Malcolm stood in front of the French doors leading to the gardens that were tended and the passion of his wife. On any given day she could be found planting, pruning and watering its grounds. To Malcolm it was one of the most beautiful places on earth he had ever laid eyes on. Today as he looked out of one small glass pane on the doors, all his thoughts were on the screams coming from the bedroom. Five hours had passed since the midwife had arrived and still no news. He had been told to stay out until he was called for. He let his eyes wonder far beyond the garden to the mountains that stood like centurions; these were his mountains to guard just like his father before him. He was one of many descendents who had been chosen to prevent anyone from approaching these mountains or discovering what excised on the other side. Every twenty miles to the north and the south was a small cottage just like the one he occupied. Each man had approximately twenty miles that he was responsible to guard, ten to his south and the same to his north. Every generation had to raise and train a son in the way of Yahweh to continue the duties of the G.O.D, Guardsmen Over Darkness. Malcolm couldn’t stand there any longer and listen to the sounds of his beloved Ruth in pain; plus he knew that he had important duties that no matter what, he could not neglect. He slowly climbs the steps to the observation tower and grabbed hold of the large telescope and began scanning the thousands of acres he was responsible to watch over. This tower was also used to summon other guardsmen in the case that someone breeched their defences and help was needed. The telescopes were also used to send the massages using light from a candle as a reflection. Their own form of S.O.S. had been learned over the generations and understood only by the G.O.D.
Ruth sat on the rocking chair holding her daughter and nursing her. It had been three days and her husband had not once come in to see her or her child. She didn’t even know what to call her baby being that it was the custom of the man to name the infant. She had cried since giving birth thinking that Yahweh had cursed her with a daughter instead of a son. Through all the generations there was always a son to continue the task of the G.O.D. and surely this was the end of her Malcolm’s legacy. The door to the room squeaked and Ruth looked up to see her husband standing at the doorway. He walked over and reached for the baby, cradling her he bent down, kissed his wife on the forehead and walked out the room with the child. Ruth stood up and followed her husband without saying a word. She loved, honored and trusted the man with her life but at the moment was unsure of his motives. Malcolm walked through the small cottage, opened the French doors and stepped out to the garden. He stood for a minute and just stared at his daughter with tears in his eyes, Ruth just watched silently. He held the child cradled in one arm and with the other he undressed her. Holding the back of her neck with his powerful left hand, and with the right one he cupped her buttocks. He then raised her to the heavens and said, “Yahweh, Master of heaven and earth, to You I give thanks and glory for this precious gift, and I humble myself before You and beg Your forgiveness for not presenting to You this child the minute she was born. Please accept her and I promise to raise and train her to be a fears warrior and guardswoman. From this day forth she shall be called Peoria, because she carries on Your mission.” Malcolm redressed his daughter, turned around to find his wife starring at him and emotionally in tears. “I’m sorry for my actions and my pride, will you please forgive me?” he asked. She reached up and cupped his face with both her hands, kissed him on the lips and replied, “You’re a good man Mr. Malcolm and I too need forgiveness because I thought Yahweh had cursed me for not bearing you a son.” The two held each other with their daughter between them and wept. Finally Malcolm stepped back and handed Ruth their daughter and said, “I present to you this day our daughter Peoria, and at least we will not be having a circumcision on her eighth day.” The two stood there with tears in their eyes and laugh out loud.
Peoria was seven years old and it was her father’s turn to host the Feast of the Guardsmen. Every five years each guard had to host a feast were the other guards and their families would gather to eat, play games and also watch their sons spar with one another to see what skills they had develop. This was the first time since Peoria was two that it was held at her house. She had been too young and really has no recollection of that day. The sparring was arranged by age and size and she wanted to participate. Her father was one of the greatest warriors in the history of the G.O. D. Malcolm had been training her since she was three years of age. When the other boys her age started pairing up none of them wanted to go up against her. “She’s a girl” they would say. “I’m not fighting with a girl” another would say and laugh at her. “What are you afraid a girl might beat you or be better than you” she replied. Malcolm always told his wife that Peoria had the heart of a lion and the memory of an elephant. Peoria was like a sponge and hits like a man. Her father told her that day to let it be and forget about it because unlike the boys, she had nothing to prove. “You have more skill then any of them and you’re a whole lot prettier” he told her after the events were over and they were all gone. It was five years later and Peoria had grown in size, beauty and skill and had told her father that this time she would not be denied the chance to compete. She did not ask to partake in any of the sparring against any of the kids her age. She knew that they were the same ones who didn’t allow her to join in five years ago. She sat quietly on a wood barrel and watched with her father only a few yards away. All the boys ignored her when it was time to spar but wanted her attention otherwise. She decided that her father was right and thought better about making a scene just to get her way and will. For the next several years she along with her parent attended the feast hosted by some of the other guards and as always, she was never invited to participate. Now at nineteen all grown and more beautiful then ever she awaited for the guards and their families once again to arrive at her house. The night before she had told her father this year they would not put her off. “You know father those young men see me only as a girl and this year they will see that I was created to guard these mountains just like any of them.” Just like she had done five years ago Peoria sat on a barrel while Two young men about her age were trading blows for a while when she opened her month and hollered, “Is that all you boys know how to do, slap each other and hug like one is the girlfriend” Then she laughed out load catching everyone’s attention around her. The young men immediately stopped and looked at her and around to see who else had heard. The bigger of the two being a little embarrass and angry spoke before he realized that he has challenged her. “Well, why don’t you come here and show me that you can do better then him” He was referring to the smaller man in front of him. That was all she needed and exactly the reaction she wanted. Without looking at father who was always close by for any approval, she got off the barrel took a few steps then just for good measure and to make a dramatic entrance, a triple cartwheel and double back flip with a landing to put her in a ready stance. By the look of the young man standing stunned in front of her, she knew she had accomplished her goal. Staying about four feet from the boy, she dared a look at her father who stood looking back at her with a proud smile. The young man stood there a little more embarrass and not sure what to do, so she bated him yet again. “Zack” she said knowing his name, “Are you just going to stand there or do you just want to hug like you did with him.” She pointed at the other young man who had moved away from the action and then finished her taunting. “Because with me that’s not an option” Stepping forward she delivered a two step round house kick perfectly timed and placed to the side of Zack’s face; but stopped short before making contact. Everyone felt silent and then clapped when she just padded Zack on the cheek and walked away. Zack’s father had approached Malcolm and had some harsh words stating that his daughter had caused Zack, himself and the guard shame. Her father had replied that if they had treated her as an equal that none of this would have taken place. When the feast was over she had gain the respect of every man, woman and child other than Zack’s father John who wouldn’t even acknowledge her. She continued to be part of the events at many of the feasts in the future.
