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France – 1918

For weeks, men and equipment poured into the allied area of France. Bren had never seen so many people in one place before. Horse-drawn artillery and stockpiles of supplies littered the countryside. Those massive, noisy, slow-moving metal wagons came in ever-increasing numbers, too. Men from different places, some as far as Australia, pitched tents everywhere. Americans, like Sam, enthusiastic and confident, massed near Brenzel’s and Doc’s position.

“Sam,” Bren asked one day outside the stockade. “What’s going on around here?”

Sam, usually forthright, but now looking away, said, “Something big, I reckon.”

You can tell me

Feeling his unease, Bren asked further, “Sam, what is it? You seem troubled. What’s wrong?”

Sam looked down at the ground, kicking at some dried mud. Putting her hand on his arm, Bren encouraged her young friend, saying, “Please Sam, we’re friends, you can tell me.”

Finally, with obvious distress, Sam blurted, “My mama’s powerful sick, Ma’am.”

“Oh, no!” Bren exclaimed.

“You see, Ma writes me every week and I ain’t received a letter for three whole weeks. Then I got this one,” Sam said, showing it to Bren.

It’s about Momma, son

Dear Son,

This is your Pa. Mom’s been powerful sick and that is why she hasn’t written. The doctors say she ain’t long for this world. I’m sorry to tell you this, you doin’ such important things over in the war and all. Let’s all pray that God does a miracle and makes your mother well again and that you’ll see her soon.”

I’m proud of you son,


Bren, finishing, looked up at Sam, saying, “I’m so sorry, Sam.”

Trying to be a man, the boy soldier steeled himself, “Miss Bren, God’s got a purpose for everyone and His angels watch over us. I know my Ma is in the Lord’s hands and whatever happens, it will be ok.” Then, to Bren’s surprise, Sam asked, “Would you mind kneeling with me and praying?”

Brenzel, momentarily taken aback, said, “Yes, of course.”

I’m ain’t askin’ for myself

Kneeling by a telephone post with Bren, Sam began,

“Lord, I ain’t much for prayin’ cause I figure you always know what’s in my heart anyways, but I’ve got somethin’ to ask you today and it ain’t for myself. My Ma’s powerful sick and the doctor says she ain’t long for this world. I miss her so much and I’m ask’n that you make her better and I get to see her again soon. I know I’m way over here in a war and all, but I pray you make this happen, for her sake.”

“Oh, and one more thing Lord,” he added, “Keep watch over my friend here. She’s a good person, help her to always know the right way to go and the right person to help, I know she has helped me a lot.”

Bren, heart overflowing with compassion, added, “Yes Father, help Sam’s mother feel better and let them both see each other soon, Amen.” Looking up at Sam, eyes wide and moist, Bren hugged him, saying, “Soldier, it’s going to be alright, God’s watching over you,” and in her mind, she added, “and I am too.”

Trust and obey

Doc, watching Sam and Bren pray from a distance, asked God, “Isn’t there another way?”

After a moment, in her spirit, the words came, “It must happen this way.”

“Please Lord!” the small woman asked, “I don’t know if she can take it.” Then the voice answered softly, “Her grace is sufficient.”

Doc turned and walked slowly away, thinking on how, no matter how long she was a Seraph Hunter, keeping focused on the big picture was difficult. Often, all she could do was trust and obey, believing everything would work out in the end. Then, with a heavy heart, Doc said softly to herself, “3, where are you when I need you?”

Guten Morgen

“Guten morgen, Fraulein,” Hans said as Bren arranged her medical supplies.

“Hello Hans, how are you feeling today?” Bren replied.

“Better, sie pain ist almost bearable.” Over the last few weeks, as Hans healed, he began to speak more and more to Bren. Little comments here and there evolved into conversations, yet he was always respectful and appreciative of her help and company.

Though Sam protested intermittently, Hans paid him no attention. To Hans, Sam was simply a country bumpkin, unworthy of any regard at all. Bren learned that Hans had been a young university student in Berlin at the outbreak of the war. Humboldt University, Hans assured her, was by far the best university in the world and had produced some of the world’s greatest thinkers. A student of philosophy himself, Hans joined the war effort to support the fatherland and their shared destiny.

Of course, Fraulein, we will rule the world

Hans was a great believer in the superiority of the Germanic peoples and their divine right to rule the world. Bren, having little interest in psychology or Germanic destiny asked him about his life before the war and what it was like to live in Germany, a place she had only vaguely heard about. Strudel, wiener schnitzels, and fair-haired mädchen made up the bulk of his fond memories.

Hans, an orphan, spoke with admiration about his adoptive father. Yet, somehow, Brenzel sensed that Hans feared him more than loved him. Watching his body language, Bren noticed that Hans always fidgeted nervously when he spoke about their relationship.

Steel blue

Realm of Elysia

The first feature of Elysia that stands out in the realm of the blue Seraph, is the majestic waterfall. A crystal river, flowing out of the city, cascading over an abrupt cliff, plunges nearly 700 feet to the misty rocks below. Tall spires, glinting with golden roofs, grace the skyline, while below their eves, walls built from many different types of stones, stand upon immense foundations. In the sides of the North, far above the hinterlands, the ancient city, set on a hill, graces the sacred mountain of the Most High.

In the Seraph’s sanctuary, which stood overlooking the city below, 3 stood respectfully as his regent entered, flanked by twelve graceful attendants. Once all was set, they sang a sweet, melodic tune, exiting the great hall. Left alone, Dove motion him to approach. “Greetings 3, I am happy to see you, I trust you journeyed well.”

There may be problem

“Yes, I traveled well, your highness. Thank you,” her agent said shifting his weight uneasily.

“3, before you begin your report, I have a feeling that something may be off, that there may be a problem with your projections.”

Looking uncharacteristically flushed, Dove’s mathematical seer confessed, “There is a slight variation that could present itself, which I did not fully account for. Though it’s statistically insignificant, infinitesimally small really, which is just a more precise way of saying practically impossible,” 3 retorted, finishing with, “My calculations are correct.”

Moving with otherworldly gracefulness, shimmering in the sunlight, she simply said, “You’ve been wrong before.”

A minor permutation

“Yes, but that was a minor permutation, and in the end it had no effect on the whole,” he stated painfully.

Gazing at 3 intently with steel blue eyes, Dove walked from the throne to the divan and sat, moving her wings to one side. “3,” she said in a very sweet, yet confident tone, “I am not saying you are wrong. I’m just suggesting that your calculations may be, shall we say, incomplete. Please rerun everything and report any new permutations to me immediately.”

Clearly miffed, 3 realized that further protest was pointless and bowed in resignation, saying, “As you wish, your highness.”

Ma’am, I have to tell you something

France – 1918

The atmosphere around the camp grew electric as men, horses, and motorized vehicles (Bren learned that term only a few days ago) scurried about day and night. Brenzel, up early in the morning as usual, had to dodge her way to the stockade, carrying medical supplies in a small wicker basket.

As she entered, Sam, clearly pleased, motioned her aside and, put his finger to her lips, signaling her to be quiet. Coming close to her left ear, Sam said, “Bren, I have something important to tell you.”

After hearing what Sam said, Bren said under her breath, “What the…”