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.

 

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I Am the Life: Chapter 44

Autumn and winter passed, though we were safely back at Greensage for them. Spring came and with it, a surprise I honestly thought would never happen. And it scared me. I avoided everybody for two weeks until my father finally caught up with me.

“Daughter of mine, is something wrong?” he asked as he settled beside me on the grassy knoll. “Even Elthinor hasn’t seen you much.”

I muttered something and placed my head in my hands. My father stared at me intently for a few minutes.

“You’re pregnant,” he finally said.

I jerked my head up. “How did you know that?” I demanded.

“You’re acting like your mother did when she got pregnant with you and Nolan,” Elyosius said with a laugh. “Let me guess and surprise you even more. You don’t think you’ll be a fit mother, you’re not ready for a child, and you’re scared out of your mind because it’s going to happen anyway.”

I nodded. “It’s horrible. How can I raise a child? And will the child be Elf or Human? Or some combination of both? What will Elthinor think? What will my friend think? What do I do?”

“Do you really want my advice?” I nodded. “Tell them. Especially Elthinor. They’ll be thrilled and they probably will even help you raise the child.”

“When?”

“How about now? They sent me to find you. They’re talking about clearing the Oidynhall library in the Satyr’s pavilion.”

I took a deep breath and nodded. “Being pregnant is horrible,” I said.

“Throwing up?”

“Not yet, but I’m nauseated all the time.”

“My deepest condolences.”

We walked to the pavilion and slipped inside. Everybody turned to look at me. Elthinor looked thrilled, hurrying up and grabbing my hand.

“There you are! Here, this is our plan.”

I listened quietly. They planned to start in the summer. I swallowed and glanced at my father. He nodded encouragingly.

“I can go, but I can’t work,” I said tersely.

Elthinor looked shocked. “Why not, Fily? You love working the mines! How is this any different?”

“It’s not,” I said. “But I have a slight problem.”

“What?” Valtrak asked.

I swallowed and guided Elthinor’s hand up to rest against the area just below my navel. He stared for a few seconds then comprehension flooded his face.

“Oh Fily!” he cried. “Are you really?”

I nodded, keeping my eyes on the ground. He scooped me up and twirled me around.

“Oh I hope it’s a girl!” he exclaimed.

“You’re pregnant?” Gabrithon asked, a little slow on what I had meant by that action.

“Yes,” I said bitterly.

Everybody stopped celebrating.

“Filynora?” Elthinor asked. “Don’t you want a daughter? Or a son?”

“I don’t know!” I snapped. “I hate being a girl again, that much I do know!”

“But Filynora, this is joyous news,” Pinnathir said softly, taking my hand. “Why are you unhappy?”

I asked my questions again, rephrasing a little.

Jaiden snickered. “You’re worried about what we think? We’re happy for you! Pinnathir is right. This is wonderful news. Only you seem to be down about it.”

“As for how you raise a child,” Vincentia said, pulling the growing Nora closer. “I’d say start with one day at a time.”

I smiled. “I suppose you’re all right.”

Elthinor got a tray and held it out to me. It was some kind of sweet bread. The smell hit me and I gasped, turning and sprinting out of the tent to heave up what little breakfast I had eaten. Elthinor looked guilty as I came back in. The offending food was gone.

“Sorry, Fily,” he said apologetically.

“I’m going to have to get used to that,” I said weakly.

“Now, we obviously can’t do it within the next year, but how about next summer?” Valtrak said.

“Sounds good. Right Fily?”

“Right,” I said, going to stand by him.

He held my hand. “I love you Filynora,” he said seriously.

“I love you, too,” I replied happily.

 

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.”

 

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

I Am the Life: Chapter 36

The shoes were gone, uncomfortable to run in. I sprinted past the last houses and could hear pursuing feet behind me. I didn’t want to be caught. Just when the lights of the camps around Greensage were disappearing behind me, I heard a grunt. My ankle was caught in a strong grip and I tripped. Immediately I began fighting as the owner of the hand crawled up and flipped me over.

“Filynora!” Elthinor said, panting heavily. “Stop it! Calm down, please!”

