Aden of Aden
Mother showed up the next day in a coach I was familiar with. It was the one that always held the adults of our family when we traveled. It actually had the colors and symbols of Thiminy, as my father was a knight of the land, although we considered it a family vehicle. Mother wore a wonderful dark-violet dress as she descended from the coach, and went through the proper motions of meeting her superiors and the rest of us that came out to welcome her.
It did not seem odd at all that she gained the arm of father. As her daughter, I also did not find it strange that she directed me to follow her. After moving into the castle, she however accepted an excuse from father about him needing to perform some duty, then she gained my company for a visit to the various gardens.
Suddenly I felt like a child again as mother and I began chatting on a variety of topics. I did have an interest in flowers, but we spoke on subjects of various types. The only difference in this time with my mother and previous times was that I had no chores. I often looked forward to doing my duties just to have time with my mother, but on this occasion I had nothing pressing upon me needing done.
We both turned hearing Queen Straekin say, “It is so evident where Aden gained the foundation for her training.”
That statement had me realize that I was still in the elaborate gown I had worn going down to meet the coach. Even though mother and I had moved about the gardens, we had not soiled the skirts or torn any of the cloth. Servants had brought us tea, and we had drunk it in the proper manner. I had never considered my time with mother to be the gentile actions for life in a higher social status, but realized that I really had not found any problems with the training Queen Straekin and her oldest daughter had been putting me through.
More tea was summoned as Queen Straekin had us sit with her. It was in this conversation that I heard mother speak of her reason for bringing me to King Terish’s dragon. Queen Straekin did her best to remember the occasion, but my mother added some details.
“One can never know from where blessings would come. I wanted the best for my daughter, and things had just worked out where I could go to Sauton. For a dragon, he is quite gracious, and when Aden actually reached out to touch his claw I felt something magical happened. I cannot say more than that.”
Queen Straekin replied, “I have to agree. I almost must say that I believe it was the action of baby Aden that kept anyone else from bringing their infants to Sauton. No one else could imagine their child reaching out to touch, much less grab a claw of, a dragon.”
I had to state the fact, “Sauton said that he believed that I blessed myself.”
My mother admitted, “That is possibly true. You can never tell what a child is to do. I felt presented with a unique opportunity, and I took it. I must say that you, Aden, took advantage of the opportunity as well. Whether any benefit came from it, I doubt any of us can ever say.”
Queen Straekin said, “I know the stunt made an impression on Sauton. I certainly brought each of my children down to him. I consider Sauton a member of our family, at least at a closer level than any pet. Most just slept. Debbish squirmed, but wanted attention from Terish and not Sauton. What you did, Aden of Aden, was most unique.”
We saw the expansive skirt, so none of us were surprised when Princess Endullae approached to ask, “What are you ladies speaking about?”
“What you could expect, Daughter. We were discussing the event that made our young lady Aden of Aden.”
A servant brought a stool for the new arrival as she said, “Oh, since Aden of Aden now had her mother, the entire story could come out.”
I admitted, “Yes.”
“Okay, so, Aden of Aden, let me change the subject. How about your language lesson you let us know you were attempting?”
“Well, it actually was just a flight of fancy – No!” Everyone looked at me strangely with that outburst, so I worked to cover my fault. “I promised Agrell. He said that he was stuck here, but I had the opportunity to travel somewhere else. He had me promise to end up somewhere he would want to travel to. Honestly, Your Majesty, I believe he would like to hear me speak of traveling to your home.”
“Good!” I felt the strength of the word was provided to help cover my own embarrassment, although I did listen to Princess Endullae’s explanation. “I want to visit Debbish. I was thinking of taking Aden of Aden with me. We can work on languages as we travel.”
Queen Straekin said, “That is a dangerous path, Endullae. Are you hoping that I, or Terish, would join you?”
“Father can just keep a watch.”
“I will check with him. Honestly, considering the language lesson, I probably should come. Let me discuss the trip with Terish.”
Mother had to ask, “What is this about a language lesson, Aden?”
I answered, “There were some men speaking a strange language down in the library. Due to a number of reasons, I felt they were speaking Elvish. Father really has not taught us that language, so I hoped to learn it. It however seems that what I was learning was the language of Queen Straekin’s native land.”
The monarch said, “It seems that your husband warned your daughter that Thiminy could represent opportunities beyond the usual. The promise Agrell pulled from the young lady also spoke of such. Well, I must credit both men with wisdom.”
Princess Endullae said, “Aden of Aden, speak this over with your father, and try to have an answer for me by supper.”
My mother stated, “Aden, I will support this. A lady must present herself as being willing to leave her land.”
I replied, “Father took us children numerous places.”
“Berair has been planning to include Agrell in his travels. Aden, I do not see why he should be against you traveling with Princess Endullae.”
