Empires Of Faith

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Chapter 5: El Leon and Al-Ghareeb

17 Sha'baan, 1663

Madrid, Spain, one of the few major cities of the world that remained slightly intact, was now a small sanctuary for one of the few Christian strongholds in the world. At the advent of Kwaade's rise to power, religious persecution soared. Anyone known to believe in any deity or practice any religious beliefs became an enemy of the Kwaadi Empire and was deemed unfit to reside in society. Under Kwaadi rule, the faithful were often exiled or hanged. Kwaade had convinced himself and those under him that religion itself was evil. He blamed religion as the cause of all previous wars and ultimately as leading factor for the desperate situation humanity was in at present times.

Within a short span of time, numerous faiths and religions had been annihilated by the ever-expanding Kwaadi Empire. In the end, only two of the world's major religions had managed to maintain any significant power in the lands; Islam and Christianity. However, all was not as it had once been. As for the Christian groups, they had been severely weakened as time went on. With spies on the inside, Kwaade had managed to infiltrate the Church and buy his way to power in several regions. Many priests and Christian Noblemen were swayed by the offer of power and wealth, and so then remained the few and faithful, forming a united resistance group known as The Cross Defense Force.

The Cross Defense Force ruled over three major territories, varying in sizes and locations. In the Middle Continent, the main territory was wedged between Kwaadi territory and the uninhabitable wastelands left behind from the Great Wars. On the Western Continent, the Christians enjoyed a more comfortable living, albeit in a smaller territory. Aside from their Kwaadi neighbors above them, and more deadly wastelands, the Christians were also living beside unclaimed lands where various tribes lived peacefully. And lastly, in the Northern Continent, the largest Christian territory was in the remaining parts of Spain. This territory was locked between extensive badlands to the west; Kwaadi lands to the north east; and three Muslim territories; one south of it and two small islands east of it. Aside from the stronghold in Spain, sparse groups of Christians remained hidden in Kwaadi lands far east.

For years, Madrid and all of Spain -or what remained of it- was kept safe from Kwaade's clutches by what many believed to be a hero sent by God Himself. Every attempt Kwaade made on Spain was thwarted largely in part by one man; Gabriel Guerrero. He was a firm believer and an excellent warrior whose ferocity on the battlefield had earned him the title: El Leon de España, The Lion of Spain. Tales of his bravery and determination reached wide and far, as he was known to be the first to arrive on the battlefield and the last to leave.

Currently, Gabriel was at the southern front, having recently dispersed a small group of bandits who'd been stirring up trouble in the local villages. He was kneeling down inside a scraggly building which had been maintained as the village’s only Church. After finishing up a prayer, Gabriel stepped outside and took in the blinding light from the sun. The golden warmth felt pleasant on his olive-brown skin. He looked into the sky with his hazel eyes, thanking God for giving him the strength to protect the weak. Just then he felt a strange presence.

"Who's there?" he spoke in a deep voice, his thick accent betraying his native origins. He looked around but saw no one. From the corner of his eye he saw a moving shadow. Gripping his handy battle ax, he cautiously approached the shadow behind the church. Leaping around the corner, he stood to face his hidden foe, only to see instead a tiny puppy shivering in fear. He chuckled to himself before letting out a loud sigh.

"It's okay, perrito*," he spoke to the puppy. "I will not harm you." He put his ax away and slowly walked toward the dog. He reached his hand out for the puppy but suddenly withdrew it after feeling a tingling sensation down his spine. It was that strange presence from before. Feeling the same sensation, the dog began to bark into the sky at random. Gabriel stood up and looked around once again before turning his attention to the nearby rooftops. Yet again he could see no one around. "Strange," he pondered aloud. "Muy extraño.*"

18 Sha'baan, 1663

The crescent moon rested high among the few scattered clouds, barely illuminating the cold, night sky. The city was at ease; all of the villagers were dwelling within the safety of their homes undisturbed for another peaceful night. Or so they had assumed. Just outside of the city's gates, however, a small army of 200 hundred men were closing in on their village. With steely eyes and swords gleaming in the dark of night, the army approached the city to launch a stealthy night raid.

At the forefront of the army there marched a tall, shadowy figure. Wrapped in a ragged black cloak with a blue turban resting on his head, the man inhaled deeply as the dust around him blew up in a short gust of wind. His heavily scarred face revealed a lifetime of fighting, and his sinister grin betrayed his wicked intentions. He eyed the two guards posted beside the nearest gate, and before they could spot him, he signaled for two of his archers to execute them.

