Aden of Aden
The wyvern was not edible. There was a disgusting orange bile seeping from the meat, so the carcass was done away with. I did not ask the men how. As they ate the antelope they spoke of drying the rest of the antelope meat over the fire to preserve it. As I went to bed they mentioned keeping an eye out for fresh game tomorrow, and I allowed that there would be something edible to eat.
The next day Dumourl tried to question Nick about his knowledge of the omniverse. I did notice that he led us through a number of portals rather confidently. Nick however would not answer any question except to say that all would be answered when we reached his mother.
I believe the lizard person was rather frustrated by the time we made camp that night. He tried to kill some squirrels, but missed. Nick and I watched as he chased a racoon up a tree, then made a sling to hurl a rock and kill it. Dumourl told us he would cook, and it came out tasting rather good, but I sensed he was just doing what he could to keep his attitude positive as we relaxed at camp.
Considering that we had stayed in wilderness terrain, it surprised me to see us moving upon fields. The farmers stopped upon seeing us. I had to admit that with Nick dressed in his makeshift armor and a lizard person we probably appeared as a strange group. I then paused in surprise when a couple of farmers knelt.
“Keep moving,” Nick said. “We need to get to the castle.”
Dumourl replied, “Just hope no one attacks.”
“They won’t. Your kind is not unknown to us. Maybe they know of one that is immortal, and maybe it is a lady.”
I saw more people kneel as we passed. Soldiers saluted. While Dumourl looked around unsure of things, there were no signs of being threatened. No one stopped us at the gate, and people came out of the castle to kneel as we passed inside.
To those of us of Thiminy, the nobles were a friendly group. My father’s family lived in Serussdal, and they told a horrible story of the events that had them conquered by King Terish. Still, none could speak of him doing those of the city any wrong. It was now generations later, and the city, the entire kingdom, was a place others would cross a desert to reach. Those of us that were citizens grew up knowing our nobles as those that worked to protect us and our way of life.
It took my training to have me walk properly through the castle toward the throne room. I had encountered the nobles of my home land, and liked them all. With my father being a knight of Thiminy, I had often visited the royal castle. Recently, I had moved there where I dealt with my queen and her eldest daughter. I had now spent time with the middle daughter who was also a queen. My good history with nobility had me look forward to meeting the rulers of this land, but I walked with the men understanding that I was only their companion.
The throne room was crowded when we entered. Those along the center parted with many bowing or curtseying as we advanced. I did not know whether to show respect to the elder lady on the throne, but watched Nick to see how he would react.
Coming before the raised platform on which was the large dark padded chair acting as the throne for an aged woman in rich clothing, Nick stood and said, “Mother, I need to be introduced.”
The voice that came from the lady spoke very clearly, “I cannot do that. I will not deny who you are, but I cannot introduce you.”
As if fighting back tears, Nick replied, “I… need to… be introduced.”
“How about the abbevor with you? Could he be introduced?”
I had been finding myself comfortable with understanding the words of others. Abbevor however was a term that I did not find myself able to translate. When Nick turned to Dumourl, I however remembered it being said that the race of the lizard person was present on this world. I thus understood the word to apply to him.
Nick said, “You do need to introduce yourself, Dumourl. Go ahead.”
The lizard person turned, then boldly said, “I am Dumourl of Bapinsted, the son of Slagell. My father is usually known for killing the vorpelscran and saving Ordellair. He however would always brag of reaching Machashin and returning with the necklace of Orgesha. I heard that story very many times, and each time it was told with laughs while drinking. At the death bed of my father, I heard it told again with Terish Dozzrine who is sometimes credited with reaching the place. He was with my father, but admits that he would not have made it without the urging of my father. They both laughed and drank as the story was told one more time, and my father died in honor. Having traveled with my father from my early youth, I have been making my own name. Some of my achievements you might know. Personally, I have to my credit claiming the one gift my father never gained. I went with Jelnaya Dozzrine, the granddaughter of Terish Dozzrine, to the Spring of Cormorphin where I gained immortality.”
