CHAPTER 25 – Reconciliation
Raphael looked on as Carlos expertly cleaned and bandaged the wounds Esturias had received in battle and crashing his fighter. “Sir, you were fortunate not to be killed; Lord VaCoupe will be very angry to find out you put yourself at such risk!”
“You won’t tell him, will you?” asked Esturias.
“No, but you need to tell him, sir. You cannot keep this sort of thing from him indefinitely. He is your commanding officer in case you forgot, sir,” replied Raphael. “And that shoulder wound needs to be stabilized with a sling which will show outside your clothes, sir. How will you explain that away?”
“You make an excellent point, Raphael – only I do not want to appear a fool in front of the entire family,” replied Esturias, wincing as Carlos quietly applied some antiseptic gel to a yet unhealed gash on his side. There were also several large bruises across his ribs and on his upper thigh. “Still, I better make a report and then duck and run for cover when my father explodes. Have you ever been the target of his ire?”
“As a matter of fact, I have, sir – not a day or two after I arrived in Alyona,” replied Raphael. “His wrath just about scorched my synapses after I sent guards to the Council chambers because I sensed the presence of compromised individuals!”
“Ah, then you know. I am relieved to know you were there to protect Father and the Council. It would have been a tragedy had anyone been killed there,” replied Esturias. “And even more horrible, in my opinion, I would have had to take over Father’s place as Lord of the Pleiadian Federation, a title and position I am not eager to take on, not if it means my father has died. Ouch, Carlos, that shoulder hurts!”
Carlos patiently examined the laze wound which had cauterized the flesh on Esturias’ right shoulder. The healer commented, “When this wound completely heals, you are going to require some massage work to eliminate the scar tissue, which might prevent you from having full range of movement of this shoulder, sir. Meanwhile, I would like to stabilize the limb as Raphael suggested, using a sling.”
“How long will it take to heal, Carlos?” inquired Esturias, admiring his young cousin’s work.
“To heal fully, about a week, and then I or Mazzie could massage the shoulder for you to loosen up the connective tissue, so you have better range of motion. There’s enough time for you to make a full recovery, sir, before you return to your ship,” replied Carlos.
“Question is, will Esturias be in shape for when he mates with the gorgeous Lady Lorenna,” said Raphael with a wicked grin.
Esturias sent his adopted brother an intense glance, but Raphael just stared back and said: “You need to report this injury to Lord VaCoupe, sir. I am sure he already knows about it anyway and is just waiting for you to report your latest act of stupidity, sir.”
“You, young pup!” growled Esturias. Begrudgingly, he acknowledged the necessity of reporting to his father just what he was doing in a fighter. Then he looked at Raphael, whom he sensed was needling him on purpose, “Okay, Raphael, I will report to Father, but I would like you to come with me.”
“Why? Do you need the extra support, sir?” replied Raphael flippantly.
“Well, Father will just be happy to witness you and I collaborating on something for a change,” replied Esturias. The commander winced again as Carlos applied some of the cooling gel to yet another bruise.
“Hmmm, if you say so, sir. Just why were you on a fighter, sir? It is not like you to do such things when you have good pilots and warriors on your crew,” inquired a curious Raphael.
“I was angry, tired of dealing with crew squabbles, so I took out one of the fighters when we encountered a small squadron of enemy ships. The problem was, I had not tested out on this model of Saber and had some difficulty with handling her,” confessed Esturias.
“My stars, Esturias – you were acting suicidal, sir! What an insane thing to do,” exclaimed Raphael. “No wonder you did not want to say anything to your father.”
“I am afraid you are correct in your estimation of my state of mind – I did not realize I was just in a state of exhaustion after so long,” said Esturias shaking his head. “I really did need this leave – mating or no mating.”
“Are you done, Carlos?” asked Raphael as Carlos stepped away and checked over his work. “Sir, I will help you get dressed. You shouldn’t lift that arm over your head right now.”
“So now you’ve turned into a nursemaid, son?” snapped Esturias, wincing again as Raphael lifted the gown over his head and pulled it down.
“No, just helping Carlos finish his work,” replied Raphael. “Now, where’s that sling?”
“We will just use a large bandage to make a sling, cousin,” replied Carlos, patiently straightening out Esturias’ garments so he looked presentable, “…and now, sir, you need to find out if your father is in his rooms. I am sure you would rather he see you than one of our guests?”
“You are right – Raphael, could you check where our father is right now?” requested Esturias.
Raphael was silent for a moment and then said, “He is in his rooms, but he is not alone. Your sister is with him now.”
“How do you know that, Raphael?”
“You are asking me that question, commander? I just know that is who is with your father now. Do you wish to go, sir? I will go with you. Thank you for your help, Carlos,” said Raphael.
Carlos understood. He stood up, nodded to the commander, and left the room. Esturias looked after him as the door shut. “Our cousin is a talented healer. I had no idea. I have not seen him since he was a tiny baby. And Robertio died soon afterward. It was a challenging time for our family then, with Raimundo’s mate dying of complications from childbirth and Raimundo being wounded. There was a lot of sorrow here during those years. And it is part of the reason I have not been home for a long time. I did not want to revisit the past here, to be reminded of those times.”
“You told me I could not run away from my past, sir,” said Raphael.
“Yes, but you aren’t living on the world where you were held captive, so it is different. These are my people, Raphael; people I grew up with and some of them are missing,” replied Esturias, wiping his brow with his left hand since his right arm was in a sling. “I guess we better get this over with…” Gareth was standing outside of Esturias’ suite. Raphael signed him to follow them the short ways to Lord VaCoupe’s suite, while Esturias knocked at the door. He opened it when his father responded, while Raphael followed him in.
“What happened to you, Esturias? Why is your arm in a sling?” exclaimed Lord VaCoupe. Then he noticed Raphael closely following Esturias into the room. “What? So, you two are on speaking terms now? Well, that is a step in the right direction. Claudine, can you imagine two more stubborn men in your acquaintance than these two?”
“Yes, Father, I can – my mate, Stephanus, for one; and you for another,” replied Claudine boldly. She was ever a woman who spoke her mind. “So, what did you do, Esturias, to get in that shape? I sense there are more wounds on you than we can see thanks to the gown you are wearing now; not comfortable in your uniform, right now, eh, brother? And why do you have Raphael in tow?”
