Deborah and Gideon boarded the ship the next day, but to their surprise Samson was on board along with Delilah. Gideon was sure that Samson’s actions would one day put Shavron in a dire situation. The judges didn’t talk to each other while they traveled. Samson was distant and kept to himself. Deborah would frequently approach him, but Delilah had a way with him. She would make up some excuse to lead Samson away. Finally after a three day voyage, up ahead was the coast of Shavron. Deborah and Gideon were glad to see the rolling hills again. Even Samson had a grin on his face when he saw its shores. Shavron had that effect on the creatures that lived there. The rivers, mountains, and the air itself put new life into their bodies. It was truly a gem of a land.
Gideon: “We could expect anything.”
Deborah: “Do you think the council has overruled our decision?”
Gideon: “I’ve been praying that they haven’t. Wait…do you hear that?”
Deborah: “Hear what?”
Gideon: “Sounds like cheering.”
Delilah: (Overhearing the conversation) “Samson there must be a party going on! Ooh, I just love parties! We must find it immediately.”
The ship pulled into the small port. Looking down the judges saw a group of citizens running around in fancy cloaks and wearing party mask. The streets were decorated with gold trimmings. The judges knew of no holiday that fell on this day. Once on dry land, they followed a group of creatures to the marketplace in Eldos. The fruit-stands and trade shops had been pushed aside for the multitude that was assembled. Jugglers and acrobats were performing; there was music and food for all. Gideon grabbed a hand full of berries.
Gideon: “I fear the worst, but at least I can say that the food is good.”
Gideon and Deborah decided to hang about behind the crowd. Samson and Delilah mingled with the Shavronites. There was a large stage set up in the center of the marketplace. Everyone crowded the stage waiting for the announcement. An orator stepped on stage and began to speak.
Orator: “Welcome young and old. I welcome you to this great occasion. Today the council has elected our new leader that will protect us from our enemies. This leader is of high character and a leader of strength. Celebrate all ye children, celebrate my fellow citizens: for today we have our…queen.”
Deborah: “Queen? How was this done so quickly?”
Gideon thought for a moment and came up with the answer.
Gideon: “The council had this planned out from the beginning!”
The orator stepped aside and presented the new matriarch. The figure that emerged was a tall slender red fox. She walked very slowly towards the edge of the stage. The citizens gave her praises and she indulged in every word. Her eyes were golden and they were focused on power. The fox wore a long purple cloak that dragged along the stage floor. Right behind her was another fox. This fox as slightly older and stood by the red fox. This fox’s red fur was graying. She had golden beads that ran down her nose, and her right eye was scared. She also held a long staff decorated with a strange pattern; it was used more for show than for support. When Deborah saw the fox her whole body trembled.
Gideon: “What’s wrong?”
Deborah did not answer; she knew that the fox had the same gift as hers. It was the way the eyes were formed that gave her a clue. Whenever a creature abused this gift their pupils would hook and turn green. At the stage, the fox in the purple cloak cleared her throat to speak.
Fox: “Before I introduce myself I think it’s appropriate to bestow gifts upon you all. My soldiers will pass a delightful treat from my native land. It is called “Essence Flower”. It is the only flower in this world that can live without water for a month and still produce a beautiful fragrance. The multitude received the flowers with joy.
Fox: “I am Jezerah and this is my mother, Iya. The council was wise to place me as your new leader. Your trust in me will not be dishonored. As your ruler I promise to destroy any enemy that tries to come upon us. I promise that I will be here for you in tough times and in good times. Shavron must invite new ways to survive. Some of you may be concerned about the judges.”
The crowded booed. Samson placed his crest under his jacket. Gideon and Deborah inched further away from the scene. Jezerah held up her hands to silence the crowd.
Jezerah: “You are right to feel that way. The fact that they are not here to defend themselves proves who they really are. Let us not focus on the past, but onward to the future. I need your trust. Shavron will be renewed beyond you wildest dreams, but enough of talking let us celebrate!”
