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Subject: Cinderfella 2: Chapter 26 The Rod and Staff Defined Story: Cinderfella 2: A New Life Chapter: 26 The Rod and Staff Defined Author: Eric McQueen ail) Mature Readers only due to sexual situations and graphic sexual content Freedom of expression is precious. To do that Nifty needs help. Your donation is greatly desired. Give to fty/ or this story ends and all the others! That would be a crime! The Rod and Staff Defined Two days? I thought about that part. Did Dyami mean two days traveling or simply two days? I would have preferred waiting in a warm teepee than in the cold. It may register higher on a mercury scale, but the farther we went, the colder it seemed. The great mountain range was now falling behind us again. Northwest. My fingers kept getting numb. I would wrap my hands and fingers in a fold of the skin wrapped around me. I even re-thought my view of Hell. Hell didn’t have to be so hot and yet you didn’t burn. No. Another kind of Hell was right here! Where it was so cold, but you didn’t go numb. Either way, I didn’t want to end up in either. Thank you. With every tribe, they had gods that did certain jobs. They might have different names, but close enough. Distance was less of a problem, but still a dividing factor. With the tribes intermixing more now, the differences were becoming less noticeable. A little history lesson. The people that became Vikings were the first to reach a new land of promise, settling people in the northern portions of the continent. Scots and Britain settled more in the southern portions and befriended people already there who helped them survive! A’Dore was settled by Britain, Scots, and Irish fifteen centuries ago in an area that was almost always warm. Blethos was first settled by those from France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Darma was from deeper in Europe called Gaul. Getting transportation was the biggest concern. Sea-worthy boats were needed, but demand drove the need to provide. Boats that could hold several people as passengers, and crew, and supplies were demanded. It was the Scots and the Norse who came up with the first boat that claimed to hold one hundred and sixty men, women, children, supplies, animals, and crew. Plagues, threats of plagues, and people trying to escape capture from authorities also drove them out. Oppressed or hunted people caused many to flee. You know how much I loved the Creid now. They were made from those that escaped Europa, came to A’Dore, Blethos, and Darma and had to escape us! Yes! They were really some bad boys from ancient history! Where was I going with this? Oh, yes! A person from Darma met someone from Blethos, or A’Dore and we began to merge. A thousand years ago a common language began to emerge as trade increased. The outer edges mingled and moved in-country. That made it so much easier for me and Seth. A couple of the biggest differences are simple words like diapers vs nappies and Holidays like the Nativity where Blethos still had Bafana from Italia. Even the laws and customs had merged. There wasn’t even a real accent difference now! There are some tragedies of course such as those trying to escape a plague and ends up bringing it with them. Some didn’t make it from the boat. Others spread it when they got here. Many countries used new land to get rid of undesirables such as anarchists and disloyal people. A dumping ground for the unwelcome? Sure, why not? Boats improved and the routes became more streamline. Instead of going north, hugging the shore line, over to a sizable island between Norway that was settled pretty quickly. They referred to it as The Land of Ice. It lived up to that name in winter. Then directly west to a big continent that had very few trees, but plenty of grass. Skirt around the southern part and west again then go south. In our case, south, and more south and even farther south until it began to warm up! Where we finally landed was tropical, almost a jungle! It got very warm, but it had terrible sea storms at the end of the summer and beginning of autumn. I remember three really big ones that hit A’Dore where the wind almost ripped A’Dore apart! Our advantage were our wonderful native friends that were here before we got here. They knew what to do and told us what to do. After this length of exposure, we knew what to do. Toby. I often felt what Seth did with him. He was ten years old! He was a collage of emotions for me. I saw him as a child! Then he does something like he did with Dyami and he didn’t act like a child much at all. But he was a child in my eyes. He was my child. Yes, Seth’s, too, but a child. I was not familiar with things the way they were becoming. It was also scary here and now. He was experimenting and laboring in very adult matters. I prayed his childhood innocence wasn’t completely gone. We had been warned, but I wasn’t ready. That was also scary. Toby did not disobey. In the last year…even into the last few days, Toby was not what he seemed. He read those odors correctly. Toby was touching magic. Then again, according to Ceto, I was doing it, too. Well, I wasn’t doing it on purpose! Toby was traveling like we all were. Quietly and withdrawn physically beneath visual scrutiny. The tribes were very caught up with magic. However, I doubt there were many tribe members that had a continuous exposure to magic like Toby and Dennis had. Not a week went by him where he and Dara failed to show themselves as what they were. The Children of Lilith. Who was on which horse would be a challenge if I didn’t know which horse carried who. Dark, thick furred creatures that were