“Well, Father, Claudine – I spoke at length with Raphael this morning about the circumstances behind my sending him off to Alyona in such a dramatic fashion – Claudine, I had our adopted brother (foster brother, then) arrested on the complaint filed by your mate, Stephanus, who accused this young man of committing crimes while on BerWare. Of course, it was all bunk – excuse me, sister – as Commander Lantars wanted this boy on his crew against my wishes. Then, your mate wanted to interrogate Raphael because he could not fathom anyone being able to pick an enemy agent out of a crowd, especially one of the king’s close relatives.”
“Ah, yes – Stephanus was terribly angry that you and your men were able to leave BerWare without him being able to finish his interrogation of the both of you. You might have been our ‘visitors’ for a month or more before being allowed to leave,” replied Claudine. “That is not a convenient circumstance for a head commander to be put in. Stephanus has held a grudge against me, too, for allowing you to escape, but has finally come around to understanding the importance of the work you both do. The reality is – until our world became safer, everyone was on edge. We still need to be on alert as enemy squadrons are always passing through our space on their way to Morova.”
“Okay, Esturias, Claudine – enough. Now, son, please explain why you are wearing a sling on your right arm,” demanded Lord Demetrius, raising his voice.
“Ah, it is a long story, but I will make it shorter for you – I have been experiencing difficulties handling my crew ever since I had Raphael arrested even though it was years ago. You would not believe how long the men hold grudges, sir,” said Esturias. He hesitated for a moment. “I was angry at myself for not being able to control things. When we encountered an enemy squadron of battleships, I got onto a fighter and went out. I know it was impulsive and stupid.”
“Impulsive and stupid? Esturias! What were you thinking? You have fine pilots and warriors to do that kind of thing, men who are trained for it. Have you even flown a fighter in the last five years?” demanded Demetrius, his voice rising considerably. Raphael recognized the lord was both angry and concerned about the mental state of his beleaguered son. “And I suppose you got shot down?”
Esturias hung his head in shame, “I…I lost control after I was hit. This is a laze wound, sir; I got some more bruises and gashes when I crash landed on the nearby world. The other fighters protected me while I managed to land – it was a rough landing, sir.”
“Have your wounds been taken care of since you got here?” asked Demetrius.
Esturias nodded and explained, “Raphael here insisted my wounds be examined, cleaned, and wrapped. Carlos did the main work, sir. He said the wounds are healing well, but it was a good thing Carlos checked as he noted there was some suppuration on one of the gashes. Carlos did an excellent job cleaning it up. He would be extremely useful to have on board one of the ships, sir.”
“Well, thank you, Raphael – I am glad one of my sons has some common sense,” replied Lord Demetrius. “I am just relieved you are safe, son, but do not ever do that, again. If you need to go out in a fighter, have a pilot along with you who knows what he is doing.”
“Yes, sir, I will do that,” said Esturias, with a deep sigh of relief.
“Do not think I am going to let you off lightly, Esturias, not after pulling that kind of stunt,” growled Lord Demetrius, “And now it is time I confessed something to you – I knew all about your stunt and your wounds. Raphael sensed that and I am happy he pressed you to see after them. Until they are healed, you could have some issues with infection and the like. And I do not appreciate you not being open with me, son. I thought you were more mature than that – instead, you are acting like a frightened little boy.”
Lord Demetrius turned to Raphael who was in a state of mild shock listening to this heated exchange between his adopted father and his former commander. “Raphael, your old friend, Master Li Teu, informed me my son was in an ‘accident’ and might have wounds that need to be looked after. He also insisted a very reluctant top commander to take some shore leave as he was concerned about your state of mind, besides the state of your body, Esturias.”
Lord Demetrius looked quite pleased with himself as he continued: “So, Esturias, I activated Plan A to finally get you mated. I informed your brother Roméo to escort Lady Lorenna here to complete the arrangements made some years ago by her father and me. You are here, under my dominion while in this house AND I am your commanding officer, although I understand you prefer to ignore that little detail when out in space, sir.”
Esturias’ deep baritone voice was rather subdued when he replied, “Yes, sir – father. I will make a point of getting acquainted with the lady while we are waiting out the storms.”
“And Esturias, you will spend at least two weeks with the lady, your new mate, on Towan at the lake lodge – the same one Raphael and Julia stayed in nearly a decade ago,” replied Lord Demetrius. “That is an order, son – I hope a pleasant one for the two of you.”
Claudine chuckled, “I have waited a long time to see you more or less settled, Esturias.”
“Where will we live? You know my ship, sir, The Golden Lion, has been stationed in the Celaeano System for years now. It took quite a while to get here, even on a fighter – which someone else piloted, sir,” said Esturias.
“Your mate Lorenna can live here, of course, Esturias. We have a large family who would be more than willing to keep her company. Julia and Raphael will be here for the foreseeable future, as well, thanks to his new projects he has in mind with Master Pelleur,” replied Lord Demetrius.
“And I plan to travel this way more often now,” announced Claudine, startling Raphael with her declaration, “As I would like to be kept up to date on any project Raphael and Master Nathan start working on.”
Lord Demetrius was silent for a moment with a distracted look, and then he turned back to Raphael: “Raimundo informs me your friends Master Li Tzulo and Commander Monteras have arrived safely. They should be at the compound momentarily. We better go out to meet them!”
“Oh, that is wonderful, Father. I will fetch Julia and Jychondria! Please excuse me, everyone!” said Raphael rather excitedly, and then standing up, he gave a salutation and left the room.
“Who is Master Tzulo, Father, and why is Raphael so excited to see him, again?” asked Claudine.
“Another soulmate of Raphael’s. Master Li Tzulo is a Veyan scientist who teaches remote viewing at the University Ship. His was the only class Raphael completed when he was a cadet, much to the chagrin of several of his commanding officers later. Master Tzulo was immensely helpful later on in working with and monitoring Raphael through his difficulties after he arrived at Alyona Castle,” said Lord Demetrius. “Raphael also assisted with some of the Master’s classes when he was at the University Ship. Master Tzulo worked together with Raphael for several months on Alyona; the two men became very fond of each other.” Lord Demetrius glanced over his eldest son, noticing the slumping shoulders; plainly, the man appeared to be exhausted. He said quietly, “I hope you will seek out Master Tzulo yourself, Esturias, as he is an excellent counselor and specializes in diseases of the mind. Now, perhaps you should go rest for a while in your rooms so you will feel better tonight for dinner.”
“You are letting me go, Father?”
“Yes, you look exhausted if you want my honest opinion. I am glad you had your wounds looked at or I might think you were getting sick,” replied Lord Demetrius with a note of concern in his voice.
“Yes, I do feel rather tired – I did not realize I needed a rest. I will see you at dinner. Sister…” Esturias said and then he also left the room, leaving behind his sister and father.