I screamed in response. All I could think about was Shaylee. She was so cruel, so hateful. Why couldn’t she just have left Elthinor alone? I sobbed and fought harder, but he hand my wrists pinned to the ground, so I jerked my knee up, hoping to hit his groin. I missed and we fought on. I saw torches being carried towards us so I used all of my strength to get away. Two steps away, another hand grabbed my ankle, this one made of iron. I knew who it was. It was Valtrak. Even though I knew for certain I wasn’t getting out of his grip unless he released me, I screamed again, a wounded sound, and kicked out. Elthinor’s hands grabbed me and picked me up, settling me in front of Valtrak so the Dwarf could put his arms firmly around me and keep me there. We were bathed in torchlight, but it was almost silly for them to bring them. The moon was big and bright tonight. I went limp after another minute of fighting. Valtrak was just too strong.

“Filynora!” Elthinor exclaimed, kneeling in front of me. “What’s wrong?”

I let out another piercing scream then lowered my head and cried. After a moment of silence, I heard movement. A hand was placed on my forehead and my face was lifted up. Before I could force the hand away, or at least snap at it, something cold was splashed on my face. I sputtered as a cloth was wiped across my face. There was another splash followed by another round with the cloth. This happened again and again until Elthinor was satisfied. I was in shock. What was that about? Then I saw the cloth. It was covered in the stuff Laetitia and Melanari had painted my face with. I began crying again. That meant I was my plain, ugly self again.

“Filynora?” Gabrithon asked, lowering himself to get as close to my level as possible; he was holding one of the torches.

“What’s the matter?” Pinnathir knelt down, though he was behind Elthinor. Jaiden hung around behind them, holding the other torch.

I didn’t respond, jerking forward to try to break Valtrak’s grip. He didn’t even move. I moaned and lowered my head again. Elthinor touched my chin and I bit him, hard. He yowled and pulled his hand back toward his body. I had broken skin and bright, fresh blood dripped into the grass. He stared at me incredulously.

“What in the world is the matter?” he demanded suddenly, his voice holding more authority than I had ever heard from him. It was a far cry from the Elf I remembered from Ellavendir.

“Why don’t you just go and be with Shaylee?” I barked, feeling compelled to answer.

Through my hair I saw him freeze. “What?” he asked, his voice holding a funny lilt.

“Go on, get!” I spat. “She’s the pretty one, the one who wants to marry you. Go and fulfill her wish!”

“But Filynora, I don’t want to marry her!” Elthinor said with a laugh.

“You have to marry soon, though,” I said. “Your family will expect you to preserve your line. See if I care if you marry such a little worm.”

“I told you, Fily, I don’t want to marry her,” he said, his voice infinitely gentle.

“Well then who do you want to marry?” I asked, looking him full in the face. “There has to be someone.”

“There is,” he said evasively. “But if I told you who, you wouldn’t believe it.”

“Filynora,” Valtrak said from behind me. “We told you once that Elthinor would always pick you over that Elf girl.”

“You’d be my friend over hers?” I demanded hotly, looking right into his eyes.

Unflinchingly, he nodded. “Of course Filynora. You know, I really don’t like her. She’s much too stupid, and her voice is terribly grating on the nerves. Her designs aren’t very pretty either. The blue is much too light and the pink isn’t nearly as pretty as my sister’s pink.”

I felt a wave of relief and stopped straining against Valtrak. He liked me better than he liked Shaylee. That was wonderful! Besides that, he didn’t want to marry her, which made me even happier. Valtrak released me, but I could sense he was poised to recapture me if I tried to run again. But I didn’t want to run. Not anymore.

“Good, you’re calm. Elthinor said. “Now I have two questions for you. One, what’s the real reason you dressed up? And don’t tell me it was just to ‘look nice’ either.”

I felt my face heat up and suddenly I did want to run again. As if sensing this, Valtrak placed firm hands on my shoulders. I didn’t want to tell them the truth. It was so silly. But I still felt as if it were true. I had never really felt pretty in my life, and now I knew it to be true that I wasn’t. Elthinor reached over and caressed my face.

“Come on, Fily. We’re your friends,” he said softly.

“You’ll think it’s dumb,” I growled.

“No we won’t,” Gabrithon said.

