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The 64 Wives of The Prophet of God
For anyone else, I suppose, it would have been an honor to be wed to the one true mouthpiece of the Lord, the only Seer and Revelator, the last remnant of those miraculous centuries when the mighty hand of God made order from chaos, rained fire on cities, and brought forty days of rain to a wicked world.
But not for me. When I became his bride, I lost everything.
How strange to think that it all started with a fateful cup of coffee.
In 1952, my grandfather Ephraim LeBaron was deeply unhappy with his religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon Church. As he often told his grandchildren, he had never been fully contented with the strict rules and senseless regulations. But the last straw for him had been his harsh reprimand by LDS Church authorities after his oldest son woke in the back seat to see his father drinking a mug of coffee on a long nighttime drive home from Idaho Falls to Salt Lake City. He’d been trying to stay awake. He’d been trying to keep from falling asleep at the wheel, possibly killing his three boys.
His intentions were meaningless to the authorities. Coffee was as wicked as alcohol in the eyes of the Church.
The following Sunday, Ephraim, a man of high status and favor in the Church, stood up and formally and publicly condemned the Mormon Church. He declared that an angel of the Lord had come to him in the night, as he joined hands with his sons in a circle of prayer in the True Order. The angel declared that the Church had begun to go astray nearly sixty years before, when it renounced polygamy for political reasons. He excoriated the resulting religion as a corrupt moneymaking institution focused more on the littlest sins than the sinners who governed it. He castigated the men who used the Church and its vast fortune as a way to advance their political careers.
His rambling, disjointed speech was recorded by his wife, Rosalyn.
“I have looked upon a Great and Spacious building,” he cries into the camera, standing straight and tall at the pulpit. “And in it, I saw many wind-up mechanical men who were pointing their brass fingers at the righteous, and mocking and scorning us, and yet! And yet, I was not ashamed! For the Angel of the Lord has covered my face with his veil of starshine, and walks with me upon the mountain, so high that we reach the astral plane. We look upon the series of chasms and caverns that was once the flaming ruins of Earth, and the Angel’s wings and sword are like pillars of fire. His eyes are dying suns, and his chanting mouth is a black hole where no starlight shines. ‘Come follow Me,’ he says, with not his mouth. ‘Come follow me,’ say the words he carved into the soft flesh of my belly with his mighty bleeding finger-claws. ‘My tomb is the deep sea, and my burial shroud will wash away your tears of blood.’ His love divine is better than wine. It’s warmer than a coffee sipped under a jeweled shawl of cold midnight sky.”
As the video continues, he then calls upon David O. McKay, President of the Church, to step down.
This was a fatal mistake.
There was no negotiation. Ephraim LeBaron was excommunicated for blasphemy and conduct unbecoming of a Latter-Day Saint.
Shortly thereafter, he left Salt Lake City and began his own church headquartered in the rugged and desolate deserts surrounding Manti, Utah.
He named his new religion the Church of the Saints of the Pillars of Fire, and set himself as its prophet. The only man on Earth to speak directly to God. The only man to hold the keys of Biblical priesthood. The only person to receive revelation that guided every action, every thought, every emotion of all his followers.
Under that self-granted authority, he ended the ban on coffee. He commanded that all the members’ property and money must be turned over to him for redistribution, a law practiced by the early Saints. He pronounced that the principle of plural marriage would be reinstated, to populate the planet with his Army of Heaven that would one day fight the inhabitants of that Great and Spacious Building.
His apostles were his three teenage sons Jehoram, Oswald, and Ulysses. His Apostles and disciples were the other men and their families who had apostatized after being moved by his rousing, yet incoherent speech at that church meeting.
The Mormon Church could have ignored this scandal. They should have become habituated to renegade prophets and polygamist breakoffs forming constantly. Even though polygamy—and having relations with a woman who is not one’s wife—was illegal and could land a man in jail, they simply didn’t have the resources to keep up.
But for some unknowable reason, they chose to target my grandfather. They sent their cronies from Salt Lake City to Manti to have him assassinated in the presence of his followers and his children.
Ephraim knew they were after him. He’d seen them in the corners of his vision, tall men wearing black robes and white plague-doctor masks, hiding their swords, always watching. Even when his wives and sons couldn’t see them, even when he closed his eyes, he felt their presence.
This is a story he told me often, when he was alive. It’s my favorite part of the story.
One night, he heard the rumble of car tires down the dirt road that led to the compound. He heard them come to a slow halt. He heard the car doors slam. Four sets of heavy footsteps trudging upon the frozen sagebrush.
