Chapter 13: The New Idea
Whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
And will be secure, without fear of evil.
PROVERBS 1:33 NKJV
Kester was still learning how to live as a human boy, so new experiences were plentiful. Most of the time, he enjoyed his little discoveries, epiphanies, and paradigm shifts. But not all of his firsts were pleasant.
Asaph patted his back and said, “Deep breaths.”
When he tried to obey, Kester was interrupted by another hiccup. He hung his head miserably. “They will not stop. Is there no cure?”
“I’m aware of several remedies, but they’re mostly useless.”
How was he supposed to sing with an earthly malady stealing the breath he needed for vocal support? He was supposed to play and sing for Solomon that very evening. “Will a Caretaker be Sent?”
“No, Kester. You’ll simply have to wait them out.” Asaph rubbed soothing circles between the boy’s shoulder blades. “They’re a perfectly normal reaction. The fruit juice made you sneeze. The hiccups are probably from something you ate.”
“Perhaps I should not eat human foodstuffs.”
His mentor laughed softly. “We can’t refuse the king’s generosity. He wouldn’t understand.”
Kester peeked at Asaph out of the corner of his eye. “I did not know you were close to the king.”
“There was no reason to mention something that would become obvious.”
“How long have you known him?”
“Ever since he was a young man, not much older than you appear.” Asaph’s gaze turned inward, and his smile grew wistful. “Solomon was a child of David’s harem, a prince with too many mothers and brothers. But no friends.”
“You have been here for many years.”
Kester hiccuped two more times while he pondered this revelation. “Were you Sent to be Solomon’s friend?”
“No.” Asaph offered a small shrug. “Although the answer could as easily be yes, since God surely knew we would meet.”
“So you were surprised?”
“Very.” His mentor asked, “Were you surprised to meet the king?”
“Very.” Four more hiccups brought a fresh dawning. “We can do more than the thing we were Sent to do?”
“Intriguing, isn’t it?”
Kester squirmed as his options added up, then multiplied. Obedience was simple, but choosing felt … risky. How was he supposed to deal with the sudden array of possibilities? What if I make a mistake?
Asaph frowned. “Kester, what is it?”
“I … I thought my duties were simple and few.”
“And I thought that yours would be the only face before my eyes, the only voice in my ears.”
His mentor hummed. “Because of our secrets, we hold a unique, even precarious position within a human community. But Grafts aren’t supposed to isolate themselves. We don’t shed invisibility only to hide.”
This new idea forced a shift in Kester’s understanding. Avoiding discovery does not mean avoiding people. His world wasn’t limited to the workshop he shared with Asaph. Even so, he wanted to hide. Needing to confess, Kester whispered, “I thought I would be safe here.”
Asaph took him by the shoulders. “You no longer feel safe?”
Kester slowly shook his head. “The enemy is close. There are Fallen nearby.”
“Ah. The captain mentioned finding you in a questionable area. And yes, our enemy has a foothold here in the palace. But our allies are many and mighty.” Asaph remained calm in the face of potential danger. “Let us call today’s discovery a mixed blessing, for some good has come of it.”
“How can anything good come from the Fallen?” asked Kester.
Asaph counted off his reasons on three fingers. “You know where the danger lies. You know who your allies are. And the enemy appears to have frightened away your hiccups.”
♦ Kester likes the simplicity of straightforward obedience. Why can choices be scary?
♦ What kinds of things do you avoid?
♦ Okay, I gotta ask! How do you get rid of hiccups? : P
Author’s Note: This story is a prequel to Christa Kinde’s Threshold Series [Zonderkidz] and updates twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays). More information can be found on the Sage and Song index page.
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