BOOK TWO: CHAPTER 4 – The Outpost

CHAPTER 4 – The Outpost


Early in the morning Esturias VaCoupe, Lantrill, Adario, and Master Pelleur packed up the viscars for the day’s outing.  Paul and Gareth would be driving the viscars to the outpost to bring the explorers back to Jolf when they were done with their day’s explorations. Gareth, happy that Raphael wasn’t going with them for once, actually made a joke:  “We’re going to have to build a hangar here for the golden ship so we don’t have to fly her back and forth from the outpost all the time.”

Lantrill didn’t take Gareth’s comment as a joke; instead, he got a thoughtful look on his face. Then he suggested, “You know, we could use a couple of the smaller ships that look like fancy viscars and see if Lord Mathdis has a place to store them at the space port when they’re not in use.”

Esturias said: “You’ll have to show me the smaller ships and then maybe I’ll ask Lord Mathdis if it would be possible to store a couple of the smaller ships here in Jolf so we can use them for local transportation when we have our other guests.”

“That would make it easier to come and go to the outpost. We don’t need to use anything flashy like Rigo’s ship that would attract unneeded attention from traders and visitors to Jolf,” added Adario. 

We will have to make some practical adjustments, so transportation is easier getting back and forth. We’re going to have quite a few ‘visitors’ in a few days, some of whom will want to be escorted out to the site,” said Esturias. “Master Pelleur, will the Crystal Masters need to go out to the site, do you think?”

Master Pelleur replied: “It shouldn’t be necessary. We have quite a few seed crystals to work with already. The masters will want to work with Raphael in deciphering what’s on the seed crystals before it’s determined how to continue with designating which crystals can be utilized, how and where.”

“There’s a lot to consider, isn’t there, Esturias?” said Adario. 

Yes, Raphael warned me that this undertaking is going to become a family business – we’ll have to treat it as such, despite what the King of the Suriya System thinks about it,” said Esturias. “The outpost is now in Pleiadian territory and Lord VaCoupe is its overlord, so a king or lord of another star system can’t interfere with our work here just because some of his long-dead relatives happened to leave some of their artifacts on this planet. Besides that, if Raphael is truly the reincarnation of Rigo, then he has some right to the outpost and its contents, which he can, in effect, sign over those rights to the family business so everything is protected. There may be a way to mollify King Hilarus by giving him some of the technology including some of the ships once they are built, but Lord Demetrius has more experience in handling diplomatic issues like this than I do. And Raphael needs to be kept under surveillance until it is determined his personality has stabilized enough so he won’t be a nuisance when he goes to the outpost. I know we still need him to be able to access some of the place’s secrets as he is the one who sees the visions that tell him where to go.”

The viscars quickly reached the golden ship and the four men who would be doing the day’s exploration climbed into Rigo’s ship when it responded to Esturias and Lantrill. The pilot seat adjusted quickly to Esturias’ slender frame, and he gave the ship a quick mental picture of the tower at the outpost. The ship lifted quietly to gain elevation and then headed in an easterly direction towards the outpost. The sun was just coming up over the ridge when they arrived to where the hummocks started. Esturias could see the tower still looming above the shoreline, creating a good landmark. The ship came to a halt hovering over the turf, so Esturias gave it another command: Return to hangar. Within seconds the ground nearby began to heave up, the thick turf cracking open a short ways off. The ship made an adjustment in its location, hovered for a moment over the open hangar roof and gently set down on the raised landing platform. The platform then silently descended until coming even with the landing bay deck. The four men climbed out of the ship. Esturias looked around, watching as the automatic lights illuminated the hangar bay. He looked around with interest at the construction and then said: “Lantrill, you’ll have to lead the way…”

“Do you want to see the three ships of Rigo’s brothers? One of them is probably yours, sir,” replied Lantrill. “Their hangar isn’t far…”

“Okay, we’re not in any hurry today,” replied Esturias. He was curious about the smaller ships and wanted to explore the place, but he didn’t know where to begin. 

The men found their way to the door leading to the corridor and turned left. The next door was a couple of hundred feet further. It slipped aside silently as they approached. Beyond the doorway, Esturias could sense a large space. The lights came on gradually revealing the small golden ships which were miniatures of Rigo’s ship. Lantrill strode to the first which immediately began to respond to his presence. He patted the ship and said, “Not now, sweetheart!”

Lantrill then turned to Esturias, “Sir, the next ship should be yours…”

Being a commander, Esturias was disappointed that the biggest ship wasn’t his, but he shrugged his shoulders and made to approach the second ship. When he got within ten feet, he perceived a light humming noise; the ship was responding to his presence! Despite his disappointment, he felt a thrill that he had been a part of this great outpost at one time. It was as right for him to be there now as it was for Raphael. It was ironic that he was now the elder brother and Raphael the younger, and that fate somehow had brought them together, again. Who could have predicted such an occurrence?

Esturias cautiously approached the ship, which began to activate its engine and open the door. He peeked inside and noticed that the seats in this ship adjusted to the size of the passengers like the golden ship. He said: “It looks like we can carry five to six passengers in these ships; if we use all three, we could ferry quite a few people in one trip. You can shut down now –” Esturias felt odd talking to a ship, but it responded immediately by shutting down the engine and shutting the door. He backed away from it and walked around the little ship checking out all the details in her sleek design.

“We might have to use them when all of our other visitors arrive, including Master Edrus, the Crystal Masters, and Lord VaCoupe,” said Lantrill.

They’re sweet little ships,” remarked Esturias. “When and if we ever leave here, I wouldn’t mind having one of these parked at home in Medina. Rigo’s ship is too conspicuous right now.”

“My thoughts, too, sir,” replied Lantrill, “Although I will have to get used to being a pilot!”

“Maybe Raphael would be happy with one of these smaller ships for a while until we get some other ones built,” said Esturias. 

Do you want to see the smaller ships, Commander?” replied Lantrill. “There are eleven of those in two other hangars.”

“No, I don’t think so – we’ll save that for later. Where’s the control room you’ve mentioned?” asked Esturias. “Are you done looking these ships over, Adario?”

“They’re sweet, Commander,” replied Adario. “I wouldn’t mind having one of them, but they don’t seem to respond to me.”

“Well, personal ships like this aren’t a priority when building a fleet, but I’m sure a few lords and wealthy families wouldn’t mind having one or two for their own use,” said Esturias, thinking like a businessman already.

Okay, Commander – you wanted to see the control room? We must retrace part of our steps,” said Lantrill.

He started towards the door. The door slipped open, and the lights dimmed as the four men left the hangar. Master Pelleur was just interested in getting familiarized with the general layout of what little area of the outpost had been explored so far. He sensed there was quite a bit more that remained untouched. And none of the men with whom he was today seemed capable of activating the written scripts to describe what they were seeing. They passed along the gently curving corridor and finally came to the door which opened into the large control room. There was the screen wall and the great curving console dominating one-half of the room. Master Pelleur could see the door on the far side of the room which led to the other hangars. He wondered if any other doors would appear in the wide screen if someone touched the console, but he didn’t think anyone could activate the holograms like Raphael seemed to be able. 

