Adama's soft whimper had Ga'briyel's eyes snapping open. He looked down at his son who was staring up at his father, his violet eyes glowing in the darkness as brightly as Ga'briyel's.
"What is it, my son? Why are you upset?"
For the first time, Adama did not speak to his father, but only pressed his tiny lips together, fisted his hands, and whimpered again. At that moment, Ga'briyel felt the oiliness of a Daitya, of several Daitya, cover him, and he jumped out of bed, pulled on his boots, and grabbed his sword belt before bolting out of the room.
He ignored Sophyra's concerned voice behind him and raced down the stairs and out of the inn. He skidded to a halt in the dirt of the road when he saw more than a dozen men in a semicircle outside the inn. He drew his sword, set his stance, and waited for them. One stepped out until he was several paces in front of the others and held up his empty hands.
"We are not armed, Sainika. We have no desire to fight you. We only wished to see the man who was Yisu's champion. To see the fool who dares to stand against Sayatan and his powers."
"A fool am I?" Ga'briyel snarled. "And what is it that makes me a fool, Daitya?"
The man laughed. "Anyone is a fool who tries to fight Sayatan and his sons."
Ga'bryel grinned, but if a human had seen that grin, they would have screamed. "And yet I have killed three of his sons already, Daitya. Dismembered, they are rotting away as we speak, never to come together again. Soon they will be only bones." He shrugged as if it mattered not a bit to him. "I assume their souls are gone as well. That is what Telantes told me."
At the name of the Debaduta, every Daitya recoiled. "That interfering spirit!" the spokesman said with a snarl. "He has been far too involved in your life, Sainika. Sayatan will deal with him in time. We may be able to banish him for a year or so, but Sayatan can destroy him as easily as you can destroy us."
"Speaking of," Ga'briyel said, taking a step closer to the Daitya and readying his sword, "I am going to destroy you all right now."
"You would fight unarmed men?"
"You are not men, Daitya. I know exactly what you are, and you are not human. You are Hellspawn become flesh. You are spirit just as much as Telantes is. And you are not unarmed. I know of the powers Sayatan has given you, but they will not work on me."
"What about your family, Sainika? They will work on them."
Ga'briyel growled deep in his chest, took another step closer to the Daitya, swung his sword once, and grinned again when its head was removed from its body. Immediately it crumbled into a pile of ash, and the inhuman shriek was heard for a few seconds before it faded into the air. "Who's next?" Ga'briyel asked, walking slowly toward the other Daitya. "Come to me, Hellspawn! I will kill you all before you ever come near my family!"
At his words, every Daitya left drew a wicked looking black blade from the scabbards on their backs, and every blade glistened with the poison Kardag had killed Ga'briyel with in Difeld. Telantes had dealt with the poison the same way he had dealt with the venom on the way to the volcano, so Ga'briyel had no fear of dying that way again. When the Daitya moved so that they surrounded him, however, he slowly spun in a circle to make sure none were headed to the inn. None were, and they all took a step toward him. He kept circling until they were close enough to dispatch, and then he began his dance. Every scratch from his sword had a Daitya dropping to the ground, turning to ash, and releasing the shriek. Just because he felt like it, Ga'briyel often swung his sword to take off a head, and this pleased him greatly. He counted as he fought, and when he reached twenty-two Daitya killed, there were no more standing that he could see. Several piles of ash released their shrieks at the same time, and Ga'briyel had to cover his ears with his hands until they faded. Then he frowned.
He could still feel the oil of a single Daitya covering him, and he slowly turned toward the inn. One last spirit was making his way to the front door of the inn, and Ga'briyel drew a dagger, threw it precisely, and buried it in between the shoulder blades of the creature, dropping it to the ground only a pace from the door. He marched to the spirit, dragged it to its feet, and drew a second dagger. With one swift strike, he sliced through the Daitya's throat, and with a second strike, cut its head from its shoulders. For the last time, the body crumbled to ash and released its shriek, and Ga'briyel sank to the ground with a heavy sigh, his sword across his knees.
