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Sam led the way as they stopped at an open trail. “You had never met Rita before today?”

“Not once. I had heard stories about her but never met her.” “I’m glad you had the chance.”

“I’m grateful to have known you and Sarah, and for the opportunity to meet Rita. This has been an enlightening day for me. Thank you, Zak, for everything.”

“I haven’t done anything yet, Sam, but God willing, I’m going to do what we came here for.”

“What do you think you and Sarah will decide to do?”

“We’re destroying the heart, it’s the only certain way to save Eden, our aunt, uncle, and everyone in the valleys. I’m sure Sarah will agree. I’m so sure that I won’t even mention the other option to her. I don’t want to confuse her or give her doubt that we can’t destroy the heart.”

“If that’s the way you want it, then I won’t say a word either. Now, let’s go, your sister awaits,” he said as they walked into the trail.

“How far away is the mine she’s in and how close to Sargon’s camp is it?” he asked hurriedly.

“We’re a few miles from the mine and it’s only a couple of hundred yards from Sargon’s camp. If we hurry, we can make it by dark. The children in the mines sleep from dusk to dawn and the demons take breaks in shifts.”

“The demons take breaks… you mean they work too?”

“They work outside the mines, transferring the ore to the blacksmiths in carts about fifty yards away from the mines. They also guard the youth that are working inside the mines. I observed them and their work habits so I could help some of the youth escape a few weeks ago.”

“You helped them escape?” Zak asked as he smiled. “Did a lot of them escape at once?”

“Only a handful at a time, but we managed to take out a few demons while I helped them,” he said, grasping his sword and smiling.


“Yes, me and my escape squad.” “Escape squad?”

“Yes, we have troops waiting in line, willing to do whatever it takes to stop Sargon. We have specially trained tribesmen to help the captured youth escape. Specially trained tribesmen for hand-to-hand combat against the Horrids. And specially trained tribesmen to fight against Sargon’s mounted beasts. And when I say tribesmen, I mean men and women, Zak. Here in the forest, we are all one.”

“I like that you’re all one. Your army sounds pretty strong, Sam. Did you train them yourself?”

“I helped. A lot of the training came from my brother, Dan.

He’s quite the warrior.”

“Well, if he’s anything like you, then your armies are in good hands.”

Sam smiled. “Thank you.” They continued trekking through trails towards the mine and both wondered if destroying the heart was the right decision. The trails came to an end, and they stopped for several minutes waiting for another trail to open.

Once it appeared, they entered it and saw a field in front of them. At the end of the field were two demons kneeling next to a large hole. Sam took Zak’s arm and knelt, forcing Zak down quickly so they wouldn’t be spotted.

“There’s a vine wrapped around a boulder that’s dropped down into the hole, that’s how they enter the mine from the top,” Sam whispered. “The hole they’re guarding leads to the mine Sarah’s in. I’ll distract the demons and you use the vine to drop down the hole and find her.”

“Got it,” he said as he turned to Sam, who was already on his way toward the demons. Sam turned to look at Zak, “Careful, looks like they doubled the guards, I think they’re expecting us. They’ll be demons in the mine too, probably more than usual because they want to capture you too.”

Zak crept closer to the hole, waiting for Sam to engage the demons. He was kneeling about thirty feet away in the high grass when Sam jumped out of the brush behind them and ran his sword through one and quickly pulled it out and ran down the field past him. The demon turned to ash and disintegrated. The other demons drew their swords and ran after him. Zak ran to the hole and eased himself down the vine. He let loose and dropped a few feet, looked around, and saw six demons hovered in a corner and slowly sneaked past them and rounded a corner and saw Sarah sitting up, sleeping against the wall of the cave. Thomas and Benny were next to her, and several others lined the wall and were all asleep.

He eased his way to Sarah and touched her arm to wake her up. Her eyes opened slowly. She saw Zak in a fog, barely awake. When she realized it was Zak, her eyes lit up and she snarled, embarrassed she was captured. She stood up quickly. He put his finger to his lips and motioned for her to follow him. When they passed Thomas, he opened his eyes and grabbed Sarah’s leg, which startled her. She didn’t make a sound and looked down at him, he let go and stood up. Zak had turned around and Sarah quietly introduced them. They shook hands and Thomas told him he and a few others were planning to escape in another hour

when the guards were all outside.

“We can’t wait that long,” Zak said in a low whisper. “We need to get out now.”