more like lumps of fur on large, dark furred animals of an unrecognizable kind. Only the head of the horse could be seen. Our heads were beneath furred hoods that didn’t look as if anyone was guiding the way. There were just indistinguishable lumps of fur. Now, get this. Chitto said it was too cold to snow? What!? I knew it rarely, if ever, got cold enough in A’Dore or Blethos and required it to be cold enough to snow. Those were rules! Too cold? Try too wet. I didn’t get that until I was there. It got colder than on the Land of Ice. But Chitto shook his head and told us if there was moisture in the air. It would snow. The rules! Chitto told me it was too humid. I knew about hot and humid weather. Here it was freezing and humid and I wasn’t familiar with that. We knew how to dress ourselves. I did it successfully twenty-eight years! I never used a valet. However, Toby had read…of course, he had…one wrapped our foreheads just above our eyes, another wrapped our face just below our eyes. One over all of it allowing us to see. It was sort of a fur burka women wore in the middle east. I will confess; it was warm! You learned not to move too much to break the shield of warmth. A lump of fur near me and spoke in a very muffled voice. “Are you more settled with having Thomas and Toby with us?” I looked at this lump and nothing said Seth except his voice. I let a grin spread, but no one would know about it because my face was hidden. “I’ll answer that in a second or two, but now we know how to talk in private with Toby! He can’t see us!” I glanced back at the smallest lump of fur. “No,” I answered. “I won’t deny his being here has proven to be a good thing, but…” I shrugged, “He did disobey.” Seth and I made sure we followed the same rulebook of discipline. All of the women who cared for them understood, we never hit anyone for any reason. How did we convey this “no hit” rule when we do it to our children? We’re telling them “might makes right!” Do something because we said to? No. Christian said a few times that he preferred to negotiate with foreign countries than his own children. Teachers and nannies made good money! Equivalent to military officers! Often there was combat involved. Not from Christian or me. We were good children. Well, mostly we were. I had a tutor one year…I’ve had many, many tutors over the years, but this one…well, I got the feeling he rode the thin line between madness and sanity. That was my professional eight-year-old opinion. Both Christian and I had separate tutors. Christian was already my hero and it would be another two years before we had the ball and he would meet Ella. Professor Montrose was having a hard time concentrating and difficulty creating coherent sentences. I was having a hard time following his line of thought. I don’t even know what subject we were on. He had to repeat some of it. When I asked for clarification again, he seemed to fly into a rage. I remember his right arm rising, fist balled up and I knew he would hit me. I knew it. From my sitting before him, he was all I could see, but someone grabbed the fist, spun him around forcing Mr. Montrose to show surprise. “The meaning of what I see is pretty clear,” Christian said calmly and turned back to the door. “I understood what was about to happen. Did you understand it?” Two of his sparring partners were with him. He had Jason that afternoon. They both nodded and one said, “You know Jason is always telling us to anticipate the next move of an opponent. His next move wasn’t even hard to figure out.” “But Christian…” Mr. Montrose sputtered. “No,” Christian shook his head, “That privilege was given to our instructors.” Christian gave an evil smile. “A position you left a minute ago. You refer to me and to Erik as His Royal Highness.” Christian looked around Mr. Montrose and smiled at me. “I’d say class is dismissed for the day.” He looked at his two friends. “Watch this man until I get back.” He looked at my instructor. “I can guarantee you won’t be coming back. If you did what I know you were going to, that’s a death sentence. I’m saving your life.” He waved at some things on a table. “In fact, use this time to run for that life. War is sometimes inevitable, but not at home. Dad says it happens in homes after men get home, tired after working all day. If you had done what you intended to do, that’s short-tempered. He also says that’s no excuse, but an explanation. But this is your only job, you couldn’t be tired yet. Come up with a good reason or take the time to leave.” He was about to leave and stopped. “Oh, and stay away from my brother.” Once again, Christian was my hero! Where was I leading you? Oh, yeah, the “no hit” rule. Seth had a rough childhood after he was five and I was never struck to make me do something. If you are hit first, make sure they know it will never happen again. Dad told us it was a big world out there and no one could steal or force you into anything. Seth and I were on the same page in the book of discipline. We discussed many issues and the ladies hired as nannies were in the place as my instructors. Well, that wasn’t true for Doris who kept her own family, too. I never saw her raise her hand or heard her raise her voice even once. “I don’t know what to do,” I confessed my answer to Seth’s question. “Were we mistaken to tell him not to come with us?” “I don’t think so,” Seth said. “But really, when have we had to? We’ve given guidance a few times, but both Toby and Dennis are compliant.” “Dennis often pushed the limits,” I shook my head. “However, reasoning with him he usually does what we ask.” Seth chuckled, “There’s the problem. We’ve never faced this