Are you sure you want to remove from your connections?
When they crossed the threshold of the queen’s chambers, Nulandia felt it was more than the appropriate time to inform Luna about one of the most important occurrences in her life, and said, “There’s something I feel you should know about me”.
“Okay, I’m listening”, Luna said as she sat on the edge of her bed.
“This should also explain why I made you take our pledge again, as well. When I was thirty years old, I met an elf named Jonan. We instantly hit it off, and after five years he moved in with me. It took that long because we both had military careers we were dedicated to, and we’d decided that until we had both finished with that chapter in our lives, marriage wasn’t a subject of discussion.
“Jonan and I, wound up ending our military service tenure during the same week, and we both went to my place within a few days of each other. After a year, he proposed marriage, and I said, ‘Yes’. Our biggest issue came after that because when I would bring up the subject of the wedding, he wouldn’t talk about it. Foolish me, I let him stay, and act like a coward for ten years. Don’t ask why. I loved him, and I kept hoping he would eventually get to a point in his life where he could discuss the act of getting married.
“When I talked to my mother during the beginning of the tenth year, I told her everything that had been going on, and she advised me to toss him the hell out. I didn’t hesitate. I went home, packed his things, and told him to get out. Then, I fought the hardest battle I’ve ever been in, which I refer to as ‘My Darkest Days’. I got it stuck in my head that the reason Jonan wouldn’t marry me was because I wasn’t worthy of his love, and I’d convinced myself that he didn’t leave before I forced him because he never wanted to hurt me.
“For the next ten years, I stayed obliterated on anything I could get my hands on. When I would black out from the intoxication caused by the substance I’d taken, I learned where the door to my own inner darkness was located. Eventually, I spent so much time there, I was crowned queen, and there’s a comfy spot on the throne with my name on it if I should ever choose to return”, she confessed.
“I had no clue you’d ever been through something like that”, Luna said.
“You weren’t supposed to know. At least, not until now”, she replied.
“Why not?” The queen’s feelings were beginning to get hurt. She had a look on her face as though her friend had reached out and slapped her face”.
“I can see that expression on your face, and you need to cut it out. That injured look is not gonna work with me. You get your feelings hurt over some of the smallest things. The reason you didn’t ever find that out until now is because the occasion never arose where I felt it was appropriate to share my story. My not telling you about my heartbreaking experience had nothing to do with anything that was going on in your life over the last seven years, so I didn’t bring it up. I promise, it’s nothing personal towards you”, the maid told her friend.
“Okay, I guess I’ll get over it”, the queen replied.
“Good, because I’ve got some other stuff I want to share with you, and I’m gonna need you to focus on the things I say to you”, she responded smiling.
“All my attention is on you, and the stage is yours”, the elven ruler said to her friend.
“One of the most important things I have learned since I came out of my own inner darkness is that it’s easier to love yourself than it is to have someone else love you. It is also a lot easier to go into the darkness than it is to stay out of it, however, with a friend like me, staying out of that place is your only option”, Nulandia said.
“You can be sure there’s no need to worry about me giving in and taking the easy way, because simply put, I could never see myself violating the trust of our pledge and its bond. Not only that, but I wouldn’t ever be capable of forgiving myself if I lost you as a friend”, Luna confessed.
“It’s good to hear you say that. Now for at least the next year, you’re going to go through a lot of emotional sorrow, and the best thing you can do is cry and let it out. It’s normal for you to do that, but you cannot even walk on the outside edges of darkness because no matter how far away you stand from it, the evil that lives inside can reach out. The sad part about that is, you don’t even know when it has taken you in, and by the time you realize what’s happened you’ve been there for a while making it almost impossible to escape. You also need to know that I don’t have a problem with you talking about the hurt you’re going through, but I don’t want to hear anything like what I heard outside that door because that kind of talk is what breeds negativity. You have to remember that your husband did what you asked him to do, and no matter what, you have to live with the consequences. Maybe you should have talked to him before you asked him to leave, my queen”, the maiden elf said.
“Wow! You have a lot of knowledge on that topic, and I would be crazy to ever lose you as a friend”, the queen said
“Exactly right”, her friend replied.
“What did you do to get out?” the elven ruler asked.
“What do you mean you say ‘to get out’? Get out of where?” The maid inquired.
“You said you were lost in your own inner darkness, and that you have a crown and throne waiting for you in case you ever choose to return. So, my question then becomes, ‘What did you do to get out?’ It’s not that hard to follow”, Luna said.
“One day, a totally different ex-boyfriend from school came and found me at the lowest point in my life, and his wife offered to allow me to stay with them in an entirely different city than the one I lived in with Jonan. When I got to their place, he told me I was expected to get a job, and by the end of the week I had work and I started school. Now, I’m gonna give you the most helpful piece of advice that was given to me during my grieving process. The easiest way to get beyond the hurt, especially in the first year, is to keep your mind busy”, Nulandia confessed.
“I knew there was a reason I asked you to go with me to the clubhouse that day”, the queen said.
“Really? And, what would that be?” The maid was curious to hear her friend’s response, and she listened intently to what the queen had to say.
“The reason I asked you to go that day was because I could see something in your eyes I had not seen in the eyes of any other being for a long time at that point, and I knew it would be smart for me to get to know you on a being-to-being level”, the queen told her friend.
“That’s all fine and well, but you’ve left out one thing. What it was you saw in my eyes. You cannot tell me all that sweet stuff, but forget the most important element to that story. I know you have not left all matter of your senses. You have to tell me that part. You can’t leave me hanging like that”, her maid responded.
“What I saw was someone who would be a true, loyal, honest and faithful friend”, Luna said.
“I’ll take that as the highest form of compliment since it came from my best friend the queen of Interraton”, Nulandia replied.
“You should take it that way because that’s exactly how it was meant to be taken. To be honest, I’m sorry it took me so long to invite you to the clubhouse”, the queen said.
“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. In my world, there are few times when you can say what’s happening is coincidental. Even if you die, and go to your grave not understanding the significance of a specific time in your life, there’s always a reason that something has happened. There’s an answer to every puzzle, every riddle, and every question you can think of. Nothing can occur in my life that doesn’t have an explanation”, she explained to the queen.
“That’s not exactly true”, the queen challenged.
“Explain what that means, please”, she quickly shot back.
“It means that just a few minutes ago, you said that you and Jonan ended your military service careers, “coincidentally’, so there’s that”, Luna said.
“Actually, I already have the explanation for that. I hadn’t said anything to see if you were listening to what I had to say, and I’m proud to know that you paid attention to me”, the maid responded.
“Explain it to me, please,” the queen said.
“Jonan heard I was going to finish my career in the military, and he set it up for his life in the elven army to end at the same time so that we could build our lives together because we both started at the same time. That, by the way, is like the only thing that did wind up being coincidental in my life. You wanna know something? Sometimes I think Jonan had a lot of stuff setup for us on purpose, but I never could understand why he would do all of that work to make our lives parallel one another if he didn’t want to make a life with me. That was the number one reason why I got caught up in my own inner darkness because I blamed myself for his shit”, Nulandia explained.
“My goodness. You have been through a lot. I don’t think I could’ve been strong enough to dig myself out of my own head. Not especially if I had to do it alone”, Luna said. She was astonished to learn those things about her friend, and didn’t know what to say.
“How do you think I felt? I had all kinds of others around me day in, and day out, but do you think any of them were intelligent enough to pull me to the side? Actuall, they did, and I lied. I told them all that I was fine, but I continued to spiral downhill. I was completely out of control. That is, until my ex and his wife rescued me. When Stavros and Jane came over four hundred miles to take me back with them, I couldn’t refuse”, she said.
“How did they know about you and Jonan?” Luna inquired.
“Stavros ran into my mother at Crennec Bazaar, and they got to talking. My mother told them everything that transpired between myself and Jonan. Stavros and Jane went home, they had a discussion about what they could do to try and help me, and a few months later the two of them boarded a dragonflight to my place. Or, at least, that’s what Jane told me after Stavros passed”, Nulandia said.
“Did Stavros and Jane have a lot of money? I mean, I only ask because they were able to travel to Crennec Bazaar, and they turned around a few months later to come and get you. Out of respect for someone who’s going to be a guest in their house, if they had any manners, they paid for your flight to their place. No matter if you could afford the ticket or not, right?” Luna asked. She hadn’t understood how anyone who worked a regular job could pay that much for three tickets as quickly as her friends did unless money was no object to them.
“This is something I never expected to be telling you. Luna, my entire family has money. The reason everybody in my family works menial jobs is because none of us wants the money to change us into someone we’re not. Remember, absolute power corrupts, absolutely. To be honest, I’ve got enough money to buy the planet, if I wanted. However, I choose to allow my riches to keep me humble. I never use the money I have because quite frankly, I can’t. When I was younger, my mother and I agreed that I wouldn’t touch any of my money until I’m a few thousand years older. As of now, I’m only one hundred and twenty seven years old”, she explained.
“You’re not allowed to touch any of the money?” Luna inquired.
“No, I’m not. The only way I’m allowed to get into my account is if myself, or one of my children. were to fall ill, and need an operation. I can’t even get into the money to save Cassius. It was part of the agreement mom and I made. Since my childern are healthy, and my ticker is strong, I haven’t needed the money. However, if that were to change tomorrow, I’d get into that account, and I’d drain it if it meant I could save one of my children”, she said.
“I guess it’s a good thing we live extremely long lives, or you’d never see any of that money. Do you mind if I ask how your family came into riches?” Luna asked.
“I’m not exactly sure how it started, but I do know that my great-great grandmother was frugal with what she inherited from her family. She wrote a specific clause in her will that everyone of her children was to get a job, and make something of themselves. If they couldn’t function in society because they didn’t want to, she would see to it that their money went to charity”, Nulandia explained.
“Sounds like someone was quite clever. If I do say so, myself”, the queen remarked.
“You may say so because I agree. Due to that clause, every one of Clymora’s children did what their mother wanted, and they took the same stance with their children. And, so forth, and so on until time got to my generation. I’ve chosen to be the same way with my childen, and I’ve already made out my will. I don’t want my kids thinking that money will be their saving grace or that they’re gonna get by in life without working. I don’t want them dependent on my family’s money”, she said.
“Sounds like you inherited your family’s intellect”, the queen said.
“Mother didn’t raise any fool, my friend. I may have done a lot of foolish things in my life, but that doesn’t make me one. I don’t know. Since I was capable of pulling myself out of the darkness within, I’ve lived a clean, and sober life. When Cassius and I met, we had the same objectives, with a few annoyances we learned to incorporate into our lives. He proposed within a year. The next year we were married, and we’ve never looked back. Our love continues to grow stronger with every change in tide. When one of us falls, the other one extends their hand, and there’s no judgment. When one makes a mistake, we discuss the solution. We apply the solution to the problem, and we don’t ever bring it up again. We compliment each other in so many ways. He made my life inexplicably full when he gave me our children. I believe my life will be complete when my children have their own set of toddlers they’re chasing around. There will be nothing else left to ask for after I’ve become a grandmother. Luna, I’m sorry. I’ve been so inconsiderate of your feelings. I didn’t mean to – -”, the queen held up her hand, and cut off her words.
“Nula, don’t apologize, please. I’m the one who asked about your life, and you shouldn’t feel bad because I wasn’t able to keep Ecko. It’s not your fault. I created my own mess, and I’ll be the one to clean it up”, Luna said.
“I’ll be there to help you. No matter what the mess is, or how big it is, I’m not going to make you clean it up alone. There will be times when you have to do certain parts of the cleaning by yourself, but I’ll be there. Right beside you, so you won’t be alone”, Nulandia said.
“This has been a real eye opener for me. I’ve learned a lot about you, and look, the lighting in the sky has changed. It’ll be daylight in a few hours, and we’ve never gone to sleep”, the queen pointed out.
“That happens from time to time. I’ll be feeling like I could sleep for three days, but something happens to give me an extra boost of energy, and I can continue forward. Sometimes, I’ll be awake, naturally, for a day and a half. If I’ve got an upcoming event that I’m hosting, I’ll push myself to three days. However, my body will force me to sleep at the end of day three, and I will never go any further”, she said.
“What was your preference? Did you like to be awake or asleep? I only ask because we’re getting to know each other”, Luna said.
“I liked to sleep”, she said honestly.
“Between you, me and the fence post, I’ve experimented with some stuff. Of course, this was before I became queen. At the time, I liked being awake. Now, because of my title, I won’t touch it. When I hand over my title, it’ll be over two hundred years from now, and who knows what I’ll do then”, the queen said.
“You will still be my best friend, and I’ll keep you sober. That’s what you’ll do. There won’t be any falling off the wagon because that invites the darkness in. Are you an idiot?” the maid asked.
“No”, she responded.
“You damn well must be with that way of thinking. Especially if you think that after you’re done being queen that I’ll be done with our friendship. Or if you think that I’ll break my sobriety for you. Or whatever you were thinking to make you say those words. Either way, I’m your friend now, and like I said before, I’d take death to ensure your life. Let me make this clear, I would do anything for you, except forfeit my sobriety or sit on the throne in my own darkness. Those are the only two things I won’t sacrifice for you, but that’s only because without them, I can’t be who I need to be for you”, Nulandia explained.
“Why would you do that for me? I’m not anyone to you”, the queen said.
“At first, that was true. Now that we’ve made that pledge, and sealed it with a magix casting, nothing will stop me from being there for you. I’ll eventually have to go home and tell my husband what’s been going on since I haven’t been there for almost a week. He will absolutely encourage me to come back here and do my job because he supports everything I do. Besides, he’s busy with his work, too. The kids have been grown for years, and they’re all in college as per requirement of my will”, she told her friend.
