To Beginning (Part 1)
“Took me long enough to find you. Hello, Mara.”
Somehow, some way, she could hear The Magus, and it made her heart soar a thousand miles. She couldn’t see him; she couldn’t see anything but a brilliant white light enveloping her. But this was his audible voice, clear like crystal, just like all their voices had been here in the aether current.
Hello, my Magus.
“Mara? Can you hear me? Mara!”
Yes! Yes I can hear you! Suddenly desperate, she lashed at the brilliant white emptiness around her. “I’m here! I’m right here!” she shouted, spinning around.
“Ow!” She heard him hiss. “All right! I hear you now. No need to shout.”
It washim. Her chest felt like it’d burst, flooded with a thousand emotions she never thought she’d feel again. Love, ecstasy, a soaring hope.
“I miss you so much, Mara,” The Magus whispered, his own voice thick with emotion. “Feels like an eternity since I sent you away.”
Tears of joy filled her eyes. “I thought I’d never hear your voice again.” After all, the portal was a one-way trip. “I thought I’d never get to see you again!” But… if she could hear him in here, did that mean…? Mara spun, whirling around in the brilliant white light, searching for any sign of him. “Where are you?”
The Magus was quiet this time. Long enough to turn Mara’s elation into icy fear.
Had… had he disappeared like the others had? Was she being pulled away from him? Could he no longer hear her?
Mara opened her mouth to repeat herself, to scream if need be, but suddenly The Magus’s voice returned: “Mara, I don’t think we’ll see each other yet. Not for a long time.”
All the joy and hope sank into her stomach.
“What do you mean?” Mara asked, still searching the brilliant white light for any sign of him… or anyone. But all she could see was her own body, floating in a sea of white light.
It appeared she was alone.
Her desperation returned with a vengeance. “You said Iwasn’t dying… Does that mean that you…?” No. He couldn’t be… Mara bit her lip. “We’re not already dead, are we?”
This time, The Magus chuckled. “By all rights, I shouldbe. We’re both very much alive.” He paused. “I heard Him, Mara.”
His voice grew quiet, pondering, dreamy. “Nothing does Him justice. Maybe you’ll hear from Him soon, too.”
Goosebumps ran up and down her limbs. No need to ask who “He” was. She knew. And the tears came back with a vengeance. Adonai…
“He let me come back.”
She brushed some of her tears away. “Come back?”
“I told Him I had to talk to you one more time; He asked me why. And, well, all I said was, ‘I’ve got something to tell her, and no, it can’t wait.’”
Mara feigned alarm. “Please tell me you weren’t sarcastic to the creator of the universe…”
“I kept it civil! Mostly.” He cleared his throat. “You know, I didn’t have to come all this way to deliver a message in person. Are you going to listen or not? And this from the Academy’s most promising student.”
She could hear his smile even in his voice. “I love you, Mara. I always will.”
The words spread through her soul like warmth, like life. And I love you! She wanted to scream it, but all that came out was a whisper: “I love you, my Magus.”
“He did promise we’d see each other again. So take care of it, Mara.”
Take care of it? What was he talking about? “What do you m—”
“You’ll se—” he interrupted her question, but even as he spoke, his voice began to rapidly fade.
Panic. She lurched toward the receding voice. One moment he was there, the next he was so quiet his words were incomprehensible. “Wait! Magus, wait!” Mara yelled into the blinding white. “Don’t leave yet!”
Don’t disappear on me forever!
She swam as hard as she could, but it was no use. She couldn’t keep up with the speed at which his voice pulled away from her. As quickly as his voice had come… he was gone.
All around her, there was only the white void.
Mara clapped her hands to her mouth, stifling a sob. Sorrow engulfed her.
Don’t leave me alone…
The void sat in silence. Her heart was screaming.
But what did it matter? What did this empty light care? She’d been through blood and dark and fire and death. And now, one last persecution: to be lost, abandoned in this brilliant white void, alone.
No… not alone.
It wasn’t an audible voice. It wasn’t The Magus.
But those two words blossomed like color in her mind. They blew through her like an explosion, whispered like a gentle breeze. The warmth she’d felt from before was no longer around her… it swept into her. It embraced her, inside and out.
It was love; love and acceptance and a peace she’d never felt before.
“You figured out the portal. And you saved them all. I’m so proud of you, Mara.”
