An adventure that will take him on an historical journey across Europe. A father trying to protect his son. Relic collectors all in pursuit of a holy relic. A killer Cardinal hell bent on stopping them. Shoot outs, car chases and close escapes. A coffee shop girl completes the romance.
The Ring is the first book of a trilogy series. And it all begins with the discovery of an ancient ring and Arthur, an unlikely lad from the east end of London who wished an adventure.
In a dark grotto beneath an imperial palace lit only by a few torches, an old man is dragged from a cell to a place of his execution. An old man weathered by the years and the elements of nature. Weary from the countless footsteps that had gotten him to this glorious day. An old man once arrogant and cocky, now humbled and an obedient servant even at his time of death. Roman guards that dragged his broken body and threw him beside a heavy wooden cross.
“Stand up Christian!” Barks a guard in disgust, kicking at the old man laying flaccid.
Too weak to protest the old man staggers slowly to his feet. There would have been a day he would had seen to the guard and toppled him. But those days had long passed, not from old age for his mind was willing, but from by the seed of faith that had been planted so many, many years ago. His mind drifts to a fishing boat and his brother Andrew, wondering what had become of him. Suddenly a sharp blow from guard snapped back him back to the reality of darkened cavern.
Striping the old man to his soiled loin cloth the guards and laughed to themselves.
“Where is your God now?” A guard asks inspecting the frail prisoner standing hunched with age.
Small dark beady eyes peered back through bushy grey eye brows at the guard. Through parched lips now covered with a long grey beard the old man mutters a reply.
“He is within you…” A soft voice informs the Guard.
The reply is met with a heavy punch to the old man’s stomach, buckling him over but not to the ground. The old man stood defiant. An instinct told him to lash out, but another told him to forgive him and offer the other cheek.
How often had his preached these words? Countless, perhaps more.
The old man straightens himself expecting another blow that came by way of a heavy wooden shaft of a spear across the back of his legs. Falling to his knees looks to the guard’s dirty feet. Vague memories surface and he smiles recalling his reluctance to have his master wash his feet. What would he give to be there now to recall the journeys of years to come? But he was not there. He was in a Roman prison. About to be executed. The guard’s feet would remain dirty, stained with sin.
Looking up to the guard before him, as though to beg for his life, but knowing there would be no reprieve. A quick death was the privilege of the few Roman Citizens that had professed their alliance to the new faith that was spawning itself across the Roman Empire. Christianity. In Rome where all things hideous and shameful flourished Emperor Nero had proclaimed it a mischievous superstition, and those caught practicing it would be executed.
Those who were citizens would be beheaded. Those who were not would be tormented by a prolonged agonizing death. Tied to poles and set alit as human torches, feed to wild beasts and in the case of the old man, Simon Peter of Antioch, crucified. The guard examines the scroll in his hands and looks down at the old man with his head bowed.
“Simon of Antioch?” The guard barks again at the old man.
“Petrus…” The old man humors the guard for his over sight.
“Hmm… Whatever… You are charged with being a Christian, a crime against the state of Rome… You are sentence to die… Any last words?” The guard asks.
“I have said all that needs to say… All that needs to be heard… All but one…” Petrus leaves the guard intrigued.
“What’s that old man?” The guard asks keenly.
“I forgive you…” Petrus disgorges a final absolution on the guard, his last on this earth. “… but I seek one request of you…”
The guard is taken back by atonement, no one had ever forgiven him for killing them. What is this strange religion that forgives the enemy at their door? The guard looks over to the other guard unsure what to make it, only to see him shrug his shoulders in ignorance. He had heard other guards mentioning such words to them. This superstitious religion that had gathered interest among Roman citizens, preaching love and glory. Of one God? How was that possible? The Guard looks at the old man wondering if he should hear him out or simply run his sword through him and end both their miseries now. But he softens.
“What is it old man? … What do you seek of death?” The guard asks stares into Petrus’ eyes, now glaring brightly back at him in the flickering flames.
“I am not worthy to die as my Lord had… I beg of you to crucify me… upside down…” Petrus asked, lowering his head exhausted.
The guards looks again to the other guard and again is greeted with another shrug of shoulders and he examines the parchment again to confirm the edict. The thought amused the guard. A crucifixion was a crucifixion, upside down of otherwise.
“Shame you are not a Roman Citizen old man and your death a swift one… but my orders are orders…” The guard remises the slow death to be inflicted.
His mind perplexed by the growing interest in this new religion that was infecting Rome and its Citizens. Spreading its tentacles through the Empire. Tentacles that wrapped itself around Gentiles and Jews alike, offering salvation beyond death. Dare he spoke words aloud and find himself on the wrong end of a sword about to remove his head. The grotto offered no ears other than his own, curiously he wanted to know more.
“Say be your master’s name?” The guard asked eying the other guards own curiosity.
Petrus looked up to the guard, perhaps he had heard a curio in the guard’s voice. A fertile mind that cried out for a seed. To his last breath he would preach.
“Yeshua Bar Abba... Taken before your time... Yet he lives… I have seen him after death…” Petrus spoke reverently recalling that glorious day he appeared to him on the mount.
“He survived? ... How can this be?”
“He is the Son of God... He who have faith, will join him in paradise.”
“Which God? … Zeus, Hercules? … Mars?”
“The one and only true God.” Professes Petrus has he had a thousand times before.
“What is your God’s name?” The guard persists.
“His name cannot be spoken…” Petrus’ head droops.
“Hmm…” The guard ponders the significance and power of such a God who’s name cannot be spoken. That brings the dead back to life again.