The King’s Armor

The chains clamped around my wrists as cold and hard as stones. I stared ahead into the darkness, waiting for the young guard, who was not much more than a year older than I, to open the door to the arena. I had come here not because I had stolen treasure, attacked a servant, or murdered an innocent peasant. I had come for the same reason as the ones before me: because I existed.

I had dreaded this day since I was a young child who finally understood the laws of the land—since that day my mother and father had gone before me. But there was no reason for fear. My parents had taken places of honor at the king’s table, and I visited them on every full moon. Soon I would see them and the king every day.

The metal door creaked open. The guard gestured for me to hurry up and get out the door. As I passed him, he whispered, “Friend, the beast won’t hurt ya if you be quick about it.”

I nodded my thanks and strode forward into the empty arena. My sweaty tuffs of copper hair clung to the nape of my neck as I gazed around. Not only was there no lion, but there was not a human being in sight besides the king in his royal box. The only other beings interested in my Transition seemed the mobs of hornets buzzing about and pecking at me arms every now and then.

I had heard audiences had been small lately, but I hadn’t expected to meet such a crude pair of eyes blinking lazily in my direction and not much else. King Maximus sipped his wine from the glamorous throne decked with gold and sapphire. Good for him, to be in that box with a canopy and attentive servants waving long, feathery fans to keep out the heat and the insects. Would I only end up fanning him as well?

But now the emptiness of the arena glared into my face. Where was Pa? Mum? My brother, Marcus? I had witnessed many Transitions, but most had mobs of blood-thirsty citizens, yearning for a fight. I supposed people had tired of telling their neighbors that all that had happened was the same old surrendering to the king’s will instead of slaying the lion. Not that it was an unpleasant decision to take a seat at the king’s table—by all means, it was the best choice my parents ever made. They didn’t have a clue about killing wild creatures, anyhow. Neither did I, so they didn’t bother coming, I guess, since they knew they would surely be feasting with me tonight.

King Maximus, from high up in the royal box, ushered me forward. “Just say the word, lad, and I won’t even bother bringing the lion out.”

I bowed before the lofty ruler. “Thank you, sir, but I haven’t made the decision yet.”

He narrowed his eyes down upon me. “So… you want to end up with the first of the rebels? Those fools that died—let’s see—about eight years ago?” He scoffed. “I thought my dear citizens had learned their lesson by now.”

I kept my head down in practiced humility. “No, sir, and I truly would be honored to sit at your table and eat with you.”

“Then that settles it.” King Maximus commanded his servants with a wave of his hand.

I glanced at the armor laid out on the dirt that awaited anyone fool enough to try. Dust had gathered on it during those long eight years. I didn’t know why I considered it—maybe for my dignity or my pride—or perhaps because the lion, if killed, would set us free from the “honor” of feasting with the king for the rest of our days. I didn’t want that honor. That was meaningless. Maybe those rash young men all those years ago had died, but they had died knowing that when all were free to live ordinary lives outside the palace, they could use their freedom to care for the poor or the sick or the imprisoned, to pursue righteousness without the king suppressing them with gold and jewels.

The servants unchained me with smiles on their faces and urged me toward a door on the other side of the arena, opposite of the door I had come from. One strolled on ahead and the other followed suit behind me. Their confidence swept me away along with them, until I couldn’t go any further. How could I miss this chance? How could I stand the eternal burden of regret? Continue reading

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Scattered Thoughts

So whenever I have an interesting thought, I write it down. I thought I’d share a few with you. The way I’m doing it is similar to my Things I’ve Learned Lately post, which you should go see if you’re interested, because it is more developed than this. 🙂

I live

To prepare for the absence

Of myself

From this world.

 

I’m a merchant

Who buys and gives away

Because nothing’s mine.

 

He gave His Son to die

So you could live,

Jesus gave all,

So you’d have all to give.

 

Do you ever think something,

And then realize you’ve thought of it before?

 

We only have ourselves,

but looking at God we see He has

Every good thing.

 

Better we be innocent

Better we be brave

Better we be ignorant

Than to know it all

And be afraid.

