Greetings readers!

Today I have something a little different for you guys. Well, not entirely, but I'd like to think so. It makes me feel special.

Anyways, here is a short story I wrote for school sometime back. Thanks to Jesse Rice (http://booktyper.blogspot.com/) for editing and proof reading. You guys should check out his blog, it's awesome! 

~~~xxxXxxx~~~

Dawn of a New Day

I watched from my small, corner seating as large, rambunctious crowds began to gather around the feast before them. Dancers danced to the dark, steady tempo of heavy drums; sending chills up and down my spine. The entire event seemed eerie and, frankly, quite pointless to me. Though, I would never tell my father that. He enjoys these affairs very much: Too much, in my honest opinion.

An hour had now passed, and I gazed about my surroundings. Large men wearing robes of deep purple and, admittedly, stylishly set women who adorned themselves with much gold and jewels all laughed and carried on foolishly. They were acting as small, misbehaved children, really. That’s what they get for having too much drink, I thought, rolling my eyes.

The air was getting thick with smoke from a blazing bonfire below, and the chaotic noise was enough to drive one insane.This was too much, I decided, and slipped out to the courtyard.

-----------------

Stepping out onto the walk, I lifted my head towards the night sky. A bright full moon rose high, shedding a blanket of light on all below. I glanced at the land before me, as a cool, still breeze brushed against my face.

You would think, since my father is captain of the guard, that I would be used to the scenery by now. But, no. Every time I catch a glimpse of the royal flower beds, or the beauty of the large, flowing tapestries hanging proudly upon the castle walls, it still takes my breath away.

Just as I turned on my heel to leave, I heard a raspy whisper of my name.

”Amoria!”

I looked all around, but saw no one.

“Amoria! Over here, in the bushes!”

I slowly crept over and peered into the brush. “Sira! Moriah!” I gasped. “What are you doing?”

“We-we came to warn you!” Moriah replied, breathlessly.

“Warn me?” I asked in alarm. “What of?”

“About what we saw,” Sira answered, tugging nervously at his dusty brown hair.

I was just about to ask their meaning when a thousand frightful screams suddenly pierced the air around them.

“Oh, no!” Sira cried. “I hope we’re not too late!”

-----------------

We raced up the walkway and past the strangely empty guard post. My heart beat rapidly inside my chest as my mind flooded with questions and worry. What was happening? Was father alright? What was it Sira and Moriah needed to warn me about?

I shook my head and pushed the questions aside: There were too few answers to think on them now. “Come this way! There’s a shortcut to the banquet hall!”

We rushed down corridors and through a servants’ panel.

“If we go through this second door, we’ll be just east of the King’s seating,” whispered Sira as he placed his hand on a small opening.

“Oh, alright. But, please, do be carefu-” I stopped, mid-sentence.

As the pathway became fully open, a light like no other poured upon every inch of the room. Blinded by light, and frozen with fear, we stood completely still. Speechless.

Finally, Moriah gathered just enough courage to choke out, “W-what is going o-on?!”

I wanted to reply, and I sensed Sira did too. However, facts be straight, we couldn’t answer. We didn’t know. And honestly, I felt sure no one knew.

Suddenly, as if the three of us were all struck at once, upon the west wall a frightful, but wondrous, sight appeared: The image of a man’s hand emerged before us, the crowd, and the king, who was still in a drunken state.

He glared at the hand with unashamed fear as it slowly wrote a cryptic, and seemingly gibberish, message across the wall. His eyes filled with fearful tears and his mouth grew too dry to scream for his guards. (Though it wouldn’t matter anyways, as his guards were struck with the same fright that had caused the King himself to stop dead in his own tracks.)

The color of his firmly structured face turned from a becoming tan to a cold, ashy pale; and he quickly became too weak to stand. Collapsing on his throne, his entire body shook rapidly. As he did, the hand disappeared; leaving nothing behind but the mysterious, illegible writing behind.

“Sire!” cried Moravah, Captain of the Guard (and my father), as he regained his composure. Running to the king’s side, alongside the queen, he aided him with a glass of water.

“My king! Are you well?” shrieked the queen as she kneeled before him.

The king, who once wore such a frightened and disturbed expression, now wore a grave look upon his face. Beads of sweat crossed his brow and anger boiled inside of him. He stood up with such force that it knocked both the queen and Moravah over.

