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Divine

“Get out of here you dingy animal!” A stout older maid yelled as she was smacking something that was lying in front of the kitchen door with her broom. It was a young boy, about the age of seventeen. He was skinny and pale, with long, straight, and rather greasy brown hair. His clothing was old, dirty, and ripped up. He smelled awful.

The boy, disoriented by the angry awakening, quickly jumped to his feet, brushed himself off, and ran from the woman. He ran until he reached the nearby woods which he was very familiar with. This young boy ran away from an orphanage in the town of York, not too far from where he was now. He had been hiding in the woods every since but slept in the manor at night. He was afraid of the dark and the creatures which it held.

Finally, he came to a rock near a stream and he sat upon it. Hopeless, he put his face in his hands and miserably wondered how he was going to manage. He knew he couldn’t go back to the orphanage. He would only get yet another beating and be forced to work with not even the humblest reward or compensation. As he was thinking about this, the boy looked at his reflection in the stream. Suddenly, he gasped. He was not the only person in the reflection.

It was a man – an elder man of dignified appearance. He was tall and muscular. He was dressed elegantly, like a noble. There was one rather strange thing about him – he was barefoot.

“I’m sorry sir, I didn’t mean to trespass your property,” the boy said, frightened.


“Well, it’s really impossible for you to not trespass onto my property,” the man said. The boy frowned in confusion. The man laughed a deep, friendly laugh.

“Never mind. I’m here to talk to you, Julian,” the man said.

“Julian… How do you know my name?!”

“Calm down boy. I will explain everything.” Somehow, this calmed the boy. He slowly sat back down and waited to listen.

“Julian, your life is going in an unfortunate direction. You ran from the orphanage, you have not a coin of money, nowhere to live, and not a single perspective you could turn to. You’re a young man, and you certainly haven’t done anything to deserve this misfortune. This is why I will help you. But, I will want something in return,” the man had said.

“Who are you?” Julian asked, anxious to know how this man knew so much about him.

“I am Antoni, god of the lost,” the man said. Julian was speechless but, somehow, he believed him. There was something about this man that completely convinced Julian that he really was a god.

“What do you want me to do?” Julian replied.

“I want you to earn the true respect and affection of at least one person. If you do, I will send you to heaven upon your death. I will also name you a god. If you do not fulfill this task, you will become my servant for eternity. To help you complete this mission, I will grant you three wishes. You can wish for anything that you think will help you succeed. If you do not want to take this opportunity and the responsibilities and consequences that come with it, you may refuse. Now Julian, do you accept the opportunity?”

Julian took a long time to reply. Finally, he did.

“Yes. I accept the opportunity,” Julian replied.

“Are you certain?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Alright then, what are your three wishes?”

“I want wealth, beauty, and good luck,” Julian said definitely. Antoni closed his eyes and clenched his fists in concentration. Suddenly, he released them. Julian then felt an indescribable feeling in his body – a feeling of warmth, power, and confidence. When the feeling seized, Julian looked at Antoni and realized that he was smiling at him and nodding his head towards the stream. Julian walked up to the stream. He looked at his reflection. He saw a muscular, tall, beautiful man. He looked at the man’s facial features more closely and finally saw himself in the reflection. His face seemed to be more mature, but still the same.

“I’m sure you’re wondering where your wealth is. I have the answer for you. All of your wealth is in vault 1428 in the largest bank of York. Go there and tell them what your name is. They will ask you for a password. The password is ‘divine’. Your luck will come when you truly need it. Remember Julian, don’t lose yourself.” Julian turned around to give a reply but when he did, Antoni was gone.

“I won’t,” Julian replied, knowing that Antoni had heard him.
__________

“Good day sir, I am here to open my vault.”

“Is that so?” An older baker said to Julian, while grunting at his raggedy clothing and body odor. “May I ask for your name?”

“Watson. Julian Watson.”

“Vault number?”

“1428.”

The banker frowned, “Password?”

“Divine,” Andy said hesitantly.

“That can’t be…”

“What can’t be?”

“Nothing! Nothing at all! Follow me Mr. Watson!” The banker said with a sudden positive change in his previously arrogant tone of voice. The two went through a series of underground hallways until, finally, they got to vault 1428. Slowly, the banker unlocked the grand door. Julian could not believe what he had seen. All the riches that he could have possibly imagined were in that vault. As he was looking around, he also found ownership papers to the grandest manor in all of York.
__________

“Mama, who is that?” Ana Marie asked her mother.

“Why that’s Duke Watson dear. He just recently appeared in York. Quite a mystery, he is,” Mrs. Thompson replied.

“He’s… divine!”

“Ana Marie! I beg you to maintain your propriety by not making such… bold declarations! Then again, he would be a perfect candidate for a husband. Your husband, perhaps.”

“Do you think he would want me for his wife, Mama?”

“Not if you go unnoticed! This ball is filled with pretty maidens such as yourself. You must grab his attention!”

__________

A few months later, Ana Marie and Julian were engaged to marry. Julian was visiting the Thompsons’ manor for supper. They gathered together to discuss the details of the coming wedding.

“Will your family be attending the wedding, Mr. Watson?” Mrs. Thompson asked.

“I highly doubt that,” Julian replied.

“Why, if I may ask?” Mr. Thompson asked.

“My parents passed away quite some time ago.”

“My condolences, Mr. Watson.”

“Thank you, though my sorrow is small.”

“That’s a terrible thing to say! Why do you say such a thing?” Mrs. Thompson asked.

“They had abandoned me when I was just a baby. They passed away long after they left me.”

“That’s awful!” Ana Marie exclaimed.

“Please excuse my boldness Mr. Watson, but how did you obtain all your fortune in that case?” Mr. Thompson asked. Julian stood up with a grave face.

