A Heroic Adventure of Love and Salvation*
Once upon a time long ago and in far-away lands there was a kingdom in which three brave knights lived, who protected the realm with kindness and fearless courage. They had fought in glorious battles, saved many a damsel in distress, and always lived their lives with honor and goodness. In recognition of their pure hearts and their generous spirits, they were honored with the title of "saint" and all three knights were given special shields with magical powers to protect themselves and others. These knights were Saint Foil, Saint Arms and Saint Hog. They were known in all the kingdom as Saints FAH.
In the same kingdom lived a celestial being called FAHn Angel. She was a vision of ethereal beauty and her love for others was great. She had golden wings and wore flowing gowns of shimmering gold and mauve from which radiated a natural warmth and grace. She watched over the kingdom with a belief in the inherent goodness of all people. As an angel she followed a path that was pure and clear; she led all around her to practice healthy lives focusing on creativity and wonder. In her wisdom to help others, she was blessed with an ancient knowledge of care and healing. This she brought to bear on her devotion to everyone, but particularly to the knights she loved the most. She and Saints FAH were intrinsically tied together by their desire to protect the world and to bring joy to others. She acted as a guardian of Saint FAHs' hearts and helped them care for the kingdom and the realm. She was a vital force for the knights' well-being and, in turn, they were blessed to protect her. Together they were at the heart of a people who were good and true. Without FAHn Angel, Saints FAH would not and could not exist; she was their vital force and elixir of life. She was everything to them and they to her.
Saints FAH were devoted to the kingdom and its people and together they worshipped FAHn Angel with a constancy that outshone all their love for others. Saints FAH had known one another since they were young and each man had their own heroic battle stories and their own tales of saving damsels in distress, but they all remained eternally devoted to FAHn Angel, the ethereal spirit of their dreams. Each man was very different from the other one, but all three had the same codes of honor and truth. They rode grand steeds and wore strong armor to protect their pure hearts from being run through by the enemy. Saints FAH were brave, passionate, and chivalrous knights who protected those in their care, always. They never wavered, even in the throes of awful danger. They faced horrible battles and fought with great courage. Dragons breathing terrible fire were slayed easily by these brave knights, and all manner of adventures were had and conquered over the many years that they were comrades and friends.
Upon being elevated to Saints, each knight was given a magical shield, which gave the man using it special powers in battle and offered them a chance to heal a man’s heart. For their bravery and integrity, the shields had been made especially for them by the King and Queen of the kingdom who believed in the knights’ fine natures as men. These shields were forged by dwarves deep in their mountain lairs using the finest metals, which were light and strong and so withstood all manner of dangerous wars. The shields shone because of the oils that they were infused with by the healing fairies of the woodlands. And finally, the elves of the prairies cast magical spells on each knight’s shield so that when in a moment of need he could protect himself and anyone around him. Saints FAH carried these shields proudly. They shared so much in the way of magic secrets and valor in battle, but at the same time they were individuals with unique traits and characteristics.
Saint Foil was kind to both man and beast. He was a leader among men and very fair, but he showed his courage in battle by razing the enemy in one stroke with his mighty sword. Men across many lands and seas heard of Saint Foil’s prowess in war and revered him. He befriended the common man and cared for the weak. His gentleness was recognized by many and he was loved by women for his high integrity and fearlessness. His magical shield could revitalize and infuse life into the dying and heal a lovelorn man’s heart.
Saint Arms could sing the sweetest tunes and woo the ladies of the court with his songs of love. He was a stealth and careful fighter in battle; he surprised and stunned his adversary, running his sword through many an enemy. He strove for justice and fought against poor treatment of people who had lesser voices in the world of stronger men. He valued honor above all else and was a leader among brave men, both young and old. His magical shield could heal any wound, shallow or deep and bring peace to a fearing man’s heart.
Saint Hog brought sunshine and light to those around him through his bounteous good humor. He was a bold force on the fields of war, battling his enemy quickly and with much stamina. His loyalty was beyond compare and men respected this quality and offered their praise. He was admired for his heroism and trueness as a friend. Women worshipped and cherished him for his virtuous and gentle nature. His magical shield could rescue and save those in danger and excise the hatred from a man’s heart.
This kingdom long ago and in far-away lands was one of joy and happiness, but there existed an ominous, evil place on the borders of the kingdom’s realm, which was surrounded by gloom and despair and called the Dark Woods. Anyone who ventured into these woods was never seen again, even if they went in with provisions, a sword and rode a swift steed. The power of the Dark Woods would swallow man or beast. In this place of dreary hopelessness lived a very wicked spirit called Scourge. It was a genderless being and amorphous in shape, without form or physical definition. It was born into the world through plagues and it thrived on illness, exhaustion and lethargy.
It preyed and feasted on the young, beautiful, kind beings of the earth who lost their way and wandered into the trap of the woods. It fed on the despondent feelings of others and drifted through the world hurting and destroying for its own pleasure. It never gave and it never asked for forgiveness. It set out to destroy those who embodied kindness, goodness and truth. Scourge snuck, snaked, and moved with insidious stealth. It had the power to shape shift, to adapt to its surroundings, and to be seen as something it was not. It lived in secret dormancy in darkness and shadows. It prowled until it was released from the woods by foolish people who wandered into its path and doubted its power. Once it had escaped, its purpose was to infect and to seek out those with love in their hearts and to destroy them; it showed no mercy and its sole intent was to kill the beauty inside a living being. It was a worthy adversary for Saints FAH who carried their protective and powerful shields and who had experience fighting the wicked and the evil. But the innocent and pure heart of FAHn Angel was susceptible to Scourge’s manipulative powers.
Scourge’s lair in the Dark Woods was filled with the stench of rotting meat and death. The walls were of dirt, the floor scattered with the bones from bodies of dead men who dared cross its path. The air was hardly breathable and there was a heavy sense of being crushed by the weight of depressing gloom. In this pit, Scourge sat brooding and scheming on a makeshift throne of toxic metals drawn from the depths of the earth. In this place of heartbreak and cold despair Scourge plotted and schemed against Saints FAH. In their hearts they carried generosity and charity towards all. Given half a chance, they might even have looked upon Scourge with sympathetic kindness, but Scourge, the malevolent, had no heart and no soul. It, the sinful and corrupt spirit, was driven by a need to find the knights’ weak underbelly and destroy their world. It ultimately desired a deep and abiding power to control others and to bring the kingdom of men and the wider realm to their knees. It had no other source of pleasure; to annihilate and consume were its only aspirations.
One fateful day, Scourge left its lair and the Dark Woods, wending its way to the kingdom where Saints FAH resided and where it knew that it might seek out a heart of kindness to devour and digest. Riding the winds of imbalance and darkness from the woods to the realm of good men, Scourge sought out the most beautiful being to harm and possess forever. Moving quickly and silently, wicked Scourge sensed a peaceful force in the kingdom and was drawn to FAHn Angel because she was a being who saw in all others only honesty and integrity. This angel was blessings personified and without stains on her soul. She met all with the pure intentions of bringing happiness and beauty to bear upon their hearts. Even in the most destroyed of men, she saw a kernel of hope that they might be saved and brought into the light of the world to be loved.
