Once there was a village, a quite small village compared to most, and it sat at the bottom of a great mountain. In this village lived many children, of all ages, who had lived their entire lives in this village and were delighted to always live here. Every day they danced through the gardens, played with their sheep and sang songs together in the village square. Far above them, at the top of the mountain, hidden by towering trees, was a castle and in this castle the King lived. Every morning he sent one of his servants down the long path to village, laden with gifts and food to give to these children and invite them to visit him. The gifts and food they received with joy, but in response to His invitation they only smiled and told the servant they were having too much fun…perhaps some other day. This grieved the King for he very much wanted to spend time with the children.
At the edge of the village lived a young boy named Samuel, who lived by himself in a small hut just along the beginning of the path that led up the mountain to the king’s castle. Every morning when the servant passed on his way to the village, Samuel would run out to meet him, eager to see what the servant had brought. One morning the servant was late and Samuel sat for almost an hour at the entrance to his door waiting to see the servant’s familiar shuffling form appear far down the path near the forest. As he began to think the servant wasn’t coming at all, he saw a man on a white horse ride out from the forest. It wasn’t the servant, but a youth dressed in a fine blue cloak, yet he looked strangely familiar. Jumping to his feet, Samuel watched the rider. The young man was also watching Samuel and he stopped his horse just at Samuel’s door where the boy stood.
“Who are you?” Samuel asked boldly, he was always the curious one.
The young man smiled,” You will only know who I am if you first meet my father.”
Samuel frowned at this strange answer.” Who’s your father?”
The young man didn’t respond but pulled something out of his pocket. “This is for you,” he said, leaning down towards Samuel.
Samuel eagerly held out his hand and laughed in delight when a golden chain fell into his hands. A large key swung from the end.
Samuel gazed up at the young man curiously.
The young man shook his head,” Do not ask me why, just listen to my words. Follow this path up the mountain and you will find the door that this key opens. Go through it and you will find what you seek.”
With those words the young man rode off, leaving Samuel staring in surprise with the golden chain in his hands.
All day Samuel sat on his doorstep staring at the strange gift the young man had left him.You will find what you seek. How did the rider know what he sought?
No one ever had gone up the mountain. The children of the village would mock him if he did, warning him to not pursue the danger of the unknown, but he could not keep from wanting to find the door this key opened.
What if it’s a treasure? He thought. But what if it is a trap to kidnap you? He heard a small voice whisper in his head. After much consideration his first thought finally won out.
What if it was a treasure?
So the next morning he set out early, before anyone in the village was awake and made his way down the path. The forest was big and scary. Not dark and evil, but tall and powerful. The trees looked like they had lived hundreds and hundreds of years. Samuel timidly followed the path, jumping when he heard noises to his left and right, only to realize they were deer waking up after a long night’s sleep. Several times he fought the urge to go back to the village, but every time his driving curiosity kept him going uphill, up the mountain.
He was growing very tired and thirsty when around mid-day he left the forest behind and came into a clearing. Samuel stood in shock and surprise at what he saw. A huge, beautiful castle stood before him, its white walls gleaming in the sun, one tower taller than the rest. A great wooden door stood at the center of the wall surrounding the castle. In awe, Samuel slowly walked forward until he stood in front of door. There was no handle or even bell to ring.
“Hello!” he shouted. No one answered.
It was then he remembered the key around his neck, and taking it off he searched for a key hole. It took some time, but he finally found a small hole near the center of the door and to his surprise the key slipped easily inside the groove. He turned it and a blinding light knocked him off his feet, jerking the key out of his hands. He screamed in panic, but as the light faded he saw the door had vanished and the inside of the castle was visible. Cautiously standing up Samuel stepped forward.
The door had opened into a hall that glowed with a pale blue light. Shields and swords hung from the walls. He glanced back and forth, enchanted as any little boy would be. Shyly he reached out and touched the edge of a shield. His giggle of delight echoed down the hall. He would have liked to have stayed in that room forever. But soon the hall ended and he faced yet another door, with a golden door handle. What would this one do?
Taking a deep breath and closing his eyes he grabbed the handle and turned it. No flash of light…nothing. Relieved, he slowly pulled it open and peeked in. Only white filled the room beyond him, not as in white light, but as in a thick white mist, like early morning fog along a river bank. A sweet fragrance filled Samuel’s nose, drawing him forward into the room, even though he was suddenly afraid to move.
The door shut softly behind him and he was hidden inside the thick white curtain. Samuel’s fears and uncertainties fell off him with every minute that passed as he stood in this white cloud. Then, like a giant hand wiping away the dust on a mirror, the cloud drifted away. Samuel found himself in a beautiful garden, surrounded with fruit trees, in full spring bloom, and singing birds dancing through the branches. A sparkling fountain sat in the center directly before him.
