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"Yesterday was the independence of the little village from the oppressing reign of its fellow village. Thus the air was pregnant with the noise of celebration. Cheers and shouts of victory ran its course unstoppable and loud. Even so, I could not help but remember the time when I felt the same ecstasy from relinquishing the said foreign dominance that coerced a frail fleet into bowing. Only to find out that the will to govern his own is too strong for any kind of human power. Streams of blood will flow, remnants of destruction will make its mark but rebellious druthers will make its stand. It’s noble yet transitory. They are all too fond of independence, aren’t they? Too enthusiastic to even realize that it’s the very thing that incited their marriage with chains and depravity. The same reason why such chaos and bickering often breaks out in their midst in the first place.
Nevertheless, I applaud the bravery of those men in the front lines, though I often wonder if such rabid resistance was necessary for I can’t help but feel it reached to the point of excess. I may never have a solid answer for now but I still do raise my right hand in salutation to the countless men who has given their life for the cause of peace. However, especially now, I long with much fervor that their blood might not merely stain the pages of history but also flow through the rivers of glory.
You have promised to bring that about, haven’t you my King? True freedom? Oh yes, you have given mine already, that’s why I ought to shake away this feeling of hopelessness as I stand witness to the source of my present pathos. I should also then be all the more fixed on the fulfillment of your promises and for an enduring celebration that will soon commence and never cease. How I ache for that to come! But it is coming, isn’t it my King? Pardon me for my rambling thoughts and childish questions! Yet you open your heart all the more to these kind of feeble manifestations. How gracious indeed!
It was the 22nd time I’ve communed with my King on that day and I’m sure that it won’t be the last. The hostility of the world beyond the walls now daily frustrates me with much disappointment, not to mention the reflection of my own errs. Only the blessedness of coming into his throne beguiles my weary thoughts and refreshes my anguished heart.
Do you now know what keeps me alive? It is not the kingdom but the King himself. He has kept us, his adopted royalties, from the carnage of ignorance and obstinate wills. Those very words once described the King’s royalties. It once described me. But for reasons that continually confound the brightest intellect, the King has given out invitations replete with warnings of judgement. It was but a simple letter that holds the most astounding message. The King himself wrote it wherein he stated his mercy and compassion towards those who will heed his call. As for those who reject such magnanimity? The King has rightly allotted justice.
What kind of crime was committed? Rebellion. What force has incited it? Independence from the king. What is the price of such treason? The poison of pleasure and nothing else. What makes them refuse the invitation? Blindness. The pleasure and independence has wrought complete blindness and antipathy towards the King who has made and established them. I, too, was once as guilty as I could be.
Where then is the urgency? The expiration of the invitation. The gates will soon close permanently. Rebellion will be put to an end and only those within the walls will survive. Think not then that the King is harsh and cruel. If only you’ll see how many times his heart was broken by those he loved the most. It was a long time ago when the King sent his first prince and princess into the land where rebellion now inhabits. The King cherished them with unmerited love and favor. They were also commanded to govern the land outside the walls by day and be careful to come home to him at night. It was so because the night must be shut out from their sight for the King’s son has not been sent out yet to vanquish it.
You see the night that I speak of here is not the mere moon, it is the night of our hearts. The command to find refuge within the King’s walls was also a decision that was set to test the first prince and princess. But one day the prince and the princess did not come home after night has fallen. They have seen the luxury of it and thus denounced the security of the walls. The King’s heart was torn a sunder for he knew that they have stayed in the night and so the light became too bright in their eyes. And as a just King he commenced just punishment for the crime of betrayal. Betrayal against his law and against his heart. The prince and princess was sent into exile.
Years passed and the prince and princess multiplied and grew in number. From their children rose more villages that breeds the same rebellion. They established their own law, a law contrary to the true and enduring law of the King. It was more than an act of rebellion against the kingdom, it was much more of an opprobrium towards the King himself. Despite such grave betrayal, the King continued to watch over them. And the days where the King seemed quiet and distant were actually the very moments of rescue and redemption. This is where the King’s son comes in. He is not adopted like us, he was the very heir of the King. The same royal blood runs through his veins.
