It has been said that if one has faith the size of a mustard seed, one could speak to land-locked flora, telling it to repatriate itself to the depths of the sea, and it would do so without hesitation (Luke 17: vs 6). This statement was made sometime between 30 A.D. and 33 A.D. About the same time that a certain Roman Centurion, recognized and acknowledged True Authority, by demonstrating unusually acute insight into what faith is all about (Matt 8: vs 5-10).

I have read many books and heard many stories about people in history, who have had to deal with real life. Defining what is real or shallow; true or false, often involves life or death situations. While there are many variables, I believe life events can be boiled down to knowledge and choice. In order to make an informed choice about something, one needs a plane of reference. By what standard(s) are your choices made?

Some time ago, I decided (a choice) to begin a first level draft on a historical fictionalized novel. I had never written a novel before, but nevertheless it started with an idea, then progressed to a kind of pseudo prologue. Things then regressed to procrastination. Now some years later, I am now attempting a resurrection (another choice) of the original idea. And speaking of ideas, I have no idea what the final outcome will be, but below is a sample being worked on. It introduces the main character in the storyline for the first time. It is still a (very) rough draft, but hopefully describes to the reader, at a minimum, the physical characteristics of the protagonist.

Time Frame: Between 32 A.D & 33 A.D.
Location: Roman Occupied Jerusalem
Protagonist: Tovi ben Zani – Assassin

Yeshua ben Josef – Carpenter/Rabbi
Caiaphas – high priest of the temple in Jerusalem
Darius Vitus Tacitus – Chief Roman Centurion

For over two hours he stood perfectly still, concealed in shadow just inside the corner of where Jerusalem’s northern and eastern walls converged. His vantage point provided an unobstructed view of the main street, where he could see anyone entering or leaving via the eastern gate. Waiting for long periods of time and blending into his surroundings, were skills he acquired from an early age. It had come in handy when he stalked wild game as a young boy; something he now momentarily reflected on with a pang of nostalgia. What he did now required no less patience; besides, apart from commanding a high price for his particular skill sets, he still revelled in the hunt. At least up until recently.

At just over five feet seven inches, he was slender with dark brown curly hair just touching his shoulders. His hazel eyes were offset with green flecks; a combination rarely seen in that region. Those who found themselves caught in their dispassionate gaze, had the uneasy impression of being dissected and analyzed; as if they were being catalogued for retention, or disposal. His aquiline nose, and close-cropped beard, combined with his unusual eye colour and deeply tanned complexion, caused most to mistake him for a northern Cushite, or someone from the northern Babylonian region where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers met.

He wore an expensive yet nondescript homespun outer tunic that matched the dusty brown colour of the main road that held his current focus.  Beneath the tunic, he wore a close-fitting body suit of hand-weaved light Egyptian cotton; modified with a distinct tribal design he adopted during previous travels to the Far East . This attire hid a slender wiry frame with powerful ropy muscles, accentuated with scars that held physical and psychological stories of their own. Stories that spoke of loss, grief and no small measure of cold, violent calculation.

Just visible under his tunic sleeves were leather straps that wrapped his arms in a crisscross pattern from his wrists to his elbows. Interwoven into these braids were four hidden Sicae; short curved daggers; two anchored on each arm. A fifth hidden dagger was anchored beneath his tunic in the small of his back. Because of his propensity toward careful planning and caution, he also incorporated two further straight daggers, stitched into the back of the leather uppers covering his calves. On his legs and feet he wore rugged leather stanchions, made from cured camel leather and thick, triple-stitched, double layered cowhide soles. This was a design of his own making; not for any inherent statement of fashion, but for the stealth and surefooted activity that were intrinsic to his tradecraft.

That his appearance and demeanour suited his profession, was integrated subtly, but with purposeful intent. This worked to his advantage more often than not. His ability to blend in or disappear in plain sight, in any location, crowded or otherwise, made him a valuable commodity in his chosen line of work. Much of which lately, had been in and around Roman-occupied Jerusalem. In rare moments, such as now, he sometimes pondered where life had taken him thus far; and not for the first time, he wondered if his chosen line of work had not chosen him instead.

Tovi Ben Zani had been at his craft long enough to know that it was foolhardy, if not pointless, to envision living a long life if one happened to be a Sicarii assassin. Especially one who was about to break the single, cardinal rule of his profession; denouncing the local Sicarii Assassin’s Guild, and leaving the Brotherhood and all of its entanglements behind.  He had not only been the founding member of this particular Guild, but had been an integral member for the past 8 years. Because of that, he was all too aware that revoking all ties to his order, would initiate an automatic termination contract on himself. Something that surprisingly, held no concern for him.

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