Part 17: The Encounter
I don't know how much later it is when I stop crying. It's been raining, and I haven't noticed. I'm covered in mud. I have a headache from crying so much, I'm worn out, tired.
I don't know what to do next. I can't go back to the Empire, they would terminate me on sight. I can't join the Resistance. I am estranged, no matter what I do. I have nothing to fall back on, no one I can trust. I have nothing.
Then, I hear a thump behind me. I scramble up, and see a figure in a red cloak. I am immediately transfixed by his violet goggles, for though they shield his eyes, they are as deep and expressive and wonderful as any eyes can be.
“Nicolai.” His voice! How can I describe His voice? “Why are you crying? What has happened to you?” I trust Him implicitly. How could I not? “My friend.....he died. To save me. I did nothing to deserve that. I, he was part of the Resistance. And I'm with the Empire, and we were trying to save this girl that I hated, but I don't even know if I hate her anymore, and her map broke or something, and we ended up here, and Tasha followed us, and they killed him.” I fall silent, not knowing what else to say.
“Nicolai. He died for you because he loved you.” “How could he love me? I've done so many bad things. I hurt his friends! I wasn't able to save my sister. And I didn't even want to save Aislinn until he talked me into it. And I hated her! I hated so many people, and I took revenge, and, and I don't deserve to have anyone die for me. He should have left me to die. He should have saved Aislinn and left me. I should have died instead of Danria.” This flood startles me. I've never said anything like this to anyone, barely even thought such a thing. But it felt utterly natural to tell Him everything, even things I didn't know myself.
“He loved you, not because of who you are, or anything you've done, but because of who I AM, and what I have done.” “What? What did You do?”
“I died for everyone in Aethasia, no matter if they loved Me or not, or if they even knew who I AM. I faced death, and defeated it. So that no one who truly knows Me will have to fear death. Ever again.”
I stand dumbstruck. Someone would die for people they didn't even know? That didn't even care about them? And then that Person could beat down DEATH to save those people?
“And I forgive you, Nicolai.”
“You....forgive me? Me? I don't, I don't deserve your forgiveness.”
“And yet, I forgive you. I love you so much more than you can imagine, and my forgiveness is an expression of that love.” My heart leaps. “I forgive you.”
Words cannot describe what I feel. Light, Joy, Love. Those are nothing compared to Him, and His forgiveness.
I am forgiven.