Aden of Aden

Chapter Twenty-Three

I spent the rest of the day under the guidance of Queen Tiolotha and Princess Turponia.  I gained the impression that they wanted to be seen working as well.  It helped me that they supplied guidance for my own activities.

Memories of my brothers complaining of never having a use for the lessons they were being forced to learn came to mind as I went through the day.  I could not help but believe they were wrong.  Mother had raised me by having me work at a number of chores.  It never bothered me what we were doing, although I did at times challenge the topics that would be discussed.  I found myself spending the day doing things I had no experience in performing, although took the lessons glad for the new topics I could speak of with my mother.

It was Queen Tiolotha that asked, “Is there anything more you feel needs to be done, Aden of Aden?”

I looked about as I replied, “If our work is done, it is done.”  Seeing something, I pointed it out while saying, “Those symbols I saw on a device brought back by King Terish after chasing Lechost.”

“Really?”

“King Terish said that the device was a warning, a threat, by beings that were reasoned and gracious, but only if you treat them in certain ways.”

I saw the royal lady advance to the symbols while instructing both me and Princess Turponia to follow.  The structure I felt was nothing more than a shed.  While I saw the symbols carved into stone, I felt the rocks only the remnants of what had once been hoped to be a grand structure, although never completed.  The wood I felt made up the present shack I however found upon coming close to be only a substantial trellis holding up what I felt to be a common useless vine.  The royal lady however parted some of the leafy strands while providing explanation.

“As long as the mesarrus grows, the blessings will continue to last.  I still pray here, although I feel my daughter does not.”

Princess Turponia replied, “These are not gods, Mother.”

“Aden of Aden, what did your king say about them?”

I honestly felt I had already answered that question, although sought to remember more.  “They are not malicious and cruel.  Oh, he did say that if Lechost did return, his supporters would have messages for me and my parents.  I cannot say that has happened.”

“They are fairy folk, powerful fairy folk.  We do not honor them, but admit they are part of our lives.  They actually depend on us, as we can spoil the land.  We depend on them, as they can spoil the land as well.  Only by both of us keeping to a history of following certain ways can the land continue.  I guess I was praying to them, as what Belconosk was having us do I felt would be seen as us abandoning the lives we had led.  I wanted them to know that we were horrified by certain actions, and did not want them to further add horrors to our lives.”

Inside the building did not appear any better than the outside.  The stone was covered by a loose lattice of wood lengths, although in turn covered by signs of insects.  Spider webs, wasp nests, and the buzz of bees did not seem to concern flies, moths, and other creatures usually preyed upon.  In the middle of the dark space I saw a rough shaft of quartz.  I stepped inside the building, and traced my finger along what appeared to be a hairline of gold as I spoke.

“The medallion King Terish returned with did not have any gold.  He gave it to me saying that Sauton would not want it, because it was not gold.  My mother kept it with my father saying we would judge gifts from suitors against its quality.”

When everything went silent, all the insects stopped moving, Queen Tiolotha advanced to kneel before the quartz and begin an intense prayer assuring the spirits that there was no hatred from the humans.  She strongly spoke her guarantee that once she felt some control back in her life the ancient policies would be fully restored.  I looked to the insects wondering if their actions had hidden other symbols in the room, although in listening to Queen Tiolotha’s prayer I felt a need to express my own confusion.

“Why?”  When the royal lady turned to me, I explained, “Why do you think they don’t know the threat you are under?  Has the threat of Belconosk been something to only affect your family?”

She stayed on her knees as she replied, “No, but it is assumed that the affairs of humans are not considered the affairs of the fairies.”

“You cannot tell me that the destruction of the dragon will only be to the humans.  Why aren’t you simply telling them your situation, your views on your situation, and what your desire is for a resolution?  Why aren’t you expecting them to work with you?  If, as Princess Turponia said, they are not gods, why are you treating them as if they are gods?”

“They are very powerful.”

“But they were willing to give protection to Prince Lechost.”  I thought for a moment, although with these two ladies who should be involved I went ahead and spoke what was on my mind.  “I would desire to ask Prince Lechost about them, but there is the hope that when he returns the threat of Belconosk will be over.”

The royal lady rose while demanding, “Why are you so determined to work against this?”

“Because I want things to work out properly.  Surely if there are ancient ways to be followed, the fairies are as bound by them as you are.  King Terish said they could be hard and unmoving.  Well, if they are concerned for this land, they should be concerned about what is affecting this land.  In that, their power, their hard and unmoving nature, could be an advantage.”

