Aden of Aden

Chapter Eighteen

My exchange with Dumourl had not embarrassed him.  It in fact helped him accept me.  Having advanced to speak on certain topics encouraged him to relate to me.  After coming from my bedroom in good clothes and looking respectable, Dumourl freely told me things about himself and his association with the children of my king and queen.

A light rap came to the door with Dumourl opening it to reveal the queen mother who said, “Officials came to claim me because my son was simply standing in the hallway fighting tears.  I came to hear what he heard, and almost did the same.  Laughter has become uncommon in my land, so it was something unnerving to hear it coming from this room.”

The lizard person replied, “Well, I am not going to apologize for laughing.”

“No, or for bringing laughter into the life of others.  Feeling ashamed for laughing is a curse upon a land, and if you end up bringing us nothing else you have blessed us immensely.  Now, my son would like to escort the dear lady to supper.”

In a dignified manner Lechost advanced, and I curtsied while saying, “Your Majesty.”

He held out an arm while saying, “No, not between us.  I am not your king, although seek to make it so.”

Dumourl asked, “Is that your intention for her?”

“Yes.”

“Aden, it is your right to accept or refuse.”

I replied, “I am really too young to make any decision.  If he wants to declare himself as a suitor, I will not presently deny him.”

Lechost forced a smile as he said, “And my life and land are presently too distressed to have you state any decision.  Still, Aden, I have two occasions to make up for, and I hope to at least gain that honor from you.”

I remembered certain words of advice from Queen Debbish, and hearing support from Lechost I felt the need to admit, “We talked about you.  Princess Endullae mentioned those that ran away from her.  She and Princess Debbish mentioned other odd occasions with suitors.”

The queen mother said, “You see, Son, I told you that a good lady will see good.”

“Yes,” Lechost returned.  “Still, I hope her memories are of my respect for her and my intense desire to come before her properly.  I want to apologize for how you saw me earlier, but I am afraid my situation will require you to see more of that person.”

I replied, “You were not vulgar or ugly in any other fashion.  Yes, you were comical, but like laughter it did bring some enjoyment.  Don’t lose that person, Lechost.”

“As king, I might need to.”

“If you seek to become my lord, you better stay true.  I understand the need for deception, but I will not have it become my life.”

Dumourl said, “I will support her on that.”

The queen mother spoke her support.  “As someone having to live such a life, I can understand.  I have spoken to my son on certain topics, and will demand his time to further those discussions.  At present, I believe we all could use some food.”

From what I had seen, I expected a very formal meal.  It did help that everyone put their focus on Dumourl.  I had recently heard some of the stories from him personally, but it only helped me appreciate some of the details added or left out in the more formal presentation.  While I had been seated at the front of the room, the only real indication of having any special status at the meal was in the way Lechost assured that my plate and goblet stayed full.

Having spent some time with nobility, I expected to be directed along with Lechost and his family.  Finding that not to happen, I wondered about what I should do.  In asking Durmourl about options, he only shrugged.  I accepted that he truly did not know, so returned with him to our apartment.  It however pleased me to hear someone tuning an instrument after only a short time after settling into a couch in my front room.

Stepping out on the balcony, I however found it strange to see two more men than the one I knew, so asked, “Lechost, is this part of your deception?”

“Oh, no, sweet lady,” he replied seemingly shocked that I would focus on him.  “I feel that my land needs you, but I cannot say to know your heart.  If I should fail you, maybe another can convince you to make your home here.”

“Well, why were they not presented to me earlier?  They have not been introduced.”

“Uh, well, I gained the impression you would have listened to me on the previous occasions.”

Not having the inclination to allow him to now wiggle out of being a proper suitor, I replied, “I have gained the impression that introductions were necessary for your land.”

“Well, uh, as their king, could I introduce them?”

“Are you able?  Dumourl and I had not met, but he does have a history with the nobility of my land.  With my father being a Knight of Thiminy, I did have the status of being someone worthy of mention.  Dumourl had opportunity to learn about me.  With you being gone from your land for so many years, how would you know about these two?”

