Faith Victorious: Chapters 10, 11, and 12

Fiction By Kyleigh // 3/14/2010

You get three chapters this time... 'cuz I don't feel like making you suffer with only one and the way time is divided in the story I'd have to do that.  And I'm sorry italics and bold aren't working, it shows up when I see it in the work space but it doesn't show up when it's published.

Anyway... Enjoy! 

 

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Chapter Ten: The Search Begins

            The gates of Rakeyna rose high above Jonathan’s head. From the outside, it looked no different from any other place. But Jonathan knew that the people there were restrained – though restrained in the name of freedom – far more than the inhabitants of any of the islands were.

            What if Timothy is dead? Jonathan wondered. His search could be endless. After all, had he not promised to find Kianna’s father? The poor child. These times are so terrible.

            The man stopped outside of the gatehouse and knocked on the door.
            “Aye?” A window in the door opened. A man about Jonathan’s age peered out at him. “What do you want?”

            “I would like to enter Rakeyna.”

            “Name?”

            “Jonathan.”

            “What’s your business here?”

            “I’m searching for the father of a friend of mine.”
            “The father of a friend, you say?”

            “Aye.”

            “What is the name of this friend?”
            “You would not know her, she…”

            “Her?” The man smiled. He began cranking the gate open. “She your sweetheart?”

            “Aye, you could say that.”
            “Then welcome to Rakeyna.”

            Jonathan nodded to the man and slipped in through the gate. The streets inside were bare except for soldiers at their posts. Shutters were closed and no laughter and no children’s voices rang in the town. This place is a living graveyard.

            He approached a soldier to ask for directions.

            “The gaol? Walk down that way, two streets, and then turn right at the third. Then take your first right and you’ll see it. You won’t miss it when you’re there. But I don’t know why anyone would want to go there,” he muttered under his breath.

            “Thank you, sir.”

            The soldier touched the tip of his hat politely. “Looking for someone there?” He asked.

            “Aye.”

            “Perhaps I can help. I was in charge of the records for a time.”

            Jonathan jumped at the chance to get information. “His name is Timothy.”

            “We had lots of Timothy’s at one point. I think there are still a few in the gaol.”

            “What happened to the others?”

            “Execution for some, banishment for others…”

            “Thank you, you have been most helpful.” Jonathan walked off in the direction of the gaol. Third street, turn right. As he turned, he sensed a change in the area. He was entering an even darker part of Rakeyna, if that was possible. Inside the gate had been lifeless. This was dead. Soon the gaol loomed ahead of him, dark, grey… the only noise was the clanking of chains. Ladylan used to be beautiful, he mused, remembering a trip he had taken there as a young man.

            Guards at the door stopped Jonathan. “What business have you in the gaol?”

            “I’m searching for…” he hesitated. “For a friend.” Of a friend.

            “Name?”

            “Mine or his?”

            “Both.”

            “I’m Jonathan. His name is Timothy.”

            “Well, we got plenty of those inside. If you can’t find him there, go ask at headquarters. They may be able to give you some information.”

            “Thank you.”

            “Don’t expect to find him. Most people are executed or banished shortly after arriving here.”

            “So I hear.”

            “And if you find him here, you won’t be able to get him out. Just a warning.”

            Let him not be here! Jonathan begged. Since being on board the Jubilee, Jonathan had found himself talking with the Creator – almost like Keegan and Archie did. He still didn’t know where he stood, though, with regard to believing the Truth. The guard unlocked the door and let Jonathan in. He heard the bolt slide into place as the door closed, and could not help but shudder. How many men enter here and never leave?

            After he passed under an arch in the thick gaol walls, Jonathan entered a courtyard. Soldiers stood in front of cells, most looking slack and bored. His hands clammy, Jonathan approached the first cell. He walked up to the door and looked inside, grasping the cold metal bars.

            “Hello!” He called.

            He received a gruff grunt as a reply.

            “Do you know of a man called Timothy?” Jonathan asked.

            “I knew one long before I ended up here,” the man replied. “His family was wonderful… but I’ve been rotting in this cell for years now.”

            “Did he have a daughter, Kianna?”

            “Aye, and his wife was about to have another child.”

            “Do you know where Timothy is now?”

            “No. I know almost nothing of what goes on outside these walls.”

            “I have reason to believe that he is in the gaol.”

            “Timothy, in the gaol? Whatever for?”

            Jonathan glanced at the guard, who appeared to be paying no attention. “For following the Creator,” he said quietly.

            “They’re jailing people for that?”

            “Aye.”

            “Terrible, terrible. The followers of the Creator were some of the best people I knew.”

            “Aye, me too. Well, thank you.”

            Another grunt.

            Jonathan moved on to the next cell.

            The prisoner here sat close to the door, his hands wrapped around the bars, peering out into the light. Jonathan knelt on the ground next to him.

            “Do you know of a man called Timothy?”

            “I am called Timothy.”

            Jonathan’s heart leapt. “Do you have a daughter and two sons?”

            The man shook his head. “No, I was never married.”

            “Oh.” I was so close! “Well, thank you.”

            He stood and moved on. He had no leads until the last cell.

            “Do you know of a man called Timothy?” Jonathan asked for what seemed like the thousandth time.

            “Aye, I do.”

            Please! “Was he married?”

