The Double Nemesis

Hey everyone! I have returned. Hopefully with some new content soon. In the mean time I’m  continuing on with Marianna.



Pilgrim’s Progress Part 3

©2007-2011, CGI Studios, Ltd.

The Double Nemesis by Jaron Belboda

Pilgrim’s Progress Part III Marianna

Chapter Four: The Double Nemesis

Scene #1

Narrator:   I saw in my dream that next morning, Marianna with her children returned to their castle. It was not, however, a pleasant return; for one thing none of them knew what to expect—all they knew was what Michael had told them. And the rest? Well, that was a most disturbing prospect! As they entered their courtyard, the state of things did little to ease their minds; though they needn’t have worried.

Esther:   Oh, what a mess!

Asahel:   It looks like they tore our castle apart.

Amos:   Only on the inside, the walls are still up.

Marianna:   It’ll be worse when they get through with it.

Rachael:   I still don’t see why we came back, Mother.

Asahel:   There are a lot of things you don’t see.

Rachael:   Will you stop with that?

Marianna:   Michael said to come here and submit myself under their hands; the rest I will leave up to him.

Rachael:   What? You haven’t even met this man; he’s just someone you see in your dreams.

Marianna:   And?

Rachael:   Well how do you know if you just haven’t had too much pizza to eat before…?

Marianna:   Rachael, are you suggesting that if I don’t like what he says I must assume he didn’t mean it?

Rachael:   Well I…

Marianna:   He’s the one that sent Mr. Great-heart to us. Why would he throw us into a death trap?

Amos:   If there was a way out?

Marianna:   That’s right! There is a way out.

Rachael:   But what?

Shishak:   Halt! Come no further! What is your business here?

Marianna:   I am Marianna, Duchess of Stupidity. I have come to surrender.

Shishak:   I cannot see your face.

(Marianna pushes back her cloak in an almost aggressive manner.)

Shishak:   Ah, you look like a warrior doing that. Okay boys, lock her up!

(Shishak’s men rush forward and put Marianna in chains.)

Shishak:   Hey, Elihu! Wake up!

Elihu:   Huh?

Guard:   What do we do with the kids?

Shishak:   Have you gone witless? What do you mean what do we do with the kid’s? Lock them up! Or kill them.

Rachael:   What?

Asahel:   This is not happening!

(They suddenly hear the sound of a firm apple being bounced up and down in a strong hand. All the guards turn to look in surprise.)

Shishak:   What? (bewildered)

Paul:   If it please the great general Shishak: I can keep the children out of your hair.

Rachael:  We’re not children!

Shishak:   Who are you?

Paul:   My name is Great-heart.

Shishak:   No it isn’t!

Elihu:   Yes it is! I’ve met him before on Maulderon.

Shishak:   What is that, another planet?

(Still bouncing the apple, Paul answers Shishak’s question to Elihu.)

Paul:   It’s a training ground for various spies and bounty hunters. Your own William Warcraft trained there.

Elihu:   How long have you been sitting atop that pile of rocks?

Paul:   Quite a while, now. I’ve been waiting for you to notice me.

Elihu:   But how long, my good man?

Paul:   (hops down) About an hour. So is it a deal?

Elihu:   Marianna?

Marianna:   Who are you supposed to be?

Paul:   I’m Great-heart Jr. My father is the one you spoke with yesterday.

Marianna:   And where is he now?

Paul:   No idea.

Marianna:   Well he went through our gate and just vanished. I thought maybe you had something to do with it?

Paul:   No Ma’am.

Shishak:   He was sighted in the city of Darkness earlier this morning, Junior; any ideas?

Paul:   Must have been early.

Shishak:   (draws close and grabs Paul by the collar) You will tell me what you know! Or I…

Elihu:   No! I wouldn’t do that if I were you, lad. It’s not wise.

Shishak:   He’s a mere boy!

Elihu:   We don’t have time for this, the Queen is waiting!

Shishak:  Alright! (angrily releases Paul) You’d better watch your back, kid. I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on you!

Paul:   I’ll keep that in mind.

Marianna:   I think I’ll leave them with you.

Rachael:   What?!

Paul:  Excellent.

Shishak:  Come along, Marianna.

(They begin to take her away.)

Marianna:   (calls over her shoulder) Take care of them.

Paul:   As my king enables!

(They watch Marianna and her captors until they are out of sight. Then Amos turns to Paul.)

Rachael:   You’re not really a kid, are you?

Paul:   I’m fully grown, if that’s what you mean.

Rachael:   Figures.

Asahel:   Rachael! Show him some respect.

Rachael:   I am 18, you know. I don’t need a baby sitter!

Paul:   (raises his eyebrows) Are you married?

Rachael:   No!

Paul:   Good; ‘cause my next question would be if your husband owns regional security.

Rachael:   What? (bewildered.)

Paul:   I mean that you could have come up with a better reason. As it is, since you have not I must insist that you come with us.

Rachael:   Us? (suspicious)

Paul:   Your siblings and I.

(Paul whistles, and his horses come round from behind the pile of rocks pulling a transport wagon.)

Micah:   Whoa!

Asahel:   I’ve never seen a transport like this! Where did you get it?

Paul:   I actually built this one myself. Get in! (cheerfully)

(Micah, Asahel, and Amos get in.)

Asahel:   Wow—it feels so nice! Ours isn’t nearly this nice!

Rachael:   What feels so nice?

Micah:   The seats! I never thought they could beat carriages!

Amos:   I’d have to agree with you there. Our wagon may be bigger, but the seats are definitely harder.

Esther:   See, Rachael? We’ll be perfectly safe with Mr. Great-heart Jr.—he’s the one Michael sent to us!

(Esther jumps in.)

Paul:   Rachael?

Rachael:   Fine. (she reluctantly gets in.) Oh, you’re right, the seats are comfortable!

(Paul gets in the driver’s seat.)

Paul:   Well, I built it with carriages in mind. But take it over a big enough bump, and you realize that anything touching the ground can feel rough.

Asahel:   Like does it leave you numb for two weeks?

Paul:   Well…

Amos:  No, of course not! Unless you try to jump a wall with it!

Paul:   (laughs) Right you are, lad. Off we go!

(Paul drives the horses through where the gate used to be and heads for Three-hearts Shop.)

