Natara Chapter 1

My name is Natara, and I am a strong, faithful woman from an ancient American civilization. We lived before the coming of Jesus. I tell you my story to help you understand the deception of the adversary and how easy it is to become ensnared in his lair. I hope to show how the grace, mercy, and redeeming power of Jesus Christ can reach even the vilest of sinners, as I once was.

I was the oldest of six children. I had two younger sisters and three younger brothers. At the beginning of my story, I was sixteen years old, Hurin was thirteen months younger than I, Mate was ten, Nalaia seven, Nipten four, and Patal two. My parents, Samuel and Natania, were strong and faithful in their beliefs of Jesus and knew of and prepared for his coming. They were some of the most faithful people I knew, which was unusual during the time I lived since most of the people around us increasingly became more and more wicked. We struggled to stay strong, courageous, and righteous with so much wickedness abounding throughout the land.

We lived in a small village called Luten, which was about a two to three days’ journey from Dracova, where King Heth lived.

My parents deeply loved their children. We knew they loved us and we felt fortunate because some of our friends came from homes where they were not loved. They often requested to come to our house because of the love and peace they felt there. My parents accepted them and loved them but sometimes worried because of the possible negative influence they could have on us.

We read the scriptures together every day. If any of our friends were in our house when we read, we invited them to read with us. After reading, we always knelt in family prayer. We took turns praying, but I especially loved to hear my father pray. He prayed as if God were in the room with us and seemed to talk directly to him. His prayers were not long—just heartfelt and sincere—and he almost always paused a moment before ending his prayers, listening for an answer. Many times, he told us the inspirations he received. Miraculous answers came, directions and inspiration flowed freely. After our prayer, we came together for a big group hug. Father sometimes wrestled us, gave us rides on his back, played with us, and made us laugh. It was a joyous time and we loved being together. We felt like our home was a place of safety and peace in the midst of tribulation.

My father was not one of the prophets, but he could have been because of the strong connection he shared with God. He was one of the leaders in our synagogue. Because of that, he met with many of the prophets often, including his father—my grandfather. He loved to learn from them and felt grateful they respected him and the revelations he received. After spending time with the prophets, he shared many of their teachings with us. These were some of my favorite times; I loved learning what the prophets taught, especially during this time of growing wickedness.

My mother also had a strong connection to God. She carried a peace and calmness about her I did not see from any other woman; she also received direct inspiration and revelation from God. I learned much from watching my parents work together in equality. My father highly respected my mother and regarded her opinions and revelations seriously. He adored my mother and always treated her with the highest admiration and regard. I say that because we lived in an era when men abased and belittled women, treating them like objects to fulfill their lustful desires.

We lived close to my mother’s sister’s family, Jadira and her husband Arvid. They had four children, two girls and two boys. The oldest son, Kaleb, was almost one year older than I and was one of my best friends growing up. Our families enjoyed spending time together; love was imparted in abundance from both sets of parents. We stayed strong and faithful in our belief of the coming of Jesus.

I was always an exceptionally beautiful girl. I had long, golden-colored, wavy hair that all my friends envied. Both of my parents had light brown hair, but mine was lighter than anyone in our village or in the settlements around us. I had bright, deep-blue eyes and fair skin. As I developed from a girl’s body to that of a woman, I was envied by all the women since I was blessed with a perfectly shaped body and I was taller than most others. Not only did my hair color capture attention, but because of my physical beauty, men and boys of all ages stared at me. Because I felt extremely uncomfortable with so many men staring at me, I wore loose clothes that did not draw attention to my body. I loved being outside and still loved to run around outside and play with both girls and boys. I also enjoyed weaving, a skill my mother taught me. I wove beautiful linen and wool fabrics and even made clothes from the fabrics I wove.

During my sixteenth year, political pressures against my parents, especially my father, became great and almost unbearable. My father was a skilled carpenter and made beautiful wooden furniture. My mother was a highly skilled weaver, and her limited works were in great demand. Their products attracted many people all over the land who wanted their goods, but because they still believed in Jesus and would not join some of the groups promoting evil, they lost a significant amount of business. We always had enough to eat, but circumstances changed from being able to purchase just about anything from the marketplace to where we needed to be careful with what we spent. Our meals became more and more meager, but because of our animals and garden, my mother did her best to make delicious meals for us and we never felt deprived.

One day, my father came home and immediately grabbed Patal and held him close. He whispered something to my mother. I did not hear it, but when he whispered to her, she cried out in anguish, like a mother who just lost a child. I do not think I had ever seen my mother cry with so much anguish before. I had comforted my mother on several occasions when she went through extended periods of intense depression, but this was different, more intense. When she was in her sixth year, she had witnessed a tragic accident that had killed her mother. Her sister, Jadira, had just been a baby. Her father had died when she was about thirteen from a devasting illness. She had also lost two brothers in accidents she had witnessed, leaving her and Jadira as the only living members in her family. Because of these traumatic experiences, my mother was prone to deep and long-lasting sadness.