“What kind of Sorcery IS THIS?!” he cried, slamming his fists on the table in front of him.

“Sire! Perhaps of you were to calm down, we cou-” Moravah was cut off.

“Calm down? Calm down?!” the king snapped. “Calm down when there is some disrespectful madman loose, playing tricks on the kingdom and the royal highness himself? You expect me to CALM DOWN?!” He was now crying profusely, throwing a tantrum like a spoiled child.

“He’s acting ridiculous!” Moriah remarked, open-mouthed.  

“That’s what happens when one drinks too much wine,” I reminded her. Though deep down, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing either. All I knew was the obvious: The king was terrified.

The king found his voice again. “I-I know! I’ll tell you. Bring me my astrologers. All of them. All my magicians and enchanters and diviners. Whoever can read this, and tell me what is means, will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck.

“And,” he said staring into space, “he will be made the third highest in the kingdom!”

-----------------

And it was so. Within half an hour, all of his men were summoned. We watched as hundreds of men in strange colored robes flipped through books and chattered among themselves for what seemed like hours on end.

The king was growing impatient.

“Well?” he snapped.

A magician stepped forward. “We are trying, Sire. However, it is unlike any language we have ever seen! I’m afraid it would take a miracle by the gods for us to figure this out.”

The king slumped back in his throne and pouted. “Are we to remain in this hopeless state of being tortured by these unknown words forever? Is there no man out there to ease my wandering thoughts?!”

Just as he was about to give up, the queen said softly, “Daniel.”

“Daniel?” repeated the king, questionably. “What of him?”

The queen then stood firmly, speaking with great boldness and dignity:

“The man called Daniel. He has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father, he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods! Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and diviners. He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, my king, and he will tell you what you want to know.”

The king then stood up and embraced her. “An excellent idea, my queen. Guards!”

“Present, your highness,” replied Moravah.

“Bring me the one called Daniel. Let’s see if he can interpret this message.”

-----------------

Ten minutes later, Daniel was standing before the king.

“Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from the land of Judah?”

Daniel replied with a positive answer, and the king went on to explain what he had heard about him, as well as the current situation.

“And if you can read this message,” the king finished, pointing at the writing on the wall, “you will be clothed in purple garments of my highest quality. A gold chain will be placed around your neck, and you will be made third highest ruler in the kingdom!”

Daniel shook his head. “You may keep your gifts for yourself, and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing, and tell your highness what it means.” With this, Daniel continued, saying:

“Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and splendor. Because of the high position He gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him.

“Those the king wanted put to death, he put to death. Those he wanted to spare, he spared. Those he wanted to promote, he promoted. And those he wanted to humble, he humbled. But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne, stripped of his glory.

“He was driven away from people, and given the mind of an animal. He lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone He wishes.

“Yet you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you know all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from His temple brought to you. Then you and your nobles, and your wives and your concubines, drank wine from them.

“You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze and iron, and of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. You did not honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways. Therefore, He sent the hand that wrote this description.”

Daniel then faced the wall and read:

“Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.

“Meaning:

“Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

“Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

“Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

The kingdom fell silent, all eyes fixed on Daniel. My own glance bounced from the crowd, to Daniel, to the king, and back again. What was to happen next? I pondered deeply these words: ‘God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.’

“Brought it to an end...” I murmured to myself, still watching the scene. Ideas raced through my mind almost as fast as my heartbeat. My palms grew sweaty and my skin began to crawl. I didn’t want to know, all I could do was hope, and... pray.

