Re-Called to Serve
A man on horseback rode quickly over a winding trail through valley, field, rainforest, and hills. He arrived at a farm of ancient vintage and dismounted before a large man tilling his field by hand. The young farmer looked up from his tilling and eyed the rider. The rider quickly snapped to attention before the farmer as a distinct show of respect. The farmer, Moroni, recognized his former companion, Lehi, and awaited his message with expectation. He knew his visit represented some form of ill tidings.
""Captain, things have gotten completely out of hand," Lehi declared with earnestness. "Amalickiah's support is growing daily. He has the people in a frenzy clambering over making him king. Helaman is unable to keep the people together. What first began as brawls now bring us onto the verge of a civil war. If the Lamanites were to break their truce and come on us now, we'd have no hope of putting up a unified defense." He paused momentarily, looking his former leader directly in the eye. He removed his helmet and added with sincerity, "We need you again."
Moroni looked to his home and saw his wife carrying their baby while his two boys ran past her, playing. He looked back to Lehi who awaited his reply. Moroni's eyes grew fierce with frustration at Amalickiah. His sense of duty and obligation was not just clear, it was embedded in his very soul. Any pause was not hesitation at making a choice, but a brief last breath of life with his loved ones.
He marched toward the house. As he went, he threw down his hoe and pulled off his cloak. He tore the cloak in a way that allowed him to lay it flat on the ground in front of him. He stooped and picked up a piece of charcoal from the cooling outdoor fire pit.
He wrote with the charcoal on his cloak:
In memory of our God, our religion, our freedom, our peace, our wives, our children, and our liberty.
Moroni then grabbed a pole that lay nearby and fastened his torn cloak to it like a flag. Lehi held the flag while Moroni entered his home. He knelt in silent prayer, donned his armor, and then came out.
His wife, Sarah, had gathered the children, "You're going again, aren't you?"
"Yes. It seems we have more men grabbing for power by trampling on the freedom of their fellow men," he replied.
"You will take care of yourself, won't you?" she said, bravely holding back tears.
"Certainly, I will. And, may the Lord smile brightly upon you and our children while I'm away," he responded encouragingly.
Turning to his oldest son, a boy of about 17, he added, "Moronihah, you're the man of the family while I'm away. See to it that your mother is cared for and that your brothers and sisters do their part!"
"Yes, sir," Moronihah replied, as he stood a little taller and his chest swelled. It was evident he was holding back words of importance. He shifted a bit and finally let them out, "But, I should go with you!" he said at last.
Moroni looked his boy in the eyes carefully. He was hardly a boy any more. He was fast becoming a man. Moroni could see this, could sense this. He knew the anguish and angst his eldest son must be feeling. As respectfully, but clearly, as he could, he replied, "No, son. You're needed here. Your brothers and sisters need you. Your mother needs you. And -" Moroni hesitated because of the sincerity of the moment, "And, I need you here!"
"You?!" Moronihah said with surprise, "Why?"
"I need to know that those I care about most are in good hands. I need to know that when I'm off fighting for our liberty, the ones who I am liberating are well cared for. I need you to take care of my family - our family - for me, while I'm away. I need to be able to leave without fear for my family's well being so I can concentrate on the task at hand. Can you do this?"
"Yes, father," his son replied with newfound pride and determination. "I will watch over them as well as you would yourself."
"Thank you, son. I can't expect more. Nor could I ask for a better son. May the Lord smile brightly upon you."
Moroni gave each family member a hug. He tussled the hair of his youngest child. He paused a moment, taking in the sight of his family. He held Sarah's hands in his and stared deeply into her eyes. "You'll be fine. We'll all be fine. Soon, we will be together again."
He hugged her and kissed her again. Tears welled up in her eyes. Tears that she refused to allow her husband to see. Then her love, her hero, her husband, aggressively mounted his horse and prepared to go.
Throughout this, Lehi had respectfully held Moroni's makeshift flag. When he was ready to ride, he handed it to Moroni and then followed closely behind as Moroni raced toward Zarahemla, Helaman, and his destiny.
~~~ - ~~~
Moroni and Helaman clasped hands in an enthusiastic greeting. "Moroni, I appreciate your coming back so soon. I've done what I can, but Amalickiah is too dogmatic. We need your leadership."
"I understand. What's the latest?"
"Amalickiah has been marching from city to city rounding up support. He's very charismatic. I'm overwhelmed by the number of people he has swayed to his way of thinking. His speeches have become more and more direct. He's making his plans very clear. He intends to take leadership of the Nephite nation. I fear that those who are not enticed or deluded by his words will soon feel the point of his sword. He's already amassed a small army that grows with each city he visits."
"He's going from city to city? Well, then so are we," Moroni stated with a matter-of-fact air. "If we can sway these people back to reality, then we can deal with Amalickiah. Apparently, these people need an education on what true freedom is all about. I've brought with me a bit of a tangible reminder."
He held up the banner he had made of his torn cloak. The others read its message and nodded their approval.
~~~ - ~~~
Moroni and Helaman rode from city to city bearing Moroni's flag and gathering ever-increasing numbers of followers. Helaman was extremely vocal in establishing the movement against Amalickiah's seditious ideals. Moroni's visible standard of freedom, coupled with his speeches, had an effective impact on the people. Supporters in many cities duplicated Moroni's flag and posted them high above the city gates.
In a climatic speech, Moroni and Helaman stood side by side on Zarahemla's city wall. They addressed a large crowd gathered below them in the city square. Moroni held his Title of Liberty on a pole as he spoke:
Our fathers brought us to this Promised Land so that we would find freedom and liberty. Not freedom to become enslaved by the whims of an arrogant and power-hungry man, but freedom to raise our children in peaceful communities where they can be taught to love and respect their fellow man. I tell you this plainly, Amalickiah is not seeking after your good, but after your adoration to boost his ego and make his climb to power more attainable.
