I Am the Truth: Prologue

I had lost everything I had considered important: my home, my Elementals, and my mother. I was a girl on the cusp of her sixteenth birthday and I had lost it all. My home had been burned by the people from my home village of Paxtonvale for a reason I did not understand. My Elementals, animals twisted by the Dark Ones and their minions to bend earth, air, water, or fire against the original creation, I had released into the wild for fear they would be murdered by the angry villagers. And my mother. My mother was murdered herself by hideous creatures known as Aswangs, servants of the Dark Ones who rule Humankind.

Though I had lost all I had considered important, my travels had given me new things to consider important. Friends in the form of an Elf named Elthinor, a Centaur named Gabrithon, and a Human named Nolan. A belief in an all powerful creator called God and His Son Jesiah, whose role I was not sure of, but I was certain it was important. And finally, a mission. A mission to collect the scrolls which tell the story of a forgotten history where the now-separated races actually knew each other and belief in God was common. At least, that is what we assume the scrolls say. The first two scrolls explained the creation and fall of the races. We can only hope the others explain more.

These beliefs are what have kept me going through the long weeks of attack after attack by the Aswangs or their blood-sucking superiors called Vampires. The last attack we suffered from was the one where my mother died. As my mother died, she revealed something I had never known: my father was an Elf and that was the reason the dark creatures called me Strangeling. I did kill Tikujar, the Aswang that murdered her, and no creatures have been stupid enough to come near our little group in a while. That’s not to say we do not have our difficulties.

Being so wary of attack has left us all tired and irritable, and with the autumn chill permeating the air, we have been fighting with each other. Gabrithon and Elthinor are the worst. Nolan is too hesitant to fight and I just stay silent most of the time. Because of my mother’s death, my relationship with God and Jesiah is awkward. I am angry with them, and am ashamed of it, so I am not talking to them, nor have I had any more dreams come to me. I know in my heart it was not right, but I could not help it.

We were all confused on the specifics of what we were to be doing. We did not know when they next attack would come. We did not know whether we would be captured by the servants of the Dark Ones. We did not know where our travels would lead us. There were two things we did know: our journey had only just begun, and that the scrolls were our primary mission, no matter what we had to do to get them. That mission was burned on my heart, and I knew that where I would go, my friends would follow. Or at least, that’s what I hoped.

 

Here is the link to buy the second book if you can’t wait to see what happens next. 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/Am-Truth-Book-Scrolls-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B010YG2ENA?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

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I Am the Way: Chapter 20

I awoke to the sound of a crackling fire which was warming my left side. My eyes flickered open, and I found myself staring at a perfect night sky strewn with stars that looked like diamonds. I shifted slightly which forced a groan to leave my lips at a sharp, stabbing pain in my right shoulder. There was frantic movement and suddenly Gabrithon’s face hovered over mine, worry etched in every tired line of his face. He slowly smiled, his bottom lip quivering as he reached down as if to stroke my cheek.

“You are awake,” he whispered happily. “Oh little filly, you are finally awake! One moment and I shall get Elthinor.”

I lay there in a daze, staring up at the sky. I didn’t understand what was happening. Each breath I took in burned slightly, and my body felt strangely heavy. There was a rustling noise, an exclamation, and the sound of a scramble of quick footsteps hurrying toward me. An exhausted looking Elthinor was suddenly peering down at me. Tears immediately started streaming down his cheeks then he bit his lower lip as he tried to staunch the flow.

“You are awake,” he said, emotion coloring his voice. “Oh, how I thank God that you are awake! Oh Fily, I was so worried. You have been asleep for three days. I prayed for you every minute. As sure as I was that there was no God, that is how sure I am now that there is one! You are alive and awake, and that is all I asked for. I am sorry I ever doubted you about Him.”

I smiled weakly at him. “I am sure our Father and Jesiah are pleased that you believe.”

“Oh Fily,” he murmured. “I thought I would lose you. After coming this far, it would be devastating to see you die. I would not know what to do with myself.”

“If I die, look for the scrolls. Look for the truth within them. It is imperative that they are found by our generation. Promise me this. Please? The world is dark enough as it is,” I said with an odd note of strength in my voice.

The Elf looked miserable at the thought of my death, but I saw something in his eyes stir as he replied. “I promise, Fily. I promise.”

“Good,” I sighed and relaxed again; I had not even noticed I was tense until that moment.

“Elthinor,” Gabrithon said quietly, interrupting our moment.

The Elf looked at him calmly, an air of peace about him. “Yes?”

“It is time to change her bandages.”

“Ah…yes,” Elthinor answered, a note of embarrassment working its way into his voice. “Well then, I suppose we had better.”

I arched my eyebrow at him and he blushed.

“What?” I asked, confused.

“Well, Fily, your shoulder was wounded. Quite badly I might add. It is…I mean…Well…”

He gestured at my shoulder, so I turned my head to look at it. I stared at it blankly for a moment before realizing that I wore no shirt. My face turned redder than Elthinor’s, and I hid it behind my hands as I wished I could disappear. When I finally gathered the courage to remove my hands, Gabrithon and Elthinor were looking at me sheepishly.

“Might I say that if we had a female traveling companion other than yourself, she would be the one tending to you?” Elthinor asked with an awkward attempt at a smile.

“Yes,” I said weakly, looking away from his eyes. “But that does not help at the moment.”

There was a deep, awkward silence, in which Elthinor and I avoided each other’s gazes. Gabrithon just stood there, staring at the two of us. He finally could stand the silence no longer and walked over to stand above me.

“Well, let’s get this over with,” Gabrithon said, kneeling down in front of me to help me sit up.

