Aden of Aden
It was hard waiting for my father to arrive in my room. Not just the anticipation of having him back in my life, but feeling a chill in the air had me feel anxious about my situation. Feeling that my father would have some advice, something I felt I really needed, I did my best to stay calm while waiting for him to arrive.
When I saw him outside the door, I rushed to hug him. He held me providing a sense of security I had not felt in a long time. When I finally had him enter the room, he closed the door then hugged me again while speaking.
“It seems that you are making a reputation for yourself, Aden.”
“I didn’t mean to do any of it.”
“Yes, you did.” I broke to look at him, and I saw his smile turn into a grin as he explained himself. “You did not mean to find yourself in this situation, but you meant to do what you felt was proper. The events propelled you, but you never meant to falter in what you felt was your right course of action. All of that speaks well of you, Aden, and I am very proud of you.”
Dumourl asked, “Sir Berair, it is getting cold. Any advice on how to handle it?”
My father stepped up to shake the lizard man’s hand while saying, “We have met, Dumourl. You and Prince Venicht were coming to Queen Straekin about something, and I was with her at the time.”
“I remember the meeting, Sir, but you must understand my place with your royal family. Venicht and I were up to something, and felt Dame Straekin able to provide advice. The meeting with you was just something that happened.”
“Well, I’m glad we can have a more memorable meeting. Thank you for watching over my daughter.”
“More than welcome, Sir Berair. Now, about the chill?”
Father put an arm around me and pulled me close to him while answering, “We’re just going to have to bundle up. This is a problem dealing with fairies. It is magic, but somehow resulting in something natural to the land. You call it a curse, and think of it as a curse, but resolving it in such a manner will rid the land of the fey, which is not a good thing. The best thing to do will be to suffer through it while the people do what is required.”
“If they do what is required.”
“If they don’t, we leave. Honestly, Dumourl, you could leave now.”
“There is no way I’m doing that. I heard that little lecture you gave your daughter. Also, there are my kind of people here. It is in my interest to see this matter through.”
“Well, honestly, I have to say the same. Aden has two very important young men interested in her, and I will not spoil what could be developing. Also, she is working on establishing a wonderful reputation, and that is something I wish all my children could manage.” Father tightened his embrace as he said, “You keep doing what you are doing, Aden. I however am now your chaperone. Dumourl, you are free to work on your own relationships.”
“I will go to Lord Terish for advice on that, but as his knight I expect staying with you will not work against my time with him.”
“Well, you should know to go to the stables. Menasha will be there, and King Terish will relax around her.”
Durmourl again shook hands with my father while excusing himself. I actually had to come out of father’s embrace to receive a hug from the lizard man. Going back to my father in seeing Dumourl leave the room, I turned glad to feel that my life was returning to what I felt was its foundation.
Father said, “I knew of Dumourl, but that was about it. King Terish’s anxiety over you however almost completely vanished in receiving word from him. I was still concerned, and King Terish did not speak against it, but I could tell that he was not worried about you.”
I had to admit, “I always felt safe with Dumourl.”
“King Terish knew the man’s father and family, so had no doubt you would be safe with him. You were still my daughter, Aden. King Terish however had children, so I am sure he understood.”
“How long have you been watching over me?”
“King Terish has amazing abilities. We were keeping tabs on you ever since Dumourl contacted us. We have been close only for a couple of days. We could have helped out with the killing of Belconosk, but felt it would be better if we let the local people resolve the problem. That was the proper thing to do. This is not our problem. However, you have a place here, and I encourage you to see it through. Not just for your suitors, but for yourself.”
I had Father sit in a chair, and served us both some beer while admitting, “I like both Lechost and Yelnoth. I like Yelnoth better because I like his parents. I am sorry for Lechost, but I lost interest in him due to his mother allowing this to happen.”
“Well, I would tell you not to give up on the young man. Anyone who can rise from such a dismal situation can be a source of fantastic strength.”
“Queen Debbish also told me not to marry a man too high on the social ladder. I guess that would apply to Yelnoth as well, but I see something in him and his parents that I feel I could accept them and their lives.”
Taking a seat, I had Father discuss things about seeking a good spouse. Not only did the conversation have me speak of Lechost and Yelnoth, but I listened as Father spoke about things involving his sisters along with my older sister and other young ladies in Lord Rebitten’s property. Knowing my aunts, and those who grew up with me, I found their stories to actually relate to me. Wanting to discuss even more things with Father, I mentioned something as things started to become quiet.
“I guess you never courted.”
“Not really. I was getting to the point where I was looking, but that was it. No, Aden, I really cannot help you in the courting process. I however can help you judge men, and I can give you pointers on surviving the marriage. Mersidda and your mother,” I noticed he did not say her name, “are two wonderful people, but they have complicated my life. Let me however say that they have always stayed positive. You do that, and find a man that does that. If you can stay positive, the problems will work themselves out.”