All remained silent in the grand hall, until suddenly, with great outburst, the king stood up and cried, “Bring these rewards that I have promised; for the man named Daniel, who stands now before you, truly is the wisest man of all!”

With a wave of his hand, the crowd cheered vigorously.

“Please!” protested Daniel. “It is not of my own wisdom that brings these words to you!  Not of my own wisdom, but a greater wisdom, of a greater being: The Most High God!”

“Nonsense, my good man!” scoffed the king as he placed the golden chain around Daniel’s neck. “Now, let the celebrations begin anew! For the mystic message has been solved!”

“Celebrations!” Moriah snapped. “Is he even aware of what this message is saying?!”

“He is a drunken fool, dear sister,” Sira consulted. “He has no idea of anything right now.”

We watched as the king yet again wave his hand, creating a gesture we each assumed was to resume the festivities. We were right.

The dancers danced and the drummers drummed, and all was not well. In all the chaos, I noticed Daniel with his head down: He was praying.

Slowly he turned around, unnoticed, and headed out of the room. I knew what I had to do. Bidding goodbye to my friends, I followed him.

-----------------

Daniel looked longingly over the moonlit distance. His dark brown hair disheveled, and his ‘rewarded’ robe wrinkled. Truth be told, he looked restless. Before I could even speak, Daniel said, “I see you, girl.”

“How did you know it was me?” I asked, curiously.

“Oh, I have my ways,” he replied, grinning. Even smiling, he looked weary.

Pulling back a wandering strand of my light brown hair, I sat down beside him. “Daniel... I... I’m...”

“I know, child.” He comforted me, placing his hand on my shoulder. “You’re afraid. We’re all afraid. You fear for your people just as I fear for mine.”

“You know me well...” I noted.

Daniel sighed. “Do you remember what I told you when you first came to believe, Amoria?”

“You told me a lot of things.”

Daniel laughed. “So I did.”

We walked down the garden steps.

Daniel pointed at something. “Look over there. Tell me, what do you see?”

I looked about the courtyard. The same moonlit glow still blanketed every inch of the view as far as the eye could see. Royal roses and white tiger-lilies bloomed while willow trees draped their tender branches overhead.

“I see the garden...” I replied.

“Amoria, I know you better than that. What do you really see?”

I closed my eyes for a moment, took a deep breath, and opened them once again. “I... I see a once dark land. A once dark land whose flowers wilted, and trees and brush withered and died. Whose grass had burned, and water had dried. And whose flame of hope had gone out, for what seemed like could be forever.

“However, I see a once dark land that was seen in its darkest hour. Whose cries for love were heard, and answered. I see a land who was touched by tender hands and cared for by a tender heart. I see a land who now basks in sunshine by day, and sleeps in moonlight by night.

“And though the storm clouds may come and go, blocking out all in its path, I see a land who knows there is still hope. Hope because the sunshine is always there, and will always bring its warmth and cheer to this land once again.”

Daniel looked down at me and smiled. “Very good, child.” He then looked off into the distance and said, “Do you want to know what I see? I see a land whose needs were met by the One who meets all our needs.

“The One who worked through the rain and the sun, as well as ordinary people like you and I, to bring His piece of beauty back to life. You know what you said about the storm clouds and the sun?”

“Yeah...?” I answered, curiosity in my tone.

“God and our lives are just like that.”

“How so?” I asked. “Well, life is like a pathway... It has bumps and curves, troubles and trials. And, I won’t lie to you: It will get scary at times. However, never lose hope. Even though your path may toss and turn, and life may seem at its darkest hour;  God protects, and God provides.

“He is always here, and His hand is always on His people. Never lose faith, little one. God will always help you through your fiery furnace.” He then looked down at me, and smiled once more.

I smiled back. I’m not sure how or why, really, but Daniel’s words seemed to comfort me.

-----------------

All was peaceful for the next few moments, despite the chaos inside. That is, until I spotted Nahém, a royal guard, flying frantically up the nearby steps.

“Nahém!” I called out.

Hearing my cry, he stopped. “Amoria! What are you doing here?”

“I am with my father, who was invited to-”

“Your father is here?” he interrupted. “I must speak with him! He must know of... Oh, dear...” He tried to run past us, but Daniel blocked his way.

“What is it that troubles you, Nahém?” Daniel asked.