“What’s going on?” I asked, panic and distress palpable in my voice. My other siblings ran over to my parents to see what was happening.

“We need to kneel down in prayer,” my father insisted, his voice breaking and tears falling down his cheeks.

Now I was really panicked. I had never seen my father cry like this before. Tears gathered in my eyes and spilled over, running down my cheeks. My siblings also looked panicked and my four-year-old brother, Nipten, started crying out loud, not knowing what to think while watching our parents cry tears of sorrow.

I held Nipten while we knelt down right then and there and carefully listened to our father offer one of the most heartfelt and sincere prayers to God I had ever heard him pray. He prayed for Patal’s safety and for the safety of our entire family. My father spoke about evil men conspiring to silence all those who believed in Jesus and in the prophets. He prayed for inspiration and guidance to protect his family. After pausing for a few moments, he closed his prayer.

He immediately looked at my mother, who still had tears flowing down her cheeks. She nodded imperceptibly. My father looked at each of us and said, “I am going to take Patal to Grandfather Ranon and Grandmother Mika for a short time. Some bad men want to take him and sacrifice him. Grandfather and Grandmother will keep him safe.”

I screamed at the unexpected announcement. “No, you can’t take him!” I cried.

“Natara, this is the only way to keep Patal safe. Grandfather and Grandmother will take him to a secure place and watch over him until it is safe for Patal to come back home.”

“Why Patal?” I cried in disbelief. “Why do they want to take him? Why not me?”

I had a unique relationship with Patal. I had been with my mother when he was born and I thought he was the cutest baby—I had immediately fallen in love with him. My mother had become terribly sick shortly after his birth, so I became his primary caregiver for several months until my mother finally felt better. I fed him, cleaned him, was with him when he took his first steps. We possessed a strong bond that I knew existed before we came to this earth. Even before my mother fell ill, my parents noticed how Patal seemed to be drawn to me. Many times, I was the only one who could calm him. Patal was almost like my son, even though I knew he was really my baby brother. The thought of someone wanting to hurt him sickened me and brought tears to my eyes.

Father looked pained. He hesitated and then said, “Natara, I don’t know why someone wants to sacrifice Patal. I have asked that question over and over and I don’t understand it.”

Hurin questioned with intense fear and anxiety in her voice, “Are we safe? Will someone take us away?”

“I wish I had more answers. All I know is someone is threatening us by wanting to take Patal, and we need to get him to a safe and secure place,” responded my father.

“If they can’t find Patal, will they come for one of us?” Hurin asked with fear in her voice. Even though we were sisters, we looked completely different from each other. Her hair was long and dark, even darker than our parents’ hair, and her eyes were a light shade of chestnut brown. She was also beautiful and constantly had eyes turning to her and boys inquiring about her. Although she was younger than I, she possessed a maturity and common sense about her belying her age. Our entire family looked to her for peace and wisdom through adversity.

“I don’t know,” answered Father. “Our most immediate concern is to keep Patal is safe, then we’ll wait and see. We have to put our trust in God to keep us safe.”

Grandfather Ranon and Grandmother Mika were my father’s parents. Grandfather was one of the prophets, and his life had been threatened serval times for what he preached to the people. They had already prepared to leave at a moment’s notice because of continuous threats. With this new revelation, they were ready to go and take Patal with them.

My heart broke when Grandfather and Grandmother left with Patal. I cried for days and days and was utterly inconsolable. Father gave me a blessing, but I felt so far away from God. How could he take my baby brother away from me? I felt like a part of my heart was ripped away. My mother also cried for days, as one of her long-term periods of depression engulfed and overtook her.

I had heard rumors about child sacrifices, but it had never happened to anyone I knew. In fact, I started to think they were just rumors and not really happening; I could not understand why anyone would sacrifice a sweet, innocent child. Now the threat boldly and coldly infiltrated my family. How could this happen to us?

My cousin Kaleb knew of my distress and visited me often to try to console me. He reminded me of how beautiful I was and mentioned he heard other young men in the village express the desire to get to know me better. I knew Kaleb just tried to help me feel better, but unfortunately it did not work well.

* * *

A couple weeks after Patal left, I slowly walked on my favorite trail near the creek, feeling sadder than usual, when I heard Kaleb’s voice call my name. I stopped and waited for him to catch up to me and noticed a small linen-wrapped package in his hand. “Someone heard about what happened to Patal and wants to give you a gift to help cheer you. Open it.”

I took the package from his hand and opened it to find a beautiful, polished ruby in a gold mount and attached to a thin, light-brown leather strap to tie around my neck.

“Where did you get that?” I asked in astonishment while Kaleb tied the ruby necklace around my neck. It was one of the most beautiful necklaces I had ever seen and it even put a smile on my face.

“You have an admirer. He wanted me to give this gift to you.”

“Who?” I immediately asked, curiosity getting the best of me.

“I can’t tell you yet, but he wants to meet you and get to know you better.”

“You have to tell me who. I’m not going to go and meet just anyone.”

“He’s embarrassed,” Kaleb replied. “He thinks you’re one of the most beautiful girls he’s ever seen but is afraid you won’t like him.”

