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The Gibonian Deception A Short Story

Long ago, in a far away land, there was a city known as Trion. It had a rich and fabled history, mostly because of its long-standing conflict with the neighboring city of Gibone. In years past, many fierce battles had been fought, heroes had bled and died, and legends had been made. At this time time in history, however, a period of uneasy equilibrium prevailed – no ground gained by either city, no one pursuing peace, no one pursuing war. But yet, their’s was a thick history full of strife…

Our story begins with two young men, Machaira and Ramos, who were guards at main gate of Trion.

Their job was simply to check people as they entered into the city. What were they looking for? One simple mark. You see, every person in the enemy kingdom of Gibone had a signifying mark – a crescent moon tattooed on the underside of their right forearm. This mark they received as early as 8 days old. It was a symbol of pride for the Gibonians. And a symbol despised by those of Trion.

So, as people entered the gates of Trion, they were instructed to reveal their right forearm. No mark – the person could pass through the gates unhindered. A crescent moon – there could be trouble. That a Gibonian would even try to enter the city of Trion would be quite reckless, even foolish – so Machaira and Ramos attended to their duty faithfully, yet without worry. Both men had fathers who had famous tales to tell of their conflict with the Gibonians. Their fathers had spent most of their young adulthood battling the enemy. And not a day went by when their fathers did not procure some memory of past heroics from the war between the Trionites and Gibonians. But those days were long gone now. Machaira and Ramos had never come close to a battle. They only knew the thrill of pinning their mate when sparring with their dull-tipped swords.

On this particular day, the sun was about to set and the gates about to close...

...when a hobbled and frail beggar appeared at the gates. Machaira motioned for the man to unclothe his right forearm – standard procedure. And to the astonishment of both young guards, there was a crescent moon tattooed to the beggar. Machaira fumbled for words and put his hand on his sword, as if trying to command authority. And then the beggar spoke, “Just a rest for the night…no money…no food...so thirsty….” His voice trailed off.

Machaira and Ramos looked at each other with apprehension and indecision. This beggar looked half-dead – what harm could he be? The poor man might pass out at their feet if they did not give him food and shelter. The stories their fathers told of the great Gibonian enemies flew through their minds. Yet, the only use that these young guards had for swords was to swat flies at the gate. And besides, wasn’t it about time that someone reached out a hand of friendship to the other side – especially to a defenseless beggar? Almost impulsively, Ramos pulled the beggar inside the city gate, as both guards quickly shut the gates behind them.

The beggar was brought over to a small group of poor, homeless individuals just inside the gate. The little band of beggars willingly shared a few crusts of dried bread with their newest addition to the community. The Gibonian beggar took some of their food and water, mumbled some words of thanks, and fell fast asleep.

The next day, when Machaira and Ramos took their posts, they noticed a larger group than usual inside the gate. To their interest, the Gibonian beggar was still with them. In fact, he seemed to have regained some strength. A rousing conversation was taking place in the beggars’ corner, and the Gibonian was right in the thick of it. “Well,” thought Machaira, “for all the hub-bub about wars and enemies, this poor, frail ‘enemy’ didn’t seem too hostile. In fact, he even seemed rather kind to his homeless compatriots.

“Hey Machaira, stop day-dreaming. We’ve got people to check here,” Ramos called, “lots of traffic coming into the city today.”

With that the young guards turned toward their duty – another day of checking forearms – what a joy!

As the morning wore on, the young guards did not notice when the band of beggars inside the gate shifted positions. They moved as a unit of sorts – some hobbling, limping, some being carried. They walked deeper into the city to meet up with another small community of beggars. As the two groups met, muffled laughter broke out. The Gibonian appeared to be in the center of the laugher and merriment. Apparently, the Gibonian was making some remarks about his infamous tattoo.

The large group, now, settled down to listen with rapt attention to the “enemy” in their midst.

It would seem that the Gibonian beggar had talent at making people laugh. For every minute or so, small chuckles would arise from the group. Every now and then, the whole group would erupt in waves of laughter. As the laughter increased, so did the crowd. Eventually, the number of people grew so much that they had to move farther into the city to find a larger space. Finally, a report of this jovial crowd with a Gibonian beggar at the center reached the king of Trion. It is not every day that you see a growing mass of people moving though the city laughing hysterically. Not to mention the odd, and somewhat disconcerting appearance of a Gibonian among them.

The Gibonian beggar was at once summoned to appear before the king.

No one can be sure exactly what was said to the king by the Gibonian, but the ensuing events were strange indeed. Apparently, the king was so taken by the audacity and unstoppable humor of this frail beggar, that he gave a decree to his subjects – that evening, there would be a feast followed by a performance given by the Gibonian beggar. All were commanded to come – all beggars, all workers, even all guards. For this would be a night to forget ancient wars and enemies. This would be a night of harmony and laughter. For it had been so long since anyone could remember the feeling of lightness and joy.

Even Machiara and Ramos were ordered to come to this grand occasion. Because their job was to shut the gates in the evening, they would have to miss the opening of the Gibonian performance. Everyone else in the city was present – all beggars, workers, even guards. So, just after sundown, the young guards turned to shut the gates.

Suddenly, from the shadows stepped another feeble homeless man.

“Show us your arm. Be quick, man. We have to make it to the performance,” Machaira commanded. The man slowly unveiled his forearm, revealing a crescent moon.

“Not again,” Machaira thought, “what…I suppose you are with your famous friend inside the city?”

“Let’s go,” Ramos blurted out, “just leave him.”

Just then, Machiara’s eyes caught something like a glint of silver up on the horizon.

“Wait,” Machaira said, “do you see something out there?” Ramos stepped forward and peered into the hazy darkness. As his eyes focused, he began to notice flashes of silver coming toward them.

“Ramos, don’t move.”

“What?”

“Shhhh. The beggar has friends. And they’re all right behind us. They have swords….”

The last thing that Machiara and Ramos saw were glints of silver in the distance, which became an army of Gibonian swords. With the gate-keepers gone and the rest of Trion gathered in one place to amuse themselves by the Gibonian beggar’s performance, the city was ripe for the plundering and ripe for complete destruction.

For APPLICATION
Joshua 9:22 - Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you deceive us...."
2 Corinthians 10:5 - We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Questions

  1. Why did Joshua get deceived by the Gibeonites in Joshua 9? Read Joshua 9:14 - "The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord."
  2. What types of thoughts often sneak past the gates of your mind that can appear harmless but are really destructive?
  3. What strategies can you put in place to "guard your gates?"
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