Curious, he asked Lantrill to run his hands across the console. Lantrill looked at him and then, perhaps to satisfy his own curiosity, he tried it; there was no response. He looked up at Esturias who was studying the room from all angles, “Sir, we will have to bring Raphael back here; he is the key to this place. We can activate some of the doors and ships, but he can read the ancient script and see visions, leading him to where he must go to find what he’s looking for – even if he doesn’t know what that is.”

Master Pelleur said: “The first time we entered this room, a video started filling the whole screen wall. The second time we saw the video, Raphael said he could identify the individuals in the video as being part of his ancient family. I’m sure the Shaman Edrus would be interested in seeing it when he arrives. And then Raphael activated the console instrumentation; that’s when we found the door leading to the tomb. It was in the middle of this screen wall but disappeared when Sukio came back out through it – the same day Monteras decided to have Raphael sedated for a while.”

“Well, is this the whole thing? How do you get to the tower where Raphael ended up the day before?” asked Esturias, looking over at Master Pelleur, who was the only other person present who had witnessed the tower rising out of the earth.

You’re asking me? I was outside with you if you remember, commander,” replied Master Pelleur. “Master Adario, Lantrill – you missed quite a sight. Raphael felt some event was imminent. He jumped out the viscar and went running towards the sea when a huge tower erupted out of the turf and climbed to at least three stories high – it’s the one that is still standing outside. It wasn’t here the first time we visited the site. And then Raphael went inside it insisting he was Rigo. Esturias here got pretty upset, didn’t you, commander?”

“I sure did – the door disappeared and so did my brother, rather unexpectedly after he called me a strange name, Adrigus, I think – the name of the top commander of The Golden Dolphin, except he didn’t mean the commander, but me, as the youngest brother of Rigo the King,” replied Esturias. He was looking around, evaluating the site. “It’s an impressive facility, with all the environmental equipment appearing to be fully functional. Say, how old did Raphael claim this place is? It looks like it was built yesterday.”

“He said it was at least 600,000 years old, long before our people arrived on this particular planet or in this sector of the galaxy,” replied Lantrill thoughtfully. “I know our people have been near the Pleiades for at least that long, if not longer. Still, I don’t see how my brother can claim ownership over this outpost; it was shut down and abandoned long ago. Still, my elder brother can get stubborn about things. He’s quite different than our father, Lord Lyonell.”

“Very interesting, everyone – well, have we had enough today? I’m feeling kind of claustrophobic in here. I feel like we’re being watched if that makes any sense,” replied Esturias. 

You know, as much as I dread Raphael going into one of his moods or visions, we really need him when we’re here,” said Lantrill. “He brings the place to life.”

“I’ll keep that in mind for the next visit, Lantrill,” replied Esturias grimacing. He didn’t understand his brother right now, any more than he ever did – whatever psychic gifts his younger brother possessed seemed to have bypassed him by at least for this lifetime. “Okay, I have the general layout of part of this place. We will have to bring Raphael back here but try to keep him under control if that’s at all possible. Let’s go, men – where is the front door you’ve spoken of?”

“Right this way, Commander,” replied Lantrill leading the way across the vast space of the control room. Lantrill noticed how large the space was, devoid of any furniture right now. It was almost like something was missing. He found the door leading to the outer entrance. The door opened without issue. A long corridor led to the outer door which had to be pushed open exposing the entrance cave beyond. He could hear the surf close by and the smell of

freshwater. “Here we are, Commander. It sounds like the tide is in. We might get our feet wet looking for a place to climb the slope back up to the tower.”

“Well, we must get up there somehow. Could you assist Master Pelleur, Lantrill –?” asked Esturias. Lantrill was the largest humanoid present, being well over eight feet in height and muscular, although he didn’t have as large a build as Sukio.

Yes, sir – do have a chat with Lord Mathdis about finding some hangar space in town for the three medium-sized ships. This hill-climbing is getting old,” replied Lantrill. 

The men had to traverse the cave that guarded the front door of the outpost. When they arrived at the opening, the surf was retreating. There was a firm strip of sand hugging the foot of the great slope. Esturias scoped the beach and then said: “Looks like we can find a place to climb now – come on, men!”

It was a weary climb for the three men, especially Lantrill who was also carrying Master Pelleur, but they soon gained the top then surveyed the tilted turf-covered meadow that led up to where the tower now stood. Adario saw a movement there: “I can see Gareth and there’s Paul – they’re near the tower. I hope they have something to eat; I’m famished!”

Gareth noticed the four men approaching and he alerted his companion Eagle Paul, “Time to break out the baskets, Paul. I see Esturias and the rest climbing up the slope towards the tower. Have you ever seen such a thing? There wasn’t anything there the first time we came out here! It just erupted out of the ground and knocked Raphael off his feet. Then, he disappeared into the thing and reappeared later flying the golden ship!”

The men sat on the turf below the tower and ate their meal, enjoying the brief winter sunlight. There were more clouds on the horizon as another storm prepared to come onshore, so they packed up and headed back to Jolf. When they arrived at the inn, they found Julia and Tomás sitting in the courtyard watching Jychondria playing on the tiled surface. Esturias looked around for Raphael and asked Tomás where he was: “Where is my younger brother? And how is he doing today?”

Julia looked up and answered Esturias instead: “When he found out you had left without him, he ate his breakfast and then went out to work in the herb garden with Carlos and Aiden. Sukio is out there with them watching over Raphael, I guess.”

Tomás replied, also: “Rafe didn’t appear to be upset. He just shrugged his shoulders and said to us – ‘they’ll soon find out they can’t find anything new without me’—and then he went out into the garden. He’s always gone out to the garden whenever he needs to be alone or quiet. He and Carlos have gardened together since boyhood.”

Esturias was curious and asked Tomás about how Raphael’s various personalities were melding. Tomás replied with a touch of annoyance, suggesting: “You better speak to Raphael about that – he’s not speaking to anyone much right now, including Julia.”

 Esturias replied: “I’ll try that later – right now I would like to speak to Lord Mathdis or Aiden about finding some hangars for a few of our little ships; it would save having to take the viscars out for every trip.”

“Aiden is currently in the kitchens preparing food if you want to speak to him,” replied Julia. “Lord Mathdis will be over for dinner tonight, so Aiden is preparing some special dishes.”“What’s the occasion?” asked Adario who came up behind Esturias and went to sit down next to his sister.

He received word today that the decision to court-martial of Commander Kadish was unanimous; he has been charged with dereliction of duty, leaving his post without permission, and threatening innocent people with prejudice,” replied Monteras. “He’ll have to serve time in the brig and then will be discharged from the Command. Top Commander Contreras informed Lord Mathdis of the verdict since you weren’t here, and his community was involved in the incident.”

