Key Quest Kids
Chapter 5: Equipping the Called
The sun was just peeking over the edge of the horizon, and Christian was already up pacing around the camp. He was excited to begin the day, his imagination was in gear, anticipating all of the great powers he would receive.
“Anthony! Get up! I’m stoked for today! Look at my biceps! I’m getting so ripped! When do you think we’ll get started? Where is everyone?”
“We’re fixing breakfast!” Faith said in aggravation, holding up a fish. “Did you think it would fix itself?”
Anthony just got up and went to go find a place to relieve himself. He scratched his head and wandered off in the direction of the flat rock.
Uriah was in the clearing setting up the fire to cook the fish. He had already prepared the bread and it was sitting out in shallow bowls on top of what looked like steaming hot cereal.
Christian felt too excited to eat, but he looked around for Anthony to herd everyone together to get the meal going. Faith took out a knife and began fileting the fish. She cut off the scales and neatly removed the bones. She was very accurate and methodical with her knife. “She seems to have a lot of practice with weapons,” thought Christian.
Anthony wandered back saying, “What smells so good?”
Faith answered, “Alfalfa cereal and fried fish.”
“Sounds great,” said Anthony amiably.
“Sounds like armpit stew again,” thought Christian. A bowl of Cheerios sounds better…” But he didn’t say anything out loud. Food was always just something to get out of the way before the good part of the day, anyway.
When they had eaten and cleared their things, Uriah called them out to the open field together. Jack scurried up Uriah’s robe and sat on his shoulder watching everyone with pink attentive eyes.
“Faith, you are the oldest. You shall be first to receive your gifts. Come forward,” said Uriah with authority. His eyes followed her steps, and he could not disguise his admiration for her comportment and stature. She walked up with straight shoulders and a high bearing, ready for what was to come.
“You have already received your robe. It will provide you with warmth, guidance, and shelter. It holds a map, but is incomplete without the intertwining of the others. It also carries the mark of the “Mandorla”, and it has imprinted markings that show the purpose of your journey. When you wear it, others will know that you are set apart for this quest. People will be drawn to you for good intentions or for bad. Wearing this robe will help you to remember your quest, and not be distracted or lost on your journey.”
Faith took the robe and put it over her shoulders. It hugged her close and did not hinder her movements in the least. It had a faint odor of garden mist, or the meadow after a rain.
Uriah turned toward the forest. He whistled low and long, going up at the end of his whistle, and then three short tweets with his tongue. There was a moment of silence, and everyone looked toward the trees. Then, suddenly a gray and silver wolf burst through the brush and started loping directly toward Uriah. His eyes were piercing gray, the color of the snow on the horizon at winter sunset. He did not blink as he ran straight toward Uriah. Anthony and Christian backed up a few steps, but Faith did not move.
The wolf came to a standstill directly under Uriah’s outstretched palm. “Welcome, Zev.” “Zev’s nose pointed low for a moment before lifting his head back to meet their eyes. “Zev will accompany you on your journey. He will help you find your dinner more easily,” smiled Uriah. Zev looked at Christian and Anthony and licked his lips.
“I’ll bet he will,” said Christian uneasily.
Faith immediately bent down and threw her arms around him. “I love him!” she said. “He’s so beautiful!” Zev responded by laying down on his back and letting her tickle his stomach.
“He normally doesn’t let people touch him that way,” said Uriah approvingly.
Christian took a step forward and reached out his hand to pet Zev, and Zev immediately sat straight up and made a long low growl in his throat. Christian quickly retreated.
“It’s alright Zev,” said Faith. She motioned for Christian to put his hand forward. Christian looked at her and said, “No way!”
“Come on, Christian. He just wasn’t introduced to you. Let me introduce you two. Hold out your hand and let him sniff it.”
Christian uneasily put out the back of his hand, wrist first. Zev sniffed his hand and then nuzzled it a bit. “See, it’s O.K. boy. He’s going to be walking with us. You can be friends. Good boy!”
Anthony reached out his hand too, and Zev licked it, and Anthony scratched his ears. Zev immediately started wagging his tail in approval.
“There now, introductions are done. Chang He…I mean Faith, you have received your bow and arrows. They are made from willow tree wood. They are flexible yet strong. Remember, take care how you shoot them. The secret in using the, is to know who is the real enemy. If you know the One who calls you on this journey, you will learn not to be deceived who is friend and who is foe. You must learn to see with more than your eyes, Chang He. Then you will be able to use your bow and arrows as a true warrior. Christian will be a true ally in discernment of danger. You will need to learn to trust him.”
Faith took her bow and quiver filled with arrows and swung it around her shoulders. She loved the feeling of their weight upon her back. Without them, she felt incomplete. She named her bow “Honor”, and her arrows “Justice”. She was irritated at the mention of trusting Christian. But her heart was elated with her gifts and she shrugged her irritation away.
“Faith, I present you with this shield. May it serve you well. You may find yourself hiding behind it for protection, but it is made to protect others. You will find it lighter to carry when you use it for others.”
“Yeah, like Captain America! How cool is that?! Christian and Anthony said together. “Jinx you owe me a soda,” they both turned to each other laughing.
Uriah continued looking deeply at Faith. She took the shield, but it felt heavy in her hands. It would take some time to get used to its weight. She slung the strap around her back and it nestled beside her quiver.
“I will leave you with this last gift, Chang He,” said Uriah, as he drew out a small leather band with one shell sown into its fabric.
“That looks like the shells that I find in the waves at the shore. Sometimes when I open them there is a small pearl inside,” said Chang He.
Uriah smiled at Faith. “Wear this on your forehead. By the end of your journey, you will find what it contains. It may be dirt, it may be nothing, or it may contain a pearl of great price. Your choices on the journey will determine its value.”
Uriah took Faith’s hands in his, and blessed her. She stepped away as he motioned for Anthony to come forward.
Christian made as sudden movement in protest. “I’m older, why does he get to go next? That’s not fair.”
Uriah looked at Christian with a glimmer in his eye. “Perhaps the order of the gifts is a part of your gift, young sir. Fair is not always equal.” Uriah motioned for Anthony to come forward.
Jack the mouse jumped from Uriah’s shoulder to Anthony’s shoulder. “You will guard this little one. He is not yours to keep, but he will travel with you and he will entrust the key with you by his decision when it is needed.”
Jack scurried down Anthony’s arm and sat in his hand. He sat down and stared at Anthony. “It was his choice to travel with you, Anthony. He has his reasons for doing things. You would do well to listen to him.”
Anthony said, ”Sure, I’ll take him. He’s a cute little guy. I can look out for him.”
Uriah said, “Do not be too sure you are protecting him, young sir. He speaks not only in words, but in heart-talk. He will help you know your own heart and the hearts of others. He travels with the Book. You have taken the Book and placed it in your own breast plate that is sewn into your robe. He travels with the one who takes the Book with him.”
“O.K. little guy. We’re together. Cool!”
Jack, for the first time, did not squeak or say anything. He just ran up to Anthony’s shoulder and lay down. Anthony took his robe from Uriah’s out reached hand, and swung it around his shoulders. It fit like his own skin. The Book was there in the breast plate of the robe, sewn in almost a secret compartment over his heart. Jack ran down Anthony’s arm and snuggled into the compartment next to the Book and was quiet.
“The breast plate sewn into your robe, is your gift. It will protect your heart, but it will also give you a heart to protect others. Your heart will know, as you travel, who can be trusted, and who may be a threat. Jack travels with the key. The key not only unlocks the Mandorla, but it unlocks the understanding of Jack and the Book. You may each use the key, but it will manifest itself differently with each of you. In other words, the key unlocks the Mandorla, but the key will look different in each of your hands. Let Jack be the keeper of the key. He will place it in each of your hands when you need it.”
“O.K., sounds fair,” said Anthony.
“There is one more gift for you, Anthony.” Uriah held out a magnificent sword. “You will need to learn how to use this as a weapon, and like Chang He, I mean Faith, you will need to know your true enemy.” Uriah put his face up very close to Anthony’s face. “You will come against a great warrior enemy, and he will deceive you, if you are not careful. You must learn the meaning of your name, Hanan!”
