I Am the Life: Epilogue

I placed the quill down on the desk. My aged hands were quivering with relief. I was done. I could go on in peace. It was almost my time to leave. I could feel it. I had lived longer than all of my friends, including my beloved Elthinor. The generation that was now young was forgetting the battle, the great dragon, the way the kings had allied themselves. The demons were getting to them. The physical  battle was over, but the spiritual battle my father talked about was strong upon them. The practice of idol worship still flourished in all the races, albeit in different forms.

I sighed and stood. There was a knock at the door. I walked over to it—my Strangeling nature was still strong within me, to the point that I could still walk instead of hobble or shuffle—and opened it to reveal Nora. I smiled at her.

“Hello my dear. I’m glad you could come.”

“You’re boys are on the way with their wives and children.”

I smiled. Despite Elthinor’s fervent wishes and even more fervent prayers, we had never had a daughter. But all three of our boys turned out to be Strangelings like me. Elthinor didn’t mind at all. The twins, Aloron and Elyosius, were married to beautiful Elf girls, while our youngest, Nolan, married a Human woman. She was beautiful in her own right, though I could tell she didn’t feel that way. I smiled at their names, remembering the ones I knew who originally wore them.

When the rest of my family got here, we ate venison stew and had the sweet bread that Nora had baked. It was getting late when I literally felt my heart skip a beat then slow down. I shuddered and got up.

“Aloron,” I said softly. “You get my sword.”

“What?”

“Elyosius, you get your father’s sword.”

“Mother, what are you doing?”

“Nolan,” I said softly, undoing my belt and handing him my sheathed knife. “You get this. It is very faithful. Don’t lose it.”

“Yes Mother,” Nolan said sadly. I could tell in his eyes he knew what was going on. “Who gets your books?”

“You all can have your pick of them then the rest go into the Oidynhall library. That includes the ones I wrote.”

“Did you finish them?” Nora asked.

“Yes.”

My heart stuttered again and I nearly collapsed, catching myself on the desk.

“Mother!” two voices cried out at once.

“Filynora!” Nora gasped.

“Be quiet!” I said harshly. “It is my time to leave this world. Take to heart what I and your father and our friends have taught you. Keep God and Jesiah alive!”

My heart actually stopped for a few seconds this time.

“No Mother. You just need to rest,” Aloron said fiercely.

“Nolan, you get the house. I know you two are having trouble finding a place to live. You three be good and split the Elementals, and don’t forget to take care of them. Especially Flambé and her pups.”

The picked me up and laid me in bed. I blinked slowly. Everything was becoming dimmer, but that’s because of the light. The bright, wonderful light that I recognized.

“My Lord!” I cried, reaching forward.

“Mother!” I heard dimly.

I strained toward the light until something popped. I turned to see myself lying lifelessly on the bed, but that didn’t matter. All that mattered was the unimaginable light that I was chasing. I sprinted, young and energetic again, and suddenly there was an angel, staring at me. He stepped aside and gestured to the city I had seen when Nolan died. Red was poured over me and I was suddenly spotless. I peered at the glory of God happily, just taking it all in. I heard a throat clear.

“Jesiah!” I shouted happily, kneeling and embracing him around his middle.

“Filynora,” he greeted, kissing me. He stood me up and gestured like the angel had. “Enter into the joy of your Lord, my good and faithful servant.”

There I saw Elthinor and Gabrithon, Pinnathir and Valtrak, Aloron and Elyosius, and Jaiden and Nolan all waving at me. I whooped and waved back, but I wanted to spend more time with Jesiah. He laughed and kissed me again. I praised God because there was not one thing that would make me happier.

This was life, pure and true, and it was amazing.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Am-Life-Three-Scrolls-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B01A04N30O?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I Am the Life: Chapter 43

The battle had left many dead, and many others wounded. It was a horrendous sight to look over the fields, but there was a wide swath of green where the dragon’s blood had touched. We carried Aloron’s body to the fire gingerly, and he was the first we burned, doing it the Elven ceremonial way. Fires were spread across the battlefield, burning bodies. We couldn’t take them back to Greensage. The kings met up with us and they were ecstatic that we’d won. They went on and on about how brave their men had been, how valiantly they had fought. Gabrithon joined in, and he was the first one to praise me. I listened only half-heartedly to them speaking highly of me. I was still hurting from Aloron’s death.

When we had cleaned up the fields, we got ready and headed back. Instead of marching in formation, we all just moved at our own pace. When we got back, we noticed that some people were starting to lose hope on who was coming back. Melanari had been one of them. She tearfully embraced Elthinor, and they spent an entire day together.

A month later found me sitting on a small hill outside of town. Quite a few people had already begun to leave back for their home villages, while the kings were negotiating peace treaties. Even the Satyr king was now hospitable toward his old enemy. And as for the Human king, I had nominated Jaiden. He was young, but smart, and incredibly spiritual. He was still getting the feel of his new occupation. Of course, he had also been the one who was baptizing believers. He couldn’t dunk the Centaurs, but he did pour water over their heads as they were kneeling. He had joyfully baptized me and all of our friends first, then Elthinor had baptized him.

I played with Elthinor’s necklace, which I had worn since he had proposed. The bone on the end was carved in the shape of a wolf. I liked to think it was a Kindle Wolf.

“Filynora?”

I turned to see my friends standing there. “Hello.”

Their faces, save Elthinor’s, had morphed into shock, their eyes glued to the necklace in my hand. They all spun on my Elven fiancé.

“When exactly were you going to tell us that you’re engaged to Filynora?” Gabrithon demanded.

“We’ve been busy,” Elthinor defended.

“Yes,” Jaiden said. “But this is important.”

“When are you getting married?” Pinnathir asked.

“I don’t know. He hasn’t said a word about it since he proposed,” I said, hearing the bitterness in my own voice.

Elthinor suddenly looked sheepish. “I’ve been putting off telling Melanari and the other females. I wanted to spare you that indignity for as long as possible.”

“I’ll never understand why females make such a big deal about a wedding,” I said crossly.

Elthinor laughed. “It usually only happens once in a person’s lifetime. Can you really blame them?”

“Yes,” I said matter-of-factly. All my friends laughed.

“Well, let’s go tell my sister and the other females,” Elthinor said. “But you’re bringing this upon yourself.”

“You’re the one who proposed,” I pointed out with a grin.

“Oh. Right.”

The females we told included Petra the Dwarf, Melanari the Elf, Vincentia the Centaur, Leah the Human, and the Satyr princess and queen. They all were thrilled and started working together to make my dress and shoes, and discussing what they would do with my hair. Elthinor and I didn’t have to worry about planning the wedding at all. Jaiden practiced the Human way of marrying us so that he could get it right when the time came, while Lolaiken agreed to do the Elf portion.

The day of the wedding dawned beautifully. I knew that because my female friends had pulled me out of bed and washed me while the sun was still barely peeking over the horizon. They swept my long hair up into a complicated twist of braids for the Dwarfs and the Centaurs. When that was done, Petra and Vincentia left to check on the preparations, and everybody else left the room to go with them. I was instructed to put on my dress, which was a lovely green and silver, and I did so with a secret smile. Boy would they be surprised! I also put my shoes on, refusing the tight, constricting shoes they had made. I also refused makeup when they got back. I agreed to a tiny bit on my cheeks, but then I drew the line.