before.” “We can restrict his desert consumption for bursa escort a few weeks,” I laughed. “Or his reading,” Seth laughed. “That would be excessively punitive,” I said a little seriously, “and inhumane.” “I say give it to him to decide,” Seth growled. I was surprised, but he couldn’t see that. “Give him the task of assigning suitable punishment!?” I nodded, which opened gaps briefly to let the cold in. I wouldn’t do that again. “That’s a great idea!” “Was he accessing magic?” Seth asked. “Back with Dyami, he read the smoke.” “Did he?” I asked. “I don’t know that to be true, because there are a lot of Children of Eve that have unbelievable gifts, such as for soothsaying. Sometimes a little clairvoyance happens, are they access the magic to do that?” I shrugged. “I don’t know.” “What about Thomas?” “That’s the beauty of this!” I said laughing. “We didn’t tell Thomas he couldn’t come with us, but his father, mother, king, and queen did. We just need to see he gets back.” Moving I saw Seth look back at the smallest mound of fur told us beneath the fur was Toby. “Not to make light of the situation, but…” I shook my head, “Ella will be pretty angry, but at her son. It will be an interesting combination of emotions with her…And Christian! I have no idea what he’ll do.” “I’ve seen Christian angry and downright furious, but he’s never violent.” Seth said using a voice that begged for a confirmation. “He’s never lost control.” I was still used to making gestures that were visual, but I answered him. “He is not violent, but his feelings will be hurt.” “Hurt?” Seth asked. “Christian is a sensitive man.” I said pleased with the feelings Christian brought out in me. I love and adore Seth; in case you’re wondering. I loved my sons. Christian? He was a love I have that defies explanation. I admitted I was in love with him. Don’t throw anything at me! I even told Christian this. He was my big brother, my substitute father, my best friend, and my hero! There were a few I’d offer my life to save. Christian was one of those on the first hand. Was that wrong? The thought of doing anything physically intimate beyond a hug or even kiss on the temple…No, I didn’t desire Christian that way. But we do have a connection no one else does or ever would. We were brothers! The same father and mother made both of us using the same things. Our blood was the same and used by the Forbidden Fruit to make the Little Warriors to defeat Len Na’s attack of those little creatures she wanted to destroy all people everywhere. “I remember he had just taken the throne after our father’s sudden death. Dad had a man, a general, he trusted who blatantly disobeyed an order Christian gave him. Christian had trusted the General, too. Many people died as a result. Christian trusted the General, but the General didn’t trust Christian to be king. It hurt Christian so badly. After the truth came out, Christian had to sentence the General for disobeying the authority of his king. With Thomas, his doing wrong will bother him, but not what he did, but disobeying him hurt him more.” “Thomas is normally well-behaved,” Seth said. “He is,” I said quickly, “And what he spoke of how he has felt growing up in the palace, I can relate to those feelings. I never had many friends my age growing up. I had tutors and instructors…” “And Christian,” Seth added. “Yes,” I said, “when Ella came into the family she insisted all four children had some exposure to others in their age group growing up. She also allowed them to be children, such as letting Thomas climb trees. He felt coming with us was more important.” “If Demetrius can create a bathroom out in nowhere,” Seth began, “Can’t he create a room Thomas and Toby can be hidden away in and kept safe?” “The bathroom was Demetrius’ idea,” I said, “changing the house, they offered that. Remember, there are situations that were designed to make a point and help our thinking.” “Like Deena’s torturing us?” Seth growled. “Yes,” I said. “The whole Thorne problem has a feeling of being staged.” “I blamed Lukus for years for what he gave Arthur to use.” Seth grumbled. “I know,” I said, understanding, “but I’ve thought about it over the years and a situation where a king loses his wife and two small children? Those two sons are found alive? The reason to allow us to marry was convenient? Arthur knew his family would be chosen to replace the king on his death and Lukus had the whole thing circle around to return the Crowned Prince to the throne. He told Arthur what was going to happen. Except he didn’t use your name. Arthur assumed it was Darius.” “Why? To amuse themselves?” Seth asked, still angry. “Are you really going there again?” I missed communicating with expressions and gestures. “What I see is a foreknowledge, not a cause. Lukus knew what Arthurs was planning and like Demetrius, he offered opportunities to get there. He didn’t cause it.” “I can’t tell the difference,” Seth grumbled. “Okay,” I sighed, “But remember, I’m on your side.” I said, “What if you’re right? Let’s say a Child of Lilith did plan the whole thing?” I could tell I shocked him just looking in his eyes. That was all of him I could see. “Ella was going to marry Christian, that horrible event Thorne did was planned out, your being tortured for decades was planned, our marriage was planned.” My arms went out of habit. That was a bad move. I was cold again. “Everything up to this very moment has been staged. Why? And if that’s true, what can we do about it? We can’t kill them. They see and know a lot about us. I have not been given a reason not to trust the three we know,” I chuckled, “now four. You were there when Demetrius took care of