Lords of Freedom is an exciting new novel including adventure, realistic action, surprising insights, and a touch of romance. Enjoy a new chapter every week. Prior chapters can be found here.
Lords of Freedom—Chapter 18—Lords at the Spring
After finishing up in Thalick, Xan and Sheba hiked back to the sacred spring in the secret canyon. They had only been there a day when Thoth and Maat came through the stone door and emerged from the thorn bush. Warm greetings were exchanged, and Thoth asked for a detailed report concerning the events at Thalick. After hearing the report both Thoth and Maat stood and embraced Xan and Sheba.
“Well done, good and faithful guardians,” Thoth said.“ In Thalick, you wisely used wealth to help procure and defend freedom. Doing so saved many lives and helped establish a foundation of liberty and an ongoing means of defending it. We hope to influence many more to use their wealth to promote and defend freedom.
“The next part of your mission will be more difficult. Often freedom can only be achieved by the shedding of blood. During the remainder of this mission, you and all who follow you will have to risk your lives in the fight for freedom, and many will die.”
Xan responded, “I am willing to fight and die for the deliverance of those enslaved from the chains that bind them.
Thoth smiled. “Blessed art thou, Alexandros. Freedom has been, and ever will be, built upon that rock.
“Always remember, The Devourer we warned you about, Xan. He devourers freedom, happiness, and life. In the near future, you will encounter him and those who follow him,” Maat warned, and Xan nodded solemnly.
“The Devourer is a master of doubt, deception, and tyranny,” Thoth continued. “Do not attempt to reason with him. Do not negotiate with him. Eons ago he failed the test that you passed in the Hall of Truth. He is a liar and a murderer and is the enemy of every soul that desires freedom.”
“Always remember,” Maat advised. “You must not do too much for those you liberate. You will soon return to us and the people you leave behind will have to be strong enough to stand on their own.
“Mayor O’Rok is a splendid example; in the face of the king’s wrath, he stands true. People must be willing to work and suffer—even die. No, you cannot and should not save them all. Seldom is freedom won without the shedding of blood. People must learn to work and fight for themselves or they will soon lose their freedom again.”
“Yes, I see that now,” Xan nodded.
“You will have to train new defenders to take your place when you leave, as you did in Thalick,” Thoth continued. “You are instructed to leave each liberated city as soon as possible. The longer you linger, the more those cities will come to depend on you, rather than looking to their own local leaders. Once you feel they have enough knowledge and skill to defend themselves, to usher in a celebration of freedom, you will depart.”
Concluding the directives, Thoth and Maat set an example of service and humility by starting a fire, catching and cooking fish, and serving Xan and Sheba. The lords and guardians all joined in songs of freedom around the fire.
As the sun dipped low that evening Xan kept the campfire burning. Thoth spoke again: “Few nations that have followed the true laws of freedom have perished, but I say to you that once freedom is lost, it is a struggle to get it back.”
Laying a hand on Xan and Sheba, he said, “Tonight we will return to the Heart of Freedom but before going we bless you with strength and love. As you depart for Merker in the morning, remember that there will be opposition that can be overcome with courage and wisdom. We leave our blessing upon you and those you serve.”
That night, near a crackling fire, Xan and Sheba shared warmth, companionship, and songs that were hummed and purred. The next morning they departed for Merker determined to complete their mission successfully.
As they walked along Xan thought about what he would say to the people from his past.
He and his father had known many in Merker, as customers or suppliers as well as friends. How would they respond to his return and what would he say to them?
What I’ll say, he thought, is: Do you want liberty—to live as free men and women? If you do, I can help.
He’d seek Cheston’s father, Sergio out at the earliest chance. Sergio would be an ally superior even to O’Rok, and he deserved an explanation, if no one else did. Sergio had helped him in every way he could; then Xan had fled the city, without a word of thanks or even a simple goodbye. Unavoidable, of course, but Sergio didn’t know that…well, soon enough he would.
© Copyright 2017-2023 Gene Van Shaar