Not really certain of how my situation might change, I cautiously replied, “Well, I hope things do not happen too fast.”
Princess Endullae replied, “Not too soon. Still, tomorrow how about I test your riding skills?”
“I was told there was a way to ride around to the opening to Sauton’s cave.”
“We might go there as well.” She turned to indicate that she was speaking to my mother as she quipped, “Let’s see what Aden of Aden is speaking about tomorrow.”
It helped my inner attitude in hearing mother reply, “I have always enjoyed speaking with my daughter, whatever it is she is talking about.” Then as if she knew I would ask, she answered, “Yes, Aden, I planned on staying more than one day. Mersidda knew that I missed you, and promised that she could maintain the household.”
Queen Straekin said, “The young ones are hers anyway.”
“We do not consider them that way. Of course there is some connection to those we brought into the world personally, but I was present all through the pregnancies of Mersidda as well. Her children I will never deny.”
I expected the conversation to move on to discussions of my siblings. I however found Queen Straekin to speak of present situations about the kingdom seeking to hear from my mother about opinions she heard from the gentry. While I knew politics to be a proper topic of the nobility, I did not have any knowledge of the subjects. I thus listened intently as mother handled the conversation.
While I did enjoy listening to the ladies, I found myself not really enjoying the topic. I could not help but consider my own thoughts about my own situation. At the close of the social I politely excused myself from the ladies, and went in search of what I hoped would be personal advice.
I did pause in the library to speak to the men from Davelda. They helped me with some matters of working with the language even as they admitted things about their presence. I knew that I had been directed to a certain section of shelves, although found myself appreciating the true grandeur of the collection. Not just a multitude of texts in an extreme variety of languages, but some tomes were on really esoteric topics that demanded one be aware of more than a basic understanding of nature in order to comprehend. The problem the men faced was not just in copying the pages, or translating them, but sometimes in actually being able to limit who could gain access to certain volumes.
Moving on through the great bronze doors, I called out, “Sauton, I hope you are willing to talk.”
The powerful voice of the dragon replied, “Aden of Aden, why would I not be?”
I gained no sense of the dragon moving to me, so looked for a place to sit as I replied, “If you had any reason to not be gracious, I would accept it.”
“Speak, Aden of Aden.”
It is possible that I rambled, but I sought to give the dragon the complete set of events. He did not interrupt me, but I guess politely listened. When I finally finished, I was glad to hear the deep reply from the dragon.
“Go, Aden of Aden. If this family offers you travel, accept it. Venicht is a powerful man. Debbish is very wise. Althery is in a position where he is more than a normal man. There are things out there that can offer you greatness, and this family has succeeded in finding them. If you can learn from them how to look, you will end up being someone I can be proud to say that I know.”
“And how about you, Sauton? Have you ever thought of travel?”
“I am more than a dragon, Aden of Aden. Terish long ago offered me this cave and the treasure. He kept his promise, and I do rest among more wealth than one can imagine. No dragon can compare to the life I lead. Heroes from a multitude of worlds come to pay me respect. Wise men from places I cannot comprehend come to speak to me. Have I thought of travel, no. To leave this great wealth is unimaginable to me. To have untold worlds come to me has made me guard my place, my existence, with more commitment than any other to their life.”
I thought about his words, then said, “I feel that if I start traveling, that I will never stop.”
“Yes, they do not do that. Terish and Straekin continue to travel. Right now they are speaking of leaving Thiminy, although they are also working to assure that they can always return. Ferrigote comes with his gold wife speaking of places they hope to see. Still, they are happy. Trust in that, Aden of Aden, they are happy.”
“Were they always happy?”
“They all have their own stories. All however speak of the value of what they have found. Since I guard this cavern filled with gold, I have to agree. Still, Aden of Aden, look at this gold and wonder how they could be so happy that they left it here.”
I left my place near a wall to walk out into the cavern. There were light boxes set in various places allowing enough illumination that I could make out the wealth around me. What I sought to comprehend was the size of the chamber. I found myself accepting that the cavern was more than large enough to hide a grand dragon, so stopped to give an answer.
“This is not what I want, Sauton. I want something besides the gold. What you guard is lifeless. I want a life, and to be surrounded by things of life.”
“Then go, Aden of Aden. All I will ask is that you speak of me. Oh!” I heard movement and turned to see the dragon uncoil from an alcove. “Aden of Aden, should you find someone who respects your name, Aden of Aden, do not deny that person. You should always seek wisdom from someone who identifies with your past.”
I did a full curtsey before saying, “I might have blessed myself, Great Sauton, but I could not have done so without your presence. Thank you for being a part of my life.”
“I will thank you after you return to let me know how your life went. I will be waiting, Aden of Aden.”
And Aden actually goes somewhere with which she is not familiar.