GENESIS

Abi Walters

For Cain, The First Son, To Read When He Is Of Proper Age.

-1-

THE GARDEN

Cain, I tell you this tale of my torment and my love and my life…I hope someday you'll be old enough to understand it. It seems like a dream now, but I still remember it.

Have you ever had a place all to yourself and knew it would shield you from all harm and dangers of the outer world?…a place so abandoned and so peaceful that it's difficult not to imagine the most wonderful, splendid things were happening to you while you were in it? That's how the Garden was to me. It was the most beautiful place on Earth in my eyes. It hadn't a fancy name or was even fancy itself, I called it only the Garden of Eden…a temple in its own right. Somehow, I knew few had ever stepped foot in it besides myself, and that thought made the Garden even more imaginative and wondrous and unique.

When I was a little girl, of only about seven or eight, I stumbled across the Garden while wandering away from home and knew it belonged to me, somehow. I deemed myself Queen Evelynne of the Garden of Eden and made myself a crown of blood-red wildflowers while I played in its streams and picked its flowers and ate its fruit. I'd come back every day and the flowers still bloomed, the fruit still grew and the trees and grass were as lush and green as they had ever been.

I sat there once in misery when I was only sixteen years old. My family, the Gershoms, were one of the richest families in the town of Pharisah in Eden, without a single doubt. The children in the marketplace would look at me and my good clothing and they would race around me in circles and call me horrid names. That was when I was younger. I had not a single friend…except for my cousin, who was two years behind me and named Aviva. She always pleased me, that girl, and knew that I disliked my name, so she too, called me Evelynne.

But not even my most trusted friend, Aviva, knew about the Garden of Eden. No one did. I was sixteen and completely in solitude that day I sat on my fallen tree bench in the Garden, looking at the dusking sky surrounding me. I would never share this Garden, I decided. It was mine and mine alone. I was Queen Evelynne of the Garden of Eden, and that was all anyone needed to know.

The reason I sat in isolation and was completely forlorn was because of the War. It was a War between Eden and Havilah, the Land of Gold. Our King Kenaz, our glorious, wonderful and exceedingly greedy King Kenaz, had long ago decided that Havilah must split the gold with Eden, as Eden must split the crop profit with Havilah. His reason for this? The small river Pishon that connected us both. The King of Havilah insisted, "But, King Kenaz, if we are to split profit with you with our gold, then why is it that you make no such negociation with Cush, the land that also connects to Eden by the river Gihon?"

That's exactly what I wanted to know. I knew these things, my brother Elijah worked as a soldier in the King's army and gave our family the gossip each night at the dinner table, during the cool of the evening.

Anyhow, there was to be this great War with Havilah, and my brother came home one evening, his face overcome with a look of serenity and, at the same time, hatred, in his jade eyes. He grabbed my hand before the table was set and pulled me into his small, one-cot room. Even though we were rich by Eden's standards, no one was completely well off.

"Eve, I must tell you something." His voice was almost frantic, and my heart leapt to my throat. "I must tell you before I tell anyone else. Since I am in the King's army, he wishes me to fight with Havilah."

My eyes watered over. I could feel them burning, practically. "But…Elijah, you mustn't! You'll die!"

Elijah grabbed my shoulders. "Eve, the King needs me. He needs me. He cannot win the War without me…or the other soldiers. If we die, we shall die with glory."

"What glory is it that the King wishes to steal another country's gold?" I insisted, my heart racing. I could not bear this. Our King was, in a simple statement, a greedy, power-hungry covetous hog. Eden was well-off enough as it was.

Elijah shook his head. "The King of Havilah will not agree with our Majesty," he explained. "It is foolish, I think, for our army is far greater than his, even if his country is richer than ours beyond compare. So I will help our country become the richest of them all. I well help our King, my dear Eve, and before you know it, Eden will be the most industrialized country in the world."

To me, the world was extremely vast. There was all of Eden, which consisted of almost twenty thousand people, and Havilah, which had almost fifteen thousand. There were few cities scattered around the lands of Cush and of Assyria, but no one had been past them. To this day I wonder where the world ends.

I could feel my eyes stinging, and the tears fell down my face like rain. I wrapped my arms around my brother's neck and sobbed into his shoulders. "Promise me one thing, Elijah, if nothing else."

"I will try my hardest to fulfill your wish, Eve."

I clenched my teeth. "Do not die, Elijah. Please do not die."

Forgetting about supper and with little appetite, I ran out the back door of our clay house and my leather slippers became soaked as they sunk through the mud and while I raced through the hills and woods to find it, my Garden. It was like a light in the dark shining through the night…it always had been while I sneaked away during my evening hours to get away from Eden. The color of the sky was a brilliant peach and red, and the sun was slowly sinking into the horizon…the horizon where the world ended.

The tears eventually dried from my cheeks and my sobs soon died down to long gasps, and I just sat there and thought of my brother. My dear Elijah. I clasped my hands together and prayed to our Creator that he would spare Elijah's life, at any expense…even in return of my own. No one could fathom who our Creator was, actually…just something we all had faith in, faith that they were above us and watching over us somewhere. We believed that when we died, we became nothing but the sand and the soil and the wind. I feared death, but not as much as I feared losing Elijah.

I fiddled with the loose string on my leather sarong. I hated the clothes Mother insisted I wear. They were much too hot for the likes of Eden, especially during this time in the harsh summer days. Elijah often wore bronze armor when he was training for battle. Another tear slipped down my cheek and my throat threatened to start choking again, thinking that this time, the battle would be real.

We could run away, Elijah and I. We could run to Cush, or Assyria. The idea was bizarre, however, seeing as once any soldiers from Cush or Assyria found we weren't part of their country, they would enslave us or stone us to death.

I took in a long breath as I sat and thought, and looked around the Garden. It wasn't large, maybe the size of three houses placed next to each other, and the trees brimmed with apples and oranges and peaches, and they were all emerald green and glinted in the sunshine. There was, however, one tree I was deathly afraid of. It sat in the very center of the Garden, its bark as black as the night and its leaves a firy red. No fruit grew on the tree…not any fruit that I could very well notice, anyhow. I took care to keep my distance.

I stood up and brushed off my sarong with my hands. Father would be furious that I had left, like he usually was…but maybe tonight there would be different circumstances, seeing as Elijah was to make his announcement. I remember walking through the marketplace, a hood over my head, and listening to the peasants speak amongst themselves. I pretended I did not hear.

"Isn't that the Gershom daughter? Eve, is that her name?" one old gossiping hag would ask the other.

"Yes, I do believe that is Eve," the other would reply, just as old and just as wrinkled and just as much of a meddler.

"I heard the child is a rambunctious runaway. Have you heard that? She defies her own father, and runs away! It astounds me, the way these rich people bring up their children, doesn't it you?" And the other old hag would nod and give me a disgruntled look. I hated the town gossips, especially the ones too old to even care.

There must be some hope for me, some use, I thought to myself. Mother wanted me to marry into a rich family, especially one of the twin Havilah princes, who were my age…but I knew she couldn't force me into any such thing now…now that there was a War with Havilah…

I kicked one of the stones at my feet and brushed myself off, preparing to return to my broken home.

-2-

EDEN

"Where have you been?" barked Father. I saw the whip in the corner and cringed. It would be my fate, I was certain. Father's ice-cold blue eyes stared into mine, his teeth gritted and his snow-white hair falling in front of his eyebrows. The creases in his face were so tight that they looked as though they were about to stop his blood flow. Cain, if I ever look like I have just described to you, do not hesitate to tell me so.

"I cannot say," I answered meakly. Mother gave me a sympathetic look.

Father shook his head. "It does not matter. The point here today is that our boy is leaving. My own flesh and blood is going to fight against Havilah." He grinned, the wrinkles around his ice blue eyes extending to his temples. "When do you leave, Eli?"

"Tomorrow at dawn." Elijah took a potato from the wooden bowl in the center of the table. Aviva, who was sitting next to him, cast me a look of compassion. She knew there was no one on the face of the Earth that I loved more than my brother. "Mother, will you do me a favor tonight and clean my armor?"

"Of course," she replied, her expression calm but her voice forlorn. "When will you be back, Eli?"

"Between battles and training," Elijah answered, his mouth full. "I'll be back often, don't worry. I have to start off with a week of advanced training…since I have already been through the basics. I'll be back next week." He beamed. "The King saw me swordfight another soldier this morning, and told my commander that I was Eden's gem."

"That's wonderful, Elijah!" I cried. It was wonderful…it would be harder for him to die. I gritted my teeth, unable to eat the food that had been set out in front of me, or even drink the water-saturated wine that was in the wooden goblet at my side. My joyous expression turned to one of sorrow, and I lowered my gaze. "I'm tired. May I be excused from the table, Father?"

He nodded, and I pushed my chair in and left the rest of the food for anyone who wanted it. Aviva quickly followed me into the small room we shared at the east of the kitchen. She closed the door gently behind her as I fell on my cot, my head buried into my arms. She sat at my side and lightly patted my thick, mangled brown hair.

"Evelynne…don't worry. Elijah will be just fine, he's one of the army's strongest and he has the week ahead of him with none of us to fear, only training." I looked up at Aviva's calming face, her kind brown eyes brimming with tears. She blinked, trying to hide them. I only smiled. I loved it when she called me Evelynne. No one else did. It made me sound important, somehow.

"Thank you, Aviva." I hugged her. "Will you come with me tomorrow? To see Derora?"

Derora was the crazy old woman who lived on the edges of Eden's woods, in a ramshackle hut made of mud and straw. She was half-blind but extremely insightful. While most were frightened of her, Aviva and I thought her a true prophet, Eden's greatest foreseer.

Aviva shook her head forlornly. "I can't. I promise your mother that I'd help her with the hogs…that I'd feed them and all."

"What about afterward, then? What are you doing afterward?"

"Oh Evelynne, you know I get tired after tending to those damned hogs!" It was true, we both did. "You go see Derora. She enjoys you more than she does me, anyhow."

"If you insist, then…but the reason I wanted to see her was because of Elijah, mostly, to see what will become of him. I will take the truth, I surely will, good or bad. And…don't tell anyone, they may think I've lost my sanity, but I've been getting this dreadful feeling in my bones, like something huge is going to happen."

Aviva smiled. "I won't tell anyone."

"Thank you."

I dressed early the next morning to see if I could find Derora somewhere in the marketplace. Usually she would sell old trinkets, pots, and pans and the like. She was extremely poor, but somehow happy in her own way. I pulled my hood over my head to spare my hair of the dust, and walked through the calloused dirt streets of Eden.

There she was, behind her little dilapidated old booth, clanging in the wind with its bruised bronze and metal trinkets. Derora stood behind it, her black, frizzed hair streaked with silver and her good eye wide open, the other with a patch. Wrapped around her were contradicting patterns of green and peach and firy red, making her stand out from the other peasants selling their goods.

She looked at me as I approached the booth, and her small mouth turned into a grin so wide that it showed all of her gold teeth. I got these goldies from Assyrian pirates, you know, she told me once. They knocked my teeth out and felt pretty damn stupid that they had done such a thing to such a fine lady, so they replaced them with goldies. I believed not a word of it, but pretended to be amazed at her story of heroics. "Why, Evie Gershom, is that you?" she hissed, biting her bottom lip. "Well, I'll be damned, I surely will!"

"Hello, Miss Derora," I said politely. "I am here to buy something." I removed a small, chipped gold coin from the bag dangling at my side and placed it on the booth. "Miss Derora…I would like a bell. A pretty bell, that I can tie around my pet calf."

Derora's good eye widened at the sight of the gold piece, and she raised it to the sun, examining it. "Why, little Evie, you can buy anything in my little store for this 'un. I have many bells, many bells indeed." She sat a wooden crate in front of me, so I could look at them. There was a pretty silver one at the bottom, only slightly dented. I placed it in my palm and bowed my head shortly. Derora didn't need to know that I had no pet calf.

"Miss Derora…I have also come to you to ask for your foresight."

"Oh! Why didn't you say so, Evie?" She grinned again. "Pull up a chair, why don't you?" There were no chairs in sight, so I just leaned against the booth.

"Miss Derora, my brother Elijah has to go to War against Havilah. Pray tell what will happen to him."

Derora squinted her good eye shut, an almost desolate look on her old face. She placed her wrinkled hand over mine, and looked me in the eyes. "I knew this War was coming! I could see it! It will be the destruction of all man…the Creator will become dissatisfied with the people's greed and intend to destroy them! And you, my child…you will be extremely important! Extremely!"

"But, that can't possibly be…he can't destroy everyone on account of one King."

"Do not doubt my sayings, child!" the old woman cried. I cringed and slowly backed away, the small silver bell in my right hand as I ran back toward the house, my leather slippered feet hitting the sand below me. My heart beating like a race horse, I didn't stop until I reached my doorway, panting. I couldn't tell anyone of what Derora had just told me. Not even Aviva. It would bring too much worry.

Aviva greeted me at the door, her hair wet from the washbin and a new sarong around her. "Well? What did she say?"

I shook my head. "It is of no importance. She…she only told me to wish him luck."

Aviva looked disappointed. "That is all?"

"I'm afraid so. It seems as though her clairvoyant days are numbered."

"Oh."

I entered our room and fell on my cot, wrapping my arms around my knees and trying to forget about Derora. I thought about Elijah. He must have been safe, certainly he was safe, in a hidden training area to prepare for battle. He probably already wore the Mark of Eden around his neck, as most soldiers did…a twisted, curvy stem circling a rose and filled with thorns. It was beautiful, actually, no matter how much I despised Eden's King.

I remember what Elijah told me once, days back…beware of those with the markings of Havilah emblazoned on their right ankle, for they are the enemy.

And I remembered.

