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.”


“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.


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.




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.”


“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.



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.


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.



I Am the Life: Chapter 29

Winter passed us by swiftly. I watched with a farmer’s practiced eye for the first day of spring. The feeling in the air was growing, and I began pushing everybody to get ready. Elthinor told me again and again that winter was going to be late this year, but I knew better. Sure enough, warmth flooded the world and I stood outside Elthinor’s tent.

“I told you so,” I said as Elthinor stepped out, his shirt in his hands. He was barefoot, too.

“Fine, fine, you were right,” he said, waving a hand.

He walked past me and I looked at his back. The angry red lines had receded to pale markings. They were mars in his designs, though the colors were still there. I wondered if the scars would remain there or if they would fade to nothing. Without really thinking, I walked over to him, reaching out and tracing one. Elthinor jolted and turned to look at me.

“Fily?” he asked.

“Does it still hurt?” I asked, tracing another one.

“Sometimes, but I think the pain is in my head.”

“I’m sorry,” I said softly.

“It’s all in the past.” He stayed very still as I traced each scar. When I had traced the last one, he spun around and grabbed my hands. “Do you still find my back as beautiful as you used to?”

It was an odd question, but one I answered automatically. “Yes, I do. Scarred doesn’t mean ugly, Elthinor.”

“What wise words from…” he trailed off, searching my face.

“From a girl?” I asked bitterly.

“No, from one so young. You actually sound like Valtrak. And my grandfather.”

“Oh. Why are you so nice to me, Elthinor?” I asked, trying to shy away. “I know I’m strange. My very race has that word in it. Why do you bother with me?”

“Because you are you, Filynora. You’re kind and sweet, when you aren’t killing something, but even then you do it with such ferocity and grace. You are extremely amazing. I’m glad I met you. I sincerely am.”

I blushed as that mysterious look appeared in his eyes again, along with an enigmatic smile. He leaned forward and gently pecked my cheek. I blushed harder at that and he opened his mouth to say something when there was a shout.

“Filynora! You must come see…this,” Laetitia stopped. “Am I interrupting something?”

I stared at her dumbly for a few moments. “I don’t think you were,” I said, shaking my head.

“What is it?” Elthinor asked, slipping his shirt on.

“Oh, nothing. Go back to what you were doing.”

I glanced over at Elthinor and he looked a little embarrassed. What had we been doing? Elthinor’s eyes were shy again, like they had been long ago when we first met. I was thoroughly confused, and Laetitia looked between the two of us. She finally sighed.

“Well, I was just going to say that Melanari and I found the perfect dress for you to wear to the spring celebration tonight.”

Laetitia had met Melanari during the long winter and together they had agreed to make my life miserable. They constantly wanted to dress me up and make me look pretty. It was rather irritating.

“I’m not wearing a dress to any celebration,” I said. “We are getting ready to leave in three days.”

“Three days, eh?” Elthinor asked.

“Yes,” I said with a nod. “We need to get to the Centaurs as fast as we can so we can get this war over with.”

“We might all die horribly in this war, you do know that right?” Laetitia suddenly asked.

“Only if that’s what God wants,” I replied.

“You and that God of yours. Why do you even bother?”

“Because He bothered for us.”


“He became one of us in the man called Jesiah.”

“Then where did this Jesiah go?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“Then how can you have faith? There’s no proof.”

“Faith doesn’t need proof. That’s why it’s faith.”

Laetitia stared at me then shook her head. “I don’t think I’ll ever understand you.”

“Tell me Laetitia, in your worship of the great Faun, your goddess, what proof do you have?”

“She blesses the females with fertility.”

“I ask again, where’s your proof?”

“The fertility is proof.”

“No it isn’t,” Gabrithon said as he came out of his Centaurian tent. “Fertility is something that is or isn’t. You cannot show me one little thing that proves that she is the one that controls that sort of thing. It is the same thing with my culture’s version of the great stallion. He supposedly provides virility, and if you aren’t in his favor, you won’t have any. You have just as little proof as Filynora does, maybe less. She at least has the scrolls to back her up.”

Laetitia looked angry. “Shut up. Who says that you’re right?”