“Why? Does he have bumps all over his face?” I asked, smiling and almost laughing for the first time since Patal had left.

Kaleb put his arm around me and laughed. “It’s good to see you almost laugh. Actually, he’s quite handsome. I think you’ll like him.”

“Do I know him?”

“I can’t tell you that. I’ll come and get you tonight after the sun goes down and take you to him. He’s excited to be with you.”

I thought for a few moments while I took the necklace off and stared at the beautiful ruby and wondered who this person could be. I thought of all the boys I knew and could not think of anyone who would have enough money or trade value to purchase a ruby necklace. I was intrigued at the possibility of someone liking me and wanting to meet with me, but then I remembered all my parents’ warnings about meeting with boys I did not know. Something just did not feel right to me; I felt a strong uneasiness about the necklace that troubled me. I returned the necklace to Kaleb and said, “Sorry. I can’t do it. I need to know who he is. Tell him to come to my house if he really wants to meet with me.”

Kaleb reluctantly took the necklace back and insisted, “Natara, please come. You’ll like him. I promise. Having something good in your life will help take your mind off Patal. Come on, Natara.”

Kaleb was persistent, but I felt anxious again. “No, Kaleb. I need to get back home to help Mother with the evening meal.”

Kaleb walked with me to my house. “Natara, think about it. I’ll check back with you in a couple days. This person is good. Trust me. Okay?”

“I’ll think about it,” I hesitantly replied. Why did I feel so uneasy about this situation? I should be excited to have a secret admirer. Kaleb had been one of my best friends since I was a baby and I had always trusted him. Why did I feel I should not trust him now? He had always had my best interests in mind and watched over me like a big brother. He had even defended me a few months earlier when a couple of older boys had taunted me and acted like they were going to attack and defile me.

After dinner, Hurin anxiously took my arm and led me outside. “What are you doing?” I asked as she led me away from our house and to one of our favorite places to talk privately. “You gave me strange looks all through dinner.”

“I know how close you and Kaleb are, but you have to listen to me,” pled Hurin with some panic in her eyes. “I saw Kaleb talking to you and offering you something.”

“What? Were you spying on me?” I chastised in sudden and unexpected anger.

“No, I just happened to be close to where you were walking. But please listen to me. My friend, Perninah, informed me that Kaleb has been seen with Royan and others in his group.”

“No, I don’t believe it,” I answered in astonishment. “Kaleb’s good. He’s been one of my best friends since we were young—I’d know if he spent time with Royan.”

“Perninah said he sneaks out at night when his parents are asleep and meets with them. She said he’s using their mind-controlling herbs and also has a girlfriend,” confided Hurin, feeling regretful she had to be the one to inform her older sister.

“You’re wrong. I’d know if Kaleb had a girlfriend. I’m going to go and ask him about it right now and prove you wrong. I know he’s a believer and wouldn’t associate with any of the unbelievers. Especially Royan. He’s one of the worst.”

“Be careful, Natara. Their group is deceitful and I don’t want you to get hurt.”

I was incensed with Hurin’s news and knew it could not be right. I marched over to Kaleb’s house, knocked on the door, and his mother, Jadira, answered. “Hi, Natara. Come in. We’re just finishing our nightly scripture reading.”

“Thank you. I need to talk to Kaleb,” I answered, smiling at the family sitting in a circle with the opened scriptures in Arvid’s hands. Kaleb looked at me with a subtle gleam in his eyes. I hoped he did not think I was there to tell him I had changed my mind about the necklace.

After Arvid finished reading, Kaleb said their evening prayer. After the family group hug, which I was included in, Kaleb gently took my arm and told his parents, “We’re going outside for a few minutes.”

The sun was about to descend below the horizon and painted brilliant shades of orange, red, purple, and blue in the sky. We stood for a moment, looking at the magnificent sky. “Natara, are you ready to meet your admirer?”

“No. I just heard something about you, and I want you to tell me it’s not true.”

“What did you hear?” prompted Kaleb with a hint of mischievousness in his deep-blue eyes.

“I heard you’re hanging out with Royan and that you have a girlfriend. I don’t believe it and I want you to tell me you’re not hanging out with him,” I spat out in frustration.

“Who told you that?” asked Kaleb with a knowing amusement in his eyes.

“I don’t need to tell you who told me. I want to know the truth,” I challenged him, glaring into his eyes.

“Royan isn’t all bad. I don’t know how he gets his reputation, but he’s actually a nice guy. Maybe you should stop judging him and get to know him,” Kaleb said defensively, looking directly into my eyes.

I looked at Kaleb incredulously. “What? He’s not that bad? How can you say that? I hope he’s not the one who wants to get to know me.”

“No, it isn’t Royan, but really, Natara, he’s a great person,” argued Kaleb, but I was not about to believe anything he said about Royan. “You really should get to know him.”

