King of All Peoples

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


My dad and I made this story up when I was in first grade. Awww!

Submitted: December 20, 2017

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Submitted: December 20, 2017

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Aoife’s wings were trembling by the time she touched down on top of the house. “Mother!” she shouted. “Mother, big news, big news!”

She opened the hatch on the roof and fluttered inside. “Mother!”

“Aoife,” Kilna sighed, “how many times have I told you not to stomp on the roof? You’re going to bring the ceiling down one of these days. And this isn’t even our house!”

“But Mother,” Aoife panted, out of breath from her flight. “Mother, there’s a king coming! A big king!”

“So I’ve heard.” Kilna, whistled softly, and Tiernan, the hyalkin, limped into the room. “Poor Tiernan. He got into a fight the other day and now his leg’s hurt.” She bent down and lifted the creature up. “That’ll take a while to heal.”

“Mother! Aren’t you excited about the king?” Aoife jumped around, opening and closing her wings with enthusiasm.

“We’ve had kings enough, and they’ve all been rotten enough,” Kilna answered calmly. “This one can’t be much worse than Herok.”

“What if he isn’t?” Aoife gasped. “What if he’s better?”

“Stop your what-iffing, child, and go help your brother bring the narintal in for the night. King or no king, he’s running late, and I’d bet my last cent that he’s playing in the river. Doesn’t he know our turn for the Counting’s tonight?”

“But the king—”

“It’s probably a legend, anyway, Aoife. They’re saying he’s just a baby, so I can’t imagine he’ll be messing things up too badly anytime soon. And knowing Herok, he’ll probably take him out before he has a chance to do so. Now go help your brother.”

Disappointed, Aoife flapped back up to the roof hatch. “Can I take Tiernan with me to help?”

“No. I want him to rest his leg. Go!”

Aoife gave her wings a strong smack and shot through the air with a satisfying swoosh. The sun was beginning to set, turning the fields beneath her gold. Rays of gold and pink swirled through the formerly blue sky.

“Aoife! Help your brother!” Kilna called from the house. Aoife stuck out her tongue and fluttered to the field where her younger brother Calum was splashing in the river.

“I gots something!” he shouted as she landed beside him. “Look!” He held out his hand, reveling a squirming, crab- like creature. Whatever it was, it didn’t enjoy being held, because it pinched his thumb tightly and jumped off. “Oww!”

“Calum,” she sighed, “stop playing around. You were supposed to bring the narintal twenty star-flips ago.”

His smile faded, and his shoulders slumped. “Sorry, Aoife,” he mumbled, stretching the two syllables out so they sounded like two separate words. Eeeeee-fa. He was irritatingly hard to bad mad at.

“It’s fine,” she said, taking his hand. “Can we take the narintal in now?”

He nodded, then looked up excitedly. “Didja hear about the new king they say’s coming?”

“Yeah. Mother says it’s a baby, and Herok’ll kill it before it grows up.”

“I hope not,” Calum said fiercely. “I hate Herok!”

She laughed. “You’ve only seen nine world- rotations. What do you have to hate Herok for?”

“He made us move here.”

“It’s only for the Counting. Tonight we’ll be counted and in a few more sun- rotations we’ll get to go home. Come on, let’s round up the narintal.”

“If Herok tries to hurt the new king, I’m gonna go right up to him and spit in his face!”

“Oh, no you won’t,” Aoife snorted. “He’d have you killed before you got to his palace!”

“Hhmph.” Calum kicked the ground.

“For the millionth time, let’s get the narintal and go back. Mother’s getting tired of waiting.”

Normally, Tiernan helped the children herd the narintal into a tight cluster so they could easily lead them back to the barn for the night, but with the hyalkin out of commission, they had to do it themselves. Calum fluttered around them, coaxing them into a circle, while Aoife urged them forward from behind. It took about ten star-flips, but they eventually managed to corral the animals in the barn and fly into the house.

“Took you long enough,” Kilna sighed. “Supper’s ready, but the people with the Counting Council will be here any minute, so you better get dressed up before you eat.”

“I hate the Counting,” Calum muttered as they flapped into the room they shared.

“You hate a lot of things.” Aoife pulled her nicest dress out of its storage bin and slipped it on over her tunic. Her wings poked through the holes in the back, sending violet feathers fluttering through the air.

“I hate dressing up, too.” He yanked a shirt over his head and pulled on some slacks. “It makes me feel like I’m made of wood. Everything’s so stiff!”

“Complaining won’t make it go away.”

“Maybe someday it will.” He looked up at her, his honey- colored eyes wide and trusting. “If we could get enough people to complain, you know? If we were all complainin’, maybe then it would go away.”

“Maybe.”

They went back into the main room. Kilna had also changed into her nicest clothes. She reached out and brushed Calum’s hair out of his face. “Remember to smile, dears.”

Someone pounded on the door. Tiernan growled softly, and Kilna shushed him as she moved to open the door.

