The Bondage of Arakim by Joshua Araujo

Arakim slowly paddled the raft with his hands across the pool of fresh water full of fresh fish. He was starving as he attached his worm bait on his long piece of leaf fiber string. He looked around into the surrounding forest before looking into the water to greet his friend.

 

 “Hello Shen,” Arakim said, looking at his reflection before feeling a bite on his string.

 

He decided to grab some bugs inside of a dead tree along with his fish before heading back. Shen was beautiful and had been his closest friend since the day his parents died. He could only see him in the water when it was day.

 

 “Finally home! Neli? Bobi? Where are you guys?” asked Arakim. When he was looking for his friends in his cave, he looked on his walls at his artwork. He spent days painting human faces but each time he would paint one, it would always be the same face which has Shen as a model.  As he stared at the walls utterly covered with faces, Arakim felt something happening to him. He started to cry uncontrollably despite Shen’s beautiful faces all over the walls.

 

 But he stopped and then he said to himself or rather someone else said in a worried tone, “No! No! You mustn’t cry! We’re here for you! Please stop crying lest you die of your deluded loneliness!” 

 

A long melancholy silence followed after that was said. A different voice came out and he spoke without emotion saying, “Yes yes Arakim. Cry for you have nothing. You are no better than the animals that have only a body and mind. They are products of the world and so is Arakim. You are devoid of all joy, why then should you go on? You. Are. Nothing.”

 

Arakim has had it. Rage has driven him to start punching his solid stone wall until his knuckles were raw and bloody. But his anger overlapped the pain and then he went over to his various wood and stone idols whom he revered as his gods and friends. He looked at them and then destroyed them with his hammer and casted them out of his home.

 

He finally grew sick and tired of being alone in the world. He lied down while trying to fix his knuckles and recalled the days of his parents. In those days, it was rough. Food was hard to acquire and getting hurt or going some days without food or water was not uncommon. But then he remembered his father saying, “Even in the toughest of times, when your family is with you, you will rejoice even when the time of your demise comes.” He then remembered the words of his mother saying, “There is no such thing as a person who is truly alone in the world. Otherwise, how would they have the will to live? Who would they look forward to seeing when they wake up in the morning?” Now that he got rid of his friends, Arakim really thought about who he would look forward to the next day as he cried himself to sleep.

 

——————————–

 

Arakim found himself in a large, empty, flat world. “Where am I? Is anyone-” before he said anything else he saw the image of a throne and then a blinding light. Other than a silhouette of a throne he also saw a human-like figure. “Who are you?”, asked Arakim. “Your creator. You may call me God.” Seeing the bewildered look on Arakim’s face, God gave him a couple seconds of his memories. All of the sudden, Arakim was filled with overwhelming comfort as he remembered what it was like in his mother’s womb up until the last time the family ate together.

 

“Your life has my attention. And it has brought me no joy observing you in the state you are in.” Arakim began to feel humbled in his presence. “When I first developed the man that is from the ground, I was filled with sorrow, for it was not good for him to be alone. Then I gave him a companion who keeps him company for all of his days,” said God. “I summoned you here partly because you remind me of him and also because you have obtained the courage to reject all of your idols.” God started to walk up to him. “Now I present to you the option to accept and follow me. Not only as your God but also as a guide, a father, and a friend. However, there is also the option to reject me and go back to your old way of life and remain forever miserable.” Arakim did not have to think that hard to make his decision.

 

“I’ll do whatever you tell me. Please do not abandon me,” said Arakim as he bowed to his knees.

 

God then said, “Now, give heed to my words. You will leave your wretched cave immediately and you will need to look for a curious beast that has the likeness of a bird but traverses the ground instead of the heavens. I have given them instruction and they shall be a guide to you to bring you to a place where the sons of men dwell.” Arakim let out a few tears when the Lord said that he was going to take him to other people so that he will never be alone again.

 

God continued, “The important thing is to follow where I take you and do not bat an eye to the enemy. For he will do all he can to bring you down. Your resolve brings me joy therefore, do not lose it.”

