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Tag Team Story - Just For Fun!

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John crossed his arms, took a step back and eyed both of them wearily. Why are they so evasive? When I'm with him I feel just a little uneasy, but with Rachel every things is calm. Then John remembered what his mentor Paul told him. "The Ephraim Code is the path to truth, but there is a key that unlocks the door. The forces of good and evil will be looking for that key and will come in many disguises. Our job as the keeper of the way is to help others find the right path and give them the key to open the door. Always remember...The truth will bring light to darkness. At times this may be difficult to discern, but use the Manuel that you received earlier in your training. How we use this truth will determine the fate of others."



Suddenly John remembered the Manuel and desperately patted his chest. Rachel eyed him curiously. "Are you alright?"



"Ah ya...I just thought I lost something."



"Is it important?"



"Ya, I mean no, not really." Boy did I mess up. No telling what would happen if they found out about the manuel.



The stranger broke in. "Well John, are ready to travel?" Thankful for the interruption, John nodded his head and turned to Rachel and bid his farewell.

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Rachel made her way to the other side of the well, sat on the edge of its roughly hewed stone wall and watched as both men headed toward the gate. She liked John, kind of reminded her of the fisherman Peter, alway speaking before he thought, but on the other hand Peter did become a better person in the end. The stranger on the other hand felt cold and empty full of deceit. John needed their protection but she and the others were warned not to intervene unless instructed to do so by the master.



Startled by the sound of a mans voice calling her name, she turned toward the sound and recognized who it was immediately. A gentle smile crossed her face and she stood to greet him.



"Papa!" She stretched out her arms and went to meet him. They both embraced and he softly patted her on the back then eased her away and held her hands.



"The last time I saw you like this was when you met Michael." He smiled and she flung there arms out to the side.



"Oh stop it Papa, that's not so." She released his hands and her face flushed a bright shade of red.



"I see," his voice carried a hint of playful jesting. "My eyes must be playing tricks with me again."



"They are playing tricks with you." She snubbed her nose and turned toward the hint of two shadows off in the horizon. Her father watched her for a moment staring at the two men then placed his hand on her shoulder.



"Rachel," his voice spoke softly. "We must go." He patted her shoulder and she turned to face her Papa wiping watery stains from her eyes.

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Guest BevFischersmile

But then John prayed, "Lord, please have this trouble I'm in to disappear." Immediately, there was peace in his mind. He stood still for many minutes. Then he said, "Praise the Lord, you have given me peace again!" Then John felt more well then he ever had in his entire life. Then a figure came out of the darkness. And said, "You are the one I need."

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Guest BevFischersmile

Sorry! I didn't go to the next screen! It's been years since I've been on a message board. I'll read through your story again with all the screens.

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Guest BevFischersmile

There's too many screens for me. Just forget my post and contine to have your fun. I did fun writing my post and then I saw I miss too much. Just pass my post. Sorry, Sorry.

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John and the stranger sat around a fire under an out cropping of rocks that protruded from the side of the mountain. The sun slowly drifted behind the mountain casting long ragged shadows on the ground in front of them. Off in a distance above the horizon, feathery clouds filled the sky with soft pallets of reds, oranges, and yellows, as the curtain of darkness drew to a close signaling the end of another day. A refreshing breeze blew from the east, riding in its wake the distant sounds of bleating sheep and the howls of prowling prey filled the air.



John leaned backward and rested his back against smooth surface of the rock that was behind him. The coolness seemed to relieve some of the aches and pains that riddled his body. Had it not been for the angelic being intervening, he wouldn’t be here now.



John’s mind wondered back to the time just before the stranger entered his life. He, Rachel, and the others were singing with the harp. Somehow, their voices along with the melody of the harp caused Rachel and the others to disappear. Why didn’t he vanish with the others? He was in the room with them, singing with the harp…unless the sing and the harp had nothing to do with one another.



John reached for the bag next to his side and removed the harp. He examined the symbols once more, hoping to find a clue that would give him the answers he was looking for. Nothing had changed; he was still clueless as to their meaning. Carefully, he placed the harp in his lap and ran his fingers across its strings. The notes from the harp brought a since of warmth and comfort, a feeling of security. As he played, he noticed the stranger becoming somewhat uncomfortable with the melody of the harp.

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Whoosh! In the twinkle of an eye he was in another place. No one ever told him about this effect of the code's workings! Why was this not part of the training? As he shook the disbelief from this brain, he was able to focus on his environment. It was the most breathtakingly wonderful place he had ever seen. So many colors, some of which he could not even begin to name, and from his sister's painting exploits, he knew many. Then he heard a noise from behind a grove of strange trees. What would make such a noise?

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The stranger jumped to his feet next to the fire full of fury. He scoured the area frantically looking for any evidence that would lead him to Johns abductors. Nothing, not a thing, whoever it was they were good. It took him several months to track him the last time, and his master wasn't happy with what he called "an incompetent imbecile." The strangers eyes fell upon the harp John had been playing before he vanished into thin air. Finally, a brake he had been waiting for. He made his way toward the harp, and just as he reached for it, the harp vaporized into a thin trail of smoke that faded into the dark. The stranger stood with his fist raised to the air and cursed, "I will find you."

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John ran and hid behind a clump of brightly colored green bushes covered with multi colored berries. He peered through the bushes toward a line of dazzlingly trees that lined the bank of a crystal clear stream running the length of the forests edge. Brilliant colored lights cascaded through the trees, creating a vibrant multi-colored aura full of harmony. The light broke through the trees, and John raised his hand in front of his eyes shielding them from its intensity. The music stopped, and a voice emanated from the light.






John fell backward hard against a tree and landed squarely on his butt.



"John, don’t be afraid."



“Who are you, and where am I?” John righted himself and stayed hid behind the bush.



“I am a friend here to help you.”



“Last time someone said that, I found myself in the middle of trouble.” John watched and the light started fading into a human form. For a moment, he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him.



He stood from behind the bushes. “Are you…” His head swirled, light faded from his eyes and everything went black.