The wicked Scourge found FAHn Angel easily and set a trap for her, playing on her sympathies and willingness to help all those who came to her for care. On this day in the kingdom, Scourge came upon the effervescent presence of FAHn Angel, picking flowers in the sunshine to bring joy and color to others. As a shape shifter the wicked Scourge appeared suddenly, hobbling towards FAHn Angel. It dressed in a cloak of velvet and showed a rosy cheek of ruddy age, but with a kind, mischievous twinkle in its eyes and an air of moderate warmth. Scourge looked exactly like an old woman who had lived many years on this earth and who simply needed a kind word and a generous, warm heart to help ease her burdens. It was important that the angel give of herself freely to the evil being, or in this case, an old woman who asked for mercy and kindness, in order for the demon to work its diabolical magic upon her.
FAHn Angel radiated an energy that filled the air around her with golden and beautiful light. Scourge almost recoiled from the intensity of the angel’s pure and loving heart. Innocent love would destroy Scourge, but it was determined to bring despair to FAHn Angel and feed upon her goodness like a leech, thus breaking the bond with her community and so Scourge hoped, Saints FAH, its arch nemeses. In its disguise, it appealed to the angel’s most compassionate and giving nature. It spoke in a humble and kind voice to FAHn Angel, "hello, dear girl, how lovely you look against these varied colored flowers, standing here in the sunshine of the day. But I am so tired and parched, I must beg for your pity and ask for some help. I would be most grateful to you,” and Scourge, the veritable trickster, looked at our angel with beseeching eyes.
As soon as FAHn Angel saw the old woman and heard her request, she dropped her flower basket and her heart was struck with mercy and generosity; "of course, dear woman, come with me to the nearest shade, sit on this bench and I shall find water for you. It is hot even with the cool air around us and you should not be out by yourself. Come, I shall give you aid." This invitation was made and offered with gracious kindness befitting the angel's good and pure nature. But in only a few moments her entire world changed forever from this fateful meeting.
Scourge had laced its words to FAHn Angel with a strong, airborne potion that drifted out of its mouth with the language it spoke and wrapped around the celestial being in a light mist of poison. This poison was in the shape of many invisible droplets which landed on the wings of the angel, penetrating her heart and taking from her the very cleansing air that she breathed. Suddenly she was not feeling the sunshine above her, nor the grass beneath her feet. She did not even see the old woman in front of her, but instead she could only see a swirling mass of vapors. "What is happening to me?" FAHn Angel cried out. "I feel so heavy, oh, my wings, they are cracking and breaking! I cannot stand anymore. Am I dying? Am I in a dream? Old woman where are you? I only wanted to help and now I cannot see or feel anything good around me." At this final lament, FAHn Angel sunk to the ground in a heap, her radiant energy dying out in the morning light, her wings blackened and scarred.
She was not dead but was trapped in a void between two worlds, that of love and that of despair. Scourge stood over this once beautiful being and cackled with delight. It was such a triumph to see the angel of pure goodness lying broken on the ground. How easy it was to trick the angel who sees nothing before her but the goodness of others, with a poison that makes her wings become fragile and her heart break. Scourge knew that the angel could no longer feel love and that she could not bring peace or care anymore to others, including her devoted Saints FAH. Scourge had taken the beautiful angel's ability to show joy, happiness or even bring radiant light to the world. FAHn Angel had lost her voice and her songs of healing; no bright cheer would be brought to the community with which she shared her strength and warmth.
Then Scourge shed its disguise, dropping the mask of the old woman at its feet and letting the velvet cloak fall away, to show its shapeless form once again. Scourge lifted the angel, wrapped her in the same cloak and slung her body recklessly and with abandon towards the sky and suddenly disappeared. The shape shifter dissipated into thin air and took FAHn Angel with it into the Dark Woods of despair and hopelessness. Scourge knew that the angel of mercy who so many relied upon would now be destined to wander in bleak loneliness, her wings broken and her heart severed in two. Scourge intended to create an army of lost souls to spread the poison mist throughout the kingdom and into the realm of far-away lands. Capturing FAHn Angel's pure heart was the first step in this diabolical plan.
Fallen FAHn Angel, forlorn and wandering, separated from her community by the wicked spirit, Scourge, was destined to disappear into the Dark Woods and be lost forever. But Scourge had entirely forgotten about the depth of love and devotion between Saints FAH and FAHn Angel. When the ethereal being was poisoned and taken away in the mist by Scourge, the knights felt a sharp sting of anguished pain in their hearts, like an invisible hand stabbing them through their protective armor. In a sudden moment, their own strength weakened and they knew that their link to their beautiful angel had been severed by something or someone horrible. Where once there was a feeling of love and devotion, now in their hearts they felt a pang of despair and even fear. Saints FAH knew that the only being who had the power to break their loving ties to FAHn Angel was the mighty and fiendish spirit, Scourge.
Saints FAH had always battled Scourge, with its undercurrent of evil shaping a path for wayward and lost people out of loneliness and hurt, but it had never preyed on FAHn Angel until now. They knew of the wicked spirit’s strength, its predatory acts on humans, but not of its wanton desire to consume the good, the loving, the kind, and the caring. The three knights underestimated Scourge's need for power and vengeance against all good things and against the knights, themselves. They believed that it would always inhabit the Dark Woods, living in its own lair and preying on the wayward wanderers who happened to find themselves in its path. For Scourge to have come out of the woods and be out in the open showed Saints FAH that there was a new plot afoot in this malicious spirit's desire to absorb the beautiful love in the world and to lay claim to all around it.
In the kingdom, far from the Dark Woods, the three knights felt their hearts break and knew they must act before they lost FAHn Angel forever to the depths of darkness and bleak horror of Scourge's deceptive power. The chivalry and goodness in the hearts of Saints FAH prevented them from remaining idle and their deep love for FAHn Angel drove them on their quest to find and restore her beauty and kindness to the kingdom and all the realm that she protected. To the Dark Woods they must ride to find the dreadful Scourge and to rescue their loving angel.
Saints FAH knew that the battle for their fair and beautiful FAHn Angel would be one to rival all the wars in which they had fought a brutal enemy, for Scourge had gathered strength and power in the days since they had met it in their youth. And now in their prime the knights felt that they needed more than the love in their hearts to fight this wicked and terrible spirit of the Dark Woods. The knights gathered at dawn the next day, holding their magical shields and mounted on their mighty steeds; they stopped before the King and Queen to be blessed on their journey. As faithful and true men, they knew they could not return to the kingdom unless they brought back FAHn Angel. The King saluted them and wished them swift and safe travels, but the Queen in her infinite wisdom stepped forward to offer each man a token of hope and protection in the form of a single flower, a purple iris. Saint Foil spoke in that moment, "we are grateful for your kindness, our wise rulers. We ride out to the Dark Woods with the light of your blessing in our hearts, for we know that the quest before us is one that requires much diligence and cunning to outsmart the wicked Scourge and to bring our beautiful angel home," and here he stopped and the three knights stood together in the glowing sun of the day and knew that their quest had begun.