He didn’t wait for them to break in and seize him. He crawled out the bedroom window, leaving his newest wife, fifteen-year-old Priscilla, behind.
“Wasn’t she scared?” I’d always ask my grandfather at this point in his tragic tale, even though I knew the answer.
“Certainly not!” he’d always reply. “Priscilla was as brave as I told her to be. She was always ready to sacrifice her life for her priesthood head. Just as you, Liahona, may be asked to do someday for your husband. We’re never safe here. There are always men watching us.”
When he’d say that, I’d suddenly be seized by a strange feeling in my heart, like a turning and twisting of the wheels of time. It churned out a mixture of apprehension and something more foreign, an emotion so distant to my heart that I felt as if I were seeing it, blurry and indistinct, from far away. I stood in that strange place and saw a vision of myself, another version of me, living a life as free as a whirling, twirling tumbleweed. A life of surprise and spontaneity with no rules, no roles, no barbed-wire fences. No hands holding me back from breathing in the wind of this beautiful world and tasting its red dust with the thirsty tongues of my mind.
But another part of me admired Priscilla for her willingness to offer her life. And give her life she did. Those hired cronies shot Priscilla dead in cold blood, as she weakly tried to defend herself with a potato peeler.
Ephraim heard gunshots as he was running to the home of his newest disciple, Helaman Barlow. But he never looked back.
Helaman opened his home and his heart to his prophet. He led him to the pig pen. Ephraim huddled down with the pigs, who did not squeal and run away. And when the henchmen came to his door and asked him where Ephraim LeBaron was hiding, Helaman lied. He told them Ephraim had returned to Salt Lake City to assassinate President McKay.
The men still didn’t believe him. They searched his barn, and came very close to the pigpen.
Here’s my other favorite part of the story.
My grandfather says that as he lay there among the calm, quiet pigs, he saw the angel with the wings like a pillar of fire descending from heaven. The angel approached the men from behind and shielded their eyes with his burning sword.
“They didn’t even know they couldn’t see!” he always shouted at this point in the story, hiding his eyes with his hands and then suddenly lifting them away, to make us little children laugh. “And they were looking right at me!”
The henchmen shrugged. They had searched the entire compound, and found nothing. So they left.
Ephraim stood up from the pigpen, and grasped Helaman’s hands in his. He poured out his gratitude upon his newfound friend.
“I’ll give you anything,” he offered. “Whatever I possess in my treasure chest belongs to you.”
“Your daughters,” Helaman replied, without a moment of hesitation. “Let me marry them, and be your son, too. Allow me to sit at the right hand of your glory, and bask in your celestial holiness.”
“They will be your heavenly banquet of queens and priestesses!” Ephraim vowed. At that time, of course, he had no daughters. Rosalyn had borne him only sons, and of his seven surviving new wives, only Lurleene and LaNora had given birth so far—also to boys. Tabitha, Lurleene, Claribel, Jorjean, and Pauline were still pregnant.
But soon enough, he had a whole beehive full of daughters. Seventeen of them, in fact, eventually married Helaman before Ephraim's death: Bathsheba, Davina, Marjory, Lottie, Constance, Freda, Enid, Nigella, Hattie, Sariah, Vonda, Hippolyta, Crown-of-Thorns, Nazareth, Loretta, Calpurnia, and Verlene.
As they came of age—eleven, twelve, thirteen, never older than that—they were all given in marriage to Helaman Barlow. All of them. I was only a little girl when they were wed, but I well remember my aunties’ tears as their hair was tightly braided and their white dresses were mended in preparation for the last day of their childhood.
For twenty years, the Church of the Saints of the Pillar of Fire prospered, growing to include over three hundred members.
Yet there was much discontent. These marriages of these girls made the other men angry. But not in defense of the girls. It made their furious jealousy grow like a moist fungus in their hearts. For all of the daughters of Ephraim were lovely and sweet, as precious to everyone as a flock of fawns, and these envious men were like hungry wolves who saw only fresh meat. They had already been rewarded for their loyalty with beautiful young wives, and yet this was not enough for those ravenous wolf-men.
So they rebelled, and overthrew my grandfather.
And it was Helaman Barlow who led this rebellion.
Some of the men, watching Helaman be gifted seventeen virginal child brides, were envious of his bounty. They saw him doing nothing in particular to be given such splendid rewards. These men, all of whom had labored and toiled and surrendered their life savings to build up the sacred kingdom of my grandfather’s church, were resentful of the wives Ephraim had granted them: older widows, ugly girls, deformed girls, tomboyish girls, opinionated girls, headstrong and adventurous girls who were not virgins.
