He came!! Six and a half pounds, seventeen inches... I named him Dellbert. Bert for short. I love him already! Virtual cigars to everyone. He and I will be working together. After I get the passwords and connections going. It has all the protections and no eating or drinking near him! I still joke and I still miss Daniel every day. I think of him all the time and practically every other thought is about or to him. I love you, Daniel.
“Hemisphere?” Seth asked.
I nodded, but looked at Demetrius, “The Chinese knew that as the Native tribes here did. It explained our seasons.” I smiled at Seth. “You know the Earth is round?”
Seth nodded, “Yes, we’ve known that a thousand years.”
I chuckled, “It’s been known a lot longer than that. It became more widely known about a thousand years ago, but even today, if you ask the ones that were raiding our supplies I can guarantee the majority of them think it’s flat. The Chinese, Mayan and Inca have known it much longer! Our world moves!” I laughed again, “It also wobbles.”
“Wobbles!?” Seth asked. “I’ve never felt it wobble.”
I didn’t know what Arthur allowed his children to learn. Arthur didn’t send his children to school. No, he brought school to his children! In A’Dore it had been a question of security. My security. Christian was at a higher grade level, so we weren’t schooled together. Other than that one professor that almost hit me (saved by Christian. Remember?). All of my instructors were nice and very smart men. Wealthy families tried hard to hire the choicest instructors. To the point that families would pool the money and get those few in one place and the families would send their children to them. There were teachers and instructors that traveled from town to town like traveling minstrel groups. Having a reputation of good results helped. There ones with the reputation for good results were often in high demand and came with an invitation. With some of these people, who checked on what they taught? It was about that time if someone told me something was true, I wanted to see proof they were right. Reading, writing, and math proved itself being right. Events in history and conclusions from ideas, I wanted proof. With science...it was sad. I blame the Church for a lot of it. They knew they understood how everything was to be. It was their power. If it was proven they didn’t understand, they lost control. They fought like crazy to keep the control and almost everyone who claimed the world was round was put to death for heresy against God! Over in A’Dore our people had already begun to meld with Natives! When representatives from the Church came to A’Dore, we already had several of the family married to Natives. The Mayans had taught us about the Earth that they had observed. Then the Chinese added to that knowledge. The Church’s “knowledge” was disputed. From the THRONE!! We had charts, equations and documented observations and SHOWED it to them. That was the beginning of the end of any cooperation between the Church and A’Dore. Blethos was the same way! No one was telling anyone from either kingdom what to do. We could show how we got the opinion! Common sense made more sense!
There were families that didn’t monitor what was being taught to the children. Arthur hired instructors for Darius and Deena. He didn’t really care if Seth or Sam were included. The instructor was there, if Sam or Seth came, they got taught. I know he didn’t spare a thought to any of the children of his employees. Those traveling teachers would come and in exchange for a roof and food would teach a few months. A year after Seth and I were married, I met Christina who knew she was losing her job because she was pregnant. Arthur’s policies concerning working and being pregnant...well. Christina said she could barely read as they didn’t have money for her to be taught. Now, she had four children and they ALL read now. That’s right four children!!
Oh, yeah. The round Earth and wobble. “You know the Earth is a sphere going around the sun.” I saw Seth nod. “The Earth rotates and the day gets longer as the Earth tilts away from the sun in Fall and Winter. Longer days in Spring and Summer because the Earth wobble toward the sun.” He apparently had not been taught this as he listened closely. I held my fist up as a model. “The equator has the world divided into a hemisphere to the North and another South of the equator is the Southern Hemisphere. We are in the Northern Hemisphere.” I touched Seth’s arm. “Not knowing because you were never told is different than being stupid. You are NOT stupid, babe.”
Demetrius smiled at us, “No one here is stupid.” He leaned forward, “There’s one other thing.” He was acting out of character as he smiled sadly and pulled out papers that were folded and sealed with the royal crest of A’Dore. “I didn’t look, but I was told this is a letter to you, but a letter to Tom was put with it.”
In many ways, the passing of time was playing with me. I knew we had just gotten here, but at the same time it felt like we’d been there a long time. Getting a response about a letter I just sent, Thomas, too. I was surprised there WAS a response. I broke the wax seal and opened the letter. Christian, Ella, and Dennis had written something. Christian “could” write very elegantly and worded sentences suitable to be from a king. This quickly written letter was from brother to brother. You could read it, but...Ella’s handwriting was always pretty. Dennis!? He was eight! Soon to be nine and just learning how to write in cursive. He tried to be grown up about it, but his letters were larger than...Hey, perfecting the fine motor skills to write took a long time. Many adults can’t read or write at all.
