Can you believe it? I got lost. In my own story!? I knew where it should conclude, but I didn't know how to get there. Then WHAM!!! It hit me between the eyes. Nearly knocked me out of my chair! I think it's pretty good. You never know what will inspire you. Still with me, Daniel, and I still love you.
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 near 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. 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 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 respect. 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 happen. I even told him what they were originally for. Which led to questions about Seth and me, Bent and Garth, Zeb and Gabe.... I explained we were sexual beings and what we created to do. It was neither anything wrong or to 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. 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 wholly 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 bead-work, 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 Three Sisters’ Stew and venison.”
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 beans, corn, and squash, but 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 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 wer different. It didn’t take much longer when I realized I loved you.” He smiled at Seth, “And you came 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 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. “How bad was it?”
“She humiliated 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 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 step-mother and her two step-sisters. 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 Demertius.” I laughed, “and 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 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 know 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. “You know he 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 offered.
“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.”
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. 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.”
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, “Did a was pregnancy last longer, or was it a traditional pregnancy?”
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 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.
“Last week?” I asked.
Lukus shook his head, “You know it is. A week ago, this trip was going to conclude a few weeks from now, 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 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 fuzzy.”
“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,” Seth began.
“Dedicated,” I finished, “and militant.”
Max frowned, “We had three zealots for the Church that came during the reign of King Mordor.”
I turned back to look at Max, “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 kn0w who was blocking you from seeing Sam.”
No,” Demertius 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 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.”
“You’re on your own with my brother and my sister-in-law,” I chuckled.
“Maybe if you spoke to the first?” Thomas suggested hopefully.
I nodded, “Assuming we all make it back. This isn’t for fun.”