Since Daughters of the King released last year, I’ve found that a lot of people aren’t sure what an allegory even is–especially an allegorical fairy tale! So I wanted to share this first story in the book with you (there are 5 stories in all) to give you a glimpse at the type of storytelling you’ll find. Each story in the book is illustrated by a full color photograph.
These stories are written for 12-18 year olds, but can be enjoyed by all ages. This specific story contains a bit of romance, but not all of them do. Because it is allegorical, yes! Some things are pictures of the true Kingdom at work. But also, its a fairy tale so it’s not an exact portrayal. I hope you enjoy!
In the Kingdom there were some who knew the King and his story especially well. They spent time with him, learning how to use their swords, to call on his name, to honor him as the One-True-King. They filled the battle ranks and lined the enemy fields, fighting for the freedom of all people.
Those who spent time with the King were easy to spot. Their swords gleamed, well cared for and sharpened, their eyes were bright with inner light, their hands steady in battle, their hearts clear.
The enemy feared them more than others and did his best to erase them from the King’s ranks. The chances of beating these warriors in hand-to-hand combat was minimal, but he was not above using trickery and distractions. In fact, that was one of his favorite ways to try and make them fall.
Alana knelt down beside the starving child, reaching out toward him.
“Come, dear one,” she said softly. “I have bread for you.”
The child looked at her fearfully and scooted backward as if trying to disappear into the wall. His blistered hands bore the scars of hard labor, and the bones of his elbows and knees stuck out from hunger.
Blinking back tears, Alana reached into her basket and set bread in front of the child. It was just a small piece, not too much so his stomach wouldn’t be harmed, but enough to keep him from starving until she and her fellow warriors could help him back to the Kingdom.
Her father’s company was often the last to travel through a village. They went from door to door, gathering the elderly and lame who had been left behind. They always carried bread, as many times those with infirmities were starving. Her job in her father’s company was simple: provide food for the elderly, speak the King’s name, protect the broken.
Other companies were technically in charge of gathering lost children, but Alana always searched for them anyway. You never knew when one would show up, and the King loved them all so dearly. She felt bound to do her part in seeking the elderly, the lame, and the abandoned little ones.
The child reached carefully for the bread, his eyes darting back and forth as if unsure if she would actually let him have it. Once his fingers closed on the morsel, he stuffed the whole thing in his mouth.
A whip snapped, and Alana spun, drawing her sword. Men and women of the Kingdom used only swords in battle; a whip meant enemy slave-drivers. She looked around, eyes fierce and battle ready. It took but a moment to realize her fellow warriors had moved further down into the village. She held her sword over her head in a battle stance as her adversary moved into view.
It was a burly creature, the black whip dangling from his hand, his eyes narrow. “Stay away from my slaves,” he growled.
A chill snaked across Alana’s arm, but the sword held steady and her voice only quivered slightly. “This child does not have to be a slave to you,” she said. “The King already paid his debt. If he chooses, he can come under the protection of the One-True-King.”
The alleyway was narrow, but not narrow enough to keep the slave-driver from snapping the long whip again, rage filling his face. Alana reacted instinctively, swirling her sword and slicing off the end of the whip. Starting a full on confrontation may have been a foolish move, as she was cornered, but all she could think of was the whimpering child behind her. She moved slightly to guard him better as he hugged the wall and cowered.
“He is mine,” the slave-driver said, again drawing back his arm. “Worthless, but mine.”
“That’s a lie,” Alana said, all shaking gone from her voice. “He is chosen and loved and wanted.”
So intent was she on her words that the man caught her by surprise. Instead of snapping the whip again, he lunged forward and swung a beefy arm at her, knocking the sword from her grip. A moment of panic swept through her. She needed her sword. She had no other means of fighting offensively.
Before she could move, a telltale twang sounded. Arrows! More enemy weapons. She moved to duck, but the arrow caught the slave-driver’s cape, pinning him to the wall behind them. Another arrow followed, catching the other side.
“Quick,” the newcomer said. “Grab the child!”
Alana barely glimpsed at the man who had appeared at the end of the alley. She scooped up her sword, spinning to gather the now crying boy. She hoped he would trust her long enough to get him out of the alley. He did, clinging to her, and she ran, hearing the sound of someone following and the fading curses of the slave-driver as he tried to free himself.
