The Gathering: TheChristian Adventure Continues (Comes The End Book 2)

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Lila's eyes widened in amazement and relief. She smiled a small, private smile, and then buried the look beneath something more fitting — an expression somewhere between grateful and beseeching, with a dash of wary hope. The flare guttered and went out, but the ship was beside her now, close enough for her to see the faces of the men leaning over the rail. Vulnerability had never come naturally, but she did her best to imitate it as the men looked down at her, huddled there in her little waterlogged boat with her bound wrists and her soggy green dress.

She felt ridiculous.


A few of the other men said less pleasant things, and Lila tensed, glad that their accents were too full of mud and ocean spray for her to understand all the words, even if she gleaned their meaning. Her Arnesian was still far from solid, but four months at sea surrounded by people who spoke no English had certainly improved it.

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But they seemed in no hurry to haul her up. Lila held her hands aloft so they could see the rope. The others shied away in deference as he took hold of the wooden rail and looked down at Lila. His eyes raked over her, the dress, the rope, the cask, the boat. He didn't raise his voice, but it carried nonetheless, his Arnesian accent clipped but clear.

The insolence was a gamble, but no matter where she was, the one thing she knew was how to read a mark. And sure enough, the thin man smiled. Lila nodded with a wisp of relief. She was beginning to fear they'd sail on and leave her to drown. Which, judging by the crew's lewd tones and lewder looks, might actually be the better option, but down here she had nothing and up there she had a chance. A rope was flung over the side; the weighted end landed in the rising water near her feet.

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She took hold and used it to guide her craft against the ship's side, where a ladder had been lowered; but before she could hoist herself up, two men came down and landed in the boat beside her, causing it to sink considerably faster. Neither of them seemed bothered. One proceeded to haul up the cask of ale, and the other, much to Lila's dismay, began to haul up her. He threw her over his shoulder, and it took every ounce of her control — which had never been plentiful — not to bury a knife in his back, especially when his hands began to wander up her skirt.

Lila dug her nails into her palms, and by the time the man finally set her down on the ship's desk beside the waiting cask "Heavier than she looks," he muttered, "and only half as soft He gave her a wink and murmured something about being soft where it mattered, and Lila silently vowed to kill him. Grimy, sea stained and sun bleached, their skin darkened and their clothes faded, each and every one of them with a knife tattooed across his throat. The mark of the pirates of the Copper Thief. She counted seven surrounding her, five tending to the rigging and sails, and assumed another half dozen below deck.

Round it up to twenty. There was blood under his nails. The thin man smiled, his mouth surprisingly full of teeth. Lila knew enough about the crew of the Copper Thief to know that was a lie, but she feigned ignorance. Kasnov was a legend on the Arnesian Sea. His crew was small but nimble, and they had a penchant for boarding ships and slitting throats in the darkest hours before dawn, slipping away with their cargo and leaving the dead behind to rot.

He may have looked starved, but he was an alleged glutton for treasure, especially the consumable kind, and Lila knew that the Copper Thief was sailing for the northern coast of a city named Sol in hopes of ambushing the owners of a particularly large shipment of fine liquor. The sea is no place for a fair young lady such as yourself.

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It was a gift, from my father, for my wedding. We were meant to sail toward Faro — we set out two nights ago — but they came out of nowhere, stormed the Golden Fish My captain. Most of my crew. A murmur went through the group. She pressed on, intent on finishing her story.

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Laden down with a month's supplies. Food, drink As I said, it was a gift. And now it's gone. But it wasn't really, not yet. She looked back over the rail. The ship was a smudge of light on the far horizon. It had stopped its retreat and seemed to be waiting. The pirates followed her gaze with hungry eyes. The pirates smiled greedily, and Lila knew what they were thinking. They had more than twice that number, and a ship that hid like a shadow in the dark.


If they could catch the fleeing bounty She stared back at him and wondered, absently, if he could do any magic. Most ships were warded with a handful of spells — things to make their lives safer and more convenient — but she had been surprised to find that most of the men she met at sea had little inclination for the elemental arts. Alucard said that magical proficiency was a valued skill, and that true affinity would usually land one gainful employment on land. Magicians at sea almost always focused on the elements of relevance — water and wind — but few hands could turn the tide, and in the end most still favored good old-fashioned steel.

Which Lila could certainly appreciate, having several pieces currently hidden on her person. The captain licked his lips. He'd already decided what to do about the ship, she could tell; now he was deciding what to do about her.


The Copper Thieves had no reputation for mercy. He clasped the captain's shoulder and whispered in his ear.

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Lila could only make out a few of the muttered words. And ransom. A slow smile spread across the captain's lips. And then, to the entire gathered crew, "Sails up! Look around the world. So many needs, so many wounds and pains and divisions. God made flesh, God dwelt among us. An unsaturated, uncomplicated reconciling gospel that proclaims one thing: the healing work of the cross that has crossed two thousand years to get to us.

For some, sharing the gospel is a dim memory. What all of these views lack is the rock-solid truth that God has called all of us, God will equip us, and God will do the work.

When we take our eyes off ourselves, God is lifted high for all to see. Amplify will allow us to strip out the complexities of gospel witness and reveal the simplicity of the gospel that overcomes all barriers. Christ crucified. Christ lifted high.