Ephraim always kept the best girls for himself, always insisting that the Lord himself had sent an angel with a flaming sword when it was time to marry again. When he was killed after twenty years of governing his church, he had taken forty-six wives.
The other men, the hungry men, came to Helaman in the night. They dragged him naked from his home and his bed, out into the desolate desert.
They tied him to a fencepost with barbed wire and rope, and tortured him until the sun rose. They tied him to the back of a truck by the ankle and drove along a bumpy gravel road. They held flames to his feet until the skin charred and blistered. They carved holes in his hands and stuck rusty nails into them. They covered his skin with honey and biting ants. They did many other unspeakable things that none but God and the moon and the stars remember now.
“Please release me,” Helaman cried out to God, and to the men who bound him. This was always my least favorite part of the story, after all the times he told it to me and to our children. But I always let him recount it to me anyway.
“We’ll release you,” the men replied, “if you kill the Prophet in vengeance for his wayward lusts.”
I don’t believe those renegades needed to torture him. I think if he had known he secretly had the support of others, he would have committed the murder with no hesitation.
By that time the next day, my grandfather was found dead with his guts hanging out of his abdomen, a branding iron mark on his forehead, and a wound where his genitals had been torn off. For good measure, mostly to ensure there would be no power struggle among his heirs, all of Ephraim’s sons above the age of twelve were also dead, their eyeballs and tongues carved out, their scrotums carelessly ripped almost completely from their bodies.
On the third day, Helaman Barlow declared himself the new Prophet of the Church of the Saints of the Pillars of Fire. He claimed he had killed Ephraim and his sons according to the traditional Mormon doctrine of blood atonement.
“The blood of Christ cannot wash away all sins,” Helaman intoned from the pulpit that Sunday. I watched him with my own eyes, and heard him with my own ears. We all knew what would be said. There was no need to record this speech.
“There are some transgressions so unspeakable, so offensive to the son of God who shed his blood for us, that the sinner himself must atone for them with his own blood. And that blood must fall upon the Earth. Only then can Ephraim and his sons attain their noble thrones in their celestial kingdom.”
His first act as prophet was to inhabit my grandfather’s enormous mansion that he had spent years constructing and adding on, building walls upon walls crowned with thorny concertina wire. His second act was to marry all forty-six of Ephraim’s widows. Added to the seventeen of his own, that gave him sixty-three wives in total.
His third act was the make me the sixty-fourth.
How I begged my mother to hide me away, to open the window and toss me out with the old washwater, to throw me in a pigpen and let the pigs eat my flesh from my bones, to bury me alive under the sand. But she knew she could do nothing. Even as the wife of the former prophet’s son, she never had any authority. All our lives, we girls and women had been trained and conditioned to never say no to a man, never damage his tenuous ego, never thwart his divine authority. To honor his priesthood by upholding his gifts of dominion. To recognize that men were guided by revelation from God, and women were created to enact these revelations. Disobedience to a man was disobedience to God himself. So when the prophet ordered her to hand me over to him, how could either of us have refused?
On that day, I knew what was coming, and I feared it. I wept as I made myself ready, the same way my aunties had done. We all understood the purpose of a prophet’s summoning. We all remembered how the girls who had been called to his side had never returned, had given up everything they had ever known to be made reluctant wives, had suddenly been made from girls into women with no preparation.
I knew that once I went through the gate, I would never return.
My little sisters and helped my bind my hair into an elaborate crown of braids. I wore my most modest long-sleeved sky-blue dress with the single row of lace on the sleeves. It reminded me of a clear, sage-scented summer morning before the rainstorms arrived, when the fluffy white clouds perched poised on the horizon, like a cat about to pounce. I wish the memory could have calmed me.
Yet still, my heart trembled and twisted in my chest. I wanted to tear it out and bury it in the sand, letting it sprout and grow and become a tall, talk tree that I could climb and someday reach heaven.
When I arrived at his office inside the walled fortress, the room that used to be my grandfather’s office, he smiled to see me. A cavalier, condescending smile. A long, distant stare. A word that seemed poised on the horizon of his lips, ready to pounce. I suddenly regretted making myself so pretty.
“Liahona, I have seen an angel,” he whispered, in that low and serious voice of his.