“Well, what do you make of that, Father?” asked Claudine.
“It was a good thing my eldest son came home. Him, flying a fighter…hmmm,” mumbled Lord Demetrius. “Well, I better go out and greet our latest set of guests, although Monteras is hardly a guest. He is a cousin of Raphael’s from when he was the Morovian camel boy. He has been with Raphael practically from the moment the boy was rescued until now, with only a few interruptions. You might recognize him; he accompanied your brothers on their visit to BerAir, although Monteras only acted as a guard. Perhaps you did not notice him; anyway, he is a tall, dark-haired, red-skinned, handsome fellow with dark blue eyes. And he is an Eagle Commander. Monteras was a good friend of Raphael’s late brother, Ezekiel, who gave over the care of looking after his brother to him before he went into battle. Ezekiel died three months before Raphael was arrested and sent to Alyona, so he did not really have time to totally process his grief. While Monteras is quite a bit older than Raphael they are the best of friends – most of the time.”
“Most of the time, Father?” said Claudine with a puzzled look in her face.
“I will tell you the story sometime. Lady Arla’s son, Gareth, has filled her in on a bit of it,” replied Lord Demetrius. “Now, let us go greet our guests.”
Raphael reached the gate just as Commander Monteras entered the garden, closely followed by Master Li Tzulo. The diminutive Veyan looked up at his tall friend who was clutching little Jychondria in his arms. “Ah, I see your son decided to arrive a little early, Raphael – he is very handsome. Look at those huge eyes! It is good to see you, young friend!”
“Cousin – so you are a father now? Where’s Julia? Ah… We arrived just in time,” said Tomás as he heard a crack of distant thunder. Raphael looked over the wall at the darkening skies above the mountains. A sharp wind came up, blowing dust into the garden. The commander secured the gate behind him and said: “The Howling has arrived! We better get you and your youngster back into the house.”
“Welcome to Medina, Master Li! Yes, let us go inside now before the storm breaks over us. The winds and lightning can get quite wild this time of year! And we have quite a few interesting guests with us today!” replied Raphael.
Once inside the grand entry hall, the men paused a moment, with Raphael introducing Master Tzulo to his new son: “His name is Jychondria, who was once my elder brother on Sirust. He chose to become a Pleiadian this life!” Raphael peered through one of the deep-set windows and said: “Oh, oh, here comes the rain and lightning!”
BOOM! Crack! The storm broke overhead, the thunder causing even the thick adobe walls of the ancient house to shudder a bit. “It would be more comfortable in the family room. Follow me, Master Li – Tomás, you know the way. You are staying with the other Eagles down the hall from my rooms. I will show Master Li where he is staying.”
When the men entered the family room, they found several groups of people occupied with various activities. Master Raimundo was amid instructing young Alphar in writing. Raimundo looked up from the table and came over to greet Master Tzulo. It was the first time they had ever met, but Raimundo’s brother, Lord Demetrius had told him quite a lot about the kind, intelligent Veyan master. “Welcome to our home, Master Tzulo! I am delighted that we finally get to meet – Raphael and Demetrius have both told me a lot about your time at Alyona Castle with them. I hope you enjoy the visit with us!”
“And who is this you are instructing?” asked Master Tzulo, looking at the bashful deaf boy sitting at the table. Alphar was concentrating hard on his letters, writing them carefully on the tablet, his tongue sticking out between his teeth. Raimundo sent a quick telepathic message to the boy, who looked up and blushed at the sight of a stranger looking so intently at him.
Raphael came up behind Master Tzulo and explained: “The boy is a deaf-mute, Master Tzulo. His name is Alphar. He is the foster son of Master Nathan Pelleur. He is quite intelligent but has not yet learned to read or write. My uncle, Raimundo, has volunteered to teach him. And Tomás, we were wondering if you might want to instruct the boy in mathematics and other subjects once he can communicate better. He is excellent with telepathy and recently learned Morovian battle language code from Salaniel, the young Morovian?”
“A deaf-mute, eh; that is a rare disorder. Was he born that way?” inquired Master Tzulo.
“As far as I know from what Master Nathan has shared with us. He communicates primarily through telepathy with the boy. His sister, the Lady Chokama, found the boy on Serana during one of her visits there. Since she travels so much, her brother volunteered to foster the child. When he stayed earlier, I noticed how quickly he learns, so we started him on some classes to read and write,” replied Raphael.
“I wonder if some of my Veyan healing associates could do something for the boy. Have you ever performed a scan on Alphar to see where this physical manifestation had its start – this must be the consequence of some severe trauma suffered during a previous life,” replied Master Tzulo.
Raphael looked thoughtful for a moment, tuning into the boy’s frequency and auric field. He suddenly looked rather pale and startled: “Oh, my stars have mercy! This boy died in the explosion that took a whole moon. The trauma damaged his light body; hence the physical manifestation of his being a deaf-mute now. And perhaps the key to healing his condition in the future? Both my brother and I died shortly afterward during this incident when our ship was attacked by an enemy fleet.”
“So, you and the boy have a connection of sorts, Raphael,” replied Master Tzulo. “It is fitting he has come to this house. Will Master Pelleur be with you for a long time?” “It is undetermined right now. We are working on some new projects for ship design—we have not quite started yet,” replied Raphael. He shifted Jychondria from one shoulder to the other; the boy was already getting heavy. “You can see events have quite overtaken us for the time being, what with Jychondria arriving so quickly. We decided to come here so Julia would have proper health care and the baby has lots of people to look after him in case I am too busy.”
“Yes, being in the midst of family can have its benefits,” replied Master Tzulo.
Just then Claudine, accompanied by her father, Lord Demetrius, walked into the room. Demetrius greeted the Veyan master with affection; he had also become very fond of the man while the Master was staying in Alyona. “Master Tzulo, I see you’ve already been introduced to our newest addition, little Jychondria.”
Demetrius turned and drew his daughter forward and said: “And may I introduce my daughter, Claudine – she is mated to King Stephanus of BerWare.”
Master Tzulo looked surprised, glancing towards Raphael who appeared to be quite relaxed. “You are here alone, my dear?”
A deep baritone voice said: “No, she is here with me.”
The darkly tanned muscular king strode into the room and bowed graciously to the short Veyan master who looked up wonderingly at the man who had pursued Raphael so intently and held a grudge against him for years. Master Tzulo was aware, fully aware of the whole story. To discover the king here, with Raphael in the same room, was quite a surprise to him. “My lord king, what a pleasant – surprise — it is to finally meet you in person!”