“Kaleb, he’s despicable! He’s robbed, raped, plundered, and you say that isn’t bad? Remember the time he grabbed me with angry lust in his eyes? I had never been so afraid in my life until learning about Patel and my grandparents. What’s gotten into you?” I exploded, dreading the thought of my best friend heading down a path with the unbelievers—and not just unbelievers, but some of the worst. “Kaleb, you’re a good person. You have a great family. You read scriptures and pray with them and I just heard you say a beautiful prayer. You go to the synagogue each week. You’re a believer.”

“Natara, you may be a believer, but I haven’t believed in a long time. The stories about Jesus. That’s just the old people trying to control us. Sure, I join with my family during scriptures and prayers, and I attend the synagogue. I go through the motions because I don’t want my family to know. Natara, you can’t tell them. Promise me you won’t say anything to them.”

“I don’t know, Kaleb. I can’t believe with all that you and your family have experienced that you’ve lost your faith and belief in Jesus. You know he’s helped your family through many hard times.”

“I know that’s what you want to believe, but some of the so-called miracles we experienced were just coincidence. Natara, trust me. There isn’t a God. There is no Jesus who’s coming.”

“Kaleb! What are you saying? I heard you say yourself you knew God lived, and that wasn’t even too long ago.” Tears started to form in my eyes, concern for my beloved cousin and best friend becoming one of the unbelievers and associating with some of the worst of them. “Kaleb, please don’t go with them,” I pleaded.

“Natara, it’s okay. You’ll see. You’ll soon know for yourself that God isn’t real. The stories are all make-believe. The older people, our parents and grandparents, are controlling us and forcing us to live by their outdated commandments and rules. There’s more to life, Natara. More to experience. More to enjoy, without feeling confined and imprisoned by all the made-up rules!”

“Kaleb, I’ll always believe in God. I know he lives. I have felt him. I’ve seen him work miracles in my family,” I declared with boldness, staring Kaleb straight in the eyes. “And I know he brought your brother back to life.” Tears fell down my face as I walked away from my best friend. How could this happen to Kaleb? He was my rock. I knew he believed. What had happened? I felt so lost and confused.

Kaleb ran to me, grabbed my arm, turned me around, and passionately asked, “How could God allow Patal to be taken from you? If there really was a God, he wouldn’t have allowed Patal to be taken.”

I turned away from him and ran home, tears running down my face from the grief of the loss of my best friend. I finally slowed down to a walk and, thankfully, Kaleb did not follow me. I had to calm down before facing my family; I did not want them to know what was going on. It would break my parents’ hearts to know the truth about Kaleb. It was breaking my heart. What about his parents? They would be devastated. I needed to help Kaleb before he became even more involved with Royan and his group. I had to reawaken the belief I knew he had once had.

Hurin met me at the door, saw my face, and hugged me. “I’m sorry, Natara. I hoped it wasn’t true. Let’s go outside and talk.”

When we walked out the door, the brilliant colors from earlier had faded now that the sun was well below the horizon. We sat on a wooden bench our father had made and Hurin put her arm around me. I leaned into her for comfort and wiped the falling tears onto the back of my hand before blurting out, “I don’t understand! First they take Patal from me, and now Kaleb. I don’t know if my heart can handle this.”

“You’ll be okay. I’m here to help you through this,” Hurin comforted me, picking up a leaf from the ground and giving it to me to wipe my eyes and nose.

Mother came out and sat on the bench beside me, putting her arm around me. She looked at me and said, “I miss him too.” I knew she thought I was crying because Patal was gone; I could not tell her about Kaleb yet. Someday. I leaned into her and sobbed.

I stayed close to home for the next few days. I did not want to see Kaleb, I just wanted to be alone. I helped with chores and our animals and found some solace in weaving. I decided to weave a special and unique blanket for Patal when he came home.

* * *

One week after my talk with Kaleb, Beoman—my father’s brother—raced up to our house on his horse and, with a panicked look, quickly dismounted and ran to the door. I was outside with Nipten and fearfully asked, “What is it, Beoman?”

“Where’s your father?” he sharply asked, searching for my father.

“He’s inside. Go on in,” I nervously and fearfully replied, following him into the house.

“Samuel, where are you?”

My parents ran into the room. My father asked, “What is it?”

“Father, Mother, Patal,” wailed Beoman. “They’re dead!”

My mother collapsed into my father’s arms. Beoman grabbed me when I started to fall to the floor.

“What happened?” pleaded my father, anguish written all over his face.

Pointing to the benches and pillows in the room, Beoman said, “Sit down.”

Suddenly, my mother screamed the scream of a woman who has just learned her child is dead, loud enough so anyone close to the house would have heard her. Jadira, who happened to be outside, heard the scream and ran in. Seeing the torment on our faces, tears immediately flowed from her eyes. She went to my mother and held her close.

I wanted to get up and run, but I had to wait until I learned what had happened.

Beoman wiped his eyes with a cloth he took out of a pocket and solemnly stated, “Some men from Matin’s group found them. They defiled them, then killed them. I heard about it from someone else, so I went to their hiding place and found their bodies.”