What then is his role? He was the one who stood in the King’s high court. He stood in behalf of the unworthy apostates that stood impassible and deaf outside the walls. You see the royalty of the King’s son is unlike any other. He can never lose it so he freely gives it away to the condemned in exchange for their crime’s penalty. He went through a great deal of scourging and tests that no ordinary man could ever accomplish. Too gruesome and passionate as it was, still the King’s son persevered and conquered. Take care not to forget that what the King’s son put on himself was not his but our just punishment.
I would also like to emphasize the axiom that crimes are meant to be punished. The King longed for his children to come home but the King could not permit it without retribution. The King’s son felt exactly the same and so they carried out and fulfilled the greatest exchange the kingdom has ever seen. An act birthed by love, raised by justice and matured by grace and mercy. The only thing that stands in the way of being forgiven is the decision that needs to be made. The decision either to heed the invitation to give back their hearts to the King thus leaving their rebellion, or the decision to keep their hardened hearts for themselves that will eventually be devoured by the fruits of their rebellion. Fruits such as envy, pride, vanity, lust, disregard for the kingdom’s law and others of like manner. Assume not, then, that we, adopted royalties, find no struggle with such rotten fruits. We do so with much pain. The only difference is that we are no longer under its reign.
The “rebellion” that I have talked about doesn’t sound as upfront, isn’t it? That’s what I thought so at first, too. Simply put it this way; the King is King, it is his kingdom, we are his subjects. Have he then no right to establish laws for our good? Has he then no right to rule? Of course he has! And the most peculiar thing about his laws is that it also mirror and restrain hearts and not only actions. The King is an expertise of hearts.
The rebellion then is rooted within the heart. Especially when many believe that the rotten fruits of rebellion have no physical form and thus disqualify its existence. But the truth is that it does have a visible form, and its form is called behavior. Poison in those fruits kill slowly; suffocating life little by little until the last breath obsequiously surrenders. Did I confuse you now? I hope not, but if I did I would just have to get back with you later. Here is now Warren approaching. Formally speaking he is my guardian and a really good friend of mine. A great company during heart classes, especially during the tedious season of applying what we are being taught. I have to warn you, though, he is plagued with bad humor.
“Helen!”---oh and yeah, that’s my name right there.
Warren’s garb was the usual kingdom attire---respectable, neat, and polished. I, for one, adores the velvet colors assigned to the coats of guardians. Warren’s was a minty green color with white garments underneath. As for us, adopted royalties, we are adorned with a simple yet decent apparel. My personal style is…botanical. What I mean is I prefer prints of bloom and foliage on my frocks. The King once said that I blend in with the garden most of the time. Warren, on the other hand, carries around tea and bread saying that I could pass off as a table for tea time. We are really given much liberty even in areas like clothing, but of course, at the end of the day our greatest motivation is the honor of our King.
I’m honestly no good at describing minute details. Come to think of it, I haven’t given you an idea of what the kingdom looks like, have I? Oh, poo. I have to warn you, I am not well equipped for such task. Truly, the scenery of the kingdom looks divine! So many jewels, and gold of all sorts of name and sizes that it really makes my head spin. I can’t even pronounce most of them. But what I can say is that the kingdom glitters in every corner. Think of all shades of gold and other royal colors in the kingdom’s color schemes. And oh! This may shock you but within the walls is the spring of water that travels unto all parts of the kingdom. Pretty impressive, right? Then again, it’s not the outer appearance of the kingdom that makes it truly impressive. It’s the candor and warmth that permeates in its atmosphere that makes it a home and a security for everyone inside. So I’m just going to let your imagination finish off my description. Just think of blue skies overlooking the walls, lots of trees and flowers (to my delight), warriors, princes, princesses, guardians, and of course, our benevolent King.