Scene #2

Narrator:   Meanwhile, Marianna was being escorted through the halls of the royal dungeons in the city of Darkness. This city of Darkness was the place where Queen Adah spent most of her time. It was also the place from which Mr. Valiant-for-truth had come. Royal dungeons, though owned by the Emperor, were not in fact clean! Though they were somewhat better than those of Giant Despair, it was not a place where you would want to be for very long.

Shishak:   Ah! This should do thee!

Elihu:   Right. In you go!

(He opens the cell and thrusts her inside.)

Marianna:   When is my trial?

(Both men laugh loudly.)

Elihu:   When is her trial she asks?

Shishak:   In about a week.

Marianna:   A week!

(Shishak firmly closes the cell door and locks it.)

Shishak:   You have somewhere to be?

Marianna:   Uh… (thinks) …no. I guess not.

Shishak:   Good! Enjoy yourself!

Elihu:   With the freezing cold!

Shishak:   And the burning heat!

(Elihu and Shishak walk away laughing.)

Narrator:   So saying they turned on their heels and walked out of the prison leaving Marianna alone in the dark smelly cell. It wasn’t completely dark, however. For one thing there was light streaming in through the ventilation shaft, which doubled as a window. But you must not expect that ventilation did anything to improve the smell; if anything it only made it worse rather than better, particularly when the wind blew.

Marianna:   Oh, dear.

Nyssa:   Don’t worry, you get used to it.

Marianna:   Huh?

Nyssa:   They told me the same thing they probably told you, when you were captured.

Marianna:   Uh…they told me the Queen was waiting.

Nyssa:   Uh-huh, same thing they told me. I’ve been here over a month.

Marianna:   Who are you?

Nyssa:   I’m called Nyssa. You?

Marianna:   Marianna.

Nyssa:  Oh, you’re the duchess, right?

Marianna:   Well, sort of. That is, I’m probably not the duchess anymore.

Nyssa:   Must be something pretty bad.

Marianna:   Well, it depends on your definition of bad.

Nyssa:   I see.

Marianna:   Yes, but I don’t see you.

Nyssa:  Oh! Forgive me.

(Nyssa gets up and walks into the light.)

Narrator:   The girl, who stepped out of the shadows and into the light from the window, was not at all as Marianna had expected. She was young and would normally have been quite attractive had her face not been pale and dirty; and there was something different about the way she carried herself. Besides being besmeared with dirt, her face bore a look of innocence which told you at once that she was no criminal. And though Marianna couldn’t begin to guess why, she seemed strangely familiar.

Marianna:   What have you done to deserve imprisonment at your age?

Nyssa:   I’m 21.

Marianna:   (smiles) Hm. You remind me of my eldest daughter.

Nyssa:   Oh. Is she in her 20’s?

(Nyssa sits down across from Marianna on the floor.)

Marianna:   No she’s 18, but sometimes she thinks she’s 35.

Nyssa:   (chuckles)   I know how that can be. Yes I’m pretty young for being in here.

Marianna:   What did you do?

Nyssa:   Not much.

Marianna:  I see. Well if you must know, I’m in here because I’ve decided to go on pilgrimage.

(There is a moment of silence in which Marianna begins to wonder if she has said too much.)

Nyssa:   Really? (intrigued)

Marianna:   Yes. Now what’s your story?

Narrator:   But before Nyssa could answer, a man dressed as a guard came to the gate and called to her.

Prisoner:   Miss!

(He unlocks the gate.)

Nyssa:   Yes?

Prisoner:   Visitor.

Nyssa:   Visitor! Where are they?

Prisoner:   Oh! Ah…well (deep breath) this visitor is one that would prefer to meet away from the foul odors of this place.

Nyssa:   What foul odors?

Prisoner:   Oh Miss, please just come along! Your visitor is waiting!

Nyssa:   Very well.

Narrator:   Nyssa stood to her feet, and approached the door. The man smiled broadly and opened the door wider.

Prisoner:   After you.

Narrator:   But what was coming next, he could hardly have anticipated!

(Nyssa suddenly kicks the rotting straw at her feet knocking a sheathed sword into the air. She catches it and whacks the prisoner a good one in the jaw. Dropping her sword she grabs him, and throws him on the floor. Then, kneeling on him she delivers a powerful knockout punch rendering him unconscious.)

Marianna:   Oh! (shaken) I’m not sure I want to know what you’ve done.

Nyssa:   (chuckles) Well, this is a prisoner who has been known to do this. If I’d have gone with him I’d be dead and he’d be off to who knows where. As it is, he’ll wake up in a few minutes.

Marianna:   So the visitor…?

Nyssa:   Was all part of his trick; there is no visitor.

(Just then the real guards appear.)

Guard 1:   What’s going on in here?

Nyssa:   It’s 4711—he tried to escape again—but I’ve stopped him.

Guard 1:   Nice work kid. Alright, come on! Let’s get him up!

Guard 2:   Right.

(The other guard helps pick up the prisoner and drag him out. They shut and lock the door behind them.)

Guard 2:   Thanks again, kid.

Nyssa:   No problem.

(They pick up the prisoner and carry him down the hall.)

Guard 1:   I think we should have this lot to solitary.

Guard 2:   Or keep a closer watch on his cell.

(They drift out of earshot.)

Marianna:   You are a very strange prisoner.

Nyssa:   Why do you say that?

Marianna:   With your skills, you could have just beaten them up and run!

Nyssa:   Now why would I do that?

Marianna:   (smiles) Hm. You’re not really guilty of any horrific crimes. (pauses for effect) Are you?

Nyssa:   (smiles) No. I’m the same as you. I guess the only difference would be that I’m a guide’s daughter.

Marianna:   A guide?

Nyssa:   One of the King’s champions who conducts pilgrim’s on their journey.

Marianna:   Indeed? Which one?

Nyssa:   Mr. Great-heart.

Marianna:   No!

Nyssa:   Yes. Why?

Marianna:   He was just at my castle yesterday! (excited)

Nyssa:   Really? How is he doing? (excited)

Marianna:   Oh, he’s doing well—very well indeed. No one knows where he is right now.

Nyssa:   That’s my dad. Hide and seek was hard growing up.

Marianna:   I’m sure. You know, you look like your brother.

