Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)
TITLE: The Scribe
By Thomas Kappel
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They’re killing Christians in the arena again. The roar of the crowd, the smell of hot blood, and the screams of those dying are just too much for my ears much less peace in mind and heart. I strain to hear and record every word of Emperor Domitian as he eats grapes and enjoys the show.
I am Prochoros, Chief Scribe to the Emperor Domitian, and my duty is to write and record every word he says while meeting and talking in public. It is an official record for the world to note his greatness as emperor and god.
Today, I decided to keep a private record of the day’s events and words as they happen. This is because he has scheduled a special show for the crowd against my best advice that it is too dangerous for him. Still, there will be an official record and my true one as well.
They’ve set up the huge caldron of oil in front of Domitian’s viewing stand, set the fire, and the oil boils. The crowd has grown quiet in anticipation. Centurion Reneious stands guard beside Domitian with his hand on his sword hilt.
The special prisoner is brought out and the crowd roars its pleasure and excitement.
Domitian calls me forward with a waggle of his finger.
“Do you hear the pleasure of that crowd?” Domitian asks. “Do you still think it is too dangerous?”
“I do,” I quickly reply.
“I am a diving god and you warn me to beware of this mere mortal? You and his followers will see that I am indeed a god as he dies screaming for my mercy.”
“It is said,” I continue, “that he was given a cup of poison and this man John turned the poison into a snake and it left and he drank from the cup.”
“I heard that story too,” Domitian said, “that’s why I declared him a magician, a danger to the empire, and ordered him to die.”
“He’s a follower of the one they call the Christ, one of his inner circle. It is too dangerous to test him in front of a crowd.”
He waves his hand at the blood soaked arena. “Look out there. Killing them does not stop them or their belief in their god. I will have this John proclaim me a greater god then theirs.”
“And if he refuses to proclaim you?
Domitian points to the boiling oil. “He dies. I win either way.”
“And if he doesn’t die?”
Angrily, he waved me away and turned to Centurion Reneious. “Bring this magician to me.”
I went back, sat down, and begin recording what happened
John is brought to stand in front of Domitian.
What follows is from the official recording.
Domitian: So we finally meet, magician. You know why you are here?
John: I’ve been told you wish me to announce you as greater than Jesus Christ.
John: I will not do that. It is not true.
Domitian: Step out there and announce to all that I am a greater god than yours or keep walking into that pot of boiling oil and die.
John: Do not test my God. You do not want to do this.
Domitian: I have the power to let you live or die. Is that not the power of a god?
John: He can give me eternal life. You cannot.
Domitian: Chose or die magician.
John: I chose my God.
End of the official recording.
Reneious led John to the steps of the boiling cauldron and pushed him with his sword point to start up.
John paused and looked over at Domitian and then, I swear, he stared straight at me for a long moment. Then he walked up the stairs and stepped into the bubbling hot oil.
The crowd screamed their pleasure and then as quickly grew quiet. Domitian grew pale.
John stood in the boiling oil, arms raised up to the sky, saying over and over, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Domitian quickly left the arena.
I learned later that John was repeating some of the last words of his God. He was there and heard them.
Later, Domitian banished John and me with him so I could record his words and send them back.
But, that’s another story.
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