“Suit yourself, but it’ll be safer in an hour.” He let go of Zak’s hand and explained to him how all the guards went outside every night at the same time. Then they planned to climb up the vine and out of the hole, fight off the guards there, and run into the forest for cover.

“Your plan won’t work, Thomas,” he whispered. “The demons are everywhere in the forest, and it was difficult getting in without being seen. We have help outside waiting for us, so you can come with us if you like.”

His eyes shifted to Benny and back as he thought about it, he knew he couldn’t leave his brother. “No, I’ll stay here and wait for the guards to leave and take my chances with the others.” He sat down to pretend he was sleeping and knocked over a shovel. The shovel handle hit Benny on the head, he woke up and said, “Ouch!” loudly, rubbing his head. The guards heard him and one of them hurried around the corner to investigate. He saw all the workers, including Zak, with their heads down sleeping against the wall. Zak leaned against his sword, hidden from view. He walked past them, looking around, grunted, salivated, snorted twice, and walked back to the others.

“That was a close one,” Sarah whispered. “I know we need to hurry, but I think we need to wait for the guards to leave and go up with the others.”

“You’re right, Say, too many people here to endanger if something happened. Sam will be waiting outside. He'll help us when we need it.”

They sat quietly, eyes closed, and prayed for protection and success for their escape. They finished praying and waited patiently for the guards to leave. A few minutes passed and all was quiet except for a few snores caused by dust in the mine air. Then they heard several grunts coming their way. They dropped their heads low and pretended to sleep as the guards passed by. Thomas was already standing and helped Benny up. The

twins climbed to their feet, turned, and saw the rest of the workers in the cave stand and form a single file line. Thomas put his arms up and reminded everyone to be quiet, motioning with his finger to his lips. He turned and walked quickly towards the twins who were at the hole. They climbed out, one at a time, Zak first to make sure it was clear, and Sarah followed. Climbing the vine was easy for Sarah—she was grateful for her strength and gave thanks to God as she climbed. Sam was waiting for them outside the hole. He smiled at Zak and led Sarah to an open trail.

Zak helped the workers out of the mine and pointed toward the trail where Sarah was waiting for them. She was at the trail’s entrance, motioning everyone in. Zak stayed at the hole to finish helping everyone out. He looked down the mine and saw Ruby in line, waiting to get out. Behind her was Shy, Run, and Airo at the rear of the line. Zak smiled and climbed down to meet them. They recognized him immediately and they quietly hugged in a circle. “Thank God you’re alright,” Zak said quietly.

“We’re so happy to see you. Is Sarah with you?” Shy asked. “Yes, she’s guiding captives into a trail to escape.” He


Zak pointed up and they all climbed out and ran towards the trail Sarah was standing by. Zak climbed up last and started toward the trail and, suddenly, a guard appeared from behind a boulder, then another. They blocked his escape route. More guards ran from around the mine and joined them in the tall, grassy field. Zak shouted, “Run to the trail! Everyone, run as fast as you can!”

They all turned to see the guards and quickly ran towards Sarah and Sam. Zak drew his sword to defend himself as he watched the guards surround him. No one attacked him—it was apparent they didn’t want to harm him, only capture him. One guard ran toward him and threw a net over him, and Zak fell to his knees. Zak struggled to free himself as the demon warriors slowly moved in a circle, stepping on the net to keep it down. Sam ran to help, and Sarah turned to the youth in the trail and

told them to stay there. She started to run towards Zak and Sam. There was a guard hiding in the trees next to Sarah with a net. As she turned to run, he threw the net over her. Sarah fell and Airo and Run saw Sarah and tackled the guard. The Horrids dropped his sword and Shy picked it up. The guard grabbed her ankle and pulled her down. She tossed the sword to Airo, who quickly pushed it through its chest. It turned to ash and disintegrated. Sarah ran towards Zak and Sam.

At that moment, Sargon appeared on his saber-wolf in the middle of the field. Cyrus appeared on the opposite side of the mine. They raced towards them, swords in hand, Sargon hollering to the guards not to let Sarah get close to Zak. The trap they set worked Zak was surrounded, and Sarah wasn’t near enough to touch him. Sargon and Cyrus swore at God out of pride as they rode closer. They thought they had trapped the twins and would soon interrogate and kill them, knowing they were the only hope for the Remnant Forest.

