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Rated: 13+ · Draft · Spiritual · #1600110
A man of mystery aids a young woman who has forsaken life! A Must Read!
[Note: Hello Everyone! Before you begin reading this novella, please keep in mind that it is simply a draft. That means frequent grammatical mistakes, syntax error, and misspellings are to be expected. I haven't had time to edit this piece yet, but let me assure you this story otherwise has a conclusion! So don't worry there is a payoff for reading all the way through. I will change the item type once I am done with the editing. Thank you for your time! Enjoy!]
                                                                              The Legend of Miguel Sagrado
Author's Dedication:

To my good friend and confidante Miguel Sagrado!
May you Always, Always bring Joy and Light to the lives of
The people who you encounter!

  ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Traveling through the mountains, traveling through the valleys, traversing across the deserts, traversing across rivers were two companions. One was an itinerant priest that strutted upon his guitar, singing the glories of God. And the other was his friend, Carlos the mule, who clumped his steps in time to the music of his wondering minstrel friend.  Whatever lay before the eye of the priest inspired him with new song, so much so that with each passing second there was a new melody to be had.  If you so happened to come across where these two travelers were, you’d hear at one moment the most earthy of music, of the soil and the trees, and at the next one moment you would hear the most ethereal and light of sounds, of the sky and the air. The priest revered Nature, revered all that was around him, seeing it as a boon from God.  If you were ever to strike a conversation with this priest and his friend, Carlos the mule, you would think and wonder, “Ah, what an impossible character this priest is! No one can be like he… Surely, it is all an act?” People were skeptical of his intentions and weary of the many swindlers and rogues, all rascals that used the name of God to sucker folks into giving up their wealth, their honor… and yes, sometimes even their own lives. 

Religion had always been a good commodity, by which one could “strike it rich”, it was only superseded by the luck of the draw in gambling, and the dumb luck of prospectors, who like fools, squandered their lives searching for happiness in gold. However, the trade of religion was a definitively more dependable means of asset than those other trades, for there were always people wallowing about  in the world grieving, lost and abandoned in a cold sea of darkness, waiting for someone to “shine the light upon them and rescue them” as it were… But this traveling minstrel, this itinerant priest was none like those miscreants, those fools and rascals, who monopolized on people’s sentiment and goodwill. He appeared to care for the suffering and the downtrodden, the people cast aside as the week and meek by a cruel and harsh world.  People were wrong in assuming that he seemingly appeared as caring, that he seemingly appeared loving… for it was no act, it was real! This traveling priest was earnest about his intent, his mission, and his own feelings! He would help everyone that lay before his eyes, everyone that stretched their hands out to the sky, the heavens and cried for mercy! ...And in the process he would let them, all children of God, know the true miracle that surrounded us, the warmth and comfort of the Love of God…!

It was with this determination that he resolved to travel. He did not concern himself with asking payment in return for his aid, for it was natural to help those in need! It was natural to offer love to those who were the scorned rejects, degenerates, and outcasts of society. After all, everyone deserves to feel loved and respected, wouldn’t you agree, my friend?

… The priest had many years of trust and faith invested in his friend, Carlos the mule, and as such he never bothered to steer or direct his companion in any set course.  Often these two would simply wander. However wherever Carlos the mule ventured, it  turned out that it was there that the priest was needed most. It was almost as if the Holy Spirit had guided them throughout their journey. It was on one such journey that our story begins…

It was a typical crisp fresh morning high above the sky in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  When the sun just peaked above the horizon, the priest and Carlos the mule were already awake and packed, ready to head out upon the trail once again. There were many passes created by the aborigines of this land many ages ago. It was on this crisscrossing pathways that the minstrel traveler and his mule ventured, thus you could say they were experts in mountaineering those parts.

The priest after saying his morning prayers and filling his canteen with water, climbed upon the back of his friend, “Pardon me once more, mi compadre, but I must use your limbs once more to carry the burden of my weight, forgive me old friend”,  said the priest.  They thus spent the morning hours singing, and clomping, the glories of the Divine.  They would have gone on in this merry way of life that day, had it not been for ‘that’ event to occur…

By midday the sun had risen high above the mountains, and it poured its relentless rays upon the peaks of the mountains. Despite the high altitudes, somehow today it appeared to be unbearably, unmercifully hot. Finally, with a parched throat, the itinerant priest and his friend, Carlos the mule stopped and sat under the shade of a tree. After some minutes the priest glanced up at the short pine they lay under, almost immediately he felt drawn to it, its youth, its uniqueness, and its charm. Thus he hastened to reach for his instrument, but he would never strike a chord for that song, for he was struck at what he glanced in the valley below…

If he was not mistaken, what was about to occur was a…an execution! Immediately he rushed over to a clearing and shouted in his greatest voice to the people below, “Stop! In God’s name, what are you doing?” His voice reverberated through the valley and beyond, its tone full of terror and angst.  He saw the people below startled as they looked around, trying to find the owner of the voice.

“I am up here!” cried the priest, “But the question is, what are you doing down there?”

“That is our business stranger, but tell me, who are you?” came a response.

“I am but a wandering priest. My mission in life is to help any and all I can who I see before my eyes…  Therefore gentleman, I cannot allow you to continue this! Not before I understand the situation.” cried out the priest in earnest.

“Ah! Father, if you truly are a priest, we welcome you to come down here and see to the preparations, on this day we exorcise a vile spirit from our village, we put this witch upon a stake. Come make haste, we need your assistance Father!” the same voice cried.

“Wait right there! Please do not act hastily! If what you say is true, it is certainly a serious matter, I will be right there in an instant!” called back the priest.

Without a moment’s delay he made his way back to the dwarf pine tree and quickly implored Carlos the mule to hasten. They sped down the mountain as best they could (for a mule can only move so fast). With great difficulty they managed to descend in less than an hour, the passes that lead to the valley were very steep and craggy. Once they had reached the bottom, the priest dismounted and quickly ran to the villagers, who were congregated upon a small mound. They were chatting idly waiting for the priest to descend.

As he approached them, the minstrel priest could discern their faces clearly. They were all average villagers, at least that is what you would think at first, but it was their eyes that gave their true character away. All of them had eyes glazed with avarice and discontent. But just think of their circumstance, a witch had terrorized their homes, even the most gentle of creatures can be stirred to hatred when their life is endangered, or at least when they think they are in danger. But if that is the case, then such innocence cannot be considered innocence. What that type of false innocence is known as is ignorance.  For it is not the truly innocent but the truly blind who fall into desperation when they feel cornered. This was the common understanding that the itinerary priest learned upon the many years of travel, that the truly desperate are the most deranged… He thus approached them with caution already adapting his stance to the situation, “Gentlemen, now that I am here, what is this talk of witches?”

There was a great lofty fellow who was dressed a little more extravagantly then the rest who approached the priest and said, “Father, we are the villagers of a small ad humble town, we have never meant harm to anyone or anything. Yet we have somehow had bad luck befall us time and time again! From the failing of the crops, to the miscarriage of our wives, to the dead fish in the sea. All of these things we assumed were just the will of God, who was angry with us. But that was just our ignorance, the priest of our village showed us the truth, revealed what was the illusion. Do you see that woman up there? She is an aborigine, a she-devil of this land. She practices black magic, witchcraft, and consorts with wicked spirits in the forest at the dead of night! This is our retribution! We will burn this witch and end all our suffering!”

Just as that villager spoke, the priest heard an unearthly scream… He looked up to discern where it had come from, and what he saw struck with horror. There atop a large totem, bound in chains, was the aborigine woman they spoke of. He had seen this totem at a distance but only assumed that the fellow upon this otherworldly idol was just bound, but what he saw was far worse than he could have imagined…! Far worse! The villagers had carved a large stake, which they used to drive into the abdomen of the aboriginal woman. She screamed out in pain as her wounds wept bitterly, as streams of blood poured down her precarious perch. If the priest was not kind of heart and sound of mind, he too would have considered the aborigine woman a witch, just those villagers. But that was not his nature he could see, she was crying out to the world for help, for guidance, for love! But clearly these men did not understand her pain, her suffering! They willfully branded her as the cause of all their sufferings. Thus stigmatized, she was persecuted for crimes she did not commit. Yes, clearly this aborigine woman must know which. The priest was sure it.He could see in the timbre of her voice that cries the innocent seeking shelter.
The priest was unsure, but still if she was really innocent, if she really was not a witch... then he would have to give his all to say  that she was innocent n. "Hear me, gentleman! What proof do you have that she is a witch! For God's sake, think! Think! If she truly was a witch. Why is she weeping there when she could very easily with the magic power destroy you all in an instant. Where is your common sense, there is no reasoning! I know you have suffered much, I know you feel resentful, I know you want to find out why these things happen to you... b-but, if this really the answer? Is it, gentleman?"

"F-Father, w-we do not mean any disrespect! But... How would you know about our pain and suffering, all of the things we lost,all of the things we had to go through? It is because of this woman this blasted witch! Our own village priest Father Renaldo has told us all this.He has shown as the omens and the proofs! Even though you are a holy man, you still cannot understand our grief! So please don’t shout about things that you don’t clearly understand!” said the well-dressed villager. And as he said that he nodded at his companion who held the stake to lodge it deeper into the abdomen of the helpless woman. By now her face was cringed in pain, too numbed by the piercing pain to scream or feel terror any longer.

“Stop! Stop this madness now!”she screamed at the priest. All the villagers halted as if stunned upon witnessing the explosive rage of  a priest who moments ago spoke in soft and imploring overtures. They all turned to gaze at him once more, and what they saw startled them further, the priest was in tears, “Oh Jesus! Why are these fools killing an innocent! They are your flock, oh Lord! But why, why do they insist on this, this madness!”, he then addressed the congregation of villagers, “And you! What are all of you doing? You see omens and therefore you automatically assume guilt? You have abandoned your own minds to follow the dictates of another? How more foolhardy and irrational can one be? This Father Renaldo may be a priest, but he is no friend of yours! ‘Thou shall not kill’! It is only of the 10 commandments, as old as time itself! And here you are, relying on omens! I hear your pains my children, it burns deeply in my heart! All that you have suffered through, all that you had endured! But to quickly find a scapegoat and place the blame upon this innocent girl, that is in clear violation of all that is sacred to the Lord! He values each and every life, if he did not he would have let Abraham sacrifice his eldest son! But He did not!

…So… before you go, and take the life of an innocent, yes even if that innocent is suspect of heinous crimes, consorting with devils and wicked spirits, yes even before you  strike down such a person, you must be sure! You must know beyond all certainty that this is so…! Well, are you sure?”

After the priest finished his outburst, all were silent. The only sounds that could be heard were the labored breathing of the aborigine woman and the weeping of the priest. The villager who held the stake dropped it to the ground. The itinerant priest despite his clouded vision could see that the malice in the eyes of the men were extinguished.What replaced it was their interminable shame. It took time before any of them could speak.

