We spent much time in council debating the best way to overthrow Shim from his throne. We preferred to do that with as little bloodshed as possible. Too many lives were already lost; we did not want to lose any more of our loved ones. We discussed gathering the hidden weapons and fighting our way to Shim and his associates. The problem was that we did not have armor and Shim’s guards and army had the armor to protect their vital organs. We feared we would lose too many of our people and our chances of conquering Shim would be slim.
We knew we needed to focus on Shim’s weaknesses. From what Paco and other guards told us, there were many who were dissatisfied with Shim and wanted to rebel against him. That inner resistance could be powerful leverage, but the difficulty for us knowing who we could trust. We were still careful of what we told guards to came to us in secret because we were uncertain if any of them were sent by Shim.
One guard who came regularly who we knew we could trust, reminded us of how Shim like to celebrate and throw elaborate banquets for his guests. The banquets always included wine and women. The guard suggested that someone give Shim the idea to host a banquet for all the guards and taskmasters that watched over our people, to celebrate their successes. My father inquired more about this idea. Soon, we were all discussing all the possibilities that could come from this. We actually felt the Lord’s spirit as we discussed plans for our freedom.
Paco was the one who presented the idea to Shim. At first Shim strongly opposed the idea, which Paco expected. Shim did not want to take any chances of our people trying to escape. Paco assured him that there would still be guards to watch over our people. In fact, Paco would choose the best guards to watch over us that night. Also, they could create a curfew for that night, all in captivity would have to be in their huts at sundown; anyone caught outside their hut would be taken for execution. Paco reminded Shim that the guards felt wearied and the banquet would help their morale and strengthen their desire to protect him. Shim, knowing that some of his guards and army were unhappy, said he would consider the idea.
Paco reported to us about his meeting with Shim. We all prayed for the softening of Shim’s heart. We prayed mightily in our minds and hearts. We felt peace and assurance that a way would be opened for us to escape our bondage.
Shim finally agreed to host the banquet. He decided to make it a grand affair; after all, he and his associates had the wealth to treat their guards like royalty. Most of the guards were invited to attend, except those Paco entrusted to guard us; guards Paco handpicked. Guards we felt we could trust. Guards who secretly expressed displeasure with Shim. Guards who outwardly expressed absolute loyalty to Shim, yet were ready to defect.
As the preparations for the feast were being made, we also prepared. We carefully retrieved as many of our hidden weapons as we could. We knew the guards we could trust, so we retrieved as many as we could while under their watchful eyes. We carefully hid the weapons in our tents and huts so they would not be found. Some guards secretly brought us weapons as well.
Esther, our healer, came to my father and the prophet and told them she had a vision about a plant that would put anyone who partook of the juice of the plant to sleep without any negative or permanent effects. She said that they could easy collect enough of this plant, extract the juices from it, then have someone put it in the wine for the feast. It would take about one hour for the juice to take effect. We considered that a blessing from Heaven! If this worked, it would mean we would be able to capture Shim and his men with very little bloodshed!
Following the directions from her vision, Esther collected the plant, boiled it, then strained it. She asked for a couple volunteers to try it out. She assured that the effects of the plant would not cause long-lasting or permanent effects. I volunteered. I felt I would be fine and we really needed to see what the plant did. Three others also volunteered.
Before partaking of any of the juice, we inwardly prayed for protection. Others in our village, who knew about the plant prayed for us. When the sun was high in the sky, Esther put a drop of the juice in some weak wine and we drank it. We went about our day, however staying close to our homes, we felt really good. After about 45 minutes, the results of the juice began to affect us. I gradually became exceptionally sleepy, and it was just past mid-day. I hardly ever felt tired in the middle of the day. I tried talking with my wife, but soon was not able to focus. I went into my bedchamber, laid down on my mat and fell asleep. The others fell asleep about the same time.
Thankfully, the day we tried the juice was a day where some who were guarding us were sympathetic to our cause and were actually helping us. They kept watch over us, sending the other guards to other places in our village.
The next morning, shortly before the sun rose, I finally woke up. Actually, I felt very well rested and felt like I could take on the world! It was an exhilarating feeling. The others who tested the juice felt the same way. We were grateful that the results of the juice were positive and would work with Shim and those who attended his banquet. We wondered what the effects would be if taken with strong wine, but decided not to test that as we did not want to become drunk. We trusted Esther’s vision that the juice would put Shim and his followers into a nice, deep, sound sleep.
Our plans of escape were coming together. We told Paco about the juice and discussed different ways to get it into the wine for the banquet. Paco told us about one of the winemakers who was annoyed with Shim and who was a bit too open about his displeasures with the government. Paco felt that this man could be trusted to make the wine stronger than usual and then to put the juice into the wine. Rather than talk to the winemaker himself, Paco found a trusted guard and who knew the winemaker personally. He asked the guard to give him just enough information to find out if he would be willing to help, not too much information in case the winemaker talked too much.
The guard reported to Shim that the winemaker was more than happy to create stronger wine for the banquet and to put the juice in it. The winemaker was sworn to secrecy, with the little information he was given, since there were many who were still very loyal to Shim.
(To be continued…)