No Darkness Can Overcome
“And to what do I owe this change of mood?” Deun asked upon returning to he and his wife’s chambers that night and finding, instead of the anxious creature he had left that morning, a joyful young woman who glowed with life.
“For the first time, my life makes sense.” Talonka said.
“And what is that supposed to mean?” Deun asked with a chuckle.
“Sit down and I’ll tell you.” the queen replied.
“Talonka...” said Deun an hour later, “I love you and I’m glad you’ve found something that makes you happy, but you know that I don’t believe in much of anything outside the existence of Adonai.” he took her hand and held it.
“I just thought...” Talonka looked down, deflated now, “I thought you would understand.”
“I understand that it helps you.” he replied.
“But it’s so much more than that.” she insisted, looking back at him. “It’s not just something to ‘get me through the day,’ Deun. It’s the final atonement for my sin. Surely you know how significant that is.”
“’Only Adonai can cleanse sin.’ That is what the priests say.” he replied.
“But Adonai did cleanse my sin.” she persisted.
“Talonka.” he stopped her with the tired address. “It’s late and I’m tired. Can we talk about this in the morning?”
His wife looked down again and said quietly, “Yes... We can...”
“Alright.” Deun said to her, getting up and leaving her sitting on the couch, staring down at the floor, tears of disappointment starting to stream down her face.
At least tomorrow was the Feast of Lots – Purim, and Deun wouldn’t have as many duties to attend to as the populace would be entertaining themselves for most of the day. Unfortunately, it also meant that her husband would likely be drunk half the day – a tradition Talonka despised as it made fools of otherwise reasonable men and women.
Talonka continued to sit on that same couch for long hours after Deun had fallen asleep, praying that somehow, her husband would listen to her and to the things she now knew were true.
When morning came, Talonka was surprised to find that she had fallen asleep on the couch. The awkward position had left a crick in her neck and the sun was already up. She had slept longer than usual.
The queen looked around the room, wondering where Deun was. Certainly he wasn’t still sleeping.
She got up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes and fending off a bought of dizziness that suddenly forced her to sit back down for a moment. When it had passed she rose again and was about to go and see if her husband was up yet when the door to the suite opened.
Talonka jumped at the unexpected noise. “Deun, you startled me.” she said, turning to greet her husband who was hefting a bottle of the best wine on the planet.
“Have a drink with me?” he offered.
“Thank you, but no.” she politely refused.
Her husband shrugged and walked over to a low table where he set the bottle. “Your loss.” he smiled good-naturedly at Talonka as he retrieved a glass and poured out a generous amount of the rich, purple, alcohol laden liquid.
He was about to take a drink of it when his wife placed a hand on his arm, “It’s a bit early for that, isn’t it?”
Deun set the still-full glass down and looked first at the wine then at his wife. He shrugged again, “Very well. I suppose it can wait a few more hours.”
He poured the wine back into the bottle and stowed it away. “And you will be pleased to know that I’ve asked for that servant friend of yours to bring both of us our food this morning.”
Talonka’s face lit up.
“My father and his stuffy friends will have to eat by themselves today.” he said.
“I thought you liked your father’s friends.” Talonka replied as she and Deun took a seat on the couch that she had slept on last night.
“I do – in a way. They’re intelligent military men, but beyond that... they’re not much good for conversation.”
“What about Raymond and Naomi?”
“They’ve gone to the local synagogue to hear Hadassah's Megillah read. They left early.”
“I see.” Talonka replied. “They are an interesting couple.”
“Indeed.” Deun said. “You know they believe what you do.”
“No! I didn’t! Why hasn’t Raymond mentioned it?”
“I told him not to.” Deun said, a bit sheepishly.
“You did what?”
Deun was about to offer his excuse for requiring Raymond’s silence when the door made its familiar trill indicating that someone was requesting to be let in.
“Computer, who is it?” Talonka asked.
“Eliora, from the kitchen staff.” the computer replied.
“Let her in, please.” the queen said.
At her command the door opened to allow the woman to enter.
“Eliora, please come in.” Talonka beckoned the servant to enter, a smile welcoming the woman who had changed her life.
The servant looked back and forth between the Leader and his queen, looking as though she felt awkward.
Talonka laughed, realizing that the servant was nervous about having been summoned by the Leader himself this time instead of at the request of the Queen. “It’s alright. He asked for you because he knew I would ask him to if he didn’t.”
Eliora smiled and nodded respectfully to her rulers. She stepped inside and arranged the food for the couple artfully on a table that had been placed in front of the couch for just such purposes. Eliora finished arranging the food and took the serving tray. She started to leave when Talonka stopped her.
“Please, don’t leave now.”
The servant looked at Deun for permission to stay.
He nodded, “I’ve already disappointed my wife enough; I’ll not add anything else to list. Please, stay.” then he added after a brief moment of thought, “And eat with us.”
Eliora was a bit caught off guard by the Leader’s winning smile and his odd invitation. “Of-of course, Sire.” she replied, sitting down across from the couple on a second couch, a twin to the first, sitting on the other side of the food-laden table.