I kept the blanket firmly clasped to my chest, but the Centaur kept his gaze on my eyes. The kindness I saw in the depths was mesmerizing; I relaxed unconsciously. Elthinor had me move the blanket just enough to get to my bandages and began to work, carefully unwinding them and setting them in a pile. He treated my wounds with the same paste he had rubbed on Gabrithon when he had been hurt, which eased the pain quickly, and then began wrapping my shoulder skillfully with fresh bandages. He patted my whole shoulder when he was done then helped ease me back down.

“Now, you need rest,” Elthinor said firmly, picking up the used bandages and moving to set them in the pot of boiling water over the fire. “And I don’t want to hear a bit of argument.”

“You shall anyway,” I said stubbornly even though I was exhausted. “I want both of you to rest as well. You look like you have been up the whole three days I have been unconscious!”

“We have,” Gabrithon said as he stood and moved to lay down beside me. “You worried us.”

“I thought you did not care for me?” I blurted out before realizing how cruel that sounded.

Gabrithon flinched as he settled down. He still seemed a little self-conscious of the act, and he leveled his gaze on me.

“I do care for you. I realized that these last few days. There is just something about you that makes me feel comfortable around you. I feel less pressured to be what I am expected to be in my own race. As you are a female, I don’t feel threatened by your skill and prowess with the bow and with the knife, though I would if you turned on me. Because of your passion for God, of whom I am still not sure, I know you possess loyalty and would never do that. Because of your understanding nature—even if it takes a while for you to understand—I don’t fear relating my own culture to you. Because of your seemingly natural compassion and lack of judgment, I don’t fear letting my barriers down.

“You are, quite simply put, quite an interesting individual. You seem to be the perfect companion for both me and Elthinor, as he has told me stories about your time with him, and we are both perplexed at that. We do enjoy your company and I, like Elthinor, would not know what to do with myself if you were to die. I don’t wish to go back home where I would be treated like the outcast I have always seemed to be. I suppose I would help Elthinor in the quest for the truth. But it would not be the same without you, Fily.” He paused then looked a bit embarrassed at his speech. “I hope this disperses any negative thoughts you believed I had against you. We are still different, but I hope you will accept this extended offer of friendship.”

“I do accept it,” I said with a smile and no hesitation. “I am sure we shall be good friends.”

“I’m so glad you accepted,” he sighed. “Elthinor did as well, but I was more nervous about you. Like I said before, there is just something different with you. I can’t place what it is. It’s just so, I don’t know, alluring?”

“I am not sure that is the right word for it,” Elthinor said, lowering himself to sit on his bedroll. “But I can’t think of a better one. I do know what you speak of though. It is what first drew me to her side. It is what made me rescue her from the Aswangs and what drew me into this dangerous journey. It is what made me her friend.”

I forced myself to sit up, still holding the blanket firmly against myself, and stared intently at both of them. What were they talking about? I thought about it a moment, and all I could come up with to explain what they were describing was the impression that had made the people in Paxtonvale avoid me like I had a plague.

“Is something the matter, Fily?” Gabrithon asked.

“No,” I said immediately. Ember growled at my side, catching my lie, and I glared at him as I told the truth. “Yes. I don’t understand your fascination with whatever it is that you are talking about. I think what you are talking about is what my village despised about me.”

Elthinor stared at me. “Well, we are not your village. We are not even the same race as they are.”

“That might be the only reason you like me,” I said, suddenly nervous. “What if I lose it?”

Gabrithon laughed. “Oh Fily, the chances that you would lose your personality are…” He trailed off thoughtfully then laughed again. “There is no chance of that! Now put those ridiculous ideas out of your head.”

I lay back down slowly, wincing as I jarred my shoulder. I could not help but feel insecure about my friendships, though I didn’t know why I was suddenly so uneasy. As I thought about it, the answer came to me. I did not want to lose the only friends I had ever had. Even though Gabrithon was a relatively new friend, I cared about him. The battle had naturally brought the three of us closer because we had to trust each other. I could feel the nearness in the air even between Gabrithon and I and we had not been too friendly before. This feeling was something that I did not want to lose. Elthinor must have been watching me because he laughed softly.

“Females worry over so much. I don’t believe I shall ever understand it,” he said then paused for a moment. “Fily, if it makes you feel any better, we shall still be your friends no matter what. Right, Gabrithon?”

“Right,” Gabrithon replied, also sounding amused. “Always.”

“Always is a long time,” I replied, looking at the stars. “And our lives will not be easy for a long while, if ever. Are we strong enough to take it?”

“Maybe not alone, but we are not alone, are we?” Elthinor asked.

I ignored Gabrithon’s snort and smiled fondly at the Elf. That he would acknowledge Jesiah and God like that made me feel happy. It gave me joy that he was aware of them and that it pleased Jesiah, because I knew it would please him. We settled into silence; I yawned as sleep began descending on me. My mind was aflutter with thoughts, but my body was taxed by the little bit of moving I had actually done. Elthinor noticed, and he yawned himself.

“Now that that’s over with, shall we get to bed? I am sure we are all tired,” Elthinor said, tucking himself into his bedroll.

I nodded and turned over, snuggling down into the pleasant warmth. “Good night.”

“Sleep well, friends,” Gabrithon said, and I could hear the joy in his voice at that word.

“Aye, sleep well,” Elthinor muttered then the only noise to be heard was the crackle of the fire.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Am-Way-Book-Scrolls-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00W4I8ZEY?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I Am the Way: Chapter 18

The rock formation was beautiful. Its color was a strange muddy orange, and it seemed to be a nearly vertical group of rocks, slightly angled inward in a half circle. They started on one side of the cliff that backed them and arched outward. I wondered what it was like inside. Were there only more rocks, or was it filled with green things? There was, however, one off-putting quality about it: an almost tangible air of sadness. We stood at the edge of the forest staring at it in the fading light of evening, which splashed golden light everywhere and speckled us through the canopy of the trees. Gabrithon suddenly shivered and looked away from it, but Elthinor and I just couldn’t seem to look away. I felt like this was an important moment, though I didn’t know why. Without thinking, I tilted my head back to look up at the sky.