For hours and several days Saints FAH rode towards the farthest borders of the realm, leaving behind the familiarity of their kingdom to enter into lands with foreign folks who eyed them warily as they passed in the dark of the night, the same as the light of the day. Finally, the men knew they were entering into a new ring of the realm when they arose one day on their journey and could sense that the air had turned from pure and warm, to heavy and cool. The cold of the Dark Woods was near and they could feel the power of evil drifting towards them and pulling at their hearts with a brooding sense of loneliness and despair. They readied for the ride of the day, checking their horses, knowing that soon they would be entering a place akin to a frozen hell. But driven by their devotion and love for FAHn Angel they mounted their steeds and struck out again on their final day's ride. Long were the hours that they rode on their quest to rescue their ethereal angel from the black hearted Scourge that it was not until dusk that they reached the edges of the Dark Woods. And it was here that they felt the first tinges of apprehension. This feeling, which was so foreign to the brave and courageous knights who lived always wreathed in chivalrous glory, made them stop for a moment.
Saint Arms spoke, seeing that the other two knights hesitated for a few seconds, "come my brothers, do not let the evil of Scourge take your courage from you! We are strong men and carry with us the shields of goodness, truth and protection. It is we who will conquer the wickedness and bring the beautiful angel back to her home." Saint Arms's voice rang out with strength and Saint Foil and Saint Hog felt their spirits rise as he spoke. They looked towards the woods as the sun set and knew that with Saint Arms's words in their hearts they could move forward without trepidation or fear. They took stock of what was in front of them, seeing the light fading behind them, sending its final rays out to illuminate the beginning of the Dark Woods and offering a clear path for them to walk into and follow on their quest.
Entering the Dark Woods, Saints FAH felt immediately like they had been swallowed whole and engulfed in darkness, their horses initially stumbled and neighed in fearful chaos. The intense cold penetrated their armor; it felt like sharp, unseen blades piercing their skin beneath and they sucked in their breath in shock from the feeling of agony. But what struck them the most was the absolute silence of the woods. It was as if a dark, heavy curtain had swept behind them as they entered this hellish place. That curtain of silence blocked out the light and the living. They heard nothing of the world outside this place, only the stomping of their horses' hooves. There was not a single stirring of an animal or bird, not a whisper of a breeze or a sound of water trickling. There was a sense of nothingness and bleak blankness. "Is this what evil feels like?" thought Saint Hog to himself and Saint Foil answered him, "yes, evil is all around us so be vigilant." Yet, neither had spoken a word and in seconds it was clear to them all that silence begets silence, for the Dark Woods allowed the three men to hear one another's thoughts as they could not do in the world of truth and light.
Hearing the inner workings of the minds of men is both a blessing and a curse. Saints FAH knew that they would need to be careful how they proceeded in both thought and deed. Traps could be laid everywhere and anywhere and they had to stay close to one another in order to use their strength to the best of their ability. It would be Scourge's intent to separate and divide them, weakening their powers considerably, if it could manage such a thing. The darkness was not on their side. They calmed their horses and tried to adjust their eyes to the shadows, peering around the space where they stood and trying to see the ground beneath them. The only light, if one could call it that, came through the tops of the trees in faint glimmers from the moon beyond. It shed only tiny rays through the dense foliage of leaves onto the ground below, but this was enough for the knights to see that the path that they had chosen to follow seemed to twist and turn in front of them like a puzzle through the thick undergrowth. The cold by now had settled on their armor, leaving a thin sheen of ice and causing the men to shiver. Their horses had to be goaded, but not whipped by any means, to move on. Saints FAH needed to ride forward to create warmth to survive, but the despair of the Dark Woods remained heavy on their hearts.
Moving slowly in the silence, they listened for anything, a breath, a sigh, a whisper on the air, but heard nothing. The smell in the Dark Woods was like sulfur or rotten eggs, an aroma that moved into their throats and caused them to cough, which created a cacophony of sound that reverberated around them. They put their hands over their mouths and noses, but could barely block out the oppressive stench. Still, they moved forward into the woods, determined and watching, listening, looking for any signs of life and hoping upon hope that they were not too late to find their ethereal angel from the heavens. She did not belong in this world of soundlessness; she, whose laughter brought joy and light to the most downtrodden man. She was the angel of mercy and of pure, ethereal love. She had been tricked by Scourge and the knights raged against the evil being for its greed to seek and stamp out all beauty in their world. But as they turned another corner in the path's zig-zagging, they suddenly heard a faint something. Saints FAH stopped, drawing up their horses abruptly. They listened intently, but there was only silence again, which settled all around them with a heavy, dank coldness.
Not speaking, but thinking, for this was the magic of the woods, Saint Arms sighed and lamented, "the sound? I thought it was crying I heard for a moment." Saint Foil picked up this thought and declared, "I, too, heard a weak whimper." And finally, Saint Hog broke the silence, not being able to bear the internal thoughts any longer and spoke aloud what they were all thinking: "it is FAHn Angel!" His voice was clear and strong, but his heart was melancholy. Reverting back to wordless thoughts, lest he miss a single sound again from somewhere around them, Saint Hog asked, "but where is she? Ahead, in the bowels of the woods? Trapped in a cavernous space in the ground? Lost to us forever in the gloom?" The cold was bearing down upon them and they had to move again; their horses were feeling the evil creep about their hooves like live things ready to strike and this made them shy away from the path. Saints FAH had to use all their strength to keep to the crooked track ahead of them. They urged the beasts along with their soft words and coaxing tone; they would not get off the backs of the very animals who they hoped would carry them out of the woods with their angel.
Searching with their eyes, listening intently and sending out prayers of hope into the dense trees of the woods Saints FAH moved steadily in the direction of where they thought the tiny sounds had come; their instincts in battle helped them now, for once again out of the darkness they heard a tiny wail, a keening sound that pierced their hearts, for it was clear in that moment someone was in pain. "It is she! Our angel of mercy," they all thought together, yet they were uncertain of how to find her. She seemed close but far away at the same time. This was the effect of the evil of the woods; those who were lost could not be found, yet they called as if they were near. Saints FAH needed to stop and strategize, for this was indeed a war and they were soldiers on a battlefield that felt unknown and eerily untrodden. Looking at one another, they knew that disbanding would be foolhardy. No, it was better to stay together to confront Scourge who surely was watching them even now, lurking and following their every move. It would be readying itself to attack, to shape shift, to trick, relishing the far-off cries of the angel and believing that Saints FAH would lose faith in their quest just like all the foolish men before them.
But Saints FAH were not like other men. And as has been established, they were not foolish either. They were determined to keep to the path despite a growing sense that a trap was being set for them by Scourge. They weaved and wove their way even deeper into the Dark Woods, when suddenly out of the bleak darkness came a blinding flash of light and their horses reared in anguish and terror. The cries of the pained angel were momentarily in their ears and they heard her wailing as if she were right in front of them. They glimpsed a form, a shape that looked like their angel, but as they reached for her, she vanished, falling easily out of their grasp. They realized in a moment that the vision was just a trick of Scourge's making. The light was both intense and hot; the horses stumbled and just as they were about to fall, the men leaped off and were able to jump away so they were not crushed under the weight of their steeds. Landing on their feet, as reigns flew and the horses struggled, Saints FAH stood now in a tight circle, their shields at the ready and their swords drawn. The horses managed to right themselves, but ran into the woods in fear. All went black and silent as suddenly as the light had seemed to spring up out of nowhere.
