Just Another Person
Aurelia’s plans did not come to fruition as quickly as she would have liked, forcing her to remain in her position as Guardiana longer than she should have. Power is as addictive as any drug and Aurelia’s predisposition to covet it made her more and more reluctant to give up the Spirit of Guardiana as the months after the coronation began to slip by.
She kept telling herself that she would give it up when the time came, but the moment never seemed to be right to give up her possessor. The ability to have her enemies slain with a few words; the power to know things she should have no way of knowing made her even more reticent to comply with tradition.
But God uses even the most selfish choices to show His glory, for it was Aurelia’s self-seeking heart that postponed the transference of Diana from one generation to the next, and it was that postponement that became her downfall and that shed a blinding ray of light on Abaddon and his host of darkness.
“I cannot give you up now, Diana.” Aurelia pleaded with the demon, “Please, do not leave me yet. There is so much I would accomplish for you. There are so many things that I can do that my daughter cannot as of yet. Stay with me and I promise you, I will make your name known again – as my grandmother once did, before...”
“There is no need to finish that sentence, servant.” the spirit piped in. “I have considered your petitions before. I did not think you were so loyal to me, but as your ancestor’s persistence earned my respect, so yours has now earned it as well. I will remain with you until you deem it time for me to take your daughter.”
“Thank you, Diana. Thank you!” Aurelia prostrated herself before the small shrine she had built in her and Wael’s dwelling. The small silver bear that had been passed down from one generation to the next of Guardianas was prominent in the display that lay before her. Another curious element of the shrine was the original amulet that legend said was in the possession of the great Seda Guardiana.
The talisman brought with it a strange story. Before the known universe had been populated, Seda Guardiana had been led to this amulet by Diana herself. As the story went, Seda led the original settlers of the stars out into space, but as the pioneers traveled, Seda’s family – a group of individuals bearing the names: Ibrahim, Simay, Hadassah, Drahim, Atara,
Iskender, and Yoav – dogged her, trying to sway her from her belief in Diana.
The odd group followed Seda to every world she went, seeking her out every chance they got, even after she had passed the responsibilities of the Guardiana on to her daughter Achinoam.
Legend said that they tracked her to a small world called Chesed. The two oldest members of the family, Simay and Iskender, as well as some other younger members of the group – likely children – remained with the small ship that the family had been able to commission. The other five of them, hunted Seda down, following her through a great canyon and over a mountain. They finally caught up to her at a river, much too wide for Seda to cross.
Here the stories seemed to disagree on what happened. Some claimed that the man named Ibrahim tried to convince Seda to return to their ship with them and that she, not wanting anything to do with them, threw him into the river; other versions of the tale said that Seda fell into the rushing current and that Ibrahim saved her.
Whatever had truly happened there, all the stories agreed that Seda did, in fact return with her family to the ship.
What transpired on that ship, no true Guardiana follower would ever consider truth, but the tales all agreed that from that day forward, Seda had no longer followed Diana.
There was one story that indicated that Seda had even tried to convince her daughter Achinoam of the lies she had come to believe. Upon hearing her mother’s treachery, Achinoam Guardiana had had her mother put away, but unfortunately not before the woman had convinced a number of other followers of Diana to believe what she did.
As Aurelia thought through more Guardiana lore she realized that Diana was speaking to her again.
“There are a few things I have for you to do while you postpone the passing on of my spirit to Talonka.” said Diana.
“I will do whatever you require, my goddess.” Aurelia remained bowed low before the devil’s place of worship.
“Oh, I know you will.” the spirit said in a low, gravelly voice.
Eliora stepped over one of the messes in the palace kitchen, stopping to set down the load of dishes she held before sweeping up a rag to clean up the spilled food before picking up the dishes again and lugging them to the sink so that she could clean them before the top of the hour.
A few of the other servants bustled about behind her, tidying up various pantries and preparing food for the midday meal that would be served in half an hour.
No matter how far technology progressed, the great Gamilon-Iscandari Alliance still needed people to cook their food for them. Sure, machines could follow recipes, but for anything beyond following the letter of the laws they received, mechanical chefs just couldn’t perform at the level that a flesh and blood person could. Creativity was lost to machines – though the military had made some headway with their robotic soldier prototypes in recent years.
Eliora finally finished putting the crusty pots and pans through the scrubber – three minutes before she had to pick up the meal she was supposed to deliver. Normally Vardah, one of the other women who worked there, and incidentally the head of the whole group of kitchen servants, would have done this chore, but she was somewhere on the other side of the planet at the moment, visiting family she hadn’t seen in years.
Without Vardah there to do her normal jobs, many of the other kitchen workers had added responsibilities. Eliora would have to remember to thank the other woman when she returned. She had no idea that Vardah had taken care of so many things.
Exactly two minutes and fifty-three seconds later, Eliora was heading up the slanted ramp – mercifully flat, instead of the choppy stairs that would normally have been installed in buildings of this size – food in hand, ready to deliver.