I didn’t understand if he was referring to me, or was beginning a speech. My grandmothers once told me that Helaman was a rather ordinary speaker until he met Ephraim. Their minds grew together and intertwined like brambles, each melding and thriving off the other’s thoughts, until they became equally obsessed with speaking in metaphors and similes. That’s what made them both so charismatic—people took notice of their unusual words.
I looked away from my feet and into his face, and in the moment our eyes met, he reminded me so much of my grandfather—his smile a grand monument to false kindness, manipulative love. Displaying an artifice of affection towards the people in his life, one that only grew so far as we could return it back to him. People existed for whatever purpose we could serve in his life. His love was seasonal, conditional—shining or shunning based on how closely we followed his commandments. Never warm enough, always leaving us wanting.
“The angel,” he continued, “was the celestial being whose wings were like pillars of fire, whose mouth was a black hole, and whose sword burned with a mighty flame. You remember your grandfather’s stories of this angel, I’m sure? He appeared to me last night, hovering above the sacred altar, when I joined hands in chanting prayers with my sons. He told me a terrible secret. Do you know what secret that might be, Liahona?”
I looked away. I stared out the window that faced east. Through it, I could count seventeen tumbleweeds colliding against a barbed-wire fence. They’d been blown by the wind, and had only wanted to roll along with the breeze, but something hard and sharp and cruel had held them back.
“The angel told me that your grandfather was not your grandfather,” Helaman said. “He was your natural father.”
I turned my face to his.
“Jehoram was my father,” I whispered. “You killed my father. He’s no danger to you.”
“No, little one. Ephraim came to your mother on the night you were conceived, and he lay with her, but not as he lay among my swine. He touched her flesh with his own naked flesh. Do you understand? Do you comprehend how children are formed in their mother’s belly?”
I shook my head and looked at my feet as I felt my face grow hot. I wasn’t supposed to know, and yet I’d heard from other newlywed girls the details of a wife’s secret duties. All a girl needed to know about marital relations would be taught to her by her husband after the wedding. Keeping her ignorant would prevent her from wandering away from her virtue, her purity, a price greater than rubies, a treasure more valuable to her than her very life.
A girl who had lost hers before marriage might as well pray for death.
“Do you know what else the angel told me?” he asked, his voice rising in pitch yet lowering in volume. “He said that since your grandfather was your natural father, the eternal oath he swore to me is still binding, even in death. You are his daughter. Therefore, the angel commanded, I must marry you. Today.”
“I can’t leave my mother in her grief,” I said bitterly. “She mourns the death of my father so deeply, that she can barely leave her bed.”
“The Lord will care for her and mend her heart. We all must do things we are reluctant to do, in service to the Almighty. If you harden your heart to me, Liahona, you let Satan in, and he will tempt you toward further disobedience. A disobedient girl who has been seized by Satan will never be made glorious in the Second Coming of Christ.”
“But I’m only thirteen,” I said. “I don’t know if you knew that.”
“As lovely and docile as you’ll ever be,” he answered, and smiled again. “There are many men out there who want to snatch away your purity. I will honor and protect it, if you’re a good girl and do as I say.”
As he spoke, his words began to fade away. I felt the floor and the walls and the ceiling and the windows disappear.
I saw myself as if looking down from above. There it was again: the portal to another version of me, one where I walked, naked and alone, through a vast and unoccupied desert world, wearing a crown of thorns, free as a drifting cloud.
I watched myself wander, crossing through immense plains of sagebrush and salt. I climbed mountains so high, their craggy peaks scraped open the sky, leaving black holes where angels entered and exited. The wind from their enormous wings tickled my face and dried the blood on my bare feet. When I crossed the highest peak, I stood and looked down upon the land. I thought on the horizon, I could see the shine of—what was it? The sea? I began walking toward it.
By the time I came back to the old reality—the one I had left, standing there in the office that was once my grandfather’s—the wedding was over. I had become Liahona Barlow, wife of the Prophet.
Helaman immediately took me to his bedroom. He told me undress and get into bed lying on my back. Then he left the room, telling me he’d be back in ten minutes.
I let myself break down. I fell to my knees and wept, releasing all the anger and rage and sorrow and fear I’d kept silent for so long. “Keep sweet!” the mothers had always told us girls. “Keep sweet no matter what! Let the Holy Spirit in your heart, until it overflows and courses through your every vein. The enraged, the resentful, the stingy, and the sullen will not survive the judgement of God when his son returns. Keep sweet the fountainhead of your heart!”
With my heart, my mind, my tongue, my entire body, I cried out to the God who had betrayed me.
