Aden of Aden
As I looked to see which soldier would advance to guide me to the dungeon, I found everyone to show pleasure when another voice rang out. “Aden of Aden is correct, she would not have been locked up for long. I know I was not.” As shock expressed itself in the features of Queen Tiolotha, Princess Turponia asked, “What did you find, Aden of Aden?”
I did what I could to correctly say the strange word, then explained, “It means sewer of a brothel. I would rather not say why it needed a separate term in your language, but it was felt the use of it to answer a question being asked. We were all wondering why the fairies demanded to only speak to your mother, then why they would not speak to you. Then came the question of why Lechost and his father had to go to Belconosk. The answer I believe is that the men had to find some other solution to the problem, because the female ruler of the land would not do what was required.”
“I was discovering the same. It seems the problem with the falls occurs every eighty years. While the men are always stated as willing to do the work, actually understanding what needs to be done is something only us women can provide.”
I admitted, “I really cannot read the journals, although I know enough of your script to recognize certain words. It was Viscount Handarl and his wife that helped me. They sent me here to work with you.”
“As mother said, she had me locked up. I went to her for council, and she got angry.”
I moved to the risers while asking, “Queen Tiolotha, why? Surely this land concerned you. While you were born elsewhere, you came here to live, raise children, and have this land claim you for their own. Surely you cared. Surely you were willing to do what was necessary.”
The queen-mother spewed, “It was gross, menial labor. It was beneath me.”
Princess Turponia asked, “And all the other things you do about the castle are not?”
“It’s not the same. Go look at what Lechost is needing to do.”
“NEEDING TO DO?” I screamed. “They’re dying!” Having my own words echo in my head, I could not help but say, “Your husband died. You expected Lechost to be killed as well. No. It was not beneath you. It was an evil thing to do. It was not you avoiding an unpleasant task, but showing everyone how unpleasant you truly were.”
Princess Turponia said, “I’m afraid Aden of Aden is correct.”
“That’s it,” I said suddenly having a revelation. “That is why I am Aden of Aden. Mother wanted a girl who could face the horrors. She brought me up to know joy, love, and see the world in a positive way. I however was not pampered. I did chores, some really gross, but even while doing them mother was there giving me pleasant memories. I do now know how to do a variety of things, but more than that I have a willingness to do them. Life is not unpleasant, but we make it unpleasant. We allow our own opinions to color our perception of chores. My mother brought me up not just to do things, but to think well of myself while doing them. She then promised me that if life did get horrible, she would listen to me. I did not understand the value of those words until now. Princess Turponia, I am sorry that you do not have a mother who will listen to you.”
“I am sorry as well.”
Queen Tiolotha asked, “So, what are the two of you going to do? Lock me up?”
“No,” I said. “You have work to do. Princess Turponia, as someone who was the visible representative of the authority of this land, I ask that you have some of these fine soldiers secure your mother. Whether she likes it or not, she has work to do.”
The princess replied, “I actually could not do that on my own. As you said, I was just the figurehead and not the one with any real authority. You however came with Lechost, our king. He admires, worships you. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that your decisions will meet with his approval. With your words, Aden of Aden, I believe I can force my mother to do what is necessary.”
Queen Tiolotha screamed as soldiers approached. I warned them not to hurt her, as we needed her able, if not willing, to do some tasks. The soldiers assured me and the royal ladies that they intended no actual harm, even as they secured the queen-mother and bound her.
I then began calling for the women in the castle to gather every cleaning tool with the substances necessary to perform a good cleaning. Princess Turponia stressed that what we would be doing would not be pleasant work, so to bring the sturdiest brushes, cloths, and substances. I felt good hearing some women speak of knowing about the condition of Brilling Falls, as it helped everyone prepare for the task that would be required of us.
Queen Tiolotha continued to scream as she struggled to get out of her bonds and away from the soldiers securing her. I found her efforts annoying. There was also the problem of her disturbing those trying to work. She had been the leader of this land for a long time. The people did care for her. Worried that Queen Tiolotha would cause those going with us to lose some confidence in what would be asked of them, I considered some way to get some cooperation.
My solution could not be said to be dignified. I however accepted that the stunt I pulled needed to be a clear act of making a statement. Honestly, my mother had never done anything like that to me. Other children had. There had been periods when the other youths had shown resentment in me for my special relationship with my mother. While they had been scolded, the deed had been done. Mother however told me to keep at my task. I found my continued efforts to instill in me the importance of getting the chore done, and hoping my solution would impart a lesson to the elder lady I set myself to performing a prank that had been once done to me a few times.