Nyssa:   Paul?

Marianna:   Yes.

Nyssa:  Yeah, we’re twins.

Marianna:   He’s 21?

Nyssa:   No he’s 24. We’re twins in looks, Marianna. (amused)

Marianna:   Oh! I see; forgive my excitement, I was expecting to spend my time with a non- believer, but his is wonderful!

Nyssa:   It sure is! It’s been lonely here.

Marianna:   So your family doesn’t know where you are?

Nyssa:   No they don’t. Do you mind helping me hide my sword?

Marianna:   Oh, of course.

Nyssa:   Pull some of the straw from over there.

Marianna:   Sure.

(They pull a layer of straw over the sword and even it out.)

Nyssa:   There that should do it.

Marianna:   I noticed you didn’t take it out of the sheath when you used it on that runaway prisoner.

Nyssa:   Well, yeah. I didn’t want to hurt the man too bad and, well; it gets rusty if it gets damp. My father gave me this sword, it’s special.

Marianna:   Ah.

Scene #3

(We are at Three-heart’s shop on their courtyard which doubles as a roof.)

Paul:   And from here you can see pretty much all of the surrounding area.

(They children sound intrigued.)

Micah:   Hey look over there!

Asahel:   Where?

Esther:   Wow, I’ve never seen those mountains before. (wistful) They’re so far!

Faith:   Those are the Delectable Mountains. And you can only see them from this point in the town. You can get a better view through the spyglass.

(Asahel, Micah and Esther eagerly crowd around the spyglass and take turns looking through it. Meanwhile, Rachael has something else in mind.)

Rachael:   I really can take care of myself, Mr. Junior.

Paul:   Oh, can you?

Amos:   Mr. Junior? (amused)

Rachael:   Shut up! (hisses)

Paul:   Do you have a better reason than the ten you offered me on our way here?

Rachael:   Yes.

Paul:  And it is? (interested)

Rachael:   I know sword fighting!

Amos:   Oh no. (groans)

Paul:   Show me.

Rachael:   I don’t have a sword.

(Paul looks to his right and sees a collection of sticks.)

Paul:    Hm, these sticks should do.

(He carefully selects one of the sticks. Hearing the noise, the others turn their attention from the spyglass to what is going on. Paul tosses the chosen stick to Rachael, who leaps out of the way to avoid the spinning stick. The others laugh.)

Rachael:   What’s the big idea?

Paul:   Must learn to catch sword before fight with.

Rachael:   What? (thinks he’s crazy)

Paul:   A great swordsman once said that. (grabs a stick of his own) Pick up!

Rachael:   Wait, you want me to fight you?

Paul:   Do you know a better test of your skill?

Rachael:   Can I just show you my moves?

Paul:   An audition? This isn’t a talent show.

Rachael:   Well… (hesitates)

Amos:   Come on, Rachael, show me your skill!

Esther:  Hey Rachael! What are you afraid of…

Micah/Esther:   What are you afraid of? What are you afraid of? What are you afraid of? What are you afraid of? What are you afraid of?

Rachael:   (as they say it the last time) Oh, shut up! I’m not afraid!

Paul:   Then let us fall to it!

Rachael:  Alright, but I’m warning you, I have mad skills!

Paul:   I’m ready.

Narrator:   Rachael charged at him with a flurry of attacks. Attacks which Paul easily defended against. Oh she was skillful, but Paul had moderate age, and experience on his side. As the duel progressed Rachael became more and more frustrated! For in spite of her best hacking, slashes and thrusts, Paul always seemed to know a counter move. It became apparent that it was a losing battle for Rachael’s pride. But she wasn’t ready to give up yet.

Paul:   Ah, very good! Anyone taught you reverse grip?

Rachael:   What’s that?

Paul:  This!

Narrator:   They went at it again with Paul using his reverse grip style. Rachael, who was growing more and more frustrated that this awkward style didn’t cripple our hero, decided to take one slash straight down at his head. But as soon as she did…

Rachael:   Yah!

Narrator:   Paul cleared himself out of the way, grabbed her wrist and then!

Rachael:   (The sound you make when something is pressed against your throat.)

Narrator:   Put his stick to her throat.

Rachael:  (throat suppressed) Ugh!

Paul:   In battle that would have been your life, young one. Well fought!

(Paul releases her, and she takes in deep breaths of fresh air. Her siblings clap and cheer.)

Amos:   That was amazing!

Paul:  Someday, you will have such skill.

Amos:   I? (amazed)

Paul:   Yes!

Amos:   Oh, I could never…

Paul:   Oh, not on your own! But with training and much practice. The pilgrim’s walk is a practice of faith—taking God at his word, and putting those promises to work!

Amos:   Ah.

Rachael:   You could have done better, you know.

Paul:   Oh?

Rachael:   Yes! Why didn’t you just tell me you were a master swordsman?

Paul:   Now where’s the fun it that?

Rachael:   (laughs) You’re alright.

Faith:  Well now that that’s over, shall we see that you people get settled in?

(They all agree.)

Faith:   Okay, follow me! (cheerfully)

Scene #4

Narrator:   Meanwhile in the prison Marianna and Nyssa were continuing in their lively and uplifting conversation.

Marianna:   So he didn’t tell me what would happen, he just told me to go back and submit myself to them and he would take care of everything.

Nyssa:   Mm.

Marianna:   If I had known that I would be spending a week in prison, I might have hesitated.

Nyssa:   It’s for this reason that He doesn’t tell us all of what lies ahead. I didn’t think I would be spending a month in here!

Marianna:   Oh yes! I’ve been meaning to ask you about that. How did you get in here?

Nyssa:   Well, as you know, my big brother owns a shop in this town.

Marianna:   Paul?

Nyssa:   No; Valiant. The shop is overlooking market street?

Marianna:   Oh! Three-hearts Shop.

Nyssa:   Yes. He’s been quite successful with it; helping people far and near to find the path to the Celestial City, as he would say. My other brothers have similar shops elsewhere. In other regions.

Marianna:   How big a family do you have?

Nyssa:   There’s five children; I’m the youngest.

Marianna:   Ah.

Nyssa:   So naturally I’m the last one to do anything special with my life. I could never figure out what I wanted to do or be. Standing in the shadow of my father and my noble mother, not to mention my brothers, it was hard to decide if I should fit the typecast or try something new.