We all turned hearing the sound of wings.  I doubt we would have normally noticed.  In the silence of all other winged creatures not moving, the noise of a set of wings being active was very apparent.

While extremely tiny, I saw the winged man take off his hat and perform what bow he could while still flying before me then saying, “Aden of Aden, you need to go riding tomorrow.  The woods southwest of town should provide a pleasant route.”

Princess Turponia did curtsey as she asked, “Just Aden of Aden?”

“You both could learn.  If you do not feel safe in the woods however, we will feel the lesson cannot be taught.”

No sooner did he fly off than the insects around us returned to their activities.  I felt things had gone well.  Queen Tiolotha however rose to confront me.

“Why?”

I had to reply, “Because I am not going to be a passive participant in life.  That is the fate of the commoners.  They have little influence on things.  One difference in the life of a noble is the power we wield in deciding our fates and that of those we rule over.  Let me say that Lechost did not simply submit to his fate, but worked to rise above it.  I will admire him for that, whether he ends up being my husband, my superior, or simply my friend.”

“OR A CORPSE IN THE GROUND!”

“You mean in the stomach of a dragon?”  Seeing the royal lady stride off, I turned to her daughter to say, “You knew the ways of the land.  When I arrived you knew to darken the windows, how to recognize your brother, and other things.  Why can’t you offer me advice now?”

Princess Turponia replied, “I believe you will gain your answer tomorrow.  As for mother, I grew up under her influence.  As for the people, I grew up with them as well.  As for my brother, there has obviously been something driving him.  I don’t believe anything is driving you however.  There is something raw, untrained, in you, Aden of Aden.  A strong foundation was laid within you, but I am sensing nothing was built on it.  You were not taught something, and I am glad to have permission go with you tomorrow to learn what it was.”

“Honestly, I am finding myself not presented with the problem that my mother feared.  She told me that her heart doomed her.  I am not finding myself put in situations where my heart is able to make any decisions.  I am facing matters of life or death, harmony or conflict, and submission or declaration.  Those things I have been trained to handle.  My mother would have no trouble guiding me here, although I am finding it strange that the training she provided being shown to be sufficient.”

“Don’t get confident.  That can be a doom for the young as well.”

I curtsied as I said, “I respect your advice, and your companionship.”

As we walked back toward the castle, she said, “Sorry if we got off on the wrong foot.  I grew up with my mother as you grew up with yours.  However, I can say we both had completely different mothers.”

“And I grew up with my brother.  Not to mention a number of half-brothers and half-sisters, and other children about the holding.”

She laughed, then said, “You’re right.  Ever since the loss of my father, my mother has been scared of what would happen.  I grew up under my mother’s strict discipline.  Still, I felt it that day you and my brother returned.  Fresh air.  At the time I felt it just the hope of our oppression being lifted from us, but I am sensing in you that there is more that came to us that day.”

“I cannot tell you what that might be.  I just have a sense of certain standards, certain ways things should be, and I am sorry if they conflict with the ways you were taught.”

“Mother’s hope was simply to hold on until something broke.  One thing I see in you that matches what I was taught is strength.  As each of our vassals turned from us, Mother would simply say that there was a reason they subjected themselves to us in the first place.  I was taught that if we could stay strong, they would return.  I see strength in you, Aden of Aden, and I agree with Lechost that our land needs that.”

I actually appreciated what she said, and tried to state that by speaking some of my own training.  “My mother said that it was her heart that failed her.  She stopped speaking to me because I was becoming a woman, and she feared what decisions I would make.  She said that she would ever listen to me, but right now she could not give me any advice.  I however do not feel my heart making decisions for me, or finding myself in a position where it possibly could.”

“But most women want their heart to guide them.  Even in situations like you have been in, they would be seeking their hearts on the decisions to make.”

I tried to think on what Princess Turponia said, but found myself having to conclude, “That is where mother could help.  She saw what my older half-sister did, has watched Mother Mersidda’s other daughters, and seeing the other girls about the holding.  Mother could compare what I am doing to what they did.”

“My perspective is not enough?”

While I did smile, I also spoke the truth.  “I am sorry if I am not trusting you, but there are those who I grew up putting my trust in.”

“No.  You’re doing fine, Aden of Aden.  I trust you because my brother trusts you.  Wherever you are gaining your guidance, it has been taking care of you.  Just know that I am going with you tomorrow to find out what you are told.  I want this land strong.  Whatever you are told, I believe it will provide the advice to keep it strong.  I have been the figurehead leading this land, and in hearing what you are told I will have the trust to present the message to the people.  You stay strong, and I will keep the people behind you.”

And what happens is probably very unexpected.