The prophecy brought them together. But the Wolf has risen, and now their greatest battle begins.
The four members of Warriors Riding have learned to wage war in the supernatural, to send their spirits inside people’s souls, to battle demonic forces, and to bring deep healing to those around them.
But their leader Reece is struggling with the loss of his sight. Brandon is being stalked at his concerts by a man in the shadows. Dana’s career is threatening to bury her. And Marcus questions his sanity as he seems to be slipping in and out of alternate realities.
And now the second part of the prophecy has come true. The Wolf is hunting them and has set his trap. He circles, feeding on his supernatural hate of all they stand for. And he won’t stop until he brings utter destruction to their bodies . . . and their souls.
“. . .this is a seriously heart-thumping and satisfying read that goes to the edge, jumps off, and ‘builds wings on the way down.’”—Publishers Weekly review of Soul’s Gate
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A WELL SPRING NOVEL, BOOK 2
By JAMES L. RUBART
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2013 James L. Rubart
All rights reserved.
The moment had come to act. There was little doubt and the target was clear. They had to expose the lies being fostered on the world of believers and shout the truth till it reverberated off the highest mountains. He felt it. The others had to sense it as well. The resistance would be significant, but they were ready. All four of them. They fought well together; each complemented the gifting of the others. Three men. One woman. Each fulfilling their roles with precision and strength. And God was on their side. Who could stand against them?
"It is time." He raised his head and drew in the spring air, tinged with smoke from the fire the four of them encircled.
"Have you prayed about this?" The woman turned to her left as she raised her hands to let the flames warm them.
"I've prayed extensively, as I hope all of you have done." The man gazed at each of the others. "The growth can't be ignored any longer. The influence, the appeal ... it spreads like a virus far beyond themselves, and the time has come to crush it. With God's help we will."
The man to his left adjusted his glasses, bent forward, and stirred the fire with a long piece of kindling. "How long do you anticipate this operation will take?"
"This is the first Sunday of May. I believe before we reach the first Sunday of July we will have won a great campaign."
"Rock and roll." The third man grinned and rubbed his knees. "I think we'll take 'em down even faster than that."
"Let's pray you're right," the woman said, then stood and brushed off her light blue jeans. "I have to go. Traffic gets worse by the day. But before we break, what's the first step? Tell the millions all about their little band and what they're up to?"
"No, we're going to do something even better." The man rose to join the others and gave a grim smile as he stared into the blood-red coals, then turned to the woman. "I believe in you. That you can make the impossible happen. I believe somehow, some way, you're going to figure out how to get the world-famous Brandon Scott to come on my program and talk about his music and singing career.
"I'll talk to him about those things for a few minutes—get him feeling comfortable—then I'll shift the subject to him and his new friends. I'll hit Brandon with a few questions that will slice and dice him so severely he'll feel like he fell into a shredder. And 14.8 million of my most favorite listeners will hear every word. The truth will come out and the stream of people going through their training will turn into a desert. By the time the show is over, God will have dealt the so-called Warriors Riding a blow they'll never recover from."
Warm sunlight on his forehead woke Reece on Friday morning and he involuntarily tried to open his eyes. Impossible. They were gone, destroyed during the battle inside his soul ten months ago. The despair once again hit him like a wave but he pushed it aside and sat up, dropped his legs over the side of his bed, and rested his feet on the cool hardwood floor he could now only see in his mind.
God was in this. He had to be. Right? Reece's mind tried to sling the thought into his heart but it ricocheted off. He reached for the watch Doug had bought him, flipped open the hinged covering, and touched the face. Six ... fifteen. Too early—it was always too early these days—but he wouldn't be able to get back to sleep.
Reece dressed, then shuffled into his hallway past the room his silver-haired mentor had moved into. Part of him longed for Doug to stay forever and another part wished he would leave this morning. Reece had lived alone ever since Olivia and Willow had died—murdered twenty-five years ago by the demon they knew as Zennon. To have someone, even Doug, take care of him was a bit nauseating.
Reece leaned his ear against his friend's door. A faint clicking sound interspersed with a long, low snore told him Doug was still sleeping. Reece shuffled down the stairs, his hand gripped hard on the railing, his foot reaching out into the emptiness in front of him, not completely sure whether his foot would contact the stair below or never touch anything. An illogical thought. He could picture the stairs in his mind—exactly what his sight counselor had told him to do. But it didn't quench the tingling fear that one day he'd step down and find only empty air.
The thought was ludicrous. A man who had traveled deep into others' souls, as well as into spiritual realms only he and Doug knew about, scared of falling down the stairs? But Reece was. Life was not without irony.
And now the Spirit was telling him to take the other Warriors into those deeper spiritual realms in preparation to soon lead them against the Wolf. How could he do that without his eyesight? Yes, he'd jumped off cliffs and built wings on the way down all his life. But never without the ability to see. Lack of sight changed the game. He needed his part of the prophecy to be fulfilled now and have his eyes restored.
