“I have no time for this!” his voice was rough as gravel, his temperament even more so. “They’re vermin. What do I care if they don’t approve of the new laws. The laws weren’t made for them.”
Sarai took a deep breath, “I know my lord, but their leader is quite persistent and…”
He swung around and stormed her so that his grizzled beard was inches from her face, “I don’t care.” He growled, “The law states that any person making claims against this nation will be executed without exception. That is it. End of story.”
Sarai nodded in defeat. It was true. The law was exceptionally clear on this point and had been drawn up as such to discourage the "vermin", as Vladimir had put it. However since the law had been put in place the rebels had increased their efforts and numbers. Sarai being one of them. Her true feelings on the matter of the law had to remain unspoken so that she could help their cause so she kept her mouth shut and headed for the door.
“I’ll tell them to go away.”
“They’re here?” Vladimir’s voice held an edge of alarm although his eyes revealed nothing.
“Yes my lord. Since the law, their leaders have been waiting at the door each morning, requesting an audience with you.”
“Why with me? Why not with the Chancellor?” he demanded, suspicious.
“Perhaps they know where the true power lies.” She lied, knowing such compliments would play in their favour.
He studied her curiously for a moment and then moved back to the window where she had found him staring earlier.
“I don’t understand them,” he frowned, making his already stern face even more so, “I make a law to terrify them into submission and they only increase their efforts. I have made life unbearable for their kind. They believe in this dead god who has not and never will deliver them – not from me. The only deliverance they will get is from the law but they abandon it, and for what?”
“Hope.” It came from her mouth before she could stop it but his reaction was not the fury she had expected. His face held the hard gaze of betrayal but his eyes showed something else. A longing.
God help me. She prayed.
“You’re one of them.” His voice was low, controlled, terrifying.
She only nodded, her mouth dry.
“Then tell me – now that you have been defiled by these vermin – what hope do you have now that you face death.” It was not an idle threat, the law clearly demanded death for her defiance but she had never felt such peace. Though her body trembled she knew the truth and could not be swayed from it.
“Hope that there is more to life than law because by law I die but in God I have immortality.”
He laughed, mocking her, “I guarantee not one of your kind has survived the gallows. Your hope is absurd.”
“Not immortality here.” She smiled and saw how it unnerved him, “Not in this life. But with God beyond this relm, in an eternal kingdom.”
“Enough!” he shouted, his voice reverberating in her ears. “You may think you have hope but lets see how long it lasts in a dungeon with no light where only gallows await you.”
“Nothing will change what I believe. Though God slay me, yet will I hope in Him.”
“We’ll see.” He sneered but she could see that part of him believed her and was disturbed.
“I pray you find it.” She said as the guards came to take her away.
“What?” he asked, cold towards her now.
“The hope you’re searching for. It will never be found in your laws, no matter how many you make or how diligently you follow them.”
“Take her away.” He said.
“Only He is hope.” She called as they moved out the door. Vladimir marched toward them and shut the door heavily behind them. She heard him kick over a vase in frustration and sent out a prayer in daring hope that he might find God beyond his law.
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