“Well, that is something to celebrate. Father will be pleased that the Command found for both Raphael and Lord Mathdis – and you, Adario,” replied Esturias.

Does Raphael know this yet? This was a man who tormented him for months when he was still on The Golden Lion,” asked Paul, who was listening in. He had been one of the Eagles assigned to watch over Raphael when he began to suffer from stress due to the criticisms being laid against him by Commander Hercule Kadish.

No, he doesn’t know, yet – he’s been in the garden since this morning. I took him some refreshments a couple of hours ago. He and Carlos should be returning soon. Hmmm, I see there is a storm approaching,” replied Julia as she glanced up at the sky which was rapidly clouding up. “I had better take Jychondria inside and give him a change and bath before we go to dinner. Tell Raphael where I am if you see him.”

Julia picked up her son and carried him into the inn which had a large bathing room on the main floor. A few minutes later, Carlos, Raphael, and Sukio walked through the passageway from the garden. Raphael looked calm and relaxed and was chatting with Carlos about the attributes of the various herbs with which they had worked that day. Aiden had a significant collection of both culinary and medicinal plants which thrived in the mild climate of Jolf. 

Seeing that Julia and his son were no longer outside, Raphael also went inside without speaking to the men gathered in the courtyard. Carlos remained behind with Sukio and the others. Esturias asked Carlos: “How was Raphael today? Was he upset he wasn’t allowed outside the grounds of the inn?”

“Not at all; after breakfast, he just asked Aiden for some garden implements and headed out to work on the herbs. Aiden was glad for the help when he learned that Raphael and I have both done such work for years,” replied Carlos. “Did you find anything new at the outpost today?”

“No, we didn’t…not much, anyway,” replied Adario. “The ship set down within the hangar, then, we investigated the three ships that hold 5 to 6 passengers in another hangar. One of responded to Esturias, meaning what Raphael said about him being one of the sons of Lord Lyonille was true. Then we backtracked to the control room and out the front door. We had to climb up the slope back to the tower which is still standing above ground.”

“Well, I’m going to clean up now; I saw Raphael go in – he really doesn’t want to speak to any of you right now. He didn’t say much while we were working besides some comments on the quality of the plants – Aiden has a nice herb collection here,” replied Carlos. “Is there anything special happening tonight at dinner?”

“Lord Mathdis has some news to report to Raphael and Esturias – he’s coming to dinner,” replied Commander Monteras.

Carlos nodded, “Thanks; I will see you later, then.”

When the storm finally arrived, it was a heavy one although without much wind. Lord Mathdis was a bit damp when he arrived but was soon warmed up by some hot tea served to him by his son, Aiden. The members of the party had already gathered, except for Raphael, Julia, and Jychondria. Sukio was not present since he had been assigned guard duty over Raphael for the day. Esturias looked irritated and said: “Where is Raphael? We’re all waiting for him and his family; Felipe, could you see what’s taking him?”

No, sir – here they come,” replied the blonde Eagle.

Sukio was leading, holding Jychondria’s basket, with Raphael and Julia following. Raphael was holding little Jychondria in one arm and holding Julia’s hand with the other. Raphael bowed graciously to Lord Mathdis and said: “Pardon us, my lord; my mate and I were getting reacquainted. She hasn’t seen me for a long time. I am called Delos; my consciousness has been without a physical vessel for a long while, so we are still adjusting. I hope I do not create any consternation among the friends of Raphael – he is still here, but we are in the process of integrating our consciousness which can take some time. Rigo is still here, too, as you need him for your work in the outpost.”

They sat down on the end of the table farthest from Esturias and Lord Mathdis. Raphael was noticeably quiet and dignified, gentle with his mate and child, generally ignoring the startled responses of his friends and relatives. Commander Monteras stared at his cousin with concern but could discover no sign of Raphael being out of control or controlled by a negative force. “What is going on, cousin?”

“Let us discuss such matters later, Tomás,” replied Raphael-Delos. “I understand Lord Mathdis has some interesting news to share. My lord, have you heard anything about the developments in Elexa?”

Lord Mathdis paused, not fully understanding what was going on with Raphael. He looked at Esturias who shrugged his shoulder and waved him to continue. “Ah, hem… Commander Raphael – Top Commander Contreras informed me today that Commander Kadish has been formally court-martialed, sentenced to a year in the brig, and when he is released, he will be decommissioned and released from the Command. His offenses were highly irregular and his attempted attack upon your person to be highly offensive. Given that he entered the town of Jolf with an armed force, weapons drawn and seized Adario Kadish on sight, was also considered highly inappropriate conduct by an officer. Your personal history with the commander was not considered during the court-martial but it was clear he held a strange antipathy towards you, Commander Raphael. This information shared with me has also been forwarded to your adopted father, Lord Demetrius VaCoupe.”

Raphael adjusted his hold on baby Jychondria while he was sitting there, and replied to Lord Mathdis: “Thank you, my lord, for conveying this information. I do not wish harm to anyone, but the actions of the now-former Commander Kadish were irresponsible and without sufficient provocation to warrant such reactive decisions.”

Raphael looked around at the heavily-burdened table and turned to Aiden who was staring at him: “Master Aiden – it looks like you and your cooks have outdone themselves. Shall we eat, my lord?”

Adario ventured a comment on the day’s activities: “Raphael, Esturias was able to activate the third ship in the second hangar at the outpost.”

Raphael looked a little confused, but sat there quietly for a moment, appearing deep in thought. Then, he turned to Adario and replied: “Thank you for that information, Master Adario. Now, we have established that Lantrill, Sukio, and Esturias are all reincarnations of Lord Lyonille sons and brothers to Lord Rigo, who became king to the Lion People after his father’s death.”

Esturias sarcastically asked Raphael: “Who is talking now? Delos or Raphael – do we have to put up with this nonsense?”

Raphael regarded his impatient brother with some disdain. He signed for Sukio to place the basket on the table and put Jychondria in it. He patted his mate’s hand, “Julia – just a moment” he said, “I feel I must explain my current situation further.”

Then Raphael stood and began to walk around the table. While he walked slowly, he spoke with clarity of mind and authority in his voice that brooked no interference: “Excuse me, my lord, for my older brother’s behavior. He doesn’t understand the process I am currently undergoing; in fact, none of you do. It will serve no higher purpose to continue ridiculing my behavior or threatening me with protective custody. The reason for all this apparent confusion is that I, as Delos, am in the process of integrating with the consciousness of your younger adopted brother – and your cousin,” he said, looking in turn at Adario and Tomás.  “I have considered divorcing myself from this project, but find my higher purpose is to be here now, so I am in the process of integrating all my gifts and powers from several incarnations, to give Raphael the needed strength of will and determination to complete what it is that he has come forth into this world – your world – to do. If you attempt to stand in his way, you will endanger the very people whom you have sworn to serve – all of you, in your own ways. I realize what I am saying is hard for you to understand, but I will not apologize and make it any easier for you. Raphael has long been told that he was here for a specific purpose that was yet unknown. Well, I am telling you that part of his purpose in being here is now known – it is to assist the VaCoupe Family to begin their family business by building advanced ships which are fully sentient. Whatever judgments and prejudices you hold against Raphael for his actions and reactions at the outpost during the last week – you will have to expand your minds and hearts to fully understand this is a pivotal moment in the survival of the Pleiadian people. The moment is NOW. I am here. Are you here with me? I am integrating the fullness of my being to complete the vow I made to Source, to my Highest Self, upon re-entering embodiment, to see that the people who came after me are prepared to resist the great darkness that overtook our former world and has now followed me hence.”