The crowd gave a jubilant cheer. Immediately the band played. A spectator came forward to lead his fellow creatures in a cheer.
Spectator: “Three cheers for Queen Jezerah!”
The crowd gave two cheers of: “LONG LIVE QUEEN JEZERAH, OUR SECURITY AND STRENGHT.”
As the celebrating was going on, the two foxes turn to have a conversation.
Iya: “The game begins. I say within a year we will regain our status. Did you take care of the council?”
Jezerah: “But of course. My soldiers made sure that they would not be found.”
Iya: “Remember what I told you, we will not make the same mistake as before. You must treat these creatures like-“
Jezerah: “I know, mother. Play them like a fiddle, play them like a fiddle.”
Gideon and Deborah parted ways. At home, Gideon prayed into the night. He found it hard to concentrate. When he received no answer, he felt that the Holy One’s hand had left Shavron for good, but then Gideon heard from the Lord.
Gideon: “I thought my prayers were unanswered.
HolyOne: “Do not give up so easily. The covenant I made with Shavron is still with me. I will bless all creatures through this land. However, the Shavronites have turned away from me and have put their trust in another. I will let them have their desires. Things will get worst before they get better, but I will never forsake you or this land.”
Gideon: “Things will get worst before they get better?”
Within an hour he was in a deep slumber. The new day brought rain. Gideon was dripping wet before he met up with Deborah. He shook the water from his fur and used Deborah’s outer cloak as an umbrella.
Deborah: “We have to find Jezerah. Should we find Samson first?”
Gideon: “Don’t bother. Let’s just find the fox.”
Their quest led them to the council building in Eldos. As the judges approached, two dingoes, acting as guards, were standing outside.
Deborah: “Excuse me we have to speak to Jezerah.”
Guard: “No one sees the queen today, she is busy.”
Deborah: “This is a matter that she cannot overlook.”
Guard: “Apparently you have wax in your ears. I said the queen is busy. Now go away or we’ll have to thrash you.”
Gideon: “What? What kind of nonsense is that?”
On the second floor, Jezerah was making plans for her new palace. She had a small model on a desk.
Jezerah: “It will be wonderful. I’ll have hundreds of rooms, a personal bathhouse… no, two! The floors and walls will be made of marble. I’ll have a courtyard where I can have musicians play for me every day at noon, just the way I like it. And…what is that racket outside?”
Jezerah walked up to the window and threw them open in a rage.
Jezerah: “GUARDS, I TOLD YOU TO GET RID OF ANYONE WHO APPROACHES, I’M BUSY! TELL THE COMMONERS…CITIZENS TO GO AWAY!”
Gideon: “Commoners? We’re the judges and we need to speak with you.”
At that very moment, Jezerah felt and exciting tingle through her body. He eyes became brighter as she fixed them on the rabbit and cheetah. She quickly changed her tone of voice and invited them inside. Upstairs, Iya was sitting eating an apple when they entered.
Jezerah: “Welcome, please sit down. Excuse me for my rudeness; I didn’t know who you were. I believe you are Samson and Deborah.”
Gideon: “No, I’m Gideon. Where is the council? I think they should be here.”
Jezerah: “The council is on an extended vacation. I would like you to meet my mother, Iya. Well, she’s like a mother too me. She raised me since my father and birth mother died.”
Iya grinned slightly and nodded head. She quickly took sight of Deborah. The cheetah felt and evil chill come over her and she turned her eyes away from the fox’s glare.
Deborah: “We have come to talk to you about-“
Iya: “Saragonian Tea, anyone?”
Gideon: “What’s that?”
Iya: “It’s a recipe from my native land of Saragose. I can have it ready in five minutes. I’ll be back.”
The fox left the room. The conversation returned to the matter at hand.
Gideon: “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re in a bad situation.”
Jezerah: “Bad situation? Whatever do you mean?” she said minding her model palace.
Deborah: “To make this short, we do not need a queen. Our Creator-“
Jezerah: “Creator?” she snickered.