Then the man who once held the stake proudly finally ran forward and bowed before the priest, “Father! Father,  forgive me! I didn’t know! I didn’t know! I am not the only one to blame! It was Father Renaldo. He was the one who stirred this all up. I was just angry, aggrieved at the loss of my newborn, and of the failing of my crops… But I, when I heard that this senorita who was staying at our village, was suspected of being a witch, and that she caused all our suffering. It was then that I just lost myself! Padre! Please,  release me from your anger! I realize that I have committed a grave sin! Forgive me!” the poor wretched man wept with all his heart and soul.

Seeing this earnest plea and entreaty the priest knelt down and picked the wretched man up, “Rise! It is not with me that you must make your peace and amends. For a start you must ask forgiveness of that senorita, who you have so mercilessly maimed. And then, you must kneel before your Creator, the One who made all things, and beg his forgiveness for defying his laws. Forgiveness is not enough though. Swear to God, that you shall never again commit such an act of savagery and barbarism! Swear it!” commanded the priest.  All the villagers wept at this. They somehow felt a lightness in their hearts beside the heavy burdens of their soul. This priest, this fellow… that stood before them had such strength, such power in his forgiving and humble nature. He could have abandoned them to the gates of hell, but he did not. They thus all sank to their knees weeping, “Th-Thank you Father!” They all cried aloud.

“Nay, it is not I that you should that. It is our Merciful Lord, Jesus Christ, who gave his blood and flesh for our redemption, that you should thank! Remember that he suffered for you, so never give him more pains by turning to more sin!”

The turned their weeping eyes to the heavens, begging the Lord for mercy. “Right then! Now that you have sought forgiveness from all those who you have offended, release this senorita at once! We must get her some medical attention soon, or else she will die."

But not all the villages were sorrowful of their irrespective and savage behavior. One of those irrespective villagers chose this time to speak his mind, "Father, you say we are fools, that we do not use our heads? We may not even be educated men, however we trust priest, Father Renaldo is a very wise and saintly man. Why should we not trust his judgment is anything, it is he who were we should view with suspicion. For instance how do we know that you truly are a priest? For what we know you could very well be a partner with this she devil!"

The itinerant priest just stood there, just staring long and hard at offensive man who slandered his name. The other villagers, who were truly remorseful, quickly dealt the offender, "Hush now! What is your problem Garchez! It is true that we do not know whether this priest is truly a priest, but is it also true that we do not know if this señorita really is a witch? If we simply rely upon the strength of God as this holy man has said, even if they are evildoers, we will have no need to fear."

The offensive villager was defeated and silenced by his own kinsman. And so, the villagers quickly untied the ropes and gently brought the aborigine woman down from the totem. The man who had once held the stake so proudly, asked for forgiveness as he brought her down  "I beg your pardon, señorita! I have no excuses to hide myself, thus I stand before you a shameful sinner, begging for forgiveness for the wrongs I have done to you!"

But his words were spent on deaf as the aborigine woman was already unconscious. They handed the aborigine woman over to the priest; he asked them, "Where may I find a doctor?"

“There are very few doctors in all of Northern California you will not find them to work freely either. However, there is one, Dr. Sancho, who goes around from village to village, helping folks get by. Padre, I have no idea where he might be found, so you will have to search for him". I just wish that we could have been more help… We would have liked to go with, Padre! But we do not know where the doctor is. We must hurry back to our own village so that we may attend to our families and possessions. But on we can do is tell you to head east this! If you ask for directions you'll definitely find him”, answered one of the villagers.

And so the itinerant priest quickly called upon his friend, Carlos the mule, and placed the aboriginal woman atop. Then he quickly thanked the villagers for not abandoning, forsaking the light. They said prayers together and then the priest departed swiftly from the company off the villagers to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains, in order to save the life of an innocent señorita. Days passed, and town to town the priest and Carlos the mule sped swiftly seeking for Dr. Sancho, but he was nowhere to be found. And so the travelers roamed, all the while the aboriginal woman could not speak to the priest. She only stared with glazed lifeless size that the priest, almost as if she suspected him, almost as if she despised him... he was certain that she had lived a very harsh life, on several occasions he tried opening up there, he tried to sing striking wonderful and beautiful melodies upon his guitar, but he was unsure if she knew if she even heard the words he sang, that's saying look was upon her face, but look forlorn loss and tragedy would just not goal away. "Perhaps... it is just a fever, perhaps she is just tired. I am sure that is just it...", thought the priest.

They continued in this way for nearly a week with no progress in finding the doctor ordered opening up to the aboriginal girl. Every night they would camp out under undo the clear night sky, which was bedecked with myriad jewel-like stars. It was in these occasions that they itinerant priest and his companion, Carlos the mule were at their most whimsical, fanciful, and ecstatic as they gaze upon the majesty of the heavens. Their hearts like empty pitchers of water were filled to the brim in awe of what they beheld, and it was then that piece on a most joyous the most wondrous of revering melodies. It was only in these times that the aboriginal woman was truly phased by the meek and humble nature, by declining graceful soul off the minstrel itinerant priest.

So deeply was she moved in fact, that at night, when the priest and Carlos the mule finally drifted to sleep, she would weep, crying torrents of boiling tears. She could not understand, she could not bear it, why were these silly songs of the priest affecting her so. Upon the next night she resolved to confront them, for she was sure it was all just a mind game, a ploy he hatched to beguile her and gain her trust.  So then at night, when once the priest and his friend, Carlos the mule fell asleep around the campfire, the aborigine woman slowly crept to her feet and drew out a knife. All the while she had concealed it, no doubt it was her means of protection to survive all the years of torment she went through… She crept ever so silently toward the sleeping figure of the priest who had saved her life – she did not think much of his “favor”, for she unquestionably doubted his intent. Already, so many nights she pretended to be asleep waiting, waiting for what he may do to her! So it was no wonder that, finally after a full week she could stand it no longer! …Now she was right about him, she raised her hand high and the air, ready to strike down, ready to alleviate the panic, the torment, the suffering! …But, but she could not bring herself to plunge it into this man, “Just who is this man?” she thought, “I hardly spoke to him and already, he has such power over me!”

Before she could debate further in her mind on what to do, she heard him say, “My child, just what do you intend to do?” She dropped her knife frightened at the prospects, the priest simply sat up though and faced her and said further, “If you kill me, what do you gain? I am but a traveler with few worldly possessions. I gladly give my life if it would help you better your condition. But as I see it, you will only torture yourself more with my death, would it? I see your hand there, how it was quivering, how you were perspiring, you are no witch. I am not sure if I am good judge of character, but I can say with certainty that you are also no murderer! …I-I can only imagine – Nay! I cannot even begin to understand, what grief you must have gone through in your life, that you would be driven to this end. Please! Let me help you, my child!”

"What, what is it... but you want from me? Answer me!" questioned the aboriginal woman. "You're just likely others! Other men, they say they will help you. But they are wicked! Wicked!  You only want something from me! But…why? Why do you care so much? Why do you want to give me hope? Only so that you'll crush it again later? I-I, cannot continue like this! It’s too much! Too much…!" She placed her hands to her face, sinking to the ground, the aboriginal woman wept bitterly.

For a while the priest did not know what he could do for her, but then he walked up to her and placed his hand upon her shoulder trying to console her he said, "my child, you may grieve now… grieve as much as you like! Let all those feelings out, just know that you are not alone. Finally, after all these years, there is someone who grieves with you. Actually there has always been someone grieving for your loss and pain. Only you just did not  know that He grieved for you. Yes, The Lord has grieved all along for your pain, and now I grieve with you as well. However, please do not let this pain rule you! Stand! You are a wonderful person, so stand and be proud of who you are! I may not know much about your past, but I know your character, from what I see, your truly warm and caring person. So rise above those ill-fated experiences! To find solace and eternal peace, turn to God for strength! The Lord Jesus Christ shall answer you…!"

The aboriginal women stop weeping for a moment, looking up to the face of the priest. There was still bitterness in their eyes, as her face was still convulsed in agony... she screamed at him, "No! None more of your lies! I know what you want, all men ever want when they speak so pleasantly to a girl... Am I right? All you desire is to have ‘it’, my flesh... So then here! Take it! Just take it! I give up, I just give up… Nothing, there is nothing for me worth living for anymore!" The aboriginal woman said this then as she began to disrobe herself, renewed tears of despair welling up in her eyes.

Alarmed and disturbed at this turn of events, the priest began to weep himself, losing himself in grief that consumed the aboriginal woman. He thus implored, "My child! I truly did not understand the depth of your grief... forgive me! Oh! …What a life you have lived... that you must have lived! But, please! Please, restrain yourself, hold onto your dignity, hold on to your chastity! I did not save you for the sake of satisfying any ill intentions! I saved you because I wanted you to live! So live! Live! Please live… and be well and happy! I know my Lord wants this as well, for He is most kind, the most generous, and the most loving of all ! Please do not... do not give in to despair! Do not! Do not! Do not!"

The aboriginal woman stopped, stunned at the sheer depth of emotion the priest expressed to her. It resonated on a deep level, perhaps far deeper than her own grief and lamentation… it was as if his own life was on the line, such was the grief he expressed to her. This priest, this man that was before her, what was he? He was unlike anyone she had ever known. All she knew of men before she met this priest was of liars, cheaters, rogues, and rascals. So she could not help but ask him, "Who are you? …Just, who are you?"
"I am simply a traveler. I am just one who loves The Lord dearly. But, as for a name I am known to some as Father Miguel Sagrado. All I really want is to give out a helping hand. Sometimes that is all it takes to make someone happy, to let them know they feel appreciated… And when one is lifted from the curse of misery, then it is at that time they are at their most potent. For they are ready to listen and learn about the mysterious magic of the Love of God… Now then, please sit down here by the fire and rest, you are still injured! …Yes,  here is fine. Now, may I ask you something… will you allow me to help you. Tell me your story for one. And so in that way, you can overcome the dark demons on your past. "

The aboriginal woman just sat there for  a while, staring into the embers of the fire, recalling the many things of the past. Father Miguel took the time to fetch the last bit of water from his canteen in his saddle bag. The aboriginal woman felt very shameful for words and actions of the past hour, and thus she granted Father’ Miguel’s request, "Father Miguel, forgive me. It has been a long, long time since I have spoken to a truly decent and good man… Let me start by telling you my name, I am Ci’qouia, it was a name given to me many years ago when I was surrounded by my own people. It was those days there are but faded memories now, but I can still remember sailing along the shore, the rains, and when the sun peeked from behind the clouds the mighty and beautiful rainbows as they bridged the light across the skies. I had many friends and companions back then as I was a chieftain’s daughter. My people paid respects to my father, and neighboring clans came over every now and then bearing gifts, and so did we go ever now and then go bearing our gifts in return. Life was good… no, it was wonderful for my people back then, and my father was a very good and powerful leader.

But we had no things such as property, or taxes…As I remember, there was no lands that were owned by any one person, if you were to tell me that one day there would be people who owned half a , or the borders of the sea, I would have laughed at you for being an idiot. For we were a people who lived with Mother Nature… she was the Great Spirit that gave us life! And we took care of her in return ensuring that we never threw things without considering how it might affect our dear Mother. If we took her for granted, the Father spirit of the Sky would rain storms on us, washing away the impurities off the land and at the same time showing us our place. All things was thus sacred,  the animals were sacred, the plants were sacred, even kin were sacred! What to speak of the great Spirits, Guardian over us all!