 

I always have a need because I’m human.

Because I love,

because I hate,

because I die.

 

Oh and one last random thing. God is all of the Divergent factions (All these are NIV):

Dauntless (brave): “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” Psalm 118:14

Amity (peaceful): “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

Erudite(intelligent): “For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” – Proverbs 2:6

Candor (honest): “I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.” – Isaiah 45:19

Abnegation (selfless): “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:26-28

 

 

Guest Author Amy: What Makes a Hero

Introducing my good friend Amy! She’s going to tell us about what makes a person a true hero:

I was playing a game with my family recently. A judge would ask a question, and people would write down answers. The judge would choose the best answer, and the person who wrote it down would get a point. When I was the judge, I asked a question I’ve been thinking about recently.

What is the most important quality for a hero or heroine to have?

Some of answers that my family came up with were “Powers”, “The Brian.”(she says she meant brain…), and an answer that pretty much came down to “The Quality of being like You.” I chose, “The Quality of being like You”.

The question got me thinking. What is the most important quality for a hero or heroine to have? Sure there are important features, smarts, skills, courage, and inner/outer strength, but you can take all of these things away, and still have a hero. This hero might fail miserably in their quest, but they are still, at their core, a hero.

Finally I came up with the thing that makes a hero a hero. They need to be good. Not good as in skilled, or able to complete the task well, but good in their hearts.

A hero needs to be a good person.

Now, you may disagree with me, but I think that a hero that is not good is no longer a hero. A “bad” hero does not exist. At that point, they are just the lesser of two evils, which may be what is needed in your story, or realistic, but they are not a hero.

As a Christian, I know that God defines what is good. If God is good, and defines what is good, then you can only be a truly “good” person by loving what God loves, and rejecting what God rejects. Obviously, no one is perfect but Jesus, but rejecting sin and evil and chasing after God, is what can make a person “good.” (I say “good”, because only God is good, Mark 10:18b says, “No one is good except God alone.”)

Even things that our culture does not consider wrong, things like lying, adultery, pride, or impatience should be at least acknowledged as sin by our heroes. Of course, not hero should be perfect, and maybe these sins are an area for our hero to grow, but too often these days, even in Christian books, heroes and heroines lie without feeling guilty about it. Good people, people after God’s heart, may push away sin for a while, but always end up confronting it, and being transformed to be more like God.

No one reads book without being unaffected by it, and as authors we should try to write books that affect people for the better. Our heroes and heroines should be people that our readers admire. The culture slowly can convince us that sins like impatience, and pride are fine, even good characteristics to have, because their heroes have them, but we know better. Lies heard a hundred time over are still lies, but they seem more convincing. If books we read say over and over again that lying is okay, that pride is a good quality, and if heroes, by their actions, say that some sins are okay to do, then that lie seems a lot more convincing. As Christian authors, our heroes should reject sin, and spurn evil, and encourage readers do the same.

Heroes today are many things; smart, brave, talented. But these things are not essential to be a hero. The single most important quality for a hero to have is goodness. A hero without goodness is just the lesser of two evils, but what makes a true hero is that at their core, they desire to overcome evil with good.

Plea of an Introvert (or, an Introverted Plea)

If only people could realize,

I’m not just here–

I care.

If only they could know

I’m not just standing

In the corner

Without a word past my lips,

But I’m

Thinking of something to say

And waiting for the moment

And the courage

To bring myself to say it.

 

I’m alone in a crowd;

Stuck in an atmosphere

Of harmony

Without lifting my voice

To sing.

I know I should try harder,

And pray harder, too,

And someday I know I’ll be

Singing in my quiet way

Along with

The rest of you.

But if you’re that person

In the center

Of liveliness,

Of adventure

Looking back at me,

Just remember

That I care

And that I’m a person, too.

 

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

A Day to Remember

The wagon wisped me around the beloved town I had so long knew. Or thought I knew. I wasn’t sure anymore. An old man sat in front “ayeing” the horses and tugging the reins, though he looked as bored as a plump hog.
“Do you remember?” the girl whispered in my ear beside me, as she had before.

