Chapter 3 – A Peaceful Interlude
Content Warning: There is some reference to child sex trafficking in this chapter. The content is not suitable for children.
The New Arrival
Within two days, Lord VaCoupe, Master Polaño, and their young companion, Raphael, climbed aboard a large military shuttle. As a wartime precaution, this shuttle was escorted by two large Saber fighters. The two Sabers were not enough to fend off a major attack, but would discourage pirates and slavers from attacking the vessel. Raphael was given his own compartment. It was tiny space, just large enough for him, his small sleeping pad, and his traveling bag, but he was content. It was private and he could meditate or sleep, whatever he wanted to do if Lord VaCoupe had no need for him. Meals were in the common mess hall, where crew and the passengers ate together.
Raphael was still getting used to being around men who asked nothing of him. In fact, for the most part, the shy youngster was ignored by the busy crew members. Seeing that he was not drawing unwanted attention, he began to shyly ask questions of crew members who were not immediately occupied with tasks and assignments. It was when some of the crew noticed the scars on his lower arms and around his neck that they started asking him personal questions, so he retreated to his compartment to hide. It took quite a bit of persuasion from Francis to get him to leave the compartment, again, so he could eat.
Fortunately for Raphael, the trip only took three days. After being cooped up in his compartment for a while, he did venture out, again, but avoided the crew and sat next to Master Polaño who began to lecture him on the geography of the world he was about to live on:
“Master Raphael, the planet of Medina is where the Lord of the Pleiades lives in the small village that is also called Medina. The village of Medina is the site of the great Shemont, the Pleiadian Temple honoring the Divine Feminine. Medina is located in the center of the island continent of Maubene. Medina is similar to the of Morova. It is primarily a desert world . Unlike Morova, there are large freshwater seas on this planet, as well as high rugged mountains covered in scrubby desert vegetation and groves of evergreens situated in protected mountain valleys. Vast arid plains heavily spotted with cacti and desert flora grow in the plains that surround the village of Medina. The saguaros are the most prominent, towering well over the height of even the tallest Pleiadian men.
“The climate of Medina is similar, in some ways to Morova; different in others. There are three primary seasons, one which is called ‘winter’ or the rainy season, lasting about five months out of the 14-month year, the ‘summer’ or dry season, and what was called ‘the Howlings’, a short-lived transitional period lasting from two to three weeks. The weather during the Howlings was particularly violent in nature, and was caused by annual periodic coronal ejections from the nearby sun Electra. The sun’s violent activity set off great storms, with wild winds, sandstorms, and electrical storms. Sometimes there were thunderstorms; at other times, the storms were without rain, but just as violent. It is best not to travel during the Howlings or even to go outside.
“Master Raphael: The planet of Medina contains twelve islands. The natives called these continents which vary in size, with Rickland and Maubene being the largest continents. The planet is lightly populated, supporting about 200,000 souls all told, save for visitors and pilgrims visiting the Shemont, Arconia, or the pretty coastal town of Jolf on the southern coast of Maubene. Rickland is the location the University of Arconia, a large university made up of several colleges, each specializing in various subjects. There is also a School of Engineering located on the continent of Elexa. The main shipbuilding center for the Fleet is also located on Elexa. We will stop there briefly on our way to Medina and transfer to a smaller public shuttle that will take us the rest of the way home.
Raphael being Raphael asked Master Polaño about the temperature range on the planet.
Francis smiled and replied, “It can get very hot in the summer, with the temperatures often soaring from 150 to 180 degrees. At night, the temperatures range in the comfortable 90’s. Most residents of Medina stay indoors during the heat of the day and then venture outside in the evening as the temperatures go down. The houses are built mainly underground, some extending four or five stories down. The ground level is constructed with thick abode and sandstone walls, so it is considerably cooler inside and certainly comfortable in the lower levels. In the winter or rainy season, the temperatures hover around 80 degrees. Most of the plants grow well during the winter season and people spend more time outside even in the rain.”
Raphael asked another question: “Are the natives of Medina nomadic like the Morovians?”
“No, Raphael – the people of Medina had at one time been nomadic but have long settled into towns and a few cities like Arconia, primarily located on the shores of the freshwater seas. The coastal settlements enjoy a slightly cooler climate due to the mitigating influence of the sea breezes. On the other hand, the village where we are going to lies nearly in the middle of a vast desert plain situated at the edge of a high steep and rocky mountain range that looms up to the north. The desert surrounding the village of Medina has scrubby bushes, tough perennials and grasses, and a variety of cacti plants, including enormous ancient Saguaros. The further one goes up into the mountains, the more vegetation coverage, and springs you will find. Some of the more protected canyons even shelter evergreen trees, a rarity to find in deserts. Few people rarely explore the vast tracts of desert lands on Maubene. Most travel there is done by viscars and shuttles.
Over the ship’s intercom, there came an order for all passengers to be seated as the ship was going to land in Elexa. Francis told Raphael to get his travel bag and then to return quickly to the seat next to him. Lord VaCoupe was up in the command deck speaking to the shuttle commander, by way of entertainment. He had also returned to the passenger seating in time as the ship began its descent into the atmosphere of the of Medina. Raphael plastered his face on the window, peering out to see what was below. In the distance, he could see the gleaming surface of what was one of the freshwater seas. It was huge. However, the ship was approaching a flat desolate island… Elexa, with its dusty plains, a wonderful place to build ships but not to live upon.
Once the ship landed, the passengers disembarked, scattering to catch their various shuttles. Some went running or walking to their next shuttle, while Lord VaCoupe maintained a stately pace, assured that the local shuttle pilot going to Medina would not leave without his party.
The local shuttle was much smaller than the military one, but the trip was shorter, although it still took five hours to reach the village of Medina. On the way, the ship passed over the silver seas, close to the coastal village of Jolf, over some rolling foothills and across the vast cacti-studded plains. As the ship approached the village, it made a sweeping arc to the north of town, passing over a broad turquoise-colored river. On the southern banks of the river, the cacti were smaller, the desert soon giving way for the neighborhoods of Medina with its colorful towers reaching to the sky. The boy also noticed that there was a distinctive energetic barrier dome protecting the town, thus mitigating the effects of weather and preventing attacks from above. Raphael noted that most of the residential buildings were white-washed, of abode construction with thick walls, few windows, surrounded with walled gardens. The ship finally set down in the large airfield or spaceport located on one side of the village and disembarked.
Master Polaño herded Raphael and his bag off the shuttle and started off to find a viscar to drive to the house which was situated on the other side of the village. Raphael stood next to Lord VaCoupe who appeared to be quite comfortable. The boy asked him why, when Lord VaCoupe laughed and replied, “Young man, it’s the uniform I am wearing. They were invented long ago and continue to be upgraded. They conform to the wearer’s body, so we usually wear cloaks or robes when in public. The suits allow the wearer to adjust the settings… the temperature, which makes them an excellent garment to wear in the desert. You, however, will be wearing the native dress which is similar to that of the Morovians, a simple gown and robes combination. Sometimes, if it is especially hot, men will wrap their heads with a long scarf but it is an individual thing, not really a local custom. Our women wear their hair down as a rule, although some prefer to wear their hair in soft buns, gathered up at the back of the neck. Our women are very beautiful. And now, ah… there is Raimundo – he brought a viscar down to meet us. He must be eager to meet the newest member of the family… that’s you, Raphael!”
