What will you see if you continue to read, well that is determined by the heart, mind, and soul. Each chooses which way they will go. Post #29 takes the time to share lost treasures of heaven’s life and the debate on true love and people’s fate. Shared by Ava D. Dohn at Smashwords.com
Copyright 2011 Ava D. Dohn
Sisters of the BloodWind #29
Of Councils Great and
ENJOY THE CONTINUING READ . . .
At that moment, Zadar entered the council chambers and, eyeing Ardon and Symeon, hurried over. Clutching Ardon in a bear hug, Zadar joyously cried, “Papa! It so good to see you after these many months!” He stood back, his hands gripping Ardon’s shoulders. “I have heard of your adventures on Stargaton. Tell me… did the Seimieah Straights deliver up to you the hidden jewels of NiShanderiah, seeing you had deciphered her riddles when last we spoke?”
Ardon took Zadar by the upper arms, shaking his head. “No, no, my little son. NiShanderiah was a witch extraordinaire. I fear I must wait until her return during the ‘after days’ before I will succeed in having her secrets revealed.” He stopped, staring into Zadar’s face, pride growing on his. He then complimented the ‘boy’ on how well he looked in his new army uniform, which led him into a timely lecture concerning what must be done to bring this rebellion to a finish. Zadar listened intently.
It was only a few weeks after Asotos’ attempt at murdering Mihai when Ardon had returned from a deep-space sojourn to Palace City. There he remained with Lowenah after she discovered she was ‘with child’ and long into the days after Zadar’s birth, the first and only child born after the Rebellion began, and one with a most profound and troubling secret shared by his mother only with Ardon. Ardon took to raising up the boy as if his own, even allowing him to journey into some of his secret lands. With Ardon’s fatherly mentoring, Zadar became filled with the desires for exploration and adventure. The two became inseparable until he – Zadar – was handed over to Tolohe, to be raised up to manhood by her loving care.
Zadar never forgot Ardon’s kindness, his devotion never diminishing for his adoptive father. Now, after all these years of war, and Ardon’s outspoken opinions that downplayed the value of the military while encouraging more diplomacy to bring the Rebellion to a finish, Zadar – a man who had devoted his entire life to the military, believing it to be the only solution – always patiently listened to his mentor while he explained the importance of ‘using the carrot over the stick’. As he had done before, this night Ardon did not miss the opportunity to lecture his ‘young’ protege on the subject.
“Now you will see…” Ardon firmly clasped Zadar’s hands while he spoke. “What you do is all fine and good, but it is such a waste, such a waste. You are so smart, savvy, I mean. You would do so well as a member of Mother’s council. I have clout, you know. Mother would listen to me, you know. Of course, you will have to start out as my loyal apprentice… for a little while, of course, until you got the hang of things. But for you, it wouldn’t take long before your voice would be heard in the assembly. And… and, with your military experience, you have a lot to bring to the table.”
Zadar, a diplomat in his own right, thanked Ardon, nodding, “Your wisdom I shall seriously consider, Papa. The hour is coming, soon, when your ways will be put to the test. I hope to be there to see their outcome. Mother has hinted to me that such a thing might take place.”
Grinning, Ardon tenderly kissed Zadar on the cheek. “You make me proud, son, very proud.”
“Watch out for him, boy! He’ll make a ‘wuss’ out of you, and then some!”
Ardon and Zadar turned to see a giant of a man, dressed up in an admiral’s uniform, gingerly approaching.
The man, smiling, added, “Make ‘wusses’ of us all… Right, Ardon, old fellow?”
Frowning, Ardon sputtered, “Admiral Euroaquilo, I do not appreciate such…”
Ignoring Ardon, Euroaquilo clasped Zadar’s hand, grinning, “Good to see you, my boy! Good to see you!” He stared at his uniform, commenting, “Well, well, so that’s the snazzy style of dress for the new army? You look good in it. Not as good as your navy pilot’s duds, but still mighty fine.”
Caught by surprise, and somewhat embarrassed – a rare moment for the fellow – Zadar stuttered, “It… it… it’s…was… is a gift from Mother.” Regaining his composure, he added, “This was delivered to me upon my arrival, me being told to wear it at this evening’s council. I was told that I was to take leave of the Fourth Fleet and join with the new army commander, but wasn’t told who. Asked Mihai about it tonight at supper, but she spoke not a word concerning it.”
