“Oh, God, help me to do this!” Her family’s fate was in her hands, and breaking five people out of the prison was not a good idea. At least, not to most people. Creeping closer to the village, she took a fleeting glance over her shoulder. A breath of wind caught her blond hair, blowing it into her eyes. This blurred her vision, so, despite trying to move as slowly and carefully as possible, she quickly swiped it behind her ear again.
She carefully reviewed her situation. Especially the last week. The soldiers had come at two in the morning. There was no warning and no escape. Elsa had been out of the house and had survived. God’s plan for her was not yet done, even though it seemed that it might be tonight. She shivered. How could she have even considered her death, especially now, when living was so crucial? She had lived in the woods for the last week, alone. Though it had only for the first night, she had still been afraid that the soldiers would capture her as well, until Adamon.
A twig snapped behind her. She knew what to do. Gripping her dagger, she silently crouched low to the ground, hiding herself behind a bush. Her training of the last few days had paid off well, and the man, who Elsa assumed was a soldier, passed by without seeing-or rather, sensing her. Elsa lay there for several more minutes, until she was sure that the man did not have any friends following him.
Finally, she rose to her feet, still extremely wary. Her silent steps finally carried her into the village square. Now to the jail. Her family was locked up, not for any kind of real crime, but for having a slightly different view than the king.
Catholicism versus Protestantism. So different, yet so similar. Men and women would die for either one. She thought. The jailhouse came into sight, just to the right. Elsa slipped into the shadows and made her way slowly to the prison. It was made from squared stone, with a flat, sturdy roof made from great beams and wooden shingles.
Almost escape-proof. Almost. She had learned the only way to get in and out undetected through her training.
“Stop right where you are!” A voice boomed.
Elsa froze, and then began to run. She had jeopardized her mission by daydreaming. Now, she was running for her life.
~ ~ ~
The rain was pouring down, Elsa thought that it was the hardest that it had rained in a long time. She had been having a hard time wrapping her mind around the concept that it was time to go to sleep, how could a person sleep with such noise? She had asked herself this question already a dozen times, but this time, it seemed more real somehow. She felt the urge to get up, to do something, or perhaps, go somewhere. Slipping from her bed, she grabbed her dress and slipped it over her night-gown. As she went out of the door, she slid the Bible from the table and placed it gently under her arm.
She slipped a cloak over her chilly shoulders and stepped into the rain. Taking a deep breath, she looked towards the woods. She loved it there, and she had found a cave in a hill. Nobody else knew about it, and it became her secret lair. She often took the Bible and went and read and studied for a few hours by candlelight. It was what she dreamed of doing all the time, even though she only allowed herself to do so once a week. Today she was in the book of Galatians. She entered the cave through a small tunnel, which she had to crawl through. It opened up into a small, circular room. With a contented sigh, she opened the huge, handwritten volume. [These are the days before the printing press.]
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Elsa poured over the words over and over. Suddenly, she heard a scream, jolting from her quiet meditation, she listened closely. A yell and another scream. Elsa listened with concern. What is going on? She wondered. Remembering the candle, she turned and blew it out. There was no use in keeping it lit, and, in doing so, risking being discovered. She felt her way to the entrance of the cave. The woods were dark, and it was still raining. She stumbled over a log and fell, rolling several feet, and getting completely soaked in the process. Now shivering, she made her way towards her home. She had not heard anything more since those screams. Elsa didn’t know whether this made her feel better or not. It depended completely on what the sources of the screams were. At last she saw the house, but something was wrong. She saw strange men walking around the wooden structure holding torches. She sank into some underbrush to watch and listen, simultaneously pulling the cloak more tightly around her shivering shoulders. Her family was nowhere in sight. She cupped a hand to her ear and listened intently.
“They all went to prison, right?” the first man said
“Yeah, foolish heretics, if they had just renounced their beliefs they would have been released. Now, their execution will be in a week... Andrew?” He looked intently at the first man, Andrew, who seemed to be staring directly at Elsa. She could almost feel the man’s penetrating gaze.
At the sound of his name Andrew snapped back to face the other man. “When is the execution?” he asked,
“A week.” The second man repeated. He glanced sidelong at his companion again, “You sure yer alright, Andrew?”
