Bitten but not Beaten

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

More days passed by relentlessly. Somewhere along the way, I developed a dry cough. The drops of honey ran out a couple of days ago. The only thing pushing me was the urge to finish my story. I was grateful for Grace whose glow gave me enough light that I was able to write in the dark cell. During my waking hours, she promised to stay by my side until I finished.

“There.” I handed the stacked papers over to Grace, and she glanced at it with a smile. “Don’t worry. I will make sure that this gets into the right hands.”

I tried to nod my head, but I could barely muster the energy. As soon as I relinquished my letter, all my strength drained in an instant. I should be grateful that I was able to finish the letter. Grace disappeared, but I didn’t pay much attention. Before I could succumb to sleep, my cell door creaked open for the first time since Harper visited me that one night.

I had to strain my eyes slightly to see the newcomer, but all I could see were moving shapes and shadows. Suddenly, I was hoisted into the air to a standing position. I vaguely remember a voice yelling something unintelligible at me. Then I was dragged out of my prison. Then I passed out from exhaustion.

My reprieve was short-lived however. I suddenly felt a sharp pain on my lower leg. The burning sensation that spread up my leg woke me up instantly. My sight was still blurry, but I could make out shapes now. I took stock of my surroundings, and I froze. I was back in the throne room of the Prince, but more than that I was lying on the floor staring at a snake. I wanted to scream, run …anything! I could only watch it with dread as it hissed at me.

Before it could strike, a servant ran and trapped it into a wicker basket. My relief was temporary as I eyed the puncture marks on my leg. Only fangs could have done this kind of work. “I see you met my pet,” said Prince calmly. The servant brought the wicker basket and opened the lid. Prince took out the snake without any hesitation or fear. He whispered something, and the snake immediately slithered onto his arm. If I didn’t know any better, I would have suspected that the snake was obeying Prince.

“Without the antidote, you will die by sundown today,” he said unceremoniously. I could only stare. “If you want the antidote, I suggest that you tell me all the information you have on the Forgotten King’s whereabouts and plans and on the others who have chosen to follow Him.”

I took long deep breaths trying to calm myself down to keep the poison from spreading quicker. My vision cleared long enough to note a slightly disheveled Harper standing nearby. I don’t know what it was, but there was something different about her. She didn’t seem as wary of the Prince. If anything, she looked like she was constraining herself from intervening. Then I saw a smug Mercy standing by Harper’s side invisible to all except me, and it hit me. Harper finally made a decision.  She was now a child of Elyon! It was clear as day.

Tears of joy pricked the corners of my eyes, but I quickly looked away to avoid getting my new sister in trouble. I looked at Prince and stood up on wobbly legs with renewed purpose as I responded, “You can do whatever you want with me, to my body. You have no power over me. My King can do all things. His plans can never be thwarted!”

Prince was not expecting that. When he realized that I would not be his complacent puppet, he ordered his guards to take me back to the cell. Once again I was being dragged, but Prince had one thing left to say, “You will die as my prisoner.”

Without wavering, I looked over my shoulder and glared at Prince, “The second I chose Elyon and became Melody, I gained my freedom from you forever.” He had no comeback.

The guards threw me roughly back into my cell. They didn’t even bother shackling me to the chain connected to the cell wall. I was just a barely walking corpse to them. Completely exhausted, I slid to the floor. The snake bite looked angry and the leg felt more tingly than painful now. That couldn’t be a good sign.

I dozed off but woke up as soon as the door opened. I smiled at the welcome visitor. Harper appeared genuinely concerned as she eyed the festering wound. She knelt by my side and gave me a loaf of bread and water. As I sipped the liquid, Harper began to speak, “I have finally made a decision to follow the Forgotten King and to be part of His kingdom.” She gestured at the walls, “The true kingdom, not all this pretending.” Then she went into detail of how she noticed Mercy, and she finally met Elyon for the first time. Groggily, I nodded my head happily, but her next words gave me pause. “Don’t worry Melody. I’m not going to let you die. I’m going to get that antidote from Prince.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but Harper was already standing. She looked down at me with hope and determination. “After that, I’m getting you out of here. We are going to escape.” I wanted to tell Harper to not bother, but I knew nothing I said was going to make her change her mind. I could only be grateful for the risk she was taking for me. “Thank you Harper,” I said as she walked toward the door.

She stopped in mid-stride. “You can call me Harmony from now on,” she said with a wink.

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