The Master's Calling<br/>

Author: Amber Schamel
Publisher: Vision Writer Publications
Published: 2015-11-02
ISBN(s) 978-1518666711
Editor: Brilliant Cut Editing
Language(s): English
Category: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Inspirational, Women's Fiction Read Excerpt >

Chapter One

Circa 33 A.D.

Malon's heart stopped as an agonized scream pierced the Galilean sky.


The goods he'd been carrying clattered to the cobblestone street. Panic seized him while he raced toward the villa. His father's footsteps echoed in the courtyard behind him.

"Imah, where are you?"

Clay shattered in the kitchen. A groan followed. His mother crumpled on the floor, clutching her swollen belly. Malon skidded to a stop, and his father ran into him, nearly sprawling him on top of her.

"Aaliyah." Abba knelt and cradled her head in his lap.

"It…came on…so fast." She gasped.

"Malon, go for Savta and the midwife. As fast as you can run!" Scooping Imah into his arms, Abba hastened to the bedchamber.

Malon bolted through the courtyard and out into the street. Abba would have to deliver the babe unless Malon fetched the midwife in time. He flew down the main street, tripping over children and leaving disgruntled street peddlers in his wake. Turning a corner, he rammed into something big and hard. Dazed, he stumbled backward and glared at the offending object.

A tall Roman centurion glowered back at him, his plumed helmet cockeyed, and the bag he'd been carrying strewn at his feet. He righted his helmet. "What do you think you're doing, boy?"

Malon drew himself to his full height. He was more than sixteen now, a man by Jewish terms. "I beg your pardon, Centurion. Please excuse me. I have no time to argue."

He winced the moment those words left his mouth.

The centurion's eyes narrowed even further, and his big hand reached out and grasped Malon's tunic. "You dare address a centurion this way? Somebody needs to teach you a lesson."

"Please, my mother is in labor. If I don't bring the midwife quickly, she'll deliver without her."

The centurion sneered. "Well now, what are you going to do when your mother has another babe to suckle?"

Oh, if Israel were not under Roman rule. Malon gritted his teeth. Hard. Pain shot up his jaw and into his temples.

"Very well then, if you will pay the proper respect to a centurion of the Imperial Army, I will let you go." The centurion jerked on Malon's tunic, and his knees met the street with bruising force. "There. That's where you Jews belong."

Malon inhaled against the pain and anger uniting inside him. "Please let me go. My mother—"

"The day is hot, and I need to travel to Tiberius. I'm compelling you to carry my belongings for the first mile."

Of all the times for a Roman to compel him for a mile. Of all the lads in this city. Why did it have to be him…now? Had it not been for his mother writhing in pain, her every hope pinned on him, he would have obliged the soldier. After all, a citizen of Judea had no choice.

He'd have to find a way out. "I'm sorry, Centurion, I am unable to help you at this time. If you would like to wait—"

"Wait? You're obligated by Roman law to carry this pack for me." He shoved the heavy bag into Malon's chest. "You will do it."

One more cause to hate Romans. There was no reason to them, only selfish pride. Malon grasped the bag and feigned his best look of submission. Maybe he'd pass the midwife's house along the way. "Very well, Centurion."

With a smirk, the soldier grabbed his arm and pulled him along—in the opposite direction of the midwife's house. "Wise of you. Come on, lad."

Malon matched pace with the centurion. After a moment, the soldier released his arm, and Malon fell into step behind him. This was the opportunity he'd hoped for. No telling what the Roman would do to him afterward, but if he could outrun the soldier in all his array, he could summon the midwife before getting caught. Dropping the centurion's bag, Malon bolted toward the midwife's hut. The pumping of his heart echoed his footsteps.

"Get back here, boy! I'll have you flogged!"

He raced on. The breath tore through his lungs, and dust prickled his shins as he ran faster than he ever had before. Running from a Roman centurion infused a new strength into his limbs. If it cost him his life, he'd succeed for his imah. His nostrils burned, and hair tickled his ears. He reached the midwife's dwelling and threw himself at the latch. The door gave way, and he fell inside, announced by a startled shriek.

Spitting the dust out of his mouth, he spotted the old woman crouching behind a stool. "Shiphrah!"

"Malon? Is it you?"

"My imah is in travail. You must come quick. It came on fast."

The midwife jumped from her hiding place and scurried around the room, gathering objects into a scarf. "Is your imah alone?"

