Unto Us a Son
When Travis Morgan, the Warlord of Skartaris, shares the joy of Christmas with his wife Tara, they unexpectedly receive the greatest gift of all. Guest starring Jennifer Morgan and the Scarab!
Tara stood with her hands on her hips, shaking her head at the absurdity of her husband’s latest obsession. What a strange world it must have been that he had come from.
Travis Morgan, his daughter Jennifer, and Jared Stevens — a young man known as the Scarab, who was from another world, one even further removed from Skartaris than Travis’ home — were gathered around a huge fir tree. Laughing like children, they were hanging colored beads and baubles on the branches. As the two men would place an occasional globe on the tree, Jennifer would follow along behind, casting a minor spell on the globe and causing it to blink in a myriad of colors. The queen of Shamballah had to admit to herself that, despite the absurdity of what they were doing, there was something infectious about their laughter.
As she approached, Jennifer nudged her father then mouthed a silent spell. A sprig of mistletoe appeared in the air over Tara’s head, causing Travis to rush forward, grab his wife, and give her a big kiss.
“If this small plant has that kind of effect,” Tara said after she caught her breath, “then perhaps I should cover the ceiling of our bedchamber with it.”
This brought a laugh from Travis and the others.
“So, tell me,” Tara asked, “what is the meaning of trying to bring the forest inside and decorate it?”
“It’s called Christmas,” Travis said as he gave his wife another quick kiss.
“This is only a part of Christmas,” Jennifer corrected her father.
“Yeah,” Travis said. “There is also the giving of gifts.”
Jennifer gave Travis a look of agitation. “It is a day set aside to commemorate the birth of God’s son. The giving of gifts was originally done by wise men who traveled hundreds of miles to bring gifts to the child.”
“Ah, I see,” Tara said. “This god required a celebration for such a grand birth.”
“Actually, He didn’t,” Jared replied. “The child was born in a stable, surrounded by shepherds.”
They could see the confusion on Tara’s face.
Jared continued. “He sent His son to be a sacrifice for mankind.”
Tara shook her head. The thought of anyone sacrificing their son made her think of her own son and how he was forcibly taken from her years ago. A fresh pang of sadness coursed through her body as she thought of the armband, the only memento she had of her time with her son, which was now also lost to her forever as well. She changed the subject.
“How does this tree fit into Christmas?” she asked.
“It’s just one of the ways we’ve always celebrated,” Travis said.
Before the conversation could continue, one of the palace servants entered the room bearing a message for Travis. After reading it, he took a piece of parchment and a quill from the servant to write a response.
“I take it that the messenger is waiting for the reply.”
“Yes, your majesty,” the servant responded. “It is a young boy with fiery red hair.”
At the mention of the boy’s hair color, Jennifer thought of the young boy who had traveled with her for a while. “I really should scry and see if I can locate Tinder,” she said. “I wonder what he’s been up to.”
“Tinder?” Travis asked as he handed the missive back to the servant. “That is the name of the boy who helped me escape when that double took my place. I thought he had died in a fire.”
With a wave of her hand, Jennifer summoned a small globe from her room; it appeared almost instantly. Seconds later, she had coaxed an image of Tinder into the globe. It was the same red hair and the same brown tunic that she remembered. The only difference was that he was a little taller, and he was wearing a strip of cloth tied around his arm.
“It’s him,” she said as the globe vanished from her hand and reappeared in her room. “The boy who brought the message is Tinder.”
“Then I owe that boy a great debt,” Travis said. With his Jared, Jennifer, and Tara in tow, he followed the servant to where the boy waited.
The messenger was just finishing an apple when the small group entered.
“Tinder!” Jennifer said as she rushed forward and gave the boy a hug.
“So you are Tinder,” Travis said as he approached the boy. “I never really got to thank you for helping to free me.”
Tinder had a look of confusion before realizing what the king was talking about. “That — that was you in the mask?”
“Yes, it was.” Travis extended his hand to the boy.