Where is the King’s Son, you say? With the King and with us. He is like the door to the King’s throne every time we enter it. He speaks the King’s words and also perfumes our ramblings and requests to the King. He says that he is much preoccupied and that more and more each day. Even so, he never loses time for us. He also speaks of returning outside the walls as his last task before we move to the new kingdom. He says it will also be the day that the invitation expires. The village people refuse to believe it, they say the King’s son has perished and never to return. As for the new kingdom I am yet again incapable of fully explaining what it will be. One thing’s for sure, it will exceed the current kingdom beyond measures.
“Helen! Why aren’t you dressed yet? It’s already 6am!” inquired a panic-stricken Warren.
“Oh, dressed for what, Warren?”
“You’re going outside the walls today! Remember? You forgot, haven’t you?” he explains frantically.
“How could I forget?!” I said to myself with much horror while Warren grabs hold of my wrist, leading me through the corridors and into my room.
Closing the doors behind me, he instructed me to get dressed in 5 minutes.
It actually took 20 solid minutes before I exited the walls and into the little village on the south side. With a bag full of invitations and excessive clothing, together with my journal (I surely won’t forget to bring you along!) and some necessities and girly trinkets; I traversed towards my house within the village. Warren, piqued yet ever so patient, hurried along.
I owe an explanation right there and here it is. My immediate family save my brother choose to remain in the village. They have received tons of invitations but no revelation yet. Their loyalty remains with our ancestors who has created the perfidious philosophy of rebellion in the guise of independence. You could just imagine how they took offence at my brother and I’s coronation! They were outraged and abased. Thus a persecution raged long and hard, but the King’s persuasion prevailed and both our parents, though gravely upset, now remains pacified. My brother, on the other hand, was assigned to serve in another village not too far from where I was now. He has been there for a month and will be staying much longer. Even though we are momentarily apart, we are fixed in bringing our family within the safety of the walls. The King himself gave as an assurance.
Another funny thing is that the villages are just outside the walls---a walking distance of ten to fifteen minutes. The only great distance that stands between it is apathy. Some rascals are very vocal with their effrontery while many are silently ignoring the King’ authority out of existence. The whole scenario is turning out to be the opposite of fairy tales we are so fond of, right? Those things are to be read with much caution if you ask me. It always gives Kings and walls a bad reputation. Always promoting self-reliance and rebellion. Coloring authority into a horrid picture and then subtly teaching a scornful attitude towards authority altogether. The only accepted authority left is one’s own. But I dare say that we ought to take a realistic view of our capability to govern ourselves. Just look at the wreckage all around us!
“Hurry along now, Helen. Continue your entry on your journal after breakfast. You must eat before we venture off.”
“Oh, alright.” I said while shooting a submissive look at Warren.
We were now inside my humble house by then. As I’ve said earlier, I am no good at describing architecture so I’m going to give you the word “cozy” as a key to visualizing our house. As for my parents, I could give some specific attributes. My father was once part of the small army in the village. He was very brave, a good provider and jocund. Tall, brown and fluffy as I fondly describe him. But he retired when my brother and I had to move within the walls. Starting a small business of fruits and homemade delicacies to keep them by instead. Of course, my brother and I send support. The King also, as he does to all of us, sends provisions to our families. Meanwhile, my mother is quite strict to be honest, but is most self-less when it comes to our family. My mother is definitely the most beautiful face that has ever graced that village, I dare say. Fair and dazzling, she truly is! I would flatter myself if I say I took after her but I won’t. It’s my brother who inherited mother’s aesthetics. I actually resembled my aunt, having only picked few features from my parents. My prominent cheek bones from my father, and my modest eyebrows from my mother. I love them both so dearly.
Warren and I finished breakfast past 8am, we then cleaned up the house before going straight to the plaza. My parents, having settled us, went off to the village people’s weekly gathering. Both of them holds a position in the village’s council. How I longed to see them join the royal congregation instead!