Candor.” “That wasn’t real,” Seth defended. “And we know that why?” I said. “Because Demetrius told you. You trust he’s honest about that.” Seth had endured a lot and it would take time. Still! He’d made some momentous strides to get where he was now and I believe it will always be there, even if just a shadow. “I believe Demetrius,” I said, “I believe Dara, and yes, I believe Lukus, too. He knew, but worked for it to be corrected.” The eyes are the windows to the soul. I remember reading that in the New Scriptures. It was right when Christ told us how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer? It really said, the light of the body is in the eyes. If we were evil, it would show in the eyes. I relied on that when looking a person over. I’d say it was right with Arthur, Darius, Deena, Candor…everyone! Right now, I saw conflict in Seth’s eyes. “You were treated very badly,” I admitted. “By Children of Eve. I know that, but our marriage, our lives in Royal Valley, our family is because of Demetrius. He could probably create a room to stick them, but I’m beginning to think they should be here.” Even through the thick fur I heard the gasp, but saw the alarm in his eyes, so I hurried on. “No, Toby should have a consequence for certain! But he was the one to point out the gauntlet defense in the beginning. He even told both of us, if we both came on this journey, he risked losing both of us. Thomas? What he did was impulsive and young. That’s no excuse, but it does explain why he did it. Who knows, he’s an educated young person with a lot of passion. I know Demetrius will protect Toby…and Thomas.” I couldn’t stop. “What we both know they can do, if they wanted to take over the world, nobody could stop them. Demetrius, Dara, and Lukus have never lied to us. I don’t think they know how. Demetrius was honest even when it came to Sam. He never said Sam was gone, but he said he didn’t know and even explained why! He’s Human, but he’s no god or even an angel. He doesn’t know everything and says that. He’s not perfect.” Again, those thick furs kept us from really understanding each other. There were a number of deer, bears, and rabbits that gave their lives to keep us warm. I thanked them silently, but I couldn’t see Seth’s expression. Two lumps of fur came closer to us. “Are you doing all right?” The voice for that lump was Chitto’s. “Fine,” I answered. “Do we need to stop?” The second lump was Max. “Are you hungry?” “How much daylight is left?” I looked at the gray sky. It was still daytime, but so overcast that no sun could be seen. Anywhere. The trees were very numerous and the forest thick with vegetation. Those treetops didn’t help me see. I’d been in forests and woods in Blethos and A’Dore, but some of these kinds of trees weren’t familiar to me. The tall mountains that were in front of us in the beginning were behind us now, but it was still mountainous. “He-lush-ka told me it does get dark earlier in these forests,” Chitto commented. “I’d say two or three hours.” “He-lus…” Seth repeated and then I didn’t need to see his face, “Oh, yeah! Henry! You meant Henry.” “What?” Chitto began confused, “His name isn’t Henry.” “Let it go, Chitto,” I chuckled. “For him, it’s Henry. It’s easier for him to pronounce and remember.” Chitto looked between us a second, “Okay, well Henry, He-lush-ka to everybody else, said we will be entering…” he said something that I couldn’t even begin to spell in any language, Muskogean, or English. It was almost Asian, “That means we’ll be entering the Forest of Rain.” “What did he mean by that?” I asked. “He said because it rains there almost all of the time,” Chitto chuckled. “He said it rains for about ten months with only two months of sunny days.” “Non-stop rain!?” Seth squawked. “The Scriptures said it rained for forty days and forty nights! Why doesn’t it flood?” Chitto chuckled, “I don’t know, but He-Lush-ka…sorry, Henry said it isn’t always a downpour. It kind of drizzles nonstop and just doesn’t end.” “It’s almost doing that now!” Seth protested. “There’s more ahead?” The Chitto lump’s head nodded as he chuckled again, “Henry said a lot more.” “We need to find a clearing,” I said. “I suggest we can look as we ride.” That proved less difficult than it could be. Finding a meadow or any clearing wasn’t hard. The “road” we followed was used so pretty clear what direction to go to…? We didn’t know. There was a group of clearings near a stream. We needed the water. I will also have to admit we all stunk! Wrapped in those skins, yes, after a while we smelled bad. The poor horses we’d ridden gave their scent to us. No one would come near us if we didn’t bathe. The stream offered clean water, but it was water from the snowy mountains. No one was looking forward to that. Yes. I could ask Demetrius for another bathroom and hot water, but I had an odd feeling about that. He cleaned Seth, the bed, and put a clean night shirt on Seth. He’d given us a clean bathtub with hot water once, but he offered that. A man came through a grove of trees, covered with a heavy coat waving at us. It wasn’t Demetrius, but Lukus. “You’re stopping, right?” Again, some of the furry lumps were ready to take on this unknown. “Relax gentlemen,” I said to the others. “He’s like Demetrius and Ceto. We know him.” I then spoke to Lukus. “If you keep this up,” I began, “we’ll come to expect it later.” “So?” Lulus said back, “all you need to do is ask. This isn’t a normal trip and we wanted to help.” “We?” I asked. “Follow that animal trail and you’ll see.” Lukus vanished. I had dreaded dismounting to set up camp. It was escort bayan cold! What had we done to get this sort of special treatment? I was getting the idea that we, Seth, Sam, Christian, Ella, and I weren’t who they were protecting. It was Toby, Dennis, Michael, Beth…all of the next generation that were being protected. Both Demetrius and Dara even told us that right after they brought them to us that was happening. I just wasn’t prepared to have it so soon. I wasn’t ready. He was only ten years old! We traveled to an area that was clear of a lot of shrubberies or immature trees. There was grass that covered the area, but the sound of running water splashing down some rocky places as the water headed for a lake and the very western ocean. It was getting darker, but not late. Winter days were short and nights seemed to arrive early and last a while. What was surprising were the mini-huts made of animal skins. All the skins were the same light skin color. They looked like oblong bubbles that got frozen in time. The two in the center were larger. I’d seen many homes lived in by the people of the tribes and they did look similar, but not quite. There was smoke coming out of each. A flap opened and a human being stepped out. It wore thick clothes and a fur hat. “In here,” the female voice said, causing me to look closer. It was Dara, “there is warm, clean water in tubs. Please take those skins off so we can air them out. There are four large tubs big enough for two or privately by pulling a curtain.” Demetrius came to stand by his wife, “You will be clean, warm, fed, and sleep well tonight.” “Ceto is preparing a warm stew for you in there,” Dara explained. I had a few feelings about this. The first was gratitude for not having to set this up ourselves. If we had, it wouldn’t be this nice or complete. No, they weren’t gods or angels, but loving humans that did things to be nice. Why? Again, I had a feeling things were set up for us. Getting off the horses, they were corralled in another clearing. It had stoves in the huts that radiated heat. The Creid were used for communal bathing in the cavern below the palace. I wasn’t sure about Thomas, but if his training was like mine had been, he was shy only once in the beginning. Jason gave training on not only defense, but what to do when in the field. Toby informed us Thomas could cook. I knew Jason took them into the wild areas surrounding A’Dore and he taught how to locate clean, fresh water. There was brackish water all around A’Dore. You know, where fresh and saltwater mixed? A’Dore sat next to one ocean and a gulf large enough to be an ocean. Jason also taught how to catch, skin, clean, and cook everything from fish to animals like wild pigs to wild birds. Many birds were not good to catch and eat. Until we brought our chickens and geese, but one wild bird was big enough was a turkey, but they were more plentiful in the northern portion of our continent. On the other hand, you took what you could get. Jason also traveled with some herbs and spices in the pack he carried. Thomas probably learned to do the same thing. A communal bath just happened. The guys in a river or stream just happened. Now, Toby…I knew he never had anyone give him a bath past four. He’d never been in a communal bath, that I knew of. I also didn’t know he experimented with explosives or fire-cannons, or was learning to speak. I was concerned about how he would handle this. Seth and hadn’t been shy with either of them, except when we were making love to each other. Seth was often worried about that. He was not shy with his body either, but sex is supposed to be between two people and private. Seth and I also didn’t want him to be shocked or unaware of sex. It’s a big part of who we are as Humans. As he was growing up I did explain what happened and why. Dennis, too. I will admit it. I was embarrassed. Why? I told him if he ever did anything sexual to make sure he saw the other as a person just like him. There could and should be experimenting, but he needed to be cautious. He was not to pressure anyone and never let anyone pressure him. I warned him that because of who he was, people might try to get things from him. I told him not to be afraid of sex, but treat the other person as he wanted to be treated and with respect. No objectifying. Sex is fun and causes great pleasure, but with that one special person, it could be magical. You will have a bond with another human. Such as the one between Seth and me, Sam and Terry, Christian and Ella…I can give more, but you know what I’m talking about. He was a boy and erections were just going to happen. (I’d worry more if they didn’t). I even told him what they were originally for. Which led to questions about Seth and me, Bent and Garth, Zeke and Gabe…. I explained we were sexual beings and what we created to do. It was neither anything wrong or be ashamed of. I watched him as he prepared to bathe. He didn’t appear to be bothered at all and just began disrobing. No curious looks or hidden looks. We took off the thick furs and placed them together. Where they were airing out, I had no idea. I was now breathing air easier, but it was colder than I was breathing under the fur. The skin of the fur kept rain out. I felt even better that the men took turns to bathe. Except for Seth and me. In warm clothes given to us that were again animal skins. They weren’t deerskin. I knew many tribes used goats. It was warm, so I was good with whatever fur, skin it was. We had domesticated animals so we didn’t have to hunt. I was fine with hunting, but many times I made friends with the domesticated animals. Humans are carnivores. We eat meat. The chicken or rabbit was fine. It was my cousin that pointed me in a direction of respect for the animals we