Aden of Aden
Mother and Father left the next day each with their own duties to return to. Both told me to continue with my lessons, as they felt I was doing the right thing. Father did put the letter to Agrell in his vest with a promise to eventually get it to him. He left pointing to a dwarf holding in the mountains while Mother simply spoke of returning to help Mother Mersidda handle the children and household, but I knew that I had my own duties as well.
The journey to the home of Princess Debbish, who I learned was now Queen Debbish, was an interesting few days of travel along with instructions. Her husband, King Hobrique, did not rule in a manner of the nobility of my world. The impression I gained was that they were gentry without any superior. Princess Endullae used the examples of the lands I knew and the comparisons with the manner of authorities on other worlds to diversify my training on how to assess a person’s true social class and how to possibly relate to them. Considering the various terrains we passed through on the journey, it helped that I could imagine various areas requiring different styles of management.
I had been instructed in how to ride properly. While the horses of Davelda were not like those I had been taught to prefer, they had a bearing to them that I found acceptable. Entering a rocky landscape with areas of scrub plants that appeared to have been recently tended, I knew we had arrived when Princess Endullae whispered that we needed to be seen riding properly.
Seeing humans come from what appeared to be mounds of stones surprised me, as I expected those of other races preferring that style of dwelling. They all came out looking to the sky before waving. Princess Endullae and I waved back with me noting that the words said seemed friendly enough. Seeing us approaching what I felt to be a hill, I found myself reassessing things of the architecture as humans opened stone panels to look toward us.
From a height came the shout, “ENDULLAE! HOBRIQUE, IT’S ENDULLAE! Be right down, Sister!”
The way the words rang out, I expected to see Queen Debbish rather quickly. People did pour out the lower doorway, but it was not until Princess Endullae and I had dismounted that a dignified couple stepped out. He appeared rather hefty, although still showing strength in his form. Queen Debbish had quite a bit of weight on her, and walked holding the arm of her husband with one hand while working a cane with the other.
Being able to see the sisters, I recognized that Princess Endullae looked very much like her father. Queen Debbish had a little more height, but that only had me recognize the amount of weight on her body. I felt she appeared more as her mother would had she not the gift of immortality. No complaints passed between the sisters, but they greeted each other only speaking well of their lives.
Queen Debbish then asked, “And who is this traveling with you, Endullae?”
“This is Aden of Aden,” Princess Endullae answered.
“Aden of Aden?” Confusion only showed for a moment before the blue eyes of Queen Debbish went wide with shock. “Oh, my word! Aden of Aden! I was expecting a child of Althery, or some great-niece.” Queen Debbish worked her cane to come toward me and embrace me while saying, “Aden of Aden, it is an honor to have you visit my land.”
I asked, “You know of me?”
“Dear girl, I rule a land dominated by dragons. I grew up fascinated with Sauton, and latched onto Hobrique when he promised me a land of the creatures. You made an impression upon Sauton when you reached out to grab his claw, and I have always wanted to meet the one who from birth also felt an attachment to dragons.”
“I cannot say that I felt attached to them. Lord Rebitten always thanked Father for keeping them away from his holding.”
“Yes, they can be troubling creatures. My land is not the prettiest place. Still, I am glad to call this home. Come and be welcome, Aden of Aden.”
I listened as well as looked as Queen Debbish gave us a tour of her home. While on the outside it appeared as a pile of stones, inside the quality of architecture was very apparent. The rooms worked around great struts that supported the weight of the rock along with whatever would come to rest upon them. Most rooms only had a curving wall made up of a portion of a great stone beam, but some chambers had a large section taken up that Queen Debbish said affected the flow of movement of those using the place. Everywhere there were decorations of various kinds, and I listened as stories were told explaining legends of this land and the history of the people.
The locals did not speak a language I knew, but it helped that the two sisters could be understood. Somehow I however found myself understanding the chief steward as he spoke of requirements of those living in the castle. I found myself able to make sense of certain statements, although only heard strange sounds as a speaker added stray details or another began to speak. I understood a question concerning my choice of beverages at supper, but gasped when my reply came out with my mouth not moving in a manner I expected.
I felt an arm of Queen Debbish come around me as she asked, “How long have you been with my sister?”
“A few weeks,” I answered.
“And she has taken you on trips to other worlds?”
“It was supposed to help me learn a language.”
“I believe you are learning it. With parents like Endullae and I have, we basically grew up knowing it, which actually made it hard to really learn other languages. Still, I would not be here if I had not learned the language. It opens up worlds to you. One lesson you learn however is that you are limited to just one at a time. We also are limited to just one life. Use the language, but understand your own limits.”
Still attempting to make sense of what I experienced, I asked, “Did you teach it to your children? I don’t believe Lattalod knows it.”
“Oh, Lattalod will before my parents allow him to take on the position as King of Thiminy. Thiminy gets too many foreigners, and I mean from some bizarre places, not to know the language. Having learned it at such a young age, I felt it would be easy to teach. It takes a certain mindset however. What my parents gave me was not the talent with the language, but the mind to expand and accept the great variety of experiences that were available. That is what is before you, Aden of Aden, and seeing you able to handle it makes me glad to know you.”
She released me, but set herself before me in a commanding way before asking a question, “Now, Aden of Aden, why did you go to Thiminy?”
I answered, “It was time for me to make a decision. My mother was a princess, and I told my father that I wanted to be the mother of princesses.”