I filled a bucket with water, then mopped a section of hallway. Some maids wondered at what I was doing with almost all speaking of their willingness to do it themselves. Hearing me state that it would be best if they were not associated with what I was doing caused expressions of puzzlement. In my history the substance had usually been muddy water, or some liquid expelled from some animal, but considering the results were to hopefully inspire Queen Tiolotha to do some work, I felt a bucket of mop water was appropriate.
She screamed as if stuck with a hot iron. The soldiers holding her honestly just smiled. I did not doubt that I had spoiled a very expensive outfit, although knowing I had only used dirty water there was a belief that the garment could be restored. Queen Tiolotha however screamed as if I had covered her with blood.
While her hands were bound, I still set the handle of the bucket through some fingers then pushed the mop in a manner of getting her to hold it. “You’re not above the work. You are not our precious damsel. You are supposed to be our leader. However, you have made yourself simply the representative, the figurehead, for the necessity of doing this work. Because you are being forced to do this, hopefully the others will understand that they need to do this as well.”
Princess Turponia asked, “So, we do not allow her to change into lesser garments?”
“No. She needs to go out as the figure of authority she is.”
“She chose to dress this way. Ladies, are you ready to go out?”
Of course there were some who spoke some last minute thoughts about things that could be needed. Agreeing that we had no way of knowing the real labor that would be required, we waited for the extra items and substances to be gained. Only when everyone was agreeing that we had the things to do whatever would be needed, did I give the word for us to leave the castle.
I had no way to know if the word had been sent ahead. It was possible that seeing us exit the castle that the decision was made by those in charge. In any event by the time we reached the gates there was a number of female soldiers rushing to accompany us. I had no way of knowing how things should be done, but the men securing the queen-mother with the mop and bucket were allowed to continue with the ladies in armor saying they would do what was necessary to see that the rest of us stayed at our tasks.
Seeing us women move through the town, other females yelled that they would join. I had us pause a number of times as ladies in the town, laden with tools and substances, came to join our number. I then found myself needing to stop as someone I had come to know stood in street before a number of women.
Viscountess Sheanoll asked, “Aden of Aden, what have you done?”
“It’s not what I have done,” I replied, “but what we need to do.”
“You are right, of course. I am just overwhelmed to see what you accomplished.”
“Someone needed to do it. I am actually sorry that it had to be me.”
“Well, it is wrong for someone so young needing to carry such a heavy burden. Still, you are doing magnificently. Aden of Aden, I am not here to take your burden from you. However should you need help in managing it, I am here.”
Princess Turponia said, “I came from the dungeon finding Aden of Aden confronting my mother on her own. She did not need me, but I was glad to be there for her. She does not need you, but as another real authority in this land I am glad to see her not having to fight you.”
“Oh, no. The fight from me will be to have her join my family instead of yours. There is a strength in Aden of Aden that I would love to claim for my own.”
I had to say, “I have admired both Lechost and Yelnoth. It will be a hard decision. Still, that is something for another time.”
“Yes. Aden of Aden, word spread ahead of you. You will have an army of women going out with you. I will be with you. Together, let us do what the men cannot.”
Moving forward, I believed I passed more women than I had behind me. Of course all these fell into place at the end of the procession. By the time we reached the gates, I believed the soldiers simply paused before opening the way awed by the number who would be leaving.
From the housing over the gate I heard Viscount Handarl say, “Ladies, it is too far to run. However, you should move as fast as possible. Things are bad out there. Men are suffering and dying. Maybe some of you will find yourself hurt, maybe seriously. However, what you are doing needs to be done. Those of you able, keep moving. MOVE! We need you to get to work. Please, just worry about the work. Let us men worry about other things.”
Seeing my father give me a signal, and the viscount make a similar motion, I moved up to the gatehouse. I had assumed that I had a large number behind me. What I however saw was a grand army of women. More than I had thought possible had come to join the procession. Feeling the weight of responsibility that my status as a noble would place upon me, I signaled for silence before saying what I could to those that had followed me.
“I am Aden of Aden. I came here being told that I was an object of hope. I would hope that you are realizing that I am just a young lady. I however am someone willing to do what is required. That is all that is being asked of you. Simply do what is required. If we can do that, we can go back to our lives. I can return to simply being a young lady, and you can return to being who you are and with those you love.”
Princess Turponia rushed up to join me in the gatehouse, and putting an arm around me and holding me tight she declared, “NO! This one will always be Aden of Aden! What we will do is stop looking to her for hope, but hoping for her to look to us as being a part of our lives. Let us show this young lady that this is a good land of good people, and have her want to live her life here with us.”
Not just the women yelled out in response to those words. Viscount Handarl came to hug me himself. The soldiers waved in a sign of their own support for me. Coming back down before the procession of ladies, I saw my father standing proud with a smile on his face. Knowing what would be required, I yelled out the words for us to leave the town and get to work.
Of course things are not so simple.