used to fill our stomachs. The deer we had sheltering us was used for clothing and meals. We went to the other large hut that was warmed by two fires, one on each end where the smoke went up and out the top. Lukus and Ceto were near a large pot that was steaming, filling the hut with a wonderful smell. “I hope you all like venison,” Ceto said, turning from the pot. Again, she looked like a beautiful native woman. The hair was down around her shoulders, but she was dressed in dear skin that had fringe and beadwork, but flared like dresses in A’Dore and Blethos. The long feather hanging from the ear on the left side of her head. “I made a Venison and Three Sisters’ Stew.” I grinned, “So, there’s corn, squash, and corn.” Ceto pointed her big spoon at me, “That’s right, but there are other things, too. I’ve been told it’s very good and will fill you up and even keep you warm.” There was something nibbling at the back of my mind. Nothing about what they were doing was expected or asked for. Definitely not expected. Perhaps it was because Seth and I just discussed it. I was seeing a kind of pattern. As with most native people, the meal was served as we sat on the floor on thick pillows. There was a low table where large steaming bowls were put before us. It smelled delicious. It had the three sisters that were beans, corn, and squash, but also sliced red, green, and red peppers, onions, and chucks of meat. It tasted delicious, too and it did warm us up. Ceto knew these men would eat a lot and made plenty. Demetrius, Dara, Lukus, and Ceto ate with us. As things settled down, I leaned in toward Demetrius. “Why did you all do this?” Demetrius looked puzzled, “Someone I care about was doing a difficult thing.” “You did this for Toby?” I asked. Demetrius smiled a little embarrassed, “Of course, but I meant you, Erik.” “You said you weren’t my godparent anymore!” I stated smiling but in a low growl. Demetrius rolled his eyes and shook his head, “That’s just a title.” He waved that off. “I’ve been fond of you since day one. You are different. It didn’t take much longer when I realized I loved you.” He smiled at Seth, “And you became much more quickly after that. My feeling grew and hasn’t gone away.” He shrugged. “I was never far away.” “You said we couldn’t call you,” Seth said. “Which you hardly ever did when you could!” Demetrius replied. “There were times I couldn’t give you answers, but…” He pressed on his chest. “My feelings have gotten stronger and never lessened.” “Neither have ours,” I smiled. “I just assumed…” I chuckled. “I thought we wouldn’t see much of each other. I became attached to your twisted sense of humor.” “I thought you weren’t allowed to,” Seth stated. “You weren’t allowed by Him.” Seth pointing up. “Well…” Demetrius said using the word stretching it extra-long, “You know how He communicates with us.” He gave a wobbly shrug and nod, “No words exactly, just feelings and ideas. Some are very strong and understood better than words.” “Such as with Deena.” I offered. “Yes,” Demetrius nodded. “We heard stories about what she did,” Max said gently and softly. “How bad was it?” “She humiliated both of us,” I answered. “She wanted us to pay for the death of her father and brother. It was very bad.” “Erik and I don’t really discuss it,” Seth admitted. “She paid with her life.” “You appeared right when we asked for a child,” I said. “Getting Toby and Dennis has been more than rewarding. They are Seth’s and my sons. Why didn’t you take them? You and Dara would be great parents.” Demetrius looked surprised, “They are Sons of Adam like we are, but also because they are Sons of Eve, they would know they aren’t like us. Even if they learned to use some magic, the time to use it would be short.” I nodded, “Like you have over the centuries.” “That’s right,” Demetrius nodded. “My feelings have made His restriction was not as binding. I love both of you.” “We love you, too,” I grinned. “Fairy Godfather, Uncle, or any title you want,” Seth said, taking my hand, “You, Dara, and Lukus are family.” Lukus’ head came up surprised, “Really? You’re including me?” “Really,” Seth told him. “This whole thing was constructed,” I said quietly, “Wasn’t it?” “What!?” Demetrius gaped. “Thirty plus years ago, Arthur Thorne planned to kill the royal family of Blethos.” I began, “A plan he put in motion, killing the king’s wife and two sons. Only his two sons survived and were taken in by Arthur.” I smiled at them, but Lukus’ face was looking a little uncomfortable. “Then in A’Dore my brother didn’t want a princess or even a noble born woman to love. Ella wanted to go to the ball, but couldn’t because of her stepmother and her two stepsisters. Then comes Dara who uses her magic and gets Ella to the ball and wins the heart of my brother.” I was just getting started. “Then because Seth and Sam were thought to be dead, A’Dore was asked to make the decision as to who would rule!” I threw my hands out. “That would be an impossible task!” I held up my finger to make a point, “But! I heard the stories about my brother and Ella and wondered, would her mysterious godmother help me? If just to point me in the right direction. Everyone in A’Dore knew the story, so I asked Ella.” I waved at Demetrius, “And in comes Demetrius.” I laughed. “My life hasn’t been the same.” I held up my hand to stop any objections, “I won’t bore you what you know, but to have me choose among King Alexander’s family and I could marry a man! I didn’t know that was even bursa escort possible! But to have King Alexander’s eldest son be like me and want the same thing!?” I held up my hand and started to count off my fingers. “I was allowed to