At twenty five Peoria had been manning the observation tower for her father for over a year and had successfully completed one mission. The guard’s main mission was to prevent anyone from entering the forest and crossing over to the other side of the mountain. Peoria had never been to the top of the mountain or even wish to see what lay on the other side. All who were groomed for the task were taught about the evil and solely by faith, they knew it was forbidden. Around two in the afternoon one day as she manned her station, a distress signal came from the tower south of her location. She knew that this was either Zack or his father John. Over the years Zack had taken a liking to her and she was also attracted to him but after the incident years ago, his father wanted him to have nothing to do with her. Her father had been down with the flu and was too weak to answer the call for assistance and ordered her to go. He had taught her the priority of a G.O.D. is first to Yahweh and then to a fellow guardsmen. Peoria saddle her horse and ten minutes later she had her mount gliding like the wind and in the direction of the call. About two miles from Zack’s place, Peoria heard the faint sound of the familiar horn that all the guards use to call someone’s attention from afar. Turning her mount east she headed towards the area where the sound had emerged. At the entrance to the forest she dismounted and took only her walking stick which was also used by the guard as their sole weapon other than the fighting skill they possessed. Moving at a fast yet careful pace she kept her eyes wide open and her guard up at all times. It wasn’t long before she heard the sound of voices in the distance. She slowed her pace and walked lightly as her father had taught her, “Step gently with your toes and not the heel of your feet and observe the ground around you. You must learn to look ahead and at the ground at the same time.” She reached the area where the three men were gathered and saw that one was bound to a tree and had suffered a head injury. She knew that if the call came from John’s place that it was either father or son and the man look to old to be Zack. Ten yards away she took off running and holding her stick like a high jumper ready to vault. When the two men standing over the injured one heard the sound, they both turn in time to see Peoria vaulting through the air with both legs extended and her body being carried by the stick. One man took a boot square in the face and the second in the chest and both went down hard. She already knew before she had made her move that one man had been holding a musket rifle and the other had a single shot hand gun in his belt and that both had knifes in a sheath at their side. The first to get on his feet was the one who had taken the blow to the face and the one without the rifle. Peoria held her stick with both hands in the center keeping them a few inches apart and turned to the man who was on his feet and his knife ready to do her harm. The second man was moving a lot slower trying to catch his breath from the blow to his chest. On the attack again she approached the man and using her stick in baton motion she came down hard across his forearm on the knife hand snapping the bone like a twig, the sound was sick. Standing still four feet from the man, she slit her hands in a natural and easy move; till she was holding her stick like a baseball bat and swinging like Babe Ruth putting a ball out of the park, it was lights out for one in a matter of seconds. Peoria turned to see number two loading the musket rifle. He was about fifteen yards and was packing it with his rod as she was heading in his direction. No sooner was she within one yard and he was dropping the rod to the ground and raising the rifle. From where she stood she took one giant step and bringing her stick down like an ax she caught the left shoulder that held the rifle and for the second time the sick sound of snapped bones echoed in the air. The force of the last blow caused the gun to point down and fire right into the man’s foot. Peoria picked the rifle and flung it into the woods, she than disarmed both men and turned her attention to her fallen comrade. John had watch the whole attack cause there was no fight. Guardsmen train all their lives to attack, and as much as possible to never make it a fight. Today Peoria had done what she had been trained to do. After securing the two men till they could be picked up she made a sled and dragged John out of the woods and then onto her horse and took him home to his loved ones. John had not said a word though out the entire rescue and Peoria was about to leave and head back to her post when he called her back along with his son Zack. He looked at Peoria and said, “Thank you for saving my life, and please forgive me for being prideful all these year.” John then looked at Zack and smiled, Zack asked him, “Why do you smile at me” John replied still with the smile on his face “Do you remember a few years ago that you came to me and asked for my blessing to marry this young woman?” Peoria turned to Zack and said, “You never told me that or asked me to marry you.” John was still smiling when Zack asked, “Yes, and what about that now that you have embarrassed me.” John looked at him with a serious stare and replied, “I told you that you would be a fool to marry her back then, and today I’m telling you that you’re a fool now if you don’t; because she is a gem amongst women and a warrior amongst men.
21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace.