CHAPTER 5 – Metamorphosis
The previous evening, Raphael had been informed by Aiden that his father, Lord Mathdis, and the High Priestess Lady Anna, had made arrangements on his behalf to assist him with his ‘process’. Early in the morning, Raphael bid his mate and child good-bye for a few days, packed a small bag, and left without saying anything to his companions. He wasn’t going to take any of the Eagles with him, either. He just left. The priestess made it clear that he was going to be kept in near isolation for a few days to allow his personality to settle.
Raphael reported to the house of Lord Mathdis and was escorted to an isolated room on the top floor overlooking a pleasant garden. There was a bathing room and refreshments were available if he required anything to eat or drink.
When he had sat on a couple of pillows for a while, there came a knock at the door. Lady Anna entered in quietly. She was dressed in long pale violet robes. Her braided thick blonde hair reached to the back of her knees. She had a serene face and the wise eyes of an experienced priestess. Raphael couldn’t begin to guess how old she was, but her presence was quite powerful. He knew he was in good hands.
If truth be told, Raphael had nearly begun to fall into despair when it appeared some of his companions appeared to be unwilling to allow him to change. Coming to Jolf had triggered a process that promised to forever change him. For when he entered the ancient outpost inner keys were activated; ones which he himself had placed there long ago. Now, he had an opportunity to do something for his people, some of his friends, especially his brother, Esturias, did not appear to be ready to accept his dream as being real. Last night, he was heartened to hear Adario, and Lord Mathdis speak up in support of his efforts to re-integrate the personalities and soul essence of Delos and Rigo, so that he might go forward with what he came to do. Raphael was sorry Esturias didn’t want to understand him, but like Delos, he did not have time for naysayers now. He was willingly ready to sacrifice what he had been for what he could become.
He stood up and politely greeted the priestess with a bow and a “Good morning, my lady!”
Lady Anna smiled in response and said: “Lord Mathdis mentioned that you were a polite young man. He also told me that you are currently undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts where two powerful personalities of previous incarnations are beginning to blend or meld into your present persona. You have expressed your dismay that some, if not most, of your friends and companions are disturbed by the changes in your temperament. The process which you are apparently undergoing is rare among individuals who are common everyday folk. Only those who have been incarnated with the determination to do remarkable things will, at some time in their life, go through a similar metamorphosis. It is the result of your Oversoul deeming it necessary to augment your current personality with those traits that can enable you to move through fear and impediments that would put off common men.”
“When I was a young girl and had decided upon my life’s journey, my teacher, a wonderful priestess from the Temple of Groche, shared with our class the story of a prophecy that had been passed down by some of our seers. Each succeeding generation of priestesses were informed of this prophecy and each generation waited for the coming of the one who would return to help his people. This man would be one who was haunted by dreams and nightmares, judged by many, considered to be overly sensitive and highly gifted, one who had survived great suffering, yet emerged whole. And one day, this individual would enter a place belonging to an ancient people and reawaken the magic not only stored there but also held within his own heart. And he would be forever changed. In undergoing this outer change, he would also alter the fate of his people who would be, by that time, threatened by strange and frightening darkness. He and the others who would support him would carry forth a new light and drive the darkness from our lands and the hearts of our people.”
The priestess looked upon Raphael and quietly finished her story: “I have reason to believe that you, Raphael DeAires VaCoupe, are the one spoken of in the prophecy.”
Raphael looked down at his tightly gasped hands lying in his lap, and loosened them. He looked up at the priestess and said: “How can this be, my lady?”
She looked upon him with compassion and replied: “Sometimes, Raphael, it takes difficult experiences to hone a weapon or a mind. I see within your auric field records of great trauma and violent ends, yet you are resolved to go forward no matter the cost to your own being. You are one who carries great secrets within, which when revealed will forever change our worlds. You came here for a purpose and the time in which the unfolding will take place is now.”
“Raphael, I would like to do a deep scan on you and decipher for myself the three main personalities who are attempting to meld within your outer consciousness now. Do I have your permission?”
Raphael bowed his head and nodded, replying quietly, “Yes, my lady, you have my permission.”