“Stephanus – this is Master Tzulo, an instructor at the University Ship where Raphael and Julia were stationed recently. Master Tzulo worked with us at Alyona Castle when Raphael was – transferred there some seven or so years ago,” said Lord Demetrius.
Commander Monteras looked slightly alarmed at the sight of the king standing so near Raphael and his child, but no one seemed concerned. He signed Raphael to explain: What happened? I am not around you for two weeks and you’ve made friends with Stephanus?
He apologized to me, replied Raphael. I was stunned, too.
Raphael stepped forward to introduce his cousin: “King Stephanus, Claudine – this is Commander Monteras. He is the Eagle who was assigned to be my guard and tutor soon after I was rescued as a boy. We have been together pretty much the entire time since then. Monteras is also a cousin from another Pleiadian life of mine.”
Claudine extended her hand in greeting and said: “I remember meeting you briefly before the council meeting on BerWare so many years ago. It is a pleasure to meet a living relative of Raphael. And we’re happy to have made him a part of our family.”
“My Lady; my lord king – it is a pleasure to meet you, also, in different circumstances,” said Tomás carefully. “And now, please excuse me – I need to check on the status of Raphael’s Eagles – I am their commander of sorts. And I guess I have been volunteered to instruct at least one young boy while I am here.” The Eagle commander gave Claudine a beautiful smile and the king a careful bow, and then left the room.
“Ah, do we have a new guest?” said a cheerful voice as Master Nathan entered the room, accompanied by Lady Arla who had been discussing the life of crystals with him. Master Nathan walked over to Master Tzulo where he was standing with Raphael. “Am I given to understand you are Master Tzulo, from the University Ship? In all the time I was there, I did not get to meet you.”
Master Tzulo was pleased to meet someone who did not tower over his own height. Master Tzulo gave a slight bow and replied: “Yes, I am Master Tzulo; I am pleased to meet you.”
“Master Nathan – Raphael just introduced me to your foster son, Alphar. He seems like a remarkable boy. And Raphael may have found the origin of his physical condition.”
“How was that?” asked the Crystal Master looking up at his tall friend.
“Well, Master Nathan, my friend here suggested I scan the boy briefly and see if I could find a cause of his physical impediments and to my surprise, I did, quite quickly. My brother and I were commanding a small scout ship that happened to witness an enemy attack upon one of the lesser moons in the Ashkerian star system. Shortly after our own ship was attacked and destroyed. My twin brother, Tazo, and I… and the rest of our men also died that day along with all the civilians living on the moon.”
“And Master Nathan – since we know the cause is energetic, it can be reversed,” replied Master Tzulo. “I am going to contact some healers of my acquaintance who might just be able to assist your boy in getting back a degree of his hearing.”
Master Nathan seemed overcome by the news and Master Tzulo’s kind offer. “Oh, my poor boy. Thank you, Master Tzulo, Raphael, for this news; this sounds like a miracle to me. If Alphar can hear, then he can receive a real education. First, Raimundo volunteers to teach Alphar and now this? I am overwhelmed, Raphael!”
“Alphar deserves the best, like all of our children,” replied Raphael. Just then, Raphael heard pleasant female voices in the passageway beyond the entrance to the family room. Julia, Lorenna, and Astrig entered the room. Lorenna was carrying some garments which she handed off to one of the VaCoupe women. Julia came up and gave her son a kiss on his head, “Shall I take him, now, Raphael? Connie probably needs a bath and nap before dinner.”
“Does anyone know where Esturias is right now?” asked Lorenna.
“He is in his rooms, Lady Lorenna, resting, right now,” replied Raphael. “My poor brother did not realize how exhausted he was, so Father sent him to his rooms for now. We may see him at dinner time.” Raphael guided the two Dino sisters over to where Claudine and her mate were standing speaking to Masters Tzulo, Pelleur, and Lady Arla. “King Stephanus and Claudine, may I introduce my sister-in-law Lady Astrig, and the betrothed of Commander Esturias, Lady Lorenna Becca Dino. The two sisters are from Maia. Lady Astrig is mated to my older brother, Roméo VaCoupe, who serves as an instructor of astrophysics at the University of Milan.”
The two women Lorenna and Astrig gave the two BerWarians deep curtsies; they had been brought up in a diplomatic household and were quite accustomed to being around people of high rank. Both young women had shed their Maian garments in favor of the more comfortable nomadic gowns and robes of the Medinian people. The sisters had wide bright sashes around their slender waists. Julia was wearing her gown loosely, still being a little tender from giving birth, but regaining her natural curves quickly as well, since giving her hungry son milk whittled away her own fat reserves. It was Raphael’s turn to urge his mate to eat well to replenish her energy to keep up with her swiftly growing son, little Jychondria.
Lorenna and Astrig had been spending some time with Julia as they were naturally curious about carrying a child, giving birth, and generally being a mate. Lorenna also shared some of her extensive knowledge of sewing secrets with Julia. She had received a degree in clothing design at university but was puzzled just how to utilize it after being mated. Astrig was an instructor in singing and playing instruments. She met her mate through mutual friends at various celebrations. However, it was only through her family contracting with Lord VaCoupe was the couple allowed to wed. Persons from highly placed families within certain societies in the Pleiades had arranged matings. Many of these prearranged matings were done between former soulmates, but not all. Julia and Raphael were truly fortunate to be soulmates and to have fallen into love so soon after being mated. Their bond was closer than ever and had now expanded due to the presence of their first child.
Now that the two visiting ladies were safely back to the family room, Julia left to collect her parents and took baby Jychondria from Raphael, so the baby could have some time with his grandmother, Lady Martina.
Claudine graciously spoke to the two sisters about their home world, one which she had visited long ago before her mating ceremony. Lady Arla was more familiar with Maia as she had trained at the Temple of Groche there, a temple nearly as old as the Shemont on Medina.
Since Francis was not present to plan for meetings, Lady Arla took it upon herself to draw Raphael away from the crowd and speak to him privately. “Raphael, my adopted sister Claudine is eager to speak with you, Master Pelleur, and myself sometime soon. She has much to convey to you regarding your plans. Is there some room where we can have a private meeting?”
“I have been wondering about that myself and finally asked Raimundo if such a room exists. Obviously, the designs are private for now… especially since they do not exist yet – and there are some things best not shared in general with people who do not understand how to work with crystals. Raimundo told me of an old private chapel within the house that is now seldom used since the family normally attends services held at the Shemont. Still, during the electrical storms and the rainy season, it is sometimes used. I checked it a couple of days ago and found the room to have been recently aired out, repainted, and cleaned, so it would be possible… and comfortable to meet there,” replied Raphael quietly. “We could meet tomorrow if you like, during late morning. I will let Julia take Jychondria for the morning and then care for him in the afternoon. We like to take turns with the little fellow, so he is used to both of us caring for him.”