Once there, he will enslave you as surely as any taskmaster. I call on you to shun his words and seek after true liberty. This banner that I bear, made from my own cloak, represents my commitment to liberty. It bears words that call to remembrance what liberty and freedom truly represent. Whosoever will maintain this title - this Title of Liberty, let him come forward in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that he will maintain his rights and his religion, that the Lord God may bless him.
Let all those who swear loyalty to God and not this man, Amalickiah, to be gathered together to secure the liberty which God would have us enjoy! We will not allow such a man to enslave our society. Instead, we will preserve our liberty by words if possible, but by the sword if necessary! Those of you who favor liberty, gather in this square as a show of might that we will not blindly lie down and allow this man to usurp power and authority over this nation!
Moroni's words had a powerful impact on the crowd. Those who were already opposed to Amalickiah had their opinions confirmed. Many fence-sitting, indecisive people were swayed to see the light as Moroni exposed it for them. Each of them determined to take a stand for what they believed to be right. The people came running together bearing their armor and swords and gathered before Moroni. They each tore their own cloaks as a token of their pledge. With this, they threw their cloaks at the feet of Moroni.
~~~ - ~~~
People from many cities had been rounded up as support for both sides of the strife. This impassioned society had indeed grown to allow their tensions to increase to a full-scale civil war. Both groups now met on a large field. Amalickiah's troops chanted, "King! King!" while Moroni's men chanted, "Freedom!" Both Amalickiah and Moroni were on horseback and paced before their armies awaiting the initial attack. Both leaders seemed to be waiting for the other to make the first move. Amalickiah, however, did not realize that Moroni was waiting for something more.
Amalickiah's men were proud and swept up in the fury of wanting a king, pumped up by Amalickiah's vaporous promises. But, as the time grew nearer for the actual assault of hand-to-hand combat with men who were their brothers, some, still chanting, began to look at the swords in their hands and also at Moroni's soldiers, who they knew were bent on preserving their freedom. They saw Moroni's banner man proudly bearing the Title of Liberty. Its words called for the preservation of their rights, freedom and family, as it waved in the breeze. The sound of Moroni's army's call for "Freedom!" reached their ears and began to hold their attention.
They began to look at each other with more doubt in the justice of their cause, than determination. They saw the vacant expressions on their comrades' faces and now properly guessed that many of them were now questioning the wisdom and validity of their own actions. At this point, both armies were about equal in size. However, within moments, the event Moroni had awaited, arrived. Captain Lehi and his army came rising over the hillside and doubled Moroni's army.
The king-men were clearly disturbed by this and quite abruptly stopped chanting. Some of them simply dropped their weapons and began retreating. Others quickly followed.
Amalickiah's anger grew. "Hold your ground, men! Return to your positions! We can defeat this foe!" He cursed at his men.
None of them listened. Many had now retreated to the outer perimeter of the intended battlefield and had disappeared into the lush jungle that predominated the area. Amalickiah curbed his frustration only enough to keep his wits. Unable to muster his troops, he decided to take charge of their retreat.
"Men! Now is not the day! To the trees! Moroni must not conquer!" he bellowed.
The army fled the field in a uniform, but hurried, manner following Amalickiah's lead. Amalickiah charged his horse to the fringe of the rainforest. The jungle undergrowth was too thick for a man on horseback. He dismounted quickly and ran with his men as they made their escape.
"We can't have them joining the Lamanites!" Moroni shouted to his men. "We'll have to cut them off. Lehi!"
Lehi looked to his leader. Moroni motioned with his sword for Lehi to take his troops around to cut off Amalickiah from the west. Moroni turned and motioned for Teancum, his youngest and newest commander, to pursue from the eastern side, while Moroni charged with his men straight on. With his army split into three forces, Moroni intended to overtake, surround, and capture Amalickiah and his men.
Although on horseback, Moroni was unable to cross the field and overtake Amalickiah's army before the last of them had successfully retreated into the jungle. Moroni dismounted and joined his men in a foot chase that took place through the jungle. Men leaped over and through the underbrush, slowing, but not by any means stopping. They used their swords to cut their path. It was not difficult to track Amalickiah's men through the shambles they had made of the jungle during their flight.
Farther ahead, Amalickiah kept a keen head during his hasty retreat. Without slowing his pace, he ensured that he met up with a small handful of his best men. He motioned to them to slide his way during the run. The remainder of his army blindly fled at a panicked rate. Amalickiah chose to ignore them and allowed them to run pell-mell as an unled, terrified group. They remained oblivious to Amalickiah's action. None of them noticed Amalickiah and his little group break away from the main troops and secretly run off in a separate direction.
The path they cut was too obscure to be noticed, especially during the heat of the chase. All of Moroni's men passed it by and continued to close in on Amalickiah's main, fleeing army. Neither side was aware that Amalickiah and his small group of loyalists had split off until Moroni overtook and surrounded the main army.
After searching among the prisoners for Amalickiah, Lehi approached Moroni and announced, "Amalickiah is nowhere to be seen. We also can't find his brother, Ammoron, so we have to assume they broke off. They could be anywhere."
"'Anywhere,' yes, but I'm certain they're heading in a straight course for the Lamanites," Moroni responded, with a flare for strategic thinking.
Lehi was shocked at this supposition, "The Lamanites?! He wouldn't stand a chance! They'd cut him down before he'd seen his first sunset in their land."
"I wouldn't count on that," Moroni mused. "He's a slippery one. I don't think we've seen the last of him. Meanwhile, we have to get these prisoners secured before we lose any more. Round them up and let's get back to Zarahemla."
©1999, 2003, 2012 by Douglas V. Nufer
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