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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Dave Free on 1 December 2006 - 10:22pm.

With the kingdom at war, the mood in the palace had become very somber (that means sad and serious). Everyone was worried about the invasion and the safety of the king and the warriors set to defend the kingdom. Combined with their intense desire to see their new little brother, the somber air of the palace was almost too much for Jessica and Jacob to stand. They tried to play royal board games after dinner with their cousins the Princess Melinda and her knighted brothers Jopes and Mikey, but no one cared much who won so they all quickly lost interest and one by one went to their rooms for the night.

Jacob felt like he had just barely closed his eyes (he had really been asleep for a number of hours) when someone started shaking him and hissing in his ear. "Jake, Jake wake up! Wake up!" Jake hoped he was dreaming and tried to rollover and go back to sleep, but whoever was shaking him did not give up. "Jake, it's me Jess. Wake up!"

Jake opened his eyes and shook his head to clear his thoughts and remember where he was. He finally came to the conclusion that is was his sister shaking him and that it was still the middle of the night. He wondered if Jess knew this fact and concluded he had better tell her. "Jess, it's the middle of the night! What are you doing?"

"A messenger just came from the battlefield and the news is not good. King Joseph has requested his sons join him in the battle. Jopes and Mikey are preparing now to leave." At this news Jake jumped out of bed and started dressing.

I'll go with them, they'll need my help. Why didn't you wake me earlier?" Jess had to grab him by the arm to get his attention before continuing.

"Jake, uncle Joe needs more warriors to protect his kingdom and ours from Contention, he has asked that we go to our kingdom and ask our father to send help." Jake sat down on the edge of the bed and looked at Jess. "By ourselves?" he asked with a somewhat incredulous look on his face. "He wants us to cross the Swamp of Selfishness by ourselves?"

Jess nodded with a puzzled look on her face. "Yeah, the same swamp you said you wanted to cross this afternoon. What's the matter? I thought you would be excited to go?"

"I am excited" said Jake trying to convince himself, "It's just--well it's just--its...Uncle Joe said we could get lost forever!" Jake blurted it out and felt better for having been honest about his feelings.

Jessica, still surprised at her little brother's change of mind, tried to reassure him, "We won't Jake. We can't! We have to get through or Contention will destroy this kingdom and ours. Besides, we won't be completely alone. The messenger from Uncle Joe said the ambassador to Sharewood Forest would meet us there. He will instruct us on how to cross the swamp."

Jake's relief at the thought of help was brief as he remembered his uncle's instruction that they not leave the palace while he was gone. "What about the trail from here to the forest? What if we run into some warriors of Contention?"

"Oh, it won't be that hard Jake." Jessica replied reassuringly, "Contention is invading the north side of the kingdom, we'll be traveling east. If we leave early in the morning we're sure to make the forest before noon. The armies of Contention aren't known for rising early so I'm sure we won't run into any. And when we reach the forest, the ambassador is to greet us with a bearhug, something a warrior of Contention would never do."

Jake lightened a little as his sisters reassurances. "You've got this all figured out haven't your?" He picked up his bat from the corner and swung it a few times, his courage was returning. "You're right sis, we can do this. We have to do this!" He swung the bat again and it got caught in the curtains pulling them back from the window. "Look!," said Jess pointing out the window, "The sky is already gray, the sun will be up soon. Get dressed and pack, I'll meet you at the front gate." She was halfway out the door before she finished the last sentence.

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