Ardon, put off by Euroaquilo, knowing it was done on purpose to irk the fellow, interrupted, asking, “You had dinner with Mihai?”
Euroaquilo ignored Ardon, bullying his way in with another question of his own. “So where is that sister of yours? Heard you kept some pretty close company since the two of you arrived.” He stole a glance at Ardon, whose face was filled with surprise and trepidation.
Still stealing glances at Ardon, he asked Zadar, “So, have you seen our girl lately? I was hoping to catch up with her sometime while I was visiting.”
Before Zadar could reply, Ardon interrupted, clutching Euroaquilo’s arm, “Now see here, Admiral…there are many other, more important matters to discuss this evening than that child. There is great need of clear minds at this council. We have many other, more important matters to discuss than her!”
Euroaquilo smiled and shrugged. “Have it your way, Lord Councilor. I just wondered where I could find her.”
“Well!” Ardon harrumphed. “I suggest you search for her after this night’s events. I’m sure you will find her slinking around one of the darkened taverns at that late hour!”
Euroaquilo stared down at Ardon, slowly shaking his head. “My, my, you are an old fuss tonight, aren’t you?” Although put off a little by Ardon’s brashness, he continued on with some lighthearted conversation, catching up on the local gossip and chatting about some of the others at the council.
The Admiral, EuroaquiloIllyricum, was commander of the Navy’s Third Fleet, stationed to the east of EdenEsonbar. His name’s meaning was, ‘the great stormwind’ acquired because of his booming voice that matched his size. Six feet plus one-half tall and weighing sixteen stone, he made an impressive appearance wherever he went. Even Ardon, who felt little real respect for the military, was somewhat awed by this man.
And why not? Many were the stories repeated of Euroaquilo’s valor in combat. Mihai, a close companion and ally of his, had told Ardon many tales concerning his bravery. “He tore off the castle gate, pitching it at my captor, crushing his skull and providing me with escape.” She had confessed to Ardon one day at a council meeting. She had then demanded he, Ardon, bestow upon Euroaquilo the ‘Golden Medallion of Bravery’ – Ardon being the purveyor of such rewards – a medal the man cherished, and was found wearing this evening.
As he thought about it, Ardon puzzled aloud. “So they still call you ‘the twin’?” referring to Mihai’s and his close relationship and how inseparable they once were.
Euroaquilo placed a giant hand on Ardon’s shoulder, shaking it, grinning. “My dear Lord Ardon, my sister is the sweetest, most wonderful person in the world.” He frowned. “There was never found, for me, a more passionate, caring, lover in this world until… until he ruined her with his twisted tortures and evil deceit. I have shared the battle against the demons in her mind since that day. Others fear her company, but I… I know who she really is. She and I are still one mind and heart. We are still twins by that very nature.”
Looking into Ardon’s eyes, he slowly shook his head, softly sighing, “At least she got to see the morning sunrise.”
Zadar was about to ask what Euroaquilo’s words meant when laughter echoed from the entrance, across the chambers. The three looked over in time to see General PalaHar squeeze through the doorway, TereoAprupneo and PlanetesAntistrate each hugging an arm. The laughter stemmed from PalaHar’s dilemma, that of being pursued by two lovely women.
Planetes – better know as ‘Planetee’ – finally leaned forward, looking past PalaHar and into Tereo’s face, her eyes twinkling. “You may have managed a coup with your pillow-talk earlier, but an afternoon’s delight is more than sufficient for you two. I have forced a promise from this fellow and the after-hours belong to me.”
Tereo – ‘Terey’ – offered up another wicked laugh. “I surrender him up, but shall remain the victor. My sweet scent shall linger in his thoughts and dreams for many long hours. You shall have to force the gate just to be remembered this eve.”
The two continued their friendly sparring after passing through the door, PalaHar politely remaining silent. Finally Euroaquilo, grinning with his own brand of mischief, called to Zadar for them to be off to mix it up even more. Zadar, always a willing accomplice to a good game, nodded, and off they went, leaving Ardon alone with his thoughts.