            “Aye, to a beautiful lass called Caithlin.”

            “Did he have children?”

            “Three that I know of. He told me that his wife was pregnant with a fourth, but he knows not what happened to her.”
            Jonathan gripped the bars tightly, trying to restrain his excitement. “Did you talk with him here, in the gaol?”

            “Aye.”

            “How long ago was it?”

            “Almost two years ago now.”

            The time they left Rakeyna. “Do you know where he is now?”

            “He wasn’t executed, I know that. We all have to watch those.” He motioned to a gibbet in the middle of the courtyard. “But he’s not here anymore. My guess is that he was banished.”

            “Where do they send people when they’re banished?”

            “Sealyn, usually. Especially people like Timothy. They try to indoctrinate them.”  The man cast a wary glance at his guard.

            “Indoctrinate them?”

            “Aye, make them recant their beliefs in the Creator.”

            The guard at the man’s cell moved closer. “I don’t want to be hearing that name!” He growled at the man. Then he turned to Timothy. “Ye have no permission to talk of these things in here.”

            “I was just trying to find a friend…” Jonathan began.

            The guard had no tolerance. “Well, ye’ve not found him, so out you go.”

            Jonathan hesitated. “But I’m not finished…”

            The man motioned for Jonathan to leave.

            “Aye, sir.” He cast a thankful look toward the man, and then he was gone.

            Once outside of the gaol, Jonathan walked down the street and back to the main road. There he stopped to read a street sign. Which way to headquarters? He wondered. Surely, they must have a list of people deported there. The sign was no help, but it made sense for the main buildings to be on the main road, didn’t it? Concluding thus, Jonathan walked down the main road, away from the gate where he had entered. His assumption proved right, for a quarter of a mile later he stopped in front of a large sign reading “Government headquarters.” Oppression headquarters, thought Jonathan. The large building was surrounded by a tall fence. Guards stood inside small guardhouses at various points. The officials are so fearful here! His hand moved to where his sword used to be. Yes, used to be. Jonathan left it in the care of Keegan, knowing that it would only arouse suspicion. But that’s not to say that I wasn’t fearful.

            He approached the guard at the main entrance. “Someone told me that I may be able to find information on a friend of mine here.”

            “It is forbidden that any unauthorized persons should enter the headquarters.” The guard said abruptly.

            “Is there no possible way…?”

            “Not unless you are an official or have broken the law and are being taken here for judgment.”

            “I see.” Jonathan turned and walked away, his head low. I was so close! He thought again. Will I ever find him? Rounding a corner, he sank down against the wall of the headquarters. Everything in him cried out for help. Finding Timothy was such a burden to him, lying on him so heavily for Kianna’s sake. He had never known anything to be more consuming. Yet he was soon to find out that there are many things more consuming than his devotion to Kianna and his search. As he cried out inwardly for help, Jonathan soon received a response.

            I am here.

            Creator… if You’re there… if everything that Archie, Keegan, and Kianna have said about You is true… Oh God, I need your help. Show me the way to Timothy…

            His pleas were interrupted by another guard. “Hey, what’re you doing?”

            Jonathan quickly jumped to his feet. “Just resting… and thinking…”      

            “Go do it somewhere else.”

            “I was wondering…” Jonathan said, avoiding the guard’s command. “Is there some way I could get into headquarters?”

            “Maybe. Why?”

            “There’s a friend of mine I’m searching for. He wasn’t at the gaol… and someone said to ask here. But at the front gate they said it was impossible for me to go in.”

            The guard hesitated. “I can’t let you in, but I may be able to get you information.”

            Thank you, for a kind-hearted guard!

            “What’s the name of your friend?”

            “Timothy. He disappeared around two years ago. He’s not in the gaol, and those gaol who knew him said he wasn’t executed…”
            “I’ll see what I can find. Wait across the street and around the corner. My comrades won’t take to kindly to see you loitering around here.”

            “Thank you!” And thank you… He paused in his thoughts. … Creator. For showing me what to do. Will you continue to guide me?

            It was not long before the guard returned. He looked grim.

            As he heard the footsteps approaching, Jonathan looked up from the ground that he was studying intently. “What news?” He asked eagerly.

            “He is not dead, at least, not dead by our hands.”

            Thank God.

            “And, as you found, he is not in the gaol. But he has been banished to Sealyn, for life, and cannot leave unless to join the army here.”

            It is a slight hope. “Do you know where in Sealyn he might be?”

            “No, I do not. Once in Sealyn our prisoners are free to do as they please. He could be anywhere.”

            “Well, thank you. Your information has been most helpful.”

            The guard nodded and then was gone.

            Jonathan wanted to cry, sing, and jump for joy. Timothy was alive! At least, he had not been killed by the government. That was only possible by the grace of the Creator. Jonathan was beginning to see – not sight for the journey, though he now had that, but sight to receive and perceive the Creator, as He truly is, not the distorted way that Daron makes Him appear.

            Now, to Sealyn!

