9 Nov


three kings photo: Three Kings PaXmas06Colour.jpg“The thing about owning a camel,” murmured Caspar, “is it shows your worth to the world. There’s not a pauper alive who could hope to even beg a ride on such a noble beast let alone own one.”
Balthazar grinned and nodded. “Your average pauper would be better off dead,” he mused. “If you look at life sensibly, we’re who we are because there are enough people willing to pay for us to gaze at the stars and tell them what we see. We have knowledge – or so they believe – and that’s hard currency in these time of uncertainty.”
Melchior laughed, a bitter little noise, like the wind creaking across a weathered ruin. “You mean with the damned Romans creeping ever closer to our palaces?” he said. “I have news, dear friends. Mars is in just the right place to foretell a fall … not our fall, but theirs. So tell that to your kinsmen and collect their gratitude in gold coin before the swords clash at our gates!”
“And buy another camel!” laughed Caspar. “But first, my friends, before escaping our fate, to the task in hand. We have all interpreted the signs…?”
Balthazar nodded. “The strength of the damned Romans,” he growled. “If they gather more forces so close to our borders they might leak over, so to speak. And not one of us wants that!”
Melchior coughed like a mongrel with asthma. “We could offer diversionary tactics,” he suggested.
“Meaning?” asked Caspar.
“Destabilise the Jews,” hissed Melchior with a satanic grin barely touching his thin lips. “Tell them a tale or two. Get their puppet-king so anxious he does something stupid, which would be in character anyway. See, my friends, as night starts drawing to there is a star just there?” He pointed and the barely discernible point of light twinkled faintly in the heavens as evening began to wash the blue from the skies.
“I know it,” nodded Melchior. “I have cast fortunes about the way it glimmers so early at this time of year. Men have been made rich by believing in my runes!”
“Aye, and poor,” interposed Balthazar.
“Maybe, but the poor have no right to complain, so my purse gets all the more weighty,” cackled Melchior with a wheezing splutter.
“And your plan?” asked Caspar.
“That puppet I mentioned,” wheezed Melchior, “he the Romans keep in place in order to catapult rebellion into nowhere … he needs to be told a story or two…”
“As foretold by that feeble glimmer,” laughed Caspar.
Melchior nodded, and a crafty grin spread over his wizened face.
“You might say it’s a feeble glimmer, I see that it’s a feeble glimmer and friend Balthazar agrees that it’s a feeble glimmer … but, friends, we might seem to know otherwise! Who are they to have deep knowledge, those servile creatures who afraid of their own shadows now there’s a Caesar in Rome? They worship their pipsqueak god, write holy sermons that make no sense and at the same time send their riches to the West so that the bellies of the soldiers who march through their streets can be filled!” Melchior had put the greater part of his strength into that speech, and he spluttered to silence.
“We tell the puppet that there is a Pretender?” whispered Caspar, with a cunning gleam in his eyes and grinning broadly. “We go to Herod who calls himself Great and we stir the anger that already ferments under the surface of his ego?”
Balthazar giggled. “By the light of that nothing star…” he chortled. “By its feeble glimmer we say that a new king is foretold! And we send sad paranoid Herod in search of he who would be King, and warn him that death is the only way he will ever guarantee his dynasty!”
“And he is the sort,” sighed Melchior, having recovered at least some of his composure. “He is quite capable of sending his forces forth and slaughtering half the population if he thinks it will give his sons a land to rule over when he dies! Oh, the idea is sweet…”
“But where shall we find this Pretender?” asked Caspar. “Where will we search out a prince of noble birth with the arms to challenge Herod and his forces?”
Melchior laughed his thin laugh. “That’s the joy of it,” he wheezed. “We need find no Pretender, no Prince! Just tell Herod the word, and let him follow us! And we will go slowly to some small town, some place big enough to have a few births and small enough to be of no consequence… Then we will return home while blood soaks into Jewish soils.”
“To gaze once more at the stars…” laughed Caspar.
“And watch from afar as this Kingdom on our borders breaks itself apart and thus distracts good old Caesar from looking on our sands!”
“Come, then,” sighed Balthazar, “To Herod’s palace with our impossibly feeble star and tales of star-struck rebellion!”
© Peter Rogerson 09.11.14


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