Yes, life for my people was great! We spend most of the year out at sea, it was brimming with fish and other life. And so both on land and on the waters the Great Spirit sustained us, and gifted us with a prosperous life. I personally enjoyed every moment of those days. But they would end for me, they would come to pass as my father grew old and my mother grew sickly… He led the people for many years in his wisdom, and yet when became weak... my tribe abandoned him! It was not that they disliked him, but it was a rule amongst us, with weakness, he became a burden to my people. A elder is normally revered and respected and thus kept amongst our people, unlike many other tribes to the south who would sooner dump their old and sickly than to care for them. It was just the misfortune of the seasons, as that winter it was very cold, colder than any before, and so the plants we depended upon died and the fish moved to warmer places. It was a matter of survival that they choose to cut their looses… And so it was left to the new chosen leader to ‘overthrow and abandon’ my father, for no one could bring themselves to do this. With bitter tears I was torn from my friends and kin, and left to tend to my frail mother, who was now nearly dead, and my father who was now a hallow empty shell of the strong and proud man he once was…

I carried as much as I could and we traveled with what our people had left for us, provisions to last my family a month, but travel was too troublesome for us especially since my mother fainted nearly everyday of our journey, fever claimed her shortly after we made pasture for the winter not far away from where we are now… At her funeral pyre I wailed, for not only was my mother taken away from me, I could never hold onto her now, for she was swept up like dust  by the great spirit of the wind, where she was flown to the world of spirits in the afterlife… Sitting there with my father, his face grave and hallow in the light of the funeral pyre,  I truly felt then, that we were forsaken by the everyone, especially the spirits. But then the foreigners came…your people… from a land unknown, wearing strange dress and speaking a strange tongue. And almost as soon as they had come, they brought with them interpreters from neighboring tribes They hailed by Father to the foreigners as a great chieftain for they recognized him as such, for they do not know just that winter our people had forsaken him!
He did not clarify their error though, for he viewed this as a perfect opportunity. For you see, he had heard legends of these foreigners, conquerors riding four legged beasts and wearing metal as clothes, and so in order to ensure that I would survive whatever fortunes were to befall this great land, he dealt with them as a chieftain. How proud and noble he looked, he would put on those airs of regal blood, despite having lost all his powers to the passage of time. The old man, my father, was like a frail wolf trying to recapture the prime of his youth. Even without his strength, his presence bore gravity and authority. And so despite the ailments of his body, he stood for hours and talked to the men. But he was displeased with any prospects they offered him. And so he continued to bar any trade of land, solely for my sake… These men who he was dealing with became enraged as they felt their offers were quite generous, they were at the end of their patience, picking at their weapons like ravenous beasts, very nearly they would attack.

But then arrived a great personality, a person who I would come to respect and revere greatly. Father Armando was a kind and good man, his spirit resonated of the meadows and forests…very clean and wonderful, much like you Padre. He qualmed the anger of the foreigners who were parleying with my father, and he himself talked to my father. Instantly he could see him to be as he was, Father Armando knew my father was a defanged powerless old man, yet he had no self-interest. Unanimously, he accepted all that my father asked. Namely that I, his only daughter would be forever taken care of by a honorable guardian, and that the land he ceded the foreigners would be kept natural and pristine for all creatures, man or beast.  Father Armando agreed without any reservations, for he was a kindred spirit to my father, they both men who loved the great open meadows,  the gurgling brooks, and the wide and blue sky…

Now that he had secured my future for me as best as he could in his feeble age, he had no attachments left to this world. Without saying even a single word to me, he left our tent, left everything behind, and left the future to me. I just stood there watching as his hunched and lone form melded to the horizon of the foothills of these mountains. I knew then that I would never see him again… Father Armando built a small monastery in which he let me stay.  I again had entered a delightful phase in my life, but there was always a emptiness inside me, in my heart, the hole where the important people of my past once were would never close again. But Father Armando, the kindhearted, fatherly man he was made sure that I was never alone. We would sing together as we worked on chores, he taught me his tongue, and then at night he would tell me stories that his own mother told him at night, stories of brave warriors called knights, of  large buildings that were called castles, and of beasts that rules sky, land, and sea called dragons. Somehow a damsel was always in danger and the brave warrior would have to assail all obstacles to rescue the damsel in distress. I pondered these obscure tales. But our story time was not only limited to these types of stories, he read to me from the holy scriptures of your people, The Bible he called it. The days of creation, the times of wandering in the desert, the rise of a mighty kingdom and its history, the empire that conquered all before its path, and then of the Messiah who died for the soul of his people. I heard or all things in wonder, so completely different from what I knew and how I saw the world. For hours I told him of my past, of the great oneness with nature, of the spirits, of my people and my culture, half everything that I ever knew. He showed great appreciation fascination for the things I said even though I was a child. Before I knew it, Father Armando became a very dear person to me, and I felt the hole in my heart close slightly, even if it was only just smaller, his words, his presence, and his care gave me hope and strength to live on and never give into despair. I was happy, I was free, I will still alive, and there was someone who loved me, like I was his own daughter! I thought those days would never end… how foolish I was, for I never learned from the past, that all good things come to an end…but, I get ahead of myself, let me first say what happened before that…

Slowly more colonists came from afar to make home in the new fresh land around the monastery. The shores were naturally very beautiful, but the way Father Armando cared and tended for all creatures, he made that place a ‘paradise on earth’, as your people would say! In time a village grew from the small collection of huts around the humble but splendid monastery.  I saw firsthand that Father Armando was a great man, a great leader, he worked with the villagers to design a layout of the village, it grew very prosperous, becoming hub of fishing fleets and farmers to gather and to trade. Today this village is on the verge of becoming something grand, almost a city I think! Those villagers should thank Father Armando, for it was really his hard work and ideas that brought the village such success! And while Father Armando was still around, those villagers, even the ones who bounds me to the ropes and mercilessly butchered me were kind and friendly towards me, for even though I knew that the foreigners hated my kind. Those who were in the presence of Father Armando found it impossible to even know the meaning of hatred… he truly was a man in touch with the Other World, what my people call a holy man and your people call a Saint.

However, things were not to last... father Armando became very ill. As he had cared for me so deeply, so did I!  He struggled between the lines of life and death, I ventured out into the forests every day, eagerly searching for the herbs I remembered my people had said could bring even back a dead man to life! But… but…he only became more ill! Nothing I did stopped the tides of time! So when he could no longer perform his duties as a priest he called for aid from a fellow priest who was stationed nearby, to come and take his place in our village. It was his own blood relative in fact. But Padre, I must say this! That man could not have been anymore different then my dear Father Armando! It was that despicable Father Renaldo, who came to replace Father Armando… he never intended to wait for his brother to recover! He intended from the very beginning to stay in the village his brother built! How do I know this you may ask Padre? He brought with him all his possessions, and for someone who was a priest there was certainly a lot of possessions he brought, things that even a merchant monger would dream of owning!

With each meal he served my dear Father Armando, the man who I considered as my second father become even more deftly ill! All the medicines I had collected for him I discovered had been thrown out into the sea. I then knew the true nature of that Father Renaldo, he was a terrifying man, and what could I do? A little girl, a foreigner amongst these people, who would believe what I would say? I did not even have proof of what I knew too well in my heart… Till this day, this day…! I wonder, what would have happened if I only had the courage to tell Father Armando what I suspected of his own brother…But back then, I did not have the heart… the heart! …To tell him, that his own brother was poisoning him…!

I think Father Renaldo was jealous that his meek brother had accomplished so much and built such a wonderful place all with not even a drop of gold, but only with a river of sweat, a river of trust and solidarity amongst the villagers. It was something that he could not understand, could not stand, but all the more longed for! However, Father Renaldo failed to realize something, Padre, it was something that he could never have with hands, for he was incapable of maintaining, much less creating such a wonderful place. With each passing sermon, he filled the hearts of the good-natured villagers with wicked thoughts and deeds, each passing day as Father Armando grew weaker, ever so weaker the village itself seemed to die a little more, the sky was gray and it always cried horribly in those day, weeping for the suffering of Father Armando… Weaker, weaker, weaker…he grew so weak that at one point I had to measure his life by his breathing! Can you imagine it Padre? Measuring the life of your father by his mere breathe? It is something we should not think about! It is… it is something that we should take for granted! F-for we should know that our loved ones are alive, without having to check if they are… if they are… breathing!” 

         For a long time Ci’qouia could not bring herself to speak, lamentation grasped her breath completely. Father Miguel Sagrado sat there, not knowing what to say to ease the grief and pain, and just as he was about to try she spoke again, this time she asked, “Tell me Padre! Tell me… w-why,  is…is it… so hard!  …To say, goodbye to someone who is about to die?”
“It is hard, senorita… It is always hard!  Never, never can it be easy to say that to someone you think you will be separated from, forever. But you must understand… despite the painful departure, the turmoil of separation… it will not last forever! There will be a time when it will end, when loved ones reunite, perhaps not in this world but they definitely shall in the next. We can never fill the void in our hearts from the loss… but it is not forever! No, not forever… so bare it, the pain, the loss, for withstanding the onslaught of grief and suffering, better days will come for you…”  Father Miguel struggled to say as he carefully choose his words. 

He looked  at her face to see if that comforted her, at length she responded to his words, “Hmm, that is something! Padre, you speak just as Father Armando would… Thank you for giving me this memento of him! It did not fill the hole in my heart, but like the deeds of Father Armando, your words just now… they have made it smaller… so thank you!” Then she fell silent and stared long and hard into fire, watching the embers of the flames once more, a shadow suddenly passed her face as if she remembered something of pure horror, dread, and disgust from the phantoms of her past. Father Miguel uneasy, thought of ending their talks for the night. But like before, Ci’qouia began speaking before he did, “When I lost my other father to the fever, I was probably around marriageable age, at least for what my people considered as such. I was no longer just a child, and so…and it was then that I started getting the attention of lustful eyes upon me… Men admired me for I was the exotic in their world of daily toil and monotony. But still I was far too young to be approached by your people’s standards. And that aside, no one would dare touch the aborigine who was under the guardianship of their town’s ‘Padre’.

