“Help! Come quick and help me!” shouted Mulek.
His life long friend and cousin, Aaron, looked over at him and shook his head. At fourteen, Mulek stood only a little over five-feet-tall and it was doubtful he would grow much beyond that. Aaron, at fifteen, was also small of stature.
“I told you not to bring that thing with you,” said Aaron. “You’ll just get yourself in trouble.” Aaron started to get up from where he had been sitting, looking at the blue-green waters of Sebus, one-hundred feet below, and watching Mulek’s brethren who rested there in the shade of the bushes.
Aaron stuck his hands on his hips, “Now look. You’ve got your father’s sword stuck into a tree and can’t get it out.”
It reminded Mulek of the many times his mother had corrected him, and Mulek gave his friend an annoyed look. “I can get it out if you help me. Now grab hold and we’ll both pull.”
Gripping the hilt of the heavy sword, the young men tugged and struggled to free the weapon whose point was deeply wedged into the center of a large tree. Both tumbled to the ground as the sword flew from their hands and spun in the air, the sunlight gleaming off it.
The boys remained where they landed and laughed. Punching his cousin in the arm, Mulek said, “See, I told you we could get it out.”
As they sat in the sun with the thick humidity seeping into their bodies, Aaron rested back onto his elbows. After a couple of minutes he spoke. “Seriously Mulek, why did you bring that thing out here?”
“You know I want to join my family’s army. Our linage should be in control of the government. You’ve heard my father speak of it many times and if you had a father, you’d understand.” Mulek regretted the words as soon as they left his lips. He gazed at Aaron to see what damage he’d done, but Aaron sat silent.
Pressing on, Mulek said, “Aaron, I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that you’ve been raised by your Aunt Abish ever since your father and mother died from the plague when you were two years old. Everyone knows Abish is for King Lamoni. She even works in his palace.”
This had been a sore spot between them over the years. Mulek’s family believed they should control the throne and took great pleasure in embarrassing the king whenever they could. There’d even been talk of a rebellion.
Aaron continued to gaze out into the distance, watching a group heading their flock towards the water below.
“Listen, Aaron. You’ve even told me that your aunt’s father had a strange vision. She hasn’t been right since. I mean, she doesn’t even hate the Nephites.”
Aaron turned and with a soft expression said, “I don’t hate them, either.”
Mulek jumped to his feet, his mouth drawn into a tight line and his face flushed. “Well, I do!” Looking for the sword and finding it, he hefted it to his shoulder with the flat of the blade against his bare, brown skin. “They are murderers and they lie about our people. They steal from us and took our birthright long ago.” Mulek began walking back towards a small sapling with a few leafy branches sticking out.
Aaron waved a hand of dismissal. “You just say that because your family says that.” He went back to looking at the group in the distance as they got closer. He didn’t appear upset with Mulek’s sudden rage and apparently was all too familiar with his younger cousin’s temper.
Mulek, busy swinging the big sword as if he were in some great battle, managed to hack off a few of the tree’s tender branches before the weight of the weapon caused his arms to ache. Dragging it behind him, he walked over and sat next to his cousin.
“Aaron, I know you are a kind-hearted person and you have a belief in God. We’ve talked about it many times, but it’s hard for me to go against my family. My father has always hated the Nephites.” Mulek looked at the ground and flipped dirt clods with his fingers.
Aaron didn’t answer; his coal black eyes continued watching the group of men who were now a stone’s throw away from the water. They were close enough he could see the band was the king’s men with a flock of animals needing to be watered. And leading them was a Nephite!
Mulek looked at his cousin, “Aren’t you going to say something?”
Aaron pointed towards Mulek’s brethren who were now standing and gathering as they, too, watched the band approaching. “What do you make of this, Mulek?”
As they watched, Mulek’s brethren scattered the king’s flock and laughed as animals ran in all directions.
In a short time, the king’s men gathered the animals together and the Lamanites stood again to scatter them, but now the Nephite came forward.
“Look Mulek, they are trying to hit him with rocks, but they keep missing.” As they watched, several of the men fell dead as the Nephite used his sling to cast stones back at them.
“You just wait,” Mulek said as he leaned forward to watch the fight, anger welling up within him. “He’ll get his soon enough.”
Just then, a large number of the men charged the Nephite, but as they raised their clubs to strike him, the Nephite swung his sword and cut off their arms. Soon, arms lay scattered upon the ground and men halted trying to decide whether to continue the fight or flee.
“That’s enough!” Mulek screamed. “He’s going to pay for this.” He jumped to his feet in a rage, grabbed the sword and began to race towards the conflict.
