I watched carefully as Hithaeron and Gabrithon circled around each other. The oldest prince had come with a group of Centaurs led by some of the males that Gabrithon had appointed to gather soldiers. In fact, waves of people from every race were coming in. Most of the males that came in offered no trouble. Hithaeron wasn’t one of them.
“I challenge you,” the chestnut Centaur growled.
“As you wish,” Gabrithon said tersely.
Suddenly Hithaeron lunged, and they came together hard, squealing and roaring like enraged horses. I watched the fight apprehensively. Gabrithon wasn’t quite as strong as his older brother, and he began losing. How he had beaten his father, I didn’t really know. Every Centaur there was shouting for Hithaeron. I was terrified that Gabrithon would lose. We would lose, too, and the cost would be almost all of the Centaurs. Hithaeron reared and came down to grab Gabrithon’s neck. There was a cry and my friend went down.
“No!” I yelled.
Instead of stomping on Gabrithon and going for the kill, the oldest prince turned king walked over to me and physically picked me up.
“Fear me, girl,” he said angrily. “And know Gabrithon couldn’t beat me. Bow to me.”
I told him ‘no’ in the rudest way possible. His face turned red and he threw me to the ground.
“Very well, girl. Prepare to die.”
Hithaeron reared and was about to come down on me when he was hit on the side. He went down hard. Gabrithon began doing what his brother had neglected to do, bloodying him up and hurting him so he couldn’t retaliate. When he went in to kill him, I called his name. The golden Centaur stopped and trotted over to me. I stood and smiled up at him.
“I guess you’re still the king?” I asked softly.
“I suppose I am,” he replied.
Delight suddenly burst onto his face and he turned and reared, letting out a victorious cry. The Centaurs all bowed at the noise, but none raised their voices with him. None, that is, save one. It was Cevenor.
“Good job brother!” he said as the crowd began dispersing.
“You’re the only one who thinks so,” Gabrithon said, gripping his brother’s forearm in greeting.
“Maybe so, but you are doing well for not being properly trained to be king.”
“Thank the other kings. I am constantly asking their advice, and they seem more than willing to give it.”
“Gabrithon,” I said impatiently. “They’re probably waiting for us.”
“Oh yes! Sorry brother. We’re going for the scroll reading. Care to join us?”
“Why not?” he asked, falling into step beside the golden Centaur.
We hurried through the streets to a small crowd of people. Spotting Elthinor, I made my way over to him. He smiled and nodded in greeting.
“She’s here, Jaiden!” my father cried; he and Aloron were standing in the shadow of a house. “Now we may begin!”
Jaiden was looking terrified and shy as he stepped up onto the crate. He swallowed hard and looked around at the fifty or so people around him.
“Well, here goes nothing,” he said, loud enough to be heard by everybody. Then he unrolled the scroll and started reading.
“The Son of Man shall be delivered up to be crucified after the Passover,” Jesiah told his disciples. I was confused. What was crucified?
Then I saw them sitting in a house at a table. A woman came in and she held a flask of something. She broke it and poured the contents over Jesiah’s head. The most fragrant smell filled the air. There was a stirring amongst the disciples.
“What a waste!” one of them said. “That oil could have been sold for quite a bit of money, which could have been given to the poor.”
Jesiah sighed softly, his eyes looking distant. “Why do you trouble this woman? She did something good for me. You always will have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me. In pouring this oil over my body, she did it for my burial. I promise you that wherever the Good News is preached, what this woman has done will also be told.”
I saw one of his disciples, a Human, sneak out the door. Curious, I took a few steps to see if I could follow him. I could, so I did. We walked through the streets to an enormous, ornate building. We walked inside past guards. We came to a group of strangely dressed Humans.
“What do you want, disciple of Jesiah?” one of them asked.
“I wish to give Jesiah to you. You may do what you wish to him. But what shall I get in return.”
They talked among themselves. “Thirty pieces of silver.”
“Done. I shall come and get you when there are no crowds around him.”
Everything melted and I was suddenly in a room. After listening to the conversation, I determined that they were observing the custom of the Passover. I saw Jesiah take a loaf of bread. He gave thanks then broke it, handing it out to them.
“This is my body, which I give for you. Do this to remember me,” the Son of Man said, then he took a cup. “This cup is the new covenant, made in my blood, which I shed for you. But look! My betrayer sits with me at this table. And though this has been determined in advance that I shall go, which I shall, woe to him that betrays me.”
They began discussing greatness and Pyotr said that he would go to prison for Jesiah, and even die for him. Jesiah smiled sadly.
“Before the rooster crows, you will thrice deny that you even know me.”
Reality melted again and I found myself in a garden, looking at Jesiah. He was kneeling with his head down, and I realized he was praying.
“Father, if it is in Your will, please take this cup away from me. But not my will be done, but Yours.”
Then one of those frightening beings that had watched the creation of the races came down and I watched as Jesiah was strengthened. Three times he prayed, each time going back to his disciples, Pyotr, Jem, and Jehan. The first two times, Jesiah asked them why they could not stay awake. The third time he came to them, he told them to rise and said his betrayer was near. Sure enough, there was the Human that had agreed to betray Jesiah. He walked forward and kissed Jesiah’s cheek.
