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Chariots to Jordan - Excerpt

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Chariots to Jordan
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PROLOG--844 BC, Damascus, Syria 

The stentch floated into her nose, and it grew worse with each step she took toward the man.  Other slaves had gossiped to her about how badly he smelled, especially in the past few months, and now that she was timidly stepping toward him she decided they had lied--it was worse, much worse....

It was the man's raspy voice that jolted her to reality as she cautiously walked forward with the tray.  He was standing on the far side of the room with his back to her, hunched over a table intently studying a large parchment scroll.  "Please place the tray on the table over there," he said pointing to his left, without turning to look at her.

The young maiden altered her course and walked across the smooth tile floor, breathing through her mouth rather than her nose in a vain effort to escape the smell....As she approached the table, the maiden extended her arms to set the tray on the table.  As she did so, the motion snagged the veil and the pins holding it in place slipped out and the veil dropped from her face, momentarily bluring her vision.  The tray slammed into the edge of the table and dropped from her hand...and she watched helplessly as the plates hit the floor, shattered, and scattered in a dozen pieces around the table....

She sensed him before she smelled or saw him.  Without looking up or turning her head she knew he was looking at her as she crouched on the floor.  She knew he was watching her hands rapidly grabbing at the jumbled mess and she silently prayed he would not say anything or come near....

She heard him move and out of the corner of her eye she saw him slide a piece of plate across the floor with his sandaled foot.  And that's when she first saw his toes, or what was left of them.  Where toes should have been were five short stubs with blunt pieces of bone proturuding.  Tiny pin pricks of blood dotted the snow white skin that surround the bones and small pieces of white flesh seemed to flake off even as she looked.  Thankfully the foot withdrew, and with it the strong odor of rotting flesh.  Had it not been for that, the nausea that waved over her might have caused her to leave her own undigested breakfast on the floor.

...It was only then that he turned around and she saw his difigured face....