            Jonathan could not keep from smiling as he left Rakeyna and entered the forest. He traversed the same spot where Timothy had told his family to run ahead, the place in which Caithlin had died, and stopped at one of the many fire pits of the hideaways. All of the fugitives were gone now, to the Islands or elsewhere, but their tracks remained. Jonathan poked at the fire pit with a stick, pushing through the ashes. The remains of a burnt quill pen poked through the layers of dirt and ash. The soldiers must have been here, Jonathan concluded. I wonder what else is in here. He knelt down and combed through more of the rubble. Near the edge, his hand brushed against something smooth and thin. Paper! Pulling the sheet out of the pit, he cleaned it off with his tunic. Although some words were missing, he could still read what was written there. Soon, he was able to identify it as a page from either the Law or the Word. Which it was, he wasn’t sure, but as he read the words flowed back into his mind as he thought of the night that Peter had read them aloud.

            “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Creator is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? One thing have I asked of Him,
that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Creator all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of my Lord and to inquire in His temple.”

            One thing that I will seek after. I am seeking… but not this. Is Timothy the one thing I will seek after?

            The next few lines were charred and burned beyond recognition, but close to the end of the page, the words became legible again. .

            “Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”  Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

            Jonathan stood and tucked the paper into his belt. As he walked on through the forest, he spoke his thoughts to the trees.

            “It speaks of seeking, and seeking I am. Yet… I think it means a different seeking. ‘Seek my face.’ What does that mean, to seek the face of the Creator?” He stepped over a dead log. “The passage does go on to imply that…” Jonathan pulled the paper out of his belt and perused it briefly. “… that waiting for the Creator will bring you to look on Him in the land of the living…. wherever that is.” He trudged on through the forest. The sea was near; he could smell it. From there, he would catch a ship traveling to Sealyn. There the real difficulty would begin. Sealyn was not a small kingdom, nor was it anything close to safe. As he considered the concepts of seeking and finding, Jonathan began to see how hopeless his search was.

            Yet the paper in his hand seemed to have hope for that hopelessness. He thought back to his time on the Jubilee. The passengers were so joyful. Theirs was not a happiness brought on by circumstance. Their joy was not of them, which is why it surpassed that of any other. They had joy because they had hope. They had hope in that which will never fail – the Creator.

            Suddenly, Jonathan was aware of the grim look on his face. He noticed the heavy way his feet dragged, and the tired way that his shoulders slumped. Kianna was the only thing that had lit his face with a smile in the past few months. Yet she was always joyful, even when there had been tears on her face as Jonathan left. When she had cried as she ate the orange, remembering her father, her tears dried quickly as she remembered her hope.

            There it was again: hope.

            In Jonathan’s hopelessness, there was hope. Somewhere.

            It was nearer than Jonathan thought.

 

 

 

Chapter Eleven: Trial and Triumph

            At the end of the first month on the island, the followers of the Creator gathered to discuss the work they had accomplished. Many brought the evidence of their labor with them. Some brought stacks of paper waiting to be bound, others partially bound volumes, and still others had fully bound their books. But no matter how the manuscript was finished, all of the work was done for the Creator’s glory. As they waited for others to arrive, the people showed each other the work that they had done. Quite a few had found passages of Truth that they had never remembered being in the Word or the Law. Their faith had been strengthened each day as they rose early and stayed up late, spending their days saturated in Truth. They knew whole sections of the Word by heart, and frequently recited these for comfort or worship.

            There was much new excitement at this meeting, for apart from rejoicing because of the work the Creator had allowed them to do, tonight they would be enjoying the company of three who had never been with them before. One of these was the precious first child of Peter and his wife, Maura. They named him Fergal, for it was their prayer that he would become a valorous man of God (Fergal means courageous in the ancient tongue). The followers of the Creator named their children with much prayer – prayer that the child would follow the Creator unwaveringly and prayer that the child would live up to the meaning of their name. Peter and Maura well understood the trying times that they lived in, and knew the amount of courage that a follower of the Creator would need. They also knew that in His gracious provision, the God they served would give valor to His children, as they needed it.

            The other two had been entirely unexpected at the time the sojourners arrived on Tilkah. They were two islanders, an older man and a middle-aged woman, who had come to know the Creator though the teaching and example of the strangers on their island. Like Irial, they had wondered about the difference in the lives of these people and their own. They felt the peace in the followers of the Creator’s homes, they saw the joy, the love, the hope that ran so strongly in their blood, and asked why it was so. The Creator’s children were always pleased to give the answer: that it was because of the blood of their Savior, Adan, that these works of the Creator were evident in their lives.

            The man, Jarlath, was a carpenter. He had never left the islands, and only once had he been off Tilkah. He was a widower, having been married when he was a young man. His wife died of an unknown cause some years later, and he had never remarried. Jarlath had no children of his own, but was like a grandfather to many of the island children. A big, bushy beard, black but speckled with white flecks, hid his smiling mouth, but his jocularity always showed in his eyes. Even in his old age, Jarlath was fit and often took the young men apprenticed to him on long hikes to the hills where he got his wood. However, the hills on Tilkah were smaller than most, as Tilkah was a small island. There were fewer trees now than there had been when Jarlath was a boy, and went on these hikes with his father. Much of the wood he worked with had to be imported from the mainland of Minarea. That didn’t slow his work or passion for carpentry. In the early days of their residence on Tilkah, the followers of the Creator came to him often with requests for tables, chairs, shelves, and anything else that they needed. He became curious about these people, and his curiosity was satisfied when Peter and Maura invited him over for dinner. It did not take long for him to accept the faith of these people, and now served God with as much zeal as he hiked and went about his business.