 

He was now standing over Arakim saying, “It will not be easy but because of your repentance, you will surely be rewarded with your desire for human love and care. Whenever you are in need of me, I am always near and never far. Thus you shall know that I am the Lord your God. Blessed be you, Arakim.”

 

———————————————————————————————

 

Arakim woke up and his mind tried to process what just happened to him. He went over to the pool with fish and sat down. He felt overwhelmed but also excited about the fact that there is more to life than this place. But at the same time, he didn’t want to leave his safe area and was naturally afraid of dying.

 

“What troubles you?” Shen asked.

 

Arakim looked down at the water taken by surprise. “Oh, nothing. I just need to sort out my thoughts,” he said.

 

Shen had a grim look on his face as he raised an eyebrow. “Arakim, I had a feeling this day would come. You see, God is lying and that he gets you to be committed to him just so he could watch you fail. Do not trust him, Arakim.” He had learned a lot about Shen based on what was said. Actually, he knew that Shen’s intentions were to drive him into a deep pit of madness and fear from the start. Arakim never had the strength to stand up to his best friend until now. Arakim began to get ready to depart.

 

“Where do you think you are going?” asked Shen.

 

“Somewhere you won’t torment me anymore,” said Arakim. He sighed and closed his eyes. “I’m tired of your sick manipulation. I don’t want to waste my life here but instead, I want to love and connect with God. I want him to take me to places where I could be happy.” Arakim walked into his cave to prepare his warm clothing, food, and other useful things. “This is goodbye Shen. Don’t ever come near me again.” said Arakim as he came out fully prepared.

 

Shen began to laugh at him. “What a fool you are, Arakim. You’ll never be happy without me or the others. You won’t even survive without me and because I’m such a good friend, I’ve decided to follow you and eventually you’ll come crawling back to me begging for forgiveness. And–” 

 

Arakim ignored him as he went walking into the wilderness. He had already made up his mind and told himself that whatever happens, God had made a purpose for it.

 

———————-

 

This part of the forest proved difficult for Arakim to navigate through. It is the furthest he had ever been and two days had already passed since he left. Despite the fact that he is just wandering, Arakim felt inspired to achieve his dreams. 

 

These days were better than the majority of the days he lived. Just him and God bonding together spiritually. That is until he heard of what sounded like talking.

 

“Hello? Is anyone around?” said the voice of a man who apparently needed help. Arakim couldn’t contain himself. He was finally going to see another person so he took this time to aggressively sprint towards the voice.

 

As he did so, he tripped on something and fell embarrassingly. He face planted on the ground and lay there for a brief moment in defeat. When he got up, he saw a small fallen animal looking at him. They both screamed and said, “Please don’t eat me!” But upon further inspection, Arakim was startled by a… bird?

 

“What are you? And how could you talk?” Arakim asked.

 

It timidly looks up at him and says, “I’m a chicken and um I’m not really sure how I could talk but I can!”

 

“Do you have a name? Are there more of you?” asked Arakim.

 

“My name is Hugo and now that you mention it, he’s on your head,” he said.

 

The next thing he knew, he saw an upside down chicken head looking directly at him. The chicken intimidatingly low growls at Hugo and Arakim before making himself comfortable on top of Arakim’s head.

 

“That’s Bo. He isn’t much of a talker but he’s a tough one,” said Hugo. 

 

Suddenly, their gazes turned to the rustling bush and what came out was another one of them.

 

“Oh there you guys are! We’ve been looking all over for– oh my goodness,” said a bewildered female chicken. Seeing how he was getting along with Hugo and Bo, the chicken was a little more at ease. “Well hello there um who are you?” she asked.

 

“My name is Arakim. I was on my way to find others like me until I tripped on your friend here.” he said. Arakim felt very awkward having to introduce himself for the first time in a long while. He felt the chickens (who were somehow more relaxed when speaking) give him strange looks.