The lady on the throne asked, “Does anyone challenge the identity of this abbevor?”
Another lizard person stepped up to say, “No. It is our honor to have your presence, Dumourl.”
Nick looked to the one on the throne as he said, “Now, I really do need to be introduced.”
The lady replied, “I cannot do it, Brother.” She stood, and upon raising her hand I heard the sound of bars being placed on the doors as I watched the room become dark as the windows were closed. “This is all make-up. I am not our mother.”
“Then I am doomed?”
Another voice sounded, although the voice of this lady came forced as it worked to overcome age to produce its words. “No, Son. I am here.” As an elderly lady in richly colored robes was helped up a flight of stairs set behind the throne, she said, “I however must say that this is not how we imagined your return to occur.”
“Imagined? All I imagined was my death. Belconosk thought he had me cowered, but feeling my death ever imminent drove me to take risks.”
“The risk of your return is to us all.”
“I imagined I would see you again upon my death.”
The elder lady stepped past Nick, then proclaimed, “I present to all of you King Lechost of Epperclen.” Everyone knelt. “He is my eldest son. He is the one that went with my husband, King Plevaine. He is the one we prayed would return.” She then turned back to ask, “Now, my son, are you satisfied.”
“No.” The one I now knew had the name Lechost turned to kneel before me as he said, “Dumourl, please, introduce her to me.”
“Uh, yes,” Dumourl said while moving to place an arm around me. “I can introduce this lady. She is a citizen of Thiminy, but I have already mentioned a connection to its king, Terish Dozzrine. My father was a good friend of Terish, and I grew up with a friendship with his elder boy, Venicht. I know the whole family. I visit Thiminy often to spend time with people I know and respect, although mostly to do research in the grand library far beneath the castle. This lady is the daughter of a Knight of Thiminy, Berair. He has two wives, but the one with the most distinction is named Aden. She is a noble by birth, and while now simply the wife of a knight, she is recognized as a special lady. She gave Berair his oldest son, and eventually had this daughter who was given the same name as her mother. In a very early meeting with the grand dragon, Sauton, the one before me was recognized as being Aden of Aden.”
Dumourl did not say my name alone. Everyone else spoke, mumbled, or whispered it. I looked to Dumourl for advice on what to do, but it was the elder lady that spoke.
“Lechost, what have you done?”
The young man rose from before me to reply, “I saw Belconosk kill my father. He will die. I will not live with death ever before me, and I will not have my people doing so either. When we are at peace, we will need the assurance of our future.”
“So you sought her out?”
I replied, “He did not know who I was. He ran upon seeing me, both times.” I expected laughter after saying that, but returned to speaking hearing only faint breathing in the grand room. “He thought I was another daughter, or granddaughter, of King Terish and Queen Straekin. Then, when he learned who I was, he refused to tell me who he was. He kept saying that he needed to be introduced.”
The queen mother turned to ask me, “Then, Aden of Aden, why did you come with him?”
“He spoke of his mother. I am who I am because of my mother. My mother wanted a daughter who carried her name. My mother took me to Sauton. My mother raised me. I came to meet his mother, who I suspected was just as influential in his life.”
“I wish that was true, but it is not. His father was proud of him. That is why Belconosk forced us to turn over Lechost to him. I haven’t seen my son in such a long time. I believe his persistence was simply an act of desperation, although it does warm my heart to hear of his belief that I did still live. Our land does have its formalities, but that makes his actions toward you very plain to us. Still, these are hard times with deceptions all around. Aden of Aden, Dumourl, let me offer you every hospitality I can give while I spend time with my son.”
“Lechost, I hope that we can finally have some interaction. Up to now you have appeared more foolish than any lady would take seriously.”
