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    R. Eric
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Cinderfella 3: Life Continues - 46. Lia

Another good day.  I still think of you all the time, Daniel.  I miss you.  BUT, I'm determined to leave my stories behind.  I have something to say.  I'm saying it!  Love and live, people!  :wizard:

Lia

 

“That was much better,” Seth assured with a kiss.

“Maybe we should wait on things like that, Father Seth,” I grinned.

Seth looked down at himself, “Oh, yes. Right.”

It was two or three in the morning in Roma. I knew many people started their day very early, so we did tarry long.

Caleb pointed at a house nearby. “Lia lives there. Alone.”

It was four-story house/building, but…Caleb pointed to a single bottom corner. This building housed several families. I say that because of the white cloths hung on a line from a third-story window, telling everyone there was a baby in that house. Some street lamps were still lit, but some were nearly out of oil because of low maintenance so there were a lot of shadows. Even dressed like priests, it was still a little freaky. Scary even. I looked at Lukus.

“Why are your robes like that?” I asked. “All flowy and just…more?” He had a more elaborate black top that fit over his black shirt. You couldn’t see his sleeves. He even had a small black hat that looked more like a Jewish Yarmulke. Also called Yamakas in A’Dore. Our Jewish members kept to themselves, but loved that no one bothered them for being Jewish.

“I’m a Bishop,” Lukus said off-handedly.

“Really?” Seth asked skeptically and amused.

“Sure,” Lukus said. “Why not?”

“You out rank all of us,” I grinned.

“Yes!” Lukus answered. “Of course.”

“You’ve been here before,” I said. Yes, I was fishing to know the depth of the relationship. He was in his late twenties! It was none of my business, but he couldn’t possibly be a virgin! Only because of awkward things like keeping the royal line pure and pressures…we didn’t hold out that long. Yannick didn’t, but he was older. Many clergy didn’t hold to their vow of celibacy. Caleb wasn’t really a novice!

“Sure,” Caleb said and did a shrug I barely saw in the dark. “I helped her home a few times with groceries and packages. Sometimes, she’d invite me to stay for dinner when I did that.”

“That’s very…” I began hesitantly.

“Gallant of you.” Demetrius inserted quickly. He did the finger of shame at me, shaking it in my face. “To know anymore, he must tell you.”

“Oh, come on, Demetrius!” I said to my godfather. “He’s my friend. I’m curious! I was eighteen when I had my wedding night!”

Demetrius pointed at Caleb. “Who you tell and why is up to you, but not because of who he is.”

Caleb was now enjoying this too much. “It’s really one big room.” He wasn’t answering the question I really hadn’t asked.

Of course, I’d live not knowing. It would be uncomfortable, but I could do it.

Caleb walked toward the door and I have to say, that was a secure lock for this residential apartment. It didn’t match the décor! Yes, I’ll explain. The building was several hundred years old, but that lock was new! Only a few years old if that! Caleb reached down, moved a large rock aside and reached into a hole on the ground, having to twist his body and then came back with a key! It beat the Hell out a spare key under a rock or under a flower pot. No. He knew where that key was! I wouldn’t be surprised if he was responsible for the new lock. He was guarding something precious to him. Lia!

He unlocked the door and let us in. It was dark out and in this home! The delicious smell of a meal cooked lingered in the air.

“Chi sei?” a gruff voice asked behind us. “Cosa vuoi. L’ho detto agli altri sacerdoti, non so dove sia Caleb.”

We turned to a figure standing in a corner, easy access to a window, but the more important thing to notice was the enormous knife held in case it was needed.

With enough Latin, most languages in Europa could be figured out. She didn’t recognize Caleb!

I hit Caleb lightly in the arm, “Take the ring off!”

“Oh!” Caleb nodded, having forgotten, “Yes. Right.” He pulled the ring off his thumb. “It’s me, Lia!”