By that time, I was passed into the care of Father Renaldo, the cruelest and most wicked-minded man I ever say to walk the earth! But he treated much the same as he did cattle! I would slave over the entire monastery compound maintaining the yard and gardens, cleaning the insides and out, cooking and preparing the meals, and cleaning the laundry, even sweeping up the chimney! What’s worse I didn’t get to eat what I cooked, I was feed only the scraps of concerned villagers who still viewed me as the ‘little daughter’ of Father Armando… Though I am grateful to them for what they gave, it was simply cruel! Cruel of Father Renaldo to treat me this way! I was barely out of childhood and I was a stranger amongst his people, and yet he showed me no mercy! I was his slave! but I dared not to flee for my freedom. Though my life was then horrifying, but you must remember, I could not go. I had nowhere else to go, I lived at his mercy. For if I fled, I would not have the protection of the Church and the ‘Padre’ any longer, men would rape me from left to right! I was so frightened of that that I could not bring myself to leave that slave life… it is a decision I wish I could now take back… but, that is enough of regrets…

Also, I did not flee... because, if he so desired he could have wrung me up by my neck and no one, not even the kindhearted neighbors who feed me, would be able to save me from his wrath! No one dared go against their ‘Padre’! He was an absolute pillar of the Truth! What he said was law to them… this was the result of his sermons, many years of rotting the brains of the villagers. Though I could read the Bible, I was powerless, for who would listen to an aborigine girl? “If she goes against the Padre, she must be in cohorts with the devil!” I feared this the most of all things, for along with all the lies he strung about what was in the bible or not, his sermons were filled with terrifying accounts of the devils and his wicked emissaries, how anyone who was to steer one from the ‘One and True Path of the Bible was a servant of Hell’s Demonic Lord’. He also thought them that the commandments of God were that everything that the priest said was the law, and if one were to anger the priest, one would be devoured by sin itself!  He made these wild and crazed accusations and rules.

The poor villagers were frightened out of their minds for they had no one to depend on but Father Renaldo now, when confronted by the doctrines that Father Armando and many other priests that passed by the town  had all said,  Father Renaldo simply said, ‘that is their business, and this is mine! Some priests like to fudge people up, but I am not fanciful, I give to you the truth as it is meant to be known! So if you are not strong enough to handle it, then go and seek for fool’s gold! What I teach you is the real deal, my children!’ He would proclaim whenever he was challenged. And so with time, he had tamed his dream town and ruled it as he had wished, but what made it wonderful, special, and unique was dead. It had died with Father Armando, and was buried with him in the coffin in the cemetery. It was noble and loving spirit that was in us all…  it had been sucked dry from even the marrow of our bones. Now all that was left was a hollowness, a shallowness, and a dubious imitation perpetuated by lies, fear, and hatred!

Tell me Padre? What was I to do? I had inherited from Father Armando the truth, but I could not stop the lies and the villainy! I was a powerless girl! As far as the villagers cared, I was just a annoyance, now that Father Armando was dead, the hatred in the villager hearts was rekindled and with the stirring of Father Renaldo it grew into an all devouring wildfire! I couldn’t bear it any longer, soon I couldn’t even walk about the streets anymore! I was a bird in a cage, and my spirit wavered… it was dying! I became desperate and in that frame, I started to delude myself into thinking I could somehow make everything alright if I battered with the wicked Father Renaldo.

I risked great punishment then, I went out to sea, taking a fishing boat, there were a few which was a common property to all the villagers… and with me I took a harpoon. It is an instrument that was not unlike what my own people used, I remembered how my father would from the shore fling his great spear, thick as a tree limb and it would pierce the hide of some of the mightiest of the sea creatures… the whale! It was a delicacy, for it was very difficult to kill. To offer the meat of a whale to someone  for my people meant great sincerity of friendship. If one was friends they would then be friends for life, if one were enemies they would soon forget the whole business and become good chaps. This was because, to hunt for whale and to take the time to kill one meant, that you truly cared for the person you offered it to. And so, following in the footsteps of my ancestors, I went to sea to find me the greatest of peace offering, the meat of a whale.

I resolved to not return back to shore unless I had completed my mission. That decision nearly killed me… for it was three days before I found sight of a whale and I was half dead in the cold and vast sea. I nearly lost sight of land one point before. And even though I had seen my father slay a mighty whale countless times, that did not mean I could do the same! But I never gave up my ridiculous notions. I prayed then to the Great Spirits for the first time in years, for I had never thought of prayer since I long ago gave up hope… this time instead of just leaving me to die, they were generous and let me have the great fish. But even though I had won a great duel against  the whale I was too weak to row back to shore, the whale weighed down the little boat anyways, it would sink if I dared to move it slightly. But I would not die that day, some fishermen from the village found me drifting with that giant carcass as my companion out at sea, they were alarmed when they saw the communal boat was gone and when their ‘Padre’ flew into a fit of rage when he discovered I was missing from my post. They were going to chastise me, but upon seeing the large fish I had successfully subdued, their fishermen spirits got the best of them and they praised me all the while exclaiming how they were in disbelief that a ‘small darling’ like me, with small hands in a small boat subdue such a mighty creature of the deep.

We sailed back to shore and I asked them to help me prepare and preserve the meat of the giant whale. I was not interested in the meat for myself and so I offered to share it with them and their families, their face lit up and they called me all sorts of honorifics declaring, ‘oh senorita, we were sure wrong about you! A nice lady like yourself cannot be a savage or evil!’ They went on to say. They offered me a whole section in the warehouse where I could keep my share of the whale’s flesh. I was so thankful to them for offering as I had not yet thought ahead as to where I would keep such a large amount of whale meat. Once that was in place, I went to Father Renaldo, hoping beyond all hope that he would become my friend instead of what he was. At first when he saw me he was infuriated and he started to beat me! …Savagely! He was deeply consumed in his fit of rage as he said, ‘Cheeky little thing! You went off on your own, did you? What for? Was my home and accommodations not good enough for you, eh? Cheeky, cheeky thing! You will learn your place!’

But before he fully unleashed his whip on me, I showed him the prize I had won from the sea, with the help of the Great Spirits.  ‘Please look here! Padre! I did not go for myself. I wanted to give you this offering!’ I said aloud, while trying to hold back my fear… Father Renaldo was a person who became ecstatic, almost mad when he smelled the fear of others.

‘What is it knavish girl?’ he snorted scornfully. I lifted the cloth from the basket I carried, in it was  my exquisite hopes, in the form of the meat of the whale. I looked up to him and could not help but smile seeing the transfixed eyes he had. Looking back, I laugh now… that fat pig, eyeing the meat I brought for him, hah! He looked like an absolute fool! …But at that time I dared not say such things, I simply walked slowly past him and placed it upon his table. He didn’t say another word for already his mind was gone replaced by his gluttonous palate. He did take the time to sit down and dignifiedly he lifted up his fork and knife, but I knew that it was all just an act, his senses were gone replaced by his beastly appetite. Moments afterwards, all his self-restraint was gone and he gorged himself in the meat! I was so delighted to see that he ‘enjoyed’ my gift to him. Every few minutes he would look up at me with his mouth stuffed to the brim and with a raised fist demand, ‘More!’

I was not alarmed by this, but that was only the first five times. After that point, I was alarmed that he was so fixated on the whale meat, I could see something strange and wild in his eyes… with each passing second more of his humanity slipped away to the bestial gluttony. I had known that this was his true nature all along, but now… to see it manifest before my eyes was quite disturbing… But what could I do? I spent so much effort to win myself my life back, I had to see it through! I ignored the fact that I was turning a human-being into a monster! Yes… he was cruel, yes he was nasty, but he was still human. By offering him that whale meat that day, I opened a whole new world of torment upon myself! … And upon the people of the village! We paid dearly! Dearly for the palate of that beast who carried on in the place of the now dead Father Renaldo…

Do you know what happened afterwards Padre? Th-that beast! He did not whip me from that day forth, nor did he make me clean the monastery, nor tend the gardens, nor clean inside and out, nor cook, nor anything I had slaved to do for him for so many years! He… he sold me! Each and everynight to a different man! He sold my flesh so that he could fund his greed, his lust for whale meat! He became obsessed on whale meat that he disregarded the last shreds of decency he had, he auctioned me everyday in a secret room to the highest bidder! Every night, for seven years… I was defiled…raped with no consideration!

Those men who were going to ‘exorcise’ me… some of them raped me almost everyday! After so long, I could stand this hell no more! I had to run, even if it meant my own death!  They only wanted to shut the mouth of their whore so she would not embarrass them in front of their wives, so that she would not embarrass them in front of their entire kind! They would shut her up because she had outlived… outlived her usefulness! …I…I only regret one thing, it was the one thing that I was solely responsible for, and that was unleashing the monster in the heart of Father Renaldo, if I had not gone on that foolhardy trip, if only…!” cried out Ci’qouia, as she stirred herself into a frenzy. Suddenly before the fire she smacked her head against the ground. Father Miguel immediately got up and rushed to her side. He saw that she was unconscious… and worse she was running her fever as her wound had began bleeding uncontrollably… perhaps it was wrong to ask her to talk of a story she had become to riled up and then this had happened… But he had no time for regrets now, he immediately turned her over and saw that the dressings upon her wound were soaked!

“Oh Lord! Please not this! Not now! We are nowhere near a town, and I have yet to find Dr. Sancho… what am I to do?” But before he lost himself to panic, he quickly calmed himself and collected his breath. Thinking carefully and swiftly he immediately picked her up and called for his friend, Carlos the mule to awaken, he thus placed the saddle upon Carlos’ back and with his other hand hoisted Ci’qouia upon the back of his friend. Then he got the rest of his belonging together and tied together the reins.

Within a minute they were off running briskly in the direction of the sea, the starlight had by now nearly faded away into the night sky, it was nearly morning, and so some light could be discerned in the dense foliage of the trees as dawn approached the horizons. Now that time was of the essence and little hope of finding the elusive doctor  by the means of his own strength was near impossible, Father Miguel said a silent prayer while rushing through the thick of the woods with his traveling companion, Carlos the mule. “It is all in your hands now, Oh Lord!”

Through the thick of the woods they ran no longer keeping to the paths, Father Miguel was in a desperate race against time to save the life of an innocent woman, she was butchered by the very men who took advantage of her, she was passed from one to the next like chattel! And now it was death’s turn next! He could not allow that, he must not allow that! And so with all reserves of strength he rushed at full speed, his trusty companion Carlos the mule not far behind. As dawn ascended the sky, hope was rekindled in the traveler’s eyes, and they saw before, through the leaves and twigs in the distance lay the sea. And before it, a town!

They rushed forth with the strength of their joy, their hope granting them the extra trust they needed to swiftly reach the town. As soon as they arrived, Father Miguel rushed to the agualcil offices to seek for the whereabouts the fabled Dr. Sancho. 
Bolting through the front door of the offices, Father Miguel called out, “Hello there! Agualcil/Constable! I am in need of your services at this hour! …Are you there? Hello!”

         He called out repeatedly, but no one answered, so he went to the door that opened up to the back of the atrium, there he discovered a slumbering figure, nestled tightly in a sombrero and a rocking chair. The man wore a hat so it was hard to see his face. Father Miguel normally would not disturb a man who was at rest, but this was not a normal time! It was a matter of life and death. He took the man by the shoulder and shook him slightly as he implored, “Signor… Signor! Signor, I need your help! Come quickly, signor!”

The sleeping figure appeared to shuffle about as if awake, “Hmm… what seems to be the trouble, Padre?” he asked.

“A senorita, has been gravely injured. I’ve been trying to find medical attention for her for about a week now. I’ve done my best to  keep infections from starting, but I am no man of medicine, and so I cannot properly close her wound.  So I need your help in that!”
“Alright, lead the way…” said the figure yawning.