            The woman’s name was Nora. She was a quiet woman, though she had suffered little hardship. But because her personality was so different from the boisterous islanders’, she often felt alone. She preferred her library of thick, leather-bound books to the loud company of the residents of Tilkah. This led to whispers whenever she appeared in public, and sometimes she felt very alone. When the followers of the Creator moved to the island, she was attracted to their simple – though not always very quiet – ways. That attraction did not begin with her, whatever people may say. Long ago, she had heard the words of Adan – the life-giving words of Adan – and turned her back on them. No, when she met Kianna it was not Nora’s doing, but that of the Creator, that led her to desire the company of these strangers. The more time she spent with them, the more the Creator moved her heart toward salvation. Soon there was much rejoicing, as Nora became one of the daughters of God, Batyah Yahweh.

            Now at the meeting, Kianna sat by Maura, Fergal sleeping in her arms. Kianna’s gaze was fixed on the tiny infant as he slumbered peacefully. She often walked the short distance to Peter and Maura’s house to keep Maura company and help her tend to Fergal. Kianna missed Elena’s friendship, but was finding one just as strong in Maura. Yes, there was a hole in the young girl’s heart from losing her own mother, but she was learning about the goodness of the Creator as He provided women for her to learn from. Young women gathered around Nora and other older women, seeking wisdom from them. Many of the women in their congregation had been strengthened by many trials, and even if they were unmarried and could not share wisdom in that area, the Creator had taught them much about Himself.

            Keegan smiled as he watched their small group interact. So much had changed in the short time since they had left Ladylan. Their group was smaller now, but it was growing. So were the groups on the other islands. As they sought to do the Creator’s will, the followers of the Creator were receiving His many blessings. Fingering a letter in his pocket, Keegan climbed on top of a chair and called for people’s attention.

            “Thank you all for coming today!” He said. “It is exciting to come together for a time of rejoicing outside of our weekly meetings. And, it is a great blessing to have one of the men from Ocadem with us today, to share about the work there. I received a short letter from our co-workers on Siela yesterday, which I will read aloud soon.

            “While numbers are encouraging, we are not here to rejoice over numbers. Many are coming to know the salvation of the Creator, but if even one was saved, we would rejoice just as much. Thanks to the Creator, we have many more than one – two here on Tilkah, six on Ocadem, and three on Siela. His work of sanctification is evident in our lives and bears witness to Him. It is a great testimony to His grace.

            “Our storehouse is growing full of books – copies of the Law and the Word, as well as our latest addition, which I am announcing for the first time. Many of you have noticed Peter scribbling away during our meetings. He is writing down the words that others and I say, to record our teaching for those who have no regular teaching.

            “It has been so exciting to see the growth in our assembly in the past month – not simply in numbers, but in spiritual size as we know more of the Creator. He is a good teacher. Sometimes they are hard lessons, yes, but He always gives the strength to make it through.” Keegan stopped and fumbled in his pocket. “Those on Siela are not having as easy a time as we are, and Isaac writes of the trials that they have faced. ‘Dear brothers and sisters,’ he writes, ‘This is Isaac, writing to you for the assembly on Siela. Our merciful God has been bestowing His blessings upon us, but not without a cost. We feel quite strongly the words of Adan when he said
            ‘“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
            ‘In the midst of trial – persecution, mourning, hungering (physically and spiritually) – the Creator has poured out His blessings. Food is sometimes scarce here, and we feel our physical hunger as much as we do our spiritual need. We pray that it will cause us to yearn for the Creator more. We have mourned this month, too. People have rejected the words of the Creator, choosing instead to walk in sin. The Creator spared us some mourning, though – one of our own was sick, but the Creator spared his life. We also rejoiced when three from the islands joined us in worshipping our Maker.

            ‘Pray for us, as our persecution is often great. But what shall separate us from the love of our Redeemer? Adan says even death will not part us from His love. We take heart in knowing that, and in knowing the fellowship of our fellow believers, the grace of God, and the hope of being united with our Creator one day. May He fill you all with His grace and knowledge of Himself.
            ‘With love, Isaac for those on Siela.’

            “Their need is great, but we have a God who always provides,” Keegan said as he folded the letter and put it back in his pocket. “Their faith is growing. Let us pray that ours will grow as quickly.” He climbed down from the chair, and Eamon, the man from Ocadem, took Keegan’s place.

            “Greetings from Ocadem!” He said. “The news from our brothers in Siela is both the cause of tears and of great rejoicing. It burdens me to see those dear to me suffer so. But it encourages me to know that because of such suffering their faith is growing more than my own.” He sighed. “It is so good to be back with you all. Nora, Jarlath, - Fergal – it is a pleasure to meet you. I thank the Creator for His bringing you here.

            “Thanks to the kindness of Jonathan, life on Ocadem has been a smooth transition this past month. We hold services openly on the beaches, and many islanders join in. Six have truly come to understand the Truth, and many more are close. Apart from laughter and odd looks, we have had no persecution on Ocadem. The only reason I can think of for this is God’s grace in letting us meet Jonathan, who put us in good favor with the rulers there.

