Elijah pointed to a spice caravan headed south. “Join them, Nate?”
Jezreel Valley, Israel, 871 BC
[If we were in Elijah’s POV, he could inner dialogue about how to handle Ahab. How to show his turmoil in Obadiah’s POV?]
Obadiah turned toward a tiny meadow fed by water trickling from the base of Mount Carmel. “That’s the most grass I’ve seen all day. How many troops and mules can we station there?”
Zak, his chief bodyguard, pushed back from the chariot rail and raised on tiptoe. “Check this out, sir.” He hauled Obadiah around by the shoulder and pointed to a grove of acacias on the far side of the Jezreel Valley. “Those two guys in front of the camel puller.”
[Late start this morning, so the sun is high over the Gilead mountains. About 10 a.m.]
Obadiah turned. “Young fellows? Tall and thin?”
“Remember ‘dew nor rain’? The goatskin? Those loose-jointed knees and elbows?”
Obadiah shaded his eyes. “Every shopper in the market was laughing at him, but that boy can run.”
Zak chuckled. “Had the king’s bodyguards reaching for him, but he flew through the market and clawed his way out the gate.”
“So, what’s he doing in these parts? For three years, Ahab’s men have been itching to remove that boy’s head.” Obadiah poked his chariot driver. “Let’s go have a talk with him.”
As the chariot approached the other side of the valley, Zak gave Obadiah a crisp nod. “He’s starting a beard, but he’s the one.”
The two young men eyed the approaching chariot.
[couple of details re the caravan.]
[And other details here or elsewhere re the surroundings (in addition to the small patch of grass).]
As his chariot stopped beside them, Obadiah jumped down and made a grand, sweeping bow to the young man in the goatskin. “Good morning, young man. Would you happen to be Elijah? The young fellow who told the king, neither dew nor rain?”
The young man reached behind and swept his companion up close to his back. He stood with legs spread wide and arms dangling. “You know my name, sir. I don’t know yours.” His glance took in Obadiah’s fine linen tunic, [This almost sounds like Elijah’s POV.] the five muscular guards holding spears, and the oversize royal chariot with its House of Omri insignia. “You dress like him, but you’re not the king.”
“My name is Obadiah. I work with the king.”
“Glad to meet you, sir. Humble anxious BEAT. Um, can you please bring Ahab?”
Obadiah pressed his lips together. A wise guy. He turned to his bodyguard. “It’s been three years. Are we sure he’s the one?”
Zak shrugged then jumped down in front of the young man. “I was there. I watched the king’s guards chase you through the market.”
“Sorry, sir. I wasn’t looking behind me. Humble anxious BEAT ] But a few days ago the Lord told me, ‘Show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.’ That’s why I’m here. If you could, sir, please bring me Ahab.”
Obadiah studied the young man. “Where’d you get that moldy thing you’re wearing?”
Flames danced in the boy’s cheeks, and he brushed at the front of the goatskin. “Dad, um, it’s my father’s, sir. The moths got into it, and—”
“Who’s that hiding behind you?”
“My brother, sir. He’s not hiding.” Elijah stepped aside. “I, ah, we stick together.”
The young man behind him looked up, flashed an over-bright smile, and bowed his head again.
Obadiah focused on the boy in the goatskin. “How old are you, son?”
“I’m eighteen, sir. My brother’s nineteen.”
“Listen, boy, um, Elijah.” Obadiah glanced around the valley. “Scouts have searched for you beyond Dan and Beersheba. Every principality and kingdom swears they don’t have you. So, if I tell Ahab you’re here, and he finds an empty spot on the road…” Obadiah rubbed the back of his neck. “If my head rolls, a hundred men starve in their caves. I know your name. The king does not. I run the king’s business, but I feed the people his queen tries to kill.”
Elijah surprise/fear BEATsi
Obadiah pointed to his chariot. “If you’re sure you want to talk to the king, you and your brother hop in here. I’ll take you to him.”
surprise/fear BEAT changing to resolved to STAND (maybe even DEFIANT?) BEAT.
Elijah looked him straight in the eye. “My business with the king has to do with this mountaintop.” He curled his hands into fists. “I can’t think of a reason you should trust me, sir. But as sure as I stand and face the Lord who commands armies of angels, I will not move from this spot. I will wait right here for Ahab.”
Obadiah turned to Zak, stroked his beard, and faced Elijah again. “Well, young man. Let’s try this.” He pointed to the base of Mount Carmel. “See the old oak tree in that patch of green? The one with the low limbs?”
“That’s where Ahab will find me, sir.”
Obadiah furrowed his brow. “I certainly hope so. It’s my neck.” He laid a hand on Zak’s shoulder. “Take two guards and keep these young men alive while I fetch Ahab.”
As his chariot rolled away, Obadiah looked back at the five men under the tree. “That boy better not be playing games with me.”