I put the letter to Thomas down. It was to Thomas, not me or Seth. Unless asked to by Thomas, it would remain unread by us. The letter to us wasn’t lengthy. I held it up so Seth could read it, too. Christian was glad we were safe and things had calmed down in A’Dore and Blethos. The one threat was dealt with and done. There wasn’t a connection to Creid, but we heard about what happened there. Ella told us Dennis was fine, but not his usual bubbly self with us gone. I frowned when she said he was depressed and understandably so. He was well cared for and loved, but we weren’t there.
The only thing said to us about Thomas to us was to please bring Thomas home. Mentally, I swore to both Ella and Christian I would or die trying. The “love you” comments were there and really sincerely meant. Not just a letter closing or address. It was meant. Dennis expressed it best in big letters. “Come Home!” My heart ached reading that. I passed the letter to Seth as things got a little blurry.
Demetrius shook my shoulder lightly. “Just remember,” he began. “They are why you’re doing this.”
I nodded and wiped the tears from my face, “It just hurts.” I looked up at Demetrius’ serious face. “No,” I said, shaking my head, “You can’t do this.” I chuckled and pointed at his face, but my grin said more.
Demetrius looked puzzled, “I can’t do what?” His face told me he knew.
“You’re the zany, often crazy god-father!” I shrugged. “You make me laugh. You’re not supposed to be serious!!”
Demetrius nodded, but a smirk was on his face, “Oh, you think I’m here to just entertain you.”
I shook my head, “No, of course, not.” I said grinning. “Whenever you are here with us, I’m usually entertained, but that’s not WHY you’re here.”
“And why is that anyway,” Seth chuckled, asking. “My understanding is that you were here to help Erik marry the right person.” He held up my left hand and wiggled his own left ring finger by mine. “We ARE married.”
“That was the hardest thing. Two men legally married to each other, but we are and we have been for a whole decade now!” I added. “I say, job done and mission accomplished.”
“It was accomplished,” Seth nodded. “Wasn’t it?”
Demetrius laughed and hung his head. He was an artist who appreciated humor from others, “Yes, mission accomplished.”
There were advantages to having a child that could read lips. Toby was on Thomas’s other side. I simply asked Toby to tell Thomas to speak with me at the end of the meal. Toby looked up at me, nodded and gave me the agreed signal that he understood. What parent doesn’t get a jolt of pride with a talented child? That was Toby! I felt an ache in my heart thinking about Dennis. If I could harness this transporting thing...I could simply be there. Right? I did it with Seth, but I needed to understand some things first. I did what I didn’t know I could, but was very fuzzy on the how. Could I do it with everyone? Or one at a time? Can I bring our things with us? The horses, trunks...do you remember about Toby? There was no way he would go without Smoky! I wouldn’t dream of asking Toby to and it would be cruel to ask of him.
Meals were more than where a person stopped that gnawing pain in his stomach. A good sized kill could be shared with others. See? That and a few other things had me question the scriptures! And still do! There was evidence about people living in caves! Whole families! The people who lived there left paintings on cave walls about hunting creatures that couldn’t be made up. Some pictures showed a hunt of a giant...elephant? It had long tusks. That was on THIS continent! I never even HEARD of elephants here. These were hairy! I knew there were some elephants across the Atlantic… No, rabbit. go on! Scoot! You’re distracting me. Maybe, I shouldn’t call them rabbits. Rabbits are cute. How about wild geese? You end up so far from what you’re talking about on a wild goose chase…
Where were we? Oh, yes. Was I limited on what I could take? We all had things we brought things, like the armor and clothes…
Mealtime became so much more now. A time for everybody to catch up with each other, It was a time for bonding. We had been gone quite a few weeks. It would be the Nativity Season soon. Even if we all left now, we wouldn’t be home in time. There is something I DID that Christian would never consider to do. To get what I thought was impossible, I gave magic a chance. Then, along came Demetrius and my life would never be the same. I will also say again, using magic wasn’t difficult. No words or objects used. No special skills needed. War was a harsh reality. People die in a war and not just soldiers, but innocents, too.