“The old chapel sounds perfect. I would imagine it holds a crystal focus?” asked Lady Arla.
Raphael nodded. He replied: “And the crystal of which you spoke earlier is just on the other side of the wall. I could feel its presence clearly. It will assist us in our work and sharing of information.”
“Excellent. I will make sure Master Pelleur, and perhaps your friend, Master Tzulo, is present,” replied Lady Arla. “I know King Stephanus wants his consort properly always escorted. He still considers you a threat, even though he has made official overtures of peace with you before Lord VaCoupe. The king is not psychically sensitive, which is difficult for Claudine, who is extremely so, much like you. And I would advise you to be extremely polite and neutral around the king so as not to initiate a new diplomatic incident. He has quite an emotional nature, our king.”
“I witnessed that, in part, while I was visiting BerWare,” replied Raphael. “The king’s grief and shock over the loss of his cousin was both profound and deep. I still regret my part in unveiling his cousin as an unwilling enemy agent, but really had no choice knowing the history of my own unfortunate blood father.”
Lady Arla looked at Raphael closely, “Have you released your grief over the deaths of your father, mother, and brother, Raphael?”
“To be honest with you, no, I have not,” replied Raphael sadly. “They were not allowed to live out their lives in peace but were all killed by the darkness that continues to strike at our people. That is why I wish to do this work with you, Master Pelleur, and Claudine, my sister.”
“And you have died at least three times at the hands of the darkness, as well – is this not true?” asked Lady Arla.
“It is so, my lady; twice as Delos, once as Raphael, I have died at the hands of the dark enemy of our people and still here I am, once again,” he replied, looking down at his clenched hands.
“In your short lifetimes, you have experienced much trauma and it affects you to this day, young man. I hope you have truly made your peace with your brother, Esturias, and your father, Lord Demetrius. They both mean you well, despite any mistakes they have unintentionally committed in the past with regards to you,” said Lady Arla.
“I love both of them, Lady Arla,” said Raphael. “I would still be serving with Esturias on The Golden Lion if things had turned out differently – but I am content to be here now with my mate and my new son, starting new projects. I must say I was astonished the king finally apologized to me. I am not sure I have forgiven him, but things have worked out for me nonetheless.”
“Indeed…and now we should rejoin the rest, do you not think?” said Lady Arla, noticing Claudine was looking towards them.
Just then another set of visitors emerged into the family room; Lady Martina and her mate, Pietro Kadish, the parents of Julia. Their daughter followed holding baby Jychondria over one shoulder. Eagle Sukio was carrying Jychondria’s basket for Julia. Raphael went over to the little group and took Jychondria from Julia’s arms; he was peacefully asleep, having just been fed, again. “Oh, he is getting heavy!” said Raphael.
“I know he has,” replied Julia.
Jychondria was so fast asleep his little body was quite limp, but Raphael got a good hold on him and carried him to the long family table, placing the boy into the basket as Sukio set it down. “Thank you for your help, Sukio. Lady Arla, you see, my guards also do odd jobs for the family. The Eagles are quite good at caring for youngsters of all ages.”
“And they are so strong!” said Lady Arla, admiring Sukio’s massive physique which was plainly displayed in his Command uniform…with the characteristic feline insistence on bare feet. Sukio padded quietly across the tiled floor and took up position against the inner wall, having a view of the entire room. “Why do the Felines always go barefoot?”
A gravelly baritone voice answered her question: “Excuse me, my Lady; I am Commander Lantrill, an associate of Commander Esturias – Sukio was from my command originally. Anyway… shoes. We wear boots while on board ships due to the ever-present static electricity within the metallic compartments and hallways. It would be quite electrifying to go without the insulating factor of boots or shoes. However, on land, we prefer to greet the ground with our bare feet. We feel the vibrations and frequencies of the world upon which we are standing or walking more easily without footwear. The soles of our feet are more naturally designed to withstand diverse kinds of textures, surfaces, and a wider temperature range than your own.”
“What a charming explanation, Commander Lantrill!” replied Lady Arla.
Raphael turned around from the table when he heard Lantrill’s distinctive voice, “Ah, my old friend. It is so good to see you on land for a change,” said Raphael. “Did I hear Sukio is from your command? I thought he was an Eagle.”
“Your insistence on having Feline technicians gave us the idea to give some of the warriors the chance to become Eagles,” replied Lantrill. “Sukio and the other two Eagles you left at the University Ship were the first Felines to become Eagles. They are chosen for their strength, intelligence, and heart. They are taken before priestesses and their frequency resonance level determined. The ones who are the highest frequency are chosen to be Eagles. It is truly an honor to serve in such a capacity and especially for one such as Raphael VaCoupe.”
“Ah, I have always wanted to know how Eagles are chosen,” said Raphael. “I have had Eagles around me since I was a youngster. Always guarded and protected for reasons I do not quite understand, but in the meanwhile, the Eagles have become friends and companions.”
Lady Arla and Lantrill just quietly observed their young friend. Raphael still did not totally comprehend just how different he was from most of the people with whom he was acquainted. He just accepted the presence of the Eagles and treated them like brothers and friends, and sometimes like servants, but always with dignity.
Commander Monteras entered the room. Sukio signed him discreetly. The commander nodded. The rest of the Eagles followed and took up positions at the four corners of the large room. The commander was not taking any chances with Stephanus in the room. The man was unpredictable and extremely powerful, a born and highly trained warrior in his own right. Raphael required protection, whether he acknowledged the need; that was the duty of the Eagles who had been assigned to him. Lord Raimundo nodded to the commander, indicating he understood the precautions and approved.
Finally, Lord Demetrius and his son Roméo entered the room; all the guests were finally present, with other family members including Mazzie and Carlos (and many yet unnamed in this story) joining them as the preparations for the evening meal were being completed. Lord Demetrius noted the presence of the Eagles, as did his son, but neither said anything aloud. Roméo went to sit next to his mate, Astrig, and her sister, Lorenna. Lord Demetrius announced to the gathering, “My eldest son will not be joining us today. He is recovering from a mild case of illness – plain exhaustion from his demanding work. He will be taking his evening meal in his rooms.”
“Ah, that is too bad,” replied Stephanus, “I was hoping to ask him how well he is doing being in command of The Golden Lion. Lord Lyonell was a great man; it would be difficult to replace him.”