The arrows hardly gave a whistle as they shot through the air, striking their targets dead-on. With arrows piercing their wind-pipes, both guardsmen crashed into the stone walls behind themselves before dropping to the ground as they quietly bled out. With his immediate opposition having been removed, the malicious man marched forth before raising up his curved blade. Upon his command, 30 archers stepped forward to release arrows dipped in flames towards the city. After the first round of arrows had been shot, a second wave of archers took the lead and fired another wave of burning arrows.

As buildings and plants began to catch fire, the guards within the village gates were alerted to the attack and immediately sounded the alarm bells of the city. All of the town's defenders were summoned to protect the city from the incoming assault. The invading army rushed through the gates, pouring into the city causing a loud ruckus with shouts and cries of “Allahu Akbar!” No mercy was shown as the soldiers broke down doors at random, dragging out men and women from their homes to slaughter them right before their frightened families. Desperate pleas and cries were completely ignored as the civilians were put to death.

The city guards clashed with the invaders but were unable to end their brutality. One man from amongst the raiders pulled an old man from beneath a tree which he had been asleep under and struck him down with his sword. Next, he prepared to loot the man's few belongings when suddenly he noticed a large shadow behind him. "Have you no shame, ay perro sucio?*" a booming voice called out. Clenching his fearsome ax with an absolute grip, there stood Gabriel Guerrero, the Lion of Spain.

"You dare to lecture me on shame, you Cross worshipping outcast?" the man replied. "I will slay you where you stand."

"I will hang you by your own turban cloth," Gabriel spoke with confidence as he spun his ax in his hand.

"Come; let me show you the reality you have been in denial about."

Gabriel gripped his ax with both hands and charged at the man. The man swung for his head and Gabriel swung to counter the attack. With his balance thrown off, the man stepped back before coming forth to try slicing straight down. Before the attack could land, however, Gabriel caught hold of his weapon-hand, snatching him forward before bashing his face in with a headbutt. As the man stumbled back, Gabriel stepped in, swinging the ax right across his midsection. The blade cut through the man's torso with ease and he fell to his knees writhing in pain. Gabriel lifted his ax above his head and spoke loudly, "In the Name of God, the Lord of all Creation, die you spiller of innocent blood!" With a mighty swing Gabriel brought down his ax and struck vengeance upon the dying man.

Standing nearby, another invader caught sight of his comrade's slaying and his face went pale. In the dim lighting of a blazing fire he managed to recognize the man staring him down with a fearsome glare. He dropped his weapon as he slowly started to back away, stammering for words. "E-El-El Leon de España!" he shouted. "El Leon de España!" The shouts filled the air as he fled away at once. Scores of men turned on their heels, fleeing from the legendary Lion of Spain.

Gabriel and the other guards fought the remaining marauders and pushed them from the town. When the army was far enough from the city, Gabriel and the guards returned to finish off those that remained. Nurses were quickly on the scene tending to the wounds of the injured guards and the surviving citizens. A team of citizens were gathered to put out the fires.

After ensuring that no invaders were hidden or remained living, Gabriel stood looking at his city. Within 20 short minutes it had gone from a peaceful slumbering town to one of grief and sorrow. Women in the streets wailed at the loss of their loved ones. Frightened children filled the air with sorrowful cries as the bodies of their mothers and fathers flooded the streets with blood. Gabriel fell to his knees fighting back tears. "And these, "he spoke. "What have they done wrong? Their trials from hence forth will be hard and long. Blood of innocents paints my streets, but I will make those responsible pay, so long as my heart beats. Hear my vow as I swear to You my Lord up High: most certainly by Your Will I will fight the unjust 'til the day I die."

19 Sha'baan, 1663

Gabriel sat at a large table amongst a conference with the three heads of the city and a few of the villagers in attendance. With no officials from The Cross present, Gabriel was the noblest of attendees, but certainly not the highest ranked among them. Nonetheless, he was called to the meeting to assist in planning out a stronger defense and alert system for the city, as well as addressing the city's thirst for revenge.

"Defense before offense," a gray haired woman shouted across the round table. "We must ensure our city's borders before we worry about going out after our enemies, otherwise we will leave ourselves open to more attacks."