I wailed, my mother screamed, my father cried. How could this be happening to our family? My dear Patal! I could not imagine anyone defiling him. My grandparents were good people. My grandfather was a great prophet. There was not a better man alive. How could God let this happen to my family?

Father slowly looked up to Beoman and hesitantly asked, “What about their bodies?”

Looking down and wiping away a new flood of tears, Beoman responded, “I buried what I could.”

I could not take anymore. I darted from the house, sobbing out loud. This was my brother, the one who I had raised, my joy, and now, gone. I ran down the road by my house toward the woods and the stream I loved to play in. I ran, a girl consumed with grief, my feelings utterly unbearable. It felt like my heart was going to burst in half.

When I reached the woods, I slowed down until I came to the path which led to my favorite place at the creek. I walked into the knee-high water and sat down on a rock that jetted out, letting the cool liquid flow around me. I wanted to flow with the water, give away the immense pain and grief tormenting my soul. I splashed my tear-stained face with water while my tears continued to flow.

I heard the sound of crunching leaves and looked up and saw Kaleb staring at me with concern etched into his face. He waded through the water, sat down on my rock, and put his arms around me and held me. It felt so good to feel the love and kindness of my best friend; I needed him. He was a healing balm of relief. No one else could have provided me the type of comfort Kaleb could give me. He stroked my hair and let me cry. I even felt tears come from his eyes. Kaleb was good. He had to have been mistaken about not believing in God. He was good. If he were not good, how could he comfort my broken heart?

“Natara,” he softly said, “I am so sorry. I know how much you’re hurting right now. I’ll stay with you as long as you need me.”

“Thank you, Kaleb,” I managed to whisper to him through my sobs. I splashed my face with water then looked at him, “How could anyone do that? Beoman said he buried what he could. What did they do to my Patal?”

We sat on the rock in comfortable silence for several minutes. Kaleb held me, rubbed my back, and stroked my hair while he let me cry. “We need to go back, Natara. Your family needs you and you need your family,” he consoled with sincere kindness. He stood up, smiled at me, and held out his hand for me to take and guided me to the bank of the creek. He tenderly put his arm around me while we walked on the trail toward home.

Before reaching the edge of the woods, Kylen, a young man who was just a few months older than Kaleb and someone we had played and worked with as children, walked toward us. I put my head down because I did not want anyone to see my face, especially Kylen. I had liked Kylen since I was a young girl, until I recently learned he might not be a believer anymore.

Kylen had shoulder-length light-brown hair with deep-blue eyes. He was taller than most men and, like me, was revered for his practically perfect body. Even at his young age, he already had a successful wood-working business, learning from his father who was a master craftsman. Almost all the girls in the village and surrounding villages wanted to be with him and get to know him.

His father, Noah, whom Kylen looked almost exactly like, was the leader of our village synagogue. His wife, Miriam, was a strikingly beautiful woman, well-known for her herbal healing remedies and her cooking abilities. I had spent a lot of time at Kylen’s house throughout the years, and he had spent a lot of time at my house. Our families were good friends, and we did many activities together. Although Noah and Miriam were slightly older than my parents, they carried a youthfulness about them and looked much younger than their actual years.

After my grandparents left with Patal, Noah had come to our home often. Sometimes Miriam would join him, bringing food and calming herbs to us, which we really appreciated. I was grateful for the food, since much of the cooking responsibility fell upon me because of my mother’s depression. However, Noah always seemed to look intensely at me, almost like he had lust in his eyes, which made me feel extremely uncomfortable. He had done this throughout my life, but recently it seemed more intense than before. I hoped that it was only my imagination, since he was our synagogue leader, until Hurin informed me she also noticed it. I determined to stay far away from him, but I found he came over often to see how we were doing. I attempted to avoid his visits unless Kylen was with him.

“What’s happening?” Kylen inquired, looking at me, then at Kaleb.

“Natara’s brother and grandparents were killed,” Kaleb replied matter-of-factly, dropping his arm from around my back to give Kylen a hug of greeting.

“I am so sorry, Natara.” Kylen immediately hugged me and held me close, my tears falling into his tunic. If I were not so consumed with grief, and if Kylen were still a believer, I may have really enjoyed the hug.

“We’re headed back to Natara’s house,” Kaleb explained, putting his arm back around me.

“Can I walk you back, Natara?” Kylen gently asked, wiping away tears falling from my eyes.

Kaleb answered for me, “Please do. I need to stop by my house.”

I felt embarrassed as I continued to cry with paralyzing grief and pain in my heart. I gave Kaleb a look that asked, “what are you doing?” He responded, “I’ll be at your home shortly. Kylen will walk you home.” Kylen put his strong arm around me and silently escorted me back to my house.

To read the rest of the book, you can purchase it here:

Thomas (Part 22)

(Note: This has not been edited, but I wanted to post it anyway for those of you who enjoyed his story and were unfortunately left hanging. It’s going to be interesting to see where this story goes!)