“Heavenly Father,” I sobbed, “What have I done to displease you? I have no secret sins, no transgressions deserving of this punishment, this torture! I have always ever turned my face towards your warmth and your holy brilliance! I have kept sweet and surrendered my feelings, and all this I have done only to honor and magnify your sacred priesthood and the men who hold it. Please, stop the forceful hand of the man I’ve married, and let me go home. Or at least, give me a few years. I swear to you, when I am old enough, I will submit to anything you ask of me. I will—”
A white light descended from the darkness of that cold and lonely bedroom.
A being stepped out of the light. A creature neither male nor female, neither human nor animal. Its eyes were like falling stars streaking across a black sky, and its mouth seemed to contain the entire universe in a small space. Its wings were of green fire that made no heat and no smoke, only light. On its belt was a sword that glowed with an unearthly radiance.
It spoke to me. Its voice was like the roar of a faraway river.
“Liahona,” it thundered. “Beloved handmaiden of the Lord.”
I trembled. I tried to make words, but my mouth was stopped as if with cold clay.
“I am a messenger of God, whose holy name you have called. He has heard you prayer, and now you must hear my voice! You will conceive a daughter who is not of the Barlow kin. She will be a peculiar and a marvelous child. But she wears a robe of blood and wields a corkscrew sword. One day, her touch will hold the venom of snakes, and the seas will rise at her command. Earthquakes will follow where she walks. With an iron rod will she strike down and topple the pillars of creation. You must guide her, Liahona! Be the compass of your namesake. If you fail, then so will she. Be ready to give your life for her, when the time comes.”
And then—before I could attempt to speak again—
The angel was gone, and the light was swallowed up by the darkness.
I stood up. I wiped my tears with the hem of my white wedding dress.
Then I removed that dress.
I crawled in to bed, and I waited for my husband.
I am sure he believed he helped me conceive on that night, but I knew the truth. She was already there, a girl not of the Barlow kin.
Nine months later to the day, I gave birth to my daughter, Zarahemla.
As the angel had promised, she was a strange and ethereal little creature, from the moment she became aware of the world. Always more sensitive than other children to loud noises and bright lights and raised voices. Her eyes rarely met those of the people around her. Her mouth forever seemed to have trouble forming the right words. Her hair was as fine and voluminous as cattail fluff, and dark, so dark, a black waterfall, unlike anyone else’s hair. She stood out in a room full of Helaman’s children, like a gamboling lamb in a meadow of fawns.
Yet I loved her fiercely. I adored her more than I’d cherished the parents and siblings and friends that had been taken from me when I became locked in the prophet’s fortress. She was a wellspring of peace and solace in my new life, my sudden adult life.
After her birth, I began to have more frequent visions. They were often brought on by stress, fear, or being suddenly startled. They arose in me every night my husband came to my bed. Sometimes a particular scent would trigger these mental wanderings; other times, the angle of light in the evening, or the color of the sky in the morning would cause my soul to float above my body. I’d watch myself wander through uncanny kingdoms of dust and rocks, always ending at the same place: at the summit of the highest mountain. I’d look down and see the alabaster city beside the great expanse of water, and I’d begin to walk toward it, eager to understand its mysteries.
I’d never make it there. I’d wake before I reached my destination.
Zarahemla traveled through worlds more distant and fantastic than mine, I was certain. I often wondered if she loved me at all, for she barely seemed to notice me, most of the time. Her mind was forever soaring and twirling in the angelic realm. Even when her body was with me, responding to my words, I could tell by the look in her eyes that her soul was travelling through the astral plane.
I’d often discover her to be missing from the home, when it came time to do scripture study with her three younger brothers. I’d find her outside in the yard, building little cities of white pebbles for the ants that crisscrossed the dust.
On one of those occasions, when she was six years old, I decided there would be no scripture study that day. I sat with her in the hazy autumn sunshine, and asked her about the cities. She smiled downward, turning away from my gaze.
“It’s the city you see from the mountaintop. Look! There’s the big water.”
She pointed at a small puddle in the dirt, a leftover from last night’s rain.
I felt my eyes fill with tears at this little soul’s deep wisdom.
“Someday we’ll go there, Mama,” she whispered, looking up briefly to catch a glimpse of my tears. “To the city of white towers and blue waters.”
“We will,” I told her, wiping my eyes. “And not just in dreams. We’ll escape this fortress, and we’ll walk there with the stars pointing the way like Nephi’s miraculous golden liahona. I’ll cradle you in my arms and carry you across the sharp rocks. Then I’ll set you down and let you run barefoot along the shore of the big, shining water until the sun sets.”