Talonka and Deun talked comfortably with one another for several minutes, but then Eliora noticed that the queen began to become a bit nervous about something. A few moments later, she realized what Talonka was troubled about.
“Deun... You said that you would talk with me about what happened yesterday.” the queen said to her husband.
Deun shot a glance at Eliora then looked back at his wife, understanding dawning in his face.
“She’s the one who told you about this... religion you’ve been trying to convert me to.”
“No, Deun.” Talonka said very seriously, “she’s the one who introduced me to my Saviour, and I only want you to meet Him too. Please, listen to me.” she pleaded.
Deun sighed, looked deeply into his wife’s eyes and opened his mouth to say something.
“Security breech.” the computer announced an intruder alarm. “Tseva Adom.”
Deun shot up from the couch, the moment utterly shattered. His head whipped around to looked straight at Eliora. “Stay with her.” he pointed at his wife.
Eliora nodded wordlessly, her eyes wide with surprise at the suddenness of the event. The Leader grabbed a rifle he kept in the suite, locked a power cell in place, and raced out of the chamber, locking the door behind him.
“Tseva Adom?” Talonka thought. There was only one person whose presence would warrant that high of an alert level... “Please be careful...” she whispered as the tail of her husband’s dark cloak disappeared through the door.
“What is it, my lady?” Eliora asked, seeing the tension in Talonka’s face.
“There’s only one reason why that alert would have been issued...” the queen replied, standing up. Eliora followed suit.
“Why, Maj – Talonka?” she asked.
“Me.” came an angry, ominous voice shrouded behind a thick curtain hanging innocently beside one of the massive windows.
Talonka screamed in astonishment.
From her red velvet fortress sprang a vengeful Aurelia. “You are a foolish girl! Just as you always were! And that stupid husband of yours is no better.” she spat. “But today everything changes. Today you will take my place as the host of the spirit called Diana.” Aurelia sneered at her daughter. “That inheritance you asked about all those years ago is about to be yours, whether you want it or not.”
“No!” came the firm declaration, not from Talonka, but from Eliora.
Aurelia bellowed at the servant, furious at the interference. The possessed woman snatched a knife from her belt and flung it at the servant woman.
Eliora swung the serving tray in front of her face just in time to catch the knife. The blade sank through the organic material, stopping an inch from Eliora’s nose.
Aurelia yelled unintelligible syllables of anger at the still-living servant, then screeching, “And who is going to stop me, simpleton!?”
Not waiting for an answer, she turned her gaze towards the queen. Aurelia stared with fiery eyes into her daughter’s now-determined face. “This spirit will consume you, girl.”
As a black, almost visible presence began to seep towards Talonka, leaving Aurelia, the young queen’s confidence seemed to grow. This further infuriated Aurelia and made the foul spirit speed faster towards its new host-to-be.
Eliora stood back from the scene, praying that Adonai would protect Talonka from whatever was to come. Despite this strange woman’s confidence in this dark venture, there was something she obviously didn’t know and was about to discover, to her detriment.
The strange presence reached Talonka, it’s dark tendrils, now visibly swirling around her. The young queen’s confident face never wavered, to her mother’s dismay.
The blackness completely engulfed Talonka from head to foot. Nothing could be seen of the young woman for several moments, then suddenly, all at once the darkness jerked away as though electrocuted.
“She has another Spirit!” It shrieked. “Another Spirit! I cannot enter!” the devil screamed in torment and fled back to Aurelia. The woman, not expecting the sudden return, jerked in pain and surprise as the presence re-invaded her mind and soul.
Aurelia’s eyes seemed to glow with evil light as the spirit’s cries again became hers as well, “You have the Spirit of the Enemy! You have betrayed us! Betrayed the goddess Diana!”
There was a lull in the maniacal screams and Talonka spoke, “No darkness can overcome me now. The light of Yeshua is in my heart and no one – not even you and your foul spirit can snuff it out.”
With that, Aurelia shrieked once more and fled from the room, wrenching open the door with supernatural strength born of the fury of the demon within her.
“My lady!” Eliora exclaimed as the possessed woman disappeared. “Are you alright?”
“Yes,” Talonka said with an amazed smile. “And I feel more alive right now than I ever have in my entire life... How is it that coming face to face with Abaddon’s servant and seeing it flee in terror is the first thing to make me realize just what happened to me last night...?” she looked at Eliora – her friend and her sister in her new faith.
Eliora smiled at the younger woman, “Perhaps because the power of the Almighty has become real to you.”
The two silently listened as the last panicked screams of Aurelia and Diana faded into the lower levels of the palace as the woman and her possessor fled from the presence of Adonai.
Talonka hoped that Deun would be able to capture her mother so that she couldn’t wreak anymore havoc on Gamilon, and especially on Rapha’owr. But whether or not Aurelia was apprehended today, tomorrow, or sometime in the distant future, one thing was for certain, Talonka’s heart was now at peace.