04 Out-a-here!

Fort Jezreel, Jezreel Valley, Israel, 877 BC

1 Kings 18:3

Obadiah’s heart raced. “Out-a-here!” He slapped the prince’s horse on the rump.

Another arrow plunked in beside the first.

Ahab flattened on Shochar and kicked him into a dash for the fort.

Obadiah sprinted behind them on Lavan. A breath of air to the left, and that arrow would have sliced Ahab’s jugular. He pictured slinging the prince’s body over Shochar and leading him into the fort, but he could not imagine facing the king.

The gate guards stepped aside. Hoofs rattled the loose planks of the bridge and clip-clopped across the pavers. They were inside.

He closed his eyes and breathed. Miserable Assyrians couldn’t collect military intelligence and go home. Had to pick off a pair of wealthy-looking Hebrews.

Obadiah looked around. “A problem with a guard’s horse? You never talked to the captain.”

And you fell for it.”

Like an egg from a tall chicken. I’m about as sharp as last year’s plow point.” Obadiah shook his head. “You almost got us killed, my prince.”

As the gate swung closed behind them, a stable boy loped out from the headquarters compound. “The king’s looking for”—His eyes flicked from Ahab to Obadiah and back again—“the prince. Sorry, sir.” He blushed.

No worries.” Ahab grinned. “Plenty of people think this ugly guy looks like me.”

Obadiah pointed. “I even hung that medallion on his neck, so people could see who’s the prince, but it doesn’t help.” He pursed his lips. Like the prince, he stood half a head taller than most Hebrews and kept his beard trimmed. His white linen cloak and purple turban matched Ahab’s. Did he have the same bold black eyes and high cheekbones?

Obadiah jumped to the ground and handed the reins to the boy. “Wipe them down. I’ll be out to check on your work.”

Ahab jogged ahead of Obadiah to the far end of the street and nodded at the gate guards. He led the way into the headquarters compound and up the path.

Obadiah slowed his steps and touched Ahab’s arm. He wrinkled his brow. Had lookouts reported those arrows? Ahab spread his hands and shook his head.

At the entrance, the king paced in front of bodyguards, his sandals slapping the marble porch. He held his chin high and cracked his knuckles one by one. “You left fifty good men in the compound. You were racing in the valley alone. A mere scouting party from Cyprus or Assyria could have cut down my son and my right-hand man.”

Blood rushed into Obadiah’s cheeks, and he ducked his head. A proper show of humility never hurt. “My fault, your majesty.”

The king laughed. “Excuses later, Biah.”

Obadiah grinned and crowded inside with Ahab. The king had not heard about the arrows.

The king paused at the open door and spoke to his chief guard. “You’re on top of tomorrow’s execution, right? Make sure you have enough stakes for the children.”

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