She beamed. Her hands reached out to catch the sunlight and drink it in, like a little sprouting plant. And once again, she became lost in her beautiful daydreams.
I would have let her stay there forevermore, spending her life drifting among the stars, if I could have. I would have let her keep her natural sweetness. This world is a frightening one for sensitive little girls, and I only wanted peace for my otherworldly little creature’s heart.
But that was not to be. She was shaken and yanked back to Earth by a cruel hand.
In 1986, when she was fourteen, Helaman stood up in church on a fateful Sunday morning.
“Zarahemla Barlow,” he announced, “is not of my bloodline.”
No heads turned, but I could still feel all eyes watching me. Watching us.
Of course she isn’t! I wanted to scream. She is the progeny of heaven’s angels!
“Brothers and sisters,” he went on, “I must tell you the most rare vision I have had. Last night, the Holy Spirit moved my heart, to tell me that the Lord wished to speak with me. I stood over the altar, and I prayed to let my eyes and heart be sufficiently opened. And it came to pass, that thereupon he sent his angelic messenger whose wings and sword are like a pillar of fire. He let it be known to me that Zarahemla is no daughter of mine, but the product of incestuous relations between Liahona and her late grandfather, Ephraim LeBaron.”
I could feel my soul slipping away from my body. It yearned to walk away from this humiliation, to escape into its supernatural haven. But I commanded it to stay. Just this once.
“And it came to pass that the angel also informed me that Liahona had deceived me. She was not a virgin when I married her, but was seven days pregnant with this abomination of a child. And Liahona is, herself, the natural daughter of Ephraim. As such, today I declare my intention to annul the marriage my adulterous wife Liahona, and take Ephraim’s daughter Zarahemla in marriage, as Ephraim promised me more than thirty years ago.”
Zarahemla, sitting huddled and drawn next to me, hid her face behind her untamed black hair. Her breath was coming in fast, and when her fearful eyes met mine through her shroud, I knew that this was the moment she fell from her celestial realm and became unwillingly anchored to this one.
Helaman divorced me the next day, a Monday. He tied my hands and ankles together, forced me into his pickup truck, drove me into Manti, and dumped me out behind an abandoned hotel. It took me hours to free myself, and when I had, I knew I’d be too late.
On Tuesday, he married Zarahemla in a secret ceremony.
On Wednesday, I knelt in a little grove of trees in a public park. As I had done thirteen years ago, I cried out to my God. But this time, I didn’t plea for help. I only apologized.
“You heard my prayer once before, Father in Heaven,” I wept. “Your messenger gave me a child that was a comfort and a blessing to me. And I’ve lost her. Through my cowardice, I stripped her of her crimson robe and her flaming sword. I failed her in whatever divine purpose you gave her. I deserve only hellfire. I’m sorry, Lord.”
There was no reply.
On Thursday, I was once again put into a car against my will, but this one was a police car. I was charged with loitering and spent the night in a jail cell.
On Friday, I was unchained. I spoke to the police officer who interrogated me. I told them everything I knew about Helaman Barlow and his burrowed hive of unwilling child brides.
On Saturday, the police made a few phone calls. They gathered the information they needed, and made ready to charge him with the rape of a minor child.
On Sunday, a week after Helaman declared his intention to divorce me and marry our daughter, the long line of police cars followed my directions to the massive walled compound of God’s Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.
“Is this a house?” Officer Aguilar asked me, of the sprawling adobe-brick fortress rising up out of the barren desert like a minor mountain. “Or a space station?”
“It’s his Great and Spacious building,” I said. “Nobody can mock him from the inside if he’s no longer on the outside.”
I remembered what my grandfather had said to me, many years ago. That one day, men who were our enemies would threaten me to make me surrender my husband. I would be asked to sacrifice my life to protect him.
That moment was now.
And in that moment—I remembered the tumbleweed I had seen in my first vision, decades ago, sitting at my grandfather’s knee, hearing his story of brave, obedient Priscilla. I recalled how that little tumbleweed had yearned and strained to wheel and spin across open desert, unshackled and unhindered.
In my mind, I opened the gate. I let the tumbleweed fly free.
In my mortal body, I opened another gate. I let the police officers in, and they knocked down the door of Helaman’s fortress.
His wives and children, all wielding various kitchen tools in self-defense, were gathered up within an hour. They were reluctant to leave at first, but quickly surrendered when I gave them my word that they would be safe, and would not be separated.
