I decided to start posting 2 chapters at a time because I have 20 written and it would take over a year posting one chapter a month... So here's chapters four and five... enjoy! :)
Chapter Four: Not Happy - Joyful
Two Years Later
Drums beat heavily outside Rakeyna’s walls.
Shudders of fear ran up the spines of the villagers. Not another one – this would be at least the tenth execution this morning. On the streets, villagers passed each other looks of fear. Who would be next? Would the knock sound on their door that night, and soldiers be there to take them away? There was no written law, and so everyone broke it, yet no one did. Edaled was in complete confusion, whirling down into chaos.
No human could do anything to stop it, no descendant of Man could save the world.
There was death everywhere – no community, no family, was free from its curse.
It was total pandemonium. Every man fought for himself, every woman for herself. The Creator’s laws were shunned, scorned, and trampled on as nothing but folly. No, man said, evil comes only from your surroundings, from outside – so what can you do about it but follow your passions? And truth? The only things that could be called ‘true’ were things that did not ask others to believe them.
The government ignored lawlessness. But to those who had law, who had an inner compass of morality, they gave all attention to – but in a way the followers of the Creator – now often contemptuously called “Halachites,” after the now ancient word for law, halacha – feared the most.
Oh, yes, the Halachites were pursued and captured, then treated like beasts, or worse yet, thrown to the beasts. They were laughed at in the market, suffered degrading remarks, and sometimes even withstood torture – all in the name of their Lord, God, and Creator – or, as the government justified it – in the name of peace and safety. “These people,” they said, “Are disruptive. They want you to believe what they believe, they say that you’re bad people, and that you deserve to suffer for it, and that a God – who does not exist – will forever separate you from Him.” The crowd would cheer and laugh in agreement.
The drums stopped their persistent drum roll, and the villagers breathed sighs of relief and went back to their work. Would they ever learn to ignore the head-pounding sound of the drums? Would it ever stop? Surely the people weren’t as bad as they were made out to be! A little torture, cut of an arm here, a toe there, yes, but this? Surely there was no need!
Yet the killing continued. The streets of cities and even the villages were filled with lonely orphans. The city walls were stained with blood, and the dead were buried in large, unmarked mounds.
The people were as blind as they could get – all voices opposing the government were silenced, and the rest were brainwashed with speeches. “Friend,” the officials would say, “do what’s best for your kingdom! Turn in those who would tear these city walls down with their own hands and make you follow rules you do not want to follow!” The citizens would nod and go on their way.
The followers of the Creator struggled to survive, clinging to promises of hope, trusting in their Faith. They longed for the day that the Creator would bring them to Himself. Very few remained loyal to the Creator. Many of His previous followers fell into the traps of the government, while their comrades proclaimed these laws to be from Daron. Most of the “Halachites,” for longing to get rid of that name, and be free from persecution, nodded in agreement with the government and left the Laws of the Creator to follow Daron out of fear. But fear is the antonym of trust, and those who trusted the Creator did not fear, but were filled with the Creator’s perfect love.
Yet families hid, deep in the forests. The forests were the last havens in Ladylan, perhaps even Edaled, but they were quickly disappearing as the cities spread. Under the darkness of night, a small family slipped through the gates of Rakeyna. It was Caithlin and Timothy. Each held the hand of a young child. Kianna, their only daughter, was now eight, Jeffrey, six, and Liam, two. Only a few days before, Caithlin had found out she was bearing their fourth child.
“We must leave for the forests,” Timothy had said the night before. They had attended the meeting that day, only to find the Worship Hall boarded up, with a decree from the king that the “Halachites” were forbidden to meet.
Caithlin nodded dumbly, too afraid to speak.
“We’ll see Keegan and Archie,” Timothy said, trying to encourage her.
“But at what cost? Our freedom?”
“No, Caithlin. They think they bind us up, but they are the ones who have no freedom.”
Now they walked stealthily under the thick arch. Kianna rubbed her eyes sleepily and yawned.
“Mama,” she started to say, but Timothy quickly knelt down next to her and put a finger to her lips.
