Chapter 23

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As we walk to the front of camp, I get more cheers and claps on the back, but a group of people gathered at one of the healers' tents distracts me. "Is someone hurt?" I ask Cassia. "No one told me about such a thing, but if someone's injured, I have to go help," she responds. We head to the tent, only to see even a larger amount of people gathered around a table where someone in serious condition lays down. The blonde hair and electric blue eyes lead me to see that it's Natalie...and she's not looking good. I see one of the healers trying to help her, but it does nothing. "What happened?" I ask.

Faces turn to me, and one of the healers speaks up. "During the fight, when Henley tried to kill you and Natalie stepped in, she got hurt. Henley crushed her from the inside, and none of her organs are working properly now. She won't respond to the healing, nor the medicine we're trying to give her." In other words, she's about to die.

I start to walk towards Natalie's lifeless form on the table, people making a path for me as I approach her. I also happen to catch site of Adam weeping in the corner. I look down at her, this woman who I distrusted and was cautious around being the same woman who is dying because she saved my life. Her blue eyes show a fear I never could have pictured, tears gathering in them and spilling over her cheeks.

It's not fair like this. She had her entire life ahead of her. She was robbed of her future...and it's all because of them: the Council.

Natalie looks up at me, fearful and panicked, tears still spilling over. "I....d-did...what I c-could," she chokes out. "Shhh, don't say anything," I whisper. "You've done all you can. You saved my life, and I owe you everything because of that," I add.

"D-don't choose, Julia. B-be better...than this. Don't e-end up like me," she says. Then, I see her struggle to put her hand in her pocket, and she pulls out a very small box and presses it into my hand. "The i-items in h-here...they'll...h-help you when you need them," she says.

I nod, but I then put the box aside, concentrating on getting her through this slow and painful death. "Natalie? Have you accepted Christ yet?" I ask. She shakes her head no, slowly and painfully. "Would you like to?" I ask. "Y-yes please," she chokes out. "Ok. Well, it's a matter of acceptance. Do you trust in Him and surrender yourself to let Him become the ruler of your life? Will you love Him as He loved you when He died on the cross?" I ask. "Y-yes. I a-accept Him," she says.
"Then from here on out, you are free Natalie. God will welcome you with open arms, and you will live a life without pain and worry, for the previous world has passed away," I say.

Natalie then heaves out one last breath, and I see a small smile creep onto her lips. "I see Him," I hear her whisper, so quietly that I will probably be the only one to have heard her. Then, her eyes go still, and she is gone; the smile, however, still remains.

I was not aware that I had been crying until I see a puddle of my tears on the table. Pulling myself together, I close her eyelids and leave her be. I look up and see Adam with his face in his hands, weeping quietly, his shoulders shaking with sobs. Then, he gets up and abruptly leaves the tent.

I turn around to see the group of people that were gathered here have also gotten teary-eyed. Cassia and some of the other healers come forward and carry Natalie's body out back to prepare her for burial, I suppose. I go back over to Susan, and we leave the tent. All the sadness must be killing her, because I know it's definitely killing me.

As we step back outside, I take in a deep breath, trying to clear my head. "That was beautiful what you did back there. She saved your life, and you saved her soul. We were all moved by it," Susan says. I nod, but I don't want to talk about it anymore. My heart's too heavy to talk about it again for a while.

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