Esturias looked stunned and remarked: “Who are you?”

Raphael looked at him with pity, “I am sorry, dear brother, for your lack of understanding – I know the Shaman of the Lion People, Lord Edrus, should be able to assist you and any other person here with what is occurring within the physical vessel that your younger adopted brother has worn. We are in the process of calling back all the fragments of our being which can serve with the higher purpose of this so-called exploration of an outpost of a long-forgotten people. I, Delos, was killed in space; therefore, I was not required to be re-born on Sirust once again. Although we suffered greatly at the loss of our family and loved ones, we are in the process of being reunited with them. Here, in this room, I have been reunited with the one whom I knew and loved as Lady Anya, my mate and beloved mother of my children. And in Raphael’s son, I see the reincarnation and continuance of the incarnation of the soul essence of my beloved brother, Lord Jychondria.

Master Pelleur said, with astonishment in his voice, “My sister, the Lady Chokama, has told me of the process called soul retrieval. Apparently, Raphael is deep within this re-integration with the various parts of his soul that have been broken off from his primary essence as the result of deep trauma.”

Delos-Raphael looked at his friend, Master Pelleur, and nodded: “Thank you, dear Master, for your explanation and understanding. This is, indeed, what we are currently undergoing. It is a spiritual practice well known to shamans, as well as highly trained priests and priestesses. One does not normally encounter an individual who is amid having all his consciousness reconfigured while attempting to act normally. It is not a comfortable or painless process, so usually takes place in isolation or under guidance from a shaman or experienced healer. Since that option is not available at this time for your friend, brother, and cousin, my dear friends, you will have to suffer along with his efforts to understand what is going on within.”

Carlos was curious and asked: “What triggered the process of soul retrieval – is that the correct term, cousin?”

Delos-Raphael nodded, “Indeed – that is the correct term. The first time Raphael entered the old outpost of the Lion People, he began to change. You who were with him then witnessed his sudden inexplicable ability to understand the language and writings of the ancient people, his ability to activate the ships, to find his way around the large site without any previous experience with it or the Lion People other than the Felines with whom he has served. The affinity Raphael felt towards these people and they towards him stemmed from a deep unconscious memory of shared experience. When Raphael walked within the structure, that unconscious memory began to become conscious, although Rigo was still not fully re-integrated into Raphael’s mind – which is why many of you have witnessed apparent breaks in his personality. I request that you give Raphael and we time to fully reintegrate within him – it is for the good of all Pleiadians that this process is allowed to go forward.”

Lord Mathdis looked fascinated with Delos-Raphael dissertation on the process he was undergoing. He remarked: “Master Delos? We have some priestesses of broad experience living here in our small town, although we do not have a major temple within the town. Have you have seen all the towers? Each of them corresponds to a small but beautiful family temple. Lady Anna Ramirez is the High Priestess here. I am sure she would be greatly interested to speak with you, Master Delos, to see if she can assist with your re-integration. I will speak with her tomorrow for you if you so desire?”

Delos-Raphael stopped in his circumnavigation of the table and bowed to Lord Mathdis: “Thank you, my lord. That is a kind offer and one I will gladly accept. This process causes much difficulty for us, no less the reactions of our friends and family members who do not understand what I am currently experiencing. I will voluntarily remain here tomorrow in Jolf while the others, if they wish, can continue to explore the outpost. They will not find much, however, without my presence with them as the essence of Rigo activates much of what is hidden there on purpose. The outpost was set up in that manner so it could not be infiltrated by beings of a lesser frequency level. Raphael carries within his physical and spiritual being the necessary frequency, the energetic key to the entire outpost. His Feline companions carry it, also, but not to the full degree available to Rigo. In other words, the work will not go forward unless we are allowed to full integrate.” Raphael finally returned to where his patient mate, Julia, was sitting and sat down himself. He said: “Please forgive me for interrupting your meal, my lord – but I felt it was vital to explain what has been occurring within this vessel…” He indicated his physical body and continued, “…for the past week. It has taken us a while to fully comprehend these things ourselves, but now we have, and respectfully request the cooperation of all those present.”

Adario was stunned by the revelations shared by Raphael and the direct honesty with which he explained his present dilemma. He said: “Commander Esturias – I would like to speak with your father, Lord VaCoupe, regarding what Delos-Raphael has shared with us. I am completely stunned by these revelations but also extremely excited by what he has shared. He has admitted to being a forerunner of an entirely new human being here. For the well-being of our people, we need to support his efforts and that of your family, sir.”

Lord Mathdis replied, “I happen to agree with you, Master Adario, and will fully support you, Commander Raphael. I could also speak with my friend, Lord Demetrius, so between the two of us we are able to convey the fullness of what is occurring here. Don’t you agree, Commander Esturias?”

Esturias knew the Lord of Jolf was making it clear he supported Raphael and would convey his opinion to his old friend, Lord VaCoupe. While he was personally uncomfortable with what Raphael was undergoing, he really didn’t have any choice in the matter. Apparently, his brother was undergoing a process of metamorphosis much like that of a butterfly. He was currently within the ugly caterpillar stage where his entire being was being reconfigured; it wasn’t a comfortable stage for anyone to witness much less participate in, yet all that was happening was ultimately for the good of the people, whom he also served. He reluctantly nodded, “While I admit I don’t understand what Raphael is undergoing, I do feel it is important to share this further information with our father, so he is better prepared upon arriving to handle the situation. You have my permission to speak to my father, if you feel it is necessary, you and Adario.”

The Lord of Jolf looked slightly affronted by Esturias’ arrogance and tone. He replied with some irritation: “Commander, I regard your last remark as being impertinent. I do not need your permission to speak to your father. We are old friends from long before you were born, young man!”

Esturias realized his mistake and glanced over at Raphael who gravely shook his head and said: “No, Esturias, I am not going to save you from your folly. The Lord of Jolf has immediate jurisdiction over this town and its surrounding territory. He does not need your permission to communicate with his friend and overlord, our father. You need to learn your place in the scheme of things here, Esturias. You are no longer a top commander on a Command ship and even if you were, you are currently sitting in the lord’s inn and property.”

“Thank you, Raphael, for your maturity and grasp of the situation,” replied Lord Mathdis. “Now, everyone – eat and enjoy! We mustn’t put Aiden’s efforts to waste!”

