Aden of Aden
I had no intention to arrive in the garden early for my meeting with Yelnoth. I did want to spend time with him, but I was more interested in whether other events would come to my attention. Nothing did, so it was almost with a heavy heart that I told Dumourl it was time for us to go to the garden.
There was some hope for other events happening when I saw Viscount Handarl and not the prince’s mother. Feeling something that needed to occur was actually being done, I stepped up close to Yelnoth. He looked at me, could tell that I had my focus over his eyes, then looked to his father who was about his own height. It was Viscount Handarl who initiated the conversation.
“You don’t want to marry a man shorter than you, Aden?”
I replied, “It is not my height that might bother him, but that of my father.”
As if shocked by the reply, Yelnoth said, “Oh." He then attempted to recover by saying, "My father told me that your father has two wives.”
“He earned them. Let me say that the situation with me is nothing like that of my mother, so if your sight is on me then it needs to stay on me.”
He thought for a moment, it was interesting watching his expressions, then he said, “From what you said, I assume that your mother is the primary wife.”
“You would have to meet my mother and Mother Mersidda to understand along with hearing the full version of the tale where my father gained them. For the moment let me simply say that my mother is Aden from which I am Aden of Aden.”
“Oh, and thank you. My father said that I could attempt to speak with you on any subject. Let me know if I mention something you would rather not talk about.”
“And the same here. I believe both of us however have the problem of probably speaking about something the other is completely unfamiliar with. While I would love to learn things of your world, your life, I cannot say how much we actually have in common there.”
“I do live in a castle. I am told that you grew up on a gentry holding.”
I could not help but smile, as he handled the transition in topic very well. “Yes, but it is a really grand home. Having two wives, seven children, and servants, do not believe I was raised in a simple residence.”
From there Yelnoth and I described our homes. I could tell in his eyes that he found hope in our relationship in that we both grew up around animals. One advantage of Koshix staying with the kingdom of Epperclen was that as each of the other realms broke their allegiance tariffs went into effect making the value of the local livestock jump. I mentioned that tariffs were not levied on the friendly kingdoms around Thiminy, although they were in place for those who were not friendly, which meant those that tried to steal one of the animals. I told a story of my father tracking down some missing livestock, and the thieves being amazed at the value assessed for a few goats and a cow. I saw in Yelnoth’s eyes a desire for his father to tell a similar tale, but the elder stayed quiet forcing the young man to recall a different type of story of his home.
Speaking of horses, I mentioned Aunt Chaya. Yelnoth interrupted to ask me whose parent she was the sister of. In admitting she was not really my aunt, I began to mention how the families on the holding interacted. Realizing that I had grown up among a multitude of people who I felt close to, including a group of children multiples of the seven in my own family, Yelnoth had to mention something about his own childhood.
“I was often alone. I spent most of my time with my mother or the elder men.”
I admitted, “I spent most of my time with my mother. The others were there, but I mostly spent time with my mother. Queen Straekin said because of that I had gained something naturally that she had never been able to gain for herself.”
As if recognizing the passing of time, Yelnoth asked, “Dear Aden, may I again come beneath your balcony tonight?”
“Of course, but at the moment I am considering leaving tomorrow. Lechost found his way to me. I would hope his friendship, possibly his own desire to spend time with me, will have him show you the way to Thiminy.”
“I could not influence you to stay?”
“The opposite has happened. I have been influenced to leave. If you seek me, prepare to speak of certain things. Your parents can direct you as to what.”
Now the viscount spoke, “Aden of Aden, we can hopefully speak on that topic this evening. Until then.”
I watched as Prince Yelnoth left with his father. There was an ease in being with the elder. I also had to admit that his mother had shown dignity and poise. She did not get irate at my outburst, but handled my eruption with grace. As I left with Dumourl I felt a desire to rush after Prince Yelnoth, and slowly the realization that I would not be able to spend more time with him overcame me.
I detoured into a parlor to hide my emotions, and accepting a cloth I said something that came to my thoughts, “I am going to have to apologize to Agrell.”
Dumourl asked, “Apologize for what?”
Hoping to assure that he understood what I was going to say, I explained, “Agrell is my brother. I mean my full brother.”
“I know who Agrell is, Aden. I might not know him any more than I knew you, but I do visit Thiminy and listen to the local gossip. The people there do know me. They want news of Venicht and the other Dozzrine children, so tell me things I might want to know as well as news to relate to the missing members of the ruling family. I had not really cared about the Knight of Thiminy and his odd family, but I have brought those memories back from the depths of my mind thankful to have them.”
“Well, he said I was his sister that did not cry. I believe I am now learning to cry.”
“I find you crying at appropriate times. You cry when there are things to cry about. You don’t just cry. I know many women who just cry.” As if to say that he understood, he added, “Prince Yelnoth does seem like a good young man.”
I nodded while wiping my eyes and saying, “And his parents seem to be good people. They handled my outburst with dignity. I saw Prince Yelnoth not showing discomfort in the presence of his father, even desiring his advice at moments. I found myself feeling that he had a family I could feel a part of, and that had me start to miss him.”
“Like I said, you cry when there are things to cry about. Still, what you said to him was good. He does have access to those who can help him get to you, so you should leave the future of your relationship to the future.”
