Monday, March 9, 2015

The Betrothed (Part 1)

The Betrothed—Part 1
In a Kingdom of Light, glorious and magnificent to behold, there was a King, who ruled with a perfect heart, just and noble. His land was a righteous and beautiful one, and the servants, who dwelt with him in the light, were never dry of joy. At the King’s right hand reigned the Prince, and with one mind and heart they ruled together, so that the land knew no end of peace. 
But in the kingdom below, in the shadow and the twilight, there dwelt those creatures who had long since turned their backs to that King, who had forgotten him, and turned instead to create kings of their own, to mold cities out of clay and to scuttle in the shadows, like creatures of darkness. In the shadow, the poison that was inside their hearts grew, until they taught themselves to fear the King, and hate the Light of his being. 
To this place, the King himself went, though he did so in secret, and walked among the people in the low world; and there, none saw him, for they no longer knew his face, when he masked his glory. In their midst, his heart was torn with compassion and despair, breaking for their wretchedness. In the streets of their great city, in the filth and the atrocities with which they surrounded themselves, he found a single creature.
She was small and young, without beauty or strength. She was nothing to the world, though from its womb she had crawled, and to its tomb she was destined. She was one of countless others, but to her the King came. He gathered her up in his mighty arms, and bore her away—back, to the land that was His own, back to live in the light of that place, to live in His own Presence. 
He lifted her and carried her up to the very walls of the white palace, and there he produced for her a ring, beautiful and bright, and bearing the King’s own seal on its face. “When you wear this ring,” He said, “you are wearing the image of me. You become the equal of my son; as one of my own children. You are the heiress. With this seal, alone, may you enter this kingdom; and without it, no one can ever enter the gates.”
So she wore the ring, and entered the Kingdom beside him, and every day afterward, it never left her, until she felt that her hand was made to bear its small weight.
“Child,” said the King, “You have been chosen, from all the people of this shadowed world. Here, you shall stay, and let the foulness of that old place have no hold on you. For you have been chosen to dwell apart from them. Here, you shall be the chosen one, loved and betrothed of my son.”
The dirt was scraped from her skin, the knots torn free in her hair, and she was draped in the garments of royalty. Gold was put on her neck, and the jewels of kings and queens on her fingers. In his court, he tended her, and grew her up, separated from the world from which she had been plucked.
Every day, in the evening time, she would walk with the King in the garden, and listen to his words, as they watched the sun slipping away. Most of these nights, the King’s son walked with them, and though she was yet nothing worthy of love, the Prince grew to love her wholly and freely, and the father, both. So much she grew, with each gift given her, and the King and his son loved to see her laughter, the beauty of her face in the garden.
But in the heart of that daughter, joy grew not unimpeded, and not alone. Deep within her, there was a hunger, an old, shadowy thing, a creature that had been born on the other side of the King’s palace walls. At night, from the palace windows, she would look down, into the shadowy world, to see the darkness in the distance, beyond the borders of the Kingdom. And though it frightened her, it called to her, like some great beating heart to which she was bound.
One night, when she was alone, she left the palace. Though the King’s words remained in her ears that this was the country of death to which she returned, that only wickedness dwelt here, she fled, in her robes and the other gifts of the King, back to the city from which she had come.
When she reached the city, the people, in their filth and nakedness, rushed to meet her. Into the heart of the city they brought her, with cheers and celebration, and a feast. But the food, when she swallowed it, left a taste like ashes in her mouth, and the wine was like water of the streets; nothing like the sweet nectar of the King’s gardens.
Here, in the squalor, though she felt in her stomach those same ashes, she felt that roaring hunger begin to be satisfied. The people of that city embraced her, as they led her through the streets as though she was a trophy won.
But as they came deepest into the city, they brought her to the house of the whores, in the shadow of which she had stood, as a child. And they brought her inside, and with disdain they tore away the bright clothes that the King had given her. They took all of His gifts, the gold and the precious stones, and threw them into the streets, and festooned her instead in the rags and the false gems of a whore. But she hid the ring with the king’s crest, fearing that they would take it, and they did not see that she had done so. 
“Let this nonsense trouble you no more,” they cried, as they pillaged her. “The King is nothing, to you, and you are nothing to Him. After all, do we not have our own kings here? Do they not offer you their love?”
And the king of that city came to her, in the false, gaudy brightness of his own robes, with his crown of iron, and to the foul whoring bed he took her, and on it he ruined her. “You are one of us, now!” They cried with joy,  “Put away these foolish thoughts of that imagined place. For this is your home, and we are your family. Were not you born here, with us? From the same womb as us?” And in came many others, to the bed, for she did not fight them.
“This,” she thought, “is my home. These are my people. This shall satisfy the hunger that I have felt.”
Time after time, they struck her down, and dirtied her in the streets, but always, with a smile, they raised her back up. When she brushed her hair, as she had in the court of the King, they laughed and tangled it, and mocked her until she feared them, and put away the brush, the last of the things left to her from the King.

In the Kingdom of Light, from the walls of the palace, the King watched, with anger inside him, and tears on his face, and on the face of the prince, beside him. They watched the horrors done to her, until at last, the prince gripped his great sword and shouldered his bow, crying,
“Father, let me go down; I shall destroy them, each and every one of them, in their foulness. I will let not one of them live, for what they have done to she that we love! I would destroy the men of mud, and their king of worms!”  
“Would you destroy her, among them?” Asked the King, in his wisdom, and his anguish. “See, that she has turned her heart away from us, to whore after the world of her birth. For she is part of this world of darkness; it dwells inside her, and it hungers for the poisons of the lower world. She has chosen the rot, over the gold. But it matters not, that she has chosen the world; for in the world, I have chosen her. Let her call to us for rescue, and on that day, my son, let your righteous wrath go out. Though Zion has been faithless, not so the One who has plucked her from the darkness.”

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