“I just believe in the scrolls, Laetitia,” I said defensively. “They are truth. They say they’re the truth.”

“That doesn’t make them true. It makes you think what the writers want you to think. What do you say to that?” the princess snapped.

“What if those writers were inspired by God?” Elthinor countered.

“But how do you know?

“You just have to have faith, my princess,” Pinnathir said, coming out of the tent.

She just stood there and stared, unsure of what else to say. Finally she stirred. “I need to leave.”

“Laetitia,” I began, but she gave me a dark look. “Just shut up, Filynora.”

As she walked away, I was left staring after her, confused. She had never done that before. She had seemed a little hostile, which was completely against her personality. What had triggered that? My father walked up to me, and leaned his face down in front of mine.

“Filynora, are you alright?”

I explained what happened then said, “Why did she do it, I wonder?”

My father’s eyes were knowing. “It is the message, of course.”


“Of Jesiah. It tends to go against the grain for most people. It is uncomfortable at the least and rage inducing at the most.”


“Because of the message of sin. Have you told her about that?”

“Yes, a while back.”

“Well, she is being convicted and doesn’t like it. She doesn’t want to change her ways, her lifestyle, so she denies that what you say is true, even though deep down she knows it is. And when you continue to tell her about and support your beliefs, she gets defensive and angry. It’s happened many, many times to me. More times than I could count. Some of them are not as calm as Laetitia was. I’ve been struck by both males and females before. Others just shout about how their ideas are right. The priests for the races are the worst. They tell me how I’m going to their version of Hell then try to explain away the holes in their religion. The fact that they even have a version of Hell points to how the true story lives on, even in fragments.”

“I don’t understand. What are priests?”

“They are people who perform sacred rituals specific to their particular religion. Religion is their belief system. Priests are in charge of rites and sacrifices, and also try to appease the gods or goddesses when they are perceived to be angry.”

“Oh,” I said then looked down. “Do people hurt you like that often?”

“It’s called persecution, daughter of mine,” Elyosius replied. “It’s not fun, but something a good Jesite must face if he or she truly does what Jesiah said to do.”

“What did he say to do?”

My father suddenly looked embarrassed. “He said to go out and preach the Good News to all. But I don’t know exactly what that Good News is. It’s part of the missing story.”

“That’s alright,” I said, pressing my hand on his shoulder. He smiled.

“You are kind, daughter.”

“What did you come here for, sir?” Elthinor asked.

Sir? I thought. Where did that come from?

“Don’t call me sir unless you’re my son-in-law,” my father teased.

Elthinor’s eyes suddenly sharpened and they stared at each other. I arched an eyebrow and Valtrak tapped my wrist. I looked down in surprise; I hadn’t seen him come out of the tent. I leaned down and he chuckled.

“This is amusing, no?”

“What’s going on?” Valtrak stared at me, analyzing my face. “What?” I asked.

“You really don’t know, do you?”

“Know what?”

“I knew it!” Gabrithon said, coming up and placing his hands on my shoulders.

“Shut up, mule,” Valtrak grumbled.

“What is it I don’t know?” I demanded.

They glanced at each other then avoided looking at me.

“Filynora, it isn’t our place to tell you,” Valtrak said slowly.

I thought about arguing then dropped it, figuring that it was a male thing. “Fine.”

Elthinor and my father were staring at me.

“You have quite the challenge ahead of you, my boy,” Elyosius said then turned and left.

Elthinor clapped his hands together suddenly. “Well, let’s get packing.”

I stared at him as my friends all began moving around and gathering up supplies. I couldn’t help but wonder what the big secret was. Oh well.



I Am the Life: Chapter 27

The days that we were stationary flew by and before we knew it, autumn was here. I wondered whether or not it was a good idea to leave and try and get the Centaurs to join us. Maybe we should wait until spring? I was unsure so I went to talk to Gabrithon. He was busy training the Humans, who were doing much better than before. I waited until he’d stopped and handed the five boys over to Elthinor for sword training before I approached him. He smiled.

“Hello Fily. Come to watch?”

“No, I have a question for you.”