Demetrius stepped forward greeting his tall slender brother and then signed Raphael to step forward, “Raimundo, may I introduce you to my new foster son, Raphael DeAires Kantor, late of Morova. He has come to live with us here while he prepares to enter into his formal schooling in a boarding school or Arconia. Raphael, give Raimundo a proper salute; my brother was a commander, so a military salutation would be appropriate!”
Raphael performed a very precise salute and waited to be addressed. Raimundo grinned, but said, “It is midday, son. We’ll save further introductions for later. We need to get both you and Francis out of this heat!”
Raphael and his companions climbed into the viscar and drove through the town square and then into a lovely neighborhood. There were houses large and small, but all were clean and whitewashed. The yards had abode walls surrounding them, but most of the gates were open, and as they passed, Raphael caught glimpses of colorful flowers, trees, shrubs, and cacti decorating the gardens within. After passing completely through the village, Raimundo finally set the viscar down in front of a sprawling compound near a large, intricately decorated golden gate.
Despite having lived on a desert all his life, Raphael was wilting by the time the viscar pulled up to the gate. Sensing that the boy was tired, Raimundo handed Raphael out of the viscar and took his bag. Lord Demetrius laughed, again – he seemed much more relaxed now that he was home – and pointed out that Raphael was capable of carrying his own belongings… such as they were. Raimundo countered that he had a surprise waiting for Raphael in the garden, “I thought he might want his hands free so he could meet an old friend!”
Raphael looked around, confused, and then watched as Raimundo opened the gate, revealing a small crowd of greeters. However, Raimundo signed for someone who was standing behind the greeters to come forward. The ‘surprise’ was a tall, slender, red-skinned, dark-haired Morovian tribesman, dressed in a silvery-white jumpsuit. Tomás Monteras was grinning as he walked up. Raphael dropped his small bundle and went up to hug him. The boy asked the warrior, “What are you doing here, Tomás, er, Commander Monteras?”
Monteras patted his young friend on the shoulder and laughed, “Lord Demetrius just gave me a reassignment, young friend! I am to be your tutor, guard, and physical arts instructor. You and I are going to share quarters – I hope you don’t mind – separate sleeping rooms; I have already seen them.”
For a long moment, Monteras held his young friend by the shoulders and surveyed his face and general appearance. Satisfied, he commented, “You certainly look better than the last time I saw you, but we have got to put some muscle on those bones and build up both your strength and endurance. I’m going to set up an exercise program for you, Raphael, in the mornings, then meditation, then lessons. You might as well get used to having a more regular schedule. Oh, and I’m sure Lord VaCoupe told you that you will be assigned some sort of job while you are home, so be prepared to work for your meals!”
After chatting briefly with his brother, Lord VaCoupe strolled up to the pair and smiled as he noticed how relaxed the boy was around the Morovian Eagle. The officer snapped to attention and gave Lord VaCoupe a salute and waited to be addressed.
Demetrius smiled, again, and said, “At ease, Commander – we are home, here. Now, are you Commander Tomás Monteras of Morova?”
“Yes, my lord, reporting for duty!” replied Monteras. It wasn’t every day that an Eagle warrior got assigned to work in the home of the Lord of the Pleiades. Tomás was pleased to have the assignment, but wondered a bit how the lord chose him.
“Your young charge, Raphael Kantor, told me how you had saved him partway through his decade of slavery, so I thought I would reward you with the job of seeing this young man gets up to speed with his education. I understand you are something of a martial arts expert, too, Monteras?”
“Good! Then you can arrange an exercise and diet for the boy, so he puts on some more lean muscle and gains some strength. Right now, I have observed that he tires easily, so go into any program gradually remembering that he is still recovering from ten years of being beaten and abused,” replied Lord Demetrius. “And now, I would suggest you get the boy settled into his room. You have probably found the bath across the hall by now (Monteras nodded). Raphael might enjoy a dip in the pool. I don’t think he has ever bathed in a pool like we have in the house. If the boy needs a nap, after all the traveling we’ve been doing, let him… tonight. I expect you to eat in your rooms tonight, but be prepared to meet the entire family tomorrow!”
With that, Lord Demetrius turned away to greet some of the other people who were standing nearby. He signed for Monteras to take Raphael, his young charge to his rooms for now. Demetrius fully understood that Raphael would be rather overwhelmed by the house, the sheer number of residents and staff, and by just being allowed to be a boy for a change.
So, Raphael found himself being guided expertly through the great house, quickly, and quietly, avoiding the crowds for now. In a low voice, Monteras explained as they went: “Lord Demetrius wants you to rest tonight. We will have our supper in our rooms. You can take a bath if you like and then go to bed. There will be quite a lot of people to meet tomorrow and a huge house to explore; but, for now… all of that can wait!”
The pair entered the house through a large double door which led into a spacious, white-washed solarium. Then following Monteras, Raphael walked along a long entry hall which opened up into an immense audience hall. Windows here extended from floor to the flying buttress ceiling. On the floor there was an immense oriental-style carpet of purples, pinks, and roses. On top of the rug was a beautiful white crystal altar with hand-carved angels on each side. The only things on top of the altar were a large pink candle and a single pink rose lay across an open book. Along the edges of the room were steps with pink, purple, and rose pillows that matched the stained-glass windows at the head of the hall. It was an impressive room where many family and state events were held.
Down another level there was another large hall, entertainment room, and education rooms for the youngsters. The kitchens were off to the side from this great room. Raphael could smell delicious odors wafting through a nearby doorway. Then, descending yet another level, the Eagle and boy walked down another long hallway. The building was huge, with a warren of hallways and rooms.
On the level where boy and tutor would be living the Eagle first showed Raphael where the bathing room was, also, just down the wide hallway from their rooms. The clear freshwater pool would be considered as large as a swimming pool on Earth; in Medina, it was just a nice comfortable size. There were seats along the edge of the pool where two or more persons could sit and talk. There was also a massage table for those who wanted a treatment from one of the healers in the household.
Next, Monteras opened a door leading to a small suite of rooms for where Raphael would be living for the next year or so, depending on his progress in meeting qualifications to enter either a boarding school or university. There were wall-hangings on the thick walls on one side. Long narrow windows were set into the thick walls on one side; there was also a large fireplace on the inner wall, although the room temperature was quite comfortable. The room was softly lit by the windows. At night, other unseen lights augmented the room’s illumination. The house had solar panels and stored sunlight for use at night as needed or on overcast days. There were also solar tubes allowing direct sunlight to penetrate some of the upper rooms.
Tomás had already made himself comfortable in a small sleeping room, with his gear thrown on top of a sleeping pad. The rooms were simply furnished, just a sleeping pad, bench, trunk for extra clothes, some clothes hooks, and a couple of shelves for personal items. The rooms were white-washed and clean. The ‘great’ room of the small suite contained a study corner for Raphael with a computer-like screen, a table, and a couple of chairs. Then there was a couch with side tables, where the two men could take their meals if they didn’t want to join other members of the family.