“That’s only when the queen is incapacitated. As long as I am capable of sitting in the throne, health-wise, I don’t have to worry about putting anyone in that throne for ten years. That should give me plenty of time to find someone I can trust. Someone who can sit in the seat beside me, and who I don’t worry about being a treacherous coward. I refuse to jump into the next relationship, so it will be a while before I’m ready to make the marriage commitment again. If anyone has anything to say about it, they’ll have to get over it. There’s nothing written anywhere that says I have to have someone sitting beside me as king the entire time I’m queen. The one clause was only put in place for when there is a king to stand in place of the queen when she is incapable of physically ruling. Right now, I couldn’t be in better physical health, and I am perfectly capable of running this planet”, Luna explained.
“Since you have that question answered, do you mind answering one we haven’t ever addressed yet?” Nulandia asked the queen.
“Fire away”, Luna said.
“Do you know if you have been gifted?” The reason she asked the question was because she’d been trying to learn every aspect of the elf Luna was.
“Are you asking me if I’m capable of moving things with my mind or if I can see into the future?” Luna asked her friend.
“That is exactly what I’m asking you”, Nulandia said.
“When I was younger, mamma thought I might have the gift of foresight, but she never got the opportunity to have me tested”, Luna said.
“Tell me why you think your mother thought you were given the gift of foresight. I’m going to need to know as many details as possible in order to determine whether you have the gift or not”, Nulandia said.
“Well, when I was in my mid-twenties, I broke-up with a boyfriend, and got with an elf named Clifton. His ex-girlfriend, and my ex-boyfriend got together. Within the first year they were together, she was accidentally hurt by a team of horses that got away from their carriage. Or, at least, that’s what they told everybody. I told everyone around that what happened to the girl was no accident, that he had pushed her in front of the carriage, but it would take ten to fifteen years for the truth to come out. Fifteen years later, when Clifton was talking to his ex, she admitted that when she was dating my ex, he did try to kill her by pushing her in front of the carriage. That’s everything I remember. Do you think it will help?” Luna was curious to find out if she was gifted because if she was, there would be a lot of learning to be done, which would be another welcomed distraction.
“As far as I can tell, you have the gift of foresight, but we need to make a visit to see my magix instructor, Master Westyn. Maybe he can explain why it takes so long for your premonitions to play out. I’ve never seen that gift take so long to come to fruition, and if there’s a way to fix it, Jackson Westyn will know exactly what needs to be done. We will have to see him right away so we can correct whatever kind of issues are hindering your gift from working appropriately”, Nulandia urged. She sensed there was a block that had been placed on the queen’s capabilities, and it was of utmost importance to remove anything that kept her from using her gift to its fullest potential.
“When are you talking about visiting your professor friend, Nula?” The queen wanted to know so that she could have her stallion prepared to leave whenever her maid was ready to leave.
“Tell Cryer to have Riddle brushed with his bit and reins ready to go within the next hour, and if you learn that you’re enjoying yourself after you’ve met Master Westyn, we’ll make an entire day of it”, Nulandia said.
Luna went to the stables in the northeastern quadrant of the property, and told the stable girl, Cryer, to prepare her horse to leave. When she returned to her sleeping quarters, Nulandia had changed into a pair of the queen’s pants, and one of her blouses. Luna didn’t say anything, but changed her own clothes instead.
“The road is not long to Master Westyn’s place, but it is hot. I thought since you hardly wear these, you wouldn’t mind if I do:”, Nulandia said.
“I don’t mind that you wear those clothes. If you want to try some I wear currently, feel free to try them on. I really do not care”, Luna said.
“We’ll play dress-up on another day. Do you think your horse is ready, and did you tell Cryer to make sure the seat has room for two? I’d much rather ride there with you and Riddle, because it will take too long to go to my place, get my horse, and take off”, Nulandia said.
“I had a feeling you would not want to go through the hassle of having to get your horse, and I went ahead and made the request ahead of you. I was going to say that I hope you didn’t mind that I made the decision on that without talking to you first, but apparently, that’s what you wanted. I can generally tell how a situation is going to unfold by relying solely on my instincts. I don’t know how much good my knowing the future can do, but you apparently also know how that can be repaired. Therefore, I’m going to let you take the lead on that one, and we’ll see how things go”, Luna said. She had a difficult time letting go of so much control over her personal life, but she knew that Nulandia would eventually return all control to her.
“I hope you know that if you were any other elf, I would never trust you to have any type of control over any single aspect of my life, but since you are my absolute best friend, I’ll give you all the control you need because I know you will return all control of my life back to me whenever it is time”, Luna confessed.
“I’m sure that was the hardest thing you’ve had to do since you told him to leave. I’m just teasing you, Luna. I know I shouldn’t be messing with you so soon after your separation, but if I don’t keep you on your toes, who will? Personally, I don’t know anyone else who would, but guaranteed it would not be for lack of trying”, Nulandia assured her.
“Let’s go”, Luna said. She was growing anxious about going to meet Master Westyn, and getting the trip started would help to soothe her nerves. She and her maid went to the stables to gather the queen’s horse, and when they were on the road, Luna said, “It is such a beautiful day, if a being didn’t know any better, they’d think everything was glorious for me. They would be so wrong, but that’s alright. You and I are going on an adventure, and that is what will make the day a bit more bright. We’re going to leave the hurt at the citadel where it belongs, and I’m not going to focus on anything that has something to do with my husband leaving. I don’t know how long I’ll be capable of keeping it together, but I will try as hard as I can to keep myself together for as long as I can. I promise”, Luna said.
“Well, at least you have an excellent attitude about everything. Master Westyn will greatly appreciate your candor, and he will take up with you faster if he doesn’t think you’re stuck on the happenings at the castle. Then, his knowledge you shall learn, and the only other thing you’ll need to do is pay attention to whatever he tells you. He’s tough, but only whenever he feels his students are being stubborn. When he has to intimidate his students, he doesn’t enjoy it, and tries to warn them before he does it. If the students pull themselves together, he will avoid the roughness he was going to inflict upon them. However, if they do not heed his warnings, he will unleash the wrath of hades upon their souls. I tell you these things so that you cannot come to me later and say that I didn’t tell you about Master Westyn, because you’ll not be capable of blaming me if you make him upset, and he has to be mean. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not setting you up for a downfall, I do not have any negative thoughts about your learning with Master Westyn, and I should be spanked if I develop that frame of mind”, Nulandia said.
She couldn’t help but feel a large amount of pride for her friend, the queen. It was going to be an honor to introduce her to the magix instructor who’d taught her the tricks of the art that he did not share with other students.
Nulandia had jumped down off Riddle’s back, their journey was taking a turn that she needed to navigate from the ground, she kept her right hand on the reins that hung from the bridle in the stallion’s mouth. It was easy to miss the educator’s home if she wasn’t watching the road when it began to change, but the elven warrior inside would not allow them to get lost along the way. The maid placed her index finger vertically across her lips to indicate that she needed it to be quiet, and she placed her ear closer to the ground as she came to a stop. She could hear shouting coming from what sounded like a male’s voice, but the words could not yet be determined because of the distance they were from its original source. Instinctively, Nulandia led the horse who was carrying the queen down a path that could hardly be seen, and before she knew it they heard a familiar voice coming from a fairy hut down the way.
“At this point, I’ll take a gander and say that we’re hearing Master Westyn. He must have a couple of wayward students this semester, because I haven’t heard words like those come out of his mouth since he spoke similar ones to me”, Nulandia said.
All she had to do was appease her servant’s previous educator by showing interest in his findings and teachings, by learning the things he wanted to teach her, and she had to be more interested in his ways than what was going on at home. There was absolutely no pressure being applied to the queen’s shoulders, but she felt like someone had placed their hand on her throat because she suddenly could not breathe.
Nulandia was grateful she’d been paying attention to the queen when she quit breathing, and there was a simple solution to the problem. The maid gently removed Evertillin,Westyn’s boa constrictor from around the queen’s throat, and the planetary ruler began to breathe once more.
“It’s a good thing you were able to talk him into releasing himself from around her neck. Usually, I cannot get the beast to let go when I ask, consider yourselves lucky that he did what you asked him to. By the way, I am Master Westyn, and you are Stubborn Luna, queen of Interraton, I presume”, the educator was an elderly male elf of well over three hundred years old. He has the whitest hair the queen had actually seen, and his skin was fair from many hours spent indoors.
“How did you know my entire name, including what the Eldertree, Oulock has nicknamed me?” Luna’s curiosities almost got the best of the queen, but she reigned in her giddy child-like behavior.
“I am the only elf you will ever meet to have the gift of foresight as strong as I do. If you’d like a demonstration, I can show you one like you’ve never seen before. Or you can give this old soul a break for now, and I’ll take you on an adventure you’re likely to never forget”, the educator challenged the queen.
“We will forgo the demonstration, Master Westyn, but later we’ll hold you to your word on that adventure. We’re both long overdue for an escape”, Nulandia said.
“Let me ask you something, Nulandia Bodine, what exactly are you doing here”, the master asked his student.
“Well, it seems as though Luna is a seer, but what’s even more apparent is the fact that she has a block placed over the capabilities of her gift. I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us figure out what could be obstructing her view. It would mean the world to me if you wouldn’t mind helping”, Nulandia explained.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve had to not only identify a block on someone else’s magix, but to also create magix to counteract the spell or potion or elixir used in order keep the gift tangled up. I don’t mind helping you both. Nulandia, as my former student, I hope you were wise enough to warn your friend about me because queen or no, when she’s being taught by me, I’ll crack the whip if she makes me angry enough”, the educator said. He was trying to divert their attention in another direction by means of intimidation, but his efforts went unnoticed.
“Another question I have is, does she have the time to spend away from the throne in case my research goes further than expected?” Westyn asked Nulandia.
“Master Westyn, you need to direct those questions to her so that she can answer you herself because I cannot speak for the queen’s schedule, as of now”, the student said to the educator.
“You’re right, Nula. Where are my manners?” Westyn turned his focus to the queen, and lifted his left brow as he said, “Please, your majesty, forgive an elven fool. I knew better than to address anyone other than you about your schedule. Luna, can you tell me whether or not you’ve got enough free time from the throne in case I need to dig really deep into your psyche in order to find the magix block on your gift?”
“If you can do it within ten years, everything should be alright”, Luna said.
“I need you to understand that if it takes me every second of that ten years to figure it out, that’s the amount of time it will take. If it takes me until the end of your days alive, I will not stop until your gift flows freely like it should. Now, you must also know that if I must go to such extremes, I will need you to be right here beside me in order for me to be able to run extensive tests on you, which will consist of performing my own magix workings on you, and the last thing I need is for you to be in the middle of the forest when the magix begins to work. Therefore, I hope everything has been truthfully dealt with when it comes to the throne because you will not return to your position as queen until this is fixed. And, in order to ease your mind, I want you to know that I’ve been identifying blocks on magix since before you were a twinkle in your mother’s eye, and I do not plan on allowing this identification to take very long. So, you can let your mind rest easily when it comes to that”, Westyn told the queen.
Luna did not know how to deal with the master, and looked to Nulandia for help, “My friend, could you help me out? I didn’t anticipate the issues I’m having with my nerves”.
“Yes, I’ll help you, and don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere. I know what it’s like to have someone drop you off with someone you don’t know in order to learn from them. Then, when my day here was over, Master Westyn would take me home. At first, I was nervous and shy, and he knew that. He used to tell me, ‘Nulandia, you are not my first student, and you will not be my last. Just focus on what I’m telling you, and your other fears will subside’. And, he was right. That first week went by like nothing. The next thing I know, we’re working together side-by-side, and I’m not scared or worried”, Nulandia explained.
“At least you got to go home”, Luna said.
“With everything that’s going on at the castle, aren’t you glad to have a reprieve?” Nulandia asked.
“I am very glad for that. I wasn’t expecting to have to stay here. It’s not that I’m complaining because I’m not. I just hadn’t gotten everything taken care of for me to be gone for an extended period of time”, Luna said.
“I understand what you’re saying, and I’ve got a solution for that. Once a week, I’ll go to the castle, check on things, and make an announcement about your absence. I’ve got details on the first one taken care of. Please, don’t worry. He’s not called master for no reason”, Nulandia said.
“As long as you’re here, I will be alright”, the queen said. She noticed that by talking with her maid, her stomach didn’t feel as tense, and the palms of her hands had dried.
“Have you been watching the master since he noticed we’re here? If you paid attention, he’s led Riddle to a place where he can eat, he’s brought us some tea, and allowed us to do whatever has made us comfortable. He knows from all the time I’ve spent here, that I don’t like small spaces, and has not asked us inside because he knows I cannot be inside the close quarters of his home. He knows that there’s nothing that can be done to change it, so he accommodates the issue by bringing his things outside. He’s also begun to do some work, and believe it or not, that work is being done for you. Mostly, you’ll probably only have to retrieve something from inside he’s forgotten or you may have to find a certain kind of leaf or worm or something like that for a potion; which, by the way, you will have to ingest in order to attempt removing the block on your magix. The reason I’ve told you about these things is so that you know that Master Westyn will always do whatever he can to help, and he will never ask you to compromise anything more than your senses of touch, taste and smell’’, Nulandia explained these things to the queen in order to help her see some activities she may have missed. She wouldn’t ever tell Luna, but the maid felt that the queen didn’t pay enough attention to her surroundings.
Jasmine had been working in the stables the morning Digby came to deliver the telegram from the guardian Bugara, she wiped her hands on the towel that hung from a nail just inside the door, and accepted the postcard the note was written on. The messenger was a younger being, though stressors of the job caused him to appear much older than his true years, which garnered him handsome amounts of tips.“Give me just a moment, and I’ll get you a tip”, Jasmine said. She searched the pocket of her pants, retrieved a quarter from its corner, and placed it in his hand.