“No Mulek, wait!”
Aaron’s words had no impact as Mulek ran as fast as he could down the hillside towards the water’s edge and then into the battle. His heart pounded in his chest as he gulped large quantities of air and focused all his attention upon reaching the Nephite and killing him. Sweat ran down his face and arms reaching his hands, making the weapon difficult to hold.
He was close now, only fifteen yards away. Mulek did not notice that the other men were running back to their village. He yanked the sword up over his head preparing to have it come crashing down upon the invader, but he didn’t see a rock lying in his path. His foot struck it and losing his balance, Mulek lost control of the sword. Falling face first in the dirt, he slid up to the feet of the Nephite warrior, and the sword clattered to the side, several feet away.
Mulek coughed and chocked on the dust mixed with his sweat. He wiped his eyes with both hands trying to see. Finally, he managed to look up at the large man standing directly above him, holding a sword at the ready.
Mulek braced for the inevitable slashing which would take his life. Yet, it did not come. As his vision sharpened, he looked into the face of the warrior who had lowered his sword and was now peering down at him.
Confused, Mulek remained frozen where he was. Then he witnessed a change in the man. Looking into warm brown eyes, he saw a face which showed great compassion towards him, and then he heard him speak.
“You are a brave young man. I am not here to kill men, but to save them.” The Nephite warrior extended his hand to Mulek and helped him to his feet. “Go to your family and tend to the wounded. You will be of much help to them. Through you, they will be healed.” He smiled gently, turned and walked back towards the flock.
Watching him leave, Mulek was struck with a flood of emotions. This Nephite could have killed him, but he didn’t. In fact, he was kind to him. Mulek felt something else too—a warm feeling which flooded over his entire body and with it, he lost all desire for violence.
Aaron came running up beside him. “Are you OK?” .
“Yes,” Mulek said softly, continuing to stare at the departing Nephite.
“Did he talk to you?”
“Yes,” Mulek said in a voice no louder than a whisper.
Aaron tugged Mulek’s arm. “Come on, let’s go.”
They turned and walked off together leaving the sword lying on the ground where it had fallen.
Sitting under the shade of a tree near the water’s edge, Aaron tended to the numerous cuts on Mulek’s face from his dirt slide. Afterwards, Mulek rose to go help his injured brethren, when both of them saw the king’s men picking up the bloody arms and piling them into a cart used to carry injured animals.
“Now what do you think they are up to?” Mulek said.
Aaron remained silent as he tried to figure out what the men were doing. The cart swayed back and forth as the procession of men, animals and arms made its slow progress back to the king’s palace.
“I say we follow them,” said Aaron. Mulek’s eyes widened with surprise as he looked at his older cousin. “I say we follow them and see what they are up to.” Aaron spoke as if the matter had been decided.
“I have to go and check on my brethren first,” Mulek spoke painfully through a cracked lip.
“OK, I’ll go with you and then we’ll follow.” Both nodded their heads and then ran to Mulek’s home to see what they could do to help.
Late the next day, the two cousins stopped at the Waters of Sebus to figure out which direction they should go. It wasn’t a difficult question. The path carved out by the number of men and animals left a visible mark upon the land. Together they began the process of trailing the king’s men.
“I’m glad we waited until today to follow them.” Mulek rubbed his sore and bruised shoulder.
“Why is that?”
“Well, can you imagine the dust we’d be eating if we trailed immediately after them?” Mulek smiled as he spoke. His knowledge came from being at the tail end of large hunting trips with his family in the past.
The trail they followed was strewn with crushed earth, waste of all kinds and even an occasional human arm which had bounced out of the cart. This reassured them that they were, in fact, following the right path and they soon entered the midst of a teeming city.
“The landof Ishmael,” Aaron said.
Merchants lined the streets peddling their wares. Beggars sat along the pathways to the more prominent buildings. The smells and noise of the city were bothersome to Mulek, but Aaron seemed right at home.
“Come on. Let’s get over to my aunt’s house,” he said as he motioned for Mulek to follow him.
They arrived at the small one room enclosure near the large palaceof King Lamoniand overheard a murmur going through the crowd. An old man with no teeth and rags wrapped about his head ran up to them and in a raspy voice said, “The king is dead. The Nephite killed King Lamoni.”
The two boys tumbled across the entryway into the home of Abish. Neither spoke a word but listened to the rumblings of the city as they questioned within themselves what this could mean.
The next morning, Aaron was busy trying to fix them something to eat when Mulek asked, “Where is your aunt?”
“I have no idea. She should be home, but I guess things are too busy at the palace for her to return.”
