I was stuck on this for the longest time. Until one night, when I was supposed to be sleeping, the prologue came to me, and it worked out many of the glitches (many, not all, I discovered another one last night).
So, on this day, October 31, 2009, 502 years after Luther nailed his Theses to the door of the Church in Wittenburg, 'beginning' the Protestant Reformation... during which great persecution occured, I begin my story...
Have a blessed Reformation Day. :) (Whilst I'm off to take a theory exam... and celebrate the reformation this afternoon with friends, dressed as Margaret Wilson! :D)
To my cowboy, who the character of little Jeffrey comes from.
Greetings in the name of the Creator!
I am Jubilee, the granddaughter of Jeffrey, a martyr for the Kingdom of the Creator. The following is the story of my grandfather and his family, and their adventures in following the Creator. Grandfather Jeffrey suffered much for the Creator. Those who worshipped my Lord were greatly persecuted during that time – even more so, if that is imaginable, than in my own time.
But like us, they bore it gladly, like our Savior Adan, for the joy set before them. Thus my name, Jubilee – a reminder of joy and celebration, as well as the name of the ship that Jeffrey found refuge in.
This tale follows my grandfather from his childhood years until he was killed by those who follow Daron, leaving my grandmother alone but for the child she carried in her womb and the comfort of the Creator.
What follows is my rendition of the stories my grandmother told me, and encouraged me to write down.
May the Creator shower His blessings upon you,
Chapter One: The Troubadour
The first thing people noticed about him was his small harp, which he carried at his side, strapped onto his belt. The harp was old and was chipped in many places, and the strings showed signs of much wear – or, as the troubadour would call it, love. He wore a faded tunic of green, belted at the waist, and green leggings, which many now-a-days claim are tights. The hat sitting a-top his head was missing most of the feather, and his black hair was unkempt and stuck out every which way. His nose was long and bony, his lips rather thin. At first glance, his eyes appeared dull. But at a closer look, there was mystery there, calling to passersby, and beckoning them to sit and listen to his story.
A young girl walked by, her hand holding that of a toddler, perhaps her little brother. The troubadour leaned over to her and whispered in her ear.
“I have a tale to tell you, if you have the time to stay and listen.” His soft voice drew her in.
The girl, about six years of age, looked at him curiously. He invited her to sit down at his feet as he began his tale.
“Imagine a void, bigger, deeper longer… more massive than anything you’ve ever seen before. Yet there is a light, a small light, growing slowly, lighting up the darkness. When the darkness is gone, the light is pulled, twisted, molded into shape…”
“That’s the beginning of Edaled, right, Kianna?” The boy asked.
“Shhhh, Jeffrey,” she whispered. “Let him keep talking.”
The troubadour smiled and plucked his harp strings briefly. “Yes, it’s Edaled. Do you know what happened next?”
Jeffrey’s blue eyes were wide as he shook his head.
“The Creator sent the globe swirling off into space, and then began filling it with wonderful things – gryphons, fish, horses… and then he made men.”
Two tall shadows swept over Kianna and Jeffrey, and they looked up. Two burly soldiers stood above them.
“Greetings, troubadour,” the taller of the two said. Jeffrey scooted closer to Kianna, who put her arm around him as he hid his head in her lap. “What stories are you telling these children?”
“Why does it matter what I tell those who stop to listen?”
The other soldier laughed mockingly. “We’ve gotten word that you’ve been brainwashing children into believing tales about a Creator.”
“Can I not choose the stories I tell, and cannot they chose whether or not to believe?”
“Jon, see that these children get home safely. I’ll take care of the troubadour.”
The tall soldier nodded and reached down to pick Jeffrey up. “Show me where you live,” he said.
Kianna looked toward the troubadour, her whole body trembling.
“What have these children done that they need be accompanied home?” The troubadour asked. “Run along home, child.”
Jeffrey wriggled out of the soldier’s arms, then helped he and Kianna walked off together. A few times Kianna glanced back at the soldiers.
“Why did we have to leave?” Jeffrey asked.
Kianna shook her head. “I don’t know.” She glanced back once more, but quickly jerked her eyes back to the path. She would never forget what she had seen then – the soldiers breaking the troubadour’s harp on the ground, and then them hauling him off toward the gaol. “Let’s walk faster,” she whispered. In the background, a young man furrowed his brow in deep thought as to what he had just witnessed. He was dressed in the uniform of a lieutenant in the army, and had only recently been transferred to Rakeyna, and was watching with awe in the freedom the people had there. This city is so much more open to the Old Ways, he thought as he reflected on the scene he had just witnessed, but I wonder how long it will stay that way. Now that we’re here, it won’t be long until this city looks just like all of the others in Ladylan and Edaled. It won’t be long until we are one!
