Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Answers to the Quiz and An Easter Story
Okay, seems like I haven't fooled anyone. 100% of you answered "i: none of the above" for the quiz two posts ago. And you were correct.
Easter is coming up, so I decided to post a short story I wrote last Easter titled "Call of the Prince". Enjoy.
Call of the Prince: An Easter Short Story
The air was humid, the ground barren for miles. Gray, craggy mountains rose awkwardly from the horizon, the ground a wasteland stretching unto that point. Nothing lived, everything perished. The dirt was a hard dry brown, split with wide cracks running through its surface. Each crack was infested with dead vines bearing cruel thorns, creating stumbling blocks for the bare feet of travelers.
Travelers? Who would travel such a lethal, macabre wasteland? No one would choose to, but nonetheless, a train of prisoners appeared in the distance. Heavy chains clamped around their wrists and to each other to form a long line of weary, sweaty travelers from the faraway Kingdom on the other side of the mountains. Soldiers dressed in black, metal armor lead them along mercilessly. These were the criminals; they had been such since birth. Each had the mark on their foreheads, and each deserved to die.
Finally, they came upon a small, wooden cross jutting up from the earth. They had reached their destination, and their place of execution.
“Bring the first in line,” a soldier ordered in a gruff, harsh voice.
The first was a girl, no older than 18. Patches of dust and dirt sooted her face and clothing, and strands of thick hair clung to sweat on her forehead, just leaving her criminal mark visible behind them. She gazed at the cross, and her heart sank as she was pulled harshly forward. They bound her arms to the wood and stood back, sharpening a long sword for her execution. She watched and listened to the sound of metal scraping against metal. A large tear streamed down her cheek, picking up dirt from her face and becoming a dusty brown color before dripping off her chin and falling onto her shirt.
One soldier held up the sword, pointing it towards her. The girl sucked in air nervously, then closed her eyes, awaiting the feeling of a cold blade through her chest...
“Wait! Don't kill her.”
Her eyes popped open, and she, along with the other soldiers, turned their head towards the direction of the voice.
Appearing from behind a large rock, was a man. He appeared to be no more than another traveler. His simple, almost ragged attire hung unevenly from his body. He had bare, dirty feet, and long, unkempt hair fell around his face. It was obvious that he had had a long journey similar to that of the prisoners.
“What authority do you have?” a soldier demanded harshly. For such a lowly person to dare challenge authority, he had to have a very good reason or else he would be no better than the girl.
However, the man only smiled, though it was a somewhat weak and saddened smile. “You shall let her go,” he said, his voice commanding. “And, should they choose, all of them-” he swept his hand towards the other prisoners. “-if, you kill me; the Prince; in their stead.”
Immediately, the soldiers began to stare at him with a sense of fear and dread.
“Prince Jesua?” once inquired, shocked.
At that moment, the girl bound to the cross realized something horrible: the soldiers would agree and kill the only heir, after which they would kill the prisoners as well anyway. “Wait, Prince, no!” she cried. “You don't know what you're do-”
“We accept.” a soldier said, smiling sinisterly. He pulled the girl from the cross and pushed her to the ground, before stepping back and beckoning the Prince to come to where she had once been.
The Prince was unafraid. He did as the soldier asked, and allowed himself to be bound to the cross the girl should have rightfully died on. The girl, however, watched terrified, tears escaping the corners of her eyes. If the heir was killed, what would become of the kingdom?
As the sword was raised, the Prince turned his head towards the girl on the ground, smiled to her affectionately, and then fixed his eyes upon the sword before him; staring death straight in the face.
The blade came quickly. For a small moment, the Prince's face grew solemn as he felt the pain, but then, his eyelids drooped, and his head hung. The girl shook her head defiantly, and buried her face in her arms. The soldiers laughed.
“Next,” one said, half-commanding and half-joking. They started to turn towards the girl, but suddenly, a steady chorus of “click-click”'s caused them to freeze and stare at each other quizzically.
“The locks,” one mumbled. “How did all the chains unlock?”
They looked down the row of prisoners, and all of their chains; even that of the girl still on the ground; had been mysteriously unlocked. At least they weren't off, so as long as none of the prisoners noticed and kept them as they were, they were still captive. The soldiers shrugged, trying to put it off in their minds as just a strange happening, but the mysteries were not over; the greatest one was still to come.
It was the girl who noticed first. She saw that the binds around the Prince's body had disappeared, and he was slumped against the cross; unbound. She gasped, and the soldiers turned around to see what had happened, but before they could react; the rags on the Prince's body began melting together into elaborate attire with rich greens and purples and fine gold lining the edges. His hair swept back to reveal a sudden, golden crown, and his eyes opened; alert and alive with passion. Wounds and dirt wiped away like a cloth wiping away muck from a brass table. He stood up, smiling; even laughing, and held out his hand to the girl. The soldiers remained frozen in shock.
“Will you come with me, to a life in the castle where you will be my princess, my bride? The journey there may be difficult, but the rewards worthwhile; and I will be with you every step of the way.”
“But how can it be?” the girl exclaimed. “Those who bear the mark cannot enter the castle!”
Prince Jesua grinned. “Ah, but with my Father, all things are possible,” he insisted.
The girl hesitated, but then reached up and grasped his hand. Instantly, the mark on her forehead disappeared; and much like the Prince, the dirt and filth washed away to reveal clean, smooth skin, and her patched rags were replaced by a royal, blue dress flowing to her ankles. Prince Jesua pulled her to her feet, and then addressed her anxiously, “Hurry, we must warn the others to follow me to the castle and escape their coming death. The chains are unlocked; but unless they accept freedom, it will not be given to them.”
As desperately as they could, the Prince and his fiancé begged the prisoners to come with them. Many answered willingly, and allowed the Prince to slip off their unlocked chains... but many others were reluctant and skeptical.
Before parting and beginning their journey, the Prince gazed at his group of followers, then back at those who had refused to obey and were still in line for execution.
“Is this it, then?” he said with a mournful expression. “Will my children refuse to follow their Prince to the life they were truly born for? Alas... many are called, but few are chosen.”
Will you answer His calling? And will you make sure others hear it?