I had the hope of someone coming to let me know about the activity of the queen. Honestly, I would have treasured the presence of Lechost coming with such words. Ludene did not interrupt my moments of simply staring out a window. I thought of Viscountess Sheanoll not being the one to chaperone Yelnoth, and thought it to be wonderful should he show back up with words from his mother about her conversation with the queen.
The evening meal was a dreary occasion. Everyone tried to act as if things were normal, but I could tell no action had been made to keep life stable. The queen came in and controlled events in the manner I knew was usual. I signaled Dumourl during the meal that we would be leaving in the morning, and saw him nod with understanding.
There was some relief hearing the men come beneath my balcony. I heard Lechost and Yelnoth speak to others about what they planned to do as entertainment. Wondering about who else might be seeking my hand, I came to the railing of the balcony.
Men knelt. I looked to Lechost and simply shook my head. Understanding that those who had been active in killing Belconosk, even those local who rushed out to finish what those who had left had started, came to see me, I felt sorry that others did not have their conviction. With tears coming to my eyes, I had to warn the men.
“It’s not over.”
As if waiting for my cue, the plants around the men began to die. The leaves turned brown with some limbs falling. I saw the men adjust their feet finding the ground uncomfortable to stand upon. Realizing the disaster that was happening with the plants, Lechost stepped up asking for my advice.
“Aden of Aden, what is it that we still need to do?”
I replied, “It’s your mother that did nothing, Lechost. She was warned. The warning was then told to me, and I did what I could to encourage your mother to do what was needed.”
Yelnoth stepped up to say, “That was what happened between you and my parents. Mother tried, Aden. I promise. Mother tried.”
“We are beyond trying.”
Lechost asked, “Aden, is this why you were going to leave?”
“Hold it!” Yelnoth exclaimed. “That is what you meant at the meeting this afternoon. You suspected then that this would happen.”
I replied, “I did not suspect. I could tell. Nobles are too important to the land. Do not think the rulers can move about without someone noticing. If Queen Tiolotha would have gone to the fairies, even to the shrine, I was certain I would have heard about it.”
Lechost asked, “The fairies? Aden, why can’t I go to the fairies? I am this land’s king!”
Everyone below did their best to deal with the discomfort in order to be quiet enough to hear an answer, “You were sold to Belconosk. This is what your parents sought to ward off. It worked. The ice was held at bay by a creature of fire. Now that it is dead, the ice has no fear.”
“How do we stop it?” When only silence came in reply, he yelled, “I AM KING! Whatever needs to be done, don’t think I will not do so to save my land!”
From a distance, I felt a higher balcony or window, came the voice of the queen. “I did not need to go to the fairies. I knew what was necessary. The problem was that even then the task of cleaning the Brilling Falls would be costly in both expense and people.”
“THE BRILLING FALLS? Is that what we need to do? IS THAT WHAT WE NEED TO DO?”
I was actually surprised things stayed quiet enough for us to hear, “Yes. It is more than that, but it isn’t either.”
Lechost pointed at me while commanding, “Aden of Aden, you do not have permission to leave! We need hope! Do that, please! Stay and just be a sign of hope for us. This is terrible, but I promise everyone that we will be about the work. The Brilling Falls however is not where people can see us. It really is not where most even bother to go. The people need to see something, and you are that something. Give them hope, Aden of Aden, please.”
From a distance the queen said, “She is not your subject, Lechost. She does not need to obey.”
“Yes; I do,” I replied. “Maybe I am not his subject. Maybe I do not take him as my husband. Still, he is a friend. He fought so hard to present himself to me, to free himself from Belconosk, then to kill the dragon. I cannot deny that. PEOPLE OF EPPERCLEN, LECHOST HAS DONE MUCH MORE THAN CLEAN SOME WATERFALL! Yes, Lechost, I will do what I can to give the people hope.”
Yelnoth said, “We will do what we can to keep you and the people updated. Anything else you hear: a certain manner of cleaning, a certain way we need to dispose of the filth, anything, let us know.”
Lechost commanded, “Yes, Aden. Please.”
I looked to Dumourl and asked, “Would you speak against this?”
He replied, “There is danger right here, Aden. I will not speak against what you said, but I will not be going with Lechost and Yelnoth this time. You could well need protecting.”
Lechost said, “Dumourl, you have more than proven your worth. Yes, protect this valuable lady.”
“Well, she is a daughter of a knight of the father of a dearest friend. It might sound like a distant connection, but I assure you that I would feel her loss greatly.”
“Aden of Aden, I have not given up on you. I know Yelnoth has not either.”
I replied, “I told Yelnoth to go to you on gaining a means of getting to me.”
“Well, yes, but where are you going to be?”
“You return to one of the places where we met, and I am sure you will be told where I am. Honestly, though, I will probably be in Thiminy. My father is the Knight of Thiminy.”
A voice I did not expect to hear declared, “That I am! Men, you pull this off, and those interested in my daughter can speak with me.”
Another voice that I recognized said, “I am known for solving a number of puzzles and fighting horrendous threats. Allow me in your council, and I believe we can restore this land.”
Dumourl stepped to assure that he was heard. “Lord Terish, I have stayed true to my finding.”
“I never doubted you would, Dumourl. The matter however became a lot more serious than I believe anyone suspected. They need guidance. Aden needs her father. As for you, stay strong.”
“Ever, Lord Terish.”
“Then we have work to do.”
There are a lot of decisions that need to be made.