As a few priestesses had found in the past, the download came quickly. Within a few moments, the priestess opened her eyes. She sat there for a few more minutes looking very thoughtful and then said: “First, it is clear you are overlighted by great Beings on the white and golden rays. In the beginning of this vision, I saw you as a great Lion King with three brothers who designed and outfitted a huge fleet to carry your people far away. Before you departed this world, you prepared the outpost with samples of your technology and crystals with the plans and specifications to build similar sentient ships. These things were left to give those peoples who would come later the chance to survive the great darkness that drove you from the worlds from which you originally came, in another quadrant of creation. After your death in space, your soul eventually returned to the Ashkera star system to where you were called by the great soul of your original Father, to whom you were born again. There you began your task once more, to build a modern and advanced star fleet within the means available at the time. It took two lifetimes to complete the task, but you finished it. And now, you have been drawn to this place by clues left by crystals and great masters to discover the technology once again you left here thousands of years ago. This technology will catapult our Federation further into the stars and protect our worlds from the ravages of the darkness that followed you into this quadrant when it was defeated in the higher worlds. For this purpose, these three personalities must now be reblend so all can combine their gifts, knowledge, and experience to complete the task ahead. While there will be those ahead to question your qualifications, your gifts will be undeniable, both those you carry within, and the ones contained on the crystals that were left as seeds of knowledge and wisdom.”
When the priestess finished her speech, Raphael noticed she had tears in her eyes. “My lady, are you alright?”
“Raphael – I am more than all right. You are here. I am honored to be able to assist in my small way. Now, first, I will give you a meditation so you can visualize the reunion of the essence of the two beings who have returned to give you their experience and knowledge of what is needed to accomplish your mission,” replied Lady Anna. “Center in your heart and call forth the white column of light that has served to protect your inner being all this life. Now expand the column and call down the golden light of Divine Intelligence. Meditate on that for a moment and blend the energies of the white and gold into one column. When that is completed, call down a column of pink light from the strength and power of the masculine energy of the Godhead. See each of your personalities blending within these three pillars, melding, yet retaining all their original gifts, knowledge, and expertise so you might utilize them here. And with a final column of blue energy, bring forth the love of Source Creator who envelops you and has given you a body that you might work with your hands and mind to bring into manifestation that which you came to do in these times when darkness threatens our worlds and others.”
“I will leave you now to contemplate on these energies and to meditate on the worth of each of these lifetimes, the one when you were a king, the one when you were a commander, and your present one, here and now. Let these personalities, their experience, wisdom, and desire to aid your loved ones allow for the successful blending of these energies so you may go forth stronger than you were before.” With that, the priestess stood up and quietly left the room, leaving Raphael to meditate on what she had shared.
He recognized she had instructed him to bring in the loving energy of the Divine Mother so he might forgive each part of himself for what he deemed as lack. Intuitively, he blended the qualities of the masculine and feminine energies to create another ray, the Violet Ray. Utilizing this alchemical ray of transformation, he could focus on what energies needed to be dissolved within – especially those of a lingering sense of being unworthy due to his difficult early life. He began to recognize the pain and struggle he had undergone as being a period for the refinement of his essential nature. All that was extraneous to his world had disappeared or had been taken away and yet all was given again and more. He had long carried doubts within himself that he deserved the love he had found in the VaCoupe household, even within the arms of his beloved Julia. Yet now, he began to understand that the purity and innocence that existed untouched deep within during the entirety of his trials, was inviolate, and the reality of his true being. So, he chose to expand the white light and to purify and cleanse whatever doubts and fears still lingered by applying the fires of transmutation to allow the energies to rise in frequency within. All that was not required for the task ahead was dissolved. That which was needed was made stronger and more resilient.
As he worked and purified his present being, he also expanded his mind and heart to welcome in the purified qualities of Rigo and Delos, their determination to serve and protect their people, to prepare for the future, to lay the foundations for those who would come behind him. He joined these gifts and qualities into a new oneness within and blazed the white light of purity as though he was forging a sword by plunging it alternately into fire and water, to strengthen, mold, and direct his reunited energies, intelligence, and will towards this new project. He let go his concern as to how he would be judged by friends and family for he would be forever altered by this process, but it was for the good of all that he did this, not just for himself. He was needed; the gifts, knowledge, and experience of Delos and Rigo were needed. His own psychic gifts and sensitivities were required, developed out of a need to survive at all cost whatever afflicted his outer body.
Raphael plunged his three personalities into the crucible of transformation. Like an alchemist, he began to reforge his personality melding together all that was desirable for the mission ahead and releasing what was no longer required for him to simply survive. He went deep, deep within and when he emerged hours later, the priestess was sitting opposite quietly observing him.
She said, “It is time, Raphael, to feed your body. You have worked hard today. With your psychic sensitivities, you are flowing more rapidly through this process than even I could have imagined. Now, eat and then rest. We will see you in the morning. If you wish, you can go outside and sit in the garden, but refrain from speaking with anyone if you can. I will let Lord Mathdis know to instruct his staff to leave you alone for now.”
