Daron Fraley

The Thorn

“ Again, I did prophesy to my sons, saying: And in that day when the three brothers make war with one another, and a great evil arises in the land which threatens to destroy all peoples, the Holy One shall be born upon the footstool of his creations, and the sign of his coming shall be given in the heavens. But upon Gan, he shall not be born, for upon the footstool of his creations he shall perform his great work to save all his peoples, and then shall he visit his kingdoms, which are many, each one in its hour, and in its time, and in its season, beginning at the first and so on unto the last, until every servant beholds the joy of the King’s countenance. And when he comes, a rod shall be his scepter, and light shall be his sword. And the King shall rule in righteousness.”

— Writings of Noah, First Man of Gan, Father of Nations

“I have searched the writings of my fathers. I am now convinced. Even though it appears that the span of our time has been much shorter, at least three thousand years less, this I still know: Gan was created first. And Gan was a garden, long before it was peopled. Noah wrote it.

“We do not know the name of the world where the Holy One will be born, but his world is not far away. Or at least it does not feel far away. Perhaps mine eyes have even seen the place where it rolls upon its wings in the heavens. But no matter where it lies among the stars, I am amazed at both the similarities and the differences between our two worlds. I have seen his time. He stands under a single yellow sun which is close to his world, hot and bright. And yet that sun does not overshadow him. He shines brighter than all creation. I have seen his face. I yearn for the day when I can look upon his countenance. Here, upon Gan. As he rules as my King.”

— Journal of Samuel, Chief Judge and King of Daniel

Chapter 1


Another rumble of thunder, this one closer than the last, caused the final bird near the garden fountain to take flight. Without rustling a single leaf, the bird skimmed past a pruned olive tree and glided across the wheatfield to disappear in the direction of the forest beyond. The warm afternoon rain fell more steadily. Each head of wheat, laden with moisture, drooped closer to the ground. A gentle and constant breeze made the stalks sway back and forth. From the olive garden, the grain had the appearance of misty, swirling water. Other than the sound of rain and the damp rustle of wheat, the field was very still.

A Danielite soldier watched from atop the southwest garden tower. He noticed the birds leaving and sensed the unnatural quiet that settled around him. With one hand on the pommel of his sword, he scanned the field for any sign of movement. He reached up to brush a trickle of sweat from his brow.

Where did all the birds go?

He opened the brown leather case of his spyglass and placed the sight to his eye. Seeing nothing in the field, he trained his eye on the edge of the trees. With intense scrutiny, he searched the wooded border, running his sight from right to left and left to right. He waited for even a single branch to be disturbed.

Must be the thunder. He collapsed the spyglass. The flap on the leather case snapped when he shut it. In his peripheral vision, he noticed a bush straighten.

Did that branch just move? He again yanked the spyglass from its case and zoomed in on the suspicious vegetation. A sharp, fast whistle from the direction of the bush was all the guard heard. Clutching an arrow in his chest, he fell across the tower bench with a thud.

From the far side of the garden, another guard noticed that the southwestern tower was unmanned. Startled, he scanned the fields beyond the garden, where he saw a line of fifty archers step out from the edge of the trees and onto the dirt path which led to the walled village. With shaking hands, the guard clutched a mallet and struck the tower bell as hard as he could. The bell rang out loud and uneven as it quivered from the force of the blow. Even above the sound of the nearby bell, the guard could hear the advancing army in the wheatfield respond to the alarm with a deafening war cry. He turned to see them joined by more than three hundred men armed with swords. Each wore a breastplate emblazoned with a black raven.

“Gideonites!” he breathed, almost as if it were a curse.

A standard-bearer whipped a flag back and forth in the air. It bore an image of the twin blue suns Aqua and Azure. This signal drew another large group of soldiers from the trees, carrying a massive, capped pole, fitted with rope handles.

The guard jerked around. Below him in the village courtyard, he witnessed the panic of women who grabbed children and raced for the nearest protected doorway. Almost falling in his haste, he slid down a ladder to join other men who poured out of every conceivable location. Together they rallied at the fortified garden gate and broke open a weapons stash. As reaching hands clamored for a blade to defend the fair village of Hasor, the tower guard helped the other soldiers provide every man with a weapon. Troop captains nearby yelled for more support.

The Danielite guard shuddered when the heavy, crushing sound of a ram against the tall wooden gate echoed through the village streets. In dismay, he cast his eyes in the direction of the Council Hall.

Chapter 2


Jonathan, you must leave now,” the old judge pleaded. “If you don’t, the Gideonites may suspect The Thorn is here!”

“Father, how can I go?” Jonathan retorted as he rested a tense hand on the pommel of his sword. “You and I both know they’re not here just for the scepter. My absence will only prolong this conflict.”

Samuel took a long breath. “Jonathan, I understand, but The Thorn must be kept safe. If found, the Gideonites will use it to demand the allegiance of all Three Brothers. Then they will replace the judgment seat with a throne, whereon will sit their wicked, self-proclaimed emperor. Manasseh wants to hold the scepter in his own fat hand. Ruling in Gideon does not satisfy the man. Like a drunk offered only water, he will never be satisfied. He wants to rule Gideon, Daniel, and Uzzah.”

Jonathan looked away, irritated by talk about the scepter and Manasseh’s lust for it. Only a fool would think the scepter could somehow bestow the right to rule all three tribes. The scepter is just a symbol.

He turned back and studied his father’s face. Lines of stress ran deep across Samuel’s brow. Jonathan knew the real reason for Samuel’s unspoken concern. Even though the Gideonites wanted to get their hands on The Thorn, they really wanted Jonathan.

“Father, they will find me eventually.”

“You must leave!” Samuel implored, ignoring Jonathan’s declaration.

Jonathan sighed. Still undecided, he pulled at his beard as he stared at his own dusty and worn boots. Should he run, or should he stay and fight? If he left, would lives be saved? Potential peril lay ahead with either choice.

Samuel exhaled heavily and stepped forward to place his hands on his son’s shoulders. “Please go. All will be well. The One Who Would Suffer will be with us.”

“My place is with you, Father.”

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