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Off in a distance, a faint light along with muttered voices and mechanical beeps filled John’s mind. He pushed against the darkness groping for anything that would help him climb out of this barren sea of blackness. Seconds before reaching the light, it started to fade. Hopelessness waned into despair, was this it, am I going to die? Then a familiar voice broke through the shadows. “Hurry or we’ll lose him.” He felt a sharp pain and all at once a feeling of fire coursed through his entire body. The darkness gave way to a slight hint of light. His heart raced and pounded against his chest growing with intensity as the burning sensation filled his body. What’s happening, the pain is unbearable.



John felt his body lung forward but with restraint. Light engulfed the darkness that filled his mind. A scream filled his ears and he soon realized the noise he heard was his own voice. His eyes slowly came into focus, and hovering above his head was a bright light hanging from the ceiling, where am I. Standing around the table, the team worked feverishly to stabilize John.



“We almost lost him this time.” One of the men said as he gave instructions to sedate John.



Before John could say anything, his eyes started to get heavy and he heard someone else speaking softly.



“No, he’s tough, it’ll take more than that to stop him.”

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Rachel and her father Isaiah made their way through Jerusalem toward the southeast corner of the city heading for the temple. Up and down the street on either side of the temple, travelers and citizens alike were buying and selling their wares. Others waited patiently in front of wooden tables, as the temple priest exchanged their Roman currency into temple money, used to purchase clean animals for sin sacrifices. As Rachel and her father approached the temple, she slowed her pace and grabbed her father’s arm.



Isaiah stopped, and turned to face his daughter.



“What is it?”



Rachel nodded toward the temple. Her father followed her gaze, and spotted a man propped against one of the pillars of the Temple. Isaiah had only seen his daughter like this when there was trouble.



“Who is he?”



Rachel turned her head slightly to the left, and spoke in a slow even voice while keeping her eye on the stranger.



“That’s the man that was at the well with John.” She released her father’s arm and lowered her hand to her side.



“What does he want?”



Rachel took a deep breath and slowly released it. “I don’t know, but I know he’s up to no good.”



“Why don’t we go and have a talk with him, and see what he wants?” Her father motioned toward the temple.



Rachel and her father made their way toward the temple, and the stranger descended the steps pausing between each step. Rachel stared at the stranger through narrow eyes and clenched her teeth. As the stranger drew closer, Rachel’s father extended his right hand toward the stranger.



“He doesn’t shake hands.” Rachel informed her father coldly as she folded her arms across her chest.



“I see.” Isaiah lowered his hand to his side.



The stranger smiled, then extended his hand and looked at Rachel with a glint in his eye.



“That’s not so my dear lady.”



Rachel raised her brow and shifted her weight to her right foot. Her father once again extended his hand and firmly grasped the stranger’s hand.



“The name is Isaiah Smith; I understand you’ve met my daughter Rachel.”



“And it is a great pleasure to meet such an exquisite lady once again.” The stranger released her father’s hand, and turning toward Rachel he bowed locking his eyes with hers.

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John stooped beside the well and dipped his hand into cool refreshing water then lifted it to his mouth. The distorted reflection of his face on the water settled to a mirror finish. The aroma of water, the texture of rough stones that surrounded the well, mingled with the sights and sounds of the city triggered a kaleidoscope of images in his mind. John tried to connect the elusive images, but they were ambiguous memories of the past.



He gazed at the water for a moment, and another image crept in from the water’s edges. The image looked vaguely familiar, a round face with soft eyes and a dimpled chin. Soft gentle lines ran from the corner of her eyes and merged with deep wrinkles that filled her forehead. The image starred at John for a moment then smiled revealing a toothless grin. Who was it, the image looked so real.



As John looked at the image, the mouth started to move and the voice of an older woman filled his ears.



“John.” He couldn’t believe what was happening, the image spoke.



“John.” The voice spoke again, this time it sounded even more real.



He closed his eyes for a moment trying to erase the image from his mind. Just as he did, a hand gently grabbed his shoulder. John jumped and turned to face the intruder.



“I didn’t mean to startle you.” John looked at the elderly woman and realized the face he saw in the water was not an illusion.



“Don’t you remember me?” The woman turned and sat on the edge of the well.



Tiny droplets formed on John’s forehead. How does she know me, and why does she look so familiar?



The woman studied John for a moment and realized that he didn’t know who she was.



“I’m Mrs. Davis, Jeremiah Davis’ wife. We met earlier this morning, I brought you to our home and you met Isaiah, Joshua, Professor Mark, and Rachel, Isaiah’s daughter.”



John studied her for a moment and more shattered images filled his mind. The woman continued.



“We sang together and you played the harp for us, don’t you remember?” The woman placed her hand on his and patted it softly.



“Maybe this will help.”



She leaned beside the well and retrieved a brown linen bag. John watched closely as she loosened the string at the top of the bag and removed a harp. She extended the harp to him and he reached for it and paused for a second then took it from her and began examining it. John softly caressed each string and listened to the tone, the sound brought an overwhelming sense of peace, then he laid the harp in his lap.



He sat there in silence for a moment then raised his eye brows and started to grin.



“Now it’s coming to me. You’re the lady who met me in the market place.”



The corner of the woman’s eyes turned up slightly as she smiled.



John looked down at the harp then back up to the lady.



“What happened to me?”



The woman turned and looked into the well for a moment, then turned and faced John.



“Come with me,” she extended her hand and took his, and they both stood. “I want you to talk to someone.”

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“Isaiah,” Mrs. Davis smiled and wearily eyed the stranger standing beside him. “Look who I’ve found.”



Isaiah placed his hands on John’s shoulders and patted them vigorously.



“John, it’s so good to see you again.”



John smiled quizzically and looked to Mrs. Davis for help; before she could speak Rachel chimed in.



“He may not remember who you are.” Rachel’s voice trailed off in to quiver.



Ghastly memories of the tortures that plagued Michael with the first experiments assault Rachel’s mind. Michael was more than just a friend; he was the one she could turn to when her world was falling apart. Even though she had only known John for a short period of time, there was something different about him. This couldn’t be happening again. She thought they had all the bugs worked out. The same thing happened to Michael only five years ago. First the memory losses, then uncontrolled rages and fits of fear, followed by self-isolation and finely suicide.