The plaza was crowded as usual, perfect for handing out invitations.
“Good day, sir. Please take this invitation.”
“Oh, you’re one of that King’s partisans, aren’t you?” snapped an old brash man in reply.
I felt Warren’s posture turning rigid ready for defense. Although, I was assured that he wouldn’t break the King’s order not to resort to violence unless violence was first rendered.
“Yes, sir. I am.”
“You people are really turning into a nuisance. Go away little girl! I’ve received tons of your pathetic invitations and I am not changing my mind still! Shoo!” berated the old man. Warren’s arm immediately shielded me as the man harshly pushed me out of his way.
“Are you alright?”
“Hurt and embarrassed,” I said bluntly. “…but I think I’ll be fine.”
“I think you got yourself a fan,” suggested Warren in an effort to alleviate the mood.
“Hooray for me,” I cheered with false excitement.
The villagers held mixed emotions for the King’s “partisans,” as the old man addressed us. Majority of them doesn’t really support the whole idea of us being royalties. Many of them think we are deluded like our King and thus shoo our message with utter disgust. Some, on the other hand, allows us to hand over invitations and even let us reason with them about its significance. Sadly, though, those bunch never really give it a serious thought since they were merely being nice but not interested. The rest were in between the two positions. Consequently, it is in that position that many of the princes and princesses came from, including myself.
Before Warren could further comfort me, a dreaded voice came calling towards us.
“Oh look, you’re prince charming descends upon you,”
“He is no prince and he is definitely void of charm. Help me Warren!”
Continuing his badinage, Warren theatrically responded, “How could you princess? He, too, is in need of the King’s gift. You should then continue your royal duties to acquaint him with the kingdom’s treasures. Far be it that you exclude him from the sphere of your compassion.”
“How is it that you abandon me this easy, Warren?” I whimpered in a whisper being careful not to be overheard for the dreaded voice draw nearer. But I hate to admit it, amidst Warren’s tease was truth. I hate it when he’s able to do both--- tease and correct me. It’s a mastery of him that I both loathe and love.
“You’re mother mentioned that you will be around today,” a blushing Drake remarked after having reached us.
“Ah, yes. I’m always here, Drake. Except certain moments and days.” Warren nudged me forward as I was unconsciously retreating.
“I bet you’re sending out those invitations again!” Drake digressed joyfully. “Let me take all of it!”
Surprised and awkward, I immediately blocked his hands from grabbing hold of the invitations. “Wait! It doesn’t work that way, Drake. Haven’t I given you thousands of these already?”
“Yes! Yes! You know that you can always give me if you want to, Helen. To make your work easy. I would also love to hear you explain it to me again! That is, if you’re not busy…”
Warren, recovering from much amusement, suggested a most horrific idea. “Why, that’s a good idea, Drake! Helen would love to explain it to you!”
I stood petrified and betrayed. I want to strangle Warren right then and there yet was thankfully restrained by deference.
“Now, now princess. I will be right behind the two of you. Following silently, blessed by your pure devotion for the King’s cause.”
Ignoring Warren’s banters, I gathered myself to answer as gentle as possible. “Look, Drake…” but before I could decline, conviction hits hard. “You see…” and before long I was speaking the opposite of what I wanted to originally convey. “Ssssure. Why not? Let’s have a talk…again.”
I adored Drake’s willingness to listen but was as much disappointed for his motive behind it. You see, the guy is extremely peculiar. Not in terms of appearance, though. He actually dresses properly and is very popular among the ladies in the village. The weird thing that repels me from him is his indomitable admiration for me, a great source of Warren’s amusement. I do not hate Drake, not at all. It’s that he can get too overwhelming.
“Let’s try a different approach this time, what do you think?” I queried as we stride past the plaza and headed to the nearby book shop.
“Whatever you think is fine with me, Helen,” gleefully conceded by Drake.
“Alright then. This time you ask the questions and I will just answer it to the best of my ability.”
“About the invitations?” he clarified. I nodded to confirm.
There was a pause afterwards, clearly revealing his lack of interest. Drake’s silence was only broken when we caught sight of the Kingdom’s gate.
“Okay, here’s a question. Why do you need to send out invitations when the gates are always open? I mean, we can just walk into it if we want to.”
Not wasting any more time, I answered, “It is always open… for now.” I shot him a searching look before I continued, “…and walking into the gates takes more than knowledge of it. It requires the right desire.”
Drake received my stare with a different meaning and was blushing. Nonetheless, I continued my explanation even if he was off to a completely different sphere. “It’s worth a shot,” I encouraged myself.
“A lot of villagers have entered the gates with and without the invitation. All of them walked out not long since they entered. It was because all of them came in either with absence of knowledge or with a supercilious one. While those with a misconstrued knowledge frequents rallying outside the walls but sometimes decide to take their rage inside. Of course, they will be permitted entrance, but they will by no means be given access to cause real damage. Such kind of visitors ends up falling in pits they themselves have dug. The point is not one of those people came in for the King. In doing so they never really entered the kingdom, they merely entered the gates. That is why the invitation is important. It is not simply a disposable pass you take hold of with your hands. It is an imperishable message you receive with your heart and mind.” All these I said without even looking at Drake’s face, fearing that his liberal gaze might summon a distasteful reaction.
I was about to continue but Drake surprisingly supplied another query. “What’s wrong with this village, Helen? Are we going to be punished just because we choose this village over your kingdom?”
A now somber tone resonates within his voice. Maybe in the course of my speech earlier, a word or two broke the love spell that so enamored Drake. I instantly felt like conversing with a different person and it was exactly a moment I have longed cherish to have with him----I have finally reached him somehow. To what extent? I am still unsure of.
“We’re not punished because of this village. We’re punished because of our crimes. The treason we’ve committed has long sentenced us to the damnation of exile. No accomplishments as high as we could ever imagine can expiate our wrongs. Punishment must first be rendered. We know that by principle, do we? For only then can good truly rise from the root of having been forgiven. Remember, Drake, whether you submit to it or not, the King remains the King. And he did not intend for us to live in a village, he planned and created a kingdom for us to live in. A kingdom with our King.” My heartbeat was now hammering in my chest. I have never expected for such a turn around.
“What if I don’t like your King?” Drake defended, stopping in his tracks. “What if I don’t like to accept the invitation?”
I became indignant at the hearing of his words. Just a few minutes more and I would have turned vociferous. It was Warren’s wordless encouragement through his eyes that reminded and restrained me.
With much discipline, I therefore spoke once more. “That…that is why the gates are open, Drake. No one will be forced to go in and no one will be kept from going back outside. The gates will be open.”
Drake gained a small amount of enthusiasm after hearing my answer. My interlocutor then ventured on with a lighter question. “Good. So there’s a possibility that you will change your mind, Helen? Leave the kingdom? Stay here for good? Marry a village folk, perhaps?”
Of course he wanted me to leave. Drake wanted me to be with him outside the walls and marry him. That’s what his expression so vividly speaks of. But I still brought myself into talking truth to him.
Now with a more subtle voice, I disapproved his theory. “No, Drake…no. Remember what I said earlier? Those who left after entering are those who entered for the wrong reasons. Those who truly entered for the King, and for Him only, never left. All of us remains and will always will; clear sighted, unforced and free.”
My answer came off to Drake as an indirect refusal of his premeditated proposal. He was instantly sullen and aloof. Warren now moving from the back to my side.
“You’ll never like me, will you Helen?” After this Drake no longer gave me a chance to comfort him as he slowly backed away from us. A few more steps and he completely turned away and walked into the opposite direction.
I, on the other hand, stood dignified and morose. Dignified for I did not compromise the King’s message for the cause of sympathy nor did I expressed incited outrage for the cause of appealing to my pride. Although, I have to admit, integrity sometimes inflict a sense of sadness that one has no other choice but to foster.