Tomás showed Raphael his own sleeping room. It was clean, white-washed, and supplied with a pile of bedding. There were even some new clothes for him, resting on a bench, as well as some personal items like a comb. There was also a basket of dry clean towels if he wanted to take a bath in the bathing room. Hooks were provided to hang clothes and there was a small trunk for other items like cloaks and boots when not in use.
Raphael thought he might like to try to bath in the pool; it looked very inviting. With a clean towel grasped in his hand, Raphael found Tomás, who was in the process of hanging up his extra uniform, dress cloak, and a couple of robes for casual wear. “Tomás, I am going to the bathing room. Could you go with me? I… I have never been alone in such a big house…”
“Well, son, you’re going to have to toughen up a bit. Try it alone tonight. I showed you the bathing room already; it is just down the hall. I would imagine everyone else in the place are either busy doing their jobs or studying if they’re your age!” replied Monteras. The Eagle wanted the boy to experience a tiny taste of freedom for a few minutes to determine how it felt. He was aware, having seen the kind of living conditions the boy had been living in, that the youngster had seldom been left alone or if he was, it was while he was locked up in a tiny airless cell. To just walk down a hallway alone would be a big test of his courage; a small step, but a significant one.
Surprised he was being allowed to be alone, Raphael headed to the bathing room. He was tired from all the travel and the intense series of interrogations he had undergone the prior week. Still, he was terrified, both of meeting a lot of people – and Francis had warned him that several hundred people lived in the gigantic house – and tackling all of the new experiences he was bound to have while living with a large family. It was a lot to take in and he wasn’t sure he was fully prepared. He knew it would take a while to recover physically, if not emotionally from the brutal treatment he had recently received at the hands of his former captors. Still, when he could slow down and take a deep breath, he could feel the love that permeated the entire building. Living in the great house would be a different experience for him, although it might be difficult for him to open up and act like the vulnerable child he was no longer.
Since Raphael was captured as a child, he had not used a bathing pool since he was a baby. As a slave he had bathed himself as well as he could from the battered basins lent to him by his keepers. Occasionally he was washed by his keepers, but he was forced to stand naked and get sluiced off by the men, who often took advantage and abused him while they were supposed to be doing their jobs. To go into a pool without being manhandled would be a new experience for the boy.
Given his past treatment of being exposed to leering eyes and invasive hands, Raphael was shy about undressing. In the past, his undergarments or robes were usually torn off his body. Here, he had to manage on his own. No one else was about. As a former Morovian, Raphael knew it was common for whole families to bathe together; few desert dwellers were shy about their bodies and the Medinians weren’t likely to be so, as well. As he undressed, he surveyed the odd array of scars, old and new, that crisscrossed his arms, legs and shoulders. Self-consciously, he touched the scar around his neck that had been created by wearing a control collar. Then, he gingerly tested the water and climbed down the steps into the warm, soft water.
The water was refreshing, warm, perhaps from a geothermal source, and extremely clean. Raphael allowed his body to relax, sinking down into the water until his head was just above it. Then he found some soap, which smelled of herbs, and started to wash his long hair. It needed a good trim, being extremely long and tangled. His hair was a constant reminder of his mother; her hair had been long, thick, and wavy, too. His loose golden hair spread out like a colorful fan behind him as he floated on top of the water relaxing in the liquid warmth.
Raphael wasn’t surprised that Lord Demetrius did not believe at first that he was a son of TorSeth Kantor as both his brother Ezekiel and he looked more like their mother. He did not want to be reminded of what his father had become… what the enemy had made him into. Just being reminded of the look in his father’s eyes when they were replaced by the empty black eyes gave him shivers.
“You must be Raphael…” a young-sounding voice intruded into Raphael’s wandering thoughts. Startled, he looked up and saw a slender young boy staring down at him. The boy was staring at some of the scars decorating his battered body. The boy pressed his lips tightly together and asked quietly, “Do they hurt?”
Raphael stood in the pool and shook his dripping head, “No, most of these…” pointing to his chest, “these are quite old. I’m afraid that I’m no longer beautiful to look at,” and smiled up at the boy.
The boy disagreed with Raphael’s assessment, shaking his head vigorously and smiled, “No, you look like a warrior who has taken many scars. You must be very brave.”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” replied Raphael with an answering smile.
“Carlos, leave the young man alone!” snapped Raimundo, as he entered the bathroom. The boy winked at Raphael and whipped around his uncle, heading out the door. The older man sighed, “Boys!”
Then he paused at the sight of Raphael’s scars, “Sorry about that…would you mind if I apply some salve to those? Mazzie…is an excellent herbalist and has concocted a salve that can help heal and fade scars.”
Raphael was feeling a bit overwhelmed but nodded his assent. He climbed out of the pool, wrapped himself in a huge towel around his middle, another towel on his wet hair, and sat on a bench, while Raimundo gently applied the cooling salve. The man was quiet as he worked, but Raphael could feel the compassion pouring from him, his hands gentle and neutral. Raphael held himself rather rigid at first and then slowly relaxed under Raimundo’s gentle administrations.
The older man could feel the boy’s tense muscles beneath his skilled fingers. He knew some of Raphael’s sad history and knew better than to invade his space without permission. The boy had been hurt; that was obvious by looking at all the scars on what should have been smooth dark golden bronze skin to go with that golden blonde hair. He said gently, “You’re safe here, lad.”
When Raimundo had finished applying the salve to Raphael’s back and chest, he picked up one of the boy’s hands to examine it and noticed the cuts on his wrist and higher up his arm. Alarmed, he looked into the boy’s eyes and asked, “What happened here, Raphael?”
“I…I was bled by my captors, sir.”
“Bled? What kind of monsters would do that to a child?”
Raphael looked down at the tiled floor and mumbled, “Sir, they did that and worst to others…”
“Does my brother know of this?”
Raphael nodded his head and replied, “Yes, my lord; I told him briefly about the bleeding and other things that were done to me.”
“You don’t have to call me, lord, Raphael. I would rather you call me, Uncle, since you are now the foster son of my brother,” said Raimundo with a smile. “Well, here you will have time and counseling so you can share those things weighing heavily on your heart, lad,” he added, in a comforting tone. There’s no need to explain, Raphael; my brother filled me in a bit of what you’ve been dealt most of your life. Things will be different for you now…”
Raphael nodded and waited until Raimundo was done. The older man took hold of his shoulder, “Now get dressed, young man, if you want anything to eat. Supper is going to be served shortly or are you eating in your rooms tonight?”
Raphael replied, “Lord Demetrius told us to eat in our rooms tonight. He is concerned that I don’t get overtired, sir. I am still recovering from some wounds…”
“Well, then… send Monteras to fetch some food for the both of you,” said Raimundo. “Our servants typically don’t serve us in our rooms if we are not ill, that is. Now, you can return to your rooms, eat some dinner, and prepare for sleeping. We’ll see you in the morning in the family room for breakfast. I’ll warn you now, a lot of people live in this house, although Francis or my brother probably already told you that… Sleep well, tonight, son!’
