The Seven of Swords
"For what reason, grandfather?"
"I am not sure. Say nothing to Herod or any of the authorities, Xuang. They are no friends of ours. I am quite sure we shall need to employ our skills to lose our companions and finish the mission in privacy. This mission is Jim's project, so let him do all the talking."
Jim seemed unusually pleasant. He was definitely enjoying this part of his journey. He paid close attention to the habits of the natives. He noticed how much it was similar to the Palestinian part of Israel that he had just left. Poverty and disease plagued the land. There were no social programs in place anywhere to aid the sick and disadvantaged. The Roman occupation left the citizens feeling as powerless and at the mercy of the occupying forces which thought of the natives as backwards and inclined to terrorism just like all barbarians. Of course, Jim viewed the Romans as being quite barbarian by their own rights.
Xuang was quite impatient to leave this time and find a more eventful pastime, yet he did not have a machine of his own, so he had to be content with following his father and grandfather for now. It was odd, as he felt very comfortable with the customs of these ancient times and instinctively would have dealt with Herod in a different manner. Xuang did not care much for Caesar either. He would certainly put him in his place if given the chance, but Xuang was now out of the picture with respect to the ability to rule an empire from anywhere, as he had been doing for such a long time. The lack of conveniences caused him discomfort and made him somewhat irritable, but he would not complain. Instead he patiently absorbed his surroundings and wondered what was so special about this time and place which caused this visit to be occurring. Xuang knew nothing of Jerusalem nor its importance to human history, but he would need to know, when he would begin to interact with twenty-first century Earth.
The journey to Jerusalem could best be described as uneventful, while Jim seemed very preoccupied with Genie obtaining information. John seemed to be preoccupied in the same manner with his own Merkabah unit, prepping it for his next excursion. Jim shot a few dart satellites skyward to perform reconnaissance for the Genie unit. Onboard the dart unit was a self-contained power unit and a complex of imaging transceivers and nano-processors which could relay to Idiot's banks a wealth of data and historical records.
Xuang had to be content with reading various scrolls that Jim provided him as entertainment. Consequently, Xuang was quite glad to arrive at Herod's palace, but once again John warned him to say nothing and let Jim do all the talking.
Herod's palace did appear rather shabby for a palace, Xuang thought. He would never had tolerated any of his residences be so rudely adorned. This Herod was nothing more than a subject king, he realized, a puppet to Rome. Why would his father have business with such a unimportant, rude and very unimpressive court.
John, Jim, and Xuang had a Roman centurion as their escort. "These kings have gifts for Herod," he told the master at arms at the palace gate. The officer seemed unimpressed, but, seeing and respecting the centurion, he admitted the king was in, and he would announce their request for an audience.
Within a very short while, they were brought to Herod. He was curious about these strangers. His spies had told him they bore great treasure.
"Welcome, my friends. I know you not, and I hear you are kings. What business would you have?"
Jim looked at Herod and smiled. "We three kings of the Orient have traveled afar. We seek to pay our respects to Him who is born King of Israel. Could you please let us know where we may find him, for we have followed his star from the east and we have come to worship him?"
A court scribe quickly recorded what was said, and then a host of messengers were sent elsewhere. A new platoon of additional court officials arrived immediately to provide additional intelligence and assistance for Herod. Herod would certainly not take not kindly to any competitor.
Herod was indeed somewhat vexed. He had no answer for these kings, and they did not consider him as a king of the Jews. He stalled to give them an answer. Instead, he invited them to be his guests for the evening, and he would give them an answer in the morning, if not before. The centurion was rewarded well by Herod for bringing these guests and dismissed.
The court priests were aware of where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' "
Herod expected that this was what the kings wished to know. Rather than wait till the morning, Herod secretly immediately met the trio to discover more.
Jim was expecting Herod. "Your accommodations are a trifle uncomfortable for us. I would that we be on our way for the stars are now impatient and beckons us to follow their lead."
"When did this star appear announcing the birth of...?"
"The birth of the Messiah? Less than two moons ago, it is rumored to have appeared. We have been following it only a few dozen nights."
"I am told that you will find him in Bethlehem. Go with my blessing and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
"Bethlehem., Genie." Jim whispered. "Have a look."
Genie sent a satellite towards Bethlehem and scanned the territory for signs of the child. At the same time, Jim thanked Herod and was granted the king's seal so that they could complete the final segment of their journey unhindered by the authorities. Herod had Felix, the centurion, give the kings a Roman seal as well. Armed with the Judean and Roman seals of approval, John , Jim, and Xuang left Jerusalem , and shortly afterwards dismissed all of the hired servants. At the same time, much of the superfluous treasure was vaporized and returned to the void from whence it had been materialized. The frankincense and myrrh were retained. Jim had to buy that from Haji for a reason. The peasants were somewhat astounded by the disappearance act, but they were not completely surprised, because they had long learned to completely respect and not underestimate the magic of these three kings ever since Petra. It was no small wonder that Haji, the master thief, had given these kings his utmost respect.
On their way to Bethlehem, John, Jim, and Xuang examined the information that Genie was retrieving. Just for convenience the satellite activated a light beacon which directed the three visually towards Bethlahem. Also in the sky could be seen the Supernova that had directed them to this time. Jim was still curious as to how Idiot had been able to determine when this nova had first appeared to Earth's night skies. He decided not to ask though; he knew better than to underestimate the Idiot.
The trio were generous to the poor that they encountered while on their way. Jim had no intention of returning to Herod. He had simply acted his role well while in the process of acting out history. After an hour of searching in Bethlehem they found a poor young couple huddled in a stable with an infant of only a few days.
They were astounded as John, Jim and Xuang undressed themselves before them revealing their concealed golden embroidered royal robes as they knelt before the child. Xuang could see nothing remarkable about the child, but John and Jim were both regarding the child with much reverence.
Saying nothing they presented the mother with their gifts who watched the scene with confused but joyful tears.
Jim used the telepathy that Isis had taught him to reach the mother and Joseph to convey his feelings and reverence as well as to warn her to flee Jerusalem for the child's life was in danger. It wouldn't be long before Herod discovered where the child was, for many in Bethlehem now had been made aware of their existence, and the very protection that the authorities had given the magi had also allowed Rome and Herod to keep tabs as to their whereabouts. Jim dared to touch the child but felt nothing unusual at first. After returning the child to the mother the spirit of Yaohushua rushed through his consciousness. "Yes indeed I Am here, and you see My Son, the light and hope of the nations. But now you must leave and complete what you have set yourself to do. You shall come back to be his friend just before you die, and He shall show you more concerning eternal life, and He shall bring you closer to Me. I had promised you to show you my Son, and here you see Him."
With a futile effort, Herod massacred the young children in Bethlehem a few days later, but by then the young couple had fled after believing the three wise men. They used the gold to finance and start a new life in safety from Herod. The Romans would not pursue them. It was only Herod who wanted the child out of the picture.