Warren held on to me as I retreated in a pensive mood. “Well, here we are in front of the book shop. Why don’t we go in and see if there’s something worthy to read?” Warren suggested trying to revive me from my innervating thoughts.
I stood unmoved while still in my thoughts. I once again contemplated on the village life. I saw the busy market, the memories being made, the chattering mouths, the wondering feet, and the ever beating yet estranged hearts. Truly, no disaster has ever dressed itself this well and refined. I could not blame Drake nor anyone for such avidity for this masquerade.
After a few more minutes I revived back to reality. I slowly turned to face Warren but caught a glimpse of Olive inside the shop instead. I ran towards the window display and knocked excitedly to get Olive’s attention.
Olive was a princess, too. Not only was she royalty, she was also my bosom friend. Something like a best friend but deeper. She was donning a peach silk dress that day. It was a perfect fit for her; not to tight, not too loose. Her hair revealed its luxurious length and quality even though it was up in a neat ponytail. Beautiful as ever. It was the first time I saw her again after the King sent her on a special immersion. As to the details, I was not given the liberty to know much further. But I am glad that we will finally have a little reunion.
“Warren! Look! It’s Olive!” I yelled enthusiastically in between turns of my incessant knocking on the window.
“Olive! Olllllyyyy!” I tried to call out. It took 2 more minutes before my ludicrous effort was taken notice by Olive. She went straight to the window to reciprocate my happiness. I then gestured that I will be coming inside but after understanding what I’m trying to convey, Olive immediately tried to dissuade me. She tried to stop me as she followed me along the series of windows leading up the front door. I, for one, was too excited to see the expediency of her objection. I therefore did not take it seriously and ended up finally opening the door.
Upon opening the entrance I was not welcomed by the book shelves that stood adjacent the door. Instead, I was face to face with a tall figure clothed in royal garments. I’m not referring to Olive though I wished that it was indeed her. The figure was male, handsome, and cruel. The reason why I chose the last adjective will be disclosed at the right time.
“Woah,” I gasped in disbelief.
“Woah,” Warren echoed as he appeared behind me.
“Uh-oh,” I heard Olive say in the background.
“Did I startle you, Helen?” says the cruel man.
I hesitated before I was able to answer. “Not at all, Kurt. I did not expect to see you. That’s all.”
“Prince Kurt!” exclaimed Warren. I was sure he was ready to do a little tease-party for his beloved Helen. “How are your lessons going? Where is Oscar? (Referring to Kurt’s guardian). Oh, wait. There he is! And oh! I did not know that Oscar and Gregg (Olive’s guardian) are keen of book shops! Hello there my comrades! (Beckoning the two as he waves).”
Olive was also quick to my rescue. She ran to me and we shared a tight hug. She also did the arduous task of communicating with the cruel man. “Prince Kurt, would you please excuse us? Helen and I need to talk privately first.”
“Of course, I understand,” says the cruel man. Emphasis on cruel!
Olive then politely gestured, “Sir Gregg, Sir Warren, shall we go?”
We were now far enough to commence colloquy. Consequently, I decided not to make Kurt a topic and intended to omit our unwelcomed encounter altogether. I, therefore, suggested to head over to our house where we can have our much needed catching up. Olive and Gregg oddly looked surprised and uneasy at my suggestion, ultimately conceded. Speaking of Gregg, who was more civil than Warren when it comes to humor, it was to my great advantage that he was with us for he kept Warren occupied thus keeping him from pestering me about Kurt.
“My parents will soon be home, too. Maybe we can give them invitations together. What do you think, Olly?”
Olive smiled and nodded. I then saw that Olive was struggling to be placid amidst a seeming stress inside her.
“Helen,” Olive began to speak. “Kurt told me something inside that book shop.”
