I Am the Life: Epilogue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What?”

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

“Mother, what are you doing?”

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

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

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

“Did you finish them?” Nora asked.

“Yes.”

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

“Mother!” two voices cried out at once.

“Filynora!” Nora gasped.

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

My heart actually stopped for a few seconds this time.

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

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

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

“My Lord!” I cried, reaching forward.

“Mother!” I heard dimly.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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I Am the Life: Chapter 42

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

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

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

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

“When our Father calls you home.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He pressed a kiss to my head…

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

“Elthinor, why are you crying?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nice,” Jaiden said. “Now what?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Elthinor!” I shouted.

He was by my side in an instant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For what?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Elthinor, what’s wrong?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Elthinor?” I said softly.

“Yes, Fily?”

“We’ll see him again.”

“I know. I know.”

 

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

I Am the Life: Chapter 40

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But Fily, I—”

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

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

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

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

“A dragon,” Valtrak breathed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fily?” Jaiden whispered, following me.

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

“Well, go on. Read it.”

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

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

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

“Fily?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mia!” Jesiah said fondly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

I Am the Life: Chapter 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.

 

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.

 

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I Am the Life: Chapter 32

I pulled up a carrot and handed it to Gabrithon, who took it and munched it happily. Hithaeron looked irritated. I had refused to pull up carrots for anybody else, and my friends didn’t bother with it at all.         Cevenor trotted up and looked at me.

“Would you ask Filynora to get one for me?” the second born asked his golden colored brother; he had, much to Hithaeron’s displeasure, taken a cautious approach to me.

“Ask her yourself. But be polite,” Gabrithon replied, taking another bite.

“She is no stallion. Demand it from her!” Hithaeron ordered.

Cevenor gazed at him for a moment. “Did that work?”

The eldest brother opened his mouth then shut it. “Well, not really.”

Cevenor shrugged and turned to me. “Would you mind getting me a carrot?”

Partly to make Hithaeron angry, and partly because I liked Cevenor—he wasn’t Gabrithon nice, but he was polite and kind for a Centaur—I said with a smile, “I would not mind at all.”

I pulled one up, brushed it off, and handed it to him. He looked surprised.

“But you refuse every Centaur that asks you who isn’t Gabrithon. You even refused the king and queen.”

“Wait a minute,” Gabrithon said after he had swallowed another mouthful of carrot. “You refused my mother?”

“I don’t like her,” I growled.

“She just wants you to be a proper mare, Filynora!”

I grew angry enough that red and gold burst onto my face. Gabrithon sighed.

“Come now, Filynora,” he said tiredly. When I continued to glare at him, his own anger suddenly grew. “Oh! Why can’t you at least pretend to be a girl?”

My jaw dropped open, but before I could strike him with my knife, Elthinor stepped in between us, holding his hands out in front.

“Fily,” he said sternly. “Gabrithon’s just angry and irritated at how long we’ve been here, and how we’ve made no progress.”

“He meant it, Elthinor!” I said coldly.

“You are just fine the way you are, right Gabrithon?”

“She could stand to be softened a little,” the golden Centaur said after a moment.

That hurt. Quite a bit. “Well, then I’ll just leave, you retched cart horse!”

Gabrithon gasped and spun to face me. A smiled meanly, then turned and left, enjoying the looks on everybody’s faces. As I walked to the queen’s sitting room, I messed with the skirt I was wearing. Vincentia had stolen my pack and my weapons, and I wanted them back. I stormed through the curtain to find one of the servant mares there. I strode right up to her.

“Where are my things?” I demanded.

“The queen has not said we can give them to you,” she said.

I pulled my knife and pressed it against her belly. “How much do you like pain?”

She swallowed. “I’ll just get them for you.”

She left and returned with my confiscated items. I changed into a fresh pair of clothes, relishing the feeling of wearing pants again; it felt like I had nothing on when I wore a skirt. When I was dressed, I went off into an adjacent room, sat on a table, and leaned against the wall, staring out the window as I ate some fresh cherries. We had been here for two whole months already and had made no progress. I rubbed my temples as I chewed on the sweetness of a plump cherry. This was so much more complicated than anything I had imagined. I sighed and relaxed. I must have fallen asleep because I woke up to a shout.

“Where is she? Where is that horrid girl?” Vincentia called.