They deemed me ready, but when they weren’t looking, I slipped my mother’s bracelet on my wrist. There, now I was ready. We waited several hours until a female Elf came to get us. They walked with me out to a place outside town, hurrying me along so I wouldn’t see the decorations. I did anyway, but ignored them. They circled me around to the side then instructed me to walk up and stand in front of Lolaiken and Jaiden when the flute started. I did so, Elthinor meeting me in the middle. His shirt was red and gold, and it made me smile. He smiled back at me then we turned to face the two kings.

“Greetings to all!” Jaiden called. “We have come here to unify these two souls together, in the sight of God Almighty and the assembled congregation. But before we do, we have an announcement to make.”

Lolaiken cleared his throat. “Due to her bravery and cunning, and her all around grand nature, we, and the other kings, have decided to make Filynora an honorary princess of all the races.”

I blinked. “Um, that’s fine, I guess.” I really didn’t know what to say beyond that.

Everybody laughed then Jaiden went back to work. He read several passages from the scrolls, particularly the first one. He talked of the originals and how they had been married by God Himself. It was interesting, but my insides had sprouted wings and were fluttering nervously. I was most nervous about the coming up kiss. I didn’t know how to feel about it. It meant that my life was changing forever. Suddenly I realized it was no longer Jaiden who was talking, but Lolaiken. I gave him my full attention.

He held out his hand toward Elthinor, saying, “Now let us seal this union with a necklace made by the groom’s own hands.”

Elthinor handed the necklace over. “It is an honor to give it to one so strong.”

Was he referring to me? I turned and let the Elf king place the trinket on my neck. I turned back to find the king’s hand suddenly in front of me. I blinked at it.

“Now let us have the precious bracelet crafted by the maiden.”

Elthinor immediately stepped forward and tried to tell him that I had no bracelet to give. While he was distracted, I pulled off my mother’s bracelet and placed it in the outstretched hand. The king pushed Elthinor back and stared at it.

“This is Elven made,” he said quietly. “Did you make it?”

“Nay, my father did. He made it for my mother. It’s the only thing I have left of her.”

“Fily, you really don’t have to give me that bracelet. We can always have you make one later,” Elthinor said.

I smiled. “Take it. Let’s continue, shall we?”

We finished the ceremony, and both kings told us we could kiss. I swallowed nervously as my husband and I turned toward each other. He moved down and captured my lips. The fluttering in my stomach tried to get out of my body as he did that. Then it was over. I stared up at him and he chuckled, leaning down to my ear.

“You look shocked.”

I blushed, shoving his hands away. “Is the ceremony completely over?” I asked the kings.

Lolaiken nodded. “It is. Why?”

I grinned at Elthinor, and he immediately looked wary. I took the bottom of the dress and pulled the entire thing up over my head. I heard gasps and yells from the audience. There was silence a few seconds then Melanari screamed.

“Filynora!”

I had put on my normal clothes beneath the dress and now gave a whoop,  grabbing Elthinor’s hand and pulling him along with me as I began to run back to town. My new husband was laughing gaily at my little trick. We got back quickly and headed for the drinks first. Water quenched our thirsts then we got a little bit of wine. We settled on the ground beside a house. Elthinor pulled me close, wrapping an arm around me.

“Well, my little wife, now we just have to wait until we leave tonight for the cabin.”

“Cabin?” I asked, my stomach tightening.

“Yes. Cabin. It’s where we’ll spend the first few weeks of our married life.”

“Oh. That’s…nice,” I said nervously.

He looked at me. “Are you alright?”

“Fine, fine. I’m fine.”

“You sound frightened.”

“I am not!”

“Then why are you being so defensive?”

“I just…shut up!”

“No. Talk to me, my little unbroken filly. What ails you?”

I sat there for a while then sighed when I realized he wouldn’t let up. “I’m scared of being vulnerable.”

“But you should know that I would never hurt you. Ever.”

“Still. I’m uncomfortable with it.”

“Well, we’ll work on that. We have three weeks. A month if we stretch it.”

My cheeks were hot from talking about such a personal subject. I didn’t like being vulnerable. And that’s what I would be during the consummation, and every night afterward, no doubt. I was jerked out of my thoughts by a strangely textured hand cupping my cheek. I smiled.

“Hello, Valtrak.”

“Greetings Filynora,” my Dwarven friend said with a chuckle.

“I cannot believe you took your dress off!” Pinnathir laughed behind him.

“I was wearing my clothes underneath it,” I said, though I smiled uncontrollably.

“But still,” Gabrithon said, settling down onto the ground. “It was a classic Filynora move. A move that even we didn’t expect.”

“At least I can still surprise you.” I paused. “Gabrithon, you wouldn’t happen to be the one who suggested I become a princess, would you?”

Gabrithon smiled. “Indeed. But you deserve it. Now you have a reason to order most people about.”

We all laughed at that. The feast was great. It had lots of great food from every race, and we filled up on it. The party was obviously going to last way into the night, so Elthinor and I snuck out just after sunset. We took Flame and Rainstorm, despite my husband’s protests. Elthinor was ahead of me, following a mental map in his head. Two days later, we entered the forest where Ellavendir had been. A day after that, we came to a nice little cabin beside a lake that was fed by a river. I immediately set out on catching some fish and he stoked the fire up high. We ate around sunset on the third day. When darkness fell, I could feel my stomach tighten yet again.

“Fily,” Elthinor said softly, grabbing my hand. “I won’t hurt you.”

“I know.”

He kissed me softly several times then tried to deepen the kiss. I pulled away immediately.

“Elthinor,” I said softly. “I need to hear something first.”

My Elven husband sat back on his heels and looked thoughtful for a second.

“Of course!” he exclaimed. He kissed me again, a long, slow kiss, then pulled back. “I love you Filynora. I will always love you. You are the princess of my world, and it’s because of you that I follow Jesiah. Thank you.”

I relaxed and we kissed again. “Elthinor?” I asked one more time.

“Yes?” He was being incredibly patient.

“Can you teach me how to swim while we’re here?”

He brightened. “Definitely. And then I’ll teach you to read and right. But for now…”

He kissed me again. This time we didn’t stop.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Am-Life-Three-Scrolls-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B01A04N30O?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I Am the Life: Chapter 42

I moaned softly, though no pain assailed me. I knew I would be in pain when I woke up. If I woke up, that is. Stones could have crushed me, or the dragon’s blood could have scalded the flesh off my bones, or I could have simply broken my neck in the fall. So was I dead? If so, dying felt familiar. I opened my eyes to see Jesiah standing above me. He held out his hand, and I took it. I stood, looking around.

“So…” I trailed off and observed the familiar forest around me. “I’m not dead,” I finally finished.

“No, my dear,” Jesiah said with a warm smile.

“I don’t see God’s glory like I did when Nolan died. When will I get to die?”

