Aden of Aden
Mother Mersidda was the normal mother. She would scold us, praise us, and be active among us. Her fault was that she had normal expectations for us and reacted to things in a normal way. The lads could figure out how to fool her, or avoid her, so Mother Mersidda often needed father to assert his authority on things.
My mother was the one feared by the children. She could not be predicted, and would often change her habits in order to catch certain antics in action. What was worse was that she had the constitution to face certain situations Mother Mersidda would not. My mother also had the conviction to assure that proper punishment was carried out. My siblings tried to keep a watch on my mother, as they feared her catching them performing certain activities.
What always struck us children as strange was the way Mother Mersidda and my mother would relate. They got along so well with each other. I believe Mother Mersidda was the only other lady besides me who my mother would express her joy and speak freely at length. While my siblings feared performing antics around my mother, and everyone else called her princess, Mother Mersidda would say and do things in the presence of my mother that would embarrass me.
The only problem with the time with my two mothers was that it came to an end. With the two working together, I soon was packed. As my two mothers spoke of the age of Wisama and the length of time they could expect the room to be free, I found myself realizing that my time as a member of this household was coming to an end.
Thiminy was not far from the holding of Lord Rebitten. It would be foolish to think it was, as Thiminy was not that large of a kingdom. While I was packed with a lunch, I knew if I rode my horse fast I would only be late for the midday meal. I however was given the horse I used for equestrian practice, as Lord Rebitten assured me that those of Thiminy would have me continue to develop a fondness for the animals, so only rode at a proper speed.
The town of Thiminy was not that large. While a multitude came to the royal city, very few actually stayed. It was a secluded settlement on Edillath Lake, so most soon got bored and left. We of Thiminy would however go to the royal city to find things to prevent our lives from being boring. With so many coming to Thiminy, those in the town had items from a multitude of places to sell, and we of the kingdom would often shop to add something exotic to our surroundings.
I had slowed down to see what might interest me to shop for later, so it was easy for a man in rich green clothes to step out. “Whoa, Aden of Aden, we were told you would be coming.”
I did not recognize the man. He was dressed in very nice clothing with the colors still bright. I saw gray in his brown hair, but he did not move with any indication of age. Wondering about him, I found myself only able to make a basic reply mentioning what troubled me of what he had said.
“Aden of Aden?”
“You’re Aden, right?”
“Yes, I am Aden.”
“And your mother is Aden.”
Feeling that one side of the introduction had been handled, I asked, “And who might you be?”
He bowed as a lady in an elegant green dress came from a shop to join him, then he said, “I should be Duke Mekurry of Stulogard, but that land has suffered from turmoil both internal and external. My wife is however Endullae, the oldest daughter of this land. We were offered the kingdom. Honestly, my oldest boy, Lattalod, is the one to become king, as King Terish and Queen Straekin are not quite ready to leave.”
The lady lifted a hand to indicate me as she moved about in a circle loudly declaring, “This is Aden of Aden. Report all purchases by her to the castle. Should Queen Straekin feel the need not to pay, she will reconcile the amount with Aden’s father, Knight Berair.”
I had been to the royal city before, so was not surprised to be greeted with a number mentioning already knowing me. I however simply held my place not certain how to react. I knew of the royal children, but had actually never met them. It surprised me that they knew me, but it helped that Princess Endullae spoke of a reason for them to have been watching for me.
“Go on up to the castle, Aden. Mother is waiting for you.”
Wondering, I had to ask, “Did you enjoy it?”
“Your training, did you enjoy it?”
“I like who I am. I can only hope the same for you. Mother can be a little domineering, but as her child I learned to see through it. I hope you can do the same.”
That was actually the response I wanted to hear. Feeling that I had made the proper decision to come here, I allowed a pleasant expression as I thanked the princess, her husband, and those around me. Hearing cheerful responses, I had my horse move on toward the castle.
Horns sounded as I rode up the cut into the mountain that led to the castle. The great mounds of rock would fade into violet, the water that fell into the lake and moved on through the land was blue, with the grass and trees being green. All that color was only represented in the flags, as the castle of Thiminy was a collection of upside-down cones of a black stone. I grew up hearing the tales of the land before King Terish not being a friendly or peaceful place at all, and the royal edifice clearly spoke of its original building as being from a time the land I knew had gladly forgotten.
Queen Straekin was waiting in the courtyard. She did not appear old at all. Her lengthy amber tresses were thick showing health in spite of knowing she had been alive when the castle was taken by her husband, the land expanded by the conquering of Serussdal and Fedrukin, then her becoming the wife of King Terish and producing five offspring. I knew she and her husband were immortal. It helped that I had met her as she visited my father or simply passed through as she moved about her kingdom. As attendants came up to take my horse, I dismounted to genuflect toward my superior.
“Aden of Aden, I am glad you chose to come. Please, follow me.”
I did follow, but asked as I did so, “Why is everyone calling me Aden of Aden? I accept it is unusual for a child to have the name of a living relative, but no reason to make an issue of it.”