Anthony took the sword. He felt its weight. It would be heavy to carry, but he liked it. It had a golden scabbard, and he swung it around his waist. There were mysterious markings on it. He could hardly wait to try it out later.
“What does my name mean, Uriah?” Anthony asked, liking the feel of the weight of the sword around his waist.
“If I tell you now, the words would have no meaning to you. After you move forward, and you feel your heart stir in anger and pain, you will know your new name. The words and markings inscribed on your sword will become clear to you.”
Anthony thought, “that’s a little spooky.” But he wanted to try his sword and so he bowed to Uriah and said, “Thank you for my gifts, you are very generous. I’ll take good care of them.”
“That is why you were chosen for them, young sir.” I know you will care for them with your life.” Uriah took Anthony’s hands into his own and blessed him. Anthony bowed and stepped away.
“Finally!” said Christian exuberantly. He grabbed the robe from Uriah’s outstretched hand. “I know, I won’t use the robe without anyone with me. It won’t work, right?” He put on the robe and it pulled close to him. “Wow! Feels like home already. It looks great on me, doesn’t it? Do I look like a Jedi? This is so cool!”
“Ahem…” Uriah cleared his throat, waiting for Christian to stop talking. “Naioki!!! You must learn to listen well! Listening, is the first step to your gifts. Without it, you will not be able to use them.”
“Right,…listen. I’m on it…listen. Here I am, listening, and being quiet…I can do that… listen I mean, not talk….I’m good at listening… talking is just a hobby, I don’t have to talk with my mouth,.. I mean, I eat and chew and don’t talk then,… swallowing, and chewing gum, … I mean, I don’t talk when I chew gum. Hiccoughing, now there, that’s hard to talk when you…I mean,..this is just so exciting…I’ll be quiet now…go ahead, your Jeddainess,..I mean Yoda, I mean Uriah…”
Uriah stood there a minute, considering Christian. Christian looked up at him expectantly. If he were a dog, he would be wagging his tail and panting crazily. Faith was exasperated. “Why can’t he just be quiet?”
After a good five minutes of quietly observing Christian, who finally calmed himself down and put his hands into his pockets to keep from fidgeting, Uriah spoke. “You, Christian, have received the rope, which you will wear around your waist on your robe. It will lead you away from danger and pull you up out of many an abyss. It will not be corrupted nor deceived. Keep it close to you and you will not wander in the wrong direction. This gift is very powerful in the hands of one who knows how to use it. In the wrong hands, or with the wrong heart, it may destroy those you mean to help. This gift, I give you with great blessing. You have been carefully chosen for this gift. With it, you may harm many, or help many.”
Christian took the rope and it moved by itself to wrap around his waist over his robe. It snugged in tightly. He felt the pressure of it with his every move. One thing his mother used to say to him crossed his mind swiftly then fled just as swiftly: “Christian, you can be dead right in your head, but dead wrong in your heart!” It left him and he felt the shadow of its passing through his spirit. It seemed like a straight forward gift. He was glad to have the rope, because in the back of his mind, he felt it was a back door home out of this little adventure. Like a plane ticket home from a country where he didn’t belon. It wasn’t as great as getting Jedi powers though.
“Uh, thanks, Uriah.” Said Christian. He didn’t want to say anything else, so he could move faster with the next gift. He was sure it would be a weapon of some sort.
Uriah looked at Christian and could barely suppress a smile, as he produced from under his cloak a pair of sandals.
“What!” said Christian, not able to hide his disappointment. “They got arrows and swords and a wolf, and all you give me is some sandals! That is so not fair!!”
Uriah burst out laughing. “You are so predictable, young one… These sandals are very special for a person of your unique character. Only a person of your caliber can be entrusted with these. You have been carefully chosen for this, have no doubt. Here, try them on and see.” Uriah placed them on the ground and stepped back for Christian to place his feet in them.