Thomas Part 1

Thomas Part 21

Thomas rode without talking as Helki continued to try to talk to him. Helki told Thomas that he could become his number two person if he wished. He would provide the most beautiful woman in the community for his pleasure. He also informed Thomas that he had a choice, he could willingly comply or they could poison him with mind-controlling herbs and he would want to comply. He reminded Thomas that the herbs were addictive and once he started the herbs, he would forever crave them and would not be able to function without them. Helki bragged how he found pleasure without the herbs and how important it was for him to always have a clear mind.

Thomas did not know what he was going to do. He silently prayed as he listened to Helki ramble on about his community. What did God want him to do? He did not want to comply. He still loved Nara and did not want to be unfaithful to her, and he was growing to love Maren and could see him having a life with her and Daniel. He loved her family and wanted to be a part of it. He had heard about the addictive herbs and that it was possible to overcome an addiction, but the withdrawal pains were severe and many gave up or killed themselves.

As they approached the community, Helki made the ultimate threat to Thomas, something he hoped that Helki would not do. Helki reminded him that he knew he had a new baby sister and if he did not cooperate, they would eventually take his parents and sister and bring them to the community and raise his as a pleasure slave. They would use his parents as slaves. Helki as said that he would bring Maren to the community; many men and women would love to find pleasure with her.

After hearing the threats to his family and to Maren, Thomas jumped off his horse and wanted to go after Helki, but as soon as he was on the ground, he was surrounded by Helki’s men and one stabbed a knife into his abdomen, not enough to injure any organs, but enough to cause pain and bleeding. Helki informed Thomas that he would be given a beautiful woman that night and if he did not please her, someone would go after his parents and sister. Helki grinned and ordered Thomas back on his horse.

Thomas tried to resist but received another knife wound in the back; not as bad as the first but knew he needed to get back on his horse to safe his life. His family’s life. Maren’s life.

Thomas continued to pray as he silently rode behind Helki, pleading inwardly to God to help him to know what to do. He did not want to defile himself, yet he had to save his family. He pleaded with God to protect his family. Even if they tried to leave their village, Helki had eyes everywhere and he would soon find out where they went. He prayed for protection for Maren and her family. He prayed for the king’s guards that they would be able to find him and help him escape.

After praying for most of the journey to the community, an overwhelming peace overcame Thomas and a word came to his mind: love. Love? He wondered what that meant. How was he to love? Who was he to love? He could not love someone he did not know and was not married to. Or, a different kind of love. Peace continued to settle over him so he knew that he had to trust the peace.

After traveling most of the day, they finally neared the community. Thomas was in awe of what had been done there in a few short years. A large thick wall that was about ten feet tall and several feet thick which was made of brick and other materials that Thomas was not sure of, surrounded acres and acres of land. He did not understand how a great wall that looked to be miles long was built in so short of time. He saw many structures inside, including a large pyramid shaped building which appeared to be made of some type of marble. There were many empty spaces and he wondered if more buildings would be built.

Outside the wall, fields of grain and a variety other crops as well as fields for animals dotted the landscape. He saw several men, women, and children working in the fields with what appeared to be taskmasters on large horses watching them. He watched as one woman fell to the ground and one of the taskmasters hit her with a stick until she slowly got up and started working again. Thomas’s heart fell as he saw the woman’s anguish and he wondered how anyone could treat another person like that. Helki told Thomas that they used slaves to build the wall and other buildings as well as to maintain their fields and animals. The slaves were expected to work and if they faltered in any way, they would be beaten. Thomas was speechless. He wanted to jump off his horse to lash out at Helki but knew that would only bring him additional pain and he knew he had to keep his right mind if he wanted to escape and possible help others. Love, that word came back to his mind.

As they neared the gates of the community, the setting sun’s brilliant colors filled the sky. Thomas wondered if the stunning sunset was a sign that God knew who he was and the trouble he was in. Three young men stood guard at the gates and Helki ordered one of them to find the healer and to meet him at his house. He informed Thomas that he did not want Thomas’s wounds to become infected, he had much work for him to do.

One of the guards grabbed the reins of Thomas’s horse and led him to Helki’s large house. It was definitely the largest building in the city, besides the pyramid structure. The guard helped Thomas down and pain shot through him from his knife wounds causing him to buckle to his knees. Helki laughed at him and reminded him that his wounds were not that deep and he would be okay.

A beautiful woman dressed in a deep red revealing tunic, walked over to Hermes and helped him stand up. She introduced herself as Leah and that she was one of the community’s healers. She helped walk Thomas to a room with a mattress that was on a wooden frame so it was off the floor. The room contained several small urns that Thomas wondered if they contained herbs. She helped him to lay down and then looked carefully at his wounds. She informed him that he was fortunate that the wounds were not any deeper. She took a small linen cloth and dipped it in a vase of water and cleaned the wounds as Thomas flinched from the pain. Next, she took some of the herbs from three different urns and mixed them together with a small amount of water, creating a poultice and placed them on the wounds, wrapping them in place with a long linen cloth. Leah informed Thomas that was a temporary poultice as he would take a warm healing bath later. Thomas questioned her about that and Leah assured him that the bath would greatly benefit him and his healing. She would stop by his room later to reapply the poultice.