He stepped up to the one presently set before the balcony to say, “This is Yelnoth.  He is the heir to Koshix, a viscounty of mine.  At present it is the only major territory still true to me.  I knew Yelnoth in my youth, and other than your presence his arrival was my only joy in this day.  In hearing that problems with the loyalties of the lands of other hopeful ladies had kept him single, I encouraged him to be present.”  He turned to pull forward the other man who I felt was a little mature.  “This is Baron Achovar of Nuvelvin.  He lost his wife to an incident.  He asked to join Yelnoth and me, and I would not deny him.  He had yet to ascend to a position of authority when I left, but I do know him.  He and my father spoke often.”

The voice of Baron Achovar supported my belief that the man had some years as he said, “His Majesty does indeed know me.  His father often had him travel with him, and he has stayed in my estate a few times.  While the years have passed in absence, I found his memories to be fresh when I again had the honor of his presence.”

I noticed a strange cadence to how he spoke the last sentence, although it helped hearing the voice of Dumourl travel from inside the room.  “He worked a pun.”

I returned, “A pun?”

I had kept my eyes upon the men beneath me, so it was understandable that Baron Achovar replied, “Do you like puns, Dear Aden?”

“Most get old rather quick.  A well placed one however can add flavor to a conversation.  You however have to excuse me.  I am not truly speaking your language.”

Yelnoth gave an expression of disbelief while Lechost continued to smile, but the elder suitor kept his composure as he replied, “I have heard of a universal tongue.  Was that a gift from a dragon?”

Not wanting to deny anything at the moment, I did my best to return a simple statement of facts.  “No, but from my royal family who travel often between worlds.  I am still working with it, but there is a way to actually listen to what you are saying to either learn words or catch things like puns.”

“Can you catch rhymes?  My other option was to sing a song, and I believe that is the plan of Yelnoth as well.”

Seeing the young man below tuning a harp, I replied, “I cannot say that I will catch the rhymes, but I should register the meter and definitely should comprehend the story or concept being presented.”

“What are you going to sing to the lady, Yelnoth?”

“Just the Kippayun,” he answered.

“That is a standard tune around here,” Baron Achovar turned back to me to explain.  “It is a good song, but I suspect every lady around here, even you oh-lovely-one, has heard it several times.”

Yelnoth kept his focus on his instrument as he commented, “And seen suitors just as often.  I am heir to a viscounty.  I am not trying to impress them with a song, but want them to know that I will not be some distant heartless ruler.  If a lady is not pleased with the Kippayun then she will not be pleased with me.”

I agreed with the attitude, so said, “Then I guess I need to hear the Kippayun.  I do not believe that I have heard it.”

It was a rather complicated tune combining a rather mournful set of verses with a rather fast-moving chorus.  Considering that I had not been able to translate Kippayun, I found myself pleased to find it was simply an exclamation of encouragement.  The word was used often in the chorus that tended to speak in favor of each verse that told of someone stepping out to take on some challenge.  I had to admit that I was pleased with the tune, and sought to tell the young man that played it of being glad to have heard it.

“It was a very rousing song, Yelnoth.  Thank you.”

Baron Achovar said, “I believe he hoped you would shout, ‘Kippayun,’ and claim your love for him.”

I found myself agreeing with something I had been told, and in a stern manner repeated certain words.  “I will not belittle anyone coming before me.  This is only a first meeting for all of us.  Maybe not in truth with King Lechost, but it actually is assuming I do gain some time with him.”

The monarch said, “I have not run away yet, Aden.”

I smiled at him, and kept a pleasant expression as I turned back to the one who had performed.  “Thank you, Yelnoth.  I might try to learn it so I can sing it to those back home.”

Yelnoth asked, “Do you sing, Aden?”

“I do not usually sing, but I have been instructed in singing as part of my voice lessons.”

Baron Achovar interjected, “As is true for almost any lady.”