"The time is now," a short, stout man hastily replied. "If we don't strike now while the wounds are fresh, our lands will fall into unrest. Even though we have strained relationships with some of the other cities, they still look to us for leadership in the absence of Cross commandments. How will they react if we sit and allow ourselves to be kicked around? They will think us weak, and it will decrease their own resolve to remain faithful. Kwaade's prideful godlessness will be more acceptable to them than weakness under belief. We of The Cross are a minority in this word and we are getting closer to extinction even within our own lands. We must show the world that we are strong, we are brave, we have God on our side, and we will not be taken so easily."

"He's right," another man chimed in as he stroked his moustache. The council head and resident governor, Juan Guiterrez looked on at his fellow members with his beady, black eyes. "We must defend our honor and our faith. I remember the tales in my childhood of a past where Christianity was the largest force in the world. We dominated several lands and had the most followers of any faith. Now, here we are as a minority beneath the godless Kwaadi and the heathens from the east. We haven’t even got a stake in the Holy Lands because of these heathens. We are forced into hiding in three desperate lands; meanwhile the Muslims and the Kwaadi enjoy spacious empires! What wicked times these are!"

"Yes but what can we do about it?" the councilwoman queried. "We've been able to hold off Kwaade, but now that the Muslims have attacked, we cannot possibly stand to fight them both."

"No," Juan agreed. "We haven't got the manpower to take them both on at once. But, it is well known that the Muslims are a much smaller quantity than the Kwaadi. If we shift our focus from keeping out the Kwaadi just long enough to build a strong force and attack the Muslims, I believe we can wipe them out for good. It will be a magnificent strike of vengeance and a glorious conquest that will benefit us in two ways. We will have defeated our enemy and also gained more territory with which to confront Kwaade. This is worth the small temporary sacrifice on the defensive end up north against Kwaade. Wouldn't you all agree?"

There was silence around the room as the others pondered the proposal. Eventually, they began to nod in agreement with the idea. It seemed that all were in favor of eradicating the land of all Muslims. The focus then shifted to Gabriel, the only person of importance who had yet to speak his opinion throughout the entire meeting. "And what do you say of our plan?" the councilwoman asked Gabriel.

Gabriel closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath. "Praised be our Father, God, Who spared my life those years ago so that I could become a devout servant to Him and a protector for His people. As for this matter here, you do not know how severely my heart aches for every single one of the victims from last night's tragedy. I believe that if we are acting to defend them and avenge their grievances, then we should consider their opinions in the matter. You all know that I would be the last of anyone to flee from fighting, and yet I say to you that if we go on the offensive, we will become even more of a target. This does not apply solely to the warriors out on the battlefield, but also to the women and children sitting at home, the noncombatants remaining in the village. And yet if we do nothing to defend their honor, then we become blameworthy and may incur the wrath of God for allowing our enemies to murder the innocents. This city may not be in close unison with the other ones nearby, but even so, all of Espana is under the protection of The Cross; and so it is that everyone residing in it has volunteered their voices to The Cross to decide. Thus I think it best that we address this matter to the high council of The Cross. To the best of my knowledge, a delegation of 3 is journeying this way even as we speak. According to the most recent reports, they should be arriving within 2 days. I suggest that we hold off on this matter until they arrive, and we should then present our ideas before them and let them decide."

The room went to murmuring as the people considered all of what Gabriel had said. Some were against his opinion, regardless of their high respect and adoration for him. Others felt that he had the most right of anyone to decide what should be done. Eventually, a decision had to be made, and so it was put to vote. The councilwoman cast her vote in favor of Gabriel's plan. Juan voted against it. The third council member agreed with Gabriel. With a tally of three-to-one, Juan knew even his high office did not give him a favorable outcome.

Having heard the deliberation from the villagers in the room, he called for the consideration of their voices too. Five votes were in favor of waiting and four favored an immediate retaliation to the attack. The outcome was still in favor of waiting two days to address the matter with Cross officials. As a show of goodwill to those who were not in favor of waiting, it was decided that if the Cross members had not arrived within 3 days, an army would be assembled and an attack on the Muslims would be plotted.

21 Sha'baan, 1663

The city was on edge as the sun set on the second day of waiting. Within 24 hours, a decision would be reached one way or another in regards to an attack of retaliation. Business slowed and the people returned to their homes. While everyone else was just going inside, Gabriel was preparing to head outside. He put his three children to bed, reciting to them verses glorifying God's Greatness and Kindness so that they would rest easy and secure. His wife, who was pregnant with a fourth child, was also preparing to rest for the night. A look of concern came over her face as she noticed her husband strapping on his boots and reaching for his ax. Everyone else felt that no harm could ever befall the Lion of Spain, but as a wife she was always worried that the worst may come upon him for the people's sayings and praises of him.

