Approaching one of the sellers, Simon whispered something in his ear. Looking Simon up and down with a sharp gaze, the merchant indicated with a gesture to follow him.

They went inside an empty shack where the guide led Simon to the back wall, cast aside the bags piled there, and pointed to the open aperture with cut-out stairs in the ground. The steps lead to the basement.

There was a faintly lit lamp in the basement; it was stuffy. Four men stood by the tall stone table, speaking quietly about something. Having seen the guest who entered, they looked at each other.

They were all dressed in plain clothes and did not appear different from regular merchants or shepherds. Only one of them wore a long black cloak.

The noise from commerce and the bleating of sheep barely reached here from the street.

One of the men came over to Simon. “Hello, Cephas. I am happy to see you. Come in.” He extended his hand to his guest.

“Hello Esau,” Simon answered.

“Was it easy to find us? I hope no one tailed you. Do you have the dagger with you?”

“No, I hid it in the Gethsemane Garden. I don’t need it yet.”

Other men approached Simon, making his acquaintance.

“Finish your chat, we don’t have much time,” the man in the black cloak said. Judging by the tone of his voice, he was the leader among them.

Long swords lay on the table with leather handles, along with crooked-bladed knives, bronze armor, and heaped tunics with dark stains of dried blood. On one end of the table shone a handful of silver coins.

The man in black put the weapons and armor into the bag.