Mercy Victorious: Part 1 of 3

Fiction By Kyleigh // 11/16/2011

 {Here's the first part of Mercy Victorious. It's longer than the other short versions of the stories but still shorter than a full-length. I have to say, I think this has been my favorite to write and re-read - probably partly because the characters are inspired by real-life people and the story came in pictures, like Nikolai}

 

“Hey you! Didn’t I already give ye your ration?” A guard pointed a long finger at a young girl. Tall and brawny, he wore the livery of the king’s guard.
                “Sir, there’s only enough here for one person. I come for two,” the girl said. She held out a sack of grain. The sleeve of her shirt slipped down, revealing a scrawny arm. Her shirt and skirt both hung loosely on her thin body, and her bare toes curled and uncurled on the dirt.

                “You take what I give ye! Be glad ye followers of the so-called Creator get any food at all!” The guard came nearer and reached out for the girl’s sack of grain.

                She held it to her chest and began to run, but the guard laid a firm hand on her shoulder. He raised his arm to strike.

                “Please!” The girl cried, closing her eyes.

                “You leave her alone,” someone yelled from across the market place.

                The girl opened her eyes to see a young man pushing his way through the crowds.

                “What harm has she done to you?” The man was now at the guard’s side. “If I didn’t have manners I’d call you a coward for picking on someone so much smaller than yourself!”

                The guard laughed, but released the girl and returned to his duties.

                “Thank you,” the girl said. She rubbed her shoulder with her free hand. “He gives me less every time.”

                “I’m glad I was here to stop him from causing further harm.” He extended his arm. “Coem.”

                She shook his hand. “Lile.”

                Coem surveyed the bustling marketplace. Long lines made it hard to go to and fro, but everyone had to come there to buy food – what little food there was. Coem recognized most of the people there. He had lived in Nera, Panatea, his entire life. But since the famine had begun four years ago, many people had changed. Everyone was frailer. The eyes of some had sunken in. For others, the outline of their bones showed. Famine spared no one. Coem glanced heavenward. There was not a cloud in the sky. No hope of rain; there had not been a drop for three years.

                “Well,” he said, turning back to Lile. “Do you mind if I walk you home?”

                She shook her head, and gave Coem a small smile.

                “How old are you?” He asked as they began to walk.

                “Twelve.”

                Coem stopped and looked at her. He was not tall, and Lile came up to his chest. Most twelve-year-old girls were at least to his shoulder. But what Lile didn’t have in physique, she seemed to make up for in spunk. Her brown hair hung down her back in two braids. A nose spattered with freckles and sunburn crinkled when she smiled, and her blue eyes sparkled.

                “How ‘bout you?” she asked, turning to look back at Coem.

                “Just turned twenty-one.”

                Lile paused to study Coem. He seemed more sixteen than twenty-one, at least in appearance. His eyes were blue and his hair, blonde. He walked with his feet turned out, and his posture was ramrod straight. To Lile, he seemed just like the rest of Panateans: fair in complexion, generous at heart, and proud.  

                “Who else do you get food for?” Coem asked as they started off again.

                “It’s just me and my grandmother.” She sighed. “My father left my mother and me when I was a wee thing, and I don’t know what happened after that, but as long as I’ve remembered anything it’s been just me and her.”

                “Me too,” Coem said, “only I don’t have a grandmother. It seems to be a common predicament here in Panatea. I wonder if it’s like that in the rest of Edaled. If the King ever allows followers of the Creator to leave Panatea, I’m going to go see the world.”

                “You follow the Creator, too?” Lile gasped.

                “Aye, I do.”

                “My grandmother does.” She lowered her voice. “I’m not so sure what I think yet.”

                Neither said anything for a time.

                “How much farther is it?” Coem asked.

                “A ways. You can go if you want. I do this by myself most days.”

                Proud, like all Panateans, Coem thought. “I don’t have anything I need to be doing.”

                “We live on a farm. Though nothing’s grown for a long time, and we haven’t had any seed for three years. We let people’s horses stay in our barn, though. That gives us a little money, but it’s a lot of work.” Another sigh. “And I don’t think we can do that much longer, because there’s nothing for the horses to eat. Our cats manage somehow, though. And we manage, too. Though I’m always hungry. But the gryphons bring us food sometime. You ever seen a gryphon?”