Marianna:   Hm, there must have been a lot of pressure on you.

Nyssa:   There was! Though not from my parents; they both wanted me to decide based on what the Lord wanted me to do, not on others expectations.

Marianna:   You’re parents are wiser than I’ve been with my children.

Nyssa:   Oh? They’ve been brought up in this way for a long time.

Marianna:   Nothing teaches like experience.

Nyssa:   That’s true; but it’s not too late for you, Marianna. You’re leading by example and, whether you know it or not, your children are watching.

Marianna:   Are you sure?

Nyssa:   (laughs) Sometimes you’ll wonder—I know my parents did with me!

(They both laugh.)

Nyssa:   But they are, Marianna, they are.

Marianna:   I hope.

Nyssa:   Take your coming here: you’re showing by example that there’s no safer place to be than in the center of our Lord’s will. Are you not?

Marianna:   I suppose.

Nyssa:   You told them he would take care of them, and look! He sent my brother! I’m sure they noticed that.

Marianna:   (sighs) Thank you, Nyssa. But back to your story!

Nyssa:   Oh yes! So, to escape the pressure of our community of believers, my parents suggested I go on a journey. A journey that would take me many miles from home and test everything I had learned. I had to face many things, including rejection, scoffing, beatings…

Marianna:   You’ve been beaten?

Nyssa:   (chuckle/grimace) My face is the least scared place on my body.

Marianna:   Oh. It sound’s cruel.

Nyssa:   All of us have taken a good beating at one time or another. My father even has sword slashes on his arm—and his back, I think.

Marianna:  Oh my!

Nyssa:   Yes, being a pilgrim is a dangerous business. But as you see I’m still alive—and none the worse for wear.

Marianna:   But how?

Nyssa:   Through the power of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light! He went through worse than I will ever go through, so what are a few stripes received for His sake?

Marianna:   I wish I had your courage.

Nyssa:   You will not be given this courage until you need it, my friend. It is the law of dependence.

Marianna:   The law of dependence. Explain that?

Nyssa:   My whole reason for this journey was to learn this dependence. See at home, with its relative comforts, I wasn’t really forced to acknowledge my weakness. Sure I prayed, I studied, I witnessed as best I could, but it was all like (pauses to choose her words carefully) a ritual.

Mariana:   Mm.

Nyssa:   Routine, like a soldier goes through in training.

Marianna:   But that would seem good!

Nyssa:   Well (ponders the implication) it’s not best. A soldiers routine, keeps him from being punished; a way of life keeps him alive. You follow?

Marianna:   No. (still trying to understand)

Nyssa:   In boot camp, a soldier trains to prepare for war. If he does not submit to the training, he will be punished. As solder on the battlefield, he will use his training because he sees it is necessary to save his life—and the lives of others. And perhaps more obviously, to win the war.

Marianna:   But don’t some soldiers train because they want to serve their country?

Nyssa:   No better motivation! And what better country and King do we have to serve? But still, training doesn’t come into full play until the moment of need.  As you said yourself, nothing teaches like experience. What I did back at Shark’s Cove was training—it was a more favorable environment. What I needed was to come to a place where I saw my life depended on my connection with my Lord as Master of my life. Do you see?

Marianna:   I’m beginning to. Go on, please.

Nyssa:   As I worked with my other brothers at their operations, and a little by myself further north, I began to see where I was lacking. I was looking to others for direction, rather than asking, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” Especially when I was working by myself, with no one to turn to except Him (she nods) that’s when my faith really started to grow. Sure, I’d listen to him occasionally back at the Cove, but now my life depended on how well I listened to Him!

Marianna:   So it became a process instead of an exercise.

Nyssa:   Exactly! A process of learning to hear his voice and obey it, so that I could come into the center of His will. (she pauses to let it sink in) I needed that. Where I could come to see God as my Father—someone I could trust and turn to—someone I could not live without.

Marianna:   You sound like you’re in love.

Nyssa:   I am, Marianna. Someday, you’ll come to understand how it can be. And when you do, it will be the best day of your life!

Marianna:   Ah. So did you find out what you were supposed to be?

Nyssa:  No.

Marianna:   But you seem so happy!

Nyssa:   I’m love with God! I’ll do anything for Him! In time He may show me something more specific, but for now it’s being where He wants me at any given time; at any place where I can do the most good.

Marianna:   Well that’s something, I suppose.

Nyssa:   It isn’t always clear, Marianna. Like when I came here, I thought I was just being punished! That’s usually why I ended up in jail. And when it dragged on for a month, I began to wonder if I was doomed to spend the rest of my life here doing nothing.

Marianna:   Did you wonder if God forgot about you?

Nyssa:   I was tempted; but I knew He hadn’t. Then I met you, and I knew why.

Marianna:   A whole month before you knew why?!

Nyssa:   Yes.

Marianna:   So you think it was worth it spending a whole month in this dungeon, breathing foul air and eating almost nothing, just so you could encourage me?

Nyssa:   That’s how I was useful.

Marianna:   Oh! (thinks Nyssa’s crazy)

Nyssa:   And it’s not like I don’t get to exercise.

Marianna:   Doesn’t that make you hungrier? This food they brought us, if it could be called that, won’t sustain you for a day!

Nyssa:   He sends me ravens.

(Just then they hear a flutter of wings and a few ravens drop in through the bars, flutter to the ground and walk over to Nyssa. Marianna is stunned.)

Nyssa:   See? Food from the Queen’s table. (in soft tones) Come here, little bird.

Raven:   Are Arch.

Nyssa:   How have you been doing, my friend?

Raven:   Arch-ark awk.

Nyssa:  (sounds almost like she’s talking to a baby) Oh, well that’s good. What did you bring me today?

Raven:   Arky-ark.

Nyssa:   Thank you! Why don’t you take some to my friend?

Raven:   Areik?

Nyssa:   Yeah, her.

Marianna:   Oh, it’s not necessary. I don’t want to deprive you.

Nyssa:   Nonsense! There’s plenty for both of us.

Raven:   Areik?

Nyssa:   Yes, go on! Don’t mind her.

Raven:  Arch.

Marianna:  You’re lucky the Queen’s vegetarian.