As Tinder reached out to accept the king’s hand, Tara noticed a glint of gold peaking out from beneath the strip of cloth. Instinctively, she knew what it was. At that same moment, she realized that she, too, had seen this boy before. He was the same child that she had seen staring at her armband. Like a tigress, she leaped and caught the boy by the wrist.
“Thief!” she screamed as she jerked the cloth from Tinder’s arm.
Travis’ mouth dropped open when he saw his old wristwatch around the messenger’s arm.
Before things could get further out of hand, Jennifer forced her way in between Tara and Tinder. “There must be a good reason for this,” she said.
“There is,” Tara said. “He is a thief. I saw him staring at my armband not too long before it disappeared.”
“It was mine first!” Tinder screamed, temporarily forgetting to whom he was speaking. “It was a gift from my parents.”
“How dare you?” Tara’s voice was low and menacing, but Tinder stood his ground.
Jared placed his hand on Travis’ shoulder. “I think you had better do something.”
Travis blinked a couple of times, then spoke. “Tinder, answer me truthfully. Did you take this from the Queen?”
“Yes,” the boy said, “but it was mine first.”
“Liar!” Tara hissed.
“Jennifer,” Travis said to his daughter, “could you please take Tinder and get him something to eat?”
The young woman did as her father asked. Jared accompanied them.
“What is the meaning of this?” Tara asked after everyone had gone.
“There is more to this than meets the eye,” Travis said. “I believe the boy when he says his parents gave it to him. I’m not sure how they came about it, but it obviously means a great deal to him.”
“Well, what about me?” Tara began to cry. “Doesn’t it matter that it is the only link we have to our lost son?”
“Yes. It matters,” Travis said, trying to calm his wife. “That is why we need to straighten this out. We owe that boy a lot. If it wasn’t for him, neither one of us would be here today.”
“Then what do you suggest we do?”
Travis pulled his wife into his arms. “I don’t know.”
Tinder wasn’t in the mood to eat. It was only his respect for Jennifer and Travis that kept him from running away.
Jared helped himself to a piece of bread and a hunk of cheese while Jennifer sat deep in thought. “What if they are both right?” he suggested.
“I’m not a thief,” Tinder said defiantly.
“That’s not what I meant,” Jared replied. “I only meant that the Queen is right about you taking it, and you are right about it being given to you by your parents.”
“I agree,” Jennifer said. “I’ve been giving it some serious thought, and I think there is more to this than meets the eye.”
As both Jared and Tinder listened, Jennifer related the events of the time she had traveled with the boy. She spoke of the fight with the evil one that resulted in the death of Tinder’s friend at his hand.
“None but my father and his heirs should have been able to use the Hellfire sword,” she said, “but somehow, Tinder grabbed it without hesitation or consequence.”
Jared raised his eyebrow in surprise. “Are you saying what I think you are?”
“There is one way to find out. Tinder, will you allow me to cast a spell on you?”
Tinder wasn’t too fond of being the target for a spell, but he trusted Jennifer and gave her his consent.
Jennifer turned to Jared. “Could you do me a favor and go get my father?” Jared nodded and left. Once he was gone, the sorceress began to voice the archaic words to a spell. The final syllable had barely left her lips when both she and Tinder were surrounded by an electric-blue aura. A huge grin appeared on her face as Travis, Jared, and Tara entered.
Travis, too, was surrounded by the aura.
“Merry Christmas, Dad,” Jennifer laughed. “It’s a boy.”
All of her misplaced anger was now long forgotten as Tara tearfully embraced the boy that she now knew to be her son, thought long dead. She had held him in her arms for the better part of an hour as Travis and Jennifer tried to piece together what had happened the day they thought Joshua was killed.
Joshua — he now reclaimed the name he had before adopting the name Tinder — was still in a state of shock. He couldn’t believe that he was the prince of Shamballah.
“The best we can figure is that Deimos forced me to kill a clone,” Travis said, “and then hid Joshua away to be used against us at some other time.”
As he spoke, Travis handed his wristwatch to Tara. She accepted it, then handed it to her newly found son.
“Now it truly is yours,” she said as she gave her son another kiss. “Merry Christmas,” she whispered.