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The Village of Hope (part eight)
Kamali felt dizzy as she moved slowly away from the motley group. She walked fearfully toward the green light, praying that Ramiel and the others would succeed. Taking a deep breath, she pushed through the branches and into a clearing where the gnarled tree stood. Floating right in front of her was the statue.
"Good girl!" it loudly exclaimed. "You've come to me again, I see you have finally accepted your fate."
"Yes, I have." Kamali did her best to sound as though her spirit was broken. She hung her head and dropped to her knees.
"Excellent," said the demon, its voice saturated with malevolence. It circled around her, high with the marvelous prospect of torturing her. It laughed aloud with a macabre sense of delight, intently focused on its prey.
It lifted the whip high above its head, preparing for a dreadful blow.
There was a sharp whistling noise, the gleam of metal and a ghastly cr-r-runch. Ramiel's ax was firmly lodged in the back of the statue's head. The demon stared at Kamali in astonishment. Immediately, a barrage of blows rained down upon it. In quick succession, all manner of implements struck the statue so that it was immobilized. Chunks of stone flew through the air as the villagers bravely assaulted Kamali's nightmarish tormentor. The statue, however, awakened from its stupor and began to fight back. It lashed its whip and flailed its stony limbs, slashing and battering the bodies of Kamali's dear friends. But they fought on.
Slowly, painfully, they reduced the demon-statue to a pile of rubble. They stood around it, gasping for breath. Most of them were bloody, and everyone was covered in dirt and sweat. Ramiel walked toward Kamali slowly, stumbling slightly.
"It's over," he said softly. "You're safe now." He smiled weakly at her and then collapsed onto the ground, completely exhausted.
Kamali gently cradled his head in her arms. "Thank you, Ramiel." Tears of happiness fell from her eyes, wetting Ramiel's dusty hair as she embraced him lovingly.
The villagers buried the remains of the statue and burned the gruesome tree to the ground. No one from the village ever returned to that wicked place.
* * *
A young couple sat together in a canoe in the middle of a crystal clear lake. The leaves had turned, and puffy white clouds filled bold blue sky.
"It is so beautiful . . ." Kamali said, looking around at the colorful scenery.
"My favorite time of the year," Ramiel agreed.
"Thanks to you, I can truly enjoy it." Kamali spoke fervently.
"It was merely a trifle, beloved one." Ramiel had repeated this phrase many times before, whenever Kamali brought up the subject. "For you, I would do so much more. Anything; I swear it."
Kamali smiled. "I know." She was certain now that he would surrender his life for her, without hesitation.
They had both recovered amazingly well after the traumatic events of the past. Their hearts and bodies had healed: the blush had returned to their cheeks, they smiled sincerely, and laughed often. True joy filled their hearts. The love they shared wasn't perfect, but it was good, and it lasted for rest of their lives.