Reece breathed deep, finished his descent, and made his way into the kitchen. When he reached the coffeemaker, he fumbled for the button, flicked it on, and sat at his kitchen table waiting for it to brew. After pouring a cup, he lifted his camera off the kitchen counter and slung it around his neck. Crazy to bring it with him. But it was habit to take it with him during mornings at the fire pit. even after these many months. Because this might be the morning healing would come and he would once again see the leaves on his towering maple trees lit up with morning sun. This might be the day he watched the fire spit out red sparks and grow dark red embers in its heart. And in that instant he would capture the memory of his vision returning and have it forever.
Reece crept over the grass in his backyard out to the fire pit a hundred yards away. When he reached it, he set his camera on the bench surrounding the fire pit and knelt on the stones in front of it. He fumbled for the kindling Doug had cut and laid in the pine box that now sat next to one of the benches. If Doug ever did leave, how would Reece make the kindling without cutting off a finger or two? But the question was irrelevant. It wouldn't be much longer. He could feel it.
He crumpled up three sheets of old newspaper, put the kindling on top, then laid logs on top of the kindling. Reece lit the paper and sat back, waiting for the kindling to catch, folded his arms, and prayed for his eyes. Five minutes, ten, half an hour, but he sensed nothing, felt nothing from the Spirit.
His counselor said he'd start to feel the size of a room even without his sight. That his hearing and sense of touch would heighten when he stood close to a wall or when people were near. It wasn't happening. Reece had fumbled and cracked his head on his doorway just last night. Not hard enough to truly hurt, but enough to refuel his desire for the healing to come now.
He raised his sightless eyes to the sky. "How long will you tarry, Lord?"
The sound of the wind rustling the trees surrounded him, taunted him, and seemed to whisper, It's over, Reece. What good are you to the Warriors now? What good are you to anyone?
"No! I make no agreement with that." He lowered his head, stooped, fumbled for one of the kindling pieces at his feet, and put a stranglehold on the ax till his fingers ached. But didn't loosen his grip. "Heal me!"
Reece imagined a flicker of light and let the stick of wood tumble to the ground. Could the moment be now? He reached for his eyes even though it was foolishness. He laid the tips of his fingers on the scar tissue, then let his hands fall like stones. The voice in the wind was right. He was finished and his belief was burning up and turning into ashes like the wood in front of him.
He groped for his camera next to him on the bench, snatched it up, and flung it out over the yard. It landed with a dull thud mixed with the sound of metal and plastic crunching. He didn't care. Seconds later the silence was filled with the sound of footsteps padding up to him on the grass. Doug.
"Good morning, Reece." The sound of a chair creaking across the pit told him Doug had sat. "This is a May morning with grand finery surrounding it, wouldn't you agree?"
Reece didn't answer.
"Perhaps you're not in the mood to chat, but regardless it seems there is a grave need for conversation."
"You need to be fully engaged in the game, friend." Doug's voice had an edge to it.
"I am in the game."
"Really? Is that why you 'dropped' your camera? Was that a result of being in the game?"
They sat without speaking and Reece took a sip of his now-cold coffee.
"You can go back to Colorado anytime you like, Doug. I only asked you to be here long enough to get me back on my feet again."
"I'll go when the Spirit says to. One of the advantages of being retired and a widower is the ability to stay in one place as long as necessary."
"I can take care of myself now. The calendar might say I've had sixty-two birthdays, but this body isn't any older than thirty-three. And I've figured out how to navigate without sight."
The silence returned.
"Is the Spirit in this quest we're both a part of or not, Reece?"
A clichéd question that didn't deserve an answer. If what he believed was true, then of course God was in it. If he wasn't, then his entire life had been a lie. His emotions raged against the small voice of truth buried in the center of his heart.
The sound of paper being unfolded filled Reece's ears. "What's that?"
"I believe if I offered you one guess, your speculation would prove correct."
"And you've brought it out for what purpose?"
"Let me read it to you."
Reece fell back and blew out a quick breath. "I know what it says."
"In your head, yes. But you need to hear it again with your heart." Doug's voice started as a whisper but grew as he voiced the words Reece first heard his friend prophesy over him on the shores of Lake Chelan over three decades back.
There will come a day when you will train them—they will be four. The Song, the Teacher, the Leader, the Temple. Keep your eyes open to see, your ears open to listen, your heart open to feel, and your mind open to discern.
When the time comes, the Spirit will reveal each of them to you. You will teach them the wonders of my power they can't yet imagine. And instruct these warriors how to go far inside the soul and marrow.
They will rise up and fight for the hearts of others. They will demolish strongholds in the heavens and grind their enemies to dust. Their victories will spread across the nations. You will pour out your life for them and lead them to freedom, and they will turn and bring healing to the broken and set the hearts of others free.