“Thank you, Miss Jasmine. May the message from your telegram be good news. I’ll be on my way now. Have a delightful day”, Digby said. He turned on his heels, and left his latest customer. She knew, no matter the type, that receiving news while she was alone. The morning she found out about the accident that Jerrardo passed away in, she had been by herself, and she remembered what it was like to get that kind of information with no one to cling to. It was one of the most heartbreaking pieces of news she’d ever gotten, and if she could do it again, she would not have been alone. She raced to the house, hoping to find her mother and son in the same place. As she made her way up the steps of the back porch, she removed her boots with her feet, and entered the kitchen wearing only her socks.Gwendolyn sat at the table with the princess laying on her left arm while her right hand held the bottle upright.
Azleal sat next to her, getting tips on how to hold the baby during a feeding, and she taught him what he needed to do in order to burp her. Then, she watched the demon as he received the infant and bottle. Her mother allowed him to get comfortable, then placed a rag across his shoulder. No one had detected her presence, which gave her the opportunity to observe the scene unfolding before her, and they would be none the wiser; she needed to allow everything to happen naturally, and didn’t want to ruin the moment by announcing herself.Jasmine knew the demon had an unlimited learning capacity, she’d bestowed the trait upon him just before she brought him to life, but she never realized that he would have a desire to learn how to perform domestic tasks such as feeding and burping a baby. When she thought about it, he was probably only doing those things for the infant he held because she was the future planetary queen, and it was his sole duty to protect her.Her subconscious nagged at the back of her mind, reminding her of the telegram she’d put in her back pocket before she started for the house, and the scene had to end. As much as she’d tried to stay within the first moment Azleal bonded with the princess, she was aware of the message needing to be delivered, and she stepped into the clearing between the pressing table and the stove.
“Mom! Azleal! Just the two beings I’ve been looking for,” she said.
“How long have you been looking?” Gwendolyn asked her daughter. “I just started”, she lied.
“How long am I expected to pretend that I didn’t hear you come in ten minutes ago?” She didn’t wait for her to admit she’d been standing inside for a while because she knew that Jasmine wouldn’t say anything about it. Gwendolyn’s curiosity was heightened, and she wanted to know why her daughter hadn’t made her presence known when she first came in.
“I know I should have let you know I came in, as soon as I did, and I had every intention to do exactly that, but — -”, she became overwhelmed with emotions, and her words were choked back by the tears which were threatening to fall from her eyes.
“But. But, what? Jasmine? What are you talking about?” Gwendolyn had begun to grow impatient until she looked across the room to see her daughter’s body was shaking from crying. Then, she started to feel bad for snapping at Jasmine. She wasn’t sure what had caused the elf to fall apart at that specific time, but it obviously mattered to her daughter. Gwendolyn stood from her chair, walked over with her arms open, and allowed Jasmine to weep until she couldn’t any longer. When she’d cried every tear dry, Jasmine began to slowly explain, “You have to understand that first, Azleal having a life is solely due to my putting in the time to actually grow him from thin air. I gave him an unlimited capacity to store knowledge, but didn’t expect a demon to have a desire to learn how to take care of a baby. When I came in a few minutes ago, you were explaining what he’d have to do in order to get the air bubbles off of Ecko’s stomach. Before I could let y’all know I’d come in, mom, you passed her to Azleal, and I couldn’t bring myself to end the moment. So, I watched as he fed the princess”. “That explains why no announcement of your presence, but what was the reason for the emotional breakdown? You’ve always been stronger than that”, Gwendolyn said.
“Do you remember the first time I did something that took your breath away, and made you cry, mom?” Jasmine asked her.
“Yes, I remember. It was the day Marcellus was born. When you held your brother the first time, I cried like a baby”, Gwendolyn admitted. “You probably felt pride, instead of sadness that day”, she said.
“It was definitely not sadness that brought me to tears. It was knowing that you were alright with the new baby. I never thought you’d hate him, but every mother has her doubts about that situation until it plays out”, Gwendolyn said.
“Well, that’s how I felt when I saw Azleal with the princess. Unsure and confident. It is a smorgasbord of emotions. It was touching”, she said.
“That explains the waterworks. What brought you in in the first place?” Gwendolyn asked.
“I got a message from guardian Bugara, and I didn’t want to be alone when I read it”, Jasmine said.
“That makes sense. I’m glad you decided to come inside, and look for us. So, I guess it would be good for you to find us in the same place at the same time. Would you like for me to read it?” Gwendolyn asked.
“Yeah, sure, you can read it”, she said, pulling the telegram out of her back pocket. Jasmine went over to the table, sat in the chair before her, and sat on the edge of it. She couldn’t help but be nervous since the last time she’d gotten a message from the guardian, it had been over a year previously, and it was to let her know that the unit was down until further notice due to maintenance issues.
“Miss Jasmine, the Ground Transportation Unit has been repaired and is back online for you to use at any time”, Gwendolyn said.
“Thanks, Bugara, but I could’ve used the unit six months ago when I was moving Azleal in. It’s a little late for that one”, she said.
“Yes, but it will come in handy for so many other things”, her mother said.
“No, mom, it won’t. Don’t you remember the agreement I had to make with the mayor in order to convince him to let me buy one?” Jasmine asked the question, but already knew what the answer would be since her mother had been visiting when Mayor Hidalgo announced his approval of a Ground Transportation Unit being purchased, installed and used by Jasmine Devereux only after she signed a contract stating that she would not use the unit for daily tasks.
“That unit was installed by a contractor of my choosing, twenty years ago, and in that time the thing has been used a total of two times. The first time, Twitch had fallen out of the hayloft, and broke her leg so the bone was protruding from the skin. The second time was when Miss Eugenia went into labor, but had to be taken to the doctor’s house in the middle of the night. Come to find out, the baby was trying to come out backwards, and if we hadn’t rushed Eugenia to Doctor Roseberg, the baby wouldn’t have made it. So, I’ve used it once every ten years, if you want to get down-right technical about the whole thing. I could’ve used it to move Azleal because of the sheer size of some of his artwork, but the unit was still down at the time”, Jasmine explained. She wanted to be happy the unit was back up and running, but unless there was an emergency, the transportation device only had two uses. Gathering dust, and collecting spider webs.
“Jasmine, do you seriously believe that if you paid Bugara to turn her head, that you couldn’t get away with using it on a daily basis? I mean, stop and think about it this way, neither of us is getting any younger. Plus, the last time I looked, you are a new mother. Those two things should be enough to convince you to be alright with paying the guardian some hush money”, Gwendolyn offered.
“You have two very valid, and very rational ideas for this idea. However, can you explain to me how it is that I’m supposed to convince my subconscious that I’m doing the right thing? If I were to entertain your idea”, Jasmine asked. She wanted to see what kind of creative ideas her mother could come up with that would allow her to sleep well at night should she choose to take her mother’s advice.
“You would eventually get over it, Jasmine, my dearest one. I never could understand why the unit didn’t get used more often. I mean the damn thing was bought for you to use. Am I right or am I wrong?” Gwendolyn challenged.
“Mom, I love you, oh so very much. I only ever had the intention of using the unit for emergencies, whether the mayor had me sign a contract or not”, Jasmine said.
“Well, I didn’t know that. Would you ever consider slipping some cash to Bugara, and let me use the unit more regularly?” Gwendolyn asked.
“Let me think about it. I may just go ahead and pay Mayor Hidalgo a visit, and see if he will allow a renegotiation of the use of the unit. I think that if I were to talk to Greyson Hidalgo, the male, the elf, the father I may be able to convince him to allow more frequent usage of the unit. Trying to appeal to him as Mayor Hidalgo is as senseless as male beings having nipples”, she couldn’t help but giggle.
“Jasmine Jeanette Devereux, I can’t believe you just said that”, Gwendolyn scolded.
“What, mom? Does the word ‘nipple’ make you blush?” Jasmine teased her mother.
“No. Oh, hush, now”, Gwendolyn said as she covered her face with both hands.
“What, grandma? You haven’t ever heard the word nipple before?” Azleal chimed in.
“Where did that come from, Az?” Jasmine inquired.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help it. You two sat in here having an entire conversation that neither of you bothered including me in, so I thought I’d razz my grandma. So, what are you going to do about it?” the demon asked. He was laughing to indicate the playful tone in his words.
“I’ve got no problem with you razzing mom. I just was not expecting anything from the court jester. Not unless, of course, I yanked his chain”, she threw his way.
“Hey, hey, hey! If you’re going to say anything about me and my fetishes, get your facts straight little one. I do not wear a chain. They’re degrading and disgusting. This demon here will only allow himself to be hooked up to a harness”, Azleal corrected.
“I apologize, my son. I know better than to associate you with wearing a chain”, Jasmine said.
“Wait. Hold on. What the hell is that about? What do you mean chains are degrading and disgusting? I’m out of touch, I guess. I’ve never heard of such a thing”, Gwendolyn said. She was curious to know why it was upsetting for the demon to wear a chain, but felt she may have crossed into forbidden territory when she asked.
“Oh, mom. Sometimes I forget, you don’t actually live under a rock”, Jasmine teased.
“Hush with teasing me for now, please, and tell me about this chain thing”, she said.
“Miss Gwen, if you don’t mind, I’ll explain it”, Azleal waited for Gwendolyn’s approval.
“I don’t care who tells me. I want to know”, she said.
“Somewhere around fifteen hundred years ago, there was a demon who went by the name of Chain. This one was the cruelest, most hideous, and vile being to walk the planet. He had seven wives who gave him seven children, each. Only the male children were in line to inherit his empire when he died. His female children were either sold into slavery or he made them go through arranged marriages. He abused everyone in his immediate family, including the forty-nine children of his own. He left his wolves to sleep outside, no matter the weather, and they all lived on chains. If you believe everything you hear, the guy even had the women and children attached to one another by chains. However, I don’t tend to believe that because it would be difficult to have marital relations with any of his wives when the others were literally attached to the one he was enamored with”, Azleal explained.
“Oh, wow! I had no idea, Azleal”, Gwendolyn said.
“I should tell the full truth about that story. Mamma, I’ve never told you this part, but I think it’s time you know what really happened”, the demon said. He’d taken Jasmine’s right hand in his, and he was studying her face. When there was no response from either female, Azleal continued, “Mistress Sufarian had myself, and eight other personal demons, created in order to protect the future nine planetary queens. Her reasoning behind creating us was solid. She wanted us to have ample time to learn the ways of a demon, and to learn the ways of an honest being. Of course, exposure to both was completely left up to the discretion of each magix being in charge of making the demons.
“I met the demon known as Chain when I was twenty years old. I thought I was ready to deal with being exposed to a demon, so I went to Yullo, Miscreant of the Dead, and asked him to let me get that part of my existence over with.
“At the time, I hadn’t been aware of the fact that Yullo is the eldest born offspring of Aryllion, Lord of the Underworld. Neither did the demon know exactly who I was. His father told him about nine beings who would come asking for exposure to a demon, and he gave a physical description. Other than that, he had no idea who I was, so he couldn’t plan to put me with a demon like Chain out of spite or what have you.
“I didn’t meet the evil one because of running into him. Instead, I was one of the many slaves he bought, and I was the one he took his anger out on. I was his favorite because I never cried. You would think he’d want to hear the one he was currently abusing cry out in agony, and beg him to stop. However, I never gave him the satisfaction of knowing he caused me any kind of pain, and that used to piss him off in the worst way. After I was placed back on my lead out in the yard like I was one of his wolves, I would start howling as if I were one of his supreme apex predators.
“Of course, that would send him reeling, and I would be subjected to another round of beatings. In all of that hatred and abuse, you’d think I would’ve been almost as hateful as Chain was, but I refused to allow him to break me down completely. He could do whatever he wanted to do with my physical body. That did not matter to me. What he could not have was my peace of mind. I vowed to never allow that evil scuzz-ball to relieve me of my inner happiness, and it was still intact the night I fled”, Azleal explained.
Together, Jasmine and Gwendolyn were stunned into silence by disbelief, both were slack-jawed, and neither of them could find words to say in response. Individually, Jasmine wanted to wrap him up in her arms, kiss him all over his head, and repeatedly tell him that she loved him. Gwendolyn also wanted to hold him, expressing her undying grandmotherly love to him. More than that, she wanted to sing to Azleal until he fell asleep.
Jasmine had decided that she’d be the one to give the demon his experience from a being. She would not have it any other way, and she would not take ‘no’ for an answer. It was time, in her mind, to show the demon what it meant to be loved completely, whole-heartedly, and unconditionally. She would give up her life to spare his; as well, she would end another’s life to prevent him from dying. Without question, she knew he would do the same for her.
“I am sorry you were subjected to such horrible treatment”, Jasmine said. She couldn’t help but feel guilty for not being there for him, and he could sense her emotional plight.
“There’s nothing you could’ve done to prevent it from happening, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have allowed you to interfere, even if you could have. Mom, you have to understand that it was something I had to go through, and eventually you’ve got to forgive yourself for not being involved in that part of my life. It simply was not meant for things to happen in any other way than the way they did. Miss Gwendolyn, I feel that I owe you an apology. You didn’t know about my torments, and I probably shouldn’t have shared them right then. Can you forgive me? I feel like I’ve caused you great emotional turmoil, and for that I cannot extend enough apologies”, Azleal said. He never intended either one of them any kind of distress.
“Azleal, my new found friend, you have nothing to apologize for. Everyone has a point where they cannot keep things buried inside anymore, and the bad has to be spoken about in order to heal emotionally. Everything will be alright”, Gwendolyn said.