“Fine, you want the truth? I’m ugly and I thought if Laetitia and Melanari made me look fancy, you’d think I wasn’t.”

There was nothing but shocked silence. Then Elthinor began to laugh, which prompted everyone to laugh. Tears filled my eyes and I bit back a sob. It was true then. When my Elven friend had calmed down enough to see my tears, his laughter abruptly stopped.

“Don’t cry, Fily,” he said kindly. “You misunderstand our laughter.” He pulled me to my feet, held one hand above my head and said, “Give us a twirl.”

Confused, I did so. I could feel the dress I wore fanning out around me. The others clapped.

“What?” I asked. “What are you seeing?”

“Lithe grace,” Gabrithon said, winking.

“Coiled fury,” Pinnathir replied.

“The strength of a thousand Dwarfinlas,” Valtrak rumbled.

“The best archer in the land,” Jaiden said with a nod.

“And I see battle prowess unmatched by any,” Elthinor chuckled. “See? No ugliness.”

“Yes I am,” I said unhappily. “None of what you mentioned has anything to do with how I look.”

“Precisely the point,” the green and silver Elf said. “You’re beautiful no matter the outward appearance. Though I must admit, as both an Elf and a Human, you’re the most fair I have ever seen.”

“Not bad at all,” said Pinnathir. “You know, from the waist up. The legs are weird.”

“For your race, you do seem quite beautiful,” Valtrak said.

“She is. Much better than any Human. And especially that Elf Shaylee!” Jaiden said, causing laughter in agreement.

“Which brings me to my second question,” Elthinor said. “What made you hit her?”

“She called me something,” I said shortly.

“What could she have possibly called you to make you look so, well, scary?” Valtrak asked.

My face got hot again and my designs flared out. It was improper to even say the word to a male, but I had never let that stop me before.

“She called me a whore,” I said, eyes flashing. “She accused me of being with all of you, which would be the reason you kept me around.”

A second of silence was followed by screams of outrage. Elthinor’s grip on my hand tightened until it was painful then he released me and  began pacing. Gabrithon had reared and he came down hard with a squeal of pure rage, eyes glowing eerily in the firelight. Pinnathir bleated, and stomped his hoof, while both Valtrak and Jaiden stared at me with wide eyes.

“That isn’t even physically possible with three of us,” Valtrak stated once things had calmed down a little.

“Once that wretched abomination wakes up, I’m going to have a talk with her!” Elthinor barked. “She is never to even look at you again!”

I didn’t say anything. The way they reacted made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Shaylee was no longer a threat, and they loved me the way I was. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t hate being different anymore. They didn’t care that I wasn’t normal. Besides, normal was such a relative term. What seemed normal to us didn’t necessarily mean normal for anybody else. The Elves’ practices weren’t normal to the Satyrs, just as the Centaurs’ practices weren’t normal to the Dwarves. It was all a matter of perspective. And I had just found the right one. I laughed there amongst my angry friends and they all looked at me.

“Filynora? Are you alright?” Elthinor asked concernedly.

“Yes, Elthinor. I am more than alright. I feel amazing. I love all of you, too.”

They all stared at me for a moment.

“Do you finally understand?” Valtrak asked.

“What?” I turned around to look at him.

“I have watched you struggle with who you are for a while now. You have just come to terms with it. You are just the way God made you. There is no use wishing to be anybody else because if you were different in any way, big or small, then you simply just wouldn’t be you.”

After a pause, Gabrithon said, “You always surprise me when such wisdom passes your lips.”

“I try,” the Dwarf replied with a smile.

The atmosphere was relaxed. Then suddenly, it wasn’t. A scream tore through the night and I immediately looked toward the sound. I saw Human-like figures chasing another Human-like figure. I was guessing the second one was actually Human. We weren’t dressed for battle. I didn’t even have my knife on me, forsaking it for the chance of being ‘pretty.’ I looked around then grabbed the torch from Jaiden before sprinting towards the pursuing figures.

“Filynora! It’s suicide!” Elthinor screamed.