“This is beautiful,” I whispered.

“What are you doing?” Gabrithon asked.

“Talking to God,” I said without thinking before realizing that it was true.

Gabrithon looked bemused. “He is not real, Fily.”

“Yes, He is,” I snapped fiercely, turning to look at him.

“How do you know?”

“Because I do.”

That was the truth for me. I just knew that He was real, that He was there watching us. Aloron had told me once, while I was cleaning the house, that He was always watching, always listening. I asked him how he knew, and he told me that he knew from years of praying to God. After I had asked him to, he taught me how to pray. He told me to simply talk to God as if He were standing there, but that I needed to also be reverent because he was powerful enough to create me. The Elf had not told me to call Him Father, but ever since the man in white had told me that my ‘Father in heaven’ loves me, I thought of Him as the Father I had never known.

“Don’t argue with her on this,” Elthinor warned. “She is stubborn on the subject. I am almost sure she learned it from my grandfather.”

“Why does it even matter?” Gabrithon asked. “It can’t affect a person’s life…Can it?” He sounded genuinely curious about that, for which I was glad. It meant he wasn’t completely closed off from what I was saying.

“I believe it does. I don’t know how yet, but if God wants me to know, He will let me know,” I replied. “Now, let’s make camp.”

We did so quickly. The routine was familiar to me and Elthinor, and Gabrithon was learning. As Ember started the fire by putting his muzzle in the fire pit, Gabrithon watched with fascination. He was still not used to the fact that Ember was an Elemental. Evidently, Centaurs believed that Elementals were just a myth, so he was shocked to find they were real. He had wanted to pet the beast, but if Ember had not liked Elthinor when he met him, he loathed Gabrithon. I wasn’t quite sure why, but I had a suspicion that he disliked the animal part of him.

“He will begin to like you eventually,” Elthinor said to Gabrithon with a smile. “He still does not fully like me, and I have been travelling with him for a while now.”

Gabrithon shrugged and sighed. “It is all right. Believe it or not, I am used to people not trusting me.”

“Me, too,” I said as Ember plopped down in front of me and rolled onto his back.

“You?” Gabrithon asked as I began to rub the Kindle Wolf’s belly.

“Humans are male dominated, too, but not to such an extreme degree as your culture. A woman and her daughter taking care of a farm and raising Elementals was looked down upon,” I said bitterly. “You know something, why is a woman considered lower than a man? Is it just because we are physically weaker? Without females, none of our races would exist, for males can’t bear children! Why then are we treated as if we are property?”

Both males looked uncomfortable. They glanced at each other then looked away at anything and everything but me. I made an angry, indignant noise as they continued to remain silent. I could feel my cheeks warm with emotion, and it took all that I had inside not to go slap some sense into both of them. Instead I kept a calm, albeit sarcastic tone.

“No comments at all? Not even from the worthier-than-thou-art Centaur?”

“I don’t wish to incur your wrath on the subject. Elthinor has informed me that you are quite sensitive about it. He told me about your many talks on the topic in his village. If even some of them are true, then I don’t wish to ever speak of such issues around you or to you. My views, or rather Centaurian views, would probably make you even angrier than Elven views.” He paused then looked directly at me, holding his chin up high. “I have never met a filly like you, and I probably never will again. As hard as it is for me to admit it, I am impressed with you. I know I have said that before, but it is just so strange. You are all right. You know, for a female.”

I stared at him intently before letting the subject drop as I sat down in front of the fire and began pulling out the meat we’d salted; it still amazed me that Elthinor had thought to bring salt in his bag. Elthinor sat down beside me, earning a soft growl from Ember. Gabrithon seemed at a loss for what to do for a moment before lowering himself down to the ground and curling his legs underneath him so he was closer to us. I smiled at him.

“I take it that Centaurs are not prone to lying on the ground?”

“Not stallions,” he said. “We even sleep standing up, though I must admit it feels nice to lie down and sleep. I feel safer closer to the ground. I know why mares prefer it now.” He paused as an upset look passed over his face. “My father would not be happy that I had to lie down, even though I was hurt. He and the other stallions would have expected me to remain standing unless my legs were broken.”

“You don’t like your father either?” Elthinor asked.

“No,” Gabrithon said bitterly then perked up as he registered what the Elf had said. “Wait, either?”

“I don’t like mine. He is an angry Elf. He does not like me believing in God. Or well…I don’t quite believe yet, but the idea is there, and he hates that nonetheless. He calls the belief a silly fairytale. I believe there is more to it than that, though, and that displeases him.”

“It does stir something in your heart, does it not?” Gabrithon asked absently.

“Exactly!” Elthinor exclaimed. “That is what makes me believe there is something there. I just…something is keeping me from believing. I don’t know why, but I need some kind of, well, proof.”

“Proof would be nice, though Fily does not seem to need proof.”

Elthinor smiled. “You forget, Gabrithon, that she talks to the man in white.”

“Oh yes. The Son of God,” Gabrithon said contemptuously with an incredulous smile.

I felt a flash of anger at his disbelief. “I haven’t yet heard your explanation for how we got here,” I growled. “Please, inform me of it.”

They looked at me, obviously startled by my hostility. I really did not care what they thought of me at the moment. I wasn’t going to sit by and let them make fun of God and His Son. That wasn’t something I could tolerate. To me, that was worse than berating females in general.

“Fily, I did not mean to insult you,” Gabrithon said slowly, looking nervous for some reason. “I just…”

“Was making fun of my beliefs?”

The Centaur paused and sighed. “Um, yes,” he answered reluctantly.

“I have refrained from making fun of your culture. Please refrain from belittling my beliefs, especially because I’m in contact with the man in white.”

