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For this week’s Friday Challenge: Write a new Myth
One Little Word
A high-ranking demon moved through the city, carrying a black blade and wearing a black cloak. As he walked, more than a few of his fellow fallen recognized him. Some saluted. But one called out.
It was Lerpser, a former subordinate from a few decades ago. The commander turned to face him and regarded him soberly.
“If you will follow me less than a minute, I will show you something that you will find inspiring.”
The Commander nodded his assent and they began to walk. Lerpser escorted him along a high and adorned wall and to a gated doorway. As he beckoned him through the gateway Lieutenant commented, “We often speak of the glory of great battles, but most often we win or lose in a situation such as this – simple decisions made by individual humans”
They walked through the doorway into a courtyard with a small garden and a fountain. There were three demons there, none of whom he recognized. They were all huddled around a point near the fountain, whispering words of despair to a lone mortal who was sitting alone. She was perhaps 20 years old. She was weeping.
Your life is only going to get worse.
There is no love for you, and you deserve none.
All that you have done in your entire life is meaningless.
Knifeweed could see amusement on their faces and they were chuckling.
Off to the side he noted two other demons with swords out and ready, preventing an angel, presumable a Guardian, from getting near the mortal. When the angel saw Commander Knifeweed, he recognized him and, moments later, fled. Knifeweed wondered if he would see him again.
“I have brought a visitor,” stated Lerpser, obviously proud of his guest.
A young demon named Slinny, one of the three, eyed Knifeweed with obliviousness and doubt. “Should we care? See our project here. We would like to get on with it.”
“Do you know not know?” asked an incredulous Lerpser, “Here we have a hero! He has worked many victories. He has done much to rid our world of the human vermin and escorting them to our Father’s city in the depths. He was present at the battle for the soul of Israel when they were under King Zedekiah. He even had a hand in the slaying of the Son of the Enemy!”
The others looked at him with awe and reverence. Knifeweed judged them soberly. They don’t know, do they, he mused, the damage that we did to our cause with that act. Well, I will not disabuse them of their confusion.
“I have invited him here to allow his to make the last play in your human’s choices.”
Knifeweed looked at the young women. A few tattoos and a piercings told him that her short life had been hard. She held a small knife. It was pressed against her neck.
Lerpser eyed Slinny, knowing that this would grate against the younger demon sense of pride. Slinny remained silence, but all could see that he burned.
Lerpser turned back to Knifeweed, “So what say you? Will you finish our work here? I guarantee you’ll find amusement in the task.”
The Commander considered her more deeply. An innocent – as innocent as any of these creatures could be. Still, she deserved Hell. He looked at Lerpser, “I will”
“Ah, good. Soldiers, prepare to see a master at work.”
Knifeweed moved towards the girl. “What is her name?”
Slinny was troubled by this question, “Why do need -”
Lerpser put a hand on the younger demon’s chest to calm him and stop his insolence, “Obviously he wants to personalize her ordeal,” and then to Knifeweed, “Her name is Priscilla.”
The commander knelt down and looked at her.
“One little word shall fell her,” said Lerpser, triumphantly and cheerlessly.
“I desire space” he stated boldly. Lerpser nodded to the others and they all moved away.
Knifeweed looked into her eyes. He put a hand on her shoulder and he whispered his word.
Here eyes widened as if she was considering something new. But they held no hope and no joy.
Knifeweed leaned over again.
You shall not do this thing. Are you not a human? And does not God love all of his creations?
She put her hand in her face and wept again.
Lerpser whispered with excitement, “She has learned a new dread. Truly he works wonder. He’s given her some new torment for her before the end.”
There is hope, it’s just been kept from you. There is beauty and joy and One who can give it to you. Throw away the knife, Priscilla.
The blade clattered against the stone pavement 15 feet away.
All smiles left the demons’ faces. Lerpser was at a loss. Had Knifeweed failed utterly? The commander’s words must have backfired – that happened to the best of demons on occasion. But he saw Knifeweed leaning over again – he would make things right. She needed to retrieve the blade.
Help will come. You can believe. God calls to you.
And then she sat back and closed her eyes and there was a flicker of a smile on her face before she was overcome again with emotion and tears. But the smile lasted long enough for the demons to catch it. And Slinny was the first to react, pulling out his sword: “Betrayal!”
Knifeweed stood upright, turned around, stood between the girl and the demons, squared himself and lifted his blade just in time to meet Slinny’s as it bore down on him.
“I have decided” yelled Knifeweed, “I will not be a part of this evil work anymore.”
Lerpser jumped up next to Slinny.
“Then leave her to us!”
“No, I will not!” And he twisted his sword and sliced Slinny in half. A flash of light and then there was only five demons facing him. He saw that two of them were trying to get around him to gain access to the girl. He jumped over to intercept them, getting closer to where she was sitting – still troubled, but obviously more at peace. Swords rang out.
This will not last long, Knifeweed thought grimly. God help me.
Suddenly the blackness of his blade crumbled as it crashed against Lerpser’s sword, a white blazing sword emerged. And another flash and his black outer-garment had flashed white and now was shimmering silver.
Lerpser fell to the newly born angel’s blade in the next moment. But the four others were closing in.
As the battle went on, a slightly older human woman walked into the courtyard, looked around as if searching for someone and when she noticed Priscilla she made her way over to her quickly.
“You’ve been crying.”
“I . . . yes, I have.”
“Do you need help?”
“I need hope. I need God.”
“Then I think I can help. I know Him. I am confident he will save you. My name is Talitha”
Right after the older woman had entered, two angels followed. They bolted towards Knifeweed and the three of them stood guard over the two women. This was too much for the three remaining and now leaderless demons. They jeered one last time and took flight.
“Why . . . are you here?” asked the young woman asked her helper.
“I have no explanation. I just felt I was needed here.”
“We are in your debt,” one of the angels, the one who had seen his arrival in the courtyard, said to Knifeweed, “But I don’t know you. And I thought I knew all of the knights in the city.”
“Indeed I don’t know, myself.”
“You are no longer Knifeweed – now you are ‘Tychaneos’” said a voice, clear and strong. The new angel and his new compatriots looked around to see who was speaking, and they were surprised to find out that it was the older woman, Talitha, speaking to them as one blind, for she couldn’t see them. “And I bring a message from the most high. You have been rewarded. You are fallen no longer.”
“May I ask, rewarded for what? I have done so much evil.”
“You chose to not overlook an injustice. You took pity on one who was helpless. This you did against her strong oppressors at your own peril. And what you have done for one of the least of these, you have done for the Son.”
“I am not worthy of this honor. . . . this gift,” protested Tychaneos.
“No, you are not. But He is a God of Mercy and Grace.”
“I am grateful” he replied. He was tired, he began to sit down. “But if I may. . . .”
“Make you request.”
“I ask for the honor of being this young woman’s protector.”
“This is granted. You have already proven your worthiness in this regard. But I warn you, she will need significant protection in the coming months and years. They will not let go of their prey easily.”
Talitha sat down. She had heard the words she had spoken, but she had no idea where they came from.
Priscilla had heard the words, also.
“What was that about?”
“Truly I have no idea. I was speaking to an invisible being. My guess is I was given words to address an angel.”
They sat in silence. And then Priscilla stated, “I have no idea what I’m going to do now.”
Talitha smiled. “I do. You are going to learn. I have much to teach you. And then you will teach as well.”
They walked out of the courtyard, speaking of good and noble things. They left the knife behind.
No demon ever got within two hundred feet of Priscilla for the rest of her life.