“Mom, is there something wrong?” Jasmine asked.
“No, not that I can think of. Why?” Gwendolyn inquired.
“I’m not sure if you even realize what you’re doing, but I’ve noticed it. How do I say this? Az referred to you as grandma, but you called him your new found friend. There was no problems with accepting Ecko as my daughter, but you won’t accept him as my son. Neither of these beings came from my loins, but they are my children. No matter how they came into my life, and I would appreciate it if you could accept them both as such”, Jasmine explained to her mother.
“I’m sorry for upsetting you, and no, I didn’t even realize I’d done that. Of course, I have no problems with accepting Azleal as my family as well as you do. I learned, after Jerrardo passed away that if I was lucky to get any kind of family from you, meaning grandchildren and such, your extended family would most likely be one you place together. A family filled with the beings you enjoy spending lots of time with, Or that you might one day adopt a little one to call your own. When you lost the love of your life, I broadened my horizons when it came to the idea of loving someone who is not of blood relation. I’m not going to lie, that was a difficult thing for me to have to accept. However, I knew it could become a part of my life, and I had to learn how to be alright with that idea”, Gwendolyn told them both.
“I know it’s probably hard for you to wrap your head around the idea of your daughter being the mother of a demon, but I wouldn’t have life if not for her selfless act of kindness. If you’d be more comfortable calling me your friend for a while, Miss Gwen, I don’t have a problem with that. I can even skip the grandma thing until you get used to the concept. I mean, it’s up to you”, Azleal explained. The last thing he wanted was tension between himself and his mother’s mother.
“Azleal, sweetheart, if I have upset you, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you”, Gwendolyn said.
Nulandia and Luna cleaned up the sitting room in the clubhouse, while they waited to see if there was anything strange going to happen because of the spell. They both knew from experience that if magix were performed incorrectly, oftentimes there would be consequences for not following the instructions completely without altering the words or ingredients. Even though they’d followed the binding spell exactly to the letter, neither of them wanted to take any chances of something odd occurring after they’d arrived back at the castle, which would be a disaster since Lance would know one of them had used their skills. Luna did not want to give the king any reason to complain anymore.
When they’d finished cleaning, Luna and Nulandia exited the clubhouse; Luna used the elevator, and Nulandia made her descent by the rope on the limb of the Eldertree. She made it down before the queen and waited for the mechanism carrying the dumbwaiter to reach the bottom. When she stepped out, Luna said, “Oulock Poplar, Eldertree of the southeastern forest, Stubborn Luna and her friend have finished using the meeting room.
Please return to the ordinary tree you truly are”. With that, the tree transformed back into an elm tree. Both the queen and her servant could’ve left at any point, but Luna always enjoyed watching the process, so they stayed until they completed it.
Once the forest grew quiet again, the elves were prepared to leave. As they walked down around the bend, Nulandia said, “What do you plan to tell everyone when we get back?” She had a sinister look move across her face, and the queen replied, “I am the queen. I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. However, as a favor to you, I’ll have all castle staff members gather in the main dining hall approximately an hour after we’ve arrived. Then I’ll announce that you and I have become the closest of friends, and if anyone has any questions, they’ll be sent to the gallows. Is that alright?”
“I don’t care how you handle everything, as long as it gets taken care of. I don’t want to deal with being subjected to a bunch of questions I can’t answer. I appreciate the fact that you’re willing to deal with everything truthfully, as well. Any other queen wouldn’t divulge anything to her staff members, and after the way your king has behaved, he’d be lucky to ever find out. Your willingness to let everyone know that we’re friends tells me that you are trying to make some changes in the ways of royalty. Why else would you tell anyone a damn thing about us?” Nulandia wagered. She had gotten to know Luna well enough over the past seven years to know when she was planning something. She could tell that day, the queen had every intention of making a lasting impact upon many lives, and the maid was not afraid to tell her what she already knew.
Luna was astonished, she hadn’t expected to be read so well by her maid, but if anyone could know when she was planning something it was her friend, Nulandia. She looked to her right at the elf walking beside her and said, “You know me all too well. How did you get into my head that fast?” Luna asked.
“I have been at your side since you inherited the throne from your mother seven years ago, and I’ve learned a few things about you that I don’t even think you’re aware of. One of those things happens to be that I can tell when you’re getting ready to make a big move. Besides, those who are close enough come to realize that you actually listen to the commoners, and you take into consideration the demands they place at your feet. With the two of us becoming friends, you figure now is a great time to start a campaign rallying for the approval of friendships between royalty and common citizens. Tell me I’m wrong”, Nulandia dared.
“You’re not wrong, at all. As a matter of fact, you have given me a few ideas I hadn’t yet thought of. Thanks, Nula”, Luna confessed to her new friend. It was breathtaking to know that her maid knew her that well, but she had been aware of the fact that it was possible for someone who was as close to her as Nulandia that she would learn the ways of the queen. That was something she had been told when she attended queen etiquette classes, she was expecting it, but not as quickly as it was happening.
When the walk was over, Luna found Corvallis on the top step, and she told him, “Come to my chambers. I need you to do something for me, but I don’t want to talk about it in front of others. Follow me”. Her guard fell in step with the queen and her maid, and they continued to her bed chambers.
He opened her door, allowed them entrance to the inside of her room, and shut it behind himself. He stood with his hands holding themselves, and they were placed behind his back. He kept his mouth shut and his ears open, he knew something was going on with the queen; and apparently her new friend was involved with what Luna had on her mind, but he would allow the queen to confirm what he already knew.
Luna knew by the way he stood at attention that Corvallis was ready to receive whatever message she needed delivered, and she began to speak, “I want anybody and everybody who works in the castle to gather together in the main dining hall, but you only have one hour to get them here. Go ahead and get the word out. When I get finished with the meeting I’ll pay you”.
Corvallis turned to the queen, and with a quick salute left the queen and her friend to accomplish the goal she’d sent him to fulfill. Luna smiled at Nulandia, she wondered if her new found friend had any idea what she was plotting. There were no immediate signs of what she knew, and Luna couldn’t help but ask, “What do you think I have in mind for the meeting?”
“If I know you well enough, I think you’re not only going to tell them about our friendship, paving the way for royalty and common citizens to openly have relationships, but you’re probably even going to let them know that if they don’t approve, you will hire a new executioner and have the blades of the gallows sharpened. You don’t plan to explain it more than once because you don’t like to repeat yourself”, Nulandia guessed.
“Wow! That’s a bit scary”, the queen confessed. She giggled at the next thought that made its way through her mind, and she decided to tell Nulandia, “It just occurred to me how vital you are to me, and I am now fully aware of how easily you could replace me if I ever needed you to be a Patsy”.
“I can fill in for you, but even I have limits. I will not be the one that takes the backlash of someone who doesn’t agree with you about our friendship”, Nulandia told her.
“I’d never ask you to do that, but if it came down to it, you could help me out in a pinch”, Luna said. She studied her friend to see if the idea she’d put out there had hit its target; when the connection was made, the queen put her arm around the waist of her friend, and she said, “Let’s start making our way to the dining hall, I have a few stops to make along the way”.
“Sounds good to me. Take the lead”, Nulandia encouraged the queen. They left her quarters, closing the door behind them. Nulandia felt like she was sitting on top of the world, and she had the best elf to ever rule the planet on her side to face whatever obstacle got thrown her way.
They went all the way to the west wing of the castle for the queen to talk with Lance, but he was not in his chambers. Luna decided they would go to the dining hall from there, the other places she wanted to stop by were on the way.
The first stop they made was the kitchen where they both got a drink, and Luna told some of the staff members who were around that they were to be in the main dining hall at the same time as everyone else, and she warned that if they did not attend, she would punish them. When they finished in the kitchen, Luna and Nulandia started towards the library. The queen was searching for her husband, but he could not be found in any of the places they looked. She was beginning to tire of looking for Lance, and led Nulandia to the dining hall. “Eventually, word will get around to the pompous ass I must call my husband. I’m not wasting anymore of my energy searching for him, you and I have an affair to attend to, and we’ll not be late trying to locate the king”, she told her maid.
“The way I see it, he can either accept what he hears when word comes down, or he can get in line for the gallows. No one can be the exception to the rule, and he’d be a great perfect example as to what can happen to anyone who doesn’t accept us”, Nulandia said.
The sinister look returned to the queen’s face, she was impressed, and she let her know, “You’ve done it again, you read my mind. How do you continue to say everything I’m thinking?”
“Well, your highness, I have not only learned many aspects of magix, and I’ve also been blessed with the gift of foresight,” Nulandia confessed.
“That explains it. Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” Luna inquired.
“Because you did not ask me a direct question. I may divulge what I do and don’t want others to know, just like everybody else. Until someone asks the right question, and until now, you failed to do that,” Nulandia told the queen. She giggled, watching Luna’s face get screwed up with expressions of frustration.
“You should’ve told me before now. If I had magix capabilities and had been blessed with an additional gift, I would’ve told you a couple of hours ago, when we were in the privacy of our clubhouse. I wouldn’t have kept it from you just because you didn’t ask the right question, but that’s another difference between us. I would have told you, but you didn’t think it was necessary to fill me in on the clue.” Luna was seething with anger, and really wanted to punch Nulandia on her arm.
The maid could sense that the queen’s mood had changed, and decided to stop causing her grief. She looked at Luna, who was standing across the immense room, and said, “I get it. I understand. You’re about to punch me if I don’t stop being so literal, right?”
Luna chuckled, irritation still in her voice, and said, “Yes, that’s absolutely right. Now, answer this question. Is there any way to turn your foresight off?”
“No, I cannot. I can tune things out, but I can’t make it stop. The only way this doesn’t work is if I’m dead,” Nulandia told the queen.
“Wow! So, you mean to tell me that for all my days as queen, I can look forward to you knowing what I’m thinking before I say it?” Luna asked.
“I would hope like hell that you’re not going in there to defend our friendship, only to dump me by the wayside when you’re no longer queen, but that’s your choice. However, you’re right. As long as you and I remain alive, and we’re still friends, I’ll be able to read your mind,” Nulandia said.
“I had no intention of risking my kingdom and my title, fighting for a friendship I don’t plan to keep after my daughter inherits everything. So, why is it you didn’t know about what happened between Lance and I last night?” She asked.
“You never cease to amaze me, Luna Garrick of Interraton. I’m happy to hear you say that. Just so you know. I knew about everything that happened last night, I had not figured out how to bring it up to tell you that I can read your mind. That is, until this afternoon when you showed me a side of yourself I’d never seen before, making it okay for me to tell you,” Nulandia said.
When she looked up, Luna realized they were in front of the main dining hall, and she said, “Well, my friend, after this it will be alright for us to be friends, and we won’t have to worry about feeling the scrutiny of others. Even if there are those who choose not to be friends with commoners, we’re still going to make a significant statement here. Are you ready?” Luna asked her new friend.
“I’m as ready as anyone can be, since this is last minute. I hope you’re not worried about my outward appearance. It’s not like I had the opportunity to go home and change my clothes before getting up in front of all those other beings, smelling like a Billy Goat,” Nulandia said.
“Your outward appearance won’t even be an issue once I get started, but if you’re uncomfortable you’re more than welcome to borrow something of mine. Problem with that is, you’ll miss my speech, and even if you already know what I’m going to say nothing will compare to hearing it yourself,” Luna informed her. She was ready to make history, and she wanted Nulandia to be comfortable.
“No, I’ll wait. I was just making light conversation,” she told the queen. She was excited about the upcoming speech Luna was set to make, and there would be nothing to stop her from hearing the words coming directly from the queen. She stopped by the open door, and allowed Luna to enter the dining hall first.
As she came to each row of commoners, they all stood bowing, and she waved to them as though they were friends. Midway through there was a podium, which Luna moved to, and stood behind. She raised her left hand in an effort to get everyone to be quiet so that she could be heard. The crowd settled rather quickly, and she prepared to make her speech. Though she had not practiced this one in the mirror, the queen knew her words would have a bigger impact if they came unrehearsed, which made them more authentic.
“I’d like to thank you all for coming on such short notice. I will make this as fast as possible in order for everybody to continue with the activities of their day. The reason I’ve asked for this emergency gathering is that there is going to be a major change in the way royalty elves get along with common ones, and the way citizens are looked at by those of us who are part of the hierarchy. Today, I learned more about my maid Nulandia because I paid no mind to the idea that it is wrong for a queen to speak to her help outside of work, and I took my friend on a trip through the southeastern forest so that we could get away from everybody for the morning. We were capable of relaxing around each other, and we ate until we thought we’d pop. I guess what I’m getting at is, you never know what kind of relationship you can form with someone who doesn’t live in your world. Later, I will have everything written up, and made legal. If anyone has something to say against me, they shall face the gallows first thing tomorrow morning”, Luna said.
Suddenly, a voice coming from the back of the crowd shouted, “Down to queen Luna! She is losing her mind! There is a caste in place to separate the commoners from royalty, and what you’re suggesting goes against everything everybody has ever known about the system. You’re sure to make a mockery of the throne if you make that shit you just spewed legal”.
Luna spun on her heels and found the object of her affection at the moment, the foot-soldier, Corvallis, and she demanded, “Take that idiot to the dungeon. He’ll make the perfect first example as to how much bullshit I’ll tolerate over this new law”.
Corvallis easily stopped the fleeing elf by holding out his left arm, which clothes-lined the middle-aged being. Before the being’s body hit the floor, he was unconscious and his eyes rolled to the back of his head. When the brute of a foot-soldier saw the lump of a being lying on there, he kicked it hard. This caused the elf to start coughing, but he did not sit up to show he was aware of what was going on. Enraged, Corvallis grabbed the elf by his ankles, and slung his torso over the soldier’s armor. He had to get the prisoner down to the dungeon. If he could, the foot-soldier would try and salvage the session of warrior training he’d been pulled out of. By the looks of things, he wouldn’t be so lucky to be able to finish where he’d left off earlier, and the thought angered him further.
