. They were confused. 

“Why would he waste time with such a rumour? The disciples could never do such a thing,” Pathos protested.

“What was there to lose?” Asa argued. 

Titus agreed. “It was worth a try. Tomorrow morning, our lives will never be the same again. I can’t wait to seize the kingdom when all the wicked Roman soldiers are dead. By the early morning, we should be in Caesarea. Our men are already in place to invade Pontius Pilates’ house.”

Issachar spent the night awake, his eyes continually fixed on the cave where the body lay peacefully. He thought to himself. Of course, nobody will dare get this close with the soldiers around. No one, not even Ishmerai, the master spy, can attempt a raid without getting killed.

He thanked Mother for the trickery she taught him. As far as the soldiers were concerned, he was a piece of rock. 

The darkness faded away gradually. Soon it would be dawn. Any moment now, Jesus would rise, and he would be a faithful witness. He smiled and yawned. The soldiers stood alert still. 

Ahgggh! He heard the gasp of a frightened boy standing over him. The boy could see him. How? He panicked. Since it was almost dawn, he could tell that the boy was red-haired. Was this boy a ghost? It’s not possible; Mother must hear this. 

The boy panicked at the sight of a rock man. Before Issachar could make any move, the boy struck him with a stone and scampered away noiselessly, leaving Issachar paralyzed. He could see but was unable to move. 

Suddenly, the soldiers were distracted by flying bees. They laughed at a soldier who was dancing in the centre of the crone of bees. When they heard their commander speaking, they stopped playing and went to their duty post.

However, they weren’t fortunate to see the man walk around the tomb in a split second, but Issachar saw him; the speed of the intruder fascinated him – not even he could move that fast. It must have been his mind playing tricks on him, he contemplated. He was contented as he fell asleep in his paralytic state. But a troubling thought nibbled at him. What about the boy? Why had the boy seen him? 

When Issachar woke up, his limbs recovered their agility. He was briefly delighted but was suddenly confused when he saw the soldiers fleeing the site, alarmed. He wanted to run but stopped; he wanted to make sure the body was still intact. He sneaked towards the grave and saw two men rejoicing. He could tell that one of them was Simon and the other John. 

When they left, he went into the tomb and discovered that the body of Jesus was missing. He screamed and ran down the hills to where his horse was. He rode so fast that soldiers could have stopped him if he was going through the town. When he got to where his father camped, waiting for the raid of Pilate’s quarters, Asa and the others were feasting. He fell to the floor and wept like a child. 

When Asa saw Issachar crying, he was concerned. He bent and held his shoulder. “What is it, my son?”

“The body is not there. They took it, and I couldn’t help.” Issachar tore at his hair. 

Asa was surprised at the outburst and weakness exhibited by the most revered assassin in the region. Then he turned to Ahithophel, bewildered.

Ahithophel fearfully asked Issachar. “What happened?”

Issachar spoke, but a whisper. “He is no longer there.” 

They were relieved. Titus, the Roman, clapped his hand. “Ahithophel is right then. He is raised.”

“What is that?” Issachar glared at him.

Ahithophel smiled. “I overhead the Roman Commander telling the chief priest that the Lord rose.”


“They heard lightning run through the sky, and suddenly he walked out of the tomb in pure white apparel and just disappeared,” Ahithophel spoke with utter reverence, then turned toward Jerusalem and bowed.

 Could it be the lightning that woke him up? Issachar thought deeply. “But did the priest believe?” 

Ahithophel remembering the depressed figure of the chief priest, laughed, “Of course, it doesn’t matter whether it was true or not. He saw the miracles and heard every prophecy come true but didn’t believe.” 

He stopped laughing when he saw that Issachar’s silence was questioning. “Yes, the priest gave Ares the commander thirty pieces of silver to say that while they slept, the followers of Jesus took the body.”

“They didn’t sleep,” Issachar cut in.

“Of course, it’s a fabrication,” replied Ahithophel. “Soon, they will find out the truth of his resurrection when we rule the world of peace.” 

They all laughed, but Issachar was sober. With bitterness, he asked, “Did Ares betray truth?”  

Ahithophel was afraid of Issachar but spoke the truth. “Ares is an honourable man.” When he said that, his countenance changed.

“What is it?”

“The Chief Priest gave the money to Ares’ greedy assistant, who convinced the others to tell a lie.” Ahithophel shook his head. “Pilate now believes that the disciples of Jesus stole the corpse. As we speak, Ares is in jail.”

“Oh, God.” Issachar gnashed. “They deserve to die.”

“In seventeen days, Ares will be crucified,” Titus added with an evanescent wave.

“Hey, hey,” Asa nudged Issachar. He was the only human who could touch him that roughly and live to tell the story. “Issa, let’s forget about the Roman telltale and celebrate. Our looting starts as soon as the Romans have been driven away. Celebrate,” he yelled.

The maidens brought food and drinks as they danced nude around Arch’s leaders in entertainment. However, none of the girls went to Issachar. All the ladies participated in this orgy apart from one. She was about twenty-two and the most beautiful of them all; the petite slim and full-breasted young woman, whose blonde hair twisted and poured to her back sauntered to him and sat on his laps. She ran her hand over his chest. But he stopped her.

“Shinar, I am not up for it.” 

His mind flooded with the thoughts of Ares, the honourable soldier who refused to betray the truth. He, too, had been him once, and they had killed him – or so they thought. It was Mother that kept him alive. Now another man was going to die. What could he do to save – “Aha, aha.” His thoughts went blank as the beautiful and sensual woman went down on him. 

Episode 2 coming soon. Don’t be shy. You can drop a comment below.

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