Lan didn’t like working for his boss. In fact, he downright hated it. He complained with the workers within the shop, but they were far too scared to stand with Lan on his position. Lan’s boss was a feared man, with a reputation worth more than their lives spent five times over. He also had several men to work for him that wouldn’t mind doing an execution job. He was corrupt, yes. And Lan wanted to stop that, but he could never find a good way to do it.
Lan worked at a blacksmith shop, which was huge compared to all the other shops in his town, Thaddeus. It was the biggest building, with black rustic-feeling wood layering it's walls and rooftop beneath the shingles. It wasn’t biggest because it had a lot of business, it was because Gregor Smith, the owner as well as Lan’s boss, lived there, above the shop keepings. And despite not being a political figure, he was basically the one everybody followed in the town and bought his way to fame. Lan’s town was in the middle of nowhere. It was desert. Dust storms often covered the area. It was a place more for wanderers. Yeah, like a nomad’s village. Most of the people who came in to dwell were never there for long. They would stay for a few weeks and then be off on a new journey. Lan had to live in that town forever because he had a debt to pay to the Town Manager. He swore he’d pay his debt and move on with his life, but it had been 3 years and little progress was made because Gregor kept stealing money. Lan was furious as days continued.
So he developed a plan. He would blow up the shop. A bit extreme, yes. But with the gang warfare occurring, he picked up on how to use explosives when the times were needed, and terrorist culture was on the rise anyway. Here he saw it was finally time, for Gregor was corrupt and so was everyone in the shop with him.
Gregor did not only have Lan as an enemy. A family know as the Madachi had hated Gregor and his hired men. They often fought each other in the streets of the town. Many times it occurred that the two clashing sides would combat for whichever side was more deserving of followers. In the end, fame was all anybody cared about.
One day, the Madachi struck at morning. They grabbed five of their own men and they stood in a small semi-circle, equally spaced apart from each other, guns loaded and sheathed, arms crossed, confronting the shop. Word of their arrival reached Gregor, and he was outraged. Not only did he send out his own men, but even he himself had walked out on the dusty street to confront them in disgust. At the same time, a mysterious traveler, wearing a white scarf covering half his face with skin covered in dust, had walked around to avoid the confrontation from the alleys of the other shops. He headed toward a closeby Bed and Breakfast to the right of Lan's blacksmith shop.
Lan and his workers were inside heating and cooling metal inside the shop. The whole interior consisted of wires, coils, run-down tools and overused workshops in every filled space of the room besides the aisles. There was a strong smell of iron and silicon wherever you went, and the air was simply thick from smoke and broken up pieces of wood, metal, and plastics.
Word about the showdown outside didn’t reach the workers until moments later. One worker bursts in yelling about a brawl, and many of the men ran outside to spectate, others hid under desks nearby. Upon this news, Lan immediately ran outside, to the back of the shop.
Gregor, stroking his beard smugly, eyed all five of the men. Head to toe. He raised his voice at them yelling to stay away or he’ll assassinate Gavario Madachi, head family member. A few of the men reached for their guns. A person screamed thinking they heard shots. Upon this reaction, some men freaked, and thought the fighting had started, so they pulled out their guns and fired. Some stores were hit, windows broken. Someone fell to the ground bleeding. Behind the building, Lan used a shovel to dig up an explosive he left there for this very occasion. He was ready to blow the place to smithereens and end all the chaos and violence threatening the town and ruining his life all at once in one fell explosion.
At the front of the building, men were getting killed, mainly Gregor’s. It seemed the five men who were sent had been skilled gunmen. The mysterious wanderer left the Bed and Breakfast and instinctively, nearly prophetically, left to the back of the blacksmith shop. Lan was seconds away from lighting the match to ignite the explosive. Noticing this, the traveler caught him by the wrist and pulled him back, dragging him up a hill along the opposite side.