Yes, I’m not telling anything you didn’t know. One thing about my father, grandfather and all members in the Royal Family, we were never the aggressor. No one had what we thought we deserved. If another kingdom did have something we might need, something could be worked out as payment or, even better TRADE! The people of A’Dore were not saints. I know there were some members of the family that were just as bad and evil as Arthur Thorne or even worse. I was raised, and I know Christian was and constantly told to be an example to everyone. We often defended our people and what they had from others. Any threat to our people was dealt with and eliminated. We did have people that dealt with spies. Yes, spies. Mostly, the spies tried to find out what was happening that we didn’t tell them. A great grandfather believed in telling everyone everything. What his hopes were and what the plans he hoped to make. A time of war, military strategies were often done in the field. Military leaders knew what the goals were and planned with other leaders to figure out what needed to be done to reach those goals...and you probably don’t care about that. My whole point was. The people were the most important and all efforts needed to be taken was not too much. We protected A’Dore at all costs. I didn’t just want to suddenly appear in the throne room! But I needed more understanding of the magic to plan. Yes, I had to be patient. I was used to having questions answered by someone that would know or at least point out what book I might find it. There were people smarter than me, so I asked them. Only twice did I have to do extensive research to get the answers on my own. I had to research to find out where to look!
“Hi!” Thomas said behind us, making me jump. Without even being asked, he forcibly lowered himself between Seth and me, smiling as he did it. Being surprised was to be Human. I had gotten distracted. Times like this I saw him much younger. “Toby said to come over here.”
I chuckled at him, but said seriously, “We got a response from your father and mother.” I handed the folded letter to him, “This is to you.”
Thomas’s face fell a little, “What does it say?”
I shook my head, “I don’t do that.” I pointed to the two hardened splotches of red with the Royal Emblem impressed in the wax to seal it. “It wasn’t written for Seth or me.”
He wasn’t moving and I saw the uncertainty in his face.
“Thomas,” I began putting an arm over his shoulder, “I’m glad you’re here. I think you were supposed to be here. What do you think happened when you left? What did you expect?”
Thomas ran a hand through his hair and did an exaggerated shrug. “I don’t know! I wasn’t thinking about it.”
I nodded, but smiled at Thomas, “Did you imagine the streets of A’Dore crowded with adoring subjects all cheering, showering you with flowers as they welcomed you aa a mighty warrior coming back in victory and everyone’s hero? All the women wanting to marry you and men want to BE you?” I watched his eyes grow a little. No, I couldn’t read minds. I chuckled and shrugged, “That was the sort of dream I had,” I grudged a nod, “Sort of.” I smiled at Thomas, “The women still wanted to marry me, I just wasn’t interested in marrying them.”
Thomas smiled a little, “The men did?”
My eyes widened in shock, “Of course, not!” That was all put on. “It was the Summer before my eighteenth year your father tossed me something so I won’t drown. I couldn’t say it outloud to myself and definitely not to anyone else.” I still had the letter in my hand. “I don’t know what is said in this letter, but I KNOW your parents. I’ve known your father ALL my life. I’ve known your mother most of my life. They are both good, kind, and very smart people.” I took a breath, “Without knowing what’s written, I can assure you, except for Ada, Ana, and Edward, no other people in this world means more to them than you. You ARE both of them. I can’t imagine your father using harsh words with you. That’s not Christian. They both love you so much.”
Thomas nodded, “I never meant to hurt them.”
I smiled and looked at Seth, “Demetrius is always talking about how well we can see looking back.” I waved the still sealed letter. “And he needs to know how what’s in an unopened and unread letter is already known.”
Thomas smirked at me, but took the letter, “Okay. I’m reading it, I’m reading it.” He broke the seals. There were three parchments on which I could only see small letters of a lengthy letter.
“Take your time,” Seth said. “We’re not going anywhere.”
This might take some time due to the content. He got up as he read. He looked up as Hana came close. Seth and I rose from our seated position.
“I need to read this,” Thomas waved the pages at her. “My uncles are very entertaining. I’ll be…” he looked at the area, “nearby.” He leaned forward and kissed her. He reached out and touched her arm. He jutted his head in our direction. “Tell them,” he said, “You’ll see I’m right and you have to change your mind.”
Change her mind? Something was not adding up here. They got along well. What was missing? Math was not a favored subject for me, but I saw the answer and part of the equation...five is the answer, two is part of the equation, so is six. You KNOW something is missing.
(Ouch) Math is necessary, but it causes me pain after prolonged exposure.
“You say, I tell them,” Hana pointed out. “Then go away!?”
“You wanted people to give you unscripted advice,” Thomas smiled. He waved at us. “They don’t even know what we’re talking about.” Then he turned around to go to another light source to read the letter.
“Gisshirui,” Hana blew a frustrated breath to which she got a shrug, but he kept going.
“While that was not really angry,” Seth said. “It also didn’t sound positive.”