Father Miguel lost no time, and sped out the door of the constabulary. But when he turned around, he could not see the other man, “Perhaps he is trying to get some medicine of some kind?” thought Father Miguel.

A full minute past before the stranger walked outside, it appeared that he had taken the time to wash up, for water was freshly dripping from his face, he then proceeded to stretch and yawn once more before taking stock of the  Ci’qouia, who was now in dire straits, burning with a horrendous fever. The man appeared to be the agualcil of this town as he bore a uniform and a side-arm, Father Miguel did not like the feel of the man, as he appeared to be a bit conceited, and from the actions of this agualcil, he was not one who cared for the lives of others… “better be cautious with this fellow,” thought Father Miguel.

“Is that the girl, Padre?” asked the man in a very authoritative fashion, “Yes,” said Father Miguel.

“Well… no matter, I think I understand what we have here. I can see the blood from the mane of your donkey there, she’s wounded, no? Let’s have a look then…” replied the agualcil. Upon walking closer, the agualcil could examine the facial features of Ci’qouia, his eyes went wide, as if he was startled by what he saw. “Padre… just what are you doing with this girl, eh?” asked the agualcil.

“Over towards the mountains, some townfolk were about to kill her. I intervened and brought her about to find Dr. Sancho, at the recommendation of some of those very men in face. Speaking of which, do you know where I may find this doctor?” inquired Father Miguel.
“Ah, that is what I figured you’d say,” mumbled the agualcil as he ignored the question, “Padre, I am afraid that I am going to have to arrest this girl and you right now.”

“What!” exclaimed the shocked Father Miguel.

“And don’t worry, I will make sure she lasts long enough for her execution.” said the agualcil cooly.

“Wait… you cannot be serious!” implored Father Miguel, “Why are you arresting her? Why are you going to execute her? This does not make any sense… do you mean–”

“Padre… let me ask you something. Why are you obstructing  the justice of our humble town?” asked the agualcil glaring a deadly stare at Father Miguel, “You hindered these poor folks who were just trying to bring justice to our humble town… Does ‘Your God’ demand you to get in the way and save this, this ‘senorita’ you call it? Eh?”

“Yes! Yes, He does! Also, Ci’qouia is not a ‘thing’ that neither you nor anyone else can own or push around! She is a soul, and certainly an innocent one at that! I am not sure why exactly the people of this village hate her so, but this madness must stop! She is innocent of all the crimes and sins you charged her!” responded Father Miguel.

“Hah! There you go! You’ve admitted it!” triumphed the agualcil.

“Good Lord! Are you listening to me? Just what have I admitted to, agualcil?” asked Father Miguel.

“You… you worship the devil, ‘Padre’, or shall I call you an imposter! Why else would you so willfully defend a witch! It is you who are mad! Now surrender or I will call out the whole town and have you two stoned to death,” replied the agualcil with bone chilling coldness.

         Father Miguel only moved in front of the agualcil to bar him from touching Ci’qouia. He stared straight into the eyes of the agualcil long and hard, and the agualcil did likewise, “Tell me agualcil… do you really believe what you are saying? I can see in the eyes someone who is selfish and disinterested in the world around him. Perhaps it is you that have motive to spread the flames of madness… And you seem to be an educated man, a literate man, how then can you have so willfully let Father Renaldo spread such malicious lies and falsehoods! Do not tell me you have not read the Bible! You know what is true, do you not?” Father Miguel probed.

The agualcil still continued to stare with a stone face, but Father Miguel did not relent from his resolve and so at last the agualcil began to smile, even laugh a bit, “Hah! You are a coy one Padre! You seemed to have figured it out quite quickly… well, since you will just rot in one of my cells, it wouldn’t hurt to tell you, that I am involved in a business deal with the honourable Father Renaldo, he pays me every month from the coffers of the  Church, and I keep my mouth shut in return… You seem to think I am dishonourable for this?  …Well, what would you know Padre! You’ve had the privilege of getting a cushy position in the Church, so you can afford to be high and mighty! You have no understanding how we, people who are born out of the dirt and dust have to suffer to get what you, so easily take for granted!” spoke the agualcil angrily, “Well come now, we will house you in there. I will make sure that your journey was not for nothing! You’ll receive the famous hospitality of our humble town, Padre. If you had only paid mind to your own business, you’d not have to rot in my jail! Hah!”
         Father Miguel was astounded, all he could say was, “Have you no shame?”

“Padre, you should know, a man of justice knows no shame when he is carrying out his duty to the people, he must keep the peace, you know?” saying this, he bound Father Miguel’s hands and then proceeded to do so for the unconscious Ci’qouia.

“What reason do you have to bind an unconscious woman? Even if she was awake she would not have the strength to move… why do you treat her so harshly? Why?” implored Father Miguel stirred with emotion.

“Because, she must die! This is a slippery one, I’ve known it from my many years knowing this, this thing!” the agualcil laughed heartily as he mused, “But fear not, Padre. I do not want to kill a priest unnecessarily, no doubt there will be people who’ll come looking for you. I’ll release if you just keep quiet, eh?”

Father Miguel could only say, “You are shameless! If you are a true follower of God’s teachings, you will think twice of your actions! Murder in cold blood is simply, unforgivable!”

The agualcil smiled, “Hah! Padre, not I do not believe in the Great Lord in Heaven, but he could care less about me, and I could care less about him. If he really was looking after everything like a hawk, then he would not have let me suffered so much. I just do not care anymore, what he thinks of me, bah! I will live for only me, that is how I have survived this long… and if anyone gets in my way,  I will silence them!”
“I see then,” said Father Miguel, “It is not simply for the money, you mean to get rid of Ci’qouia because you too have defiled her. Shameless villainy! Do you think even if you hide one sin  with another from your neighbors, that the Lord will not know about either? …As for your life, I am truly sorry that you had to suffer to turn to such outrageous crimes, but plenty before you have suffered great and even greater losses than you, and yet they found the mercy of The Lord… Have you really sincerely tried… tried to reach out to The Lord? Jesus Christ is most loving, even now if you turn to Him, He will forgive you… just, stop this madness at once! Please!”

“Hmph! I think it is time for you to shut up! Get moving and carry this girl with you while you’re at it, ‘Padre’!” snarled the agualcil taking out his sidearm.

         The agualcil locked Father Miguel and Ci’qouia in the same cell, shortly he threw a bottle of alcohol and some linen inside. “Here, use this to keep the wretch alive,” snarled the agualcil, “And do not make noise! I need to cover up some lost sleep!”

         Father Miguel did not lose time in attending to Ci’qouia’s wound. It appeared that they would never reach the fabled Dr. Sancho in time, thus it was beyond mortal means to save the life of Ci’qouia, And so, once he was finished attending to the woman who had been lost and trampled by the world,  Father Miguel turned all hopes to God. He began to pray, hoping for a miracle…  he would get the answer to his prayers in the most unlikely twist of fate.

While the agualcil slumbered and Father Miguel prayed desperately, the door to the atrium opened in the distance and footsteps could be heard, then the door leading to the jail cells open. There was a portly woman who entered baring a basket filled with bread, it appeared that she was a baker’s wife, for apparent reasons. She stared at Father Miguel who was in deep prayer, and at the strange figure she lay in the cot, that person was wrapped in many sheets and under blankets, but the baker’s wife thought, “she looks like someone I know”, but she went on her business as her curiosity gave in to lethargy.

“Agualcil Remerez? Signor? Please, wake up! I have your order for today… Signor Remerez? Signor!” she called to him to wake. Agualcil Remerez indeed awoke, but he was not very pleasant in his demeanor.

“Ah good morning… what seems to be the problem?” asked Agualcil Remerez groggily.

“Oh Signor! You must be tired, I will come back another time, “ said the baker’s wife, very visibly vexed at the lack of etiquette of Agualcil Remerez.

“No, no… If you have come all the way here, we best be done with it, how much for today?” asked Agualcil Remerez.
“Same as usual Signor Remerez,” replied the baker’s wife cheerfully. As the agualcil fished out for his money the baker’s wife peeked into the cell again, her curiosity renewed, “Signor, who are these people? Why have you arrested a monk… is he swindler of some sort?”
“Heh! Senora, I assure you that man is far worse than a swindler, he is a idiot, spouting out nonsense. A definite lunatic… so be careful, do not get any closer, or I cannot guarantee your safety. As for the one of the cot there, you and I both know her. It is that woman, the witch who plagued our town!”

The baker’s wife  turned her head back sharply to face Agualcil Remerez, she eyes wide and dilated, as if she was demented and crazed, “No! Is that so? How can you keep this from us Signor Remerez! Why do you wait? That wretch, she took my child away from me and cast its soul into hell! Why do you not kill her now? She will bring a curse upon us all if you wait for her to wake!”

“Ah, senora, you must be calm. Patience... ” said Agualcil Remerez calmly, “This witch is wounded, so we have time to wait. Let her suffer a small dose of the pains our town has borne. Though this crazy man took her away, we have had the good fortune of the Lord, to have her brought back into our hands. Now we can exorcise this evil from the face of the earth, but let everyone get up first. It is still quite early in the morning, we do not need to disturb our minds so early–“

“Damn you Remerez, she took my child from me… she took my child! How can you expect me, expect any of the mothers in this town to rest knowing that this infant killer is alive, in our town! I will gather everyone here now! We will burn her! And if you get in our way, you will have trouble as well!” the baker’s wife hissed. Agualcil Remerez raised his hands in the air as if to dismiss any objections, “I have no problems with that! Please senora, let us keep the peace! That is all I desire!”

“I will give you peace!” growled the baker’s wife all manner of her thinly veiled courtesy and etiquette gone. She stormed off, running quickly outside. Her voice was heard moments later as she shrilly cried out for all the villagers to awaken and come to see ‘the cause off all their grief’ as she put it, in the agualcil/constabulary office.

Soon the main street of the township was swarming with people, all awake, lively, and vengeful… even though they did not know what was their object of their rage. They clamored inside the agualcil’s office, now revved up to a fever pitch mob frenzy.

“What is this about?” asked one villager.

“Yes Agualcil, what is going on?” demanded another.

“Where is the cause of all our problems!” shouted a third villager.

“Please, please! Everyone, calm down. We can get that if you are calm! I do not want vigilante’s in my town, understand?” spoke Agualcil Remerez in a calm and grave voice. This prompted everyone, albeit slowly, to hush and regain some composure.

The baker’s wife shouted, “Damn your ‘order’, Agualcil Remerez! Admit it, you just want to hide the witch from us!”

“What did she say?” asked the startled first villager.

“What the witch? Impossible! That monster has returned?” raved the second villager.

“Oh Lord! What will we do?” the third villager inquired, desperate for an answer.

“What else? We will burn the wretched creature! Bring her out here now Signor Remerez!” demanded the first villager. 