            “The most exciting thing apart from the six joining us has been living on an island with such a busy port. Ships from all over Edaled come and go every day. We have many opportunities to give out the Law and the Word to people who would not otherwise be able to hear the Truth. We have even sent books with sailors to Sealyn! Watching the Creator move has always been exciting, but even more exciting is to be a visible part of that. It is so great to see Daron’s strongholds fall away into nothing. He remains strong in many places, but that is changing. The Creator is and ever will be stronger than Daron. Every day we pray that the day that the Creator returns and Daron is forever subdued will be soon. It is longer than we hope, but perhaps sooner than we think. He will triumph!”

            Eamon’s words were met with cheers. He jumped off the chair, as someone started singing.

            “Though trials come and sorrows be,

            His triumph we will ever see,

            Upon that day of His return,

            For which now we watch and yearn…”

 

            That night, Archie found Kianna staring out the window of their small house. She was in her nightgown, and was supposed to have been in bed long ago. Jeffrey and Liam already lay snoring in their beds, and Archie himself was preparing to go to sleep. He knelt down next to Kianna.

            “Why aren’t you in bed?”

            Kianna drew in a deep breath, and then let it out with a sigh. “His triumph we will ever see, upon that day of His return, for which now we watch and yearn,” she sang quietly. “I’m watching, Mr. Archie.”

            “Do you know that Adan said something about when He would return?”

            “I know he did, but I don’t remember what he said.” Kianna looked away from the window, waiting for Archie to explain.

            “He said that only the Creator knows the day and the hour. Not even Adan knows when it will be. But He told us to be watchful, and to stay awake.”

            “So I don’t have to go to bed?”

            “He didn’t mean it like that, Kianna.”

            “Then how did he mean it?”

            “He meant that we must always be ready for when He comes back. We can’t say ‘Well, I’ll do this or that tomorrow…’ but should do it now. We can’t put off following Him or obeying His commands until later, because we know not if there will be a later.”
            “That makes sense. We stay awake to His commands, even if we’re sleeping.”

            “Aye, that’s right.”
            Kianna climbed down off the chair she was sitting on. “I guess I should go to bed, then.”

            “You don’t have to if you want to talk more.”

            “You mean that?”
            “Aye. I think answering your questions is more important than you getting sleep. We must always be prepared to tell others why we believe what we believe.”

            “Then sit down.”

            Archie moved to the chair, and Kianna sat on his lap.

            “What’s your favorite part of the Law, Mr. Archie?”

            “Of the Law? That’s hard.”

            “But not as hard as a favorite part of the Word, right?”
            “There’s two I really like, and I can’t narrow it down any more. ‘Sing aloud, O Bene Batyah; shout, O Edaled! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Ladylan! The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Edaled, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day, it shall be said to Minarea: "Fear not; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.’”

            “That’s beautiful, Mr. Archie. Does the Creator really sing over us?”

            “Aye, He does. He delights in those who delight in Him.”

            “Does He delight in me?”

            “Aye. Every day I see how much you delight in Him, Kianna.”

            Kianna smiled. “What’s the other one you really like?”

            “It comes earlier in the Law, after a list of commandments. ‘The secret things belong to the LORD our God,’” Archie began.

            “I know that one!” Kianna interrupted. “’But the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do the words of this law.’ Why do you like that one so much?”
            “Because it encourages me when I fail at keeping the Law.”

            Kianna frowned. “But keeping the Law doesn’t matter after what Adan did.”

            “No, it doesn’t matter for our salvation, but for those that the Creator has saved, there is a way that we can walk that brings Him the most glory, and a way to walk that befits those who are His children. If we go on living like we did before we understood the Truth, then we wouldn’t be any different, and I would question whether or not I was really saved. While what we do and the results of what we do – the fruit – don’t save us, they can be signs that we are saved. To keep living in sin is saying that Adan’s sacrifice wasn’t great.”

            “Does my fruit say that I’m saved?”

            Archie rested his chin on Kianna’s head. “Aye, Kianna, it does. More often than mine does, I must admit.”

            Kianna turned to look up at Archie. “No, Mr. Archie, your fruit is very much what the Creator wants.”
            “Thank you Kianna. It isn’t all good, though. Sometimes my fruit is rotten.”

            “Sometimes mine is, too. Like when I get mad at Jeffrey and Liam. The Creator doesn’t like that, does He?”

            “No, He wants us to live in peace with our brothers – both our physical brothers and our brothers through Adan.”

            Kianna nodded. “Mr. Archie… Mr. Archie, will you tell me when my fruit stinks?”

            “Aye, Kianna. Mr. Keegan and I do already, when we discipline you.”

            “I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t usually take it well. I don’t usually think that my fruit is bad when you discipline me.”

            “I forgive you, Kianna.”

            Kianna rested her head on Archie’s shoulder. “Thank you, Mr. Archie.”

            The small girl fell asleep there in a few minutes, but Archie remained awake, thanking the Creator for the large faith and great understanding of this child.

 

           

 

Chapter Twelve: Of Dark and Light, Death and Life

 

            “Land ho!” A sailor shouted from the Crow’s Nest.

            Jonathan stood from where he sat deep in thought on the deck. Yes, there it was. It was faint, but there on the horizon, something was jutting out of the water. Sealyn. It was closer than he ever dreamed of being to it. Involuntarily, he shuddered. Before meeting the followers of the Creator, it wouldn’t have bothered him. Sealyn was no different from the other kingdoms. But now he knew that Daron lurked there. It was a dangerous place. Then again, everywhere was risky. Jonathan had heard tales of dragons appearing in more and more places recently. It scared him.

