Please Help Set Us Free! Conclusion
Though they couldn’t see me, they were swinging their swords as if I were within their swords blades. They were frightened, but making their way closer to me, attacking the air, like a process of elimination. Their plan was to kill what they couldn’t see. I was scared, no, I was terrified. I didn’t know what would happen if I stepped out of the Circle of Protection I had made around me with the staff. Would it really protect me?
I wanted to step outside the circle and attack them. I wanted to kill them and run back to the stone wall and flee. But I fought that fear and stayed inside the circle. I could only wait and I didn’t have to wait long. When the blade sliced through the air and reached the circle, he fell to his knees and burst into flames. Oh my God, what a horrible smell he made. Only one creature remained and he began to retreat, walking backwards slowly as he snarled as if to intimidate that which they couldn’t see.
I followed him at a distance, quickly looking to my left, then right and then backwards. I watched him as he descended the steps and entered the swamp and in seconds, I couldn’t see him anymore. I knew where I was headed. Only this time I didn’t walk slow or carefully. This time, I ran. I didn’t care who heard me. When I reached the spot where I was sure the wall had been, I stopped dead in my tracks. As far as I could see was swamp.
I looked left and right, then back at the church. This was the place I was sure of it but where had the wall gone? I was shaking, shaking as if my life depended on finding the wall and believe me it did. It was at that moment that I heard a child’s voice to my right. There at the top of a v-sloped hill, I saw a round glass object with a thousand facets of bright light within it.
“Please don’t be afraid. You’re very brave to come here to fight the evil that keeps our souls locked in this place of torment and darkness. The wall you seek is behind you. Use the staff and it will be revealed. Go quickly, destroy the wall and help set us free!” the child’s voice said urgently. Suddenly the brilliant light faded and was gone. My heart ached for all who were trapped here and I felt a tear fall from my cheek as I turned and held out the staff in front of me.
As if it had always been there, the stone wall appeared. That was when I froze in my tracks. The demon who had attacked me in the house now stood between me and the wall. I had no choice now but to fight him, perhaps to my death. As the demon stared defiantly at me, his voice sneered with a tone of futility, of helplessness and finality. "You will never leave this place. Your soul is mine!” he shouted.
As he spoke those words, above me black clouds swirled and formed the shape of evil face. “You have something that belongs to me and you have something I want!" he shouted. I watched him as he held his gaze upon the staff in my hand. "If you give me both, I shall let you pass. But if you refuse, then I shall take them both!" he shouted. The sound of his words resounded like thunder in my ears.
The ground began to shake as if it was an earthquake, as I tried to maintain my balance. Suddenly, I heard the splashing of water and I saw four of his followers step out onto the grassy soil behind me. "Be gone." he roared. “This mortal is mine.” and they cowered and retreated to the brownish murky waters of the swamp. For what seemed like eternity we stared at each other, neither moving nor speaking.
Then, with a comical smile, he raised his clawed hand and brushed it against his velvet cloak. "What shall your answer be?" he shouted. I strengthened my grip on the staff and stamped the ground with it and suddenly the red amulet atop of the staff turned incredibly bright. I don't know who was more surprised, the demon or me. "I see the ancient one has taught you well.” he sneered, “But she hasn’t taught you enough.
I sense the amulet worn under your shirt and I also sense she is dead. No one is here to help you defeat me. Give me the staff!" he ordered. But I stood my ground and shook my head no. I knew if I did as he demanded I was good as dead. If he had the power to easily take the staff away from me, he would have done so before now. I sensed it. I knew it. The wall was about eight feet behind him and I knew he wouldn’t step aside.
In the midst of terror, a terror I had never felt before, I found somehow, a piece of courage. "If you want what I possess, you’ll have to take it from me." I shouted as strongly as I could muster with my voice. In a split seconds blink of an eye, he motioned his left arm towards me and suddenly I was surrounded by the sound of electricity and I could feel the heat of fire, but it wasn’t burning me. Nor was I knocked off my feet.
I felt that the amulet and the staff were protecting me. With nothing to lose, I stamped the staff in the ground a second time and I destroyed that which was trying to destroy me. I can't describe the frustration I saw in the demon's eyes. He looked like he wanted to rip me to pieces. Then the sky thundered with the anguished screams of all the children's souls that he had taken for centuries, echoing the same plea, "Please help set us free!"
The demon was looking uneasy, his power over me wasn’t as great as he had imagined and he knew he couldn't easily kill me. Then he did something I never expected him to do. He began to come closer to me. He stood an arm’s length away from me, before he stopped, but made no effort to strike me. His bluish skin was leathery and his jagged teeth disgusted me. "I know your thoughts." he sneered, "I know your fears. You think you will take their souls and leave.
How wrong you are!” he shouted. Suddenly, behind him a cloaked young woman appeared in front of the wall behind the demon. She too wore the same velvet cloak but was beautiful. Her eyes revealed a confidence that told me she was here to help me, not hurt me. The demon sensed her presence and whirled around to face her. "It cannot be! Daughter, I sensed your death." he told the woman.
She walked towards him and then past him until she stood beside me and placed her hand around the staff above my hand. Her eyes offered me assurance that she was in truth, the old woman who I had first encountered on the sidewalk. She was no longer old and weak, but strong. I released my grip and she turned and faced her father. “You will not harm this human father. You shall let him pass. In return, I will stay in this world with you!" she told him.
He seemed pleased and waved his arm to me encourage me to walk towards the wall. With hesitation, I looked at the woman and she nodded and I saw a smile in her eyes. As I passed her, she whispered under her breath, "Do as I instructed you do!" When I reached the wall, there was sadness in her eyes as she said, "Go now!" I passed through the wall and felt down for my flashlight and turned it on.
I then picked up the crow bar and frantically began to break the wall down stone by stone. Sweat poured down my face and dust was in my eyes as I struggled to finish my task. When I reached down and tossed the last of the ancient stones aside, the basement echoed with the sounds of children's voices. Their voices were no longer tormented, but joyful. The room became bright with their spirits as over and over little one's thanked me.
Suddenly one child with long brown hair appeared before me. With sadness, she whispered, "You were brave, so very brave. You risked your life to free all of us and we thank you. You’ve trapped the demon in his world, never to steal another child's soul. But in doing so, you trapped also his daughter to spend eternity with the one she grew up to hate. But I bring to you, from her, a message she gave to me." the child said.
"Be not sad for me, for your kindness will never be forgotten for all my remaining days. You cared more for others then you did yourself. Others in your world will see that kindness and you will be blessed. Take away the stones at your feet and scatter them far from each other so they will never be assembled again!" the child said. There were tears in the child's eyes as well as mine as she hugged me tightly.
Then she looked up and whispered, "I must go and join the others.” and as she waved goodbye, she slowly became the brightest of lights and vanished. I spent the rest of that day loading the old stones into my one ton dually truck. I finished just before the sun went down. In the morning I would scatter stones as far away from each other as I could, so no one could ever re-build the wall again and let the demon take another soul.
I chose to dump some of the heavy stones in three different lakes as well as on land. I felt sad that the old woman, his daughter now was trapped with someone so mean, so hateful and evil for the rest of her life. She was a beautiful woman. I was glad I met her and for the rest of my life I would wear the amulet she gave me.
©2006 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)