“Shh… mama and I cannot talk to you right now. You must be as quiet as can be. Liam, Jeffrey, you too.”
The children nodded.
“Here, climb on my back.” Timothy turned and Kianna scrambled onto his back. She laid her head on his shoulder. “Quickly now,” he told Caithlin. They continued walking, finally outside the city walls. Caithlin breathed a sigh of relief, but they were not yet out of danger.
Wearily, the little family trudged on through the night. As the sun began to rise, they saw the forest in the distance. Suddenly an arrow whizzed through the air. Kianna screamed, and Timothy set her on the ground.
“Caithlin, take them and run,” he commanded. “Don’t stop until you’re safely inside the forest. I’ll follow behind you, but don’t look back!”
Caithlin gulped. “I love you.”
“I love you, Caithlin. Now go!”
They started running. “Is daddy coming?” Jeffrey wondered.
“Don’t worry about daddy, Jeffrey.” Caithlin said.
“But I want to know!”
Caithlin ignored her son, and they kept running, Liam pressed close to her body. It took all of her strength not to look behind her as they journeyed onward. She thought she heard footsteps behind them for a time, but then thought it was her imagination. Just as they reached the forest there was a rustling in the trees, and another arrow flew from someone’s bow. Caithlin stumbled, but continued her sprint, pulling Kianna and Jeffrey after her. Then she slumped to the ground, safely inside the forest. Kianna called her mother’s name, but Caithlin did not reply.
And so Kianna wailed until Jeffrey and Liam came close to her, and then they slept.
Caithlin felt strong, gentle arms lifting her and carefully carrying her towards something warm. Drifting in and out of delirium, she glanced around to see a burning fire and two rangers helping her settle down on a blanket. She shivered slightly from fever, and a calloused but gentle hand covered her forehead.
“Herbs, Archie.” A voice said. “Quickly.”
A cool feeling spread across her forehead, causing her to relax momentarily. Then a hand gripped her shoulder, and she felt pain searing through her upper body. Shakily, Caithlin stretched her hand up and grabbed the wrist of the man holding her shoulder. Some of the skin had no hair on it, as if the person had been branded. Keegan? Caithlin wondered.
He spoke kindly to her, saying “You’ve been shot in your shoulder. We have to take the arrow out before it does too much damage.”
A second hand, stronger and thinner reached across and pried her fingers off of his wrist. “Grip my hand.”
She gritted her teeth and held tightly to the second hand, trying to pull away from the other man as he yanked the arrow out. Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes, and a slight cry of pain escaped her lips. Cold sweat ran down her neck and broke out on her hands.
Archie squeezed her hand gently. “Keegan knows what he’s doing. You’re in good hands.”
It is them! “Jeffrey? Kianna? Liam?” She asked weakly.
“Safe,” Keegan said, reaching for more of the medicine.
Caithlin lapsed into darkness, fever taking her into a fitful sleep.
Archie sat back on his heels as Caithlin released his hand. “What do you think?” He asked Keegan hopefully.
Keegan shook his head. He looked over to where the children were sleeping. “I fear those three are orphans now, unless Timothy is nearby.”
“I can ask in Rakeyna tomorrow.”
Again, Keegan shook his head. “It’s getting to dangerous, Archie, and you know it. The villagers hate followers of the Creator, and they know we are numbered among those who would stand to the death for their Lord.”
“Then where can we go?” Archie asked.
“The sea is the only safe place. Our comrades here have escaped from Ladylan, Aquis, Sealyn, Byshan, Stargonia, Cathonys… all of them. Archie, we have to face reality. The world as we wish to know it no longer exists. The legacy of our fathers has deteriorated into nothing.”
Archie glanced at the babes. “Aye. We have to protect them. For her sake.” He nodded to Caithlin. “But where do we get a ship?”
“I don’t know, Archie, I don’t know.”
Both men sat in silence, watching the fire, then looking at the orphaned and widowed who needed their aid.