Nyssa:   (laughs) Marianna! Come on! You don’t think He would give me food I can’t eat.

Marianna:   I suppose it’s not luck.

Raven:   Areik.

Marianna:   Why thank you, Raven.

Raven 2:   Ark!

Marianna:   Thank you!

Nyssa:   See? God provides.

Marianna:   He does.

Raven:   Arch, ark!

(Marianna and Nyssa laugh.)

Scene #5

Narrator:   Now, at the end of the week, Marianna was summoned to appear before Adah.

(The cell door opens, and a guard calls)

Guard 1:   Marianna!

Marianna:   Yes?

Guard 1: You are summoned to appear before the queen.

Marianna:   Oh, this is early.

Guard 1:   Wha?

Guard 2:   (laughs loudly)

Guard 1:   (Sputters in amusement and laughter) This is early, she says!

Guard 2:   Woman, you’ve been in here a week!

Marianna:   What?

Guard 1:   Yes, haven’t you been suffering?

(Marianna stands to her feet.)

Marianna:   Not really. But where is my cell mate?

Guard 2:   Oh, you didn’t hear? She was taken out to be executed this morning.

Marianna:   No. (realizes) No!

Guard 1:   What? (daring her to say it again)

Marianna:   (collects herself) It’s nothing, let’s go.

Guard 1:   Good.

(She walks out of her cell, and the guard closes the door.)

Narrator:   Still numb from her Guard’s announcement, Marianna walked down the long halls in silence. She hardly noticed the guards at her side, because she was thinking about Nyssa. In the short time they had been together, their hearts had been knit together as tightly as if they had known each other for a lifetime. For Nyssa, it was encouraging to see her imprisonment benefit someone else, and for Marianna, who was new to the faith; it was wonderful to have someone who was more knowledgeable about the Lord of the Hill.

Guard 2:   Hey, move along!

Marianna:   Oh! Yes of course. (sighs) She’s gone! (distant tone)

Guard 1:   What’s that?

Marianna:   Uh…um…

Guard 1:   If you are showing pity for one whom the Queen has condemned then you are a traitor to the Queen!

(Marianna says nothing.)

Guard 1:   Well?

Marianna:   She’s only a girl!

(The guard hits her hard—very hard.)

Marianna:   (subdued expression of pain)   She helped you stop a dangerous criminal!

(This time both guards hit her. Marianna tires her best to be silent, but can’t quite do it.)

Guard 1:   The queen will not tolerate this kind of talk!

Guard 2:   It doesn’t matter what she did while she was here. She was still a dangerous person!

Marianna:   She was not a criminal!

(Guard 2 tries to hit her again but Marianna twists out of the way, and his deadly knock-out blow lands on his fellow guard—with the desired result. Guard 1 drops to the ground unconscious.)

Guard 2:   Hey!

(Marianna starts to run.)

Guard 2:   Come back! Where are you going?

Marianna:   To my trial!

Guard 2:   Liar! You are trying to escape! Stop her!

(Marianna runs harder.)

Narrator:   As you can imagine, Marianna was not the fastest of runners, having been a duchess most of her life. But even so, no amount of training could have prepared her for what was about to happen. For as she was running desperately trying to escape her abusive guard, she tripped over a hidden wire and went sprawling headlong.

(We hear a sliding sound as of a great sliding gate.)

Marianna:   Ah! (surprise) Oh. (moans as she lies on the ground.)

(the gate slides faster.)

Narrator:   But she had little time to think about her personal pain for at that instant…

(The gate drops 6 feet and bangs into the floor. Guard two runs into the gate at full force.)

Narrator:   The guard slammed into the gate that had been closed by her unexpected fall. She had even less time to think about this, however, because just in front of her another gate was coming down!

(Marianna quickly rolls under the falling gate just before it slams into the floor.)

Guard 2:   (weakly; almost stupidly) Stop her! (falls to the ground)

Marianna:   Oh dear! This is really not what I expected. What shall I do?

Michael:   Go down that hall.

Marianna:   (startled) What? Who said that? Is someone there?

Narrator:   Marianna glanced furtively around her; but although she looked in every direction, there was no one to be seen. But that voice! It wouldn’t let her rest—there was an air of authority about it that she could not disobey.

Marianna:   Well, here goes nothing.

Narrator:   Carefully, she made her way across the corridor and into the hallway to which she had been directed, looking around her at every step—fearful that she might set off another trap like the one she had narrowly escaped moments earlier. Just as she reached the shadows of the new hall, she could hear guards arriving to investigate the commotion. Finding the trap empty (except for a few rats) they assumed that it had been a false alarm. As you can imagine, Marianna was very glad that she had obeyed the voice of the Stranger. She went on, constantly watching her feet so as not to spring another trap. A time or two she nearly did!

Marianna:   (gasp) Oh! Thank God!

Narrator:   (cuts in after “oh”) But just managed to catch herself. This she knew was the protection of her Lord, for she could barely see the ground under her feet! Finally after what seemed like hours, she reached a gate.

Gate Guard:   Halt! Who goes there?

Marianna:   Uh…

Gate Guard:   Ah! You are prisoner 4730?

Marianna:   Um…I…

Gate Guard:   Marianna!

Marianna:   Oh! Yes, yes, I’m Marianna.

Gate Guard:   I thought I recognized you. (puzzled) But where is your armed escort?

Marianna:   My guards? Oh…ah…well…right now they…they are…

Gate Guard:   Forgive me, Marianna, but you’ll have to explain everything inside. (unlocks the gate) Court policy states that we’re to keep a prisoner waiting no more than 30 seconds—and we’ll soon be overdue. (opens the gate) Right this way please!

Marianna:   Thank you. (a bit bewildered)

Narrator:   The corridor to which she was directed was not particularly inviting; it was long and dark—certainly not the place you’d expect to lead somewhere on the other side—at least not anywhere pleasant. But there was nothing to do save go down the hall and trust that even this was foreseen by He who had called her. It was not a pleasant walk! More than once, more than twice, yea more than ten times she would have turned around, but the words of Michael.

Michael:   I am your prince that stands for you.

Narrator:   And so she pressed on for what seemed like hours, though it may really have been minutes, and presently found herself coming up on a gate.

