As promised, he woke her at the first light of dawn, and excitement and anticipation tingled through Lynn as she scampered upon the boy’s shoulder and held on to his old coat. “What was the name that you just called me?”
“It is an Elvish name, which I learned when I lived among the elves… it means ‘the star that shines.’”
Lynn was pleased with the name, and wanted to ask more about the elves, but then she was surprised. As the young man rose from his place on the ground, he picked up a staff and gripped it with both hands for support. They began to slowly hobble along the path, and with unspoken struggle, he worked his way up the hill. For a while the fairy said nothing; his disability was obvious and she was terribly confused by it. Yet the longer she was silent, the more disturbed she was, so finally she approached the subject.
“Forgive me, but what happened to your legs?” She blushed at her own question, because it was so reminiscent of the ones she had been asked all her life. However, Rusty seemed not bothered by it at all.
“Oh, that,” he shrugged. “I’ve always been lame, ever since I was born. Now that it’s brought up, I might ask about your wings.”
“Why, I have the same answer as you! But tell me, didn’t the King heal you? You said he did, didn’t you?”
Rusty paused a moment and gave her a curious look. “Of course he healed me. He always does. I was miserable and lost without a song in my heart, and he gave me the most beautiful of songs, and the ability to play it for others to hear. I could not have asked for a more valuable gift, and he was more than generous to me. Why do you say he did not heal me? Didn’t you hear the music for yourself last night?”
“I did – I mean, I didn’t realize – but you see…” the poor fairy was so troubled that she had no words to say. There was silence for a few moments, and Rusty became quite solemn, sitting down on the path and setting Lynn down beside him.
Then he said, “I see the questions and doubts in your eyes – I had the same thoughts at one time – but do not fear. He knows what your greatest need is, much more than you do; he gives the best remedy, which may be something you don’t expect; and he does what will bring you true joy and him the most glory. He will not leave you or fail you. So trust him.” With that simple statement and a kind smile, he lifted Lynn back to his shoulder, picked up his crutch again and continued up the hill. Strangely, his steps - which felt coarse and jerky before - now seemed to have rhythm and grace beyond any other person’s stride, like a magical dance.
Step by step, slowly and yet with great confidence, the two drew nearer to the grand castle. The garden along the path was beautiful and abundant: purple and red blossoms that reminded the fairy of her home adorned the path of fine white sand; sprays of green danced and waved welcoming hands to all who passed by; willows bowed low to the ground and touched the water’s edge in homage, and tall manicured cedars stood at attention like giant sentinels at the King’s command. As they passed by the water, Lynn saw lily pads and blooms languidly resting on the gentle current of the silvery stream which chuckled at its good fortune to be so near His Majesty. It boasted not in its own beauty but only in its position, by reflecting back and showing off the colors of the beloved garden and the mighty walls of the castle ahead.
By late afternoon they reached the entrance to the castle, graced with untamed ivy that twisted and climbed up the ancient stones and framed the gate which stood wide open, exposing the majesty and royalty of the King’s home. Inside, the syncopated beat of Rusty’s gait tapped on the marble floor and echoed around the high vaulted ceiling. Tall and narrow stained glass windows gave character to the sun’s rays that shone through and highlighted the treasures of the King: giant portraits of his only beloved son, as well as smaller portraits of men and beasts and other creatures who were close to the heart of the King. There was not much in the way of furniture, but Lynn could imagine great banquets and parties filling the room on occasion. Candelabras of glistening gold now stood waiting for evening use, and fine silks framed the windows, adding beauty and creative expression to the massive stone hall. To the right and left were staircases, detailed with ivory and pearl and carpeted with red velvet, and they rose and curved out of sight into the private chambers of the royal family. Straight ahead was a pair of wooden doors that were intricately carved with the script of ancient wisdom, and guarded by a man who wore a sword and stood solid and unwavering. The two travelers did not linger nor wandered about the open court, but approached the guard who asked their business.
“If you please, we must see the King,” Rusty said, panting a bit from his trek.
Lynn held her breath, unsure how the guard would respond. But immediately, he smiled, pushed open the heavy door and said, “You may enter. His Majesty has been expecting you.”