Her heart quickened at His delight, but guilt hammered her chest in a follow-up swing. “Not all.” Sorrow mingled with the guilt. “I didn’t save them all.” Fresh tears slid down her face. He was here. But… “Where have you been?”
“I’ve always been right there, Mara. In the darkness and the smoke and the fires. Even in the pain.”
“But why couldn’t I feel you?” As with The Magus, she couldn’t see Adonai—couldn’t see anything but brilliant white light—but she could feel Him all around her, embracing her.
“I’m sorry. Sometimes it’s hard to feel me. But I’m always there, Mara.”
“Are you always there for everyone?” Her hot, angry tears stung. “You let the others die.”
“It was time to take them, yes.”
“But why me and not them?” she demanded. “Why not… him?”
“They have their own stories to complete. Yours is different.”
She felt pressure in her chest, felt the warmth of her tears coursing down her face. Mara wanted to bawl; she released a quiet sob.
“Mara, do you trust me?”
Did she? She’d asked that question a thousand times now. After every senseless death. After every overwhelming violence.
Mara looked around at the light, the warmth, the love swallowing her senses. The love that surrounded her, the gentle voice whispering in her ear, the peace that pressed on her heart. He said He’d always been there, whether she’d felt all this or not.
But what does that matter? What good is it if He’s there and yet can feel so distant?
This stunning, overflowing goodness—this love and gentleness and peace—this was who He was. He wasn’t in the horrors of the world she knew.
He was this. And He was strong enough to overcome all the darkness.
Yet He’d allowed it. How could You possibly have allowed it?
He didn’t give her an answer.
And that’s Your prerogative. Mara felt her warm tears slide down her cheeks. And I understand that. I know I’ll never be able to understand why. I may not like it, but you don’t owe me an answer. And I can live with that!
I want to be able to live with that.
“I will never force you to do something. Never.”
“Even if that causes pain.”
I know that.
But You’ll still be there as it falls apart. And You’ll be there to pick up the pieces.
“And I will never fail.
And that pain is never what I would have chosen.”
“You want light and love to reign.”
She knew all this, didn’t she? That despite all the hatred, the violence, the flames, the death she’d seen… none of that was who He was.
And He was greater than all of it.
“You use the darkness to spark an even brighter light. Even if it comes in at the very end of all things.”
Again, there was silence. But then, she hadn’t posed Him a question.
And she still hadn’t answered His.
“Yes.” She paused, surprised at her response; but knowing that even now, even after everything she’d been through… it was true. “I trust you.”
“I wish they would have all chosen me, Mara… It hurts to be without them.”
Sorrow crushed her body as an image of The Magus floated through her mind. “I know what that’s like.”
“You’ll see him again. I promise. Just not yet.”
Warmth seeped down her fingers to her toes.
“I’ve been working on something special, just for you. It’s ready now.” He sounded like a child, like Ian; eager to show her his latest creation he’d slaved over for weeks. “Do you want to see it, Mara?”
She looked around at the glory that engulfed her—at the light and the warmth, astounding and stimulating and leaving her with a quiet peace even after all the darkness she’d gone through. Had He made this, too? Did glory and love just drip off Him like condensation?
“Yes. Yes, please, I want to see it.”
The warm white light extinguished like a candle blown out. But Mara couldn’t feel or hear any more aether; only the sensation that she was lying on solid ground again. There was something soft beneath her now, but what…?
Then it came to her. Grass. She lay on a patch of soft grass; it brushed against her cheek.
As Mara rose and stretched, she felt like she were waking from a dream… but she woke in the middle of the night. Wisps of purple cloud floated across a midnight-black sky above. A few twinkling stars were fading from view.
The stars… She’d never seen these constellations before. She couldn’t place a single one. They were all sparkling and brand-new. Mara gasped in surprise and awe.
And although it felt a little more distant now, she could still feel the warm glow and the sweet love holding her gently. And she could see a light, like the brilliant white light from before, glowing from behind her.
Adonai? She wondered, but she was too afraid to turn and look—afraid it was Him and it would overwhelm her. Or afraid it wasn’t Him and it would devastate her.
“You will be the first-born, then,” came Adonai’s voice, as clear as day, melodic as music, but not from behind her—from all around her.
At the sound of his voice, a golden glow rippled on the horizon before her. The sky swelled with warm reds and oranges and crisp yellows.
“I will make your brethren soon,” Adonai continued softly as the sunlight crawled over tall trees growing on grassy hills that stretched as far as she could see.