Christian stepped forward and placed his feet in them and nothing happened. His face looked so fallen that Uriah hid his laughter and said seriously, “Look up and outside of yourself, Christian.”
Christian looked up, still crestfallen, but caught sight of the rays of the sun majestically shooting through the clouds. Immediately, his heart was caught up in the beauty, and to his surprise, he flew high into the sky through the clouds, the rays of sunshine catching his robe and hair. “Hooooeee!” shouted Christian, “This is awesome!”
He looked down suddenly feeling frightened, shot downward and landed in a thud at Uriah’s feet. “OWWW,” he bellowed, “this is not so cool!”
Uriah helped him up and said, “As long as you look out of yourself, these sandals will soar. You must learn to control your feelings and thoughts, especially about yourself. Your feelings will serve you best when you use them to help others. Fear turns them off. That is the nature of zeal, it is killed by fear.”
Christian got up and stepped out of the sandals. “I’ll have to work on that a bit, I guess.”
“You got that right,” Anthony and Faith said together. Anthony said, “Jinx, you owe me a soda.” But Faith just looked at him questioningly.
Uriah dusted Christian off and said, “Are you ready for your last gift, young sir?”
Christian, who had been so excited an hour ago, was a little concerned. “I guess I am. Should I duck?”
Uriah looked at Christian gauging his height. “No, I think you are about the right height. Just stick out your right arm and close your eyes.”
“What?” Christian said hesitantly.
“Just do it!” said Anthony.
“O.K.” said Christian. He ducked anyway, closed his eyes, and held out his arm and balled his fist above his head. “Here, is this O.K.?”
Uriah wrapped his arm in a leather strap. Then Uriah let out a long slow whistle. Zev cocked his head alertly, and watched as a black object in the sky made a long slow arc and then swooped down neatly on Christian’s outstretched arm.
“What the…” Christian stared at his arm.
“This is Aya. She is a falcon.”
Anthony said, “Wow, that is cool!”
Faith gasped, “Ooooh! Can I touch her?”
Christian was not sure this was a pet, or was he it’s pet? He eyed the falcon and said, “Will she travel with me?”
Uriah said, “Christian, you and she will become fast friends. Aya and Zev will help you all find many meals together. They are a good team. But Aya is much more than that. She will be able to fly above the mountains to show you ways to go that are not on your map. Nor will you be able to see those ways with your own eyes. To follow Aya, you will have to learn to trust her, and she will, in turn, trust you.”
Christian looked at Aya’s sharp beak and talons. She was no doubt a very powerful bird. “Could she peck out my eyes?” Thought Christian. Christian closed his eyes for a moment, just thinking about that made him uneasy. Aya eyed him and let out a piercing cry. Christian jumped and shook his hand and Aya flew upward, but was tethered to Christian’s arm and could do nothing other than land anew on his arm.
“I tethered him to you, until you two are better friends,” said Uriah.
Faith let out a peal of laughter. Anthony shrugged, “time to get to know each other bro. Cool sandals though.”
Christian just stood there, hesitantly before Uriah. “Thank you for my gifts, Uriah. I will try to use them well.” A tear slipped down his cheek because he was disappointed in his gifts. But his good manners won, and he looked down to hide his feelings, but that made him even more sad and ashamed.
Uriah took his hands into his own and said, “Christian, my beloved one, your weapons are not the kind you weild with your hands or your body. Your weapons will be what you weild with your heart, your mind, your words, your spirit. Those weapons are the most powerful. You have been entrusted with much. But you are more than able. Receive not only my blessing, but peace. That is the greatest gift I have been given permission to leave you. Peace be upon your spirit, child, and never depart from you.” Then Uriah blessed him.
Christian looked down at his feet trying to push his emotions down, before looking into Uriah’s eyes. When he looked up, Uriah was smiling, but not in amusement. He was smiling with pride.
“Yeah,” Christian said, “Light sabers are over-rated anyway.”
Uriah laughed, and Anthony punched his brother in the arm, and Faith crowded close to reach out to touch the falcon.
The sun made a path across the sky that day, and they had already begun the first part of their journey, to become a chord of three.