I leapt nimbly off the table and walked into the main room. She snorted when she saw me. She could only move slowly. She was big at this point, and it was almost time for her to give birth. She ambled over to me and crossed her arms angrily.

“What is the meaning of threatening one of my servants?” she asked coldly.

“I wanted my stuff back,” I replied.

“Why? So you could put on men’s garb again?”

“Yes.”

“Why?” she shouted. “Why do you insist on being different?”

“Because I am different! Look at me! I’m one of only two Strangelings in this whole world! Why should I even try to act normal when I know I’m not? I’d rather be myself than live a lie!”

I shuddered and realized I was trying. My little speech had the servants and the queen staring at me. Vincentia slowly lowered herself to the ground and held out her arms. I fell into them, forgetting how much I didn’t like her. She stroked my back gently, cooing softly in my ear. I nuzzled into her, sniffling as my tears began to slow. She pushed me back slightly and wiped my cheeks.

“There,” she said softly. “I didn’t realize how difficult it is for you. But I do have one question.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“What’s a Strangeling?”

I paused. Had I really not told her? “I’m a Strangeling,” I said, then focused. As my designs appeared, she gasped. “I’m not just Human, I’m half Elf, too.”

“Oh my!” she exclaimed.

Before she could say anything more, another female servant appeared.

“The king requests your presence, milady.”

“Come Filynora,” Vincentia said, heaving herself up.

After I had belted on my sword and slung my bow over my shoulder, I placed my hand on her swollen side and we slowly made our way out to what would be the courtyard. Xylon looked distastefully at me.

“I see she is back in the wrong clothing again. How could you allow this?” he asked his wife. He held up his hand as she went to answer. “Never mind. I wanted to ask you-”

There was a whinny and several Centaurs came sprinting up. They looked like they were barely containing fear.

“My king, monsters heading this way!” one of them panted.

He ordered a trumpet to sound then I watched as the males, including my friends, raced into the forest. Males raced in from all over the city, following their king into glorious battle. I was about to follow when Vincentia squealed and practically collapsed. She leaned over onto her side and began whining. I realized what was happening a second before her servants rushed out, summoned by her noises of pain. I swallowed. She was giving birth; the call of monsters must have been too much. The servants began to try to coax her up, but she wouldn’t move. My shoulders were suddenly grasped and a servant knelt beside me.

“She can’t get up and get to the table so that we can help her. You must deliver this foal!”

“I’ve only helped birth normal horses,” I argued. “I don’t think I can-”

There was another squeal of pain.

“You must!” the mare exclaimed. “We shall instruct you.

I knelt down, noticing that her water had already broken. I gulped then positioned my hands.

“The head comes out first,” the mare began.

“What’s your name?” I asked suddenly.

She paused, obviously surprised by the question. “Luinanna.” When I made no further comments, she started again. “Now, the head comes out first. You’ll have to guide it out. Be very gentle with it. It’s soft for about an hour after birth. Then comes the torso. You’ll have to maneuver the body a little after you get that out then reach in to pull the two front legs out. Make sure the knees are bent or you might tear something with the hooves, though there is a low chance of that happening as the hooves are coated with something to prevent that. The body should follow easily until the hips, during which time you might have to pull the front legs down towards her hooves. The feet should follow. Do you understand?”

I nodded. “The second half I can easily handle. The other part sounds a lot like Human birth.”

“This foal is much bigger than a Human child,” Luinanna said. “Here comes the head.”

It was much bigger than a Human child. It was big enough to be a five year old! I did as she had told me, guiding it gently out. The torso came next. After that, I laid the head on a soft pillow covered in cloth. Pulling up my sleeve, I slipped my hand inside the queen and brought out the legs. The body followed and when the hips came, I pulled the front legs down towards her hooves. Before I knew it, the foal was out. I moved to cut the umbilical cord, but was stopped by harsh voices.

“You don’t cut it for fifteen minutes. Life is still being transferred through it,” Luinanna said.

“Oh. Sorry,” I said.

About five minutes later, the air suddenly felt darker than anything I had ever felt, even from the Mngwa. I stood up, hand on the hilt of my sword. Vincentia sat up, squealing, and tried to stand, but was held down by her servants.

“Milady, not yet!” Luinanna shouted.

“They’re coming! Darkness and evil! They want to kill and destroy!” Vincentia shrieked.

“Mother!” Cevenor exclaimed, running up; another group of males darted past us and headed into the forest. “You foaled! What’s wrong? Did it…die?”