Once they reached the outskirts of the village, Alana turned. She was breathing hard, the child’s arms locked tight around her neck. She felt the man’s gaze before her eyes focused on him. He was tall with curling blond hair that fell over his forehead. Their eyes met, his blue gaze captivating her. She felt the tingling to her toes.
“Hello.” He smiled, shifting the bow and arrow in his hands before swinging them to his shoulder. He reached out an empty hand. “My name is Camdon. I’m afraid that wasn’t a very kind welcome to our little village.”
Alana couldn’t help but smile in return as she reached around the child to shake his hand. He was a villager? Usually she was so focused on getting bread to the starving and helping the elderly to wagons, she barely noticed the other villagers. “I am Alana,” she responded, “daughter of Joshua and Raynah, servant of the King.”
“That is quite the title,” Camdon said. He held her hand in both of his. “Are you hurt?”
“Not at all.” Alana reluctantly pulled her hand loose. She tried to set the child down, but the young boy clung to her. “Thank you for rescuing me,” she said to Camdon.
“It is not every day that I have the chance to rescue such a beautiful girl,” Camdon winked.
Alana’s face flushed, and she stumbled to find a response. “What were you doing in the alley?” she finally said.
“Looking for hungry children.” Camdon pointed to the bag strapped to his waist. He opened it and showed her several small apples tucked inside.
“Alana!” Her father suddenly appeared around the corner, his face etched with worry, sword raised.
“It is all right, Papa.” Alana quickly stepped between her father and Camdon. She carefully set the small boy down from her arms. He loosened his hold on her neck, standing on his own feet, but still clung to her legs. “This villager helped me,” she explained.
Joshua looked the young man up and down, the unease never leaving his gaze though he did lower his sword. He glanced around and focused on the small child who was now clinging to Alana’s skirt. “We need to keep moving,” he said to his daughter. “There are many more who are hungry.”
Alana nodded. She knelt beside the child. “There is a King,” she said. “And a Kingdom where all are fed. Would you like to go there?”
When the child nodded, Joshua whistled loudly. Another warrior appeared, this time a gray-haired woman with a warm motherly smile. She gathered the child into her arms, making soft noises under her breath. “Let me tell you about the King,” Alana heard her whisper.
For a moment Alana felt discontentment steal over her. How wonderful it would be to carry a child into the Kingdom! How rewarding to explain to a little heart about the King’s love; to watch a child you helped rescue grow to be a warrior beside you. While she knew the joy of helping ancient grandmothers and lame grandfathers into the Kingdom, it was never long before the King carried them on to their final resting place. Her relationships were often short-lived, little breaths of beauty then goodbyes.
Alana drew a deep breath. She knew the danger of her discontented thoughts but before she could deal with them, Camdon’s eyes met hers.
She said the words quickly, before she lost her nerve. “Will you come to the Kingdom as well, Camdon? Will you come meet the King?”
“I’m not sure I believe in a king,” he responded. “But I can see that you do and I respect you greatly for it.” He leaned toward her, speaking quietly. “I hope to see you again, lovely Alana, feeder of the hungry.”
“That’s not…” she began, planning to correct the name. Of course it was the King who fed the hungry. He provided everything she gave to those around her. She was just his messenger. But before she could explain, Camdon was gone, moving toward the village square.
She watched him leave, then turned back to her father, noticing the unease still etched into his weathered face. “I’m okay, Father,” she told him. He nodded, though the concern never left his brow.
In the weeks that followed, Alana struggled hard to focus on the tasks set before her. Every time they engaged in battle, traveling through the villages, her eyes moved across the buildings quickly, searching for the telltale thatch of blond curls and Camdon’s easy smile. Their paths crossed more and more frequently as time went on. He seemed to be following a similar path through the same starving villages, working to give food and water to those in need.
She hadn’t realized that villagers did the same work as her parent’s Company. Why had she assumed they were the only ones who fed the starving?
It wasn’t long before Camdon started searching her out as soon as she entered a village. He laughed with her and encouraged her and complimented her long black hair and shining brown eyes. Alana craved his attention, his care. He was so good. So kind. The worries about the bow and arrow he carried and his lack of knowledge of the King were still troublesome though. She went to the King often to beg him to free Camdon from slavery.