                Coem shook his head.

                “I’ll introduce you sometime. My best friend is a gryphon. Her name is Awendela – isn’t that pretty? It means morning in their tongue. The gryphons bring us food from other kingdoms.” She laughed. “The ports can’t stop a gryphon, even if they can keep people from getting in and out.  Do you know if the rest of Edaled is getting rain?”
                “You could answer that better than me, because of the gryphons! I’ve never been out of Panatea.”

                “Sometimes I kind of like being one big island. But right now I wish we weren’t, because then food would be easier to get.”

                “That’s very true. Panatea is very secluded.”

                “I wonder, are people in other kingdoms very much like us?”

                “Well, we’re very peculiar people, if you ask me. One day I sat back and thought about what others must think of us.”

                Lile giggled.

                “For example, most of us have blue eyes and blonde hair.”
                “Except me!”

                “And some others. Also, most Panateans don’t like accepting help from others, although we’re very willing to help others.  Isn’t that odd?”

                Lile nodded.

                “And we like information and like everything to be in order and make sense.”

                “I don’t think I’m very much like that last part. Grandmother is always telling me to straighten my things up and keep the stables neat. And she says I don’t make sense.” Lile looked up at Coem. “She’s very Panatean.”

                They kept walking. Lile skipped a little.

                “Grandmother’s name is Mia. I don’t know what she’ll have you call her. What do you do to earn your food?”

                Coem laughed. “I can see how your grandmother thinks you don’t make sense. You jump from subject to subject without a moment’s notice! I do whatever work I can find. Some things pay better than others. But there’s only one of me and I can scrounge around when I don’t have enough money to buy food.”

                “Oh look, we’re here now! I brought you in the back way; it’s faster.” Lile pushed open a heavy door. “This is the stable. Past it is the house and then the fields.”

                A kitten mewed and came running up to Lile. She bent to pick it up. “This is Mischief. He’s very much like his name, and will gnaw on your fingers – grandmother says he’s teething. What do you think?”

                “Of Mischief?”

                “No, of the stable.”

                The stable was a long corridor with stalls on both sides. Coem breathed in the musty smell of hay and horses as he surveyed the high wood ceiling filled with birds’ nests, the shovels and buckets hung on the walls, and the stalls filled with horses. Sunlight streamed in through large windows, lighting the dust in the air and casting a golden glow over the room.

                Before Coem replied, Lile walked up to the first stall and began petting the horse inside. “This is one of our horses, Mish.  We used to use her for plowing the fields. Well, we wouldn’t plow but she’d be the one to pull it. And this is Goldie. I named her a long time ago. I ride her sometimes.  And here is Regent, our stallion. Grandmother said he belonged to my father. But we haven’t tried to breed because we can’t feed more horses. There’s two more way down there that are ours, for work like Mish. The rest are other people’s. This one here belongs to the chief of the guards. And these are kept fresh for messengers. It can get exciting here when there’s a messenger coming in. I’ll take you to meet grandmother now.”

                They walked to the house. As they came nearer, Lile ran to the porch and hugged an old woman sitting in a rocking chair.

                “Grandmother, this is Coem. He stopped the guard in the marketplace from hitting me. And he follows the Creator.”

                “It’s very nice to meet you, Coem,” Mia said as Coem approached.

                “Your granddaughter has told me a lot about you on our walk from the market.”

                “All good, I hope?”
                 “Aye.” Coem nodded to Lile. “Well, now you’re home safe, I’d best be going.” He bowed. “A pleasure to meet you.”

                “You can’t go yet! Grandmother, can he stay for dinner?” Lile cried.

                Mia’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Lile, you know we can barely feed ourselves –“

                “Awendela’s family brought us plenty for this week. And you’re always saying we need to share with others. And he doesn’t have any family. Please?”

                “You make a solid case, child. He can stay – this time. In the future, you earn your food here – alright, Coem?”

                “Yes, ma’am,” Coem said.

 

                From that day on, Coem, Lile, and Mia were often together. In exchange for companionship and well-cooked meals, Coem mucked stalls and re-organized the barn.

