Surprising everyone, Thomas sadly but confidently disclosed that he would go in for Shiblon. Micco looked at him incredulously and warned him against doing that. Thomas took Micco aside and the others in the group followed to hear what Thomas had to say. Before Thomas could say anything, Micco reminded him of how this would hurt his daughter. He did not want to see her go through sorrow and grief like she had done before. With tears threatening to escape his eyes, he told Thomas that he finally had his daughter back. Marcus also pleaded with him not to go. He expressed his anger at his brother who stupidly put them in this situation, only thinking of himself and not even considering how this would affect his family. Now, it appeared the consequences were further reaching than anyone could imagine.
Melchior reminded Thomas that he had no idea what he was getting in to. He could not guarantee that the king’s army would be able to get him out alive. The community had grown in size since the last time he was there and he knew that all members, including women and girls, rigorously trained to fight battles. Malachi remarked how eerily calm and confident Helki seemed, he acted almost king-like. Thomas acknowledged their remarks but told them that deep down, he felt like he needed to go. It felt as though God was telling him to go.
With that said, he turned and looked with determination at Helki and commanded him to bring Shiblon to them and then he would take his place. Helki ordered two of his companions to go back and bring Shiblon.
After they left and while waiting for them to return, Thomas soberly asked Micco to send a letter to his parents explaining the situation and why he is doing what he is doing. He also requested Micco to warn his parents that Cherubim might be in danger and to seriously consider relocating to somewhere Helki could not find them. He asked him to advise them that they would need to be careful since it seemed that Helki had spies everywhere and could possibly know if they left. He also asked Micco to encourage Pat to keep the business going, that he would be back in time. He gave Micco a big hug to give to Maren and Daniel. He told him to tell them that he loved them and would be back as soon as he could. He pled with Melchior and Malachi to get an army to the community, soon, as something had to be done to stop the evil practices.
He then requested a blessing from Micco and Marcus. Surrounded by the others in their group, Micco and Marcus placed their hands on his head. Micco, with tears streaming down his face, blessed him with an assurance that he was following God’s will. He blessed him with a measure of protection, however could not bless him with complete protection. He commanded angels to always be with him, even in difficult circumstances. He blessed him with the ability to keep his covenants. He told him to pray daily and to always stay close to God.
As Micco closed the blessing, all the men in the group had tears flowing down their faces. Micco still doubted Thomas’s decision to go but felt the assurance that it was God’s will.
Thomas counseled Micco and his sons to keep a close eye on Shiblon. Feeling concern for him, he told them that he did not want to see him back there. He assured them that he would pray for Shiblon, and also Maren and Daniel.
Within the hour, they saw 3 people riding towards them. Thomas immediately knew one of them was Shiblon. As they came to the group, Micco and Rowtag ran over to Shiblon, helped him dismount the horse and hugged him tight. Shiblon’s horse, seeing him, whinnied in greeting. Shiblon was surprised and felt hesitant seeing all who had come for him. Helki spoke to him and asked him if he really wanted to go to his home, or stay in the community where he would be surrounded by beautiful girls, reminding him of his time with Dena and others who were looking forward to their time with him.
Looking at Helki, then looking at his Father, then at his brothers and Thomas, Shiblon commented that it was an amazing place. He described in detail the delicacy of the food, wine and all the beautiful women. It seemed as though he had no regard for anyone but himself as he appeared that he loved his short time there. Marcus looked at him with disdain in his eyes knowing that part of the enjoyment was because of Dena.
Deron, who had been quiet most of the trip, finally spoke up and expressed his sincere desire to Shiblon to come home. He empathically expressed the emotions of the family and the extreme sadness they felt when he left. He also mentioned that he understood his hesitations about God as he has had many similar thoughts and doubts, he just never expressed them to anyone. He sincerely apologized for not being more forthcoming with his thoughts and feelings, that maybe if he had expressed them, Shiblon would have found greater empathy and more answers.
Deron then recounted his struggles with his faith. He told Shiblon, and the others, how he had completely doubted his parents faith and teachings. He hated to go to worship services, but went anyway, putting on a show, hoping everyone would believe that he was happy and had a strong testimony. He apologized for lying to his parents and to him. He then thoughtfully recalled how he regained his testimony.
He reminded Shiblon of the day when he was out hunting with Marcus and Rowtag and Rowtag accidently shot him with an arrow in the shoulder. He said it was the most painful thing he had ever experienced. He wished that the arrow would have just pierced his heart and killed him instantly rather than to endure the intense pain he felt. Marcus, knowing that the arrow needed to come out, and knowing how painful that would be, without saying a word, quickly pulled the arrow out. He screamed with the intensity of the pain. Rowtag put cloth over the wound and then they carried him back home as quick as they could. The pain continued to be intense with every movement and every step; in fact, he passed out for part of the trek home. As soon as they arrived home, a healer was sent for.
The healer came and made a poultice of several healing herbs to put on the wound. Again, the pain was incredibly intense, so much so that Deron passed out again. He reverently conveyed what happened to him during that time. Looking off into the distance, he recalled that a beautiful angel came to him and reminded him of the testimony that he once had of the coming of Jesus Christ. He also reminded him that God loved him and his parents loved him. He instructed him to read the scriptures and listen to the prophets to find true and lasting happiness. After that experience, Deron never doubted again.
Micco looked at him with awe and amazement in his eyes, he did not know about Deron’s feelings and experience; Deron never told anyone—until now. Micco asked why he never told anyone about his feelings. Deron replied that he did not want to hurt his mother.
Deron put his arm around Shiblon, and apologized for not saying anything sooner. Shiblon asked him how he knew that vision was real, that it was not just in his imagination? Deron responded saying that the vision was just as real as they were standing there.
An impatient Helki broke up the reunion by telling them it was time for Thomas to depart with them. Shiblon looked at him in horror and said that he was not told that Thomas would be taking his place. With his devilish grin, Helki said that was the only way he would let him go. Shiblon then, in furry, told Thomas that he would not allow him to take his place! He was the stupid one to have followed Motega and Dena. He now knew he was wrong and wanted to make all things right again! He would go back! He did not want Thomas to go.
Thomas put his arm around him to comfort him and assure him that all would be alright. Shiblon shouted No, imploring that it would not be alright. The community was enticing, but there was something wrong. He implied that he had felt that before he allowed himself to go, but he was too caught up with the teasing and seductive advancements of Dena. He begged Thomas not to go; he would go back. With tears beginning to form in his eyes, he bore into Micco’s eyes, silently pleading with him to not allow Thomas to go.
Helki’s men seized Thomas, unarmed him, and ordered him to mount one of their horses, then took him away from those who loved him.
(To be continued…)