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The steel-shod legs of Lieutenant Acella Kabak thundered in the otherwise silent, white marbled corridor, mailed arms folded behind his back as he walked. Paintings by various artists, and self-portraits of the former lords and ladies of the family who had ruled here since the Dawn lined the walls, delicately carved columns and statues dividing them. No longer; they lost their privilege when they surrendered to their own vices. Ah, there’s the one I beheaded a week ago. He was an arrogant, bastard. I remember when I finished the commission on his bust.
The prisoner he escorted, who strode behind him, was talkative, more so than Kabak liked. Kabak was a simple man, quick to temper – he merely followed orders. Orders were that this prisoner was to be received by Kabak’s commanding officer in private. The Lieutenant never questioned his commander’s orders, and his commanding officer looked the other way when Acella often went on leave from his volunteer station.
Neither Kabak nor his commander truly needed one another, and often in the last few months his commander had given him detachment after detachment to retake city after city, village to village. And despite the bloodshed we have caused, we remain the men we were before this venture took place. We have not forsaken our duty in service. Far better men than that coward in the Cathedral.
Acella Kabak’s armor was unpolished, but he kept it clean, though the red and black paint and gilding on it was beginning to chip off in places. He wore no helm, preferring any enemies to have a good glimpse at his bald, black-bearded face. At his belt hung only a hammer and chisel; a great axe was strapped to his back. Acella never went anywhere without his tools, neither of peace or war. It matters not; there is only service, in one way or another.
“So, you are a sculptor here, in Várond? Are you familiar with the Anvil of-“
“Aye. Any who pass through Guildstreet see the Rock. I was among those who were directed in the carving.” Acella replied to the prisoner, cutting him off.
“And yet, you serve him.” Kabak’s plain, brown eyes shut in near-annoyance, and he snorted. His Lordship knows his duty, same as I.
“He requested my service in a manner as only one other has. I gave him my conditions, and my new commander accepted my service.” Kabak replied coolly. Lesson Twelve: Do not allow your emotions to affect your hammer strokes. One misstep and you fail, the marble lost. Become the wind.
“He is a rather eccentric man, then, to recruit non-soldiers and place those alongside veteran warmen? I’ve asked him of it before, but he shook me off. Almost as if it was something he couldn’t answer – as if the words he needed didn’t exist.”
“His Lordship chooses his words as well as he must. Most likely, he had an intelligent sheil’attahn who tutored him well.” But that is his business, not mine. Stop pestering me, itinerant plaything. I am no peasant, as you would believe.
The door came to as Acella opened it and entered, steel-shod legs only slightly muffled by the ornate rug. He wasn’t fazed by the furniture – the cushioned chairs and sleeping couch, ki’rhal table, the writing desk, with its various cubbyholes, nor the well-kept bed and clothing screen, depicting a blue-sky and rolling hills; the Lord was rather bird-like in tending to his nest, and used only this very furniture. The Lord summoned it always with a few taps of his cane, and often a harried remark – and the furniture always placed itself according to his Lordship’s desires.
Just as when he was only the gravedigger’s son – the resting places he was instructed to look after and prepare were always immaculate. Such was his duty as the pious son; his hands were the last many of the dead knew ere they entered the earth’s embrace.
Though the Marquis de Requesciat rivaled the Sarz’tien alone in power, Acella Kabak knew who truly would win, were there ever a battle of wills or weapons. There are none who have defeated him in ki’rhal, let alone battle. He had a good sheil’attahn, indeed. One who served well in giving the Marquis the proper tools and skills for his Calling.
I see he keeps still the ki’rhal set I made for him as a boy; a repayment of when his father was gracious enough to give Liandra and Tellen the burial they deserved, and I wished for, after the plague swept through the Dawn City.
“As requested, the zhon’gorrist Reltov Lett.” Acella Kabak introduced his entrance, slightly hoarse, cutting voice hammering into the once silent room.
Lord Marquis de Requesciat looked up from reading through a sheaf of papers which he held in his right hand, half-empty glass of wine set upon the table at his left – he sat upon the sleeping couch. He wore, as always, the twelve medals upon the left side of his jacket, though today’s color was red, with black scrollwork and cuffs, and a collared white shirt was worn underneath; black leggings were tucked into the same old pair of boots.