Isaiah spoke up and smiled at Rachel. “That’s ok, Yahweh will work everything out.”



Rachel caught a glimpse of a small shutter from the corner of her eye. The stranger seemed to fear the name Yahweh.



John stared at Rachel for a moment and more images materialized from the thick fog that clouded his mine. Parts of the image came into focus revealing a dimly lit room, and sitting in the middle of the room, was a roughly cut wooden table with four shadowy figures around it. Before he could identify any of the scant images around the table, another one took its place. This one filled the room with a Yellowish orange glow coming from a low stone walled pit. Hunched over the pit stirring a pot was the figure of a beautiful young woman. Then it dawned on him, it was Rachel.



“Rachel?” Her name lingered in the air and he studded, “is that you?”



The lake of sadness that filled the deep chasm in Rachel soul, poured over the dam that had been holding back the raging swells and filled her eyes with tears of joy.



“You remember?” Maybe she wouldn’t lose him like she did Michael.

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The stranger raised his hand to his chin and gently stroked his course black beard with the tips of his fingers. This was more than he’d hoped for. With John unable to remember things, now he could start over and maybe befriend him.



The stranger lowered his hand and spoke.



“I must say, the reunion has been quite refreshing.” He turned to Rachael and bowed with his arm across his chest. Then he straightened himself and turned to Isaiah with an extended hand.



“And you sir, I must say, have a charming daughter.”



Isaiah grabbed the strangers hand firmly and nodded his head with a raised eyebrow. “She may be charming, but she’s the apple of my eye.”



Isaiah held the strangers hand for a moment longer then released his grip. The stranger bowed his head slightly and a smirk eased across his face.



“So right you are. Maybe we can get together some time get acquainted? But for now, I have some business I must attend to.”



“Maybe we can.” Isaiah nodded and the stranger backed away and turned toward the market. The four of them watched the stranger vanish into a sea of people that filled the narrow street with buyers and sellers.



John spoke up. “What was that all about?” He looked at the others feeling like he had just entered the tail end of a movie.



Rachel spoke up. “It’s nothing for you to worry about… for now, we’ve got other things to talk about.”



“What do you mean; we’ve got other…” Before John could finish, Mrs. Davis broke in.



“It’s time for a meal, I’m sure everyone could use a bite to eat and then we’ll talk later. What do you say?”

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Isaiah moved to the side and extended his arm toward the market with his palm pointing upward and nodded toward Mrs. Davis.



“After you my dear lady,” then he mouthed the words, “thank you.”



Mrs. Davis quickly took the lead and led the group toward the market. Isaiah took to her side while John and Rachel followed anxiously a few paces behind. John folded his hands behind his back and looked at Rachel. Rachel felt his gaze and a sensation of warmth flooded her face. She bowed her head and stared at the little dust clouds that formed under her father’s feet hoping to avoid eye contact. John felt a longing to be with Rachel, although they only knew one another for a short time, the feeling was more than a casual acquaintance.



As the four of them walked through the crowded market, John couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched. He quickly looked over his shoulder and started scouring the crowd around him. He didn’t see anything unusual, everyone in the market seemed to be busy and nothing appeared to be out of place. He pushed the thought from his mind, maybe it’s nothing. My mind must be playing tricks on me. There were so many unanswered questions. Hopefully he would receive answers to his questions later.



Rachel looked at John and saw small beads of sweat materialize across his forehead and around his upper lip.



“What’s wrong?” Rachel asked just above a whisper so she wouldn’t alert the others.



John looked at Rachel for a moment. “I just have the jitters I guess.”



“I think it’s more than just the Jitters, you looked like you just saw a ghost.” Rachel edged a little closer to him.



John shrugged his shoulders in a feeble attempt to play the whole thing off.



“It’s nothing really.” Come on John, you can do better than that.



“Well, if you won’t tell me, I’ll not try and force it out of you.” Rachel increased the space between her and John creating an invisible barrier between them. Although she knew all he would have to do to bring down the wall, was for him to open up to her and it would come crumbling to the ground like the walls of Jericho.



“Well, here we are!” Isaiah motioned toward a small stone house that was located at the end of Market Street. John noticed that the door to the house looked like it had been blown off its hinges. More images crept into his mind. This time the image was so vivid that it even had the smell of sulfur and taste like rotten eggs. He stumbled backward at the site and his knees collapsed under him. Rachel screamed and Isaiah lunged for him just before John fell to the ground.

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Rachel sat and watched as John tossed feverishly on the straw mat lying on the dirt floor of the single stone dwelling. She felt helpless; she wanted to do something but knew that this was a fight he would have to confront on his own. She went to a bucket of water sitting next to the fire pit and grabbed a cloth hanging on a ledge above the pit. She dipped the cloth into the water several times and rung it out then made her way to John’s side. Rachel knelt by John’s side and carefully placed the damp cloth on his forehead. Finely, John grew quiet and rolled to his side facing Rachel.



She started to get up but caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a book that had worked its way out of his tunic. She eyed his face for a moment and then watched rise and fall of his chest. He’s out cold. Cautiously, she reached for the object maybe she could remove it and would not wake him. The tips of her fingers touched it and John’s body flinched. Rachel jumped and her arm recoiled back to her chest and she gasped. I shouldn’t be doing this it’s too risky, what if he catches me he will never trust me. She pushed the thought from her mind and decided she would weight and ask him about it later. If he trusted her, he would tell her in his time.



Rachel stood and her father along with Mrs. Davis entered the room.



“How’s he doing?” Mrs. Davis’ voice was just above a whisper.



Rachel turned and faced them both, “I think he’s through the worst part now.”



Isaiah walked to his daughter’s side and placed his arm around her shoulder. “Time will tell my darling, time will tell.”



Somehow for Rachel, time seemed to take an eternity. She looked into her father’s eyes and he understood her pain. Slowly she made her way to the door, and sat on a wooden bench just outside the door. The day had been long, and darkness veiled the star studded sky. A cool gentle breeze filled the air with a whiff of smoke, laced with the aroma of cooked bread and meet. Exhausted, Rachel leaned her head against the stone wall, closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep while talking to Yahweh.