“Oh, God,” Archie breathed. “What is Your world coming to? Where Your children are left orphaned in the world, without a place to call home, without a safe place…” Sobs racked his body as tears streamed down his face. “And death, so much death… you saved us before – twice, before, we relied upon you and You rescued us! How much longer? All this devastation – O, Lord, how it hurts! How it hurts…” Archie rocked back and forth, his sobs growing louder. “How long, Oh Lord?”
“Papa?” Jeffrey murmured in his sleep.
Archie looked up from the fire and glanced at Keegan, who apparently was sleeping. The young man rushed to the boy’s side.
“Papa!” He called again.
Archie laid a hand on the boy’s shoulder, searching for words. “I don’t know where your papa is, lad.”
Jeffrey started, then squinted at Archie. “Who are you?”
“Archibald, previously second lieutenant in the army of Ladylan. Don’t you remember me?”
The boy shook his head. “What do I call you, sir?”
“Mr. Archie will do for now, lad. You’re Jeffrey, are you not?”
Archie nodded. “Uh… Jeffrey, do you know where your father is?”
“He stayed behind, outside the forest… or he came in, I don’t know, he told us to run and not look back.”
Archie looked down at the young boy, and a tear slipped down his cheek.
“She’s by the fire, resting,” Archie pointed to the still form of Caithlin.
“Can I see her?” He asked hopefully.
Archie sat down next to Jeffrey so he could look him in the eye.
“I cannot lie to you, Jeffrey. You lost your father last night, and oh, how it tears me apart to tell you this, but I fear your mother will not live.”
“Then what will happen to Kianna, Liam, and me?”
“Keegan and I will take care of you.”
“Daddy said the forests were the only safe place left, Mr. Archie.” Jeffrey closed his eyes. “But he died here, and mama will, too.”
Oh God, Archie prayed. Why this child?
Because he is mine, and I have great plans for him.
But so young!
You do not understand my ways, Archie. For you cannot see my perfect plan.
More tears fell from Archie’s eyes, and he turned toward the shadows to hid them from Jeffrey. “Aye. The forest was the last safe place on land.” He looked up at the sky longingly. “We must journey to the sea.”
Keegan woke early in the morning. He looked around the campsite. Caithlin was lying still by the fire. Her stomach no longer rose and fell as she breathed. His gaze continued to move until he saw Archie, his back against a tree, the boy asleep on his lap. Archie looked up questioningly.
Keegan shook his head. Archie lowered his eyes to Jeffrey, then glanced down at Kianna, who slept near Jeffrey’s feet with Liam in her arms. Keegan came nearer to talk to Archie.
“We have to leave.”
“Not to the sea.”
“We don’t need to go that far yet. The islands off of Aquis. We can go there.”
“So close to Sealyn, and Daron.”
“It’s safer than anywhere else. And we can have the boat always ready in case we have to leave. It’s better for them, too.” Archie said, motioning to the children. “Going to the sea feels like retreating, not gaining ground for the Creator.”
“We may have to retreat sometime, even if only to recuperate and heal from wounds.”
“Aye. But that time is not now. We can grow and multiply on the islands, train people and send them forth to let the world know of the Creator’s love and free them from Daron’s traps. We can distribute the books we have copied so far.”
Keegan sighed. “You’re right, Archie. To the islands we shall go.”
Kianna woke at midday. Liam had been awake for a while, but had lain quietly next to Kianna, scared to move in this new place. Although Jeffrey and Kianna were comfortable with their old friends, Liam had never met them, and so considered them strangers. Kianna stood and quietly took him by the hand. Archie, Jeffrey, and Keegan were seated around the remains of the fire and were eating bread and cheese. Leading her little brother, Kianna walked toward them.
“Good morning, Kianna!” Keegan called.
The young girl scrutinized Keegan briefly, and then memories came flooding back. “Mr. Keegan!” She ran to his arms, leaving Liam staring uncertainly after her.
“How are you, child?” He asked.
Kianna thought before answering. “I don’t really know…” She said finally. Her blue eyes roamed the camp. “Where’s mama?”
“Your mama…” Keegan began, but did not have the heart to finish.
Archie swallowed hard. “Your mama died, Kianna.”