Then a voice could be heard in their heads, though nothing was seen in front of them or behind. Ringing in their ears, the voice was laughing, cackling with delight just as it had done over the body of FAHn Angel, for Scourge believed that he had Saints FAH trapped: "little men of a realm and kingdom too far away from home. I will crush you and suck the goodness from your faithful hearts! You will perish in the freezing layers of earth and never be seen again!" the voice boomed in their ears, but its words did not have the desired effect of making the men cower in fear. No, Saints FAH stood tall and strong, their armor glinting in the drifting rays of moonlight that reached the forest floor. They would not be beaten, even by the enigma, Scourge. But how to conquer and cage it? And how to find FAHn Angel and bring her home? To be a knight is to wage wars against mighty enemies and to save beautiful damsels, but to be a saint means rising above all that is base and low. Saints FAH were men, but not mere mortals. Scourge did not know this for evil blinded it to the greater knowledge of wisdom, goodness and truth. The answer to their own freedom, defeating the monster Scourge and rescuing FAHn Angel was first in their pure hearts and second in their magical shields, which helped them to withstand the oppressive tyranny of the evil that surrounded them.
Standing together and waiting for the first attack of Scourge, the three knights began to feel the ground under them rumble and shake. Right in front of them and out of the earth rose the most hideous dragon they had ever seen. It was twisted like an old gnarled tree, sending out fiery tentacles ready to grasp and squeeze the men in its midst. For a moment, Saints FAH could see the starry night sky above them as they were thrown backwards off their feet, but then this sight was dashed away in front of their eyes as Saint Hog was suddenly grabbed as he fell; he was lifted up by his legs and dangled dangerously above the other two knights, by the hideous creature before them. Despite his precarious position in the air, Saint Hog slashed at the beast with his sharp sword but could not reach the tendrils, which coiled around his body and squeezed the life out of him. Saint Hog screamed in rage at being caught off guard, but fought bravely still. On the ground Saint Arms and Saint Foil sprang into action and began to hack and cut at the dragon, which seemed to grow bigger and more powerful by the second. They knew this was a shape-shifting form of Scourge’s, but fighting was in their blood and their friend would surely perish if they didn’t wage war on the wicked being. They fought with great courage and valor in an attempt to save Saint Hog, but the battle began to feel one-sided. For every limb, and tendril they lopped off, the giant monster sent out three more in their place. Feeling the fight might be their last, the two knights on the ground looked around in desperation for a way forward and this was when Saint Arms saw his chance to circle around the beast and surprise it from behind.
Saint Foil created a diversion, drawing the creature into battle, while Saint Arms snuck stealthily through the shadowy darkness to just behind the flailing limbs of the shape-shifting Scourge. The courageous knight paused for the briefest of seconds before taking aim and plunging his sword deep into the back of the ferocious being. The change was instantaneous. A great cry of something akin to pain and murderous rage came out of Scourge and in a flash, it had disappeared and was gone, dropping Saint Hog as if from out of the sky onto the hard earth. There the knight lay, lifeless and pale, motionless in the dirt, his soul on the verge of leaving his body. The silence that engulfed the knights in the seconds after Scourge disappeared was absolute and complete, but the spirit was not gone forever and they knew it. It would be back to attack them soon enough in another form and possibly even more dangerous next time. Saint Foil and Saint Arms did not waste many moments thinking about Scourge, they needed to tend to Saint Hog or he would be lost to the Dark Woods forever.
Saint Foil rushed to his fallen friend, as the life drained away from Saint Hog's handsome and youthful face. Saint Arms knelt and searched for wounds, there were none, but it was clear that Saint Hog was slipping away. "Come, hurry Foil, and save our friend’s body from the funeral pyre. Quickly, now!" Saint Foil took his magical shield for which he could revitalize and infuse life into a dying man, and placed it over his friend's body, crying out "thou shalt live!" Instantly, the shield moved beneath his hands; infused with the life-giving spirit and magic of healing, a warm breeze blew over the scene of the knights in the dark, shadowy woods and a sweet scent wafted around them. The cold was banished as both young men concentrated on bringing their friend back to life. And a soft glow of light surrounded them in this circle of healing. Saint Hog suddenly took a breath, gasping for air and struggled to sit up from his prone position. But Saint Arms held him in place, recognizing that his comrade was still not quite on this side of living and might slip away at any moment again. He needed his friend to be calm and still. Saint Hog’s eyes were glazed and grey; they carried no fire in them that showed a spark of life. He was not with the other two men yet; the shield had not quite worked its magic and Saint Foil, in a trance-like state, concentrating and channeling with all his might was still unable to release his friend from the death spell that held him in limbo.
And then both men heard a whisper moving through the trees, words that filled their hearts with joy. “Saint Hog,” said the voice, “it is FAHn Angel. I am with you in your soul. Do not despair and leave this earth. The heavens do not await you, but be still and let the healing powers of the shield bring you back to life.” The two knights looked at each other and then down at their friend, whose eyes were open and clear now, blue like the sea in a storm. FAHn Angel had spoken to their friend and they had heard her silvery voice of love. They knew she was still a part of them and that there was a hope of finding her, yet.
The light faded and the warmth dissipated; Saint Foil let out a sigh of relief and stood, taking his shield away from his friend’s body. Saint Arms helped his friend to his feet and they all three stood in a circle of brotherhood once again. Saint Hog looked even stronger than before his ordeal; the shield of healing had infused his body with an invigorated health. “My friends,” said Saint Hog, “comrades in arms, I am saved and well once again. I thank you both for coming to my rescue. I saw the beautiful spirit of FAHn Angel who sent me back with her love in my heart. Let us go together into battle and fight the vile Scourge and rescue our angel. We will not be defeated nor leave one another alone in the war against this evil spirit!” His words and voice were mighty and he spoke with determination and a fiery energy once more.
The three men looked around them; the darkness had closed in again and they could feel the creeping cold move stealthily towards them like a menacing presence; they were aware of a driving need to find FAHn Angel and rescue her from the insidious clutches of Scourge, who would surely be back soon to exact its revenge upon them for their act of violence against it. There would be more danger and even more shape shifting, soon enough. They were on foot; their horses having abandoned them when Scourge appeared as the giant dragon. The sweet scent that had encircled them was gone and the rotten egg smell had returned; it was time to move swiftly and with much bravery to face whatever lay ahead of them on the crooked path that they had chosen to follow.
Where could their angel be . . .
Deep in the center of the Dark Woods FAHn Angel sits on the cold ground, she is severely wounded; blood drips from her wings which have been cruelly broken and she cries out in pain, feeling a deep sorrow. She is lost in a swirling darkness, from which she feels she cannot escape. Oh, she has tried to break free from her prison, but what surrounds her is like stone and she can see nothing in front of her but blackened trees. She smells rotten eggs, a sulfur-like aroma, which burns her eyes and causes her to cough and choke. She cannot remember how she came to be here, only that she was once walking along a flower-lined path in the sunshine on a warm, breezy day. She met an old woman who needed her help and when she became aware of where she was again, she only knew that she felt immense despair and heartbreak. It was as if someone had taken all her goodness and purity away from her and left her to perish, alone and lonely.