Thomas wondered if Leah was the woman that Helki told him that he had to spend time with tonight. The thought came that she would be a beautiful woman to find pleasure with, but immediately thought of Nara and Maren and inwardly prayed for forgiveness for those thoughts. The word Love came back to his mind and he still did not know how he was supposed to love in this place.

Without warning, Leah suddenly laid down next to Thomas and began kissing him. He was shocked at the sudden passion and immediately pushed her away as he was certain that was not the type of love that the thought referred to. Leah expressed deep disappointment because she was extremely attracted to him. She told him that most of the women in the community, and many of the men, would want to find pleasure with him because of his well-shaped body. Thomas almost threw up at the thought of women and men wanting to use him. What kind of community did Helki have here? How was he going to get out before he got into trouble? Would he even make it out without being poisoned, or even alive?

After Leah left the room, Helki came in and sat on a chair next to where Thomas lay. He expressed his disappointment that Thomas turned down Leah, as she was one of the most beautiful women in the community, but he would have another chance with her in the morning. He reminded Thomas of what was expected of him that night and it was his choice if he was going to comply or not. Thomas wanted to kill Helki right then and there but knew it was futile. He did not like those feelings as they were hatred, not love.

Two of Helki’s men came into the room and helped Thomas up and walked him to another room in the house. This room had a large mattress on a wood frame like in the previous room. A large white marble bath with steam rising from the warm water was at the side of the room. Two young scantily dressed girls who looked to be about 16 years old were preparing the bath with flowers and scented oils. Both longingly looked at Thomas until Helki nodded to them to leave the room. The room sweetly scented room smelled like roses and something else which Thomas did not know and the scents momentarily eased Thomas’s heart. He hoped that Helki would also leave and allow Thomas to enjoy his bath alone.

Much to Thomas’s approval, Helki said that he was leaving Thomas for the night. With an ominous grin, he encouraged Thomas to enjoy his bath and to get good rest as he would have a busy day tomorrow. He also mentioned that guards would be posted outside his room all night so he should not try to leave and that he just needed to comply. The hairs on Thomas’s neck bristled at Helki’s words. What did he mean?

Shortly after Helki left, Thomas took off the herbal poultices and eased into the large hot bath, feeling the comfort of the scented water after a long hard day. After he had been in the bath for several minute, the door to his room opened and in walked the one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. She had long wavy light-colored hair and wore a deep purple silky robe. She smiled at Thomas as he looked for something to cover himself with and thought about the word Love.

Posting Again

It has been two years since I posted to the Jaredite Stories blog. It isn’t because I haven’t been writing, but needed to write Grace’s story about Hermes in detail. While writing that story, last January, I needed to stop to write a story about a girl named Natara that is now close to being finished. Now, I need to finish Grace’s story and other stories that are begging to be written.

This has been quite a journey as writing does not come naturally to me, but the stories come to my mind and I do my best to put the images into our language. I hope you enjoy these stories that may give some insight to the lives of the Jaredite and other ancient people.

Grace Part 5

Grace Part 1

Grace Part 2

Grace Part 3

Grace Part 4

Grace continued to dance. As a young girl, she begged her parents to take her to dance competitions and festivals so she could watch all the dancers. She learned quickly from watching other.

She first danced in a festival when she was seven years old. She danced with a few of her friends who were in her dance class. Because Grace had such natural beauty and an elegant form when she danced, a short solo was choreographed with the other dancers supporting her. She actually liked dancing with a group as it provided greater opportunity for creative expression. Pahana choreographed several of their dances and even at a young age, Grace worked with her father to create dazzling dances.

In addition to dancing, Grace loved to read especially stories. The city she lived in, Sacoa, had an enclosed building where books were kept. Anyone could go to read the books that were stored there.

The books were printed with a type of lithography created by a man named Eon soon after Jared, his brother and his families arrived in the promised land. It enabled many books to be efficiently published and distributed throughout the land. Authors, poets, musicians, as well as the prophets could easily and effectively distribute their stories, information, music, teachings, and prophecies to the people.

When not dancing, Grace spent hours at the book room engrossed in the books. She especially loved fictional stories and the stories about the history of her people. One of her favorite stories was the story of how Jared and his brother and their families traveled across the large waters to their land. Occasionally, she read informational books, but did not enjoy those quite as much, although she loved learning about the stars and planets.

Not only did she like to read, but she loved to imagine and write her own stories. Even as a young girl, she wrote short and simple stories and poems. She loved to dream about the old world where her ancestors came from. She envisioned an imaginary world that she fantasized about visiting. As she grew into her teen years, the stories about her imagined world became increasingly creative and complex, so much so, that Pahana and Rachel encouraged her to continue to write.

