But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24
Even though my cell was warm, I was shivering uncontrollably. My body was trying to fight the poison as well as it could. I think I reached a new level of delirium. I kept hearing strange voices in my head. More than one voice kept speaking words of doubt, “You are useless and worthless. Who would want to rescue you? You just make mistakes.”
I tried to cup my ears and ignore them, but they just persisted to voice my fears. “Stop depending on your King who could care less about little you. Just give up. Why keep fighting? It’s all pointless.”
“Shut up!” I couldn’t handle the litany anymore. “Stop your lies! I refuse to be tempted to turn my back on Elyon!” My screamed words just echoed against the deaf stone walls. I tried to calm my pounding heart, and I winced as I realized that getting worked up only pumped the poison faster. I slumped against the wall and feverishly whispered, “Lord, I need you.”
Today I welcomed the silence. I didn’t know how much longer I could fight against the lies in my weakened state, but the Comforter always gives me the strength I need. The sudden golden glow signaled Grace’s return. I smiled at her perfect timing. “Did you deliver the letter?” I asked.
Grace grinned, “Yes! Sorry, it took me longer to come back than I had imagined.” She paused and looked over her shoulder for a few seconds before returning her surprised gaze back to my face, “Good job, Melody!”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Grace bent down to sit by my side. “I can still hear the echoes of doubt and fear of the enemy within this cell, but your words of faith prevailed.” Grace wrapped my shoulders with one arm and squeezed tightly. “Elyon would be proud.”
I was warmed by the kind assessment, and I was genuinely surprised that the voices weren’t a figment of my imagination. “Where are the voices from?” I asked.
“Melody, just as you can see Mercy and I because you are a child of the King, there are other spirits that exist in this world for malevolent intent. They are the true contenders,” replied Grace. What she said made some sense. Even after my tirade, those deceptive words continued to echo in the deep recesses of my heart. I just had to keep fighting. The only question was how long I can stay alive to keep on fighting.
There was the customary grinding noise as the cell door was unlocked and pushed open. The difference this time was that the Prince decided to personally visit me. Even the guards felt uncomfortable having him in the dungeon area. Because I was uncertain about how much strength I had in reserve, I didn’t attempt to stand when he approached me. I dared not to give Prince the satisfaction of seeing me fall.
He took a few steps within the cell with as much pomp as he could muster and coldly stated, “I have already given you two hours to think. If you want the antidote for the venom, tell me what I want to know.”
Somehow the echoes of the voices from earlier got louder. It was almost as if Prince’s words were like fanning a flame. “Never,” I calmly stated. I had to keep fighting the voices from tearing me down on the inside.
“Very well,” said Prince. Then he quickly made his way to the exit with guards in tow, but he paused for one last time to say, “I never had high hopes for you, but I didn’t think you would rot in a dungeon.” Immediately, he disappeared as the phantom he truly was. The door was slammed shut, and I was left alone once more.
I must have dozed off from exhaustion because I woke up to Harper, sorry, Harmony shaking me to consciousness. “Good, you’re awake. Drink this quickly,” she commanded. I took the offered vial without another thought. The concoction definitely had something to be desired. “Harmony, what is this?” I couldn’t hide the disgust I felt from the taste.
“It’s the antidote of course!” said Harmony disparagingly. I could only stare in surprise. “How did you get this?” Harmony smiled smugly. “I waited until Prince was bathing, so that his personal items were more accessible. I found an opportunity, and I switched the vial of antidote with an identical fake.” As soon as she noticed my mild distress at the news, Harmony shushed me and pulled me to my feet. “It’s okay. By the time Prince realizes what I did, we will be long gone. My plans never fail.”
Harmony placed a green heavy cloak over my shoulders and drew the hood over my head. Now the hard part was getting past the guards. Well, since Harmony was one of the higher commanding officers, no one dared to question the suspicious appearing companion. Once we left the confines of the dungeon, we made our exit through the servant’s hall and kitchen. I don’t know if Harmony was prepared for anything or had timed everything perfectly, but this escape seemed too easy even for her skills.
Once we were outside the confines of the castle, I couldn’t relax despite the escape. Even though Harmony chose a life with Elyon, she was still going by her own plans. She just didn’t realize that her plan was about to fail shortly. I couldn’t help but smile at the irony. I began to feel very short of breath with each step I took. After walking into the forest, we climbed onto a large horse that was tethered to a tree trunk. Eventually, I could not hide it from Harmony. “Let’s stop here for the night until you can catch your breath” advised Harmony. I nodded my consent, but I knew I had to tell her the facts.
Harmony climbed off the horse first. Then she helped me down. I could feel my heart rate jumping all over the place with each passing minute. I leaned against a great tree trunk after sitting down trying to think of what to say to Harmony. “There are some things you should always know and do. When you face temptation and you feel like you’re about to fall, depend on Elyon. He will be there for you.”
Harmony was at a loss for words at first. “Why are you telling me this right now?” she asked. “I have a ton of questions about how to live this new life, but they can wait.”
I shook my head. “I’m sorry Harmony, but the antidote isn’t working. I am starting to wonder if the antidote ever actually existed.” Harmony was instantly devastated by my words. “No, this can’t be true…Wait! You mentioned the Physician! He saved you the first time. I’m sure He can save you now.” She said with surety.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen. Harmony, do you have my sword?” I asked. She nodded. As soon as my fingers wrapped the hilt familiar words glowed in response bringing back incredible memories. Who could have imagined such an adventure in such a short amount of time? “Not only was I able to fend off enemies, I also learned more about Elyon’s character thanks to the power of Elyon’s sword. I want you to have it from now on.” At this point, Harmony finally understood the gravity of the situation and grabbed my hands. “Please, you are the only one I know in Elyon’s kingdom. I can’t fight by myself,” she said tearfully.
I smiled at her through my own tears. As I scanned her face, I knew a newborn was right before me. Oh, how I wish I could watch her grow and help her along her new adventure just as others helped me. “I know you will have a difficult journey, but trust in Father and all His ways. His plans are always better than our plans…” Finally, my eyelids could no longer stay open. Darkness engulfed me. Harmony’s cries faded into silence as the rhythm of my heart completed my life’s song.
Suddenly, I heard roaring applause making my eyes fly open in an instant. I was no longer in the dark, cold forest. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Never before had I seen such an opulent banquet hall adorned with gold, diamonds, and precious stones on every surface. Even the indoor fountains sparkled unnaturally! Then it suddenly occurred to me… I was standing in the middle of a large crowd wearing the same beautiful gown that I received the first time I met the King! I saw faces of my loved ones like my mother, Narcissa, and Chef…This must be Elyon’s kingdom. I didn’t know how to process the wonderment of it all.
When the crowd parted, I could finally see the face of the one my soul most loves, and He said to me, “Welcome home, Melody!” Without hesitation I ran into His arms, and He lovingly whispered, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enjoy your permanent treasures.”
I didn’t need the gold or the diamonds. None of it compared to the one thing that I have sought for my whole existence: home. This is where I truly belong as Melody, chosen daughter of the Most High King. This is just the beginning.