Iscariot: Chapter 1 – In which we meet Pontius Pilate and learn about an obscure Goddess.

This entry is part 1 of 20 in the series Iscariot

Hello! My name is Philippe and it’s very nice to meet you. You’re so attractive and wise, and I’m a person who enjoys meeting people with those exact qualities.

Not long ago, I had an idea that I would write a novel, and it was a lot of fun. But writing novels takes a long time. So instead of a sequel to “When the Ice Breaks” I thought it might be fun to do some serialized fiction. The editor of this website has very kindly let me use his blog as a platform to put up chapters.

This is an epic and silly adventure about Jesus and Judas and their pals and antagonists. Because I thought writing about that subject would be a good way to get views and hits and god willing, Dan Brown money.

Here’s chapter 1. Share and enjoy!


Iscariot

Chapter 1

In which we meet Pontius Pilate and learn about an obscure Goddess.

 
Two men walked along an alley without speaking. They were walking away from the relatively quiet palace at the outskirts of town where they made their home and inward to the city proper.

The shorter of the two was dressed rather extravagantly. Despite the heat, he strolled the city in his full Roman regalia. Unfortunately for him, the regalia was primarily made of wool and leather. White wool and leather draped in a blue cloak, leather leg coverings and a very slight amount of fitted chest armor. This was his official uniform of state and he insisted on donning it if he had to be out among the people.

The taller man wore a similar outfit, though it was lighter and had a bit less pomp. He carried a satchel full of scrolls and various documents which contained information on the business of the day. While he liked the job of scribe, he had originally thought he would work in Rome proper. When his marching orders came, he was horrified at where the military high council had chosen for his post. It was far from home, it was extremely foreign and whenever they had to do what they were doing now, his master, Prefect Pontius Pilate, did nothing but complain. He knew it would begin soon and within a few minutes his master decided to break the silence which the two had been walking in.

“I can’t breathe in this wretched place,” Pilate announced. “I will never understand this universal need for these people to take perfectly good and tasty animals, gut them, burn them and then dump the corpse in the streets.”

“So you say, Prefect.” Marcus replied breathing deeply through his nose. “However, I think it’s smells far worse back in Rome. At least these people burn those little thorn bushes. It covers the smell well enough. I actually like it the way the servants mix it into our wine.”

“I won’t take it. (Mark 15:23) And frankly, I think the myrrh is as bad as the corpses. It gives me a headache.” Pontius replied. “If it smells bad enough that you need to constantly burn flowers or…what’s that frankincense stuff?”

“It’s a resin that comes from the Boswellia tree, Prefect,” he explained.

“What the fuck is a Boswellia tree?” Pontius asked.

“It’s sort of all bare at the bottom and it has a flat top of green if it’s in bloom.” He replied, motioning with his arms. “There’s a line of them in the dried out riverbed behind where we live.”

“Noted. Well if it smells bad enough that they have to burn Boswhosit trees to cover the stench, I’d suggest that they find something else to sacrifice to their God.”

“I actually quite enjoy both the tree and the smell of the burning resin.”

“Well I hate them. I hate the thorn bushes, I hate the heat, here. I do not understand why Tiberius tolerates these people and lets them do whatever they want.”

“It’s because there’s nothing out here worth caring about for Rome, the people are spread too thin to just wipe out and if Tiberius did bring the full force of the empire down on Judea, we’d get to be the rulers of an empty, poverty stricken, and boring land with no military value,” Marcus explained. For what he felt was the millionth time.

“No military value. They’ll never be strong enough to ever invade. So why then, are we here?”

“The map?”

“Ah yes. Our perfect map.”

Marcus opted to change the subject. “Is it me, or is this street more crowded than usual.”

Pilate looked around and saw that his lieutenant was right. “You there,” Pilate yelled to a man walking down the street. “Why are there so many people milling about here. What’s your name.”

“I’m a bread maker, sir.”

“I didn’t ask about your profession, man. I asked your name.”

“My name is Andrew sir. I’m a bread maker,” the man replied. “I make bread. All sorts of bread. Rolls and flatbread and buns and things.”

“K…”

“Mostly, I use barley, but barley prices have gotten high this year so I’ve been experimenting with wheat recipes. I also sell porridge and gruel.”

“Right. Well, I suddenly find that I’m very hungry. You hungry, Marcus?” Pilate asked.

“I could eat,” Marcus replied.

“Marcus is hungry too, Andrew the bread maker. Sell me some bread since you seem so proud of your occupation.”

“I haven’t got any bread right now,”

“Marcus, this man has no bread,” Pilate stated. He then turned to Andrew. “Andrew, this whole thing makes me question why you mentioned your profession in the first place. If you’re not baking bread, don’t you have some animals to sacrifice at the temple or something? The streets are barely overflowing with burnt husks.”

