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Scott. C. Ristau
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By the final year of the Jewish Revolt, Vespasian has become emperor and turned responsibility of defeating the Jewish rebels over to his son, Titus, a man of flagrant evil. During this turbulent time, Simon the Zealot, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, seeks to rescue his estranged son from the Romans and convert him to Christianity. Simon’s son, Jonas, is a leader among the Jewish rebels and fiercely committed to saving both his people and the temple in Jerusalem. Vespasian and Simon each desire a kingdom for their sons, one an earthly empire, one a place in God’s heavenly realm.
May 70 AD
The picturesque view from Jerusalem’s north wall was marred that morning by a massive plume of dust that descended steadily toward the city like the coming judgment of God. Far in the distance, the air was full of flying sand. As it was the season for it, at first the watchmen on the wall thought the cloud of dirt was borne by a sirocco, a strong, dry, scorching wind blown from the barren heights of the desert. But it could not be a sirocco for it came in the wrong direction.
As morning lengthened into midday, a warm haze crept over the landscape. The scorching sun, housed within an unclouded sky, beat down upon the parched and inhospitable land. The air was dead, murdered by the fierce heat of the afternoon sun. Blurring the horizon, shimmering waves of radiant heat rose from the barren earth. An indistinct threat slowly became visible behind the rising currents of baked air and within the wall of flying sand. Advancing like a cloud, the vague image clarified from mirage to men as the besieging army from a distant land marched ever closer. Accompanied by the rhythmic cadence of drums, the rumble of tramping feet shod in sandals echoed throughout the valley like the roar of a rushing tide.
Leading an enormous army of extraordinary strength, Titus approached Jerusalem with four legions under his command. And these forty-eight thousand Roman soldiers were further augmented by cavalry, engineers, and other auxiliary troops, creating a total fighting force of over eighty thousand men.
Titus ordered the legionary commanders to divide the army into three encampments spread out along the north and northwest sides of Jerusalem. Laborers were dispatched into the surrounding hills to scavenge the raw materials needed for the construction of the army’s war machines. With remarkable speed and organization, trees were chopped down, hewn into timbers, and formed into wooden planks of various shapes and sizes. Blighted by the Romans, the once thriving countryside was quickly denuded and turned into a wasteland, stripped of its rich groves of fig trees and olive trees. Even the vineyards were cleared of vegetation so the branches could be used to fuel the many campfires. Supervised by experienced engineers, a multitude of craftsmen and laborers set their skills to work assembling siege towers and the massive stone-throwing catapults, scorpions and ballistae. All day they sweated in the blistering heat of the afternoon sun, eagerly preparing themselves for battle. Then the sun surrendered the day and abandoned the world for the night to rule in its place.
The sky darkened like a bruise, turning from purple to black. Although the deepening twilight obscured the Romans’ evil industry, they could still be seen continuing their enthusiastic toil beneath the pearl glitter of a luminous full moon. And to give themselves more light to work by, huge bonfires were kindled and set ablaze. Moving in a savage dance, the flames cast a frightful illumination upon the threatening figures gathered about the fires.
Ensconced within the enclosure of his tent, Titus prepared to partake in an equally primitive and feral dance. Devotedly, Bernice had accompanied Titus to Jerusalem. Eager to enjoy the spoils of his victory as well as the pleasure of his company, she wanted to witness his triumph firsthand. The two were alone now, separated from the vast multitude by the thin fabric walls of his tent. With the elegant features of her body exposed, Bernice reclined upon a bed of velvety blankets and soft pillows. As if to intimidate, Titus stood over her looking down.
Undaunted, she reached for him. Her massaging fingers tested the strength of his muscle. And Titus swelled in response to her provocative caress.
“If you want me, take me,” she purred at him. Bernice personified sex appeal, and she could stir Titus’ libidinal impulses almost without effort. Spreading her legs, she issued a flagrant challenge to his tumid manhood.
Scott Ristau is the author of Death Brand, The Maul of Murgleys, Love in the Mist, and Master and God. He received his Masters degree from the University of Illinois - Springfield and lives in Illinois with his wife, Allison, and two children, Jarrid and Jordan.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 207
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