The four Eagles ate their meals quietly, glancing from time to time towards Raphael where he was patiently attempting to feed his child a little soft mashed fruit. They didn’t quite know what to make of this transformation he was undergoing, but they all loved him and realized they would have to make the best of it. Monteras also studied his cousin from time to time. He was not familiar with the personality of Delos, although he remembered Lord Lyonell mentioning the topic of Raphael’s past life as the colorful intense commander more than once. He got an interesting thought in his head and said it aloud, “Perhaps we should invite one of the commanders who knew Delos to assist Raphael?”

“Commander Jon deAir is about to retire; he might not mind a visit here,” replied Delos-Raphael. “I would enjoy meeting my old friend once more.”

“I would love to see Jon, also,” replied Julia. “He would be pleased to see Jychondria, too!”

Lord Mathdis asked: “Who was/is Commander deAir? And what is he to Raphael?”

Adario spoke up here: “Commander Jon deAir has been the Head Commander of the Ashkerian Fleet ever since the death of Delos. Lord Delos trained Jon to take his place. They were close associates for decades. It was a great shock to Jon when Lord Delos made that fateful decision to sacrifice his life in his last battle,” He saw some surprised faces from Esturias and the Eagles and explained, “Raphael shared with me that past life, which I have not shared with anyone outside this group. I was curious and so I looked up whatever I could find on Delos and his command. Jon deAir was mentioned as his chosen successor. Personally, I would be thrilled to meet the brave commander! He witnessed Lord Delos when he was personally working to upgrade and equip the modern Ashkerian Fleet. Raphael is here now to do much the same thing for the Pleiadian Fleet.”

“Well, we could mention the commander’s name to Lord VaCoupe as someone who might also be helpful in aiding Raphael to move through this transition,” said Master Pelleur. “I hope you don’t run out of rooms, Master Aiden!”

“Don’t worry about that, men – I have extra rooms in my own house and I’m sure some of our citizens would be thrilled to have visitors stay in their houses,” replied Lord Mathdis. “It is apparent from what Raphael has shared with us, that this is a pivotal point in the life of our Pleiadian Federation. With that in mind, we need to do what we can to support Raphael in his efforts. If it takes bringing more advisors and people from Raphael-Delos’ life, then that is what we will do. I fully intend to convey the meat of this discussion to my friend, Lord VaCoupe,” he said. The Lord of Jolf looked pointedly at Esturias as if to dare him to speak up, again; Esturias shrugged and re-focused on the plate of food he was still working through.

Delos-Raphael stood up and said, “My friends, thank you for hearing me out. This is an arduous process I’ve begun, and I do require your patience and understanding. Now, I’m tired – Carlos and I worked all day outside in the garden; I’m not used to such a long stint, although it was useful, so I had time to think about things. The suggestions that Tomás, Adario, and Lord Mathdis have made are quite useful; I would love to work with any of the forementioned individuals. Adario and Lord Mathdis, thank you for volunteering on conveying your understanding of the process I am currently going through to my father, Lord VaCoupe. The better prepared he is, the more things can get worked out. And now, Julia and I are going to retire to our rooms. Could we have a small tray, Master Aiden? With all the talking and feeding Jychondria, I didn’t really get a chance to eat much of your delicious food.”

“Certainly, Commander Raphael – I’ll have one of your Eagles bring up a tray after it has been made up,” replied Aiden. “I hope you get some rest.”

Felipe took Jychondria’s basket and followed Julia and Raphael as they left the room. The other members of the party looked at each other. Gareth said, “Well – that was interesting. Now I begin to understand more of what Commander Raphael is undergoing. I can’t say I’m totally comfortable with witnessing it, but I love the man and am committed to working with him.”

Sukio spoke up: “Considering that I was one of Rigo’s brothers in the past, I have the right to be part of this adventure; that goes for you, too, Lantrill!”

“That is true for me and Esturias, as we were all his brothers. We were also meant to be here along with Rigo/Raphael, so we need to be supportive of his vision. It is uncomfortable as Gareth has suggested, but Raphael has always been a kind and honorable man, despite all the challenges he has suffered through during this lifetime,” replied Lantrill. 

Lantrill then addressed Lord Mathdis and explained: “My lord, I first encountered Raphael when I saved him from being killed by a man on a slave ship. I was a warrior captain for his elder brother, Ezekiel, who was an Eagle commander. At the time, we were working on a lot of rescues of stolen children, especially from Morova, where Raphael was born. I accompanied Ezekiel on his trip to Alyona to present Raphael to the High Council and Lord VaCoupe to determine the boy’s fate. His father had been a diplomatic agent of Lord Demetrius, stationed on Morova. After meeting Raphael, Lord VaCoupe determined to foster the boy in Medina and provide him with an education. Even then, as a shy and damaged fourteen-year-old, the boy showed signs of having unusual gifts and abilities. And the revelations continue to this day. You are never bored being around Raphael!”

Master Aiden and Lord Mathdis both looked thoughtful after hearing this revelation of Raphael’s difficult past. Lord Mathdis asked: “For how long was Raphael a captive?”

Lantrill replied, “My lord, I was there at the boy’s rescue when he was 14 years old. According to his older brother, the boy was a slave for an entire decade. It is a wonder that he emerged from his slavery whole. Since then, he has periodically dealt with nightmares and being overly sensitive to energies for his entire life; I fear we thought he was reverting to some of his earlier behaviors, but it would appear we were wrong. This is something new.”

Lord Mathdis said: “Thank you, Commander Lantrill – this information gives me a better perspective on the character of Commander Raphael. I will connect with Lord VaCoupe tomorrow. Adario, you are invited to attend me and share your views, also. I’ll be in my office in the morning. And now, it is time for me to retire, also. Thank you, Aiden, for another wonderful meal. Good evening, Commander Esturias, men.”

The commanders and Eagles stood up as Lord Mathdis left the table. The meal was officially over. Eagle Paul wondered: What would happen next?

The next morning dawned gray as heavy clouds clung to the coastline. Even the colorful towers of Jolf were hidden by a heavy sea mist. After breakfast, Adario made his way to Lord Mathdis’ house and was let in by a servant. Lord Mathdis was already conversing with Lord Demetrius when he arrived. The lord waved Adario into his office and informed Lord VaCoupe the young man was present.

Lord VaCoupe looked a little tired this morning as he greeted Adario: “Good morning, Adario; Lord Mathdis has told me something of the recent developments occurring in Jolf. I was pleased to hear the court-martial case against Hercule Kadish was completed before I arrived, so that is one less issue for me to deal with. Of course, we still have Lord Edrus arriving in a couple of days from the Suriya System. Do you know, we had to send a battleship to pick him up! The Suriya System doesn’t have their own fleet, which is why they are presently a part of the Pleiadian Federation – yet their king believes he has the right to claim the outpost that happens to be located on the continent of Maubene, which is within my immediate jurisdiction as its overlord.”

