Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FEAST (07/12/18)
TITLE: Isabella of Dikahyos
By Jenny Fulton
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Other than the rain, it was quiet. There was no sound coming from the rooms within the inn or the world beyond it. To the young teenager, it felt as though time had stopped.
She looked down the road and could just barely make out the river that ran through the valley below her. Her eyes lifted to the hill on the other side where, though she couldn’t see it through the gray sky, she knew the King’s castle lay.
The muted voice alerted Isabella to the fact that her moment of leisure had ended. She was about to turn around and head back inside when a thunderous cracking shattered the silence. This initial intrusion was soon followed by an equally loud roar that steadily increased in its intensity.
Isabella stepped away from the door just as it was thrown open by her parents.
“The dam?” asked her mother.
Her father nodded.
They were still standing there in shock when, moments later, a rider came rushing up, confirming the news and bringing worse to bear.
“People’s homes – washed away… Bridges – flooded … Travelers – stranded! Can we send people here?”
From that moment on, the monotony of the past week was more than made up for with a ceaseless influx of people and all the work they required. By the time the evening meal arrived, the inn was filled, and every available room was taken.
Isabella was just beginning to give thanks that she still had a bed to sleep in when the door burst open, and a scraggly-looking couple stumbled in.
It was immediately clear that they had been through some rough times. Their clothes were muddy and torn, their hair was matted, and their spirits screamed of desperation.
Isabella’s first thought was, “not my bed.”
The couple approached her mother. “Excuse me, Ma’am,” said the man, “I can see that you are quite busy, but could we trouble you for a room?”
Isabella’s mother started to shake her head. “I’m sorry, sir, but…”
“It will be a few minutes before it’s ready,” interrupted Isabella.
Mother and daughter shared a look, and a silent understanding passed between them before the girl disappeared to do what she definitely did not want to do, but knew had to be done.
That night, Isabella found herself and her parents sleeping on benches in the dining hall while guests claimed every other available space. It was hard and cold, and more than once Isabella found herself regretting her selfless offer. However, regardless of the discomfort, there was an inexplicable joy. Somehow, someway, she finally drifted off to sleep.
The rain stopped the next day, and within a week the water had receded enough for the guests to depart.
A few days later, a messenger from King Lucius arrived.
“The King has requested your services at a banquet he is having tonight,” announced the messenger. “Shall I inform his majesty to expect you?”
They answered in the affirmative and immediately gathered what they might need for such a special occasion.
Then, filled with curiosity and wonder, they made their way to the castle.
Isabella and her parents were standing against the wall in the banquet hall, appetizers in hand, ready to serve, when the King stood up to make an announcement.
“My distinguished guests,” the King began. His eyes moved over the crowd of illustrious personages seated at the table and then settled on Isabella and her parents. “I have invited you all here tonight in celebration of an act of kindness that was bestowed upon my son and daughter. In fact, those who performed the act are in our presence, and I invite you now to honor them. Xavier, Elizabeth, Isabella, please come forward and take your place at the head of this table, *for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
At his words, the prince and princess, who were in fact the scraggly-looking couple who had shown up at the inn, stood up. Then they, along with the King, walked over to trade places with Isabella and her parents.
And so, the banquet began, with the inn-keepers sitting in the places of honor, while the honorable royalty served them.
*Luke 14:11 – from the parable this story is based on.
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