Elle kissed the koala on the top of its head and gently put it back on the ground under the eucalyptus tree.
Amara waited for her to catch up; then she headed for zebra grass.
Elle came to a dead stop when she saw the next animal.
“It’s okay, Elle.”
The male lion was lying in the grass next to a lamb. Elle pointed to them and looked back at Amara. The girl’s eyes were even wider now.
“He won’t hurt the lamb either. It’s not like your world. Here in the Fiume Valley all the animals and Fiorins live in peace. No one here eats meat or fish. There are no enemies to threaten us with the exception of the unholy Zorins.”
Elle’s eyes flew to her feet.
“Don’t you ever think the Zorins can take away who you are as a person. No one can. They are incapable of making you unholy.”
Elle slowly raised her eyes and focused on Amara’s face.
I don’t know how I lost my voice. Maybe it was from all the crap that’s happened since Poppy died. Maybe it was something the Zorin did when he was inside me. Mother Blue says I’ve been victorious in all the challenges and that she’s so sure I’m the one who the Prophet talked about. I try to be kind to everyone, Amara, but I don’t know if I can be everything that Fiori needs me to be. I’m scared. I don’t know any more if God will help me.
“That’s why we’re in the Fiume Valley, Elle. You need to spend some time accepting your ability to respond to the challenges you’ll face as a guide. It’s our turn to try to help you get your faith and your hope back.”
I sure hope I can. It really feels good to be able to talk to you like I talk to the messengers. At least I don’t feel so alone now.
“Whoa, wait a minute. I can hear your thoughts!”
Elle took two steps backward. You can! We’ve been talking. She started jumping up and down, pumping her arms in the air.
“This is wonderful, Elle. Can you speak out loud?”
Elle opened her mouth and tried to make sounds. Her smile faded as she shook her head.
“I’m convinced you’ll get beyond this. Let’s not ruin the fun. I want you to meet another one of our creatures. Go now, greet the king of the jungle.”
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