Gregor was soon shot by one of the gunmen, who may not have even aimed at him. Gregor was preparing to head back up into his chambers above the shop, but stammered a bit to the side and actually walked right into somebody’s line of fire. He fell to the ground. No one noticed until the violence had ceased.
Lan only looked at the skirmish from afar. The old traveler stood with him atop that hill, not mentioning a word to each other. Eventually it seemed like all the shooting stopped. Lan turned to him then, when the world became quiet.
“Who exactly are you?”
“The man who will change your life if you shut up,” the traveler responded.
“Sheesh, was just asking a question. How did you know what I was about to do?” Lan asked.
Men were dismayed seeing Gregor, the richest man in the district, squirming on the ground like a worm before its stomped on.
The wanderer motioned Lan in his direction. He was about to take Lan, the young man, on a journey that would change his life forever. Faith restored, Lan enters the road to Emmaus.
They walked, for a long time, into several towns along the desert county. News of Gregor’s death spread throughout the land. Soon people were seeking his riches and rewards in his chamber. Lan’s town was ransacked and devastated. Thanks to the traveler, Lan’s life was saved in two ways.
Lan and the traveler had come to a town known as Kahazi. Entering a shop, they were served tea. The old traveler thanked the hostess. Lan didn’t care and his face appeared a bit annoyed, stuck-up.
“Why did you bring me here?” Lan asked.
“This shop isn’t our destination. Actually, this town isn’t even our destination either. We’re just here to stop by, drink some tea,” the traveler said.
“I don’t want tea.”
“You should drink up.”
“What’s your name?”
“Why should I follow you?”
“You might find it beneficial to you.”
“Why shouldn’t I just return to my town? It’s my home after all.”
“Because you and I know what your heart is desiring if you return there now. And trust me, you’ll find a greater reward in the home you’ll have where I'm about to take you.”
“Where are you about to take me, old man?”
“Oh, if I tell you now, that will spoil the fun, heh.”
Another hostess came up to them and asked if they were okay. The old traveler didn’t say anything at first. He just stared at her eyes for a moment. Lan looked at him like he was crazy. Lan simply told the hostess they were fine and thanked her. She began to walk away but then the traveler called out to her.
“Tell me, young lady, why is someone so young and beautiful going through such a storm inside?” the traveler had asked her, staring at her eyes more as she turned back around. She seemed surprised. Lan was a bit perplexed too.
“Why are you so surprised? I can see it in your eyes. The outward expression of a kind and gentle hostess, but inside, ohhhh inside, I see darkness, the darkness of an abused and oppressed woman. Why is that?” the traveler spoke to her. Others who were in the shop were starting to turn around and look too, interested in the conversation. The hostess nearly dropped a plate, she was astonished.
“Old man...” Lan whispered beneath his breath.
“Do not worry, woman. I am here to say there will be an end to your troubles. You don’t have to cry at night any longer. You don’t have to fake a smile to customers anymore. You don’t have to hide pain anymore. For as surely as the Lord lives, your pain will end. Your abusers and your persecutors shall trouble you no more. So go home, and live your life free of your chains,” the old man had said.
The hostess fell to the man’s feet crying. She thanked him. Thanked him over and over. For giving her relief. For giving her faith. For giving her a reason to keep going. For giving her a reason to finally smile for real. All in that moment she had gained everything she had prayed for quietly at night. She was like a burdened angel in the night, trapped in a cage, but now she was free for this prophet had the key.
The traveler and Lan left the shop after finishing their tea and then walked off. Lan was giving him a confused look for a while.
“So um, what in the world just happened back there, old guy?” Lan asked him finally.
“I relieved that woman of her struggles,” the old man turned around and told Lan cryptically. They walked along a wide dirt road, similar to the one in Lan’s old town where the showdown took place. Lots of people and activity were present along the road. No real destination could be seen.
“You need to tell me the truth. Who are you?” Lan asked the man, now aggravated.
“You’ll know when the time comes, young man. For now, just follow me.”