 

As the small chicken steps out of the bush, she says, “Okay then. Actually, we were heading near a village where there is more food. And how do I know that? Eh, not sure but we do need some protection because one of us almost got eaten by a fox.” She turns around and pokes her head into the bush saying, “It’s okay Torde, you can come out now.” As she says that, a scared lanky chicken comes out from the bush behind her.

 

“Arakim, this is Torde please bear with him because he is traumatized and Torde this is Arakim please bear with him because he is weird!” she said.

 

“Hey!” protested Arakim.

 

“Now I am Freila and I will be leading this group to success. Erm please be aware that I tend to forget a little but that’s okay because uhh we’ll make it!” said Freila trying to be positive while everyone else let out a sigh. 

 

Arakim remembered what God had told him in his dream and asked, “Do you guys fly by any chance?”

 

Hugo laughed and said, “Nope, walking is how we get around! Why do you ask?”

 

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” Arakim shouted as he leapt into the air with excitement. Hugo and Torde looked at each other with confusion.

 

“Right you are Freila, he is quite the bizarre one,” said the worried Torde.

 

Arakim then settled down and pointed, “Lead the way Freila!”

 

“I appreciate your enthusiasm but you’re pointing in the wrong direction. We’re heading west,” Freila replied.

 

“Oh right,” said Arakim. He was so happy that he could talk with others even if they were not human. He began to start a conversation with the chickens as they walked west.

 

—————————-

 

Arakim climbed the small hill to view the beautiful forest landscape. He could feel the northern breeze in his hair getting the feeling that winter was coming soon. The forest seemed to be going upwards so he figured that it must be a large hill. Although he was at the foot of the hill, the terrain was getting more rocky and steep but he was just passing through and not climbing the entire hill.

 

The chickens eventually got exhausted and decided to all rest on Arakim. Freila and Hugo were carried on both of his arms, Bo still being on his head, and Torde being paranoid hid in Arakim’s sack of tools and provisions. Since Freila had just fallen asleep, Arakim decided that it was time to take a rest so he sat down and appreciated the nature which God’s hand constructed. But then someone disturbed his peace.

 

Neli had decided to speak through the mouth of Arakim saying, “Arakim, why have you abandoned us? Even for someone like me, I was getting lonely…”

 

“Yeah! You better explain yourself! Why have you been trying to suppress us this entire time? Don’t you know that we care about you?” said Bobi.

 

In his anger, Arakim got up from the rock he was sitting on, distanced himself from the sleeping chickens, and said to Neli and Bobi, “Get away! You don’t care about me at all! The only thing you care for is to drive me mad and feed off of my despair! When I left my cave I had already made up my mind to reject all of you!”

 

Neli then said, “Fine, seeing how you’ve already made up your mind, I won’t try to stop you. But you will soon see how our master Shen will deal with you and out of your fear maybe then you will return to us.”

 

“Shen has no power. He is merely a whiny little boy who will throw a temper tantrum when he doesn’t get his way” Arakim said as he kicked some rocks.

 

Bobi said condescendingly, “Hah! Do you even know who we are? I believe Neli is right. There will be a time when you will come back and submit to us as your fear consumes you. And that time may be sooner rather than later.”

 

Immediately after they left, Arakim felt like something was wrong. He heard the sound of aggressive snarls and paws running rapidly on the rocks. He turned around and ran to his sleeping friends. “Wake up! Wake up!” he shouted. But it was already too late. They were all surrounded by a pack of wolves.

 

“We must kill, not eat! The boy demands that we bring all the carcasses to him!” said the alpha. “And you! You are the one whom he despises!” he growled at Arakim.

“No, it can’t be!” Arakim thought. The chickens being awake were paralyzed in fear. Except for Bo, he was not phased whatsoever.

 

“Oh please spare us, your greatness! We’ll do anything for you just please do not take our lives!” begged Hugo.

 

Freila replied, “You idiot, they are wolves! There is no negotiating when it comes to wolves!”