-3-

SECRET

The Garden was especially ripe at that time of year. All of the wild daisies were in full bloom, and Eden's famous roses were especially red and bright, weaving around the sides of the Garden's ivory gates. I had sat on the branch of an oak tree and gazed out at the forest surrounding me. At my left was the Evil Tree…that I called it, and it bloomed not a single fruit, but just stood there menacingly. I tried not to let it disturb my view of the rest of the garden.

The next day Elijah would be home from training for a few days, and then he would prepare himself for battle. I was scared, of course, trembling scared…but I remembered what King Kenaz had called him….Eden's gem. My own brother, Eden's gem, what an honor.

Suddenly, I heard the rustling of feet on the forest's ground. My heart froze. Someone had discovered my secret place. I jumped from the branch and hid behind the oak, my eyes only slightly peeping from the trunk to peer at whoever was coming my way.

Aviva. It was Aviva. I saw her face over the ivory walls of the Garden, looking confused. Maybe she was looking for me. She brushed the black hair off of her face and called my name. "Eve!" she cried. "Eve! Where are you?"

I couldn't stand it any longer. I stood up. "Here I am, Viv."

"Oh, Eve! There you are!" Aviva cried, and then paused to look at her surroundings. "What is this place? It's absolutely exquisite!"

I sighed. "It's the Garden, Aviva. The Garden of Eden."

"You should call it something else. Something like…a Dream's Utopia! That is far more of an appropriate name for it, don't you think?…is something troubling you, Eve? You look disappointed."

I shook my head. "No, Viv, it's nothing. I'll show you the Garden, if you'd like." I jumped over the ivory walls in one leap and forced a smile. "I'm actually quite glad you found me here…if you hadn't, I would have been all alone," I lied. Which was exactly my intent. Aviva looked delighted, so I went along with her happiness. "See here, Viv, all you have to do is jump over the gate. Like this." I hopped over in another leap, and beckoned for her to follow. "You try, now."

Aviva tried to hoist herself over the wall, but something pushed her back, and she toppled into the grass. She shook her head. "My, that was strange. I'll try again." She tried again, and failed. I could see a bruise forming on her arm. She glared at me. "Is this your kind of a trick, Eve?"

"No, it isn't, I swear it!" I had no idea what was going on. She couldn't get in the Garden…and I had a feeling that no one could. No one could, but I. The thought was quite delightful, but I tried to shake it off. "Anything can happen here, Aviva, you must understand that. I've never seen anyone else in the Garden but me." I lifted myself over the wall again, and helped her off of the ground. "I think…I think it's my protector, in a way."

"But why do you suppose it is?" she asked, almost forlorn. I felt sorry for her, in a way.

"I don't know. I don't know at all."

"Do you want to go ask Derora about it…"

"No!" I cried, almost sharply. "I mean…no, Viv, I don't want anyone to know about this Garden but us. It is between us, all right? Otherwise, word will get around about it and people will want to come see it and…well, this is my Garden, I hope you understand. It's been my Garden since I was a small girl." I smiled, trying to cheer her up. "I'm sure you have your own Garden somewhere."

"Do you really think I do?" Aviva asked me, her eyes brightening.

"Yes, I really think you do," I replied, hoping that would be enough to make her leave. Even though she was my favorite person next to Elijah, I needed my Garden. I needed my own place to think about things, my own place…it was almost selfish, but I didn't care. I looked upward, towards the trees filtering the sunlight. "I wonder how I'm the only one who can get in here, anyhow…I mean, how it recognizes me."

"Well…maybe it's your eye color."

"No, Viv, you have the same eye color as I. It's something…something strange. I think I know what it could be." I turned my wrist over and showed it to Aviva…giving her a clear visual of the birthmark I had since I was a child. "Do you think it could be my birthmark? It's quite strange, actually…it looks like a bird."

"But the Garden of Eden has nothing to do with birds."

"You're right," I said, and then turned to her, changing the subject. "Aviva…Elijah's coming back tomorrow. He sent me a letter, telling me he was going to come from somewhere near the river Hiddekel." I beamed. "And he says he's bringing back his friend, whom is also going to serve the King."

"Who is his friend?"

"I don't know. I'll read it to you." I took the letter from my hand bag draped at my side and uncrumpled the paper.

My dearest little sister,

Training is extremely tough. We are here now, all forty-seven of us, near the Hiddekel River that leads into Assyria. (I unfortunately, cannot tell you where exactly we are, in case this letter falls into the wrong hands.) However, I am coming home, by the time you receive this, tomorrow. I am also bringing home for a few days my friend who has sprained his good ankle after falling, but he is still going to serve the King. I would hope for you and Aviva and the rest of the family to meet him. I have also sent you a gift, that should arrive today. Send everyone my best regards.

Yours forever,

Eli

"I can't wait until he comes back," I said, gripping the piece of parchment in my hand so tightly that my fist turned white. "I just cannot wait."

"Oh, about the gift!" cried Aviva. "There is a package for you, that's why I came up here to look for you in the first place! It's a big package, too!"

Viv and I raced home so fast I thought my legs would break, and I nearly knocked over the door in anticipation. It sat in front of me, four feet wide and two feet tall, wrapped in brown cloth and tied together by ropes. I began ripping at it as soon as I saw it. The cloth fell to reveal a beautiful ivory trunk, engraved in roses and vines of ivy that decorated the entire outside of it. A piece of paper fluttered to my feet.

For Eve,

This trunk was given to me by the Princess Oralee the Fourth on account that I saved her porcelain doll from the depths of the Hiddekel. I decided that this trunk would be of much more use to you than to me, so you and Aviva can use it and keep it in your room to give it a royal decorative touch.

Eli

"It's completely exquisite!" cried Aviva, running her fingers over the smooth ivory lid. It was nearly perfect, except for a small scratch on the side. "And to think that this was given to him by a royal princess…even if she's only seven years old!" She tried to open the lid, but it wouldn't budge. "Help me with this lid, would you?"

I tried prying on the lid, and it became unstuck and flew open. The inside looked almost untouched, it was so flawless…except for one thing. A scroll, thick but with sparkling gold handles and yellow tinted parchment, sat in a lower corner. I removed it and opened it. It was blank. "Do you suppose this is Oralee's?" I asked, turning it over.

"I don't know! But it's beautiful, isn't it?"

"Extraordinary," I replied. I ran my fingers down the smooth parchment. "I'll find a use for it one day. But it has to be a good use…nothing silly."

"I don't know," Aviva replied, thinking. I could see her sparkling brown eyes were full of ideas. She loved writing. I, however, didn't care much for it.

"No. But I will think of something." I tucked the scroll back in the corner and closed the lid. "Help me move this to our room, would you?"

The next day I awoke at the crack of dawn, and, since I didn't have many duties that day except for making breakfast, I washed my hair and put on my clothes and sat anxiously on the front porch, awaiting Elijah's arrival. Every horseman that rode by I took a good look at, to make sure it wasn't him. Aviva joined me for nearly an hour, watching the passersby, when she pointed in the distance at two horses approaching with a cloud of dust at their feet. "Do you suppose that is him?"

I squinted my eyes and shielded them from the sun with my hand. I saw him…him and his floppy dark hair and even his piercing blue eyes in the far distance. I gasped. "That's him, all right! I would know Elijah from anywhere! Come, Viv!" I jumped off the porch and sprinted towards him, nearly ignoring the other horsemen that nearly trampled me on the road.

"Watch for the horses, Eve!" cried Aviva.

I was much too anxious to watch for any horses. I sprinted, my cousin close at my feet, until I reached Elijah. He stopped his horse and ran towards me, his arms outstretched. "Eve! Oh Eve, I missed you so much!" he cried, and then lifted me off of my feet, hugging me. Aviva followed, and he hugged her, also.

"I missed you far more, Eli!" I cried.

Elijah pulled away as the horse next to his suddenly slowed in front of me. The boy riding the horse looked about twenty, Elijah's age, and halted his horse. He dismounted and stood in front of me, a sort of half smile on his face. I could see that his right foot had been sprained and wrapped in a bandage, so he walked with a limp, but that's not what I noticed most of all…which was his face. His short blonde hair was hinted with brown, and his dark eyes shimmered even from the dirt road's reflection. He outstretched his hand, and I shook it, gazing intently at his smile, which had formed two dimples at the sides of his cheeks.

"You must be Eve," he said, the smile still on his face.

"Y-yes, that is I," I stammered, my concentration completely lost.

"Then let me introduce myself. My name is Adam Nehemiah Lemuel." He grinned. "You can call me Adam."

-4-

ADAM

"Well, I am extremely pleased to meet you, Adam," my mother said, bowing her head slightly to the strange boy that had walked into our house with Elijah. I followed him closely…but not too closely. My mouth had been sort of hanging on the walk back to the house, and Aviva reminded me to close it. Which was extremely embarrassing, I must say.

Adam nodded. "I am even more so pleased to meet you, Missus Gershom."

Father emerged from the back room, and grinned at the blonde-haired boy that had just walked into his home. "You must be Adam. So tell me, Adam, where do you come from?"

"West Eden," he replied. "My brother Thomas was originally in the army, but he had an unfortunate injury where he fell off of his horse, and he can no longer walk." Adam grinned, his dimples forming in his cheeks again. "But he's fine. That was many years ago, almost four. I decided to take over to uphold the Lemuel name."

"Well, that is very heroic of you," Father replied. "I am Saul Gershom, and this is my wife, Ismaela." He turned to Mother. "Isma, isn't supper ready yet? And where's that boy of mine?"

"Here I am, Father." Elijah emerged from the door, carrying his packs on his obviously strained back. He set them on the floor and looked at me. "Say, Eve, did you get my present? The Princess' trunk, I mean?"

"Oh, yes! And it is absolutely stunning!"

"I hoped you'd like it." Elijah gave me his normal wry smile, and walked into the kitchen, where Mother had been making potatoes and pork and rice. She exited the kitchen, juggling the bowls in her hands, and set them on the table. "I do hope you like pork, Adam, it's Elijah's favorite."

"Oh, as it is mine!" Adam smiled at me and Aviva, and then pulled out two chairs, gesturing us to sit in them. I blushed a deep crimson, which has always been a fault of mine. Adam sat next to me, and Viv sat to my right. I was afraid that I had soon lost my appetite, it all had gone directly to hunger of mind for the boy who sat on left of me. I bit my lip, and took a deep breath, trying to lose the color in my face which I knew was there. I could feel it burning.

"So, I'm interested, Adam, whatever did you do to your foot?" Father asked.

"Oh, my horse, Ginger, accidentally stepped on me." He laughed. "We have sort of a horse curse in our family."

"Speaking of family…why aren't you with yours? Not that you're not welcome here," Father said, gnawing on a piece of his meat. I wished he would stop asking so many questions. It was embarrassing. I felt my cheeks turn pink again, which I quickly shook off.

"Well, Mister Gershom-"

"Call me Saul."

"Well, Saul," Adam continued, "my family doesn't quite welcome me with open arms. I did not tell them I was going to War for the King…I sort of ran away, to join the army. Not very noble on my part, in a few ways, but this is our country, is it not? I decided that if Thomas can't fight for it, and neither can my old father, then I must. And, even with their objections, that I did. I reckon I'll see them after the War is over. If I'm alive by then." I almost coughed on my meat when he said that, and everyone looked at me. I blushed.

Adam turned to me. "Tell me, Eve, how old are you?"

"S-sixteen years," I stammered.

"You look older than that." He looked at Aviva, and raised an eyebrow. "Fourteen, am I right?" Viv nodded. Adam laughed. "You certainly have raised some beautiful girls in this household, Missus Gershom."

I blushed so badly that I thought I certainly looked like a tomato.

"Thank you kindly, Missus Gershom, but I'd much rather sleep outside, in my tent." Adam threw a suede bag over his shoulder and bowed slightly. Mother shook her head, and sort of cocked it to the side. "We have an extra cot, Adam, you can sleep in Elijah's room," she repeated. "It's no trouble."

"I prefer to sleep among the stars." Adam grinned, his dimpled cheeks revealed, and nodded again. "Good night, Missus Gershom. And good night to you too, Eve."

I gasped. I had tried to eavesdrop on him when he thought I was asleep…but he obviously saw me standing there, looking slightly through the creak in the door. I bit my lip and slunk back into my room, closing the door another crack. Sleep among the stars? I thought to myself. How incredibly dream-worthy is that?

Aviva, who had been listening also, sort of chuckled and buried herself under her quilt. "Oh Eve, if I hadn't known any better, I would think that you were madly in love with him!" she laughed.

"Shush, Viv!" I cried, throwing my pillow at her face. "I am not madly in love with him."

"Then why is your face so red?"

I bit my cheeks. That girl could read me inside and out. I sort of squinted my eyes at her, and looked thoughtful. "And if I didn't know any better…I think he's too good to be true. You know what I mean? There's something extremely suspicious about it…he's too nice, he's much too good looking, and I certainly have never heard of the Lemuels."

"Oh Eve. There must be a hundred Lemuels in the world." She shook her head. "You need to have a little more trust in people-"

Without a hint of warning, I heard a shriek from my mother in the other room. Aviva and I quickly ran from our room to see what was happening, only to come face to face with a tall man, dressed in gold and black robes, his face shielded with a mask of jet black and revealed only his small, curved mouth. My father quickly jumped in front of my mother, and clenched his teeth. "Aviva, Eve…go back to your room."

"But, Fa-"

"Go back to your room!" he screamed, and we did as we were told. Fortunately, there was a few small cracks in the wall, just enough to hear and to see out of. Aviva and I pressed our ears against the wall, our hearts throbbing at a million beats per minute, and the only sound escaping from us was our heavy panting.

The man had apparently pulled out a long, gold sword and held it near my father almost threateningly. "Have you any of Eden's soldiers in this household?" he said, his voice deep and menacing.