"Ga'briyel? Are you all right, my love?"
"Yes, Sophyra, but I am so very, very tired." The Sainika looked up at his wife who was holding Adama closely to herself. "Two days, my heart. We will stay here for two days and pray that I do not encounter any more Hellspawn." He slowly stood and moved toward his wife. "I just want to rest, my wife. I think I deserve that, do you not think so?"
"Of course, husband. Come and rest. For the entire two days if you need to. I will care for Adama while you do so." Sophyra took his arm, helped him to his feet, and continued to hold onto him as she led him back to their room. She laid him down on the bed, pulled off his boots, sat down behind him, and rubbed his back softly until he fell asleep once again.
Ga'briyel did rest for the two days they stayed in the inn, and when he tried to pay for their room and board, Mitra refused his coin, telling him that by killing the demons, he had more than paid for everything the Sainika's family had used. Ga'briyel just nodded, mounted Kumar, and started south again with Sophyra driving the cart next to him. Adama was gurgling happily in the back of the cart in his basket, and his father was glad for that, but the Sainika was not able to keep from thinking that his son was already far too old for his age.
You are angry, Baba. Why?
Looking at his son, Ga'briyel frowned deeply. "You know what I am thinking, Adama. Therefore, you know why I am angry."
But this is Yisu's will, Baba. Why do you fight His will?
Ga'briyel did not answer but only turned his head forward, stared straight ahead, and fought with the fury that abruptly filled him. He had no luck with that.
"I wish I could accept His will as easily as you, my son, but I cannot. I have seen too much and been through too much to blindly accede that He is fully good." Ga'briyel bit his bottom lip before he blurted out what he was really thinking--that Yisu had a mean streak to Him, that He must enjoy seeing people suffer or He would stop it from happening.
You are wrong, Baba. Yisu is good. There is no evil in Him. He does not want people to suffer, but often it happens because of their own choices.
"And me, Adama? What is the reason for my suffering? For my pain and agony? For being without my family for so long? You cannot tell me there is a good reason for that!"
There is, Baba. You know this. There are very few ways Sayatan's Hellspawn can hurt you now. They cannot hurt me at all. I have Yisu's protection from anything they can do to me. And between us, we can protect Mama.
Ga'briyel reined Kumar to a halt, reached into the cart, and picked up his son, setting the baby in front of himself in the saddle. Adama clutched the pommel, twisted his body, and stared up at his father. "You are already wiser than your Baba, my son. How is this possible?"
I do not know, Baba. Yisu has not told me yet. I have faith that he will tell me someday.
"Faith? That is something I struggle with."
Shall I tell you something else, Baba?
"If you wish, my son."
Yisu has told me that I will be His priest. The first male priest in thirty thousand years. Carlas was the last. Since then there have only been priestesses.
Ga'briyel just nodded, wrapped his arm around his son, and sighed heavily. "That does not surprise me, Adama. Perhaps you can bring your Baba back to blind faith in Yisu, but know it will be a hard-fought battle to do so."
Putting his tiny hand on his father's, Adama gurgled out loud, but Ga'briyel felt his concern when he spoke. It will be a battle well worth fighting, Baba. I look forward to bringing you back fully to Yisu as you were when you were a boy in Desa.
"That boy is gone, Adama. Gone forever. That boy believed everything his baba and mama told him about Yisu, Anmah, and other things. No more, Adama. It will take a lot for your baba to believe again that Yisu is all good. I think He has a desire to see people suffer. I think He enjoys the pain He has put me through."
No, Baba. You are wrong. Yisu is good. There is nothing in Him that desires people to suffer or to see you in pain. He has suffered along with you each and every time.
"How do you know this, my son?"
I just do, Baba. I know what I know through Yisu's grace.
Ga'briyel just shook his head, tightened his arm around his son, and rode on south toward the sea.