They had pinned the Human to the ground and were tearing at him. I leaped over to face them and they were stunned by the fire. Llugat snarled, and I smirked as I plunged the fire into the nearest Vampire. He shrieked as he was immediately set ablaze. He caught three more on fire and the rest dashed back out of the firelight as their skin started bubbling. Their red eyes stared at me through the darkness.

“We shall be in pain if we do not kill this wretched brat,” Llugat said, his voice holding a tinge of fear.

“Too bad,” I growled. “Go away.”

They hissed and suddenly began to run just as I heard running behind me. I turned and thrust the torch into Jaiden’s hands and knelt down beside the bleeding form. I grunted as I flipped him over and my breath caught in my throat.

Nolan?” I gasped.

“Fily,” he moaned.

Jerkily, he sat up and dropped the pack that he had been shielding from the Vampires to the ground. He stripped his tattered shirt off and I groaned for him. Slashes, gouges, and bites covered his torso and neck. But wait, there was something on his arm. He untied the string and pulled it off. It was the scroll. He handed it to me.

“That’s only a part of it, sister,” he said shakily, lying back down. “They tore the rest of it from me.”

He looked bad. Without question, Elthinor picked him up and we began hurrying to the town. As soon as we got to the came, Gabrithon thundered off to find Aloron and my father. We took Nolan to the only place we could think of: Leah’s house. We lay him on the floor and Elthinor began tending his wounds. Aloron and Elyosius burst into the room and Aloron swallowed, placing a hand on Elthinor’s shoulder. When the green and silver Elf looked up, the red and black one shook his head.

“It’s no use, lad. He’s not going to make it.”

“I know,” Elthinor said, looking at me.

For what seemed like the hundredth time that night, I felt tears well in my eyes. I looked into Nolan’s face, and he was looking directly at me. He used the bedside table to force himself up into a sitting position.

“I knew I wouldn’t survive,” Nolan said hollowly. “If the monsters didn’t get me, then Fily would. But I don’t mind. Not anymore. I read the last scroll and it…it doesn’t make sense. But it’s so wonderful, so fantastic, that it must be truth. I confessed my sins and trusted in Jesiah. He forgave me. He forgave me because he said he would.”

“Nolan—” I began, but he cut me off.

“No, let me speak. My time is limited. Father,” he said, turning to the purple and red Elf. “I am so sorry. I let my feelings get the best of me. I betrayed you and turned against you. Please forgive me.”

“Of course, son of mine. I’m sorry, too. If I had taught you better—”

“No. You did nothing wrong. Filynora, I did the same to you. Please forgive me?” his voice was getting softer and he looked like he was fighting to stay conscious.

“Yes brother. I forgive you,” I said with a nod. “It was a pleasure traveling with you. Now please stay alive.”

“I believe God is calling me home, Filynora,” Nolan said with a smile. “Oh how I wish you could remember those stories father would tell us before this whole mess started. There was the one about the sheep and the shepherd. I like that one. When just one goes astray, the shepherd goes after it, leaving the rest of the flock. The Great Shepherd finally caught me, Fily. I was a naughty little sheep, but he forgave me and is bringing me to the rest of the flock.”

His voice was so quiet now and suddenly the flesh on half of my body burned fiercely. I gasped and doubled over, pressing my hands and forehead against the floor.

“So cold,” Nolan moaned.

“So hot!” I cried out.

Nolan opened the pack that he’d brought and motioned me toward him. I crawled to his side, cursing the dress I wore. On his face, chest, arms, and feet, there were his designs. They seemed incomplete, as they only went across half of his body. Nolan pulled out a book. It was thick and black and had a cover on it that had a leather strip and a clasp that kept it closed. He handed the book to me.

“This contains the strengths and weaknesses of the creatures you face. Use it. The battle shall be very soon. Within the month. If you don’t attack by then, the Dark Master shall bring the battle to you,” he said then shivered. As soon as he did, the burning intensified. I moaned low in my throat at the pain.

He reached up and stroked my cheek. “You are the bravest, smartest girl I have ever known. You’re going to like what’s in the scroll. But you have to fight to get the last part. I love you, sister. We could have been best friends.” He turned to look at Elthinor. “You take good care of her, you hear? When she gets to Heaven I want to hear only good things.”