“When our Father calls you home.”

“And I’m not to know the day I die?” I asked, shaking my head with a soft smile.

“Just know that a day will come when you shall.”

We paused and there was a sense of finality in this vision. I began to cry softly.

“What is wrong, child?” Jesiah asked, though I knew he knew.

“I won’t see you again until I die!” I sobbed. “Why haven’t you appeared to me more so I can savor my time with you?”

“You did not need face to face encounters with me as much later in your journey,” Jesiah said. “And though I might not always give you what you want, I shall never stop giving you what you need. But you didn’t need me like that then.”

I bowed my head and hugged myself. “I love you. How can I love you if I don’t see you?”

“Blessed are those who have faith yet have not seen me, Filynora. And if you love me, then follow my commandments.”

I glanced up and sniffled. “If that is what I am commanded to do, I will try my hardest. I will fail sometimes, I fear. I’m not perfect.”

“You are made perfect in me, though you will struggle while you live. Now, this is my advice to you. Once everything settles down, go to Oidynhall and get the rest of the scriptures. And remember to tell all about the Good News and make disciples of them. I love you, Filynora. I shall be with you through my Spirit.”

“See you in Heaven,” I said softly as everything began melting around me.

He pressed a kiss to my head…

Pain hit me. The back of my head hurt quite a bit. Somebody had their face pressed into my chest to stifle sobbing. I opened my eyes to see my friends standing, or lying in Gabrithon’s case, around me, crying. Elthinor held me tight, and he was the one sobbing into my shirt. I frowned. What was wrong? I tried to talk three times before I actually succeeded.

“Elthinor, why are you crying?”

Elthinor jolted and looked at my face. “You’re alive?

“Yes,” I nodded, wincing at the throbbing the action incurred. “So why are you crying?”

“You were dead,” Gabrithon said, sounding confused.

“Yes, you had no pulse,” Pinnathir said.

“And you weren’t breathing,” Valtrak added.

“What did Jesiah say? Will you ever see him again?” Jaiden asked, kneeling down right in front of me.

I slowly sat up, slipping off Elthinor’s lap to land in the grass. “Grass?” I yelped, looking down at the ground around us.

“Yeah. When the dragon burst, plants began growing wherever his blood touched. You were covered in it, but it soaked in to you,” Elthinor said.

Could that be why I was alive? I wondered, worrying my lower lip. Oh well. It didn’t matter. What did matter was answering Jaiden’s question.

“He said to go to Oidynhall and get the rest of the scriptures. And that we’d see him again in Heaven,” I said, turning to the Human boy.

“Nice,” Jaiden said. “Now what?”

“We should search for survivors,” Valtrak said. “The battle out here was as fierce as ours.”

We agreed and we took off in different directions, searching the bodies of our soldiers. I was impressed they had managed to get so close to the stronghold. I heard a noise behind me, and I spun, reaching for my sword, but it wasn’t there. It didn’t need to be. Elthinor was following me. He held my sword and offered it to me.

“Thank you,” I said, placing the sword into the sheath at my hip.

Turning back, I began searching the bodies again. I could tell Elthinor was still following me, so I faced him again.

“Why don’t you go that way?” I asked, pointing.

“Oh. I suppose that would be the most productive,” he said, but when I started walking again, he still trailed behind me.

I figured he was still scared from nearly losing me, so I didn’t say anything about it. I suddenly saw the arrow I had fired out the window embedded in the ground. I gasped and rushed forward to get it, but a hand caught mine when I grabbed it. I inhaled sharply then followed the arm to see Aloron. He was not in good shape. Blood soaked his shirt. He had foregone armor, too, and he was actually paying for it.

“Elthinor!” I shouted.

He was by my side in an instant.

“Filynora, what’s…Grandfather?” he asked, suddenly looking frightened.

“Elthinor, Filynora,” he breathed. “I fought hard to defend this arrow. I’m glad you’re here to retrieve it. I can now pass on in peace.”

“No!” we both gasped, and Elthinor continued. “Grandfather you’ll be fine.”

“No I won’t,” Aloron said weakly. “Now please, read the scroll.”

I untied it and handed it to Elthinor. He shook his head. “You read it, Fily.” He sounded broken.

“I can’t read Elthinor,” I said firmly, a little embarrassed at admitting this to two Elves I respected and looked up to.

They both stared at me. Aloron finally smiled. “Promise me, Grandson, that you will remedy that.”

“Of course,” Elthinor said, taking the piece of the scroll from me.

He read it with feeling, and when he was done, both he and Aloron were crying. Only Aloron was smiling though.

“In all my years,” he said softly, “I never thought I would get to hear the end of that story. And now I find it is the beginning of something even greater. Thank you Filynora. Thank you so much.”

“For what?” I asked.

“For staying with your mission. For obeying Jesiah. For being such a wonderful girl.”

We lapsed into silence, waiting, as strange as it felt and sounded, for Aloron to ‘pass on’ as he put it. A sudden thought hit me as we sat there, my hand wrapped around Aloron’s. Elthinor placed his own hand on ours, and I looked at him.

“Elthinor, what was it you wanted to tell me before the battle started?” I asked.

His eyes suddenly flashed. “Grandfather! You can’t die yet! I need your blessing! Father certainly won’t give one to me.”

“Blessing?” Aloron asked, smiling knowingly. “What, pray tell, would you need a blessing for?”

Elthinor reached up to his neck and unclasped his necklace. He was so nervous that his hands shook as he held it up to me. He opened his mouth to speak several times, but he snapped it shut each time. I was confused.

“Elthinor, what’s wrong?”

“I have a question to ask you, Filynora Raeloc.”

I stiffened; he had never said my name like that before. “Um, yes?” I asked getting nervous as well.

“I’ve known you for over two years and each moment has been better than the last. I would like to spend the rest of my life with you.” My eyes widened before the question passed his lips, but he said it anyway. “Will you marry me?”

My world seemed to tunnel. Marry him? I just couldn’t picture myself getting married. I was too odd for anybody, Human or Elf, to want to marry me. How could he even ask that?

“But Elthinor, you could have any Elf maiden you want. You just helped me bring peace to the land. They’ll be surrounding you. Like that awful Shaylee did.”

“I told you before, I don’t want to marry Shaylee. And I don’t want to marry any Elf maiden. You asked on that night if there was somebody I wanted to marry. The answer is a definite yes. I want to marry you.” He suddenly looked extremely bold. “I love you, Filynora. And I will until the end of time.”

I blushed at the intensity of his gaze. “But you can’t want me!” I exclaimed after a few seconds.

“Why not?” Elthinor demanded. “Because you’re a Strangeling? Because you’re not a typical female? Because you’re rough around the edges?”

“Because you can do better!” I snapped, my cheeks flaming hot.

“I don’t think so,” Elthinor said. He transferred the necklace cords to one hand and pressed his free hand against my cheek. “You’re beautiful, smart, resourceful, caring, and you have the most lovely personality of anybody I’ve ever met.”

