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Part Two and Three of the Glass Castle Series



In the lookout tower on the Castle of Love, one of the watchmen held the high powered binoculars to his eyes and slowly scanned the desert waste that spread out before him right to the distant horizon.

Do you see any activity?” The young soldier at his side asked.

The watchman handed the binoculars over to him and pointed. “See that little group at just slightly less than one-oh-five? They seem to be wearying of the way.”
                “Shall I send a dart? One of Agape's darts?”

The watchman shook his head. “No, not yet; hook up the sound waves and we will see if we can catch what they are saying.”

                “Sir?”

                The watchman was intently scanning the desert once again. He looked over the glasses. “Yes?”

                “I recorded the conversation. It is rather faint and staticy in places, but see what you think of it.”

                The watchman adjusted the earphones and turned up the volume, and this is what he made out.

                “Look, everyone, I think there is a castle over yonder.”

                “Sorry, Fiona. That’s just a mirage. There are no castles in these parts.”

                “But what if it was. Just what if! Then we could find rest and shelter.”

                The watchman whipped off the earphones, eyes shining; “Shoot a dart, shoot one of Cupid’s darts,” He cried, “But aim true!”

                Daniel’s hand trembled as he shot not once, not twice but three times! Others crowded around and watched in breathless suspense as the darts glistened and soared in the dry summer’s heat.

                One dart had hit its mark; Fiona’s breast. They exuberantly clapped each other on the back while Daniel snatched up the ear phones and someone else the binoculars.


                Fiona’s hand pressed against her chest. “I felt such a warmth come over me when I spoke of that castle, just now. Kelsey let’s try to find it. Maybe it is a true haven. It looks so beautiful as if the light diffuses from within.”

                Kelsey picked up another dart; it still had a slight glow and was warm to the touch.

                “You maybe are right. I also am weary of this desert land.” But he hesitated, and then threw the dart down. The others had already started to walk on ahead.

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                Daniel whirled to face his Captain. “May I go? May I rush over there and lead them to safety?”

   The Captain was pleased with the youthful enthusiasm. “Go, lad, but remember to use much tact and discretion. They are used to their old ways and may not be eager to change. ”

                The other young recruits leaned over the balustrade surrounding the tower and watched him march swiftly through the gathering darkness, his trusty lamp held high as he traveled.

                 “It’s dangerous out there,” Simon observed.

                “Yes, but he is following instructions, and not going out on his own,” James reminded him.

                Simon nodded as they watched the tiny prick of light grow smaller then leap high when Daniel reached the small group who were sitting on boulders and eating their lunch.

                “May the King bless his efforts,” The watchman murmured with moist eyes, while the others nodded in agreement.

Not everyone in that lovely glass fortress was so enthused to be there. On a lower floor, in a back corner of the basement to be exact dwelt two naysayers who rarely mingled with the others. That their section of the glass wall had gotten smudged goes almost without saying. After all they didn’t want to be there, so why should they waste their time polishing windows?

  Gilbert and Arthur laid out their game pieces to plan their strategy. “We will be cut off from friends and family if we leave,” Arthur pointed out, moving one of his men.

                Gilbert shook his head. “They’ll get over it. They’ll be disappointed and heartsick of course, but we’ll keep in touch.”

                “If we can.”

For a few minutes all that could be heard was the shuffling of game pieces and the occasionally squeak of a chair.

                “They say that the Outside World is flat and there is a tremendous drop off at the edge.”

                Gilbert grimaced. “And that we will fall and fall and never stop falling even while being engulfed with flames.”

                “Sounds scary.”

`”Sure it does, but we’ll stay well away from the drop off point—if there is one.”

Granddaddy says one can be sucked in quite unexpectedly just about anywhere.”

                “How does he know?”

                “He was there, and escaped by the skin of his teeth as it where, when a friend was sucked in.”

                “We’re sitting here scaring each other. That desert looks so attractive with the setting sun lighting it up and we are much too confined in here. Let’s just go. We can always come back.”

                Gilbert swept all the game pieces into a cloth bag and tossed it on to one of the cots.

                “OK, let’s go.” They let themselves into the hall way and looked both ways before continuing.