            I thought the Creator was stronger than Daron. Why are Daron’s minions spreading?

            He moved to the edge of the ship and gripped the rail tightly. I hope that I don’t find any dragons – even more that none find me – but that all I find here is Timothy. And perhaps answers to my questions. I have so many now. Little Kianna could have answered them, I’m sure of it. Well, it was Timothy who trained her at first.

           

            They docked in Sealyn shortly after dark that night.

            In Ocadem, this would never be allowed! Jonathan couldn’t help but think. A ship coming into port after dark? Never!

            Fear held him back as he shouldered his bags and prepared to walk off the ship. He wanted to go back to Ocadem, where its strict port rules protected it from harm. Then again, dragons could fly, so they wouldn’t stop at the port. I don’t have the faith that Kianna has. I don’t have the trust in a Creator that protects me from all harm. I. am. afraid.

            He forced one foot in front of the other, time after time, as he descended the gangway. It wouldn’t be so bad on land. No murky water lapping near his feet, no deep nothingness. There would be lampposts, and lights from houses. It wasn’t late, only dark.

            Dark and with no place for him to go. He knew no one, knew of no safe place to go. Fear seized Jonathan once more. He ran to the nearest lamppost, hiding under its flickering light. He felt that as long as he was in the light, he was safe.

            But he knew that he had to journey on. So he walked on through the night, aimlessly wandering through the streets of the city. Soon he sank down on the edge of a fountain, tired, afraid, and dismayed.

             Oh Creator! I am so lost – I don’t know where I am – physically and before Your throne. I don’t know where to go, what to do… who I should be. I want to follow you; at least, I think I do. I’ve seen what it means, when I was on the Jubilee. But I don’t know exactly what that means for me. I am distraught… show me what to do!

            A shadow blocked the dim light of the lamppost near the fountain, and Jonathan looked up. “You seem troubled, may I help?” A man asked.

            Startled, Jonathan stuttered, “I… I don’t know.”

            The man sat down next to him. “Well, I won’t know either until I know what’s wrong.”

            Jonathan shook his head. “Oh, I’m so lost,” he moaned.

            “Where are you going?”

            “I don’t know.” He almost laughed at how silly it sounded.

            “I have a room at a house near here. It’s a large room… there’s only one bed, but there’s a couch I can sleep on. It’s warm, and light, and I’ll make some tea and I think I have some bread and tea. We can talk there as long as you need to.”

            Jonathan stared at the man. “Aye… I’d like that. Thank you.”

            “Come on, then!” The man stood and waited for Jonathan to stand, and then he started walking. Jonathan followed him. Soon they stopped in front of a large house. The man pushed open the front door. Five children met him, clambering all over him. They called him “uncle.” The house was warm and light. The man’s room in the back of the house was even warmer, and though slightly dim, it was cozy and cheery.

            “Have a seat,” the man offered a chair to Jonathan. He took it, looking over the room as the man prepared some food and heated water on the stove. “Tell me about yourself,” he said after a while.

            “My name is Jonathan. I’m from the islands off Minarea… Thank you.” Jonathan said as the man brought tea and a plate with bread and cheese.

            “Minarea? You’re far from home. What brings you to Sealyn?”

            “Recently a ship came into port on Ocadem – the island I’m from. It was carrying people from Ladylan. There was a young girl aboard who was an orphan. The captain and first mate of the ship took care of her and her two brothers.” Jonathan paused. “They told me that they knew her mother had died, but knew nothing of what happened to her father – they just assumed he was dead. I told them – Kianna doesn’t know – that I would go search for him. She’s such…”

            The man had been slicing the cheese, but suddenly the knife clattered onto the plate. “Did you say Kianna? The little girl’s name is Kianna?”

            “Aye.”

            “And her brothers, what are their names?”
            “Jeffrey and Liam… why?”

            The man shook his head. He began to speak a few times, but each time closed his mouth. Tears welled up in his eyes, but he finally managed to say, “then I am the man you’re looking for.”

            Jonathan stared at him, unable to move for a few moments. “You’re Timothy?”

            “Aye, aye! I am!”

            Both men sat there, too overwhelmed to do anything else. They stumbled over the words they wanted to say, too excited to get them out intelligibly.

            “I have so many questions for you,” Timothy said at last.

            “So do I.” Jonathan looked down at the cup of tea he held between his hands. He realized that he had been shaking in his excitement, for there were drops of tea all over the table.

            “How are they?”

            “When I left them, they were well. Kianna… she’s about this tall, Jeffrey comes to about here, and Liam somewhere around here,” Jonathan demonstrated their heights with his hand. “They’re strong and healthy; the sea air did them good.”

            “Why were they at sea?”

            “Keegan and Archie – you know them, I presume – and others who had been in the forests of Ladylan were journeying to the islands, to take the words of the Creator there. They told me a lot about copying the Words of Adan as well.”

            Timothy nodded. “Aye, that was what we sent them out from Rakeyna to do. I am grateful to hear that they are still fulfilling that task.” He sighed. “Ahh, I miss them so much. And Caithlin – how is she?”  