“I’m sorry,” he said after a moment, shifting.

I felt a soft smile curl my lips; I knew it wasn’t easy for him to apologize to a girl. “You are forgiven, friend.”

Gabrithon started in surprise. “Friend? I have friends?”

Elthinor and I glanced at each other, smiling at his surprise, realizing just how alike each of us were in spite of our physical differences. Apparently, Gabrithon had been just as friendless as we had.

“Yes,” I replied with an amused smile. “We are friends.”

He tried to hide a pleased smile as he hummed thoughtfully. “Well, being friends with a filly is discouraging, but I suppose I can overlook it.”

Elthinor and I laughed at that, and he smiled openly. I became aware that he was relaxed for the first time since I had met him. As I thought back, I recalled his constant tension around us: the way he kept his distance from us when we traveled, the haughtiness that he had always addressed us with (which I now realized was his way of keeping a wall up), and the way he always trailed us with his eyes. There was a marked difference in his countenance. I was sure that he would still be wary of us for a while, but as we sat around the fire talking, it was as if we were of the same race. It was nice, I thought, to be surrounded by friends. I suddenly smiled at a new thought, and Elthinor and Gabrithon looked at me.

“What?” Elthinor asked.

“Did you ever think that the people in this particular group would be your group of friends?” I asked with a giggle.

“What do you mean?” Gabrithon asked.

“As a Centaur, did you ever think you would be friends with an Elf and a Human? And the same for you Elthinor. Did you ever think that Gabrithon and I would be your friends?”

“No,” they both answered in unison.

“I never expected to have any friends until I moved into the city,” Elthinor continued after a brief pause. “Once they knew…” he trailed off and glanced at me, looking a little embarrassed. “Once I was away from Elves who knew who my father and grandfather were, I figured they would be more receptive to being my friend.”

“Why?” Gabrithon asked curiously.

“Well, my father is an influential Elf in Ellavendir—that is the name of my village—and he intimidates all of the Elves there, including the males and females my age. They tease me because I am nothing like my father and am therefore an easy target.”

“And your grandfather?”

“He is a Follower and looked down upon by most in our village. But he is also looked up to by most in our village because of his ability to spot greatness and because of his ties to the king. He is an odd Elf. I am always teased for him, too, because I am like him in all the wrong ways.”

“Oh. I am terribly sorry,” Gabrithon said solemnly.

“I don’t mind it too much anymore,” Elthinor said, though I could tell he was lying. “Besides, Fily does not tease me, and I hope you will not either, and at this point you are the only two who could. What about you?” he asked, changing the focus to Gabrithon.

“Well, I am the youngest of five,” Gabrithon said cautiously. “And I think differently from them, and they hold the popular opinion. That is all I am going to say on the subject.”

Though we prodded a bit, Elthinor and I could not get Gabrithon to say any more, so we slipped into more relaxed and less personal conversation until we went to bed. As I settled into my bedroll, I was pleased by how comfortable we were with each other. I hoped that this would last, but I was also sure that Gabrithon and I would clash again. Oh well. I would worry about that when it happened.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Am-Way-Book-Scrolls-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00W4I8ZEY?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I Am the Way: Chapter 14

I was numb for several days, unable to sleep because of my fear of facing the man in white again. The Vampires’ words still stung me, and they confirmed that the man in white had a connection with God, which made the wounds hurt even more. I knew I shouldn’t believe them, but there was a ring of truth to Lugat’s words. The man in white was God’s Son! I had yelled at the Son of God. I had attacked him! I was so certain that I would never be forgiven for my anger that I had made myself physically ill. I had not really had any sustenance in days, even though I did try to eat to appease Elthinor’s demands. But I would just get sick afterwards and all the hunting, fishing, and cooking that my Elven friend did was in vain. He would simply sigh, holding my hair back behind my head as I emptied the contents of my stomach out into the river before settling back, dead to the world around me. Ember was constantly by my side.

While my faith had been weakened by the Vampire attack, Elthinor’s faith seemed to have gotten stronger. He still was unsure about God, but he did believe that the Light One the dark monsters had talked about was real. Just the way the Vampires had spoken the nickname with such conviction and the look in their red eyes made both of us believe in the Light One. Elthinor just needed confirmation that they were one and the same, while I already knew they were.

We were eating supper on the evening of the third day of my despair, or at least Elthinor was, when he set his plate down and sighed. He looked at me with such intensity that I knew what was coming before he even spoke. I looked away, unable to hold his fierce gaze.

“Fily, we need to talk,” he said firmly. “You can’t just run away from this. Whatever it was that you did, I know that you will be forgiven if you just ask. Grandfather’s words come to mind. You see the man in white when you sleep, and I know that’s why you are avoiding it. I don’t like seeing you like this. Sleep, Fily. Sleep and ask for forgiveness when you see him.”

I stayed silent for a little while before peeking up into his silver and green eyes again. “I attacked him, Elthinor. I told him I hated him. I told the Son of God that I hated him. How could he forgive me for that?”

“I don’t know, but I’m sure he will. Now, finish your meal then sleep. Ember and I will keep watch.”

Ember looked up at the sound of his name. He had begun to like Elthinor in the time after the Vampire attack and was beginning to respond to his voice and commands just as he did for me. When no command followed, he settled back down beside me, and for the first time since the attack, I willingly picked up my plate. I was afraid to fall asleep, afraid to face the Son of God. I didn’t know what would happen when I came near him. Would he yell? Would he physically hurt me for my anger? Would he make the dark creatures come back and destroy me? I deserved every single one of those actions, probably worse.

I started when a hand took my nearly empty plate away and arms wrapped around me, hugging me to a warm chest. “It will be all right, Fily. It will be. You’ll see. He will forgive you for everything. Now rest your troubled mind. Sleep and you will see. He will forgive you.”