Raimundo noted that the boy had tears glistening in his eyes as he quietly left the room. Ah, like a wounded bird that one. Trying to be strong, but still so young…”
“Oh, good, you’re back,” said Monteras as Raphael re-entered their shared rooms. The Eagle had already fetched a large tray of food. On it was piled an assortment of soup, smoothies, baked vegetable rolls, and some fresh fruit. Raphael obediently sat down at the table in their main room and stared at the food. Then, the Eagle noticed the boy was trembling and close to tears. His long hair was still wet, but that wasn’t the cause… “What is wrong, Raphael? Why are you shaking?”
“I… I don’t know, sir. Raimundo came into the bathing room and saw my scars… he put some salve on them and then asked me questions about the scars on my wrists. He…he said he cared about me. No one has ever said that to me, Tomás. I can’t eat anything right now. Do you mind if I just go to bed?” replied Raphael.
“Of course, not…” said the Eagle.
Raphael nodded and withdrew into his own room. Monteras could hear the boy’s sobs through the door. He shook his head. Yes, it would take some time for the boy to adjust to living in a family environment.
Lying on his sleeping pad, Raphael felt overwhelmed by the kindness he sensed coming from Raimundo, the affectionate chatter of the young boy, Carlos. For years, he had gone without significant positive life-affirming human contact and socialization. To just be quietly accepted by the people he had met so far in his new home was a startling new sensation for Raphael. He didn’t understand it. In the decade he was a slave, no one had ever treated him as gently as Raimundo in giving him a simple massage. Suddenly, tears began to flow freely as he lay there on his sleeping pad, thinking about all that he had lost especially his mother and wondering where his brother Ezekiel was now…
Later, when Tomás checked in, Raphael was asleep, his face streaked with tears. It was the first day; the boy would adjust, but it would take small steps to acclimatize him to family life…much less the presence of strangers.
The next morning, Tomás encouraged Raphael to venture out to the family room where most of the family members ate their breakfast before going to their various jobs. Raimundo and Lord Demetrius greeted the boy, with Raimundo taking the lead in introducing Raphael to some of the many children, cousins, aunties, older uncles, and some of the staff.
Astonished Raphael listened to Raimundo as he explained that approximately 100 people consisting of several extended families and multi-generations lived in the sprawling complex, which extended in those days at least four stories below the surface. Not everyone was present at breakfast, as all family members pitched in with family chores; some had already eaten and had started their work for the day.
Raphael and Tomas attended the family breakfast. About fifty people were present, both family members and some staff who had not yet started work. Raphael remained quiet throughout the meal unless asked a direct question and then only gave short answers. He mainly looked down and applied himself to eating his meal, which consisted of various of cut and raw fruit, some fruit smoothies, fruit soup, some light crackers, and soft cheeses. Every once in a while, one of the youngsters would steal a glance at the shy visitor but say nothing. Carlos had already taken a liking to Raphael but also held back, sensitive to his new friend’s discomfort at being the focus of so many eyes.
After a while, the scrutiny was too much and Raphael excused himself, heading for the privacy and quiet of his own room. He was shaking when he reached it and threw himself on his sleeping pad. Tears flowed freely as he laid there. He knew he would have to make an effort to acclimatize but it was all too much for the former slave on the beginning of the first full day in his new home.
The second week Raphael was at the VaCoupe Compound an incident occurred, involving him and Lord Raimundo, the brother of Lord VaCoupe.
Raphael had already begun his exercise program with Tomás, working primarily on stretching exercises and weightlifting to tone his muscles and strengthen his body. Having just finished an exercise period with Tomás, he was all sweaty. Tomás said he had some other things to do and would see the boy later. Raphael went to his room, stripped out of his sodden garments, wrapped himself up in a big towel and went to the bathing room. The room was dim and steamy. The boy could not see across the large pool but sensed the presence of another person… Lord Raimundo. He saw the boy standing there and swam leisurely over and asked: “How are you settling in, Raphael?”
“Well, enough, sir,” Raphael replied.
Then, as the boy climbed down into the pool, Raimundo came closer, putting his hand on the boy’s shoulder. He asked innocently, “How are your scars healing, lad? Mazzie’s healing lotions are quite efficacious.”
Raphael didn’t know what came over him next, but before he realized what he was doing, he stepped closer to Raimundo in the water, and ran his hand down the man’s torso, and touched Raimundo in an intimate place. Raimundo’s face went still. He pushed the boy’s hand away. “No, son, we don’t make love that way here.”
“It’s the only way I know, sir…” replied Raphael, confused.
The older man nodded, “Yes, son… my brother shared a bit of your recent history with me. Didn’t he tell you that we don’t do that kind of thing here? Adults don’t use children.”
“Explain it to me, sir, please,” replied a desperate Raphael. “It is the only human contact I ever had for nearly ten years.”
Raimundo looked away, and then gazed compassionately into the boy’s large blue eyes, “I know, son, and shame on those who used you like that. It wasn’t your fault. It isn’t your fault, but I see now that we are going to have to augment your education. It is best that we both dress and have your guard and tutor, Tomás, present, don’t you think?”
Raphael nodded, his golden skin flushed with embarrassment and shame. He was unable to look Raimundo in the eyes as he realized what he had done out of a deep level of programming. Replying, he said, “Yes, sir. I’ll wait for you in my study room. Tomás should be there by now.”
Burning tears of shame blurred Raphael’s vision as he stumbled out of the pool, wrapped himself securely in the towel and returned to his room. Tomás was in his sleeping room, getting ready to take a bath when he heard Raphael come in. He popped his head out, wondering what was going on. Then sensitive to Raphael’s moods and feelings, he noticed the tears and felt the boy’s confusion and shame.
“What happened, Master Raphael?”
“Oh, Goddess, Lord Raimundo was there in the bath, and I tried to…” Raphael looked away, and began to sob. “I don’t know how to conduct myself here, Commander Monteras! These people are so kind and loving. I haven’t had anyone love me except my brother and mother… and you have always been kind.”
Tomás shook his head and explained, “It was bound to happen—at least once. You have had the misfortune to be trained by very evil people who steal light from others through sexual abuse. It was good you were rescued when you were, or you would be lost to us now.” Tomás’ tone was serious. He ordered: “Get your clothes on, Master Raphael, and then we’ll go apologize to Lord Raimundo. I’m supposed to guard you against doing this kind of thing.”
Then Tomás and Raphael heard a knock at the door to their suite. The door opened as Raimundo announced himself accompanied by Lord VaCoupe who followed his brother into the room. Raphael froze with fear and shame. Tomás ignored the boy and greeted the two men. Then, the Eagle cleared his throat and ordered the boy to get dressed quickly. He turned back to the two brothers and said, “Well, this kind of thing was going to happen at least once, my lords. I apologize for not being with the boy. I did not realize the extent to which he had been programmed by his captors. Since this is a first offense – for both of us – I hope you will show some leniency?”
Lord Demetrius looked at his brother, who shrugged, and signed for him to go ahead, “When I heard the boy’s story, I knew there was a possibility this sort of thing might come up, Commander Monteras. Still, the lad is intelligent enough and self-aware to the point that I do not feel this kind of behavior will persist. If it does, then we will have to take other measures, but now, I think the two of you, Raimundo and you, Monteras, need to hear the boy’s story in more detail in order to understand what he went through. I hope by exhibiting a higher degree of compassion that the boy will learn from this episode and endeavor to be more self-aware when confronted by similar situations.”