I shook my head for the ninth time. Pretty soon I wouldn’t have any more fingers to keep track of my head-shaking. Without my fingers, I couldn’t remember anything.
The general store smiled familiarly at me, shoppers passing in with empty hands and passing out with carts full of goods. But no, I had not seen it before. I was sure of it. Neither had I seen the bank, the post office, or that little brown church we’d passed by moments before.
“We’re relying on you to remember,” the girl whispered, her dark eyes widening as she gazed on up at me as if she were my friend. But she wasn’t my friend. She had told me her name, but I’d forgotten that, too.
“Aye!” the old man shouted, but the horses weren’t listening. They were plodding on through the cobblestone streets at a slow, lulling pace.
“Why should I trust you?” I asked the girl, who looked to be no more than seven years old. “And where are you taking me?”
“I’m Wren. You know who I am, you just don’t remember. Trust me, and you will see that we are going to a place where you will be safe. All you have to do is answer the man’s questions. But first, Sara, you must remember.”
Sara. She knew my name. I studied her face, which was as bright and round as a golden apple. Copper ringlets spread out from her head in a cloud. “Who are you, anyway?”
“I told you,” she said softly, “I’m Wren.”
Suddenly, the wagon jolted. “Ah, here we are!” cried the old man.
A shack. A broken-down, miserable shack half the size of my bedroom. I scrambled out of the wagon and strode towards the door. Without any memories, there was no reason for fear.
When I opened the door, dust greeted me, spiraling about the silent room. Out of the shadows stepped a man with luminous green eyes towering above me. “My daughter…” he said hoarsely, and he reached out his arms for me.
But I stood there, aloof. “You’re not my father. I know it.”
The man showed his teeth, grinning wryly. “Still my stubborn girl, eh?” He glanced at Wren, and then eyed the old man behind me. He seemed to be trying to tell them something with his eyes.
Then he stepped toward me. “You don’t remember anything do ya,” he said between clenched teeth. “Well, I 
am your father. Trust me, I remember everything.”
I racked my brain for anything. The farthest back I could remember was waking up on that wagon rumbling through town. How could I be sure this man was who he said he was?
Wren tugged at my arm, saying something, but I wasn’t listening. I was just looking at her, struck all the sudden with an aching feeling of hurt and love at the same time. My brain seemed to be flying out everywhere at once, trying to grasp what was just out of my reach. The little girl looked familiar, that’s all I knew.
I pulled tendrils of my hair and matched it beside hers. The same. Copper brown. Just as I had suspected.
“Is she your daughter?” I asked the tall man.
His face went blank for a second, and the blankness told it all.
“Uh, yes, she’s my daughter. Yeah, Wren, ya don’t remember your big sister?”
The girl didn’t say a word.
I couldn’t handle anymore of the lies. Heart pounding, I fled out of the shack, passed Wren and the old man, then passed the wagon and the horses.
I flew by the general store. Then the little brown church, the post office, and the bank. Finally, I stopped, breathless. The gate standing before me—I’d seen it before. And that feeling, that adrenaline running through my veins as fast as my legs—I’d felt it before.
I ran back to the shack just as swiftly as I’d run away. “Wren, can you tell me who you are?”
The girl gazed up at me, wide-eyed. “No, I can’t. I’m here to take you away.”
I confronted the tall man, who was not my father. I faked a smile. “Don’t let her, Papa. I want to be with you.”
The tall man scoffed. “
Papa, you say? Ha! False memories aren’t going to help me, little girl. Take her away, Wren.”
Just as I had hoped, I was soon on the wagon with Wren at my side and the old man “ayeing” the horses that kept on plodding at a slow pace. But memories swept through me. The general store had been my daily savior, the little brown church my weekly reminder, and the bank and post office necessities of an ordinary life. I had lived such a life once. Then I had ran as fast as I could to escape it, far out the gate into extraordinary life beyond, where everything the tall man wanted to know was waiting for him.
And now my little sister was taking me home.