Gabriel simply walked over to her and placed a kiss upon her forehead, his thick beard tickling her nose. He gently held her face in his calloused palm, looking into her eyes. "Most certainly I am but a servant of God, doing the Lord's Will," he spoke quietly. "It is my duty after He has blessed me and made me to excel in this skill. Worry not, for I am with you and you with me through whatever goes on, we are together before the eyes of God, mi corazón*."

He slowly slid his hand down her face as he turned away to go patrol the city. "God Willing, I will return shortly. It's just a nightly patrol so that the people feel safe in their homes."

Gabriel stepped outside his door holding a lit torch in his left hand and his ax in his right. He was hastily greeted by little Perrito, the puppy he had chosen to adopt. Perrito had taken a liking to him and began following him around for the past few days. It seemed even a dog couldn't dislike the Lion of Spain. "Come on boy," Gabriel spoke. "Let us make our round for the night and I shall see what scraps I can bring out for you afterwards."

He set out with the puppy close at his side. Walking down the stony streets of Madrid, Gabriel pondered his course of action for the next day. If the delegates from The Cross failed to show up by sunset, the city would raise its own army to go out and fight the Muslims. Gabriel didn't fear fighting the Muslims, especially not after the recent night raid. Still he had a strange feeling in his gut.

Just as Gabriel made a turn down a narrow passage way, he felt a familiar sensation and quickly turned around. He saw standing at the opposite end of the path a young man of medium height and a lean build. He was dressed in the familiar Islamic garb of the Muslims from the Western continent, with only a few slight differences. He was in black pants and a brown thobe over it, with a sash wrapped around his waist. The dark brown turban that wrested on his head had a one wrap reaching down to cover the lower half of his face, leaving only his brown eyes and forehead exposed. Both of his hands were covered in some black cloth wrapping, and he wielded a lengthy bo-staff.

He stood downwind, eying Gabriel as the winds began to slowly pick up. Gabriel kept his eyes locked on the mysterious youth, wondering for what purpose he had come. "You are the Lion of Spain no doubt," the young man spoke up at last, breaking the silence. "Strolling about your territory with the courage only a lion could hold in the face of the enemy."

"My reputation precedes me," Gabriel spoke. "But I am only brave because I fear God; I serve a Mighty Lord and you should be wary of earning His wrath. Now tell me, whoever you are, why are you here?"

"There are rumors spreading in the land which claim that you will lead an army to fight the Muslims in the nearest land. I am here to ensure that you do no such thing."

"Hm," Gabriel sneered as he gripped his ax. "You should know assassin, I do not take kindly to threats!" He threw the torch at the man before charging after him with his ax at the ready. The young man smacked the torch to the ground with his bo-staff before spinning over and leaping into the air as Gabriel charged him swinging the ax. The man came down swinging his staff and Gabriel held his ax up to block the attack. Gabriel swung the ax at the man's side but he jumped back just barely evading the heavy blade of Gabriel's ax.

The man swung his staff low to sweep Gabriel but Gabriel leapt into the air. The man then came spinning back around, swinging his weapon at Gabriel's side but the attack was blocked with the grip of the ax. Gabriel slid his ax down the staff until the head had curved around the staff and he yanked at it, pulling the man toward himself. Gabriel struck out his elbow, knocking the man back and disarming him. Gabriel quickly rushed forward to strike the man with his ax but the man parried to the side before flipping out of the way.

Gabriel came forward again, bringing his ax down with a heavy swing, but the man dodged again and this time dealt Gabriel an attack of his own. He slammed his knee into Gabriel's stomach and was preparing to strike him in the back with his elbow but Gabriel caught hold of his arm and punched him in the chest. The man stumbled back a bit before regaining his composure and pulling out a small dagger from his belt. He stood, staring Gabriel down. Gabriel eyed him back, a small grin appearing on his face. "You seem so young," he spoke. "And yet you are a better fighter than over half the men I have slain before. Such talent; it's almost a shame that I have to take you down."

