Callie walked swiftly down the muddy ally, feeling the water splash around her black rubber boots. She hurried across the cobblestones, almost running into a iron lamppost that sprung out of the gloomy mist.
Once she hit the park, she started to run, but it was no use. Time was running out, and if she didn’t destroy the crystal on time-
Everything would be gone.
Her breath came in ragged gasps, but she kept running. She could hear her pursuer’s foot beats behind her in the fog, getting louder, and louder. Out of nowhere she saw a small horse tied to the lamppost in front of an inn, so she leaped upon it and clapped her heels to it’s sides, leaning low upon it’s mane like she had as a young girl, racing across the plains with her brother.
She had to save him, to save all of them. A muffled neigh behind her told her that her pursuer had also found a horse, and was still coming. Callie swiftly jerked her horse’s head around, and headed up a new street, the one that lead to the city square, where a fire burned, day an night. Or at least one had. Callie only hoped that a few ashes still smoldered, so that she might destroy the cause of all this pain.
She reached into her shirt and pulled out the necklace that had hung at her neck ever since she was a babe, left at the orphanage with her brother Corin. The necklace bore a single jewel, a small, glowing purple gem. She shoved it back in her shirt, and forced the small horse faster. She had to make it. She had to.
Finally, the dark streets gave way to a silent and gloomy opening, stripped of all life and love. In the center stood a huge stone basin, heaped with ashes and charred logs. Callie jumped off the horse and ran to the basin, her cloak flying behind her. She jumped on top of it and began to frantically searched the old ashes for a single, smoldering coal. But there was none. She dug and dug till her hands were black, and her white shirt grey.
The sound of hoof beats forced her to look up, and there, riding through the mist, was her pursuer.
He wore a black cloak that almost dragged on the ground when he walked, and a mask covered that covered half his face, from the nose down. Suddenly, he jumped off the horse, and strode quickly toward her.
Callie’s heart was beating at a million miles per hour, and she stood, drawing her short sword. “Stay back!” She challenged, her voice quivering. “Stay back or I’ll hurt you.”
The cloaked man laughed. “You’ll hurt me? With what? That toy?” He reached out his hand, and the sword flew from her grasp.
Callie felt a desire to run for the sword, but she knew it was not her own thought, but the jewel’s. The jewel wanted violence, the jewel wanted pain. It wanted her to try and keep it for her own. It wanted to destroy all love in the world.
That was it! Love! Love could heal, love could give, love could stop the pain! Love! Callie realized that love was the only weapon she had left, but it was the greatest of them all. She jumped down from the basin and reached into her shirt, drawing out the jewel. “Love,” she whispered.
The whole world shook, and the jewel’s glowing light grew brighter. Callie was thrown to the ground, along with the man in black as the earth convulsed and heaved beneath them.
“Love!” She yelled, this holding the jewel. Love, she thought. I love Corin. I love my mother, even though I never met her. I love my father, even though I never seen him. Love. I love Maggie, my friend, and she loves me. Corin loves me.
And God loves me.
The man in black rose to his knees, grasping a pillar of rock. “No one loves you,” he hissed. “There is no such thing as love. There is only pain, and darkness.”
Callie lifted her head from the cobblestones to look at him. “No,” she said, her voice barely more than a whisper. “No. There is still love. My brother Corin loves me. My friend Maggie loves me. My mother, even though she had only a few moments with me, she loves me. So does my father. And I love them. I love Corin, and Maggie, and my mother, father, I even love Nora and Cody, though they always bullied me.” Her voice rose with anticipation, and she looked him right in the eye. “I even love you, though you kidnapped my brother, and have chased me all over the country!”
“No,” the man gasped. “No, you don’t.” He seemed desperate. “You’re just saying that.”
“I do.” Callie replied firmly. The jewel’s light grew white and intense, as if it were going to break any second. “And,” she added loudly, “God loves us all!”
The earth shook so hard that Callie lost her grip on the jewel, and it rolled away. She fell to the ground, the man coming with her. “GOD LOVES US!” She screamed. “GOD LOVES US!”
The earth gave a giant heave, and everything went black.
When Callie opened her eyes again, everything was white. The stones were white. The buildings were white. Even the sky was white. Slowly, her eyes adjusted and everything went back to normal. Sort of.
The dreary fog was gone, the mud was gone, the sky was blue, and the sun shone brightly. All that seemed out of the ordinary was the 17-or-18 year old boy wearing a black cloak, laying on the ground a little ways away.
Wait. Where was the jewel? Callie searched all over, but all she could find was the silver chain that had held it. The jewel was gone. Happiness overwhelming her, Callie closed her eyes and said quietly, “Thank you, Jesus.”
She ran over to the boy and woke him up, the birds singing happily over her head. “Hello?”
He groaned and turned over. “Wh-where am I?”
“You’re here. Remember? You were chasing me, and the ground started to shake….”
He stood up and threw off the dark cloak, shivering as is fell to the ground. “I-I guess so. It’s just that I don’t want to. Everything was so, so dark.” He turned to her. “What happened?”
“The jewel was destroyed.”She answered. “Love has come back.”
He rubbed his face as if he were washing it, washing away memories. “Yes. I remember that. You yelled something, and then the world went black.”
Callie nodded. “I said God loves us.”
He nodded back. “Yes. Yes you did.” He whistled, and a tall brown horse appeared out of nowhere. “Umber!” He said, stroking the horse’s neck.
“Is that your name?” Callie asked.
He shook his head. “I’m-I’m Arod. At least I think I am.”
“Arod. I like it.” Callie said. She hesitated, but went on. “Um…do you, uh, know anyone named Corin?”
“I had a friend named Corin. Back there.”
“Do you know where he is now?” She pushed.
“Last I heard, he was sent to Dath, the next city over. Why?”
“He’s my brother.”
Arod turned to face her. “Really? He never said-” He shook his head. “He probably couldn’t remember, same as me.”
“Well, do you think you could find him?” She asked.
“Great. Then let’s get going.”
“What?” Arod replied. “Get going?” He turned to the east, the direction in which Dath lay. “No. I–I can’t go back into that. Never.”
Callie groaned. Why couldn’t anything work out her way? “Please?” She tried.
He shook his head. “Everything there is darkness. Blackness so thick, it–it seems to swallow you. It’s like walking through black water, the darkness is so thick.” He stopped, but went on bitterly, “They said there was nothing but the darkness. No light, no hope, and……..no God.”
Callie grabbed his arm desperation, and told him, “They lied. There is light, there is hope. And there is always God. Always. Even in the darkest of places, he is there, protecting us, guiding us, helping us.” She looked him right in the eye. “We can do it.” She pointed to the east. “There are still hundreds of men and woman, children, out there, who believe as you did! We can save them. We have to save them!”
Arod turned away, shaking his head. “It’s to late. The darkness is to strong.”
“No!” Callie cried. “The jewel is destroyed.” She held up the empty chain. “We can win! We can turn them back!”
Arod whirled around, staring at the empty chain. “H–how?”
“Love.” She whispered hoarsely. “Love can break the chain. Love can bring us hope again.”
“The prophesy.” Arod breathed. He suddenly jumped up onto Umber, and reached down a hand. “Let’s go then.”
Callie smiled, and jumped up behind him.
To be continued……