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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christmas Gifts (11/13/08)

TITLE: But what does it mean?
By vaughn ohlman
11/17/08


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The bride stood in the simple white robe appropriate to her station, with an unscrutable look on her face. The groom, the son of the house, was not that much better dressed, but looked extremely pleased and impatient. A few servants stood near looking bored, and the groom's mother filled out the marriage party, looking rather displeased.

And I, the father of the groom, stood in front. I had just finished the necessary words and was preparing to sign the certifying scroll, when the bride, in violation of all propriety, said "Look!".

Everyone turned to look. There over my left shoulder was a star. A new star. A bright star.

"Go fetch an astrologer! Tell him to bring his star charts. Quickly!"

We all stood, and stared, and waited.

"Yes, yes, don't hurry me. No, don't touch!"

A small, thin, stooped man emerged up the stairs onto the road where we all stood. He had his arm is full of scrolls and other bundles. "Well?" He snapped.

I pointed. He turned. He stared. And, in a much more commanding voice, "A table, get me a table!"

We waited while he looked and measured and muttered.

"King. West. Jews. Never seen..."

He turned to me, "Who saw it first?"

"She did," I answered, pointing at the slave bride.

"She did? She did!? You! Tell me about yourself."

It was very bad manners to ask a slave about their history, but I suppose I had to ignore that in these circumstances.

The story that emerged was horrible. The middle daughter of a mountain bandit, who, with his whole village preyed on travelers over the highway. She had engaged in horrible acts; helping her father and her village torture and kill many of their hostages. She described acts of mutilation and emasculation that made even me shudder. My wife looked appalled and my sons impatient anticipation changed to a look of sick horror.

"And she saw it first. She did. Not the lord of the house, not the son, not even the mother..."

He went back to his charts and began writing furiously. When he slowed down I got up the courage enough to ask, "So what does it mean?"

"Haven't you been listening? This day is born, in the land of the Jews, a mighty king, a king who..." He stopped.

"And you say you are a virgin?"

She lifted her head up proudly. "Since I received my breasts no man has looked at me. Not even the soldiers. After they attacked our village, they had an old lady they brought with them examine us. She certified me herself."

"A mighty king, born of a virgin! And one who has come to redeem those involved in the worst of evils. A prophet, and a priest as well. One who will undergo great sorrows..."

He stopped, and seemed finished.

"But what of the marriage?" Did this man think that I merely wanted to know about some foreign king? "Is it a bad omen for my sons marriage?"

"Marriage?" He looked and finally seemed to recognize the tableau for what it was, a rich father giving his young son a slave bride in order to try to keep him out of the various brothels.

"The marriage?" He bent back over his charts. We waited.

He straightened up and now speaking in the tone I have learned to associate from astrologers when giving their 'readings' said:

"I have two messages from the stars for this marriage. First this marriage will be blessed above all other marriages in this city. Never have I seen such a powerful omen. The kingdom of the king will extend to bless the fruit of this marriage."

"Second," and here he looked straight at my son, and his voice changed in its tone, "I would recommend that you enjoy your marriage bed, and never, ever even think of straying from it."


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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 11/20/08
This is certainly full of excitement and adventure, and you have a way with words.

It's well-titled, though--because I didn't entirely understand all of it. Parts of it seemed very unlikely to me.

I'd really like to know more about all of these characters, particularly the bride and the groom.
Duwana Brennen11/23/08
I almost see a connection between the world (the bride, who has a horrible past) and the groom (perhaps Christ waiting to receive His bride). I know it doesn't quite work out given the groom's description, but it was neat trying to figure out what this meant. I think it is a challenge to try to develop characters within our word count limit, but it is fun.
vaughn ohlman11/27/08
Sorry for the confusion :)

It wasn't meant to be a metaphor at all. If I write this into a book you still won't find out anything about the bride and groom tho, as it is the 'wise man' who is the focus of the story.

The bride is a slave, taken in a raid on her home by the troops of the country she is now living in. Her village was a village of mountan bandits, the raid was a form of 'police action'.

The groom is a rather spoiled son of a Lord. His father got him a slave bride to keep him out of the brothels... all too many sons of Lords were dying or going blind/crazy from various diseases contracted there.

See Deut 21:10-14 for an example of this kind of arrangement.

I thought of this story as a kind of 'prequel' to a story I would like to write about the wise men.