“Alright. What is it?”

“When should we go to the Centaurs? Should we leave in a few days, or should we wait until spring?”

Gabrithon thought about that for a moment. “I believe we should leave in the spring. If we left in a few days, we would get there when they are going through preparations for winter. Father wouldn’t be too pleased to be distracted, let alone be distracted by our, um, odd little group.”

“I suppose that’s a good reason,” I said, feeling a little disappointed.

“Oh, Fily, I don’t even know if you’ll get them to come with us. My father is not so easily persuaded, especially by a girl.”

“They have to. We need every race to fight against the Dark Master.”

Gabrithon shook his head, but he didn’t bother arguing with me anymore. We watched the boys train with Elthinor. They really are getting good, I thought as one of them held his ground against Elthinor. He did lose more quickly than was really acceptable, but he had done well.

“Filynora! Come look at the archers!” my father shouted.

I bid my friends goodbye then walked over to Elyosius and headed over to the range. As far as I could tell, they were all gripping the bow properly. They each fired arrows at the targets, and they were getting good, just like the swords. I hummed.

“They are learning swordplay, right Father?”

“Yes. But I’m not sure where we will find them swords when the time comes.”

“If the Satyrs come, we can have them forge swords,” I suggested.

“Where would we get the metal?”

“I don’t know,” I sighed. “Maybe we’re just in trouble.”

“Don’t worry, Filynora. God will provide if this war is in His will.”

“I hope so.”

“Have faith.”

I smiled. It was difficult for me to see a way out of this, but my father was right. I had to have faith. God hadn’t let me down yet, so what other reaction was appropriate? I watched the archers for a while, reminded of the time that I had spent honing my own skills as a child. They were good memories. I remembered when I had first hit the makeshift target that I had set up. I had danced with Ember in joy then dragged Mother outside to see. I smiled at the memories then frowned when a thought bubbled up.

“Father, what would Mother think of this?”

Elyosius sighed and placed a hand on my shoulder. “I believe she would be shocked by all of this. She never did comprehend just how dark the creatures after me were.”

“And are,” I said. “Except now they’re after me.”

“That doesn’t mean they don’t want to kill me anymore. I am a truth keeper, remember? I am the last one that has the stories of old, stories of the truth.”

I thought about it a second before nodding. “I didn’t think of that.”

We became quiet again, watching the boys retrieve their arrows. After they had started shooting again, I turned and bid my father goodbye then walked over to see how my friends were fairing. They were busy, each fighting one boy. No boy would fight me, so I just watched until Elthinor noticed me.

“Fily?” he asked, easily beating the boy back then sheathing his sword and helping him back up.

“Hm?” I asked.

“You look bored. Care to fight a boy? There are plenty of them.”

“They wouldn’t fight right,” I said.

“Oh. I guess you’re right,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Why don’t you go find Melanari?” Gabrithon asked after triumphing over the boy he was fighting.

“Well it’s something to do,” I said with a shrug then headed into the growing town.

I was wandering over to the Elven tents when a whistle stopped me. I turned to see Tynan staring at me, a grin on his face. Great, just what I wanted. I started walking away, but I hadn’t taken more than five steps when somebody grabbed my arm and jerked me backward. I hit the ground and gasped at the impact. I heard Tynan laughing as he twisted my arm behind my back.

“What’s the matter, Fily?” he asked tauntingly.

“Get off!” I growled, trying to free myself. I gasped as he jerked my arm hard and pain began radiating from my shoulder.

“No. What are you going to do about it? You’re pet isn’t here, and neither are your friends.” He paused and pushed harder. “You’re just pathetic without a body guard. Aren’t you, girlie?”

Anger made my face break out with my designs. Tynan pressed his foot on my back and began pushing down. I could see the feet of the audience that was gathering. Another wave of pain had me crying out. That was it. I lost my temper and that Strangeling strength of mine returned. I stood, causing Tynan to fly back, then twisted and freed my arm. He looked shocked. I saw red, wanting to cause pain, and the next thing I knew, I had wrenched Tynan’s shoulder out of joint. He took a swing at me with his other arm, and I jerked him forward, getting pleasure when he landed hard on his dislocated shoulder wrong. He rolled onto his back and, still feeling vindictive, I stepped hard on his groin.