Having disappeared quickly into his room, Raphael did not overhear the conversation between the men, so did not know what to expect. The boy was quaking with fear, sure that he was going to receive a beating or be sent from the house. He took a few minutes to attempt to calm himself down and then dropped the towel and pulled a clean gown over his head. Peeking out his door, he saw that the three men were deep into a discussion in private telepathic mode… probably planning what to do with him next.
The boy stood there in the doorway and waited until he was acknowledged. He was trembling with fright and kept touching his old collar scar nervously. Raimundo finally noticed him and waved him into the room to stand in front of the three men.
Lord Demetrius spoke first and said, “Raphael, just so these two men, Commander Monteras, and my brother, Raimundo, understand your story better, I am going to ask you to share all the things you were taught and how often. Can you do this? I know it will hurt, but it is better to let out the tears than to keep them inside, locked up.”
Noticing the boy’s already tear-stained face, Demetrius continued, “I know you believe that you have done a horrible thing and that, in disgust, I will send you from this house, but that is not so. When I agreed to foster you, I assumed responsibility and guardianship of you for the rest of your life. I see the tears, which means you are beginning to touch the feelings you have managed to bottle up so effectively during your days as a captive. That is a good thing, son. You do not need to fear retaliation from any of us. You will be educated here on how to behave in mixed company, what not to do, and what you should do. I have observed your behavior… during those long hours of our interview, so I know you are a naturally polite and thoughtful individual. However, as a former slave who was probably subjected to heavy mind and behavioral programming, some things are bound to slip through. Commander Monteras realizes now that he will have to keep a closer watch on you, at least until you can demonstrate you will not repeat what you just attempted to do with my brother, Lord Raimundo.”
“Oh, my lord – don’t punish Tomás!” exclaimed the boy, appalled that the commander might also be jeopardy as a result of his own behavior.
“So, Raphael, you can think about another’s welfare before your own,” replied Lord Demetrius. “Your protective reaction informs me that you naturally care about people. You have not been treated with care or respect since you were a child in your mother’s keeping. It will take a while for you to accustom yourself to being around an assortment of people such as live here. Being a member of this large household will enable you to learn to function better when you are finally ready to go school and must live with all kinds of people and species from many worlds.
As Raphael listened to Lord Demetrius, he was biting his lips. Finally, he asked, “What should I say, my lord? It took hours to tell my story.”
“Well, I think giving Commander Monteras and Raimundo the highlights would suffice, don’t you?” suggested Lord Demetrius. “Please sit down, Raphael; I am sorry to keep you standing there…”
Monteras nodded in agreement, “I agree, my lord. Raphael, just tell us the highlights. If we need to ask for details, we will…”
Raphael gave a deep sigh as he thought it over for a moment and then asked: “Can I give it to you in visions? I don’t want to talk about this aloud…”
Lord Demetrius looked over at Raimundo and Tomás, who both nodded and replied, “That sounds reasonable, lad; let us see, then.”
In private mode, contained within the room in which they were sitting, Raphael sent the three men a flood of images derived from ten years of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. Then, when the boy had finished his “story,” he added a bald statement: “I was molested daily by my guards to keep me in ‘training’, sir, from a few months after I was captured until I was rescued. I had very little respite and only then if I had been damaged by a client.”
“Ah, yours is, indeed, a sorry tale – but sorrier for those who committed these crimes against your innocence and youth. Again, you were and are not to blame for what happened, then or now,” said Raimundo, solemnly.
Tomas then spoke up, “I found the lad when he was about nine years old. He had been partially trained by then and began to present himself to me. I had to use a shock on his control collar to stop him, I’m sad to say.”
Thinking back on his ordeal and how the three men were so understanding and actually cared about him, he decided to tell them more: “It was the final months that were the worse. Two agents from the dark lords tested me for my potential as a purchase by one of the dark lords. The last agent nearly killed me. The worse was… the last moments before I was rescued. A whole roomful of men raped me after I had just witnessed the brutal rape and murder of my beloved mother, Lady Katrina.”
“And your father nearly succeeded in killing you, with a knife like the camel boy,” added Tomás.
“Yes, why do you know about how I died in my first Pleiadian life, Tomás?” asked Raphael with some astonishment.
Tomas looked down at the stone floor and answered quietly, “I have witnessed your nightmares, Raphael. Our bond is very close, so things have a tendency to leak through, even when you are blocking off your thoughts from others.” He continued, “I was there when we gathered up your body after you were murdered as the camel boy – I remember. It was the worse day of my life that we weren’t fast enough to save you.”
Raphael didn’t fully understand what Tomás said about our bond, so he ignored it for the moment. He was the boy’s friend, confidant, tutor, trainer, and guard. “So, please explain what I should do? I don’t want to embarrass anyone or be turned out…”
“You won’t be turned out, Raphael,” sighed Raimundo, “My brother here made a life-time commitment to your welfare when he became your foster father.”
“I don’t deserve this…” Raphael began to sob, hugging himself as grief and shame finally overcame his carefully constructed defenses.
“Let it out, son,” said Tomás, extending an arm around the boy’s shoulders. Raphael collapsed against his old friend, sobbing and trembling. Monteras held the boy tenderly like his brother might have had he been there.
The three men quietly observed the boy’s emotional breakdown, holding a protective space for him as Raphael literally fell apart, releasing some of the pain he had held so rigidly within… stemming from his father’s betrayal, the years of abuse, his mother’s horrible death… and being alone in a cruel world for so long. The boy’s past was complicated; his grief was deep. One crying session wasn’t going to make it go away, but it helped. After a half hour or so, Raphael sat sniffing and wiping his eyes with a towel that Raimundo had fetched.
As Raphael finally sat up, Lord Demetrius finally broke his silence: “I think you should go get that bath that was interrupted and then sleep for a while. This episode has worn you out. You are still recovering from deep grief and our touching, again, on these inner wounds has to be painful.”
Raimundo agreed, “I suggest that we request one of the healing priestesses from the Temple to assist you in some of your grieving process. She can also instruct you on some of our cultural mores regarding intimate relationships between the genders… something your mother or father would have taught you… or reminded you of when older. Your case is complicated because of your lack of remembrance – each child born here agrees before birth on the rules of their chosen culture. For some reason – probably the continuous round of abuse suffered by you – caused you to forget these things that come naturally to our children.”
Still curious why Tomás seemed to know so much about himself, Raphael ventured a personal question directed at the Eagle, “I hope you won’t think me impertinent in asking this, Commander Monteras, but you never mention anything about having a family, a mate or children.”
“Ah, son, not many Eagles get mated because of the dangerous work we do. However, I never speak of my Morovian family as I’m an orphan, too. Raphael, I am your cousin, from your lifetime as the son of Anor and Betony,” replied Tomás, quietly. “I didn’t expect you to ever remember this or me. I’m much older and left for the Command before you were born. I was there for your birth as a witness. My parents were also killed the night that your father and mother died in the attack.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Tomás – so you understand, a little how I feel in losing my mother, again?” asked Raphael said. Tomás nodded. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Tomás sighed, “I’m an Eagle, a warrior in the Command, Raphael. I don’t have a mate and would be unable to give you a proper upbringing or provide you with a home and education like Lord VaCoupe. He is a better foster father than I could be. I am content to be here as your tutor, trainer, guide, and hopefully, friend.”