“I understand, my lord, but perhaps Lord Edrus might be useful in assisting Raphael with reintegrating his personalities into one,” explained Adario. “He has been going between Delos, Raphael, and occasionally, Rigo. The latter shows up when he is at the outpost, as the place is keyed into his light frequency. My cousin has been experiencing difficulties in maintaining normal behavior when he’s there. Last night, he told us he is undergoing a process called soul retrieval, which can be stressful for even those who have been prepared for it. A shaman could guide him through the process to a greater degree than any of us. So, it might be extremely useful to have the shaman present, who has already recognized Raphael as being the reincarnation of Rigo.”

Lord VaCoupe looked thoughtful as he listened to Adario and said: “It would appear, Adario, you are supportive of what Raphael appears to be undergoing. My question is: How does this benefit the Pleiadian people?”

“Interesting you would ask that, my lord,” replied Adario earnestly. “The being Delos who was speaking to us last night said that Raphael was born into our world for a specific purpose and time – and that the purpose is building the great new Pleiadian Fleet and the time is now. Rigo and Delos are the keys to all. Through my studies of Lord Delos, I discovered he was the brilliant mind behind the design and development of the Ashkerian Fleet, without the benefit of the advanced technology we are now in the process of discovering within the outpost. Wait until you see the sweet ship that Raphael claims as his own – it was Rigo’s ship once. And there are dozens of seed crystals we have already – Raphael has already discovered within the tomb – that need to be studied. Master Pelleur has already invited some of his associates to come study them and to speak with Raphael.”

“I knew there was something special about the lad when I first encountered him in Alyona, but I didn’t fully understand the scope of what Raphael could possibly contribute to our people,” said Lord Demetrius. “I know my daughter, Claudine, insists that he is one of the keys to the survival of our people and these discoveries at the outpost would appear to point to this time being the beginning of a new stage within all of our lives – as they will all be impacted.” Lord VaCoupe paused and seemed to be talking to someone out of view. When he came back on, he said: “Claudine is seated here and has just volunteered to have Lady Arla to see how Raphael is getting along, also. I hope Lord Mathdis has room in the inn for her, too!”

Well, old friend – it would appear we are going to have several people who are willing to work with, speak to, and assist our Raphael to reintegrate whatever is going on for him. I know I am interested in personally viewing this outpost that everyone keeps talking about. Have you seen it for yourself?” inquired Lord VaCoupe.

No, I have not been inside the facility, although Raphael flew me out one night to the site. From the air, it appears as an innocent meadow filled with hummocks and mounds at the edge of the sea. It is covered with flowers and a thick turf. There are no trees on the site. And now, a three or four-story tower apparently erupted out of the facility the other day right as the men arrived for another viewing of the site. Esturias was supposed to go inside and was unable to do so. Raphael can perhaps explain what happened when you get here. And don’t worry about having rooms available for everyone. If Aiden runs out of space, I have several vacant rooms available in my large house, which is right next door to the inn.”

“That’s good as I might also bring Raimundo with me, as well,” replied Lord Demetrius. “He’s an excellent counselor and has worked with Raphael in the past, especially not long after I fostered the lad in Medina. I see it as being the faster we aid my son through this process he is apparently undergoing the better for the project which seems to be developing. I would like to hear him speak with these alternate personalities, too. How is Esturias managing with all these changes occurring within Raphael?”

“Not well, Demetrius. The commander is having some difficulties dealing with Raphael, as the personalities that are coming in are also used to command and do not appear to be the least bit intimidated by Esturias, said Lord Mathdis. “In fact, Raphael often appears to be more mature in his replies than his elder brother. He had to remind Esturias yesterday that I was the lord of Jolf and had authority over this region. And I told Esturias that you and I have been friends for longer than he has been incarnated. It was all rather interesting to observe Raphael’s calm explanation of what he is undergoing in comparison to Esturias’ impatience and lack of compassion, especially directed towards his younger brother. Esturias really needs to mature in his emotional responses to people.”

“Well, I was originally intending to have Esturias broken in rank down to third level commander due to his inability to deal with personnel issues before these recent developments in Jolf,” replied Lord Demetrius. “I was hoping he would gain some humility from the experience, but it looks like we will have to channel his energies into this new project. It would appear Raphael would be able to hold his own with Esturias given the influx of these other parts of his soul essence. I know Delos commanded a whole fleet without any problem and this Rigo was also used to leading an entire people. Esturias is bound to have some emotional issues with unexpected competition coming from his adopted younger brother.”

“Aren’t children interesting, my lord?” replied Lord Mathdis. “My son still has not mated yet. I know he loves children. He has enjoyed playing with little Jychondria while the boy has been here – what a lovely child he is!”

“Well, my old friend, there may be a remedy for your son’s bachelorhood. I’ve already received an inquiry from the House of Kadish regarding sending a ‘peace-offering’ to us in the presence of a young lady of that distinguished house. Lord Pietro, who works for Lord Kadish, has already sent an inquiry as to whether there are any eligible bachelors in the area who would appreciate contracting for a fine young woman. Apparently, the family is quite embarrassed by the actions of one of Raphael’s and Adario’s cousin, one Hercule Kadish, whom you had the pleasure of meeting a while ago. They are beginning these negotiations as an overture of peace, especially since a few of Raphael’s cousins have developed a misunderstanding regarding the boy’s early childhood experiences and the tragic circumstances surrounding his parent’s deaths. Now that Raphael is part of my family, the Kadish family wishes to clear the air between us – which will be helpful for Raphael. He has experienced difficulties with at least two of his Kadish cousins within the Command. Even his in-laws had several reservations about his personality given rumors shared among the cousins. There was some jealousy engendered since he wasn’t sent to them as a youngster, although I do not feel they would have understood him any better than Raimundo and me. Raphael is entirely unique, but also vital for our survival as a people as evidenced by these latest developments. I look forward to seeing you, again, too, my old friend!”

“What is the name of the lady in question?” inquired Lord Mathdis. He was eager for his son to get mated and begin producing some offspring so the old house could be filled with the pleasant sounds of women and lively play of children. 

She is Lady Brunella Kadish, 20 years of age, a beautiful petite blonde, with large blue eyes and a peachy-cream complexion. She has received some education and loves gardening. Unlike many young ladies of her rank, she received instruction on how to run a household as her father was also a widower like you. Her father recently passed away from a long-term illness related to a wound received in the wars. The Kadish Family wants the young lady settled in her life and your son would be an adequate candidate in their eyes.”

How kind of them to consider Aiden as being adequate!” replied Lord Mathdis with some disdain. “He is more than adequate if understated. He is an accomplished chef, host, and a trained healer. He would make a wonderful mate for this young lady. Should I contact Lord Pietro, or do you want to handle the negotiations?”

