Aden of Aden

Chapter Eleven

It did not surprise me that the others in the castle knew about my conversation.  Considering it had occurred outside with our voices clearly speaking I suspected everyone would know.  I listened seeking information on the dragon I had spoken with, but what surprised me was that everyone simply gave me honor without any discussion of the conversation.

It was as I listened to the sisters discuss their children that I thought of what I told my mother.  I had spoken of my desire to bare princesses.  I thought about any future children, then of the type of man I would desire to share my life.  The noble ladies I had met, including my mother, had done remarkable things in spite of taking a husband and producing children.  What I sought to do was not a simple process of coming to the attention of available men, being courted until I found someone that delighted me, then going off to settle into my life.  Staying a member of this circle would require more from me than just having children who called me mother, and I wondered what I could do to make my life worthy of the honor I was receiving.

I came up with a plan as I heard Queen Debbish say, “My middle name is Desiree.  It is also a strong name in our family’s history, which is why you called your first daughter that, but I felt I had the right to also call my child Desiree.  Then, because you and I have a Desiree, Venicht’s wife would not let him call their daughter Desiree.”

Princess Endullae said, “Jelnaya is a pretty name.  I wish I had thought of that.”

“Yes.  Father calls her ‘Fruit,’ but I think the name of the fruit the prophetess Desiree grew does make for a pretty name.  I actually find myself wishing I had called one of my later girls that.”

I moved to a window while asking, “Could we ride about the land?”

Queen Debbish said, “There is a storm coming, Aden.  Maybe tomorrow.  Most storms pass quickly.”  I was glad that she added, “The dragon that spoke to you was Tashavelt.”

“I know names can be powerful, so I did not ask.”

“And yet there are others that ask for that very reason.  You have a strength in you.  Don’t let it get the best of you, Aden.  It can be as much as a doom for us ladies as it can be for the men.”

I turned to move back to my seat as I said, “I was not raised in a castle.  Mother and I were usually about the property of Lord Rebitten as we talked.  I gained chores in the stables, and enjoyed being around the horses.”

Princess Endullae asked, “Are you bored?”

Her sister said, “No, she is only feeling that this is not her place.  Aden, do you feel it is a scary path that is calling you.”

“No,” I replied with conviction.  “It’s joy.  It’s happiness.  Mother did the right things, and chose the proper path, and it led to her doom.  She is not a baroness, or duchess, or having children that are princes and princesses, and she is happy.  She wants me to be happy.  What I am feeling is that my happiness will not be in a castle.”

“What if you are hearing the call of another?  You just spoke of one’s name being powerful.  What if someone is using your name to gain power over you?”

That was something I had not considered, so asked, “Do you think that is the case?”

“You listened to me?”

That question seemed strange, so I cautiously replied, “It was plausible.”

“Well, yes, it’s plausible, but most youths will not listen to such words.”

“Why not?”

“Aden of Aden.”  That was spoken as a sigh, but I saw a smile grow on Queen Debbish’s face as she said it.  “I now have the child I always prayed for, but now that I have her I am unable to face her.”  She grabbed her cane to help her stand as she said, “Come with me, Aden of Aden.”

I noticed that Princess Endullae did not rise to go with us.  Queen Debbish also waved away any attendants or soldiers who acted as if they would shadow us.  I had been given a tour of the castle the day before.  While I recognized the passages, I thought it strange when she pressed a stone under a sconce and a section of the wall slid back.  After having me go with her through the portal, Queen Debbish pulled a lever to have the wall close back.

I asked as we descended, “Do you have a dragon guarding your treasure?”

“No.  Only my father could recognize the traits in a dragon that would result in the devotion of Sauton.  They made an agreement early in the days of Thiminy, and both of them have kept it.  The fame of Sauton has spread through this world, but all who try and do the same as my father end up with their wealth gone or a dead dragon.”

I heard a rumble, and at a point I noticed the risers become wet, so I said, “This leads to your aquifer?”

“Yes.  Almost any pool of water should do, but this one is the one that is historically used.  My husband brought each of our boys down here.”

“I can look at my reflection.”

“Oh?  And what do you see?”

I did not want to sound disrespectful, or defiant, so tried to soften my voice as I answered, “What I cannot see.  What my mother could not see.  What every lady, and I guess every man, cannot see.  That is why I listened to the urges to leave.  Maybe if I got out I could find it, instead of hoping it finds me.”

“Will you look anyway?”

“Yes, I will look.  Might as well.”

