News of the spinefish devastation has caused my Zebulani friends to react strongly. Iara has spent several hours in mourning. She has been singing that same Atlantean dirge—the one she sang over Nessa—since Pincoy delivered the news. She sings quietly, so as not to attract attention, but the effort spent on discretion seems to intensify her grief.

Lithe, on the other hand, has rallied considerably. He has been up and about since the news, flexing and stretching. His color doesn’t look any better, but his fever has broken. The black veins still stretch up his arms, and I’m now convinced they will not return to normal any time soon. Still, he hasn’t manifested any further signs of infection, and I doubt now that he will. He has taken in the sickness of sin and conquered it. He has subsumed the iniquities of Zebulon and lives to demonstrate how evil can be conquered. He has gone through a metamorphosis, becoming  stronger, more terrifying, but also more self-controlled. I don’t think that means Lithe’s body has crafted its own biological defense against infection, just that we got to the wound in time.

Thankfully, there is a far more functional Christology at work in Atlantis.

The central doctrine of Christian spirituality is that Jesus Christ, simultaneously one hundred percent divine and one hundred percent human, came into the world to destroy evil, the bondage of sin, and the power of Satan. Since Christ was God, His sacrifice on the cross had tremendous power. Since Christ was human, His sacrifice was of the appropriate variety to atone for the sins of other humans. His humanity meant he could fix human sins; His divinity meant he could fix them all.

That fancy little piece of theological jujitsu is known as the hypostatic union (with a dash of penal substitutionary atonement thrown in for good measure).

But the short form is a little simpler to grasp: we are saved by His blood.

I wondered then if Zebulon was celebrating Jonah’s blood. Like Christ, Jonah descended from “up there.” Like Christ, he was born into the world through miraculous circumstances, under a shroud of suspicion only intensified by the perpetual “virginity” of his mother. I guess the fact that Jonah had gills didn’t hurt the homoousis either. Because Jonah was from up there, he was immune to the poison of the spinefish. Because he was born down here, his immunity could be transferred to all of Zebulon. And like Christ, it looked like Jonah was about to die for being their savior.

“Your son is sick,” Pincoy said, delivering the bad news during his daily visit. “His eyes are jellied and his skin is waxen. He sweats and makes whimpers.”

“What’s going on?”

“He needs his mother. Scyla and Schylla have been careful, but he is very small. It is difficult to monitor his vibration. His energy dims.”

This didn’t sound good. “Is he in pain?”

“I think very much. You need to see him.”

No kidding. But how was I supposed to do that? Heqet had planned this all very carefully. In one fell swoop she had gotten rid of a rival claimant to the throne, a nuisance, and the last remaining barrier to her miracle cure. She wasn’t going to let me anywhere near the boy.

Iara was crying, and Lithe looked ready to kill.

“There is more, David. Elisabeth has been taken by the Knumai. She is ill, but glad to be near the boy. She refuses to leave him alone. No one knows Jonah is captive. Heqet tells the people she is protecting him from you. She says Liz has given her son so they might have life. The people appreciate this. I do not.”

Iara looked fired up. “They take!”

“Yes, priestess.” Pincoy inclined his head. “They do. They have robbed David Mann of his son and of his word. That is the most bad.” Iara and Lithe began to chatter at one another, their urgency mounting. Lithe looked determined. Iara looked like a hellcat.

 

In an economy like Zebulon’s, robbery is worse than murder. Actually, murder is a form of robbery to them: stealing life.

Every sin is a theft of some kind.