“Apparently Esturias has had some issues with crew complaints since Raphael was removed from the ship, but that should improve now that the two brothers are once again on speaking terms,” replied Demetrius. “Lady Arla and I have been prodding both to work out their issues. And you have come a long way in doing so, have not you, Raphael,” he said, directing this last comment to his adopted son, who was standing next to Lantrill.
“Yes, Father – we have been working on it, sir,” replied Raphael quietly. He never enjoyed being put on the spot and privately, he felt these issues were Command, not family business.
“Good! So now, what is for dinner? Shall we help the kitchen staff to bring out the dishes?” Demetrius grinned and signed the four Eagles to assist in bringing out the large trays brimming with the evening fare, which they did after bowing to him deeply. He was their commanding officer, too.
After dinner was finished, Raphael headed out towards the deep portico or front porch at the entrance of the great house. The rain was coming down in torrents, with great lightning strikes hitting just outside the city. He sniffed at the damp air, reveling in the sharp scent of ozone. It was not safe to go out into the garden, so he just sat down on the tiled porch and listened. One of his Eagles sidled out to stand beside him; it was Gareth. Raphael looked up and said: “I understand you shared with your mother, Lady Arla, a little of what you found when I was rescued in PoLiafee a year ago…?”
“Sorry, sir – you know how my mother is, always asking questions,” replied the shy Eagle. “She can read me like a book anyway, sir, with a short scan.”
“True – so can I, Gareth, and do not forget it,” replied Raphael a little shortly. “I forgive you, boy, and yes, I do know your mother. She pushed me rather far the other evening to forgive Esturias for having me arrested on The Golden Lion… that was before you were assigned to my service.”
“Paul has shared a little of that scene with the rest of us, not as gossip, sir, but to understand all of the pressures you have been put under,” replied Gareth earnestly. “I enjoy serving you, sir. You are a kind man and always around interesting people. I can hardly believe King Stephanus is here though. Commander Monteras was concerned about your safety, but everything seems to be quiet.”
“Well, my gifts do not always give me warning as to what is going to happen, so mind you keep alert, Gareth – you and the others,” replied Raphael. “Stephanus might still be of the mind to kidnap me and seek his revenge for the death of his cousin.”
“Commander! How would he win free of this place? The only way off is via Command ships or Lord VaCoupe’s private ship, which is not parked here. It is parked in space, out of reach from the atmospheric disturbances right now.”
“Good – short of stealing some camels, there aren’t too many ways to leave Medina and you would have to know those mountains well to make your way through them; they are extremely rugged,” replied Raphael. He knew he could make his way through the mountains if he had to in an emergency situation. He had studied the mountain range during previous flights, memorizing the rugged features of canyons and peaks with his strong mental gift of observation.
“Yes, I noticed, sir, when we flew over them. They are very forbidding,” replied Gareth.
The entrance door opened; Commander Monteras came out and looked around, at Raphael and Gareth, then at the wild storm overhead. “It is a bit tumultuous out here, Raphael. King Stephanus and Claudine have gone to their rooms for the night. Lady Arla and Master Tzulo were inquiring after you. Julia has also gone to your rooms, with Sukio carrying your growing son. Are you all right, sir?”
“Fine, Tomás; just wondering if King Stephanus wants me kidnapped and taken to BerWare,” replied Raphael, suddenly feeling rather tired. It was exhausting being around such a crowd of interesting people; he was feeling rather over-stimulated as a result. He was more used to spending time alone in meditation or working with small groups of men.
“I have warned all the Eagles to be alert to the king’s movements, cousin. It would be supremely foolish of him to try such a thing here on Medina, where Lord VaCoupe has many resources,” replied Commander Monteras.
“Thank you for your concern, Tomás; now, I had better check with Lady Arla and Master Tzulo to see what they want of me, if anything,” said Raphael.
Raphael found his friend, Master Tzulo, and Lady Arla seated within the great audience hall on one of the tiers filled comfortable pillows. They looked quite comfortable chatting together as if they were old friends. Raphael had a sense they were speaking about him for they stopped talking when he entered the room. Both were prescient enough to sense his presence as he approached. Lady Arla spoke first: “Raphael – you have probably already surmised you were the topic of our discussion – your health and welfare.”
“I figured as much; both of you have always displayed such concern about my welfare, but I am feeling all right, even reconciled with my elder brother, Esturias. I am not sure about Stephanus. I will refrain from quick judgment and see how he behaves or not in the next two weeks before the celebration of Esturias’ mating ceremony. I will say honestly being in the same room with the man who has despised me for years can be quite challenging. I do not detect any ill-will emanating from him thus far, but my Eagles are watching him carefully,” replied Raphael, rather wearily.
“Well, it is always wise to be on the alert around a relative stranger, even if he is officially a relative of sorts,” quipped Master Tzulo with a smile at his young friend. “Lady Arla has informed me that you are going to have a chat with Claudine tomorrow morning after breakfast. I would like to attend, mostly to just listen and perhaps add a few of my own ideas. I would be honored if you will have me, Raphael.”
“You are always welcome, Master Tzulo. I understand, from both Lady Arla and King Stephanus, that the king wants his Lady properly escorted by anyone but me, so I will welcome your presence. Master Pelleur will also be in attendance, of course. We will be meeting in the small chapel within this house. I will guide you there myself or you might get turned around, sir, as the house is enormous,” replied Raphael, feeling relieved his friend was open to attending. He was not quite sure what Claudine, his sister, wanted to share with him and was open to having some witnesses in case he fell into a vision himself during the discussion.
“Excellent – we will look for you at breakfast, then. And now you better seek your own bed, my young friend; you are looking tired,” said Master Tzulo. “All this reconciliation between brothers can be emotionally exhausting, eh, Lady Arla?”
“Quite exhausting I would imagine, Master Tzulo; and now Raphael has been confronted with two individuals who had pivotal roles in changing the course of his life,” replied Lady Arla. “So, Raphael, go find your mate and child and get some well-deserved rest.”
“Thank you, my friends…I will see you in the morning,” said Raphael, and with that he left the room, followed closely by Gareth and Commander Monteras, both of whom saluted Master Tzulo and bowed briefly to Lady Arla.
After breakfast the next morning was finished, with Jychondria safe in Julia’s arms, Raphael led his little party to the ancient chapel located on the eastern edge of the ancient house in a little used wing, on the interior of the passageway. Within the chamber were situated several stone benches, with pillows on them for comfort. There was a beautiful crystal altar at the head of the chamber and intricately carved arched buttresses overhead. Beautiful and ancient tilework lined the lower portion of the walls, in gaily colored flower motifs mostly of roses. Upon the altar was a single candle, a large amethyst crystal cluster and a bowl of pure water. A fresh rose had been placed by some unseen hand upon the altar in anticipation of the room being used.