“Well, since my two sons are burdening you with unexpected duties and visitors, let Francis and me take care of this for you. I might even have a young lady to introduce to your son soon! We don’t have to tell him in advance, either” replied Lord Demetrius with a twinkle in his eye. “Both Raphael and Esturias did not have much warning of their upcoming matings and their couplings have been quite successful, I am pleased to say. My personal assistant, Francis, is quite adept in setting up this sort of arrangement.”

“Then, Lord Demetrius, please give Francis full rein to complete whatever arrangements are required. We have several temples here in Jolf where the ceremony could take place,” replied Lord Mathdis. “Returning back to the subject of Raphael, I recommended he also speak with our local High Priestess, Lady Anna Ramirez, who might be able to suggest some ways to allow his integration to proceed more smoothly for him and for those who love him.”

“How kind of you to say you love Raphael,” replied Lord VaCoupe. “He is an unusual young man with extremely rare gifts one would normally see in a shaman or priest. We are truly blessed to have him walking amongst us, although it can sometimes be a challenge given the recent developments with the incident in Elexa and now this misunderstanding from the King of the Suriya System.”

“Well, from my interactions with Raphael he has been invariably kind, moderate in speech, and considerate. As I remarked before, he also presents as being far more mature in many ways than his much older sibling. His psychic gifts alone appear to be quite formidable, yet he is quite humble in nature. I’m extremely impressed, also, with the way he treats his mate and young son. In short, I, too, would be proud to call him son,” replied Lord Mathdis.

Well, old friend, I’ll be there in about three or four days. I expect I will be bringing several people along with me, so prepare accordingly. I can hardly wait to see the golden ship that caused such a stir,” said Lord VaCoupe.

You’ll be impressed, sir; she is a beauty!” replied Lord Mathdis. “Farewell, my friend!”

Young Adario was seated within Lord Mathdis’ office during this entire conversation. Lord Mathdis looked at him and smiled, “Now promise not to say a word about Lady Brunella. I want to see the look on my son’s face when he realizes he is about to get mated at last!”

“I wouldn’t dare, Lord Mathdis!” replied Adario. “I want to thank you for letting me listen in – I continue to learn more about my cousin Raphael who is an extremely complex individual, at least in my experience. It’s a challenge and a privilege to be sharing this great moment of time with a man who is here specifically to assist our people!”

Lord Mathdis looked fondly on Adario of whom he knew little, but he was pleased with what he had seen in the last couple of days. He looked at him with some amusement, “I understand you are a bachelor, Adario Kadish?”

“Ah, yes, sir – I’m not yet mated. I’ve been so busy with my work. I know my parents would be extremely pleased if I presented them with grandchildren. They were delighted with little Jychondria,” replied Adario with a shy

grin. “Do you happen to know of an eligible young woman on Maubene who is looking to get mated someone who might be considered as adequate, my lord?”

“You overheard that remark?” said Lord Mathdis with a chuckle. “I will inquire of Lady Anna if she is aware of any such. Some of the young women whom she educates are not going into the order as priestesses, merely learning how to utilize their gifts and graces. We do have a small school here although Arconia is better known for its large colleges.”

There came a knock at the door and a servant peeked in, “My lord, Commander Esturias, would like to speak to you about something.”

“Just a moment, Alexei,” replied Lord Mathdis. “It has been an interesting morning, Adario. I’ve enjoyed your company. If you ever want to settle in Jolf, let me know.”

Adario bowed to Lord Mathdis and opened the door on Esturias who was waiting outside in the hallway. “Lord Mathdis is within, Commander.”

Esturias nodded abruptly and pushed past Adario and then shut the door behind him. Adario stared at the door a moment and then shrugged, walking towards the front door of the house. Esturias must be having an interesting morning. He seemed upset…

I’m not sure if I’ll ever understand my younger brother,” began Esturias, but Lord Mathdis raised his hand.

It is not necessary to ‘understand’ him, Esturias – you heard what he told us all last night,” replied Lord Mathdis with a serious tone in his voice. He continued: “He is in process of becoming more of himself – more than the sum of Raphael, Delos, and Rigo, individually. It will take some time and a lot of understanding from all of us who are around him… especially you since you will be working at times quite closely with Raphael. This morning, I have spoken to your father who will be arriving here in about three days. I suggest you exercise some more tolerance for Raphael’s present condition and allow him to do some of the exploratory work at the outpost as needed before your father arrives. Meanwhile, if he bothers you so much, I’ll have him, and his mate and child moved to my house to keep him out of your way.

Lord Mathis added: “Your father also shared that you were going to be broken in rank due to your inability to deal with personnel issues on board your last assigned ship. Keep it in mind when you criticize your young brother that we are all aware of your shortcomings, Esturias. For one thing, I suggest you exercise more care around relatives and strangers. As the eldest son, you are destined to be the Lord of the Pleiades in the future, to fill your father’s shoes. As of right now, you are falling well short in my estimation of what a great leader should be. You have been warned, Esturias. I will recommend your father send you off to another command as a third level commander to teach you some manners and humility if you refuse to exercise it around your extremely sensitive, talented younger brother. Consider the next week or so as a test of your own character, Commander.”

Esturias was speechless for a few minutes, staring at Lord Mathdis and then appearing to study the tiled floor. He finally looked up to see the lord sitting with his arms crossed and a stern look on his face. He spoke up: “I’m terribly sorry if I have offended, my lord. I do not have much experience dealing with men like Raphael.”

“If I understand what your men have shared, you had Raphael under your command for at least six months, so you do have some experience with handling him,” replied Lord Mathdis adamantly. “Raphael is rather unique; in other words, a military man such as yourself have not encountered many other individuals who are like him. Raphael more closely resembles highly trained shamans. Raphael was encouraged to go into the command due to his undeniable gifts and past life experience. The command has proven not to be the best setting for a man like him. Now, he has an opportunity to contribute in a big way to our people and you are acting in an extremely petty and demanding manner towards him because he doesn’t fit your limited understanding of what defines a man. I find it quite disturbing to witness such behavior in one who has commanded men for decades.” Lord Mathdis paused and looked at the shocked face of the commander and said rather tersely: “What brought you to my office this morning, commander? I have another appointment soon.”

“I…I was wondering, my lord, whether or not we could store some of the smaller ships here in Jolf, so we don’t have to use the viscars every time we visit the site,” replied Esturias.

We don’t have any facilities large enough to handle the golden ship right now, but the smaller vessels should be able to fit in a couple of our garages at the edge of town. How many ships were you planning to keep here for the use of your men, commander?” asked Lord Mathdis.

Right now, just the three medium sized ships which respond to me, Lantrill, and Sukio. If we need them, I understand there are also some smaller ships which are about the size of a regular viscar still inside a couple of hangars which I have not yet viewed…sir,” replied Esturias, who was clearly shaken by the Lord of Jolf’s criticism of his latest behaviors. 

Okay, I’ll advise some of my citizens to move their vehicles from the spaces where I’ve allowed them to park since we will need room for your vehicles during the next week specifically when we are expecting a sudden influx of visitors,” replied Lord Mathdis. “Now, is that all, commander?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Esturias and stood up. Before leaving the room, he remembered his manners and saluted Lord Mathdis. Then he turned and left.