A few minutes later the children arrived home, where their mother was waiting for them at the front door.
“What took you so long, Kianna?” she asked. Her name was Caithlin. Eight years ago, she had married and moved to Rakeyna with her husband, Timothy. Now they struggled against the tumultuous times to raise their family – Kianna, six, Jeffrey, four, and another little one on the way.
“There was a man telling stories. We stopped to listen. Mama, why did they make us leave? He was telling a wonderful story! And then, then they broke his harp and took him to the gaol. They wanted to come home with us, but the man told us to go quickly. Why did they do that?”
Caithlin sat down on a chair and put Kianna on her lap. “Who’s they, sweetie?”
Kianna nodded, her eyebrows furrowed.
Caithlin hugged Kianna close to her. “You were right to not want the soldiers to come with you.”
Kianna pushed away from her mother. “But who were they and why did they do that?”
“Was the man telling you stories about the Creator?”
“Yes, like you do. He was telling us about when the Creator made Edaled, mama, Jeffrey’s favorite part.”
“Kianna, those soldiers are people who hate the Creator. They want to destroy Him.”
“But they can’t do that, nobody can!”
“You’re right, Kianna, but they’ve been convinced by Daron that they can.”
“Daron’s the evil dragon, right, who wants to take over my heart?”
“Yes. And he has taken over the hearts of many men and women. That’s why the men want to get rid of anyone who talks about the Creator.”
“Are they coming for us next?”
Caithlin looked apprehensively – or was it longingly? – out of the window. They had enjoyed freedom in Ladylan for so many years – Fàolan’s rule five hundred years ago had reached them, yes, but none of the other rebellions had come to Ladylan. Until now, when it seemed like even those who followed the Creator were compromising beliefs and settling for only half of the Truth, or Truth mixed with lies.
Daron’s lies, all of them.
“No, Kianna.” Not yet, anyway, she added in her thoughts. Absentmindedly, she played with a lock of Kianna’s hair, then set her daughter on the floor. As she began preparing the evening meal, Caithlin looked back out the window, hoping Timothy would return from the fields early today.
But where could they go? Would anyone run with them, or would it just be the four – almost five – of them?
The city was full of other followers of the Creator. Surely someone would come with them.
The sun set, and the last embers of the fire were dying as Caithlin and Timothy sat at the able, talking in hushed tones. Kianna and Jeffrey were asleep in their beds.
“We can’t just walk away with our heads down, admitting Daron has triumphed,” Timothy argued.
“What of Kianna and Jeffrey?” Caithlin asked. She looked down at her trembling hands. Timothy put his hands on top of hers. She started to talk, but stopped. Her husband looked into her eyes, encouraging her to go on. Drawing a shaky breath, Caithlin continued. “The soldiers took Joel, the old troubadour, away today. Kianna wanted to know if we’d be next, Timothy. She may only be six, but she comprehends what’s going on, if even just simply. She understands that Joel followed the Creator, and soldiers who serve Daron took him away. She knows that we follow the Creator, too, and the connection is clear in her mind. I don’t want our children to grow up living in constant fear!”
“They won’t live in fear of Daron, Caithlin, but in fear of the Creator, and following His ways.”
“Promise me that, please, just promise me that. Promise me that they won’t fear, that they won’t have reason to fear.”
“We have every reason to run, yes. Daron looks intimidating.” He looked earnestly into his wife’s eyes. “But Caithlin, we must not forget who is on our side! We have been commanded to be bold and take the Creator’s Word to the whole of Edaled. He promised to be with us, and to strengthen us if we wait upon Him. We have more reason to be brave than to run.”
“Caithlin, I love you. I love Kianna, Jeffrey, and the little one growing inside of you. We need to pray about it, talk with people… there’s a lieutenant in the army who is a follower of the Creator and strongly resisting Daron’s traps. He’ll be able to give us information, tell us the extent of Daron’s hold in the kingdom. I wonder how much longer he will be allowed to stay in the army.”