Okay. It wasn’t really fair, but this shadow pulled a lamp out, turned the flame up and held the lamp up. She was also a tiny person! She wasn’t a dwarf or anything like that. She was just an inch or two shorter than Caleb! How many couple do you know where a wife is taller than the husband? I know there are some, but not many! Left over attitudes from Adam? The man was to be older, bigger and stronger. Everybody knows that was how it was to be. I almost blew it with the one couple I met, and I found out she was eight years older than her husband! That was unheard of! For me. But it worked! She looked younger than she was and he was more mature acting and looking. They were happy! They had two children! Two girls!

In my mind, I had Caleb married to Lia and knew any child they had would be small, too.

You know about me and the exceptions. Oh, just one more. Dion. A friend in the guard. Less that Delbert or anyone else. He was a nice guy, we got along and I was introduced to his parents. I was flabbergasted!! Dion was over six feet tall!! His mother wasn’t even five feet tall! She was four feet and eleven inches! His father was just over five feet!! Dion should be short! He favored his father, but not in height! Some delicate questions…I find out his mother hand a tall cousin and a biological uncle. Dion had two uncles that were tall. All of those ancestors created Dion!

Yes, I enjoyed playing with that rabbit that time. He’s fun!

Whatever she thought, she wasn’t seeing Caleb…and then the ring was off and she did see Caleb. She was so happy to see Caleb and rushed to him, hugging him tightly.

“Caleb!!” She raced into Caleb’s arms, “Che ti e successo? Dove sei andato?”

Caleb nodded and said to her, “I’ll tell you where I’ve been.” He grinned. “You can speak English.” It wasn’t a question.

I will admit wearing all black and wandering the night did add a sinister part of our appearance.

“I’ve spoken to you about him before,” He touched me. “Lia Liguria, this is Prince Erik of A’Dore and Blethos.” He motioned behind me to Seth. “And his husband, Prince Seth of Blethos and former king of Blethos.”

Her mind was now working on what she had seen and what Caleb told her. She bent into a curtsy. Finding out Seth and I were married…when if was said first, it was interesting to see people react. She was more curious, not disapproving or appalled. She was pretty. I know, I say everyone is pretty or handsome. Most everyone at peace with themselves are! Life’s hardships were having little or no effect on their appearance. She had long black hair and was clearly of Italian descent. Northern Italian.

“It’s a pleasure to me you,” Lia began with a slight accent, “but what just happened and why are you here?” She looked at Caleb. “Two priests and some Vatican Pontifical Guards were asking questions from everybody. They thought you might have been kidnapped.”

“He was,” I admitted.

“He is needed to save a lot of people,” Demetrius added grandly.

“Okay,” Lia nodded and looked back at Caleb, “but you’re coming back here when you’re done, right?”

“No,” Caleb admitted. “I came back for you. I’ll get my notes and we’ll go!”

“Go? When? Where?” Lia asked. “Why did I not see you when you first got here? You’re all dressed as priests, but you’re not. What’s going on?”

“Some incredible things,” Caleb smiled. “I begin a new future tonight. I love you, Lia. I want to include you.”

Oh, come on. Love is a good thing. Everybody was smiling as Lia’s face broke into a sweet smile as she kissed Caleb. They loved each other.

I gently pulled Caleb away from Lia. “I hate to break this up, but your notes? The stone tablets? We need to hurry.” I turned to Demetrius and Lukus. “You can transport his notes and the tablets. I may need Seth to carry some other things as we travel later.” I leaned in a kissed Seth. “Stay with Lia, please.”

“Why?” Seth was a little offended.

“I need Caleb to show me where to go,” I answered. “How I take us can be scary. As late as it is, there will be the occasional person around and I don’t need a scene. We’re not evil.”

She looked at Caleb, “Caleb, what’s he saying?”

“I’ve done it,” Caleb said. “Trust me.”

I smiled and jutted my head at Lia, “Hold her.”

Caleb nodded and did what I asked. “Okay.” He didn’t mind.

I took Seth’s hand and touched Caleb on the shoulder. The little apartment’s dark interior blurred and we were in Caleb’s little room at the Vatican.