Deborah: “Yes, our Creator. He has protected us for many years. He is the sole reason we are here. He is our security. Our trust in Him is far greater than with a monarch.”
Jezerah continued to play with her palace. Gideon had enough of her disrespect.
Gideon: “You may not agree with us, but at least be adult enough to pay attention when we’re talking to you.”
Jezerah turned her head sharply at the rabbit. She did not like him at all.
Gideon: “I’m sure there are other places for a high official like you to govern. We are asking you to-“
Jezerah held up her hand. She walked over to the judges and led them to the door.
Jezerah: “I think I understand what you’re saying. It would be awkward having you and I in power at the same time, right? We can clear this matter up, tomorrow over Saragonian tea.”
Gideon: “That’s fine. That’s very nice of you.”
Jezerah: “I know. Bye, bye, until tomorrow.”
Iya returned after the judges left.
Iya: “So how do you feel about them?”
Jezerah: “I HATE THEM, “she said snapping “Both of them are pests. I really don’t like the rabbit. He practically called me a child. They are trying to tell me to leave; to give up power and riches because their god doesn’t like it. I am the head of this nation now.”
Iya: “We still need to find the third one.”
Jezerah: “Some of the commoners said they saw him at the festival yesterday. The sooner we find him the quicker I can get my grips around this land. It won’t be like the last time, no one will rebel against me again. First we’ll start with the judges, and then my palace. I’ll change everything.”
Iya: “Getting rid of the judges won’t be easy. Your first attempt failed.
Jezerah: “That was your fault. That assassin you recommended ran like a chicken. He was scared of a rabbit, a rabbit– oh– my head! I can’t think clearly.”
The fox poured herself some tea and took a sip.
Iya: “A rabbit with a sword, and he knew how to use it. The assassin didn’t know he had so much of a fight in him. What are you going to do now?”
Jezerah: “Don’t worry I’ll think of something.”
The judges returned to their homes. Gideon was able to enjoy his favorite leisure activity: sleeping. Deborah returned to Moran. Most of the villagers paid her no mind, and those that did rudely mentioned that the new queen would soon take care of her. Samson and Delilah returned to Old Sim. The night was peaceful, but peace would not last for long. During the night, Jezerah gathered one hundred of her royal guard to capture the judges: five were sent to Moran, ten were sent to Gideon’s home, and the rest went to Old Sim. Gideon and Deborah were captured. Samson’s strength proved to be helpful. He was able to defend himself against all the guards. Half of them ran away and the others were terribly beaten. Samson fled leaving Delilah a note. This is how it ran:
My dear Delilah,
You’re probably wondering where I am and what has happened to me. I was attacked by soldiers. They were sent by that queenno doubt. You can find me in Keel, east of the city.
Now Delilah read the letter and was very angry. She wasn’t there when the fighting began, but she saw the damage. Her only thoughts were of how she would survive without the money she was getting from Samson. She cared for Samson as much as a bird cares for a worm. Judging from the letter, Delilah figured that the queen would pay a hefty price for the wolf. A wicked grin came over her face and she thought of the delegacies that she would eat and the things she could buy.
The two judges were bond and brought to the council building in Eldos. Jezerah was waiting in the main room.
Jezerah: “I see two judges, where is the third? Barewolf, come here!”
To Gideon’s surprise an old friend entered the room. He was dressed in a nice black coat decorated with a medal. The bear and rabbit looked at each other. Barewolf flashed Gideon a nasty grin as he passed. Jezerah walked up to the bear, circled him once, and spoke.
Jezerah: “When I made you captain of my royal guard, I expect nothing but a finished job. I demanded three judges and you only bring me two. Why isn’t Samson here?”
Barewolf: “His strength is known throughout this land. I thought eighty-five troops-“
Jezerah: “Hold your tongue! Maybe these two know where he is.”
The fox approached the two judges. She demanded to know where Samson was, but they did not know; and after numerous threats, she gave up.