Malon pushed himself into a sitting position and gasped to catch his breath. "No, Abba is with her."

A few wrinkles smoothed from the woman's forehead, but she still worked in haste. "I'm ready. Let us go."

He nodded. Though his lungs ached for air, he forced himself up and followed her out of the door. As soon as he stepped into the street, a hand grabbed his shoulder.

"You." The centurion panted, blowing puffs of foul breath into his face. "You…will pay…for this."

"Malon?" The midwife's brow puckered, and she stepped toward him.

"No, Shiphrah. Go to my mother. I will be fine as long as I know Imah and the babe are looked after." He forced a smile to convince her.

With a frown and nod, she scuttled away.

Tightening the grip on Malon's shoulder, the centurion turned. "Soldier!" Two patrolmen snapped to attention. "Take this boy to the post. I compelled him to bear my burden, and he refused. Ten lashes should make him more willing and teach him a little respect."

The soldiers stationed themselves on either side of Malon and grasped his arms, only then did the centurion release the talon grip on his shoulder. "Let's go, boy."

Malon went without resistance. Sometimes, a price must be paid, and today, it was worth it. By the time he got home, he'd have a little brother or sister and overjoyed parents. HaShem was good. Someday, HaShem would free them from this miserable oppression. Someday soon. The Messiah was walking among them, waiting for the right time.

East of the town, the Roman garrison's black towers came into view. It rose like the residence of evil itself with its basalt walls, sharp points, and soldiers swarming it like ants. The garrison cast a dark shadow over a courtyard with the whipping post often used to punish minor crimes. Many times Malon had passed by whilst they administered lashes. He'd shuddered at the cries of men unfortunate enough to be caught.

The soldiers yanked him toward the post, and it grew into a giant as they drew near. His eyes traveled up the post until it stabbed the blue sky. One of the guards shoved his shoulder, ramming him into the post, and raised his arms above his head. They fastened his wrists inside metal clasps attached to the post, then stepped away.

The centurion stared at him for long moments, breathing in heavy puffs, before he snatched up the whip and strode toward him. He unraveled the long leather cord and gave it a jerk. A thunderous crack ricocheted off the black walls.

Malon leaned his forehead against the pole. The centurion said ten lashes. Was that the protocol? Or would the centurion beat him until he decided to stop?

Sweat trickled down his chest. Why did nervous sweat smell so bad? If his hands were free, he would've covered his ears. Though it wouldn't have helped. The cries he heard were in his memory and could not be silenced. He wouldn't be like the guilty thieves and scoundrels who usually stood at this post. He'd take the lashes like a man. Balling his fists, he waited.

The centurion's footsteps circled him, with an occasional pop of the lash. Tyrannical…insane…he couldn't think of a word strong enough to describe the snake. Romans feasted on intimidation, and this centurion was ten times worse than the typical.

"Shouldn't you be in a hurry, Centurion? You have yet to travel to Tiberius."

A low sound rumbled behind him, either a chuckle or a growl. "If you knew what was coming to you, boy, you wouldn't be so anxious."

The lash tore through Malon's tunic and into his flesh. Air escaped his lungs in a high-pitched groan.

The centurion laughed. "The little suckling won't even get to run home to his mother when we're through. You're still going to carry my pack, boy."

The insult intensified Malon's determination and dulled the pain. He could endure ten lashes.


Another crack, but this time, he clenched his teeth to keep from making a sound.


He tightened his fists and set his jaw. He'd show these pathetic Romans what a real man looked like. He'd endure their cruelty and carry the pack, all without a word of complaint.


Pain slashed across his back, and a slight breeze sieved through the shreds of his tunic.


He spread his legs and braced against the pole.

Five. Halfway done.

The courtyard had fallen silent. Were other soldiers watching, or was he alone with only the outraged centurion?

Six, seven, eight.

The next three lashes came in a quick burst. Then it stopped.

Malon let out the breath he'd been holding and closed his eyes.

The centurion's footsteps paused next to him. "It seems our whip isn't good enough for a prideful boy." Putrid breath accompanied the words. He pivoted on his heel and stalked out of sight. Chains rattled against the wooden table…metal glided…and something whistled through the air. The centurion grunted, as if he'd found something else suitable. Whatever he tried next, Malon would take in silence.

