Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Enemy of the Gods 84

Nicholas turned to face Silvanus. He swallowed hard and greeted him, “Proconsul...”

“I sent him,” said Silvanus. “I thought you would want to know right away.”

“Yes...” said Nicholas in a guarded voice. “It seems we will be neighbors once again.”

“Not for long though, I’m afraid. My term expires with the end of the year and I hope to leave for Nicomedia before then. You’ve probably heard of the outcome of the battle in the west.”

Nicholas shook his head. Silvanus explained, “Constantine and Licinius have taken Italy from Maxentius. And with that, they threaten the position of Maximinus here in the east. I need to make sure I’m near the winning side in this.”

There was a long pause. Nicholas didn’t know what to say.

Silvanus gestured to the decree, “They issued an edict of full religious toleration in the west. I hear they’ve actually begun to favor your god. Maximinus could see the winds of change, and so there you have it... I kept your house safe from looters. You never know who might try to take advantage of a situation, you know.”


Silvanus added, “I trust you found my soldiers helpful during your time of exile.”


“Yes,” said Silvanus. “I feared that you and your people might suffer at the hands of some unruly mob, so I stationed a guard there to protect you.”

At this point Nicholas could not help letting irritation sound in his voice. “‘Protect?’ Like you protected me those seven years?”

Silvanus snapped, “Of course! If I hadn’t kept you out of the hands of the magistrates, you wouldn’t be alive today.”

Nicholas hesitated. In a way, the man was right. Perhaps God had used Silvanus to spare his life, but clearly Silvanus did not intend it. Nicholas said, “A kindness I can never repay... I pray that my God will grant you just payment.” He meant it sincerely, but could not help but slightly emphasize “just.” He yearned for justice on Silvanus and all those who had tormented the followers of Christus.

Silvanus nervously muttered, “You uh, owe me nothing, really.” Then he excused himself with the traditional Greek greeting, “Grace to you,” and turned away to speak with others.

As Nicholas left the hall of magistrates and headed back to the camp, he felt his cheeks burn. He had forgiven his tormentor, but facing him again, lying and calling evil kindness, it stirred his anger. He wandered back through the city, passing here and there wide-eyed Christiani venturing into the city for the first time in months. Finally, as he came to the city gate, he murmured a prayer to Christus, “Grace to him... As you gave grace to me.” As he said it, he felt a calmness rise like a tide within him, washing away the anger.

Soon, he felt a sharp coolness on his cheeks and forehead. He wiped away the wetness and looked up. Rain was just beginning to fall. He had been so focused on the new decree and Silvanus that he hadn’t noticed the sky. Thick storm clouds had rolled in. Soon, the water pelted down in torrents, drenching him to the skin. Nicholas continued on his way, laughing as he went, and everyone he passed laughed with him. It was a laugh that echoed for centuries.

The End

Click here to go to beginning of the book

No comments: