Questions of Faith

The Kesher Chronicles #2

Book Cover: Questions of Faith
Part of the The Kesher Chronicles series:
Editions:Kindle: $ 4.99
ISBN: 9781520296821
Pages: 385
Paperback: $ 8.00
ISBN: 9781520296821
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 381

Twenty-three years after surviving the Scandal of 2241, Janice Parc lives out her adulthood in pleasant normalcy with her husband and three children. The family gets the chance to visit the village of Hiskitan in northernmost Artemisia. Janice knows she must face her memories with courage if her heart is to move on. So she agrees to the journey for the sake of her family and for her own growth.

Unfortunately, the depth of the Artemisians’ pain is too great to ignore. The last living relative of Agent David Rifadoft will not allow her suffering, nor that of her people, to go unanswered. By her guidance, the adventure that began with such hope will escalate into a cycle of tragedy. In the effort to rescue Janice and her family, Special Officer Steven Roberts abandons his post at the Experimental Colony on Ares. He returns to Earth, and the darker truths behind their past begin to unfold.

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“Rachel, this is Bryen Sedreth. He accompanied your brother and Maxamillion Schulberhe to America. He is also responsible for my own acceptance into the sacred Mission. I was rather young at the time.”

Bryen said, “I heard around town that David’s little sister had returned home. I had to see this for myself.”

Rachel wished she could partake in Xavier’s admiration for this man. Bryen’s austere demeanor kept her on edge while his gaze bore down on her. She straightened to her full height in response and matched his inquisitive stare.

Bryen soon relented and allowed her a genuine smile. He extended his hand to her in formal greeting.

“The little sister is no longer so little. It is you, Rachel Rifadoft. You have your brother’s eyes, and I perceive you have also his quiet strength and intuition.”

“Thank you,” she said, humbled by his words.

He continued brusquely. “So, you know of eda Haerjiteh.”

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“Yes.”

Bryen smiled, a little surprised by the firmness of her response. “And now you wish to continue your brother’s legacy?”

“I do. I believe we are all entitled to victory. We must continue what David started, or soon perish.”

Bryen glared at her. “And what makes you think that you are the one to do this? To be the next great leader of the Warriors, only because you bear the Rifadoft name?”

Rachel could not answer at first, startled by his curtness.

“What makes you think we haven’t been continuing the work of the Mission already? Long before you even realized there was a life outside that American hospital?”

“Bryen, sepeldre... We meant nothing by it...”

But Rachel stopped Xavier’s plea short. Instead, she leaned toward Bryen with striking authority.

“Scattered attacks at the American borders and random strikes on the Island's tourist hot-spots are not what I, nor David, would call the work of the Mission.”

Bryen bristled against her effrontery. “You dare to assume what David would do now? I was beside him as his chief Warrior during the whole of it. I served him faithfully—…”

“…—and now he is dead.”

Flexing his might, the old Warrior reached toward a silver dagger hidden in his belt. He rested a hand on its hilt, but Rachel peered at him, unfaltering and unafraid. There was something in her gaze that made him pause, and he frowned at her gravely.

“If you have any hope of resuming David’s work, you must have the consent of the Warriors.”

“I agree. My understanding is that they are divided. Some follow you in your foolhardy attempts. Others have tried to put the whole matter behind them. But by uniting again as at the first, we will be unstoppable.”

Bryen held his tongue and kept a wary eye on her. He thought for a moment, then answered.

“I will assemble them all tonight. Meet us at the Temple if you are serious about this, Rachel Rifadoft.”

With that, he turned to leave. When he had disappeared into the night, Xavier looked at Rachel with amazement.

“Your brother was famous for apprehending things impossible for him to know. He was greatly respected and feared. I see you following in his steps, Rachel.”

Rachel lowered her gaze with humility under the burden of her brother’s memory. She leaned back in her chair and waited for the fateful meeting to come.

~ * ~

...Men and women numbering eighty strong surrounded Rachel in the worship hall. Hearing her passionate cry, they embraced her with tears of elation. The Warrior Remnant accepted her unanimously, for she spoke with commitment, sincerity, and reason. They allowed her words to reignite their zeal, to revive their faith in David’s Mission and the strength of their heritage. As Rachel stood among the dynamic multitude, she beamed with joy. Her heart soared at the sense of belonging.

Xavier stood behind the cauldron on the scarlet-covered dais to watch with pride. As the fervor had begun to die, the Remnant made to return to their homes. Bryen moved to join them on the way out when Rachel stopped him.

“Bryen, thank you for gathering the Remnant.”

“Don’t thank me yet. You may have won over these nostalgic hearts with your sheer enthusiasm. But you've yet to persuade me that you have any notion of how you’ll deliver on these lofty promises you gave tonight.”

Rachel smiled. “That is why I’m leaving the grunt work to you. No one knows these people and their strengths better than you. I want you to delegate our preparations to each according to those fittest for the task.

“The first order of business is to research America’s current system in operation. Look for any history behind the growth of the Assembly of Elites. Also look for any connection from it to what the Americans call the Scandal of 2241. We can’t very well jump into the Mission again without really knowing what might be waiting for us.”

Bryen allowed her a modest smile. “I can work with that. I know just the person to steer us in the right direction…”

He gave her a polite nod before turning to leave. Once the Warriors had cleared the Temple, Xavier approached Rachel. He was hesitant to disturb the perfect stillness that enfolded them now.

“Rachel,” he finally said. “There is a matter that begs your attention.”

She looked at him with concern as he explained.

“I did not want to trouble you with this, mea detta, not after all that you’ve been through today. So I did not say anything at first. While managing the lobby at the Tenamonta Bedyea today, I saw something…nui, someone... And I needed to confirm what I felt in my heart to be true. It was a simple matter to look up the guests registered in our system. But I was nonetheless shocked to find my suspicions verified.”

Xavier saw Rachel's eyes glimmer with foreboding. He drew close and lowered his voice to explain.

“Janice Smith — now Janice Parc, under her married name — is here, in our village. She is staying in our suite on the third floor with her husband and three children. They arrived two days ago, but it is unclear for how long they will remain here.”

A stunned silence fell under the weight of his words. Rachel’s cheeks flushed with emotion, but she considered her words carefully.

“I do not want our Mission undermined by this distraction. Our purpose is much too great for that.”

She allowed a cautious glance at the empty hall around them before continuing. “We will proceed as planned, and I will ensure that Janice Smith remains apart from us and our holy purpose. I will see to it personally that she is never a threat to us again.”

This decisive promise, spoken from the depths of her broken heart, startled Xavier. He hadn’t imagined for a moment that the frail woman could be capable of such resolve, and the thought of it now chilled him.

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Reviews:Fern Harrison on Facebook wrote:

I'm not a real good book reviewer. All I know is what I like. I get into the characters and feel for them. I liked that Janice's life has progressed Ito adult hood with her marriage and children but she was still haunted by her past. Story line easy to follow even if the reader had not read #1. (Even though they should)

Wetdryvac on Amazon wrote:

Fits well with the first book in the series, and the gentle passage of time works nicely. A fun read, and decent for reading aloud as well.