She was not sure how long she had been trapped; she was horribly thirsty and very hungry. She longed for her friends and for the love of those people whom she adored, but something was wrong inside of her; she had been horribly wounded in her heart. She could feel that she should want to offer love as she had done before and to receive love, but she stopped short of that. Lying broken on the ground, the weight of the darkness all around her, she suffers from a feeling of suffocation. It is like she is sealed in a sarcophagus; she wants to cry out, but her fear is all consuming and she knows she is slipping into a dark abyss. Falling, falling, she is forever lost and calling out for help; she is terrified and feels her heart being crushed, stamped out like dying embers in a fire. Where was her kingdom, the good people she watched over? Where was her wise King and Queen of the realm? And where were Saints FAH, who promised always to care and protect her? She was without anyone and she felt her heart had severed in two and that her body was heavy and leaden. She could only cry, her tears falling onto the frozen earth and turning to ice.
The one memory that she held dear and that remained with her concerned her blessed knights. That bond could not be broken so easily. Scourge had tried to severe the love that she and Saints FAH had for one another, but it underestimated the intrinsic link that they carried in their hearts. Despite the potion that Scourge had launched at the angel and which had destroyed her so quickly, the deep recesses of her heart could not be touched; she held their love near and dear to her. It was when Saint Hog crossed the threshold between life and death and came to her, as if in a dream, that she felt a tiny sliver of hope envelop her in her horrible darkness; could Saints FAH be near to her? She used the very last of her strength, love and gracious tenderness to speak to Saint Hog and send him back to his friends, cared for and healed once again. These were the words that Saint Foil and Saint Arms heard in the woods and these were the last messages of love that they remembered as they returned to the hunt for their FAHn Angel. They must hurry and find her before the wicked Scourge devours her heart and brings her down into its lair of hell to join the lost souls forever.
Standing tall and strong, Saint Hog took the lead now, holding his sword in front of him, ready to battle whatever dark forces approached the trio. His gold armor caught a little light, which shone through the thick leaves of the trees that towered above them. This gave him an ethereal presence in the woods and made him seem almost ghost-like as he walked. Yet, his renewed strength was evident as he moved forward and strode with a sense of purpose. He held the love of FAHn Angel in his heart; he would not stop until he found her, for she had given of her own self to save his life. He felt the bleakness of the woods, which were oppressive, heavy and cold. And then a shadowy movement caught Saint Hog’s eye; it was low to the ground and swift. It seemed to glide along rapidly and without any sound at all. He peered into the undergrowth and saw nothing, but he felt an ominous and insidious presence around him. He knew that Scourge was near and that whatever danger awaited them, the wicked spirit would not let them pass through the wood untouched and untainted. It would set its spies to hunt them down and steal their souls before it would allow Saints FAH to find FAHn Angel. Saint Arms stopped abruptly now, raising his sword and crying out, “stop friends, there is something ahead” before plunging his sword into a coiling shadow on the ground, which was about to lunge at Saint Foil and attack.
Suddenly the coil turned into a vile serpent and rose above the men as if to strike at them. But just as suddenly it fell to the ground, dead, disappearing into the earth like melting snow. Ah, the men had seen the weakness of the trick! Scourge was angry now and sent the writhing shadows at the knights in the hundreds; from every corner of the woods, it seemed the men were attacked by slithering dark shapes, which they had to stab with their swords before the fiends would die. Mountains of evil serpents came tumbling at them like living things, breathing and moving with great speed. Each slash of the saints’ swords brought the same actions: the snake rising above them as if to strike, but then falling down dead and disappearing immediately into the earth. This was a test of Saints FAH’s metal and strength; their stamina and energy to kill was strong, but they could see no end in sight for this torrential avalanche of vermin. Each man bravely fought the evil force around them, using physical dexterity and mental cunning to kill. The woods were full of the stench of death and the cries of the men each time they felled another serpent, but they were feeling the onslaught growing. Scourge would continue to send the evil forms until it crushed them, as it had threatened to do. They needed to find a moment’s pause to make a new plan of attack, but there was no moment to change tactics without surely losing what little gain they had on the monsters that plagued them.
Something needed to be done or else the knights would fall victim to Scourge and be trapped in the Dark Woods forever, like so many men before them. There was only one answer to their plight and it was Saint Hog, but how to find a point of contact with his friends in the hectic battle that surrounded the three knights. His shield could rescue and save those in danger, but the magic that had been entrusted to him in the form of his shield could only work if he stood in the same close vicinity as the other two men. He knew his friends were on the wane; fighting bravely, they were slowly being beaten back and now struggled with the assault of evil that Scourge was waging against them. Saint Hog could do nothing if Saint Foil and Saint Arms could not be reached and gathered into his magical orbit. As he fought the shapes around him, slashing and stabbing at the black bodies, he began to circle closer and closer to his two comrades.
Edging ever nearer, fighting against the overwhelming tide of thrashing and dying bodies, the heroic knight finally managed to find an entry point that brought him close and parallel to Saint Arms and Saint Foil. Saint Hog raised his shield above his head and cried out with all his might, “vanquish the danger!” And out from his shield a strong and vibrant light flowed, encircling the men and protecting them like an orbit of celestial goodness and beauty. Saint Arms and Saint Foil lowered their swords and turned to gaze on Saint Hog, whose eyes were closed. He seemed to be in a trance-like state as he held his shield above him, radiating strength and vibrancy outward towards the darkness. In this magic circle nothing could get in or out, but Saint Hog only had moments to bring them all to safety. The two knights watched as the forms that Scourge had sent to hunt them down, faded in the shimmering silver light around them. Both men closed their eyes as well, channeling their force of life into the darkness and away from the danger. It was as if they were all in a swimming vortex of heavenly light, the shield acting as a conduit for Saint Hog’s heart and desire to save his friends.
Feeling the icy cold air upon their faces made the knights aware that they had changed locations in the Dark Woods. The men had not felt any movement, but Saint Arms and Saint Foil opened their eyes to see Saint Hog kneeling, breathing hard and trembling in his armor. This was not from fear, but from spent strength, for Saint Hog had known that he was their last chance at life and salvation. Holding out a hand, Saint Foil raised Saint Hog to his feet and they all stood taking in what was around them. The sulfur smell permeated the air and the oppressive, shadowy darkness was the same. It seemed that little had changed in the woods from where they had been battling Scourge’s army of serpents to where they stood now. But as they looked around, Saint Foil spied a small house off in the distance. It was almost hidden behind a grove of trees, but he could just make out a roof of sorts. “Look,” he said aloud, and the other two men turned, startled by the sound of his voice in the vacuum of silence around them. This could be another trap set by Scourge; they did not know, but felt drawn to what Saint Foil pointed to.
