Ruling over a kingdom of happy, prosperous people was not something Arndt the Bold ever thought he would do, but there he was, on his bench of judgment, with his royal counselors and dedicated servants, each eager to carry out his will. He knew how to choose excellent ministers. He selected those who reminded him of who he once was. There were often moments Arndt missed those exciting days when everything was new, but he never wanted to repeat them.
Bursting into the throne room was a young child. Running past the guards and royal stewards and onto the king’s lap was his son. “Whoa! To what do we owe this pleasure?” Arndt asked as the boy’s arms squeezed his neck. After a few bounces on the royal lap, the king feigned a serious expression. “My prince, what is it you want? Request anything, Harmon, up to half the kingdom.” (His son’s name honored his beloved elder and mentor, his host in the city and the hero who led their escape.)
“I want to be a king,” Harmon answered.
“My, my, you very well should be one day, but for now…”
“But Daddy,” the boy interrupted, “you weren’t always a king, were you? How’d you get to be the boss?”
“If you must know right now, I can end our business for today and tell the story.” The council was dismissed but none of the king’s officials felt compelled to leave. They all wanted to listen and hear the amazing tale again.
Arndt began, “It was a dark night, black as pitch, but Harmon, your namesake, led me and thousands by torchlight through a secret passage out of the city. We followed a winding path up a mountain and toward a cave. There to greet us were the city’s poor, those who had welcomed and took us in the fellowship into their humble homes. Among them were the elderly, women with babies and too many small children to count. No sooner did we reach the cave’s entrance then the sky lit up. A gigantic ball of fire was falling from heaven. We could make out Leonidas, Jacob and another man, climbing toward us. How glad we were. The brilliance was blinding, but we managed to witness the fireball make a direct hit on the city’s high tower. When it collapsed inwardly, fire went in all directions. The hill was engulfed in flames. We found out later the only section spared was where the town’s poorest people lived; though just those on the mountain survived. The temple, the dark priests’ tower, Regents Hall, the guard’s barracks and the fancy homes of the courtiers and those belonging to the Dark Lord, were all burned to ashes. All who served the evil lords perished.
“In the morning, smoke was still rising from the city’s glowing embers when Leonidas and a man called ‘The Stranger of the Wood,’ summoned everyone. They led in worship as we fell to our knees in thanksgiving and raised our hands in praise. Later we took in every word they said knowing it was from God.
“Leonidas would enter the city of his birth as king. Lady Sharik would be his queen and Jacob would serve at his right hand. A group of survivors would remain to help rebuild the kingdom. One day their hard work would pay off. The city would flourish.
“Then came the anointing. Tongues of fire fell upon the men and women who had been together since before the first steps of the journey. We began glorifying God in a strange language. I found myself talking in the language we are speaking now.
“Our instructions were to find the two members of the fellowship with whom we could communicate and form a triune bond; one a king, one the queen and one the counselor. Of course, the queen was your mother. As soon as I saw her and I knew, even before she uttered a word. Our counselor was your Uncle Leister, our highly esteemed and wise prime minister.
“Leonidas said the counselor would know which of the four winds to follow. ‘From those on the mountain, take the men and women who wish to follow’ (That’s when, with his wife, my old friend Harmon stepped up and took my arm telling me he was with me to the end. And he was.) ‘As you go teach them everything you learned from me. You will be led by the Wind to the people and kingdom speaking your new language. Your speech will come naturally because your origins were among those same people, just as mine beginning was in the city seen now smoldering before you.'”
“Leonidas finished by saying, ‘You did not choose me. You were chosen by the Heavenly Father to bear royal blood. Though a crown and kingdom is your destiny, it will require much for you to gain it. As it was with Jacob and me, it will be with you. The way to your throne is through much suffering. At the depths of your sacrifice, the Stranger of the Wood will appear, then you and those you came to serve will be saved. Those who did evil by holding their countrymen in bondage will be judged accordingly. Be faithful, and you will receive your kingdom.'”
Eyes went to the open door as the queen entered with Princess Maura showing everyone her newly acquired ability to walk. Not ready to join her and in the arms of the queen’s maid was her twin, Prince Leister.
The king returned to his story. “We all knew we would meet again,” Arndt said. “We were part of Leonidas’ kingdom, for as you heard me say many times, he is the king of all kings. What more can I tell? It happened exactly as was foretold. While Uncle Leister and I were being flogged, the man beating us stuffed a letter into my pants pocket. Days later, when I opened the bloody thing, I read his apology. The master of the flogging, revealed he was sorry. but orders were orders. However, he also gave us a record of our royal ancestors and what happened to them. Sadly, he had also drawn a map to show where your mother’s parents, Uncle Leister’s and my father and mother were laid to rest.
“So there you are, my beloved prince. Knowing all this, do you still want to be a king?”
“If I can be king like you, Daddy” Harmon answered, “then, yes, it’s worth it.”
As his family lovingly gathered round him, Arndt sat back and smiled. To himself he said, “Leonidas, and beloved friend Harmon, you taught me well.”