“What language was that?” I asked.
“I say wrong,” Hana shook her head. “It language of Nihon.” Then she nodded quickly and translated. “Japan.”
“It wasn’t a compliment,” I ventured.
Hana shook her head, “No,” she laughed. “It is small animal, fur, long tail and cowers from light.” She put her fingers near her mouth and fanned her fingers straight out, “Has hairs here…you bring in light and they run away.”
I smiled, “A mouse?” I held two hands close together to show size.
She shook her head and pushed my hands further apart. “Is bigger. Brown. Sofu told they get in supply food on ship.”
Seth brightened, “A rat?”
She shrugged, “Could be.”
“He knew what you said,” I pointed out.
She nodded, “I’ve say before. Not call him gisshirui, but…”
“What does he say you need to change your mind about?” I asked, needing her to tell us.
“He asked me to come back to A’Dore with you,” she said angrily. “He asked me to marry him.”
Now there was another part of the equation, but still not giving the correct answer using addition or subtraction. “You don’t want to marry him?”
She covered her face to hide tears that were coming, “I CAN’T marry him!” She turned to us again, “I just say it. I not...virgin!”
Yes, I was surprised at this. I admit it. I shouldn’t have been. She was seventeen. There were mothers with a child or two at seventeen. You could never assume. “Okay.”
Seth frowned, “There’s more to this then you are saying.”
“We know a queen now that had a child before she even met the man she is happily married to now and became queen,” I added. “And just really quickly tell me, Sofu means what?”
Hana was not happy, but she smiled a bit at our confusion. “Oh,” she smiled, “he was father to my mother.”
Seth and I nodded, “Your grandfather!” I said in triumph.
Her knees gave a little at having missed that word, “Yes! Grandfather!” She tapped on her forehead and muttered. “Watashi wa sore o oboete irubekidatta.” She smiled again. “That mean I should know Grandfather.”
I smiled, “Why SHOULD you? I know Kon’nichiwa and Arigatōgozaimashita.” I threw my hands out. “There. You now have my complete knowledge of Japanese.”
“You told Thomas this?” Seth asked.
Hana nodded, “Yes.” She shook her head. “He doesn’t...understand. I was...damaged. I didn’t say no.”
“Wahkooha?” I asked.
She nodded reluctantly.
“COULD you say no?” Seth asked.
“Isa,” Hana said. “My sister was going to...but…he started with her. She older three year of me.” Hana wiped her face.
“But she didn’t?” Seth asked quietly.
“She die,” Hana confressed. She pointed up at the roof. “Seven moon...cycles?”
Dakotah had told us about some deaths.
“She was pregnant?” I said and Hana nodded.
“How old were you?” Seth asked. “When he started.”
She shrugged, “Fourteen?”
“You say you’re damaged,” Seth said. “How?”
“You’re a victim, Hana,” I said. “A man, having the power of a god wanted you.”
“I could say no,” Hana shrugged.
“And died,” I said. “You chose to survive.”
“I know somewhat what you’re feeling,” Seth smiled, taking her hand. “We both have had events happen to us.” He took a deep breath, “I was injured very badly, as you may know. I carried the scars for two decades. I saw myself as damaged for a long time.”
“Those scars are gone on his body,” I said and took Seth’s hand. “The damage to his soul still tries to come out…”
“But he never saw them,” Seth marvaled. “He could see the ones on my face and body, but he didn’t really see the ones in my soul. He married me, scars and all and didn’t care.”
“You told this to Thomas?” I asked.
“Yes,” Hana nodded.
“I wish I could take what happened away,” I smiled. “Really, there is no closure with this.” I grinned and laughed. “There were a few times I wished I could resurrect him and kill Arthur over and over again so he had to experience an agonizing death for every cruel moment he caused.” I shrugged, “But he’s gone and will never hurt Seth or anyone again. The same with Wahkooha. He won’t harm anyone now.”
“You may be damaged,” Seth continued. “Thomas may not understand, but he is NOT stupid.”
“There is a man from the Royal Family in A’Dore sees a very smart young woman that I believe would be a valuable addition to any community.” I smiled.
Hana looked away slightly, “I don’t want to embarrass anyone.”
“Embarrass anyone of the family?” I asked. I raised Seth’s hand. “I think what we did was embarrassing enough.” Seth and collided a little as we laughed. “A Prince marrying a man!? In a witnessed ceremony with TWO kings!?”
“How you would like to handle this,” Seth began, “Is up to you and Thomas, but it came out about my past, the curse, abuse...at the beginning.”