Lia gasped. Now I could see she was in a nightgown and sweater. His room had been straightened up. No scrolls were laying around and the table had been cleared.

“How did…” Lia asked in a whisper and clutched Caleb harder. The unknown is frightening.

“Trust me,” Caleb urged her again in a whisper. “Please. No one will hurt you or me.”

Lukus pointed at his only door, “Two of those Pontifical Guards are out there.” He hissed. “They’re standing watch.”

“Everything here has been removed,” Seth stated the obvious.

Caleb smiled and shook his head, “Not everything.”

It was still dark, but there were dark shadows I could barely see. It wasn’t a big room. I said it before, but now with all of us in here, it seemed even smaller.

“In here,” Caleb pointed at the tall wardrobe bureau. Opening it, I saw the few clothes he had that he could wear anywhere. Nothing about these clothes said Church about them. Traveling clothes? Normally a monk, abbot, or priest traveled in robes of the Church. Caleb worked with the Church, but wasn’t part of the Church.

There was a loud metal “clank” sound behind us and Demetrius bent over to pickup the lamp he’d knocked to the floor.

He shrugged, “Unlike Kitty, I can’t see well in the dark.”

Someone was attempting to open the door. The guards posted were trying to see what was happening in here, knowing no one could have gotten past them. No priest or monk had doors that locked. They had no possessions to steal. That was one of the few things I agreed with. The Natives on our home continent believed that. The door was opening a crack and Lukus, who wasn’t near the door held his hand up and the door slammed shut again.

“Faster, gentlemen,” Lukus urged quickly.

Caleb pulled the bureau floor clear and reached back in and pulled on something. The floor lifted and Caleb put the fake bottom away. I couldn’t see what was there, but he was re-emerging with notebooks. They were each thick. He handed some to me, which I passed to Demetrius. Caleb couldn’t see well either, but was going to be sure he didn’t leave anything behind.

“I’ll take these to Gitchi,” Demetrius smiled.

I held my hand out to stop him, “But you don’t know where we’ll be next.” Hell, I didn’t know.

“I won’t be looking with my eyes,” he chuckled. He told me that same thing when looking for my future mate, “I love you, son. My heart can find you anywhere.” He smiled at Seth, “You, too.” And he vanished.

Lia again gasped, but remained collected.

“Where to next?” I asked Caleb.

“There are several vaults, but the one with those tablets is underground near the Sistine Chapel,” Caleb said. “Get us close and I can get us closer.”

Now, there was pounding on held door with no lock.

“First,” Lukus smiled, holding the door closed. “She needs…” he waved his other hand at Lia. “Lia can’t run around Vatican City in a nightgown.”

We were all surprised, in particular Lia, who was now in the long black robe of a nun. I didn’t notice that many nuns. The ones in Royal Valley all dressed the same. They all wore those white…collars? A wimple. A form fitting Coif around the head, a white under veil and a black veil. You saw only her face. A cross hung from her belt and just god-awful black shoes you could travel through mud or feces (shit) without worry. I know, they weren’t to be pretty. Goal achieved!! They weren’t. They were married to God!! Their husband couldn’t afford better? A’Dore had a few Mother Superiors that looked different, but…I didn’t think they were superior.

“Go!” Lukus whispered in a shout, if you can imagine that.

I touched Caleb’s shoulder and took Seth’s hand. Scenery blurred again. This time, like the last time, there was no sound.

“No sound?” Seth asked me.

“No,” I smiled, “We don’t want attention drawn.”

Seth nodded with a grin, “That makes sense! Good point.”

We were in a covered passage. It was open to the air and weather, but sheltered if it rained.

“Are you angels?” Lia asked.

“No,” Seth answered, “Why do you think that?”

“This is Vatican City,” she reasoned. “This is holy ground and you are…what?”

“The good guys,” Lukus answered with a smile. “Not witches or demons or angels.”

“The vault is guarded,” Caleb began. “There could be someone inside working late, but more than likely not.” He looked at me. “The tablets are heavy. Seth looks strong.”

I nodded taking Seth’s hand again and kissed it quickly, “The vineyard made him strong.”