Only two more lashes. Would the centurion really stop at ten? If they were alone in the courtyard, who would prevent him? The centurion may beat him until he begged for mercy, and he'd die first. Malon licked blood off his lip. He'd done nothing wrong.

Something whistled through the air, caught the base of Malon's head, and lacerated his entire back. Agony reverberated through his whole body.

"How does that feel, you sniveling Jew?" This time, spittle accompanied the centurion's bad breath.

Adonai, give me the strength to endure this, and cause Your Messiah to rise soon.

"One more…Centurion. Then let's be on…our way." Malon grimaced from the labored sound in his voice.

The centurion delivered one last blow with the…whatever it was. And Malon started breathing again. He peered behind him as the centurion raised a spiked rod for another blow.

"Gallus, if you wish the boy to carry your pack, you best leave him in the condition to do so. You've carried out his sentence. Now let him go." The deep voice stilled the centurion's hand.

Gallus, so that was the wicked man's name.

With a scowl, Gallus threw down the rod and waved toward Malon. "Loose him."

When his wrists were free, Malon shifted to see who came to his aide. Another centurion leaned against the stone wall, his helmet under his arm. He looked familiar, but with blood and sweat blurring his vision, Malon couldn't tell.

"Your favoritism of the Jews will be your demise, Vitalis." Gallus addressed the other centurion.

Malon knew that name. He'd remember the name of Centurion Dexius Vitalis forever. Twice now, the man had saved him—first from the outlaw Barabbas and now from Gallus.

"The Jews are our subjects, not our enemies. There is a difference. You would do well to remember." How Vitalis could speak so calmly to such vermin, Malon didn't know.

Shaking his head, Gallus strode over and gripped Malon's arm. "Are you ready to bear my burden now, boy?"

Gallus had little right to call him a boy, but Malon swallowed his irritation. "You need not force me."

Gallus laughed. Heartily. All the way to the city gate, this time walking behind Malon. As soon as they passed through the gates, Malon began counting. He was obligated to serve this monster of a man one thousand steps. Then he could go home. Had the midwife arrived in time? Was Imah well? Was the child a boy or a girl? Whatever the answers, he had one thousand steps before he could find out.

Soon his arms muscles began to burn. Usually, he'd carry such a burden on his back. Not now. At five hundred steps, he almost lost count from trying to shift the weight in his arms. He stumbled, and Gallus' giant hand delivered a blow to his tattered back.

"No foolishness, boy. You're only halfway."

Each step became more and more painful. The jostling movement stretched and tore the scabs on his back and sides, irritating the wounds. The last hundred steps were sheer torture. The sun beamed down on him, scorching his skin and leaching any remaining moisture from his body. Parched and gasping for breath, he reached the count.

"One thousand." He slammed the pack onto the ground and spit the dirt out of his mouth.

"Well done, boy. I'll be sure to find you next time I'm traveling."

He could have slapped the smirk from Gallus' face. Words rose up from deep within and flowed out of his mouth before he could stop them. "One day, Roman, you will be powerless. One day you will not be able to compel me any longer. A deliverer is coming, and then you will have no command over me."

Good thing Gallus didn't have a whip, or he may have finished what he intended to do earlier. Not waiting for his anger to unleash, Malon spun and sprinted home as quickly as his ragged body permitted. He had not just a father waiting for him, but his mother, and now, a newborn brother or sister.

The Master's Calling   by   Amber Schamel   |   See Bio >
Book 3 of 3 in the Days of Messiah Series.
The Master's Calling didn't end with the had only begun.

After generations of waiting, the Messiah has come at last. And not a day too soon. All his life, Malon Ben-Tyrus has been stifled beneath Roman laws and religious traditions, and he longs to be free. The oppression of the Romans worsens every day, and the religious system led by the Scribes and Pharisees has grown corrupt.

Malon believes his life calling is to become a disciple of the Messiah and help free Israel from bondage.  When Jesus heads to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, Malon knows this will be a historic event. Jesus will enter the city as the Son of David and take His place as the Messiah of Israel. He longs to follow Jesus to Jerusalem, but his family won't allow him to go.

When at last his family consents, Malon arrives in Jerusalem only to discover that he is too late. The man he thought to be the Messiah has been crucified, and Barabbas—his greatest enemy—has been set free.

Appalled by the cowardice of Jesus' disciples, Malon returns home seething with frustration and despair. Everything he believed he was destined to become died with Jesus. Was he wrong about his destiny?

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