Kianna’s face fell. Her eyes filled with tears, and as she sobbed, Keegan held her close and rocked her back and forth. Jeffrey sat, unmoving, as he watched Kianna cry.
When Kianna lifted her tear-streaked face, she spoke in a shaky voice. “So what will happen to us?”
“You will stay with us. The Creator will take care of us all.” Archie reassured.
“Why does everyone have to die?” Jeffrey asked.
“Who die?” Liam wondered.
“Don’t tell him,” Kianna begged. “Please.”
“Not yet,” Keegan agreed.
“Come sit, Liam.” Kianna said. Liam toddled to her side, and joined her in Keegan’s lap.
“Why does everyone have to die?” Jeffrey repeated.
“Death came into this world when Nathan sinned, Jeffrey.”
“I know that!” He pursed his lips. “But why does everyone I know have to die now?” He cried in frustration.
“I don’t know,” Archie replied. “I don’t know.”
“But we do know,” Keegan reminded, “That the Creator works all things together for the good of those who love Him and who are His children that He has called.”
“But what’s our good?” Kianna wondered. “I don’t see how this is good.”
“In Adan’s word, it says before that that our good is being conformed to the image of the Creator and His son, Adan. Trials do that to us, Kianna. They draw us closer to Him and make us more like Him.”
“Do you know how people purify gold?”
“They heat it up in fire – those are our trials – and then all of the impurities separate, so you have pure gold.”
“So the fire of all this is making me a better person?”
“Not a better person, Kianna. None of us are good people, we are all bad from the day we are born, bad and condemned to die were it not for the Creator’s amazing love in sending Adan. It is not you becoming better, but the Creator working in you.”
“I’m bad… and the Creator’s doing good in me.” Kianna clarified.
“It’s hard, Mr. Archie. It’s hard to go on… it’s hard to remember that.”
“The Creator will give you the strength you need.”
“I don’t want to be sad forever.”
“You don’t need to be.”
“But I can’t be happy anymore!”
“Not happy, joyful.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Happy is being glad because of what’s going on. Joyful is being glad even when everything says you should be sad, but because you remember that one day, you’ll be reunited with the Creator. That’s what you can take joy in – not people, but in the Lord and His love.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always, like mama used to say.”
“Indeed – rejoice in the Lord.”
Chapter Five: Journey to the Islands
Kianna took Jeffrey’s hand as he looked back at the land.
“Come, lad, let’s not be resentful,” Keegan said, gently pushing Jeffrey forward. Keegan held Liam gently in his arms. The little boy squirmed, wanting to walk on his own two feet.
“It’s an adventure, Jeffrey,” Archie smiled, trying to encourage Jeffrey. The boy gave the young man a weak smile back.
“An adventure to journey to the last safe place?” Jeffrey wondered aloud.
“Jeff, what do you…” Kianna started to ask. She knew that Rakeyna was dangerous, but she had thought that all of the other villages were safe. What’s this about a last safe place?
““Me down!” Liam shouted.
Archie glanced at Keegan, who took Kianna by the hand and led her aboard. Archie knelt next to Jeffrey. “Jeffrey, when you follow the Creator, life is always an adventure, wherever you journey to. Life is full of danger and risk, whether you’re in the safest place in the world or in the middle of a raging battle. Those who hate the Creator aim to kill us, wherever we are. I tell you this not to make you fear, not to make you hate, but to put your trust completely in the Creator. I cannot protect you and Kianna and Liam except with my own life. Past that, you are in the strong hands of the Creator.
“I know it’s hard, Jeffrey, but you need to be strong in knowing the ways of the Creator and teaching them to Liam. I need you to be brave for him and Kianna, and to love them.”
Jeffrey shuddered. “I’m scared to love them, Mr. Archie. Everyone else I’ve loved has been taken away.”
“Aye, they have, haven’t they?” Archie searched Jeffrey’s face. “But did you know that those who trust in the Creator will one day be reunited at His throne?”
“So if I trust in the Creator… someday I’ll see mama and daddy again?”
“Aye, lad. But don’t let that be the only reason you follow His laws.”
