by Joseph Linhardt, ©2003-2004

What does he mean? Peter wondered. What’s happened?

It was no good wondering about it. Resolvedly, Peter turned once again toward the slope. He climbed it with surprising ease, only slipping once or twice. He reached the top quickly and stood straight. He gazed with resolve in the direction Malachi had shown him and took a deep breath.

His battle was about to begin…

Bryan could only watch as he continued to lose. Ever since he had been taken by the demons, he could not win. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he told himself he would succeed, he knew he could never escape them.

He was powerless. They had taken control of his mind. Oh, Bryan could still, if he tried hard enough, try to shake them off but…never for very long. Once he had lost to them, it had all been over. He sat miserably in the prison of his weakness. He shook his head as he thought of the foolish attempt he had to fight them by his own strength. It had been a one-sided battle from the start.

Why can’t I stop this? he asked himself. Why? I’m a Christian. WHY!?

He tried again to leave the horrible prison, to defeat the demons. He pushed forward as hard as he could. He heard the familiar patter of their feet, and felt their familiar, evil power push him back. Bryan gritted his teeth and fought back, using every ounce of his will power and strength.

The battle of strength lasted only a moment before Bryan felt them throw him to the hard, stone floor gasping for breath.

Help…me…

* * *

Nothing met his intense gaze. Satisfied he was alone, Peter looked down the mouth of the cave. The darkness before him seemed to shimmer and shift as if it was alive. Peter hesitated, glancing uncertainly into the cave.

“Has God ever lost? You are his servant.”

The words of Malachi echoed through Peter’s mind. He took a deep breath and took one, short step into the cave.

He was inside. Instantly, the darkness seemed to wrap around him! His eyes could see nothing. An oppressive, evil blanket of darkness swamped! Peter felt as if he were being smothered! Panicked, he turned around, hoping to see the cave entrance.

Blank darkness met his gaze! He was trapped inside the cave!

What’s going on? What am I supposed to do?

These thoughts of despair crashed through Peter’s mind. What could he do? He was only a human against demons!

You are His servant…

Like a calm stream, these words flowed through Peter’s mind. The image of the angel shooting a ray of light into him, the memory of what he had done when confronted with evil at the ravine.

“Help…me,” came his small, shaking voice. The words came out slowly, each one an effort. “J…Jesus, help me!”

Immediately, a deafening noise, like rushing wind, filled the cave! A burning, pure white light illuminated the area around Peter. The darkness fled before the light and was driven out completely. Peter could once again see the cave entrance. Slowly, the rushing wind quieted. Everything was still.

Peter’s rapid breathing echoed around the cave. The first battle was over. Peter knew there would be more if he was to accomplish his task and free Bryan. The power of darkness would not let its captive go without a bitter fight.

Slowly, he turned and strode deeper into the dark cave.

* * *

Bryan sat up slowly. A strange, light-headed feeling came over him. He felt like someone who was finally recovering from a long, harsh sickness.

What’s going on? he wondered. He was still a captive. He could not escape, yet he no longer felt despair; something was about to change. He could feel it.

Will I…get out of here?

* * *

Peter found a short flight of stairs at the back of the entrance of the cave. He descended them quickly. Some inner feeling was urging him on, telling him to hurry. He did not know why, but he chose to obey it.

At the bottom of the stairs was a short, stone hallway. Torches lined the hallway, casting flickering, unsubstantial shadows. A single door stood at the end of the hall. But blocking the door stood a dark, tall being. Peter caught sight of the demon as he descended the final stair. He grinned insanely at Peter.

“Come to me,” whispered a soft voice that seemed to come from everywhere. The demon stared at Peter.

“You, come to me. You were a fool! You are in the heart of our power now!”

The vile thing produced a large bow and quickly notched an arrow to the string. A ghastly semblance of a smile crossed its face as it pulled the string back!

“Your strength is nothing!” it spat at him. “You cannot defeat us!”

Peter felt his strength falter as he watched, like a bystander, as the demon aimed its arrow at his heart. His arms would not move. His legs refused to obey his mind. He had no way to defend himself.

I…I’ll die here. The terrifying thought crept into his mind and took a chilling hold over him!

Suddenly, the words of Malachi blasted through his mind like a rocket!

“Has God ever lost? You are his servant!”

“His servant…” muttered Peter. A thunderous voice answered him.

“Yes, My servant. Now, defeat the evil one with the power I give you!”

A blinding light filled the hallway! The demon shrieked and raised its hands to shield its eyes from the intense, burning light! Peter closed his eyes and looked away, but he felt the light penetrate him. The heat of it radiated on his skin, but curiously did not burn. As if in a dream, Peter felt his right hand close around a slim, long handle. He felt two straps encircle his left arm, one at the elbow and the other around his hand. As he felt this, the light suddenly vanished. Peter opened his eyes and looked down at his arms.

His gasp of surprise echoed in the hard, stone hall. In his right hand, he held long, white sword! In his left was a triangular, pure white shield! He stared down at the weapons in amazement.

The demon’s hideous howl of rage jolted Peter out of his astonished stupor. He focused on his enemy and saw that he was once again drawing the string of the dark bow back! With a snarl, he fired its black arrow straight toward Peter’s heart!

But Peter was not defenseless now; he raised the shield as the arrow sped toward him!

Sssss Thunk!

The point of the evil arrow struck the shield and snapped! With a growl of rage, the demon prepared to fire another arrow. He brought the slotted back of the shaft to rest against the bowstring.

Peter did not waste a second. With a shout, he dashed forward, sword raised! A white beam of light flashed from its tip as Peter hurtled forward. The demon raised the bow once again, the arrow pulled taunt!

Ka-thunk!

Another broken arrow lay on the floor! With a triumphant shout, Peter leaped into the air and brought the shining white sword down on his foe!

CRRRACK!

With a cry of rage and pain, the demon staggered back, deeply wounded. The dark bow laid in two pieces on the floor. The demon glared hatred at Peter for an instant before a loud whirring noise filled the air! Wings expanded from the demons back and it flew through the solid rock and into the open woods beyond without disturbing a stone.

Peter closed his eyes in relief and lifted his face toward the sky he could not see.

“Thank You,” he said quietly.

Continue on to part 8

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