I was half awake in the darkness. There was no sun, no moons, no stars, nothing to tell me the time. In and out of consciousness through the whole day or night or whatever it had been since they put me in here.
I kept my knees to my chest, my wings drooping like melted glass onto the floor beside me. There was no light to make them sparkle, and I didn’t have energy to spare to move closer to the pale, yellow lamp dangling from the cave ceiling. The hornet venom had knocked most of everything out of me, and now I could tell just how much I needed that silly necklace.
But if I had it now, it wouldn’t help. They’d have it, of course. Can’t let her get away, they’d be thinking. If they thought at all. Nobody seemed to think about what they were doing anymore. Including me. But it’s different when you’re trying to save a life.
My head was damp where it rested against the rock. They’d taken all my armor before dumping me in there, so I couldn’t even make a pillow between me and the hard stone. The smell of moss and mushrooms had finally gone away as I got used to it. I thought I never would. Being between a rock and a hard place is even worse when it smells like—never mind.
All I could think of was singing. So I did.
“Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel…and ransom captive Israel…who mourns in lonely exile here…”
My voice cracked and I couldn’t breathe. With my eyes shut against the hot tears, I didn’t realize my head was dropping until my forehead touched my knees. I couldn’t make a sound, but at least I could get a little air again, some nice, musky air in a nonexistent cave that I didn’t belong in. There was nothing fair about this.
“…until the Son of God appears…” gently called a small voice.
I pulled my head up. Across the room in another cell were a pair of eyes, very small eyes, and a pair of hands on the bars. Then there were another pair of hands on the bars and another pair of eyes. They were twins, a boy and a girl. They watched me as I forced myself carefully onto my stiff feet and took a deep breath.
A rough but melodious voice of an elderly man rose from a distant corner: “Emmanuel…”
“Shall come to thee…” came a sweet sound from a few cells down. A thin, pink-winged lady with dirty blond hair materialized from the shadows.
They stood at the edge of their cells, focusing on nothing but the song. Though barely capable of thinking from the immeasurable time they had spent in there, without sunlight or wind or river, they emerged from the darkness. Even in the deepest dungeons and the most reclusive recesses of the world, there was hope.
Then the door banged open. Intense white light poured in. A soldier stood at the top.
“Silence!” commanded Locknut. The singing stopped. A pair of Guards tromped down the stairs toward my cell.
“Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel,” I sang in defiance as they unlocked the door. They grabbed me by the arms, and when I tried kicking them off, I earned myself a headache and a long scratch with a massive slap across the face. They cuffed me and shoved me up the stairs.
But before the door slammed behind me, I heard something billowing out in renewed strength.
“…shall come to thee, oh, Israel…”
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