“The three of us could get them,” Caleb said. “If we can pass the guards.”

I nodded, “I can get us in and out of the vault without them seeing us.”

Caleb nodded and turned to Lia, “They will keep you safe. Wait for me.”

She would. It was on her face and she reluctantly let him go.

It was like the palace in A’Dore! Doors to hidden passages were there, if you knew where to look. Caleb knew of a few. Not into the vault, but the passage leading to the vault.

In recessed alcoves stood statues of the many saints. We were behind one of them. I didn’t know which one. Before a large door stood two guards. These people weren’t slaves for fashion! The loose pants were tucked into boots that were also yellow and black vertical stripes. There was a silver helmet with a large red…something. It almost looked like a rooster’s crown. I knew they had armor, but no one thought it was necessary now. A’Dore had uniforms I was pretty sure made people stand back in respect. Blethos, too. Creid’s armor was just downright scary! That with their battle face, it was the makings of nightmares. But you know that. When I faced the Creid, they scared me! Yannick did it without his helmet on!

“What’s just beyond the door?” I asked and watched Caleb’s eyes widen in shock. “Just like Lukus knew two guards were at your door. I’m sure there’s a way of seeing without being there. This is new and I haven’t learned it all yet. Answer the question.”

Caleb chuckled, “Okay, okay,” he held a hand up to stop me. “There’s about the same space as my room without any furniture.”

“Fine,” I said grabbing his hand. We were sealed room. No windows at all. At first, I was going to say it was dark. It was, but not totally dark. Two scones, wall light fixtures were on very low flames.

Caleb went to one and turned one up. “I don’t need to read them now, but get them where I can translate them.”

“How many are there?”

“Fifteen,” Caleb stated simply.

“Fifteen!? They’re heavy!!”

“Don’t let that worry you,” Demetrius’ voice said behind me.

I spun around and could just make out his outline, “Damn it, Demetrius!” I hit him lightly on the arm. “You love to scare me. You snuck up on me!”

“I did not sneak!” Demetrius defended indignantly with a grin. “I came and you just didn’t hear me.”

“That’s the very definition of sneak!” I groused, “Now, why shouldn’t worry about the weight of those tablets?”

“Who moved those mirror/doorways?” Demetrius asked. “Lukus and me! Alone. Have you tried to move them?”

“No,” I admitted. “It feels very solid, I don’t doubt they are heavy.” I grinned.

“Wrong,” Demetrius shook his head. He crossed his arms across his chest, “They are very, very heavy! It took several men to inch the one in A’Dore into that room below the palace.” He then poked me on the chest. “How many did you transport? Not counting the Children of Lilith, how many people did you transport? Seth by himself isn’t light! But Chitto, Thomas, Hana…you were complaining then.”

I grinned and hugged Demetrius, “How does…”

We heard a throat being cleared, but for our attention. Not to clear any phlegm. “I hate to interrupt what will be a fun discussion, but we have people waiting outside and stone tablets to get.”

I nodded at Caleb, “You’re right. Sorry. You know where they are.” I turned to Demetrius, “Just coach me or whatever. Okay?”

Caleb led us through rows of rolled scrolls and letters. He knew where he was going, but I couldn’t make out what I was looking at. My thought was about adding some light and I slowly began to see clearer. It was like coming in from a sunny day outside and waiting for your eyes to adjust to a darker inside.

Caleb looked concerned at me and stopped, “What’s happening with your eyes?”

I looked at Demetrius, who stopped, too. “Why? What’s wrong with them?”

Caleb gave a slight sound to his contemplation and also pointed, “I don’t know. It’s more like the eyes of a night animal…like a cat, who’s eyes reflect light at night back at you a luminescent green.”

Demetrius frowned and thought, “I don’t know if any of us can do that.” He sounded a little envious.

“And I’ve never sat in a chair that wasn’t really there,” I said back.

“Have you tried?” Demetrius asked.

“Guys,” Caleb said, “those tablets?”

“Well then, quit distracting me!” I shoved Caleb lightly.