                “Want to ride sometime?” Lile asked one night. She was perched on the door of an empty stall, watching as Coem went over some calculations in his head. He had just finished explaining the new system to Lile.

                “It’ll take me forever to learn it,” Lile had said. “Anything new, even if it makes more sense, is confusing for me.”

                “I’ll teach you,” Coem had replied.

                Lile said, “You’re teaching me the way you re-arranged the barn. I’ll teach you how to ride.”

                Coem shook his head.

                “You ever been on a horse?”

                “Once, but I didn’t stay on for long.”

                “How ‘bout a gryphon? Do you want to learn to ride one of those?”

                “I prefer my own two feet,” Coem said, “planted on the ground.”

                “You should learn sometime. I think you’d like it.”

                A cat meowed, and Lile jumped down from the stall door.

 “Come here, Mischief!”

Coem shook his head. Lile was so unpredictable. He watched as she ran out of the barn, chasing Mischief.  Soon her voice faded into the distance. Coem sat down on a bale of hay, crossing one leg on top of the other.

I wonder how much more these cost now than before the famine. I wonder how Lile and her grandmother can afford to keep the horses, even with the pay they receive from their boarders. I wonder how we can even get hay at all. How long will it be, Creator, before we have rain? How long will we suffer? How long will it be before you have mercy on your people, and show your power that many might come to worship you?

Coem sighed. I know, I know. The way You’ve planned is so much better and more glorious. Help me see it, please! Help me see how this constant rumbling and emptiness in my stomach brings glory to You, and how a miracle of food wouldn’t show how awesome You are. Help me remember that it isn’t always through signs and wonders that You reveal Yourself. Sometimes it’s the quiet whisperings of Your creation, and the words of a friend. Coem thought of the day he decided to follow the Creator. For a year, a friend had been pleading with him to seek the Creator. Coem refused. But then, he remembered. Then He set everything straight. He made perfect sense. But that’s the one time sense didn’t seem to matter anymore. Once I’d pondered what He’s like, I didn’t care whether or not He made sense, even though all of a sudden everything fell into place. The world was explained. I didn’t need to know why the sky was blue, just that He’d made it that way because it pleased Him. I didn’t need to know why my father left my mother and me – because through that I met Mason, who led me to the Creator.

Coem climbed up into the rafters and pulled out a long wooden whistle. He spent so much time with Lile and her grandmother now that he’d begun moving some of his belongings to the barn so he could access them spare moments. He put it to his lips and began to play. Music was another thing that always made sense to Coem. When he was weary or burdened, after prayer, music was where he turned. Soon his quiet, somber melody was interrupted by a shout.           

“Coem! Coem!” Lile yelled, running into the barn.

“Awendela, Pavati, and Soyala are here!”

Coem slipped his whistle back into its hiding place and stood. “Who?” He called.

“The gryphons!”
                Lile turned and ran out of the barn, Coem following close behind her.

“Awe!” Lile called, and the smallest of the gryphons stepped forward.

Coem stopped running. Before him stood three of the most majestic creatures he had ever seen. Even Awendela was a foot taller than a grown man. Their golden heads curved with elegance, and feathered wings were tucked at their sides.

“This is Coem,” Lile said. “I told you about him.”

“We are glad to meet you at last, Coem,” Pavati said. His voice was deep and sounded almost like a rumble.

Coem stared.

The gryphons and Lile laughed.

“I’m sorry,” Coem said, shaking his head. “It’s a pleasure to meet you as well. I – I’ve never seen a gryphon before.”

“Since Faolàn’s  time, most people haven’t seen gryphons,” Soyala said. “Our business has been in the background more than the foreground. We go where the Creator bids us go, and often it varies from day to day.”

“Except that He often sends you here,” Lile said.

“We were wondering,” Coem said, “if it’s been raining in the rest of Edaled?”

“Aye, it has been,” Pavati said.

“Then why not here?”

“Even with the wealth of wisdom the Creator granted to the gryphons, we cannot fathom everything He does. It is His hand of both judgment and mercy upon Panatea.”

“I understand the judgment part. What about the mercy?” Lile asked, crossing her arms over her chest.  “I don’t see how starving a whole kingdom can be merciful.”

 “It’s merciful because He doesn’t destroy us right away for our sin and folly,” Coem said.