And when the Wolf rises, the four must war against him and bring about his destruction.
Only they have hope of victory.
And for one, their vision will grow clear,
And for one, the darkness of choice will rain on them,
And for one, the other world will become more real than this one,
And for one, death will come before the appointed time.
Doug didn't get his wish because the words seemed hollow and fluttered to the damp grass before getting anywhere near Reece's heart. He sat in silence, the darkness seeming to draw out the time longer than it probably was.
"Is Brandon still the Song, Reece?"
"And Dana remains the Leader, Marcus the Teacher?"
"Yes." Reece spoke the words to the ground.
"And are you still the Temple?"
Reece rubbed his eye sockets till the stars came. But it wasn't seeing. Only chemical reactions from his fingers stimulating neurons that fired a message to his brain that there were lights in front of him. "What do you want me to say?"
"Whatever you want to."
What could Reece tell his friend that he hadn't already said fifty times? That he wouldn't feel like the Temple again without his sight and waiting for the prophecy to come true was wearing him thin as tissue paper? That at night he dreamed of being on the Skykomish River at dawn, or in the mountains, or at the ocean taking shots no one else would capture in quite the same way?
It wasn't only the death of being able to take photos. An image of his walls of books slipped across his mind. No more grabbing his worn copy of Pensées or his heavily highlighted hardback first edition of Mere Christianity. No more sitting in the light of his reading lamp studying philosophy or theology till the grand father clock in his hallway struck one in the morning. And no more leafing through the worn-out Bible he'd lived with for more than forty years.
The healing had to come quickly.
"And for one, their vision will grow clear ..."
Reece had said it with such confidence the day he came home from the hospital and Dana, Marcus, Brandon, and Doug had stood against Zennon and defeated the demon. But that confidence had been shrinking every day and the fire was close to going out.
"No, I don't want to talk about it. We've talked about it enough. There's nothing more to say."
Doug didn't respond and Reece pictured his friend with a sympathetic smile. But it would soon be followed up with a penetrating question.
Doug's chair creaked as if announcing his inquiry. "When?"
"When what?" Reece grabbed a piece of wood, pictured the fire pit in his mind, and tossed it where the pit should be.
"Nice toss. Right in the center."
"I can't lead them like this."
"Which is the same thing you said to me nearly a year ago. So I'll repeat what I said then. You must. There is no other choice. It is time to tell the four about the Wolf, determine exactly what humans the Wolf will use against us, and strategize our plans of engagement."
Reece shoved his sunglasses higher on his nose. "Not like this. Not until the healing comes. The classes and training we've been doing at Well Spring over the past ten months have been potent. The number of our allies has grown, and those allies are taking the message back to their communities all over the country. There have been significant breakthroughs. Think of the letters and e-mails we get, Doug. It's happening. We'll keep doing that until—"
"You've pushed it off as long as possible. The Wolf grows more powerful daily."
"The Wolf has been growing more powerful daily for ages. We can wait. Give it a little more time, six weeks, a month at least. The Spirit will come through for me and I'll be healed."
"That may be, but we cannot wait. The time to act is now. What has the Spirit told you? I believe Jesus is on his white horse with fire in his eyes, a sword in his hand, his cloak dipped in blood, and he is telling us to ride."
Reece shifted in his chair. "How does the fire look?"
"The fire is fine." Doug sighed. "Reece, we need to—"
"Are we still planning on putting them through the test? To prepare them for the Wolf?"
"Without warning them about what they'll face."
"I don't know if they're ready for that."
"I don't know either. That's the point of them going through it." Doug rested his hand on Reece's arm. "Fret not for the other Warriors. Before the test I believe we should take them into the Wall of Colors. That will give them strength. And I want you to come with me."
"I won't go there without being able to see. It would be worse than not going at all."
"All right, friend. The choice is yours." Doug's chair squeaked and his voice came from above Reece. "Your time is coming. I don't know how it will play out, but have faith, Reece. He will never forsake you."
Reece waited till the sound of Doug's footsteps had long faded before rising from the bench and making his way back to his home. Come on. His friend was right. He needed to snap out of it—had to snap out of it. Marcus, Brandon, Dana, Doug, and he would gather two days from now, and Reece needed to be strong for them and for himself. This was exactly the web the enemy would want him to become ensnared in. Pity. Self-focus. Only worried about when his sight would be restored. His mind knew the truth of it, but his feelings didn't agree.
Reece breathed deep and sank inside himself. "Lord, speak. Please."
You must ride. This is not about you.
The Spirit's voice was as clear as he'd ever heard it.
"When will I be healed, Lord?"
This journey is not about you, and yours is not to know the future. Yours is to trust.
Excerpted from MEMORY'S DOOR by JAMES L. RUBART. Copyright © 2013 James L. Rubart. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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