When he reached the long corridor leading to the dungeon, Corvallis spoke with Tarrizis, and the overseer of the citadel’s dismal prison took possession of the being lying on his shoulder. The elf was placed on the cold, wet concrete as the guard located the keys to open the gate to the cell that held several others. As Tarrizis bent over to pick up the body on the ground, he heard something shuffling in the corridor. Leaving the elf where he slept, the conflicted demon went to see what caused the noise he’d heard. At the end of the hall, he looked to the right and saw right away where the sound was coming from.
The queen decided she needed to talk to the elf who had spoken out against her friendship with Nulandia, and the two of them went down to the dungeon. The demon Tarrizis was on foot patrol that afternoon, and he said, “Your majesty, what brings you to this drab hell-hole?”
“I’d like to speak with the elf who got sentenced to face the gallows tomorrow”, Luna informed the guard.
“At the moment, that’s absolutely impossible”, the demon told her.
“Why is that?” She asked the demon.
“See that lump of cloth lying against the wall over there?” Tarrizis pointed at the elf who still had not regained consciousness, and said, “Come back later. He should be awake in a couple hours”.
“What happened to him?” The queen asked the demon.
“All I know is, Corvallis came down here pissed off over the fact that he’d been taken out of a training session for a speech you wanted to make, and that everything went fine with whatever you needed to tell everyone. It wasn’t until you were on the way out of the dining hall that the elf over there decided he didn’t like what you said. You told Corvallis to bring him down here, and he thought it’d be wise to try and run”, the demon explained to the queen.
“Let me guess, the foot-soldier knocked the prisoner out. That doesn’t need a response. I’ll be back later, there are some questions I’d like to ask of that elf. When he wakes up, send someone to let me know”, the queen said.
April 21, 2022 in Wikacy Stories
After breakfast, Jasmine and Ballista shared an orange on the back porch, and the educator explained why she’d been looking for the servant. “Earlier when I sent you to get my mom, I sent for Aimes, but he was not available to help me with something that is extremely important. You would’ve been the first one I come to with this massive favor, but I know how you feel about the main character in my quest”.
“Miss Jasmine, are you asking me to do something for you that’s going to involve Azleal?” Ballista inquired.
“Yes, I am”, Jasmine answered.
“What is it you need me to do?” Ballista asked.
“I need you to be the biggest sweetheart on the planet, and take me to pick him up so he can meet the princess”, Jasmine could only be honest with the conflicted demon, and hope that she would agree to drive her out to pick up Azleal.
“I’m the only other one you know to ask that favor of?” Ballista asked.
“You are the only other one I trust to ask that favor of. I know he scared you last time he was here, but to be fair, he has tried to apologize; but you would not see him so that he could try to make amends. However, I do not blame you for refusing to speak with Azleal. It was over an entire year before you stopped having nightmares. Then again, that incident was not entirely his fault, and I never understood why you weren’t just as upset with me. I told him that he could shed his vessel, and never thought about activating the safe measures. Therefore, I’m as much to blame for you seeing Azleal in his true form as he is for taking my advice”, Jasmine offered. She desperately needed Ballista to agree to drive her to The Devil Empire, and thought taking blame for that day might help the servant make the decision to take her there.
“When I told my momma what happened, she told me that the only way I can get past the nightmares was for me to admit, and accept, my fault in the situation. At first, I did not understand. In my mind, it was his responsibility to keep anyone from seeing him like that. When I brought that up, mamma said that I was just as much at fault because I did not announce myself before going inside. She also defended you both when she said, ‘They both thought everyone was gone, and that no one would return for several more hours. Azleal took his creator’s advice, and removed his vessel for comfort. You walked in, without knocking, and you have been scarred for the rest of your life. How do you not see your fault?’ I was stunned, Miss Jasmine. It felt like momma wasn’t listening to me, and we fought about what she said. That was until daddy got home. When daddy heard about my blunder, he said the same thing. My feelings were crushed, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever forgive either of them. I felt abandoned by my mother and my father. I went to my room, and I cried. How could my own parents take your side? Why didn’t they put all the blame on you and Azleal?
“Then, one day, my grandmother visited. After I explained everything, including mom and dad’s opinion, she let me have it. I mean to tell you she cussed at me in ways I’d never heard before, and that was in her secondary tongue. When she got tired of swearing in English, she cussed me in her native language, the one she was born to speak. When that made her tired, she would switch back to English. She went on in that way for a solid week. I couldn’t take it anymore. My grandmother had forgotten who she was speaking to, she’d been cussing me out for a week, and I’d had it.
“The night grandma had been visiting for a week, I lost it. I yelled at her. I told her that I never thought she’d talk to me like that. She told me she never thought she’d have to talk to me like that. I cried, and went to bed. Before I got into bed, I replayed the events of that day, and I came to the conclusion that the only way grandma was going to stop with her tirade was for me to admit that I was at fault as much as you and Azleal. I slept peacefully that night. No nightmares, and all because I didn’t want my grandmother to continue talking to me in that way. The next morning, I told everyone what I did the night before, and how I slept so well after I admitted responsibility for my part in everything”, Ballista explained.
“If that’s true, why haven’t you ever told me or Azleal what you’d done?”Jasmine asked.
“I figured if y’all didn’t know about what I’d done, I wouldn’t have to face Azleal, and he would continue to pay the price for my error, no matter if I’d found absolution or not”,
“Now, it all comes together, and makes perfect sense. You know, if you were anyone else, I’d be madder than a hornet for putting him through all that anguish. However, since I am talking to you, I’m not going to get angry, but I am telling you that you will talk to Az when we get back. You will tell him every piece of the truth, and you will apologize for tormenting him for so long”, Jasmine said.
“Yes, ma’am, Miss Jasmine. I’ll talk to him and let him off the hook as soon as we get back”, she said.
“When we get back from taking Azleal home, you will start to receive punishment from me for lying to me. And, if he chooses, you may be punished by him, too”, Jasmine said.
“I’m in no position to refuse what you’ve said. I lied, and that’s what I have to deal with”, Ballista said.
“It is, but for now, don’t think about that. What I need you to focus on is helping me reinforce the bolts on the carriage we’re going to use. I know I created that monster, but Holy cow, he’s ginormous, and every one of those bolts is going to need help to endure his weight”, Jasmine told her servant.
“I completely understand that. If I were those bolts, I’d unscrew myself, and haul ass running”, Ballista told Jasmine. When the professor began to laugh, she knew the joke landed where she’d intended, and she laughed along.
“Sometimes I wonder what makes that mind of yours work. I mean, I’ve been around the block a time or two, I’ve seen quite a few things in my lifetime, and I’ve heard some really clever stuff. You, however, always come up with the silliest things to say. Which one of your parents is a comedian?” Jasmine wanted to know.
“What do you mean?” Ballista asked.
“Do you get your sense of humor from your mom or your dad?” Jasmine inquired.
“Neither of them. I got my sense of humor from the grandmother of mine who cussed me out”, Ballista confessed.
“Let me tell you something, for an older, wiser elf, your grandma sounds amazing”, Jasmine admitted.
“You might actually know her”, Ballista said.
“Really? What’s her name?” The professor inquired.
“Nerville Sufarian”, Ballista shared.
“Now I understand why I kept thinking I could hear her, a couple years back”, Jasmine said.
“What are you talking about, Miss Jasmine?” Ballista was beyond curious. They’d already reinforced the majority of the braces connected to the carriage, and needed ten to finish the job.
Jasmine had an expression on her face that read she was flustered, Ballista was waiting for her answer, and it was fair to tell her who Mistress Sufarian was to her.
She forced a smile and said, “Your grandmother is my magix educator. I don’t call her Nerville, though. She always has been and always will be Mistress Sufarian, to me”.
Ballista could not help herself, something her boss had said caused her to crack up laughing.
She was beginning to get irritated because she wanted to know what was funny about what had been said. When she caught her breath, Ballista said, “I’m sorry. I never pictured you in school before, and to know that my grandma is your teacher is hilarious, somehow”, Ballista said.
“That’s fine. We’re almost done here, and we’ll be able to leave. Let’s get it done”, Jasmine said. She put another stake in place, and hammered it in.
Within a few minutes, they had completed the reinforcement of the carriage, and they hitched the horses to it. Jasmine climbed up onto the bench next to Ballista, and the two of them left.
When they got to the end of the road, Jasmine said, “Normally, the ride would take us eight hours, but with a little magix, we’ll be there in a few minutes”. She rolled up her sleeves, said a few words in the language of Erato, and in a flash they were in front of Azleal’s lair.
“With age comes impatience, and I am too old to be riding for sixteen hours. Give me a few minutes to talk to him, and I’ll be right back”, Jasmine said. She jumped from her place on the bench, and disappeared around the corner. Ballista released the hold she had on the reins, and leaned back to wait for Jasmine.
The next time she saw her, there was someone behind her who looked like an ordinary elf, but because of where she was, it could only be Azleal. She had met him quite a few times, but hadn’t seen the vessel he was currently wearing. This one made the demon look less threatening, and helped to put Ballista at ease, instantly. She helped Jasmine find her place to the right of the driver, and she pulled out the running boards of the carriage in order to assist Azleal with boarding the coach. When she loaded herself onto the driver’s seat on the left of Jasmine, there was a smile on her face that looked as though it could never be removed. The magix professor, impressed with the show of bravery from her servant, said, “You have just saved yourself, and don’t even know what you’ve done”.
Ballista grabbed the reins of the horse team, and said, “I’m not looking to make points or get myself out of trouble. I thought helping y’all would be a lot quicker, and we could get back sooner”.
Jasmine lifted her right arm, said something in the native planetary language, and instantly they returned to the end of the road that led to Devereux Manor Road. Ballista managed the team and carriage perfectly, and the entire vehicle landed on the ground with a thud. The reinforcements placed strategically on certain bolts for shock absorption when Azleal’s weight came down with the carriage, held without any problems. The professor demanded, “Stop everything! I have to be sure that Azleal made it through. That landing seemed a little light, and that’s very concerning.
Give me just a minute to be sure he’s back there, and we can head to the house”. Ballista pulled the team to a halt with the shout from her boss, and she waited for Jasmine to return with news of whether or not Azleal made it through the magix transition.
A minute later, the professor joined her servant on the driver’s seat, and said, “He’s fine. I kinda thought he was, but I had to get my eyes on him because he doesn’t travel using magix because sometimes parts of him get left on the other side, and as you can imagine, that is very painful for him. We’re ready to finish out this trip, so let’s take it on to the manor”, Jasmine encouraged her servant.
The carriage stopped in front of the entrance to the manor, and everyone unloaded. Cryer and Markham retrieved the horse team and carriage, and took them to the stables to unhook the animals from the vehicle.
Jasmine led Ballista and Azleal onto the front porch, and the professor stopped before going inside. She needed to speak with her servant, and addressed the young elf with pride in her heart, “I want you to know how very proud I am of you taking the initiative to help Azleal and I load up on the carriage earlier. I know you said that you were not looking for any points or leniency towards your punishment, but you have actually earned quite a few. Because you chose to help, no matter the outcome, your punishment no longer exists. Think of it as a gift from me to you, for showing me that you could be strong when it was tempting to stay where you were ‘’.
The young servant said, “I appreciate your generosity. I was only trying to help. Like I told you earlier, I was not looking to make any points towards getting out of trouble, but I am grateful for your decision to overlook the punishment”.
Jasmine opened the door to the mansion, and stood aside as her servant and the demon both found their way inside.
She followed them, and pulled the door closed behind her. Ballista went into the kitchen, and found that Naesys had already turned the cooking over to Twitch. She was the servant who made lunch for the residents and workers at the manor. Jasmine asked for the room to be empty except for those who she’d given permission to stay. The afternoon cook grabbed Ecko from the bassinet near the stove, and left the kitchen.
When there was no one within earshot, Jasmine began, “Ballista, I know you said that you were not looking to gain any points towards leniency of your punishment, but you gave yourself so many when you help Azleal and I that they have to be applied. Therefore, your punishments, both of them, have been rescinded. Now, Azleal and I need to ask you for the room. And, while on your way out, if you please, tell Miss Twitch that I’ll be needing her to hand over the princess, but that when we’re done, she can have the baby back.”
A couple minutes later, the servant appeared briefly in the kitchen, she placed the princess in her mother’s arms, and left expediently.
Jasmine held the princess, and smiled at the little one lying peacefully on her chest. She knew Azleal may feel intrepid at first, but with the appropriate encouragement, he would eventually find himself holding the future queen of Interraton with more ease and less apprehension.
April 14, 2022 in Fantasy Novel
When Luna left her daughter with the nervous new mother, Jasmine thought about the things she would need for the baby. She and Jerrardo were going to wait until they’d been married for a few years in order to save up to afford a child. There was nothing to feed or clothe her baby with, and it was too cold outside for her to travel anywhere. One of her servants was walking through the hall, and Jasmine called to her, “Hey, you! Whoever you are! Come step inside my sitting room, I need to talk to you”. The servant turned around and went back to the door, she said, “It’s me Ballista. What can I do for you Miss Jasmine?” The servant continued into the room, and was amazed by the sight in front of her. Her boss was holding a baby, and she was crying. “Miss Jasmine? Are you alright? Whose baby is that, and why are you holding it?” Ballista asked.