“If you ever pick on me again,” I began, pulling out my knife. “I will personally stick this somewhere unpleasant, understand?” Tynan was moaning, but he nodded, looking frightened. I turned and looked at Ackley and the other Paxtonvalians. “That goes for all of you, got it?”

I removed my foot from Tynan then walked away, sheathing my knife. Pushing past the crowd, I went off to search for Melanari. That night I was sitting beside a fire by myself when there was a rush of movement in the dark. I stood and unsheathed my sword. It was a false alarm. All of my friends, plus Aloron and my father, came bursting into the firelight. I put my sword back and was about to say hello when Elthinor grabbed me and began looking me over. I let him, a little confused.

“Are you alright?” he asked worriedly.

“I’m fine. Why?”

“It’s all over town,” Valtrak said.

“What is?” I asked.

“That you and that bully of yours had a fight,” Gabrithon said, his blue eyes piercing.

“Oh. My shoulder is a little sore, but other than that, I’m good.”

“Well that’s good,” Aloron said, though there was something off in his voice.

“Aloron?” I queried.

“Fighting is not the answer,” he replied.

“We fight those dark creatures all the time.”

“Yes but this is a different kind of fighting. Remember what your father said. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ I believe that is a very good idea. Fighting with that boy was not the answer to your problem.”

“But I sincerely think he won’t attack me again,” I argued.

“Attack you?” Aloron asked, his demeanor changing. “So it was self-defense?”

“Yes! I didn’t just walk up to him and throw a punch! He hurt me first!”

“I’d say that’s a little different,” Elyosius said. “We can’t just expect her to be humiliated.”

“I agree,” Aloron said with a nod. “But I don’t want you to fight anymore, Filynora. Not if you can help it. The enemy is one thing, but not those on our side.”

“But Tynan is my enemy.”

My father cleared his throat. “Jesiah once said ‘Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.’ Now he didn’t mean the fallen angels, but those who are of the five races. I know it is a difficult thing to do, but you must try.” He paused. “I want to say ‘Look at all God did for us,’ but I can’t remember why I should say that.”

“That’s an odd thing to say,” Aloron said.

“The pinnacle of the stories, the culmination of everything, of Jesiah himself, is the story I either cannot remember or did not hear before the truth keepers were destroyed. I wish…” he trailed off and sighed. “It is no use wishing. I simply do not know. That is why I hope we get the last scroll. Maybe that will help me remember. If not, it will be good to hear how the story ends up.”

“I agree. I have waited most of my life to find out how this story unfolds. It would be nice to have an end to it before I end,” Aloron said wistfully.

Aloron and Elyosius talked together as we all lowered ourselves around the fire. Jaiden hurried away, bringing four rabbits for us, already skinned and gutted, and we cooked them one by one over the fire. We each ate heartily and just as we had finished, Ember appeared. He immediately lay beside me, chomping on the bones. He had been borrowed by Jaiden to go hunting with him that day. I didn’t know where he had been in the time that Jaiden had been back, but it was probably with the other Elementals. They weren’t used to so many people passing by, and it made them nervous. I pet my beloved pet and his tail began wagging, pausing in his gnawing long enough to lick my hand once.

“Ember,” my father suddenly said. “Do you remember me boy? You were just a pup when I last saw you.”

Ember looked up at his name, looked detachedly at my father, then went back to his bone. My father got up and walked around to kneel beside Ember. Ember growled possessively and pulled his bone closer to his body. My father suddenly stuck his hand down in front of Ember’s nose as I cried out for him not to. I watched helplessly as Ember snapped at him, his teeth sinking into flesh and his markings starting to glow slightly as he heated up.

“Ember! Release!” I shouted, grabbing him around the neck; he cooled immediately and released the hand.

My father was remarkably calm. “I say he remembers me,” he chuckled, his voice holding pain. “He would always nip at me when he was a pup. He never liked me.”

Aloron led Elyosius to sit then hurried away into the night. He came back with a bag and started pulling out medical supplies. First, he washed the wounds, then spread Raysiam over the teeth marks. My father grimaced.