The desire to find FAHn Angel was so strong in the three knights that they were willing to risk a trap, even though they had just escaped a torrent of Scourge’s evil. Yet, they had made little progress during their time in the Dark Woods and each knight was feeling a creeping dread that he might fail in his quest. Such was the doubt that the magic of the woods inflicted on these brave and worthy men. Their deep connection to the goodness of the angel propelled them forward; they would find her even if they had to battle a million sins in this never-ending forest of despair. Turning towards the only sign that there ever might have been life in the woods, Saints FAH hoped that the house would bring some answers. Getting closer, they caught a voice or at least a tiny sound that might have seemed like a sigh but without any language that was familiar.
Moving into the grove of ancient trees, Saints FAH saw that the house was derelict and rotting in its appearance. It was falling into the earth around it, one side slipping towards the ground, while the raised roof that Saint Foil saw from the distance was the only part that remained standing, except a door that was slightly ajar. Saint Arms approached and pushed the door open and there on the floor, lying in a pool of dark blood which seeped from her wounded wings lay their beautiful and glorious FAHn Angel. She was dying and barely had a breath of life in her; seeing her so degraded and destroyed, Saints FAH felt their hearts break with grief. She lay suffering at the hands of the horrible Scourge, who had poisoned her with a deadly disease, letting her waste away, only a whisper of her voice remaining. It was this sound, so small and lost that drew Saints FAH to her cage, the house of sorrow. The knights did not speak; no thoughts passed between them; they were so tortured by the vision of this ethereal spirit in pain.
FAHn Angel had been tossed aside like a piece of garbage on a trash heap. Her shimmering gown was dark and filthy, her silken tresses matted and her face bruised. The three knights kneeled around her and wept tears of mourning and aching agony for the abuse of their FAHn Angel. She had lost her voice, her ability to love, to heal, to help others and even to live in the hearts of men. She was drifting away from Saints FAH, ready to leave the world behind and never to return; her eyes once full of wisdom and of power were now dull and distant. The knights felt the brutality of the world weigh upon them as they knelt in a protective circle around their angel.
But not all is lost! Saint Arms has an extraordinary gift! The shield he carries with him can heal any wound, shallow or deep. Whether it be the wounded heart, soul, body, or mind, Saint Arms uses his magic and strength to restore and to mend the broken and the battered. In this moment of great tragedy and heartbreak, the knights rise and Saint Foil and Saint Hog step back and away from the two. Saint Arms is the knight who has the power to draw their angel back from the threshold and save her. He is the brave protector of her heart. He will heal her wounds and restore the love that has been stolen from her by the insidious and deadly Scourge. Saint Arms takes his shield, its silver shining with resilient healing properties, and places it on the dirt floor of the crumbling house.
Very gently he leans over FAHn Angel and lifts her tired and thin body, cradling her in his strong arms as her blood drips to the floor in the last droplets of her life. His blue, kind eyes take in the crushed and destroyed being that he holds. As he places her on his magical shield, he cries out to the universe, “heal and restore thy beautiful soul!” His voice rings with strength, beyond the decrepit house, beyond the trees of the Dark Woods; he is practiced in the art of love, the giving of his to help others. The air changes around him and FAHn Angel; a soft breeze blows enveloping them in the smells of flowers meant to mend. Lavender for pain, mint for the heart, thyme for the body, sage for memory, and chamomile for peace. Saint Arms lifts the shield from the ground, holding FAHn Angel carefully and infusing his own life-giving presence into the metals so that a soft cocoon of blue light wraps around the two beings in a joining of soothing color.
Through the light, Saint Foil and Saint Hog watch, mesmerized by the aura of blue that seemed to move with a life of its own. To heal is to understand the depths of the heart and the soul and Saint Arms is a master in this art. Slowly, from inside this whirling mass of blue color comes a song of the most beautiful sound, it rippled on the air and came to rest in the ears of the two knights who stood outside this magical orbit of restorative color. The voice who sang was familiar, the sweet tenor sound cascading around them like an ethereal waterfall of trickling notes which landed soft and merrily at their feet. And still Saint Arms lifted FAHn Angel, holding his shield and willing her to be made whole and well again. He watched her as the blood slowly disappeared from her shattered wings and a fire returned to her eyes. He felt her body grow heavy with life, but still he held her and still he channeled the powers of the healing light. It might be possible to say that he was in a trance-like state similar to his fellow comrades, but his was more than that. While Saint Hog saved people from danger and Saint Foil restored dying people to life, Saint Arms alone possessed the power to heal the emotional wounds of those damaged and devasted by evil.
In this vortex of radiance FAHn Angel began to breathe easily, the stuttering pain of her wounded body relieved by Saint Arms’s healing powers. As the seconds of time ticked away and his two friends watched over him, the light around Saint Arms became more intensely blue and created a pulsating warmth that seemed to come alive like a glowing being. Only the knight who drew evil out of his angel’s heart knew how intensely he fought to save her soul and to bring her back into the world of the living. And then just as it seemed that Saint Arms could never save FAHn Angel, he felt something shift in the swirling mass of colors and the light around him; this was the elusive moment that he was fighting for, that moment when FAHn Angel’s heart and soul merged again and her love returned to her, infused with goodness, truth, and kindness. The heroic knight felt her warm, living breath escape her body in a sighing elegance of beauty. He had won! He had vanquished the evil Scourge’s hold on their beautiful FAHn Angel! Saint Arms’s heart was full then with joy and happiness and he could feel the animated magic of the shield ebbing away, the colors around him dissipating and the warmth that surrounded them both beginning to fade. Soon they would be back in the shadowy darkness, but his angel would be able to stand on her own two feet and flex her powerful wings once more.
And it was so. Saint Arms felt the cold surround them and he lowered the shield slowly and gently to the ground. There lay the beautiful and glorious FAHn Angel restored to her wondrous splendor; her gown shimmering in the faint light of the moon that shown down on the small party of wanderers; her golden wings entirely intact and wrapping her in a healthy warmth. Her face clear and without bruises or pain. She was ready to live again, to help and support others, and to be free to carry her love to the hearts of men. In that tiny crumbling house, lying in the Dark Woods FAHn Angel looked up into Saint Arms’s deep blue eyes and smiled for the first time since she had turned to the old woman and said that she would help her. Saints FAH gathered around her then, kneeling and pledging their undying love to the angel of their hearts. She watched them, her own heart full of devotion for her courageous knights, whom she adored and worshipped. Then it was time to bring their angel to her feet; gently, the three knights helped raise her and though she trembled ever so slightly, she stood in graceful beauty in their midst and let her wings stretch as far as they could in that cramped and tiny space.
And then she spoke, her words sounding like silver stars falling from the sky, “My knights, revered by so many, you are my saviors. I have been trapped and horribly wounded in this dark and evil place with no hope in my heart. I felt stripped of all my goodness and I could not seem to muster any love. But then I had a vision of Saint Hog! He visited me as he readied to cross the threshold of life into death and with what little strength I had left, I sent him back to the land of the living. I felt a strange tinge of hope then, like a vein of gold that might run through the dwarves’ mountains, and I thought that there could be salvation for me. You are my beloveds, my knights in shining armor. I am so blessed,” and here she paused for in each knight’s eyes she could see a single tear falling and she knew that in that moment they would never be separated again in their hearts; their bond was now too strong to break. But they still needed to return to their kingdom from the Dark Woods. There was still much to do to traverse the bleak obscurity of their surroundings and to leave the insidious and wicked Scourge behind them forever.
