Not long ago, two children in Great Park made a quest: a boy who sought a way to walk through the thing he dreaded most and a girl who feared she had lost the One she loved most. And together they discovered the Kingdom within and without, which all do, who have the courage to make the quest.
The War of Fire had been won, but a terrible feeling of evil permeated Great Park. Dark beings seemed to lurk in every shadow and behind every tree and bush. A trial by fire was next.
“Oh, Mercie. It’s all my fault,” Amanda cried, after she had returned to the safety of Caretaker’s Cottage. “I did it. I disobeyed. Great Park has suffered because of me. We will never be the same. Never.”
Mercie rocked the blistered child in her arms and wept, too. She offered the girl the healing draught and applied a poultice. She prayed for kingslove, but Amanda did not receive any comfort. A raw wound festered deep in her soul.
Later that night, Hero hurried to the Ranger Lodge where council had been called. Caretaker, not the Ranger Commander, stood on the platform since there had not been time for becoming; but the elderly man’s eyes flashed bold in the old way. Not one Ranger doubted who it was in command.
“I know you are weary,” Caretaker shouted, loud enough so that those in the back of the hall could hear. “We are all weary. Battle is never in the heart of a peaceable people. We all long for peace. The War of Fire has been won. But now, now, our work begins. The evil ones may come again to Great Park. Protection has been breached!
“There will be no rest for protectors. More care is required after disasters. The Burners and Naysayers will grasp any opportunity to take advantage. Watch must be doubled. Our diligence must be threefold.”
The old man stopped. Hero watched as he lowered his head. He looked worn, ancient, and a little foolish. But the boy loved him with his whole heart…….. [Click LISTEN to hear Trial by Fire.]