One story that Grace began visualizing when she was about 12 years old, was about a boy named Hermes, who controlled a large and ornery dragon, Rouvin. They lived in a large cave by themselves because Hermes was not allowed to be in the kingdom of Geccal. As a child, Hermes accidently fell into a fire which resulted in many grotesque looking scars on his face and upper body. Because of the severity of the scars, many in the kingdom feared Hermes, so they shunned him and exiled him from the kingdom. His family pled with the villagers to let him stay, but the people were unyielding. They even pled with the king and queen, hoping they would allow him to stay, but instead, they listened to the voices of the people in their kingdom.

Soon after Hermes left the kingdom, a wizard came to him and presented him with a large sapphire colored egg. The wizard instructed him to love the egg, take good care of it, and as Hermes did this, he promised that he would find love and happiness. Hermes, surprised by the gift, carried it with him to the cave that he had made into his home.

Due to the deep pain of rejection, Hermes carried a considerable amount of hate and anger in his heart. Instead of taking care of the egg as the wizard instructed, he just set it on the floor in his cave and basically ignored it. He would occasionally pick it up and admire the beautiful color, but mostly, he gave it no attention. He saw no value in this gift and did not understand why the wizard would give him this useless egg.

One day, while Hermes examined the egg, it started to gradually crack. Surprised, he took the egg outside into the sunlight where he could better see it. Slowly, the egg progressively cracked until a pointed mouth and sapphire colored eyes began to appear. Whatever was in the egg gradually fought its way through the shell until it was completely free. Hermes was amazed when a baby dragon emerged from the shell. He immediately thought about all the myriads of possibilities that he could do with a dragon, including taking revenge on those who sent him away from his home and family.

Hermes named the dragon Rouvin after his grandfather, the one person from his hometown that he did not hate. Rouvin grew into a large, beautiful, and ferocious looking dragon. He was twice as tall as Hermes and his length was about three times his height. His golden colored scales and piercing sapphire-colored eyes contributed to his regal look. His tail was long and strong. He could breathe out fire when he wanted to. Unfortunately, from the time Rouvin hatched, Hermes did not treat him well and trained him to suit his own despicable purposes.

As the years went by, Hermes used the dragon to steal, plunder, and ravage from those in the kingdom close to where they lived, as well as other kingdoms. The king’s guards and the people desperately tried to kill Rouvin, but he was powerful and the fire blew from his mouth burned whatever it contacted.

One day, while the king’s beautiful daughter, Brisa, was walking in the woods with her large black dog and her three guards, Hermes and Rouvin came upon them. The guards immediately surrounded Brisa, but Hermes threatened them with Rouvin’s fire if they did not let Brisa go with him and also, he threatened to burn the homes in the kingdom. Brisa, understanding the situation, informed the guards that she would willingly go with Hermes to help save the kingdom.

After Brisa left, a strong, powerful, and kind wizard came to the kingdom to teach the people how to improve their love for each other, and especially to love Hermes. At first, the people did not know how love would help Hermes, but they believed the wizard and so they tried it. They sent gifts to Hermes and even to Rouvin. At first, Hermes commanded Rouvin to chase after them, which he did, but after a time, he began to accept their gifts. Some of the best food in the land was sent to them. Hermes devoured all the food that was brought to him and gave very little to Brisa. He smugly seized the generous gifts without showing any appreciation.

Brisa’s natural affection for animals helped her capture Rouvin’s attention by treating him with love, rather than dominance like Hermes treated him. She learned that Rouvin loved to be scratched between his sapphire eyes and behind his ears. Eventually, Rouvin trusted Brisa enough to allow her to climb on his back and ride around. This upset Hermes as Rouvin never allowed him to climb on his back, even after trying several times. Over time, Rouvin changed his loyalties from Hermes to Brisa. Hermes could not understand why since he has raised him from the time he hatched. Brisa carefully explained that she treated him with love.

Between the love that Brisa began to show to Hermes and the love he began to feel from the people in the kingdom, he finally let Brisa go and told Rouvin that he could go with her if that is what he desired. Brisa tried to convince Hermes to come with her but he had too many negative memories of being cast out. She informed him that she would go back to her kingdom and ask the people if they would accept him, and if they said yes, would he then come. Hermes thought about it for a time, then lovingly looked up at the beautiful Brisa and said that he would go back.

Brisa rode on the back of Rouvin back to her home in the castle. At first, the guards threatened Rouvin with their spears but Brisa commanded them to stay back, assuring them that she was safe and Rouvin had been tamed. The did as she asked. Her parents, hearing the news that Brisa was back, ran out to her and embraced her. They ordered a huge feast for the entire kingdom to welcome home their daughter.

At the feast, Brisa asked her father if she could talk to the people. He agreed. She recounted the story of Hermes and why he had become so wicked. She then asked the people if they would take him back and love him, despite the grotesque scars. She reiterated to them that he was just like them, he just had an unfortunate accident that left severe scarring on much of his body. She reminded them that any type of an accident could happen to anyone of them.

The people of the kingdom all shouted with one accord that they would accept Hermes back into their kingdom and would treat him with the love and respect that they knew Brisa treated him.

Hermes was warmly welcomed back into the kingdom. In time, he and Brisa married and lived happily ever after.

(To be continued…)