Oh, grow up! When it happens, will you be ready? I still think of you everyday, Daniel. I love you.
Now? I'm Not Ready!
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 tee-pee 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 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 in my eyes. 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 Seto, 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 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 loved 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, baby,” 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. And he has stunned many Medicine Men for the tribes and even knew how to prevent the cold, wet air from causing us to freeze. 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 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 the 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.”
Chitto looked between us a second, “Okay, well Bob, 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.”
“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. These were all wet. 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. 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 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, Micheal, 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!