Father stood his guard, his back and shoulders straight and his fists clenched. I could barely see what was going on, but I had an idea. He coughed, and then replied almost as intensely, "No, sir, we do not harbor any soldiers in this household. May I ask why?"

"I am from the land of Havilah," the man replied, "and the army of Havilah is to make an attack on Eden. We would like to know our enemy's whereabouts, if you know what I mean." He chuckled slightly. I put my eye against the crack and saw that he had twisted his sword in the air, the light reflecting off the gold like sunshine. "You know what will happen if you fail to tell me if there are any soldiers living here?"

Father kept his guard. "I know quite well," he replied, glaring. "There are no soldiers here. When will you attack?"

"Soon," the man replied, the wry smile still on his mouth. "Very soon."

After the door had slammed shut, I emerged from my room and saw my mother lying on the ground, as white as a ghost. Aviva knelt to her side and helped her up as I ran to Elijah's room to see if he had heard any of it. The answer came to me once I opened the door.

Elijah was gone.

-5-

ESCAPE

"Father! Where are Elijah and Adam?" I cried, nearly on my knees in frustration and worry. I had checked outside to see if Adam was there…and every single hint of him was gone. The tent, his horse, my brother's horse…everything.

"They left," Father replied.

I was confused. "Where did they go?"

"I cannot tell you, Eve, it would be far too dangerous." He lifted his eyes toward the ceiling. "If we indeed have a Creator and a Guardian, I do hope he looks after them." He shut his eyes and inhaled a deep breath. I felt myself go weak in the knees from apprehension, my eyes watering with tears.

Elijah…where did you go? I thought to myself, trying to recollect any clues I had to my brother's whereabouts. And suddenly, I knew. I knew exactly where he was. I gritted my teeth, pretending to know nothing. "Well, I suppose I will see you in the morning," I told them. Aviva gave me a confused look, but followed me into my room.

"What's going on, Eve?" she demanded, obviously shaken by the incident.

"I know where they are." I reached under my cot and retrieved a battered case with a handle, and started to stuff my belongings into it; not all of them, just a few clothes and some soap and certain essentials…including my pet garden snake, whom I had put in a small bronze cage. I smiled at Aviva and patted her on the back. "Don't worry, Viv, I'll be fine. I'm going to War, you see." I tapped the cage. "And Zan will protect me."

"You can't go to War. You're a girl, Eve!"

"I have to watch out for Eli. If anything happened to him I don't think I could live with myself." I blew out the candle stub on my dresser, and let the moon's glow be the only light that filtered into our room, casting an eerie light over the wood floor. Aviva cocked her head to one side, confused. "Are you going to take the horse?"

"Yes, I'll take Red, but I can't give away my cover. Not just yet, anyhow." I slammed the case shut, and folded the clasp over the edge. "If Eli and Adam knew I was with them, they'd send me back home. Fast. I'm going to have to follow them with Red for awhile until I reach the outskirts of Havilah." I slung the case over my back with its leather straps and looked Aviva directly in the eye. "I suppose you want to know why I'm doing this." She nodded and I sighed. "I lied to you, Viv. Remember that day that I told you that old Derora wouldn't predict anything? Well…she did. She told me, well, she told me that the War would mark the end of our days. And that I had something to do with it."

Aviva was nearly speechless. "Don't let anything happen to you, Eve."

"I won't." I smiled. "Make sure my Garden isn't invaded, all right?"

Aviva nodded, and then reached under her cot mattress, pulling out a long, battered leather sheath, and then placed it in my hands. I knew what it was, and I was completely shocked. Viv only smiled, a few tears dripping down the sides of her cheeks. "It was my father's, your uncle Gilon." She wiped away her tears, and laughed. "You already knew that. It's…it's yours now. It will protect you."

I pulled the sword out of the sheath, the silver blade glittering in the moonlight. The handle, as I had seen many times before, was made of dark wood and lined with bronze, the words Gilon Gershom carved into it with a knife so small it seemed as though it could be a toothpick. I felt tears in my eyes, but I quickly blinked them away. "You don't realize how much this means to me, Aviva."

"I know it will be useful." Viv bit her lip, her eyes glittering. I wrapped my arms around her and let my tears drip on her shoulder. "I'm going to miss you, Evelynne," she whispered, her voice quavering.

"I'm going to miss you more." I pulled away and lifted the glass window, stepping carefully outside and admiring the night. Aviva took one last look at me, and then closed the curtains.

That is where my journey truly began. I had been shut up in that house far too long. Now was the time for adventure, and excitement, and a daring thrill that would surely take place. Maybe it was a foolish thing to do, a sixteen year old like myself to walk out of her home to join a War, but I couldn't turn back. Not then, anyhow. Not until Elijah and Adam were both safe.

"…the Creator will become dissatisfied with the people's greed and intend to destroy them! And you, my child…you will be extremely important!"

How was I so extraordinarily important? I knew I couldn't affect such a large War. Derora was insane. That was the only conclusion I had come up with….that Derora was insane, with her frizzed hair and unmatching clothing and that cackly voice of hers. Tears started to reform at my eyes, but I quickly blinked them away, and headed to the stables.

"Red," I called out softly. "I'm coming, Red."

The small, reddish-colored horse whimpered behind its stable, its black eyes reflected off the moonlight. He swished his narrow head so that his black mane fell behind him, obviously excited. "Don't whimper, Red, we're going to sneak off to help Elijah." His ears sort of perked at Eli's name. Red was Kizzy's colt, after all…and Kizzy was Elijah's. Viv and I shared Red, and took turns taking care of him.

Red sort of cocked his head to one side, like he was asking what was happening. His eyes were widened in confusion. I ran my fingers through his coarse mane. "We're going to Eliphaz Valley."

And in a narrow valley we'll stay

Protected by the glen

The lowland of green waters

Which vow daylight once again

And through the willow trees

The naïve but humble eye

Shall see a gorge filled with sun-fire red

Where the blossoms lie.

It was Elijah's most favorite poem. I knew it by heart…and I also knew of one valley in Eden that was covered field to field with fire-red poppies, and willow trees that curtained the entire gorge and streams of bluish-green water that flowed in and out of the mountains. It was Eliphaz Valley. It had to be where Elijah and Adam were.

I mounted Red and we quietly sank through the horizon, midnight and black and more frightening than anything I could imagine. The only thing keeping me from going insane were the blurry, yet blinding stars spotted in the sky. Mother told me they were large diamonds planted on the black canvas of the night, to appear only when the sun had set. She always believed in me, my mother did…I wouldn't have doubted it for a second if she knew where I was headed.

The heavy sword hung loosely from the sheath on my hip and the horse, obviously, was having trouble seeing through the thick treetops. I checked on Zan to make sure he was all right; he was fast asleep, curled into a little brown ball.

"We need to make a stop first, Red," I whispered, and turned him toward the middle of the forest…the whereabouts of the Garden.

After dismounting Red, I stooped in front of the Garden of Eden's walls and ran my fingers over its cold, hard stone. Entering it cautiously, as if I had never been in it before, I took one last look at the enormous flowers and fruits and picked a few from the trees, stuffing them in the sack at my side. I fell on my knees and, taking a sharp stone, cut my index finger, the blood flowing from it like a stream. Raising my finger over the ivory, I traced it over the stone, the red of the plasma staining the walls.

EVE

Like an oath, I had written my name in the Garden with my own blood. It was like a spell, really…a spell that bounded me to the Garden, my protector, for eternity. I knew then that I was safe.

-6-

ELIPHAZ

I saw them.

It wasn't them, exactly, but a spot of fire in the Valley, so high that the flickering flames seemed to touch the sky. It was well-hidden, of course, under a massive amount of willow trees…but I knew it was where Adam and Elijah were. I could sense the whereabouts of my brother wherever I went, because our bond was so unbreakable.

I rode Red quietly for a little while until we had reached a short, grass-covered cliff above them…a place they couldn't see us easily. I took an apple from my sack and fed it to Red, and then tied him to an oak tree and looked around. The Eliphaz Valley was utterly beautiful, even at night, under the glowing light of the stars and of the moon. It was precisely like it was described in the poem that Eli was so fond of.

I peered over the cliff, looking downward at my brother and his companion. They were sitting near the camp fire, next to each other, with daggers at their sides in case of a surprise enemy attack. Adam was wrapped in a fur blanket and drinking something from a wooden mug, while Eli was wearing only pants and was stretched out on the grass, facing the crystallic starlit sky. I strained to hear their voices as they indulged in conversation.

"At the first light of dawn tomorrow, we're going to head to Havilah to help out the other troops," Elijah explained, mussing his hair.

Adam nodded. "I wonder where our troop is."

"Who knows?" Elijah pondered. "I hope they're all right. I really do. Damned general shouldn't have sent us back to Eden like that."

There was a pause, and I took the time to examine Adam while I could. He was beautiful, really, with an exquisite face and a strong jaw and dimples. My eyes wandered to Elijah, who I had to admit, was just as ravishing. I could feel my face burning in embarrassment, and I gripped the grass in my fists as Adam started to speak.

"So, when are you going to tell her?"

"Who?" Elijah asked.

"Eve." Adam took another drink from his mug.

"I don't know. I don't think she could handle it. Aviva doesn't know, either, and I'm sure that's a good thing. She tells Eve everything." Elijah chuckled. "Mother and Father aren't about to tell Eve, either…but next time I see her, I'm going to tell her the truth."

The truth about what? I thought to myself, my grip on the grass becoming even stronger. My fists were as white as snow. I couldn't stand the suspense. Adam spoke again, somewhat softly, so I had to strain to hear his voice. "She's a nice-looking one, she is."

"I'm glad you think so," Elijah replied. He sat up. "Make me some of that tea, would you?"

"She's just…nice-looking, that's all. She has nice hair. And nice eyes." Adam grinned and I nearly collapsed in giddiness. He thinks I'm nice-looking! He thinks I have nice hair and nice eyes! Someone catch me! I was dizzy with joy. "Maybe if I get out of the War alive, I'll come visit the Gershoms again." Adam laughed.

"Oh, we'll get out alive, that's for damn sure," Elijah said. "You and me, Adam, we're the best warriors in our troop. Not to brag or anything." Eli grinned, and sat next to Adam, flicking stones in the fire. "We'll get out alive. And we'll win, you'll see. Even with that foot of yours…seeing as it's been sprained and all. It'll be all right. You have Ginger, and I have Kizzy, and they're good horses."

"Yeah, you're right, we'll be fine." Adam threw a fur blanket at Eli. "Go to sleep. We have to get up early tomorrow, if we want to get to Havilah in time to help anyone."

"How long do you suppose the trek there is?"

"Three days. Maybe four." Adam rolled over on his side, his only pillow the sand underneath his head. "G'night, Elijah."

"Good night, Adam."

I waited a long time until I was certain that they were both completely asleep. Snores escaped from Elijah, and Adam was so silent I thought he was dead. I slowly crept down the side of the short cliff, the grass preventing me from slipping as I grasped the sides. Landing near their campsite below, I stood above Adam, and then knelt to his side, running my fingers through his short, blonde hair, and then across the creases of his face and jaw. My heart nearly stopped when he rolled to the other side, and I backed off a little. "Adam…your expressions are sparse, your words are few, and yet…" I whispered, barely breathing. I sat next to him, looking at his comely face that glowed in the light of the fading fire, and tucked my arms around my legs.

It was then I saw it. The fur on his blanket had began to catch fire. My eyes widened in horror as I threw sand on the blaze, trying to stamp it out and making a commotion while I was at it. Adam and Elijah were both shaken awake. "Eve!" cried Adam, astonished. "What are you doing here?" He quickly jumped on his feet and threw more sand on the flame, perishing it.

"You were almost burnt to death!" I cried.

Elijah glared at me. "Eve, what do you think you're doing?"

"I'm saving Adam Lemuel's life, that's what I'm doing!" I cried haughtily.

Eli shook his head. "That's not what I meant, and you know it. How come you're not back at the house? We're on the outskirts of Eden, Eve! How did you manage to get here?"

A faint whimper from the top of the cliff answered him. Elijah gave me a disappointed look, and I responded as quickly as I could. "I couldn't bear to see you get hurt, Eli! And…and that's what old Derora predicted, and she said I was important in the War-"

"You believe in a crazy old woman?" Elijah cried, astonished. "Eve…you're just a girl, Eve! What do you think you're doing, trying to fight in the biggest War this century?"

"I don't want to fight!" I cried. "I just wanted to protect you both."

"I'm taking you back first thing in the morning," he replied.

"No!" I cried, grabbing his arm. "I can't let you do that. You have to help our warriors in Havilah! They need you, Eli! You can't risk this, you really can't." I lowered my head. "I am sorry if I have shamed you at all, but I am needed. I know it. I can feel it!"

Elijah obviously had given up after my endless amounts of pleading. "All right, I'll let you stay…but you have to keep behind enemy lines! And you can't cause us any distraction or trouble. Is that clear?"

I lowered my eyes to the ground. "Yes, Eli."

Before I knew it, I felt his arms around my back. "Thank you for coming for me, Eve," he whispered. "I know you wanted to help me…I really do."

I pulled away. "What is it you wanted to tell me?"

Elijah clenched his teeth, knowing now that I had been listening in on their conversation. "It can wait," he said. "For now we'll sleep. I'll find a time to tell you, I promise, Eve." He moved his fur blanket a considerable amount away from the fire, and looked over at Adam, who was sound asleep again. "You can share a blanket with me, I suppose, but it's not very big."

"It doesn't matter," I replied, a smile permanently spread on my face. I rubbed the side of Elijah's face with the back of my hand, and kissed him on the temple. "Good night. No matter what happens, you'll always be my brother."

He had fallen fast asleep.