Elthinor smiled faintly. “Certainly. Now, you save a spot for us.”

“Yes. Of course,” Nolan fell sideways onto the ground. “I love you father,” he groaned, looking desperately to Elyosius.

“I love you, son, forever and always,” our father said, tears gleaming on his cheeks.

The burning reached a fever pitch and I saw the color on Nolan’s designs fading to a dull grey. He looked at me and just as the pain overwhelmed me, his eyes lost focus and widened. A flash of blinding light filled my vision…

I saw Nolan, clothed in black. As I watched, what looked like blood gushed over him. As the blood oozed off him, the garment beneath turned white. I stared. That wasn’t possible. But it happened. As I watched, Jesiah walked over to him. Nolan fell on his face at the radiant glory that spread from Jesiah’s form. I looked up to where they were walking and saw the most awesome sight I had ever beheld. It was light and color so brilliant that I couldn’t fathom it. Was that God? I suddenly knew that it had to be. Jaiden had it right, but it wasn’t strong enough. God was so pure, so holy that I knew I should cease to exist. I was wretched and I deserved the sin stained garment that covered me. Tears poured down my cheeks as I realized how unworthy we all were. Nothing we could do could ever give us the privilege of walking before such amazing holiness. We were doomed. Unless…Jesiah. There had to be some connection with Jesiah. He was God’s son. What was the connection? I had to find out. My soul ached for the companionship of that One Being. It was if I were made for it.

“Filynora!” called a voice as for the second time that night I was doused in water.

I yelped and sat up, blinking at the darkness around me. I groped in front of me and Elthinor grabbed my hand.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

“I’m blind.” I said calmly.

“No you’re not,” Valtrak said.

“I can’t see. Everything’s just not there,” I said. “What happened?”

“You collapsed with your eyes open then you started crying. Were you seeing something?”

“The most amazing Something there is,” I said, lowering my head.

“What’s that?” my father asked.

“I saw a little bit of God,” I said simply.

They pressed for more information, and I began telling them what I had seen and felt and thought.

 

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

I Am the Life: Chapter 35

Shaylee looked at me, a gang of young Elfinas behind her. I arched an eyebrow; my forehead no longer hurt, so I could hold the expression. Shaylee’s hand was completely bandaged from the wrist up. I hoped it hurt. The Elf girls were looking me up and down, sizing me up.

“You were right, Shaylee, she is,” a blue and grey Elf said.

“I am what?” I asked.

“I told them how ugly you are,” she said lightly.

“I know I’m not a good little girl, but that doesn’t bother me anymore.”

“What? No! I mean physically. You’re so plain and boring. Even your designs are stupid. I can’t believe Elthinor can look at you without flinching.”

It felt like a knife was plunged into my chest. I didn’t know what to think. That hurt. I had never considered myself beautiful. I knew better than that. I thought I was at least pretty. I thought about who was talking, but I couldn’t shake the truth of the words. I wasn’t even pretty. I was in pain, and Shaylee smirked.

“Poor Filynora,” she crooned. “Elthinor can’t care about you. You’re just too different, yet so very plain.”

I reached forward and squeezed her injured hand, making her cry out, then shoved past them angrily. I hurried to Leah’s house and opened the door. Nobody was home, but she said I was welcome anytime. I walked over to the mirror they had hung by the entrance to her and her husband’s bedroom. There was plenty of light so I could clearly see myself. My face was plain, I decided as I stared at it. And my hair was straight and plain as well. My skin was tanned from my many adventures in the sun’s harsh light. Elthinor’s skin hadn’t tanned much at all. It was still pale, which was the preferred shade by Elven culture. I brought my designs forward and saw no beauty in them. They were simply a mar on my skin, and the color did nothing for my hair. I wasn’t just plain, I thought unhappily, I was ugly. But, I thought with a little hope, I could make myself seem pretty.

I went through the day miserable. I cringed every time Elthinor looked my way and he grew immensely concerned. I knew he had to be faking it. Shaylee had been right, he couldn’t care. I was just too…me, I thought sadly. I finally left my friends and wondered over to the Satyrs’ camp. I found the two I was looking for. Melanari was putting up Laetitia’s hair. There was going to be a celebration of the five races being together for the first time in ages tonight, suggested by Gabrithon, of course, and the other four races agreed. We were having it to the southeast of the town and tables were already being carried out there. There was food being prepared from every race, all different recipes and ways of preparation.