“Have you been told that was an easy gift to gain?”
That was not a response I expected, so answered with some confusion in my voice, “No.”
“Ah, and that is the trouble with nobility. Often those in power lose sight of the responsibility. One advantage of living in a land such as mine is that you quickly learn that the power is not that much, but the responsibility is high. My sister lost her land because too many people wanted the power, and too many others had neglected the responsibility. I chose a land where I really did not have the power, but saw the honor in the responsibility. I am very pleased with my choice.”
“My mother was not happy with her choice, and she stopped talking to me. She did not want me blaming her for any bad decision. She however is happy with my father, although had been given to him as just a bauble to make him want to help a land. I told my mother to keep talking to me, as I needed her voice telling me that a good future could indeed come.”
I now heard the strong deep voice of King Hobrique as he said, “Welcome to my land, Aden of Aden. Such a spirit is what this land requires. I had heard of you, but now I see why word of you spread. Enjoy your visit and the company of my wife.”
It caught me by surprise when he turned and walked away, although I felt some comfort seeing Queen Debbish continue to stand before me with a smile on her face. “For your information, that is the man I fought for, and I am very happy with him.”
I asked, “Is that rare?”
“For those that live in the moment, yes. Marriage is something greater than any moment however, and for those that can understand that it is not rare at all. That is the path I see you walking, Aden of Aden, one of looking for something greater than any moment.”
“Yes.” I found myself thinking back on all the conversations I had with my mother, and those memories had me say, “I believe that my mother always wanted me to find the honor she lost with her choice for a life.”
“Well, that requires hindsight, something we both lack right now. For the moment, let me just assure you that I will do what I can to make your stay pleasant.”
I found myself continuing to catch the meanings of what some of the officials and servants of the castle said. It took some mental control, but I worked on accepting some of the strange utterances that came from my mouth with the recognition that my responses were understood. Being left in a room, I moved to a chair and simply sat attempting to come to some comprehension of what I was experiencing. Finding myself without any guidance, I fell to my training and prepared myself for the next step of the day.
Being only a young lady, I mostly sat or stood while the elders handled the conversations. It was allowed that I could admire the things around me, and occasionally I was brought into a discussion when Queen Debbish or Princess Endullae also put their attention upon what I was gazing upon. There was enough things to keep my mind occupied when I was not interested in the conversations that the time passed without me feeling bored.
As I had noticed from the outside, my room did not have a balcony, but there was a large window with the heavy layer of stone on the outside providing a suitable area for resting upon should that be a desire. Coming from the evening social, I felt I had seen enough of the inside of the castle, so opened the shutters. The lights were not those of a city like I was accustomed. Where I knew to be homes the land was mostly dark. Beyond it however I saw flashes that caught my attention. I stepped out from my room, then stood still as I heard a rumbling feminine voice.
“I expected you would come out. What do you think of this land, little one?”
Wondering about the voice, I did look around while replying, “I came with Princess Endullae to meet her sister. The people have been friendly, and what I have seen speaks of a proud history.”
“And your history?”
I thought that a strange question, and to put the conversation where I would desire it I gave an evasive answer. “I have not yet started on making my history. My parents sought to lay a good foundation for me, and I am attempting to secure myself upon it before attempting history.”
“It’s all history. Don’t fool yourself. You must live life just as all others. You can attempt greatness, but those great do not experience life while those with life usually do not experience greatness. For both however, there is a history.”
“One does not have control over history or life, so one can only control how they handle the moments.” After quoting the adage, I added, “I am being shown how much variety there can be in the moments, so wondering how much control I can really have.”
“Each moment passes with only one chance at it. Never regret them, but use each experience to guide you in handling the next moment. Go with my blessing, young one.”
I believe at some level I understood with what I was speaking. Having been around elders, I however did considering that I was speaking to some aged governess. Other than Sauton, I had not spoken with a dragon. Lord Rebitten made it clear he did not want them near his property, and my father told stories of killing them. Accepting that I was experiencing something my history did not support as a positive experience, I could not help but desire more time to assess the value of what I was doing.
“WAIT!” I had heard movement, but suddenly everything went quiet. “Sauton said that dragons do not give blessings. He said I blessed myself.”
“You have spoken to Sauton?”
“Of course I have spoken to Sauton. I am being trained by Queen Straekin and Princess Endullae at Castle Thiminy. They consider Sauton to be a member of their family, and in such a manner I was introduced to him. I have since gone down to speak to him on my own. I went out on the vast expanse of gold and told him it was lifeless, and I wanted life around me.”
“Then I am sorry, young one, but you have started building a history on your foundation. What is before you will be a realization of how strong that foundation is.”
My mind raced with ideas to take advantage of what I felt was a different source of wisdom, but all I could think of was to ask, “Then can I come back?”
“It is what I asked Sauton after meeting him the first time. I asked if I could come back. He told me I could, and I did take advantage of his permission. I am now asking if I can come back and speak with you.”
“That was a blessing young one, and I have given you mine. I thus believe you can.”
I then heard the beats of great expanses of skin being powered by enormous muscles. Looking up, I saw almost the entire sky blocked by something massive passing overhead. While I had not seen Sauton in flight, I had seen enough dragons soaring in the sky to recognize the size of the one who had spoken to me. Wondering if the great dragon below Castle Thiminy would know of this conversation, I moved back into my room wondering about the things I had heard.
Queen Debbish presents a test to Aden of Aden.