“Aye. Listen to your friend, child, he has much wisdom,” said Soyala.

“But what did we ever do?” Lile cried in frustration.

“We’re just as guilty as anyone of breaking the Creator’s Law, Lile. We may not have sinned against the whole kingdom as the King has done in His pride, but we have sinned. We deserve far worse than this.”

“I thought Adan solved all that. I thought we didn’t have to suffer anymore. Why is He punishing His children along with those that don’t follow Him?” Lile wondered.

“Why does He send rain on those that don’t follow Him?” Awendela asked.

Lile frowned.

“Stop thinking of Him on human terms, and you may understand Him better. He’s not like us.” Soyala said.

“I wish He was,” Lile said, then turned and ran.

“Lile!” Coem shouted. She didn’t look back. He sighed.

“Be praying for her,” Pavati said. “She may be more scatter-brained than the rest of you Panateans, but she’s no less proud, and although she thinks in a different way, she still wants things to make sense. She has yet to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.”

“None of us have them all together. But at least in Him the pieces we do have fit,” Coem said.

Pavati looked heavenward. “It is about time for us to depart. We came to deliver food and have talked for long enough. If you could, Coem, there’s a bag of provisions on my back.”

Coem stepped forward and untied a sack.

“Take what you need and share the rest with others. We will be back next week.”

“Will you be able to stay for longer then? I want to hear more of other Kingdoms, and glean more wisdom from you.”

Pavati laughed, a low rumble. “We shall see. Now, go and see to Lile, but do not press her too hard right now.”

Coem watched as the gryphons took flight over Panatea, spreading their huge wings and soaring into the clouds. Then he turned and walked into the barn.
                “Lile!” He called. There was no answer. “Lile! I know you’re in here!”

A kitten meowed above Coem’s head. He looked up to see Mischief peering over the edge of a loft.

“Mischief!” A voice hissed, and the kitten was dragged away from the edge.

Coem began to climb the ladder. “Lile,” he said.

“Go away!”

“Lile, please try to understand.”

“I have tried! And I’m tired, and hungry, and sick of Nera, and wish I could go somewhere where there was food we didn’t have to work so hard for. It isn’t fair!”

“No one ever said it would be,” Coem said, but slipped down the ladder and out of the barn.

He walked through the house and bade goodnight to Mia, then journeyed homeward. As he walked, he prayed for Lile.

Creator, have mercy on her. Reveal Yourself to her that she may believe. Help her to see Your character, help her understand. Let her see that You’re worth suffering through this hunger.

Coem put a hand on his stomach. Even though he had still been growing at the beginning of the famine, his frame was smaller than it had been four years earlier. One would have thought that his body would have become accustomed to smaller portions of food, but hunger was still constant. The first year hadn’t been so bad. The King was optimistic that there would be a harvest the following year, and in the spring planting took place as usual. But nothing grew, because there was no rain. People seized what food they could and stored it up for the winter. Winter came and went. The snowfall was just as heavy as usual. When spring came again, the ground took too long to defrost, and there was still no rain. Even if it had rained, there was no seed left to plant; it had all been used in the previous year’s failure. The King commanded that the food from the storehouses be distributed. Then the rations had been fairly generous. But there was a whole kingdom to feed, and the supply dwindled. Rations grew smaller, and the price for them rose. Many people began to die, some for lack of food, others for lack of hope and reason to live. The King closed the ports, ‘for the good of Panatea,’ he said, but everyone knew it was from pride. Panateans were brilliant and generous, but pride was their greatest weakness.

And will be our downfall, Coem thought, If the King doesn’t change his laws. Have mercy upon him, too, Creator. Bring him to see how little men have to be proud of in light of our sin, and in light of Your glory. Please, I know I am no better, but let him be humbled. And break me of my pride, too. And Lile of hers, if that is what holds her from You.

Coem stopped. In front of him was the small lean-to he called home. He crawled inside and lay down. In the darkness, he groped for a notebook he had made himself and a piece of charcoal. He scribbled down a few words to remind him of things to do and pray for, then rolled over to sleep. Many days, sleep was the only escape from hunger and weakness. He welcomed it, but prayed that the Creator would be his sole true escape.