I was beginning to form a dislike of the elder noble by the way he kept attempting to take control, but calmly said, “I tend to prefer painting.  I am not that good at drawing, but it surprises me how I can take a simple sketch and bring it to life with color.”

Yelnoth replied, “I am rather good at drawing, should I bother to take the time.  Those back at my castle will usually claim that I go hunting to spend time alone drawing, and not watching for game.”

“Are they right?”

“No, but I will get bored and start sketching something.  There have been times when I get so engrossed in my drawing that I did not recognize the passing of animals.”

Actually giving Baron Achovar a chance to speak, I asked, “How good of a hunter are you, Baron?”

He replied, “Give the same grace as our king, dear Aden.  Just call me Achovar.”

“Of course, but you were introduced with you title.  Still, I apologize for the distance caused by my using your title.  Now, the question?”

“I am a swordsman.  Not one to sneak up on prey.  However, I will go out assuring my land is free from any predator.  I have killed dragons, bears, wolves, and the occasional wild cat.”

“That is how my father made his reputation.  He taught me some swordplay, although I found myself preferring the bow.  There have been days when I supplied my family with rabbits, squirrels, and even fowl.”

“Did you enjoy it?”

That was not a question I expected, but I quickly found myself able to answer.  “I was not forced to do it.  There was some sense of competing with other men, but that was not true on all occasions.   Honestly, yes, I did it because I enjoyed it.”

Lechost said, “She helped me in a battle with a wyvern by bothering the stinger with arrows.”

Achovar replied, “Your Majesty, it would not have done us good to have you dead.”

“So, you know what a wyvern is?”

“Of course, Your Majesty, a minor creation in the fashion of dragons.  The corruption of its birth had it grow the stinger in the tail in order to keep the poison inside it from killing the creature itself.”

“I did not know what it was, but attacked thinking it was a dragon.”

I had to support Lechost, so said, “That is true.  He charged upon it thinking it to be an agent of Belconosk.”

Achovar replied, “Even fighting a dragon has a high degree of danger.”

Lechost stressed each word as he said, “I hurt Belconosk.  I know he will be looking for me.”

“He surely knows to look here.”

“Considering someone told.”  There was silence for a moment, then Lechost said, “Our world does not have wyverns.”

I saw Achovar tense up.  Lechost however raised a fist, and soldiers advanced.  Achovar did not resist those who came to secure him, but allowed himself to be taken while making a simple statement.

“You cannot win.”

Lechost replied, “I did hurt him.”  He then raised his voice to say, “Send a message to Durmourl that I will agree to his terms!”

From behind me came the voice of the lizard person, “I’m right here chaperoning Aden.  Is the dragon coming?”

The answer came from a sentry on top of a tower, “DRAGON!”

Lechost then asked, “Are you bothered by events, Aden?”

I replied, “We have dragons around my home.  I am right now trusting you, Lechost.  I am trusting that you have prepared.  I am trusting that you have evidence against Achovar.  I am trusting that this time after running away you will return.”

I saw Yelnoth raise his body into a dignified stance as he looked at Lechost while the young monarch said, “That is a heavy burden you are placing on me, Aden of Aden, but I assure you that I can handle it.”

Yelnoth then asked, “Do you need help, Your Majesty?”

“Will you give it freely?”

“Freely?  No, but I am under an oath of fealty.  That means I already promised certain concessions.  Your sister has kept her end of the bargain, so my land will keep ours.  Also, I am interested in this lady, so you will be shown my honor in order that she might see it.”

“You hear that, Aden?  That is not the sound of disloyalty, but honesty.  It is a sweet sound.  Please, stay and enjoy more of it.  I will send a maid to you.  If you find her disloyal, let me know.”

I had to say, “Come back, so I can speak to you about her.”

“Oh, I’m coming back.  My weapon worked, my armor worked, and my determination to come before you properly has worked.  You can trust in me, Aden.  That I promise.”

Coming back is not the problem, as the dragon is coming for Aden.