Claudine looked around appreciatively and remarked: “What a charming old room. I do not remember using it when I was growing up here…”
“Mazzie told me it has not been used for some time, my lady, but now is a good time and excellent reason, plus it is very private, as this wing of the house is not being actively used right now,” replied Raphael.
“Can you feel the great crystal beyond the walls?”
“Yes, I can…” whispered Lady Arla, her priestess-trained senses homing in on the high frequency of the setting. “This is a perfect setting for our discussion. Thank you, Raphael, for arranging it.”
“My pleasure, my Lady; the room should probably be re-sanctified if used as a chapel, but it is an excellent setting to start imagining the future of our great Fleet…,” replied Raphael, as he lowered his own voice as he felt the awareness of the great Mother Crystal pressing in upon his own consciousness. “Now, let us get comfortable; we may be here for a while.”
Master Nathan found a comfortable spot and closed his eyes to tune into the great crystal heart center of the planet. “Extraordinary,” he whispered. “I have never encountered a crystal of such size as this one.”
“Now, Claudine, please share your dreams you’ve had – you said I was in them?” said Raphael.
“Yes, commander… you were. And you, Master Pelleur; you were in the dream, also. We were standing beneath a ship suspended above the ground. The Mother Crystal had already been placed within her supporting framework. And then, the two of you commanded her to grow into the structure and fabric of the ship. Similar to how crystals grow in nature, she extended her structure to encompass the entirety of the ship, all the structure, the wiring, until the entire ship became a living being, a giant crystalline sentient being of surpassing wisdom and beauty. She was shining in the sunlight and glowed in the moonlight. Her skin was golden, flexible, and stronger than any metals we have yet found or developed. And in the future, you will travel in one of these great ships, Raphael – along with members of your extended family.”
“Ah, I see it, my Lady,” Raphael whispered, falling into a meditative state as he envisioned the dream. “My future self informs me the metal you speak of exists – it is something like golden aluminum, harder than steel, capable of existing for millions of years. Our Founders knew and used this metal – we only need to find some of their ancient buildings to discover a sample of this substance so our scientists can re-create it. Whole domes of this substance made transparent covering great cities used to exist in some star systems which have been long deserted by their original builders.” “Ah, dreams of golden ships,” said Master Tzulo. “I see them, too. Many such ships will carry some of the ship, all the structure, the wiring, until the entire ship became a living being, a giant crystalline sentient being of surpassing wisdom and beauty. She was shining in the sunlight and glowed in the moonlight. Her skin was golden, flexible, and stronger than any metals we have yet found or developed. And in the future, you will travel in one of these great ships, Raphael – along with members of your extended family.”
“Ah, I see it, my Lady,” Raphael whispered, falling into a meditative state as he envisioned the dream. “My future self informs me the metal you speak of exists – it is something like golden aluminum, harder than steel, capable of existing for millions of years. Our Founders knew and used this metal – we only need to find some of their ancient buildings to discover a sample of this substance so our scientists can re-create it. Whole domes of this substance made transparent covering great cities used to exist in some star systems which have been long deserted by their original builders.”
“Ah, dreams of golden ships,” said Master Tzulo. “I see them, too. Many such ships will carry some of our people to a new world that holds great promise, a world of extraordinary diversity. We will go to tutor the people who live there and inhabit great crystal cities suspended above the earth like ships.”
“Hmmm, the crystals could be taught to expand into the structure of the starships and then the ship would fully sentient, as our crystals have great self-awareness and aptitude for learning how to respond to commands, adjust the living environment, and so on. What an expansion on what we are already doing, my Lady,” said Master Pelleur, “It is brilliant and decidedly doable, although it may take time to convince the structural engineers to trust the integrity of the crystals themselves.”
“Well, then, Master Pelleur, shall we visit the shipbuilding site in Cove, as well as the engineering school there to see what kind of reception we receive,” suggested Raphael.
“We can only go and see what the designers and engineers make of this idea,” replied Master Pelleur. “I know it excites me very much. Thank you, my Lady, for sharing your dream with us.”
“Any trip cannot be undertaken until after the storms, at any rate, so we can meditate on this subject and see if we can bring the dream into practical and physical manifestation,” said Raphael.
“Where can a piece of the golden aluminum be found?” asked Master Tzulo.
“I have heard it can be found in the Sol System where our sister planet of Naaru is located. Some of my Ashkerian kin set up colonies there long ago. In my second life as Delos, my younger brother and I were sent to Naaru for safekeeping during the wars. My elder brother, Jychondria, wanted us to be able to grow up without experiencing the stress of a planet at war,” replied Raphael thoughtfully. “I had not remembered that long visit until now. Perhaps I need to make a trip there; I do not believe the wars have reached Naaru yet. I may have to wait to make such a trip until Jychondria is much older and off to school.”
“What an interesting idea, Raphael,” said Master Tzulo. “I have always wanted to see what Naaru looks like.”
“The actual physical surface of the planet is uninhabitable, so biospheres were set up by early Lyran colonists. There are some very ancient buildings to be found which you can visit if properly equipped and dressed. We were told the planet was formerly a moon of Saturn which was moved to create more balance in the solar system of Sol. It would certainly be worth a visit even if we did not find what we are looking for,” replied Raphael, as he remembered the visit, he had taken to Naaru with his brother Tazo long ago.
“Well, I would imagine we should rejoin our partners and family members now… this has been a short, but most interesting gathering,” said Lady Arla.
“Do you think you can find your way back to your rooms or the family room?” asked Raphael. He wanted to have some time to meditate, not having done for quite a long time with the excitement and then the challenge of taking care of a youngster and making peace with difficult relations.
“We can manage,” said Lady Arla, understanding Raphael’s desire to be alone for a short while. “I hope we will see you later today.”
“Oh, certainly—one does not leave the house during these storms—they are too dangerous,” said Raphael. “Thank you for coming everyone.”
Raphael waited quietly as the guests filed out and shut the door of the little chapel behind them. And now, my dear Crystal, we are alone…
Indeed, we are Master Raphael.
What did you think of Claudine’s dream, Mother Crystal?
It was very imaginative and quite possible to bring into manifestation, son of this House.
I am not a true son of this House, my friend.
You may not be in blood this lifetime, but in frequency.
Will I be born into this house in future incarnations?
