• tab Jordan was in agony. Bone-breaking, blood-spilling, heart-stopping agony. Why, he didn't know. How, it was irrelevant. Instead, he prayed. The words flowed from his lips in a rush, flying through his waking concious furiously as he spoke each one in turn.
    tab "God, give me the strength to make it. The patience to wait. The wisdom to not give up. The tenacity to stay with it." As he spoke the volume swelled until it sounded like he stood in the confines of a gigantic brass bell, and a legion of curious children with hammers were having thier way.
    tab "Is he okay?" Serenity. Oh, God, Serenity was there. Watching him as he struggled. He didn't want her to see the agony he was in. He was stronger than this. More resolute. No way in HELL would he worry Serenity like that. Finally, after what seemed seven and a half lifetimes, Jordan found it. His inner strength surfaced, and the pain started to fade as, in his minds eye, Jordan pictured himself standing in a torrential rain. His back arched, mouth open, and with the most primal screams, he banished the pain away.
    tab "NooooooOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" Serenity watched Jordan as his back arched, fists clenched until blood tainted the white sheets. The congregation outside would have heard his scream of agony and triumph. The scream died and silence, solemn and still, took it's place. Nothing moved. Nothing breathed. Not even The Old One, from his spot at the side of the bed, dared move. Breathing heavy, Jordan sat up and peered around. His gaze drifted about the simple furnishings until it came to a rest upon Serenity.
    tab "Jordan?" She took a hesitant step towards the bed.
    tab "Serenity..." It was like stepping under a hot stream of water for the first time in three weeks, the relief Jordan felt. She rushed into his arms with a choked sob, collapsing against him as they both broke down.
    tab "I'm so sorry... I'm okay, don't worry." They just sat there, curled up and clinging to eachother desperately, like a drowning man to a piece of driftwood.
    tab "I wasn't worried... I knew you could do it. You always are able to do everything." She choked, her fingers digging into his back as she squeezed him as tight as possible. Any normal person would feel smothered. Jordan felt loved.
    tab "I've got to share something... Come on..." With no small amount of reluctance, Jordan stood and pulled her out of the tent. With a shake of his head and a helpless smile, The Old One coaxed May out with him as they followed Jordan. The congregation had grown outside of the tent, everyone whispering and talking with worry. Jordan was looked up to by many, many people. If he was suffering, the very will of The Saved would break. Relief, like a tidal wave, washed over the gathered mass as Jordan emerged. He released Serenity's hand and faced the group, holding his bloodstained hand high for all to see.
    tab "You see this?" The hush was palpable after he had spoke.
    tab "It's blood. Each of you had better get used to seeing it. It is finally time. For each and every man, woman, and child to lie down thier lives for what they believe in. This is it. Finally. FINALLY!" Again, nothing but his own echoes sounded as Jordan stared out over the hushed crowd.
    tab "It's time we fight for our faith."