Caleb Nazareth sat atop his war horse and studied the cave entrance not more than a hundred feet before him. At 22, he was a big man with broad shoulders, weighing in at more than 250 pounds. The shadow of beard peppering his square chin and the unwashed hair hanging below his helmet were testament to his hard, three day journey to this location. The musky scent of dried sweat reminded him of his need for a bath.
The paladin wore the legendary Armor of God. The slate gray metal glimmered in the soft rays of first morning’s light. His long sword hung to his side, still sheathed in its hard leather casing. Like the rest of his armor, the blade bore the runes of ancient Hebrew lettering. This language, tradition teaches, is the same that God gave to Adam and Eve thousands of years ago. A glow emanated from the sacred markings whenever the Holy Spirit fell upon him.
The war horse that carried the champion was even more muscular than the champion himself. The creature was jet black with the exception of a single white diamond on the forehead. Aptly named Midnight, the horse was as strong as any draft and as swift as any racer.
Leading up to the cave’s entrance, bone-white skeletons littered the ground in disarray. The paladin dismounted the stallion, amazed at the number of animals and people who had died here. He stepped down, barely missing a human skull grinning up at him. The smell of brimstone wafted out from the cave, carried by the morning breeze like a messenger bearing an ominous warning.
He was afraid and he wasn’t ashamed to admit it. Any man ordered by his King to slay a dragon would be a fool if he weren’t afraid. He could face fear, but he knew that no one had ever returned from an encounter with this beast. He tried not to think of that, but the scattered bones were a constant reminder.
“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer,” Caleb whispered to himself, quoting a passage in Psalms, “my God, my strength; in whom I will trust.”
Fear was never an easy thing to conquer. He’d fought in the last war against pagan idol worshipers who threatened to overrun his country with their false gods and evil practices. He’d slain legions of demons that enemies summoned during battle. Only trust in God gave him courage.
Despite all his accomplishments, he refused to accept medals or special recognition. His heroism also made him the empire’s most eligible bachelor. However, he had taken a vow of celibacy for as long as he remained a paladin.
His true purpose in life lay not in lifting the name of his earthly King, but rather that of his heavenly King. This also gave him courage. But, had it not been for the protection of his guardian angel, he would’ve perished long ago.
He’d encountered his guardian angel only twice in his life. The first time he saw her in a dream, where she identified herself as Kyria; the second time he encountered her in a vision. In each instance he marveled at the radiant glow of her countenance. A seamless robe, bound by a cord-like belt as golden as her hair, adorned her petite figure. Her wings were more majestic than those of a giant eagle.
Caleb stood before the entrance of the dragon’s lair, opening up before him like a great beast ready to devour. He steadied his nerve as he stood among the rocky landscape. He knew what needed done, yet the graveyard silently spoke of all previous attempts – and the consequences for those foolhardy enough to try.
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