After a small meal, they both walked out into the streets by the palace where Mulek saw several of his brethren. He ran to them and asked, “What are you doing here?”
A large dark man with a scruffy bead answered, “Mulek, come stand with your brethren. We are going to seek justice. We’ve heard the king is dead and we will claim our birthright. We will rule the landof Ishmael.” With this the man raised his fist into the air. In so doing, his uplifted arm caused his tunic to part, exposing a sword he had tied close to his waist. Looking around, Mulek noticed all his brethren were angry and carried weapons.
Throughout that day, Mulek’s brethren stood outside the palace, shouting for the king to come forward, grabbing others who stood in the street, and telling them they were the true rulers of the land. Their intimidation worked as several people chose to stand with them and yell for the king to give an accounting of the men killed by the Nephite.
They continued this activity well into the night before seeking shelter. Mulek stayed with them, but did not say much. Instead, he spent his time pondering all the events of the past few days. He was especially lost in thought about the encounter he had with the Nephite warrior. He wasn’t sure when it happened, but at some point his wondering turned into prayer. And then he fell asleep.
The next morning, Abish dashed into her little home.
“Aaron. I’m glad you’re back. Quickly, come with me to the palace. I can get you in. We must gather the people; God has performed a great work,” she said grabbing some fruit to eat as she started back out the door. Aaron didn’t even have time to finish his yawn before he was also out the door trying to catch up with Abish. Aaron worried about Mulek, because he knew he’d gone to join with his brethren, and it was not a comforting thought.
Entering the palace, Aaron saw a scene of confusion. In the great hall that was used to greet guests and pronounce judgments, the king’s servants milled about speaking with one another. Suddenly, on the far side of the hall, several men with weapons drawn dashed in, followed closely by Mulek, as he tried to catch up to the leader.
In the middle of the great hall, King Lamoni, his queen, and the Nephite all lay prostrate on the ground, as if dead.
Aaron grabbed his aunt’s shoulder. “Aunt Abish—“
She stopped him and turned to face him. Holding both his hands in hers, she looked deep into his eyes and spoke. “Aaron, my son, they are not dead, but they sleep in God. It is a marvelous work He has performed. You will see. Be patient and watch.” Abish put an arm around Aaron as they both knelt to pray.
A large man wielding a beautifully engraved sword screamed, “I’ll kill the Nephite devil,” as he ran across the room towards the prostrate figures at the center. “This is the fiend who killed and injured many of my brethren. I’ll slay him and be your king,” he proclaimed as he stopped near the prone figure of the Nephite.
Abish squeezed Aaron’s arm and whispered, “God will not allow Ammon to be slain. Have faith and believe.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Aaron saw Mulek running towards the confusion at the center of the hall. As he ran, Mulek shouted, “No! Stop! Don’t kill the Nephite!”
The large Lamanite raised his sword high into the air and as he prepared to thrash it across the back of Ammon’s neck, the Lamanite gave a gasp and fell backwards. The sword clanged harmlessly upon the rock floor.
Mulek skidded to a halt, staring at his dead brother. Tears welled in his eyes, but not of anger; tears of sorrow, for he knew his brother had been wrong.
The crowds from the street had crammed into the hall and were yelling back and forth—some crying Ammon was the devil and others saying he was the Great Spirit.
Abish got up from her knees and pulled on Aaron’s arm to follow her. She went to the queen and lifted up her hand and immediately the woman arose. The queen clasped the king’s hand and he arose. Calling for silence, both addressed the people and told them of the marvelous workings of God. At the same time, Ammon stood and as he did, he looked at both Mulek and Aaron on either side of him.
Ammon placed his strong arms around both boys and praised them for their faith in God. Then he looked directly into Mulek’s eyes and said, “My son, this day thou art born anew. Follow God and in that way you will heal your wounded brethren.”
In the bright sunlight of a beautiful new morning, Mulek wadded into the turquoise water until he reached the spot where Aaron stood waiting for him. The wet coolness refreshed his body just as the Spirit refreshed his soul.
On the shore a large number of people witnessing the baptism stood smiling at him, including Abish, and many wiped away tears of joy. Yet, not one of his brethren were there. Mulek knew he was now an outcast with his family, but the strength of his testimony and support of his fellow believers sustained him.
He went to live with Aaron and Abish as he studied and learned the gospel. Eventually, the day arrived when Mulek and Aaron left as missionaries to travel across the land, converting many of their fellow Lamanites. Over time, some of Mulek’s brethren did join the church and Mulek understood Ammon’s prophecy had been fulfilled—he’d healed the wounded hearts of his brethren.