Taken from The Returning by Rachelle Dekker. Copyright © 2016. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Returning (Seer #3)

Chapter 2

Remko could feel the vibration of each drumbeat through his heels from where he stood onstage. The wooden platform that backed up to the monstrous Trylin Mountain faced the gathering of every soul that called this simple city home. Everyone but Carrington, who was still nowhere to be seen, though the ceremony was about to start.

Remko knew his wife’s soul was on its own journey. Ever since Kennedy had been called to join the Seven. Their daughter’s calling hadn’t come as much of a shock to him; he’d long ago accepted that his children were not his own and that the truest form of love was in letting go. As he’d once done with Elise, he’d also learned to do with Kennedy. He often forgot, but as Aaron had so often drilled into their heads, the importance was in the remembering.

Now, as he stood before the city he commanded, before the people who had lived for this day when the prophecy of the Seven would be fulfilled, before a city that represented the freedom that came when you let go of your fears and trusted the Father, Remko remembered to hold no grievance against the woman he loved. For she also had to find the power in remembering.

Six drummers, three men and three women, worked the crowd with enthusiasm. They danced to the beats they played as they moved through the gathered people and toward the platform. Children squealed with delight and mothers and fathers beamed with joy. The coordinated pulse of the instruments shook them all with a vibration that signaled the start of a new era.

Remko caught sight of Carrington and Lucy approaching the stage from the left just as the final rhythmic string of joyful sounds was coming to a close. Lucy gave him a silly wink, as if to say it wasn’t a real party until she was fashionably late, and Carrington tried an apologetic smile as both women ascended the small wooden staircase and took their places onstage. Carrington beside Remko, and Lucy with the other chosen ones, making them complete. Seven in all.

The drums came to a thunderous conclusion and the city exploded into thrilled applause. The energy swept up and across the stage, and Remko let himself be taken with the spirit of what this moment represented. He reached out and grabbed Carrington’s hand to let her know all was well and drove both of his arms into the air, sweeping hers up with his, their fingers intertwined. The crowd’s applause grew and the entire mountain felt as though it were trembling with them.

Remko kept his hands high as the city rejoiced. He stole a glance at the woman beside him and she smiled—a genuine, full-faced smile that lit his heart and drove his excitement forward. Suddenly a great wind descended on the gathering, sweeping through hair and clothes, filling the city with hope and crushing the fears that lingered.

Remko closed his eyes and let the wind surround him fully, welcoming the renewal it brought. He lowered his arms as the wind lessened to a breeze and the people began to still. Stairs to the right of the platform creaked and Remko turned to see Aaron step onto the stage. They shared a knowing smile before Remko turned back to face his people.

“Trylin City,” Remko shouted, and the crowd once again rang out in applause. “We are gathered here today in remembrance. A single body, united by the Father, embracing the identity He calls us to.”

Cheers sprang up from the faces below as Remko continued. “We are here because we were called, as all people are, to discover the truth that lives within us, to acknowledge the heritage we possess, to lay claim to the identity that was given to us, and to grow in the truth of the light that is greater than all darkness. And now we send out those chosen to take that truth to the world.”

The crowd ignited with joy, their voices echoing off the stone faces of the mountain’s cliffs. Aaron grabbed Remko’s shoulder and shook it with excitement. His laugh joined the others and Remko himself let out a cheer.

Aaron stepped forward to address the crowd, and the people fell silent. “For many years you have heard me talk of this day. Many of you remember the moment when each individual on this stage heard the call from the Father to go. Go into the world and make believers of all His children. We must never forget that those inside the Authority City walls are members of our family, of our body, who have simply forgotten who they are. They are blinded to their own salvation, as all of you were once blind. But we will help them see!”

The crowd cheered again, the vibration setting the ground astir.

Aaron continued once the crowd had settled. “It is also important to remember the darkness that floods the streets now. The darkness these chosen Seven will surely face. Led by a tyrant, a man who believes his mind and power are greater than the light. His talons are submerged deep within the city, but do not let this stir fear within you. For the light that lives inside us is stronger than the darkness that lives inside him. He has tricked many into believing lies about themselves, because he comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but he will not be victorious.”