“Because you will soon be my family, and I have great respect for you, I shall tell you the truth about me. I am not a noble by blood. I was an orphaned peasant from York. It was when I ran away from the orphanage that a… ‘man’ had mercy on me and gifted me with my fortune.”

“You mean to tell me that you are a peasant and you wanted to marry a woman of noble blood – my daughter?!”

“Sir, my fortune is sufficient to meet your daughter’s needs. Does the blood line truly matter?”

“Mr. Watson, please leave my manor and never return,” Mr. Thompson said, infuriated. Everyone at the table looked at Julian as if he’d committed a horrible crime.

“But I thought you had enough respect and affection for me to…”

“Respect? Don’t be a foolish. You are a liar! And a peasant! I demand you to leave my manor right this moment!” Julian slowly stepped away from the table and left the manor.
__________

The news of Julian’s true identity (along with multiple other hyperbolized rumors about him) quickly spread to all of York’s aristocracy. Just like Ana Marie’s parents, they all turned against Julian. Not a single noble spoke to him. Instead, they turned their heads away if they saw him.

Julian was desperate. He was convinced that gaining respect from people who were worth something (nobles) was the only way he would be able to achieve the mission that Antoni had assigned him. He went back to the stream where Antoni had appeared to him to gather his thoughts.

“What am I supposed to do now?” Julian asked, looking at the sky.

“How about you help me?” Someone said across the stream. Julian jumped up. He looked to where the voice came from. There he saw an elderly woman. She looked very plain and poor. She had raggedy clothing and an exhausted face. As Julian looked closer, he realized that the woman had no leg.

“Are you just going to stand there?”

“I’m sorry,” he said and went into the stream, drawn to her by some strange force. She didn’t even have to say what he had to do. He knew he had to carry the woman over the stream. And so he did.

“Thank you, young man.”

“You’re welcome. Where are you headed?”

“Why to your manor sir!”

“Excuse me?”

“Well, if I’m not mistaken, you’re Mr. Watson and I work in your kitchen.”

“I never knew that! Please, forgive me for my ignorance!”

“Don’t worry about it sir. I’m only your servant. You don’t need to be aware of my existence.”

“Oh but I do! Your social status is meaningless to me, I’ve learned my lesson.”

“You’ve learned you lesson?”

“It doesn’t matter now. Please, allow me to carry you back to my manor.”

“I couldn’t.”

“I insist!” Julian said with a smile. She then smiled back and nodded her head in agreement. He took her in his arms and carried her all the way back to the manor without a single break. He brought her to his most comfortable quarter and, instead of calling a servant, fetched her some food and something to drink himself.

“Thank you for everything Mr. Watson! How can I ever repay you?”

“Stay with me and help me manage everything. I want to begin treating all my servants the way I treated you today. I also want to help other peasants, especially orphaned ones, that live outside of this manor.”

“I promise sir, this is what I will do for as long as I am able to.” She looked at him deeply as she spoke. Julian realized that the woman’s eyes were the most beautiful shade of blue – one that you can always remember.
__________

“Mr. Watson, are you awake?” a young maid said as she shyly entered his room.

“Come in, dear child.”

“I brought you some tea.”

“Thank you,” he took the tea in his aged, trembling hands and sipped it slowly.

“I am old Emma, very old. My time on Earth is ending soon.”

“Don’t say that Mr. Watson!”

“Oh but it’s true. But that’s not what I meant to talk about,” Julian took off a key that was tied around his neck on a thin chain. “Here, take this key. When my time comes, go to my study, unlock the top drawer of my desk, and there you will find a letter. Gather everyone in the manor together and read it to them. I’ve written down all my fortune and divided it upon everyone in the manor. Make sure there is no quarreling over the fortune.”

“I will do as you wish, Mr. Watson.”

“Thank you Emma. And remember, no matter how many riches any of you receive, don’t lose yourselves.” Emma looked down on the key resting in the palm of her hand. When she looked up, Julian’s eyes were closed. He was gone.
__________

Julian opened his eyes and found himself at the stream where he had seen Antoni. He realized that his appearance was the same as when he was a young man.

“Congratulations Julian,” Anotni said, suddenly appearing.

“Why are you congratulating me?”

“You have completed the task that I had assigned you. You have gained the respect of one person. As a matter of fact, you have gained the respect of many people.”

“But that wasn’t my purpose anymore. I didn’t want your reward anymore. I wanted to dedicate my entire life to them.”

“Exactly!”

“I don’t understand.”

“You found the true meaning of respect. You realized that you shouldn’t try to gain the respect of the people of high social class, but of the people who are true at heart and don’t mind what kind of fortune you have. You never married nor had your own children. Instead, you treated everyone around you like your child, or a close family member. You earned these people’s respect directly through your actions, not your reputation. As a reward for this, you are getting what I promised you. You are now a god.”

“A god of what?”

“You are the god of righteousness and choices. Your job is to judge what is the right and wrong thing to do, and to help mortals make the right choices throughout their lives. People will reflect upon you through your symbol – streams. Now, follow Milena, the goddess of courage, confidence, and modesty to the heavens to have your coronation. She will explain everything.”

“Goddess of courage, confidence, and modesty? How does that make any sense?” Julian asked himself. Then, the goddess appeared in front of him. She was beautiful and young. He looked into her eyes and knew he’d seen them before. They were the eyes of the old woman whom he carried over the river so many years ago. It began to make sense. The old woman was courageous and confident, yet always maintained modesty. She smiled as if she knew exactly what he was thinking about.

“A promise is a promise,” Milena said. Julian was startled by the fact that she remembered the promise she had made him – that she would be there for him for as long as she would be able to.

“Come Julian,” she said as she reached her hand out to him. He smiled back at her and took her hand.



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