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Rachel rose to her feet with a stark, loud screams filled the night air. After clearing the fog from mind, she soon realized the screams were coming from John. She rushed into the room and found her father and Mrs. Davis trying to restrain John.



Terror filled Rachel’s face. “What’s wrong?”



Isaiah fought to hold John down. “I don’t know, he was doing fine and then all of a sudden he started screaming and trembling.”



Rachel rushed to John’s side and lay across his chest embracing his quivering body.



“John,” she whispered into his ear. “John, it’s going to be alright.”



His body quaked with greater intensity. Rachel’s grip grew tighter and she continued to whisper, “He will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” The tremors retreated and his body went limp. Mrs. Davis and her father looked at Rachel and spoke in unison.



“What did you say to him?”



Rachel eyed them both. “All I said was, “He will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”



Isaiah and Mrs. Davis smiled at one another then grabbed Rachel’s hands. Her father looked into Rachel’s eyes.



“He’ll be ok, you’ll see.” Somehow, the words her father spoke this time gave her a little more comfort.

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John woke before the others and gathered the embroidered linen bag with the harp, and made his way to the door. He stopped for a moment and looked to see if his string about had alerted anyone to his leaving. John’s eyes fell upon Rachel’s petite silhouette accented by the predawn moon light lying next to her father. The light reflecting off her fair skinned face created a pearly illusion that somehow made her look like an angel. He smiled, then turned and walked into the cool dark morning air.



Rachel waited until John cleared the door, then slipped on her sandals and slowly walked to the door. She eased her head around the corner of the door frame and watched as John headed toward the market. Thankfully the moon was a full moon and she could watch him for some time, but she also knew that when she followed him she could easily be spotted. She eased through the door and stayed close to the stone building taking advantage of the shadows. Quickly, she ran to the other side of the street into an ally that gave her a better view of the open market square.



John sensed that he was being followed, but then again, with all that had been going on lately, his sense of awareness had tripled. He stopped for a moment and combed the area for anything unusual. Satisfied that no one was following him, he headed for the camels gate.



Standing in the shadows of another ally watching both Rachel and John, the stranger waited patiently for both of them to leave the city. He knew John was the key to the code and somehow he needed to stop him, but with Rachel at his side it would make matters difficult and she needed to be removed.



John found a seclude spot just outside the city nestled in a small valley sounded by palm trees and a small spring. The soft breeze rustled the palm leaves above his head, creating a diminutive crescendo of applause toward the heavens. Spotting a small outcropping of smooth boulders next to the spring, he walked toward them and propped the bag against one and sat in front of another positioned next to it. John watched as moon lit shadows of palm trees danced on the golden sand at the spring’s edge. Maybe now he could sort things out, the images, the people and what he was doing here.



Rachel watched John from behind a small clump of bushes to the west of the oasis. The soft light radiating from moon punctuated his silhouette against the rock. She waited patiently for the right moment to move in closer to see what he was up to. John rested his head against the bolder. Now she could make her move. As she stepped from around the bush, her foot turned under a small rock and she let out a yelp. John jumped to his feet.



“Who’s there?”



Rachel cupped her hand over her mouth and held her breath.



“I know you’re out there,” John moved closer to where the sound came from. “So come out where I can see you.”



Rachel didn’t want John to know that she had followed him, but her ankle throbbed, and she knew she couldn’t make back on her own. John proceeded slowly in the direction he heard the yelp come from. Realizing there was no other way Rachel called out.



“John, I’m over here by the bush.”



“Rachel, is that you?” Every muscle in his body relaxed for a moment.



“Yes, I think I’ve twisted my ankle.”



John saw her lying next to the bush and rushed to her side.



“What are you doing out here?”



“I was following you.”



“Following me,” he could feel the heat radiating from his face. “Why are you following me?”



“I…” Rachel’s voice faded off into small sobs.



“Never mind that for now, let me help you.” John couldn’t stand it when a woman cried.



He bent down and took Rachel by the arm and placed her arm over his shoulder. They both headed back to the spring where John had hoped to sort thing out.

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The stranger heard the commotion and used it to his advantage. Slithering through the valley, he darted from bolder, to bush to tree until he made his way to the other side of the spring. He found a spot in the shadows of the mountain. This is perfect, I’m concealed from the moon light, the wind is blowing my way and I will be able to hear what they have to say.



The stranger watched as John eases Rachel to the ground against one of the boulders. John lowered himself next to Rachel and neither said a word for a moment.



The stranger waited patiently then Rachel broke the silence.



“It’s not what you think.”



“Then what is it?”



“I’m worried about you.”



“Worried about me?” The stranger could hear the anger in John’s voice.






“And why would you be worried about me?” John’s hint of confusion filled the air.



“John, you don’t know this, but…” The wind shifted and the stranger strained to hear what Rachel said but her voice faded in the night air.



“How do you know this?” John stood and the stranger watched him pace and run his hand through his hair.



“John, because of what happened to you earlier, you may not remember everything.”



The stranger watched John stop dead in his tracts and face Rachel.



“What do you mean, what happened earlier?”



Rachel patted the ground and the stranger watched John settle in beside her.



The stranger steadied himself against a bolder and cupped his hand over his ear.



Rachel’s voice was as clear as the moon lit light.



“John, do you remember anything?"



“I remember bits and pieces.”



The stranger muttered to himself. “Speak up so I can hear you John.”



“Tell me what you remember.”



At least someone knows how to speak up, the stranger mused.



“I remember being at the well and seeing different images of people.”



“Did you recognize any of them?”



“The only ones I recognize are those that I meet today, like someone flipping a switch, I just can’t seem to remember anything about them.”



The stranger nodded his head. He didn’t seem to remember me or did he, I need to be careful.



“Do you remember anything about the Efraim code?”



Good job Rachel, this I want to hear. A shimmer of joy surged through the stranger’s body. He watched John draw his knees to his chest, place his elbows on his knees, and drop his head into the palm of his hands.



“I don’t remember anything about the Efraim code.”



How can you not remember the Efraim code? I need that code. The stranger struck the sandy ground with his fist.



“One thing that I do remember is this.” The stranger watched John reach into the fold of his tunic and remove a rectangular object and handed it over to Rachel. She looked at the object then turned to John.



