Aden of Aden
“I cannot believe Lechost will fail,” his sister said.
My father asked, “Aden, why would he fail? Why does it have to be women to clean the falls?”
I had to admit, “I don’t know. I don’t know the situation.”
Princess Turponia said, “The fairies aren’t talking to me. I have to admit that they really wanted to speak to mother.”
“This cannot be the first time. Is there something in your history?”
“I do have access to the journals, and the counselors will certainly work to answer any question. Let me go see if I can find an answer. Aden of Aden, I will not fail. Keep the people seeing a reason to hope. In the meantime, I will work as hard as my brother to assure that the people have a future.”
As she rode off, my father said, “Keep thinking things through, Aden. If you find me concerned for you, it is just that I don’t want you coming home with two husbands.”
He tried to keep a straight face when I looked at him, but suddenly a wide grin showed on his features. He did not laugh, but if I had said something he might have. I actually wanted him to speak to me, even if only to joke, so I did my best not to sound harsh as I made a reply.
“According to the story, you were presented with my mother and Mother Mersidda as soon as you arrived. I have not been presented with anyone yet. The two courting me are the usual young men seeking the most popular debutante.”
“Don’t sell yourself short, Aden. The two courting you are a king and the heir to a viscounty. Your mother was only the third daughter of a baron. You have far surpassed me in status. Let me also say that what you are doing is forming a relationship with these people. After this, you will not be a stranger. I have a wonderful family, and my two wives are fantastic, but there was still a period of adjustment. I doubt you will have that when you move here.”
He did not grin, but calmly said, “I cannot see either of the young men losing faith in you, Aden.”
As if to support those words, I saw a couple ride up and politely stop a distance away. Understanding the situation, I introduced my father to the Viscount and Viscountess of Koshix. With the formality done, I listened as the elders traded some basic data of their lands. While I understood what they were doing, I had not yet accepted the topics as normal banter. I however heard something in the words that let me know that a number of issues were politely presented in the exchange that enabled the elders to choose the topics to actually discuss.
Viscount Handarl said, “Your king seems as active as my own, and as active as Aden. Could it simply be his immortal youth?”
My father replied, “There is something deeper driving him, but I have found no wrong in it. Anytime I have felt a need to challenge a policy, he was more than willing to discuss it with me.”
“And, Aden, is it King Terish who trains you?”
I replied, “No, Viscount Handarl. My training has mostly come from his wife, Queen Straekin. Princess Endullae, their oldest daughter, has also helped. She was the one who first took me to another world.”
My father said, “I believe you mean that Queen Straekin and Princess Endullae are working to finish your training. Most of what you know surely is from your mother.”
“Yes. I believe I mentioned that Queen Straekin said it was due to my mother that I had something she had never gained.”
Viscount Handarl said, “Sir Berair, your daughter has enraptured the hearts of most around here, and that definitely includes my son.”
My father replied, “I am going to lose her to someone. There seems to be good people here going through a hard time. Still, I believe all here see an end to their troubles. I will allow her to see this matter to what should be its conclusion. After that, we will can see about considering the future.”
Viscountess Sheanoll said, “Those are gracious words. I have to say my own husband did not take the loss of our daughter so easily.”
“To think you ever had her is the folly of most fathers. The joy in having her in your life is all the blessing you can claim.”
“Aden of Aden, could we request the pleasure of having your company at dinner?”
“No,” I replied. “The men are busy, and I know all are scared and bothered. I was told to keep a presence as a symbol of hope. I am going to have a meal out here.”
Viscount Handarl said, “Then may we continue to accompany you? As nobles of this land, we should also be seen. You are setting a good example for my wife and me, and believe we shall be better by staying with you.”
“I believe this is where we should be.”
“I can’t say that I have ever been to Brilling Falls. You would not know how long it will take to clean it?”
I said that fully expected to be asked why I would say such a thing. To suddenly have horns blaring alarm however took me by surprise. Suddenly soldiers that had been left to assure the security of the citizens began assuring themselves of arms as officers started yelling orders.
My position of inspiring hope suddenly became challenged by being nothing more than a young lady with no real status. Soldiers moved in an obvious show of protecting me even as I felt a need to rush to the front of whatever was transpiring. I however understood that I was not a fighter. While I had proven some skills with a bow, I really had not shown myself as someone capable of entering combat with any ability to control events. In however considering how to do my job, I thought of the one with the position to lead the challenge.
I turned Later then had him rush back to the castle. While the gates to the royal estate were shut, the soldiers did recognize me as having a place with the royalty. Having Later rush through as soon as an opening was large enough, I advanced upon the front of the castle yelling for Princess Turponia.
The royal quarters were in the front of the building for the very purpose of being able to receive and deliver messages without the need of passing through the building. Not all castles were designed in such a manner, but I had learned this one was. Wanting my words to be heard by as many people as possible, I yelled for Princes Turponia hoping she was where she could receive my message.
It was a maid that answered from a window with me saying, “Tell Princess Turponia that the troops have a situation outside! I might be hope, but she is the one who has authority!”
The princess now came to another window to say, “I haven’t done much, Aden!”
“If it is the women who must do the deed, you should be the one to lead!”
“Would you want to try reading the journals?”
While I was enjoying speaking with people, I allowed that it would help if I actually did something that could prove objectively useful. “If you bring a few to me, I will see if I can learn anything that might help us.”
Instead of replying to me, she called to one of the officers on the walls surrounding her home. He reported something about strange masses, oozes, coming from the ground. Princess Turponia spoke of her time of leading in the guise of her mother, and said that she would return to that appearance as a symbol of authority in order to allow her brother to continue doing the important work. I called out my support of her decision, then turned back to my father to see if he had further words of advice.
It was instead Viscount Handarl who spoke some words. “That is the attitude you should have as a high noble. Keep the authority of the royalty while showing yourself as someone worthy of trust. I have my own authority, but I know there are times when I should enable the king to show his dominance.”
My father said, “As a knight, what I do directly reflects on the king. I however need to stay in contact with him to assure that my actions are in accordance with his. As a high noble you will have more independence, but you still need to assure that the people understand that it is the king with ultimate authority.”
I had to reply, “Thank you, both of you, although neither one of you told me what I should do next.”
“Wait on the journals, then go find a place where you can be seen reading them.”
“Oh, of course.”
The viscount spoke of how his castle looked. Not having seen it, or heard Yelnoth speak about the architecture, I tried to imagine the grand home from what I could see of this edifice. While I knew the black cones of Thiminy could not be used for comparison, I spoke of things in the construction of Castle Serussdal and Castle Fedrukin that I felt could be similar to what the viscount said.
Our conversation was interrupted by the maid that had come to the window stepping from the castle to present me with a half-dozen bound texts. They were a lot thicker than I suspected. As I flipped through one to see a tight penmanship, my father asked me if I could read the language. Calling for Ludene, he advised me to simply have my maid scan the texts for certain details of our present situation and not read them. Accepting his words, I turned Later speaking of a need to find a place to sit comfortably.
It was Viscountess Sheanoll that recommended a place for us to go. I actually knew the place, but up to now had chosen a place that served more of a meal or gone back to the castle. I felt I could get a drink as I moved about, so previously did not pause at this establishment. Viscountess Sheanoll however had me dismount and settle into a seat before letting those who ran the place know to keep a supply of refreshments coming.
Since I was just overseeing my maid as she scanned the texts, it was easy to break from the journals to wave or have short conversations with the people. I did consider it good that they would come up to me. While I did not feel that I had been haughty, the events surrounding my arrival had placed me in a rather elite position that set me at a distance from the people. It pleased me that the commoners were willing to take a chance and approach, and I looked up from the journals to assure them that I did not mind associating with them.
It helped my attitude that the viscount and viscountess did not act cold to those that came near. I did not fear my father. He came from a family of commoners and led a life associating with the regular soldiers. There was also the fact that Thiminy was such a small kingdom that nobles and citizens all felt themselves to simply be part of the community. What I had learned of Epperclen was that it had been a rather large land before the loss of Lechost to Belconosk, so it pleasantly surprised me to find the viscount and viscountess not to desire some separation from the regular people.
Turning pages in one journal to look over things myself I gained the impression that I would not accomplish anything. I had no idea why Princess Turponia sent these volumes to me. She however surely found a grand library consisting of texts from the beginning of the family gaining control of the land. While there could have been some control over the journals through the passing of time keeping them in some chronological order, with each monarch having their own number of years there was no way to truly date each volume. Considering that it was unknown when the events occurred that we hoped to find reference to, I had the impression that I really would not accomplish anything of use.
I looked up when a strange voice asked, “You can read them?” Turning, I saw King Terish, and listened as he explained. “These people are not speaking your language. While travel can bless you with speech, the written word is a different matter entirely.”
“They have a phonetic alphabet,” I replied. “This is no different than reading any other text. Sound out the letters and one can hear the speech.”
“But you are not speaking their speech. Sound out the letters and you simply hear the sound of the letters.”
“Names are names. We are looking for information on the falls.”
He pulled over a chair, then sat while saying, “Let me see if I can help you. The gift of reading texts is extremely rare. I have gained it, but it was a blessing that I remember having to work at. My youngest son is working at it, and I have a granddaughter working on it, but none of my other offspring have managed the skill. Of all the things I tried to teach them, that is one topic that I really failed in instructing.” He then mumbled while flipping through one journal, “I also do not believe the problem is with the falls.”
“Maybe not, but we should find another event at the falls.”
“We have a situation where a family has lost track of their own history. Why, I cannot say. There are surely a lot of things that went together to cause this situation. We however will not help anyone focusing on the recent history, but on connecting them to the actual history that has proven itself to solve the situation. I had that problem with Thiminy. I mean, I took the land because the dwarves in the surrounding mountains liked me and did not like the one who was in charge. He also had not done anything to have a family. Taking the land was only a matter of simply vanquishing a tyrant, but it also meant that I had control over a land I really did not know. It took a lot of reading to actually have me feel at home in Thiminy.”
King Terish did not appear old at all. He was not that much taller than me, and without the noticeable muscles of my father. I did consider him handsome, but with him appearing young I wondered if others felt another was attempting to court me.
I put my focus back on the journal I was reading. Finding it strange to see a repeat of a word, I sounded it out. Feeling I knew the sounds, which I suspected of being a name, I picked back up the journal I had just sat down and flipped through to where I believed I encountered the name before.
Sounding out the name I found others looking at me, and I pointed it out to King Terish while saying, “This must have been a popular name in the history of this land, as I have been finding it often.”
King Terish had an odd grin as he said, “You were not saying a name, Aden, but mentioning the sewer of a brothel.”
I pointed to where I found the word in the text and said, “It is written like a name.”
Viscount Handarl moved over to look at what I had found, then said, “Aden of Aden, I believe you found what you were supposed to be looking for.”
Exactly what it is and why it is important is however not really apparent.