Chapter Seventeen: Love VictoriousChapter Seventeen: Love Victorious Outside it began to rain, a cold, icy rain, the Creator’s tears for His lost lamb falling down from above. Bardan stood in his cell to look out of the barred windows near the ceiling. Soon the tears began to fall from his eyes, too, as the Creator spoke to him. “It’s never too late, Mikhil. The Creator takes the worst and most broken hearted into His presence and heal them. You were loved, you had life in your hands and you threw it away for death and despair,” Bardan whispered. The rain fell in torrents, seeping in through the windows and down to the floor of the cell. Villagers in Dlani ran for cover as thunder shook the ground and lightning flashed across the sky. Horses balked in every kingdom of Edaled, and men and women fell to their knees in their houses, filled with awe. There was not a single place in the entire world that it was not raining. In her cell, Elonya stood, and her squirrel climbed up to the window to look outside. Bardan knelt on the ground and raised his hands in worship. “Love has won, love has overcome death,” he shouted. Connor raised his hands to the window and caught the water streaming in, putting it to his lips and drinking. “He sets the prisoners free,” Bardan continued. “He revives us yet again! Praise the Lord, oh my soul!” The prisoners broke out into joyous song. “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; The horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, And he has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise him, My father's God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name…” They sang as the rain continued to poor into their cells, even as their feet splashed in puddles as some danced for joy. “This is my God, and I will praise him!” Wrapped in his cloak, Fàolan stood on top of a castle turret, his hood pushed back and his hair loose. Water dripped from the top of his head into his eyes, and he was cold, but he dared not move from the turret. It was the only place he felt safe. He had been so restless he had run to the turret. “Fàolan, even those who deem themselves law givers must be subject to the law and judgment.” A strong voice behind him said. “Evil cannot prevail, Fàolan. It does not have the strength that is contained in love.” Fàolan turned. “All of those who turn from the Creator must suffer punishment for their sins.” Adan tossed off his cloak, spreading his arms wide and revealing nail-scarred wrists and ankles. “But I have suffered in their place. Death has been overturned. Hope reigns in this world once more, Fàolan son of Daron!” Fàolan took a step back, now leaning against the wall. “Spare me, son of the Creator!” He cried. “Even Daron knows who I am, Fàolan. And even he fears when he hears the name of my Father. No, Fàolan, you trust in yourself and not in me. You set up your own laws in place of the Creator’s perfect laws. You have only to call upon the Creator to be saved from death’s destruction… you cannot do it on your own, even if you tried.” Hatred glinted in Fàolan’s eyes. “Never will I stoop so low as to trust in someone else!” Then, before Adan could do anything, Fàolan threw himself from the turret, his body lying broken on the ground below. Nigel ascended the stairs of the turret and stood beside Adan. “Praise the Lord, bless His holy name!” Nigel said. “The Creator has freed His people at last.” Adan smiled. “We have work to do; there are those who are in the shadow of darkness but walking in light. They must be set free.” Side by side, Adan and Nigel journeyed down to the prisons, releasing the followers of the Creator from their chains and rejoicing with them. Then Adan reached Mikhil’s cell. He turned to look at the gathering of believers behind him. “Who’s in here?” Connor stepped forward. “My brother, Mikhil. He…” Adan gently laid a hand on Connor’s shoulder. “I know, Connor. Know that although he perished in darkness, he loved you until the end.” Adan’s eyes looked steadily into Connor’s, piercing deep into the young man’s heart. Tears welled up in Connor’s eyes, and once more, he fell to the ground, tears falling from his eyes. Adan opened the door and looked inside, but quickly shut it again and locked it. “We will return for his body later.” “Wait!” a voice cried out. “Who called?” Adan asked. “In here!” Adan unlocked the door and stepped inside. “Don’t leave me in here for longer still…” “Who’s there?” Nigel stepped in behind Adan. “King Kyle?” He asked. “Nigel!” The king said. He stood and with all of his strength ran to his old advisor. “So Fàolan did spare you, then? I was afraid that he did not.” “Nay, I am still here.” “I’ve repented, Nigel, repented from my foolishness. The Creator has taught me much during the past twenty years.” “He has taught us all much. But come – there is work to do.” Three white horses rode into Dlani, Nigel, Adan, and King Kyle on their backs. Behind them walked Bardan, Elonya, Connor, and many others. News had been traveling through Cathonys that Fàolan had been overturned, and the King had issued decrees restoring the Creator’s laws and nullifying Fàolan’s. King Kyle begged to travel with Adan and Nigel to Dlani and the other cities to ask for forgiveness and to see his people. His regained his health quickly, but it took more time for him to return to his responsibilities as king. As they rode through the streets of Dlani, Adan nodded to many villagers. Nigel