Several months passed by. Thomas had not received any more threats and saw Maren on a regular basis. Their love for each other slowly grew and flourished. He and Pat stayed busy as many new customers came to them for their work. They wondered how many were part of the king’s army; they did not know, but were grateful for the business. Pat married his sweetheart, Tsifira, and they started their new life together.
Motega and Dena, among others from Helki’s community, continued to come to the village and speak in the marketplace. They had obtained many followers, many left their homes and families to go live in their community. Shiblon was still obsessed with Dena and went to see her as often as he could, but thus far had remained with his family. His parents were felt constantly on edge, concerned that he would be caught in her web and leave. Dena was a very alluring temptress to Shiblon; she had a strong lustful pull on him, as well as other young men. Unfortunately, Shiblon did not see that; he only focused on her beauty and naively thought she had eyes just for him.
On one beautiful sunny day, a messenger came to the woodshop with a letter from David. Thomas opened it in eager anticipation as it was about time for his mother’s baby to be born. Th baby had arrived! His mother delivered a strong, healthy baby girl. They named her Cherubim as they felt she was an angel sent directly from God. Thomas wept with joy at the news. David requested that he come home as soon as he could to meet his new baby sister.
Thomas told everyone who stopped by the woodshop about his sister. As soon as he was able, he ran to Maren’s home to share the great news with her. He hoped to take Maren and Daniel home with him to meet his parents and new sister and decided that he would discuss that with her and her parents.
When he reached Maren’s home, Satordi eagerly barked and greeted Thomas. They had become best buddies during the last few months as Thomas was able to spend more time with Maren. Daniel came running out, followed by a teary eyed Maren.
Thomas immediately hugged Maren and asked her what was wrong. She took his hand, and led him into the house with Daniel following behind.
When they walked into the main sitting room, Abigail was in tears with Marcus, with a distressed look on his face, sitting next to her with his arm protectively around her. Thomas looked at Maren and Marcus for information. Marcus sadly informed him that Shiblon had run away to be with Dena. Tears continued to stream down Maren’s face; Thomas took her into his arms to comfort her.
Over the last few months, Shiblon went to the marketplace as often as he could. He developed what he thought was a friendship with Dena, as she continued to seduce him into her web. His family, Thomas, and others warned him about Dena and the group but he would not listen. Since he was now 16, he loudly and angrily protested that he was old enough to be a man and to make his own choices to his family.
Levi, one of Shiblon’s friends, was with Shiblon at the marketplace and was the one who came to tell Micco and Abigail what had happened. Levi was also somewhat interested in the teaching of Motega and others that came from the same group, but not as fascinated as Shiblon was. He informed Micco and Abigail that Dena had enticed Shiblon with promises of being entertained by her and other beautiful women, and wealth. She gave him a gold chain with a jade jaguar head, similar to one she wore, and strongly suggested that he come with her. Feeling full of lust and desire, he blindly followed her. Levi said that he tried to stop him, but it was as if Shiblon had been drugged. He described how several men who appeared to be shopping in the marketplace, subtly surrounded Shiblon to be sure he stayed with Dena. Shiblon mounted a horse with Dena and they left with the others following close behind.
Micco asked Levi about the possibility that Shiblon had somehow been poisoned. Levi did not think so, saying that Dena seemed to have some kind of alluring power. He stated that he watched her use this power with other young men, and even almost to him. He expressed his concern and regret that Shiblon did not see through the deception and realize that he was not the only one who was allured by Dena. However, recalled that Dena had given Shiblon a drink or water and guessed it was possible there was poison in it, but he also received a drink and he felt fine.
Thomas asked Micco what he could do to help get Shiblon back. Micco said that he, Rowtag and Marcus were going to Helki’s community to bring him home. Deron, Maren’s 19-year old brother, immediately spoke up and said that he also wanted to go. Levi warned them that they needed to be careful. Even though Levi was young, Shiblon’s age, he had an inner sense of the evil of Helki and his followers, which is why he had not gone with Shiblon.
About that moment, Satordi started barking; Maren and Nastas went to the door. Melchior stood patiently outside, waiting for someone to come and control the dog. Nastas firmly held Satordi as he introduced him to Melchior. Satordi instantly calmed down realizing this man did not pose a threat to his family. After greeting those in the house, Melchior offered his services to help rescue Shiblon. He explained that many other young men, and some young women have been seduced by Helki’s group and were taken away from their families. Because these young men and women left on their own volition, the group could not be charged with forcefully taking them. He went on to explain that once they were at the community, they were not allowed to leave for several months after arriving.
With great appreciation, Micco accepted Melchior’s offer. Feeling a great love and responsibility for Shiblon, Thomas informed Micco that he also wanted to go to find Shiblon. Melchior expressed extreme apprehension reminding Thomas of the threats he had previously received. He expressed concern that Thomas would be walking straight into a trap. Thomas stated that he shared the same concern, but hoped that they all would be safe. Micco suggested that having Thomas along might give them leverage since Shiblon seemed to have a great respect for Thomas and may listen to him whereas he may not listen to others. Melchior reluctantly agreed but on condition of an added precaution to ensure his safety.
Micco informed Melchior of his current plans then asked for suggestions. Melchior shared his limited knowledge about the community. As a group, they counseled together as what they would need to do to bring Shiblon home.
Thinking about his parents and his new baby sister, Thomas quickly wrote a short letter explaining that he needed to help find Maren’s brother and he would need to delay his coming to see them but would come as soon as he could. He found a messenger to deliver the letter.
(To be continued…)