Gate Guard 2:   Ah, they told me you were coming.

Marianna:   Is this the courtroom?

Gate Guard 2:   It is!

Marianna:   Ah.

Gate Guard 2:   Yeah that tunnel would make anybody think they’re lost. Where is your escort? He might have told you how long this tunnel is.

Marianna:   He didn’t—he said to trust Him.

Gate Guard 2:   And he left you?

Marianna:   No he’s right… (realizes) …oh you can’t see Him, can you?

Gate Guard 2:   No I can’t. (opens the gate) The Queen is waiting.

Marianna:   So I’ve been told.

Narrator:   Marianna stepped through expecting to meet a grim courtroom, instead she found herself blinking in the light of a fell furnished meeting place. In fact, if it didn’t have a throne at the far end, and a table in the middle with refreshments, and ladies and gentlemen in waiting, one could almost see it as a parlor or sort of dining hall rather than a hall of judgment—almost—but not quite. Seated at the table were the various heads of the towns in the Province of Dark-land.

Obstinate and Pay-later, the Magistrates of Destruction,

Maschil1 the Duke of Uncertainty,

Draco the Count of Darkness,

Annan Archduke of Tharsis,

Adah Queen of Aleutia was seated on the throne, and now Marianna as Duchess of Stupidity completed the list of dignitaries.

Adah:   Marianna; you are here to answer for charges of conspiracy and high treason.

Marianna:   Your Majesty?

Adah:   The course you follow threatens our security; the very existence of our way of life is in danger!

Marianna:   Your Majesty, the way that we live now is destructive—its temporary pleasures lead to pain, misery, and eventually death. The path I follow, while it offers few comforts in this life, brings the promise of more in the life to come!

Draco:   There is no life to come! The only thing that awaits you is death!

Adah:   Silence, Draco! Isn’t it selfish, Marianna to embark on a journey that will only benefit you? What you are doing threatens the greater good of society. We are all agreed on what works in life, that which the ancient fathers taught us.

Marianna:   The ways that they taught us are dark and superstitious. They are filled with man’s devising’s. And by man, I do not mean to say that the Dark Master did not breathe his essence into it.

Adah:   Really? Is what he taught so wrong?

(Marianna says nothing.)

Adah:   Look Marianna, there are easier ways to deal with your problems.

Marianna:   Namely?

Adah:   To realize that “what you are today you will forever be. Your burden will never be lifted.” You cannot hope to change your heart, it is what it is—it’s natural. Those burdens you carry cannot be escaped, what you have to do is learn to control your fears, to master your emotions. Accept yourself as you are and learn to live with reality.

Marianna:   And who is to help me?

Adah:   Haven’t you been listening? The answer is in you—the power is in you, no one will do it for you. You have to learn to understand yourself and see, “what do you need to do?”

Marianna:   Sounds like the teachings of morality if you ask me.

Draco:   Which she did not.

Adah:   Be quiet, Draco.

Draco:   Oh. (growls under his breath)

Marianna:   To reach a supreme state in which one is master of all their emotions, feelings and reflexes and able to achieve great things; to conquer difficulties through psychology and self-discipline.

Adah:   That’s it!

Marianna:   Adah, there is no power. “It is not in man that walks to direct his steps.”

Adah:   What? (stunned)

Marianna:   I have read all the ancient writings, and none of them provide a lasting solution. They would have me blame all of my “painful baggage on those who have gone before: an evil mother, a drunken father, an encounter with an evil beast of some sort….”

Adah:   Yes, yes, yes. All this can be conquered by systematically figuring out that with bad comes good and with good comes bad. And then…

Marianna:   Though this works to a point, it is only “through the gospel” that “they may be overcome and put away”—for good!

Adah:   No!

Marianna:   Yes! “This is the power of the gospel.” I can say this with divine assurance! “There is nothing in our lives that we may not overcome, through the power of Christ!” It is not through self that we achieve victory, but through the power of Christ!

Narrator:   The dignitaries sat in stunned amazement. Even Marianna was surprised by her own boldness—something she had not felt when she first entered the room. She remembered the promise Nyssa had shared with her about the King giving boldness to his servants.

Marianna:   (in her mind) It must be true!

Narrator:   It was like nothing she had ever experienced, but I hope you have. It is something that only happens when one places themselves where God would have them be, no matter how unusual or frightful the venue. Finally after a period of silence, the queen spoke.

Adah:   You destroy our way of life, Marianna. Your course threatens to destroy our very lives.

Marianna:   But what if my course leads to a new life? What if it doesn’t end by destroying us?

Draco:   It does!

Adah:   Draco, there will be time enough for you to press your case. At present it is my turn.

Draco:  Yes, Majesty.

(The lackey enters and starts whispering to the queen.)

Adah:   Now, Marianna, until further notice you will be…Yes, yes, lackey, what is it?

(he whispers a response, the queen squirms)

Adah:   Stop buzzing around my ears! If you have something to say, say it properly.

Lackey:   The Lord Great-heart of Shark’s Cove requests an audience.

Adah:   Tell him it will have to wait.

Lackey:   But there’s a crowd with him, Your Majesty.

Adah:   A crowd?

Lackey:   And they look very angry.

(Adah and the council groan with annoyance.)

Adah:   Just what we need now—a political activist!

(Switch to Paul’s perspective as he and faith along with Marianna’s children wait outside the door accompanied by a large crowd.)

Paul:   (sighs) I told them not to follow me!

Rachael:   It’s no use! Everyone wants to know what happens to the Duchess of Stupidity when she breaks the laws of the counsel. Will it be imprisonment? Death? A severe beating…?

Paul:   Yes, yes. It’s not unlike my sister’s death this morning—it made the headlines.

Faith:   Some headlines! (opens the newspaper) “Young drifter from the North is executed on charges of conspiracy and corruption of a Dark-land council member.” Hm, it’s also the cover story listen to this, “Some cannot help wondering, should the charge of high treason be so liberally applied? What are the odds that a young lady of 21 even understands how to undermine an empire on her own?

Paul:   Hm.

Rachael:   They make her sound like some kid!

Paul:   She would have turned 22 tomorrow.