“This is the …” A gust of wind moved about the top of the palm trees and the branches clamored together like someone balling up a sheet of cellophane. The stranger cursed under his breath and looked toward the sky.



The stranger heard John’s voice and he turned to moon lit figures propped against the stone.



“I remember Paul my mentor telling me I should use this. He said it would help me see the truth and help others along the way”



The stranger watched Rachel place her hand on John’s knee and returned the object back to him.



“He’s right John, you need to trust what it has to say. It is the key that will unlock many of the battles you will face.”



“But how can I do that, I don’t even know why I’m here?”



“He will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”



The stranger’s jaw tightened and he clinched his fist. We’ll see about that. The stranger turned his attention back to them and saw John jerk his head in her direction.



“What did you say?”



“I said, ‘He will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on the: because he trusteth in thee.”



“Where have I heard that before?”



“Maybe it was when you were fighting in you sleep last night.”



“Fighting in my sleep?”



“You don’t remember anything about last night?”



The stranger watched John shake his head from side to side and then drop it to his chest.



“You were shaking violently and I whispered that into your ear. As soon as you heard it you stopped shaking and rested peacefully the rest of the night.”



The stranger watched John examine the object Rachel had returned to him. He rubbed his hand over its surface and carefully placed it back into his tunic. Then both leaned their heads against the rocks, neither said a word but sat gazing toward the sky.



The star studded sky grudgingly yielded to the yellowish glow that crept over the mountains edge ushering in a new day. John stood, picked up the bag and offered Rachel his hand. She took it and stood favoring her right foot. John carefully placed his arm around her waist, and she steadied herself with her arm around his shoulder, and both headed back the town. The stranger stayed concealed behind the rocks of the mountain until both were out of eye site.

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Isaiah sat with his elbows perched on the wooded table, and his forehead resting on the heels of his hands massaging the top of his head with his fingers. Mrs. Davis busied herself with the morning meal and eyed Isaiah from time to time.



“She’ll be ok Isaiah, don’t worry”



Isaiah lifted his head and turned in his chair to face Mrs. Davis. “I know she’s old enough to take care of herself, but she’s still my daughter.”



Mrs. Davis smiled and shook her head. “Isaiah, her training has taught her well, I think she can handle whatever comes her way.”



Isaiah placed his left arm on the table and crossed his leg. “If anyone should understand about being worried, it should be you and Jeremiah.”



Mrs. Davis turned to Isaiah and her eyes filled with water. She knew he was talking about Michael their son. They were so proud of him. He had become a believer, been through the training and wanted to become a keeper of the way. Everything was going well until he met a young man named Belial. It wasn’t long after that, Michael departed from the Efraim code and committed suicide. The wound was still fresh in her heart.



“I’m sorry, that was uncalled for.”



Mrs. Davis shook her head and returned to the meal. “It’s ok, no harm done.”



John and Rachel entered the single stone dwelling and Isaiah shot to his feet and ran to the aid of his daughter.



“What happened?”



“Father, it’s nothing to worry about, I just twisted my ankle.”



“Nothing to worry about, I wake up this morning and you’re not here.”



John interrupted, “It’s my fault I...”



Before John could say another word, Isaiah grabbed a fist full of John’s tunic and lifted him out of his sandals.



“Father,” Rachel’s eyes widened, “It’s not his fault.”



Isaiah lowered him back to the dirt floor and turned to his daughter.



“John got up early this morning and left. I wanted to see where he was going, so I followed him and twisted my ankle in the process. If it hadn’t been for him, I’d still be out there.”



Isaiah couldn’t resist her soft hazel eyes; they had a way in making a seething caldron, settled to a low simmer. Isaiah lowered his head slightly then looked at John.



“I’m sorry John, it’s just that she’s my daughter and…”



“You don’t need to explain, I’d feel the same way if I had a daughter.”



Mrs. Davis turned from the fire pit and made her way toward Rachel.



“Come let me help you child.”



Mrs. Davis helped Rachel to a chair next to the fire pit and eased her leg onto a pile of neatly folded straw mats.



“You rest right here while I make a balm to take care of that swelling.”



Isaiah pointed to a wooden chair sitting next to the table.



“Have a seat.”



John eased his way to the table and sat in the chair across from Isaiah, thankful that he didn’t receive the business end of Isaiah’s fist. One thing Isaiah’s colorful tunic couldn’t hide, was the five pound sledge hammers attached to the end of his arms. He sat the bag on the table and stared at it for a moment.



“John there’s more here at stake than you realize.”



John raised his head and looked over Isaiah’s right shoulder with raised eye brows.



“Why does everyone keep saying that?”



Isaiah looked over his shoulder at Rachel.



“I didn’t tell him everything.” She shrugged her shoulders and gave him a half crooked smile.



Isaiah turned back to John and placed his hands on the table. John didn’t know what to expect next.



“So, what did she tell you?”



John looked back down at the bag for a moment and then looked at Rachel. Rachel nodded her head and mouthed, “Its ok.”



John laced his fingers together and placed his arms on the table.



“Where do I begin?”



“How about from the beginning, that would be nice.” Isaiah eased himself back in the chair and crossed his arms.



John sighed, “Rachel said that I was here on a mission. She said that I came from the linage of David which made me a direct descendant of Christ.”



He paused for a moment; the thought of him being in the family tree of Christ was still hard for him to wrap his mind around.



“And…” Isaiah interrupted his thought.



John eyed Isaiah then continued.



“She also said that I was the key to the tree of life. How can that be?”



Isaiah held his hand up. “We’ll get to that in a moment. What else did she tell you?”



“She asked me if I knew anything about the ‘Efraim code?’ and I told her I didn’t remember anything about it.”



Isaiah massaged his face with his hand and stared at the bag for a moment then looked back at John. He eased forward in his chair, patted the bag then continued.



“What do you know about the harp?” Isaiah placed his elbows on the table and laced his fingers with his index fingers steepled pressing against his lips.

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As the black blur slammed into him, his body exploded into agonizing pain. Everything went black and John lost all sensation. Hours later he woke bewildered.