Those words actually ended the conversation, which did not please me. I had to admit that I was feeling the chill along with a desire for rest. Father found the bed for a servant in Dumourl’s room, and said it would be sufficient for him. He however took a number of blankets draped over his saddlebags, and handed one to me and Ludene telling us to stay warm. Pleased to know that we should sleep comfortably, we bid each other a good night.
I woke up the next morning to hear my father discussing things with Ludene. In listening I found her to speak of things about Queen Tiolotha that I was now finding to be true. Instead of being a problem citizen, I felt Ludene was resisting the very attitude that was now troubling the land. Glad that father was not finding a problem with my servant, I started preparing myself for the day.
Stepping out on the balcony, I saw that a drastic change had come over the land. There were no leaves on the trees and the grass had died. The cold weather helped give the impression of winter, except that no snow or ice covered the ground. With Thiminy being surrounded by mountains, it was common to have snow in the winter. The chill would drop the leaves, but the grass and many small plants would continue to grow being next to the warm ground of the valley floor. Seeing the death I attributed to cold, I moved about the balcony looking for signs of the cold weather becoming worse.
It surprised me to see Princess Turponia come out beside me. “I was too young to know about things when my father and brother went off to face Belconosk. Mother still won’t talk about it. Lechost however is determined to set a right course for the kingdom. If you don’t mind, Aden, I will ride around with you. You might give the people hope, but I should also be a source of hope.”
I replied, “You definitely need to separate yourself from the identity of your mother.”
Hoping to develop a better conversation, I asked, “How about you gaining suitors?”
We went back in to eat while Princess Turponia spoke of some noble men she did want to seek. While she was not as young as I was, she was still a lady that men would desire. Father mentioned the galas that would be held in Thiminy, and listened as Princess Turponia mentioned what special festivities would be held around her land.
There was a period of fun heading out to the stables. Menasha had come outside. While King Terish could not be seen, the centaur did not act as if concerned about being left alone. Others were already around enchanted by the special creature. I had heard her stories, but still enjoying her presence I introduced Princess Turponia to Menasha and spent a period in conversation before going in the stables for our horses.
I felt for the lady as we rode about the town. People called out greetings to me, but not to her. Some children brought me flowers, but none went to her. I had to acknowledge Princess Turponia for not making a scene, but simply maintaining a smile. I however felt bad about how the people were treating the lady, but when I mentioned making a statement she spoke against it.
“Lechost made such a dramatic return, Aden. Most of it was having you with him, but the people see him as being able to see the right thing to do along with the willingness to do it. I have to say that I agree with them. While they are speaking against me, I want to be seen as not being a power-hungry woman. If a man can see that I will step back into a secondary role, it will be good for me.”
“How about the policies of your mother?”
“I feared Belconosk, so accepted them at the time. Lechost is however showing us that there was more to the story than what we were being told.”
My father asked, “Is your brother talking to you now?”
“Yes, in fact he is mostly speaking to me. I wouldn’t say that he and mother are at odds, but they definitely have a different perspective on recent history.” In a soft voice, she said, “That is why he gave up on you, Aden. He knows without a positive relationship with his mother, you will not have him. He does love you however, and wants you to know he will be a good king.”
I had to admit, and wanted my father to hear, “I had a good meal with Yelnoth’s parents.”
“You did something with them. The rumor was that you caused them trouble, but they came out fully supporting you. Viscountess Sheanoll tried to do things to support you, but my mother lectured her about why there was no need. Then all this happened, and I believe the arguments of Queen Tiolotha have failed. If you listen, no one is calling her queen, but queen mother. They have accepted Lechost as their monarch.”
I heard what she was saying, but that just had me think about what the men were doing. I then thought about what I saw upon returning with Lechost. What happened that day had me stand in my saddle and look around. While Princess Turponia certainly saw my puzzled expression, I appreciated she waited for me to drop back down to sitting in the saddle before I heard her question.
“What were you looking for, Aden?”
“Why did you close windows and lock the door?”
“We did not want Belconosk to realize Lechost had returned.”
I shook my head letting her know that I was not going to accept that answer even as I said, “Everyone was bowing to us. Everyone knew who Lechost was. They were not bowing to Dumourl. Your land has people like him. His presence was no more odd than me, and I am just a girl. They recognized Lechost. Whatever agent Belconosk had here could not have been fooled, and wasn’t fooled as he came that night. He however did not come screaming for Lechost, but for me. Back before I knew who Lechost was, Belconosk was not screaming at him, but at me.”
My father tried to get me to think rationally, I recognized the tone of his voice, by saying, “Aden, there is no way Belconosk could have known about you.”
“No… no.” I said that assuring my memory was correct, then tried to find the rational answer. “Belconosk was not worried about Lechost. He was worried about a woman, a girl. He kept Lechost to keep Queen Tiolotha subdued. As long as she was not doing what she was supposed to do, he had control whether he had Lechost or not.” I turned wanting to speak my conclusion to my father, but understanding that another needed to hear me, I turned to Princess Turponia to say, “The men are going to fail.”
It however is to their credit that they try.