“No, sir, it’s because of His love for me and because He’ll someday come to make us free from darkness and rescue us so we can be with Him.”
“Good lad. Now, shall we go aboard the ship?”
Jeffrey nodded and let Archie pick him up and carry him up the loading ramp. There were twenty people on board, mostly grown men, but there were a few women and one other child. All of the passengers had been hiding in the forest, some for years, others only for days.
“Come with me, Jeffrey,” Archie said, setting the boy down on the deck of the ship. “I’ll teach you how to tie knots to keep things from slipping.”
Jeffrey’s face lit up. “Really, Mr. Archie?”
Archie nodded. “Aye, really. Now, come. We’ll be at sea for a week, and then we’ll get to the islands.”
“Down south of Minarea. Come aboard and I’ll show you on the map. I’ll teach you how to navigate while we sail.”
“Can I climb up the ropes to the top?”
“The ropes are called rigging. We’ll see. You’re a bit young to go all the way up, but I might be able to help you go part way up.”
“Can Kianna climb up, too?”
They were now on the deck of the ship. Jeffrey looked up, wide-eyed, surveying the masts, rigging, and sails. His mouth formed a small circle, and he stepped away from Archie, moving in a daze.
“Whoa,” was all that he said.
“It’s pretty neat, isn’t it?” Archie smiled down at the boy.
“Yes, Mr. Archie.”
“It’s going to take us somewhere neat, too, and away from the mess Ladylan is in.”
“Why what happened to your parents happened.”
“Oh. That mess.” Jeffrey pulled on a rope curiously. “But there won’t be any messes on the Islands, right?”
“Not like that, at least not yet.”
“What do we do if a mess does come to the islands?”
“I don’t know.”
“Mama used to say ‘we’ll get there when we get there’ when we were walking places. Is that what it’s like?”
“Yes, Jeffrey.” Archie took a deep breath and ran his hand over the railing of the ship. He was so thankful they had found this ship, and that it hadn’t cost too much to buy. Well, ‘not too much’ was a relative price, as ships will always be expensive.
The name of the ship had been ‘The Dragon,’ but Keegan had shuddered when he heard the name – after all, Daron was a dragon. After he and Archie painted over the name, they spent time praying that the Creator would remove any grasp Daron might have on the ship and replace it with blessing. They then named the ship ‘Jubilee.’
“For the joy set before us, even in times like these,” Keegan said as he painted the last stroke.
“It’s a good name,” Archie had said.
Now they were setting off for the islands – hopefully a place of refuge, at least for a little while. In the past two years, Keegan, Archie, and the small group of others hiding in the woods had gotten two score copies of Adan’s words made. They carried these on board the ship, as well as copies of the Creator’s Law, both copied by them and others. The Creator’s followers found daily refuge in both of these. His promises were many, and they knew that He kept them as well as bestowing many other blessings. Thirty or so other followers of the Creator joined them on board the ship, fleeing from Ladylan and other places like Archie and Keegan.
A few hours after boarding, the Jubilee was underway for her first voyage as a vessel in the Creator’s service.
Dinner that night was served on the deck of the ship. The three women of the group had cooked, and would continue to share the duties of cooking, laundry, and some of the cleaning, while the men devoted themselves to copying the Adan’s words, or as they often said ‘the Word.’ Keegan was the ‘captain’ of the ship, Archie the ‘first mate’, and everyone else helped out where they could – very few of the men had any experience on ships. But some could tie knots, others knew how to navigate by the stars, still others were carpenters or could climb the rigging quickly. There were thirty adults on the ship altogether – seven women, all married, and then twenty men. Kianna, Jeffrey, and Liam were the only children on board.
As the women dished up the stew, the men laughed and joked. They were very grateful to the Creator that the ship had been provided for, and then that they were able to get an ample supply of food and water. Archie had some maps with him from the army, and Keegan had some others, as well as nautical tools. Once the food had been served, Keegan stood.
“Let us thank the Creator for His provision!”
“Aye!” Everyone bowed their heads in prayer.