I felt the heavy and light feelings return to my stomach. Could I marry Elthinor? Did he really want to marry me? I looked in his face and saw sincerity. I bit my bottom lip and took a deep breath. The real question was, did I want to marry him? I looked him over. He was an amazing friend, a brilliant leader, and I could talk to him about anything. I hummed. He was beginning to lose hope. Just when he started lowering the necklace, I reached out and took it.

“If you think you’re going to be fine with being stuck with me for the rest of your life, who am I to stop you?”

Elthinor whooped in joy and embraced me, kissing my cheek several times. “Oh Fily! You just made me so happy!” We both turned to Aloron, who looked worse by the second.  “Grandfather?” Elthinor said tentatively. “Would you bless us?”

The old Elf reached out both of his hands, gripping all of our hands together. He looked as if he was in a lot of pain, and his breathing was uneven. Still, he smiled at us.

“I bless you,” he said quietly. “I hope you and your future children are wise in the ways of the Lord and that you would walk in His ways for the rest of your lives. May the Lord bless you and keep you forever. And Elthinor? Please don’t cut your hair because of me. I love you both.”

He fell back and I saw the color drain from his face. His eyes dimmed. Suddenly, a look of wonder flashed across his face. Then he stopped breathing. Tears leaked from my eyes down my cheeks and I buried my faced in Elthinor’s neck. He held me close as we both cried. Our joy at our engagement was lost amidst our sorrow.

“Elthinor?” I said softly.

“Yes, Fily?”

“We’ll see him again.”

“I know. I know.”

 

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I Am the Life: Chapter 40

The entire army halted as the five leaders raised their hands. I looked forward and stared at what remained of Shadowlyn. There were only charred outlines of most buildings. The only one that had remained whole was the stronghold. I shivered. We were about to go into battle against a demon army. True, they were stuck in physical forms, but that was of little consolation. They were stronger, faster, and more lethal bodies than what I, my friends, and the rest of the races had. And they could do tricks. I swallowed and turned away. Elthinor tenderly took my hand and nuzzled it against his cheek.

“Sure you don’t want armor?” he asked.

“I’m sure,” I said. “I’m only a little scared.”

“Without armor, we could die,” Gabrithon said; my friends had decided to forgo armor as well, mainly because of me.

“If it’s our time to die, no armor can save us,” Jaiden said with a nod.

There was a sudden ruckus and I turned to see the opposing army gathering on the remains of the town. The long stretch of plains would be our battlefield then. Suddenly, I felt the overwhelming sense that I had seen this before. Yes, I remembered, it had been a dream that I’d had before this adventure started. I turned to tell my friends when I noticed them all gesturing for Elthinor to do something. His cheeks were red as he approached me.

“Filynora, there’s something important I need to tell you before this mess begins,” he said slowly and quietly.

“What?” I asked. Then I remembered what happened next in the dream.

I heard the screech and dove to the ground just as the Aswang passed over me, claws missing me by inches. I rolled and pushed myself up. The roars and calls of the other army grew louder as they mocked me. It was that noise where I finally understood the term demonic; it was just so otherworldly and evil. I’d show them, I thought as Elthinor helped me up. Seeing the dream in my head, I pulled out an arrow and loosed it as she came down a second time. I must have gotten the heart because the monster dropped dead onto the ground. It burst into smoke and its blood stained the ground.

I could hear swords being drawn from their sheaths. I turned to Elthinor and grabbed his hand as he opened his mouth to speak.

“Elthinor, please. Trust in God for this. If you don’t tell me now, and if I don’t survive, you can always tell me in Heaven.”

“But Fily, I—”

I shook my head and turned away, taking out my own sword. He sighed and followed suit. Gabrithon snorted and I looked at him. He was giving Elthinor the most exasperated look I had ever seen, but I couldn’t worry about that. I glanced at the kings, who nodded sharply, and gave the signal for the charge. We moved swiftly, but the creatures were swifter. Aswangs were already picking off people from the middle of the charge. It was utter chaos as soon as the two sides met, the din getting louder than ever. I saw swords piercing creatures on both sides, and blood, red and black, spilled onto the ground.

Everybody suddenly froze as the loudest noise I had ever heard burst forth from the other side of the army. It was a roar. What creature sounded like that, I wondered fearfully as I sliced through a Vampire. My friends and I were heading straight toward this sound, because it seemed to be coming for the stronghold. The stronghold had to be where the last part of the scroll was. It was the only thing left standing. So we cut through the enemies, one after the other, sometimes having to gang up on a Rakshasa or a particularly strong Naga.

The Rakshasa weren’t even bothering to trick us, simply turning into animals with painful, and possibly poisonous, bites. Suddenly a howl went up that sounded like my Ember. I paused only long enough to look and see that it was indeed him, and he was charging with my Elementals towards another larger group of Elementals. I sent up a quick prayer for my precious pets. As I did, Elthinor was suddenly sent sprawling by a Naga. I cried out in fear for him then he rolled to his feet and we, rather viciously, took down the Naga.

When we finally got to the door of the stronghold, there were no guards, like we had anticipated. Before we could get too close, there was another roar, this one making my ears ring. My dream came back to me, and I hugged the building just as the top two stories exploded upward and outward. My friends, trusting that I knew what I was doing, pressed close to the cut stone wall, too. They looked utterly terrified. We backed up and stared up at the ruined part of the building. Horror filled me as I saw what unfurled from the top of the building.

“A dragon,” Valtrak breathed.

It was the legendary dragon! I couldn’t believe it. The beast was rumored to be bigger and stronger than thousands of men. It certainly was big, and no doubt just as strong. We hadn’t even considered it to be a viable option for this Satan to have taken for a form. We hadn’t even thought about it. It was much too horrible to consider fighting that thing, but we had to. For Nolan and the poor souls that had died in his grip or trying to escape it. For the original members of the races. For our own hope. And most of all, for the full knowledge of salvation for the whole world so that they could know God. Its glowing red eyes told me that that’s exactly what he intended to stop us from doing. But we had God on our side, so though I was a little scared, the terror did not overwhelm me like it was doing to my friends.

I pointed at him. “You’ll never win, Satan! Give us the scroll piece!”

Another roar sounded out, this one making my head hurt. That sound seemed to bolster the rest of the dragon’s army, and they all sounded out their calls.

“Do you think that your God would care about a creation as broken as you, Strangeling?” the dragon asked.

Anger flooded through me as he sank back into the ruins. Every time I thought I’d conquered my doubt about what I was and how it related to God, one of these foul beasts would bring everything back up. I stormed into what remained of the stronghold and my friends followed me. The hallways were dimly lit, and we ran through them, expecting enemies at every turn. But there were none. We slowed as we approached a wide arena on the second floor. Across the room was the stairs that led up to the level of the dragon. As soon as we entered the room, there was a thud behind us. It was an Aswang bigger than any I’d seen. Llugat appeared to our right, Lupine in front of us, and a huge Naga on the left. I didn’t know who to point my sword at, so I settled for Lupine; Rakshasa seemed more dangerous than the other three.

“Let me guess,” I said, glancing around. “You’re the leaders of the monsters.”