He led us to a large wooden cabinet. It was beautiful! The cabinet, I mean. Thick wood with polished decorative scrollwork on the doors. It was locked. A locked cabinet inside a vault? Caleb reached for his pocket and looked suddenly alarmed.

“This isn’t my robe!” He looked panicked now. “I don’t have my keys!”

I touched him, “Hang on. We got in here with no keys…” I touched the cabinet door and heard a soft thud and the cabinet door was now unlocked. I didn’t like what I felt now. Nothing and nobody could stop me. That sort of thinking was very dangerous. I never wanted to ever believe that.

Caleb opened the cabinet and didn’t have to search long.

“Here they are,” Caleb picked something us and I heard the sound of stone against stone. What he handed me I had never seen before. Not like this. I’d seen some tablets made of stone before. The other tablets I’d seen were deteriorating from time. The ones before were smoothed out and figures and letters were dug out. Chipped out. Etched. The corners and sides had crumbled and, in some cases, parts were missing. This tablet, a foot and a half tall and a foot wide looked as if it had been created yesterday. It was perfectly smooth and the stone was marble. All of it was an even thickness of maybe half an inch. The other odd thing was, the tablet was edged in gold. A band of gold seemed to hold the tablet together and the lettering…whatever…there were these rectangular boxes with figures in them. Not anything I would call letters. Geometric shapes, some filled with dots and wavy lines, others without. A pattern could be seen. I got the impression you read from rectangle to rectangle to complete a word or sentence. But did you start from the right or left? Straight across? Down? The other odd thing was, the marble was dark. No marks on it from being shaped. It was smooth to the touch. It was deep grey to almost black, but the figures were clearly seen. They were gold. Gold! Whoever created these tablets etched out the symbols and letters and then filled the etches with the gold. Not painted on. I felt the surface of the tablet and it was smooth. The lettering did not stand above the marble! It was a work of art. It was beautiful!!

“Wow,” I said.

“Yep.” Caleb nodded with a sympathetic chuckle. “I thought the very same thing.”

“Where were these?” I asked.

“I heard they came from a cave about twenty miles west of the Persian Gulf in an area known as Ur.” Caleb pulled out another couple and was feeling the weight of them. “The Ziggurat.” He said the name and looked at my face when I heard the name of where it was.

“Nooo!” I said in near reverence as I was amazed. “It is? That is old!”

Caleb shrugged. “I don’t know.” He placed another couple of tablets in my arms. “Those tablets are older than five thousand years old!”

“Demetrius!” I whispered loudly. “Help.”

Demetrius smiled bleakly, “You have things to learn.” He touched the tablets in my arm and suddenly I wasn’t holding them up! They were in my arms, but weighed nothing.

“How’d you do that?” I balked at him.

Demetrius grinned, “It’s magic.”

“That didn’t answer my question, Smartass!” I told him.

We all turned as the sound of someone opening the vault doors. Two male voices could be heard.

“Sanno meglio di cosi!” One of them started fussing having warned about this. “Una notte perderemo tutto!” An error where they could lose everything.

“Chi c’era qui ieri sera?” The other asked from the door to the guards wanting to know who was in here. Other voices were added now.

“The lamps!” Caleb hissed. “They’re always telling us to keep the low when we leave. All this parchment and…”

“Is that the last tablet?” Demetrius asked.

Caleb handed another one, “this is the last one.”

Demetrius nodded, “I’ll see you in Gitchi.”

They would have been heavy, if we carried them by hand. Demetrius vanished along with the tablets. I grabbed Caleb’s hand and watched the world blur again. We appeared back with Lia, Seth, and Lukus. It was still dark, but people were beginning to start their day. A group of half a dozen nuns were coming from one direction and two priests from the other. When Caleb and I appeared, several of the nuns screamed and all of them were crossing themselves. The priests let out startled cries. And yes, I was enjoying this part a great deal. I waved at them, Caleb took Lia in his arms again and I kissed Seth passionately. The world blurred.