Ardon watched while a battle of wit and winsome words filled the room, it gaining in strength as more of the crowd gathered in, choosing sides and entering the contest. He liked to see such jousting, but could never understand it, especially on such serious occasions as this, but still… let them have their fun. He settled back into his chair, snuggling into its soft leather cushions.
He was no more than settled when another, greater commotion arose among the crowd near the door. All attention was taken off PalaHar and his companions, being given to others who still remained hidden from Ardon’s view. ‘Who could it be?’ That was everyone’s question as a flood of the curious descended the bleacher-like seating area, to see who was causing the stir, filling the floor with a sea of bobbing heads facing the door.
Standing did little good, Ardon being no man of great stature. As the excitement of the others grew, so did his curiosity. He pushed ahead until he was standing at the back of the growing crowd. This was still no good. When his polite requests for passage went ignored, he finally decided to ‘forge ahead’, slowly pushing his way into the mass of spectators in an attempt to see what was happening.
As he advanced, the people nearest the doorway began to retreat, allowing whoever was approaching entrance into the council chambers. Ardon managed a peek at the doorway just as Mihai passed through, into the room. He stood dumbstruck at what he saw. A collective gasp arose from the gathered company – the effect Ma-we had intended it to have. Even Ardon, although knowing about Mihai’s acceptance of a new kingship, was caught up in the moment, he being mesmerized by the woman’s stunning appearance.
Mihai blushed as she sheepishly bowed, the woman never learning how to take such adoration easily. Her gold and chrysolite crown glittered with flashes of blinding diamond white, sapphire blue, ruby red, and jade green, radiating the woman’s face so that it appeared to emit its own divine glow. And the iridescence of the woman’s silken satin gown, with its woven, purple lace and kingly, royal-purple flowing cape gave the impression that one the Cherubs had arrived from the outer-worlds to gather with them.
For the longest time, the crowd, including Ardon, stood transfixed, their breathing of silent excitement being the only sound filling the chambers. Eventually, with a great deal of effort, they began to queue up to offer welcome to the new king. As with the others, Ardon found himself shuffling along to get into the long receiving line so that he, too, could offer up his salutations, a decision he was quickly going to regret.
How he managed to do it Ardon never could quite figure out, but Zadar had wiggled his way past the crowd and was the first to gather Mihai’s attention. He, unlike his more reserved brethren, swooped down into a graceful bow while grasping the woman’s hand up in his. Still bowing, he looked up and into Mihai’s eyes, uttered sweet salutations, and then kissed her hand. Mihai blushed again, thanking Zadar for his tender kindnesses. Zadar then stood up and advanced his attention upon Mihai’s escort, demonstrating an equal affection for her, setting the precedent for all the others to follow.
It was when Zadar turned his attention away from Mihai that Ardon noticed the woman’s escort. His face paled as he groaned silently within. ‘That woman! Why her? Why tonight? What deviltry has delivered her to this doorstep this eve? And why was she placed as the King’s escort on this important night?’ And worse, he wondered why the fates had placed him in such a dangerous place at this moment. There was no escape, not so close to the front of the receiving line. He must suffer and endure whatever indignities were to be heaped upon him, hoping only for indignities.
One after another, Mihai passed along the line, the men courteously following along in Zadar’s stead, the women bending in a curtsy and then tenderly kissing Mihai on the lips. This was followed by offering the same salutation to Mihai’s escort, one RachelOchranNohah, an acquired name, RachelOchlah, meaning ‘little charming ewe’, being her birth name. She preferred to be called ‘DarlaUmehahAstrni’ or ‘Darla’, she never offering a reason why. Few outside the military ranks knew this woman, and the few who did cared little to be in her close company.. For many of them it was most disconcerting to see her here… and with Mihai. So it was, for many this formal recognition of Darla was little more than protocol. Still, there were some in the crowd whose love and care for this girl was real and genuine.
After PalaHar’s greeting, Mihai reached out, hugging the man. Before standing back, she kissed him tenderly on the lips, saying, “My Lord PalaHar, it is so good to see you.” She lowered her voice. “The world grows dark, my Lord, and I see little light to guide my path. It is such a pleasure to know that Mother’s torch-bearer is with us tonight.”