The whole demeanor of the young man had changed. He stood proud, although I felt his erect posture was partially reflecting his own tension. I saw a warm smile come to his face, and for the first time I felt the young man to have a pleasant appearance.
He replied, “Dame Aden, I could not have imagined that a lady like you being real. In the lair of Belconosk I heard among the dragons the tale of a girl who took joy in the presence of one of their kind. I seek to spend time with you to learn just how much of the tales they told of you are true. Please, enjoy the hospitality of my land. I promise, I will now actually be responsive to you.”
I definitely felt the need for a bath and a proper bed, so agreed to accept what would be offered. Lechost’s mother had him follow her down the steps, then the one I now knew as his sister had the windows opened while speaking to officials about what would be next on the agenda. Understanding that I was witnessing the enactment of deception, it did not surprise me to have officials signaling for Dumourl and me to quickly follow them out of the room. I did follow, but definitely felt the need to check on the truth of something I heard said.
“Dumourl, stories of me? I really have not done anything of note while growing up.”
While walking he softly replied, “My father often told me that stories of those ancient are often reassigned to those new to the world in the hope to reignite the glories of those lost times. He would mention stories told of him that he never truly performed. He told me that with my own successes I probably would be associated with the deeds he did. Let’s see what we hear has been attached to you.”
From behind us I heard the voice of another lizard person, not the one that spoke earlier, say, “It would be good for all of us to learn the truth behind both of you.”
“Please recognize that there is ignorance and possibly false impressions with us as well.”
“Of course. I hope you have time for an extended stay.”
“I believe events will presently dictate our schedule with there being no guarantee of how other events will force our future.”
One of the men leading us said, “That is very true. The room we have for you, young lady, is up here.”
As he rushed ahead to unlock the door, Dumourl went forward to enter behind him. I stayed with the others outside as an examination of the room was done. Some ladies arrived from the other direction, and I heard a number of details spoken to them. Dumourl then stepped out to speak his acceptance of the accommodations.
“Come on, Aden. We can share this apartment.”
I felt for him to say that the room would be large. What I saw beyond was however a very great apartment with a grand front room for socializing, a smaller room set up for dining behind, then two spacious bedrooms beyond. After giving my approval for the room, I waited for the others to leave before asking what I felt was a personal question.
“Dumourl, do you appreciate my kind?”
He replied, “Aden, before asking a question like that remember that I grew up knowing the Dozzrine children. I also travel through worlds with most not having people of my kind. I am fully aware of what humans do to make themselves look attractive.”
Having accepted that I might have been asking something personal, I said, “I’m sorry, Dumourl.”
“No. It’s okay. I guess you and I do need to learn about each other. My intent in what I said was to simply let you know that my answers might be blatant. I can recognize that you are very pretty, Aden, but I am not romantically inclined toward you. If you must know, I am staying with you to protect myself and not just you. I am not going to say that I do not trust these people, but I believe at present we should show some caution.”
“Did you expect any of this?”
“Yes, and no. The fact that a special dragon was associated with Lechost made him of interest to me. The fact that a dragon was involved at all had me suspect that there would be some knowledge of you. For our Nick to be a king and not just some local hero is rather surprising. A lot of other things I need to spend time considering. I however am the hero, so allow me to worry about things while you relax and try not to worry.”
His reply brought me some relief, although it also comforted me about our relationship allowing me to ask, “What’s it like being immortal? I know my king and queen are immortal.”
“Oh, it’s just like they say. For a while it is just something you brag about, but then you and everyone realizes that you are not aging while they are. My race really does not age that noticeably, but I see Venicht growing old. There are times that being immortal hurts.”
We were saved from exchanging more possibly embarrassing information by ladies bringing things for me. I was very appreciative of the clothes, and the hot water for a bath. After assuring myself of being able to return to some level of what I considered normal, I dismissed the ladies and retired while doing what I could to make sense of the information I had gained.
And Aden learns more of Lechost.