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Chapter 17: Strong and Courageous

The night of their first meeting, the sparrow educated Elise concerning her parents, Hope, and love. She had many questions and the sparrow gave her many answers. It was difficult at first, but the burning feeling inside of Elise helped her to believe and renewed her mind.

The next morning, the witch stormed the room.

“Wake up, orphan, time to wake up. No food for you, not now,” she said before removing the stitches.

The witch took Elise outside and had her lie down on one of the large stones sitting around a small fire.

Roots and vines grew out from the ground, pinning Elise to the stone. Her whole body, head to toe, was tied down. The witch said nothing to her. Instead, she focused her attention on the small fire. She stood close to it, raised her arms, and chanted in words unfamiliar to Elise.

The color of the fire slowly changed as it grew hotter and hotter. The smoke grew denser, black, as it slowly turned into a rising whirlwind.

Elise was amazed at what she saw, but she was also scared. The whirlwind shot into the morning sky, quickly overcoming it, turning it dark. The heat started to burn the Princess so she cried out in agony. The louder she screamed, the more intense the whirlwind grew. Suddenly, flashes of lightening danced within the black flurry.

One bolt jumped out to strike Elise. Her screams were deafening. However, just as quickly as it started, it was over. The smoke descended, allowing the light to show itself once more. The vines and roots holding the Princess down also retreated back into the earth. They were no longer required as Elise passed out, exhausted.

In the late hours of the night, after having slept the day away, the Princess opened her eyes towards the high window. There sat the sparrow, crying.

“Why do you cry?” asked Elise in her thoughts, her mouth now sewn shut.

“No child should suffer as you do now.”

“Do not worry sparrow, Hope will make it better.”

“Yes child, it is as you say.”

“Will you please tell me more stories about my parents?”

The sparrow would tell her stories, always reminding her how much she was loved by her parents and would assure her about the day they would all be together again. This was Hope’s promise to her. Though, for now, she must endure suffering for a little while.

All of these events took place for six nights in a row. The seventh, according to the witch, would be the last.

“Tomorrow is the last day my friend,” Elise told the sparrow, “I do wish I had enough strength to stand and to see the moon one last time. Even if Hope does not help tomorrow, he will help me in death.”

“My dear child, your time has not yet come. Tomorrow you will witness the power of Hope. He cannot fail. The cost is too great. Should the witch succeed, the sky will remain black, children in all the lands will perish, and Hope will be lost until the next childbirth. This is her purpose and she will make sure a child is never born again. There will be much pain and suffering until the world is completely desolate, all lost. The moon is in fact beautiful, but it is dark and unseen without the light of the sun. There must be light in these lands and you will be that light. But there cannot be salvation without forgiveness.”

Princess Elise did not understand the full meaning of what she was told, but she cherished it in her heart and it gave her much needed comfort.

“I must leave now my Princess and join the ranks with your father, for tomorrow will be a great battle. Be strong and courageous. Hope will not disappoint you.”

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