“And you better believe no one insulted any family with Christian and Ella,” I chuckled, “Especially not Ella.”
“Nooo, you didn’t do that,” Seth laughed. “She is kind, polite and all that, but if you say something about family, she becomes a mama bear protecting her cubs!” He looked at me. “Mrs. Cunningham? Wasn’t that her name? Ella threw her out of the palace!”
I bounced and nodded. “Mrs. Cunningham was banned from any palace function for five YEARS!! She insulted Seth!! And too stupid to know she had done it.”
“Born to the family or married to the family,” Seth said. “They will protect you as family.”
“Are you interested in marrying Thomas? Even a little?” I asked. “From what I was told, the people of Japan have all the usual people, good and bad. There are people you can trust and those you can’t.” I laughed. “When it comes to women and sex…” I grimaced and shrugged, “well, when it comes to marriage and daughters, they put a lot of pressure on women to be pure. I can’t imagine what they’d do with a woman who is a victim of a crime like this.”
“Hide it and never talk about it,” Hana said gloomily. “Even in families that are part Native, they don’t talk about it.”
I nodded, “It would be very uncomfortable to talk about.”
“No, embarrassment or shame is not yours to take,” Seth said. “It’s a lot easier to say than to do, but you survived! I can say from experience,” he touched her arm. “It gets easier. Trust me.”
“We found surprise was the worst part of this,” I smiled, “Being totally honest is the best defense of surprise. We told everyone how badly Seth was abused.”
Her eyes grew hearing that, “Tell people what he did? To me?”
I bowed my head and asked any power in charge for the words, “No,” I smiled. “You will control how much they will know, but if the people that love you know more, you take any embarrassment and shame away. It won’t have power over you.”
“One more time!” Seth smiled, “You did nothing to feel embarrassed about and no shame was brought to you, your family, or the people. What happened was NOT YOUR FAULT!”
“I told you,” Thomas chuckled as he came over. He was using his hand to rid his face of tears, but he didn’t look unhappy. He held the letter up, “I’d like to read this again. I’ll be glad to let you read it, but the first time was full of emotion by me.” He explained as he neared the table and lowered next to Hana who took his hand.
I smiled as she acted like someone who truly cared for Thomas. The hand she took went into her lap as she caressed his face gently and didn’t say anything, but the look from her eyes expressed a deep affection growing.
“We don’t need to read it at all,” I said to reinforce that fact.
Thomas laughed and sniffed lightly, “None of it was bad. The reason I wasn’t to go was only said once by Dad. The rest was how much they wanted me to come home, not because of any duty. They wanted me HOME.” He looked at Hana, but pointed at Seth and me. “They threw support behind you, didn’t they?”
“Yes,” Hana smiled.
“I told you,” Thomas said again.
This had some bumps in the road that were coming. I was Thomas’s uncle, not his father. However, I knew how Christian reacted when anything sexual came up. I know how seriously that purity of the royal line was stressed to Christian and me. I was Seth’s first and he was mine. I knew Christian was a virgin when he married Ella and so was Ella. Yannick was older than we were when he married Delta. He had a few lovers when younger, but Delta was already a mother when he married Yannick. One major bump coming was Thomas’s feelings about himself. Only he knows if he followed that purity line. I suspect so, but that wasn’t important. Just because Wahkooha had sex with her, didn’t mean she wanted it. I didn’t know how often he’d done it with her. He didn’t love her and I know she didn’t love him. She was fourteen years old when it started with her!? Fourteen! Yes, that feeling of wanting to resurrect him just to kill him again surfaced again. I did hope that whoever was the real Tawa, or whatever demon that had Wahkooha simply increased his torment and let Wahkooha know why. I did not want Thomas to ever feel he was competing with Wahkooha. Ella was who Hana needed to tell and Ella could explain more to Thomas.
I found out only she and her mother were alive now. Hana insisted that when a decision was made, if she went to A’Dore, her mother would come with her. Also, both of the mother’s parents were half Japanese and Native. Hana’s father was from Japan. He worked on a ship that returned to Japan. This was years ago, but no one saw him, the ship or anyone from the crew again. Was he alive? Who knew?
“Well,” I said to Thomas, “Your Uncle and I have a long trip tomorrow.”
Thomas looked startled, “Long trip!? Where to?”
“Maybe nowhere,” I grumbled.
Seth bumped his forehead against mine, “Nonsense. Demetrius never took us to his home because he couldn’t take us there. Your uncle can, so we’re going to Demetrius’s house!”
Thomas thought a second, “He has a house!? Like a regular person?”