“Hello Filynora!” Laetitia said.

“Hello,” I said, standing in front of the two of them. “I have a request.”

“And what would that be?”

“I was thinking that this celebration is a special occasion and I want to look my best. Could you two help me get ready once you’re done?”

They both leaped up and squealed in their eagerness. “Yes!” came their cries.

“Thank you. I’ll be in Leah’s house.”

“Do you have a dress for the occasion?” Melanari asked.

“Dress for whom?” Miyana asked as she came out of the tent.

“Filynora. She wants to be dressed up for tonight.”

Miyana’s eyes went directly to mine. “Why?”

“I just want to look nice for tonight,” I replied.

“No other reason?”

“No.”

“Well,” she said slowly. “In that case, I have a lovely dress for you. I had the tailors make several new ones for you.”

I wanted to groan, but this is what I was asking for, so I simply smiled when she brought out a green and silver dress. Melanari smiled and ran her hands over the material then looked directly at me, nodding.

“That is absolutely perfect.”

“It matches Elthinor’s colors,” I said, smiling. “I like it.”

“Good. Now, we’ll be at Leah’s house in a few hours.”

I walked back to the house, walking in to see Leah cooking a pot of stew. I suddenly had an idea. I made, first one thick circle of dough and formed it into a bowl with straight edges then another. Once I was sure it would hold its shape, I placed them in the oven. Two hours later, I took the dish out of the oven. I told Leah what I needed, then I went out and got two rabbits. I walked in the house and cooked them with apple slices and chopped onions.

While those were cooking, I got the top pastries ready, humming to myself. Once the rabbit was done, after I’d mixed in some cider so that it could simmer, I took out the meat, apples, and onions and placed them in the thick pastry bowl. I mixed flour and butter together, cut them into small bits, and placed them into the mixture left in the pan, stirring it until it thickened. I added a couple spices then sniffed as I tasted it. Satisfied, I poured half the mixture in one pan and half in the other. I then placed the tops over them, cut slits in them for the steam to escape, then placed them beside the oven. I would put them in about forty-five minutes before the celebration. Right then, Melanari and Laetitia opened the door.

“Mm, smells good in here,” the pink and purple Elf lass said.

“Rabbit coffyns,” I said with a smile. “My mother’s recipe. I don’t know what Leah’s making.”

“Damian slaughtered one of our lambs. I’m making lamb stew, slow cooked to bring out the flavor,” Leah said.  “You two look quite nice. What are you doing here? And with a dress?”

“We just finished getting ready for the celebration tonight. We’re here for Filynora,” Laetitia said, grabbing me and moving to Jaiden’s room.

“Really?” Leah asked.

“I want to look nice for tonight,” I said with a shrug. “If this goes on too long, the coffyns take about forty five minutes, okay?”

“What’s a coffyn?” Melanari asked.

“It looks like a pie,” Laetitia said, releasing me and walking over to them.

“Yes, yes it does,” the Elf girl said.

“You call my Kindle Wolf a Hellhound,” I said to her. “I can call your…pie a coffyn.”

“Well, I suppose we can take that. Now come on.”

After closing the shutters, they actually had Leah bring a tub in so I could wash. It took an hour to heat up enough water so that I could soap myself down. Once I my body was clean, they wrapped me in a towel and washed my hair vigorously. Not once, but twice! They rinsed it out the second time then rubbed it to dry it as much as they could. Then they dressed me. The dress draped past my knees, but they frowned when they looked at my shoes.

“I’ve got some,” Melanari said, opening the door only enough to slip out.

I could smell my coffyns baking in the oven as we waited. Laetitia poked  my shoulder.

“Yes?”

“Isn’t a coffin what you put dead things in?”

“Yes.”

“So why do you call them coffyns?”

“Because dead things are in them.”

“What?”

“Well the rabbits are dead aren’t they?”

She looked a little sick. “Remind me not to eat that.”

I smirked. “Don’t eat that.”