“He will be an incredible warrior for you,” Alana told the King one evening. “I know it. I will keep speaking of you. I will keep inviting him to the Kingdom. I know he will come soon.”
If the King responded at all, Alana did not notice. She talked late into the night, her many thoughts and questions the only thing on her mind.
Joshua couldn’t help but notice the growing attachment between his daughter and the villager with a bow and arrow. He tried to quietly keep Alana busy elsewhere, but soon Camdon was boldly seeking her attention every time they left the city gates.
Alana was so distracted, her work suffered. Instead of finishing her duties and then searching for lost children, she would spend her time looking at Camdon’s blue eyes and hoping for the moment when he would hold her hand.
Her parents watched it all and worried.
With apprehension, Joshua found himself kneeling before the King day after day. He hoped and wished that Alana would recognize the way Camdon was turning her heart from her true purpose, but she seemed oblivious. Instead of hearing her mother’s quiet concerns, Alana argued for them to understand how wonderful Camdon was. Instead of listening to her father’s growing uneasiness, she would beg him to not be judgmental or harsh.
Finally the day came when Joshua knew he could not avoid direct confrontation any longer. He called to Alana early one morning, before they left for battle. She descended the stairs, appearing surprised to see both her mother and father sitting at the table, grave looks on their faces.
“Alana,” her father began slowly. “Your mother and I are troubled about your interactions with Camdon. He is not a servant of the King and…”
“He’s a good man, Papa,” Alana broke in, her voice pleading. “He cares for orphans, brings food to the hungry. We’ve talked about the King. He respects the fact that I am a warrior. He wants to marry me, so we can work together to help those in need.”
“Daughter.” Her mother looked at her with true compassion. “He is still a slave. He is not free. He carries no sword, pledges allegiance to no one. If you bind your heart to a slave, you are telling the King that you care not for the freedom he sacrificed everything to give you.”
“Oh, Mother,” Alana assured her, shock lacing her words. “I won’t become a slave again. And I’m not sure that Camdon is a slave at all. He is not like those we rescue. He is not helpless. There are no slave-drivers standing over him! He moves freely through the villages, using his bow and arrow to fight the enemy.”
Joshua placed his hand on her arm. “He works for the villagers, Alana, but he isn’t free of the enemy. He knows not the King. He has no sword, no way of identifying himself as a warrior, a free man. The enemy could demand his allegiance and he would have no protection. As brave as he may be, his strength will falter in the midst of intense battle.”
“What are you saying, Papa?” Alana finally whispered, dread filling her.
“I am saying that you cannot stay in our Company, under our authority, and bind your heart to someone who does not belong to the King. Of course, you are free to make the choice, but I will not give this my blessing.”
Before Alana could respond around the hot tears streaming down her face, Raynah leaned close. “Go talk to the King, my daughter. Ask him what he would have you do. And listen. Listen closely.”
The sixty-seven stone steps that led to the King’s chambers had never felt so difficult to climb. Alana’s sword felt heavy. Her responsibilities as a warrior seemed like chains dragging behind her. The thought of being in the King’s presence sounded almost fearful.
Before she could even knock, the door swung open. The King looked different than normal. Smaller. Less majestic. His welcome was whisper-soft, barely audible.
Yet despite all, she still felt affection for him race through her. He was the Name-Changer, the Freedom-Giver, the peasant-King who was able to fight the monsters and win. She loved him. So much. “Oh, King,” she began, “remember Camdon? The man I have been telling you about?”
Great lengths of time passed while Alana poured out her heart, her affection for Camdon’s smile and winks and compliments. Her love for the way he longed to ease the pain of the hurting. She talked through the entire day, until the sun began setting. The King sat quietly beside her, listening. When she ran out of words, she stood and watched the sun set from the window. When the last piece of pink had slipped from the horizon, she finally turned and said what she had been avoiding for many long hours. “What should I do?” She lifted her eyes to his and waited.
When he began speaking, she realized she couldn’t hear him. If she hadn’t been facing him, she would never have known he was talking. She stepped closer, then closer still, straining to hear his voice. When had he become so quiet? Hadn’t his voice always reverberated off the walls of his chambers? Hadn’t they always been mighty and rushing, like a river crashing onto rocks? At times they had been smooth and languid, like a swirling stream. But never had they been so quiet and distant.