marry Seth, who fell in love with me. We’re sort of uncommon. My announced choice made a man born to be the next king by my choice, his birthmark said he was the new king, and Arthur’s introduction as a member of his house.” I did a circular motion in the air, “This whole situation was neatly constructed. Seth lost the throne, gained it back by me. And using our…not so mainstream passions, we did marry. There are too many variables to be random. Everything has happened to make us who we are.” Lukus sighed, “He’s right.” He said with reluctance. “Lukus!” Dara said in surprise. I chuckled, “My father taught me that too much coincidence is too much coincidence. This was planned.” “But not planned by us.” Demetrius said quickly. “What!?” Seth bellowed. “You knew what will happen?” “Not exactly,” Dara defended weakly. “What is it? Exactly.” Max asked. “We provided opportunity,” Demetrius said again. “We don’t make things happen. Dara didn’t make Ella and Christian fall in love, or you two to fall in love. You did that on your own and you’re far more common than you think.” He nodded again. “Just as in our communication with Him.” He pointed up. “There are some communicated messages that are pretty clear, such as when Deena kidnapped the two of you. The one about what was to happen to King Alexander was a vague one, but what happened to your family was set. It was going to happen. Arthur was going to strike a killing blow to King Alexander’s family.” Lukus nodded, “I provided the opportunity.” “But Arthur used it,” Dara added for Lukus as she pointed at Seth. “Arthur used it. You know Lukus didn’t do it.” I nodded, “I got that.” I leaned forward, “But you have a pattern. You normally make these spontaneous appearances just before something big is about to happen. Such as with Deena, the Creid or with Len Na. What’s going to happen tomorrow?” “Or at least in the immediate future,” Seth asked. “Or is this another test?” “When Deena got both of you,” Demetrius seemed to search his mind for what he needed to say. “That was a singular test to see in which direction you would go. You figured out where you would go. That was one outcome that couldn’t be determined.” “The simple truth is,” Lukus said. “Living is a test. You two have proven to be exceptional Human Beings.” “When you asked for a child,” Demetrius smiled, “we knew you two would make excellent fathers.” “Your priorities are straight,” Dara added. “Family first, then people after that.” “You approve of our parenting,” Seth said to qualify. Lukus shook his head, “It’s not our place to…” “Oh, drop Children of Lilith crap,” I growled, “Even with Toby coming with us now, are we doing a good job?” Demetrius smiled and sat back a little, “I’ll answer you, but I will ask you. You’ve never struck either of them, even when angry. Why?” “Teaching anyone to obey because I’m stronger than them doesn’t work with countries or children.” I stated simply, “Defend yourself, yes, but don’t obey because you’ll be hurt if you don’t.” “The Scriptures say spare the rod, spoil the child.” Lukus offere. with a smile. “Not exactly,” I smiled. “That phrase was in a poem later, the actual verse says; He who spares the rod hates the child.” I shrugged, “No one likes a spoiled brat. The Scriptures talked about discipline and guidance. It also spoke of; even though I walk through the valley of death, thy rod and thy staff comfort me.” I threw my hands out, “How can something punitive and painful comfort anyone!?” I pointed at Demetrius. “And we’re talking about two separate things. The staff defended the sheep from wolves, bears and other predatory creatures, the rod was used to guide in a direction. It wasn’t used to smack any of the sheep. A gentle nudge kept the sheep going where it was supposed to go. Guidance.” Seth was sitting back more looking at me, “How much of the Scriptures did you study?” I shrugged, “I’ve read the whole thing, the Old Scriptures and New Scriptures from beginning to end once. I studied certain books and passages several times over five years or so.” I saw Seth’s eyes widen which made me chuckle. “According to the Church our future afterlife depended on what is there and I sure as Hell wasn’t trusting anyone else to tell me the way to go.” I leaned toward Seth and stage whispered, “Besides, I knew what was wrong with me, so I looked for others like me written in there or a cure.” “Apparently,” Seth shook his head, “you didn’t find one.” “No,” I shook my head, “I didn’t.” I raised the finger to make a point. “I did find out much of what we hear in the Church isn’t true! Priests are just men. They have their own agendas and bias, I’ve only known two that were honest, but controlled by the Diocese about what they could share.” I leaned toward Max, “They got drunk on their own power and are manipulating people because they can.” I looked at Demetrius and pointed to him. “Then you come along and say you’re the product of Adam and Lilith, but like everyone else, you don’t know whether it’s true or not. The woman we met was Lilith. I know it, but I couldn’t question her. If she is as old as you say, her access to the magic has to be second only the Savior or God Himself.” Demetrius nodded with a smile, “And you’d be right. Now, as for your sons…” he waved as Toby, Thomas, and Val were in their own conversation. “Toby is a happy young man. He has never coward away from either of you. He loves you both! He doesn’t know fear. Deep down he is a very happy boy. He certainly isn’t shy. Do I approve of your parenting? You’re both parents of two happy, intelligent boys. Excellent parenting. Yes, I approve.” “Beginning a new era for people is