Raphael started crying again, and threw his arms around Tomás’ neck, “Of course you are my friend – and you are family!”
More than family, Raphael thought the Eagle, but now isn’t the time to share our true relationship. He is confused enough by all the abuse he has endured.
As Raimundo and Demetrius caught a bit of the Eagle’s thoughts, they glanced at each other with surprise and sudden comprehension. Raimundo sent his brother a short private telepathic message: Interesting. I’m not sure if you realize what Tomás is implying here? Brother, they are Twin Souls! Tomás is obviously meant to be here with Raphael as he adjusts to normal life.
Demetrius replied back, I was not aware of this more intimate connection – it explains a lot why Tomás has been in Raphael’s life at least to a small degree thus far.
“Okay, enough for now,” said Raimundo, “Raphael – get that bath and then rest. I’ll have one of the servants bring you some nutrients and juice later. You need some quiet time.”
“I’ll be here, son…cousin, if you need me,” added Tomás.
A couple of days later, a tall, willowy red-haired priestess arrived at the VaCoupe Compound and was shown into Raphael’s suite by Tomás. Raphael looked up from a book he was reading, stood up, and bowed politely to the woman. “Greetings, Lady.”
“You are Raphael Kantor? I am called Arrina, Lady Arrina. I was called in to assist with some counseling for this boy?”
“Yes, Lady Arrina – Raphael was recently rescued from slavers after a long captivity,” replied Tomás. “During that time, he was subjected to sexual and emotional abuse. Lord Raimundo and I feel that he could benefit from counseling from a neutral person.”
“Your relationship to the boy is?” queried the priestess.
“Your pardon, Lady, my name is Commander Tomás Monteras,” replied Tomás, “I am an Eagle, assigned here to tutor, train, and guard the boy. I’m also an elder cousin of his… from another lifetime.”
“Ah… well, then,” replied the priestess, “could I speak to the boy alone for a few minutes? I would also like to scan his Akashic records so that I might observe what took place in his recent past.”
“Then, I will leave you two and see if I can bring some refreshments for when you’re done, my Lady,” replied Tomás, bowing to the representative of the Mother.
“Thank you, that is very kind,” replied the priestess, as the Eagle left the room.
The priestess looked at Raphael who was looking down at the floor, blushing. “Well, child…you are called Raphael?” The boy nodded, and she continued, “How long were you a captive?”
“For nearly ten years, my Lady,” replied the boy. “My mother was also a priestess on Morova, Lady Katrina.”
“Where is she now, Raphael?”
“Dead – she was murdered during a black rite,” replied Raphael, his voice quavering as he remembered the sight of his mother’s tortured body lying upon the makeshift altar…
“And you were there?”
Tears started again for Raphael, “Yes, my lady.”
“Ah… so you were used as a sex slave, Raphael,” inquired the priestess. The boy nodded, wiping his tears away.
“That was my only role, my lady,” replied the boy. “My guards abused me daily and my services were sold to clients…”
“Ah, I see your difficulty with fitting into family life, then,” replied the priestess with a great deal of compassion. “It is understandable, being used in that manner would confuse you on how to conduct yourself around other adult men… and women.”
The boy nodded, “Yes, my Lady – being used was my sole means of human contact for years.”
“Well, then,” said the priestess. “Would you mind if I scan your Akashic records for a few moments?”
“I want to heal, Lady… I give you permission,” replied an earnest Raphael. He was tired of being alone and feeling like an outcast.
The priestess directed Raphael to sit quietly as she went into meditation. Almost immediately, an entire block of Akashic records was downloaded into her consciousness. She sat still for a few more moments and then opened her eyes, again, remarking, “Well, Raphael…it would appear that your Guardians wanted me to understand your situation. Are you aware that you have two Angelic Beings watching over you?”
The boy shook his head, confused. “I do sometimes feel a Presence…but have never seen them.”
“Then perhaps your inner sight is not quite cleared enough – probably a result of long-term abuse, which can shut down the energy centers of the body. Were you controlled by any devices?”
Raphael’s hand went to his throat, where there was still a scar from the control collar. “Yes, a collar. I couldn’t use telepathy for a long time or speak very well, my lady. Eventually, I learned to deactivate the device using my consciousness, but it was when I was much older.”
“Impressive,” remarked the priestess. “Your strong gifts aided in your survival. I see what they… your captors… did to you. Quite disgraceful and cruel to subject anyone no matter their age to that kind of treatment; it is no wonder that you are confused about interpersonal behavior here.”
The priestess looked thoughtful and then continued speaking, “I’m going to lecture you a bit on those roles, young man. For one thing, it is not uncommon for children to become confused about gender issues if they have changed genders from one lifetime to another. That is not your case, however; you were engendered a male, although I sense that at some future date, you will change genders. Now, however, you are incarnated as a male, undergoing the balance of that gender’s energies and all that entails.”
“Occasionally, the need arises for a child to undergo counseling such as this to advise them as to what their true role is in keeping in alignment with their chosen path within a given lifetime. We do not judge the individual; we merely advise them, as I am now doing for you, as to the cultural mores of their environment, chosen before birth. The men who abused your body had undergone a change in personality due to being implanted with artificial devices. If they had been whole, they would never attempt to commit such acts against children.”
“These slavers are acting on behalf of their misguided masters, beings who have turned away from the Light of Source and now serve a Dark Master. And they are attempting to invade our worlds. You were caught up as a young child in a battle between the dualities of dark and light. I am sorry you experienced these things, but I also sense there is a deeper reason behind it, for you have managed to survive. And through your suffering you have developed a vulnerability and sensitivity beyond that which would be normally acceptable in a male child. I sense great gifts within you that will carry you forth into unexpected directions in the future, Raphael. Do you understand what I am saying, Raphael?” asked the priestess, as she gazed with interest at the boy’s countenance to see how he was doing. He seemed quite absorbed listening to her quiet explanations.
“Thank you, Lady, for your kindness and understanding,” replied Raphael. “Now can you show me how to conduct myself around those I love?”
Lady Arrina smiled, “You are eager to fit in, aren’t you? Well, here in the higher frequency worlds of the Pleiades, we often greet our loved ones with a finger touch to the nose, symbolizing the flow of heart energy to the other person, an act of affection. Sexual intercourse is used only between adult lovers or a mated pair. Sexual intercourse is a sacred act, one that was designed originally for the procreation of children. It can also be performed to strengthen the bond between lovers. It is never done to control another person in the manner in which you have been used. You must remember a bit about your own engendering, the months of meditation done in a long-term act of co-creation between your mother and father?”
“Vaguely, my Lady,” replied Raphael.
“Then let me remind you – the sexual act was designed to place the male seed within the female’s womb. The sensitive and responsible couple can meditate before conception, raising each other’s vibrations in order to attract a suitable soul to them. Our mothers do not typically suffer during childbirth. So, can you now see that the sexual abuse that you were subjected to for so long goes against every custom and law of our culture?”