                “Where are you going?” a sister paused while scurrying down the hall with a tray for an invalid. “It’s almost suppertime.”

                “We’ll soon be back,” Gilbert answered evasively. She leveled a thoughtful look at them but didn’t try to block their way.
                “Let’s try to go out by the concealed trapdoor. That way we won’t be noticed by so many.”

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                “Help!” Arthur yelped, “I didn’t know the descent was so steep!” They looked over the embankment, almost chickening out.

                The castle was built on a cliff with slick embankments on all sides. “I didn’t mean to descend so rapidly,” Arthur muttered a moment later, trying to keep his balance while slowing his pace.

                Windows flew open here and there!

                “It’s Arthur! Looks like he’s in trouble!”
                “And Gilbert! Throw out the lifeline!”

                “No, no, that’s okay,” Gilbert retorted grabbing on to a thick, twisted root that reminded him ominously of a huge snake. “We’ll make it.”

                Prayers ascended up to the King while they picked their way carefully down the steep embankment but they didn’t listen.
                “It’ll be better after we get on to level ground,” Gilbert muttered half to himself. He took the liberty to glance back. My, the castle had never looked so beautiful…so strong…and secure…before.

                He mentally shook his head; but it is too confining. I want to see what the Outside World is like.

                 From time to time they heard someone calling them from the sheltering walls above but mostly ignored them. They were fine. They didn’t need any help.

Very soon another type of help appeared. From below many hands reached out to give them assistance. If the boys were surprised or even cynical about receiving help from those who used to ignore them, they didn’t show it.

              Daniel had been sitting and chatting with Fiona and Kelsey for well over an hour when the others came to see what was delaying them. One or two paused to listen momentarily but turned away. Eventually Fiona offered Daniel a drink, but he declined, saying he had brought his own along.
                They visited late into the evening, and Daniel accepted the invitation to spend the night with them. Fiona discretely watched him long after the others had retired to their beds of ease. As Daniel knelt beside his simple straw pallet he was pressing something to his heart. It seemed to be emitting sound waves that give off a faint glow. By ducking from behind one huge cactus to the next, she was able to get closer, and soon understood that Daniel was communicating with the King from that far distant castle. Something about watching and listening to him warmed her heart even though she couldn’t understand the dialect. She crept off to bed, resolved to learn more about the King, the castle and the people in it.
                Several hours later Kelsey woke up. He wasn’t sure what had jarred him out of his slumbers, but he lay there stiff and tense, listening for the faintest sounds. There seemed to be a scuffle going on outside his tent. He crept to the door and opened the flap. It took him a moment to recognize that Daniel seemed to be in a life and death struggle with someone who was huge and menacing; dark and ugly. 


 Even while he watched, he noticed that Daniel’s armor, which had been invisible up until then, was glowing brightly and Kelsey marveled how distinctly he could see the different parts. He wore a helmet with the word Salvation emblazed in gold across it, and his breastplate was stamped with the symbol for righteousness.
Kelsey sighed; how I wish I could have such beautiful armor! The battle wore on, and Kelsey worried that Daniel would weary against such a terrible enemy. He noticed Daniel stop to take a few quick swallows from his water of Life flask, which invigorated him. When the light was dawning in the eastern sky, the evil giant slunk away into the shadows, and Daniel could rest.
Kelsey lay awake, thinking of what he just saw and a longing filled his bosom to become that strong a soldier in a Worthy Cause.
Eventually Daniel was called to service in a different area, and although he more or less lost touch with Fiona and Kelsey, he frequently sent prayer darts their way and trusted that the King would see it to that at least some of them would reach their mark.

            One day Kelsey chanced to meet a young man who looked vaguely familiar and he took an instant liking to him. It didn’t take long before he realized that they had never actually met, but that James had an inner serenity that radiated from within just like Daniel did. Because they both knew Daniel, it was easy to strike up a conversation. Kelsey soon learned that Daniel was serving on a distant island very close to the Edge of the World where the enemy had much power. That touched Kelsey’s heart. He really must be filled with compassion if he is willing to serve in such a lonely and difficult sphere.