            Jonathan shook his head. “Keegan told me that…” I don’t want to tell him this!

            “That what?” Timothy prompted.

            “She was shot as they entered the forest. She died the next morning.”

            Sorrow passed across Timothy’s face, but Jonathan only caught a glimpse of it before it disappeared. “She is with the Creator ahead of me,” he said quietly. “How happy she is there.” Except for the crackling of the fire, the room was completely silent. Then another biting question escaped Timothy. “How are Kianna, Jeffrey, and Liam growing in their knowledge of the Creator?”

            “I said that I had many questions for you… here is where they come in. I know almost nothing of the Creator, save what I learned from your children and those aboard the ship. The way those who follow Him live intrigues me, but I don’t understand it enough to decide if I want it for myself… I don’t know if it’s right, or if it is what makes it right.”

            Remembering a time that seemed so long ago, Timothy smiled. This man sounded almost exactly like Archie. “If we begin now, we will be up all night and perhaps through tomorrow night. Let’s get a good night’s sleep. I have nothing planned for tomorrow, so we can spend all day talking.”

            Suddenly realizing his fatigue, Jonathan nodded in agreement.

            “I have one quick question first, though,” Timothy admitted. “We’ve been sitting here talking all of this time, and I haven’t a single clue as to what your name is.”

            “It’s Jonathan.”

            “I’m Timothy… but you already know that.”

           

            Timothy was up before dawn the next morning. He usually woke as the sun began to peek over the horizon, but he had more on his mind than usual that day. He thanked the Creator as he dressed, giving thanks for bringing Jonathan safely to Sealyn, and also for the safety of his children. As he tied a final knot in his shoelace, Timothy thanked the Creator for taking his wife to be with Himself. She knows so much joy there! Take me and the children to be with her soon.

            Taking a book off the mantel, Timothy sat down at the table. He opened it and began reading. This was his food, his daily bread. He began each day reading from the Law, and ended each day by reading from Adan’s Word and then taking a walk through the town as he meditated on it. That was how he had found Jonathan. Timothy hid up the words of the Creator in his heart, that he might not sin against Him. He sought to know more about his Creator and Adan, searching their words for knowledge of them.

            Yet as he read this morning, Timothy could not focus on the words in front of him. His mind was continually turning to Jonathan, who lay asleep on the couch.

            Thank you, God, for this man’s desire to seek what is right. I pray that you would use me to lead him to Yourself, and that one day he would see Your beautiful face. Give me the words to say to him, God. Help me guide him to You.

            Words failed the longing of Timothy’s heart, but he moved from his chair to kneel on the ground. Kneeling to pray always made him miss Caithlin, for often when they prayed together they knelt. One day in reading the Law, they noticed that the word in the ancient tongue for “worship” meant “prostrate, as before a king.” From then on, they remembered that their prayers were as petitions brought before the Throne of the Creator, the King of Edaled.

            Jonathan woke to see Timothy kneeling humbly. His mouth moving silently, Timothy was praying that the Creator would see fit to save both the souls of his children and of his guest. Jonathan coughed, unsure of what to do. Timothy finished his prayer, and then stood.

            “Good morning, Jonathan!” He said cheerily.

            Jonathan nodded. “Aye.” He brushed aside the curtain of the window near the couch, peering outside. The town was still grey, even though the sun was up. “Why is it so dark out?” He asked, turning from the window to Timothy, who was making a fire to prepare oatmeal for breakfast.

            “Grab the bowls in the drawer over there, would you?” Timothy asked. He poked at a few coals that were still warm from the fire last night. As Jonathan brought the bowls, Timothy poured water into a kettle. “If you get rid of light it’s going to be dark out,” he explained.

            “Of course it is,” Jonathan replied. “But that doesn’t explain anything.”

            “Aye, it does. It explains it all.”

            “How?”

            Timothy stirred the fire again. Flames finally leapt up around the kettle. He poured in oats.  As he waited for food to cook, Timothy opened the curtains. “I don’t speak of a literal light. Adan told us that He was the light of the world. Sealyn, especially this part of Sealyn, lacks that kind of light.” Timothy sighed as he stirred the oatmeal. “Daron’s hold in people’s hearts is so strong here that very little of the Creator’s light that can enter in. There is hope, though. It has gotten lighter here over the past few months.”

            “Kianna was telling me about Daron. She told me that men who followed him killed you.”

            “They tried to, yes. I wish I had some way to let them know that I’m alive. I cannot leave Sealyn. It would be an easy punishment to bear, but for my family. I have little physical work to do, and even though I am a prisoner, I have much freedom, as I have a large prison. The Creator has given me much of His work to do here, work that I am more than content to spend my life for.” Timothy filled the bowls with oatmeal and handed one to Jonathan. They sat at the table and ate as they talked.

            “Why is serving the Creator worth your life?” Jonathan asked in between bites.

            “Because He alone is the reason I live. Not only did He decide when I would exist, the things I would do, places I would go – His Law says that He determined the boundaries of our dwelling place – and not only does He give me every breath, but He has provided me with eternal life. I… I have a vast ocean of sin, Jonathan. All men do. So many times each day I disobey the Creator’s Law, I put myself up in the place of the Creator, thinking I know better than He does. Yet He is the most merciful of all, although He is just. His justice required someone to bear punishment for our sins. This Adan did when He took the place of Brianna so long ago – you do know of Fàolan and his downfall, right?” When Jonathan nodded, Timothy continued. “In His death, Adan not only overthrew Daron, but took the punishment the Creator had reserved for us. Because of that, we can have life. But it would have been no triumph for Adan except for what happened next.”