“Teacher!” he said.
“You betray me with a kiss?” Jesiah asked.
There was a scuffle then Jesiah chastised the soldiers, asking why they had never arrested him in the temple while he was teaching. He went off with them willingly. Pyotr followed him, settling outside in the courtyard. I watched sadly as he did indeed deny Jesiah. Pyotr stumbled away and wept in the shadows of the night.
Next I was shown Jesiah. The men who held him were mocking and beating him. They struck him while he was blindfolded and taunted him by asking him who had hit him. They also spat on him. I wanted to hit them, tear them to pieces, but every time I tried to move to do that, I found I couldn’t even shift my weight. I finally resigned myself to just watch, but tears prickled at the corners of my eyes.
He finally went into some kind of council and was condemned. The high priest, for that is who was questioning him, asked him if he was the Son of God. Jesiah told him that he had rightly spoken. They got up and led him to an Elven governor Poncio. The priests began lying against him, saying he was telling people not to pay taxes. Poncio asked if he was king of the Fairians, which was some kind of ethnic group from the way he said it. Jesiah said the same thing that he had told the high priest. Poncio turned to the chief priests and said that he found no fault in Jesiah.
The priests would not let up. After several questions, he sent him to Rodion, but Jesiah answered nothing to his questions, so he was sent back to Poncio. He said something on how he was innocent in his sight and said he would chastise him. Chastise? The crowd shouted for somebody called Barabbas. Poncio sighed and sent Jesiah away for this chastisement.
They stripped Jesiah down to his undergarment and I immediately looked away, my sense of propriety very strong. Nothing was uncovered that shouldn’t be, but it felt wrong and strange to see the Son of God so…vulnerable. I heard a crack and turned to see a thick whip. I looked at Jesiah, who was chained to a block, then back at the whip. My eyes widened. No. They wouldn’t! They couldn’t! But they did. The Elf wielded the whip expertly. Stripes of red appeared along Jesiah’s back and I was immobilized by that strange force again. Tears ran down my face and I began screaming at each pain filled cry from Jesiah. They were heart wrenching. They moved on to some kind of cane and the cries got louder as they landed on tender, already sore flesh. They moved from his back to his front.
This lasted far too long for my liking. I had sunk to my knees, the only movement I had been allowed. They moved to some kind of whip and I could see shards of glass at the ends of it. I didn’t want to watch as flesh was torn from his body, but I did. Blood soaked his undergarment and the ground. It was done. But no, they brought something else. It was thorns, twisted into a circular crown-like shape. I grimaced as it was forced onto Jesiah’s head. His cry made me whimper. They mocked him, spitting at him after they had dressed him in a beautiful purple robe, and bowing mockingly towards him. They shouldn’t have been allowed to do this! Where was God? Why wasn’t he stopping this?
Poncio brought him out again and still the crowds called for Barabbas. They also cried for something called crucifixion. They called on their laws and said he should die for what he claimed he was. Poncio was really trying to release him, and I could see that. But the crowd won. Poncio washed his hands of the ordeal, but I could see the stain of guilt on him.
I was moved to the edge of the city and saw Jesiah coming with a beam of wood. It looked familiar, but I couldn’t place it. A man called Semyon was there and the Elven guards forced him to take the beam when Jesiah just couldn’t bear it anymore. His body was weak from the beatings, and his body had open wounds on it that still oozed blood. They got to a hill and there, lying on the ground, was three beams laid out, taller than the one they had forced him to carry. I suddenly realized what was going to happen. I had seen this before. It was in the stronghold of the Humans when I snuck in to save Elthinor. It was Jesiah’s face that had been swiped from the picture on the wall.
“You can’t!” I screeched, trying to lash out at the guards who had attached the beams together to form what they called a cross. This time, I could move, but I went straight through them and ended up on the ground from the momentum.
I watched helplessly as two huge nails were driven through my precious Lord’s hands. He wailed as they cut through muscle and bone. They then tied his wrists securely to the crossbeam. They positioned his feet one on top of the other then drove a nail through them. I was sobbing at this point. The other two crosses were already up and I saw a Human and an Elf on them. They were in their undergarments, too, but they weren’t as beaten and bloody as Jesiah.
People paraded by and mocked the two people, but only a little. I did find out they were thieves, though. The people were more focused on Jesiah, telling him to come down if he was truly the Son of God. Suddenly time sped up and I could tell hours had passed. Thick, dark clouds covered the sky, thicker and darker than the ones that the Dark Ones’ minions could summon. I knew what was about to happen.
Jesiah suddenly threw his head back and gave a cry, the likes of which I had never heard of before. It sounded like the cry of a man bearing an unimaginable burden. I swear I heard his last breath squeeze out of his lungs. All was still for a second then I wailed as lightening flashed across the sky, and it didn’t stop. Thunder began booming louder than anything I had ever heard and the earth began shaking violently. I jerked as I tried to remain upright during the upheaval and was successful as everything stilled.
I watched as he was buried in a tomb and a stone was rolled in front of it. Everything began fading. What? No! It can’t! There has to be more!
I opened my eyes and stared at Jaiden. He was staring at the bottom of the scroll blankly. There was silence, everybody too shocked to move. I concurred.