The man jumped forward, faking a right punch with the knife before he surprised Gabriel with a left uppercut. Gabriel stumbled back before spinning back around with a fist of his own. The man ducked and came up in a spinning horse kick to Gabriel's side. As Gabriel continued to stumble backwards, the man jumped forward and kicked off of his chest, doing a backflip into the air before charging forward to punch him. Gabriel crossed is arms to block the punches and when the man ceased his barrage, Gabriel swiped his across to chop his head. Jumping back, the man just narrowly avoided the sharp edge of the ax.

Gabriel went on the offensive, continuously swinging his ax at the man as he was left with no choice but to keep evading the blade. Unbeknownst to him, Gabriel was merely leading him towards a wall, hoping to corner him there. As they neared the wall, the man changed his tactics and started looking for an opening to attack Gabriel. Finally, on one of the downward swings, he caught hold of Gabriel's wrist with his left hand. He threw a punch with his right hand, hoping to cut Gabriel with the back facing knife. Gabriel caught hold of his hand before any damage was done and the two were locked in a struggle for dominance. Gabriel quickly gained the upper hand using his brute force and he slammed the man against the wall.

Gabriel released his ax and the man let go of his arm in an attempt to catch the ax before it landed on foot. Seizing the opportunity, Gabriel reached out and grabbed the man's turban, pulling it down and using the cloth to wrap up his arm and further restrain him. With his free hand, the man punched Gabriel in the face multiple times, but to no avail. Gabriel yanked him forward and spun him up into his own turban, trapping both of his arms. He then kicked the man over onto the ground.

"Now," Gabriel spoke as he walked over to grab his ax. "Before I send you to meet your Maker, tell me, why are you here? Who sent you, Assassin?"

With piercing dark brown eyes, the man stared at Gabriel from down on his side. The two stared at one another in silence for nearly 2 minutes. Suddenly the man rolled over on his side and with great speed, he cut his way free from the turban with his knife. Gabriel stepped forward to attack him before he had the chance to ready himself to continue. But even as Gabriel raised his ax into the air to swing it down on him, the man had drawn his knife and struck it out, stopping just at Gabriel's throat. He looked up to see the ax blade stop just above his own head. The two remained still for another minute or so.

"Let me be clear," the man spoke. "I am no assassin, nor have I been sent by anyone with any evil purpose. Rather it was my own conscience that has brought me here. My faith that man of integrity, such as yourself, could not help but do what is right and fair. And so, as I told you before, I am here to see to it that you do not lead an attack on the innocent Muslims of the nearby lands."

"Innocent?" Gabriel roared in disbelief. "After purporting a breach of peace you dare to call yourselves innocent?"

The man let out a sigh, before lowering his weapon. "I trust you will not behave in a cowardly manner," he said as he slowly moved to put the knife away. Gabriel lowered his ax to his own side, still keeping a firm grip on it in case the man tried to employ some sneaky tactic of his own. "Good. Now, answer me this, is it not true that you captured and killed a good number of the men who attacked your village?"


"And what became of them?"

"We hung them by their turbans on trees and posts outside of the city as a warning to anyone else planning such a cowardly attack."

"Indeed you did. Now, do you remember what these men looked like?"

"They were dressed the same way all of you do, except in dark blue clothing, and they were older men of a light brownish complexion."

"Indeed they were. Now, you have Muslim neighbors to the south who fit this appearance, but they are more than a month's journey away and would have to cross through Kwaadi lands to get here. What strategy is there in planning such a small and useless attack with a small army and such a risky journey? Furthermore, your Muslim neighbors east of here neither wear these colors, nor are they of the skin complexion you mentioned, rather they are of a lighter complexion. As for the colors they wore, this is closer to the way of the Ikeqi, not the Muslims."

"Are not the Ikeqi your allies?"

"They are not the allies of the Muslims, rather they had a peace contract with the Muslims, until a few months back when they broke it and launched an attack in the Saharan lands."

"So you are saying to me that the Muslims have not committed this heinous act against us?"

"Indeed. I have been travelling through the lands of your neighbors in recent times, and they are in no way harboring any ill-intent against your people. Their concerns are only with the growing influence of Kwaade and his folk."

"All of this information sounds important and very heavy, but how do I know I can trust you? I witnessed the attacks from your people myself, why then should I believe you when mean only to protect yourselves?"

"I am not from among these people. And have I not explained to you the error in assuming that the attack was purported by your Muslim neighbors? Do you not know that our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ordered that even in times of war, women and children are not to be attacked, nor the noncombatant elders. That he forbade us from even cutting down the trees? How then could the Muslims have disobeyed and disregard their religion when our religion is all we have in these days, and our fight is to keep hold of that even against the wishes of Kwaade."