It wasn’t until she was just inches away from him that she distinguished his words. They were everything she feared they would be, and yet greater than she could have imagined. They swirled over her and through her, calling to the essence of who she was. “You are my daughter, Alana. You pledged yourself to my kingdom and were given a name that means beautiful blessings because that is what you were made to bring to the world. You go to battle in my name. You are a warrior, not a slave. You bring more than food to the hungry, you bring my words to the empty.”
His words spun on, growing in strength. The almost inaudible broken whisper grew smoother, more powerful. The longer Alana looked in his face, the louder they came until they were crashing into the walls and over her. Like dust washed from a traveler suddenly submerged under a waterfall, the lies previously in Alana’s ears fell away. She saw the truth. She could serve the King or her own desires, but she could not serve both.
“Everything I am is yours,” she finally said, the agony of surrendering her dreams tearing through her voice. She looked at the King whose presence seemed to fill the room, the whole Kingdom, and her very heart. “Even this.”
In days past, Alana had loved the battlefield. It was hard work, of course, but rewarding. Her favorite moment was the cry as her Company gathered at the Kingdom gates, lifting swords high. “Onward to King’s business!” they would call out.
“What business?” the commander would ask.
“The saving of the lost!” they would respond.
Always it had filled her with excitement and joy, but now it filled her with dread, as it meant leaving the quiet ease of the Kingdom and journeying to the villages where she might see Camdon.
After she had told him that she must withdraw from their friendship, he had scorned her reasons. Pleaded with her to go with him. “Your father can’t control you forever,” he insisted. “Come with me. We will rescue lost children together. Build them a home. Care for them. Together we can do good things for the world.”
“It’s not my father,” she tried to explain, even while her heart longed to put her hand in his and follow him wherever he went. “The King. I love the King and I cannot…”
But when he looked at her with contempt at her mention of the King, when he mocked her belief in what he thought was make-believe, she knew her parents had been right. Camdon believed in his own strength to help the lost. She believed in helping the lost in order to lead them to the King so they could be free. It was a difference that could not be ignored.
Yet, while she knew her choice was right, her heart struggled to follow her head. “I don’t mean to complain,” she would whisper to the King in the evenings. But the words that poured from her lips felt like complaints anyway. Her longings for a husband, a home of her own, a family. The way her heart still broke over the loss of Camdon’s smile.
Always the King would listen. Always he would wait until she was finished and then speak slowly, quietly at first and then with growing strength and volume. Always she would leave his presence renewed. Even if she never tasted her dreams, she knew who she was.
A warrior. A beloved daughter. A freedom-fighter.
In the naming of her true self, thoughts of Camdon grew dim.
The King taught her a new song, there in the quietness of his chambers. He sang it over and over until it was imprinted on her heart.
Delight yourself in the King,
Trust his heart in everything,
He knows your name, who you are,
He’ll be with you, near and far.
Always loving, interceding,
He is the King of all.
Alana sang her song with more confidence as the days and months passed. Her trust in the King continued to grow stronger than her desires. She settled into her position in the Kingdom with renewed vision and hope and soon the King began to invite her to more and more meetings. “Come,” he told her, “your insight is needed.”
The meetings took place in a large room at the top of the stone stairway. Commanders and warriors took turns sharing stories from the battle fields. Kingdom-warriors, who did their work for the King from inside the walls of the Kingdom, shared updates on the orphans and the wounded, on the building of new houses for freed slaves, and the provisions of food and help for all those who were struggling to adjust to living free.
Everything about the meetings felt encouraging. Exciting. The King had such beautiful plans for the land. Plans to spread freedom to the very ends of the earth. To every village. Every child. Every grandmother. Every man. To the lame, the poor, the blind, the strong.
Alana felt like the hope of the Kingdom was driving itself into the very depths of her being. As she walked the battlefield with her parent’s Company, she gathered the lame and elderly as she kept watch for hungry children.
Her eyes were keen and her gaze swift, watching for the smallest flicker of light in the shadows of buildings and between trees in the forest. Anything that might indicate the presence of a little one who needed help and protection. Hoping that she might be the one to carry them to the Kingdom, where they could know the overwhelming goodness of the King.