After some small chitchat, PalaHar turned his attention to Darla. Following his formal welcoming, he leaned forward, kissing her in the way Mihai had done with him. He then drew Darla close in a hug, whispering quietly in her ear as he did.
“Child, your journey has yet to begin. The night will become black with evil madness before the sun shall shine upon us again. You… you, my dear little one, must become the star that leads us through that wicked hour. Your valor shall prove to become our rallying cry… our deliverance.”
To say that Darla was confused would be a great understatement. She stood back, searching PalaHar’s eyes for answers. There were none found. Hesitantly, she thanked him for his kindness, wishing him success in his many endeavors. Then, releasing his hand, she took Mihai’s, leading her to the next anxious greeter standing in line.
Ardon waited uneasily, his nervous anticipation growing with each of Mihai’s advancing steps. Darla, being busy in her attempt to act appropriately as Mihai’s appointed escort, paid little attention to those in line, her being so focused on the moment. She did not even notice Ardon until she turned to introduce the new King. Her smile melted away when her eyes finally took recognition of him. It was quickly replaced by an angry frown and piercing stare filled with malice and hatred. The room went dead silent.
Ardon froze, he not daring to move or speak, watching Darla’s fingers involuntarily constricting into tortured fists, only to open and then close again. The hair suddenly went up on the back of his neck, his ears picking up the growing insect-like staccato rising up from deep within the woman’s throat – the last sound heard by so many of her adversaries.
Mihai, fearing the worst should time delay the coming moment, awkwardly stepped forward and in front of Darla, posturing, “My dear Lord Ardon!”
She faked an innocent smile, the scent of a growing tempest flaring her nostrils. “My dear Lord Ardon. How is my Lord doing tonight? It is such a pleasure to be graced by your company, your wise counsel at this eve’s council being deeply appreciated.”
“My Lady, I am doing splendidly.” Ardon stammered, nervously glancing toward Darla, sighing in relief at seeing her forced composure. “And you… you do look so beautiful this night. May I offer to you whatever services I have available to me?”
Mihai’s interruption had gathered its magic to the moment and saved Ardon from a dangerous, possibly life-threatening encounter. Darla had fought down her ‘madness,’ regaining quiet control.
Just how Mihai and certain others tolerated this creature was beyond him. This was not the first time he had witnessed it nor, he feared, would it be the last. As Mihai continued on with her pleasantries, his mind flashed back to the day of his return to Palace City just after Mihai’s attempted murder.
There he was, consoling Mother, he leaning over her, they hugging each other, lost in the cries and wails of lament, when little six-year-old Darla entered the room. In a vicious, blind rage, the girl screeched and lunged forward, tearing and biting at the ‘monster’ attacking her mother. It took weeks for the wounds to heal and many more for the scars to go away. It pained him, even now, just recalling that attack. Although the event was almost six millennia ago, it appeared to Ardon that Darla never forgot, her hatred for him only growing until, again, after the Great War he had been confronted by her, only to be saved that time by Euroaquilo. No! The girl was a menace and a danger! Why Mother put up with her was beyond his understanding, and why she had been invited here – on this night – was even a greater mystery.
Mihai backed away, making room for Darla to step forward and receive her official salutations from Ardon. She, though, did not move, her icy stare boring into the man.
For his part, Ardon politely bowed, acknowledging Mihai’s escort. “My Lady, may all be well with you.”
Darla remained motionless, glaring at Ardon. Mihai finally gave Darla a nudge with her arm, whispering, “Mother will be most displeased to see her favorite daughter acting so rudely. Do your part. Or is it shame you also want to deliver upon me?”
Moved by Mihai’s scolding, Darla stepped forward, arms stiff at her sides. She bowed ever so slightly and in a most formal way replied, “Your Counsel…good evening.” She turned away, not even looking Ardon in the face, stepped behind and around Mihai and tugged on her elbow to go.
Mihai looked apologetically at Ardon, addressing him as ‘Lord’ and wishing him well. She then excused herself, following Darla’s direction, and advanced on to the next person. Soon the room was again filled with the quiet chatter of private conversations while Mihai and her escort continued to receive the long line of well wishers.
Mihai thanked him, pressing his hands with hers while placing a gentle kiss on his lips, she adding, “The day may well come when I call out to you for them.”
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