Children!” said Lord Mathdis with a sigh and then smiled at the prospect of finally having an opportunity to have some grandchildren in his life in the future.

Lord Mathdis’ next appointment was Lady Anna Ramirez, the busy High Priestess who graciously had made time in her day to have this opportunity to speak to him. The tall lord stood up and bowed to the lady as she was escorted into his office. Lady Anna extended her hand to him to kiss, which he did and showed her where she could sit. She smiled and said: “Your servant, Alexei, tells me you’ve had a busy morning, my lord, with many of our visitors coming over here.”

“Yes – it has been quite busy, my lady – still very interesting,” replied Lord Mathdis with a smile. “The reason I wanted to have this talk with you is about Raphael DeAires VaCoupe, the young commander who is involved in exploring the ancient outpost not far from our town. Do you know anything of this young man?”

“Oddly enough, yes, my lord,” replied Lady Anna. “The Shekinah herself has advised all the High Priestesses on Medina that this young man might periodically come to our attention. One of her senior healing priestesses, Lady Arrina, has had dealings with the young man, although soon after he had been released from captivity. The young man had some issues in adjusting to family life. Are you aware of his background, my lord?”

“Only to a small degree, my lady,” replied Lord Mathdis. “I was told last night that he was a captive of the enemy for a decade as a child.”

“Yes, and he was used as a sex slave during that entire time. He was going to be sold to a dark lord and sent to Rigel just before he was rescued,” said Lady Anna. “It is said it took him years to overcome the experienced trauma even while being subjected to the pressures of living within yet another controlled environment, namely the Command.”

“What a shocking thing to learn and he’s such a polite young man – I would have never guessed he experienced such trauma as a young person,” replied Lord Mathdis. “It gives me some perspective as to why he is currently struggling with a new development in his life.”

“And what is that my lord?” inquired the priestess.

“Last night at supper, the young man addressed all who were at the table explaining he was undergoing a process known to shamans as ‘soul retrieval” and reintegration of two of his important former incarnations, namely Lord Delos, the Ashkerian Commander, and King Rigo, the leader of the ancient Feline people who created the outpost. Apparently, both Delos and Rigo have extensive experience in the development of galactic fleets. The young man said he is undergoing this process because this is the purpose for which he came to be with us and now is the time!”

“How extraordinary! This is an excellent development,” said Lady Anna, her face brightening with excitement. “We were all wondering if he was the promised one long prophesied by our seers. Did you want me to speak to the young man?”

“If you will, my lady,” replied Lord Mathdis. “He is experiencing different breaks in his personality as one of his former identities takes over for another. It is upsetting Commander Esturias, his adopted brother, and some of the men who are with him. He doesn’t wish to be considered a freak or a troublemaker. What he shared with us last night was quite enlightening. Would you willing to receive a condensed version of the discussion through telepathy?”

“It would be easier for you, I’m sure. I can sense you are feeling somewhat fatigued by all the excitement here in town stemming from the presence of these two brothers from the VaCoupe family. I understand Lord VaCoupe will also be here in a few days?” asked Lady Anna.

Yes, the two brothers are… well, yes, it has been interesting. Thank you for permitting this, my lady,” replied Lord Mathdis. He sat back and closed his eyes and sent her his impressions of the previous night’s discussion, especially the comments made Raphael. When he was done, he opened his eyes and waited for the lady’s reactions.

What she said next surprised him, “Ah, my blessed stars – thank you! It is time and he is here!” replied Lady Anna. “Yes, I would be delighted to meet this young man and to meet his alternate personalities, as well. We are well acquainted with the process he is currently undergoing. This does not usually occur with ordinary people, but it is more common among those individuals who are preparing to do a great work. As was suggested by Master Pelleur, the process normally takes place when the subject is isolated from others. Raphael has presented himself with a challenge to be undergoing this metamorphosis while in the presence of those with whom he has had long association. I may have to separate him from his friends, at least initially so that the process can evolve more fluidly for Raphael. Then, he will be better prepared when Lord VaCoupe and the others arrive in a couple of days. As it is, we shall attempt a foreshortened version of the process and then will review what has been accomplished in the time allowed. If more work is required, it will be done.”

“Oh, my gracious lady, I wasn’t expecting this,” exclaimed Lord Mathdis. “Should I inform Raphael of your plans for him? He does have his mate and child here, too.”

“I would like for you to invite him over here to stay for a few days without his mate and child. Their presence would only serve to distract him right now. Then, I would put him through some meditations and procedures that will serve to accelerate the integration of his soul essence from his other incarnations. Does that sound doable?” said Lady Anna. 

Eminently, Lady Anna – I will go over to my son’s inn and inform Commander Raphael that he should expect to begin this process, say, tomorrow morning?” asked Lord Mathdis.

That will be perfect as it would also give me time to prepare,” replied Lady Anna. “One question: Is his mate and child related to either one of his former incarnations?”

“Yes, Julia was Lady Anya, mate to Lord Delos and his child Jychondria was the elder brother of Lord Delos for his first Ashkerian incarnation,” said Lord Mathdis.

Excellent! Those relationships will help cement Lord Delos into Raphael’s consciousness as I sense the former commander was a very intense individual who dedicated himself to his work and had little time for his family. This reintegration will serve to balance that lack in his life as Delos. From what I have heard, I understand Raphael is a very attentive mate and father.”

“That is true according to what little I know of Raphael. I have witnessed him interacting very patiently with his young child, feeding him at the table while not eating himself. He and his mate often hold hands and seem to enjoy a very tender loving relationship,” replied Lord Mathdis. “Then, if you will, kindly inform or have one of your servants inform Commander Raphael to come over to the house tomorrow morning prepared to stay here for at least three days. If Mistress VaCoupe wishes to have a

priestess stay with her while her husband is occupied, we would be pleased to provide her with a pleasant companion,” said the High Priestess.

Despite my short acquaintance with Commander Raphael, I will inform him of your offer and expectations,” replied Lord Mathdis. “Kindly send one of your priestesses to Mistress Raphael as I am sure she also has certain concerns which should be carefully listened to and addressed while her mate is undergoing his transformation.”

“Thank you, my lord, for informing us of this opportunity to assist Commander Raphael,” said Lady Anna. “I have known of the prophecy since I was a young priestess and have always wondered if it would be fulfilled during my lifetime. We will see how the young man responds to our assistance while within this house.”

“Then I will set some of my servants to preparing a room for the commander, so he does not have to be disturbed tomorrow after he arrives,” stated Lord Mathdis.

“He will be spending much of his time alone between the meditations we assign to him. I will be instructing him myself as I regard this opportunity to serve our community at large to aid this rare individual on his way forward.” The lady paused and then said simply, “It is time for me to depart. Events have been set into motion and we will observe them play out. This is truly an exciting time!”

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