Suddenly they heard a noise beyond the dilapidated house; it was faint at first, a sort of running sound in the distance and as it grew nearer, they knew it was horses’ hooves against the hard and cold ground. Saint Foil moved first, stepping just outside of the house and drawing his sword to protect his friends and FAHn Angel from any danger. He was ready to fight whatever evil presence they would face, but instead he was delighted to see their grand steeds approaching. What a wonderful sight! Where had they come from? How had they survived in the forest? Never fear! The horses that carry Saints FAH are animals who always return to their masters, no matter the danger or the struggles. Saint Hog and Saint Arms stepped out of the house with FAHn Angel into the sulfuric air of the darkened woods and watched as the horses trotted up to them. Saint Foil noted that each horse was in good shape with not a mark upon them; nodding to his friends, they moved swiftly to mount their steeds. FAHn Angel would ride with Saint Hog so that he might protect her with his magical shield, which could rescue and save those from danger. The knights did not know when Scourge might emerge again and they would ride in a formation that would protect FAHn Angel. Saint Foil and Saint Arms would ride just ahead, while Saint Hog and their angel would come slightly behind. This was a new quest that Saints FAH would face again, together. They had found and saved FAHn Angel, but they still had to conquer Scourge and none knew what peril lay ahead.
Saints FAH understood that they were in the depths of the Dark Woods, but they didn’t know how far and it worried them that they had not encountered Scourge yet. Why hadn’t the wicked spirit come to attack them in the little house? It seemed somewhat of a miracle that they had been left alone for so long. They suspected an ambush, so were on their guard, carrying their shields in front of them and their swords by their sides, ready to draw at any moment that they might be attacked. FAHn Angel was not without strength; she had been made whole again by Saint Arms and in that magical cocoon of light and warmth he had awakened in her a long dormant power of protection that had been gifted to her by the Arch Angel Gabriel, who brings wisdom to all the angels under her dominion. FAHn Angel rode with Saint Hog, sitting on his steed and gently holding her wings around him like a shield of love, protecting him as much as he intended to protect her. She felt strong and light; fearing nothing and embracing the adventure before her. Made whole again, it was as if she had been reborn within the healing light that Saint Arms had bestowed upon her. She was prepared for battle with Scourge and intended that no harm would come to her brave and courageous knights to whom she was eternally devoted.
“Keep sharp! Watch for any movement around you!” said Saint Foil in a hushed, but commanding tone, as they all moved into the growing darkness of the woods. He spoke aloud wishing to hear his voice against the massive silence around them; for sound brings hope and hope brings light and life. The air was heavy and the smell of sulfur strong. It was as if they were moving into the bowels of something dreaded and deadly, yet they all felt that they had no choice. How were they to leave the woods if they did not test the paths before them. The canopy above blotted out the light almost entirely; it was unclear whether the sun or the moon shown down on them, but still they moved forward, preparing themselves for an ambush and wondering why it did not come. And then Saint Arms broke the silence around them, “wait, what is that? It looks like a beacon of light in the distance. See it, my friends, there!” and he pointed up ahead. The others could just make out a tiny point of light flickering among the trees; could it be the land beyond the Dark Woods? Had they almost reached the end of their tortuous journey? As a group, they agreed that the light that they saw might be their way out, but still they were on their guard, for at any moment Scourge could erupt out of the ground like before or send any number of wicked beings to hunt them down.
But they all took hope that the light they could see in the far distance was what they had been searching for all along. As they plodded on, the cold bore down on the knights and their angel. They all wished to be rid of the heavy curtains of silence that engulfed their very beings and so they made for the light, which felt like a blessing in the grim darkness that surrounded them. This path did not zig-zag like the first one, but seemed to be direct and straight; Saints FAH knew that every road in the Dark Woods was dangerous, but they took their faith and their courage to heart and walked in protective formation around FAHn Angel. While the knights could hear themselves in the silence and they communicated with one another without speaking, FAHn Angel seemed not to be affected by the dark magic of the woods. Her language was one of sound only and in this way, it was clear to the knights that their angel had powers and strength beyond even what they knew.
As Saints FAH walked the path in front of them, the light seemed to grow and for a moment they could see a field beyond the trees. “Come,” declared Saint Hog, aloud and happily “let us be quick about it. There in front of us is the freedom we’ve been searching for! Friends and our dear angel, soon we will be out of this wretched place and smelling the sweet scents of the countryside once again,” and he urged his steed forward so that the three knights were riding together in tandem. But alas, it is the bane of our knights’ existence that the wicked Scourge could not let them leave its woods alive. It was determined to trap the men and their angel and to have the good hearts of them all on a platter for its supper that very day. In one moment of Saint Hog declaring their triumph, a great fire sprang up in front of them and drove them back into the darkness of the woods in a sudden and swift movement that made the horses rear and stagger backwards. Although their steeds held fast and the riders did not fall, Saints FAH could not keep together; in the chaos that followed the flames erupting in front of them the three knights found themselves separated from one another.
The horror of the knights did not end there, for when the fire burst seemingly out of nowhere, Saint Hog’s horse reared, knocking FAHn Angel off balance and singeing the tips of her wings. As she fell to the ground, the knights heard her cry of anguish and then she was no more in front of their eyes. She seemed swept away on waves of fire, sucked into a wall of orange and red, made invisible to the men so fast that they could not even think to reach out and save her. Scourge had orchestrated exactly what it desired; it had separated the knights from each other and in doing so had broken their ability to protect FAHn Angel. They might be able to save themselves, but they could not reach their angelic being, who was once again at the mercy of the brutal tyrant, Scourge.
Saints FAH felt a seething anger, for they were now separated from their beautiful angel and could not hope to even use their shields to protect her. Feeling the heat of the fire, each knight struggled to fight the power of the blistering arms that reached out to melt their armor and turn them into dripping pools of scorching metal. Each man and their horse was surrounded by a great, boiling hot menace of flames, which towered and tumbled above them like a massive waterfall of burning light.
They were trapped and their FAHn Angel was lost to them once more! The light, the vision of freedom was gone! What were they to do now? How were they to escape? These were the thoughts of the brave men as they watched the flames burn around them in a roiling boil of blazing heat. This was a fire not of man, but of magic. It did not touch the trees of the woods, nor burn the ground on which it erupted. It was a fire born of hate and malice, one of anger and of threats; it was commanded entirely by the evil Scourge and it was meant to crush Saints FAH forever and to take FAHn Angel into the land of lost souls. No longer were the knights oppressed by the cold; now they could only feel the inferno, which threatened their very lives, and which seemed to tower above them and to press down upon them. Each man and his steed was in his individual circle of hell; they could barely hear the others over the roar of the fire and they could not hear FAHn Angel at all. In their desperation to reach her, they slashed at the living, breathing flames only to have to fall back every single time, the blade of their swords burning red from the heat. Yet, they did not even think to give up. They were courageous and chivalrous men who had gone into mighty battles and waged war on the worst enemies; Scourge was merciless, but still the knights fought on, trying to tame an untamable fire and feeling the strength of the hate that came flooding out of the flames towards them begin to consume every fiber of their being.
