At one point in the evening, one of Captain Monroe’s stewards knocked on the door and came bearing dinner. My stomach was far too uneasy to consume anything but I did rouse Aric from his slumber so that he could partake. He awoke confused about his surroundings, but when he recognized me an easy smile overtook his perplexed features and I felt a strange flutter in my heart.
“The Captain was kind enough to provide us with supper,” I said warmly, mentally stamping out the presence of that odd sensation.
He scrubbed the sleep from his eyes and swung his feet down from the hammock. “Good old Captain Jon. I notice you don’t have a plate.”
“Those sea legs you spoke of earlier haven’t exactly kicked in yet,” I said grimly. “I know how you feel about me eating, but I just don’t think I can until we’re on dry land.”
He nodded and began to serve himself, although his gaze was still full of doubt. As he slept, I continued to look through our folder of evidence and was completely enraptured by the face of the nun. My hands kept straying back to that picture even as I attempted to sift through the rest of it. I couldn’t shake the feeling of familiarity that I associated with the picture.
The logical side of my brain attributed it to the fact that she appeared to be no older than I, which understandably tugged at my sympathy. It made me wonder what my life would be like had the Bishop Orsatti not taken pity on my as a baby. Would I still walk the path of God and righteousness? Or would my mind be as weak as this poor girl, leaving me as easy prey to the lying words of the enemy? Could this girl just as easily have been myself?
I shivered and clenched my fists. No. My God lives strong within me all my days -- I would never have strayed into the hands of a devil and his consorts.
“Romi, you’re doing it again,” said Aric softly. “I’m starting to think my offer of companionship has been in vain, and that I may never breach your walls of mistrust. I am your servant, as well as the servant of God...how can I get you to let me in?”
The sincerity in his eyes wounded me. Never had my father, Bishop Unus of the Most High, looked at me in such a manner. Isn’t this what I wanted ever since I could remember? To be able to see in someone’s eyes all the honesty and love they felt when they laid eyes on me? Abandoning all the restraints that I had learned to manifest around others over the years, I threw my arms around his neck and hugged him close. My tears broke free when he reciprocated the embrace and planted a soft, chaste kiss on the corner of my mouth.
“Please forgive my transgression,” I said through a watery smile.
“Always and forever,” he replied, procuring a handkerchief and gently dabbing my face dry. “Our first mission is going to be incredibly trying as it is, even more so if we aren’t a cohesive unit. We need each other, Romi. For comfort when we are troubled, for strength when we are weak, and for love when the enemy has left us wanting. As much effort as I put in, I cannot be that for you if you keep your heart and your concerns to yourself.”
I sighed heavily and leaned away from him. “It feels as though I am already being tried. In my sleep I can feel the claws of some unknown demon scratching at my subconscious mind, trying to find a way in. I believe that is the cause of my nightmares and it troubles me. Does this mean that the enemy knows we are coming, and we are walking right into his hands?”
“In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I rebuke these thoughts,” he said immediately after my last word. “We are Guardians of the Trinity and that alone gives him cause to send demons upon us. We are not the first, nor will we be the last. He uses scare tactics on us all in order to try and find the cracks in our faith but I can see the light within you and know that you have none. This doubt you feel isn’t real, and I speak it in His holy name that it be cast from you.”
He said it so easily, with such confidence and just like that I felt lighter. Like some heavy burden had just been plucked from my shoulders. “Oh, my…” I whispered, taken by surprise. “You speak with the prominence of a Priest. I am impressed...and incredibly grateful.”
He gave my hand a gentle squeeze. “I’m sure in opposite circumstances you would speak for me just as easily. This is why we need each other. I swear to you, I’ll never let you fall.”
I nodded and flashed him a small smile. Perhaps I should have offered him a similar promise, but it didn’t seem appropriate from my lips. I had plenty of faith but my confidence as a Guardian had yet to bloom.
Watching Aric eat in the dim light of our cabin, however, I began to feel a little of what I saw behind his eyes whenever our eyes met. A new sort of faith was growing within me, a faith that should I fail any aspect of this mission, Aric would be behind me to pick up the fallen piece and put them in their rightful place.
They say God works in mysterious ways, but that His plan is always resolute. I believe in my heart of hearts that He knew exactly what He was doing when He chose my Familiar