-7-

BROTHER

I always had a fascination with serpents. While Aviva and my mother were both deathly afraid of them, I found them magnificent…able to move so quickly and at such great lengths with no limbs. Derora once told me at one of my visits to "stay away from the serpents, they will do you no good, Eve".

I did not listen. As foolish as it was, I did not. I had found Zan, my pet snake, in the Garden. He was wrapped around that black, evil, tree. As far as I was concerned, he was the most gorgeous little creature to ever slither into my path.

And now Zan had found its way onto Adam's foot. He screamed.

"Oh, Adam," I laughed. "It is only my little pet snake. He won't hurt you."

Adam backed off slowly. "I despise those creatures," he said through clenched teeth. Elijah smirked as he plucked Zan off of Adam's leather shoe and put it back in the little bronze cage. Adam shuddered in repulsion. "How can you bear to have one of those things in your presence?" he demanded. "They're evil!"

"Zan is not evil!" I cried, stroking its small head. It looked at me with beady eyes. "Zan is my protector."

"All right, enough about snakes," Elijah said, slinging his bag on his shoulder and mounting Kizzy. "We have a long way to Havilah." He grinned, and continued, "Maybe when we get there we can get our hands on some of that much sought-after gold, don't you say?"

I scowled. "Don't be so greedy, Eli." I mounted Red and adjusted the saddle. "What's the safest route out of Eliphaz?"

We found ourselves on a silent journey through the mountains and near the River Pishon. When our horses became tired or we became hungry, we ate a small ration of food that both of the boys had brought and gave the horses the Garden's fruit. The sun was so hot that it left my skin darker by the nightfall, tanning my arms where my clothes didn't cover, and although I didn't have a mirror I was certain that my face was freckled, also.

We passed small villages along the way, and they looked at Adam and Elijah like they were their heroes, with the Mark of Eden around their necks, the rose emblazoned in a large, flat disk that hung like necklaces. The people paid little attention to me and Red, who were following Adam and Eli awkwardly, with dust in our hair and on our clothes.

The air was colder than it was on the first night, so we pitched a tent and I embarrassingly took my place in a corner, huddled into a ball, while Adam and Elijah slept soundly. Moonlight crept through the cracks in the cloth door and reflected against the swords at the boys' sides, making them shimmer. Zan had found its way out of the cage, as it sometimes did, and had curled up in a tight little ball next to my head. I smiled, and gripped the sheath holding Gilon Gershom's sword.

I will be prepared for anything, I thought to myself, gritting my teeth. A tear came to my eye as I felt the sword in my hands, and I thought of Viv, who was probably dead with worry by now. Not to mention my mother. My father would probably do without me…seeing as Elijah was his son and I, unfortunately, was his daughter…the word in his vocabulary that had meant "useless" and "obsolete".

I saw Elijah turn over, his face up toward the ceiling of the tent. His eyes flickered open, and he just laid there for a moment. "Eve?" he whispered. "Are you still awake, Eve?"

I nodded, even though he probably couldn't see me. "Yes."

Eli sat up and folded his arms around his knees. His face was reflected off of the moon light as well, and his sunken cheekbones and dark hair made him appear almost ghost-like…except for the turquoise eyes that were lined with long eyelashes. "I suppose it's a good a time as any to tell you the truth about me," he said, looking almost nervous. "If you don't want to know, maybe it would be best…it wouldn't change anything."

"You can tell me, Elijah."

He bit his bottom lip, and stared up towards the ceiling. "You've been my little sister for sixteen years, Eve. I've played with you, watched over you, treated you like any brother should, you know?" I nodded. "Well, I'm afraid I've been…I've been lying to you the entire time."

"Lying to me?" I said, confused. I had no idea where this was leading.

Elijah lowered his eyes, as if he were ashamed to tell me what he was about to. "Eve…I'm not your brother."

"You're what?"

"I'm not your brother," he repeated. "Mother and Father found me in the woods when I was only an infant. I was on the verge of starvation…Father had always wanted a son, of course, and so Mother took me back to the house and took care of me until I was healthy again…I meant to tell you sooner but I didn't know how you'd react."

"So…you're not my brother," I said, awestruck. The news had hit me like a bolt from the blue. I had no idea. Elijah had always been my brother, my protector, and my friend…he looked nothing like the rest of the family, I realized, with his greenish eyes and his dark hair and skin…but it had never occurred to me that he could be something other than my sibling.

"I'm sorry, Eve."

"Oh, Eli, it's all right," I reassured him. "I mean, you'll always be my brother at heart, you know…nothing could separate us. I'll always love you more than anyone."

"Yeah. Your brother." Elijah sighed and pulled the fur blanket over him. "Good night, Eve."

He sounded almost disheartened. Zan found its way on my wrist and had curled around it like a bracelet as I laid there, looking up toward the tent ceiling. What was I supposed to say? Was I supposed to be happy about it? I didn't understand the disappointment in his voice.

The main question on my mind was, why didn't anyone tell me before? It was puzzling.

He was still my brother…my brother at heart. I had lived with him for sixteen years, knew his every thought and every desire. I thought the bond between us came from our blood…I suppose I was wrong. I pondered it for a long time, then finally shook Eli awake. He rubbed his eyes. "Mmm?" he said.

"Eli…have you ever been to the Garden?"

"Plenty of times."

"No…no, I mean, like the Garden," I said. "It's near our town in Eden…in a forest, surrounded by ivory walls. Have you ever been to it?"

"No. I can't say that I have," he replied, and then got a puzzled look on his face. "Why?"

"Oh. All right. I was just wondering." I rolled back over, confused. I was confused at myself, mainly. I didn't know why I had just asked him that…maybe it still haunted me that Aviva couldn't get a step near the Garden without being blocked off by something invisible…something magical.

Someone else had to be able to get in that Garden. It might even had been Elijah, I decided. Once we got back to Eden, I'd take him there, to my little ecstacy in the forest. To see if he could get in. I didn't know why it burned at my mind the entire night, but it did. Elijah was different.

-8-

NEHEMO

"Eat it! Eat it!" Zan hissed repeatedly, wrapping himself around the wretched black tree. Dangling from its limb was the most shiny, beautiful red apple I had ever seen. The Garden was entirely black and white except for that cherry-red apple, large and ravishing, beckoning me to take a bite of it.

"Stay away from the serpents, they will do you no good, Eve…" Derora's words echoed in my mind over and over again, as Zan lifted its small head to my face and hissed, "Eat it! Eat it!"

"I cannot eat it, Derora said I shouldn't listen to you!" I cried.

"But look at it, Eve, look how beautiful it is. Don't you just want to touch it? Don't you?"

"No!" I screamed. "No!"

I awoke with a start, sweat dripping from my forehead, my breathing short and panted. Innocent little Zan was curled onto my blanket, asleep. Just a dream, it was just a dream, I thought to myself, over and over, trying to shake the image of the crimson fruit dangling from the branches of that evil, black tree…

"I'm hungry," I said to myself. "That must be it." I looked around the tent. Both Adam and Elijah were outside, packing. I quickly got on my feet and rolled my blanket up, and then put Zan back in his little cage, hoping he wouldn't crawl out and cause any trouble.

I watched as Adam and Elijah took down the tent and wrapped the rope around it, and then slung it on Kizzy's back. "Better hurry up, Eve, and stop sleeping in so late," Adam said. I looked at the sun. It was probably only about eight, but I was never too certain.

Adam came over and put his arm around me, and then pointed my face eastward with his fingers. "That's where we're headed, Eve, can you see it?"

I couldn't.

Adam grinned, revealing that superb smile of his. "No, you can't see it with the naked eye. Close your eyes, Eve…that's right. Now can you see it?"

I could. There were towering buildings made of sandstone and people walking the streets with golden trinkets. There was a palace…a beautiful palace made of gold and copper that was luminescent in the sunlight. "That's Havilah," Adam whispered in my ear. "That's what we're fighting for."

I blinked open my eyes and stared directly into his face. I gulped. We were practically brushing noses. "Wh-what's it like, Adam?" I stammered. I could feel the pink tinting my cheeks.

"It's everything you see, and more," he said, almost whispering. I fell headlong into those deep, deep mahogany eyes, and started to close my own…when I felt a hand clamp down on my shoulder. I was soon unfortunately shaken from my daze.

"Come on, time to go." Elijah helped me onto my feet as he untied Red. I clenched my teeth, extremely angry, but not about to show it. He had ruined my moment! I begrudgingly mounted Red and made sure Zan, the sword, and my sack were at my side. I stroked Red's mane with my fingers and looked at Adam on Ginger, completely downhearted. He, much to my dismay, looked like he always did. Happy and alert.

It made me ill.

I rode up next to Elijah, trying not to look too angry. It was, I thought, my only chance. I gritted my teeth. "I had a dream last night, Eli."

"About what?"

"About…I don't know. About temptation, I suppose."

Elijah pondered, looking skyward. "Don't give in to temptation. You know what it does to people." He shot a nasty glare at Adam, who pretended like he didn't notice it. "It means not to give in to things you shouldn't be messing with." He raised his voice, probably so that Adam could hear him.

Adam only hummed.

It was useless. "Never mind, Eli," I said.

It was at dusk that we reached the small town on the outskirts of Eden by the name of Nehemo. It wasn't very large…I could probably stand on Red's back and see over the entire village, but it looked like a nice place to stay for the time being. A wooden sign above the entrance read, "NEMEHO VILLAGE" and it looked as though people were starting to pack up and head back home for the night.

"So? Where are we going?" I asked the two boys riding in front of me. Adam shrugged.

"We're going to try to find someplace dry and warm to sleep," Elijah said, jumping off of Kizzy and walking alongside her. It wasn't too difficult. The people of Nemeho saw Adam and Elijah's beautiful bronze armour and swords dangling from their sides and their eyes shined immediately with wonder and respect.

Finally, a plain-looking girl about my age with long, calf-length auburn hair twisted into two braids stood at Elijah's side. "May I ask, sir, are you one of Eden's soldiers?"

The girl was obviously dense. What did he look like, a farmer? But Elijah only nodded and smiled his charming, witty little smile. "Yes, I'm Elijah Gershom, and this is my friend Adam Lemuel, and my sis- I mean…yes, my sister, Eve."

She stretched out an inviting hand toward Elijah. She was obviously smitten; bewitched with Elijah's looks. "I…I'm Mireille. Mireille Hadassah." She smiled. "Well, I'm not going to let two of Eden's soldiers sit out here in the cold, am I?" She batted her eyelashes, a habit in girls that always, always made me sick. She wasn't pretty, either. She had a large nose and her hair frizzed at all sides. She grinned, showing her large teeth. "My home is just down the road there, I'll lead you." She cast me a look. "I suppose you'll want to come in also?"

"Actually, I was planning on sleeping on the ground," I said sarcastically, through gritted teeth. I really wished Aviva had come along with me. She knew how to talk to stuck-up girls.

Mireille snorted. I hated people who snorted. "You're an amusing girl, Eva."

"It's Eve."

"Eve," she corrected herself. She batted her eyelashes again at Elijah, and started walking alongside Kizzy. She led us to her small, clay house, and opened the door. Sitting around a large, wooden table similar to our own were two older women, one older man, and a small boy. "Mother! Father! Auntie! Yeriel!" she cried, so loudly I nearly had to cover my ears. "I found some soldiers!"

One of the older women rushed over to Adam and Elijah and grinned. "I'm delighted to meet you, boys!" she said, and brushed her hands off her apron. Her hair was just as auburn as Mireille's, so I supposed she was her mother. She shook hands with Adam, and then Elijah. "My name is Hedia. Hedia Hadassah. I'm Mireille's mother. And…and that is my husband, Lael, my husband's sister Ganya, and my son Yeriel." She beamed, as if she were looking her own son's in the eyes instead of complete strangers.

Ganya stood up, a little older looking than Hedia, and pulled out two chairs from the table. "What are your names, pray tell?"

"I'm Adam Lemuel, and this here is Elijah Gershom, and his sister Eve," Adam introduced.

Ganya raised an eyebrow at me, looking somewhat skeptical. I didn't like this family right away. I decided that I'd rather sleep on the ground. "I suppose you're fighting in the War also?" she asked me, a chuckle in her tone. I clenched my teeth and didn't answer.

"Where can we put our horses?" Elijah asked Ganya, and she smiled bittersweetly, and answered, "In the back, my dear boy, there are a few stables." She looked at me suspiciously again. "Do you have a horse, little girl?"

"Yes, and I think I'll be sleeping with him tonight," I answered, putting my arms around Red's neck and leading him away from the house.

"Oh, no," Mireille said, disconcerned. "Why don't you sleep with us, Eve?"

"I have no desire to," I said. "Good night."

Adam and Elijah both gave me concerned looks, and I smiled at them and shrugged. "I'd rather sleep in the stables than with those people, anyhow," I whispered to Eli, and then smirked. "Save me some of their food, all right?" Elijah nodded, and kissed the top of my head before he and Adam went inside.

I led the three horses to the stables in the back. There was one black mare in the stables, and she was enormous. I had trouble looking her in the eye without fearing that she'd kick me with one of her hooves. I let Ginger, who was the biggest of the three, go in with her. "You can take it, sweetheart," I whispered to Ginger, combing my fingers through her mane. Ginger whinnied at me as I led Kizzy and Red into the other stable. The hay was old but I wasn't complaining, and neither were the horses.

"I wish I were back home," I whispered to Red, stroking its foot as I sat on a pile of hay. "I wish I were back in the Garden of Eden, or working with Aviva and my mother." A silent tear came to my eye and glistened on my cheek. My sword sat at my side, coated in its leather sheath, and Zan was in its little cage next to me.