Jasmine looked up, and smiled at her servant. She said, I am alright. The baby is now mine. Come meet my pretty new daughter, Ballista”. The conflicted demon went further into the room, and sat on the ottoman by the professor’s feet. Ecko was laying on her chest, neither of them having moved since the moment Luna placed her daughter on her best friend’s chest. She told Ballista, “Listen to me, well. I need you to take one of the passenger carriages to my mother’s house. You know she’s Gwendolyn. Tell her she needs to come back with you right away. Tell her I need her to help me with something extremely urgent. Tell her I need her right now. Go, Ballista.
Get my mother to come back with you. Oh, tell Gwendolyn I’m sorry it’s such an ungodly hour, and I wouldn’t come to call on her this late if I didn’t truly need her. Ballista, don’t you say one word to her about the baby, it is to be a surprise”. Hurry back, now”.As she waited for her servant and her mother to return, Jasmine thought about how much trouble she may have gotten herself in. One thing she knew for certain, trouble or not, she would most definitely adopt for the princess a brother or sister. She couldn’t imagine Ecko growing up without a sibling for companionship, her parents gave her several brothers and sisters. It would be a couple years, but she would see to it that the princess had someone to grow up with.
While she waited for Ballista to return with her mother, Jasmine thought about a future with a princess toddler, and the one decision she made immediately was that she would be sure to adopt a sibling to be companionship for Ecko. Her daughter would not grow up without someone to be a friend and someone she can confide in. Jasmine had several brothers and sisters, she always chose to be friends with the ones who were not hanging out with the babies. She didn’t like kids back then, but when the discussion came up between herself and her ex fiance,
Jasmine had been open to suggestions on the topic. Jerrardo would have been overjoyed to see that she had finally decided to become a mother. She wished he was there to help her, but he passed away in an accident caused by the axle breaking off the carriage he was driving, and throwing him into a tree. The impact was significant enough to cause Jerrardo to bleed to death. The thought made the magix professor shiver, she had not thought about that night in many years. It hurt her heart to know she’d be a parent on her own, but she knew that his spirit would always be there when she needed to talk.
Jasmine was growing anxious as the time for her mother to arrive drew near, and she was amazed that Ecko was still fast asleep. The only indication of life in the infant was when she would let out a sigh, which helped keep the professor from panicking when she thought her baby wasn’t breathing.
She got out of her chair and found her way out of the sitting room. She was looking for someone to go get guardian Aimes, and bring him to her. Eventually, after making her way to the kitchen, Jasmine found Cryer who was working close to the manor, “My faithful messenger, I need you to go out and find Aimes and tell him that I need to talk to him. Be sure he knows that he knows that I want him here, right away”.
The conflicted demon left immediately, in search of the guardian Jasmine was looking for, she knew of a few places he could be, and took one of the horses in order to get there faster than running on foot. Jasmine stepped back into the kitchen, and shut the door. She found her luck to be changing because another of her workers, Shayde, was in the hallway, and she said, “My friend, I would like to have a word with you”. The servant stepped into the kitchen to see what Jasmine needed, “Yes, ma’am, Miss Jasmine? What can I do for you? Shayde inquired.
“Please come take the baby and hold her. I have got to visit the washroom, and she’s fast asleep”, Jasmine answered. Her servant took the baby bundle, and let her boss take a break. She was a mother, herself and she knew exactly what Jasmine was going through. Though she would advise that once a crib had been acquired to be careful of spoiling the baby by holding her too much. She wanted to help look out for that precious little one in the bearskin, and when Jasmine returned, she told her how she felt.
“It’s nice to know you want to lend a hand with the baby, and you will be among the first I call on. I’ve seen you with your family, and I might be able to learn some stuff from you. I’ll take whatever help I can get, remember it takes a village to raise a child”, Jasmine said. She welcomed any advice that parents wanted to share, and she did not have a preference as to who was allowed to help.Finally, after three hours of waiting, she heard her mother jiggling the door to her sitting room.
Overwhelmed, Jasmine immediately began to cry. Gwendolyn raced to her side and held her close. Neither of them spoke, they only wanted to be in that particular moment, and no one was allowed in. As mother comforted daughter, she wondered what could have her oldest daughter in tears.
Gwendolyn said, “Shh, mommy’s here. There’s no reason for the sadness. Whatever you’re going through, we’ll get through it together. Tell me why you sent for me at such an ungodly hour”.
“The reason I’m crying and the reason I sent for you are actually the same. Mom, I want you to meet your first grandchild, her name is Ecko, and I’m adopting her from the queen”. Jasmine held her arms out and offered the bundle to her mother. Gwendolyn was taken aback by what her daughter said, she didn’t know what to say. She took the bearskin with the baby inside, and looked to see if her grandchild was sleeping in a way so her face was uncovered. She could only see the top of the little one’s head, but she accepted her as family.
She was proud of her daughter, and told her, “Jasmine, I never thought I’d see the day when you decided to become a mother, and I must say that it suits you very well. You have made your momma proud, and I know that if your daddy were still here today, he’d be proud of you, too”.
Gwendolyn was overwhelmed with emotions, and she began to cry. The two of them, mother and daughter, sat alone and cried.
After a while, Jasmine lifted her head, and said, “Thanks for interrupting your life, and everything you have going on, in order to come here and help me. You are the most amazing female elf to ever live.”
“I live to hear my children tell me that. One day, there will be a little elven princess who will come to you and she will basically say the same thing. First, unfortunately, you may have to go through a phase where she hates you, but even then she will love you. It’s not easy raising a child, they go through so many changes and friends and lovers, and when you think they’re going to do one thing, they do something else that either shocks you or pisses you off. You have to do a lot of growing and learning, and you have to love her unconditionally. Never be crazy enough to try and turn your back on her, because you will only cause yourself misery. All you can do is the best you can. You teach her manners and respect, loyalty and trust. Show her how to live off the land, in case this world ever reverts back to that way of life. Let her get her feelings hurt, but never allow anyone to completely run her into the ground. Teach her magix, th”Please come take the baby and hold her. I have got to visit the washroom, and she’s fast asleep”, Jasmine answered. Her servant took the baby bundle, and let her boss take a break. She was a mother, herself and she knew exactly what Jasmine was going through. Though she would advise that once a crib had been acquired to be careful of spoiling the baby by holding her too much. She wanted to help look out for that precious little one in the bearskin, and when Jasmine returned, she told her how she felt.
“It’s nice to know you want to lend a hand with the baby, and you will be among the first I call on. I’ve seen you with your family, and I might be able to learn some stuff from you. I’ll take whatever help I can get, remember it takes a village to raise a child”, Jasmine said. She welcomed any advice that parents wanted to share, and she did not have a preference as to who was allowed to help.Finally, after three hours of waiting, she heard her mother jiggling the door to her sitting room. Overwhelmed with emotions, Jasmine immediately began to cry. Gwendolyn raced to her side and held her close. Neither of them spoke, they only wanted to be in that particular moment, and no one was allowed in. As mother comforted daughter, she wondered what could have her oldest daughter in tears.
Gwendolyn said, “Shh, mommy’s here. There’s no reason for the sadness. Whatever you’re going through, we’ll get through it together. Tell me why you sent for me at such an ungodly hour”.
“The reason I’m crying and the reason I sent for you are actually the same. Mom, I want you to meet your first grandchild, her name is Ecko, and I’m adopting her from the queen”. Jasmine held her arms out and offered the bundle to her mother. Gwendolyn was taken aback by what her daughter said, she didn’t know what to say. She took the bearskin with the baby inside, and looked to see if her grandchild was sleeping in a way so her face was uncovered. She could only see the top of the little one’s head, but she accepted her as family.
She was proud of her daughter, and told her, “Jasmine, I never thought I’d see the day when you decided to become a mother, and I must say that it suits you very well. You have made your momma proud, and I know that if your daddy were still here today, he’d be proud of you, too”. Gwendolyn was overwhelmed with emotions, and she began to cry. The two of them, mother and daughter, sat alone and cried.
After a while, Jasmine lifted her head, and said, “Thanks for interrupting your life, and everything you have going on, in order to come here and help me. You are the most amazing female elf to ever live.”
“I live to hear my children tell me that. One day, there will be a little elven princess who will come to you and she will basically say the same thing. First, unfortunately, you may have to go through a phase where she hates you, but even then she will love you. It’s not easy raising a child, they go through so many changes and friends and lovers, and when you think they’re going to do one thing, they do something else that either shocks you or pisses you off. You have to do a lot of growing and learning, and you have to love her unconditionally.
“Never be crazy enough to try and turn your back on her, because you will only cause yourself misery. All you can do is the best you can. You teach her manners and respect, loyalty and trust. Show her how to live off the land, in case this world ever reverts back to that way of life. Let her get her feelings hurt, but never allow anyone to completely run her into the ground. Teach her magix, the same way I taught you. Don’t ever try to tell her that she cannot love someone, that will lead you down a road you do not want to go down. When it comes to that, you have to let her decide who she will be with. Just remember, you can’t help who you love, and as long as the one she loves is good to her, that’s really all you want. The rest, you must leave up to her, no matter what. I remember trying to interfere in Aiwin’s love life, she turned her back on me, and hasn’t spoken to me in twenty years.
“I’m telling you these things so that you have a better relationship with Ecko than I did with my mother. I want you two to have the kind of mother-daughter bond you and I have. I believe if your grandma would’ve given me this same type of advice, things may have been different with your siblings. I didn’t have very many problems with you because you didn’t give me any. I could tell you something, and you listened to every word I said. You were just wired that way. If this could be a good sign, you and Ecko already have something in common”, Gwendolyn said.
“How could we have anything in common already?” Jasmine asked her mother.
“When you were this age, you slept like a rock. I couldn’t tell you how much I worried about you, how many times I checked on you at night. I would put a finger below your nose to make sure you were still breathing”, she said.
“I cannot imagine you being scared. I’ve always known you to be a strong one”, Jasmine said.
“Yes, that’s what you have known, but you were my first child. Every mother is terrified they’re going to do something wrong with the first one. By the time you were old enough to understand, I had three more children. I had built up a little bit of toughness, and I didn’t have such thin skin. My feelings didn’t get hurt quite as easily”, Gwendolyn explained.
“So, basically, what you’re saying is in order to be a good mother, I should come to you when she’s a teenager, and drop her off on your doorstep, right? I’m just teasing you, mom. Don’t take me that seriously. I know exactly what you’re saying, and I really appreciate you taking the time to give me some advice because I’ve got no idea what I’m doing”, the professor said.
“Let me tell you this, too. Don’t think that when she starts school that life gets easier because you’ll get your feelings hurt. In all honesty, sending her to school will complicate things in a way you’re never going to expect, but that’s why I’m here. To help you make it through mommy-hood with little emotional scathing being done, and all you have to do is use the advice I give in the ways you need it. /if you don’t need the advice I offer, leave it on the table because you never know when you might need it.”, Gwendolyn said.
“Yet another reason I took a chance, and had Ballista pick you up at such an ungodly hour because you always know what to say”, Jasmine said.
“To be honest, I don’t always know what to say, and it’s not fair for you to think that way”, the elder said.
April 11, 2022 in Wikacy Stories
Have you ever heard the adage, “Time Heals All Wounds”? Speaking from personal experience, I can say that the passage of time, at least for me, has helped in grieving my husband’s senseless and tragic death.
Jeremy wasn’t just my spouse, he was my soulmate, my best friend, and my pilot through life. For sixteen years, if you saw Jeremy, you saw Penny, and vice versa. There was a time when I became “Jeremy’s Wife” to those who could not remember my name, and it was irritated by that. Not because they called me the nickname of “Jeremy’s Wife” because that’s who I was, but my name is only five letters long. His name is six letters long, but nobody could remember that my name is literally the lowest form of American coin currency. Yet they could recall a name that has one more letter than mine. (The things we get twisted up about when we’re young…lol).
Three years later, I think about my husband every single day, but I don’t talk about him incessantly. My heart still yearns for him, but I don’t continue to wish my boyfriend would morph into my husband. I can still hear his voice comforting me, but it’s not quite as loud as it used to be. I still talk to Jeremy, but he doesn’t always answer right back. I know that one day we’ll be together, but I don’t beg my Lord to take me home every day.
I loved you then. I love you now. I’ll never forget about you. One day I’ll join you in our afterlife home, and our bond will once again be complete. Until then, I’ll always believe this world stinks as I life life without my soulmate.
April 8, 2022 in Fantasy Novel
“I understand you’re excited to learn the details of what you missed last night, but it’s not safe to have an open discussion here in my chambers or anywhere inside the castle. Help me get dressed, we’ll invade the dining hall for some grubbing food, and I’ll show you where we can talk about anything”, Luna offered.
“Yes, your majesty”, Nulandia quietly assisted Luna with dressing in cold weather attire, and tried to envision what this place might look like, though she was certain the limits of her imagination would do the place no justice.
“Alright, now, while we’re inside the castle, we do not talk. Follow me to the hall where the buffet has been set in preparation of Lance’s big apology, and I’ll raid the food. Your job will be to keep an eye out for anyone in the corridor, and you will coo like the dove if someone comes around. When I’ve snagged enough food, you’ll follow me once more, and we’ll make the short trip to my secret hideaway”, Luna told her maid.
Nulandia placed her index finger vertically over her lips, there was a smile dancing on her lips that suggested mischief could eventually ensue, but swore her to silence until the queen granted permission to speak. She had been in the military throughout her many years of life, and was aware of how to follow someone without getting in the way or falling behind. When Luna left from the anterior of her bedchambers, Nulandia placed her hand on the queen’s shoulder, and followed her down the corridor to the dining hall.
Luna raised her right hand to indicate she was going into the dining area by way of the door to her left, and Nulandia stood in the corridor keeping her eyes open for anyone passing by. After a few minutes, the queen poked her head out of the doorway at the other end of the foyer, and Nulandia quickened her pace to catch up. Five paces down the way, Luna navigated to her right, vanishing from sight behind the wall.