 

“After I get my ration, I’ll wait for you across the market,” Coem said as he and Lile entered the market. Lile nodded.

“I hope the mean guard isn’t there today. He hasn’t given me any trouble since we’ve known you. But he’s only been here once in the past month, and you were with me that day. I think he’s afraid of you, Coem. Do you think?”

Coem shook his head. “I surprised him, that’s all. I wouldn’t want to meet him alone – I don’t think he’d hurt me in front of so many people.”

The line moved forward.

“It’s shorter today than usual. Did we get here early?”

Coem nodded. “It’s better to do some work later and not wait in line as long. I’ll finish cleaning the stalls when we get back.”

“I’ll help, if I can. It’s a good thing you came when you did. I was starting to have trouble doing it. I should be getting stronger because I’m getting older – that’s what grandmother says – but instead I’m getting weaker.”

“We’ve got to get you more food,” Coem muttered.

“I wish the gryphons could take us away from here,” Lile whispered, then sighed. “But even Pavati said he wouldn’t be able to do it.”

“I don’t doubt that the Creator will sustain us.”

“I used to think He’d stop it. But it’s been four years without a harvest.” Lile shook her head. “Makes me wonder if He’s real. Wouldn’t He hear us and do something if He was? Maybe then I’d believe.”

“A lot of people say they’d need a miracle to believe, and then one comes, and they blame another phenomenon,” Coem began.

“Next!” A guard shouted, and Coem moved forward to find himself face-to-face with the ‘mean guard,’ as Lile called him.

“Nice day, isn’t it?” The guard said, scooping grain into Coem’s sack.

Coem looked up at the sun. “Aye, it is. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a little less nice weather and a little rain?”

The guard grunted.

“I don’t think it’ll be too much longer before the Creator sends rain. Although if this is judgment for our pride, we’d need to repent first.”

“If there was a Creator, He’d have sent rain already, or at least supplied food some other way,” the guard said.

Lile looked at Coem. 

“Move on,” the guard said. “Next!”

Lile held out her bag.

“Rations for the old lady and the little miss,” he said once Coem was out of earshot. “Do you need one for the Creator you serve, too? Perhaps He’s a little hungry.”

“Don’t you talk about my grandmother that way. And if the Creator’s real and He is who they say He is, He doesn’t need our help and I don’t think He eats like us.”

“If the Creator’s real, eh? Does that say you don’t believe the stories about Him like your grandmother? Isn’t that a pity?” He set her bag down on the table.

Lile grabbed it and ran without saying a word. “Next time, you need to stay with me,” she said when she reached Coem. She looked back at the guard, who was staring after her.

Coem gave him a hard look and put a protective hand on Lile’s shoulder. “We don’t need to stay any longer.”

They began walking.

“Why does he have to say mean things about grandmother and the Creator?” Lile asked.

“Because he hates the Creator.”

“Why? I don’t know that I follow the Creator, but I don’t hate Him at least, and I don’t talk like that. I’m not that bad.”

“There’s no middle ground, Lile. Either you love the Creator or you hate Him. The way you show that is by whether or not you follow Him.”

“Hmph.”

“You can’t go on like this forever; you have to decide.”

“I will. But not yet. And I don’t want to talk about it more.”

“Alright. What do you want to talk about?”

“Did you like the gryphons? Aren’t they beautiful?”

“Aye, they are.”

“How long did they stay?”

“Not much longer. They’d already gone when I came in to find you.”

“Oh. I forgot about that.”

“It fills your life, Lile, you have to face it.”

“I don’t want to talk about it. What kind of things do you like to do?”

“I like music, and numbers, and organizing things.”

“Did you know the barn makes sense now, even to me?” Lile asked.

Coem laughed and smiled.

“You smile like that a lot,” Lile said.

“Like what?”

“You keep your mouth open and the edges turn up just a bit. And sometimes you do that instead of laughing.”

“Do I now?” Coem asked.

“Aye. What do I look like when I laugh?”

“Well, I haven’t seen you laugh much.”

“You laugh a lot,” Lile said. “More than anyone I know.”

“I have a lot to be thankful for, and there’s a lot of things that make me happy.”

“Even in the famine?”

“Aye, even in a famine.” Coem stopped on the front porch of Mia’s cottage.  “Turn around and look at the sun.”

