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Chapter 37

An entire community had gathered at the bottom of the trail leading out of Hule Copes and the cave. Laken and Demi pushed through the crowd to reach Andre with Davi and the girls in tow. Demi fussed over his splintered arm, and Laken pulled him into a rough, one-armed hug with uncharacteristic tears in his eyes.

The Mallorys and the Kirkebys were allowed through to get to their kids, and the hardened sea captain held tight to his daughters and choked on his sobs without words to express his relief. At some point in the tumult of emotions and joy, Kirkeby’s gaze met Andre’s and the Agabus did not need an apology to see the gratitude and regret in his expression.

The Koinonians never needed an excuse to throw together a feast at the drop of a hat, but they gladly accepted one. Once the wounds of their heroes were cared for, the people dug in their stores and brought their food offerings to the Community Center to share. Where only hours before they felt threatened and feared not having enough, now they passed around the blessings until everyone had received more than their share.

Metoche was lit up with a festive glow with burning coal fires, torches, and brightly lit storefronts. The merriment overflowed into the side streets and alleyways, down to the harbor, and out on the pier. The rainclouds cleared and a light breeze drifted off the water, smelling of salt and clean, breathable air. Music swelled from within the Alleluia House mixed with the harmony of hundreds of voices lifted in praise and worship.

The Agabus stepped out of Elder Kerr’s office in front of the gathering of councilmembers and komers, nodding and shaking hands with the men he had spent over an hour meeting with. The last thing he wanted was to recount the tale of what had happened that day in and on the mountain, but it had to be done. The event was set down for the record books, decision were made, apologies given and received. Komer Costa maintained his position as Head, accepting the offer from the entire council without hurt feelings. Indeed Komer Turay hardly looked up to the task anymore, shaken from the events of the day and turned off by the thought of such a trying position.

Andre walked away from the elders relieved to have the meeting over with. He had done his part, and now it really was done. He had told them everything…everything but one important revelation which could wait. “Join me for a walk?”

Jora got up from the bench where she had been waiting for him outside of Kerr’s office and smiled. “Of course.” She reached for his offered arm and allowed him to lead her down the walkway toward the bay.

“Your father won’t mind?”

“You saved his country and his daughters,” Jora pointed out. “You can do no wrong.”

“My part was very small,” the Agabus corrected her modestly.

“So was mine,” she smiled softly. “But it feels good to have had the honor.”

Andre watched her in silence as they approached the highway. The light of the Panoplia was in her eyes as she watched them soar overhead, patrolling the island in their old fashion.

“They’re so beautiful,” she sighed in awe. “I’m so glad I can see them.”

“Just in time for Easter,” Andre said and enjoyed the effect it had on her expression. “I guess this means you won’t be coming with me next year.” He spoke the conclusion which had been bothering him all evening.

Jora dropped her gaze but maintained the look of peace and contentment on her honest features. “No, I won’t be.”

Andre nodded regretfully, but with a sense of relief at the same time.

“Are you disappointed?” she wanted to know.

“A little,” he admitted, “but at least I won’t have to worry.” He glanced around at the congregating groups of happy, smiling Koinonians celebrating their renewed freedom.

Jora nodded. She understood but had reservations of her own. “I hope I can do this. I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself.”

“That’s good,” Andre said. “You would not be much good to Theos if your confidence was in yourself.” He couldn’t help but meet Lavi’s eye where the Panoplia stood off to the side leaning against the side of the bait shop across from the pier. The Warrior smiled and looked away, maintaining his patrol of the area.

“You’ll do what needs to be done when need calls for it,” Andre continued encouraging Jora as they crossed the deserted highway and walked down to where Svana pushed Declan precariously close to the edge of the dock in his borrowed wheelchair from Iasis.

Jora squeezed his arm in gratitude, meeting his eyes with sudden seriousness. “I’m going to miss you next year. The island will be lonely without you and Svana. And Declan,” she added, cocking her head with a look of exasperation while watching their friend yelling at Svana and trying to reach behind his chair to take a swing at her for her shoddy steering.