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John picked up the bag and untied the leather strap. Isaiah eyed John as he drew the harp from the bag, hoping that the harp would help him to remember. John ran his fingers across the strings. The series of notes created a euphoria that calmed his confused emotions. He strummed the instrument again and again enraptured by the sound. He couldn’t stop, the more he played the more he craved. John closed his eyes, and the windows of heaven opened revealing an angelic host joining him in songs of praise and adoration.



Isaiah turned and looked at Rachel and Mrs. Davis, both whose watery eyes sparkled from the golden rays of the morning sun cascading in through the window. Isaiah nodded and smiled at both of them, the three of them lifted their hands high above their heads with open palms and whispered words of praise. A thick fog and a soft glow filled the room dissolving any darkness that had taken residence.



John’s face twisted in agony and salty trails streamed down cheeks. The emotional roller-coaster of sadness and happiness made everything clear now. The missing pieces of the puzzle were finally coming together. Now he understood more than ever his purpose and his mission. He knew the dangers and also knew that he wasn’t by himself. Rachel, Isaiah, Mrs. Davis and the others were there to help him along the way. He lifted his tearstained face toward the ceiling, opened his eyes and mouthed, “thank you, thank you, thank you.”



John placed the harp back on the table and stood with his arms stretched upward and his head tilted back. Rachel hobbled over to him and threw her arms around his waist. She buried her head in his chest and fountain of hot tears flowed from her cheek onto his tan torso. He wrapped his arms around her small frame and lifted her from her feet, singing and laughing at the same time. John relished the moment and nothing seemed to matter for now, he didn’t want it to end, but he knew he’d have to finish what he had started.



He lowered Rachel to the ground and helped her to the chair. Mrs. Davis returned to the open pit and retrieved a small gourd filled with a green paste she had made for Rachel’s ankle. He headed for the table and eased himself into the chair directly across from Isaiah. He leaned back, crossed his arms and watched Mrs. Davis apply the gooey paste to Rachel’s swollen ankle.



For a moment a vision flooded his mind. He was strapped to a table in a white room with a bright light hanging from the ceiling. Familiar voices filled the room, “Hurry or we’ll lose him.” John tilted his head and stared at Rachel for a moment, could it be? His thoughts were interrupted by another, “We almost lost him this time,” but this one eluded him. John rubbed his forehead and closed his eyes, but they sprung back open and he stared at Isaiah when he heard the next voice. No, he’s tough it’ll take more than that to stop him.”



The corner of Isaiah’s mouth turned upward.



“So John, what do you know about the harp?”



John couldn’t believe his ears, Isaiah was the last voice her heard.



“I…I mean…”



“Yes,” Isaiah prompted him. “Go on.”



“You and Rachel were there in that room?”



“What room?” Now both corners of Isaiah’s mouth turned upward.



“It’s all coming to me now. The room was a lab and your and Rachel were in the room with someone else.”



Isaiah repositioned himself in the chair and crossed his leg and rested his arm on the table.



“What else do you remember?”



John ran his hand through his thick brown hair and plopped his hand into his lap.



“The harp is the key to the praise of heaven.”



Isaiah nodded his head up and down slightly and watched as John reached into front of his tunic. He removed a gold leaf book and placed it on the table directly in front of him. Etched across the cover in gold letters were the words, “The Efraim Code.”



“What do you know about the Efraim Code?” Isaiah nodded toward the book.



“I know it’s the key that opens the way to the tree of Life.”



Isaiah raised his brows. “Do you understand it?”



John picked the book up and opened it up to the first page. He stared at the jumbled multi colored letters and symbols and laid book back down on the table.



“I’ve seen this before but I don’t quite know what it means.”



Isaiah nodded to Mrs. Davis and looked back at John.



“John this is the final part of your training.”



Mrs. Davis came to the table and sat next to Isaiah. She placed a white linen cloth tied with twine on the table. The cloth was the same shape and size as the book. She carefully untied the twin and folded the cloth back revealing a transparent red piece of glass.



“John, this is not glass, it is a high impact plastic.” Isaiah waited for John to take in what he had just heard.



“It’s designed to be used with the Efraim Code.” Isaiah pointed to the chair beside him and John picked up the book and moved to the chair. Mrs. Davis handed John the device and he flipped it around examining it.



“Without it,” Isaiah pointed to the book. “You can’t read the Efraim Code and the book will be useless.”



John raised his eye brows and Isaiah continued his course of instructions.



“If you look carefully, you will see a thin line just below this edge.” Isaiah pointed to the top of the red object.



“This is the top of the screen. And on the top right corner, you will notice a small square about the size of your thumb. This device is a biometric scanner. When you place your thumb on this spot the screen will change to a different color.”



“And what color is that?”






“Black, you can’t read anything through something black.” John huffed and laid the screen on the table.



“Exactly, that’s why it requires two thumb prints.”



“I see, so I have to use both of my thumbs to make it readable?”



“No, it requires two separate thumb prints.”



John flopped back in the chair. “And how am I supposed to do that?”



“You don’t…” Isaiah chuckled he knew John’s mind was reeling now. “You will need Rachel’s print also to make this work.”



John looked at Isaiah and then to Rachel. She nodded then winked at John, he felt his face getting warm.

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John’s eyes grew and the color drained from his face. “Rachel…why do I need her thumb print to read the code?”



“It will take both of you to find the passage way to the Tree of Life.” Isaiah studied John for a moment. He knew time was getting short, and he needed to pass as much information to John as he could before he started his journey.



“Both of us?” John sprang forward in the chair, looked at Rachel’s beaming face and back at Isaiah.



“Yes both of you.” Isaiah picked the scanner up from the table and sighed. “Now if you’ll let me finish, I’ll explain.”



“Now…” Isaiah started but was interrupted by a crashing sound just outside the door.



“What was that?” Isaiah whispered and turned to face the door.



“I don’t know.” John held his index finger to his lips and shook his head. Slowly he rose from the chair, and like a cat crouching for his prey he made his way to the door. He reached the door with clinched fist and sprang through the door way. A shattered water pot lay on the ground next to a wooden bench. Watery sandal prints lead from the ground soaked spot toward the market and faded into the dusty street. John noticed a man in a rainbow colored tunic running toward the market. John yelled and the man quickened his pace kicking up small sprays of sand and dust.



