Jonathon paced nervously. The sounds of battle mingling with the cheers of the crowd was grating on his nerves. Grimly, he studied the stone walls in the dim flickering torch light. He knew why he was here, and struggled not to laugh as he realized that the stone was stained a brownish-red.
"That must be all that remains of other followers of the Way." He muttered, laughing bleakly. He adjusted his tunic, waiting for the inevitable—the moment that the he would be escorted closer to the Kingdom.
"Hey!" A low voice rumbled through a small crack between the stones. "What is all this talk of a 'way' and 'path'? It hasn't gotten your kind anywhere but death."
Jonathon smiled to himself, knowing that this might be his last stand for the Cause. "I don't fear death." He whispered, pressing his face close against the wall. "I know that death is just the beginning of the Path for me."
"Then you must be one of those blood worshipers as well," the voice sneered. Jonathon frowned, the owner of the voice had a thick accent, but he shook his head, forgetting in that moment that they couldn't see each other.
"Not really, my friend. We don't worship the blood; instead we worship the One who shed His blood."
Jonathon could almost see the man on the other side of the wall frowning. “So you don't worship blood...though, it is rumored that this new mystery cult...you 'Christians' drink blood of a dead man."
Jonathon was silent for a long moment. He had heard those rumors, mostly from people in the market plaza. Even in the past few months, he had found it increasingly hard to buy and sell within the city of Rome. The required sacrifices to multiple deities made it impossible for him. He couldn't just deny the True God with the splashing of red blood upon an altar.
"We don't. That was a rumor that Caesar Nero spread after the fire." He admitted quietly.
Images of his family being arrested and tied to stakes filled his mind. Not a one of them spoke a word even after red flames lapped at their tunics and bodies. Only at the end, did their screams fill the air...screams of thanksgiving and forgiveness.
"The religious leaders in Jerusalem spread that rumor, my friend. They witnessed us participate in a remembrance of our Lord and Master." A small smile crossed his lips as Jonathon continued, "My uncle was there at that celebration and he passed it onto me and my family."
Jonathon paused as a loud crash echoed throughout his prison and the silence lingered as he assumed that his cell neighbor was thinking about everything that was said.
Finally, he spoke. "How do you know that it's real? I was kidnapped from my family in Gaul to here to fight. We had our own beliefs, but she's never come through for me."
Jonathon pressed his lips together pausing to listen to the crowd overhead before continuing. "Sounds like I'll be called soon...we must be quick. I know that it is true because I saw the resurrected Lord Jesus when I was just a child. I saw Him being drawn back into Heaven. I saw the scars that the nails caused, and I know, because He called me by name."
Jonathon paused to take a breath. "He's calling me now, drawing me closer to the Kingdom. And He's calling you, my friend. I don't know your name, but He does. Answer His call before it's too late for you."
The iron door swung open and a guard stepped in. With a cruel grip, he grabbed Jonathon's arm and forced the young man out of the stone room. Jonathon didn't resist—there was no reason to. He had no fear of what was to come.
The sound of lions roaring filled his ears as he was herded into another room, surrounded by others following the Way. As one body, they emerged from the dim room, blinking blindly in the sun.
With little warning, a lioness pounced, and red blood stained the sand.
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