 

The alpha gestured for one of the wolves to approach. She was a meek omega wolf who was submissive to the alpha. Her silver-gray coat extended from underneath her hazel eyes and her snout throughout her back to the tail. Her torso and the top of her legs were a very light color of orange and mixed a little with gray while her entire underbelly and bottom half of her face were white. Despite her place in the pack hierarchy and the fact that she was probably going to kill him and his friends, Arakim couldn’t help but admire the beauty of this creature. “How could they treat her like that?” he thought.

 

 “Lapland! Kill that human, and maybe we will throw you more than a couple of scraps tonight!” the alpha commanded. Suddenly, out of Arakim’s bag was Torde who looked utterly terrified.

 

He walked in front of Arakim and the others and said, “If you g-get any closer to my friends, I-I’ll kill you!” Meanwhile, Bo already looked as if he was going to tear them to shreds. Arakim did not know who Bo thought he was but he admired his bravery along with Torde.

 

“Well heck, if Torde is willing to go down fighting peck and talon, then so am I!” said the inspired Hugo. “Right Freila?”

 

“Yes.” said Freila, looking afraid but wanting to protect everyone.

 

 The wolves were yapping humorously and one wolf mocked them saying, “We are wolves from the north! We’ll destroy you cowardly little birdies and that human of yours!”

 

But then all of the laughter came to an end when Lapland, the wolf that was taken advantage of, stood against the pack. Her very own family that she was raised with. “I’ve had to put up with this for far too long. You treated me and my mother harshly just because I am your bastard child whom she bore.” She looked to the alpha. “And to see you come out here to kill these blameless individuals because of the command of a human adds to your patheticness,” said the omega wolf as she looked behind her giving Arakim and his friends a caring look.

 

“How dare you stand against me! If this is the case, then we will dine on your blood because you wish to mingle with the weaklings!” said the alpha wolf as he and the other wolves were about to attack. 

 

Everyone knew that the situation was hopeless and that they were outnumbered except for Arakim. He knew that God would make a way for them. If anything, the puny wolves were the ones that were outnumbered. As he was thinking about that, Arakim began to feel a disturbance in the earth and it shook for a minute. When it stopped, small rocks began to fall and those rocks increased in size until the land above became unstable. Before anyone knew what was happening, Arakim grabbed all of the chickens and signalled Lapland to follow him. The wolves were watching in terror as a landslide came upon them and started to run for their lives but it all fell on them.

 

Having just managed to outrun it, Arakim and his friends almost died as well. This is the first time that he has experienced the wrath of God against his enemies that seek to cause him harm. The land behind them was punished along with the wolves. If it was anyone Arakim didn’t want to anger, it would be God.

 

“Are you alright?” asked Arakim to the wolf.

 

“Yes. Thank you for letting me know that was going to happen.” she said.

 

It just occurred to Arakim that he had been talking with wolves this entire time and it felt pretty normal. He thinks he is getting used to talking to animals somehow. 

 

“So you are Lapland?” asks Freila who recovered from her state of shock much earlier than Hugo and Torde (but not before Bo who was never shocked in the first place).

 

Lapland nods and says, “You do not need to worry. I won’t eat you.” She then looks at Arakim. “Please let me join this pack. I care not where you are going, I owe my life to you.”

 

Arakim smiles and lays his hand on her head as she eagerly wags her tail. “Of course you can join us. We would all greatly appreciate your company. Right guys?”

 

Hugo and Torde nod reluctantly. Freila and Bo seem to be fine having her around but when it comes to Torde and Hugo, they’ll just need to get used to the high-energy fluffball.

 

—————————————

 

It is now early in the morning and Arakim woke up to the touch of a snowflake on his face. He decided to go to a tree to empty his bladder. There was already snow on the ground and when he got back to camp, he found Lapland with a rabbit in her mouth. She placed it in front of him and sat down panting and smiling.

 

As Arakim started a fire and roasted the rabbit over it, he decided to converse with his new friend.