“You have a lot to learn, Aden, but your fault will be in not seeking the knowledge. That is your first lesson.”
“I never knew it to be a question to ask.”
We were moving through the castle. I had visited the place before, so did not need a tour. I had even been shown the small library and told about the door beyond. It surprised me to see Queen Straekin open the door, and unsure about her intentions for me I followed down a circular set of risers that went deep below the castle.
Queen Straekin said, “There is a lot to becoming a noble, Aden. Think about your mother. There is something in her that I do not have. I was not born into nobility. It took training, experience, then surviving and advancing in spite of war and hardship to gain me this life. I gained control of an entire world. You know me as a queen, but I am Empress of Davelda. Even after a number of centuries of being a noble, I do not have what your mother does. I know that she has worked hard to give you a proper foundation, but truly finding the future to assure you of what you have by birth is something you need to seek in yourself. Your mother nor I can provide you with that.”
We left the stairwell to enter an expansive room carved from the rock of the mountain. A vast corridor of large tables went before me. To my left was row after row of very tall shelves holding books. Queen Straekin stopped to indicate the grand room as she let me know where I was.
“These people here have come seeking something you gained by birth, Aden. This is the library of my husband. It is free to all, but usually only sought by those from elsewhere. It is to Thiminy’s shame that they do not recognize the true worth of what my husband has given this land.”
Since I had asked the question earlier, I went ahead and inquired, “Would the answer to why I am called Aden of Aden be here?”
Queen Straekin began moving into the room as she replied, “The answer is here, but not. Let’s see if you can find it.”
She began speaking about how the collection was gained, then expanded. I met a number of people. Some were not human with others of races I did not recognize. I graciously spoke to all. Some asked me about magic, others mentioned things about paintings or statuary set along the right wall, a few spoke of knowing my father. I politely spent time chatting with each wondering if some would become instructors. As I gained sight of a distant wall, I however had to ask about something I felt would give access to an even grander collection of works.
“Queen Straekin, excuse me, but what is behind those huge bronze doors?”
I saw a smile on her face as she turned to me to reply, “Your answer. Come on.”
The panels of bronze became even more massive as I approached. The steps leading up to them were very deep. For all the size, Queen Straekin easily pushed one door enough to have me step through. Moving passed the bronze panel, I found myself amazed by the sight of gold.
As I looked at the massive carpet of wealth, Queen Straekin said, “Sauton, I have someone you should want to meet.”
From a distance, clearly indicating that the floor of gold went beyond what I could see, a deep penetrating voice asked, “Why would I want to meet something that is too small to even be a morsel to eat?”
“This is Aden of Aden.”
For something so grand upon a floor of gold, I really did not hear the movement. The color of the dragon was yellow, but somehow moved through the various sources of light as just a flicker from a torch and not as a grand beast. As the enormous creature came upon me I easily understood how a thief could be taken unaware by this guardian of the treasure, even though it was of a size to require massive panels of bronze to provide a door for it.
It held out a hand with talons almost as large as one of my arms or legs. Unsure of what to do, I approached the dragon. Father had spoken of Sauton, so I had some knowledge of the creature. Since it held out a hand, I reached for a talon and kissed it.
“Aden of Aden,” it said. “You were not afraid of me. Your mother had you with her saying she wanted grand things for you. She wanted my blessing for you. Dragons do not bestow blessings, and I feared touching such a thing as a human baby. Your mother brought you close, then you reached out to touch me. I felt you blessed yourself. What is your opinion of the matter?”
It struck me odd not to know of what the dragon spoke, so I replied, “I do not remember it, and mother never told me. Still, Queen Straekin said that my answer to my question was here. I have to assume that you are the one that named me Aden of Aden.”
“Your mother is Aden, and you are Aden. You are thus Aden of Aden. Not my name at all.”
“Still, we do not refer to each other in such a manner. I assume it is how dragons refer to each other.”
“Should we have parents of worth. Those offspring I have sired seek to claim me. From what I know of your mother, you should be proud to claim her.”
I had to kiss the talon of Sauton again before saying, “Indeed I am proud of her. She however sent me here to learn. Since I am unable to speak to her, would it be possible to come and speak to you?”
“Of course, just only come to speak and not to gain any gold.”
Queen Straekin said, “She is a child, Sauton. If she does take something, bring the matter to me or my husband. We will deal with it.”
“Then you may feel safe, Aden of Aden. I might not come before you, but just speak and I will hear.”
I had to ask, “Do you tell stories, Sauton?”
“I am old enough to have things to relate, Aden of Aden. Whether or not you find value in them, is something we both might need to learn.”
I turned to Queen Straekin to say, “I’m glad that I came.”
She replied, “Well, we will see how well you make use of what is being presented to you. You have a lot of work before you, but if you truly seek to become noble most of the hardship you will do to yourself.”
And Aden begins her new life.