tried to see in through the windows of the houses, wondering where his family was. Did they all arrive here? Safe, alive? He didn’t have to look for long, because soon he saw Ness’s pale face pressed against a window, peering out at the street. Suddenly her eyes went wide, and she turned from the window. “Mama, mama, mama!” Keelin shouted, running through the house, feet thumping loudly on the wooden floors. “Keelin, please be quiet, Aina is sleeping.” “Outside! Hurry!” Keelin pleaded, refusing to be quiet. By now, all of the children had come running, and they crowded around the window. Brianna saw Nigel first. She flew to the door and yanked it open, running outside. Nigel saw her coming and leapt off his horse. “Da! Da!” Brianna threw herself into his arms, hugging him tightly. “I love you, da!” Nigel returned the hug as Ahearn, Fagan, Nell, Ness, Brenna, Grady, Keelin, and Enid flooded out of the house and onto the street. “And Adan!” Fagan said excitedly. “Da, I was so scared, we all were so scared…” Brianna smiled at Fagan and Nigel. “Tabitha was right. Adan would win in the end.” “But how, da? How, Adan? I mean, I saw it happening, you were being executed, and then here you are, right in front of me, living!” “It was an act of the Creator, my son,” Nigel explained. “One of His great mysteries and revelations of His power.” “But it doesn’t matter how it happened,” Ahearn said. “Just that it did, and we’re all together again.” Nigel ran his fingers through his son’s tousled hair. “Aye, all together again.” He smiled. King Kyle pulled his horse up alongside Nigel. “Your family has grown large, Nigel.” “We have many blessings, aye,” Nigel replied. “Fagan, Brianna, Ahearn… children – come, meet King Kyle.” Somewhat shyly, the children turned to see the king. “Kyle, this is Fagan, whom you met, Brianna, Ahearn, Brenna, Nell, Keelin, Grady, Ness, and Aina. Children, this is your earthly King.” “Where have you been?” Nell asked curiously. “Nell…” Ahearn began, but Kyle cut him off and lifted Nell to sit in front of him on his horse. “I’ve been away learning for many years about how a king who follows the Creator should rule.” “For twenty years?” Nell wondered in disbelief. “Aye, for twenty years. I had a very foolish heart. I was not much older than your brother Fagan was when I became king, and that is much responsibility for one so young. I was afraid and often impulsive. I let Fàolan in, not realizing that he was a servant of Daron until it was too late. Your father tried to stop me, but I would not listen in my foolishness.” “But you won’t be like that now, right?” “No, he won’t,” Adan said, joining the group. “The Creator has driven out foolishness and replaced it with wisdom.” “Is Fàolan gone?” Ness asked suddenly. “Aye, he’s gone,” Adan replied. “And peace is restored to Cathonys.” News spread quickly in Dlani, and that night in Iwan’s house, the followers of the Creator gathered – openly for the first time in years, and the first time without fear for the young. They raised their voices in praise to the Creator for their liberty, children’s voices mixing with those of their parents, men with the women, low and high, all joining in song. Then Adan stood. He grinned as he looked at the front room of the house, which was crowded with believers – families he knew from Poná, some from Dlani… some that had followed them from the cities in between Poná and Dlani. Children sat on laps and the floor; many of the men stood to let the women and girls sit. He spread his arms wide. “Welcome,” He said. “To a world where you no longer have to fear death.” Whispers went around the room. “The battle against death has been won, and the power of love has been shown to the world. Fàolan has been overturned and his captives set free. Yet death will still remain while Daron takes people’s minds prisoner. Victory is assured for the Creator, but the final battle has still to be won. But for those who follow the Creator, death will no longer have a sting, but a hope – for in death you will be united to the Creator, rejoicing with Him forever.” Adan sighed. “My work in Edaled is done, and I will return to my father. I will always be with you in spirit and be your helper. There are many, many, people who are captive of Daron. Love has defeated death and will defeat Daron. But you must tell them this love!” As Adan spoke, his face was filled with passion and his words with meaning. “Go into the world, and take them the good news that I have just told you! “You will be persecuted, and you will have trouble. But remember that I have conquered death and you no longer have to fear anything that man can do to your body. They will laugh in your face and tell you that you do not have the Truth. However, one day, one day – the blinders will be removed from their eyes, and they will see the Creator in His glory. It will be a day of fear and trembling for those who did not know Him beforehand, because they will suffer His wrath.” Adan shuddered. “A wrath that I have felt all too well.” He said, more quietly, and then sat down. They finished their time of worship and teaching, but Fagan barely heard a word of what was said. He sat looking at Adan, trying to figure out the mystery of this man, the son of the Creator. During the fellowship meal that followed, Fagan approached Adan. “Adan, what did you mean when you said that you have felt the Creator’s wrath all too well?” “Fagan, the Creator is a loving and