And that hope became her heartbeat.
On a hot day in late summer, Alana found the child. It was a girl, with tight black curls and creamy brown skin. She almost blended into the shadow of the building, but a soft moan alerted Alana to her presence.
Alana tried to move slowly but concern for the girl made her movements jerky. The child flinched away but seemed unable to move herself. “Shhh, now,” Alana tried to soothe. “I’m here to help you.”
Upon closer inspection, she realized the child’s legs were both lame. She knew she would have to carry her. “Dear one,” she spoke as gently as possible, “will you allow me to lift you? I know someone who can make you well again.”
“Who?” the child asked with confusion etching her brow.
Alana was pleased the fear seemed to be eased. “He’s the King, and he loves you so very much.”
“The slave-drivers say there isn’t a king.”
“Oh, there is,” Alana promised. “I know him. Can I take you to him?”
“I’m too big for you to carry.”
Alana smiled and swung her sword around the side of her hip. “Nonsense. I’m stronger than I look.” With that she slipped her arms under the girl’s shoulders and knees and stood slowly. The child was indeed almost too big for her, but Alana’s excitement couldn’t be contained. Another child for the Kingdom. Another slave to be set free. Oh, how the King would rejoice!
As they walked, searching for Alana’s Company, the girl in her arms began talking. She told Alana about when she was small, how her legs had been broken by a slave-driver who was angry, how she survived on the streets, how her heart hungered for love.
Alana felt a bit of concern as her arms tired and she still had not found help. How had she not realized how far she had drifted from the rest of the Company once again? She needed to pay closer attention. Ah, there, ahead. She saw a group of warriors several blocks away, standing at the edge of the village market place. A warrior lifted a hand to his face, as though to block the hot sun, and then started quickly in her direction. At first Alana assumed it was her cousin, Ivan, but as the man drew closer, she realized she was wrong. This warrior was not from her parent’s Company at all. He was obviously strong, with broad shoulders and arms twice the size of hers. His sword was well-worn and his smile made the angular planes of his face soften. He seemed familiar, though Alana did not think they had yet met.
“Allow me to help you, Alana.” the warrior said, his voice deep but gentle. He scooped the child from Alana’s weary arms and turned his full smile toward her again once the transition had been made.
“Have we met?” she asked, confused.
The man laughed. “We know many of the same people. We were introduced once, at a Gathering, but that was long ago.”
How had she forgotten? “I’m sorry,” she stumbled at the words, her feet hurrying to keep up as he strode toward the group of warriors with the child. “I don’t recall…” her voice trailed off. The Gatherings at week’s end were a highlight of Kingdom life, but she could not remember ever meeting a man such as this. Although, from his comment, perhaps it was when they were much younger?
The man didn’t answer until after he had lifted the child onto a wagon. Alana was so pleased to see other children there, all being handed cups of cold water and small loaves of bread. Her heart beat faster at the sight of them all. Obviously they were being escorted to the Kingdom and it made her glad, ever so glad.
The warrior was looking at her intently and Alana pulled her eyes from the wagon filled with children. She met his gaze and felt something warm swirl deep as he held out a hand. “Let me properly introduce myself,” the man said. “I am Aldwin, son of Liam and Zara, servant of the King.”
“Oh, Aldwin. I have heard of you,” she paused. “I am…”
“Alana, daughter of Joshua and Raynah, servant of the King.” Aldwin supplied. “I know your father. And your brothers. And, obviously, your King.” His smile flashed again.
“My father!” Alana smacked a hand to her head. “I must find him. He will be worried. I wandered off and should have checked back in with him long ago.”
“I’ll escort you back to him,” Aldwin offered. “Come.”
Alana almost dismissed his offer, but something made her close her mouth. She simply nodded, gave the child she had rescued a kiss on the forehead and a promise to see her again, and then she turned and followed the strong warrior as he started down the street.
They found her father, and Alana was startled to see a huge smile on his face when the two of them came near. Her father reached out a hand, “Aldwin! It has been some time. I see you are returning my daughter to me.”
