“A falling star!” Excitement filled Jin’s voice as he pointed at the midnight sky.
His two young companions lay beside him in the grass, gazing at the glittering stars overhead.
“Hurry – we must make a wish,” Hui whispered reverently.
The friends closed their eyes.
“I wish for the strength of a thousand men,” Jian said resolutely.
“I wish for the riches of ten kings,” Jin added quickly.
Hui’s eyes glistened. “I wish… for a pure heart,” she whispered.
Decades later, the kind old woman known by the villagers as “Mother Hui” opened her eyes. She had been dreaming of the old days again, and it had felt so very real…
The memories brought a smile to her wrinkled face, but it vanished the moment a young servant burst into the room. “More sick travelers!” his voice was panicked. “Some are dead already.”
Ever since the Shadow Plague had fallen over the Great City, a steady stream of villagers had poured into the surrounding countryside, desperate to escape the mysterious disease. Hui examined the face of one of the travelers. The skin had already begun to blacken. The elderly woman shook her head sadly.
“The Emperor… has fallen,” the man whispered hoarsely.
Hui froze. The man had no way of knowing that Emperor Jin was her childhood friend. “And his Chief of Warriors?”
The woman slumped to the floor. So then, both of her friends were gone. All the strength in the world had not been able to save mighty Jian, and the riches of the entire kingdom had not kept Jin from harm.
A young girl seeking medicinal herbs found the wise old woman weeping in the garden. “It’s alright, Mother Hui,” the girl assured her. “They say the plague only infects those whose hearts are dark with selfishness and greed. Surely you are safe.”
Hui sobbed. She was indeed safe. But pure as it was, nothing could protect her heart from the deep, abiding pain.
This week’s Christian Flash Weekly Challenge gave us 232-328 words, the following Scripture prompt, and the strict order to concoct a fascinating tale. Happy Monday, everyone!
“Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.“