The interior of the curving stairwell opened up to reveal the fall of water.  It was not massive, but enough to have those of the castle not fear dying of thirst during a siege.  The pool below was large enough to call a pond, and while I saw the bottom quite clearly I still suspected the liquid was deep enough to swim in. Without fear I descended to step to the side of the basin and looked into the water.

I was not surprised to hear Queen Debbish ask, “What do you see?”

“I see myself.  How long do you want me to look?”

“I am placing no requirements upon you.”

“No, but you are trying to help, I assume.  I am not trying to be rebellious or unappreciative.  If there are further instructions, I will perform them.”

From above came the deep voice of King Hobrique saying, “Attempt to clear away the image of you.  Act as if you feel your own presence is in the way of allowing you to see something really important.”

I did as instructed.  While the water was very clear, I moved a hand as if to brush away leaves or other detritus.  Suddenly, I felt I saw something.  I actually disturbed the water attempting to clarify the image.  I looked amazed at a vision that seemed to be present as the water settled, although once again calm I found myself looking at only myself.

King Hobrique asked, “What did you see, Aden of Aden?”

“Teeth, as if a large mouth was open behind me.  What I tried to see better was what I felt to be a sword lifted point-first between me and the mouth.”

“What if I told you that I could not save you from that fate?”

“Why would I want to be saved?”

He finished descending the staircase as he answered, “It did not sound like a good vision.”

“I have faced Sauton.  I have spoken with Tashavelt.  Honestly, I was told that your land had dragons, and Thiminy has dragons, so I am not surprised that there is a dragon in my future.  Maybe the dragon was going for the one lifting the sword.”  Hoping to get the nobles to understand, I again declared, “My mother is happy, and she is not living the life she should be living.  I read her letters.  They were all apologies.  I will be like her and live a life where I am happy whether other people think it is the life I should be living or not.”

“Then I actually have some advice for you.”

I stood to curtsey to him, and he calmly said, “Make certain the man you choose can look at his reflection.”

Another curtsey was performed as I had to admit, “That was good advice.”

“Then let me give you some more.  Do not rush to your fate.  I have to say that Tashavelt was correct, but there is more to a building than a good foundation.  Allow my wife, Endullae, and those back at your home to continue to instruct you.  What they will provide will only strengthen what you have, and can help to stabilize what gets built.”

“I really am not intending to be rebellious.  Of course I will continue to listen to them and take instructions from them.”

He looked to his wife as he said, “I really see no reason to be worried about her at all.”

Queen Debbish replied, “We both know how dangerous life can be, my lord.  The danger only increases as one finds a path above a normal life.”

“One properly equipped can safely manage any trail.  Feel free to do what you can for this one, Debbish.”

“Thank you, my lord.”

I curtsied as well, and spoke my own thanks, but King Hobrique advanced on me.  “You just looked at yourself about to be swallowed by a dragon with one puny sword possibly to save you.  I can tell it did not frighten you.  I am thinking to put on your tombstone the words, ‘She thanked me for this.’”

“You don’t know the story of my father,” I replied.  “He killed a dragon before my two mothers simply to show them and those from where they came that he could.  I have since heard of him killing other dragons, so I know that puny sword could possibly kill that dragon.  I have also spoken with dragons who had mouths more than big enough to swallow me, so I know it is possible that the dragon could become a friend.  I will not let some vision turn me from my happiness.”

“You mean turn you from your fate.”

He had tried to make that sound accusatory, but I let him know I would not have my own feelings altered.  “My training from my mother was to let me know happiness.  I have had a wonderful childhood.  I cannot speak for any training from your wife, but I have found Princess Endullae and Queen Straekin to be happy people.  I am looking for a happy life, not a great life.”

“That is your youth speaking.”

“This youth has had some training, and one of your own dragons said that I was already building on the foundation provided.  I feel I have some secure ground with which to speak.”

He turned to the other lady present to ask, “Can you work with this, Debbish?”

She answered, “Of course I can, Hobrique.  In fact, I am looking forward to it.”

King Hobrique went to kiss his wife, then started up the risers.  While my eyes followed him, Queen Debbish kept her focus on me.  I thought of my words to the monarch, and feeling tears come to my eyes I spoke to his wife.

“I really am not attempting to be rebellious.”

“Well, standing firm is a type of rebellion, but if one has a good foundation then you can win those battles.  How about you and me spend time speaking of your training so far.  I need to know exactly what I have to work with.”

A certain young man shows up again.