Aden of Aden
Stepping outside I wished I had put on something over my dress. I had chosen a substantial garment, as I had felt the unseasonal chill in the city. Stepping through the gates to the surrounding country I however found it to be even colder.
Having a couple of flaming masses pass overhead, I looked at the terrain around me. Princess Turponia did provide some guidance that helped me know in which direction to travel. There was no clear indication of the route from the positions of the men. Fighting seemed to be occurring all over. Seeing the flaming masses from the catapults strike the ground where no one was present let me know that the troubles were pervasive and not limited to specific areas.
Looking to the men I noticed a group being helped and carried to where a tent was set up. I then looked to where a group of soldiers kept watch over a number of what I at first believed were their wounded comrades. I saw those on guard duty suddenly start fighting, although noticed than none of the others made a movement. Realizing that I was looking at the men who had died in this conflict, I yelled a rallying cry then picked up my pace by a small amount.
My focus on covering the distance was disrupted by yells. I turned to see the men around the tent getting up. Some crawled, but those who could walk were gaining their weapons. Realizing the wounded were doing what they could to return to the battle bothered me. Understanding they were taking action to protect us ladies had me wonder just how weak they thought those of us of the fairer sex were. I however accepted that the men could help the women keep their focus even through the horrors that would surround them.
Seeing men rally to protect us however had me feel alarm. Their actions along with us advancing closer to our destination caused me to see more of the things the men were fighting. I could recognize oozes, as those were creatures I had seen riding on the mountains around Thiminy. I could only assume the other monsters were malicious versions of moles, badgers, or some other burrowing animals.
Finding soldiers directing us to the woods brought me a little fear. I worried about the men who would lose sight of us. I also felt concern from the women following me, as if I should lose my way then more than just me would be lost. Princess Turponia pointed out where recent slices had been made in the trees with some having been chopped down. Feeling that there were men who had chanced going ahead of us to leave markers for our path, I went forward afraid what I was doing might not be worth the risks taken.
The thought of the evil affecting the animals living in the ground had me think of the fairies. They would be concerned for the flora and fauna. I however did not understand how the falls had any control over the malignancy. All I could conceive of was the flow of water somehow removing the impurities, although the tendency of vile natures to remain once they gained a hold forcing the inhabitants to occasionally clean the falls. As I thought of the evil the men were fighting and we ladies were to clean up, I found some hope in getting safely to our destination seeing a flow of water that I felt came from our destination.
A horrible smell grew in strength as we approached what I felt was a natural brook. I felt that I could assign ladies to start working right here. As if reading my thoughts, Viscount Sheanoll gave me advice as we came near the flow of water.
“Keep the women moving, Aden. If the brook is this bad, just think how horrible the falls will be. Let’s get there and assure we get the hard part done. You will find that once you get people on the difficult duty, the others will find work to do.”
I not only listened to her because of the help she had been, but also because I did not know how large the falls were. The stream was not that wide, but I could detect a good current being pushed by something larger than just a rain of liquid. Hearing ladies behind me speak of staying, I however considered how best to put the words of the viscountess into action. Hearing the sound of men attacking something, I found the inspiration on how to keep the ladies together until I could access how large of a task we would have to clean the falls.
“Don’t stretch out the men! They are working to protect us, but there is strength in numbers with them just as it is with us! If we don’t all work together then we risk ourselves and the men!”
Viscountess Sheanoll exclaimed, “Good words! Aden of Aden, I will hold back to assure the women hear what you said. Keep moving.”
I saw the men around me nod. Turning to the ladies behind me, I heard them assure me that they would stay with me. Feeling that all was going well, I set myself to the pace I had been maintaining. Seeing a number of men after making a bend along the side of the brook, I recognized that we were close.
“ADEN!” Recognizing the voice of Lechost I stopped, although did have some concern when he then recognized another. “Mother? Aden, what is the – of course.” The man appeared hurt, but with cloths probably holding together more than his armor he advanced still showing strength. “I’m sorry it came to this. Aden, I know this will spoil my relationship with you. Someone who is so close to her mother and the other ladies of her family will not do well with this. Still, save my land.” As if it was his only last remaining piece of hope, he said, “Yelnoth is up the falls.”
I said, “Do not fail, Lechost. There are things going on around us that I doubt any of us understand.”
“Sorry, Aden of Aden, but I have been immersed in it for years. I only failed to understand because I was fighting from one part of this and unable to see the entire picture. Now that I am surrounded by all this, I understand a lot more than any thought I would. Don’t fail me, Aden of Aden. Please.”
