Blurry stars swim through fuzzy vision as I am yanked to my feet. I don’t remember how I got here.
Wet ground spins under my feet as I am pushed and tied to a pole, forced to sit cross-legged when my legs give way beneath me.
Laughter rises from a surrounding audience that I cannot see. Cold water is splashed on my face, icy rivulets streaming down my neck.
I cannot remember what dry feet feel like.
“A girl?” I hear their incredulity as something kicks my foot.
My ankle must be swollen. It hurts very much.
“They entrust the king to the care of a girl?” More laughter echoes dizzily as another kick is directed to someone sitting in front of me.
I blink, darts of pain radiating through my face as I see the Duke of Taolbarth mirroring my situation.
His eyes carry a look of wisdom and he smiles as my mind works to fit this mystery puzzle together.
“He isn’t the king.” I choke the words out as a rough hand grasps my chin. “He’s the Duke of Taolbarth.”
The hand drops and the laugh from above makes my head hurt. “She thinks she’s been escorting the Duke of Taolbarth.”
Someone nudges my shoulder. “Fine Twilight Knight you are. Can’t recognize your king when he’s tied up in front of you?”
The mockery is too much as I struggle to meet the Duke’s eyes. I have seen his regal bearing and now, he seems more royal than before.
There is no fear, only sadness and a sliver of pain in his brown eyes as he offers a smile. The gesture of encouragement is promptly rewarded with a slap that splits his lip.
My eyes are heavy, closing of their own accord. My heart is heavy enough to allow traces of guilt and hate to build up on each other.
Very well, Father, you’ve caught me. I pray. I’ve run miles away from everything and nearly everyone, except for you. Why won’t you leave me alone?
Tears are searing as they hiss down my cheeks and I struggle to curb the evidence of my powers. I am too weak to puzzle them out and too confused to try and understand why I can’t use them.
Please, don’t bring me this far to watch the king die. I will be nothing but an outcast if they allow me to live.
A warm stickiness lands with a sickening splat on my head and shoulders. My wrists chafe as my breath comes in short, small gasps. I cannot stand this abuse.
Father, I cannot offer an apology worthy of you. Shame stains my cheeks. Nor is my life in anyone’s hands but yours. I have used the gift you have given me in hate, for worthless revenge. I have failed you.
Goosebumps begin at my elbows, until a prickling sensation smothers me.
I beg of you to use my failure for your glory.
“Hey you! Girl!” Familiar rough hands grab my chin and give me a shake.
Something inside of me snaps for the last time.
Flames burst from my hands as I feel the ropes sliding from my wrists. Heat dances about my face as my hair becomes a fiery swarm about my neck.
I will not be holding back this time.
Thoughts twist and strangle their way through my tired brain. I let go of a prayer that is simple, yet painful in nature.
Help me to forgive them. I don't want to hate anymore.
Seeing a sword aiming for the King’s neck, I propel myself forward, fueled by raw anger.
The fight that follows is one I wish never to relive.
Cowering on the ground before me, it the scarred solider whose taunts I tolerated. My mind replays his cruelty to me and the King as I draw back one hand for a death blow.
“No!” The king grabs my hand letting go with a painful yelp.
My flames fade to a cool blue as I realize what he has just done. “Why did-”
“Does killing him make you a better Knight?” The king nurses his singed fingers, sizing me up in a glance. “Your anger will be your biggest stumbling block if you allow it to guide you.”
The blue flames fade away to nothing as the solider crawls away. A hollow emptiness picks up where my temper leaves off. “Sorry.” I mutter, bending to retrieve our swords.
Forgive me…again, Father.
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