“Ouch,” he said weakly.

“Well that’s what you get for sticking your hand in front of a Kindle Wolf with a bone,” Aloron scolded, wrapping bandages around the injured hand.

“He never does that,” I said, then, to prove my point, took the bone from Ember, who had started chewing on it again.

“You could take anything from him and he wouldn’t do that,” Elthinor pointed out.

I frowned. “Still, he doesn’t do things like that.” I paused then stood and walked over to my father, calling Ember.

“Filynora, it most assuredly is alright,” my father said, looking wary.

“Sit,” I ordered and my pet obeyed.

I took my father’s good hand and slowly moved it towards Ember, who began growling. I pulled it back and he stopped. I did it again, same results. Elthinor was up and beside Ember.

“He didn’t do that for me,” Elthinor said, confused.

“I told you, he doesn’t do that kind of thing. He usually doesn’t bite unless I tell him to or I’m in danger,” I said.

“He never liked me,” Elyosius said, pulling his hand from mine. “Like I said, he would always nip at me when he was a pup. He liked your mother and loved you, but he hated me.”

“Ember, he is my father,” I explained, staring into my Kindle Wolf’s eyes. “You cannot bite him. Or growl at him, for that matter. You don’t have to like him, but please tolerate him.”

I paused and he just stared at me then snorted and looked at Elyosius. I could feel everybody watching us as I took my father’s hand and led it to Ember. He didn’t growl. I bumped the hand up against his nose. He sniffed it, considering, then licked it once and went back to his bone. Silence reigned. I looked around and saw that a couple of the audience I had was slack jawed, including my father.

“How in the world did you do that?” he asked incredulously.

“Elementals just listen to her,” Elthinor said then looked at our friends. “Remember what happened with the Mngwa?”

“What is the Mngwa?” Aloron asked.

My father answered him. “One of the Dark Ones. A tiger as big as a horse. He can control animals and Elementals with his mind.”

“Could,” I said. “He’s quite dead now.”

“You killed him?” he asked in shock.



“My Elementals helped me.”

“But the Elementals would listen to the Mngwa!”

“That’s the funny thing,” Valtrak said slowly. “When she ordered them to stop, they stopped. Their eyes were still red, but they listened to her, not the beast.”

“Interesting,” Aloron said and everybody stared at me.

“We should be getting to bed soon,” I said, looking at my Ember.

Aloron and Elyosius bid us goodnight while the rest of us spread out our bedrolls. I pretended to go to sleep right away, Ember at my side, and listened to my friends whisper about how interesting I was. I would have used the word freak, I thought as I began drifting off to sleep, or Strangeling. After that, I was asleep.



I Am the Life: Chapter 6

I had never seen Aloron run so fast. He sprinted for us as soon as he saw his grandson and gingerly helped Elthinor off the horse. He immediately began looking him over and shaking his head with a deep frown. He was not pleased by Elthinor’s physical state and he let us know. Eretren came up and was given the instructions to take Elthinor to the tents, and I stopped him before he could obey.

“Gabrithon, Pinnathir,” I called and they slowly approached.

“Yes Fily?” Pinnathir asked hoarsely.

“Go with this kind Elf. He shall take you and help treat you. I shall have food prepared for all of you.”

They nodded and Eretren stared at them openly for a moment before turning and walking away, his arm around Elthinor’s shoulders. Pinnathir and Gabrithon stared at me for a moment then slowly followed after I gave them a reassuring smile. I watched them go and turned at a touch to my shoulder. It was Laetitia. She smiled at me.

“He led you straight to them, did he not?”

“The Elf? Yes. He seemed to know the castle quite well.”

“Yeah, well he had been there for about thirteen years. Poor Elyosius.”

I froze. “What did you just say?”

“He had been there for thirteen years.”

“No after that.” Something in my tone must have tipped her off that I was surprised because she frowned slightly.

“Poor Elyosius?” she asked.

“Are you sure that is his name?”

“Yes. Why?”

I felt a little numb. “Where is he?”

“Fily? What is the matter?”