"As is ours. And I have faith that God will grant victory to the faithful believers; most certainly it will not remain that evil controls the world and ungodliness is mandated upon the people. Surely, the Punishment of God would come upon us all then."

"As it would if the spilling of innocent blood is continued. This is why you must hear me out and change your course of action; you mustn’t lead an attack against the Muslims."

"Even if I accept this information from you, it only complicates matters further. Shall I address the people in the morrow and say to them that I have met a stranger from amongst the Muslims who tells me that they are not the enemy? They will surely think me a fool; they certainly witnessed with their own eyes men who looked to be like you killing their families and burning their village."

"Yes; I certainly understand your concerns and theirs. It is understandably difficult to believe, and my suspicion is that this was done with that fact in mind. Perhaps someone wishes to reignite the conflict between the Muslims and Christians in the near lands. The very fact that those men shouted 'Allahu Akbar' while committing the evil is clear enough proof that they wanted people to believe that they were Muslims."

"And just how do you know so much of this if you were not present when it occurred?”

"I came into this city hours before the attack took place. Though I was isolated from the people, I heard the conflict as it occurred, and thought as you do, that the nearest Muslims were attacking your people. I chose to remain uninvolved until I had gathered further information, lest any righteous intentions be marred with assisting an evil."

"A Muslim, journeying here alone? For what purpose? Who are you?"

"My name is Ishaq Al-Ghareeb, but throughout the lands I have been called as the Wandering Fox.”

“And you are well aware of who I am, I understand.”

“Yes, but nevertheless, I did not come to you for an introduction or acquaintanceship. I came only to discuss with you this important matter before a tragedy befalls the people of this land, Muslim and Christian alike. If my suspicion is correct, and the attack was indeed a plot to instigate violence between the Muslims and Christians in this area again, the Kwaadi must have some sinister goal in mind. Most likely they would not stop at one simple attack, rather I would think that they would ultimately seek to take out both groups once they have been weakened and exhausted from war with each other.”

"Si, of course! That certainly seems like a tactic those cowardly snakes would use. This is a very complex issue now." Gabriel sighed, loosening his grip on his ax and relaxing a little. "If you are sincere in what you have said to me, I think that I will trust you. However, I have a request to make of you.”

“If it is within my capabilities and will assist in keeping the peace, then I shall agree.”

“Peace will remain only if the spilling of innocent blood is prevented, and those who have lost their lives are avenged.”

“Well enough. What is your request?”

“Accompany me in relaying the news you brought to me to my people, as this may be our greatest chance at convincing them. Tomorrow there will come to us leaders whose word is the final say, and so I think that perhaps with their support we can decide a new course of action and strike a possible alliance between our peoples to do away with the troublemaking Kwaadi and the Ikeqi who attacked us. Stay, and I will defend you against anyone who wishes to harm you."

"I put my trust in my Lord, and fear none but Him. I do not think that your Cross officials will harm me in the least. You have my word, I shall accompany you."

"¡Excelente! Perhaps there is hope for peace between our peoples after all."

"And perhaps Guidance will not evade a man of your sincerity and devotion for too long. With guidance comes peace, in some way or another." Looking up at the moon, Ishaq sighed. The radiant glow reflected on his wheatish face, highlighting the sprinkles of brown freckles on his cheeks. "Everything in due time, only as our Lord Wills."

Gabriel looked up towards the moon as well, contemplating Ishaq’s wise words. He could only pray that peace and guidance would come to the land soon. Though a warrior he was, he did not believe human beings were created for the purpose of fighting. His Christian faith led him to believe that God’s Love was superior that, and that peace would find a way.

Looking over to his side, Gabriel was surprised to see that Ishaq was no longer with him. He turned this way and that, and there remained not a single trace of his presence. Neither the cloth of his turban, nor the staff he had wielded remained. With a furrowed brow, Gabriel looked down at the puppy, receiving an equally perplexed look from him. "Muy extraño," Gabriel muttered as the winds blew softly and familiar sensation came to pass. “Muy, muy extraño.”


Perrito: puppy

Muy extrano: very strange

Perro sucio: Dirty dog

Mi Corazon: My heart

Ishaq: (pronounced "iss-haq" not "ish-shaq"): Arabic equivalent of Isaac

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