Faith:   Listen to this, Honey. “Perhaps instead of lashing out at a young indigent girl, perhaps our focus should be on her native country. I believe a thorough search of the territories up North may reveal a deeper plot to destroy peace and forever change our way of living.” Guess who said that?

Paul:   I couldn’t imagine.

Faith:   Your pal Warcraft.

Paul:   Oh.

Amos:   What bothers me is why they just killed her. She was in jail for a month without trial—isn’t that illegal?

Rachael:   Yeah, and she didn’t have a chance to testify!

Asahel:   That’s so wrong!

Paul:   Not if you’re an enemy combatant.

Amos:   How did she get that status?

Faith:   The evidence is sketchy, but we figure it was from her previous encounters with the authorities in a few other towns.

Paul:   Mm, yes. I wonder how long it’s going to take the queen to give us an answer.

Faith:   She’s the law—she must hurry for no one.

Asahel:   But Nyssa didn’t do anything illegal. Did she?

Paul:   Encouraging others to go on pilgrimage in this area does have its consequences.

Asahel:   I’m sorry, Great-heart. I know you were close.

Paul:   I have the hope of seeing her again.

(the others express their agreement)

Paul:   If it weren’t for that, I’d be of all men most miserable.

Faith:   Mm.

(Switch to the queens perspective inside the royal chambers; they are discussing whether or not to let Paul in.)

Obstinate:   We can’t let him in! (bangs his fist on the table) This is a private meeting!

Pay-later:   Indeed, noble magistrate.

Annan:   You are as obstinate as your old ancestor.

Obstinate:   Well…

Annan:   And you, Pay-later are nearly as pliable as Pliable himself! If we don’t let Great-heart in, the people will break down the door!

Maschil:   But if we let him in, what is to prevent the people from pushing their way in and taking over this counsel by force!

Draco:   Personally I don’t think it will be a problem. A few guards should be able to handle them.

Maschil:   Are you mad? Do you know whether or not this Great-heart fellow is treacherous? We just killed a Great-heart this morning. Don’t you think it’s a little uncanny for a Lord Great-heart from one of the towns up north would show up with this “request” for an audience? What’s to prevent him having come here for revenge?

Draco:  It might be prudent to let him in, Your Majesty. We have been looking for Great-heart, and so far he has eluded us. (sly)

Adah:   But is he the Great-heart we’re trying to catch?

(Switch back to Paul’s perspective)

Faith:   What do you think? Will they let us in?

Paul:   Perhaps.

Faith:   What is it?

Paul:   I have sense of dread. Like the one I had when I was navigating the tunnel.

Faith:   Just before Caluvaar showed up?

Paul:   Yeah. I can’t help thinking about what he said.

Faith:   Well, it could be just a feeling.

Paul:   True. Nonetheless, I’m praying that I will be prepared.

Faith:   For what?

Paul:   For….

(There is a stir at the gate; they turn to look.)

Faith:   Oh. (intrigued)

Paul:   For whatever!

Faith:   Me too. (looks back) I think we should lose the crowd.

Paul:   I agree.

Narrator:   Paul turned to the people and raised his hands. Gradually, the people quieted down.

Paul:   Citizens of Stupidity! As I said earlier we are on a diplomatic mission.

(the crowd groans)

Paul:   Your presence here endangers the peaceful nature of our visit—the Queen may expect a riot. Please return to your homes!

Townsperson Man:   Not a chance!

Townsperson Female:   We want to know what happens to our duchess!

Paul:   Be at peace—it is taken care of. My Master is one who takes care of all who trust in Him. Now please, go home!

(The crowd reluctantly disperses.)

Paul:   (sigh of relief) Ah, they’re finally going away.

Rachael:   I can’t believe they listened to you!

Faith:   I was praying they would.

Rachael:   You two always answer every obstacle with prayer.

Faith:   “In every difficulty we are to see a call to prayer”—this is how we overcome!

Asahel:   Hm. How come all the difficulties we face are not like the ones we had earlier with the queen—or even yours with the bounty hunter?

Paul:   How do you mean?

Rachael:   Well I think what she means is: you get attacked by enemies like Warcraft and then you nearly get attacked by your own brother!

Asahel:   Yeah.

Paul:   Hm. At least my brother doesn’t intend to kill me—I hope.

(The children laugh.)

Paul:  Well, I call it The Double Nemesis.

(The children express their bewildered interest.)

Faith:  I think maybe you should explain what you mean.

Paul:   Sure. The Double Nemesis: If the devil were to attack us in his most obvious forms, such as open temptation or through evil agents such as Warcraft—we would resist. Yes?

(The children agree.)

Paul:   So he comes in from a different angle—he gets someone we know to trip us. Perhaps it is a close friend or family member. Of course, this requires a deception of the person to secure their cooperation. But once he has it, it is harder (though not impossible) for us to realize that he is behind it.

(The children express their mild enlightenment.)

Paul:   Maybe an example would be better. Um…

Palace Guard:  (coming on) Lord Great-heart.

Paul:   Yes?

Palace Guard:   You and your cr… (sees that there’s no crowd) …owd…. (falls silent)

Paul:   Go on.

Palace Guard:   (clears his throat) Yes—you and your crowd are permitted to enter the palace.

Paul:   Alright.

Palace Guard:   Follow me, please.

Narrator:   So they followed the guard into the palace.

Palace Guard:   The Lord Great-heart and his (pauses) crowd.

(The dignitaries laugh.)

Adah:   You are most welcomed to our court, Lord Great-heart. But stay a moment! Do I not know thee from Calamar?

Paul:   That you do, Majesty. I spent a short time there some years ago.

Adah:   And went on to Maulderon?

Paul:   Aye, again.

Adah:   And this lovely lady with you. Your wife?

Paul:   Aye.

Adah:   Ah yes now I remember. Weren’t you newlyweds at the time?

Paul:  Right again, Majesty.

Adah:   Must have been quite a honeymoon.

Paul:   To say the least.

Adah:   One moment while I confer with the counsel. (Paul nods and Adah turns to the others and speaks in a hoarse whisper) This isn’t the Great-heart we’re looking for!

Draco:   He may be able to lead us to him.

Adah:   What makes you say that?

Draco:   This is his son!

(The others express their disbelief.)

Adah:   Open your eyes, Draco! He looks nothing like the old man.