Gideon: “Barewolf, why? You know this is wrong. As a friend I’m asking you to help us.”
Barewolf: “Now that you’re in hot water you want me to listen to your plea. You didn’t listen to mine. You’re no judge or a friend. You ran like a coward because you couldn’t have your way
Gideon: “My way? It’s about God’s way. I went as the Lord commanded. I’m sure Thomas would have explained-“
Jezerah started to giggle.
Jezerah: “That silly fox. I tried to reason with him, but he wouldn’t listen. I had to send my soldiers to rough him up a bit; I think they got a little too rough with him,” she said looking at her guards.
A hoarse laugh traveled through the room.
Jezerah: “I only do what needs to be done. Isn’t that right Barewolf?”
Barewolf was reluctant to answer. Jezerah gave him a dirty look.
Barewolf: “Yes,” he said reluctantly.
Jezerah: “I’m so close. Barewolf, walk through the city and ask the commoners about Samson. Bring the information back to me promptly.
Barewolf: “As you wish.”
Jezerah: “You address a ruler with the proper title, understood?”
Barewolf: “Yes…my queen.”
Iya entered the room after Barewolf left. Her eyes were not only fixed on the cheetah, but on the items in the room as well. The crest of battle and instruction was on the table; Gideon’s sword was there too. Iya went over to investigate. The crests were so beautiful to her, yet engendered a great mystery in her heart. She picked them up and looked at them.
Deborah: “Put them down those aren’t yours.”
Iya: “And what are you going to do about it?”
Gideon: “Let us go, Jezerah!”
The fox walked up to Gideon. She towered over him as she spoke.
Jezerah: “I…don’t…like…you,” she said tapping his nose with her claw.”
Gideon: “If only the citizens could see how vile you really are. You’re a stench to our land, you devil.”
At that moment Jezerah grabbed one of her soldiers’ lances and held to Gideon’s chest.
Jezerah: “You worthless beast, I shall kill you for that remark!”
Strangely her anger subsided and Gideon was spared a painful death. She told her soldiers to take to him to another room for the night. Jezerah went to bed. Iya and Deborah were the only two left in the room. Iya pulled up a chair for the cheetah.
Iya: “Take a seat.”
Iya: “Fine if you prefer, stand.
Deborah sat down.
Iya: “You better step carefully with me. Why are you looking at me that way?”
Deborah: “Your eyes…you haven’t used your gift properly. You’ve been using it to hurt others.”
Iya: “And I can tell you haven’t crossed over yet. Power is a great meal to be feasted upon by creatures like us. Hold you tongue… I don’t need a lecture about what’s right and wrong. It’s my gift I do as I please with it. I’m not here to debate you. I want to offer you a way out.”
Deborah: “I don’t understand.”
Iya: “Not very bright are you? Out of the queen’s wrath what else. There’s no hope for Gideon, but if you serve us, the gift you have can grow like mine has. I will train you myself. Together we could have riches and power beyond you wildest imagination.”
Deborah: “I prefer to keep my eyes the way they are; and besides, I’d rather serve the Lord.”
Iya: “You live in a fairytale. There is no divinity that will help you! If there was things would be different by now wouldn’t they? There is only one divinity, Jezerah. The commoners will serve her and forget about this god of yours. You must forget too. It’s time to save yourself.”
Deborah: “I would rather die for the Holy One than to serve evil for one moment.”
Iya: “My, my, aren’t you the spiritual one. Such loyalty, very rare these days just like the gift we share. Well since you insist on being a fool, I will take the crests. I’ll give the blue to Jezerah and the green one stays with me.”
The fox place the crest around her neck. She walked over to a mirror and took some time to look at herself.
Iya: “Green has always been my favorite color.”
Deborah: “You’re not worthy to wear that.”
Without warning, Iya grabbed Gideon’s sword off the table and pressed it against the cheetah’s throat. The fox’s eyes were more frightening up close as Deborah looked straight into them.
