We have taken Henry’s story and given it a contemporary twist.
Artaban and Esther continue their journey and arrive in Bethlehem where they stop by at the house of a woman, Martha, who tells them that as prophesied the baby has been born but his family have already left to travel to Egypt. The village erupts as Herod’s soldiers arrive to start their killing spree and Martha is distraught as she too has a new-born baby son. Again, Artaban’s compassion drives him and when the soldiers come knocking on her door he offers the Captain of the troop the ruby as a bribe not to search the house. Afterwards, he is filled with self-doubt and remorse that he has given away his second potential gift for the new king. Martha and Esther do their best to convince him that he is in fact a man of great value and a hero in their eyes.
As they leave Bethlehem he and Esther realise they are beginning to have feelings for each other and she pleads with him to settle down and have a life with her, but he is driven by his passion to complete his quest and they argue and part company.
Undaunted, Artaban continues his search for many years,but his journey is often interrupted as he stops to care for the many who need his help. Despite the love and adoration he receives from those he helps he despairs that he is letting God down by not reaching Jesus.
He continues his travels and, as his good deeds and care are now well-known, he gets a rapturous welcome when he arrives in a town. His lost love, Esther, who is in the crowd hears his name being shouted and fights her way through the throng to be joyfully re-united with him. They fall into each other’s arms and, with their love as strong as ever, they continue to travel together eventually arriving in Egypt where they meet up with the other Magi who had made it to the birth in Bethlehem. In the great library of Alexandria they share an old text they have found that predicts that Jesus, although a King, will be humble and live in lowly circumstances; he will not live long and will be crucified by those he has come to help.
Eventually they arrive in Jerusalem at the time of Passover. From the conversations of the crowd Artaban realises that the king Jesus is near but is about to be crucified. He decides to use his last gemstone, the pearl, to buy Jesus’s life. Before he can get to Pilate, the town governor, to offer the pearl they are invited to join a Passover feast. This turns out to be a trap set up by Herod’s son Herod Antipas who is now planning to fulfil his father’s revenge and kill Artaban and reclaim his slave, Esther. His servants capture Artaban and Esther and throw them in jail. A soldier offers to release them for money and Artaban has to use his last gem, the pearl to gain their freedom. Despite being reunited with Esther he is distraught that he has failed to secure the life of Jesus and has therefore failed his life’s quest. At this point Herod Antipas arrives on the scene after hearing of their escape from prison. Herod has discovered what the soldier has done and they fight- the soldier runs him through with his sword and Herod dies. Artaban falls to his knees racked with grief but Esther hears the words of God and tells him of the reassurance by God that, in fact, he did fulfil his life purpose. He finally understands that despite not meeting up with Jesus he himself has brought light to the world by his many unselfish and caring acts that have helped so many people.