“She found a child we had missed,” Aldwin said in explanation, then quickly went on. “I’m afraid I must get back and move my Company toward the Kingdom so we can arrive before nightfall. I apologize for rushing off so quickly, Joshua.” He turned toward Alana and grasped her hand tightly. “Thank you for your help.” He released her and moved to take leave.
Alana barely had time to register all that had happened when her father’s voice broke into her thoughts. “Aldwin?”
The younger man turned, pausing in his departure.
“Come to our place for breakfast in the morning? Raynah would appreciate seeing you again.”
“I’d be honored,” Aldwin nodded, his gaze flickering over Alana’s face. He smiled at her then turned and hurried away.
“Father?” Alana looked at him, suspicious. “What was that all about?”
Joshua grinned at his daughter. “Just extending hospitality to a fellow commander.”
“He’s a commander?” her voice trailed off as she stared at where he had disappeared.
“Indeed,” Joshua chuckled. “His Company is now responsible for rescuing lost children. Did you not notice?”
Alana took a deep breath. Yes, she had noticed. She had noticed indeed.
Aldwin came the next morning, and then the next, and the next. He sat at Joshua’s table, sharing stories and ideas. He complimented Raynah on her scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls. He smiled at Alana and asked her questions and begged her to teach him what skills she used to spot lost children.
Alana soon looked forward to the moment she would step into the kitchen each morning. Her gaze would flick almost immediately to the chair where Aldwin always sat, and something skittered inside at the slow smile that would fall across the warrior’s face when their eyes met. She felt almost breathless at the attention he was giving her. Aldwin wasn’t just a good man—he was a warrior, through and through. He was dedicated to the King with an unswerving passion that made her want to fight harder and more bravely.
They started meeting on the battlefield more often, usually with Alana pointing out lost children or carrying little ones to Aldwin’s wagons.
At the King’s meetings, Aldwin would slide into the seat beside Alana and share quiet greetings until order was called.
Her talks with the King became peppered with comments about the commander with the strong arms and warm smile. She didn’t dare whisper her feelings, but the King seemed to know without her saying a word. He still said the same things he always had, the words that named her.
A warrior. A beloved-daughter. A freedom-fighter.
But the words didn’t remove Aldwin from her thoughts. Instead, they seemed to encompass him as well. He was a warrior. A beloved-son. A freedom-fighter. He was everything a man of the King should be.
And suddenly a new thought came. One Alana had never expected, but it stilled her. Aldwin deserved the bravest of warriors for a wife. One who didn’t hesitate. One who didn’t falter. One who would never contemplate leaving the King for a man-who-was-not-a-warrior. Someone far better than Alana.
“I do believe,” the King said to her one day, “that you should come to a private meeting tomorrow night.”
Alana nodded, but her heart felt like it was breaking. How could she have let herself fall for a commander? Once again she was longing for someone she couldn’t have. Would she ever be content just serving the King?
With determined effort she moved on with her day, pushing her questions to the side.
The next evening Alana made her way up the sixty-seven stone steps to the King’s chambers. She was feeling slightly better. Aldwin had been at her parent’s table for breakfast, as usual. She enjoyed his companionship, his smile, his gentleness, his calling. They were friends. Fellow warriors. She would be content. In fact, later that morning she managed to ask the King to send him a wife. Someone worthy of him.
Aldwin was waiting for her at the top of the steps. She looked at him in surprise. “What are you doing here?”
“I have a meeting with the King. Care to join me?”
She nodded slowly, a bit confused. They made their way into the meeting room, and she drew in a sharp breath when Aldwin slipped his warm hand over hers. He tugged her across the room and pulled out a chair. She sat carefully and started to withdraw her hand, but he held tight. Her eyes widened, but all he did was wink at her.
When the King entered the room, he made no mention of their clasped hands. Instead, he smiled at them both. “There will be others coming soon, but I think you might need a few minutes to speak beforehand.”
Alana turned her gaze toward Aldwin. His smile was bright, but she noticed his hand trembled slightly around hers.
“Alana,” he said softly. “I’ve been talking to the King, to your parents, to the other leaders in my Company. I hope you recognize how much your friendship means to me. I’ve tried to demonstrate how much I admire and respect you. Would you ever consider marriage to be a possibility between us? I know I don’t deserve someone as lovely and brave as you, but I love you. I love your love for the King. I love your smile and laugh. I would be honored, so honored, to have you by my side in battle. Holding my hand at the Gatherings. Sharing my life.”