"Don't escape and frighten the horses, now, Zan," I whispered to the little serpent, who poked its head out of the cage and stared at me with its shiny black eyes. I smiled, and curled up next to the hay as the stars started to appear in the blackening sky. "Good night, everyone." A muttered whinny came from Kizzy's mouth as I fell into a deep sleep, as tired as the day was long.

"Eve…" The voice came as a whisper, almost angelic, and came from my dream into reality. "Eve…" As far as I knew, it was a dream. It was Adam…Adam and his beautiful, virtuous face peering into my fantasy like a light in the darkness.

"Adam?" I whispered.

"Yeah, it's Adam. Are you awake, Eve?"

"I'm not sure." I blinked open my eyes and stared up into Adam's face, his dark eyes contrasted with his pale-by-moonlight features, shadows cast over his expression. I smiled, my eyes still weary. "I'm awake now."

"Good," Adam answered, and I sat up and smoothed out my hair. "I…I just wanted to make sure you were all right. You know, sleeping out in the stables and all."

I smiled again. "I'm fine, Adam."

"Are…are you hungry, Eve?" He removed two rolls from his pockets and placed them in both of my hands. He gave me a sort of half-way smile, showing the one dimple on the right side of his face. "I'm sorry I couldn't get my hands on any butter or anything…"

"It's fine, Adam," I whispered, my voice shaky. My heart was beating so rapidly I thought it would come straight out of my chest. We looked at each other for awhile. It seemed like hours, that I was just staring at him, the only light coming from the moon. Finally I fell heedlessly into his mahogany eyes, and the small space between our faces no longer existed. It was ecstacy…or the closest thing to it.

I finally pulled away. "Adam…don't tell Elijah…it's our secret, all right?"

He replied only by kissing me again.

-9-

MIREILLE

"Wake up, Eve!" I rubbed my eyes and rolled over on a bale of hay. The voice was clear and loud and irritating. I blinked and stared into the blinding sunlight into the sun-tanned and somewhat-freckled face of Mireille Hadassah. I narrowed my eyes. "What do you want?" I asked her, my voice rough.

She lifted an eyebrow. "You're an odd girl, you are. Try to give someone a little hospitality and they go berserk." She rolled her eyes and extended a hand to mine, lifting me on my feet. "You better get in the house."

"Why should I?"

"Because, your brother and your beloved little Adam are in there and it would be best for you to go in," she said through clenched teeth, and started to drag me away from the stables. I slapped at her hands until she finally let me go. "Why did you just call him that?" I cried.

"Call who that?"

"My…my beloved little…Adam."

Mireille laughed, the snort in the back of her throat. "Well, obviously, Eve! You wouldn't be traveling with them for nothing, now, would you?" She snickered, sort of rudely. "And you can't possibly have your eyes on your brother, so it must be Adam…well, that's just fine with me, because I have Elijah wrapped around my little finger."

"The day you have Elijah wrapped around your little finger will be the day that I can tolerate you!" I cried, so loudly it was almost embarrassing. "I'm taking my horses and my soldiers and I'm leaving." I yanked Red out of his deep slumber and pulled him out of the stable. I cupped my hand to my mouth. "Elijah! Adam! Where are you?"

Mireille crossed her arms. "I wouldn't leave if I were you."

"Oh? And why not?"

"Oh, the simple reason that there's an enormous dust storm headed toward Nehemo," she replied, somewhat mockingly. "I'd get in that house if I were you, and I'd take your horses with you." She tossed her head back, flipping her calf-length red hair off of her shoulders and opening the black mare's stable door. "Come on, Jordana…Jordana, come on!…you're almost as stubborn as Princess Eve!"

Adam and Elijah came through the back doors of the clay house, and walked over toward Ginger and Kizzy. Adam gave me sort of a wry smile, and then turned away. My heart leapt in my throat, and my eyes glazed over with rapture. Oh, that beautiful, beautiful boy…

"Hurry up, Eli!" Adam said, peering over the horizon. I could see it now…a swarm of chalky, sienna-colored dust had blocked out the light of the sun hundreds of feet away. I gulped, a lump forming in my throat, and my arm slung over Red's neck. "Come on, Red, get in the house…attaboy, attaboy."

Hedia, Ganya, and Lael Hadassah were all inside, helping each other fill up the cracks in the walls and the windows. Little Yeriel was sitting in a corner, singing an unheard of song with an awfully squeaky voice. Ganya turned from her work and looked me in the eye, as if analyzing me for a second time. After a long pause, she finally said, "Eve, you have straw in your hair."

I wanted to murder her. However, I kept my calm nature and only smiled. "Thank you for the wonderful stay, Miss Hadassah. I especially enjoyed the wonderful smell of your luxurious accomodations." I looked at Adam and grinned as he tried to hold in his laughter. "Now if you'll excuse me, is there a top quality wash tub I could possibly use?"

Ganya looked at me strangely, and then nodded. "Well…yes. It's in the back room."

I tied Red on a rope to a large nail in the wall and then walked in the Hadassah's back room. It was murky and warm and dark, and I liked it much more than their common room, with all five of them standing around staring at me as if I were the enemy. I knew I was being horribly rude…but I was sick and tired of the way women were treated in Eden. Like filth…and especially from a family like the Hadassahs, that had three women in the house and overpowered the men.

I filled the wash tub with steaming water as I heard the dust strike against the outside of the house. The steaming darkness filled my eyes as I wetted my hair and wrote Aviva a letter inside my head…it was the only thing I could do to keep from going insane.

Aviva,

I sit here now behind the walls of an enormous dust storm in the town of Nehemo on the outskirts of Eden, using the wash tub of a strange and irritable family called the Hadassahs, who have decided to make my stay at their house as unpleasant as possible. I wish I had some parchment and ink to write a real letter to you, but I would have no way to send it and I dare not ask the Hadassahs for any…so I hope that our bonded minds will connect and you can share my misery and my glory.

The misery is this wretched trip. It has only been two days and I feel as though it has been an eternity. Two more days left until we reach Havilah, if I can survive. There is, however, one thing keeping me from my own wretchedness…

His name is Adam Lemuel. Yes, that Adam Lemuel. You were right, I suppose, even though I don't like to admit it. I'll admit anything now, just if you could be here, Viv…

I heard the curtain to the back room being opened, and I gasped and covered myself as best as I could. Mireille peeked through the curtains as I sat there, blushing as red as a tomato. "What do you want?" I said.

"Oh, don't blush like that, we're all women here." She sat in a corner of the room, brushing her long hair. "I can't tolerate my mother or Ganya anymore. They're unendurable, with their little unwitty wisecracks, cackling to each other like chickens. My father isn't much better, just sits there and brags about his little potato farm, while Yeriel drools all over himself as he counts his limbs."

I couldn't help but laugh. "I noticed…my father isn't much better. He thinks he's some sort of god. It's sick, isn't it, how all men are so damned impertinent and egotistical?" I dunked my face under the water, and felt it fill up my nose. We were silent for a moment, just sitting there. Mireille was fiddling with her hair. "Your hair is awfully nice, Mireille," I said warily, hoping she wouldn't say anything curt.

Mireille only smiled. "Thank you. I've been growing it out for five years. My mother says that if there is ever a famine or if we're in dire need of money, we could always sell it for a good price…that's why she and my aunt keep theirs long, also…if only it weren't so red."

"I think red is a nice color," I said. "Besides, it's not red. More like, more like yellowish red. Strawberry colored."

Mireille smiled meekly. "Strawberry colored. That's nice."

"Say, how old are you anyhow?"

"I'm almost seventeen." Mireille looked at her battered leather shoes. "You don't suppose…you don't suppose Elijah would ever fall for a little farm girl like me, anyhow, do you?"

I laughed. "Elijah is a farm boy…I wouldn't worry too much about it, he's a soldier, after all." I started to wring out my soaking hair, and laughed again. "I have the strangest thing to tell you about Elijah…he's not really my brother."

"He's not?"

"No. I haven't really gotten over the initial shock yet," I said. "He told me only two days ago. My father always wanted a son…and you know how when families get too poor to raise any more children that they leave them to starve? They…they found him. My father and mother did, and my father always wanted a son…so he kept him as his own. I wasn't supposed to know. I don't know why."

"Well, you still treat him like your sibling, right?" Mireille asked. She was obviously interested in what I was telling her.

Her question made me ponder for awhile. The truth was…I had never really treated him like a sibling, or vice versa. More like a friend. "He's always been…been like my best friend to me. We always had this sort of connection, you know? For years I thought it was because we were brother and sister, but I suppose I was wrong."

"Eve, if it makes you feel any better, my friend Hannah was in love with her brother for awhile-"

"I am not in love with-"

"But…but she got over it. After a few weeks." Mireille started to braid her hair, and then stood up. "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone."

Some people were hopeless.

-10-

CREATOR

I don't suppose Mireille and the Hadassahs had much to do with my story, Cain. They only present here a moral that I have yet to teach you. Do not judge a book by its cover…something every mother should tell their child. It showed itself in Mireille Hadassah…and it also showed in someone else I was beginning to know very, very well.

I was falling deeper and deeper for Adam each time I looked at him, and it was getting even more and more difficult to hide it from Elijah…but we did. By the third day after we had left the Hadassah home and the village of Nehemo, I could barely keep away from him. A dangerous habit, if I wanted to keep our affections confidential. I didn't know why I didn't want Eli to know. I just didn't.

After sleeping in another family's home on the third night and trekking the banks of the River Pishon for nearly twenty-four hours straight, our horses had fallen ill with hunger and thirst and exhaustion. The six of us, horses included, stopped at a shady forested area near Pishon and laid our blankets and food out under the trees, gathering water from the river for ourselves and for our horses.

I looked up at the tree above us, its leaves wide and green as the valley. I smiled slightly as Adam sat next to me. "It reminds me of-"

Adam cocked his head to one side. "What's it remind you of?"

I shook my head. "Never mind, Adam." I didn't want the entire world knowing about my Garden. It was a secret, after all. Adam looked over at Elijah, who was feeding Kizzy a bright, red apple. Zan crept quietly out of its little cage and stopped on my stomach. "Say, Elijah," Adam began, glancing at Zan, "you wouldn't know how to interpret dreams, would you?"

Elijah looked confused. "What kind of dreams?"

Adam shook his head. "Never mind. Not important." He eyed the bright red apple Elijah held in his hand, like it reminded him of something. "Eve…how about you, huh?"

"Tell me what it was."

"It was about your snake over there," he said, pointing to Zan. The little serpent's tongue flew out of its mouth at Adam. "And…well, this is going to sound absolutely berserk…it was about an apple." My heart practically stopped. Adam looked confused at himself. "It was…odd, really. Sort of like Zan was evil. I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous, but he tried to tempt me to eat an apple. An apple, of all things!"

I clenched my teeth, not willing to say anything. Who are you? I asked in my mind, trying to concentrate on something that I knew was larger than life. What are you trying to tell me? "Someone explain what is going on here!" I cried.

Elijah turned around, a bewildered look in his eyes. Suddenly, they fell to a trance-like state, and he stared me straight in the face. "It is something you will figure out for yourself, Eve," he said, almost monotonously. Adam looked like he was about to pass out, but I stood my ground as the voice continued to pour from Elijah's mouth. "Of any tree in the Garden you may freely eat," he continued, "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you will cause immense torment on those you love!"

I started to slowly back away. "Elijah…Elijah…that's not you, is it?"

Elijah shook his head. "No."

"I didn't think so," I said weakly. "Tell me who you are."

"I am your Lord, your Creator, your God. I am He who weeps at Humankind's misfortune and applauds at Humankind's glory. I bring no harm, only warning."

I was practically shaking. "There is so much I want to ask you."

"And there is so much I cannot yet answer. You must find out for yourself, Eve."

I stared at my brother for awhile after he had finished interpreting, in awe. Adam's face had gone white, and I was afraid mine had also. "Elijah?" I whispered. He didn't answer, just stood there, like he was still overcoming what had happened to him. I walked up to him slowly and stared at him directly in the eyes. "Elijah…it's me, Eve. Are you back yet?"

He shook his head. "What do you mean, am I back yet?"

I decided not to traumatize or worry him, so I only smiled, relieved that he was back to his conscious self. I wrapped my arms around his neck. "Never mind, Elijah. Never mind."

-11-

HAVILAH

Never get your hopes up too high, Cain, or it will only lead you to disappointment. It is my greatest sorrow to tell you that my hopes were far too high when it came to Havilah. I expected it to be a land that shimmered in glory and gold, a palace made of sparkling metals and a sky more azure than that of our own Eden.

My expectations had completely vanished and my hopes had fallen greatly as I stood on the outside of the city in heartbreak.

The sky was nearly black with clouds, and the hills were green but darkened with reflection of the sky. The palace was looming and dark, terrific but frightening. And spread among the grass on the hills was the worst sight my sixteen year-old eyes had ever beheld…a sight that would terrify me in my nightmares for the rest of my life. Bodies of dead soldiers and their pools of blood around them dotted the land like marks of death, their bronze armor dull and their battered swords at their sides. Dead horses were nearby, dried blood covering their hair like stains of wine on clothing, looking as faithful as ever still, even in their horrific state. I felt the tears come down my face as soon as my eyes beheld this nightmare.

"We were too late," Elijah said. "We were too late."

The blood had drained from Adam's face as he reached over and gripped my hand in horror, intertwining our fingers. The sight of it had obviously also shocked him, for I saw tears dripping from his jaw. "Havilah has a powerful army," he said quietly, lowering his eyes. Even our horses had looked a little frightened, probably thinking that soon this would be their fate. Adam turned to Elijah, his hand still over mine. "Do you suppose there's any left?"

"I don't know," Elijah answered. "I really don't. I suppose…I suppose we'll have to find out." He gently kicked the sides of Kizzy as he slowly weaved between the dead bodies of soldiers and their horses alike, probably trying to figure out if he knew any. He stopped his mare and dismounted her, turning over the body of a certain soldier with shoulder-length brown hair, his eyes shut and a horrified look on his face. Elijah gulped. "Josiah. Josiah Jehu. I knew this one."