Draco:   Middle-aged man; my eyes are open Adah! And let me remind you: I hold the reins of this government! You are only a pawn!

Adah:   Don’t go all Caluvaar-ish on me!

Draco:   I am Caluvaar! And if you do not obey my commands…

Adah:   Alright, alright, I’ll think of something! But I’m going to play it safe, alright?

Draco:   See that you do, Adah!

(Adah turns back to them with a flushed face.)

Adah:   Alright, sorry about that.

Paul:   Ah.

Adah:   Regrettably the counsel has ruled that your business will have to wait until after we have sentenced the duchess and set her back to prison.

Paul:   That is the matter which I have come to discuss, Your Majesty. If I may.

Adah:   (looks at Draco who nods his approval) Proceed. You have something to say about the duchess’ prison sentence?

Paul:   I do.

Adah:   Come forward.

Paul:   Thank you.

(Paul walks up to the throne, stands a little to the left of the queen, and turns to face everyone gathered.)

Paul:   Your Majesty and distinguished members of this counsel. With respect I must say that this is by far the most dangerous plan of all. For if the Duchess is cast into prison the underground world will soon hear of her ways and so be persuaded to accept them.

Adah:   Are you not sympathetic to her cause? Is it not you who finds ways and means to help others go on pilgrimage causing us no end of trouble?

Paul:   You have well said. Nonetheless, I believe that an underground fire is much harder to control than a burning brush pile. Take our volcano to the north east; spewing out clouds of ash and often darkening our horizons with its deep blackness.

Draco:   It prevents us from invasion!

Paul:   And contributes greatly to our freezing climate, noble Count. You cannot deny that if these words of life are taught in our prison system, your efforts to stop this movement will be frozen, as surely as Mt. Alleutia cools our air.

Draco:   This is an outrage! Queen Adah, I request that you silence this infidel!

Paul:  If Your Majesty hear me out, you will see that I work for the good of all.

Adah:   Objection overruled. Please continue, Paul.

Paul:   Therefore, I recommend that she be quietly relieved of her office…

(The council members express their astonishment)

Paul:   And that another shall take her place.

Adah:   Hm, it has merit. But won’t the underground learn of that as well? Haven’t you made it easier for others to follow?

Paul:   That may be. But your present course will only cause a riot!

Adah:  You are causing a riot!

Paul:   Your Majesty, do you not wonder why no crowd entered with me into the palace?

Adah:   Why?

Paul:   Because I told them to go home. I did not want to approach with the face of a political activist. Such is not my method.

Adah:   Why do you have a method, Paul? You are not a politician.

Paul:   True, Your Majesty. But an authority higher than you, has determined that in His great timetable Marianna must become a witness for him by following on in the way He has ordained. She has done what she can here, and it is evident that she will be allowed to do no more. But the ill treatment of her will certainly bring ruin to this town—I seek only to spare the province of Dark-land from the terrible judgment that is about to fall upon her for her rejection of Truth.

Adah:   Hm, you refer to truth as a person.

Paul:   Indeed, Majesty. My Master is the way, the truth, and the life. Rejection of Him leads to endless wandering, deception, and death.

Draco:   I knew it! You are here to press His case! You would have us rule in favor of the most evil of princes!

Narrator:   At this, Paul turned and stared Draco dead in the eyes. Everyone in the council chamber watched him in silent bewilderment. The Spirit of the Mighty One came strongly upon Paul, as he spoke with a holy boldness.

Paul:   Caluvaar, I abhor you. You do not savor the things of God; you are the personification of all evil, indeed you are its source.

Caluvaar:   Ah, I knew you would guess it. How could I hide myself any longer from one who peers deep into the darkness?

Paul:   It is not I who peers into the darkness, as is it is not I who will judge you.

Caluvaar:   You! (jumps to his feet) Have forgotten my words; You have forgotten how I warned you that you would suffer for your cause. Your precious sister died this morning at my hands and oh, how we are enjoying her soul! Yours will be next.

Paul:   That is not up to you. And I know for a fact that my sister committed herself to God before death, I was there at her execution. You know that you found nothing in her. God is merciful that even the fate of sinners is not committed into your hands

Caluvaar:   I see I have touched you where it hurts, the Halfling was precious to you; even now you are wondering if God is fair to let such a young life be snuffed out and you are wondering if your children will be next. Oooh! It’s so perplexing; perhaps you understand how much I can make you suffer without even touching you. Perhaps now, you understand the fate of your friend. And in spite of the power that now rests upon you, you will one day embrace the inevitable. Poor, poor, John; Poor little Johnny, poor boy! Poor bo-ho-ho-hoy!

Paul:   (shudders)

Caluvaar:  It’s going to be a relief not to have to burn for him!

Narrator:   Caluvaar waited for Paul to respond; he did not. He was trembling, for all that Caluvaar had accused of thinking was true. Had he somehow given him a window into his mind? Or did Caluvaar only know because these were the things he had tempted him with? He dare not stay on that train of thought for long, before he opened a new opportunity for Caluvaar to exploit. Quickly, he prayed that the Spirit would not only rest upon him but overshadow him entirely so that the words he spoke would not be his own. His wish was granted, and he was given a focus.

Caluvaar:   Well? No argument?

Paul:   I will not debate with you; I will only speak to you in the words of my Master. “The Lord rebuke thee.”

Narrator:   Caluvaar snarled in frustration, and using the channel of fear he entered into Adah hoping to remain in control a bit longer.

Adah/Caluvaar:   We have heard enough form this traitor! Guards put him and his wife in the ice box!

Narrator:   But even within his human shield, he could not resist the command.

Michael:   Hold your peace and come out of her.

Narrator:   With that, he rent her sore and came out [JJ1] of her. He then fled to his lair to lick his wounds and come up with a new plan to supplement his backup. The guards seized Paul and Faith and put them into the ice box—a section of the prison much like solitary where the temperatures slowly lowered until the victims froze to death. Meanwhile Marianna and her children were held in the palace.

This chapter is either based on, or directly quotes these references: Ephesians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 11:14; Colossians 3:19 Message; John 10:10; Lamentations 5:5; 2Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 11; Jeremiah 10:23; The New Amplified Pilgrim’s Progress.

 [JJ1]Biblical reference from one of the gospels. I don’t remember which on off hand.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s