Now what may have happened to Father Miguel all this time, and what of Ci’qouia. Father Miguel continued his prayers, he could hear the angry voices outside and felt an even greater urge for prayer. “Lord, you are my strength, so give me the strength, the capacity, to overcome this trial! I wish that this child of yours, Ci’qouia, shall come to no harm and live many wonderful days under your blessings…!” on Father Miguel prayed, putting all his heart and soul into it.  He then heard a weak voice inquire, “Padre… why do you do this? It is useless, Christ will not hear any of my prayers, stop… or he will refuse to answer your own. Just, let me die!”

Father Miguel visibly shaken, wheeled himself around to face the dying woman, “How can you wish for that? Life, your life is a sacred gift from God!  I understand… this appears impossible, this ordeal, but… you will pull through. Trust in Him, Ci’qouia, if you ask, he will surely answer!” consoled Father Miguel.

“Hm… I wish it could be like you say, Padre. But it is not, I am going to die. Within moments, the people who I once called my neighbors, my friends… they will burst through that door, and then in their hands, I will finally be able to end this misery…” said Ci’qouia reflecting introspectively on the end of all things. 

“Ci’qouia...” Father Miguel said at length, “Remember before? When you asked me how it was to say goodbye to your loved one? What I said then was not the whole truth. For most souls, they simply move on. But for some, those who have left strong bonds in this world, they continue on existing in this world, with us, in our hearts. Father Armando may have given up his earthly body, but he is very much alive Ci’qouia, within you. You have strived to retain his memory and stick to his principals, but like even the most resolute of mountains, your resolve has been weathered by  time, and the conceit of vile natured men. I ask you not to let Father Armando’s life to be in vain, you can fit this decay! Do not surrender your soul to despair! Shake it off, and live with the blessings of Father Armando, the blessings of how one should lead their life is still with you, and no one can take that away from you! In spirit, Father Armando still is with you, so do not forsake him or his teachings! Listen to what he has to tell you! Listen to him calling out for you… what does he say?”

Ci’qouia thought lightly of Father Miguel’s words, but she closed her eyes nonetheless, and then she heard… she heard the voice of Father Armando! She saw Father Armando! Suddenly before her mind’s eye, all the memories she had together with the old kindly priest flashed before, then receded to the next, and then the next! Tears began streaming down the eyes of Ci’qouia, all the happy days of the past filled her heart up, with a substance, something that was light and cheerful… and most of all, strong! She opened her eyes not knowing what she should do or say. But then she looked at Father Miguel and saw his confidence, this gave her courage.

“Well, Ci’qouia… what did Father Armando say to you?” 

“Padre…you work some mysterious power. Father Armando told me, ‘life can be hard sometimes, but you should never give up… You need faith, faith in The Lord. That is all you need, to survive the struggle of the day’…” she said with renewed life, “Padre, I too will believe and put my faith in The Great Christ Spirit. But, do you think he will listen to me?”

“He listens to everyone, but. And when you pray, you may not get the answer you expect, but The Lord always protects his devotees.  If one thing our Holy Father hates the most, it is deception, so be sure to place your faith in Him without any doubts, you must sincerely surrender unto The Father. Now pray with me Ci’qouia, my child!  Ask Him for His strength, we are racing against time now. Thus the priest and the aboriginal woman prayed together, locked up in the dungeon of a corrupt official…

         Meanwhile the villagers ire flew past boiling point, if one where standing in the room and passively glanced at the scene, you would see a crowd of angry villagers, with Agualcil Remerez trying his best to pacify them. But on closer examination you would see, the faint hint of a smile, slight as it was, there was a sinister glint in his eyes… there was no doubt! He was fanning the flames of rage within the hearts of the villagers.

“Please! Please! Everyone calm down!” urged the crafty Agualcil Remerez.

“You wouldn’t be so calm and spiffy if the Padre was here, Signor Remerez! Father Renaldo would have sure as put you in your place! Hmph!” said an angry villager.

“Oh Lord! I completely forgot to tell you… everyone I have some terrible news to share…” said Agualcil Remerez somberly.

“I swear! What can be more horrifying than having a witch in your town?” hissed the baker’s wife.

“Friends! It is terrible! It is a tragedy worse than even a witch! It will cast our whole town, our humble, peaceful town into ruin… for you see Father Renaldo is dead…” spoke the dramatic Agualcil Remerez.

All the villagers were stunned to silence, everyone ceased to push for a moment. Then all of a sudden, everything erupted once more, everyone was now shoving and pushing to grab the agualcil, and all voices competed for his attention…

“God! How will we live now?” one villager said.

“Father Renaldo! Oh, Father Renaldo, why have you forsaken your flock! We cannot go on, not without you!” another villager screamed.
Indeed all the villagers screamed and shrieked in like terms. Agualcil Remerez suppressed his sly grin and continued, “Hear me! Hear me…! They say… he was swallowed the very thing he so loved. He was in turn eaten by a whale! The thing that once so famously entered his gut without any trouble… I for one think it strange, how can our beloved Padre die? Friends? How can he die in this way, after he has successfully whaled for so many years, why now?”

“Yes… you are right Agualcil Remerez! The good old Padre would not have been killed by any old whale… very strange…” said one villager.
“I know the answer to this riddle,” said the baker’s wife, “It was the witch! She did it! This ingrate has now killed not one but two priests, two brothers who raised her, and all of our suffering, loss, and torment was her fault! Hers! We must be rid of her, right now! Before she kills us all, we must send her back from the hell whence she came! Come friends! We will burn this witch in eulogy and respect of our beloved Padre!”

The hateful rantings of the baker’s wife stirred the hearts of her fellow townsmen, and a great din was heard throughout the entire town as the villagers roared their approval. Now that he had pushed them off the deep end, Agualcil Remerez said, “Aye! My friends, I am with you! Let us make sure this time that that we finish the deed! Firm your resolve, we shall execute her by firing squad!” Again a great of approval was heard throughout. Moments after the din died, thunderous footsteps was heard , like a stampede of wild cattle, the whole town rushed in rushed into the jail, ready to tear their prey apart, to pieces!

Their explosive rage and screams of outrage disrupted Father Miguel and Ci’qouia from prayer, and they looked with sorrowful eyes, almost sympathetically at the mob that was swarming outside their cell. “Padre, now that I look closely, I see no great monstrosity, what I see are sad people who have lost all their senses. I do not understand, why do not feel fear, why do I feel pity for the people who want to kill me?” asked Ci’qouia. Father Miguel did not turn his gaze from the mob but said, “It is because you have grown up. Now you are beginning to see things for what they are.”

Meanwhile, Agualcil Remerez got out his keys and squirmed through the throng of villagers to reach the cell, he unlocked the gate, just as he did so, the people, like ravenous pounced, pouring through the gate and knocking Agualcil Remerez off his feet. They near trampled Father Miguel as they went over to pluck Ci’qouia, Now being tossed about like a rag doll, Ci’qouia did not resist or scream in panic, but as she was carried away shouted back to Father Miguel, “Padre, I am going off now. I am the hands of God now, right? Is that not what Father Armando would want me to do?”

“Yes, but you must still try to resist as well, only when all options are exhausted beyond human reason will a miracle occur! So fight this, do not simply wait Ci’qouia! Resist!” yelled back Father Miguel. Just as he said that, he felt a heavy thud at the back of his head. And fell to the ground… his consciousness fading he saw the cold joyous grin of triumph on the face of Agualcil Remerez, “Padre, you have just forfeited your chance of leaving this place, I told you not to say unnecessary things, did I not? Now, shut your mouth for good!”  Saying this, the Agualcil slammed the gate and locked it very audibly as if to clearly show Father Miguel that he was trapped now like a bird in a cage. Trapped because of his do-gooding ways.  Father Miguel struggled to maintain consciousness but he felt a moistness all about his head… was it blood…? Well that did not matter now, he had to get up and help the innocent Ci’qouia escape a most ghastly fate! He had to… he must! But as he finally succeeded to rise to his feet, his knees weak, gave out and he collapsed, unconscious.

When Father Miguel awoke, he heard a voice, light was pouring through from somewhere, but he could not remember clearly anything. He strained his mind, then suddenly it all flooded back before his mind’s eye, he sat up suddenly and shook his head.

“Ah! Padre, it is good that you are awake! Are you okay?” came that voice again. Father Miguel scanned the jail room, but no one was there.

“Over here!” came the voice urgently. Then Padre turned his gaze to the small opening, what could be considered a small window, he saw vaguely the image of a man…he could not discern properly as his vision was very blurry.

“Who is there… what is it?” asked Father Miguel. “Signor! It is me Padre… I was the man who had done a terrible deed. But now I want to help, I want to make amends and atone for my sins,” said the voice.

Father Miguel was a bit flustered at his blurry vision so he tried to stand. He was a bit shaky as he tried to rise, but as he got his balance he quickly stammered to the window and stared at the man’s face… then he realized, “You’re the man who was there, you held the stake that injured Ci’qouia!”

“Yes, Padre,” admittedly the ashamed man, “I am very sorry of what I did. For my part, I made a vow to you to never do that again, I cannot speak for my neighbors. I thought they were decent folk, but I was wrong! I am ashamed to call them my friends!”
“Hate the sin, not the sinner, my child,” said Father Miguel.

“You are right Padre,” the man admitted again, “…But what I wanted to tell you was that we need to get you out of here! They are about to execute the senorita in the public square! It will be a terrible stain to the town we have built, a terrible horrible stain that we can never wash away! But only I appear to be opposed to it, I… I tried my best Padre! But the senorita’s life cannot be saved by any mortal hand now, it is up to God… But you Padre, I can at least try to see you safely out of town while my ‘friends’ are away, doing this terrible thing.”

“My friend what trade do you live by?” asked Father Miguel. Surpised at the question the man said, “I am a baker, Padre.”

“And as a baker, can you live with yourself if you find someone hungry on the street, dying?” asked Father Miguel.

“…No, no I would not, Padre,” said the baker after much reflection, “I know what you are thinking Padre, but we cannot do anything! We are helpless! Just how are we going to get you out of this prison in the first place? It will take all our efforts just to do this much, how can we save the poor senorita?”

Father Miguel wasted no time in answering, he turn and stumbled off to the gate of his cell, placing his hand around the bars he said, “Easy, as you bake the bread that feeds the people, it is my duty to break the chains that shackle the hearts of men,” as Father Miguel said those words he began shaking the bars of his cage with all his might. It made a great din, but still nothing came of his efforts.

“Padre… what are you doing?” asked the baker. “Friend, I am simply praying for a miracle! I must go and do my best. How can I answer to God, to My Lord, if I do not even try!” yelled Father Miguel above the racket which only grew louder, louder by the second! Father Miguel did not give up shaking the bars, he put all his might, his feelings, and his faith into this action. He continued until it was too mindnumbing, but he preserved, he continued till his whole body pulsed with pain, but still he endured. The din emanating from the gates grew louder and louder… the baker watched in apprehension as he felt something strange and wondrous was occurring before him.

Then when Father Miguel’s strength was at its end, when he could no longer even stand on his two feet, he shouted aloud, “Lord! Please give me your mercy! I cannot just sit here and let an innocent die! Help me, help me not for my sake Oh Lord, but for hers, and everyone’s sake… for they must be saved from this madness!”