But Sam, thinking quickly, attacked the guards. He stabbed one in the chest as it turned to fight him, pulled his sword out, and sliced another one at the knees, who fell forward and couldn’t get back up. Sam turned to face another guard as Sarah tried to run past the fallen demon, but it reached out and grabbed her leg. She looked down at it, getting a good look at the ugliness it truly was. It salivated over its puffy dark lips, stared at her through empty black eyes, and she could see its face was bubbled with black warts and red sores. Sarah kicked it with her other foot repeatedly until it let go. Sam was grabbed from behind by the guard Sarah had escaped from. Another guard raised his sword to stab him, but Sam raised himself up against the guard, holding him, and kicked the oncoming guard backwards with both feet. He shook himself loose from the guard and continued to fight. Sarah dove for Zak’s outstretched hand through the net.

They grasped hands, closed their eyes, and prayed the same words, “Jesus, please help us,” over and over. The Mighty Angel appeared and flew around the Horrids quickly and fought them

valiantly. He took their weapons from them when they tried to strike him and struck their heads with their own ax hammers, stabbing them through their chests with their own swords until the squad of demons all fell to ashes and disintegrated. Sargon and Cyrus stopped abruptly when they saw the Mighty Angel Jacob appear and turned and rode away quickly, knowing they were no match for the Mighty Angel at that time. They knew they needed to be stronger and more powerful, which would happen when the final battle took place.

When the angel finished, there were a dozen less Horrids in the Remnant Forest. All the workers watched from the trail and were astonished. They looked at one another in disbelief and watched the angel soar to the twins. He floated behind them for a moment, spread his wings wide, and slowly closed them. He caught Sam’s eye, smiled at him, and faded away. Airo, Shy, Run, and Ruby watched the Mighty Angel disappear over their cousins’ heads and were surprised but not disbelieving. They knew for a long time they were special in God’s eyes and accepted the fact that they had a Mighty Angel as a companion.

Zak spoke loudly so everyone could hear him, “There will be more demons coming soon. Everyone, into the trail before they see us.” They all ran into the trail, astonished at the twins’ angel, his strength, his fighting ability, and his wings. They hurried into the trail, and it closed just as more demons arrived at the hole.

Chapter 35

 Zak, Sarah, and their cousins quickly greeted each other with hugs, grateful to see one another again. Sarah and Shy hugged for a long moment but knew they had to move quickly and cut their reunion short. The thirty-three mine workers, Sam, Zak, and Sarah made their way down the trail, each one following closely behind the other.

Sam spoke up, “I looked for traps, extra guards… anything that looked like it would be too dangerous to attempt a rescue, but I didn’t see anything.”

“That’s alright, Sam,” Sarah said. “You fought valiantly and was able to clear a path for me to get to Zak.”

“Yeah, Sam, if it wasn’t for you, we’d be in Sargon’s camp being interrogated right now. Thank you for your quick actions,” Zak stated.

Sam looked at everyone in the trail. They looked tired and dirty, but all had smiles on their faces from being rescued. “Time to pray,” he announced. They all bowed their heads and Sam prayed aloud. He thanked God for the opportunity to save the youth in the mines and for guiding them successfully through the attempted trap. “Amen,” was heard all around and Sam spoke up again.

“Okay, let’s get going, we have a lot of ground to cover.”

The twins and Sam led the way, and the smiling, dirty, tired youth followed their new heroes closely. It was decided that Airo, Run, and Thomas would stay at the rear for added protection. The twins and Sam whispered to one another as they talked about what to do with the rescued captives. They couldn’t leave them alone and had no time to take them to the city. Then Sam had an idea… “There’s a friendly camp on the other side of the mountain river where tribesmen and rescued youth work to make weapons for our armies. We can take them there and leave them to help with the weapons.”

“Great idea, Sam. How close are we to the river?” asked Zak. “It’s just a trail and an open field away. It shouldn’t take too

long to get there as long as we’re not interrupted by Horrids.”

Just then, the trail ended, only brush in front of them. Sam looked around, carefully examining the brush and trees around them. Twenty minutes passed and no trail appeared. Sarah watched Thomas as he looked around the trail behind him and on each side of the workers, impressed with his devotion to safety for them. She also liked his dark hair, thick brows, and bright smile but knew not to get attached to him because she knew what was coming.