“I need to talk to him.”

Laetitia stared at me intently for a moment then grabbed my wrist and led me through the menagerie of servants. Her head moved from side to side as she scanned everybody there and she tapped one female Elf on the shoulder and asked a question. I did not pay attention to what they said, but she began leading me back through the crowd into the town. I was taken to the tents and she cleared her throat.

“Elyosius? Are you in there? Filynora wishes to speak with you.”

The Elf came out and for the first time I really looked at him. On one cheek in deep red he had a rose with a dark purple stem and leaves. On the other he had a purple horse with red eyes, mane, and tail. Vines of the two colors were curling around each other and were wrapped around his eyes and bloomed across his forehead. His eyes were mostly purple with red rims and his hair was several colors of deep purple with red streaks. He smiled when he saw me and Laetitia dropped my hand. I slowly approached him, not really sure what to do or feel. So I chose suspicion.

“Your name is Elyosius?”

“Yes,” he said, his voice serious as he scanned my face.

“Are you my father?”

“Yes,” he replied again in the same tone of voice.

“What was my mother’s name then?”

“Estelle.” He paused and sorrow entered his eyes. “Was?”

“She is dead. Tikujar and Rattuin killed her last summer.”

Tears filled his eyes and he looked away. “Estelle,” he sighed, pain evident in his features. He took several deep breaths then wrapped an arm around me. “Walk with me?”

“I keep the sword,” I said pointedly and he laughed softly.

We walked to the outskirts of town and out into the fields surrounding Greensage. I sat down on a small hill, but he continued to stand. We were silent. I did not know about him but I had no idea what to say. How do you talk to somebody who you do not remember?

“You have grown my little filly,” he finally said, lowering himself to sit.

I shrugged. “What did you expect?”

“Honestly? I never expected to see you again.”

“Oh. Well, I never thought I would get to meet you. I do not remember you.”

“That rock must have hit you pretty hard, but you still managed to get home.”

I nodded, though I still did not remember anything. “I miss mother.”

“I missed you both.”

We sat there awkwardly for a few minutes. Then he sighed and relaxed.

“We should not be like this. It has been years, yes, but you are my daughter and I am your father.”

“I do not know what to do around a father,” I replied.

“And I have been betrayed by my son. I do not think either of us trusts each other.”

“If we deserve each other’s trust, we shall earn it.”

He smiled and looked at me. “Agreed.” He paused. “Can we talk about your mother?”

“There is nothing to talk about. She is gone.”

“Not entirely.”

I frowned and glanced at him. “How is she not gone? She is dead. That is it.”

“No it is not. She believed in Jesiah’s power to save her from her sins. She is still alive, just not here.”


“Jesiah is-”

“I know who Jesiah is,” I interrupted. “What I do not know is how she is still alive. Where is this place and can I get there?”

“Oh. If you believe in Jesiah, trust him with all your being that he can save you from your sins, then yes, you shall be with her again. Just not until you die. It is not a place your physical body can enter. Your spirit can though. It is called ‘Heaven’ and it is supposed to be breathtakingly beautiful. You spend all eternity with your Creator and your Savior, too, though not just in Heaven. Eventually it will come down here and all there will live and learn forever, expanding their knowledge of everything, but especially of their Creator and Savior, who are both infinitely fascinating.”

“So everybody goes to this Heaven when they die?”

His face darkened. “No. Not everybody. There is an alternative place.”

“It is not as good, is it?”

“It is the exact opposite. You are forever separated from God and Jesiah. You get what you rightly deserve, burning in torment all alone for the rest of eternity. It is called ‘Hell’ and is a place nobody wants to go to, though many choose it.”

“Choose? Why would anybody choose to be in such a horrible place?” I asked, appalled.

“There is a great choice put in front of every member of all five races. Whether or not to choose Jesiah, and therefore choose spiritual life, or to reject him and, ultimately, salvation, which leads to spiritual death. Now, I do not know entirely how it works, but it is said that even if the Message is not  given to them, which is the Message that Jesiah saves, they know by the Creator’s handiwork, which is to say, everything, like the plants and the animals and the sky and the stars and the sun and the moon, well you get the idea. Anyways, they know by His handiwork that He is real. I do not know how it works if they do not get the Message, but it is not my place to know. All I know is that we must spread the news that Jesiah saves to as many as possible to save them from Hell, or at least give them knowledge of the choice.”