 

“It’s probably been tough for you to endure what you did most of your life but wasn’t your mother there to care for you? What happened to her?” Arakim asked Lapland as she lay beside him.

 

“She was kicked out of the pack after she was done nursing me. I remember the day when she walked away with wounds on her as another she-wolf picked me up and brought me back to the den. Who knew that the great provider of the world could also take away what is dear to me. Not that I’m questioning him of course,” Lapland said, looking sad.

 

Arakim could relate to Lapland when it came to losing family. He closed his eyes and said, “When I was younger, I used to live in a village. I thought people were scary so I never really communicated with anyone but my mother and father. They used to do things like teach me how to survive and they would often bring me gifts of some sort. They loved me and I loved them and that was the only thing I knew in my life. Then they were killed because they refused to bow to this pagan deity. I couldn’t bear to watch them get sacrificed after that so I left and ran as far away as I could until I found a safe place. There, I spent the majority of my life convinced that all people were bad and I let in some other friends of mine.” Arakim tossed the rabbit leg to Lapland and then looked to the sky. He began to mutter a brief prayer to God before continuing to say, “Now, they are not my friends and not only my enemies, but the enemy. They demanded that I worship them and distance myself from other people. Now, I am no longer who I previously was and I long for the company of humans.” There was a pause until he continued, “And after all that has happened to me, do I find myself questioning God? Not really. After all, he has saved me from my previous situation and I’m sure that he has made me a lot stronger now. So trust me when I say all will be good in the end.”

 

As Arakim was eating, he turned to see all of the chickens eavesdropping on the conversation.

 

“First of all, sorry for eavesdropping on you guys. Second, I’m sorry for your loss and I truly do hope that our presence comforts you. Third, what do you mean by the enemy? Do they not like us?,” asked Freila.

 

“No, they do not like us at all. One of them, who is called Shen, is out for blood. Now I’ve seen what he could do and I won’t make that mistake of underestimating him again,” replied Arakim.

 

“You mean he is the one that caused the wolves to come after us?” Freila asked in disbelief.

 

Arakim nodded. “Precisely. God is the one that saved us back there so we need to abide by him all the time. It’ll probably be more than just wolves next time.”

 

“I would also like to thank you Freila for your support but I am curious about one thing,” said Arakim.

 

“And what might that be?” Freila asked.

 

“Are you sure you are on this journey just for food? You have to have had some other reason to come all this way don’t you think?” Arakim said, listening for a response.

 

Freila sighed and said, “To be honest, I don’t know. Ever since I was born, the only important thing in my head was that place. So maybe I thought that since I am a chicken, this could probably be a natural instinct for chickens. But in reality, I don’t know if that is really what is going on here. All I know is that me, Hugo, Torde, and Bo’s purpose in this life is to get over there.”

 

Arakim laughed and said, “I hope this place does have food. After all, I’m tired of going around to pick herbs and roots for you guys.” He smiles at Freila. “Even if there is none, there must be a reason for this journey. He told me to find you guys and follow you so that’s what I’m going to do. From this day forward, even if the worst happens, we still won’t stop moving no matter what comes at us!” Everyone nodded in agreement. “Right then, lead the way Freila,” said Arakim.

 

———————————————————————————————————————

 

It did not get any better after that. For days they had been traveling in the raging winter with the blizzard ravaging all living things. They had passed by many frozen lakes and when Arakim looked at them, he could no longer see his reflection. All of the chickens were shivering and Lapland was growing tired. They had all taken turns to enter and exit Arakim’s bag instead of only Torde (who is currently unconscious on top of Lapland). 

 

“We’re almost there!” cried Freila. But then Lapland stopped.

 

“We can’t go any further! I sense danger!” barked Lapland.

 

Arakim’s feet were starting to fail him as the harsh wind and snow fell on everyone. When he looked down, he saw an old footprint in the snow. It was a huge foot that was more than half of his height. Lapland came to take a look at it.

 

“It’s a nephilim. They are large, cruel, monstrous humans which our pack encountered a few times. We were forced to flee multiple times because of them,” said Lapland.