As Obadiah passed Fort Jezreel, a hooded crow spotted two brown-necked ravens coming in and flew to greet them. They swooped and dived at one another until all three pulled back from their classic battle, all feathers accounted for, but perhaps with damaged pride. [ the battle distractsii]
On the far side of the fort, Ahab yelled. [draw picture of where Ahab is] “Hey, Biah. How much grass did you find? My mules are hungry.” He glanced at Obadiah’s men. “What happened to your other guards?”
“They’re with your goatskin boy.”
Ahab knit his brows. “Goatskin?”
“‘Neither dew nor rain.’ The kid who left without saying goodbye that day in the fort.”
Ahab ANGER BEAT . “Dew nor rain? My people have been starving for three years. Why isn’t that kid wrapped in chains and dragging behind your chariot?”
Obadiah reluctant BEAT . “He says he’ll see you now.”
“He’ll see me?” Ahab glared at Obadiah. “The arrogant twerp.” His nostrils flared. “Wants to jerk my chain like I’m his pet monkey. I should have grabbed him by the neck that day he pranced up to me in the market.” Ahab paused and raised an eyebrow. “Did he say when we’ll get rain?”
“Rain.” Obadiah pursed his lips. “The Lord told him to show himself to you, then the rain.”
“Take me to this charmer.” Ahab tapped his driver on the arm.
His chariot wheeled around and raced in the direction from which Obadiah had come.
Obadiah poked his own driver. “Bring me alongside.”
His horses lunged ahead and paced next to Ahab’s team.
Obadiah yelled across the gap between chariots, “Mount Carmel. Oak tree.”
Ahab raced past Fort Jezreel, Megiddo, then the length of the mountain. He pulled up at the oak and jumped out. [His face as hard as stone. Ahab cinched his hands to his hips and growled, ] “Trouble maker!” [Maybe he should also add something like “I should have your head on a pole” or something like that.]
Elijah got to his feet. [Can you draw us a picture of where Ahab is? Later, it appears that he’s already in his chariot, but that’s not obvious from this.] He flexed his shoulders and took deep breaths. He clenched his jaw and flared his nostrils. Then he took one step forward and bored his gaze into the king. “It’s you, Ahab. You and your father destroyed our harvests. You turned away from the Lord of the universe and followed those petty lords of Sidon.”
Ahab’s face turned to ash. He opened his mouth, but swallowed as if words jammed in his throat and slid down one by one into his belly. [POV violation?]
Elijah leaned in and addressed Ahab in soft [have Obadiah wondering why soft?] tones. “The Lord says bring the tribes.” He aimed his long, bony arm up the mountain. “On Mount Carmel. At sunrise. On the fourth day of this week.”
Obadiah held his breath. Gideon or Saul called the tribes together to declare war. Ahab would laugh this skinny youngster out of the valley.
Yet Ahab cowered under Elijah’s silent stare, lowered his eyes, and took a step back. Then another.
Elijah raised an eyebrow. “Please invite also the four hundred and fifty Baal agents and those four hundred Asherah officials Jezebel takes to dinner.” He tilted his head back. “Don’t leave anyone out.”
The king bowed his head, walked away, and beckoned Obadiah toward his chariot. “Ride with me.” [Show us the king. Robes? Do they drag along in the grass or dirt? Does the oak have gigantic roots, with knobs he could trip over, etc.?]
Obadiah’s jaw dropped. Ahab was reacting like any junior officer who knew a dismissal when he heard one. Obadiah nodded to Zak. “Bring the men.” He climbed in with Ahab.
As Ahab’s chariot bumped along toward the fort, Ahab looked straight ahead. “You know I can hear you.”
“Yes, my king.”
“Learn to think quietly.”
“I’ll work on that.”
“That kid has me by the short hairs, Biah. I can’t just…” He slapped the chariot rail. “If we don’t get rain…”
While the stable boys in Fort Jezreel brushed down the chariot horses, Obadiah tucked copies of the royal order into pouches and pushed runners down the hill to tribes by the Great Sea, the Jordan River, and along the ridges of En Dor and Gilboa. As the last runner jogged out the gate, Obadiah turned back into the market.
The chief Baal official was buying figs. “You’re invited.” Obadiah handed him a copy of the order.
A man in a black tunic eyed him through the locked gate. “What do you want?”
“I have a message for your chief.”
“The chief of Asherah takes orders from King Ethbaal.”
He turned on his heel and strode over to the elders of the tribe of Issachar seated in the courtyard at the city gate. Obadiah read the order aloud. “King Ahab requires you to assemble at sunrise, the fourth day of this week, on Mount Carmel.”
i[Elijah surprise/fear BEATs So, does any of this come as a surprise to Elijah or Nathan? Would they comment or question it? This guy w/the king’s insignia just told them he works behind Ahab’s back…]
ii the battle distracts