“I still do not see why anybody would choose to reject Jesiah,” I replied.

“Stubbornness. Not knowing what the outcome is. Not caring about the outcome even if they know what it is. Not wanting to be held accountable for their actions while they are in this world.”


“At the end of your life you are to stand before the throne of God and give an account of everything you have done in your life, good and bad. Sin is no laughing matter, especially because of who it is against,” he said with a nod.

“What do you mean? And what did you mean about us deserving Hell?”

“Well, let’s use Elthinor in the example. He slapped you, which I do not approve of, but I digress. You are good friends so the consequences were very little, correct?”

“Yes,” I said slowly,  unsure of where this was going.

“Say he slapped his father. The consequences would be more severe, yes?” I nodded and he continued. “Now say he slapped a royal guard. More severe?” I nodded again. “Now, imagine he slapped the king of the Elves. What would the penalty be?”
“At best? He would be thrown in the dungeon,” I replied, a little surprised at the thought.

“Now, sinning is worse than that. You are pretty much slapping God, the Creator of everything, including you, in the face every time you lie, even a little one. Every time you use his name in vain, another slap. Every time you dishonor your parents, another slap. Every time you lust after another person, another slap. Every time you put something before God, another slap. Every time you hate, which Jesiah said was basically murder in your heart, another slap. I could go through all the Commandments, but you get the point?”

“Yes,” I said, feeling chilled. I had done plenty of things to slap God in the face. I suddenly did not feel like a good person anymore, and I mentioned that.

He smiled, though it was sad. “Nobody is a good person. We have all sinned against God. Now before you start comparing yourself to other people, compare yourself to the Perfect One. God is sinless. So is Jesiah. Compared to them, you fall immensely short of the goal. Even the best person in the world is horrible compared to the perfection that is our Creator.”

I sat there in silence, disturbed by the thoughts. If that was true, then every single person needed a Savior. I wondered about the accountability, too. Wouldn’t that mean we were all in trouble? But then he said that Jesiah was not just a Savior, but the Savior. Was there something that qualified him to be our Savior other than his being the Son of God? I was curious so I asked. Elyosius frowned.

“There is something else. A great sacrifice he made, but I am not sure what it is. We never got that far in the story before they were all killed.”

“Who are ‘they?'” I asked curiously.

“Nomads. I am the last one and I gave up that lifestyle when I met your mother. They were a mismatched group of people from every race that kept the stories of Jesiah alive. I was a child when they were attacked by the Dark Ones’ minions. I was hidden by my mother and saved because of her actions. They were destroyed, but I continued to go around and tell of Jesiah’s saving grace and the story of God as far as I knew. Then I met Estelle and we got married and had you and Nolan. I was captured when you were three and was tortured then enslaved for thirteen years.” He reached over and touched my shoulder. “Thank you for saving us. You did not come in to do that, yet you did.”

I shrugged. “I just could not leave you all there!” I exclaimed. “Being a slave is no life.”

“You are a very kind soul, daughter of mine. I do believe trust will not be a problem for long.”

“I hope not. I wish I could remember you.”

“It is alright, Filynora. I do not mind. You have changed quite a bit since I saw you last. I have to get to know you as much as you have to get to know me. We are even, yes?”

I smiled. “Yes.”


I turned to see Laetitia standing there, a smile spread across her face. I arched my eyebrows and she laughed.

“That was sweet,” she explained, her eyes sparkling.

“What do you want?” I asked, rolling my eyes at her words.

“The boys are here. They traveled all night and they have maybe a hundred people with them.”

I stood. “Come, Ely…Father. I need to see Kelvin and Colton. We need to go hunting. There are so many new people and I know there is not nearly enough food.”

Elyosius smiled and stood. I hoped he was right about the trust because he seemed like an interesting individual. And he knew so much about God. I would have to let him read the scrolls. I think he would like that.