As Elthinor rocked me, my exhaustion caused my eyes to slide close without any trouble. I lay there, half awake and half asleep, but finally, the strain was too much for my mind, and I drifted into a fitful sleep. When I awoke, Elthinor was sitting with his legs crossed staring into the fire. His naked sword was beside him, ready to be snatched up. I moved slightly, and his eyes shifted to me. He frowned.

“You did not see him?”

I shook my head. “No,” I said groggily.

“You are not letting go. Your mind is still awake while your body sleeps, feeding you doubts so you can’t meet him. Relax and release your fears. He will forgive you,” Elthinor said seriously.

I looked away from my friend to focus on that word. Forgive. I closed my eyes and between the possible scenarios playing through my mind that word echoed. Anger. Forgive. Violence. Forgive. Denial. Forgive. Hate.

Forgive.

I slowly opened my eyes to see a beautiful canopy of multicolored leaves above me. I lay there for many uncounted moments, holding my breath, but there was no cheerful voice greeting me this time. I sat up slowly, my eyes going immediately to the man in white. The white of his clothes stood out against the forest, which wasn’t as bright or as beautiful as I remembered. The colors were dimmer, and even the light in the sky seemed to be diminished. The only light that wasn’t dull was the light coming from him; he was sitting a little way away. His light, I thought, would never go out. I swallowed and shifted, making a little noise, but he didn’t turn around. I bit my bottom lip, stood, and walked toward him, a lump in my throat. I stood behind Him for another long moment.

I took a deep breath then I hesitantly reached out a hand and placed it on His shoulder. He turned toward me, and as soon as he looked at me with those caramel eyes, I burst into tears, collapsing to my knees. I heard Him turn fully toward me, so I grabbed the bottom of his tunic, hiding my face in it and trying to stop crying. I found that I could not, so I did not even bother to try and hide it.

“I am so sorry!” I sobbed. “I don’t know what came over me! I miss my mother! I am frightened by the Vampires and the Aswangs!”

A gentle hand began stroking my hair.

“I forgive you, but why are you afraid, child? Is my Father not with you? Has He not protected you all this time?”

I sniffled and thought about that, leaning into his touch. Even though I had been wounded by the Aswangs and gained a nasty scar from the encounter, I was alive, though not entirely safe. I suddenly realized that just because so many bad things had happened did not mean that God had not been with me. I also realized that my belief in God had been conditional on the good times, mainly in the Elven town. That just wasn’t right, I realized. I needed to be constant in my belief or else it wasn’t much of a belief at all. I finally spoke my mind.

“I’m still afraid,” I whispered, raising my head up and meeting his eyes, “but I realize He has been protecting me. May I ask you a question?”

“You may.”

It took me a moment to gather my thoughts. “Is my mother alive?”

“What makes you think I know that?” he asked with a soft smile.

I lowered my eyes. “I believe you are the Son of God, though I am not sure how that works. Yet,” I added before I thought about it.

He began to stroke my hair again. “Your mother is alive. You will grow ever closer to her as you continue your journey.”

“Thank you,” I said quietly then asked another question. “Why did you answer me this time?”

“There were lessons to be learned,” the man in white replied. “And may I say that you must simply ask for forgiveness and, if you truly mean it, you shall receive it. You shall learn why this is arranged like this later, but for now, remember that. I love you, dear one, just as your Father in heaven loves you.”

I lay my head in his lap as he continued to stroke my hair. Just before everything went black, he kissed my forehead.

I awoke to see the most beautiful light blue above me. There were puffy white clouds scattered in the blue, and they looked so fluffy that I wanted to grab them. I resisted the urge. There was a lightness about me that had been absent since the Vampire attack. I felt like dancing, so I did. Slipping out of my bedroll—I had no idea how I had gotten in there—I leaped up and began to spin around the camp, laughing to myself. When I noticed Elthinor watching me with a bemused expression, I grabbed his hands and spun him around with me until he was laughing as well. We finally fell to the ground, dizzy and elated. We lay there panting for a while then Elthinor turned on his side to look at me, his face gently resting against his fist. He was smiling at me, his eyes sparkling from residual laughter.

“Well?” he asked, still sounding a little out of breath.

“He forgave me, Elthinor. He told me that He loved me and that God loved me and that if I asked and meant it, I would always be forgiven.”

“Just you?” he asked with raised eyebrows, a hint of fear in his voice.

“No. I believe it applies to everybody,” I replied, putting my arms behind my head and staring at the clouds.

“What makes you think that?”

“Because God is there for everybody. Even through the bad times we go through, He is there.”

“That’s quite an interesting thought. But if He is a loving God, why do bad things happen?”

This time, I was the one who was stumped, and, after a moment’s thought, I answered honestly. “I don’t know, but there must be a reason. He must have a reason for everything, even if we don’t understand it.”

Elthinor sighed, flopping back and joining my cloud-gazing. He chuckled and pointed out a cloud shaped like Ember, which began a playful game of ‘find the most interesting shape in the clouds.’ After an hour or so, the green and silver Elf won by pointing out a cloud that looked like one of those half horse, half man creatures.

“What do you think of the Centaurs?” I asked.

“The horse men? Well, I hope that they are not like Satyrs. They are the goat men,” Elthinor added in response to my look.

“I know that,” I said with a sigh. “Well, the name Centaur fits the horse men better. Isn’t that what the scroll called them?”

Elthinor shrugged. “I suppose we shall find out.” He paused and looked at me. “We are going to find out, yes?”

I took a deep breath as I sat up and wrapped my arms around my knees. Elthinor sat up as well and I looked into his now familiar, yet still different, eyes.

“The Son of God told us to follow the river upstream. It continues into the forest. We shall follow the river on the morrow, if that is agreeable to you. We have spent too much time here. If your father was following us, he would be upon us by now.”