“Yes, my lady – I understand now…”
Lady Arrina paused, looking at the boy’s face and mannerisms. He seemed to be enthralled by this lesson, so she continued, “Most of our people still perform sexual intercourse, but as our people evolve that will gradually change. A higher frequency couple can come together to make love, energetically, through touch, intimacy, sharing thoughts, and through the blending of each of their unique energies. Touching your lover’s nose is a sign of affection. And placing your hand upon your lover’s chest is a symbol of the exchange of sacred energies of being the partners, heart to heart, as they become and energetically experience Divine Union as One. A highly evolved couple can be in the same room to share this intimacy of energy exchange. It can be done at distance, as well, on a telepathic level, as an exchange from heart to heart. It can be a highly erotic experience for those who truly love each other.”
“We are not as a people inclined to favor the act of sexual intercourse when used as a mode of control against another. What you experienced at the hands of your captors was just that – a perversion of what is a beautiful and intimate act between two mates for the procreation of children or between lovers who wish to explore each other more intimately. Do you understand now, Raphael, that what you were doing… going to do with Lord Raimundo was against all accepted modes of behavior, especially within this family.”
“I do, Lady Arrina,” replied Raphael solemnly. “I will never…do such a thing, again, to anyone. I didn’t understand or remember what was proper…”
“You do not need to apologize, Raphael, just put into practice the vow that you just made, for as a representative of the Mother, I place that vow upon the altar of your heart to honor all your life,” replied Lady Arrina with serious tone… then, she smiled. The boy was obviously very intelligent and eager to be regarded with affection.
“Thank you, Lady Arrina, for this,” Raphael replied. He looked quite thoughtful.
A moment later, Tomás knocked and entered the room, carrying a large tray piled with food, “Pardon me, Lady, how is it going?”
“Your young cousin is doing quite well, thank you,” replied the priestess. “I sense that he fully comprehends all that I have shared with him this afternoon. He is a bright lad who just needed some guidance and counseling. I don’t think my counseling services for this particular subject will be required any further.”
She added, “I might recommend that Raphael receive periodic healings to clear any stuck energies within his physical body as a result of the abuse. Also, do you have him engaged in physical exercise? He needs to build up some weight and muscle; we see him as lacking in sufficient strength and vitality, probably due to the severe drain on his life force as a result of all the mishandling.”
“Yes, Lady…,” replied Tomás, “I have Raphael performing stretches, calisthenics, strength-training, and martial arts training, plus he receives extra nutrients daily to make up for his lack of conditioning and weight. Apparently, he was underfed somewhat in his former setting and under a great deal of stress, emotional, physical, and mental.”
“Indeed,” replied the priestess. She turned back to Raphael, “Well, young Raphael, it looks like you are in good hands here. See that you ask questions before acting if the occasion arises, again. And you are welcome to call upon me at the Temple if you need another person in which to confide.”
The priestess then turned back to the Eagle and said, “Thank you, Tomás, but I will partake of my nutrients at the Temple. It is nearly time for our meditation, and I must go.” With that, the Lady rose up, gave the head, heart, and hand salutation and left the room.
“Well, Tomás – that was quite the lesson for me,” said the boy, with a great sigh. And then with the short attention span of youth when food is placed in front of them, “Ah, could I have a piece of fruit?”
The dark-haired Eagle couldn’t help but smile. He could sense a subtle change in the boy’s energy. This lesson as he described it had given the boy grounding in the basics of approaching those who were close, something he had not had much opportunity in experiencing thus far. Now, it would be up to him, Raimundo and the other adults within the family to observe if the boy abides by what he had been told. Tomás was sure that he would try, but one couldn’t be too sure what kind of programming Raphael was exposed to as a slave, which was one reason he was under constant observation. Tomás thought it might be good for another guard to be present so he could get an occasional respite, but then decided against asking that of Raimundo. There were enough responsible adults and observant children present within this family who could advise him if something was off with the lad.
Now, if Raphael could refrain from getting into trouble for a little while, I might be able to eat my own meal,” thought the Eagle to himself with a chuckle.
Progress is Made
Raimundo had let the women of the house know about Raphael’s situation, as much as he could without violating the boy’s trust. He only said that the boy had often been severely beaten and was in need of some discreet tender care. Mazzie, the herbalist, nodded…young Carlos had shared his impressions of Raphael’s vulnerabilities and shyness with her. So, she countered this by offering to teach Raphael how to grow, select, and cut herbs. She told him that everyone in the household was expected to have a job and to contribute. When Raphael wasn’t studying under the exacting tutelage of Tomás, exercising to increase his fitness and strength, attending Temple with the family members daily for group meditations, he was working in the kitchen and the large cooking gardens. Gradually he began to relax and learn names and faces and finally begin to feel like he belonged, if only for a short time.
So, it was on one evening when the shadows were lengthening Lord Demetrius, having returned from High Council, discovered young Carlos and Raphael together in the garden discussing the merits of sage versus rosemary, while they tended plants together. He smiled to himself and then greeted the boys aloud, “Carlos, how are you treating our new young friend?”
Carlos flashed a radiant smile, “Uncle, you wouldn’t guess how smart Raphael is…he has already learned more in a month than I can in a year!”
He grinned, poking at Raphael with a trowel, “Mazzie warned that she will make an herbalist out of him yet!”
“Ah, well…” Then Demetrius looked closely at Raphael. The boy’s health and auric field showed strong signs of improvement; although it was clear he needed more time to gain his strength back. “Just how are you feeling, Raphael?”
“Fine, my lord…”
Lord VaCoupe made a grimace and smiled, “At home you must call me Demetrius…my given name. You can say Uncle Demetrius if that will make you feel better. We are casual here, among family and friends.”
“My lord, welcome home!” Tomás had come up to the garden to check on his young charge.
“Greetings, Monteras…how does your young charge do these days?”
The tall slender Eagle looked over at the two boys who had gone back to their chores, ignoring the two older men. “Lord, I would venture to say that he is slowly healing. Raphael is a brilliant hard-working student. It won’t take long for him to catch up with other students near his age. He has a maturity, ability to focus, and determination that none of them could possibly match.”
“Yes…maturity…far beyond his years,” sighed VaCoupe. “Let us leave the boys; they look well-occupied. Now, have you ever heard the tale of Lord Delos, the Sirian head commander?”
The Eagle shook his dark head, “No, sir.”
The lord looked back at his foster son and said quietly, “I don’t want to violate a trust given, but you’re looking at a reincarnated Lord Delos…in young Raphael.” He signed Tomas to follow him, “Let’s go to my study where we can speak in private. I feel it is important to help us understand that this young person is far more than he appears on the surface…”
Tomas nodded, “I’ve always known that, my lord. Yes, tell me the tale…”
The two men moved off towards the solarium and entered into the great house, as the two boys continued on with their evening tasks.
Raphael paused to look up at the desert sunset; the skies were touched with vivid pinks, oranges, and greens. Against this setting, the shadowed outlines of fat palms were etched above the solid outline of garden walls. The warm scent of night-blooming flowers filled his senses. His deep love for desert regions began to dissolve the pain and misery he had suffered; he was beginning to be able to face life, again.
He turned and smiled at his young companion, “It is beautiful tonight, isn’t it?”