“Of our own kinds,” the Aswang said leisurely.

“And the kinds below us,” Lupine said while he grinned at the Naga, who hissed angrily.

“Now now, we have no time for fighting. The Dark Master wishes for them to be dead. Let’s actually do that this time. Then maybe Lupine’s pride won’t be so wounded,” Lugat said.

“Be quiet, you—” And the Rakshasa said a series of words that made even the boys shift uncomfortably. I was a little embarrassed to be in the same room as they were.

The monsters surged forward, but not to fight us. They met in the center of the room, arguing, cursing, and insulting each other. So this is why they hadn’t attacked us together very often, I thought as I began creeping around the room. They didn’t notice, so I continued. Jaiden slipped ahead of me and began walking up the stairs. As soon as I was three steps up, and before the others had even touched them they were caught in vicious grips. I stood there frozen. There weren’t enough to get me and Jaiden, but to go and face that monster without my friends?

Llugat was teasing Gabrithon about the taste of his blood and fear. Valtrak was facing the Naga, having hit him once to break the grip, and blood stained his axe. Pinnathir had the Aswang, and she looked delighted, saying how she would enjoy ripping the flesh from his bones and wetting the ground with his blood. Lupine, who was facing Elthinor, was silent, his eyes dashing up and down for weakness before becoming his little sister again. My Elven friend looked up, his eyes commanding us to go. So we sprinted up the stairs and up into a little hallway. I stopped when we passed a room, having the sudden urge to go in.

“Fily?” Jaiden whispered, following me.

“It’s the scroll,” I hissed when I had gotten to the desk. I slowly picked it up and stared at the words.

“Well, go on. Read it.”

I felt embarrassed. “I can’t read, Jaiden.”

Jaiden stared at me incredulously for a moment then his face softened, and he took the paper from me.

There was the tomb, but something was wrong. It was open. Could that mean that I had been right in my guessing? I began walking over, but a hesitant question stopped me.

“Fily?”

I turned to see my friends all standing there, with clothes of black on them—even Gabrithon and Pinnathir had them on.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, glancing back at the tomb.

“I’m not sure,” Gabrithon asked. “What is this place?”

“This is one of my visions of the scrolls.” I turned and pointed at the tomb, with the rock rolled away from the entrance. “That’s where Jesiah’s body was buried. But it was closed at the end of the last one. How did it open again? Very little time has passed. It’s the day after the Sabbath.”

“Hey, there are some females,” Jaiden said.

“They carry anointing oils,” Valtrak said, and I turned and approached the tomb.

I gasped. Jesiah’s body was no longer there. Instead, there were two angels, some of those terrifying beings that had been present at the creation of the races.

“Why are you looking for the living amongst the dead?” one of them asked. “Jesiah is not here, but is risen! Recall his words, those he said to you concerning these things.”

They raced off and I tried to follow, but I soon saw Jehan racing toward us, followed by Pyotr. I noticed that the cloth that had been around Jesiah’s head was neatly folded, before Pyotr or Jehan even got there. They went in the tomb and looked around then left.

“Come on Mia. Let’s go,” Pyotr said, placing a hand on one of the women’s shoulders. She didn’t move, just stood there crying.

I felt something buzz in the air and I gasped, stepping back. She turned, too, keeping her eyes down.

“Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Jesiah asked, a hint of a smile on his face.

“Please tell me where you have laid him, then I will take him away,” she said brokenly.

“Mia!” Jesiah said fondly.

He told her to go and tell his disciples about him and she turned and ran.

My friends and I were transported to a closed off room. They all yelped at the abrupt change in scenery, followed by gasps as they saw the group assembled. We had looked around at every face when suddenly there was Jesiah, dressed in his customary white robe, standing right in the middle of the room.

“Peace be with you,” he said, looking around at his disciples.  “As the Father has sent me, I too send you.” He let out a long breath and something wispy and white rushed out to fill the room, lighting on every one of his believers. “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

We were suddenly outside, away from Fairwick. There stood Jesiah.

“Go and make disciples of all, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to follow all that I have commanded of them, and remember that I am with you to the end of the age.”

I watched as he ascended into Heaven and I blinked. Inexpressible joy bubbled up throughout my being and I spun around and grabbed Elthinor’s hands. He looked surprised. I pulled him forward and pressed a kiss to his cheek. He yelped covering the place I had kissed with one hand and staring at me with wide eyes.

“Filynora!” he gasped, his cheeks coloring slightly.

“He’s alive!” I shouted and everybody else began to smile as they realized this. “He’s alive!” I cried out again and laughed for joy.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Am-Life-Three-Scrolls-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B01A04N30O?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I Am the Life: Chapter 39

My legs felt weak and I leaned heavily against Elthinor, who supported me without question. Jaiden turned to me.

“What’s going on, Fily?” he asked, sounding a little angry.

“It’s not the entire scroll, Jaiden,” Elthinor said. “You remember what Nolan said when he handed it over.”

“How is that not the end?” he spat, leaping down off the crate and storming over to us. He jammed the scroll into my chest and I grabbed it from him.

“What’s your problem?” I demanded.

“My problem is that I was stupid enough to believe a Strangeling girl that said there was a God who was my Father, and who had a plan for me. All that studying I did, useless, all the time I spent on the subject, gone! I hope you’re happy, Fily.” The way he said my name reminded me of Tynan.

“He’s alive, Jaiden,” I snarled. “I’ve seen him! I’ve talked to him!”

“Now now,” Elyosius said, coming between us. “Let’s calm down, yes?”

“No!” we both shouted and I spun away and raced off.

I was a while outside of town when I saw a young man sitting against a tree, running a stick down a piece of paper. I approached him cautiously and peeked at what he was doing. It was an image of a bird on that piece of paper! He must be an artist, I thought. He paused and looked up.

“Yes?”

I thought for a second. “Could you draw Jesiah?”

“Which scene?”

“His death on the cross.”

“Certainly.”

I watched as he took a blank piece of paper and began sketching an outline then filling it in with darker lines. He didn’t need my instruction, it seemed. I should have wondered why, at the time, but I didn’t. He finished in the late afternoon, and handed it over.

“Anything else, milady?” he asked.

“No,” I said distractedly, turning around. The picture looked exactly as Jesiah had in his final moments, minus the color. It was the most gruesome scene I had ever laid eyes on. I was crying as I walked away, then stopped and turned.

“Thank…you?”

There was no sign of him anywhere! He was just gone. I searched for a while then gave up and went to Leah’s house. My father and Aloron were talking animatedly at the table when I walked in. They greeted me.

“Are you alright, my dear? You left quite abruptly,” Aloron said.

“Yes,” I said shortly.

“What have you got there, daughter of mine?” my father asked.

I handed him the paper, and he jerked when he saw it. Aloron moved over to look and he started, too. They studied it, carefully.

“This can’t be him, can it?” my father asked.

“It’s Jesiah,” I said softly.

“This is what it means to be crucified?” Aloron asked weakly.

“Yes. They beat him with canes, whips, and something with broken glass tied on the ends. They mocked him, asking him to tell them who hit him while he was blindfolded, and kept calling him king, though they didn’t mean it at all.”