            James and his young wife, Marissa, sometimes invited their new found friends to do things together with them, and in the process of time, Kelsey and Fiona found themselves gazing more often at that splendid castle on the Hill.

            “It seems so lofty and difficult to reach,” Fiona murmured one day.


            “It’s really not as hard as it appears,” Marissa countered. “There are always guards on duty that will roll out rope ladders whenever a sincere seeker wants to enter.”
            “Why don’t they keep the ladders down at all times?” Fiona asked.

            James and Marissa exchanged glances.

            “Haven’t you noticed?” Kelsey asked. “The cliff is swarming with enemy soldiers who are constantly striving to get in.”

            Fiona’s face fell, and the embroidery that her hands were occupied with went limp.

            Marissa gave her husband a questioning look. What is Fiona concerned about.

            “Enemies are constantly bombarding the fortress,” James explained, soberly. “It’s all in a day’s work. “

            “Aren’t their terrible losses?” Fiona asked in a hushed voice.

            “There are losses, yes, but mostly when someone goes out feeling over confident and doesn’t follow the King’s instructions or neglects to wear every piece of the armor that he has been commanded to put on.”

            “They don’t always die, though,” Marissa added quickly. “Sometimes they are rescued in time and recuperate in the infirmary.” She was relieved to see Fiona’s tense features relax. 

            Marissa stiffened, “Look, James, look over there. Is that not Gilbert? “
            “Gilbert? Gilbert who?”

            “Don’t you remember Gilbert? He’s the one that left---“

            “With Arthur! “ James snatched up his dart gun and shot a prayer over to the plodding traveler. He grabbed his binoculars while Kelsey and Fiona watched fascinated.

            Gilbert’s hand reached up to his chest. He sighed. What wouldn’t I give to be back in the Castle once again? There I knew security and peace. I have wandered for many a day and chased many mirages but none have satisfied like the life I used to know in that beautiful castle.

            Arthur is long gone. It wasn’t long, before we got in a fight and parted ways. Who knows where he might be by now.

            In an instant James was at his side with the others joining them shortly.

            “Why, Hello, Gilbert! Fancy meeting you here!”

            “Long time no see!” Why can’t I remember the fella’s name? I’m sure we have met somewhere.

            “Gilbert, meet my wife Marissa and some friends of ours, Kelsey and Fiona.”

            Gilbert tried hard to hide his bewilderment with smooth, socially correct phrases, but simply could not place the guy.  Marissa sensed his confusion, so decided to drop a hint,

James, didn’t you and Gilbert go to school together at the Castle back in ’84 and there abouts? “
      “We sure did. “ James clapped his hand on Gilbert’s shoulder and with moist eyes continued; “We have sure missed you, Gilbert. Wouldn’t you like to come back?”

            They seemed to have forgotten that Kelsey and Fiona were there, observing.

            Gilbert hung his head.

            “The King has sent out many messengers searching for you,” Marissa added softly.

            “I know,” His voice was almost inaudible.

            Fiona bit her lip and wondered why her eyes were so wet. Kelsey reached for her hand and clasped it as they backed slowly away from the intensely private moment.

            “That is where we belong,” Fiona murmured lifting her eyes to the glass castle radiant with an inner beauty.

            “I know,” Kelsey declared. Gladly would he be purged from his old ways so he could be fit to fight for a King who ruled with such tremendous wisdom and compassion.

            As they drew closer to the cliff walls many unsavory hands reached out to pull them back, both human, and Other Worldly, but they were determined. They saw a window fling open as a friend Fiona hadn’t seen in years called out to them. In the next instant a ladder was unfurled and as they scrambled upwards, the efforts to pull them away from the glorious fortress became more frantic. As they drew nearer, the gates to the Castle were flung wide open and light poured forth.

            Later as they knelt as the portal to receive an anointing, a bugle’s lovely notes floated clearly over the surrounding district. High from the tower’s pinnacle, a white flag of victory fluttered, causing the enemy to gnash their teeth in frustration.

            “This is where we belong,” Fiona said once again as they were ushered into the throne room of the King.”

            “And this is where we will remain,” Kelsey declared, as they knelt in adoration before the majestic ruler of the Kingdom of Love.




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