Adam and I followed Elijah as he went on his search for the fighters that he knew…all in all, there were about ten that he could name right away. I saw the black-haired soldier twitch first, lying in a crumpled heap of armor on the left side of Josiah Jehu. "He…he moved," I told Adam, and quickly dismounted my horse, running to the soldier's side. My brother and Adam quickly followed, turning the man over and trying to awaken him.

The soldier blinked his eyes steadily. "Am I alive?" he asked, obviously dazed. A large slash was across his leg and forehead, but he was most definitely alive.

"Yes, yes, you are!" I said, nearly enthusiastic that this soldier survived. I cradled his head in my right arm and looked at him in the eyes. "Are you all right? Does anything hurt especially?"

"My leg. My leg hurts pretty bad."

"Well…let me see if I can fix that." I looked towards Adam, who was still limping because of his twisted ankle. "Adam…I need the bandage around your foot."

"I'm…I'm afraid I can't give it to you, Eve." Adam looked simply terrified at the simple question I had just asked him. Instead, he ripped off his shirt and started to tie it around the soldier's leg. I thought nothing of it at the time….the fact that he was so terrified at my inconsequential little query. "He ought to be fine with this for now…where are the other soldiers, if there are any alive?"

"They…overpowered us. The Havilian bastards overpowered us!" cried the soldier, coughing. "We had to flee, the ones who could. No one knew I was alive…they didn't bother with me. Not their fault…of course…they went to hide in the forest…the eastern forests. We have a secret hideout there…underground. Take me with you and I'll show you."

"What's your name?" I asked him, as Adam started to lift him onto his horse.

"Marcus Zacharias," he replied weakly. "How about yours?"

I smiled. "Eve Gershom. This is my…my brother, Elijah Gershom, and our friend, Adam Lemuel. They're both soldiers of Eden." I admired this one. He didn't ask me why I had joined two soldiers on the trek to Havilah because I was female. He must have assumed I was there to help. He was a good soul, I could tell right away. Cain, if you ever are confused with deciphering a good soul between a bad soul, just ask me. I have a knack for those things.

Adam and I helped Marcus Zacharias onto Ginger while Elijah searched for any remaining survivors. Adam looked at me hopelessly, as if this was our fate. I bit my lip and felt faint, just knowing what was in store for us. God must be watching us, he has to be, I thought to myself. He stalled us so we wouldn't be here in time for this hopeless battle… The thought was nearly frightening…I must be important to Earth, just like Derora said.

"Adam…don't die, all right?" I said. I don't know why I said it…maybe because I feared his death more than I feared my own.

Adam shook his head. "I won't die until you do." I smiled weakly at his comment, and gripped Marcus' hand. "You'll be all right, Marcus," I whispered. "You'll be all right." I tightened the piece of Adam's shirt around his leg, clotting the bleeding. "Where in Eden do you live?"

"I live in the town of Chaldei…it's near the northern part of Eden."

"We live in Pharisah, it's in the eastern part," I said. "It's a nice town, really. I regret ever leaving it…I came to try to protect my brother, Eli…I suppose he doesn't need me much. King Kenaz called him Eden's gem, can you believe that?" I beamed. "And Adam's from…" I stopped, realizing I didn't even know where Adam lived.

Adam smiled. "I live in Gilga- I mean, Gaza. East Eden."

I looked at him skeptically. "You never told me you lived in Gaza."

Adam laughed. "I never told you I lived anywhere." He turned to Marcus. "I'm taking over the soldier role for my older brother, Thomas…his horse accidentally broke his leg."

Marcus raised an eyebrow. "What did you say your last name was?"

"Uh…Lemuel."

What Marcus Zacharias said next not only shocked me…it also shocked Adam, obviously. The blood drained from his face. "I know Thomas Lemuel and his family from Gaza. I know that he was paralyzed from the waist down. I also know that he was murdered one month ago today."

"You do not know that!" Adam cried at the injured soldier. "Thomas isn't dead! My parents told me…my parents told me that he was at a treatment center near Chaldei!" Adam narrowed his eyes. "Don't you ever lie to me about my brother."

"You're obviously the one who's lying," Marcus said through gritted teeth. "Thomas Lemuel is dead. They found him drowned in the Hiddekel only days ago! They informed us all of it!"

Elijah returned after hearing the ruckus. "What's going on here?"

Adam glared at Marcus. "He's telling me Thomas is dead."

Elijah raised an eyebrow. "Thomas isn't dead."

"That's what I've been trying to tell him." Adam gave a scornful look to the wounded soldier. "You better watch out, Zacharias, or that'll be two legs instead of the one." He turned his back and started walking towards the horizon. I quickly followed him.

"Adam, are you all right?" I asked him.

"I'm fine." He looked at the fading sunlight, his features accentuated by the orange glow. "We're going to have to stay here, in Zacharias' hiding place that he was talking about. Elijah can talk to him. I'm not going to." He shook his head, and looked into the dusk. "Poor Havilah."

"What do you mean, poor Havilah?"

"Imagine being attacked by a country that wants your gold, just for the hell of it," Adam replied, almost sharply. I was taken aback by his statement as he continued. "Imagine going to War to defend yourself." He sighed, almost disheartened. "What a horrible thing." He stopped speaking, and I almost felt what he had described. Eden was, in fact, evil. I smiled weakly and put my arm around the nape of his neck. We didn't speak. We couldn't.

The hideout wasn't exactly a palace…it was just a large stone room underground in the forests. Huddled together were only about thirty-four soldiers, their surviving horses sleeping in the corners. They recognized Marcus and looked delighted to see him. One stood up and hugged him. "Zacharias!" he cried.

"Hey!" he cried. "I'm all right!" Most of them were injured and pretty hurt, but for the most part, everyone was fine. He grinned, limping on his bad leg. "This is…this Elijah and Eve Gershom, and Adam Lemuel…Thomas Lemuel's brother." There was a slight murmur and he continuned. "Elijah and Adam are fellow soldiers, and they came here to help us out a little." The remaining soldiers responded by slight applause, and they went back to eating some sort of mush in wooden bowls and polishing the little Mark of Eden metals and armor on their chests.

"Listen…listen!" Marcus cried, clapping his hands together. "Remember the plan! Remember the plan, men! We attack the palace tomorrow at dawn!"

Elijah's eyes widened. "We do?"

"Yes," Marcus said, nodding. "We know where the General is…thanks to Timothy." At the mention of Timothy's name, the soldiers started to applaud again. Marcus leaned over to Eli and explained, "Timothy is a spy from Eden who we sent to be a traitor in Havilah's army. He gets us all of our information."

"A spy, huh?" Elijah said, nodding. "That's clever."

"It sure is," Marcus said. "We got him a tattoo on his ankle and everything…the Mark of Havilah, you know." He chuckled. "Seems like those Havilahns are too stupid to think of anything like spies."

"Seems like it," Adam cut in. "Say, can we sleep or something?"

"Yeah, go ahead."

I couldn't sleep. I don't know what my deal with insomnia was, but long after all the candles had been blown out I laid there, my eyes barely blinking. This War was a torment. I knew why I had to come though, I had to help Elijah…and Derora said I was important. Derora was always right.

My eyes had adjusted to the darkness, so I saw the silhouette rise from the floor. My heart leapt to my throat, but I pretended to be asleep, my eyes only half-closed as I saw the figure move across the floor. It opened the trap door leading to the forest, the moonlight washed over the silhouette. It was Adam.

I shut my eyes until a few moments after he had left the hideout, and then opened the trapdoor myself, watching his figure moving through the forest only yards in front of me. As silent as a mouse I followed him, the pads of my feet barely hitting the dirt.

The town. We were headed toward the capital, where we had left off. Adam was walking toward the palace.

-12-

PALACE

What's going on here? I asked myself, close on his heels. I saw him rip off the glinting Mark of Eden and shove it in his pocket, and he practically stormed up to the palace gates, which were being guarded by two large men in silver armor. For a moment I thought he was going to threaten them and try to get through in some way, when I realized he didn't have to. I could see everything clearly in the moonlight, and I ducked behind a large tree, squinting to see what was happening.

The guards made some sort of hand motion to him, and Adam grinned and began to remove the bandage from around his right ankle. My hands had to cover my mouth to keep me from screaming in outrage and shock.

On Adam's right ankle was a tattooing of the Mark of Havilah.

I should have known. I should have known! Adam is a spy for the King of Havilah! The shock had finally settled in when I realized that it all made sense…the sprained ankle, the sympathy for Havilah…but there had to be more to the story. I had to find out, no matter how devastated I was. He was using me all along.

I felt the tears spring to my eyes. It was no time to cry. I had to get in that palace…Eden depended on it.

After Adam had gotten in, I wandered carefully in front of the three guards. They scowled at me. "This is no place for you at this time of night, harlot!" one cried. "Go back to the street corners where you belong, little girl…go on now, get out."

"Oh, excuse me, gentlemen," I said slyly. I pulled the sword of Gilon Gershom from the sheath at my side, twisting it in the moonlight so that it reflected like diamonds. "Forgive me for not introducing myself sooner. My name is Samaria…that is, your Royal Highness Queen Evelynne of Assyria, you ass! How dare you call me a harlot! I should just turn my back right now and go back to my country!"

One of the guard's eyes widened. "Oh, your Majesty, forgive us!"

I raised an eyebrow. "It depends." I cradled the sword in my right arm. "I suppose now I should stab the Royal Sword of King Amon of Assyria right through that wretched heart of yours and forget about the alliance agreement I was supposed to have with your King…but I am much too good-hearted a Queen to do such a thing."

Both of the guards got on their hands and knees, their noses only inches from the dirt on the ground. "Please, your Highness, do not tell the Jephath on us! We will be executed for sure!" one cried, on the verge of tears.

I laughed. "Oh, do not worry yourself sick, silly boy. Just open the gates and let me see King Jephath, and I will do no such thing."

My wish was soon granted. Cain, do not lie like I had just done unless you are under dire circumstances, as I was. I must teach you these morals, even if you are only seven now. And so, I walked through those gates, my head held high and my back straight. I certainly felt royal…however, it doesn't take much to fool a pair of monstrous-looking but dimwitted guards, my dear boy.

For there was no such person as Queen Evelynne of Assyria.

As you can imagine, as soon as I was out of sight of the guards, I hid quickly from view. The palace was murky and smelled almost stale, and the corridors I was following Adam through were lit with torches the size of myself. Adam, of course, was a few hundred steps in front of me, but I could hear his boots clicking on the hard rock floor. Click, clak, click, clak.

The doors that stood in front of him were large and painted dark red, with pure gold trimming that was brighter than day, even in the gloomy hall. Adam opened one of the doors and started to walk in. Light flooded into the hall and almost revealed me, but I sank into the shadows and hid behind the doorway.

"Your Highness, King Jephath of Havilah, it is I, your humble soldier Adam Abijah of Gilgahn." I didn't risk the chance of peering into the room, but I heard Adam's voice loud and as clear as crystal. "I have been to Eden and back and have befriended Eden's finest soldier and their only chance of survival, Elijah Gershom of Pharisah. He travels with me as we speak, your Highness, and I am planning to murder him also. I have found the hideout of Eden's soldiers."

A loud, booming voice replied back, obviously King Jephath's. "Good, my boy, very good. Tell me…what have you done with Thomas Lemuel?"

"I have thrown him in the Hiddekel to drown, your Majesty."

I could barely contain a gasp. My Adam…my Adam was a traitor, a murderer, and a liar. I felt a tear slowly trickle down my cheek as I stayed concealed in the shadows. "And no one suspects you then?" the King asked.

"Not a bit," Adam replied. I could almost see the smirk on his face. That liar…that horrid, dreadful liar had deceived all of Eden…and me. Marcus Zacharias was right. Adam did know about the death of Thomas…because he was the one who killed him.

As Adam went on about the secret whereabouts of the remaining soldiers of Eden, I slowly started to creep back. I had to warn the soldiers about the coming of Havilah. They would all surely die without a warning. It was then I saw two bulky figures run toward me through the corridors, their shadows outlined on the torch-lit walls. The guards, I thought, and quickly went back to my hiding place behind the door, the sword of Gilon Gershom at my side.

"Your Majesty!" they cried. "Your Majesty! There is a traitor in the palace!"

I peered through the cracks in the doorway and saw the King Jephath, finally. He sat on a large, gold-trimmed throne, wearing ruby red robes. There was little light in the large room, only the moonlight that filtered through the windows and reflected off the mirrors at the sides of the walls. The King stood up, obviously outraged. "What are you talking about?" he demanded.

Both guards were out of breath. "There was a girl who came in here…a girl who called herself Queen Evelynne of Assyria…and she claimed to be royal and that she was to come in here and have you sign an alliance agreement!" one cried. My heart almost stopped as the guard continued. "It was then we realized that the real Queen of Assyria…Queen Samaria, died two years ago!"

"I could have told you that, you fools!" roared King Jephath. He glared at the two guards as Adam stood there, shocked.

"Eve," he said. "Where are you, Eve?"

I stood at the doorway, Gilon Gershom's sword in my hand. "I'm right here, Adam Abijah!" I cried.

"Eve…I'm sorry!" Adam cried.

I ignored his apology completely and came at him quickly. "So…you were going to kill my brother, were you?" I said, my eyes obviously bloodshot with rage. I withdrew the sword from Adam's own sheath and placed it in his hands, narrowing my eyes. "Adam Abijah…fight me. Fight me now, Adam, like a man!"