“Go get your weapons,” I said tersely.

“I beg your pardon?” he asked, his eyes wide.

“Go get your weapons!” I bellowed as a thud reverberated through the forest around us.

He started at the noise and stared at my face intently. Then he ran inside the caves. There was another thud and I watched as birds flew above us, hurrying away from the things causing the noise. They came out of the forest, crushing pavilion just for the fun of it. One of them was sickly yellow with horns twisting out of the top of his head. The other only had one eye and was black, with fangs peeking from his lips. They were huge, nearly as tall as the towering trees. The black one sniffed.

“Mm, I smell fresh foal,” he said, his voice deep and rumbling. He looked down and spotted the newborn then reached for it. “Nothing more tender than fresh foal.”

Vincentia shrieked and tried to stand again, but, despite their terror, the servants held her still. I slung my bow off my shoulder and nocked an arrow. I aimed at his eye and fired. I hit my mark, and the eye popped, liquid splashing down his face. He screamed, stumbling back a few steps and destroying more pavilions.

“Who are you?” Cevenor shouted, standing beside with his bow and arrow poised.

“I am Ogre!” the yellow one boomed.

“And I am Cyclops!” the now blind one growled, his voice strained with pain.

“We are the other two Dark Ones!” they said triumphantly.

Cevenor swallowed and looked at me. “You won’t tell anybody I’m terrified, right?”

I’m terrified,” I said blandly.

“Yes, tremble with fear at our presence!” Ogre said gleefully.

“My God is bigger than you,” I said confidently; that didn’t really take away my terror, but it did lessen it.

“You’re God is a horrible tyrant. He took your mother away.”

“He has a plan!”

“Yes, His plan involves death and suffering.”

“We brought on the death and suffering from disobeying Him. But you disobeyed Him, too. You and your Dark Master!”

“We were wronged! He hurled us from the heavens with no good reason! It is only right that you, as some of His precious creations should suffer as well.”

“He always has a reason!”

Ogre growled and lunged for me, aiming to kill. Cevenor and I dashed between his legs. He spun around and began chasing us while his blind companion tried to get his bearings. I looked at the mares hoping that they could head inside. Time seemed to pass slowly and quickly at the same time. When they finally got up, the foal following its mother. They ran inside. I skittered up a tree and Cevenor stopped, looking at me.

“Filynora, what are you doing?” he called, ducking the monster’s grip.

“Distract him!” I shouted back

I grabbed a vine then leaped forward and landed on his shoulder. He reached for me, but he suddenly had to shield his eyes from Cevenor’s arrows. I wrapped the thick vine three times around his neck then jumped back to the tree. I hurried down then stood beside Cevenor. Now that arrows were being shot at him, he tried to get the vine from around his throat. His fingers were too thick and I had wrapped it around him too tightly.

“Hey stupid!” I shouted. “You couldn’t get us if you tried.”

“Filynora!” Cevenor exclaimed.

The Ogre rushed forward. There was a snap, and the entire tree toppled over, right onto his head. He hit the ground, unconscious. I noticed we had an audience of Centaurs, who weren’t even bothering to help.

“Now for the blind one,” I said, unwrapping the vine from around the monster’s neck. I hacked it off what I figured to be the right length. “We’re going to trip him.” We wrapped the vine around two trees, and I called to the ugly brute. “Hey Cyclops. You might as well give up! Even if you defeated me blind, you’re Dark Master would never be proud of you. He’s too proud of himself!”

Cyclops roared and charged towards the sound of my voice. He tripped and fell hard, shaking the ground. I dashed to him as he sat up. I plunged my sword into his belly and dragged the blade, with great effort, through his flesh to create a gaping hole. Blood began pouring out of it, and he surged to his feet, dragging me and my stuck sword with him. I screamed and heard Elthinor call my name. I managed to get the blade out and plummeted down. I was caught by Cevenor, who set me on my feet. Ogre began to move.

“Quick! Slit his throat!” I exclaimed; Cevenor was closer.

He ran over to the beast and did as I had told him to. The two creatures were dying now. Cyclops’ insides were now coming out and that viscous black blood was gushing out, killing off the plants around him. Ogre was clutching at his throat. He looked at me.

“You’re horrible,” he gurgled. “Unnatural. Our Dark Master shall kill you where we failed.”

