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The Missionary

Tygan Shelton lives in Wisconsin with his wife and two children. He enjoys reading, writing, cooking, eating, playing games, and planning vacations around the world that he may someday take.

I was caught almost as soon as I arrived in Bavaa.
I knew my eventual arrest was certain, but I had hoped to win a few converts first. But the Bavaas began mocking me as soon as I started singing the name of the One Musician. And when I declared that there were no other gods but He, their jeers became angry. They bound me and marched me to the temple palace.
The Vaa sat high on his throne. His single black braid flowed to the wooden staff in his right hand. His right arm was painted the light blue of life, his left arm the black of death. His only clothing was a golden skirt and jeweled sandals, but rings of gold and obsidian adorned his fingers.
I silently prayed that I might touch the Vaa's heart. After all, there are miracles every day in the Grand Chorus of the Musician.
Inexplicably, the Vaa smiled. "I was hoping the Singers would come."
I was prepared to die for the Musician. I was not prepared for this. "You were?"
The Vaa laughed. "Indeed. I have prayed to my father for many months that you would come teach my people."
Ignoring this theological contradiction, I was amazed. "The Musician's name be praised!"
The Vaa's face grew stern. "You know better than I, Singer, that your religion is more advanced than ours. Ours has too many gods. Gods of fertility, war, bureaucracy--even I cannot remember them all! And a new one every generation! Too many sacrifices and lavish temples. It was good for our ancestors, but it is too much for us. But you, Singer--you worship a single, simple god. One of love and peace. He does not require monuments or blood. No. He asks for love, decency, labor. You need but a simple chapel to worship him." He sighed heavily. "Yes, Singer, I prefer your religion. I want my people to become as devout as you are."
My heart leapt, but a thought crossed my mind.
"Pardon me, Vaa, but I am surprised at your devotion. Will you not... miss... being worshipped?"
At this, the Vaa slammed his staff down. "WHO EVER ASKED ME IF I WANTED TO BE GOD?!" The marble floor shook, and I cowered in spite of myself. He turned away, then slowly turned back, his face once again calm.
"It is true-many envy me. Endless wealth, my every need met. My word is obeyed with haste and exactness. I am adored as the only being standing between prosperity and destruction. But in that, I am worse off than a slave. I must in all things and at all times act as the god my people expect. They deserve no less, but I in turn must sacrifice my whole life. So you see why I long for the day I am no longer needed."
I did see. It wasn't exactly the conversion I had hoped for, but it could lead to true conversions--across the whole land of Bavaa.
As I considered how to respond, a horn blew. A guard ran in and fell on his face. "Son of Heaven, hear our prayer! The Ramarians' warships have been sighted and will arrive in minutes! We have been caught completely off guard! Our navy is across the sea, and our army is away in the east! Our garrison is vastly outnumbered! Without you, Great Vaa, we face certain death!"
The Vaa's face paled and his eyes lost focus. Despite the urgency, he was still for half a minute. Finally his eyes narrowed. He turned to me and sadly smiled. "Singer, it seems that the conversion you dream of must be delayed. I do not think my people will be quick to convert after today's slaughter." He stood up to follow the guard.
No! I raised my hands. "But Vaa, don't you see, this could be it--this could be the moment your nation gains their faith. Command your people to pray to the Great Musician. You, yourself, pray to Him! Surely he will save you! This is your chance to save your people--both in body and soul!"
He paused. "Singer, perhaps you are right. Perhaps your Musician could save us. But I cannot afford to bet the lives of my people on a god of whom I am not yet certain. I hope you understand."
"But what--" I grew silent as he hurried away. I followed him through the halls; no guards bothered to stop me. We reached the balcony, and I gasped as I saw dozens of ships with blood-red sails entering the harbor.
When they saw the Vaa above them, the crowds erupted into shouted prayers. These turned into screams as the first fiery arrows flew from the nearest ships. In my heart, I sang a quick but poignant song that the Musician would sing to the heart of the Vaa, that the Vaa might sing to Him and save his people.
But the Vaa did not kneel. Instead, he lifted hands high above his head. The crowd was silenced and dropped to its knees.
Suddenly, his hands erupted into hot blue flames. I instinctively dropped to the ground and covered my face. Through my fingers I peered at the Vaa. Had the Ramarians hit him from so far away? But no--he stood powerfully, and the fire from his hands rose high into the sky, arced across the city to the harbor, and struck the first ship. It caught fire at once, and now the screams came from the men onboard. He moved his hands, and the fiery arc moved from vessel to vessel until all that remained of the fleet was embers and a few men who had leapt from their ships before they too caught fire.
The crowd rose to its feet, and I could barely hear for their shouts of praise. The Vaa looked at me and I somehow heard, "I apologize, Singer. I believe your conversion will have to wait."
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

Author Comments

Having been one myself, I know how annoying, judgmental, and sincere missionaries can be. I find religions fascinating and love the idea of a leader--or even a god--of one joining another. In this case, I wonder how the missionary's beliefs will be affected by the miracle they've witnessed. Perhaps a conversion will take place after all.

- Tygan Shelton
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