When Nulandia veered to her right, Luna was pulling a lever that flipped a switch, and released the mechanisms holding the drawbridge closed. The wheels and gears, which lowered the heavy wooden door, made an echoing racket throughout the walls and rafters close by. Nulandia checked the corridor behind her for someone to come out asking about the use of the drawbridge, but no one emerged. Turning back, she was in time to see Luna’s coattails flowing to the left, and the maid began to run from the brisk walk she’d been doing. As she reached the corner of the castle, Luna was already crossing a small patch of the courtyard, two hundred feet ahead. Nulandia thanked her stars that she was familiar with the land as it sprawled out before her, and she ran harder after the queen.
Nulandia kept her eyes on the back of Luna’s head, which she became grateful for when the flowing sea of green hair suddenly disappeared out of sight. Perplexed, the maid slowed her pace, and searched the area for a sign of where the queen had gone. Curiosity propelled the elf forward, as she continued her quest to figure out what caused her leader to vanish before her eyes.
She had stooped low to the ground, searching it for footprints leading to where Luna had gone, and was surprised by the quietness of the woods around her. The hairs inside Nulandia’s ears were standing at attention in an attempt to hone in on a breath from the queen’s lungs or to detect the vibrations of her voice, in case she was talking. She had gotten to the point where she last saw Luna, but didn’t notice the dropoff because the thoughts in her head distracted the elf from the path. She began to fall, no matter what she reached for, was unsuccessful in preventing this from happening.
Approximately thirty seconds after she’d begun to plummet downwards, her back impacted the hard ground below. That removed all the oxygen from her lungs, and knocked her unconscious for a few minutes. Upon waking up, she was greeted by the queen’s face centimeters from hers, and the royal elf was smiling with light dancing in her eyes. Nulandia pushed Luna away by claiming, “Ooh! Something just went in my nose”, and wiped at her face as if something had actually entered her nostril.
“You’re gonna need to remember that the first step is a bitch, and don’t continue to fall down here every time we come. You’ll give yourself brain damage if you do that too many times”, Luna offered her left hand and hoisted her friend off the ground. They both took a couple of minutes to knock the dust off Nulandia’s hair and clothes before they continued on their adventure. She hadn’t ever fallen like that, and had only been rendered unconscious one other time; her head was swimming as if it were under water, and she struggled to gain her balance.
Finally, Nulandia was capable of moving on without her head feeling as though it would explode every time she took a step. When she woke up on the ground, the elf was aware of the headache that had begun to develop, and she knew it would be dangerous to fall asleep over the next few hours. Though her head had not bled, and there was no bump, she wanted to play it safe. Especially since she’d never experienced a tumble like the one she just took. She had fought in several large wars, most of which were lead by paratroopers who would randomly drop bombs. She’d even gone against one who tried to win the battle by using sleep deprevation, but she’d never been in a free-fall without any kind of safety net. Nulandia couldn’t help but wonder if she could trust Luna with her life if it ever came down to needing to rely on her for survival. After allowing her to fall earlier, she would always be on guard, never able to completely relax. Then again, let the truth be told, she never had many opportunities to fully relax because of the military training and missions she had been dealt with before. Always on the lookout, and always prepared.
When they got to the point where Luna had intended to be, Nulandia chuckled a little. She said, “Where is it? This place you said is for us? Looks like the only thing you have is a teensy-weensy little tree”, Nulandia teased.
“That is just what you think. Of course, that’s because you will only see what I want you to. You know that I’m capable of creating a ten story treehouse?” Luna said.
“No way! That is not possible”, Nulandia shouted.
“Oh, yes it is. Watch and see what I say”, Luna offered. She pointed at the tree standing there in the small empty field and said, “Oulock, poplar tree of the forest, it’s me, Luna. Please allow me and my friend passage inside the meeting room”.
The answer came in the wind, ” I’ve been waiting for you to bring her back so we could meet each other. Ooh, what’s her name?”
“You don’t get her name until you give us access”, Luna challenged the air. “Reveal yourself to me, Shadow Caster, Eldertree. If I want you to show me your true self, you have no choice but to do what I ask”, Luna said. She and a voice she could hear lingering in the wind, continued to banter back and forth for a few minutes. Then, Luna got irritated, and she said, “My friend, you have gone and misunderstood me, I will give you her name as soon as you tell us we’re allowed inside. No lies. No pulling your chain. I promise”, the queen held up her left hand, and made a motion to show she was not teasing.
A few heartbeats passed the moment in time, the wind carried her answer, “You fought hard for permission to bring her here. You have been classified as Stubborn Luna, the Elven Queen who will not take no for an answer. I must admit you inside. Please, take your shoes off, and if you want anything just ask for it”.
“Okay, more like it. Don’t know why you always push me to be mean. Sometimes I think there would be something wrong if we didn’t treat each other like that, but it could have waited until you met her at least once”, Luna said.
“I’m sorry,your queen-ship. Forgive me for being hasty”, the wind whispered.
“By the way, her name is Nulandia. She is my new best friend. I’ve chosen her to be the only other being on the planet with permission to come here and access the meeting room. Of course, I am the first, but she is your last. Whatever she says, goes. She is the boss when I’m not here. You will answer to her when I’m incapable of coming out”, Luna made sure to delegate the rules to the Eldertree.
It had two strong limbs that were placed on its hips, and the tree was wagging a finger in her direction, “Stubborn Luna of the universe, you have been granted permission to use the interior of my wooden clubhouse. Please, when you are ready, go inside and have a look around. You might find a few things you didn’t know you’d ever discover”, the Eldertree said. The breeze had settled down, but an essence remained. Always hearing, but never listening. Their ever present Eldertree friend moved his arms that were limbs to reveal a mid-swinging branch with a rope hanging low to the ground. It beckoned to her with a gentle flick of her hair, and a stronger nudge forward with a switch he used to prod her with.
Nulandia allowed the Eldertree to move her towards the rope tied to it, but she watched everything he did in order to help her understand what he wanted. Eventually, she got what the tree was trying to tell her, and she said to the queen, “He wants me to make the trip up, and he wants me to explore. I’ll see you when you get up there”. She knelt down, picked up some dirt, rubbed her hands together, grabbed the rope, and shimmied up quickly. When she made it to the balcony, she looked over to see if Luna was still there, but she wasn’t anywhere to be seen by her eyes.
There was no need to call out for Luna, she made it to the balcony and was standing beside Nulandia before the maid could turn around. She giggled, and said, “From this moment, you and I start our friendship anew. We don’t hold grudges for past indiscretions, and we move past a friend who let the other one fall”, Luna paused for effect, and smiling at her friend, led her inside of the clubhouse.
Nulandia could no longer hold onto the accident from earlier when she fell off a cliff, and she said, “I see you are using this as a way to have me completely forgive you. You are clever like a fox, my royal elven queen, and you should be proud of yourself for knowing me so well. I forgive you, Luna. I’m not the kind to be capable of relaxing all the way, but so many years of military training and missions, it’s become part of who I am. Protector, guardian, friend. Don’t let me down like that, ever again. I’ll never trust you if you do, and if I can’t trust you, our friendship will end”, Nulandia warned her.
“I understand what you’re saying. I’m sorry I let that happen earlier. You don’t have to worry, it will never happen again”, Luna swore.
Nulandia let the forgiveness in her heart heal the hurt created when Luna let her fall.
After they’d finished breakfast, Luna and Nulandia sat at the table talking about different things. Luna had been saying, “During the time you said my hair was changing colors, I couldn’t see it, but I’ll tell you how I felt. It was like someone placed a tuning fork in my stomach because of the vibrations I could feel, and there was also a strong tingling sensation that moved through my entire body”.
“Really? Well, I didn’t know what to do, at one point I was tempted to find a stick or something to knock you out with. I mean, you have to understand, one minute you’re standing there, asking for one of the Plateau magix students to send you a casting, and the next, your hair starts changing colors. I didn’t know if you were being hurt or possessed by some kind of evil spirit. The only reason why I allowed things to play out was I couldn’t have explained what I was doing with the queen thrown over my shoulder, and knocked out when I ran away from here. Not only that, but I had to have faith in you and your capabilities”, Nulandia confessed to her friend. She had been debating on whether she was going to tell Luna everything she’d been going through, but after thinking about it, decided that since they had started the friendship anew, she would be honest about everything.
“Thanks, I appreciate you having faith in my capabilities because if the truth is told, I didn’t have very much of it for myself. It’s hard for me to tell you this, but your queen has found times when she has been scared”, Luna confessed.
“I wasn’t aware of that. You always look like you have absolutely no fear”, Nulandia said.
“Thanks, that’s what centuries of Queen Etiquette and Royalty Behavior training classes produce. A female elf who knows how to fight like a soldier, and can behave as appropriately as any other proper elf debutante. I can trust that these words won’t leave these tree walls, right?” Luna asked. She did not mistrust Nulandia. What she was leading up to no one could ever find out about for the safety of the entire planet.
“Come on, Luna. You should know by now that you can trust me”, Nulandia said.
“I do know that trust is not an issue from me to you, but it may not be completely healed from you to me. I mean, I did just let you fall off a cliff, and I laughed in your face when you woke up. You could’ve said that you forgave me a couple of hours later, but you might still be harboring some hard feelings towards me. I cannot divulge every aspect and detail of my life to you unless I know with one hundred percent certainty that you trust me one thousand and fifty percent”, Luna explained.
“What else do you need me to do in order to prove that there’s more trust from me to you than the one thousand fifty percent you’re asking for?” Nulandia asked.
“Say our pledge to me, one more time”, Luna said
“True sisters gather here, true sisters bond here, true sisters die here”, Nulandia’s tone was generous and sincere. She needed Luna to know there were no hard feelings toward her, and that she trusted the queen with her life. She added, “Stubborn Luna Garrick of planet Interraton, I Nulandia Arnelle, trust you with the most valuable possession I own. My Life. There are, no there never were, any hard feelings towards you”Luna’s heart grew, tears threatened to escape from her eyes. She said, “Thank you for doing that again. I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings, but there are certain things I will tell you that have to be kept between us”.
“Let me ask you this? Are you ready to read that spell?” Nulandia felt more courageous about performing the spell than earlier. Her curiosity had been heightened since it fell into the tree, and since she’d refueled herself with nourishment wanted to quell the need to know about the contents of the box the queen had removed from the tree. She asked, “Where did you put the box, anyway? I know it was in your hands when we decided to eat, but after that I didn’t watch you with it. Foolish on the part of an ex military officer. I knew better than to take my eyes off that box, but when you think about it that goes to show how much I’ve always trusted you”, Nulandia told Luna.
“What do you mean? Care to elaborate?” Luna inquired.
“Having my military background, I should have watched what you did with the box from the tree when we decided to come in and eat. However, I did not pay attention to where you put the box. I don’t know if anything is missing from the box because I didn’t ask to see the contents. If you were an enemy, and a box fell down from one of the plateau magix students, things would have been handled completely differently because I wouldn’t have trusted you. Even after the spill I took, and your laughing in my face, I trusted you enough that you handled everything involving the box, and I never once doubted you in any way concerning that subject. That, your royal highness, is what I call absolute trust from me to you”, Nulandia explained.
“You know what? You are right on so many levels. I should have known exactly how much trust you have in me”, Luna said.
“Let’s go check out that spell”, Nulandia urged.
“By the way, would you like to know what I did with the box?” Luna asked.
“Yes, of course”, Nulandia said.
“I put it back in the tree with a little bit of magix. You need to know something else as my best friend, Nula”, Luna said.
“What do you need me to know?” Nulandia asked.
“Eventually, we will learn each other’s skills when it comes to magix”, Luna said frankly. She felt that was an important part of getting to know each other, was to learn everything they knew about the magixical skills and capabilities they both acquired.
“We’ll definitely delve into those things as time goes by. Now, before my curiosity gets the best of me, let’s go retrieve that box”, Nulandia encouraged Luna“Okay, let’s go get it”, Luna said. They both stood from their places at the table, and left the dining hall. They made their way to the entrance, both of them grabbing their fur skinned coats to wear before stepping outside.
“We’ll go down together, I’ll grab the box, we can open it together, and you can read the second note inside”, Luna offered.
“After you, my queen”, Nulandia said as she opened the door.
The elves went out onto the balcony, Nulandia closed the door, and the friends walked to the other end. Luna looked to see if the rope was still in place, when she saw that it was hanging from the Eldertree’s limb, reached out for it. She swung out from the deck, and made her descent to the ground below. Once she made it down, Luna offered the rope to Nulandia.
She took the rope in her hands and climbed down. Luna reached above her head and grabbed the box from a spot where the limb met the trunk of the tree. They both placed a hand on the top of the box and lifted it, revealing the two pieces of paper within.
“I know we agreed you could read the second note, but can we both look at it in case there’s something you may not understand?”, Luna asked her friend.
“I was going to ask if you wanted to read it together”, Nulandia told the queen. Then, the wind picked up, and threatened to take off with the paper in her hand. Luna looked at Nulandia and without a word, they both took turns making their way back inside of the tree house.
When Luna got the door shut, they went into the sitting room across from the dining hall, and Nulandia went to work putting wood in the fireplace, and getting a blaze going in it. There was no way they could’ve performed any kind of magix, in all that wind, no matter how small the gust; and with how cold it had become inside, a fire was going to have to burn for a few hours in order for the elves to be warm enough to fulfill any requirements of any kind of magix that might be incorporated into the spell. When the fire started to catch, both elves warmed their hands.