 

“W-what do we do n-now?” said Hugo as he was shivering in the arm of Arakim.

 

Arakim saw more footprints going more south than where they were heading. “It doesn’t look like we’ll run into them. And even if we do, we still need to keep going! We need to get help for Torde!” he said as Freila jumped out of his bag to make room for Torde. Arakim gently placed Torde in his animal skin bag before catching up with Lapland. Suddenly, he saw smoke ahead of him up the hill they were climbing.

 

“Help! Our friend is freezing to death! Someone! Anyon–” before Arakim could finish, what he saw brought dread to his spirit. The village was burnt and destroyed. Arakim followed Freila who was walking more toward the burnt huts and she was trying to find a reason for all of this. She still had hope in her eyes but that changed when they saw that the ground was covered with bodies. Arakim looked into the agonized faces of those slain. The men who fought to protect their families had their organs missing, the women had looked as if they were abused before meeting their cruel fate, and the children…

 

Arakim saw on the ground a broken doll that belonged to a little girl. He picked up the doll and tears began to fall from his face. The first human faces he had seen in years were ones of pain and suffering. Everyone else had the look of absolute emptiness. Even Bo who was not easily shaken (and still on Arakim’s head) looked like he lost the will to live. The only ones that displayed emotion were Arakim and Lapland who was focused on protecting Arakim and the others in spite of everything but she still felt deep sorrow. Arakim looked in his bag to find a dead Torde who was the only one who looked peaceful as he died. Arakim dropped to his knees trying to maintain what little hope he had.

 

He felt a hand on his shoulder and he turned around to see the smirking bloody face of Shen. Everyone reacted with confusion as they saw the two young men look very much alike.

 

“You’re not Arakim!” shouted Hugo. It took him a moment to realize the more sinister feeling he was getting from the imposter, especially with the sprinkles of blood on his face and the dagger in his hand.

 

“You know, it really hurt me when you called me the enemy back there. I only did what I did to get you back to your senses is all. I knew the wolves wouldn’t kill you. And of course, I knew you weren’t going to die over a little snow. So what do you say I get rid of these simpletons and we can head home? I promise to make the return journey safe for us,” said Shen as the trees behind him toppled and heavy footsteps were felt on the ground. A large horde of nephilim had arrived and stood towering behind Shen. “Also, Shen is such a booooring name, don’t ever call me that again. You will refer to me as Satan from now on,” he said as the blizzard started to intensify.

 

Lapland then came running at Satan to kill him for laying a hand on Arakim but then with a yelp, she was powerfully kicked and sent flying. The chickens were scared out of their minds. In fact, Hugo fainted due to his fear.

 

“You’ll pay for hurting her!” said Arakim as he ran up to strike him but then the largest giant grabbed and with a roar, he threw him. Arakim toppled on the ground many times before landing next to Lapland who was paralyzed. 

 

Satan laughed and made terrifying cackling noises. “So do you finally get it? The world bends to my will and there is nothing you can do about it. No one to help you. Not even God who is somehow letting this happen! How could he do that you may be wondering? It’s because he doesn’t care about you. And to be quite frank, that faith of yours is pissing me off a good bit. So now I have decided to just kill you since you are being stubborn.”

 

But then something in Freila snapped as she was huddled together with the passed out Hugo, fear stricken Bo, and deceased Torde. She felt as if she understood what the goal was in coming here. She was starting to recall. 

 

“Freila!” shouted a voice in her head.

 

“I am here… my Lord,” she replied in obedience.

 

Meanwhile, a gigantic sword was raised against Arakim. He embraced Lapland and thought to himself, “All the time we spent together was not for nothing. We were similar despite you being a wolf. Hugo was humorous, Bo was confident, Torde was valiant, and Freila was caring. I understand the purpose of this journey and it was to meet all of you. I really wish I could’ve spent more time with you, Lapland. But alas, the comfort of death will come upon man and beast alike.” Her body went limp but he still put his forehead on hers and closed his eyes. “By the guidance of his great will…”

 

The nephilim swung his sword upon Arakim and Lapland in a swift unnatural motion for his size. But when he was expecting his entire body to shatter, he heard a clash. He looked up to see the sword being blocked by another sword. It was a woman who had a sword of flames along with wings on her back.