Lile turned.

“See how beautiful it is? And listen to the birds. There aren’t as many as before the famine, but there still there. And the brook behind your house, and the little things that the Creator has given us can still be cause for delight if we choose to think of them in that way. Take time to think about the little things we take for granted.”

“I’ll try,” Lile said.

“Oh, and I did notice in the once or twice I saw you laugh, that your whole face lights up and your nose crinkles and so do the corners of your eyes.”

Lile giggled.

“Exactly like that.”

 

“Lile, how was the market?” Mia asked that night as they ate a meager dinner.

Lile pushed at her small helping of food around on her plate. “Crowded. Busy. The mean guard was saying things about you and the Creator I didn’t like. He’s so hateful.”

Coem and Mia exchanged a glance.

“I know it’s hard, but we still must love him,” Mia said.

“Why? Why must we love people who do such awful things to us?”

“Why does the Creator love us even when we’ve treated Him like dirt?” Coem asked.

Lile stared at her plate and said nothing.

“Tell me, Coem,” Mia said. “Are you finding enough work to pay for your ration?”

“Aye, but just enough. Thank you for your help; I couldn’t do it without you.”
                “We couldn’t either. You’re a gift from the Creator. I can’t get around very well, and Lile needs a companion and help in the stables. And I’m very thankful for your protection in the market. It’s not a safe place for anyone to be alone, young girls in particular.”

“A benefit to the market place is the crowds. No one dares hurt anyone with so many other people around.” Coem nodded and sipped a steaming cup of tea – tea was one thing that wasn’t scarce, much to Coem’s delight. He drank multiple cups of it every day and it was often what he craved when he was hungry, even though it wasn’t filling. He had a large stash of dried leaves, and whenever he found a patch of greenery in the barren and dry grasslands, he searched for tea leaves.

“Do you ever hear any news from the King?” Mia asked.

“No. Though if we did I don’t know whether it would be for good or ill. I don’t think our supplies can hold out much longer.”

Mia nodded, her whole frail body shaking with the motion. “In our pride we were not prepared for something like this. We thought we had it all together and there would never be any trouble in our land.” She sighed. “I and all of my family are guilty of this, even since I’ve followed the Creator. We’re always willing to help others, but when another desires to extend mercy, we refuse it. I fear it will be our downfall, unless the Creator intervenes.”

“I pray that He will, and I know He hears the prayers of His children. Of that I am certain, even if I am not certain of what He will do. Whatever it is, it will be true to His perfect nature.”

“Aye. That is great consolation in these empty days; trusting in what He will do and filling up on His character.”

“For He is the giver of bread, and of life.”

“Indeed He is,” Mia said, “indeed He is.”

 

A tall man stopped Coem and Lile as they entered the market the following week.

“I wouldn’t get in line if I were you. They’re sending all the followers of the Creator away without food,” he said, holding up an empty bag.

        Lile clenched the sack she carried close to her body.  “I’m going to try anyway.”

        “Lile, be careful,” Coem said. “The mean guard is here today.”

        “He won’t dare do anything when you’re with me.”

“Yes, but things are changing, like the man said –“ Coem began, but followed Lile when she stepped into the line.

        Neither she nor Coem said anything as they waited.

        “Be wise,” Coem said as they approached the table.

        The guard put his scoop into a barrel of grain, then brought it up to fill Lile’s bag, but he stopped. “Weren’t ye told?” He snarled. “No food for the scum of the city."

        “We’re not scum,” Lile said.

        “Followers of the Creator ye call yerselves. High time ye were treated as ye deserve.”  

        “You don’t have any right to take our food a-“ Lile began, but Coem put a hand on her arm.

        “Hush, Lile. It’s time to go.”

        “Listen to him, little girl. He’ll keep you safe,” the guard said with a laugh. “Nothin’ anyone can do to stop you from what’s comin’ to ye at yer farm, ye and your old woman. Yer Creator can’t help ye anymore. Look what He’s done for you so far. You say you’re His children. Yet He takes away food from your entire kingdom and then look how He cares for you, letting the King take away your food. I’d say it’s all your fault, this famine. The dragon is angry that you put so much trust in the Creator.”

        “Sir, you’ve overstepped the mark,” Coem said.