Nahém glanced at him, startled. “Do I know you?”

“I doubt it.” he replied, simply. “But I know you.”

Nahém wore a puzzled and slightly worried expression, but began to speak anyways. “I was summoned by Ruben of the west side to meet with him personally on urgent matters...”

“That explains the empty post...” I thought aloud.

“Empty?” Nahém jumped. “I assigned Lesmine to take over my post. Are you saying he never came?”

I shook my head no.

“Oh, bother with that now. Anyways, I had no idea what it could possibly be about, but I went. When I got there, we started right off. He told me that one of his spies had gotten word of a plot to overthrow king Belshazzar by an outside nation known as the Medes.”

“Medes...” I thought to myself. And by the look on his face, I believe Daniel recalled the same thing.

Nahém continued. “When Ruben learned of this, he immediately sent men to investigate: They were right. One of the men spotted a Mede camp about three miles south of here... The plan on attacking tonight. Which is why I came to warn you. All of you...”

He was just about to continue, when my father came rushing out of the palace.

“Moravah!” Nahém cried. “Oh, thank the gods I’ve found you! The Medes-”

“So I’ve heard,” my father responded as my friends suddenly appeared from behind him.

“Sira! Moriah!” I cried, running to greet them.”

“Amoria!” they replied, simultaneously.

Nahém then cut in once more: “Moravah? What will we do?” Whining and shaking, he began wringing his hands nervously.

Moravah answered, annoyed. “Stop that! You’re acting like a mere child! We will do as any self sufficient kingdom would do: Get into position and prepare for battle.”

And that’s when I knew just how wrong my father was. No man, nor kingdom, nor nation alike could ever be self sufficient. I knew that now.

I was lost in thought, when suddenly the silence was shattered by the sound of swords and hooves of army horses. Hundreds, maybe thousands of men were coming to attack us right this very second.

“It’s too late! It’s too late!” Nahém cried in desperation.

“Pull yourself together, man!” my father snapped. “It’s never too late!” Drawing his sword, he turned towards my friends and I. “Go to your homes. Now. There is no place for children here. Take the secret pathway. Go, now!”

Turning, the three of us rushed towards the hidden road. My father called out once more, “And Amoria, when all else fails...”

“Head towards the bridge!” I finished. Then, stopping, I looked back and cried: “I love you, father!”

“I love you too, my darling daughter.” He smiled back at me, and then disappeared. I felt a single tear drop trickle down my face.

-----------------

After running with all my might, ducking and dodging to remain unseen, I had finally reached home. I rushed inside and into the secret room.

Heading over to the small cot, I plopped myself upon it. I felt weary and tired, my heart ached, and I finally let the tears that I had desperately tried to choke back fall from my cloudy, green eyes.

The following night was horrible. I tossed and turned frantically as nightmares filled my head. I was restless. However, when dawn arrived, the anxiety of knowing whether or not my father was alive was enough to bring me out of bed and up to our meeting place.

When I got there, the sight before me brought tears to my eyes. There stood my father: Beaten, bruised, weary, and worn... but alive.

“Father!” I cried as I ran up to embrace him.

“Amoria!” he cried as well. “My beautiful, wonderful, darling daughter.” Kissing my forehead softly, he smiled at me.

“Father, are you well? I worried about you all night.”

“And I you.” he replied. “I am alright, but I cannot say much for our land. Last night... It was a massacre. We were outnumbered by the thousands. I have no idea if it was from fear, or what.. But it was as if all of our men just gave up!

“Either way...” He paused and sighed. “The king, Belshazzar, is dead. We are now under new rule of Darien of the Medes, the very one whom had Belshazzar slain. And, I feel we are under a new age... From now on.”

Father then looked off into the distance, and I did as well. The sun was rising high in the sky:  It was the dawn of a new day. And, as father said, a new age. I pondered all the events from the previous day and following.

God sure works in mysterious ways. Did I know what was going to happen next? No. Did I understand? Of course not. I still had much to learn. But, one thing I did know: God always protects, and God always provides.

Even if this turns out to be one of life’s storm clouds, His light will always shine through. His hand is always on His people. Forever.

With this I smiled, and continued watching the sun rise.

~~~xxxXxxx~~~

 


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    Sam:

    Young reader, writer, and all around dreamer.

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