 

“No Arakim, you do not understand the purpose of this journey,” she said, reading his mind.

 

“Freila!?” Arakim yelled in disbelief.

 

As that happened, he saw in the background the chickens who transformed. What were puny chicken bodies became the flesh of men and what were feathers became wings. Arakim was astonished. They all had their spears and bows drawn and with a flash of light, all of the nephilim heads were blown off. The servants of God had fulfilled their duty. The blizzard had finally passed. Arakim got up to see all four servants bowing and when he looked behind him, he had noticed a beach and the largest body of water he had ever seen. Above the water in the sky appeared a blinding light similar to the one in his dream. Arakim had bowed too.

 

A loud voice called out to him saying, “Arakim, you have done well in passing the test. It was such a test that determined your faithfulness to me and the ones you care about. It also tested your opposition to your old sinful acquaintances.” God looked over to Satan who was running. He quickly transformed into his true self, an abominable huge leviathan who slithered into the water going back to the depths where he dwelled. “That will not be the last you will see of him,” God said. “He will make multiple attempts at your life but you need not worry, for as long as I remain within you, no weapon forged against you shall prosper.”

 

Arakim had felt relieved that he had survived and had passed this divine trial. But Lapland still remained dead and sadness came over him. But then the Lord raised his hand and the dead wolf transformed into a sleeping girl with abundant beauty. Arakim kneeled down toward her face and saw the joy in her eyes as she woke up. She leapt to her feet and hugged him. Arakim felt overwhelmed with positive emotions and he started to bawl as he hugged her back.

 

“Here is your reward for your righteousness. She shall be your wife from here on out,” said God with a presumed warm smile. The servants were overjoyed as well as they went up to greet Arakim and Lapland. 

 

“How do ya like me now? Am I cooler than Torde?” said Hugo.

 

“Oh grow up, you child,” Torde replied as he rolled his eyes.

 

They all laughed and even heard Bo laugh for the first time with his gruff voice.

 

“Freila was correct when she said that you failed to understand the purpose of this journey. I had not intended for you to be satisfied with death. When I saw you in bondage to sin, I felt great pity for you. From the moment I breathed life into you in the womb, I foresaw everything that was going to come to pass and I was moved with compassion. I desired you to be abundantly happy for the rest of your days,” said God.

 

Lapland stepped up and said, “God, thank you for saving Arakim from the terrible things he went through. And I am also grateful that you have allowed me to meet him. I will forever hold you in my heart like he does.”

 

The Lord nodded in appreciation before saying, “It is time for us to depart from this world. If you are in need of me, I am always near. My presence extends throughout the ends of the earth so nowhere is too far for me.”

 

The snow began to melt on the ground and the dead bodies returned to the earth. Beautiful grass grew and flowers bloomed as Arakim’s friends began to ascend to the heavens.

 

“Goodbye Arakim!” shouted Freila.

 

“We’ll always be looking after you, friends!” shouted Torde.

 

“I’ll be waiting for you guys up here!” shouted Hugo.

 

Bo smiled and put his hand up to bid farewell. Then when they were out of view, God was not over the water anymore. 

 

“It’s as if he vanished!” exclaimed Lapland. They both turned around to view the destroyed village and it was all rebuilt to their former state! Lapland hugged the arm of Arakim while he just took the moment to appreciate everything. This was where they were going to live for all of their days and for future generations to come. Arakim’s land was no longer a cave and a small pool but this village on a peninsula surrounded by the huge waters in this beautiful land. He decided to call it oshen after he witnessed Shen descend into it. Arakim lived happily with his wife and children there for all of his days before the great flood. And thus, he was set free from bondage.