I was completely piqued at the mention of his name again. I also abhorred much more the embarrassing assumptions that immediately came afterwards. Assumptions such as Kurt regretting his cowardice. The act of cowardice where he failed to man up and deal with his feelings. I am not being presumptuous as I say this for I speak based on facts. The fact that he grew an infant affection which I foolishly answered only to know his refusal to nurture it. Who am I then to do a man’s duty? The King taught us dignity and self-respect. Therefore, I was convinced not to sound my hurt and dejection. Besides, princesses are not required to marry nor will we suffer privation if we remain a maiden.
My physiognomy told Olive everything that was on my mind that verbal response was not required by her anymore. “I’m not talking about…uhm… the two of you. He said something really amazing, Helen.”
I stopped and looked back at Olive for I was two steps ahead of her. “Olly, if it doesn’t involve me then I honestly don’t want to partake of it. If it’s some accomplishment or good tidings then please send my cheers. But…” As I was finishing my sentence, I caught a glimpse of a sight that horrified me. “I can’t believe it….I can’t believe it, Olly.”
“Helen? I’m afraid you’re confusing me.”
Turning her shoulders enough for her to see, I pointed out, “He is following us! Look!” By that time, the two guardians were already greeting them in complete disregard for my feelings.
“I’m sorry for intruding my princesses, but we really need to hasten. We need to be there before the carriage arrives.”
“WE?”I answered indignantly. “When did you and I become a WE?”
Kurt stood stunned at my remarks and then looked to Olive for answers. “You haven’t disclosed it to her yet?”
“Disclose what?” I retorted.
“You were a bit too soon, Prince Kurt,” answered Olive. “I was about to…”
“Olly! What’s happening? Why is this cruel man calling us WE? And why is he heading to our house?” I refused to be belligerent, only agitated, especially after realizing that I have exposed my sentiments excessively already.
“Helen, today is your parent’s coronation,” Olive responded sharp and fast. “Kurt has been guiding them in preparing for this day. The King wanted it as a surprise for you.”
And just like that every affection and thought that I currently had instantly became a puerile matter in comparison with the tremendous news that I have been given. My verbal inclination receded as tears flowed unrestrained. Only a physical reaction spoke in behalf of my rejoicing, subjecting in an embrace the whole company, including Kurt, before running towards our house since a short distance still remained uncovered.
“Mother! Father!” I gasped and yelled.
“Princess! Be careful!” I heard Warren calling behind me. The rest of them followed along in the marathon I started. They were calling after me and were rejoicing with me. I did not stop until I reached our doorstep, and by the time I did, my heart was ready to jump out of my chest.
I opened the door and saw my parents groomed and ready. “Mother! Father!” I jumped in joy, greeting them with the tightest embrace I could ever give. The rest of the company now arriving, too.
“How? When?” I asked still in tears.
My mother took me back in an embrace as she explained, “Oh, sweet heart. We really did not keep track of dates. All we can say is that it was a beautiful journey. Sorry if we did not tell you sooner. We all wanted to surprise you.”
“But…but…you went to the village meeting this morning,” I said sobbing.
“…to officially abdicate our positions…and to give out invitations,” answered my father.
I was in extreme rapture that only tears and gratitude came out of me. Too joyous that I was only able to stare at my parents as they were finishing up and boarding the carriage that arrived just seconds after we did. They were greeted by their newly appointed guardians and led inside the magnificent vehicle. I was then told that a different carriage will be sent for me and my company. The said carriage was currently picking up my brother. After a few more minutes, my parents were whisked away inside the gates. Standing there watching them, I also realized that everyone else in the village went along in their daily routine without even knowing the great celebration that braced the kingdom that day. The village was completely oblivious at the joyous event that has happened.
“How about we have some hot bread and juice for a pre-celebration?” Warren suddenly suggested.
“We would love to,” agreed Olive and the rest.
All the three guardians present then headed to the kitchen leaving Olive, Kurt and I alone with each other.