Yes, but not as a man…
Ah, so what I saw for Tazo is true, also, for me… as Ezekiel told me after his death.
Yes, Raphael – you will be a daughter of this great House then.
Would it be advisable to go to Naaru to find the golden aluminum of which I spoke?
It is not necessary for there are ruins on this world which are older yet than those on Naaru.
Where can I find these places?
Wait and prepare yourself to receive the information when the time is right. It is not now. Go to your son; he is looking for you.
Ah… thank you, Crystal. I shall make time in my day to visit you more often.
I would enjoy the company, for although I am aware of all of you, few are aware of me.
Yes, that is so. I do not think the real sons of Lord VaCoupe have discovered your existence yet.
No, they have not – but the time will come when at least one of them will and thus continue the line begun by the Founder of this House. “Ah. Thank you, dear Crystal.”
Raphael could feel the withdrawal of the consciousness of the great Crystal. His time was over, if somewhat short. Yet, he felt welcome in this place. He took the rose that he had picked himself for the little meeting, meaning to return it to his mate.
Although Raphael wanted to find his son, he felt a need to see how Esturias was faring first. He could very well imagine how an active man like Esturias must be feeling to have arrived in the state of exhaustion he was now experiencing. Esturias was probably quite frustrated and being hard on himself. Raphael felt an upwelling of compassion for his former commander and so sought him out in his rooms, which were close to his own. He knocked briefly and hearing a muffled answer, opened the door. There he found Carlos carefully rebandaging and cleansing a few more of Esturias’ gashes.
Esturias looked up at Raphael as he entered the room. He eyed the rose Raphael had in his hand and said: “Is the rose a peace offering, brother?”
“No, brother, but you can have it if you want it”, replied Raphael patiently, noting the sarcastic tone to the commander’s voice. “I used the old chapel for a meeting place so our sister Claudine could share her latest dreams regarding the ships. It’s a nice room in case you feel the need to do some meditation alone, but elsewhere than your rooms.”
“I forgot we had a chapel in the house”, replied Esturias somewhat crankily.
Raphael’s eyebrows rose at the commander’s tone. He said, “Feeling a little cranky this morning, commander?”
“I’m not one for being ‘sick’ – never was – I don’t know how you’ve dealt with it now and again”, replied Esturias. “I must be claustrophobic or something.”
Carlos sighed and said patiently, “I think I’ve done enough for today, sir. Tomorrow you’re really going to need to bathe, sir.”
“Ah, I’m surrounded by pups telling me what to do!” roared Esturias, although he kept the volume down. Although the walls were very thick, the doors were not so much.
“Have we made peace, commander? You said that you’ve been having trouble with the men complaining about the treatment you gave me years ago – this can’t be the only cause of your exhaustion, sir?” inquired Raphael.
“Of course it isn’t”, growled Esturias. “I guess I just need to take some leave more often and now that I’m going to be mated, I’ll have someone to visit.”
“How’s the shoulder, sir?” asked Carlos. “Can you move it better today without it hurting?”
Esturias ventured some simple range-of-motion exercises, and although he winced a bit, he did seem to have better movement. He remarked: “It does seem better today; thank you, Carlos, for your excellent work. Have you ever considered working on board one of our ships; I think you would do well. And you can learn some techniques from the Veyans healers we have on the motherships.”
“Thank you for the offer, Esturias; I will certainly consider your suggestion”, replied Carlos politely. “I think you may be able to go without the sling today, sir.”
“Well, then, I might be able to make an appearance and meet some more of our guests”, replied Esturias. “I’m sure the Lady Lorenna is probably wondering what became of me.”
“She did ask after you last night”, replied Raphael with a grin. “She seemed – disappointed you weren’t at dinner. And then Stephanus also asked where you were. Apparently he wants to see how you’re doing in managing The Golden Lion, sir.”
“I should have stayed on board The Golden Bee, a nicely sized ship and much more manageable than that old tub, The Golden Lion”, replied Esturias. “It’s so big I’ve never traveled from end to end… except she’s circular, isn’t she?”
“Yes, sir – a massive disk and at least 12 decks deep”, replied Raphael. “She’s bigger than the University Ship, I know.”
“Yes, about two-thirds bigger and more massive, with the complications that attend such a vessel; I miss the work of Commander Strom. The ship was down one head commander after Strom landed his new commission on The Golden Falcon. And it takes a while for commanders to work into their job, as I have discovered much to my chagrin”, replied Esturias. “Both Commander Paulus and I have worked hard to make a go of it. And what’s more, the enemy attacks never seem to let up on our isles. Serana has been hit quite a few times which impacts our food stuffs on the ships.”
“Sorry to hear it, commander”, replied Raphael, glad he was out of it for the time being. Esturias was getting some things off his chest.
Esturias sighed, and said, “I recognize I need more help… with a cushion between myself and the complaints coming from dissatisfied crew men and officers. Commander Char’las could transfer to Personnel and take care of that aspect, crew assignments and education. He’s been on the ship for decades and is well-acquainted with most officers, if not all the crew.”
Raphael continued relentlessly: “Well, sir, you can now honestly inform your crew in general that we are now, again, on speaking terms and have made amends for past follies or mistakes – on both of our sides, sir. I was stubborn, too, in not forgiving you long ago. Your sister and father are correct in suggesting we are very stubborn individuals.”
“No need to apologize for my actions and decisions, Raphael – what I did was foolish and precipitous; I recognize that now”, replied Esturias as he stood up and stretched a bit. “You were just trying to do your job and I didn’t interfere in the unfair treatment you were receiving from your superior officers. And, you’re right, I didn’t need to send you to Alyona – although it is a good thing you were there to defend our father and the Council. And apparently, you learned quite a few useful things while there about our federation, much of which I have forgotten during my long tour of duty during this unrelenting war.”
“And my life has taken an altogether unexpected direction since I arrived there, sir”, replied Raphael.
“Well, brother, cousin – I think we should rejoin the rest of the company and see what’s going on. And don’t you have to gather up that little boy of yours and give your lovely mate some respite?” chided Esturias gently.
Raphael grinned, noticing his former commander was now in a thoughtful mood. He said: “Well, commander, Carlos, I’ll see you out in the family room after I collect Julia and Jychondria. I would imagine Julia spent some time with her mother this morning, as well.”
© All Rights Reserved, Eliza Ayres, videos and recordings of this material are not permitted; http://www.bluedragonjournal.com and https://sunnysjournal.com
Oh chapter 25! I’m only up to chapter 14! It’s a big read.. thoroughly enjoying it.. thank you.. 😊💛😊
Thanks, Fiona. Take your time!