Gabriel was a 15 year old boy who was trained to be in the games. Though small in height he was very skilled with any weapon that was given to him and had won every game he had to participate in. The brutal sports at first made him sick, but when he saw more people being killed in the events he soon became desensitized. The cries of the victims no longer touched his heart. He had slain many a Native of Doubt with no feelings of remorse. When the chief promised to make him a part of his tribe if he kept on showing courage and skill in the games Gabriel was so excited that he assured the chief that he would keep on being the best fighter no matter what. On the morning of Karen and Eddy’s execution Gabriel had to get up early to practice. He was told that he was going to be in the games that morning and he wanted to be prepared for whoever he was going to come up against. Using a dummy stuffed with straw he kept on poking it with his sword until all the stuffing came out. Then he cut the dummy’s head off and held it up imagining the crowd cheering him for beating another opponent. He then tossed the dummy head aside and sat down to relax. He was ready to fight.
Karen and Eddy prayed hard in their cells. They asked the Good King to save them from the fate that awaited them. But they also asked Him to give them the courage to die for Him if it wasn’t His will for them to be rescued. The Holy Spirit reminded them of the words from the Holy Word. They pondered on the words and they thanked the Good King for His promises. They didn’t have their Lanterns anymore but the fiery words of Truth were in their very hearts, and their minds were filled with heavenly joy and peace. They still had the Light of Truth with them and how they praised the Good King for that!
A guard came up to the door of Eddy’s cell. Eddy stopped praying and watched as the stone door opened. The guard came in and grabbed him.
“Where are you taking me?” Eddy asked meekly.
“To the chief. He has something he wants to say to you before you die.” the guard answered.
Eddy swallowed hard. Dear Master, please be very close to me. Walk with me and do the same for Karen.
As he was being roughly led to the throne room Eddy wondered what the evil chief wanted to say to him. Obviously it wasn’t going to be good. When he got to the throne room he saw Karen with a guard who was watching her intently. The guard forced him to stand right next to her. Karen saw Eddy and tried to smile. He could tell from her expression that she was very scared. He was used to seeing her brave when danger came their way. She was always ready to help others no matter what the situation was. But now she seemed different. She even looked like she was going to cry.
“It will be all right, sister. We are not alone here.” Eddy said to her gently.
“I know, but I’m still afraid. I have never been this scared before.” Karen replied in a shaky voice.
“We’ll get through this together, just like we have in our past adventures. You know that we will because even though you are very scared I can see that you still believe in His Majesty.” Eddy said. He sensed in his soul that the Holy Spirit was strengthening his courage when he spoke those words.
Chief Much Cruel then entered with guards positioned around him to protect him. He sat on his throne and looked at the two Lightbearers.
“There has been a change of plans,” he said to them, “I have decided to spare one of you from my tigers.” He then had a malicious smile on his face when he began to speak to the little man. “Edward Matthews of Small Faith, you will not face the tigers in the games today. Instead you will compete with one of our best worries in a fight to the death.”
Eddy’s face turned pale. He didn’t like to fight and he knew that he wouldn’t survive one with a fearless warrior of the Natives of Doubt. He wanted to beg for mercy but the Holy Spirit who was dwelling inside of him kept him from doing it.
Karen gently touched Eddy’s hand. Her kind touch helped him to calm down a little.
Chief Much Cruel then faced Karen. “You, however, will be thrown to my tigers. You will be the first one to die.”
Karen was speechless. She was terrified of her fate and felt the urge to beg also, but the Holy Spirit assured her that everything would turn out fine. The Good King was very close to her and Eddy in this extremely difficult time.
Much Cruel then ordered his guards to throw them into the prison where those who were going to be in the games were sent to. After they were locked in Karen and Eddy embraced each other and prayed to the Good King.
The guards informed the slaves that they didn’t have to work that day. Instead they were all going to watch the games and witness what happens to those who dare to go against the chief. The Small Faith People didn’t want to go to the games but they didn’t have a choice. If they refused they would die too. On their way to to see the brutal games Sally said to Billy, “I wonder who it’s going to be this time.”
“Let’s keep whoever it is in our prayers. The poor soul will really need the Good King to be with him.” Billy answered, wondering himself on who it could be. Who among them would have the guts to go up against the chief like that?
When they all reached the arena the slaves sat down in the seats and waited to see who the doomed person was. The drums started to beat an ominous rhythm and chief Much Cruel’s voice sounded from his seat on the top of the coliseum: “Bring out the wretch!” he commanded.
The guards went into the prison and tore Karen away from Eddy. The little man called out to her from the bars: “His Majesty is with you! Don’t be afraid dear friend and sister!” When she was gone from his sight he then buried his face in his hands and prayed.
“Please Master, don’t let her die.” he sobbed.
When she was pushed out into the arena by the guards the Small Faith People recognized who it was.
“Karen the Lightbearer!”
“Oh, no! Not our new friend!”
Karen heard their shouts of despair. She looked up at them and said confidently, “The Good King is with me. He will deliver me from death. But if He decides not to my love for Him will not falter. He knows what is best. Whatever you see today keep your faith, for you all are in the Good King’s keeping too. And you will be free from these servants of the Master of Darkness.”
Chief Much Cruel laughed and so did the Natives of Doubt. The only one not laughing was the queen. As she looked at the teenage girl who was about to be turn to pieces by the tigers she couldn’t help but admire the bravery that she was showing before her death.
Much Cruel then contained himself and commanded, “Release the tigers!”
The barred gates holding the tigers began to slowly go up. The beasts roared and reached out their paws through the bars. Karen saw the ferocious tigers. She then knelt down and prayed. She prayed for Eddy, for the enslaved Small Faith People, for the Natives of Doubt so that they may see the error of the ways, and for her family back home. When the gates were all the way up the tigers charged at her.
Eddy covered his ears. He didn’t want to hear the sound of the tigers finishing off his best friend. “I’ll see you on resurrection morning.” he whispered as his tears fell like rain.
Karen closed her eyes and waited to feel the teeth and claws of the beasts. When nothing happened she slowly opened her eyes. The tigers were laying around her yawning and looking around like they were bored. One tiger came up to her and gently nuzzled her with its furry head. She carefully petted the tiger and the animal purred and licked her face.
Chief Much Cruel stood up from his seat in shock. “What happened to my ferocious man-eating tigers? They’re acting like harmless house cats!” he shouted.
The queen snickered. It was so amusing to her to see her husband confused and irritated.
The Small Faith People saw the scene with joy. The Good King had saved Karen from the tigers. She wasn’t going to die after all. Even Benjamin was joyful. The doubts that the Master of Darkness planted into his mind were being uprooted by the faith that was still inside of him. With confidence the elderly little man said, “His Majesty does exist. Only He can perform such a miracle as this. Praises to Him!”
Billy heard him and thanked the Good King for helping his brother to believe again. He was so happy to see that Benjamin hadn’t completely forsaken his faith.
Seeing that his tigers were not going to destroy the Lightbearer Much Cruel ordered his guards to take her away. He wasn’t totally disappointed because Eddy still had to be brought out to participate in the games. Perhaps the little man wouldn’t be so lucky as his friend was.
To Be Continued