And what had Scourge done with FAHn Angel? She was separated from Saints FAH in her own circle of hell. Bound in irons and ice and surrounded by a ring of impenetrable fire, Scourge held the angel in a frozen prison, which neither melted nor changed by the heat that bore down upon it. The magic keeping the knights and FAHn Angel separated was supernatural; Scourge planned on torturing both the knights and the ethereal being and enslaving all in the realms of man. In its dreams of domination, Scourge drew on darkness, fire, and the numbing pain of ice to control those who might bring their goodness and truth to help others. In its desire to conquer the courageous men in the Dark Woods, it rose above the rings of fire and stared down on the knights who continued to fend off the flames that were slowly edging towards them. Its mighty head was like a mask of red death, the fire seemed to consume and run in rivulets around its yellow eyes, like hot, breathing lava. Saints FAH saw the giant demon above them, but did not cower in fear. They were men of staunch strength and bravery; they would battle until the final seconds to try to reach their FAHn Angel and kill the savage beast.
“Do not shrink back, my friends,” cried Saint Foil, “we shall overcome the evil and win the day, yet!” These words sailed out over the flames that seemed to be edging ever nearer. The magical fire was threatening their horses and causing their armor to feel hot against their skin; the situation was becoming dire, but what the men had not counted on was FAHn Angel's strength. Deep inside her heart there stirred a growing light that held within it a kernel of power that had been brought to life in the healing radiance of Saint Arms’s restorative cure. FAHn Angel had not only been made whole again in body and soul, bringing her back to help and protect the world of men, but she had found within herself a mighty energy that had been dormant for too long. Now, unbeknownst even to Saints FAH and certainly not to Scourge, a new fire began to grow within the angel as she was bound by the chains of evil and despair. Encased in ice though she was, hidden behind a wall of flames, and chained to the wretched earth, she began to generate her own life force from within herself. She drew on all the realms of the heavens, feeling her entire body fill with a driving and piercing spirit that changed her and brought forth a dominating power that encircled her in beatific sound and light.
The chains that bound FAHn Angel fell to the ground, the fire diminished around her and the ice that encased her cracked, shattered, and flew in different directions, startling Scourge out of its evil complacency and bringing it to attention. Here was a new adversary and one that it had not counted on nor had expected. FAHn Angel rose up in all her glory and spread her wings wide with vibrant energy; she was no longer in diminished form, broken and destroyed, but now radiated with a new life force that imbued her with profound strength. She cowed the flames around the knights with her presence and affected the sky and the air with a renewed health and sweetness. The sulfur smell that had once overpowered their senses was gone and the debilitating cold of the Dark Woods was replaced by a warmth that felt cleansing. Saints FAH saw the flames around them die out and they turned to see their FAHn Angel readying for battle. What a beautiful sight! She was the power of love personified; the truth and goodness of her heart shown clear in the darkness of the woods and brought a wondrous light of color that projected out over Saints FAH and the horrible Scourge. In all the hundreds of years that they had fought as knights and then as saints, they had never known the true power of the angel in their midst. They knew her as a healer, as a purveyor of love to men’s hearts, as a being guided by truth, beauty, and goodness but not as a warrior.
The knights were struck by the changes around them, but did not pause long for they knew that the demon Scourge would be out for blood. In seconds of seeing the angel escape, Scourge let out a savage cry and made for FAHn Angel with a quickness that surprised the knights. They had hardly time to move towards her, their horses seemingly in slow motion, as they raised their swords to defend her against the vile creature. The power of Scourge was before them all, but it was FAHn Angel who struck first; calling on the heavens and bringing a thunderous lightning bolt down upon the demon beast, she held Scourge in a circle of light that kept it from moving forward. Saints FAH watched this moment of striking intensity; the war of the wills played out in front of them, that of good versus the very epi-center of evil. Hers was the more powerful being for she had the will of love, truth, goodness and all things beautiful on her side. She was the greater warrior, for she was the one not out for revenge or death, but peace and calm for all humankind. The will of Scourge was being bent, even as it raged and fought with all its might against the light in which it was held. It beat against the ring of love that surrounded its being, fighting with teeth, claws, and magical spells. But still FAHn Angel rose above Scourge, pushing the demon back down towards the earth and weakening its strength. Saints FAH now had a chance to help FAHn Angel. She had released them from their fiery prisons and they were ready to act with her against Scourge. As the angel held the demon in check in the vortex of light, they stepped forward on their horses and circled Scourge, holding their shields in front of them and preparing to finish the battle alongside their angel.
Saints FAH had a plan and there was no reason to speak to one another now, for they all seemed to know instinctively how to proceed. Their shields wielded great powers. Saint Hog moved forward first and directed his shield towards the giant demon before him: he cried out, “though shalt vanquish hate from thy soul!” and in an instant Scourge seemed to shrink, actually losing physical mass and shying away from the healing light of FAHn Angel’s grip upon him. Saint Hog had drawn the essence of hate from the demon’s heart and this had forced a change in shape and purpose in Scourge. The knight stepped back and away from the circle of light and Saint Arms moved forward, raising his shield: he cried out, “relinquish thy fear and embrace a new beginning!” The demon that once was seemed to change before their very eyes and to lose all resistance then, turning into a child-like being. It's demon shape was gone and it stood innocent and naked, staring with wonder in its eyes and confusion. Could it be that the spirit's heart becomes young again when it does not contain a driving fear? Scourge the demon changed into Scourge the child. Saint Arms drew back on his horse and away from the circle of light that still held the spirit. Then Saint Foil moved into position to complete the final metamorphosis: he cried out, “bring love to this child’s heart and keep it safe for all eternity!” And the child changed once again into an infant, young, new and without taint upon its heart. And it was in that moment of a final change that FAHn Angel released the spell upon Scourge and the circle of light vanished.
All was silent and calm. FAHn Angel stood in the woods, a place that was no longer dark and shadowy. The evil and vile demon had gone and in its place was a new being, resurrected from the old and ready to flourish. This infant, the child of the spirt who had been steeped in so much horror and brutal degradation in its many hundreds of years of living was now able to begin again. FAHn Angel walked over to the baby, picked it up gently and swaddled it in a soft cloth of silver. No one spoke. Was there any need? The air was clean, clear and warm, the sounds of birds could suddenly be heard and the sunshine drenched the trees in a gleaming gold. The knights’ quest was complete. They had found and rescued FAHn Angel and she, in turn, had saved a soul. To the kingdom they would return and raise the child in harmonious peace and tranquility; it remained genderless, but with a new name, Amity. This was as it should be and in keeping with the nature of all things that are right and true in the world that Saints FAH and FAHn Angel protected, forever and always.
*Inspired by a wonderful fahn friend and a really fabulous conversation over Instagram one day at the end of April in 2021 when we were talking about my FAH poetry and her visions of my poem "Harmony." I immediately connected her vision with my FAH poem: "A Medieval Tale: Saints FAH" and we were off and running about a possible story. I am grateful to my fahn friend for both her friendship and for her creative ideas! I dedicate this story to her.