We arrived at the dining hall in Gitchi. There was a more melodic chiming chord this time.

Seth looked up and around. It was Human nature to want to solve a mystery and he looked for the source of the sound. There was nothing to find, so he just looked at me and shook his head but didn’t let me go.

“I told you I was trying it out,” I answered his unvoiced question.

Seth nodded, “I got that. It’s a work in progress. You really enjoyed that as we left,” Seth almost scolded me.

“Sure!” I smiled. “I really did. A monk hugs a nun very personally and lovingly, two priests kiss with love and we all vanish. I’d do it again!!” I patted his chest and touched the clerical collar he wore. “You are a very handsome and sexy priest.”

“Caleb,” Lia began. “I meant what I said. We were surrounded by many serving the Church at the Vatican. Good and bad, but it was Holy Ground.” She waved at Seth, me, and Lukus, “I do believe these people aren’t evil. Where are we now?” She pulled on her black robes. “How did I get into this?” Her voice was a little shaky and she was trying to not be frightened, but she was. Of course, she was. “What’s going on!?”

You had to give her credit. She did really love and trust Caleb because she didn’t run after he assured her. Caleb trusted me and by association, Seth and the others.

The explanation came and for the next two hours, Caleb explained the Children of Lilith, me, where we were and why we were here. She was an exceptionally bright young woman and kept her questions to a minimum until the end.

She was like almost everyone. She wanted visual confirmation. We would be happy to show her, but it was early morning back in Roma. It was evening in Gitchi.

Ceto came in the normal way and carried something made of deerskin. She stopped in front of Caleb and Lia.

“I’m Ceto,” she introduced herself. “We will be happy show you about where you are, but maybe…” she waved at Lia, “you’d like to get out of those robes. It’s cold here.”

Lia pulled on the nun’s habit and then nodded quietly.

“I’ll show you where you can change,” Ceto waved at the doors she came in through. “We will see a lot of each other in the coming days. I know we’ll be friends.”

Lia looked at Caleb.

“I’ll be right here,” Caleb swore. No traveling anywhere.”

“I have some warm clothes for you,” Ceto lifted some deerskin.

I said it before, to be a deer around here was to live dangerously. Maybe. I thought a few seconds. I had never seen a deer killed here! I’ve seen them eat meat. Demetrius ate chicken and even a rabbit Seth killed. They served a lot of venison, but I never saw a kill. The Natives did, I was sure, but the Children of Lilith didn’t.

“Lukus,” I began. “Do the Children of Lilith hunt?” I saw his eyebrows rise at the question.

“No!” Lukus said quickly. “Why would we?” He watched as Ceto took Lia to a room to change and watched Ceto show a dress like she wore. He then nodded as he understood. “There are animals that are hunted. That’s the way the world was designed. Humans eat meat. I love to eat many things like chicken, wild boar and other exotic meats. I can’t bring myself to kill one. I don’t have to. If I want a pound of venison, I can get one. No life was killed. Just as we can’t transport any living thing. I won't kill one. I’ve shared yours, but I didn’t kill anything. The skins used, never was on a deer. It is deerskin, but no deer was killed for it.”

“But the plants from Ceto’s Garden…” I asked.

“Are plants,” Lukus said. “That’s what they’re here for. To be used.”

Caleb rose next to me, “I guess I need to change, too.”

Lukus grinned, “I’ll do it. Lia needs to do this on her own for now.”

We were in our deerskin clothes that were skillfully made.

“Since I know now that you have to know how to make clothes,” I said smiling, “you do good work. Where did you learn it?”

“I was a tailor many times. To two kings, and a few Dukes.” He boasted. “I made their fancy clothes as well as their hunting clothes. Two liked the clothes of skin when it was very cold.” He shrugged. “I wanted to work.”

I smiled at that. “We’ll need it tomorrow. Getting what we needed took longer today than I thought it would.” I waved toward the east. “There is time, but we need to scout the area where Father Markham and those men are coming. It won’t be long now.”

Copyright © 2019 R. Eric; All Rights Reserved.
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