As Sure as the Dawn [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Francine Rivers
eBook Category: Historical Fiction/Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: Atretes. German warrior. Revered gladiator. He won his freedom through his fierceness ... but his life is about to change forever.
eBook Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers/Tyndale House
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2005
3 Reader Ratings:
Physically exhausted, pride bruised, Atretes had had enough. His patience was at an end.
As soon as Hadassah had told him his son was alive and that the apostle John knew where to find him, he had begun making plans. Because the mob adored him, he couldn't enter the city of Ephesus at will, but had to wait for the cover of darkness. And so he had. Finding the apostle's house hadn't been too difficult—Hadassah had given good directions—but even in the dead of night the man of God had been about his business, comforting a sick child and then hearing someone's deathbed confession.
Atretes had waited for John and then been told after hours of doing so that the apostle had sent word he was going directly to a dawn worship service along the riverbank. Angry, Atretes had pursued him, arriving just after a great crowd had gathered to hear John speak of Jesus Christ, their risen God. A carpenter from Galilee? A god? Atretes had closed his ears to the words being proclaimed and retired to a quiet place beneath a terebinth tree, resolved to wait.
Now, however, he would wait no longer! Dawn had come and gone, and still these worshipers sang praises to their heavenly king and told their stories of personal deliverance from disease, heartbreak, habits, and even demons! He was sick of listening to them. Some, fully clothed, were now being dunked in the river! Had they all gone mad?
Getting up, Atretes walked down to the back of the crowds and prodded a man. "How long do these meetings go on?"
"As long as the Spirit moves us," the man said, giving him a cursory look before singing again.
The spirit? What did that mean? Atretes was used to the discipline of training schedules and regimes, to dealing with solid fact; the man's answer was incomprehensible.
"Is this your first time hearing—"
"And my last," Atretes cut the man off, eager to be gone.
The man glanced back at him, and the smile fixed on his face. His eyes widened. "You're Atretes!"
A jolt of adrenaline flooded Atretes, stiffening his muscles. He could flee or fight. Mouth set, he stood his ground. The first choice went against his grain; the long night of waiting had made him ready for the latter.
Fool! he berated himself. He should have kept silent and waited unobtrusively beneath the shade of a tree rather than draw attention to himself. But it was too late now.
He made excuses for his mistake. How could he guess people would still remember him? It had been eight months since he left the arena. He had thought he would have been forgotten by now.
Apparently, Ephesians had a long memory.
Others turned at the mention of his name. A woman gasped and swung around, whispering to those near her. News of his presence spread like a wind riffling dry leaves. People glanced back to see what the stir was about and spotted him, head above the rest, his accursed blonde hair serving as a beacon for their attention.
He swore under his breath.
"It is Atretes," someone said, and the hair on the back of his neck rose. He knew it would be wise to leave as quickly as possible, but stubbornness and the fiercer part of his nature took control. He was no longer a slave of Rome, no longer a gladiator fighting in the arena. His life should belong to him again! What was the difference between the walls of a luxurious villa and those of the ludus? Both imprisoned him.
The time has come! he thought in frustrated anger. He would find out what he needed to know and leave. Any man who tried to stop him would have grave cause to regret it.
Shoving the stillgaping man aside, he began pressing his way forward through the crowd.
Excited whispers rippled through the sea of people as he moved through it.
"Make room! It's Atretes. He's going forward!" someone called out, and those at the front stopped singing praises to turn and stare.
"Praise the Lord!"
Atretes' mouth set as the buzz of excitement surrounded him. Even after ten years of fighting in the arena, the German had never become accustomed to the furor his presence inevitably brought to any gathering.
Sertes, editor of the Ephesian games and the man who had bought him from the Great Ludus of Rome, had reveled in the mob's reaction to his prized gladiator and exploited Atretes at every opportunity, gleaning gold for himself. The Ephesian had accepted bribes from wealthy patrons and brought him to feasts to be pampered and petted. Other gladiators enjoyed such royal treatment, taking whatever pleasures were offered, relishing their last hours before they faced death in the arena. Atretes ate and drank sparingly. He intended to survive. He had always stood aloof, ignoring his hosts, glaring at the guests with such ferocity and contemptuous disdain that they had walked a wide circle around him.
"You behave like a beast in a cage!" Sertes had complained once.
"As you and the rest have made me."
The memory of that time only fueled his anger now as he forced his way through the crowd beside the river. Hadassah had told him to go to John the apostle. These gaping, mumbling fools were no longer going to stop him from doing just that.
Copyright © 1995, 2002 by Francine Rivers.