With that he could stand no more and collapsed to his feet. Frustrated he absentmindedly slammed his fist into the iron gate, unwilling to surrender his resolve… it was then that a miracle occurred. At first, a slow dull drone was sustained, but then the iron gate of Father Miguel’s cell began rustling, creaking…shaking! Father Miguel looked on along with the baker in amazement as the door began to rattle uncontrollably as if an invisible force was tearing it apart… tearing it open, to free the caged Father Miguel Sagrado. Then the rattling stopped… Father Miguel reached out to touch the door, trying to inspect what had happened,  but before he could even reach out the gate fell to the ground with a loud clang and din of metal.

“…Thank you, Oh Lord!” exclaimed the jubilant Father Miguel. He thus rushed out of the jail , out of the constabulary and onto the streets, he turned around, trying to discern where he should go, he had no time to waste on getting lost.
“Wait! Wait!” came the voice of the baker, as he ran around the constabulary and rushed up to Father Miguel, “ Padre… th-that was just…amazing!”

“Yes, I know… but now is not the time. Where is the town square? We must hurry, can you tell me the way?” urgently pressed Father Miguel.

“’Tell you’, no I will take you there myself! Now I believe we may truly stand a chance in rescuing her! Padre… you are amazing! You are truly blessed! God is with you!” exclaimed the awed baker, “Come, its this way!” And so the two set out to rescue the innocent Ci’qouia.
At the town square, Ci’qouia was bound again for the second time in a week to a large wooden pole of freshly cut timber, leaves and twigs were piled on at the base for fuel. Ci’qouia was blindfolded so, she simply prayed, and listened as everyone, ran all around like ants. She then asked a villager who was placing some sticks down beneath her, “Where is Father Renaldo?  Shouldn’t he see me off? No doubt that stupid fat man is off  again, hunting futile for whale. “

“You bit your tongue witch, you know very well he is dead! They claim a whale swallowed him whole, with his boat as well. But I know it was you who was the culprit! So do not deceive us anymore with lies, you should be making peace, for shortly you will burn with the fire in the fires of our anger and justice!” retorted the villager.

“What? He is dead? Well… that is ironic…this must be some cosmic joke then! Only before I am about to be executed does The Great Spirit punish the one who put me through hell! What kind of miracle is this God? Is this why Father Armando put so much faith in you?” exclaimed the forlorn Ci’qouia.

“I do not know what you are talking about, but wretched witch, you will not escape this time! We will make sure you burn and suffer! And of course that you die! Just to make sure you cannot use your tricks, we will execute you with firing squad. Thus you are blindfolded so as to seal your magic tricks! Hah! So what will you do now? Prattle on with your nonsense, eh?” gloated the villager. He finished placing his bundle of sticks and left laughing, as he saw the tears stream down the eyes of the one he condemned to death.

Ci’qouia felt the pang of fear once more, “I am confused… what am I supposed to believe in what am I supposed to do? God, you are supposed to be loving and caring! I am going to die here, so why do you not help me?” she asked under her breath, for she did not want anymore harsh words from the villagers to pierce her fragile, dying hopes.

         She then heard the clink and chinks of machines, Ci’qouia heard those before, it was the sound of guns! She had heard them before on many hunts… that was the power of the foreigners! Thoughts streamed through her mind, “So my father’s efforts were for nothing… an Father Armando, he too? His care was for nothing? And that Padre… Father Miguel, he will lose his life no doubt for helping me… was all my life just a burden for the people who cared about me!” Ci’qouia could not resign herself to this fate, she could not accept it! It was too much, an overwhelming sensation flooded through her body, an icy bonechilling fear! All the guns were loaded, they were targeted upon her now, and the din and ruckus had all died… in mere moments she would be sprayed with bullets, shot like a wild animal! She could not… could not accept it, never! But it was too late, the guns fired! All her world was swirling around madly about her, she was about to die!
…But the gunshots never reached her, and she wondered why… All the the villagers were astounded to see that some gruffly dressed monk had leapt over a wall on the last second and ran directly in front of the witch and had shielded her from the spray of bullets unleashed by the marksmen. He stood there unafraid and took nearly all of the bullets , all of the ones which would have hit the ‘witch’ at least. His body shocked by the impact, convulsed as he sank to the ground. People from all around stood silently, stunned, simply stunned…

“What are you all doing!” demanded Father Miguel with heavy labored breaths, “You are fools! Can’t you see? This girl is no witch! Had she been so, she would have slain you mercilessly long ago in cold blood for everything you have done and said to her! Belittling some for the sake of making yourselves feel better? Is that the way God showed the people of Israel to live…? No… it is not! So… where was it that you learned such filthy habits? It was not from the Bible! Father Renaldo has deceived you all! But not one among you ever dared to question him or his teachings, even though the clashed with the ways Father Armando taught you… Why? Why did you not think for yourself, all of you were, are good people still! Why do you hate so much? …You must not carry this on any longer! I implore you, in the name of God cease this senseless violence! Redeem yourself by letting this poor girl, who suffered for so long, go! …This is the way you can all start your penance, the way you can all start your own atonement…”

One amongst the throng of villagers said, “Who are you? Who are you to tell us these things? You are a lunatic! Do you think we will trust the words of a man who would willfully jump before the blaze of gunfire? You idiot! Begone fool! This is a witch, Father Renaldo’s word is absolute, and so we will kill her and anyone who protects such wretched creatures!”

“You blame her for famines? You blame her for dead fish in the sea? And you blame her for killing infants? These are some of the things I have heard. From what I see of this town, it is caused all by your own hands! Look around you, see all the wastes that lie upon the streets? When was the last time any of you cleaned up this town? These things if left alone can grow dangerous. So it was your own lethargy and lack of concern, these wastes, these toxins left uncared, unattended to poisoned the land of this town! The town which many of you along with Father Armando worked so hard to care for… And the result was dead crops, poisoned fish, and sickly infants! How could you have been so blind? How could you let this happen? Were you ignorant? Were you not aware? Were you blind…! Like the dirt that accumulated in your own hearts you refused to see all this, to see the truth! Was it fear? Was it apprehension to step out of line? Was it doubt in yourself and your judgment that lead to all these troubles? …Before you slander other people as the cause of your own problems, think of what your own actions have done to bring about such misfortune!” declared Father Miguel.

“What if… what if he speaks the truth? He is a priest afterall,” said one villager.

“Hah! Are you falling for this nonsense? The man is insane! Look at him, he looks like a deranged, pay no mind to him!” said another.
“But, what if what he says is true? I mean Father Renaldo was the one who read to us, we never read it. How do we know it is true? Who are we to really believe?” said third villager.

“Oh, and so I suppose you know what to believe in? You are a fool!” said a fourth villager.

         In this way the entire township erupted into bickering, divided on the lines of beliefs. It was the agualcil who brought order, he called for silence amongst the villagers, “Friends! Friends… why do you fight so? We can just ask this man, who claims to be a priest, and who defends the witch, for proof. What more do we need to bicker amongst ourselves. The burden of proof is his. If God is on his side, then let us see God…! Go ahead Padre, call God as you’re witness! Only then will be believe, in these claims of yours!”

Father Miguel, although he was bleeding profusely and his arms were half torn to pieces from the shrapnel of bullets, attempted to raise himself, but each time he tried he fell back to the ground. Ci’qouia who heard all that had past thus far could not bare to hear the pitiable, repeating scuffling and falling of Father Miguel as he tried to stand time and again, she cried out, “Padre! Do not get up! Let them kill me, it is no use! Faith cannot save us from death!”

Hearing those words, Father Miguel resolve got a boost, and he with great determination he lifted himself off the ground grinding his teeth as he rose to his feet. As he stood, he said to her without turn back, “Do not worry, you will never die, for the soul is everlasting and eternal. And… your life is in the hands of God… so you definitely won’t meet your end on this day. That much I do know… you can be sure of that!”
Then he clasped his open palms together and raised them high into the air, thus he prayed aloud for all to hear, “Oh Heavenly Father above! I never asked of you anything for myself. I am not a proud man, but it is just that I felt it foolish to ask for anything since I already possessed the greatest thing of all, love for thee! But now… I am stuck here, beyond my own means of strength and power. There is a senorita here, her life hangs on the balance… I ask on her behalf… I ask that you help me get her out of this alive. The good people here, they are wary of many long hardships, they want to know you, but were lost along the way… and so I ask that you too help me bring them to light! This is all too great, far beyond my abilities! So help me please! Let this nightmare come to pass! Please reveal yourself to us, Oh Lord!”  Nothing happened… then people began to ridicule the priest…

“Hah! I knew that you were a fake! You are no priest!” said one villager.

“Begone, you foolish wretch! Here let me give you a parting gift!” said another as he picked up a stone and threw it at Father Miguel. That stone would never reach Father Miguel, for while the townspeople were mocking him, laughing at his ‘humiliating’ dress and form, they failed to realize that the sky grew darker by the second, even though it was midday a terrible and wrathful storm was looming! Within an instant, the stone midway its flight was struck by a crackle of thunder and lightning, incinerating the insignificant pebble to a crisp! Alarmed the villagers looked up to the heavens… great thunder bellowed all across the sky. All those present fell deftly silent, struck by debilitating terror, as if they were magically struck by invisible thunder bolts themselves. What strange and horrifying events were to occur? Was this the work of some mystical force? What would happen to them?

Just as their minds wondered upon these thoughts, a mighty and temperous voice boomed from the sky, “Fool who have abandoned the path to me! Fools who seek nothing but vengeance! You have willfully let yourselves be led astray, by rogues and rascals! For that, you shall be punished for your wayward ways!”Just as that voice finished the proclamation the sky appeared to tear open as waves upon waves of thunder and lightning streamed through the sky. The tumult and the dazzling illumination disorientated the senses of the hapless villagers, and within the hearts of each and everyone, a great quaking occurred, as they  saw the deeds of their lives flash before their mind’s eye. Suddenly it was clear to them… they could see! It was as if they had seen light for the first time, everything was so clear, so profound, and so vivid to their eyes. “Lord! Forgive me! Forgive me! I was wrong… I was lost in the dark!” cried a villager. Pleas for forgiveness, for mercy,  and for sympathy spread like wildfire across the hearts of all the villagers as they shivered in shameless guilt, in abject fear, and in awe as they felt the presence of God surround all around them.

It was then that they heard another voice, one that was gentle and compassionate, “O Father! Forgive them… for they do not know what they have done!” All heads turned to gaze at the origins of that voice of splendor. All were in shock at what they saw! Everyone knelt down before the great personality… and what of Ci’qouia? For reasons unknown to her, she felt sensations of ecstasy as her heart palpated upon hearing the sweet melodious voice. There He stood amongst them, in the effulgence of the brilliant sun, the Lord incarnate… the Messiah who loved, who walked, and who lived amidst them, in the world of men, the Lord Jesus Christ himself!