“My wife and I came out to hear the preacher,” Andrew replied.

“Who, pray tell, is preaching today?”

“Jesus of Nazareth, sir. Please sir. We’ll need to move along to get a place to hear him. Be well, my lord. It’s going to be hard to get close because there’s also a fun run down Garden Street today.”

Pilate closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “For the love of the gods,” he said. “So help me, Marcus. The last thing we need is another preacher in this town riling up the populace, I’m going to…umm. hmm,” he paused. “Marcus, where the hell is Nazareth?.”

“I’ve never heard of it, Prefect,” he replied. “However, I can always try and find it on the maps.”

“Eh, fuck it,” Pilate sighed. “Shall we go get learned by the preacher? See what this one is mad about?”

“We have a lot of official business to attend to, Prefect. Perhaps another time?”

“Nobody in Rome cares what we do, Marcus, and they certainly don’t care if we finish whatever we have to do on a real timetable. The only real thing we have to do is go see Herod, and that’s something I’m happy to avoid. Anything in your scrolls about this preacher?”

Marcus sighed, and the two men began walking towards the direction that the bread maker had scuttled off to. Marcus shuffled through some paperwork which listed and described the local clergy. There was a lot of it.

“Ok. Jesus of Nazerath. Has a small following of students. He’s married, though that’s a requirement for preaching. I’m guessing he likes to sacrifice animals at the temple? As you mentioned, that seems to be a popular pastime, here. There’s been a few official complaints about him.” Marcus said, “No idea what his politics are, but I’m sure the sermon will have something to do with Egypt? Passover is soon. That’s the holiday…”

“With the blood on the doors, yes. I recall.” Pilate interrupted and then continued his walk in silence.

As they approached the square they could hear that the mob was getting louder. Pilate had considered limiting this sort of thing, but the Judeans got restless if they couldn’t preach. When he turned a corner he saw that someone had been busy painting. The wall was covered in writing.

“Oh, what the hell is this?” Pilate said as he gestured to the wall. “We just cleaned the graffiti from this square two weeks ago.”

“It appears to be a poem of sorts,” Marcus replied after perusing it.

“Paedicabo ego vos et irrumabo, Aureli pathice et cinaede Furi,” Pilate read. He turned to Marcus with a shocked expression. “Wow. I don’t know what Aureli and Furi did to this guy,  but he does not sound happy with them,” Pilate said.

“There’s so few poets who write about sodomy anymore, sir. Shame that.”

“It’s disrespectful is what it is. Marcus, who’s your favorite god?” Pilate asked.

“My family has always followed the Goddess, Deverra, Prefect.”

“Deverra? Never heard of her” Pilate responded. “What is she the Goddess of?”

“She’s the Goddess of Brooms, Prefect.”

Pilate paused a moment and turned to his companion, staring him in the eye. “You’re making that up.”

“No sir. Devarra is all too real. My mother was an ardent follower and it’d kill her if I started worshiping someone else.”

“Nice temple you all worship at? I’m guessing it’s very clean?”

“Very well swept.” Marcus responded enthusiastically.

Pilate paused again. “You’re a strange guy, Marcus, but alright. I swear to Devarra that the next time we clean the walls, they’ll gods damned stay cleaned. And, oh wait a minute. That actually works.”

“What works?” Marcus asked.

“Well just, cleaning the walls, and the Goddess of Brooms. It…” Pilate stopped as Marcus had a confused look on his face. “Never mind. I swear to Devarra that I will flay the next person I catch making graffiti. Make a note and tell the soldiers. Anyone who paints on the walls will have the skin torn off of their pinky fingers. Second offense is the whole forearm. I’m sick of this.”

“Skin off the fingers and forearm.” Marcus repeated, writing it down. “Would you still like to see the preacher?”

Pilate groaned. “Nah. What else is on the menu?”

Marcus checked the schedule and the two turned right at the next intersection, avoiding the mob.


Tune in next week for Chapter 2. In which we meet Jesus of Nazareth, his brother James, Simon the Zealot, and Donny, one of King Herod’s slaves!

Series NavigationIscariot: Chapter 2 – In which we meet Jesus of Nazareth, his brother James, Simon the Zealot, and Donny, one of King Herod’s slaves >>
Philippe L.

About Philippe L.

When not out exploring the stars with his good friend Hotblack Desiato, he makes his living here on Earth keeping other people's money safe from the hands of thieves and spinning the occasional yarn. He enjoys beer and coffee very much, but unfortunately he can't eat shellfish or tomatoes.

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