Two Alleys stood outside the door. “Good evening, ma’am,” one of them said with a polite yet tired smile.

Kilna bowed. “Good evening.”

“Your name?”

“Kilna.”

“Those two are your children?”

“Yes.”

“Their names and ages?”

“Aoife, twelve world-rotations. Calum, nine world rotations.”

“Any other children?”

“No.”

“Your husband?” The Alleys glanced around the hut as though searching for someone who wasn’t there.

Kilna blushed, her whole face turning a deep violet. “None,” she said quietly.

“Deceased?”

“No. I’ve— I’ve never been married.”

The judgement of the two Alleys hung over the room like a thick fog. “Your profession?” one of them asked coldly.

“Narintala. We have a flock of about fifty. One hyalkin to help with herding.”

They asked a few more questions. Where they normally lived, how much money they made, where the children went to school. Aoife wasn’t listening. She was burning with anger. She wanted to rush up at the Alleys and shout to them of the sacrifices her mother had made, how she had made mistakes, but she was a good person, a good mother, and she did not deserve to be treated like an inferior. She bit down on her tongue until she tasted blood.

The moment they were out the door she exploded. “Mother! How could you let them treat you like that? You’re a much better person than they are! You’ve had to give up all your friends, the job you loved, and move to the dump just so we could be happy! They have no idea what you’ve been through!”

“Hush, Aoife,” Kilna said softly. “I could, because I know exactly what you just said: how could they know? They don’t. I can’t judge them for ignorance.”

“I can,” Aoife started, but Kilna cut her off.

“Run and get ready for bed, child. It’s late as it is.”

Calum stared at them in open-mouthed confusion. “Why do they think you’re a bad person, Mother?”

“Never mind, Calum. You better head off to bed, too.”

The children grudgingly went back to their room. Aoife balled her hands into fists. “It makes me so mad!”

“How come they treat her so bad?”

“We need someone to show everyone that sometimes, who they think are bad people are really good people, and the other way around, too!”

“Do ya think the new king will do that?” The wide- eyed little Alley watched her trustingly. “If I was king, I would.”

“Were king, and how should I know?” She sighed. “Come on, let’s go get ready.”

Before they had a chance to move, Kilna knocked on the door. “You didn’t close the barn door! All the narintal are out! What were you thinking?”

Aoife shot an accusatory glare at Calum, who rubbed his arm sheepishly.

“I’m going to bed, and when I get up in the morning, all sixteen of them had better be in the barn, understand?”

“Yes, mother,” the children chorused.

Aoife sighed. She pulled off her fancy dress and tugged on a shawl. “Come on, blockhead. Let’s go get them.”

“Sorry,” Calum muttered. “I didn’t mean to.”

“Yeah, I know.” They crept out of the house. Sure enough, the barn door was wide open. “Nice going.”

“I said sorry!”

She glanced back into the house. “Calum, go grab Tiernan. We’ll need his help.”

“But Mother said—”

“Just get him, okay?”

A few seconds later, the trio was plodding across the fields. “Where in the heck are they?” Aoife muttered. “I don’t see any of them.”

“I bet the Alleys stole em,” Calum said bitterly. “I bet they stole every last—”

WHAM!

A powerful gust slammed them to the ground. It whooshed around them, and the air screamed. A glowing monster appeared in the sky. It looked like fire and light and wind and smoke and breath all at once, and the air radiated with its presence.

Tiernan pressed his head into Aoife’s stomach and howled. Calum grabbed her hand, his fingernails digging into her skin. “Aoife!” he shouted. “Don’t let it get me!” She could hear the sobs in his breath.

“Do not be afraid,” the monster spoke. The world vibrated with every word. “I am Gabriel, and today, I bring you tiding of great joy, which will be for all people. For today, in the city of Belen, a Savior is born! One who will deliver us all!”

“The king!” Calum hollered.

“The king.” The monster grew brighter, and she closed her eyes.

Calum elbowed her. “Aoife, look!” She shook her head, too afraid to move. “Well, at least listen!”

The sound did not come from the depths of the earth, but it felt like it did, because the ground shuddered as it grew. The most beautiful song Aoife had ever heard rose, filling every space, every nook and cranny, of her world. Slowly, she looked up. Hundreds, even thousands of the monsters had joined the first one in the sky, and they were singing.

Calum’s grip loosened only slightly as he stared up at them in wonder. “Aren’t they beautiful?”

“They’re scary.”

“That too.” His eyes glittered, and his face flushed with joy.

“Go and see Him!” the first monster cried. “Go and see the Savoir! Go and see the King!”

And then, just like that, they were all gone.

Tiernan sat up again, whimpering softly. Aoife tumbled down to lie on her back. “What. Just. Happened?”

“I dunno.” Calum was still fixated on the sky. “I dunno.” His cheeks glowed. “Something amazing.”

“Amazing? I’d say terrifying. I thought we were gonna die.” She rubbed Tiernan’s head. “Forget the narintal. Let’s get back home.”