She laughed and shoved me. “You know something,” she said after a moment. “I was rather surprised when you asked us to do this. You never want to act like, well, like a girl. Is there some other reason you wanted us to do this?”

Yeah, I thought, Shaylee said I was ugly and I want to prove to her that a little working over from you can make even this wretched creature pretty. But of course I said none of it. I simply shook my head and smiled.

“I just feel like doing something a little different, that’s all.”

Melanari came back and set her shoes down then they came over and started discussing what they would do with my hair. When it was dry enough for their tastes, they swept the front part of my hair back into a braid then did small braids around the back beneath it. They then started to paint my face.

“Enhancing your features,” Laetitia said, Melanari nodding in agreement.

When that was done, they got me into the shoes and stared at me. They both finally smiled. “Absolutely lovely,” came the simultaneous reply. They threw open the door and dragged me in to show Leah. They paused at the tall, gruff looking Human man staring at us suddenly.

“Hello Damian,” I said.

His eyebrows knit together. “Filynora? You’re…What are you wearing? This looks nothing like you!”

“Oh my dear, you look lovely!” Leah exclaimed, hurrying out of her room.

“You look nice, too,” I said, smiling kindly.

“Go look in the mirror while we finish getting ready ourselves,” Melanari said.

Leah guided me over to the mirror. Damian had been right, I looked nothing like myself. My brown eyes were framed by green, and they stood out quite a bit. My face was a nice even tone, no freckles apparent. I hesitated then concentrated and my designs came forward. They were a little covered in some spots, but it didn’t argue with the colors they had chosen. I smiled. I did look pretty. I couldn’t wait to see Shaylee’s face!

The door opened and Melanari and Laetitia stepped out. They looked gorgeous, of course. We gathered our food, the pink and purple Elf carrying the other coffyn, and we went out to the fields where the celebration was centered. As I was about to set down the Elven-named pie, I heard Elthinor’s voice.

“Melanari! Have you seen Filynora? Some people have said that you were seen talking with her,” he asked, coming closer.

I turned around and he froze. My other friends were behind him, and with them, staring in disbelief and outrage, was Shaylee. I watched as Elthinor’s eyes traced my frame, taking in what I was wearing and how I looked. Then he smiled, stepped forward, and sniffed the coffyn in my hands.

“What have we got here, my little Fily?” he asked, his eyes shining in the light of the setting sun.

“Rabbit coff—Rabbit pie. I made them myself.”

“I do declare that I must taste it,” he said, turning to our friends. “What do you think?”

“Filynora made something?” Gabrithon asked. “Oh yes, I have to try this.”

Before I knew it, they each had a good chunk of it and were eating it. Except for Shaylee who was glaring directly at  me. I smiled sweetly at her then looked at Elthinor for his judgment.

“This is delicious! You need to give my mother this recipe. She’s never made rabbit pie before.”

“It’s my mother’s recipe. I’d be glad to give it to her,” I said with a nod.

My other friends each commented happily that it was delicious. I felt delight seep through my being. I was never much of a cook, but I could do it when I had to. Or when I felt like it. The compliments were nice, but not as nice as Elthinor looking me over every minute or so. It made that strange feeling of lightness and heaviness settle in my stomach. I smiled, feeling my cheeks warm up. To hide that fact, I turned and moved the other coffyn around before grabbing a piece for myself. Elthinor set his plate down and grabbed a wooden cup, filling it with wine. He offered it to me and got one for himself. Melanari, Laetitia, Leah, and Damian had wandered away after we had gotten here. Once we had finished the wine, Elthinor opened his mouth to speak, but Shaylee could stand it no longer and spoke first.

“Elthinor, I believe you promised me a few dances,” she said, batting her eyelashes.

“Oh?” he frowned. “I suppose I did.”

They walked towards the sounds of music. I felt that hot ember burst into my belly, my fists clenching.

“Greetings, daughter of mine,” Elyosius said as he came up with Ember. “Looks like we got here just in time for the celebration, eh, Aloron?”

They both smiled at each other then looked at me.

“What, pray tell, are you wearing?” my father asked lightly.

“Clothing,” I said, trying to see past them. Ember bumped my hand with his nose.