Andrew began walking towards the other, “I’m fine, James, it’s you who are having problems.” Andrew’s tone was different somehow than before. All James had time for was a look of confusion before Andrew punched him in the face. James fell to the ground unconscious and Andrew began to walk towards Elsa. Elsa sprang up from her hiding place, and ran as fast as she could back towards the cave. The weather seemed to taunt her. Rain drops flew into her eyes, mingling with tears of confusion and fear. The lighting flashed and she shuddered as the thunder roared with laughter at her plight. Another flash revealed the cave’s entrance. She ran for it, trying to re-double her efforts and go faster. Branches whipped out at her face, arms, and legs. Roots appeared out of nowhere to trip her. Finally she stumbled into the cave, completely exhausted. Rolling up in her wet cloak and a blanket which she stored in the cave, she fell into a fitful sleep.
~ ~ ~
The light streamed in the cave entrance, indicating that it had been day for quite some time. Elsa rubbed her eyes and crawled out, blinking in the bright morning light.
Sometime ago she had located a small brook that wound its way through the dense forest floor. After some effortless walking through the still wet forest growth she relocated the gently flowing stream of water. She plunged her cupped hands into the icy liquid, catching it and bathing her face.
“What is your name?” A masculine voice called out from behind her. Elsa spun around, muffling a scream, but it came out anyway as she tumbled backwards into the brook.
A man with a sweeping cloak descending in black waves from his shoulders slid down the slightly inclined bank and offered her his hand.
After a moment of hesitation she took it and was pulled to her feet.
“Thank you, sir,” She said,
“I am sorry for frightening you,” He replied. From his voice she could tell that he was the man, called Andrew, from the night before. As soon as this realization dawned she jumped back, as if bit by a scorpion, into the middle of the brook.
“Who are you?” She asked with narrowed eyes.
“My name is Adamon. What is yours?” His voice was unmistakable but Elsa decided to play along.
“My name is Elsa.” She replied.
“Elsa? I have been looking for you all night. Thank God that you were not captured.”
“Isn’t yours Andrew?” She said slyly.
“That is just a cover up. I am a Protestant but on occasion I-” He looked up and past her, “look out!” he yelled, grabbing Elsa’s arm and roughly yanking her to stand next to him.
“A Protestant, Andrew, I never would have thought it of you.” A voice with a hint of sarcasm mixed with its evil boomed from above.
Andrew or Adamon, or whatever his name was, drew a sword, pushing Elsa behind him. The other man slid down the embankment, drawing his sword and standing to face his opponent. Adamon took a step forward.
“What is it that you want?” he asked,
“It is rumored that the family captured last night had another daughter. How fortunate that you have found her for us.”
Adamon held his sword ready.
“Go and no harm will come to you.” He said calmly.
“Retreat before you Andrew? You are a fool. Only a fool would say such a thing, and only a coward would try to get out of a fight. You are a coward and a fool.”
Elsa saw Adamon stiffen up at the insult. “I am neither coward nor fool, Peter, the reason I told you to go now it so that no blood will be shed.”
“Coward,” The other repeated. “So that none of yours will be shed.” The men advanced and the clang of steel against steel filled the forest. At first Adamon seemed at a disadvantage, for his skills seemed minimal compared to his opponent. Suddenly Adamon’s sword flew like lightning, there was no time left for Peter to recover, and the sword’s razor sharp edge cut Peter’s sword arm. Peter yelled, and dropped his sword. After a moment he picked it up again, this time with his left hand and began to walk away.
“You’ll pay for that, Andrew!” he yelled over his shoulder.
Adamon turned back to Elsa. “Is your name really Adamon, or is that also a cover up?” she asked.
“Adamon is my real name.” He replied, slipping his sword back into its sheath.
“Adamon, please tell me, what of my family?”
“They are in the village, the prison, waiting for the execution. It is to take place next week.” He replied gravely.
“We must rescue them.” Elsa exclaimed, fervor in her voice.
“Yes, we must. You also must start some training. I will teach you how to avoid soldiers, hide, and perhaps other things” He looked at her, “How old are you?”
Elsa drew herself to her full height, “I am seventeen,” She said, “Is that old enough?”
“Yes.” Adamon replied with a slight smile.
~ ~ ~
I do not want to put in to many details about Elsa’s training. Partly because I do not know half of them. However, she did learn how to disappear quickly into the woods, walk silently, and other necessary things.
Six days later, the day scheduled to free Elsa’s family, Adamon and Elsa were near a river or, more like a small canyon, with a shallow river flowing over sharp rocks at the bottom of it. Elsa heard a twig snap. She froze, wondering if Adamon had heard it as well.