Seven other figures lay on the seven hills surrounding her; one by one, they stretched and woke. Although they were some distance apart, Mara could see at a glance that all seven of her fellow Caders were here.
Awe, joy, and relief filled Mara’s veins. She saw Ian’s tiny form stand and stretch. He yawned as he turned to face the rising sun.
“Serve them,” Adonai whispered. “Use what you have endured, and ensure that no such harm comes to them.
“No more will you wander; I will give you a land to call your own. You will have wisdom and long life. And should you choose, the fires of prejudice will no longer burn you; for all people will look on you with wonder and fear. And I will always be here, hoping you will choose me.
“You will be a people of beauty and grace.” And, like a kiss, Adonai whispered: “And you will be called… Fárí.”
By now, the morning sun had grown strong enough to illuminate the new world: It was green and lush, flowering with plants Mara didn’t know and blooms of rainbow colors. A little creek bubbled around the hills where Mara and the others stood.
“A land to call our own…” murmured Kale, as he spun slowly, taking it all in with wide eyes. He turned to the others. “Did you… you heard the voice too, right?” He couldn’t stop staring at the scenery, in awe. In shock. He ran his hand through his hair. “It couldn’t be…”
The others were equally lost basking in the beauty of the new world and had no reply.
Chortling like a bird, Ian came charging up the hill where Mara stood, fast as a bolt of living lightning. “Mara, Mara, Mara!” he shouted, beaming as bright as the sun and leaping into her arms.
She laughed and caught him, swinging him around midair.
Ian’s eyes suddenly went wide with wonder. “Mara…” he whispered, staring over her shoulder, gape-mouthed. “They’re so pretty!”
And that was when she noticed them. As she twirled with Ian, she could just see the ends of what looked like brilliantly-glowing butterfly wings that could only be coming from her own back. They sparkled with white and argent light, pulsing with life.
But her attention was stolen from her wings as similar glittering wings, these ones shaped like a dragonfly’s, sprouted from Ian’s back. He giggled and wriggled in her arms. “It tickles!”
The others began to gasp as their wings fluttered to life, as well. Some were greens and golds and reds, and some were feathery, some thin, some tall—and some that looked less like wings and more like giant ribbons of light. But every pair of wings glowed with Adonai’s life and warmth and light.
“We’re here,” said Monroe, his soft voice wafting across the grassy hills, down the flowering valley, and into the forests on the horizon. “Adonai’s given us a gift—another chance. But we can never forget the sacrifices of those we’ve lost. We could never have come here without the valor of Alan, who sacrificed himself to give us time to escape.”
Many bowed their heads. Mara felt more tears slip down her face.
“Mara,” came Ian’s small voice as he tapped her on the shoulder. “That was really brave of Alan, wasn’t it?”
She kissed Ian’s forehead. “Yes, it was, Ian.”
“The others were really brave too.”
“We’ll never forget their names,” Monroe continued. “We will memorialize them here and now, and as long as Adonai allows us to live. So don’t forget the courage of Jessica and David. Don’t forget the sacrifice of Hare, Giorgine, and Chris. Never forget Albrecht. Remember the choices that were made.
“We choose to honor those who went before. And while time may steal away the memory of their faces, we will never forget their names, their suffering, and their story. We’ll never forget the place we came from, so that we can eliminate suffering from this new world. We will never forget, so that no one in this world will ever experience the things we endured…”
“Just like what He said,” Kale murmured. He stared up at the sky, his brow furrowed in sorrow, confusion… wonder.
Just like You said, Mara whispered in her heart as she kissed Ian’s brow again.
“Let us cherish this world that Adonai made,” Monroe finished.
Monroe pumped his fist in the air. “Let us celebrate what He’s given.”
You heard me all along, didn’t you?
“And let’s honor the Cader—no, the Fárí—who brought us here.” Monroe thrust his arm toward Mara, grinning from ear to ear.
Mara bowed her head as the others cheered, whistled, clapped, shouted her name. And some shouted praises to Adonai, collapsing to their knees and lifting their hands to the sky.
We’re safe. Mara pressed her tear-stained face against Ian’s as she laughed.
We’re finally home.
Can’t believe it’s over? Want more? Check out the story from Ian’s perspective on the TaleHunt app @Rynfyre
Photos (in order of appearance):
All originally posted on Unsplash.com.
From Him, To Him