Just to see Him before them! Oh how everyone’s spirited soared so high! The fear from a moment ago had vanished,  in fact in His presence it was impossible to feel such a thing! What one felt was the need to sing, to dance, and to praise, to honor, and to love Him! For within the embers of his eyes was the deepest stare any had seen, a stare of boundless compassion, fathomless love! Fervently, all bowed down again and again, and some fainted unable to contain their great joy!

He wore a smile… ever so slight and gentle, and gazed upon them lovingly…  and the villagers swooned, loving Him more for it! Then as suddenly as He appeared, His expression change, looking upon all with sorrowful eyes the Lord Jesus Christ then spoke sternly to the townspeople, “Friends! Let the innocent Ci’qouia go. Do not perform such heinous acts again! Life is too precious to waste upon hate. Turn to love and always consider the merits of hardwork, for before you blame another, try and fix the circumstances by your own strength. And know that if you need me, I am always with you… all you need do, is call out, call my name! And wherever I may be, at whatever time it may be, I will surely come to you!” said the Mericful One as His tone changed once more, “…For I love you all so dearly! Please fulfill my request! I wish to see you all, all of you in the Kingdom of God!  I am always with you.  I have come down to you, I have come to just to see you all… for I want you to make sure personally your safe return back… back Home. Please see the Light, the Light of day once more, let this nightmare… this darkness! Let it all end and be nomore!”

All fell silent, as the pain and grief surfaced from the hearts of the villagers. These feelings caused them to freeze, as if transfixed by some invisible force. But in their hearts, the waters were turbid! Raging storms clashed upon the iron cliffs of their ignorance… No longer could they contain the agony of their souls! No longer could their guilt be contained! The villagers wept at the unconditional mercy of their Messiah, forever debtors to the Lord.  Then suddenly as if the dams and levees had broken, they all cried out in one voice, “Lord! Who are we to ignore you! To slight you? To mock your great mercy! Forgive us… We were blind! But, we shall be true to You from this day!” wept one villager. The others followed suite, accompanying those words with sorrowful weeping, as they too begged forgiveness from the manifestation of compassion itself, The Lord Jesus Christ.

“When you implore me so, how can I not answer your please! Friends, brethren if you respect women, honor the great sages and saints, and follows the commandments of The Lord, My Father …then I guarantee that you… you shall have a place in Heaven, just make sure to always remain true to your vow to me, Stay true and firm! Stay true and firm in your path… so long as you sincerely try, I will always be there to help… Always!” boldly declared the Messiah.

“Yes Oh Lord!” They all cried. And The Lord Jesus Christ smiled benevolently upon them, as he did so the storm clouds lifted, the bright effulgence of the sun was not seen though as they whole world was covered in the effulgence of the Lord. Even so, all hearts were calmed as the placid blue sky reigned the skies once more.

Then the Lord walked forth, picking up the weary Father Miguel, who lay flat upon the ground, bowing in total surrender to The Lord.  “What’s this? My friend...! You are bleeding all over! We cannot let this continue!” he exclaimed and he wept deeply… A single tear emanating from the eyes of the All Merciful Lord dropped from His eye and fell upon the broken body of Father Miguel. Instantly Father Miguel was healed of all wounds inside and out, even the bullets which were lodged within his body had disappeared, dissolved in the miracle of  the divine tear… Also, all fatigue and exhaustion of the week’s journey had lifted. It was as if he had never felt pain before in his life, his body felt like that of a new born baby. With folded hands, the weeping Father Miguel beseeched the Lord, “Forgive me Lord! I have been so selfish, to call you out personally! And yet… and yet you have come…all I can say is Thank you! Thank you…!”

“What is this? Miguel… friend! You know me well, so why do you speak so distantly! I did not come all this way only to see you weeping! Rejoice! For it was only through your love that it was possible for all these people to open their hearts to The Father.” said the Messiah. Father Miguel was then embraced by the All Merciful Lord… I cannot begin to even fathom how to describe to you the sensations he felt, indeed it was a sensation beyond this world!

Then the Son walked up to Ci’qouia who was trembling ecstatically, aware that something wonderful was about to happen... He placed one soft hand upon her abdomen, were once the gaping wound lay, miraculously flesh and blood reformed… Ci’qouia was healed! …And with the other lifted the blindfold that covered her vision.

“Those who have eyes, let them see,” He smiled. As she stared into the eyes of the Eternal Lord, she felt many waves of ecstasy wash over her, as if all the years of pain and agony were but dirt upon her face. All of it was washed off her face and her whole body felt lighter as her grief became no more. Before His presence, she realized true happiness!

“I have been waiting for you all my life!” she cried out at last… at last she wept tears of joy.

“No, dear one,”  answered He of unlimited compassion, “it is I who have been waiting for you.” His smile shone brightly, burning all the pain, all the impurities of many years of struggle and emptiness. Ci’qouia, drank that smile like a lost soul who has come to an oasis, as she said “Now that I can see, I cannot bear to lose sight of you even for a moment, not one moment! O beloved of my heart, do not leave me… not even for a moment!”

“For one who sees Me everywhere, and sees everything in Me, I am never lost to them, nor are they lost to Me. Keep me in your heart and I will never leave,” said The Benevolent Lord… Turning to the townspeople,  all of them cringing under the burden of their own venomous hate, the Blessed One, with a look of unfathomable mercy, spoke to them, “ May all of you remember this day. And know that I never abandon those who are dear to me! Honor Miguel and Ci’qouia for they have perservered much to reach me!” This said, He vanished from their sight.

The villagers scanned with their eyes over the horizon, across the land, over the valley, across the ocean, and the skies… desperately searching for Their Beloved Lord. When the pain of His absence sunk into their hearts, they felt lost in grief and separation. Alone and aware of their shortcomings, many began to weep quietly. It was then that the agualcil stood up, and with a quivering voice he prayed aloud,  “Oh Lord most merciful!  We have wronged You and wronged Your beloved servants.  We feel ashamed to stand before You… yet You have shown Your mercy by appearing before our sinful eyes! …You have our word! From this day forth we shall be your faithful servants! Never again… never again shall we disregard your teachings! Always, always… will you be in our hearts, our minds… constantly we will think and remember You!”

The baker’s wife approached Ci’quoia, and with deep remorse begged her forgiveness.”Great and wonderful Ci’qouia, you who have been graced by the words, the love of God… please pardon us! We who are but foolish and illiterate villagers, please guide us, show us, direct us! For from this day, we are your servants... you who are the heir of the saintly Father Armando, and favored of the Lord!”
Ci’quoia, touched by the gesture of the wife of the baker said, “I do not feel that you have wronged me! Many of you are my friends, my neighbors, you are all dear to me! How could I ever be angry with any of you, for you have given me the greatest gift of all, the Love of God! Thank you everyone… thank you for giving me this great chance to see the Lord! And most of all to you Padre… Father Miguel, you have made this bright day possible! It is all thanks to you… so I dearly thank you!”

Everyone looked towards Father Miguel for the first time since the appearance of the Lord, he had looked so small and insignificant… but now, now everyone looked to him, looked to his humble and meek form. They were amazed they had failed to recognize before… how he appeared to glow ever so slightly, how he appeared to always smile gently, and how his eyes pierced so far and wide ahead as if he saw something that no one else could see… this was truly a holy man! Immediately, all the villagers bowed down to him, begging his forgiveness for ridiculing him.

Father Miguel simply laughed merrily, as he spoke, “Nay! Nay! All in the past now good people! ...And Sister Ci’qouia, your future is in your hands now, you may choose to stay here, or leave. Go and do as you please”

Lauging, Ci’qouia replied, “Nay Padre, I have already given up my choice. The only choice I will always take is to give my life to The Wonderful Christ, for I so dearly love Him!”

“Oh?” mused Father Miguel, “If that is so, then my work here is done…  It is indeed all up to His will… And you know, thanks to you Ci’qouia, this place will become famous as a place of sacred place of pilgrimage. People from all around shall walk hundreds, thousands of kilometers around just to be on this spot!,” then addressing everyone, “ Remember everyone, always remember and never forget! Always! Perhaps I shall see you again, someday....”

‘Wait Holy Miguel Sagrado! Why must you leave so soon,” exclaimed the villagers, “Stay and let us honor you saintly sir!”
“I must go as the wind takes me, my friends. Isn’t it about time, Carlos?’ And with that he turned to his longtime friend and traveling companion. Carlos the mule neighed and clomped animatedly. “See my friends, he knows when it is best to stay and when it is best to leave. He has been my guide, wherever we go, there is where I am always most needed… this is an unwritten rule between him and I… and I simply cannot break this pledge, so please, give me leave to go, for I cannot betray my nature… I am always the wanderer”
So saying, Father Miguel, did not waste a moment more, he mounted upon his friend, Carlos the mule and together, they rode off into the mountains, with Father Miguel singing and Carlos the Mule dancing, all in praise of the glory of God. The Villagers stared for a good and long time until he too disappeared from the vision of their eyes…

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                                                                                                        Epilogue
Many years passed, to find that Ci’qouia had become a prominent member of the town in which Father Armando had built. She was a great servant of God, who established a convent to give refuge to all downtrodden women, she established a preaching program in which everyone who joined the Sunday service was taught how to read and write. Never again would the people be lead astray by charlatans, rogues, and rascals, all claiming their ‘doctrines’ were the words of God, never again would there be starving people, where children and the elderly were abandoned. She made sure that everyone was taken care for, that everyone could lead a life of dignity, of joy, and of Love of God! When she died, the monastery in which she was buried was declared a shrine, and over time the people of that village devoted great effort to built a massive Cathedral all dedicated to the holy woman, who was responsible for God appearing before the people. There was a rumor though… one of an itinerant priest, so jubilant and carefree, whose songs echoed throughout the mountains of Sierra Nevada… somehow he was related to this cathedral… His name was said to be Miguel Sagrado and his tales and adventures were often said to often begin as follows…

…Traveling through the mountains, traveling through the valleys, traversing across the deserts, traversing across rivers were two companions. One was an itinerant priest that strutted upon his guitar, singing the glories of God. And the other was his friend, Carlos the mule, who clumped his steps in time to the music of his wondering minstrel friend.  Whatever lay before the eye of the priest inspired him with new song, so much so that with each passing second there was a new melody to be had.  If you so happened to come across where these two travelers were, you’d hear at one moment the most earthy of music, of the soil and the trees, and at the next one moment you would hear the most ethereal and light of sounds, of the sky and the air. The priest revered Nature, revered all that was around him, seeing it as a boon from God.  If you were ever to strike a conversation with this priest and his friend, Carlos the mule, you would think and wonder, “Ah, what an impossible character this priest is! No one can be like he… Surely, it is all an act?” People were skeptical of his intentions and weary of the many swindlers and rogues, all rascals that used the name of God to sucker folks into giving up their wealth, their honor… and yes, sometimes even their own lives. But this traveling minstrel, this itinerant priest was none like those miscreants, those fools and rascals, who monopolized on people’s sentiment and goodwill. He appeared to care for the suffering and the downtrodden, the people cast aside as the week and meek by a cruel and harsh world.  People were wrong in assuming that he seemingly appeared as caring, that he seemingly appeared loving… for it was no act, it was real…!


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