Iya: “You have so much potential. You could have everything your heart desired. We both could be the priestesses of this land. Commoners would sing praises to you. This is your last chance.”
Deborah remained silent and Iya withdrew the sword from her neck.
Iya: “Idiot,” she whispered.
The fox called in the guards and the cheetah was taken out of the room. The next day brought calamity for the runaway judge. As Barewolf returned from questioning the citizens about the whereabouts of the wolf, the queen was enjoying her plans for the new palace.
Jezerah: “We’ll have to get rid of the homes on this side to make room for my grand hall. And taxes must be increased in order to start the building of my gallery. Iya, send for a craftsman and architect, the best in this land.”
The fox left the room. Presently, Barewolf returned.
Barewolf: “My queen, I have no news of Samson.”
Jezerah: “No news? You disappoint me. I’m beginning to think you’re not capable to be my captain.”
Barewolf: “I AM,” he growled. He quickly regained his composure when the queen turned sharply at him. “Although I have no information, I have found someone who does. She demanded to speak with you personally.”
Jezerah: “Who is she to give an order to my captain? Bring her here. I’ll teach this commoner her place. Barewolf before you go, I have a present for you. I want you to wear it in my presence.”
The queen threw Gideon’s crest at Barewolf. The bear looked at it with fear, knowing that only one chosen by the Holy One could wear it. He placed it over his head with difficulty. The crest fitted him more like a collar than a medal for promotion. Jezerah tugged at it; Barewolf grunted.
Jezerah: “Fits you well. Now take that this sword also. The hare won’t be needed it any longer, go get that commoner.”
Barewolf took his leave and got Delilah. The wolf entered the room.
Jezerah: “Are you the fool that thinks she can order my servants around?”
Delilah immediately dropped to her knees to grovel, not wasting any attempt at the money she wanted so badly. When Jezerah say the wolf’s pitiful state, she was pleased.
Delilah: “Forgive me. I just wanted to speak with such a great leader and offer some valuable information that will help you. I’m sure you understand that the information I have is worth its weight in gold.”
Jezerah: “I could just have the knowledge tortured out of you and get it for free.”
Delilah looked puzzled. Jezerah sat down in a chair. She spoke to the wolf as she looked over her model palace.
Jezerah: “Speak commoner.”
Delilah: “My name is-“
Jezerah: “Your name is worthless to me. I want the information. What is it and how much do you want?”
Delilah: “I know the exact whereabouts of Samson.”
Jezerah: “I’ll give you a hundred silver pieces for the information.”
Delilah: “ONLY A HUNDRED!”
Jezerah took her model palace and threw it at the wolf. Delilah jumped out of the way. The model broke into pieces along the floor.
Jezerah: “You’re the second to raise their voice at me. Do it again, and I will kill you.”
The fox said this with such ease that it put pure fear in Delilah’s soul. The wolf chose her words more carefully this time.
Delilah: “Forgive me, but a creature of Samson’s nature is worth more than that. Even though you have the other two judges, Samson’s strength is unfathomable. If he came back to Eldos, he could easily destroy your reign by himself.”
Realizing that the commoner was right and of last night’s events, Jezerah allowed Delilah to make an offer.
Delilah: “I only ask the queen for a humble amount of one thousand gold pieces.”
Jezerah’s upper lip curled. One thousand gold pieces was the equivalent of a mayor’s wages for an entire year. The fox was trapped.
Jezerah: “Agreed. But what about Samson, even eighty-five of my guards could not stop him?”
Delilah: “I’ll find his secret. Could I have the money now?”
Jezerah: “You’ll get the money when you bring me Samson! Take twenty of my guards and find him.”
As Delilah turned to leave, Jezerah grabbed her by the wrist. The fox squeezed it so tightly that it left a bruise.
Jezerah: “Be assured that if you don’t come back, I’ll have you hunted and destroyed.”
Jezerah released the wolf’s arm. Delilah left the room quickly, nearly tripping over her long cloak.