“Yes, but why that particular style?” Aloron asked.

“Daughter, you do not seem like the kind of girl to wear a dress. Even as a small Elfling you wore trousers.”

“I just wanted to look nice!” I spat viciously. “Now move!”

I slammed past both of them and left Ember whining. It was harsh, but I was more focused on what that horrible she-Elf was doing. I stopped when I could see them. Most of the people, from every race, were near the long tables set up for their particular types of food. Some were browsing, but most of them were being safe and staying at their own races’ table. My eyes were locked on the spinning couple. It was a horrible slow song and her head was up against his chest. A raging fire was soon burning inside of me and I narrowed my eyes. Then I asked myself a question: why did I care so much? After thinking it over for a moment I could only come to one conclusion. I knew she was trouble and I was just looking out to my friend. Yes, that’s what it was.

“Daughter!”

I turned and Elyosius grabbed my arm. Aloron was beside him.

“What?” I asked irritably.

“I do not believe what I just saw! You never act like that! You just disrespected both of us!”

I opened my mouth for a snappish reply, but Aloron seemed to read my mind.

“Think very carefully about what you are going to say, Filynora. God is always watching and listening,” he said.

My mouth snapped shut and I swallowed, feeling my cheeks heat up. What was wrong with me? I never acted like that. Just recalling what I had done to the two of them, even though it might seem small to the more rebellious, made me feel horrible. I relaxed and lowered my head.

“I’m sorry. Really, I am. I just…I’m a little…I’m going through something,” I finally managed to spit out.

“Looks like a rivalry to me,” Aloron said, smiling knowingly.

“Rivalry? No, she’s just not right for Elthinor, that’s all,” I said.

To my chagrin, they both laughed, looking at each other. What was so funny? They looked at me then stopped laughing immediately, though mirth was still in their eyes.

“Alright, Filynora,” Aloron said. “Just please try to be more polite, even in a jealous haze.”

“So what if I’m jealous?” I demanded. “He was my friend first! She needs to go and find her own friends instead of spending all her time with mine!”

“Friend?” my father asked, suddenly looking extremely confused. Aloron looked like he agreed with him.

“Yes, friend,” I said. “Why does everybody react like that when I say that?”

“Filynora, don’t you realize that Elthinor—” Aloron began.

“Grandfather, Elyosius!” Elthinor greeted, embracing his grandfather. Shaylee stomped on my foot, smiling prettily.

“Oh Ember!” I sang, and he came bounding over to me. The wretched she-Elf shrieked and leaped over to the other side of Elthinor. I hid my smirk as I knelt down to kiss my pet’s head.

“Hello Elthinor. What are you doing?”

“I came to ask Fily to dance with me,” he said cheerily, grabbing my hands.

“Now, Elthinor, you know I can’t dance,” I said, trying to tug my hands away.

“Nonsense! I danced with you at Stonemere, and I’ll dance with you here in Greensage! Just follow my lead.”

I was led away and we began to dance. It was fun, though I kept expecting Vampires and Naga to leap out and start attacking people. Elthinor chuckled as he spun me around.

“You know something Fily, and I noticed this with the Satyrs,” he began, pulling me close. “You have remarkable grace for a person who doesn’t dance very much. And your fighting’s graceful, too.”

“Thanks,” I said, enjoying myself quite a bit; I could feel Shaylee glaring at me.

“You know, I haven’t said much about it, but you look beautiful. Who did you up like this?”

“Your sister and Laetitia,” I replied.

“They sure know how to make your eyes stand out.”

I blushed, the contradicting feelings in my stomach returning. We danced for an hour or more then we took a break after dark. I walked over to grab some water, drinking deeply. Shaylee was suddenly beside me and I looked at her coolly.

“Yes?” I asked.

“You know what? I’ve finally figured out why those ‘friends’ of yours give you so much attention,” she said sharply.

“Oh? And why’s that?”

She told me and I rage hit me so fast that I couldn’t control myself. I slammed my fist into the side of her head and she dropped, unconscious. I stood there, breathing heavily. Everybody was staring at me and my face felt hot. When Elthinor walked forward, tears filled my eyes, and I began to run as fast as I could.

 

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