Irene sat cross-legged on her bed and watched the late afternoon sun cuddle the ancient town through the fluttering cloth Jude hung above the window.
He was asleep in the bed across the room. Her instructions had been to stay inside until the meeting with the shopkeeper.
She glanced back and forth between the window, the door, and her sleeping guardian.
Keeping her eyes firmly on Jude, she slipped out of bed and gingerly made her way out the door, closing it ever so carefully.
The narrow dusty streets outside looked much different at dusk than they did in the morning, the swell of merchants, shoppers and animals had all gone home for the day, and the few that wandered the streets looked penniless or shady, or both.
As she turned the corner she saw two men with daggers leaning up against a wall and conversing softly.
They watched her every step, and one grinned at her with yellowing teeth.
“Where are you going?” called the one with yellowing teeth as she passed by. He motioned a bony hand for her to come back.
She quickened her pace, and skipped a little, thinking of turning that skip into a sprint.
At the other end of the alley came three more men. They stalked towards her.
“I heard you were looking for Yēšûă,” called the man behind her again. He and the man he was conversing with were now following her up the alleyway. “A silly woman shouldn't talk so loudly in the market about such things.”
The five men closed in on her.
“What do you know about Yēšûă?” another man with reddened eyes and protruding ears snarled.
This man pulled her arm with a meaty hand and ripped off her head scarf that covered all but her piercing eyes. “What a pretty little woman we have here,” he chuckled.
Irene threw a fist at the man that clocked him on the side of the nose. Blood trickled down his big lips.
“Do you need a lesson in respect?” he growled, wiping the blood with the back of his sleeve.
A dark figure appeared at the end of the alleyway.
The man with the yellowing teeth called out to the figure. “If you know what's best for you, you will keep walking.”
The group of men sniggered, but the figure did not keep walking. The figure instead moved towards them.
The man with the bleeding nose put a dagger to Irene's throat and motioned for the other four men to see what the figure wanted.
When they reached him they began taunting him but he did not respond. Two of the men went to grab him, however he maneuvered out of their grasping hands. He grappled one man and put him in an arm bar, while breaking the other assailant's leg with a kick.
He then used his forearm to knock out the man in his lock, and let him collapse to the mud.
The other two men moved forward to hit the figure, but before they could touch him, he pushed one of them back into the side of a building, and round-house kicked the other guy in the head.
The attacker who was kicked in the head staggered to the ground.
The other man leaned against the building put his hands up to try to block an attack from the shadowy figure, but was collected by a series of hook punches that dropped him beside the others.
Irene squinted at the muscular man who had single-handedly reduced the number of bandits to one. The clouds in the night sky covered the moon, and in the dark alleyway, it was hard to make out any features of the shadowy figure.
As the figure moved closer Irene recognised the man. “Jude,” she gasped.
“Do not move any closer,” growled the man with the dagger, “or I will slit this lady's throat.”
Irene translated the sentiments of the armed man to Jude.
The soldier gave the bandit a half smile. “Doctor Hadar, tell him that if he doesn't let you go, I will kill him very slowly. If he lets you go, I may let him run away like a little girl.”
She translated the message to the man who snorted and moved backwards, keeping the doctor at knife point.
Jude swaggered forward and shrugged. “Option two, I guess.”
With lightening quick pace, Jude leaped forward with a spinning kick and knocked the knife out of the bandit’s hand (missing Irene by centimetres).
The attacker dropped Irene and began sprinting down the alleyway.
Jude picked up the man's knife and threw it at him. It hit him in the calf and he crashed to a heap.
Jude knelt beside Irene. “Are you alright, doctor?” he asked.
“I am okay,” she whimpered. “Thank you. Sorry for leaving. I won't do it again.”
“I don't blame you. I would have left too if I were you. I however should have stayed awake and made sure you didn’t go wandering. So we’re both at fault.”
Jude took her shaky hand and they strolled towards the man who had held her hostage.
The bandit writhed on the ground holding his leg.
When they got close, the man pulled out the knife from his leg and waved it at Jude from the ground. Irene decided to stay a few paces away.
The soldier kicked the man's waving arm to the ground, and stamped on it to pin it down. Then, before the man could move his other arm he stamped on that arm too. Jude knelt over the bandit.
“Doctor Hadar, can you ask this man why he attacked you?” the soldier asked. “And tell him that he'd be wise to give me the right answer.”
Irene translated this to the man and he began chattering and sobbing.
“He says the Romans pay him to hunt down revolutionary groups and uncover their hiding places. He said one of his men overheard us talking at the marketplace. Apparently there are others looking for our scalps too.” She let her eyes drift onto Jude's. “Don't kill him.”
“You don’t get to make those decisions, Doctor Hadar.”
“Please. He is the result of his upbringing.”
“We all are.”
“Yeah, but…” She paused. “You can’t just kill people in the past without giving it a second thought. You kill him, and he might end up being a descendant of mine, for example, and I will be wiped from history.”Jude grimaced. After a few moments pause he said, “Why do I get the feeling I'll regret listening to you?” With that, he planted a fist through the man's right temple, and the bandit's eyes rolled back in his head.
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