“Only if God wills it,” I replied.

Ogre died first, falling into the dirt. Before the mayhem with the blood could occur, Cyclops collapsed and breathed his last. I began rapidly backing up and Cevenor followed, looking at me curiously. Instead of exploding, they started melting, the blood oozing over the ground. Trees withered where they were, and they were enormous so there was a lot of damage as blood just kept flowing. The sticks that held up the pavilions melted like the trees were. Everything in its path was destroyed. I could see Elthinor push his way to the front of the Centaurs. We were separated by an ocean of blood and it took five minutes for it to finally disappear in smoke. My Elven friend rushed over and embraced me.

“Fily! You’re alright!”

“Yes,” I said calmly.

“Good job, Cevenor!” Xylon suddenly called.

“What?” the prince asked, dazed.

“You defeated the monsters.”

“What?” he asked again then shook his head. “No I didn’t. Filynora did. I just helped.”

“Ridiculous. A female cannot fight,” Xylon snorted.

Cevenor’s face suddenly got red. “You stood there and watched us! She defeated the monsters. I just helped!”

“That’s not the way I saw it.”

Cevenor stomped his hoof. “You saw what you wanted to see, not what really happened! Filynora is the real hero here.”

“Um, not to interrupt this conversation, but I have a question for Fily,” Gabrithon said as he and the rest of my friends made their way towards us.

“What’s that, Gabrithon?” I asked.

“What exactly are you covered in?”

“Oh that? It’s- The foal!” I gasped, turning and sprinting inside.

I heard others behind me as I burst through the curtain to the females’ rooms. There was the foal, standing and happily nursing at its mother’s breast. Cevenor, Gabrithon, and the rest of my friends yelped when they came through and quickly averted their eyes. I walked over and the foal stopped drinking, turning to look at me. It might have been large compared to a Human child, and well developed, but in its face was the blankness and innocence of a baby. I was suddenly roughly shoved aside and I fell on the ground. It was Xylon.

“Now, what shall I name my new son?”

I glanced up and snickered. “Nothing,” I said as I sat up.

“What do you mean nothing?” Xylon demanded.

“You can’t name your son anything, because it’s not a son.”

“What?” The king did not look happy.

“She’s a filly, sire,” Luinanna said, bowing low.

“Preposterous! There hasn’t been a filly born for six generations!”

“She’s a filly, my king,” Vincentia said, a little harshly. “There is no changing that fact. So what are you going to name her?”

“Nothing! I refuse to name the child!” he said, storming out.

Cevenor glanced at Gabrithon. “You know, brother, Hithaeron will not want to name her either. So that falls to me. I delegate some of my authority over the matter to you. Now, what shall we name her?”

They stood there thinking about it then began whispering to each other. Vincentia finished nursing her foal and slipped her shirt back on. I told the boys they could look now and they walked over to observe the newborn. She shied away from them, pressing into her mother. I chuckled and poked her little nose.

“You know, you owe me a new set of clothes. You ruined these,” I told her.

“I’ll make you a new shirt and a new pair of trousers,” Vincentia said. “I’ll need to keep those to refer to.”

“Thank you, your majesty,” I said with a bow.

“That’s the perfect name for her!” Gabrithon said with a laugh.

“What is?” Vincentia asked.

Cevenor walked over and placed his hand lightly on the foal’s head. “We christen thee Nora, little one.”

Then they both began chuckling.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Think about it, Filynora,” Gabrithon said.

I did so. When I finally figured it out, I burst out laughing. Elthinor, Jaiden, and Pinnathir were still puzzling over it, and they frowned.

“What is it?”

“Nora!” I exclaimed. “She’s a little filly named Nora!” When they still had blank looks on their faces, I laughed harder. “She’s little filly Nora! Get it? Filynora!”

They paused then broke into bright, bubbly laughter. Nora joined us, waving her hands and clopping her little hooves on the ground. We finally calmed down enough to breathe.

“Well, that’s clever, Gabrithon,” Elthinor said, sighing.

“Thank you,” Gabrithon said with a bow.

“Father’s not happy,” Cevenor suddenly said. “He’s not happy about his new daughter, and he’s certainly not happy about Filynora winning that battle with only a little help from me. I fear we’ll never get him to go, now.”

“We’ll figure something out, dear one,” Vincentia suddenly said. I could tell by the way she said that, she was coming up with a plan.

 

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