The other men in the compound, including Helaman’s quorum of twelve apostles and other such henchmen, were also rounded up, but for a different reason. Those whose wives were underage were not released.
After hours of searching, there were only two people we hadn’t found yet.
It was my idea to search the old pig pen where my grandfather had crouched on the night he hid from the big-city cronies. It was my testimony that convinced the police officers—that the pig pen, long empty of swine, was one of the most holy places in the colony.
Oh, how I wished I hadn’t surrendered the interest in my daughter to them.
They broke down the door of the boarded-up pig pen.
They were the ones who found Helaman dead, guts spilling out from his belly, tongue severed, eyes carved out, genitals torn from his body. His blood was shed on the floor of that filthy pig sty, where it belonged.
And they were the ones who found Zarahemla there, crouched above him with a sword in her hand, her teeth clenched like barbed wire, her eyes fiery with rage and fear, her breath heaving fast and hard.
I know what I saw as I ran, breathless and weak, to the pig pen where the police had gathered, guns drawn and pointed at my divine creature. I saw the sword she held in her trembling hands, burning with the smokeless, heatless fire of heaven itself. The policemen did not see this. They only saw it covered in blood. Helaman’s blood.
That was the last time I saw my daughter. They told me she was guilty of murder, but I told them she was only fulfilling the promise given to me by that angel on the night of her conception. She had toppled the pillars of creation. Where was the sin in that? Was the world not set right by the spilling of his wicked blood?
I don’t know what night it was when two police officers came to me at my hotel room in Manti, knocking softly on the door, standing there with hands clasped and faces shamefully downturned, the way my daughter used to do. Maybe it was Monday. Maybe it wasn’t.
They told me that when they tried to take Zarahemla’s sword away, she fought back. She kicked and screamed and bit, like a caged animal. Like a girl that was traumatized and expecting to be brutalized by a man again, I said.
They had been forced to restrain her.
But somehow, something had gone wrong. She had been inadvertently strangled by the too-tight restraints put upon her, and had died on the floor of her jail cell, unarmed, covered in pig filth and her own terrified urine.
I let out all my tears to the Lord Almighty, on that night. I raged and screamed with an anguish only a mother can feel, with a voice of a pitch that only God could hear. I howled with a mother’s madness, with the sorrow of Mary kneeling at the cross. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair, to lead me back to my child, to rescue every other innocent little one in that compound, only to take mine away for doing what she had been born to do. Why had he not taken me instead? Why had he prepared me to lay down my life, only to take it from one who had only wanted to live a quiet and luminous life among the clouds?
I recalled the Biblical book of Job, the story of that kind old man who loses everything, and yet still, foolishly, praises God. I cursed Job, for encouraging God’s savagery. I cursed Abraham for his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac to a capricious and unworthy deity. In my unholy furor and my mother’s agony, I cursed the Lord for taking delight in slaughtering the stainless, guiltless children of his most devoted.
As punishment for my impiety, God took my visions from me. My gift of wandering among the spiraling pathways of the cosmos was gone.
I had nowhere to run from my suffering and torment. I would be forced to bear my burdens with the shoulders of my reluctant body.
I moved on, in my own way, as time moves on. I pushed forward in the only way a grieving parent can, walking the path of reality with my eyes focused on my feet. Not seeing, not touching, not hearing anything around me. Walking steadily forward, unsupported, as if treading on a thin filament of spider’s silk, with only void surrounding. Crawling out of a deep pit whose walls were so high, they blocked out the sun. Some folks were kind enough to throw me a rope and encourage me to climb, but they never seemed to notice that my hands and feet were still tied together.
The Church of the Saints of the Pillar of Fire quickly disbanded. After Helaman Barlow’s death and the arrest of so many men, the remaining members were disillusioned and shattered. Their faith fragmented as their families did. They saw no point in continuing. They reclaimed their money, their land, their property, and their daughters, and they, too, moved on.
My three young sons and I went west, to San Diego, a city within sight of the ocean. We walked on the beach and they cooled their burning toes in the frigid waves. I thought this might be the shining city of white towers by the water that Zarahemla and I had both envisioned, but it didn’t feel familiar. The police officers in Manti had told me that the city of Salt Lake was right near a body of water—a massive, shallow lake so salty that a body could float when laid upon it—but I had a difficult time believing that this promised land could have been a little more than 100 miles to the north. I could have walked there in a few days. I could have picked my daughter up in my arms, held out my soul’s compass, and began the trek over the mountains of sharp rocks.