They both looked stunned and tears appeared on their cheeks. One sank into a chair while the other leaned heavily against the wall. My father’s hands were shaking, made more obvious by the paper he held. I took it from him and joined them with my own tears. We were like that five minutes later when there was a knock at the window in the bedroom. I walked in and opened the shutters and Gabrithon whinnied in surprise as Elyosius and Aloron came through the door.

“Fily! What’s wrong?” he asked then looked around at the other two just as Elthinor and my friends walked in.

“Why is everybody crying?” Pinnathir asked, hurrying over to me. I handed him the drawing. He jolted and held it close to his face. “This is Jesiah on the cross,” he said blankly, quickly handing it back.

Everybody looked at it, some of them cried, others just stared. To my surprise, Gabrithon was one of the criers. He buried his face in his hands and just shuddered.

“Where did you get this?” Elthinor asked.

“I asked this man to draw it. He disappeared once I turned around and walked a few steps.” I paused. “He didn’t need me to describe the scene either,” I held the picture up so I could see it better. “He drew it like he was there. That’s exactly how Jesiah looked a few moments before he died, when he was crying out.”

“You saw it,” Jaiden said, staring at my face suspiciously.

“Of course I did. I always see what’s in the scrolls,” I replied.

Jaiden frowned and took the picture from me. He studied it, his eyes dashing from one part of the drawing to the other. He finally turned it around and pointed at Jesiah’s hands.

“What’s in his hands?”

“Nails. Really big nails,” I said, cringing and looking away.

Everybody shuddered, each doing something different to or with his hands as if to soothe nonexistent wounds. My father stepped forward after a short silence, clearing his throat.

“Daughter of mine, this man you saw, you say he just disappeared?”

“Yes.”

“And he drew this image as if he’d been there to see it?”

“Yes.”

“Well this is just a guess, but I think you might have seen an angel. A good one. When God wills it, they come down and pose as Humans or Elves or the other races for one reason or another. At least, it is said they do. It would definitely explain his disappearance.”

“He seemed so ordinary though,” I argued half-heartedly.

“I don’t know, Filynora. But ordinary folks don’t just disappear. And they most certainly wouldn’t be old enough to have seen him crucified,” my father said, looking a little exasperated.

“Why would he go quietly?” Jaiden asked suddenly. “The scroll said he didn’t cry out at all when he was being mocked and beaten. And besides that, he didn’t say much when he was being accused!”

“Quiet like a lamb being led to the slaughter,” my father marveled.

“A lamb?” I asked suddenly. “Like the Passover lamb?”

“Maybe.”

“Or like any lamb they used, I suppose,” I muttered. “And it ties in perfectly with father’s teaching. It would definitely explain how our sins are removed from us.”

“Filynora?” Jaiden asked slowly. “You’re not saying….are you?”

“What?” Gabrithon asked.

“He was the Lamb of God,” I said with a nod. “A lamb was used in the times before Jesiah’s death as an atonement for sins in the sight of God. It was a way to figuratively ‘wash away’ your sins. Jesiah became a lamb, in a sense. He took the punishment that we deserved by sacrificing himself on the cross, dying a gruesome death in place of us, who deserve death. Now, we still die. But instead of going to Hell, if we repent and trust in Jesiah, we’ll go to Heaven and live an eternal life instead of dying an eternal death. Not that we’d go out of existence, but that’s what the experience would be like.”

“But why would Jesiah’s sacrifice be accepted?” Gabrithon countered. Everybody else was staring at me as they thought about what I’d said.

Jaiden replied this time. “Because he’d perfectly fulfilled the law. The scrolls say he was completely sinless. And, since I’ve discussed this with Elyosius, I’ll tell you what he told me about the previous sacrifices. They had to be spotless. Without blemish. And sin would have been a blemish. But if Jesiah was truly sinless, he would have been the perfect spotless lamb. He also gave up his life willingly, which is something that I think would be necessary. I mean, look at what they called it. ‘Sacrifice.’ I don’t think if Jesiah was forced into it, that it would be called a sacrifice anymore.”

He stopped talking and we grinned at each other. Then we turned around to look at the others. They all looked shocked. Especially my father and Elthinor’s grandfather. Elyosius walked slowly up to me and placed his hands on my cheeks, tilting my face left and right as he looked at me.

“Where did that come from?” he asked after giving up. I shrugged and he sighed. “I hadn’t even thought of that. I should have. It seems so obvious now.”

“What do we do now?” Elthinor asked.

“I say we pray.”

I turned to look at Gabrithon. His eyes were bright and determined.

“Dost my ears deceive me?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.

“No, milady, they don’t. If somebody is crazy enough to sacrifice himself for me, who am I to reject the gift?”

“Gift,” I said with a smile. “That’s what eternal life is. We can’t earn it. We have nothing to offer but filthy rags because we’ve disobeyed God. You could say we’ve slapped him in the face with our disobedience.” I looked at my father and he smiled. “I agree with Gabrithon. Let’s pray.”

So we did.

Later that night, after going over the scrolls again with Elyosius, Aloron, and my friends, I threw the parchment the angel had drawn on into the fire. We watched it burn. “You shall not make any idols,” the third scroll said, and people could have started worshipping it somewhere down the line, instead of worshipping Jesiah. It had served its purpose. Now we had to serve part of ours.

 

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I Am the Life: Chapter 38

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.

 

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I Am the Life: Chapter 37

The blindness persisted for a long while. I stayed inside Jaiden’s room, unable to do anything else. My friends came and went throughout the days, but it was Aloron and my father who came back the most, just to hear me talk about what I had seen. They desired to see what I had even if it meant total blindness for the rest of their lives. I agreed completely. What I saw was so magnificent, so thrilling, so wonderfully unique that I would gladly live blind for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t have traded anything for it. I would always have that memory to recall, plus the times I had seen Jesiah and talked with him. I mulled over our conversations, seeking Truth in them. Truth was all I ever found. Besides those activities, I found myself praying quite a bit. I prayed for friends and, after a bit of sulking, my enemies. I prayed that God would guide us in the ways He had planned. I prayed for peace within the camp; the Centaurs had been troublesome lately.

I was lying in the bed, eyes staring in the direction of the ceiling, when I heard a knock at the window. I walked easily over to it—I had measured how many steps it took to get there—and worked the shutters open.

“Hail, Gabrithon,” I greeted.

“So you really are blind,” a female voice said.

“Vincentia? Yes, I am. I cannot see a thing.”

“You poor thing,” she said then paused. “What exactly caused you to go blind? I mean, there’s a rumor going around that you saw a god! Was it the great stallion?”

“I didn’t see a god. I saw the God. Or His glory, at least,” I said with a smile.

“What’s the difference?”

So I told her of Jesiah and the story of the world as told by the scrolls. When I stopped the story, she urged me to continue.

“I cannot,” I said sadly. “Though we have the fifth scroll, or part of it at least, it hasn’t been read, not to me or to anyone else.”

“Tell me of how you went blind then.”

I did so and she frowned.

“This God of yours doesn’t seem to be like any god I’ve ever heard of.”

“He’s amazing isn’t he?” I asked as I perched on the windowsill.

“He’s…odd,” she said, sounding unsure. “Doesn’t He demand sacrifices?”

“My father said there used to be a bunch of laws in place that told how sacrifices should be done and when to do them. There were a lot of bulls, rams, sheep, lambs, birds, and other animals sacrificed at the old Temple that was destroyed. They even said there were celebrations like the Passover where they slaughtered animals. In the Passover’s case it was a lamb. That was how you stayed right with God. Father said that’s useless now, though he’s not sure why. Something about a Perfect Lamb, but that’s all he can remember.”

“Oh,” she sounded stunned. “Well, that’s certainly something. A few generations ago we used to sacrifice children to our stallion. The practice was stopped by one of the kings, who didn’t want to sacrifice the particular child he was supposed to.”

“That’s horrible!” I gasped. “I really don’t think our God would have us sacrifice our children to Him! That’s just not right.”

“It isn’t. The females never liked it, except the extremely devoted ones. Who wants to sacrifice their foal to something we cannot even see? It’s ridiculous.”

“Well, in God’s case, the One True God that is, just because you cannot see or hear him doesn’t mean he’s not there. You have to know He’s there. Just look at His marvelous creation.”

Vincentia suddenly paused a moment. “What an odd coincidence,” she said. “At this very moment, the most beautiful blue and green butterfly has chosen to land on my shoulder.” She went silent for about two minutes then sighed. “It is gone. Your words hold weight. I shall consider them carefully Filynora.”

I suddenly felt a tug on my sleeve and I nearly fell out the window. The Centaur queen caught me and helped me balance again.

“What was that?” I heard a little whinny. “Nora?”

“Yes,” Vincentia said. “She was half asleep. Not anymore.”

“Poor little thing,” I said. “Standing there while we talk. She must be bored to death.”

“Not really. She’s trying to catch all the butterflies out here. It’s the perfect entertainment for her.”

Before I could say anything else, there was a knock at the door. I instinctively turned my head to look where the door was.

“Come in,” I said, raising my voice slightly.

“Fily!” Elthinor said happily, and I heard his footsteps.

He clicked his tongue then he touched my hand lightly. Since I jumped every time somebody touched me without warning, Valtrak had suggested the tongue click to tell me when they were going to touch me in any way, whether it be grabbing my hand or touching my shoulder. I knew to expect it, I just didn’t know where.

“How are you?” he asked, tracing his finger around my skin gently.

I smiled. “Blind.”

“Well, I wish I could change that,” he said. “Even though you’ve made your position on being blind or not seeing God quite clear.”

“It’s irritating, but well worth what I saw,” I said softly.

“Hello Vincentia,” Elthinor said, and I could hear the patient smile in his voice.

“Greetings, Elf.”

“And how are you this fine day?”

“I am well. But I do have business to attend to, so if you’ll excuse me. Come along, Nora.”

“Goodbye,” I said, waving.

I sat there quietly for a minute or two, just thinking. Elthinor didn’t move either, or at least, not audibly. I stirred from my reverie and turned my head to ‘look’ where I thought Elthinor was. He placed his finger on my chin and turned it a little more.

“I’m right here,” he said, no trace of disdain or amusement in his voice. He clicked his tongue and kissed my forehead. “I’m supposed to take you to the Elf camp. The Elf king and the Dwarf king want proof that you’re blind. They both say that they won’t go to war without you.”

I was hesitant to go out. The Dwarf camp was close by, yes, but I was used to seeing where I was going. Sighing, I finally nodded.

“Don’t let go,” I said after he had gripped my hand, sounding scared even to my own ears.

After I had tripped four times just two minutes from the house, Elthinor stopped pulling me along and came around behind me. True to his word, he kept his hand in mine, but he placed the other on my shoulder and stayed close enough that we were almost touching. I could hear my name being whispered all around us; my hearing had greatly improved since I had gone blind. I tried to ignore them. Suddenly the whispers started to get quieter then started stopping. I could hear heavy steps that didn’t sound Human.

“Gabrithon?” I guessed.

The sound of his hoof steps skipped. “How in the world did you know I was here? Unless of course, you can see again?” the Centaur finished hopefully.

“No. I heard you. And you made everybody stop whispering. Were you glaring at them or something?”

Gabrithon laughed softly. “Yes, Fily, I was. Would you like a ride?”

“I’ve got her, Gabrithon,” Elthinor said. “Unless you would be more comfortable?”

“It’s fine, Elthinor. Unless I hurt myself, I think I’ll walk.”

We walked for a while until Elthinor lowered me to the ground.

“I’ll be right back, Fily. I have to go get the kings. Gabrithon’s right beside you.”

I sat there calmly, not afraid of being hurt. Everybody knew not to harm me. I heard Elthinor’s voice drawing nearer, along with Korvict’s. Then I heard Lolaiken’s. I stood to greet them, hearing Gabrithon walking forward to do the same, when, without any warning whatsoever, hands grabbed my arms. I screamed, and jolted backward. When the arms didn’t let go, the word enemy flashed through my mind, so I swept his legs out from under him, falling with him to pin his arms to the ground. I grabbed the knife at my hip with one hand then pressed it to skin.

“Fily! Stop! It’s Lochanor!” Elthinor cried out, and I heard him run forward.

He clicked his tongue then helped me up. I guided my knife back to the sheath and pressed back against my Elven friend. That had scared me. It truly had. Lochanor had made no noise, not a “Hello” or even footsteps. I snarled as a possible reason for that hit me.

“Where are Korvict and Lolaiken?” I asked.

“Right here, my dear,” Korvict said. Elthinor clicked his tongue behind me right before I felt a clearly Dwarvish hand touching mine.

“Which one of you thought to test my blindness but doing that?” I demanded harshly, though I didn’t jerk my hand out of the king’s.

“That would be me,” Lolaiken said, sounding embarrassed. “I was hoping that you were faking your blindness. I’ve never seen you look scared like that before. I suppose that you must be blind.”

“Just look at her eyes!” Elthinor said angrily, hugging me tightly.

There were footsteps and my Elven friend clicked his tongue again. Fingers touches my cheeks and somebody was suddenly close enough that I could feel his breath on me.

“They’re…they’re white!” Lolaiken exclaimed. “That’s impossible!”

“Not for Dwarves,” Korvict said. “But it does look quite odd on her. Besides that, the part of her eye that should be colored does not move to follow you when you change places, Lolaiken. If that doesn’t prove she’s blind, I don’t know what does.”

“Then we have a problem,” the Elf said seriously.

“You can’t pull out of this war!” I exclaimed suddenly, reaching forward and catching his arm as he withdrew his hand.

“Filynora, I absolutely refuse to fight if you’re not with us,” Lolaiken said sternly. “Korvict is in agreement with me.”

“As am I,” Gabrithon said suddenly.

I froze. “What? Gabrithon, you can’t be serious! You have to fight!”

“I won’t go into battle without you.”

“Why not? I won’t miss anything.”

“No, but God is in your favor. If we go without you, we’ll all die.”

“You don’t even believe in God!” I growled. “So why would it matter if I’m in His favor?”

There was silence. I stomped my foot in irritation, wishing desperately to see his face. I walked toward where the voice had come from, Elthinor guiding me. I found myself touching his side once we had stopped walking and I had reached out. I heard the swish of Gabrithon’s tail.

“Your pride is no different than your father’s,” I said softly. “You refuse to admit that you might even possibly be wrong. You’re stubborn. Why? What are you so afraid of?”

“I don’t need another father,” Gabrithon said after a long pause. I could hear the bitterness in his voice.

“This one is the perfect Father,” I said gently. “But you know something? It doesn’t matter if you tell me anything. It’s between you and God.”

I removed my hand and pressed back into Elthinor and we backed up a little bit.

“Let’s go. Can you take me back to Leah’s?” I asked my Elven companion.

“Certainly.”

He guided me back and I smelled the flowers that signified we were almost there. I touched the doorpost to the house and broke away from Elthinor. I knew the house quite well. I did bump into something on the floor, but I managed to get to what was practically my room at this point. I moved to the bed and there was a click in front of me. I paused.

“Who’s there?” I asked, backing up a step and placing a hand on my knife hilt.

“Relax, daughter of mine,” my father said.

“Yes, child, come here. We have an idea,” Aloron said.

“What would that be, Grandfather?” Elthinor asked from the doorway behind me.

I walked forward and I heard them shifting on the bed. One of them grabbed my arm and guided me in between them.

My father cleared his throat. “Now, for both of us, prayer has been a powerful force in both of our lives. It has not just given us support, but a way to talk to God. It is an anchor in every storm, and yet another blessing in times of peace. In many instances in what were letters written to the early Jesites, there are words like ‘Is among you who are sick? If so, let the elders come and pray for him. The prayer of faith shall save the sick.'”

“Elyosius told me this, and I suggested we try this for you. I do not know what an elder is, but we have both been believers for the longest time. Maybe our prayers can heal your blindness.”

“I suppose we can try it,” I said. “How does this work?”

They pressed their hands onto my shoulders, Aloron’s on one side, my father’s on the other. There was silence and I wondered if they were going to pray out loud.

“I’ll go first,” Elyosius finally said. “My most wonderful, glorious, holy Father in Heaven. You are the most amazing Being that we will ever know. You are more powerful than we will ever truly understand. You, in your perfect wholeness, created everything out of nothing. You were an Artist with no paint, and You still brought forth color and life. We thank You for that, because You still made us even though You knew of our rebellion beforehand.”

He stopped and Aloron began. “You are great and amazing. Since You made life, You are aware of every aspect of it, and You can change whatever You want. Your will is beyond us, but we trust in You that You know what You’re doing. We pray now for Filynora, that You would restore her sight, which she lost beholding Your glory. I would give anything to see it in this life, but I am assured of it in the next. I have confessed and am trying to forsake my sins, but it is a long process. I pray for Your patience.”

My father spoke after a pause. “I know You have the power to heal my daughter. If it is in Your will, I know it shall be done. And may Your will be done forever and always. In Jesiah’s precious name we pray.”

And they both said. “Amen.”

I blinked. Everything was still dark. “Oh well,” I said with a shrug.

“Well, it was worth a try,” Aloron said.

“You know something?” Elyosius asked, a smile in his voice. “Sometimes His answer is ‘Yes.’ Sometimes His answer is ‘No.’ And sometimes His answer is ‘Wait.’ He might still heal her. It might be a while. Not everything is instantaneous.”

“We’ll see,” I said with a smile.

“Now Filynora,” Aloron said, a lilting quality to his voice.

“I’ll tell you again,” I said with a soft smile. “It started when Nolan’s designs faded. I saw a bright flash of light…”

Three days passed and my blindness persisted. Then on the third day, my eyes started to itch. I was constantly blinking and rubbing them. I withstood the almost painful sensation for three more days. I was nearly driven crazy by it. One night, as I ate my supper, I resolved to have the first person through the door in the morning look at my eyes. I barely slept, making it the fourth night I had lost sleep. Leah was the first one in, but she was busy and handed me my plate, then all I heard was hurried footsteps. I ate all that was on my plate, set it on the bedside table, and sulked. I was viciously rubbing my eyes again when there was a knock on the door.

“Come in!” I spat harshly, too irritated to care that I was rude.

“Fily?” Elthinor asked, hurrying in. “What’s wrong?”

“My eyes! They itch, Elthinor!” I was practically in tears. “It won’t stop. Something has to be wrong! Please look at them.”

“How long have they been itching?” Elthinor asked, his voice getting closer before he settled on the bed.

“This is the fifth day,” I admitted.

“You should have told me sooner, Fily,” he admonished gently.

He clicked his tongue and both of his hands touched my face, one above my left eye, the other below it. He stretched my eye open and hummed softly.

“There’s something there,” he said slowly, sounding a little surprised. “I’m going to touch your eye and see if I can get it out.”

He clicked his tongue again and I instinctively flinched and tried to close my eye as he touched it. His fingers pinched together and he pulled back. The air was suddenly freezing against my eye and I actually did close it. There was a long silence.

“It’s some kind of film,” he said, and I knew he was studying it. “Let me see your other eye.”

He clicked his tongue, placed his hands on my face, and stretched my right eye open. I kept my left eye closed because when I attempted to open it, it burned from the cold air. He pinched his fingers together again and suddenly the other eye was burning, too. I closed them both and kept them closed. Elthinor was silent and I fluttered my eyelids several time until my eyes no longer burned. I opened them and my jaw dropped. For there in front of me was Elthinor, studying two curved films that had been over my eyes. I could see! He finally hummed and got up, walking over to the window and flicking the films outside. He moved back over to the bed, sitting down to look at me. He promptly froze.

“Fily, your eyes! They’re back to normal!” he gasped. “Does that mean…?”

“I can see!” I crowed happily, leaping off the bed and dancing around.

He jumped up and picked me up under my arms, spinning me around. Lowering me back to the floor and smiling happily, he pressed a kiss to my forehead. There was a knock on the door. I raced over and flung it open to see my father and Aloron. I saw them stare at my eyes and hope flared on their faces.

“I can see!” I assured them and suddenly I was in two embraces.

“It worked!” Elyosius cried out joyfully. “Thank you God! Thank you so much!”

Aloron was thanking God, too. So was Elthinor. I did, too, with no hesitation. It was a miracle. A true miracle. And God was the only one who could pull of those.

“What now, daughter of mine?” Elyosius asked when our jubilee was done.

“Now we need to go talk to Korvict and Lolaiken,” I said firmly. “And tell them we’re all going to battle. How are the plans coming along for that, Elthinor?”

“Before you went blind, we were letting the Centaurs in on the plans. We’re as ready as we’ll ever be.”

“I want us ready to march in one week. We’ll go around wide and come around to face the city.”

“Let’s go tell everybody the good news. And then the plans,” Aloron said. “Now tell us how she is suddenly seeing.”

 

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