Elthinor raised an eyebrow. “Might I remind you we were here so long because you refused to ask for forgiveness from the man in white?” he asked teasingly.

“I will not deny that. But you were reluctant to go into the forest to begin with.”

“Oh, it was just me?”

“Of course. I was willing to go in,” I said with a giggle.

“Sure you were. The moving shadows and darkness don’t scare you at all,” he said sarcastically. “It’s not as if you were screaming and clutching at me during the first night of our journey.”

I blushed. “Well, at least I can fish!”

He laughed. “I am getting much better at it. I caught us breakfast…Oh, um, are you hungry? There’s cold fish,” he said sheepishly.

“Actually, I am hungry. I would like some fish, cold or warm.”

He stood, offering me his hand. I took it and he pulled me up. I looked for the fish, but all I saw was Ember lying beside two empty plates. I laughed as Elthinor cried out in shock and half-hearted anger.

“Hey! It took me an hour to catch those!” he complained, crossing his arms and trying not to pout.

“Want me to go catch some?” I asked, trying not to laugh at his expression.

“I would like to accompany you. And, though it does bruise my pride to ask this, would you be so kind as to teach me your techniques? I am tired of falling into the river every time I catch a fish.”

I smiled kindly. “I would be delighted. It does take a little practice. You will stop falling into the river. Eventually.”

Elthinor retrieved the sharpened sticks we used to fish and handed me one. As I pulled my knife and sharpened mine a little more, I could sense his eyes on me. I wondered why. When I finished, he placed a hand on my shoulder and looked directly into my eyes.

“You must promise me something, my dear friend,” he said seriously.

I felt a start run through my body. What was this about? Was something the matter? Had he done something wrong?

“What?” I asked, my eyes widening.

He suddenly gave a cheeky grin. “Try not to laugh too hard when I go down into the river.”

I laughed in relief and shoved him away. “Come on, mighty fisherman. Let me show you the ropes.”

His face went blank, and he sounded confused as he spoke. “What ropes?”

 

https://www.amazon.com/Am-Way-Book-Scrolls-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00W4I8ZEY?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I Am the Way: Chapter 13

We walked for hours the next two days, our lack of wood forcing us to eat from our provisions instead of catching fresh meat, and early on the third day we reached another forest, this one looking thicker and darker than the other. Ember didn’t like the forest, or something in it. He kept growling with his hackles raised, but the river flowed through it and the man in white had said to follow the river. I did not want to go into that forest.

“Maybe we should take a day to rest?” Elthinor suggested, trying to hide the discomfort in his voice.

“Yes. We have been travelling for a while now,” I replied, avoiding his eyes.

We set up camp, moving in the now familiar rhythm, but this time there was no pleasant chatter, only strained silence. Finally we were missing only a fire, which we had gone without for two days. Elthinor entered the forest with a small ax. After only five minutes, he came nearly sprinting back. Shuddering, he dropped the few sticks he’d collected.

“What happened?” I asked, quite alarmed.

“There was…Well, it is a little silly now,” he muttered as he sat down, avoiding my eyes.

I knelt down beside him. “What?”

“I thought I saw something moving in the shadows,” he replied quietly.

“Aswangs?” I asked, my body tightening with fear

“I don’t know. I was too frightened to see what it was. I ran back here as fast as I could.”

“If it is Aswangs then we must have fire,” I said.

“But what if they get us while we gather wood?” he asked.

“They won’t, not if Ember is on fire beside us,” I replied confidently. “Come. We must get as much wood as we can before dark.”

Elthinor was reluctant but followed when he saw that I would not be persuaded otherwise. He didn’t seem to realize how bad it would be if they caught us without a fire. I didn’t really know myself, but I was sure I did not want to find out. We approached the forest, and even though he was visibly shaking, I pretended not to notice. I took the ax from him and approached a small tree. As soon as I reached it, something started moving in the shadows, about ten feet from us. It wasn’t the same kind of movement that the Aswangs had, but it was definitely not a natural movement, so I called Ember to my side. He came immediately.

Flaren,” I commanded, and fire exploded across his body.

Elthinor gave a cry of shock, pulling back in surprise. It was then I remembered he had never seen Ember on fire. While he was staring at the Elemental, fascinated, I presumed, I noticed that whatever was in the shadows had fled the light, so I approached the tree to chop. Several swings in, I was stopped by a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see Elthinor looking at me disapprovingly. I blinked at him for a moment.

“What?”

“Allow me,” Elthinor said, taking the ax and beginning where I stopped.

He still seemed shaken by the shadow creatures and Ember, but he resolutely chopped at the tree. He had such a determined, focused expression on his face. I knew he was trying to forget his fears and be brave in front of me. I didn’t dare tell him he didn’t have to because I was putting up a front, too. Since he was stronger than I was, he felled the tree faster than I would have. As he sectioned the fallen tree, I began carrying the firewood to our campsite. At first, Ember tried to follow me—Elthinor looked terrified at the prospect—but I told him to stay. My pet did not look happy, but he obeyed me without a growl or bark, though he did shake his head as if exasperated with me. I walked away wondering just how smart Ember was.

We gathered a substantial amount of wood before we stopped. As all three of us headed back to camp and I gestured for Ember to cool down, I felt eyes drilling into our backs. Elthinor was paler than usual as he began to look back. I stopped him by touching his hand. He jumped; his eyes met mine, questioning me.

“That is not a good idea. You will never be able to forget the eyes you will see.”

He stared at me before facing forward again. I had to force myself to keep my gaze from wandering back. I was sure that these were new creatures. I was also almost positive that they were worse. They had the same smell of age as the Aswangs, but there was also a coppery smell that clung to my tongue. It was cloying, and I scraped my teeth across the top of my tongue to try and get rid of it. I glanced at Elthinor when we got back and he looked sickened, too. That night we stoked the fire high and kept it that way. Around midnight Elthinor noticed that I had started to doze.