            “He came back to life.”

            “Aye.”

            “I remember my mother telling me that story years ago. But I passed it off as a fairy tale. It really happened?”

            “Aye, and it is why the Creator is worth my life. He is worth my life because He saved my soul.”

            “Your soul?”

            “The part of me that lives on forever, even after this body of mine has lain in the ground and decayed. After my death, I will either spend eternity with the Creator – where Caithlin is now – or I will spend forever apart from Him – where all of those who follow Daron have gone.”

            “And I – I have this soul, too?”

            “Aye.”

            For a moment, Jonathan felt terrified, but that sensation passed quickly as he asked his next question. “But what should I care whether I spend eternity with the Creator or away from Him?”

            “Do you know what the world was like before Daron enticed Nathan to allow evil?”

            “It was good.”

            “Aye. All of the death and disarray we see in the world today is because of sin. All of the disappointment, pain… all of that is of Daron. It will all be gone for those who spend forever with the Creator. But all of that pales because of the glory of the Creator. Even to be away from pain and death would not satisfy is us forever. But the Creator does just that.”

            Jonathan scraped at the last bite of oatmeal in his bowl. “He does a lot for you.”

            “Aye, even more than we ask or imagine.”

            After swallowing the last of his oatmeal, Jonathan asked his final question. “You have answered so many of my questions in answering one, one that I never thought to ask before this morning. But one question still remains – why are your lives so different?”

            “We live so differently from the world because our lives are not shaped by what the people around us say. Our lives are shaped by this,” Timothy laid his hand on the Law. “I’m sure you’ve already heard parts of it. This book contains the Laws of the Creator. This volume also contains the words of Adan. Aye, it is what Keegan, Archie, and the others are copying. It tells us how He wants us to live.”

            “But if in Adan’s death your sins are forgiven, why does it matter how you live?”

            “The way we live does not save us from our sin – only Adan does that. But there is a way to live that is fitting for one who follows the Creator. He has told us to be holy, as He is holy. We cannot achieve this holiness on our own strength, but only through His help. He is always showing us ways that we need to change. It is hard, but worth it because it makes us more like Him.” Timothy paused, and was about to continue when he saw the tears in Jonathan’s eyes.

            “I am so far from being like Him,” Jonathan sobbed. “My sea of sin is so great that I cannot see the end of it; it keeps on going forever. Is Adan’s death enough for me?”

            “Aye, aye, it is far more than enough!” Timothy replied earnestly.

            Jonathan fell to his knees. Arms uplifted, he cried out to the Creator. “Save me, save me from my sin! Forgive all of my wrongs… lead me in the ways that you would have me go!” Then the man curled down and stayed there, crying and seeking the Creator, until Timothy bent down next to him.

            “Welcome, Jonathan, to the family of God.”

            Jonathan stood. “I’m free, Timothy. I’m really free.” He grinned.

 

            Jonathan found a room in the same house as Timothy, and there he studied the Law, meditating on it day and night. He and Timothy met each day to discuss what they were learning. Jonathan was growing quickly as he learned more and more about the Creator. Timothy rejoiced every day as he watched the man begin to live in a way that glorified the Creator. Many times Jonathan came to his mentor with a newly memorized passage of the Law or Word on his lips. “The Creator shows me what I’m doing wrong, and what I need to change!” He often told Timothy. Sometimes these realizations were met with tears, other times with joy, but always Jonathan met them humbly and worked at these changes with zeal. He found a job so that he could pay for his food and rent, but apart from that, all of his time was spent serving the Creator, whether in study, ministry on the streets, or fellowship with Timothy.

           

 

            Ten years passed quickly and fruitfully on the islands. The children grew in stature, knowledge, and maturity as they studied with Keegan and Archie. Many copies of the Law and Word were written and distributed on the islands. Hundreds of islanders turned from their wicked ways and joined the forces of the Creator. Even in this fruitfulness, Keegan and Archie felt that the Creator was calling them to go onto the front lines of His battle. They left the Jubilee in the care of the followers of the Creator on Tilkah and boarded a merchant ship headed for Sealyn…

            Meanwhile, Jonathan and Timothy continued the Creator’s work in Sealyn. It was slow and often tedious, with little fruit. But though laborers were few, the fields were ripe. The Creator was moving, ever pushing Daron back and reclaiming His territory.

            It was not long now until the harvest began.

            But before the harvest would come a time of much difficulty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Um...

I only see chapter twelve. Where are the other two?

Julie | Sun, 03/14/2010

Formerly Kestrel

Whoops...

Somehow they disappeared... all 3 are up now. :) 

Kyleigh | Mon, 03/15/2010

Better

If it was two years since Kianna's family fled, I don't remember reading that before.  But I really like this story and can't wait to see how you end it.

Julie | Mon, 03/15/2010

Formerly Kestrel

After the opening 2

After the opening 2 (I think) chapters, two years pass, after which they flee. Does that make sense or did I screw it up somewhere?

Kyleigh | Mon, 03/15/2010