Aaron raised his fist into the air, and quickly all the people followed suit. Every person in the city, as one, lifting a single fist to the sky as an intentional calm fell over the gathering.

Aaron spoke. “To the earth and the Father who molded it.”

The crowd echoed back their response. “To the earth.”

“To the wind and the Father who guides it.”

“To the wind.”

“To the light and the Father who summons it.”

“To the light.”

“To His children and the Father who calls them His own.”

“To His children.”

“We acknowledge!”

“We acknowledge!”

“We accept!”

“We accept!”

Aaron paused, then shouted, “We believe!”

“We believe!”

As the last syllable fell from the crowd’s lips, a powerful energy grew from their combined cries and once again rattled the ground. Deep emotion echoed up through Remko’s chest and he pulled Carrington under his arm and to his side. He kissed the top of her head as Aaron crossed the stage to where the chosen Seven stood. Their faces glowed with honor and humility, all of them visibly itching to start out on the journey they had been called to.

Aaron waited as the crowd regained their quiet composure and then continued. “Each of you in the crowd represents a pillar of strength and support for those standing here who have been called to go. Join with them in spirit as we send them out with great confidence.”

Aaron made his way to the farthest end of the line and took the hand of Lucy Carson. Remko looked and saw Lucy’s younger sister, Rayna, beaming in the front row, tears of joy streaming down her cheeks.

“Do you accept the call set before you to follow the wind, honor the light, and know the Father who created them both?” Aaron asked.

Lucy smiled. “With pleasure,” she answered in her quirky way, and several chuckles rose from the crowd. Aaron reached into his pocket and pulled out a small silver medallion fastened to a leather necklace. Lucy tipped her head forward as Aaron placed the piece around her neck. Remko knew the medallion would serve as a reminder of where Lucy’s true identity lay, as the road ahead was sure to test them all.

Aaron then moved on down the line. Kane Brant, Remko’s nephew. His parents, Ramses and Lesley, watched with joy. Sage Avery, the middle daughter to an original Trylin City family, had been just a baby when the Seers had arrived here. Timmons Gilford, husband to Eleanor Lane, the daughter of Authority member Enderson Lane. Willis Lane, Eleanor’s younger brother. Eleanor would be saying goodbye to both of the men in her life. Davis Tollen, the only child of Wire and Kate. The boy had taken strengths from both parents. And finally, Kennedy, Remko and Carrington’s younger daughter.

Remko felt Carrington’s body tense as Kennedy accepted her call and received her medallion. Remko recognized his own reservations rising, but he knew the path set before his daughter was clear. The truest form of love was letting go.

With each member, Aaron had asked the same question and presented them with the same token as he gave his blessing and accepted their response. He then turned back to the crowd.

“You have taken part in the beginning of the new life that is to come. Let our faith continue to grow and our hearts be steadfast as this new chapter commences. Now, as these Seven have committed to you, so you too should commit to them. Let us celebrate these warriors, as in doing so we celebrate Him.”

Aaron again raised his fist high and shouted, “We believe!”

As one unit the gathering did the same, and as their words died off, the drummers began to play again. Applause and cheers rang out; parents and families of the chosen Seven rushed the platform and embraced their loved ones. Remko caught Kennedy’s eye, and she smiled as she moved through the gathered mass now on stage and into Remko’s arms. He held her tightly for a long moment before pulling back to see the light shining behind her eyes.

Kennedy turned to Carrington, her mother’s eyes already brimming with tears, and threw her arms around her neck. Carrington pulled her close, and Remko could hear Kennedy whispering. “It’s going to be okay, Mom. I’m going to find her.”

Remko’s heart faltered and he sensed the all-too-familiar fear creeping into his chest. The endless stream of questions that always led him to one ultimate question: What if she isn’t still alive?

He felt a pair of eyes on him and glanced up to meet Aaron’s stare. They held each other’s gazes for only a second, and then Aaron shrugged as if to say, Even now you can choose salvation over fear. The choice is always yours.

Remko grinned and shook his head slightly as Aaron let out a hearty laugh. He was right; even now the choice was his. So he would choose faith over fear and belief over doubt.



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