“Try to sleep. I will tend the fire,” he said with a reassuring smile.

I was too tired to argue and quickly tucked myself into my bedroll. I heard the Elf bid me a good night of rest then the crackling of the fire was all that was to be heard.

“Hello, my dearest one.”

I did not have to open my eyes to know who that voice belonged to. I did so anyway and found that I was right. I looked around as I sat up and was dazzled yet again. This time the forest was aglow with multicolored lights. Some of them came from fireflies, which did not just flash yellow, but green and blue and red and pink and many other colors. Then there were the crystal flowers. They put out lights too, each according to its own color. The rainbow affect was astounding, but then my focus came back to the man in white. He again seemed to be light contained, a soft light that held the promise of being brighter, even blinding, during the right circumstances. I brought my attention back to his face as I realized he was waiting for me to respond.

“Why do you call me that?” I finally asked.

“You are close to my heart,” the man replied.

“Why?”

“You shall learn why in time.”

I took the answer for what it was worth. “What am I doing here this time?”

“You are afraid to do as I said.”

I flinched, even though his tone lacked any kind of reproach or anger. “Yes,” I said meekly.

“Why?”

“There are dark things in the shadows. They want to harm us.”

“Yes,” the man in white replied. “What are you going to do?”

The question held a deep meaning. If we listened to this man, who seemed to know God in some way, there was a chance Elthinor and I would be harmed badly by the creatures in the forest. If we did not listen to him then our entire quest would be in vain. At least the searching for the scrolls part would be in vain. A thought made me look up at him.

“Is my mother in there?” I asked slowly. “If not, why should I go in there?”

I wasn’t surprised that I received no answer, though it did make me angry. Why did this man think he could just tell me to do something and expect me to do it? He did not even give me answers when I asked him the questions close to my heart! I leaped to my feet and glared at the man, resisting the urge to slap him.

“Answer me!” I shouted, tears gathering in the corner of my eyes as my anger built. I had no idea where this feeling was coming from. Maybe it was the darkness pressing in close? I did not know and was too angry to really care. When he just stared at me with those piercing eyes, I let out a scream of pain and rage. “Why should I listen to you? You start me off on a horrible journey away from my home, which led to me being a servant for Elves and being attacked by Aswangs! Now you expect me to go into a forest with dark creatures lurking in the shadows that are waiting to attack me without even telling me why? I can’t believe you! Stay away from me! You’re nothing but trouble!”

“Filynora!”

Nearly blinded by tears at this point, I wiped my eyes and looked around for Elthinor, for it was his voice I had heard. He was nowhere in sight, but the man in white was now looking at me with pain-filled, sad eyes, but there was no other reaction to my anger. Those eyes. I felt anger, now more like rage, burn inside of me for that look in those eyes. I lunged forward, my emotions driving me to attack the one that had caused the distress.

I sat up suddenly only to discover I was no longer in the dream. In fact, when I looked around it was more of a nightmare. Elthinor had his sword out, pointing into the darkness, his eyes wild. He looked at me and I saw raw fear in his eyes as I scrambled out of my bedroll.

“What is going on?” I demanded.

“There are so many of them, Fily! I-I fell asleep for just a moment and the fire went low! I am so sorry!”

“What are they?” I asked, grabbing my bow and quiver, the disturbing dream forgotten for the moment.

“I don’t know! They fled when I stoked the fire back up but not far! Look!”

He pointed one trembling finger to the edge of the firelight and I immediately saw the outline of what looked like a person, but the glowing blood red eyes assured me this was no Human or Elf.

“Come out, little pretty,” a low male voice hissed. “You will make a nice present for our Master. And we can make the boy a nice meal. For us, that is.”

“Ember,” I called, but the wolf did not come. I could barely see a lump on the ground just past the firelight. “Who are you and what do you want?”

“I am Lugat. I come by my Master’s orders to capture you, Strangeling, and bring you to them for…disposal.”

“What are you?” Elthinor asked, his voice trembling.

“We are known as Vampires,” another voice said, this one female. “I am Jiang Shi, and we are many. You will not get through this night, young ones.”

“We will. We must,” I said sternly.

“My grandfather told me that if your situation is bad to pray to God,” Elthinor whispered to me. “I still don’t know if I believe in Him, but you do. Pray to Him! Ask for help and protection.”

“I can’t,” I said after a moment, my voice cracking. “I just can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I…I don’t want to talk about it,” I said, ashamed of myself.

“She was angry,” Jiang Shi hissed. “I could feel it. She must be angry with the Light One and his Son.”

I blushed and immediately lied. “No I-I am not!”

“Oh? But I believe you are,” Lugat crooned, his eyes gleaming; he had found my weak spot. “Did you curse him? Yell at him? Fight him?”

“No,” I croaked, lowering my bow, my face burning in shame.

“He shall never forgive you for that. You shall never be in His favor again!” Lugat laughed meanly, his voice low and sweet. “You make Him ashamed to have been so near to you, Strangeling. He wishes you had never been born. You are nothing to Him now!”

“Stop it!” I screamed, dropping my weapon to cover my ears.

I could still hear the Vampire laughing, telling me what a disappointment I was to the Light One, who could only be God. I began to moan, sinking to my knees as shame and humiliation overwhelmed me. There was a thud as Elthinor transferred his sword to one hand and knelt next to me, hugging me to his chest. He asked me what was wrong, speaking loud enough to drown out the Vampires.

I began to sob as the other Vampires joined in with taunts about how I would never be accepted again because of my moment of anger. It felt like they were digging into a hole of despair, making it deeper. I felt that the words they spoke were true. Things between the man in white and God and I were never to be the same again. I began to howl my misery out, well aware that the creatures were taking pleasure in my agony.