But this past autumn, when I visited Salt Lake City for the first time in my 58 years, I understood everything.
The visions have returned to me. When the sunlight brushes its delicate fingers against the clouds at just the right angle, these scenes flicker at the back of my eyes, like a memory of a place I’ve never been, like a portal to a reality where all of this never happened. I see it all as if from above, from the highest mountain of sharp stones.
And in these visions, the ghost of Zarahemla is standing on the shore of the Great Salt Lake. Fourteen years old, innocent, beautiful, connected, running along the shore with joyful feet, her white dress flapping like the wings of a dove. She’s in the reality where she belongs. Now, she doesn’t need to let her mind fly to a better place. She is anchored to the shore, to the one who loves her the most. She turns and she sees me, and she smiles with the delight of recognition.
She reaches out with an object in her hands.
In these visions, I have finally descended the mountain I tried for years to leave behind me. I cross the barren valleys and the alabaster plains of white salts. The ground crunches under my bare feet as I walk.
It saddens me that I always come back from the vision in the moments before our fingers touch.
But—very soon, perhaps, no longer will we be separated by space and the astral plane.
Now, I know what I must do to reach her. She’s whispering the way. She’s guiding me with the map she has drawn with stars and shimmering salts.
She’s guarding herself with a sword from my guilty hands. She is offering me this sword that flames like a pillar of fire, holding it poised above the skin of my belly. With fire in her eyes, she is telling me what must happen next, that I too must shed my blood upon the salt of the earth, to spill it in righteous atonement for what have done. Only then can I complete the journey to the shining expanse of silver water.
Only then, can we finally be together.
/r/leagueoflegends Time Capsule
Today's date is 14th April 2013.
There are currently 112 champions, Zac being the newest.
The champion with the highest win rate in solo queue is Rumble, at 55%
The champion with the highest pick rate is Caitlyn, at 43%
The champion with the lowest win rate is Karma, at 38%
The champion with the lowest pick rate is Urgot, at 0.65%
There are currently no black champions
Yordle Counter: 11
Corki and Cho'Gath are tied for the most legendary skins (2)
Annie and Ryze are tied for the most skins (9)
There is only one Ultimate skin, Pulsefire Ezreal
Game in General:
The 4 maps currently available are Proving grounds, Summoners Rift, The Crystal Scar and the Twisted Treeline, with Howling Abyss soon to be released.
There are 3 game modes as of writing this, 5 v 5, 3 v 3 and Dominion (It's fast and fun)
The current standard meta is Solo top, Jungler, Solo Mid, and an AD Carry with Support bottom lane.
List of Current servers: EUW, EUNE, NA, Brazil, Turkey, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, China, SEA , Vietnam , Philippines and soon™ Australia and Russia.
Features soon to be added: Replay System, ARAM Re-rolls, ARAM Queue
The client still uses Adobe AIR
We are approaching Week 10 in the LCS Season 3 Spring Split.
Week 9 NA Standings: Curse, Team Dignitas, TSM Snapdragon, Counter Logic Gaming, Good Game University, Vulcun, Team MRN, Complexity
Week 9 EU Standings: Gambit Gaming, Fnatic, SK Gaming, Evil Geniuses, Copenhagen Wolves, Against All Authority, GIANTS Gaming, Dragonborns
World Elite is currently statistically the strongest team in the world.
EG & Gambit are the two Top Pro teams with the longest unchanged (original) lineup.
TSM has yet to win a game vs a Korean team.
SK has yet to win a game vs Fnatic.
LCS Casters: Deman, Phreak, Joe Miller (Joe 'Joe ' Don't call me Joe Miller' Miller' Miller), Qu1cksh0t, Jason Kaplan, Kobe24, Jatt, Rivington III
Competitive League of Legends is yet to be broadcast on television
NA All-Star picks: Dyrus (TSM), SaintVicious (CRS), Scarra (DIG) , Doublelift (CLG), Xpecial (TSM)
EU All-Star picks: Soaz (FNC) , Diamondprox (GMB), Alex Ich (GMB), Genja (GMB), Edward (GMB) (Will change due to only 3 members from the same team being allowed)
twitch.tv LCS coverage regularly receives between 100,000-150,000 concurrent viewers
Teemo is still in the game.
Pingu not yet released
Urf The Manatee not yet released
CLG Documentary still not out
League of Legends is not yet an Olympic Sport
Today's /leagueoflegends front page
/leagueoflegends currently has 257,095 summoners
If there is anything else you think I should add, feel free to say.