Performing a full curtsey, I replied, “As one with noble blood, I must help those who see me as responsible for them. Luckily for you, that seems to be those of your land.”
“Tell Yelnoth that he better not lose you. My land has again found hope, and I cannot have them lose it.”
“He will need to come to Thiminy to spend time courting me.”
“Ah. Well, at the moment I have other things on my mind. Help me, Aden of Aden, then I assure you that I will have a conversation with the heir to my one remaining realm.”
Again I performed a full curtsey, then called for the ladies to return to following me. It was not much further that I came upon the clearing mostly consisting of a deep pond. There was more of a length of splashing water than a flow of liquid above suddenly pouring down. The stench was great, but what bothered me was what I felt covered the rock, I assumed it was rock that lifted the ground to form the falls. As I considered what I should now tell the ladies, I heard them questioning the men about what they were doing.
There were a group of men around the perimeter of the pond and up above. Those down below were digging up the gravel that made up the shore while those above appeared to be moving rocks. They spoke of how they wanted to get a clear spot then work at removing all signs of the filth from there. The ladies suddenly got active telling the men they were doing everything wrong, and I watched as they massed around the pond with another large group climbing the slope to work up there.
I simply stood and watched as the ladies began using their tools with their substances while lecturing the men. They spoke of the work they did about the houses to remove dirt ground into garments, smells coming from hard-to-get places, and animals that did not belong. While there was some allowance that men did at times have the better solution, or the tenacity to deal with certain problems until resolved, the ladies let those watching over them know that they did spend most days getting many things done on their own.
I looked up hearing my name called. Yelnoth stood next to one edge of the descending water. He appeared confused by the women around him, I assumed lecturing the men up there, and my presence below. Before I could respond, Lechost called up saying the words he said to me.
“Don’t you lose this lady, Yelnoth! She is something my land needs!”
With a tone indicating no affect from the commands of his king, Yelnoth simply asked, “Aden, why are you here?”
Feeling a need to have the man smile, I replied, “I wanted to hear the Kippayun again.”
From behind me came the command, “NO! I taught you other songs, Yelnoth!”
The young man barely moved his eyes off me as he said, “Mother?”
“You protect these ladies, Yelnoth! We have work to do.” As he simply stated the affirmative, the viscountess approached another woman and pushed her into the pond while saying, “AS DO YOU!”
The queen-mother rose with anger in her eyes as she exclaimed, “I AM YOUR QUEEN!”
It was Lechost who replied, “You’re not acting like it.” When his mother spun to him, he kept his voice strong. “Here is Aden of Aden. Here is our viscountess. Neither one of them are queen, but both are acting like it. These common women however came following them surely with the devotion that should have been shown to you. What has become of you, Mother?”
“These men –“
“These men followed me. THEIR KING! Why didn’t these women follow their queen? Why did you have to be brought bound to do something it was your place to do?”
Viscountess Sheanoll told the soldiers with the royal lady to release her bonds, but she actually resisted while saying, “This is vile, disgusting work. Not something for one of my status.”
“Not of your status? We are the leaders of these people. We are the one who these people will die for. That means they put their faith in us. They trust us to be right. Mother, this was the right thing to do, and now it is the necessary thing to do. Thank you Aden of Aden for bringing her. Viscountess Sheanoll, it is your place to advise and support your queen, so you were perfectly right to do what you did. Now, Mother, get to work.”
“YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”
“Can’t make you? Can we make the people we condemn to slavery do the work? Actually, no, but they understand our option should they do not. Can we make the women obey their husbands? Actually, no, but there is not much peace in the land if they don’t.” There were a number of chuckles to that statement by both the men and the women. “Can I make you do what you should? Actually, no, but I feel sorry for you. The one woman I put my trust and faith in is now causing me to wonder why she did the one thing I was praising her for. Mother, thank you for recognizing me and properly introducing me to Aden of Aden.”
“That girl is stronger than you, Lechost. She will be the ruin of you.”
I saw Lechost look up to Yelnoth as he said, “Actually, that is no insult to me, but praise for Aden of Aden. Yelnoth, you think you can handle her?”
The young man up above fixed his gaze upon me as he said, “I will prove myself worthy of your strength, Aden of Aden. That I promise you and my people.”
The queen-mother declared, “Talk all you want. Do with me what you want, but you won’t get me to do anything with this disgusting place.”
Lechost looked around with what I felt was desperation in his eyes. I understood his expression, as I was also of the belief that the royal lady needed to be an active part of the cleaning project. Worried that we had done all of this for nothing, I looked around hoping someone would have a solution.
It is hard to crack a hard head without hurting the one inside.