“O Creator God, thank you for your hand of blessing on this mission. We thank you for providing food, a means of transportation, and all of the skills that we need. We thank you for this meal, and the hands that prepared it. Lord, help us to use this ship and all of our talents for Your glory as we seek to serve You. We ask that You would guide us as we travel, and use us to free many from the traps of Daron. For your glory alone do we ask these things.”
“Amen!” Everyone said together.
Then, from little Liam, “Let’s eat!”
Laughter and cheers followed, and soon the ship grew quiet as people ate. After he finished eating, Archie walked around with a sheet of paper and assigned men watches and chores around the ship. Once finished, he sat down by Jeffrey.
“And you, little fellow,” He ran his fingers through Jeffrey’s brown curls. “Will be on watch with me.”
Jeffrey shoved another spoonful of stew into his mouth, chewing thoughtfully. After he swallowed, the boy looked up at Archie. “What are we watching for?”
“For now, we will watch for other ships, storms, or anything that’s not normally there in the water. But as we get closer to the islands, guess what we’ll look for?”
“How long will it be, Mr. Archie?”
“About a week, if all goes well.”
“You said you were going to show me on the map where we were going.”
“Well, you and I have first watch after dawn. What do you say that you, Kianna, and Liam meet me in Captain Keegan’s quarters after that, and I’ll give you some lessons.”
“You’ll be our teacher?”
“Yes, in some ways. I can’t teach you everything, but we all have things to learn from each other. If we go on a longer voyage, we should have everyone teach everyone else something.”
“Aye! We could do it on the islands, couldn’t we?”
“Of course! I will suggest it to Captain Keegan.”
Jeffrey nodded, and gulped down the remains of his stew. “Mmm, that was good food!”
“Are you complaining about my cooking?”
Jeffrey shook his head quickly. Although the women often cooked when they lived in the forest, some nights each family or smaller group would cook for themselves. When this happened, Archie would cook for himself, Keegan, and the children. Soon after dinner Keegan read from both the Creator’s Law and Adan’s Words.
“Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Keegan read. Then closing the Law, he spoke. “As we set out, in some ways to start over, we should ask that the Creator show us our hidden faults, that we may seek forgiveness from them. We cannot be perfect, but with His help in keeping us back from sins, we shall be blameless.”
“What’s blame…l…blame… le…” Jeffrey wondered.
“Without sin, innocent, spotless. Forgiven and saved by the Creator.”
Jeffrey nodded, and Keegan went on.
“Some of you have asked why we are going to the islands. The Creator has led us to go there, is the primary reason. Although the people on the islands are still trapped in Daron’s snares, they are less set in their wicked ways than the people of Ladylan, who have heard the Truth and whose hearts have been hardened against the Creator. Before He returned to His Father, Adan commanded us thus:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all kingdoms in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Keegan raised his eyes from the page. “We go to make disciples, in the name of the Creator, and Adan, and the Spirit which He has left with us that we may not forget, and who will aid us in our hours of need. We must teach them all that He has commanded us – then the Creator will be with us until the end.”
Jeffrey rubbed his eyes and leaned his head against Archie. “How much longer?”
“We just got started, Jeffrey,” Archie said. He pointed to the hourglass. “See that?”
“After we flip it the fourth time, we can go. Kianna and Liam will meet us in the Captain’s cabin.”
The boy squinted up at his friend. “Four more times?”
“You’ll get used to it, lad. Four hours isn’t as long as it seems.”
“What do we do for four hours?”
“I don’t know, what do you want to do?”
“I want to climb up to the top!”
“We can’t do that on our watch.”
“Can we later?”
“Aye, after breakfast.”
Jeffrey jumped up from where he was sitting by Archie and cheered. “I’m goin’ up the ropes, I’m goin’ up the ropes! Can I tell Kianna?”
“Not yet, lad. We must stay here on watch. Here, I have an idea. Come sit with your back against mine, so you’re looking the other way. That way we can see more.”
Jeffrey agreed, and soon he sat, resting his back against Archie’s. He sighed contentedly.
“But don’t fall asleep back there!” laughed Archie.
Holding back a yawn, Jeffrey replied, “Don’t worry, I won’t.”