De Requesciat’s cane leaned against the couch seemingly of its own accord, strange black metal soaking in the light of the lamps, while the man himself reclined upon the cushioned surface, one leg over the other, relaxed. The ring of service, a band of silver that wound around the Marquis’ right ring finger, had a teardrop of pearl placed in the center, alongside a fang of onyx. Acella had never seen the Lord without that single piece of jewelry.
“Why do we wear the red and black, Lieutenant?” the relatively calm voice of de Requesciat inquired, as his black eyes looked upon Acella Kabak from over the papers in his hand. “To live, serve, and protect, when called; to never shirk from war against the Void, in all its forms; to lessen the suffering of all; to save those who would not otherwise be saved; to embrace Death, for all men must die. Karvasti un mandos.” Acella replied, reciting as he always did when asked. Not all of the Servants reside in the Cathedral; only the overzealous fanatics, those too docile for normal life, or those who play the game of tergiversation are given a place there. Those who are oath breakers.
De Requesciat only nodded his head, as he returned to reading – most likely a correspondence from his sibling. She is the only reason Jericho did not simply quell Mirkhan Sei’dar in the Gathering. The Sarz’tien should be on bent knee to Lady de Requesciat, but he is too proud, too arrogant, too sure of himself. No doubt –
I know full well of what you speak, Acella. And let it remain between the two of us, as we are both men who truly understand one another – Mirkhan Sei’dar will be slain only by my orders, and by my hand. Any other that dares will be stopped and executed swiftly, though I do not doubt the Sarz’tien’s proficiency in the arcane arts. He is sure to assassinate the assassin himself before the would-be-murderer even has a chance. However, unlike those foolish enough to try, I have the means to defy his spells and incantations.
Even at its first touch, the telepathic touch of de Requesciat had not shaken Kabak; nowadays it was normal for his Lordship to off-handedly comment or interject in Acella’s thoughts, but only when the two were in conversation, and only when it pertained to matters the Marquis wished to keep private between them.
I simply am biding my time, Master Sculptor - Death awaits us all.
Of course, Lord Marquis.
Leave us. Return when you are ready to take a regiment to storm Bha’rochel.
Knuckle to forehead, Lieutenant Acella Kabak turned and passed the zhon’gorrist, closing the door behind him. Acella departed, steel-shod legs thundering as he strode down the clean, well-kept corridor.
The door shut behind as Acella Kabak departed, and Marquis could feel the man’s presence drift outside of de Requesciat’s mental reach. His black eyes instead flickered upon the prisoner for a moment, before returning to looking at a letter from Lillith, which had arrived that morning. So Tovie wears his purple coat today? Or was he captured in that?
“I apologize, Tovie, if my soldiers were brutish with you. They are not kind to the unfortunate souls they capture alive. I had given Kabak strict orders to be the one who took you into custody, ere we stormed the walls.” The Marquis’ eyes read over the letter one more time, and he set the sheaf of papers and correspondences down upon the side table, reaching for the cup of wine. He stopped himself in time, grasping instead the pitcher, pouring his guest a glass, and handing it to the zhon’gorrist as the other man sat down in a chair opposite him, on the other side of the ki’rhal table.
“The Lieutenant slew four of your soldiers, Jericho. He was . . . profound in the manner with which he ended their lives.” Reltov brought a hand to his face, feeling once more the bruised bump on his left cheek, near his lip. “They were caught up in their bloodlust, I suppose. I paid a small price compared to some – I only have this to remember them by, and they smashed my zhon’gorra to pieces.”
“It was only until later that I realized that those soldiers were not like your Lieutenant. They wore your family’s sigil – the blue tabard with the silver spade and hammer – not the red and black armor. . .”
“The imbeciles who dared to touch you were a remnant of my past from when I was a younger, more foolish man, nothing more. I will bring a healer by to see to that cut, Tovie – it wounds my heart as surely as the wound upon your face ailed you.” I will have what Servants are among my ranks to cull the remainder. Quietly. I will not have more mistakes.
Instinctively, de Requesciat reached for the papers again, but thin, dexterous fingers stopped his hand, as Reltov reached across the ki’rhal table, knocking over a few of the pieces. “Jericho, settle. You’ve probably been reading over her letter since it came in. Stop worrying. She plays her role better than you’re imagining right now in that mind of yours.”
“Of course, Tovie. These past months since the Gathering have just been moving from city to city. I blame Sei’dar’s Consilium.” de Requesciat blinked his eyes slowly, exhaling as his hand left the other man’s fingertips. So soft. I will have to inquire Joar of constructing a zhon’gorra for this gentle soul. Otherwise I will lack the soothing notes of Tovie’s fingers upon the ivory keys, and of someone I can play my violin with such synergy.
“I have walked from Várond to Mon’thal, and all the filth-ridden, desolate towns going to and back across this damnable continent! And if I do not gain at least leadership of the Servants from the Sarz’tien for my service – along with the various bribes myself and Lillith will be holding out to puppeteer the greedy ones – then I’ll do it by force. You know who would win between Mirkhan Sei’dar and I, Tovie.” De Requesciat barked, as he clenched the wine glass, taking a drink. And I am far more a pious man than that ancient magus, though I bear the weight of my own sins.
“And what of us, Jericho? Your sister has no love for me, as you know. She is surely to use me as a weak point for you; or if she feels spiteful, she will give my name to the Sarz’tien, the Light be damned. I am not dying solely for your love, Jericho.”
“I would die for yours. And if she, or Sei’dar, damnation, if anyone dares to lay a single thought towards harming you whilst in my presence, I, the Lord Marquis Jericho de Requesciat, will not hesitate to breaking their mind, and taking their soul, and leaving those mongrels to be naught but empty shells. I knew the risk I took – we both did. I will not have you throw it all away simply for your own safety. See where that sort of thinking got you? Nearly killed, Reltov. Had I not known of you being here – had I not held you so dear to mine heart – my soldiers would have taken you. I trust your imagination can give you examples of what would have happened.”
“I have seen their brutality before, Jericho.”
“You and I both know that my Legion is feared for a reason, or else Sei’dar would have found another Servant for his machinations.” De Requesciat set the wine glass down upon the table, empty. He did not bother to refill it, instead bringing the strange, black metal cane to his right hand, fingers grasping like talons upon the silver sphere head. “And he knows that I could, with only a single order, take the Cathedral from him, and remove every single living soul from inside its depths, including him. If he does not, then he will – should he risk my wrath.”
Mirkhan Sei’dar might have been saved by the Rock, but just because he carved a pretty picture from a cube of voidsteel and overcame his blindness matters not. He is like any one of the Servants – mortal.
“Of course, Jericho.” Reltov only smiled as he finished his glass, setting it down on a small table on the right of his chair. Don’t smile like that, Tovie. De Requesciat kept his composure, but on the inside, he squirmed, as always.
“Do you know the legend of Karvasti, Tovie?” Jericho inquired, black eyes meeting the other man’s hazel. “I know only what I was taught, which is more than most Servants understand. Most only know the words, and the children’s tale.” De Requesciat smiled at Reltov’s shrugging of shoulders.
“Well, most know the words: Karvasti un mandos. Unfortunately, none of them bother with the etymology of the words. If you take the meaning from what the intended message is, then you get “to be unbound from fear,” though the more scholarly have done more research into the history of the phrase – it is new, compared to the majority of words which make up our spoken tongue, more or less. It only comes in focus after the Sundering, which, as anyone knows, is generally agreed upon by most historians as having been around two thousand years ago – yet no one truly knows for sure, as written records only appear showing the phrase five hundred years ago.”
“Even then, the word “karvasti” does not exist, save in that single phrase. Most likely, it is an abbreviation of some kind – for instance, “Daedar” meaning “the Builder of,” though we use it only for “the Builder.” If anything, it is probably a name, of some kind; unfortunately, beyond that, I cannot say.” Though any who have walked the Abyss, and spoken its tongue know full well what it means: He Who Is Not Bound By Fear - He Who Is the Wind. And all boys hear the legend of Karvasti, with his shining blade of light, who delved into the deepest darkness for who he loved dearest, fearing not even Death himself. An example of what it means to serve piously.
Does Quel’loyen know that he wields the Blade of the Dark Sun? Does he even know his fate? I pity the day he learns of it. . .
De Requesciat only shook his head, rising from the couch. “I understand you haven’t had much time to sit down and relax, Tovie, but I must ask that you walk with me. I keep no guards or servants; once I leave this room, you will be alone.”
Reltov Lett only sighed, a weak smile on his face, as he took the Marquis’ free left arm in his. They left de Requesciat’s temporal quarters, and kept a slow, steady pace after shutting the door behind them.
“I remember well the night they held the Midsummer Ball, here in the Koridoru Palace. I was among the orchestra. I saw you dancing with that one noblewoman – whose white gloves didn’t very much match her purple dress, but that’s another sad tale – and you danced so well. I nearly fumbled on the seventh movement of the piece we were playing, as caught up as I was in your grace and poise.” Reltov smirked as he let go of de Requesciat’s arm, walking beside him with ease.
“I cannot say that I remember that night all too well, Tovie.” Jericho replied, black metallic cane plunking softly against the white marble floor. “I had to attend an event, that any other day - I would have sent my regards, and avoided it like the plague. You know what it was like, dealing with those noble people, though I imagine they were far nicer to you. I can remember still as a boy the day Belfore nearly ran me over with his horse, and when I was unharmed, had his guards toss me into the mud. Needless to say, I repaid the favor in kind that night, which I relished utterly.” And I will never ride a horse, as long as I live.
“What would you say, were I to offer my sword arm to serve in your Legion, Jericho?” Reltov inquired, adjusting his purple coat, still walking steadily. “On the one hand, I would enjoy having you close to me – on the other, I would live in constant fear of what they could do to you, if they ever learned of us, Tovie. Even I must sleep, and I have many enemies. Too many; the only ones I can really trust are you, Neraen, and that fool Tal’shendar.” I cannot even find solace in my own blood.
“Damn it, Tovie. This campaign will likely be the death of me, mark my words. I have killed both men and Voidlings, ever since Quel’loyen Tal’shendar opened the Door, and brought ruin to the capital. All that even remains there now is the Tower, and Sei’dar ordered it abandoned, and had everything inside taken to the Cathedral, here in Várond.” Perhaps he realized that, of all the cities during the Sundering, only the Dawn City of Várond stood fast. It is the only one to have been unchanged by the turbulence of mankind.
What other secrets did you unearth from the Tower, Sarz’tien? You nearly broke Quel’loyen’s mind when he opened the Golden Door. I will not aid you as I did then – you will not have my knowledge of the language of the Abyss. And though the two of you could not read the runes and symbols upon that ancient device, I saw. I saw only Death. I will not weep for you, Mirkhan Sei’dar, when we finally collide. Yours is one grave I will not tend to.
“Do not descend in that manner, Jericho. You are a better man than that, though I imagine few will ever appreciate your work, bloody as it is. It is a duty few men have borne, but you have given stability. When Gorn came from the north and betrayed the Peace of Várond, Mirkhan Sei’dar did not set one foot outside of his Cathedral, nor stoop to bloody his hands, and save those who were slain. Those would not otherwise be saved. . .” Reltov shuddered for a brief moment, and Jericho did not need to break the promise he made to the zhon’gorrist, and enter Reltov’s mind, to know what the other man was experiencing.
“They killed Francis, Jericho. He refused to pay those mercenaries, nay, those slavering dogs, he called them. My own brother, Jericho. I didn’t watch the execution; I wept at Scherazade’s home. I heard his final curse to those who were less than men. She was kind enough to console me, and remind me of my oaths, reassuring me that I shouldn't give in to the desire to simply kill them all. Yet, what could I have truly done? I am only a zhon’gorrist who can barely be called a magician. I . . .”
The left hand of de Requesciat lofted upon Reltov’s left shoulder, and the Marquis brought the man close against him, releasing the cane from his right hand, embracing Reltov fully, bringing the man close against his chest. The twelve war medals tinkled their terrible song wistfully as Jericho moved to hug his only love.
Reltov’s wracking sobs echoed in the silent hall as he fiercely clutched the Marquis de Requesciat, head pressed against the man’s shoulder, tears darkening the red coat, as the zhon’gorrist broke down.
You bring me such peace, dear Tovie. I must only imagine the pain you feel, as we agreed ere this venture of ours began, so long ago.
A single, solitary tear ran down Jericho’s face, as he shuddered.
“Stay with me, Tovie. No one will ever harm you again.” The normally composed, regal tone Jericho usually had was cracked with sorrow, face twisted in rage.
And if anyone dares harm you, I will take their souls, and break their minds. Their very existence will be enslaved to my chains, and I will force them to endure such torment that will be far worse than how you feel now, dearest. For them, it will be eternity. Mirkhan Sei’dar will pay for his crimes. Never again shall you weep, Tovie, save in happiness, my sheil’a’laan – my beloved.
Though the Garden of a Thousand Fountains exists no more, we will find a place for ourselves to carve out a loving existence, Tovie. We can journey far from here – until the horizon rises to meet us, and then we can rest from our woes. Devote ourselves piously to tending to one another, sharing our lives in such a worthy paradise.
Karvasti un mandos.
The black metallic cane stood upright of its own accord where de Requesciat had left it, unmoved and unchanged, as its master and his lover wept softly, save for the occasional heart-wrenching sob, as the paintings and marble busts along the walls watched them with empty, cold eyes.
Spoiler ShowI owe everything to Reverend Daniel, God rest his soul. And, oh! What an honest soul he had!
Without him, I wouldn’t have the shirt on my back, the roof over my head, or the woman who stands by my side. Most importantly, I would never have found Christ, if the Reverend hadn’t found me. I really do owe him everything—my life, my livelihood, and my eternal salvation.
For years, I was in a swamp of mortal sin—a self-made swamp of drink and incontinence. My old father left me a house and a plot of workable land; all I wanted to do was sit idle, and pour it all down the hatch. I was so busy looking inward—at myself—that I never saw the big picture outside. What did my pa care about this old farmland of his? The man’s dead, I thought!
It had never occurred to me that it wasn’t just about my father.
I never realized that God had given this all to me, and to him before me.
That He, in His generosity, had drawn a plan especially for me!
All I could see was the bottom of my whiskey glass, and that’s all I was content with looking at. Ten years, I stayed looking into that whisky glass … and then the Reverend found me.
I had stopped in town for, well, something unimportant; my real reason was to restock my liquor cabinet. And as I stepped out of the store, arms full of brown bags and clinking bottles, a stray cat ran under my shoe. I tripped pretty hard, and watched this latest chunk of my inheritance fly through the air and shatter on the ground. After the fact, I knew that was the hand of God at work—but I was too mad to see it then! I was cursing up a storm, throwing bottles and slamming my fists.
I was so mad that I kicked my cart as hard as I could—which startled the horse, and sent him running a ways. It also loosened the wheel enough to fall off. (Once again, the Lord was punishing me for my temper.) Well, I just didn’t know what to do, until someone hands me a piece of the bottle I just broke…
Sure enough, it was “ol’ Reverend Dan,” as I called him back then. For a moment, I thought he was just going to rail at me about the sin of alcohol, about how I was drowning my soul in liquor … but he just starts helping me pick up all the mess I’d made.
“Reckon you need some help with that,” he says, and he starting putting all the broken glass in one of the bags. Just like that! And before I can say thank-you, he gets down on his knees and starts inspecting my wheel. His pants were pressed and clean, but he gets down in the dust all the same. The Reverend held the wheel in place while I hammered it back on the axel—and when I thanked him, all he said was,
“You’re welcome, Mr. Franklin.”
Back then, I didn’t think much of prayer—but even a drunkard could respect a man who steps out of his way, gets on his knees, and helps you fix the mess that your foolish self made. So I offered to take the Reverend back to my house for dinner. I didn’t even think about his wife and family, or any plans he had for the day; I just wanted to thank the man somehow. But ol’ Reverend Dan gave me a big ol’ smile, and said he’d be pleased to.
At my father’s old house, we got to talking…
About work, and wagon wheels…
And about my pa, and heaven, and God.
For the first time in my life, I felt genuinely afraid for my soul. I finally saw all the waste that I’d let build up around me, and that each drink was one step away from heaven. Reverend Daniel didn’t spare any words; but the entire time, he extended his hand to this poor sinner. He told me that Christ the Good Shepherd was waiting for me to return to His flock, and that he could help me find Him.
And I took his help, hardly knowing where to begin…
The first thing he says to me is, “Sam, I think it’s time you were baptized, don’t you?”
With the help of the Holy Spirit, he managed to haul me up to the front of the church, shy as a schoolgirl. I had started going back to Sunday service—off and on—but I had always stayed in the back pews, where no one saw much of me. Sitting back there, no one talked to me, and I didn’t have to look anybody in the eye. Well, the Reverend wouldn’t have any of that!
He calls me up to the front, and asks if I’m willing to accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior. In front of me, all I could see was a row of faces I hadn’t seen in years—all people who knew me as nothing more than a drunk. As a man who’d taken his father’s generosity for granted.
Reverend Daniel places his hand on my shoulder, and gives me courage. He just … whispers in my ear, Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” I kept those words in my mind, as the organ starts up, and the Reverend starts the baptism…
I’ll be a witness; I had never seen Reverend Daniel so fired up, and I never saw him so fiery since!
The Spirit came down on him, and he shook the demons out of me! He lifted his hand up—and raised his voice even higher—and called upon God’s grace. To lift me out of that swamp I’d been lying in!
He pitched his voice: “Samuel Franklin, have you sinned?!”
“Yes, I have sinned.”
“And that would make you a sinner, would it not?”
“Yes, I am a sinner.”
“Yes, you are—as are we all, Samuel! Now say it to the Lord!”
“Lord, I am a sinner.”
“Do not be ashamed to address the Lord! He leadeth you out of the shadow of death, and to greener pastures by his side! Say it to Jesus Christ, your Lord and Redeemer!”
“Lord Jesus, I have sinned. I’ve sinned … against you, and against your people.”
“He is welcoming you, Samuel! You’re in His arms; now confess your sins! Are you a drinker?!”
“I am a drinker.”
“Are you slothful?!”
“Have you disrespected your mother and father, in this earthly life or the life beyond?!”
“I … I have.”
“Then may you be forgiven, son! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I baptize you. Your soul is cleansed; your sins are forgiven! Bless you! Let us welcome Brother Samuel into our church!”
He struck me on the face—once, twice, three times.
Then the waters came rushing down.
Through the water streaming down my face, I could see all those faces—smiling at me. People were standing up, and clapping for me. The organ was whirring, and people were singing and clapping and…
All those pairs of eyes, seeing that they’d been right about me. Seeing me for what I was. All those people, to whom I’d admitted all my sins. It was a powerful sight. I’ve kept that image in my head, all my life.
I owe that to Reverend Daniel, too.
Since then, I came to love the Reverend like a brother. We kept up our tradition of talking over Saturday dinner, and we grew in each others’ faith. Some of the best conversations of my life took place over that dinner table— and some of the best laughs, too. After meeting the woman who would be my wife, they got only richer with time. With Christ in my life—and such good friends and family—I had finally found dry land.
And one evening, after dinner at the Reverend’s house, he asks me into his study. He closes the door behind me, and immediately tells me that he had gravely sinned. He tells me that he was being unfaithful to his wife … and that his mistress was a part of our congregation. And that she was now pregnant, beyond any doubt.
At first, I didn’t know what to think. The man who saved my soul was now straying from the straight-and-narrow path. I was dumbstruck…
Then I remembered the words at my baptism.
I’d confessed not only that I was a sinner, but that sin was the human condition. That it took willpower for even Revered Daniel to keep from sin. Who was I, to criticize this man—to rain judgment upon him? I was a sinner once, and I’m sure that I have sinned since. “Your sins are forgiven,” they say at baptism. And I was willing to forgive him, even if the others weren’t.
I started to tell him as much—and this grown man started tearing up, thanking me. He said that he would be going away to help with this child, after he confessed before the congregation. I was a good candidate for pastor, he said, until this thing was sorted out. I was only too happy to oblige.
He claps me on the back, and offers me a drink. Apparently he had some whiskey stored away in a cabinet, where his wife wouldn’t find it.
I look at the bottle, and again I think back to my baptism.
I still see the rows of faces, all smug in their judging me. I hear the organ whirring along, and Reverend Dan’s voice over the hum. He was standing over my head, calling me a drunkard. Calling me slothful and disrespectful. Moralizing.
How dare he?
So I took the bottle, and I struck him over the head—once, twice, three times. I baptized him in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; I forgave his sins, as he joined our Lord in greener pastures. And, believe me, I could see his soul rise—speeding towards heaven!