Carlos studied his new friend’s face; the lines of tension were beginning to ease around Raphael’s wide generous mouth. His long blonde hair had been trimmed and half-way tamed into a long, fat braid. The sadness in those deep blue eyes had dissipated a bit…yes, he was coming along. Carlos recognized pain when he saw it; he was a natural healer and was going to be attending university soon. He had a tremendous amount of empathy and a natural ability to put anyone at ease…even a very shy Raphael. He was a good companion to reintroduce the wounded Rafe back into the world, although not the only one who took that task on…
In such a large household there were many young people of varying ages. All studied from age two, working at home. The ones who were slightly older, say about three to four, were sent to a boarding school in another city, like Arconia, on the coast, where they took up studies in accordance with their life plans. Raphael was different in that he had had no education but what little his mother had given him as a young child and some private tutoring until the fateful day when he was first kidnapped. Still, Raphael had a natural love of learning and strong, disciplined observational skills. His natural ability to read people’s energetic frequencies assisted him in evolving to where he could handle being around more people at one time. He slowly grew out of his shyness, even as the scars on his body healed and gradually faded, helped by the efficacy of Mazzie’s healing remedies and loving touch.
Tomás instructed Raphael in the physical arts of hand-to-hand combat, martial art, and weapons training. This training was needed to improve the boy’s strength, to put muscle on his still growing limbs, and to increase his sense of balance. Raphael was going to be tall; like his brother, Ezekiel, he had long legs and arms, and shoulders that grew ever broader. He wasn’t particularly self-aware, but he was becoming a very handsome young man, especially as he regained a natural poise in his movements.
Some of the men from the village took the time to teach Raphael some of their enthusiastic dances that had ancient tribal roots. As he learned these new skills, he was encouraged to join with others at family celebrations and eventually in the community at large.
The Pleiadians had a deep love of learning and everyone spent time on the computers reading news stories of other worlds, the disposition of the war, as well as news of other worlds. One night, Raphael was watching a vid on a visit to Lord Lyonell’s kingdom in the Suriya System by an Ashkerian delegation. When Raphael saw Lord Lyonell on the screen he leaned forward, exclaiming, “I know that man! I’ve seen him somewhere before…!”
Tomas could sense a simmering excitement growing in his young charge, “That is Lord Lyonell. He is also a Pleiadian Commander of some standing.”
Raphael was still staring at the screen as the Ashkerians moved into view. One of the white-blonde men looked familiar; felt familiar to Rafe. “Who is that?” He said pointing to the Ashkerian. Tomas looked at the man to whom Raphael was pointing,
“Oh, that is Lord Tazo of Sirust. He is a great grandson of Lord Chananda.”
“I know him…I don’t remember how…”
Tomás was startled when Raphael suddenly stood up, tears streaking down his cheeks. The boy…really a young man…turned to Tomás and whispered harshly, “Who am I? Was I an Ashkerian at one time? I don’t remember – my past lives seem to be blocked from my consciousness – but I feel such a longing to know…”
Ah, perhaps now the time has come to let this young person know…a little of what he has been in the past,” thought Tomas. I’ll need to speak to my Lord and his brother to determine just what should be shared…
The Past Revealed
On his next trip home, Lord VaCoupe sat down with his foster son, along with Raimundo, and Tomás. There the story of Lord Delos was told to a disbelieving young man. “And so, Raphael, your feats are remembered in Ashkera. And now what do you want to do with this knowledge…for you are responsible for the knowledge once it is known.”
Raphael looked around at the older men’s faces, compassion filling their eyes as they saw him struggle with what he had just been told, “I was a commander?”
“The head commander of the Ashkerian Fleet for over 300 years, Raphael,” replied Raimundo. “I’ve looked up the records on his last battle. It was quite a spectacular triumph and only five Ashkerians died, including Lord Delos and four other crewmen.”
“I died?” asked Raphael.
“Yes… you set yourself up as bait, Raphael, to draw the enemy forces. They brought an entire fleet!” replied Lord VaCoupe.
“Oh…,” gasped Raphael, clutching himself around the middle while tears streamed down his face. “Sacrifice? A whole fleet? Did they hate me so much?”
“Yes, Raphael. As Delos, you led the Ashkerian Fleet into battle after battle, resisting all the considerable onslaughts of a determined enemy, Raphael,” replied Lord VaCoupe, his darkly bronzed tanned visage serious.
The lord studied his young charge and noted as sudden look of understanding lit the boy’s face, “That’s why – all of the brutality, my former father hating me…I could never understand it. My brother Ezekiel must have told my parents who I was and then, when my father was implanted by the enemy, that knowledge became available to them. Which is why my father was used to capture and put me into slavery. They wanted to demonstrate their disdain and hatred towards me… by using me.”
“Ah, you begin to understand,” replied the Lord. “Remember, the Dark Forces can also read your fire signs on your forehead just as readily as one of our seers. Yet, your father’s knowledge was used against you, but even if it had not, you were in danger on Morova, as overrun as it appears to be with enemy agents.”
Raphael lifted a finger up to his lips as if in deep thought for a moment, “Then I want to go into the Command, sir.”
Lord VaCoupe nodded, “We were hoping you would arrive at that decision on your own. You realize you can never live as a regular citizen, especially in the outer s.”
“Yes, Lord, I understand,” Raphael acknowledged this fact; he would simply bring the dark forces down on whatever household he set up, due to his secret identity that was only known now to a few.
The Lord looked at Tomás, who as the boy’s tutor and instructor, would know best at how he stood as to being close to the level of knowledge needed to attend the University at Arconia…and from there to one of the University Ships sponsored by the Pleiadian Fleet and others, to prepare young people for service on board the vessels of the Fleet. “Well, Tomás, how is the instruction going?”
“Well, my Lord. It should take him only a few months of hard work before Raphael will be prepared to take the entrance exams for Arconia,” replied Tomás, who looked fondly upon his student. “We’re still working on the astrophysics section, some in mathematics, and reviewing how to read the Akash.”
“Wait! I learned that in another life!” Raphael burst out his eyes alight. “I can remember! It’s like a door has suddenly opened…”
“And you’re ready to walk through it?” inquired the Lord.
“Not quite, Lord, but soon…!”
When Raphael left the room…to talk with his friend Carlos who would also be leaving soon to attend healing classes at Arconia, Lord VaCoupe looked around at his fellow co-conspirators and announced solemnly, “Well, gentlemen, it looks like our work here is nearly done. Young Raphael is about to set out on his life journey…and we helped him with the first initial steps. What happens after that is up to him…”
Six months later, Raphael set out to Arconia, accompanied by his friend, Carlos, and Tomas…the latter who still insisted on being the boys’ bodyguard and sometime instructor, with the Lord’s blessing…for wherever Raphael went sooner or later he was bound to get into some kind of trouble.
The Lord was grateful to have given such a soul an interlude of peace in which to reestablish a life journey that had been interrupted by circumstance. And now the next phase of this (hopefully) long life would begin…
Thus, ends this interlude. In the next chapter, Raphael begins his studies at the University located in the coastal community of Arconia. There children of a wide variety of ages come to study at many colleges located within the city. Some will receive spiritual training; others, like young Carlos will perfect their healing gifts and knowledge; and still others, like Raphael will finish one or two more years of preparation before transferring to the one of the University Ships as cadets, where they will receive final instruction before formally entering the Command.
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