Reminded of his thirst, which he had forgotten in discovery of the castle, he rushed forward and knelt to drink. The water was cool and refreshing, unlike any he had drank before, and quenched his thirst after only one sip.
Sitting up he glanced around, marveling at the beauty of the garden, rivaling any he had ever seen. The brilliant colors were almost blinding.A movement towards his left made him start and he spun around.
A man stood in the far corner near another door, which led to the tall tower. He was dressed in pale blue, a sliver buckle strapped around his waist and sliver boots on his feet. He beckoned Samuel, his golden beard glinting in the sun.Drawn, with unspeakable curiosity, more so than ever before, Samuel began walking towards him. As he drew closer he saw that a thin sliver crown adorned the man’s head. He gasped, was this the king?
“Hello Samuel,” he greeted, warmly.
Samuel’s mouth fell open.”How do you know my name?”
“I know all the children’s names,” the man replied.
Samuel stuttered,” Are-are you the k-king?”
The man gave him an odd smile.”Who do you think I am?”
Samuel, not knowing why, giggled and the giggles turned into guffaws and from guffaws into an uproar of laughter.
The king joined him, bent over in mirth, until both were quite out of breath.Still chuckling, Samuel did not hesitate when the king held out his hand and said, all trace of laughter gone,” Follow me.”
Taking his hand, Samuel let him lead him towards the edge of the garden where the second door was. They stepped through and Samuel found himself in a library with big bay windows and floor to ceiling shelves of books.
Samuel let go of the king’s hand and stood staring in wonder. He loved books, but had only read three in his entire life.”Is all this yours?” he asked.
“It’s yours too,” said the king, answering and evading the question all at once.
Samuel spun around,” It is?”
“Of course, this castle was made for you, all its treasures are yours, but most of all I am here for you to know, just as much as I already know you.”Samuel frowned, not understanding.”
“How can you know me, if I’ve never met you?”The king’s eyes twinkled mysteriously and he turned to one of the windows and gaze out.
Samuel, the wonder of the library, gardens and even the key fading, followed the king, curiosity melting in burning desire. What was it about this king that made him feel loved and frightened all at once?
Standing next to the king he sucked in his breath as he saw the view from the window.
The village far below was visible, more than visible, startling clear as if it was only inches away from the window. Every child, house and garden was so close you could almost touch them.
“How…” Samuel glanced up at the king’s face, but paused when he saw silent tears trickling down the king’s bronze cheeks. Respectfully he dropped his eyes, feeling awkward seeing this grown man cry.
“Every day I watch them, Samuel, I watch you. Every day I see the servant arrive, but they refuse my invitation…until now.”
Despite his tears he smiled down at Samuel. “Come let me show you the castle.”
The rest of the afternoon, the king and Samuel explored the castle, filling Samuel with even more awestruck wonder. But even more than the treasures of the castle, Samuel loved talking to the king, telling him everything about himself, his fears, his joys, sorrows and his dreams. The afternoon seemed to stretch on for years and years and Samuel never wanted it to end. This was what he was made for, to be with this king.
Evening came and they found themselves in the garden once more, beside the fountain.The king had on arm around Samuel and the other balancing a rock in his hand. They were talking in low voices. Samuel glanced up as the great door he had first entered suddenly opened and to his surprise the white horse and rider rode in and dismounted.
The king rose to greet the young man and then leading him back to Samuel he said,” It is time for you to go, Samuel.”
Samuel lowered his head, fighting back tears.
The king knelt taking his hand and lifting his chin gently with his other, he gazed into his eyes lovingly.”You can come back whenever want, but now you must go to the village and tell the others so they too can know me.”
Samuel nodded and threw his arms around the king, hugging him fiercely. Returning his hug until Samuel pulled away, the king rose and turned to the young man.”Joshua will take you home.”
Samuel stepped forward taking the hand Joshua held out to him. Tears gone as he realized, with infinite delight he would ride the white horse, Samuel eagerly let Joshua pick him up and place him on the horse. Mounting behind him, Joshua laughed and kicked the horse into a gallop, dashing through the great door, still open.Samuel swung his head around once, to see the king waving goodbye, a wide smile across his face.
Then they were in the forest and the door close behind them.”Are you one of his servants?”
Samuel asked, still wondering who Joshua was.”No I’m his son,” came the reply.
Suddenly, Samuel giggled, his laughter echoing as they galloped down the mountain.
Natasha is a short story writer who has been blogging for the past decade. She is currently raising four kids in the midwest United States and married to her wonderful husband of 10 years. They both work with YWAM and media missions.