She wound her way upwards, almost to the very top of the palace tower, looking around to her heart’s delight at the many sights she had not had the opportunity to get a glimpse of until now.
The walk was not as long as she had expected it to be. The kitchens had been placed towards the middle of the tower instead of at the bottom, so it was easier for the staff to service the individuals living in the top of the tower as well as the guards and other servants who frequented the lower part of the structure. Thankfully, there was also a clear glass transport tube that could be used to navigate the levels below the kitchen and quickly deliver more than just one order of food.
Eliora came to stand quietly outside the door of her deliveree’s room, requesting entrance.
Within a few seconds the door opened to her and the servant stepped through the opening and into the luxurious suite, noting the abundance of natural light that was streaming in from all of the open windows.
“Thank you.” came the voice of the woman Eliora had come to serve.
“You’re welcome, your majesty.” Eliora replied. “It is an honor to serve such a wise and generous Queen as you are.”
“I am Eliora, Majesty.” the servant supplied.
“Thank you, Eliora.” the Queen smiled. “Perhaps some normal well-prepared food will help me feel back to my normal self.”
“You are not feeling well, my Queen?” the woman asked, rather surprised that Queen Talonka would share such information with her, a mere servant.
“No, not really.” Talonka admitted, sitting up in bed, “Perhaps it was some of that off-world food from yesterday – I couldn’t positively identify what it was, but my husband talked me into eating it.”
Eliora was torn between laughing hysterically and acting horrified at the queen’s words. Judging by the look on the queen’s face, neither would be an appropriate reaction, though she did let slip a small smile as she set the queen’s food down on a bedside table.
“Where is Vardah today? She usually delivers my meals to me when something keeps me from joining the others downstairs.”
“She is visiting family for a couple of weeks, Majesty.” Eliora replied, sensing that she was not yet free to leave. Her suspicions were confirmed a moment later.
“Please, sit.” Queen Talonka motioned to one of the chairs in the room. “I do not get the chance to talk with many of the other servants here – other than Vardah and a few of the others – and of course the bodyguards they have watching Deun and I all day every day.” the queen seemed a bit perturbed at the constant interference.
“I’m sure it is merely for your safety, Majesty.” Eliora offered.
Talonka sighed, “Yes, you’re right of course, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Especially now...” the queen said cryptically. “But enough about my troubles. So far I know that your name is Eliora and that you work in the kitchen with Vardah.”
Eliora swallowed, unsure of how to hold a conversation with the queen.
Talonka sensed the servant’s unease. “You may speak freely here, I assure you. Right now, think of me as just another person – because, that is truly all I am.” the queen smiled as she leaned over to inspect the food that had been brought up for her.
“Alright...” Eliora said slowly, “I was born here in the capitol; my family lives several cities away now though.”
“Are you married?” the queen inquired.
“No, Majesty.” the servant shook her head, “I guess the right man hasn’t come along yet.”
“And what kind of man would that be?” the queen asked, seeming to actually be interested in what Eliora had to say.
“One who would share the Faith I have in Yeshua as Mashiach, Majesty.”
The queen looked at Eliora quizzically. “I have never heard of such a thing. What kind of faith is this?”
“It is called ‘Christianity,’ my lady.” the servant replied.
“I know of Adonai – the God of the Temple, and I know of the coming Mashiach that the people speak of,” Talonka said, “but I have not heard of this ‘Yeshua’ before. Who is He?”
Eliora’s heart began to beat more quickly as she realized what an opportunity she had just been handed.
For the next two hours Eliora told Talonka about the beliefs she held, about Yeshua and the Atonement He made for every living person, no matter what their race or homeworld was.
Finally, the servant had to leave to get back down to the kitchens and finish her work for the day.
“You will come back tomorrow.” Talonka declared upon Eliora’s departure.
“Yes, Majesty.” the servant replied happily as she left the room. “Whatever you wish.”
As the door closed behind the servant, Talonka began to think about the things that Eliora had told her. Aurelia had raised her to be suspicious of every religion. “Any faith that promises great wealth, unconditional love, or eternal life is trying to take advantage of you.” she would always say.
“Maybe you didn’t want to consider the possibility that you could be wrong, mother.”
Talonka said to herself as she finished the long-cold food on the plate she had been brought a couple of hours before. “But I can’t risk shoving something like this to the side without proof that it’s false.”
Talonka found herself thinking more and more about this Yeshua. For Talonka, religion had always been something that the weaker people of the world used as something to “get by” in life. Faith was something for children and trusting fools, not for adults who had an experience in what Aurelia had called “the real world.”
Meeting someone who really believed something – as Eliora seemed to – was refreshing to the young queen.
“Even if it isn’t true, at least I don’t have to hear about it from my mother.” Talonka thought to herself as she leaned back in bed and fell asleep – drained from the conversation and some unknown malady that still plagued her twisting stomach.