Nulandia looked at Luna as they stood in front of the fireplace, and said, “If you’re ready, we can open the box, again”.
Luna reached underneath her coat and removed the box containing the spell to bind their friendship with magix. The two elven friends both placed one hand on either side of the box, and opened it carefully. Nulandia removed the second piece of paper, which was under the first, and placed it on the hearth of the fireplace beside her. They both closed the box, and Luna placed it on the floor to her left side. Unfolding the note, Nulandia and held it so that the queen could hold onto the the side that her maid wasn’t holding, in order for them to be able to read the spell together. Since there was no sense in both of them reading the spell aloud, Luna read silently while Nulandia spoke the words.
The second note from the second plateau magix student read: you honestly don’t need any magix to bond your friendship, but since you asked for that kind of help follow these instructions.
One, hold hands with your friend. Two, let your friend know that you care about them. Three, repeat the words of your pledge. Four, have the one of you who is higher in magix ranking snap their fingers and say, ‘Tullos pullvarin dulabre vunarle’. Once these four things have been completed, your friend will be bonded by a magix spell, and nothing can break this connection between you, not even death”.
It was quickly discovered that Nulandia’s magix ranking was higher than Luna’s, and she read the elvish words in the spell. There was a flash that came from the area of the window on Nulandia’s right, and the friends chuckled.
“I’m gonna assume the light was an indication that the spell worked. The reason I’m comfortable making that call is because nothing happens when a casting doesn’t work, and we both know that castings and spells are in the same category in the library”, Luna said. She had been quite surprised over the simplicity of the requirements to be fulfilled in order to perform the pledge binding magix.
April 7, 2022 in Fantasy Novel
Before she realized it, the ride home was over, and it was time to find her husband. Walking into the side entrance of the castle, her search ended rather quickly because Lance was waiting for her. They both dismissed their personal hand maids, and he followed Luna into the hallway to her left. She had been thinking about what the look on the king’s face was going to look like as she rode from Jasmine’s place, but nothing compared to actually seeing his expression as she said, “Jasmine believes that you are the one who didn’t want the baby, and that I didn’t support your decision to give her to my best friend”.
As the words registered in his mind, Lance was disgusted by her lie, and he smacked her cheek. He couldn’t ever imagine she’d stoop so low as to lay the situation at his feet like that, and he told her, “Let me explain something to you, Missy fucking queen, I’ve had about all your shit I’m going to take. The next time you see your friend, you’ll tell her the truth. No arguments about it. You may be the boss when we sit in those thrones, but when we’re not, I am the mothafucking boss. Meaning, tell her the truth or suffer the consequences. This is still my horse and pony, and I will be damned if you think anything else. I’ve spent the last seven years listening to you and your ideas, but I’m not seeing anything being done about the most recent attempt to assassinate the both of us. So, from now on, I will be the one giving orders, and you will sit in your throne and just be pretty”.
The problem Lance had was, his wife was emotionally scarred, and she’d been studying martial arts from childhood. When he finished, Luna performed a foot sweep on him that caused him to land on his backside. She leaned in close to Lance’s face, and said, “Never forget who I am, and what I can do. Never get it twisted in your head exactly who is the boss around here, on and off the thrones. Don’t ever hit me like that again because the next time, I will turn your throat into a chew toy for Olyvya. I’ll tell Jasmine no such thing, and if you do. Let’s just say you heard about my wolf’s snack? She’ll have more than that if my best friend gets wind of the truth. If you had only supported my decision, you wouldn’t be in this particular conundrum.
“I’ve got half a mind to tear you a new asshole for hitting me just now. Instead, I will take great pleasure in knowing that you cannot ever tell Jasmine the truth. Oh, and by the way, she does think of you exactly what’s going through your head right now. That you are a heartless piece of work, and nothing good should ever come to you. You are in a situation where you have no idea what I’m doing, who I’m doing it with. The damnedest thing in all of that is, even if you apologize for the rest of your life, you could still be facing the dissolution of your marriage.
She was tired and still needed to bathe. The fact that she didn’t share sleeping quarters with Lance was a genuine blessing for him because if she had to breathe the same air he did while she slept, he would not wake without some fresh new bruises. Neither of them had ever abused the other, and it devastated her that he’d struck her face. The hitting was going to stop. She would see to that because that man would not continue on in that way. She couldn’t very well murder her husband, but she had no issues with filing for divorce. She had been thinking about at least separating for a while, though she could not understand how their marriage was bad enough to force one of them to leave. But if Lance put his hands on her out of anger for the second time, she would toss him out on his ear. She had moved to the vastness of the east wing of the castle, retrieved her sleeping attire, and was on her way to the washroom. Her face still felt the sting of Lance’s slap, the back of her hand caressed the sore place on her left cheek, the reality of why she was rubbing her face sank in, and she cried.
Stepping inside the large marble laden bathing coup, there were servants who each removed a piece of clothing, and the queen was quickly undressed. She moved to the bathing area, but did not feel like talking so she said to the staff members that were nearby, “Please, if you’re going to stay in here with me, don’t any of you try striking up a conversation with me for a while. Later, if I feel like engaging in small talk, I’ll speak first. I’d actually prefer it if none of you talk at all. I just want things to be quiet”.
Two of her hand maids helped the queen into the bathing bin, and a third gently pulled the pins from her hair, letting her royal blue hair cascade into the water. One of the two who helped Luna into the bin had filled the vase kept on the corner of the tub, and was slowly pouring its contents over her body.
She allowed her maids to wash her body and hair, but she still preferred everyone to remain quiet. After the way things transpired between herself and Lance, she didn’t feel up to trying to hold a conversation. He’d broken her heart more than once in the past couple of days, and Luna needed to reevaluate their marriage. She knew there would be some distrust towards him, but she had to determine whether he should leave.
Then, she said, “Moriarty, tell Lance that we need to talk, and I want to see him in my chambers now. Nulandia, help me get out of here, and get dressed”. Her manservant left the bathing room, and went to find the king. Nulandia helped her out of the bin, and into her gown. As she dressed, she spoke with her servant, “As soon as we’re in my quarters, I need you to make sure my strongest foot soldiers are outside the door. If I choose to make him leave, I want to be sure it’s done immediately. I’ve got no idea if he’s going to go on another tirade or if he will be sensible and leave without creating a scene.
“I do not like the way things have been going since the baby was born, and I need to know that I will be safe. I know. I can handle anything that comes my way, but if his fate is left up to me, I’ll be going to prison because I won’t stop until he’s dead.
“I don’t trust myself right now, and I think it would be the best idea for someone else to deal with him. That is, if things get ugly between us. My safe word is changing for this meeting, if anyone hears me say, ‘Squirrel’, that will be me letting you know that I need my men to come remove him from my chambers”. Walking to her sitting room, she explained how she was going to make another attempt to get Lance on her side, “You know, Nula, if we were at war, I would need him to be on my side of the fence. With the way things have been going, we’d be screwed because the enemy would see us feuding and could use it against us”.
“I know, your majesty. Maybe this will blow over like a tree in a storm. You two have to learn how to get along. Even during times of war. No, most especially when we’re at war. Just know that if you need me after he gets here, I’ll be right outside the door with Vlad and Mortimer. If you say ‘squirrel’, we’ll break it down if necessary”.
Luna had no doubts about that. There were no questions about her loyalty, and the queen wondered what it would take to get the king back in her corner. She had never seen or heard about any other power couple having issues with their significant other destroying the moral fiber of their union. She noticed that the door was open, and upon peering inside, Lance was already inside and going through her private journal.
When she saw what he was doing, Luna struggled with the idea of going in and mutilating him, but Mortimer said, “Learn to choose your battles. This is not something to rip his head off over. Make a note to watch him closer, but don’t hurt him. I promise, treacherous behavior can be forgiven”. His words strengthened her resolve, and she stepped inside the room, and shut the door.
Luna wanted nothing more than to rip his head off and place it on a pike for everyone to see that she was not to be messed with. Instead, she acted like her husband wasn’t going through her private stuff, and she calmly said, “Hello, dear king. I’m thrilled you could join me. Would you like anything to drink? We’re going to be here for a while, and we’re bound to get hungry or need a drink”.
Lance shook his head and said, “You were right, you know. I was only protesting your decision about the baby because I didn’t want our people looking at me in a bad light. Can we please make up, and put it behind us? I cannot live this way, and I’m sure you are willing to let it go”.
Taken aback by his willingness to make up, Luna said, “I wish you could have been strong enough to let our people think what they wanted to about that entire situation. Most of them were at our ceremony, they knew about the promise we made, and not one of them would have ever been anything except supportive. I don’t want to fight like that ever again. You are my husband. I’d kill for you. I’d lie for you. I would die for you. Can you tell me that you would do the same things for me? Can I trust our marriage well enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about you giving the enemy our battle plans”. Luna wanted to cry. She had not been expecting that from her husband, and his words landed on her heart in just the right place where they needed to.
Surprised by her reaction to his proposal, Lance allowed tears to flow down his cheeks, and kissed her mouth hard. Luna was shocked by the sudden change of plans with him, but she fell into his arms. Her husband had put his head back on his shoulders. They had a lot of making up to do, but she needed to know what he was doing when he had her journal. She wasn’t going to ask him about it, and risk him lying about it, but her eyes would be on him until such a time as she felt it was nothing to worry about.
“While I know we’ve got to catch up with a ton of stuff, there are far more important issues at hand. Let’s put our primal instincts on the flame at the back of the stove, and deal with those first. We have an entire lifetime to get urges out, but we only have two hundred and fifty years to get this ruler of the planet thing done the right way.
We do not need our people thinking or knowing that there’s a cinch in our armor.
Now, one more thing from you and I will let everyone go to bed early tonight”.
“What is it, this request of yours”, Lance asked his bride.
“I’m asking for an apology for your behavior about the baby, and I want it done in front of everyone here at the citadel. We get them to have faith in their queen and king, and the rumors of our marriage falling apart may never leave the ground”, Luna told him.
Without hesitation, Lance said, “Lance was not in the mood for a quarrel with her, and did not say anything about it. He stood up to cross the room, gently took Luna by the hand and said, “My darling, loving, beautiful wife, you may not realize this, but you are my world. I’ve wronged you in a way words cannot describe, and I’ll be lucky if you don’t change your mind about me and throw my sorry ass out on my head.
If you will grant me the opportunity, I will pay a debt to you for the rest of my life. I will, without second thought, apologize in the morning in front of whomever you wish. And, please, don’t worry about Jasmine, the truth shall never spill from my lips. I’m a low down, dirty, rotten wolf mutt who deserves nothing more than for you to rid your life of me. Yet, you stand by me no matter how I behave. That’s commendable, and I love that about you. That, and about a zillion other traits I could only dream of obtaining”.
“The reason I’m even allowing this meeting is because we are married, but if you were anyone else, I’d kick your sorry ass to Aztiri and back. However, if you should ever take a stand against me again, I will do just that. I am capable of forgiving you because I am the queen, and I know that a divorced queen will eventually fall. So, knowing the kind of elf I am, and the way my parents raised their children, I knew that there was nothing else I could do”, Luna explained to him. She loved him in spite of his shortcomings, and there was nothing she wouldn’t do for him.
When Lance did not respond, Luna said, “Look, I’m tired. I’m sure you are too. I’ll see you in the morning with a smile on your face, and a kiss on my cheek. Good night”. As much as she loved him, his finest hour of apologizing had just begun, and she was going to make him grovel until the trust in him came back to her. She walked with him to the door, and when he tried to kiss her she avoided it. He didn’t say anything, but stepped into the corridor.
Luna’s curiosity had been nagging at her the entire time she talked to Lance, and she had to prevent herself from confronting him a few times. She went to her vanity, opened the drawer where Lance put her journal, and could not tell which page he’d been looking at when she saw him with the book. She sat down on the edge of her bed, and the glow from her lantern revealed the page she was looking at had something on it. She looked at other pages to see if any of them had it on them, as well, or if that was the only page with that particular mark.
After examining several other pages carefully, Luna deduced that there was only one page containing that kind of blemish, which told her that he’d only read one by the time she interrupted him. When she read the page with the indicator on it, she realized that Lance hadn’t seen anything that would cause more issues between them.
The fact that he had not read anything that would create more problems between himself and the queen, did not mean Luna trusted anything he said. She didn’t have to wonder, anymore, if Lance had fallen out of love with her. What mattered at that point was how she felt about everything that occurred over the past couple of days. Two things she knew for certain were that the king had behaved in a manner similar to the way a traitor would, and that he had her journal in his hand right before she entered her quarters. Those two things were enough to change the entire dynamic of their marriage, and she knew that she’d never look at him in the same way again. She could not live with him after everything that had happened, she would ask him to leave as soon as she could gather the nerve. Dealing with Lance wasn’t always the easiest thing to do, but she knew things could not continue in the way they had been. Before she made that next life altering decision, she would consult Nulandia so that the maid knew what was going on.
When she read the page with the indicator on it, she realized that Lance hadn’t seen anything that would cause more issues between them, but the fact that he had been looking at her journal caused the queen to build emotional walls around her heart so that he could never gain access like he had in the past. The more she thought about what happened over the last two days, the more she wanted to feed Lance to her wolf, and the thought was beginning to scare her because in her mind, she had played out the scenario of getting away with murdering her husband, never being convicted, and she liked the idea too much. She’d never thought about causing Lance that kind of harm before the last couple of days had transpired, but that was all she could think about during that forty-eight hour period.
She grew tired and closed the cover of her journal, thought about what it would be like if she was to file for divorce, and entertained herself with those thoughts until she drifted off to sleep. That night, she was incapable of getting a restful sleep because her dreams were filled with uncertainty about the future, and the queen tossed and turned all night long.