The dying firelight reflected off of the tears that rolled down Caithlin’s cheeks. “Why is this happening? How can the Creator let so many of His people die? How can He let so many sinners run at thousands of leagues an hour into judgment without knowing about Him? How can He watch them slaughter each other and treat life so cheaply?”
Timothy got up from his chair and knelt by Caithlin’s side. She fell into his arms, sobbing. “I wish I had your compassion, my love.”
“You don’t want it… it tears apart my heart more than you know.”
“Share those trials with me, Caithlin. Let me know what you feel. But don’t consider it a curse… it’s not. We must have compassion on the crowds who are careening toward judgment and separation from the Creator, and we must try to bring them to the Creator. That’s why we’re here in Ladylan, why I don’t want to leave. Your compassion is a gift from the Creator. Cherish it, share it with Him.”
Caithlin nodded. “It just consumes you… death, I mean. When it’s all around you, it’s all you can think about.”
“Then be consumed by remembrance of Adan’s death in our place, to restore our relationship with the Creator and to crush Daron. Think of that when you think of death.”
“Aye. So many lives… just thrown away. And when I think about death, it’s thinking about my death, about how and why people die, about Adan’s death, about how I will die, about the people the people who die leave behind, about the people who are so deep in Daron’s traps that don’t care about human life, only their selfish desires. And then you start to cry for how lost the world is, and for all of the people hurting in the world, and because all you can do about it is pray. It’s one of those things you can’t stop thinking about because you can’t figure it out.”
“Aye. But the Creator knows it all, and He knows how long it will last.”
“Then why does He not tell us? How long, O Creator, how long?” How long will this death last?
“Keegan!” Timothy said. It was after their weekly meeting in the Worship Hall.
“How are you doing?”
Keegan sighed. “Could be better. Lieutenants aren’t often spared work.”
“I don’t think anyone ever is.”
“Very true, very true.”
“Well, Keegan, I told my wife I would speak to you… about recent happenings.”
The lieutenant nodded knowingly. “I wonder how much longer we will be able to meet as we do now.”
Timothy shook his head. “Not long, I fear. The soldiers are already taking their duties seriously. The old troubadour, Joel, was arrested a few days ago. Only half of the people who usually come to the meeting were here today. Keegan, do you have any idea whatsoever how long we will be safe for?”
“I wish I could say, but I really don’t know. It may be as few as two days before the laws are fully put into place.”
“Laws against the followers of the Creator. Not directly against us, though, but it’s implicit through the wording.”
“What can they have against us?”
“It’s not them, it’s the evil overrun their hearts that controls them and causes them to do this. They say we are intolerant, and that by what we’re doing we’re forcing things on others. I’ve heard them say that truth is to be decided by each person.”
“I know you may feel hesitant doing this, Keegan, but do you have advice on what to do? Should we run or stay? It could cost us our families to stay…”
“Aye, it very well could. But yes, you are right that I feel hesitant giving advice to someone a good deal older and wiser than me… I shall try, though. There’s no telling how fast or where this is all going to go. The Creator could return in all of His glory tomorrow and take us home. Then again, it could be thousands of years of suffering before that happens. Whatever the case, we must endure for the time we are given in Edaled. I cannot tell others what to do. I only have myself to look out for, many others like yourself have their families to guard and take care of.” Keegan hesitated. “I will stay as long as I can here. I could be exiled tomorrow, or it could be longer than that. Exile would mean I would journey to the forests or another kingdom to take the Word of the Creator there. There are endless possibilities.
“I cannot tell you what is right or wrong, for I know not what that might be in your circumstance. Leaving or staying is not an imperative command. Endure, be bold, and rely on His strength and guidance.” Keegan finished.
Timothy placed his hand on Keegan’s shoulder. “Thank you. I always enjoy talking with you, Keegan, it is such an encouragement.”
“Thank you, brother. May the Creator guide you in your decisions.”
Timothy turned to go.
“Oh, Timothy, I almost forgot!”
Timothy looked back to his friend. “Aye?”
“There’s a new lieutenant in the army, just transferred here from the coast, who wants to meet followers of the Creator. He was there when Joel was arrested, and wants to know more. I immediately thought of you… that is, if you don’t mind.”
“Nothing’s safe anymore, Keegan.” Timothy sighed. “I’ll meet him, but away from my home. I don’t want to put my children in danger.”
“No, sir. In the market, maybe, on Tuesday, near the well?” Keegan suggested.
“Just after the noon meal,” the father agreed.
“Alright. I’ll see you then.” With a wave, Keegan left.