A few minutes later he spoke again. “Mr. Archie, guess if my eyes are opened or closed?”
“Wide open, because you’re supposed to stay wide awake!”
Jeffrey peeked around and looked up at Archie. “How’d you know?”
“Because a sailor on watch should always be alert!”
“How do you know so much about ships, Mr. Archie?”
“My father built ships. He had a little boat of his own that he would take us out sailing in sometimes. But I joined the army instead of following in my father’s footsteps. Sometimes I regret that.”
“But if you’d stayed with your dad, you wouldn’t have ever met me!”
“That’s true, Jeffrey. I’m very glad to have met you.”
Jeffrey turned his gaze back to the sea. “There’s nothin’ to watch for, Mr. Archie,” he said after a few minutes. “Nothin’s out there. Just water forever.”
“Yes, but watch out in case something other than water comes up!”
“Oh, a shark, or a sea monster…”
“Sea monster?! There are sea monsters out here?” Jeffrey flipped back around and stared up at Archie in disbelief. “I thought sea monsters were just stories!”
“No, they’re real. But they serve Daron, and are like him in shape.”
Jeffrey’s eyes grew wide. “Like dragons?”
“I hope we don’t see one, I’d be so scared if we did!”
“Even if one does show up, we’ll be alright.” Archie comforted.
“Because the Creator protects His children. He won’t let anything happen to them that He hasn’t planned.”
“So why did mama and daddy die?”
Archie gazed far out on the sea. “Because their death took them to be with the Creator, in a place better than this. Someday we’ll be there.”
“You’ll probably beat me there.” Jeffrey said, sighing.
“Because you’re old.”
Archie laughed. “I’m old?”
“I’m barely twenty, lad!”
“That’s…” Jeffrey held his hands out in front of him. “That’s more than this!” He said.
“Well how old are you?”
“Six. And Liam’s 2, and Kianna’s 8.”
“Soon Kianna will be old, then, too.”
“Aye. She’ll be real old soon.”
Archie laughed. “See anything over on your side yet?”
Jeffrey looked behind him quickly. “Nothin’.”
“Well, keep watching.”
Jeffrey returned to his watch and watched the waves quietly. After a while Archie looked around at him to see that the boy was fast asleep. Chuckling to himself, Archie watched as people began waking up and milling about the ship. He sat quietly with his thoughts, half-thinking, half-praying as time went on. Just as their watch was ending, Archie woke Jeffrey. Yawning, Jeffrey stretched and rubbed his eyes.
“Is our watch almost done, Mr. Archie?”
“Aye, we only have a few minutes left.”
“Is there anything new over there?”
Jeffrey shook his head. Then he rubbed his eyes. “Mr. Archie, what’s that?” He pointed to something moving through the water.
Archie turned around, looking closely to where Jeffrey pointed.
“O Creator, protect us!” Archie breathed.
“What is it?” Jeffrey asked again.
Archie stood, picking Jeffrey up. “Everyone get below!” He shouted.
“What is it?” Jeffrey struggled to get free.
“It’s a sea monster,” Archie replied, without lowering his voice.
There was a mad rush to get below decks. Archie handed Jeffrey to Kianna, then ran to find Keegan.
Keegan looked up as Archie burst into his cabin.
“Keegan, Captain, sir…” he blurted.
“What is it?”
“Sea monster,” was all that Archie could say. Keegan ran to the window.
“O God, we ask your hand of protection!”
“What do we do?” Archie asked weakly.
Keegan shook his head. “I don’t know… we have no weapons to speak of.”
At that moment, the sea monster raised its head out of the water. Its neck was covered in silvery scales, blue-green as they reflected in the water. His head was similar, but the scales were bigger and overlapped more tightly together. Nostrils flaring, he opened his mouth wide, revealing many sets of huge teeth. The sea monster’s black eyes glinted maliciously, and he roared, then plunged beneath the surface of the sea.
Archie looked at Keegan. He raised his eyebrows in worried question.
“Let’s get below.”
“What can we do?”
Keegan met Archie’s gaze firmly. “Pray.” was all that he said, then opened the door.