"I cannot fight you, Eve!" Adam cried. "You're not part of this War…I was never planning to kill you, Eve! I was planning to marry you…and make Eli's death seem purely like an accident!" The sword in his hand was shaking. "Wouldn't that have been better, Eve? You could live here, with me, in Havilah! With all the gold you'd like!"

My teeth chattered. I was still outraged. "I said fight me, bastard!"

King Jephath stood up as the two guards started to come after me. He smiled at me, somewhat crookedly, and flicked his wrist. "Don't hurt the girl, men. Let her do what she pleases."

"Thank you," I said through clenched teeth. I hit Adam across the arm with the sword. Neither of us wore any armor, so I could start to see the welt forming. "That was for Elijah," I said, and then hit him again, knocking him to his knees. "And that was for Eden!"

"Eve…you don't know what you're doing…" Adam said, almost pleadingly. The tip of my glinting sword touched his chest, and I ran it lightly up to his neck. His own sword dropped from his hands, clattering on the floor. He shut his eyes. "You caught me."

"I sure did!" I cried, raising my shaking sword above his neck.

"But Eve…doesn't it sound great? J-just envision it…y-you and me. We'll live near this palace. We'll have gold and servants and all the food and horses and everything we w-want. I love you. I sincerely love you, Eve! But…but you have to let Havilah win…you have to let Havilah defend itself fr-from Eden! Eden is the enemy…Eden is the one who wants to take our freedom! W-we never wanted to h-hurt them."

It was then I heard the voice. It felt like I could hear it ringing through the dimensions of time and space and surrounded by a glistening light…and somehow I knew that it was who had spoken through Elijah earlier…it was God. "Don't kill him, Eve. Don't kill him. Just run."

And that's exactly what I did, Cain. I ran. I clutched my sword in my hand and I took off like a rabbit in a thunderstorm…and before I left that dark, moonlit room, the voice of King Jephath of Havilah echoed through my mind, his cold eyes burning into my head.

"Get her."

-13-

ELIJAH

My lungs ached as I heard the guards run after me, and Adam run after them. I didn't know how I felt…confused, angry, and wounded. I knew I could never see Adam again…alive or dead. I had Elijah and the rest of Eden to look after.

"…but you have to let Havilah win…you have to let Havilah defend itself from Eden!…"

Could we really had been the enemy?

I never paused to find out. I tugged at the enormous trapdoor and screamed at the top of my lungs, "Everyone! Out! Get out! They're going to attack us any time now! Everyone-"

I felt two hands being clamped around my mouth and I frantically grabbed for the sword at my side. Jabbing it behind me, I could feel it puncturing the flesh of my captor. Elijah and the rest of the soldiers quickly emerged from the hideout as the dead guard behind me fell, my sword deep into his chest. Elijah pulled the sword from his body and quickly beheaded the other guard.

"What's happening here?" he demanded, cleaning the sword on the dewey grass.

Adam ran up near us, panting, his hands in front of him defensively. "I'm not going to hurt anybody, Eli…" he said, his voice shaking. "Listen…I can explain…"

"Don't listen to him!" I cried, taking the sword away from Elijah and holding it out threateningly at Adam. "He's…he's evil, Elijah! He's a spy for Havilah!" I heard a gasp from the soldiers as I continued. "He didn't have a hurt ankle! It was covering the Mark of Havilah!…and, and he was going to kill you, because you were Eden's only hope!" I felt the tears coming to my eyes again, which I desperately tried to hide.

"Is this true, Adam?" Elijah said, awestruck, narrowing his eyes.

Adam nodded his head. "Yes, it is."

"I should kill you."

"Yes, you should." Adam spread out his arms and shut his eyes. "Take that sword and ram it into my heart."

Elijah looked at him warily. "Is this some sort of trick?"

I grabbed Elijah's arm and looked him in the eyes. "Elijah…he's not going to hurt us. Let's just leave, all right? All of us…let's just leave and go back to Eden. Get the horses from the hideout and wake the rest of the men up…this battle is over." Red had been helped through the trapdoor, and I wrapped my arm around his neck and walked past Adam, leading the way. The last stare between us was ice cold on my side, and his eyes were nearly heart warming. I turned away. "Traitor," I muttered under my breath.

"It'll be all right, Eve." Elijah slipped his hand through mine.

Marcus sat at the campfire we had prepared hidden in an unknown valley on the outskirts of Havilah, twisting a dried piece of meat on a stick through the flames. "I knew there was something wrong about that kid," he said, gnawing on the meat, and rubbing his hurt leg. "I knew Thomas Lemuel didn't have a brother."

"Listen, Marcus, I know you're only trying to help…but…it's not." I buried my face in my hands.

"I'm sorry, Eve, I really am," Marcus said sincerely. "Listen though…why does this upset you so much, huh? Hearing about Adam being a traitor and all? I say it's a damn good thing you were awake…we all would have been dust if it weren't for you."

I shook my head. "No we wouldn't have. God would have watched out for all of us."

"Who's God?"

"Never mind." I looked into the starry black sky. It was nearly morning, but the sun hadn't yet peeked out from the horizon. Memories of Adam floated through my mind like he were deceased instead of just deceptive. Elijah sat next to me, his hands clasped together. He coughed, and then said, "I knew."

"You knew?" I cried.

"Sh…keep your voice down," he said, gesturing toward the sleeping soldiers. "Yes, I knew, Eve." His eyes cast themselves to his feet, his knuckles still clasped together. "I'm not stupid, you know." There was an awkward silence, and a breeze made the hair on my arms stand straight up. Marcus looked at us both like we were insane, and I stood up, pulling Eli along with me and practically dragging him into the forest near us.

"How did you find out?" I hissed.

Elijah shrugged. "Instinct…why didn't you want me to find out?"

I couldn't answer him right away on that one. "I don't know." I stared up into Elijah's dark face, his jade eyes reflected off of the fading moonlight. I smiled, suddenly feeling more complacent than I had in a long time; a sense of belonging that I never thought I'd knew.

…we always had this sort of connection, you know? For years I thought it was because we were brother and sister, but I suppose I was wrong… Suddenly, though, everything felt right in that hateful world…I didn't need Adam, or gold, or to win a War, or Eden, or even Aviva or Mother and Father. Just Eli. I didn't need a renegade like Adam Abijah…a liar and a traitor. Just…Elijah quickly interrupted my thoughts.

"Eve. I've been in that Garden."

My eyes widened. "Y-you've been in my Garden?"

Elijah nodded. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier. And…and remember that gold-handled scroll? And the trunk? Well, I did save Princess Oralee's toy from the Hiddekel, but she didn't give me anything in return…I found the trunk and the scroll in the Garden. It was sticking out from under the dirt, so I dug it up. And…and a piece of parchment in the trunk read 'Genesis'. I had no idea what it meant…it was probably for you."

"Why did you suspect it was for me?"

Elijah smiled. "I don't know. But I heard this voice telling me it was. I don't know if it came from my imagination…but it told me to tell you create your story again, when it was all over. I have no idea what that was supposed to mean, when it's all over, I mean. But…but I think you were chosen for something, Eve."

"That's what Derora told me."

"Well, I think Derora was right." Elijah traced the dirt below him with his foot. "And…that Garden is yours. It belongs to you and anyone who's in your heart." Elijah's eyes cast themselves downward. "He told me. That voice. The voice of the Creator."

I swallowed the lump in my throat. "I've…I've talked to him also. Through you."

"I know." Elijah grabbed my shoulders and looked me straight in the eyes. "That Garden is your protector, Eve. And you'll choose who else will be there with you."

I felt tears starting at my eyes again. "You."

For the first time in my sixteen years, Elijah's mouth held mine in a kiss that sent adrenaline through my blood and heart, as the early morning sun cast its glow over the forests of Havilah, and the only stars remaining were me and him…it was both the earth's most beautiful blessing and its most wretched curse. But whether it was one of these or both, it was the most marvelous feeling in the world.

-14-

HELL

I didn't understand myself then, Cain. I think you'll grow to find you won't understand yourself at times either. Elijah was my brother, my best friend, and suddenly he haunted my dreams like Adam once had. I found myself psychologically believing that Adam was dead, so I wouldn't have to think about him any longer. It's not a good idea, my boy. Some things are hard to accept, but you must indeed accept them and not try to change them. And so, Adam still lingered somewhere in my heart, no matter how hard I tried to let go.

"…It belongs to you and anyone who's in your heart…" It didn't make much sense. Aviva couldn't get in the Garden. She had always been in my heart…but maybe it was different. Like that. It was strange to think that Elijah had been buried somewhere in my soul for so long, and the torment I suffered from its immorality…but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

We continued our travels through the countrysides, through Nemeho again and the other towns and villages we had passed. It took longer this time, because of the amount of soldiers who we were traveling with, and I saw visions of Adam wherever I went…not visions of the traitor and betrayer, but visions of the Adam that I knew. That's all I can say of our journey, really, because I thought of not much else than what I have described.

"What's Genesis supposed to mean?" I asked Elijah, sitting on Red's back, who was nose and nose with Kizzy.

"I honestly don't know…we'll figure it out."

"Of course we will." I turned to Elijah again after a long pause. "Eli…why do you suppose God thinks of me as so important?"

Elijah smiled. "The same reason I do."

"Aviva! Aviva Gershom!"

"Eve!"

I halted Red without even the faintest look around Pharisah before I flung myself at my cousin, who I hadn't seen for many days. I grabbed her shoulders and kissed her cheek. "Oh, Viv, I have so much to tell you!" I cried. "And the soldiers…the soldiers are back home. They all went back to Eden…"

"Oh Eve, haven't you heard? Pharisah and Chaldei were both attacked two nights ago," Aviva said, tears forming at her eyes. "They…they tried to burn down the city, the Havilahns did. Many of us didn't survive…like your mother. She's dead, Eve."

The words hit me like bricks. "She's…she's dead?"

"I'm so sorry. He had a torch, and he burnt most of our house away…Uncle Saul and I managed to escape without any harm, but we were fortunate. Aunt Ismaela never made it." Aviva lowered her eyes. "I'm so sorry. I tried to help as best as I could."

"My life…my life is hell…it's a catastrophe…" I whispered, not stringing the sentences together properly. Tears ran down the side of my face as I finally looked around at the town I called home. Pharisah was in ruins; scarred and blackened with ash and soot and broken families, sprawled on the ground in heaps of hysterical fits. I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed it sooner.

"Everything is wrong in this world," muttered Aviva, her eyes closed. "We were the fortunate few. Our house still stands."

It still stood, all right, blackened and charred like a roasted stick. The door was crooked and two of our front windows had been smashed, but it was still home. How could you do this to me, Almighty God? I asked, extremely angered. I clenched my teeth and started to ride Red up the hills behind our house.

"Where are you going?" cried Aviva.

"To my Garden!"

It, of course, had been untouched. The flowers were still as beautiful and bright as the first day I had been there, and the fruit was still ripened to perfection, dangling from the trees. Zan was asleep in my front pocket, and I pulled it out, waking it and making it hiss at me. I tried to forget about my mother. Everything was far too bad to forget completely about anything, but I came close to it…for dangling from that evil-looking, black tree was the reddest, most scarlet-colored and glossy apple I had ever seen.

"Of any tree in the Garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you will cause immense torment on those you love!"

I stared at that apple for awhile, knowing that this tree must be the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It looked so harmless, so beautiful and ripe, that I was nearly lured into grabbing it from the limb and taking a large bite right from the center. Zan slid out from under my sleeve, curling itself around my wrist and looking up at me with those black, beady eyes.

"You cannot make me eat that apple, Zan. I will not eat it."

It hissed at me.

"No, Zan. No matter how much torment and how much pain I have gone through in these past days, one apple will not make any difference."

But I soon found it wasn't hissing at the apple, or the tree. It slid off of my wrist and slithered across the grass, perching itself atop the ivory wall on which I had written my name in my own blood. My eyes lowered as I tried to comprehend what was written before me, and my heart nearly leapt out of my chest.

ADAM

EVE

-15-

TEMPTATION

Like a bolt from the blue it hit me…he was here. He had to be here. And he had gotten into the Garden. I turned around as quickly as possible, my eyes darting from one place to another. "Adam…?" I whispered. "Adam, where are you?" There was no sign of him anywhere. I placed Zan in my pocket and jumped over the ivory wall, nearly tripping in my haste.

How'd he get in? I despise Adam!

He was there. I could sense his every move…he was lurking somewhere, waiting to strike and kill me at any chance he got…or worse, he would kill Elijah. Aviva was waiting for me at the bottom of the hill, near the remains of our house. My cheeks were rough with dried tears as I halted Red in front of her. "Aviva…Adam is here. Adam is here, Viv!"

"What are you talking about? Adam's always been with you and Eli."

It hit me that she had no idea what I was talking about. I hadn't yet told her my tale. I grabbed her shoulders. "Listen to me, Viv, Adam is evil. He's a Havilahn! He works as a spy for King Jephath of Havilah, Viv." I shook my head, on the verge of tears again. "He was…he was going to kill Elijah," I stammered.

Aviva looked shocked. "I can't believe it."

"Neither can I." I grabbed Aviva's hand and hoisted her onto the horse. "I hate this world."

"As do I." Red pranced through the streets with Aviva and I on his back. Every house had been charred or destroyed, and the marketplace had none of its normal booths or tables set up. The sun was bright now, but there was no cheer. Suddenly, a little heap of red and pink lifted its head, looking at us with one good eye.

"Derora!" I cried. "Miss Derora!"

"Evie!" her croaky voice cried out to me. She extended a wrinkled old hand. "Help an old woman out, would you?"

I dismounted Red and helped Derora to her feet. She looked older, in a way…and much more fragile. "I heard about your mother, darling," she whispered. "I am dreadful sorry." I only nodded and she grabbed my wrist tightly. "You did not eat the apple, did you?" I shook my head and Derora gave me a weak smile. "Good girl, Evie. I have confidence in you."