Andre laughed, and Jora shook her head, unable to hold back a smile, “Mostly anyway.”

“We’ll miss you too,” he sobered up, speaking for them all, but really meaning him. His excitement for leaving had soured somewhat with the realization that he would not see her for an entire year. “But when I get back, I’m going to have a word with your father.”

“Oh, really?” Jora raised a skeptical eyebrow.

“And we’ll have a summer wedding, right here.” Andre pointed to the ground at his feet.

“Right here?” She stepped back derisively.

“By here I mean the island,” he corrected himself. “The most elegant corner of the island, wherever you want.”

“That’s better.” She moved closer again, leaning into him as Andre put his arm around her. They watched the stars crisscross with the lights of the spirits, lost in their own thoughts of the future until Svana called from the pier and waved them over.

“She’s going to dump him in the sea,” Jora muttered and lifted her head to pull away. “The poor boy will drown.”

“Go save him.” Andre let her go. “I’ll be right there.” He watched her walk away and waited until she had stepped onto the dock before turning and meeting Lavi on the beach.

“How’s the arm?” The Warrior nudged his elbow slung up in a cast.

“Still quite painful, thanks for touching it,” Andre responded dryly.

“She’ll make a fine replacement.” He glanced back at Jora. “Much more polite anyway.”

“She’s nervous though.” Andre ignored the jab.

“You have months to prepare her. You still have the rest of your Sunesis to complete.”

Andre frowned at this, having no patience left for interning. He did not relish the idea of going back into the mines in the weeks ahead or to even work at the factories and utilities buildings in Ergon Park. None of it held any benefit for him, and June seemed yet so far away. “Watch out for her.” He pushed Sunesis out of his mind and concentrated on the upcoming Therapon.

“Of course,” came Lavi’s customary response. “I am more worried about you.”

“Why?” Andre asked in his distraction watching Jora from afar where they stood on the rocky beach under the concealing night sky.

“What do you plan to do if you come across your father?” Lavi asked.

The Agabus acted surprised without fooling the Panoplia in the least. “The world is a big place. What are the chances I will?”

“Pretty high when you plan to go looking for him.”

Andre frowned. “Yeah, that’ll raise them a bit, I guess.”

“Havoc was trying to get to you.”

“But he wasn’t lying,” Andre pointed out.

The spirit didn’t respond right away, admitting with his silence that the prophet was right. “Then be careful, kid,” he warned him. “He’s been gone a long time.”

Meeting Lavi’s penetrating gaze, Andre read the unspoken meaning there and took it seriously. “I know.”

The spirit nodded and looked out across the water before squinting up at his brethren racing against the sky. “I better get up there. It looks like Shamira thinks herself fast and I need to bring down her confidence a few notches. Care to join us?” He gave Andre a sidelong glance with a suppressed grin.

“No, I’m good.” Andre tucked his free hand in his pocket for warmth, waiting for the Panoplia to take flight and trying not to seem too eager to leave Lavi to return to Jora.

“Go get her, Agabus.” The Warrior pushed off from the ground like a shooting bullet into the midnight blue sky dusted with stars. “Enjoy her company while you can.

The prophet walked back down the beach to the pier and joined his lifelong friends beside the rippling waves. Music and laughter drifted from the village and mixed with the competitive banter of the spirits in the sky. For the moment, the mountain was silent and still, a black mass against the northern horizon which posed no threat beyond the inborn nature of the people who lived within its shadow. The same people who sent their prayers to heaven and fiercely fought to keep the Protection in its place.

“There are some who doubt us. It has never been done without Evil’s devious sabotage. But we attempt nothing that isn’t laid out in Theos’ command. He asks nothing of us which cannot be accomplished within His strength and aid. The guidelines are simple; the equation for communion and peace has been laid out before us, if only we are willing to follow it. Our way of living in accordance to Theoss’ will and direction is not Koinonian exclusive. But we try to be a model for other civilizations to draw hope. We must be willing to try, be willing to rely…be willing to serve.” ~ Dr. Alexander Dietrich

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