merciful Lord, but He is also just. Someone had to receive His anger at us for our disobedience.” “And that was why you had to die. The punishment, so we could be free and so you could overturn death. Not just for me, but for everyone who has sinned.” “Aye.” “But then why is their anger left for those who haven’t turned from their disobedience?” “If there was no punishment for disobedience, would it teach anyone? Would it be fair for those who had been forgiven?” “No, but it’s not fair that I’ve been forgiven!” “Aye, ‘tis grace and grace alone.” “Not grace alone.” “Mm?” “Love, too.” “Aye, love, too.” Fagan poked his head inside of the room where Brianna sat, reading to Ness and Nell. “Da and I are going to go talk to Iwan again,” He said, grinning. Brianna smiled and bit her lip in anticipation. “I’m so happy!” She said, smiling back. “Do you think…?” “Da does. He said he talked to Adan last night, and I was going to talk to Adan this morning, but I can’t seem to find him anywhere.” Brianna shrugged. “I haven’t seen him.” Nell tipped her head sideways to look up at Brianna. “He told me goodbye last night. I think he’s gone back to his father.” Fagan was quiet. “Maybe he has. Will we ever miss him, though.” “He’s promised to be with us,” Ness said simply. “And if he promised, he will!” “Aye, he will.” “I’m praying for you, Fagan,” Brianna encouraged. Fagan nodded. “I’ll tell you as soon as I get back.” Nigel and Fagan walked to Iwan’s house in silence. Fagan knocked on the door, slightly startled when Tabitha opened it. “Good morning, Tabitha!” He said cheerfully. “Is Iwan at home?” “Yes, I’ll tell him you want to see him.” “Thank you.” Tabitha ran into the back rooms of the house and soon came out with Iwan. “Good morning, Nigel, Fagan… I was starting to wonder when the two of you would turn up.” His eyes twinkled at Fagan, whose ears turned bright red. “Well, come on in and we can go into the kitchen to talk – Mari is cooking our lunch there, but Tabitha is busy with the children.” Fagan noticed a puzzled look flit across Tabitha’s face, and he stifled a small laugh, while at the same time wishing to blurt out what they were there for. Fagan, Nigel, and Iwan sat down at the kitchen table. Fagan looked down as both fathers looked at him. “Well, Fagan?” Nigel asked. “You know how I asked about courting your daughter to eventually take her as my wife in marriage, Iwan. My father and I have spoken about it again and decided to ask you again, now that things have settled down in Cathonys and the rest of Edaled. I want to marry Tabitha because I know that she is a child of the Creator and has been raised with discipline and has strong character. She aspires to be like her mother and my mother, and I have always known that I want to marry someone who wants to be like my mother. She is graceful and gentle, kind, and loving… I could go on for hours about Tabitha. Iwan, I love her very much and would be very blessed if I could have her hand in marriage.” “Thank you for coming to me again, Fagan. I see very similar things in you as you do in Tabitha, things that my daughter has asked me to look for in a young man, things that I have decided that whoever my daughter marries will have to have – such as parts of his character, being strong in his Faith, having an view of family and training his children that is in line with the Creator’s law. Mari and I are honored to say that you have asked about our daughter and are very pleased to be able to tell you that under the supervision of me, Nigel, Mari, or Enid, you may court Tabitha.” Fagan felt his heart swell within him. “Thank you, Iwan! Thank you!” Mari walked to the kitchen door. “Tabitha!” She called. “I’m on my way, mama!” Tabitha replied, and soon stood in the doorway between the kitchen and the front room. “Yes?” There was a brief pause. Fagan could not take his eyes off Tabitha. She’s so beautiful. “Tabitha, my daughter,” Iwan said, grinning like everyone else in the room. “Fagan has asked if he could court you with the intent of having your hand in marriage. I have said yes.” Tabitha was speechless for a few moments, and then her face softened. “I never even dared to hope; I always thought it was me just being a silly girl whenever… thank you, daddy.” Tabitha ran to Iwan and hugged him. Nigel put his hand on Fagan’s shoulder and grinned. Fagan glowed. A year later, Tabitha and Fagan were wedded on the beaches of Dlani, both of their families joyfully looking on. They moved to Ladylan and settled down there, building a family of their own. The followers of the Creator happily returned to meeting publicly. Nigel and the rest of his family moved back to Poná and lived within the castle walls once more, Nigel serving King Kyle. Bardan and Elonya lived with them for a time, but soon died of old age. Edaled was peaceful once more, as it had been in its early days. But nothing was perfect, for evil still lurked in the hearts of men. Yet much of the Creator’s story remained to be told, for though love was victorious, the hope of that love and the faith flowing from hope remained to be tested…
I honestly don't know whether to be happy or sad. :)
What are your thoughts, now that it's done? On this part, and looking at the scope of the whole story?
And then, how well does it tie in to "Hope Victorious"? (That's my biggest struggle right now - the two don't seem to line up, in more ways than names being changed... I feel another re-write coming).