Jezerah: “If all the commoners are like her, then breaking their spirits will be easier than I thought.”
Delilah was on the move as the queen commanded. She took twenty soldiers and began to leave for the city of Keel. It took almost an entire day to reach Keel, mostly for Delilah’s lack of knowledge of the country. In Keel, Delilah found Samson’s whereabouts; he was in a small cottage that rested between two oak trees. A light was placed in the window.
Delilah: “Good he’s home. All of you surround the house and stay out of sight. I’ll give you a sign for you to come in at the right moment.”
“What will the sign be?” replied a soldier.
Delilah: “When I find his secret, I will sing this song.”
In the ancient days the sun rose
And the fields smelled sweet to the nose
How beautiful the world is to see
With its fishes, birds, and busy bees
Although she was beautiful, Delilah’s voice was not. It was sharp, chalky, and very painful to the ears.
“I think it would be better for all of us if you gave us a different code,” replied another soldier.
Delilah was offended.
Delilah: “Fine! When I find his secret I’ll say something like…Oh Samson, Jezerah’s favor is upon you. Then all of you can bind him.”
The plan was in effect and Delilah knocked on the door. When Samson answered, he was elated to see her. What happened next was quick and brutal. Delilah used her charm to ease Samson’s fears. She prepared a meal for him and comforted him. She began to ask him about Shavron’s prosperity and then about his strength. Samson was reluctant at first; but after some more of her charm, he told her the details. It was the Holy One that had given him the strength and if his mane was cut short, he would be as weak as any creature in the world. They ate a meal and Delilah groomed Samson’s mane. The wolf fell asleep and very carefully Delilah got a knife from the kitchen and began to cut away at his mane. Once the mane was cut short, she gave the signal. Suddenly the door broke open. Samson jumped up. The soldiers overtook him, kicking and binding him in the process. Even Delilah kicked him, but she bruised her foot and limped out of the cottage. The return back to Eldos was faster and the group returned to the city during the night. Jezerah and Iya were waiting. Their glowing eyes could be seen in the darkness, both pondering what they would do to the wolf.
Jezerah: “Samson, we finally meet. You didn’t think you could hide from me did you?”
Deborah walked over to Samson. She blew a kiss to him and laughed at him. Samson tried to break away from the soldiers’ hold, but it was futile.
Samson: “You treacherous witch!” he said with a growl.
The white wolf cocked her head and turned her back on the black wolf.
Delilah: “Where’s my money?”
Jezerah threw her a small bag.
Delilah: “This isn’t what we agreed upon. This isn’t even half of what I asked for! I want my money!”
Delilah ran towards the fox with teeth bared and claws drawn, but one of the soldiers jumped in front of her and placed a sword to her throat.
Jezerah: “You better leave while the leaving is good. I might change my mind you know.”
Delilah backed away and ran off. She was never seen again. Jezerah turned her attention back to Samson.
Jezerah: “You’re probably wondering why I’m doing all of this. You see a queen must rule a nation with an iron claw and that means getting rid of any possible threats to her rule. Don’t look at me like that! I’ll-“
Suddenly Jezerah stopped. She looked at Samson’s face with a cruel grin and thought of something wicked to do. She ordered the soldiers to force the wolf to his knees.
Jezerah: “I have a great idea of what I will do with you. But I can’t have you looking at me like that. Your eyes make me feel uneasy. I just can’t have you looking at me like that, Samson. Iya do something about that.”
Iya grabbed Samson’s jaw fiercely.
Iya: “Look into my eyes. OPEN THEM!”
Samson resisted, but the guards forced his eyes open. The pigment in Iya’s eyes turned to an orange-red. It looked like fire as Samson caught the gaze. The heat was intense and his eye was charred. The scream put the soldiers’ nerves on end. They let Samson fall to the ground.
Iya: “What’s wrong with you all? Hold him tight. I have to take care of the other eye.”
After the foul deed was done, Jezerah place Samson in one of the jails in Shavron.