Kurt gave Olive and me some privacy as he retreated to sit on one of our dining chair while the both of us stood by the front door.
“I think this is the culmination of my immersion,” Olive shared blithely.
“Really, Olly?” I answered excitedly.
“Remember before I started this immersion, Helen? I was nervous and doubtful. I could not even accomplish a task without being overwhelmed by my nerves.”
What Olive has said was true. I was too absorbed by the events of that day that I failed to notice the change that has occurred within her. Observing her now in front of me, I can no longer detect the frail doubtful girl that kept running away from her calling. No, this time, I am beholding a stronger spirit. I am sure of it just by the way she talks.
“How could I forget, Olly? Look at how far you’ve gone! Accomplishing an entire immersion! The change truly radiates from you!”
Our conversation closed with another embrace as Olive urged me to settle things with Kurt. I heeded her advice after remembering his ministry to my parents. I thought it only proper to thank him personally.
Kurt knew that I had some business with him as I came forward. He then rose from his seat and welcomed me with a gaze. I was nearing him and was ready to speak when a loud blast came ringing from the outside. All three guardians came rushing out of the kitchen and immediately took hold of each of their royalty.
“Warren, what was that?” I questioned panic stricken.
“It’s the trumpet, princess. The return of the King’s son has come.”
By the time Warren finished answering me, all six of us were outside the house. The village was in a panic. People were running, screaming and crying. We also caught sight of the Kingdom’s mighty warriors. They were animating the judgements as warned in the invitations. It was then that we knew it was really happening. In the midst of it we saw carriages taking royalties back to the Kingdom. Soon enough one stopped in front of us.
“Get the royalties inside quickly,” commanded Warren. Olive went first, then me, followed by Kurt. Our guardians climbed aboard after we were seated properly. All three of them, especially Warren, were all grave in expression. It was not fear, but reverence. Olive and I were holding each other’s hands, excited and feverish. Kurt’s hand also sought warmth so I took hold of his in a gesture void of romance. We both knew that the moment for such matter has now passed.
As we moved closer to the Kingdom, I noticed that people were running towards the opposite direction. I peered deeper through the small window of the carriage and saw the gates were still open but only carriages containing royalties were entering. It was not that village people were prevented from coming in…they were simply not taking refuge inside the gates. Thus the invitation continued to be played out; trumpets kept on rampaging the air, warriors continually descending from within the walls, royalties brought back and rebels still running away.
Consequently, as I continued to survey the crowd I saw Drake standing frozen in the middle of it all. Immediately I called out for him as we were about to pass him by.
“Drake! Drake!” I screamed from the top of my lungs.
Drake looked up and saw me. He smiled like he usually does every time he sees me. He then approached our moving carriage. I then stuck my head out of the window and reached for his hand.
“Come with us, Drake. It’s safe within the walls. The King will be your refuge,” I spoke, tears clouding my eyes.
He became unresponsive at my plea and merely smiled at me. “You look beautiful, Helen,” he shouted as the carriage was now leaving him behind.
“Please, Drake,” I shouted some more. “Stop the carriage!” I pleaded. “He needs to get in!”
“Princess…” Warren spoke. “Even if we stop the carriage, Drake will not come with us. He doesn’t want to.”
Ignoring Warren’s words, I looked and searched for Drake and saw him still standing in the same spot. He was now in tears waving his hands goodbye, mouthing the words, “be safe, Helen.” I screamed and begged him to come but he stuck with his decision. The rubble soon completely removed him from my sight forever.
Kurt gently beckoned me to bring my head back inside. All guardians gave their comforting words, and Olive wrapped me in an embrace. Please do not think I was weeping because of the King’s judgement, far be it. The reason for my sorrow was the climax of rebellion and having seen its consequences face to face.
I felt the carriage going inside the gates. I slowly removed myself from Olly’s arms before seeing a tiny paper that was about to fall off my pocket. I read it one last time, saying to myself, “it has expired… the new kingdom comes.”
Soli Deo Gloria