huge!” Dara said. “And you have two going in the correct direction,” Lukus agreed. “And children are known to disobey. Mine did. Being a child of Lilith doesn’t mean you don’t have errors. There are no perfect parents.” I don’t know why that surprised me. Demetrius and Dara had no children, but that didn’t mean Lukus didn’t. Demetrius said no Child of Lilith had been born in two hundred years. Lukus was over six hundred years old. “How many children do you have?” I asked. Lukus smiled slyly, “Twenty-two.” “Twenty-two!?” Max balked. I chuckled, “Think about that for a moment,” I said, “When you age a year in a hundred years or so,” I looked at Lukus, “Does a pregnancy last longer for a daughter of Lilith, or was it a traditional pregnancy like the daughters of Eve?” Lukus laughed, “It was the typical ten lunar months. Being pregnant ten years would be unfair.” “I only gave birth twice,” Ceto smiled. “And their childhood?” I asked. Lukus grudged a nod, “Not really that much longer than yours.” He gave a wavering hand wave. “We mature just a few years longer than you do. At thirty we are about what you are at twenty. It slows drastically down.” I looked at Max, “Taking away the past two hundred years that leaves a few centuries for him to have twenty-two children. That’s plenty of time.” Max nodded with a shrug “I guess.” “One more time,” I grinned. “Something caused you to appear. What are you getting about this?” “This will have another open ending conclusion,” Demetrius nodded. “Unlike before,” Dara added. My eye narrowed, “As opposed to what it was before.” I said carefully. “Yes,” Lukus nodded. “The last few weeks?” I asked. Lukus shook his head, “You know it is. A few weeks ago, this trip was going to conclude with the addition of those two. It will be shorter.” Seth frowned as he thought, “Because we include them or don’t include them? I thought this was known and planned.” Demetrius shrugged, “No one is saying He doesn’t know. He knew exactly what was going to happen, but he left it up to us to decide. What we are free to go come or go, he just knew what that would be.” He thumbed himself, then Dara, Lukus, and Ceto. “We don’t know, but He does.” Theology often gave me headaches. I had a pretty big one brewing in my head now. Seth shook his head, “I don’t believe that.” “So?” Lukus shrugged. “Put that fact with what you said, it’s still irrelevant. It doesn’t make it a lie or make it true. It simply is.” “Okay,” I tried to be patient, but they were being their usual selves as fairy godparents and dangling the answer like bait to get us to bite. Ceto blew a frustrated breath, “Oh, my GOD! They do this a lot with you, don’t they?” She sat across from me, “You know that we can do things you can’t, so it won’t be a surprise now. You will meet someone that will bring you Wahkoowah, you will meet him and enjoy his hospitality a day and from there it gets fuzzy, and we can’t see through that fuzz.” “See!?” I said to Demetrius, “Now that was an answer.” Demetrius pouted a frown, “Sure, take away the drama and leave things boring.” “That’s a risk I’m willing to take,” I told them. “If I say zealot?” Ceto said carefully, “Do you know what I mean.” “They must be very hardcore zealots,” Seth began. “Dedicated,” I finished, “and militant.” “Yes,” Ceto nodded. Max frowned, “We had three zealots for the Church that came during the reign of King Mordor.” I turned back to look at Max, “Oh, I miss that bear of a man! He was a good and wizen king.” “That was what really convinced Yannick to trust you,” Max smiled. I shrugged and quoted the Creid Motto, “Whatever it takes.” Max nodded and burst out laughing with the Creid at the table laughing with me. I got a ghost of a smile from Seth. He knew I’d distracted Yannick by kissing him and it worked! Even after all these years, he was still a little jealous. He and Yannick were included as family now. That fact and Delta told all rational people, cheating by Yannick and me wasn’t going to happen. I loved Yannick like I loved Christian and Sam. All three were kings I was fortunate to know and my privilege to call family. I looked at all of them. I guess you had to have been there or Creid to see that as humorous. I’d have to make it up to Seth later. “I don’t have to ask if you know who is blocking you?” I turned to Demetrius, “You didn’t know who was blocking you from seeing Sam.” No,” Demetrius replied. “Could it be Wahkooha?” I asked. Ceto shrugged, “Maybe. I feel he has access to the magic; in a way we don’t know. It’s very strong.” Lukus chuckled, “Luckily, we don’t get punished every time a parent is disobeyed or we’d all be under arrest. Children can be so stubborn.” Seth and I looked at each other and remembered our headstrong son who often challenged and nodded at Lukus. “But not this one,” Seth pointed at Toby who had understood everyone as he could read lips easily, “I’m sorry,” Toby said. “I’m to blame for him trying to catch up with me,” Thomas confessed. “It isn’t safe for a Crowned Prince to travel alone.” Toby said logically. “It wasn’t safe for a Crowned Prince or a prince from both A’Dore and Blethos to travel alone.” Seth muttered quietly. I turned to Toby, “When we do the punishment, I want you to know what we’re punishing you for the disobedience, not for what you did it for. Do you know the difference?” Toby nodded, “Yes. Understood.” I turned to Thomas, “You’re on your own with my brother and my sister-in-law,” I chuckled. “Maybe if you spoke to them first?” Thomas suggested hopefully. I nodded, “Assuming we all make it back. This isn’t for fun.” Surprising Hospitality

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