“No!” Calum jumped up. “We have to go to Belen! We have to go see the King!”

Aoife sat back up and shook her head. “Calum, Belen is miles away. It’s late, I’m scared, and I’m going home. Come on.” She scrambled to her feet and picked up Tiernan. Calum remained where he was. “Calum, come on.”

He scowled. “No.”

“Excuse me?”

“You can go home, but I’m going to see the King.” He leapt up into the air and soared eastward.

Grudgingly, she followed. “Calum, stop! You can’t just go flying off like that! Besides, Belen is to the north, and you’re going east.”

He turned south. “If you won’t come with me, I’ll go alone.”

“I’ll come with you, then. Just don’t fly off like that. And north is the other way.”

They flew for almost an hour. Aoife’s wings began to ache, and her eyes drooped with sleepiness. “I really wish I had just dragged you back to the house,” she muttered to her brother. “This can’t be worth it.”

“It’s for the King,” he answered distantly. He didn’t look tired at all. “If you’re tired, I’ll hold Tiernan.” She handed the hyalkin over. He whined as Calum accidentally squashed his paw.

They reached the outskirts of Belen a few minutes later and dropped to the ground. “How are we even going to find the King?” Aoife demanded. “Belen’s a big city. This was a waste of time.”

“He’s there.” Calum pointed at one of the small caves that dotted the countryside. “I know it.”

“That’s a stable, Calum. Kings aren’t born in stables.”

“This one is.” He fluttered back up and began flying towards it.

“This one is,” Aoife mimicked in a high- pitched mocking voice. “Of course this one is. Why not?”

“Come on, Aoife!” Calum yelled. He had already landed on the roof. She flew up beside him, and he rapped on the door.

“Come in,” someone called, and they entered.

The first thing that hit Aoife was the smell. Manure, sweat, and dust all mingled together freely in the small space. Her hand involuntarily flew to her nose. It was no wonder the place stank so badly, because five narintal, six relens, two unres, and a plog were crammed inside.

Leaning against the wall sat a young man with long, tangled hair and ripped clothes. His hands were gnarly and scarred- the hands of a worker, not a noble. Beside him, a young Alleya not much older than Aoife rested, her eyes shut. A thin, wrinkled sheet was pulled around her shoulders, but she shivered.

The man looked up at the children, and they might have stared back at him forever had a scream not erupted from the manger. The Alleya opened her eyes and reached into the basket, rubbing it and crooning softly. From the hay she lifted a tiny alley, squealing and kicking, and cradled it to her chest.

Calum’s voice was hoarse and soft as he spoke. “Is that—” he paused “—is that the King?”

“Yes,” the Alleya answered quietly.

“That can’t be the—” Aoife began, but she stopped and stared at the baby. There was something about Him, something reverent and holy that she didn’t have a name for. She suddenly felt very small.

“He is the king,” the Alleya said softly. She stroked the baby’s head, then looked up. “You can come in, you know.”

Slowly, they drifted down. The baby was still wailing, and the Alleya looked embarrassed. “He’s cold,” she explained. “I’m sorry for the crying.”

“Calum cried a lot when he was a baby,” Aoife blurted out suddenly. “Mother used to wrap him up in blankets made from narintal fluff.”

“I don’t have any blankets with me,” she whispered. “Joseph and I weren’t expecting Him to come so soon.”

Aoife pulled off her shawl and handed it to her. “The- the- the smell makes babies calm,” she stammered. “Or, at least normal babies.”

“Then it should calm Jesus, too.” Sure enough, the baby’s sobs gradually slowed and faded into whimpers, then into noisy cooing. The young Alleya smiled tiredly at them. “Thank you.” Her voice was soft, but very genuine. “I- I really don’t know anything about babies at all. Joseph and I aren’t even married yet.” Her face flushed. “Not that he—”

“Our mother’s never been married,” Calum put in. “Never- ever.”

“Joseph didn’t- I mean- never mind.” The Alleya rubbed her forehead. “Never mind. He came to look out for everyone, you know.”

“Who did?”

“The King. Jesus. When He’s older, He’ll do amazing things.”

Aoife laughed. “Not for us. When I’m older, I’ll just be a poor Narintala. Kings don’t look out for people like that.” She smiled and reached out to touch the baby’s soft hand. “But I’m glad I met Him here and now and could care for Him.”

“He will care for you,” the Alleya said firmly. “He will. He will be a different kind of King.”

She spoke so certainly that Aoife almost believed her.

Calum tugged on her sleeve and yawned. “We gotta get back,” he whispered. “I’m sleepy.”

“Keep the shawl,” Aoife told the Alleya. “Goodbye, little King.”

When the children returned home, they found that all the narintal were back in the barn, and it was securely latched. Tiernan leapt from Aoife’s arms and ran merrily around the house, and they shushed him quickly. Then they climbed wearily into bed and fell fast asleep.

 

 

 

 




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