Sam thought for a few minutes and spoke up, “I believe I know why we’re at a standstill. The forest is waiting for the demons to pass. It’s not opening another trail because it’s not safe for us to continue. They’re probably stopped and waiting for orders from Sargon. We must wait patiently, quietly, fearlessly… the forest will open another trail when the demons move on.” They all nodded at Sam. Then, to their surprise, a window opened behind him. He turned around and peeked into it. He saw an open field about a hundred yards both ways and a river at the other end. He stepped through the window and took a few strides forward and looked around. He turned and motioned for them to follow. Sarah looked around, suspicious. She felt a disturbance in the air—something wasn’t right.

She tapped Zak on the shoulder, “Something’s wrong, there’s

something in the air that’s not right.”

“I feel it too, I think there may be demons near us. We better hurry.” Zak picked up the pace and ran up behind Sam.

“Something’s wrong, Sam, we need to hurry… we think there are demons near us.”

“Okay, let’s get to the river and cross it quickly. Demons can’t swim well, so let’s hope there’s a trail open on the other side of the river.”

“Zak, look!” Sarah pointed to the sides of the field. Demons appeared and lined each side. “We have to run.”

“It’s a trap, Sam. Grab a young one and let’s get out of here.” They each ran to a youth. Airo, Run, and Shy did the same, they picked them up and ran to the river’s edge. The Horrids attacked from each side. Unable to run fast, they hurried their steps towards them, grunting, salivating, snorting, and wielding their weapons high.

They ran as fast as they could, carrying the younger ones. Thomas tried to pick up Benny, but he stumbled and fell, rolling over on his side momentarily. He climbed to his feet, picked up Benny, and ran toward the river. The group was twenty yards ahead of him and he pressed his limit. He ran faster than he’d ever run and caught up with them at the river’s edge. Sarah turned and looked behind her, she saw Thomas run and catch up and smiled at his determination. The group momentarily stopped. They were in awe as they stared at the river.

“Wow!” Zak stated loudly in disbelief.

“C’mon, everyone, quickly… we have to get to the other side of the river.” Sam hollered as he waved his arm for everyone to follow him. They continued to stare at the river’s sides. The river had parted, and the sides were standing up like a wall of water. They ran across the wet bottom as quickly as they could. Still in awe, they ran with their heads turning from side to side, hoping to make it through before the water collapsed.

The demons arrived at the river’s edge and stopped abruptly. They turned around and saw Sargon riding towards them, they looked up at the wall of water, and fearing Sargon’s wrath, they

entered the river just as the escapees climbed out of it a hundred yards away. They hurried across the river bottom but began to sink into the wet bottom about fifty yards in. They pressed on and made their way across slowly, lifting their feet out of the mucky bottom. When the last of the demons pushed their way into the river bottom, the wall of water collapsed on them, turned to rapids, and washed them down quickly. They couldn’t drown but the river took them to the other side of the mountain and deposited them in a lake next to a tribesmen army camp. The tribesmen saw them trying to swim out of the water and quickly gathered on the shoreline. They pierced their bodies with spears and arrows as they tried to climb out. The entire company of demons turned to ash and disintegrated.

A trail opened for the thirty-three and Zak and Sarah set their younger youth down and ran up to Sam. They stayed at the edge of the river waiting for everyone to enter the trail. They turned to each other and smiled, realizing that Sargon hadn’t set a trap for them, but the forest had set a trap for the Horrids. They looked across the river and saw Sargon sitting on his beast, staring at them. He wielded his sword and grunted and groaned loudly. Unbeknownst to the twins, their angel was above them, showing himself to Sargon. His wings were spread wide, and he was smiling at him. “One day soon, we will meet, and you will be no more!” Sargon exclaimed in an angry voice. Then turned and rode off hurriedly across the field.

“We did it, Sam,” Sarah said excitedly. “That was a close one.”

“Yeah, good thing the forest is on our side.”

“You can say that again,” Sam stated. “Now let’s catch our breath and move forward… we’re almost there.”

All was quiet except for heavy breathing and an occasional cough from running. “What do you mean we’re almost there?” Sarah asked. “Do you know something we don’t?”

Sam looked at Zak while Sarah waited for his answer.

“I said what I said to give them hope so they’ll be strong and

persevere and if I’m right and I think I am, the friendly mine is nearby,” Sam said.

Zak thought about it for a moment. “Good idea,” he said, patting him on the back. Sarah agreed and smiled at him. Then she turned and saw Thomas looking at her. He smiled and she smiled back.

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