"Derora, there is a spy here. A spy named Adam. Can you tell me where he is?"

Derora pursed her dry lips together, and squinted her eyes, looking thoughtful. "He is here. I do not know where. He is here." She held onto my shoulders, staring me in the eyes and shaking. "He means no harm, Evie. He will not kill your brother."

"Do you mean that?" I asked, hopefully. Derora nodded, smiling, her good old eye squinting. "I told you to stay away from serpents. The apple was not much of a test, Eve," she whispered. "For many people it would be…but not for you. You're stronger than that…but beware, for your test is not over."

"What have I to be aware of?" I pleaded. "Please, please tell me, Derora. I do not want to make a mistake!"

"If I could honestly tell you, child, I would. But I cannot. Just as appearances are deceiving…so is love."

"Love?"

"Yes. Love is deceiving…maybe not to the eye, but to the heart. Do not do something you will regret, Evie." She stared at me for awhile, and then continued. "The Lord God has told me to warn you of this. Wait until they are gone, Eve, says He. Wait until they are gone."

I shook my head. "Wh-what is that supposed to mean?"

"The human population." Derora got a strange look in her eye, and her face looked even more old than it had before, even more creased and wrinkled. "Wait until they are gone…the Virgin is the strongest female there is, Eve."

"Y-you're insane!" I screamed. "The human population will not die! We are strong! We are many!"

"Appearances can be deceiving!" cried Derora, her voice cracking. I quickly got back on Red. Aviva looked completely bewildered. "I'm leaving," I said slowly. "I'm leaving here and I'm never, ever coming back…Viv, Viv…where'd Eli go? Where'd he go?"

"The house. He's in the house!" she replied quickly as I kicked Red's sides, holding on tightly as he galloped through the dismal streets back to our charred home. I looked around quickly to make sure there were no intruders, and grabbed Aviva's hand and led her in the house. "Elijah!" I cried. "Elijah, where are you?"

"I'm here, Eve. Come here and look at this." The voice was coming from the room of Aviva's and mine. Elijah stood in the middle of the floor, bewildered and shocked. Our entire room, of course, was nearly destroyed…except for the ivory trunk that sat near my bed. It was as perfect and clean as the day I had received it. Elijah ran his hand over the lid. "Eve, look at it. It's perfect."

I couldn't say anything. I too, ran my hand over the lid, and then opened it, peering inside. The gold-capped scroll sat in the bottom, quite dusty, but still in perfect condition. I turned to Aviva and lifted the sword of Gilon Gershom from my waist, handing it to her in the leather sheath. "You take this, Viv," I said weakly. "You'll need this more than I will."

She looked confused, but said nothing. I slipped the scroll into my handbag and took Elijah's hand. "Come, Eli, you know where we're going."

Elijah nodded.

"Viv," I continued, "watch out for the house while we're gone, all right? We have to take care of this where it will be safe…" Aviva nodded meekly and took her father's sword from my grasp, holding it like a newborn child. Elijah and I went through the back, leaving Kizzy and Red tied up outside, and walked up the hills.

"He's here, Eli," I said, almost warily.

"I know."

"How can you possibly know?" I asked.

"The same reason you do," he replied. We were in silence until we reached the Garden. Eli hoisted himself over the ivory wall and examined the blood signature closely, tracing his finger over the words. "It's definitely not old blood. He hasn't been here long. You don't think he's in the Garden still, do you?"

"He couldn't be," I replied. "He wouldn't be able to get in."

"Then how'd he get in the first time?"

"I don't know," I said, shaking my head in my own confusion. I had taken Adam out of my thoughts long ago…to make sure my heart didn't have to endure it anymore. If Elijah was right about the Garden only allowing those embedded in my heart inside, then it was complete mystification. "It doesn't matter," I continued. "You're in. I'm in. And no one else will be."

Elijah nodded. "Don't tell anybody."

"Right," I answered. "Pharisah seems to have a law against immorality…especially against us…being rich and all…" My words faded as I wrapped my arms around Elijah's shoulders, embraced in a hug that warmed us both against the cold sunlight. We stayed that way for awhile. I never wanted anything else.

"…Wait until they are gone, Eve. Wait until they are gone…"

Derora was insane. That must be it…she wouldn't want to deprive me of anything I really wanted to do…besides, the human population wasn't going to die or anything. The apple hung temptingly from the black branch of the looming tree, and I only smirked at it. The Virgin is the strongest female there is…

Temptation finally did me in.

I didn't want to give in as easily as I had, but everything was so flawless and perfect on that day of destruction and desolation it seemed the only thing that would make anything right. Cain, I tell you this now, when someone gives you warning, do not ignore it. It caused my pain and misery…not you, of course, but you weren't the only result of my unfortunate enticement.

The name "ADAM" written on the wall in blood seemed to fade away as another's hand brushed the hair from my face and kissed my cheek.

"I love you, Eve."

-16-

GUILT

Cain, Someday you will understand that not only were you a child of love, you were a child of sin…for the words of God were delivered through the lips of old Derora. I felt guilt…but not enough. Our mother was dead, our town destroyed…and we still sinned.

And it was a day later that I found a note scrawled on parchment in my Garden.

Eve,

Meet me here after the sun sets.

Well, I thought, It's Elijah, of course… And so, at sunset, I walked up the hills toward the Garden, not telling Aviva or my father where I was going. And I sat in my Garden, in the spot that shone with the last ray of orange sunlight, and clasped my hands around my knees, waiting. It must have been an hour before I heard a voice behind me.

"I haven't been able to see you for weeks, Eve, and here I am."

I closed my eyes, afraid to move. "Please…don't kill me. Or Elijah. Don't kill El-"

"I'm not going to kill you," Adam laughed, and placed his hands on my shoulders, brushing my long hair behind my ears. I shuddered in fear. "Eve. Why won't you forgive me? I came all this way for you…I would never hurt you…" His voice faded with the sunlight and he turned me around, his hands on my shoulders, staring into my eyes. I hadn't looked into his face for weeks, and I saw that his dark eyes were harmless and even hopeful.

I swallowed the lump in my throat. "Adam…I can't…"

He narrowed his eyes critically. "Eve, he's your brother."

"No, he's not!" I pushed his arms off of me and backed slowly away. "He's not my brother, Adam. He never was!"

"What if he hadn't told you he wasn't your brother?" Adam cried disparagingly. "What if - what if he never told you? You would still be with me, wouldn't you?" I shook my head, confused, as Adam continued. "I told you I never meant to harm you. I love you, Eve. You had some notion in your head that because Elijah was in love with you, you were in love with him also! What about me?"

I turned my back on him. "You know nothing about what I think."

"I don't?"

"No," I replied harshly. "Listen, Adam, my town has been destroyed, and my mother is dead. The last thing I need right now is someone telling me how to think." I crossed my arms. "I despise you. I despise you more every day I live." I glimpsed at Adam, who was looking even more forlorn with every word I said. I almost felt pity. "I wouldn't be with you if you were the last man on Earth!"

"You better rethink that," Adam said slowly, and then climbed over the ivory wall. He cast me a look. "How do you think I got in your Garden, Eve?"

"Eve!" A girl's voice cried my name as I leaned against a tree, deep in my thoughts. "Eve!"

I stood up, and looked around. "Aviva? Viv, is that you?"

"Yes." Aviva stood outside the wall of the Garden, out of breath, tears in her eyes. "Come here, Eve." I climbed over the wall and faced Viv, confused. She fell on her knees, her eyes cast to the dirt below. A single red rose fell from her hands, tied in an azure-colored ribbon. "I found this…I found this…" she choked.

I put an arm around my cousin. "Calm down. Tell me what's happened."

She shook her head. "No, Eve, you have to see for yourself." She led me back to the house, the rose's thorns pricking her skin as she grasped it, her knuckles turning white, holding my hand the entire way. She flung the back door open, and my eyes were greeted with the words "I LOVE YOU MORE THAN HE EVER WILL", carved into the wall in large letters. Tears stung at my eyes as Aviva slipped her arm through mine and led me inside our room, which we were led to by a river of red blood.

The first thing I noticed was the carved words on the wall again. "I COULDN'T GET IN".

The second was Elijah's body, a red-stained sword at his side, as he laid sprawled on my little cot. He was dead. I gasped in horror as Aviva tugged at my shirt sleeve. "Eve? Eve, what did he mean? What did he mean he couldn't get in?"

I ignored her, and turned Elijah over so that he was face up, his calm and beautiful face pale, his eyes closed, and his dark hair flopped clumsily over his forehead. A tear trickled off of my cheek and fell onto his. "Elijah…" I whispered, placing my hand over his heart, where the sword had been stabbed. "Don't leave me, Elijah…" But he was far gone. Only his spirit lived, and I could feel it warming the room.

I sat at his side for awhile, in dead silence. Aviva interrupted it. "What's that mean, he couldn't get in?"

I paused, hesitant to answer, and then finally replied, smiling weakly, "He couldn't get in because he was my brother." I placed my hand on his face gently, and then closed my eyes. "We weren't siblings in blood, but siblings in heart." I took the rose from Aviva's hand and placed it on Elijah's chest, and then kissed him once more and for the last time.

-17-

BEGINNING

Bear with me, Cain, my tale is not too clear from here on. The shock nearly killed me from seeing Elijah dead. I could barely speak, let alone walk. Aviva gripped my hands and helped me up on my unstable feet. "He's in a better place, I know he is," she said reassuringly. "He's watching over us."

"How can he watch over us?" I cried. "He's dead!"

Aviva closed her eyes. "I was here when he stabbed himself. He told me he was going to a better place. He told me…right after he carved those words into the wall. And then he pulled that rose out of his pocket and told me to find you and give it to you."

I was so shaken that I barely noticed Adam walk into the room, his dark eyes filled with tears as he stared at the dead body of his friend. I soon noticed that he was holding a half-eaten crimson apple…the shiniest and most beautiful I had ever seen. My eyes widened. "Adam…where did you get that apple?"

"Does it matter?" he cried, crying. "Look! He's dead, Eve!"

"I know! I know he's dead, you needn't remind me!" I screamed, and snatched the apple away from his grasp. Zan rose from my pocket and curled around my wrist, looking up at me with its black, beady eyes. It slowly slithered up toward the apple and nudged it with its nose. "This apple! You weren't supposed to eat it, Adam!" I screamed at him, flinging it to the floor. "You ate the apple!"

"Who gives a damn about the apple?" he shouted back, raging.

"I do!" I picked up the fruit and brushed it off, looking at my reflection in its surface. Don't eat the apple, Eve… The voice gnawed at my mind, but I ignored it. "What a terrible position you have put me in, God!" I screamed at the ceiling, my voice shaking with rage. Zan wrapped itself tighter around my wrist, as if in fear of my voice, and Aviva backed away slowly. I could almost feel the heat on my face as I devoured the rest of the apple as quickly as I possibly could without choking, every bite as sweet as sugar and ten times more wonderful.

"This is for my mother!" I cried, taking a large bite, and one after another, shouting through mouthfuls, "And Elijah! And Pharisah! And Eden!" I flung the core to the ground and stomped on it with my feet in fury. "I have sinned more than eating this piece of fruit, God! And you know it! You know it!"

Adam had pressed himself against the wall in shock, fearing my delirium. "What are you doing, Eve?" he asked weakly, his brown eyes wavering. The apple core started to incinerate, burning in a small flame on the hard wooden floor.

I clenched my teeth. "Get your horse, Adam."

"But-"

"Just get your damned horse!" I screamed. He quickly followed my orders and stumbled out of the house. I went through the back door and ran up the hill behind our house, watching the people of Pharisah run as the stars seemed to fall from the sky, leaving contagiously burning marks on the streets. Flames shot up even from the grass in the yards, and the horses whinnied in chaos as their owners tried to frantically escape Pharisah. I squinted my eyes toward the rivers…even they seemed to be burning in the flame of God's angry wrath.

The trees above me began to break, falling in flames around me. I feared them not…I only feared the pain of the people below me. Their screams echoed through the hills and the sounds of frantic animals filled the skies. Aviva spotted me and ran to my side, falling at my feet. "Eve…" she gasped. "Eve…"

I shook my head. "Give me your sword, Viv."

She pulled the sword of Gilon Gershom from the sheath at her side. "Wh-why do you need my sword, Eve?" she whispered, nearly choking to death on the smoke.

"I would hate for you, of all people, to die in pain." I grabbed her by the hair and, tears stinging at my eyes, beheaded her as quickly as I could. The blood splattered from her neck and onto my clothes, and I sunk to the ground, sobbing, as the night sky dissolved into flames.

I heard a voice behind me. "Come now, Eve," it said. "It's time to go."

I nodded, and hoisted myself onto Ginger's back, burying my hands in my face in shame. Adam said nothing as he led us to the Garden of Eden…the only place, it seemed, in the entire world that wasn't being disintegrated into ash and smoke. The trees were as large and as beautiful as ever, and the entire Garden seemed to bring a white light onto the decaying Earth.

"Genesis," I whispered, as I lowered myself onto the ground, holding the scroll that Elijah once gave me. "I think it means…the Beginning."

Adam nodded, and I unfolded the scroll. "I suppose I'm supposed to tell about how everything was…but He destroyed it…I suppose an exaggeration won't do much harm."

"But Eve, it was we who ate the apple. It was we who sinned, and we were the ones that destroyed…everything."

"I suppose we are." My head hung in shame as I looked at the soil beneath my feet. I lifted it with my hands and watched it sift through my fingers. "But everything has a new beginning. There's always a tomorrow." I looked Adam in the eyes, and smiled weakly. "We've lost everything, but each other."

And with the feather and pig's blood ink I carried in the sack at my side, I pondered my words carefully, and then began to write.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.