“Fily! They are lying! They are lying! I know it in my heart!” Elthinor exclaimed, rocking me gently. “Whatever it is that you did, you shall be forgiven for it! Grandfather told me so!”

“No!” I moaned. “He hates me! He hates me, I just know it! I did something horrible to the man in white, Elthinor! He shall never forgive me!”

“No little one, He will not. Come with us and we shall make the despair go away,” Lugat whispered.

His promise was the sweetest thing I had ever heard. I moved to get up, to go toward the promise of ending the pain, but Elthinor’s strong arms held me down. There was a shriek of anger followed by a gust of wind, putting out the fire. Hands grabbed me to tug me out of the Elf’s grip and he screamed, holding on to me tightly.

“Give her to us, boy!” a deep, evil voice bellowed while claws dug into my skin, drawing blood.

“Ember!” Elthinor screamed. “Please! Flaren! Flaren!”

There was a pause for a single second then fire exploded to life across Ember’s fur. He was pinned under a grey-skinned monster that immediately recoiled in pain with a scream as the flames licked at its skin. Ember leaped forward as soon as he saw I was being attacked and sank his white-hot, glowing teeth into an arm that held me. The Vampires had been stunned by the sudden light, but as the second one of their number cried out in pain, they shot back to run to the forest as fast as they could, shouting a promise to get me no matter what.

The deep silence that followed was only broken by Ember’s flames. By the Kindle Wolf’s light, Elthinor rekindled the fire. Once the fire was crackling merrily, he brought a blanket to wrap around my shoulders. I was still rocking and crying but without noise. He carried me closer to the fire and set me down gently. As he wrapped his arms around me and whispered gentle words to me, the first rays of sunlight began to pierce the darkness as morning broke on the horizon.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Am-Way-Book-Scrolls-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00W4I8ZEY?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

God Is Holy

This is set to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me.”

God is holy, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Sin can’t stand in front of Him
So our prospect’s very dim

All have sinned, from young to old
None should tread the streets of gold
We deserve eternal fire
We are truly in the mire

Yes He is holy
Yes He is holy
Yes He is Holy
The Bible tells me so

My Lord Jesus died for me
Hanging from a rough hewn tree
He did this to set me free
Satan’s lost his grip on me

“It is finished!” One final cry
And on that cross my Savior died
Then his blood ran to the ground
And his heart did cease to pound

Easter morn came sure and fast
Death for him just couldn’t last
No longer did the tomb imprison
Then came the news, ” He is risen!”

Now before God we may stand
Soon forever in His land
Covered in the Lamb’s pure blood
Now all God sees is His son.

And so this song must end dear friends
And your time here He does lend
Tho’ Heav’n comes to us swift and sweet
For now we are His hands and feet

God hates our sinning
Yet he truly loves us
Listen to the proof now
Just look to Calvary

Love Who You Are

To start off on a good note, I am me. To be more specific, I am a girl of eighteen years and I have Aspergers autism, which means I have trouble socializing, have repetitive behaviors, and have intense interests in a few narrow subjects. I do not think it is a disability, no matter what people say. One person I know put it like this: “It’s not a disability. It’s a different ability.” That’s how I view it! Sure I have trouble talking to people, and I’m uncomfortable with touching, and I can’t eat some foods because of how they feel in my mouth (it’s a texture thing), and loads of other things, but this is the way God made me.
I knew that he had made me unique from everybody else long before I knew I had Aspergers. He made everybody unique. It’s the one thing everybody has in common! There are tall people, short people, people of different colors and creeds and backgrounds. There’s so much diversity! But if that’s such a good thing, why do we all try to melt into the crowd? It doesn’t matter which crowd. We just want to fit in. At least somewhere! And sometimes, if we don’t fit in somewhere, or feel like we don’t, we force away our own uniqueness, our gifts and talents, and fit ourselves into a niche that we weren’t really made for. The scary thing is some people succeed at that!
Years ago, my dad had a friend who put together a puzzle that was a mirror or chrome, something to that effect. Each puzzle piece was exactly the same color, exactly the same shape (except for the edges), each piece created exactly the same. How boring is that? How excruciating would it be to put that puzzle together? I mean, there was just one color. I don’t know about you, but the sameness would have got to me.
Sometimes I think humanity is like a puzzle and each person represents a single piece. Now that piece can be a rainbow of colors, or just one or two. It can be a two pronged puzzle piece or it can have ten! In the Message Bible, Genesis 1: 27 says that God made us in his image, and to reflect his nature. While we are separate, we show certain sides of God, but together, with all our differences, all of our puzzle pieces with all the different shapes and colors and sizes, we reflect God more fully as he truly is!
I’ll be honest here. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to fit into the ‘normal’ stereotype. To have girlfriends and go to the mall and shop ‘til I drop and care about fashion and….that’s when I laugh. I just can’t imagine me ever being into that. I am one of the rare girls who doesn’t give a hoot about fashion. I love who I am and I don’t want to be anybody else!
Now don’t get me wrong, fashion and being ‘normal’, shopping and having best girlfriends are just fine! It just is not me. If you are the type that hangs out at the mall every day, then don’t let me stop you. Go and do it if that’s what you like. Love who you are! I mean, why shouldn’t you? God made you that way!
Don’t try to be a piece of the mirror puzzle. Be you! God made you you for a reason! You reflect a part of God that no one else reflects! Be happy about that! Love who you are and let that set you free! And remember this: God values you and loves you just the way you are. So you should too.
I mean, how boring would it be if we were all created alike? What if we all had the same personality, same likes, same dislikes, same EVERYTHING? I can’t even imagine that. There’d really be no need for conversations, would there? I mean, everybody else would agree with you on everything. That’s just so dull. Good thing we’re not all created alike, eh? 🙂