And what did my useless guards do, you ask? Ha! They ran off into the desert!.. Some of them.” King Herod kicked sand over a pile of bones stained with spices. 

Zakariah slowly moved to the cave’s entrance, bowed 

“Good day” to King Herod and jumped into the dark of the sandstorm. Zakariah used his wings as shields as he pushed against the blasting sand, protecting the Bundle which hung safely around his neck. He looked up, attempting to locate the Star, and there it was. Even though Zakariah was engulfed in a pelting gloomy sand storm, the Star was there in it’s brilliance, breaking through the murky turmoil that whipped around him. A beacon of hope. Waiting for him. Not moving away but calling him. Drawing him near, with his last ounce of will. Right then and there he realized he was a Bringer. If his last breath was spent getting the Bundle to its home, he knew he had done what he had been put on earth to do. 

 

King Herod yelled from behind him, “Stand where you are and go no further!” Zakariah turned and only saw the dim light of Herod’s oil lamp drawing nearer, shielded by his heavy cape. King Herod tried to lure Zakariah back with a new found kindness that didn’t sound sincere and yelled at the top of his lungs with, “Do not fear me, young Bird! I am a kind-hearted King! This storm is unforgiving! Come let me shelter you!” 

Zakariah shouted back, with sand blowing into his open mouth, “I’m sorry, but no thank you!” I would have shouted something not so pleasant at King Herod for my last words. Something like, “You human bone sucking, jackal of a King! You are not worthy to breathe the same air in a cave with me and the Bundle!” Zakariah turned back to the Star and pushed forward as the sand quickly piled about his legs. He faintly heard King Herod’s last muttered thoughts, “What a waste! Such a succulent bird you were! And double the pity if your bag was plump with soft bread!” 

Herod’s lamp faded out. 

The relentless wind at last covered Zakariah in sand, leaving only a small mound amongst the ever changing dunes. 

The last thing he saw was the Star. Later that morning, many hours after the harsh sand storm had buried Zakariah and the Bundle, the air was so dead calm that not even a grain of sand moved. 

But all was not still. Off in the distance, three travelers with trunk-laden camels approached one another from equally distant points on the horizon. Three slowly moving points, the corners of a triangle, destined to meet at its center. They waved to each other, not even caring if the desert heat was playing tricks on their minds and there was nothing really there.

With deep concern they bowed their heads in remembrance of Zakariah. Balthasar uncorked a skin of water and poured a bit of it’s precious contents on the sand between them. That is what adults do to pay their respects to the ones that have passed on. Passed on like dead. For we are dust and shall return to dust. But that little bit of water that Balthasar poured stirred something in the sand below. Balthasar knelt and brushed at the wet sand, uncovering dusty white feathers. Gaspar and Mel gasped and jumped to help unearth what they hoped was not and beheld... “Zakariah!” they yelled in unison. Zakariah weakly lifted his head and took his first breath of fresh air in hours. He blinked the sand out of his eyes and unfurled his wings revealing the Bundle that he had protected and held close and secure from the sand storm. It’s rustling from within spread relief over the friends. 

“This Bundle has inspired you, Zakariah, and you in turn have inspired us all,” Mel acknowledged. They rapped their fists against their crowns and exploded with, “Hear, Hear!” “If you could see the Star above us,” Zakariah said pointing at it, “you would know it is why we have all come together here.” 

The former Princess, the one-time Magician and whatever Gaspar once was laughed at the irony that they could now see the Star.