        “What are ye goin’ ta do about it?” The guard drew his dagger.

        “Coem,“ Lile hissed. “Be wise!” She took hold of his arm and began pulling him away.

        “It’s nothing I do,” he told the guard. “But you will see that the Creator is stronger than that dragon you serve! The followers of the Creator have not troubled Panatea, but you have, because you have abandoned the Creator and followed Daron. Come, Lile.”

 

“If you’d fought him, wouldn’t the Creator have protected you?” Lile asked when they were back at the stables. She placed a small wad of hay inside a horse’s stall, then sighed. “I remember when their feed trough used to be overflowing.”

“If I’d fought him, I’d have gotten killed.”

“I thought you said the Creator is stronger than Daron.”

        Coem stopped mucking a stall and leaned on his shovel. “I’m not afraid of what he can do to my body, but I do want to protect the name of the Creator, Lile. If we go around fighting because of an insult, that doesn’t honor Him. Adan suffered more than any man ever will, and He did so willingly. It’s so hard when you’re in the middle of it; I wanted to punch the guard… but the Creator warned us we’d suffer for His sake, and for us, right here, right now, this is what it looks like. He said we must turn the other cheek, and then was the time to do it.”

        “But what about justice? It’s not right that they can take our food away! And besides, the guard also mocked the Creator.”

        “You’re right, it’s not fair according to the Creator’s Law. And in His Law, He says people who don’t walk in His ways don’t understand justice. Food is scarce, and they need to cut it back from someone. I don’t think they’ll be living like kings, Lile. Even if they are, it’s not our job to judge them. The Creator will do that when He returns, unless they repent. So, why didn’t I fight him? One, I don’t want to test the Creator. Two, then was a time to turn the other cheek, because vengeance belongs to the Creator, and the guard will receive what he deserves, unless he repents and accepts salvation by Adan. Three, the way to fight Daron isn’t with physical strength, but in spiritual warfare. Remember the stories about the Miron in Cathonys, when Faolan was in power? ”

        “It doesn’t make sense to me, everything about what’s just and what’s not and when it is and when it isn’t. Why us? Why do they pick on us? What did we ever do to make them hate us? Is there ever a time when it would be right to fight back?”

        “One question at a time, Lile.”

        “Why us?”

        “We follow the Creator, they follow Daron, and Daron has been against the Creator almost since the creation of Edaled. He can’t win against the Creator by destroying the Creator, so he tries to eradicate the Creator’s people.”

        “Us.”
        “Aye. And Daron uses other people  - his followers, anyone that doesn’t follow the Creator – “

        “There’s only two choices?”

        “Aye. Either you’re for the Creator, or you’re against Him. I never want to be against Him again, that’s not a safe place to be. Thanks to Adan, we can be on His side once more.”

        “Alright. When can we fight back?”

        “Have you  been listening to anything I’ve said?”

        “You said the way to fight back isn’t with force. You said that judgment is for the Creator to do. But doesn’t He ever do it through His people?”

        “He might. He hasn’t done it yet. But then, we’ve never been a kingdom against a kingdom. The Creator gave the rights of battle to the kingdoms, not to the followers of the Creator. And think about it, Lile – is fighting them going to solve the problem?”

        Lile shook her head.

        “It’ll just make it worse for us, because then they’ll have a valid reason to withhold our food. If they just keep it from us because we follow the Creator, we’re still like Adan. If they keep it from us because we’ve broken the law, then they’re right in doing so.”

        Lile looked out the window. “I’m going to go inside and help grandmother.” She started walking out of the barn, then turned. “Thank you.

Comments

Interesting

I like it. SOme of the sectons where it's just someone thinking get slightly tedious, but it's still very good.

Julie | Wed, 11/16/2011

Formerly Kestrel

Horray

I'm glad to see yet another in the Victorious series.  I wonder if the King will come around and lead his people to repent...

James | Thu, 11/17/2011

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

I remember you telling me

I remember you telling me about this one! I can't wait to keep seeing how you show these characters pride and judgment - and mercy and humility. Coem seems to have a pretty good grasp on it, but I liked when you went into his perspective and showed how he was struggling too. And I like how he smiles. :)

Anna | Thu, 11/17/2011

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief