A tremble shook the stones beneath me and the cavern’s walls on all sides of me. Large chunks of rock disconnected from the ceiling and came crashing to the floor. The fall echoed through the cavern and blacked out most of the light my main mode of exit. One more complication in a slew of abounding difficulties. My horse had taken off as soon as I had arrived at the caves, unlike me, she wasn’t a fool and could sense something wrong. Now I was alone, trapped, hunted and slowly losing hope for life. Had I not made enemies none of this would be a problem. Unfortunately, as royalty bound to a warring country, there was no escaping the fact that people would abhor me, hunt me and kill me for their own desires.
Many years ago, before I gained adulthood and a mind of my own, my mother would tell me,
“Cassia, you are meant for more. The war will end. You will be free.” She was so wrong. My mother is dead. Our country is not free. I am as angry, frustrated and bitter as ever. And now, I am being pursued by the people who are threatening to overturn the nation of Yisrael. They have killed my mother, two brothers and sister. Now they are coming for me.
When they invaded the courtyard of the palace three hours ago, I was in the gardens with my father, heard the screams and saw my sisters’ throat being sliced in two. Father and his men gave me no choice but to escape on horseback while they went back to fight. Although Abba is a warrior, well-versed in the art of attack, he probably isn’t alive anymore. I have been thinking about that fact for what seems like an eternity.
What disturbs me most is that I think all these things with little emotion. I am numb, lost and exhausted. I am all the things a princess of the king should never be. But I am no hero, I am no savior. If anything, I need a savior. I need something to trust in.
I believe in Elohim, the Lord of my people. I think there is someone out there so much bigger than me. But I doubt the care and love all the religious leaders have tried to drill into my head. I’m not supposed to say that; my mother would never hear it. But I really do have questions. How could Elohim, the Creator of goodness and light, subject His people to such darkness as murder, pain and war?
I doubt Him.
Boom. Snap. Lightening, thunder. The ground and walls shake again, this time with more power. Another chunk falls from the ceiling and almost lands on my leg. I drop and roll, the rock clips the right side of my thigh, leaving a gash. I want to scream but can’t. If I am going to survive I will have to stay quiet. I will also have to move out of the caves. Unfortunately, relocating will most likely place me directly into the enemy’s line of sight. The sea was right below the cliffs. If I could make it there and run the perimeter into Galilee I would have more shelter. But could I make it?
Boom. Crack. Rumble. Dust, splinters and pieces of debris flew in all directions as a massive rock came crashing from the ten-foot ceiling and onto the stone floor. I needed to move. I edged my way to the opening where the first rock had crashed and peered out. A flock of soldiers stood at the perimeter of the water, scanning the cliffs for any sign of life. I quickly retreat back into the cave. If I walk into their line of sight I would be committing suicide. Unless… I swallowed hard and peered out again. No archers. Good. Well, better. My heart jumped as one of the enemy soldiers screamed at the top of his lungs in Greek. “Exerchomai! Come out!” My heart started to pound. I started sweating. They knew I was here. How did they know? Did they know which entrance I was in? If they wanted to, they would search until they harvested results. This army took no prisoners, ever.
Crack! Boom! Another rock clattered down from the ceiling. It wouldn’t be long before the entire structure was brought to nothing. I had seen it happen before, when my brother and I were exploring these caves. I picked up my robe, held my head high and stepped into the light. If I was going to die, at least I would die of my own volition. I would not be hunted down like an animal and killed for sport.
One of the men stabbed his finger in my direction. “There she is!” I stood frozen. I couldn’t run. There was no point in fighting. It was over. I was dead. Two of the men ran in my direction, grabbed my arms and yanked them behind my back. Their cord cut into my flesh as they zipped it tight.
“Where are you taking me?” The soldier cocked an eyebrow and looked me up and down but didn’t answer me.
“I demand to know where you are taking me!” His ringed finger slapped my face, slicing a cut into my cheek. I grit my teeth.
“I don’t care what you demand. No one does anymore. Let’s just say, it’s going to be a little surprise.” I clenched my jaw and stumbled along as they led me from my hiding place.
Boom. Crash. A peal of thunder boomed and flash of lightning ripped across the dusky sky. With a loud crash, the cave, my last piece of security, collapsed into pieces. An apt, timely metaphor of my life. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Everything that had once held me together had crumbled into jagged, cracked pieces.
All I can do is catch tiny glimpses while being dragged away. I glanced at the strong arm of one of my captures. What were they going to do to me? Without a doubt, it would be worse this way than if they had killed me. And there was no way I was going to free myself. Given the lack of control I now held, was it possible that all the pieces be fused together again?
I couldn’t help but doubt it.