Alana bowed her head. “Aldwin, you don’t understand. I’m not that wonderful. I’ve made so many mistakes. They’ve cost me, my Company, the King. There was a man who wasn’t a warrior…” she paused and glanced up.
His gaze was so gentle, her words stopped in her throat. He leaned toward her. “Alana, you’re not the only one who has been tempted to bind yourself to someone who wasn’t a warrior. I’ve been distracted from Kingdom-work for seasons as well. In fact, one of the reasons I love you is that you are beautiful in a different way than those outside the Kingdom. Their beauty distracts me and my Company from our work, but you are beautiful in a way that makes a warrior want to fight.”
Alana looked at him, then glanced at the King who was sitting quietly by. When the King spoke, she realized she could hear him plainly. Clearly. Without question.
“I have work for you to do,” the King said. “Together.”
The Gathering arrived that week with a flurry of activity. There were huge barrels full of daises at each corner, vases of bright yellow dandelions on every table, and all the little girls raced around with forget-me-nots tucked into their braids.
The King’s chambers were quieter. The sounds of laughter echoed from the distance, but were muffled. Alana stood with her hand on the windowsill, watching the crowds prepare the wedding banquet. Her long dark hair lay loose on her shoulder with a half crown of flowers tucked into it, and her foot tapped nervously on the floor.
The King watched her in amusement. “All this time of telling me how you desired to marry, how you want to work alongside a partner to save lost children, and now you’re nervous?”
She looked up at him. “I just…” She let her head fall forward until her forehead met the window frame. “What if I fail miserably? What if I’m the worst wife? What if I get distracted and your voice grows distant again?”
“Oh, Alana.” The King’s voice was so gentle it felt like a warm blanket wrapping around her. “You will fail. You will struggle. You will get distracted and my voice will feel distant at times. But you know where to come. You know how to turn your gaze back to my face. And you’re marrying a man who knows as well. Fight with him, my daughter. Battle beside him, and for him when he is struggling, and together you will do great things for the Kingdom.”
The King held out a hand. “Come, let us go to the celebration.”
Alana stood with her mother and father near the fountain in the courtyard. This had always been her favorite place in the Kingdom. It was near the King’s stairway, but also near the iron gates where people came in search of the King. It was at the heart of the Gatherings, a place where so many came to celebrate and rejoice in Kingdom life. It seemed the perfect place for a wedding.
A group of young girls came tearing through the courtyard. “He’s coming! He’s coming!” they shouted. They slid to a stop in front of Alana and her parents. Holding out huge bouquets of wildflowers, the colors all swirling together into bright rainbows, they filled Alana’s arms with the fragrant blooms.
It wasn’t but a few minutes before he was standing in front of Alana and her father was placing her hand in his. Stories were shared, encouragement spoken, and songs of hope and life were sung. Then the King was there and everything grew hushed as they waited for the announcement. The King’s hand covered theirs, and his voice echoed through the courtyard. “You shall no longer be apart but shall always be together. Battling for the Kingdom back to back, side by side, strength with strength.”
Aldwin and Alana spent their lives working tirelessly for the Kingdom. The rescued children they carried into the Kingdom grew and thrived in the presence of the King. Alana never grew tired of seeing the little ones and learning their stories and their sorrows and their joys.
Alana found that the King was right—there were many days when his voice seemed distant and weak. But climbing the stairs, sitting at his feet, keeping her face turned toward his—it always worked. His voice would fill her whole world again and who she was would be inscribed into her being once more.
The story of Aldwin and Alana became almost a legend in the Kingdom. Mamas would whisper the words to their little girls, reminding them that what the King supplies is always more wonderful than what we thought we wanted. Yet, while their story was beautiful and love-filled, Aldwin and Alana were not tricked into believing their lives would be easy. The ones who carried the King’s message with boldness would always face the harshest battles.
And face them they did. Together.
"Alana" is part of the Daughters of the King: Volume 1 collection. Copyright 2021, Natasha Metzler. Photo credit: Meghan Harney. Artwork credit: Brianna Siegrist. Model: Amanda Metzler.