"Dad, did you see the girl standing behind that man? She was crying.
Something was wrong in that place." Molly couldn't forget her sad face.
"No, I didn't see her," answered Dad. "But I noticed a crystal ball and a deck of tarot cards on the table."
"What's a crystal ball? And tarot cards?"
"Those are the Baron's tools. He uses them to tell his people what he wants them to believe."
"Dad, are they all bad--all those people from Lucidia?" Molly was thinking about Lucy.
"The Baron is totally bad," began Dad. "But most of the people from Lucidia are victims -- caught in his traps. Some can see the evil and would love to escape. They want to be free from his evil power, but they don't know how."
"Can we help them get free?" Molly hoped so.
Before Dad could answer, she heard a timid voice calling from behind, "Wait! Please wait for me!"
Molly turned to look. The young girl she had seen in the cabin was running down the trail toward them.
"Can I come with you? Please let me come!" She looked so wet, cold and sad in her thin, short sleeved dress that Molly longed to help her.
"Here, put this on," she said, taking off her warm jacket and putting it around the shivering girl.
"But you need it," protested the girl.
"I'm warm enough," said Molly.
"You can wear Tom's pancho." Dad pulled a yellow hooded plastic covering from his backpack and handed it to Molly. Then he turned back to the unhappy girl. "What is your name?"
"Where are you from?"
"Lucidia. But I hate it! If you let me come, I can help you."
"You can? How?" Dad sounded skeptical.
"You're looking for your son. His name is Tom. I can help you find him."
"Do you know where he is?"
"I think he's in a tunnel under the river."
"How do you know?"
"Demos -- the mean man you met earlier -- saw it in his crystal ball."
"Oh." Dad stiffened. "Star, I know you mean well, but we don't want help from a crystal ball. We don't want to trust the evil powers of the Baron. Sometimes they seem to work, but they always draw their victims deeper into the darkness." He started to turn away.
"Please take me along," Star begged. Molly could see big tears rolling down her cheeks. "I don't trust the Baron either. I'm afraid of him.."
"Where are your parents?" asked Dad.
"I don't know. Somewhere in Troth, I think. They left me with Demos, and I'm afraid of him, too.
"You can come along, then, but only if you're willing to stop using the Baron's powers. It's far too dangerous."
"If I give up my power, how can I help you find Tom?"
"Star, our King will show us the way. He'll show you the way too, if you will trust Him."
"How do I do that?"
Dad's voice softened. "By yourself you can't get away from the Baron, Star. He holds on tight to his slaves. But we can ask the King to free you--if you promise never to use the Baron's tools again. Will you agree to that?"
Star didn't hesitate. "I agree!" she said. "And I want to get rid of this goddess. She can't help anyone!" She loosened a chain with a little goddess-shaped amulet from around her neck and threw it as far as she could. It landed in a pile of rocks and disappeared. Then she looked at Dad again. "Now would you please ask your King to help me."
"Star, our King has provided a way for everyone to become part of His Kingdom. I don't mean crossing the river and moving into His land secretly. His way to the Kingdom is much better. You find it by trusting His goodness, rather than your own."
"That part should be easy. I already know I can't trust myself."
"There's more. Long ago, the King did something very special. He died for us. He took the punishment we deserve, and made it possible for all to be His children. Now, if you are willing to trust Him and do what He says, He'll make you part of His family forever and ever." Dad looked right into Star's eyes. They were no longer full of tears.
"I would be safe then, wouldn't I?"
"Yes, you would! You would!" cried Molly.
"Will you trust Him, Star? Will you follow His way?"
"I want to! I believe He will help me!"
"Then tell Him that."
"But He isn't here." Star looked confused.
"He is here," said Molly. "We just can't see Him. He hears everything you say!"
Star looked up at the sky with wonder. "Dear King," she began. "I hope you can hear me. I want to follow you. Please forgive me for all the bad things I have done--especially for using the Baron's power. Thank you for dying for me, so that I can be part of your Kingdom."
She looked at Dad. "Am I part of His family now?"
Dad smiled and nodded. "One more thing. The King didn't stay dead. He came back. Now He shares His life with everyone who comes to Him. Do you want that life?"
Star looked up again and talked to her invisible King. "I want your life, dear King. Thank you for giving it to me. Please help me follow you every day."
Molly loved watching Star's shining face. The King had washed away all the fear and sadness from her face, then covered it with a big, happy smile. "Isn't our King great!" she said. "I just love Him!"
"So do I," cried Star.
Molly looked up. The clouds were floating away and the sun seemed to be smiling, too.
Go to Chapter 18