John turned to the others. “I’ll be back!”



He took off after the man and the man darted down a narrow ally. Just as John was about to reach the ally, a small funeral possession filled the gap between him and the ally. John rose on his tip toes bobbing his head back and forth trying to keep watch for the man. The possession passed and John watched the man shoot down another ally. John sprinted toward the ally and rounded the corner; the loose gravel gave way under his feet sent him sliding to the ground. He leaped to his feet and scoured the ally looking for the man, and saw nothing but children and women pointing in his direction, some with hand covered mouths and other laughing. John waved to the spectators, bowed a few times and headed back to the others.



Isaiah met John as he rounded the corner of the ally onto the market street.



“What happened to you, did you catch him?”



“No, as I rounded the corner in the next ally I slipped and fell.” John dusted himself off.



“Did you get a good look at him?”



“I didn’t see his face but he looks familiar.” John looked back over his shoulder toward the ally.



“What is it?”



“I don’t know, but I think it might have been Bill.”



“Bill?” Isaiah looked toward the ally then back to John.



“Yeah, you know the stranger.” John turned and faced Isaiah.



“So his name is Bill?”



“That’s what he says his name is.”



Isaiah placed his brawny hand on John’s shoulder. “Let’s head back to the house and will continue were we left off.”

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John and Isaiah entered the small stone dwelling, and Rachel stood to her feet and hobbled toward John. He paused for a moment as she made her way toward him, and for the first time was captivated by her small frame. The sun light cascading through the window, cast a radiant golden-brown glow that followed long silk strands of hair to the small of her back. Her emerald eyes sparkled against the soft tapestry of her fair completion. He had noticed her before, but in a different way.



With his memory back in full force, he remembered her as a fellow apprentice preparing to become a Guardian of the way of life. There were others who had gone through the training. Some completed the course and are still Guardians. For others, the training was more than they could handle, so they just dropped out. Before he had really become acquainted with Rachel, she was training with another man his age by the name of Michael. He had observed them both as they trained together during the early part of his training, and could see their lives were intertwined. She would light up the moment Michael graced her with his presents, but all that changed one day. Rumor was that he had killed himself. John noticed the glow Rachel held for Michael started to reappear when John entered the room, and now he felt she was more than just an acquaintance.



Rachel stopped short and Isaiah extended his hand so she could steady herself. She placed her hand in her father’s and starred at John for a moment.



“Are you ok?”



“I’m fine.” John raised his hand and shook his head with one corner of his mouth turned up. “Just a little dusty from the tumble I took rounding the ally. It’s nothing to worry about.”



Rachel started to protest but her father interrupted.



“You need to sit down and get off that foot if you expect it to get any better.”



Mrs. Davis cleared her throat and looked at Rachel with raised eyebrows.



Isaiah guided Rachel back to the chair sitting in front of the stack of mats. He returned to the table and sat in one of the chairs with his back to the wall. This allowed him to keep a watchful eye on the street for any more intruders. John took a station in one of the chairs to Isaiah’s left, giving him an unobstructed view of Rachel. Isaiah reached across the table, retrieved the electronic device and started to explain the rest of its features to John but was interrupted.



“Does anyone care to tell me what happened out there?” Rachel’s voice was a few octaves higher than normal causing John to divert his eyed from the device to Rachel’s glaring stare.



“Ahh…” John was surprised by Rachel’s sudden change of character. This was a side of her he hadn’t seen and wasn’t sure if he wanted to see.



“Well there’s not much to say. I went to the door and saw a broken water jug and foot prints leading from the wet ground toward the market…” John’s explanation was cut off abruptly.



“I don’t need to know all that I want to know who he was?” Rachel crossed her arms and her glare intensified. John shifted in his seat feeling like a school boy sitting in the principle’s office trying to think of a way out.



“I couldn’t quite tell, but I think it may have been Bill.”



Rachel sprang forward in her chair and her face flushed red.



“I knew it.” She slapped her hands hard against her lap.



Isaiah turned to John with raised eyebrows, and John shrugged. Even Isaiah hadn’t seen his daughter like this, and if anyone should know her short comings it should be him. Rachel continued through clenched teeth.



“I knew the first time I met him he was up to no good.” She slumped back in her chair, huffed and crossed her arms and starred at the red, orange and yellow flames dancing in the pit.



Isaiah turned back to his daughter.



“Can we continue now?”



“I’m sorry,” the bright red color in her face faded to a pale pink as she forced a smile across her face. “I just don’t trust him; he’s up to no good.”



John shook his head slowly and eased back in his chair.



Mrs. Davis chimed in. “Is anyone hungry? I’ve made some Lentils and flat bread.”



“I’ve been ready.” Isaiah set the device down and patted his stomach.



“Me too.” John was glad for the interruption, maybe it would calm things down.



Rachel stood and started to move her chair toward the table but John jumped to his feet.



“I’ll get that for you.”



Rachel paused and allowed John to assist her with the chair. He moved the chair to the table and returned to Rachel with an extended hand. She placed her hand in his, and the fire that consumed her only a few moments ago, was now nothing more than a cold ashen heap. John helped her to the table, returned to the opposite side and sat in his chair. Mrs. Davis sat a handmade wooden oval platter in the center of the table full of freshly cooked flat bread. She returned to the fire pit and retrieved three wooden bowls from a ledge above the pit and three wooden spoons. She filled the bowls with lentils and gave each of them a bowl and a spoon. John started to dig in but stopped when Rachel grunted and Isaiah spoke up.



“Don’t you think we need to give thanks for what we are about receive?”



John nodded and bowed his head, the room suddenly felt warm. It’s not that he didn’t want to give thanks; it’s just that with everything that’s been happening lately, it slipped his mind. He wasn’t ungratefully; he knew that if it hadn’t been for his savior, he wouldn’t be here now.



Isaiah finished with the prayer and in unison they all said, “A-men.”



Mrs. Davis pulled up a chair to the table and sat across from Isaiah.



“So…How is it?”



They all responded with silent gestures. Isaiah mumbled with his mouth full, Rachel nodded once, and John raised a torn piece of flat bread just before packing it into his already hamster stuffed mouth. If Mrs. Davis didn’t know any better, she would have thought John hadn’t eaten in months.



“John,” Mrs. Davis shook her head and chuckled. “You can slow down; no one is going to take it from you.”



John swallowed hard.



“I’m sorry; it’s just that all this excitement has made me hungry.”



“Well,” Mrs. Davis reached over and patted his arm. “There’s more where that came from.” John nodded with a sheepish grin and Isaiah spoke up.



“Why aren’t you eating?” He pointed at Mrs. Davis with his spoon and quickly retracted it realizing what he had done was impolite.



“Don’t you know,” she waved her index finger at Isaiah. “A cook always tests the food while they are eating?”



Isaiah frowned and stuffed another morsel of bread into his mouth followed by a spoon of lentils. The rest of the meal was uneventful and no one said a word until they had finished eating.



Isaiah patted his stomach and looked at John.



“John,” John looked at Isaiah. “Why don’t you and I take a walk?”



John shrugged, “Sure, why not.” Both stood from the table and made their way to the door and out into the market street.

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Isaiah walked with his hands laced behind his back and John followed at his side, neither said a word. John wasn’t sure what Isaiah had in mind, and the suspense was killing him. Was it because he was taking a liking to Rachel or maybe he was going to tell him something that he didn’t want the others to hear. Before either could utter a word, a long shadow crept up beside John.



John and Isaiah stopped and turned to the approaching shadow and was surprised by what they saw. John broke the silence.



“Well, well, well, look what we have here.” John crossed his arms as the man approached.



The man stopped short, placed his right arm across his midsection, bowed slightly and straightened. Isaiah stepped toward the man and extended his hand.



“The names Bill isn’t it?”



The stranger shook Isaiah’s hand and then cordially offered it to John. John stepped forward, shook the stranger’s hand and immediately returned it to his side. A feeling of foreboding rushed through John, along with images of the stranger standing at the door of the stone dwelling just before it exploded into a million pieces. The way the stranger acted toward Rachel at the well, and his agitation when the name Yahweh was mentioned only added to John’s mixed emotions toward the stranger. Rachel seemed to know something about the stranger that kept her in a guarded state.



The stranger smiled. “I see you remember… and you are Isaiah if I remember correctly and this fine young man,” He nodded in John’s direction, “is John.”



“That’s right,” Isaiah responded with an impulsive smile. “And to what do we owe this pleasure?”



"Well the pleasure is mine," The stranger bowed his head and continued. "I was heading toward the market and saw the both of you and just decided to drop in and have a chat."



"So what did you come talk about?" John paused just long enough for the stranger to answer and then interrupted him before he could speak. "I'm sure you didn't come to talk about the intrusion the other day."



John was referring to the day when the demonic being blew the door apart. The strangers eye brows rose slightly. His reaction told John that he wasn't aware that John had regained his memory. The image of the stranger standing with Isaiah and Rachel at the edge of the market when he returned from the well with Mrs. Davis flashed before his mind. He remembered the conversation Mrs. Davis had with Isaiah and Rachel that day and how the stranger responded. It seemed as though the stranger was elated, although he tried to hide his expression from them. John continued to shoot a volley of questions at the stranger.



"Maybe your here to discuss the time at the well when Rachel showed up?" The stranger shuffled from one foot to the other.



"How about..." John's eyes narrowed and his voice took on a tone of sarcasm. "Maybe, you're trying to find out what we're up to... so you just kind of hang around open doors to listen in to peoples conversations?"



The stranger's face transformed from an olive color to crimson, and the muscles of his jaw pulsed at a steady rhythm. John knew then that he had hit a nerve. The stranger took a deep breath and let it out slowly while lowering his head.



"It's not what you think." He raised his head and the olive hue returned to his face.



Isaiah placed his hands in the folds of the arms of his tunic and spoke up.



"Well what is it then?"



The stranger turned toward Isaiah and back to John.



"John if you remember when we first met, I came to warn you of danger that was on the way."






"And...Do you remember what happened?" John retorted, "Why don't you tell me, you seem to be the one who remembers."



The stranger rolled his hand forward warding off John's jab.



"As I was saying, I came to warn you of the danger and as we were talking the door blew to oblivion. As you recall, shortly after that a demoniac being entered the room."



John interrupted. "If you remember, or maybe not, because you were out of it due to the blast." The stranger raised a brow and John continued.



"Another host entered the room and stood between us and him. And if I recall, the angelic being told him to leave or he would send him to the abyss."



The stranger chuckled and opened the palm of his hands toward John.



"Exactly! Why do you think Raphael was there?" John and Isaiah looked at one another, then turned their attention back to the stranger. John knew the stranger was telling the truth about what had happened, the problem was what to believe. The stranger edged toward John and placed his hand on John's shoulder. John didn't like the idea of someone entering his space, especially the stranger.



"Come on John... if I was there to harm you, do you think that I would have come to warn you? Do you think Raphael would have only sent the demon away and not me? Think about it?"



The stranger removed his hand from John's shoulder giving him the space he needed. John looked back at Isaiah but didn't receive any help; he turned back to the stranger, rubbed his chin and frowned.



"I guess that could be possible." He lowered his hand to his side and remarked. "Then, why were you standing outside the door where we are staying?" John was surprised at the stranger's expression of innocence. Either he was truly unaware of what he was talking about, or he knew how to keep a straight face. Of course, earlier John knew that he had triggered something to anger the stranger, so he was capable of showing expression. The stranger patted John on the arm and looked John in the eye.



"I assure you my friend; I was not standing at your door, besides look around you." John scanned the area a saw a market full of men in multi colored tunics, it could have been anyone. Maybe John was wrong about the stranger; maybe the stranger was his friend after all. The stranger broke John's concentration and brought him back into focus.



"John, you have nothing to worry about, I'm here to help you. All you have to do is ask me and I will help anyway I can." The stranger extended his hand, "Are we ok?" John shook the strangers hand and smiled awkwardly.



"Sure...I'll keep that in mind."



"We'll I must go, I have things I must attend to before the day fades into darkness."



John and Isaiah graciously responded and watched the stranger disappear into a nearby ally.

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