Raphael began to thank the priestess, but she put up her hand to gesture for silence: “You are still within the alchemical process, so silence is the best place for you now; rest and sleep well tonight, young man. I will return in the morning to see how you are doing.”
She stood up and left the room. Raphael stood up and had to brace his body as it swayed to prevent a fall. He went to the table where some refreshments had been left. There was some fresh tea and light cookies, plus some fruit. He drank and ate for a while and then felt a pull to go outside to enjoy the last light of the day. He felt calmer than he had for quite a while and was enjoying the sensation. When he finally went outside, he chose to sit in the small front garden where there was a bench placed in a quiet corner, partially hidden by flowering vines and shrubs. With the scent of roses, lavender, and honeysuckle coyly triggering memories of other gardens, he fell back into a deep meditative state.
A tall muscular golden Being stood in front of him and said: “Welcome, my brother!” The great Being showed him a river of Light. Within this river, he witnessed the flow of time, of many lifetimes and the coming of the Seeder Races into this dimension, transiting from the higher density worlds via a huge multidimensional portal located within the system that would be known as Man. Long afterward, the Felines found another star cluster filled with tiny uninhabited planets. They created a great civilization that rose and fell within the cycles of time. It was time to leave, their king was dying, and the fleet had to be built. So, Rigo took it upon his own shoulders to bring forth the genius of his being to design and guide the building of the great ships which would carry his people to other worlds. For his efforts, he was named the king to follow his father as birth did not determine succession, despite him being the eldest son. He knew in his heart that the spirals of time would carry him back to this world someday, perhaps wrapped in a different form, so he wanted to prepare a place that could be rediscovered during a time of great need. For the great darkness that cut his people’s roots from their ancient home would surely follow to this place, also, and threaten the people who came after when his own were not even a memory anymore.
Then, a great Being who was his original Father, who along with his Mother, brought his soul essence from Source called him forth to incarnate within a small star system with a huge star. They called it Ashkera, the great star of Sirius. Again, he was called upon to be the force behind the design and building of a great star fleet, to protect his new people, many of whom being ones he had left behind in the old world that was destroyed by internecine wars. He was driven from within by a vow he made to protect his loved ones at any cost to himself. And so, it was…
And now, he was a young man, adopted by the highest family in the systems; now, he could fulfill with the blending of the qualities and gifts, knowledge, wisdom, and experience of those lives of service by taking on this new vision and helping to bring it into manifestation along with those whom he loved dearly.
The golden Being looked upon him with fondness and said: “My brother, your mission awaits your participation; do not falter or fall into fear. You and your vision are protected and guided. You will discover all you need along the way. Follow the path set before you and do so with eyes wide open and clarity of mind and purpose. We are walking beside you always.”
The cool night air whispered across his still face. He opened his eyes and saw the moons had risen above the ridge. It was time to go in and rest for the night. He sat a moment longer lost in the wonder of what he had seen and felt. And then he stood up and went into the house of Lord Mathdis.
For two more days, Lady Anna gave Raphael more meditations with which to work upon, focusing on a different aspect of his being. He spent much of the time in meditation, allowing time for the alchemical process to precipitate the changes from deep within, integrating with his psyche. As the hours and days advanced, Lady Anna began to see subtle changes in the young man’s outer appearance, so she knew the process was advancing successfully. She did not discuss these observations as she considered them to be a distraction from what was occurring within his being. She did, however, update Lord Mathdis on the progress Raphael was making, as each day she performed scans on his physical, mental, and emotional well-being and condition. For his part, Lord Mathdis updated his old friend, Lord Demetrius, on the ongoing changes occurring within his adopted son.
On the morning of the fourth day, when Lady Anna arrived at the house of Lord Mathdis, she was surprised to see Raphael sitting deep in meditation outside in the front garden. The priestess stood there quietly observing him as she noted all the changes in Raphael’s outer appearance. As she studied his face, she saw that his physical appearance was now much altered. His hair had lightened considerably in its tone from the golden blonde to a pale nearly white blonde. The texture of his hair had also changed from curly to slightly wavy. Even his complexion had altered from the golden tan to a lighter creamy tone. This morning, he was not wearing his hair in braids, but had allowed it to spread out on his shoulders as he sat in the early morning sunlight.
Yet it was when the young man sensed her presence and opened his eyes that she observed the most profound change in his physical appearance: Raphael’s eyes were now a beautiful sea green lined with a deep violet like the kohl used in Egyptian paintings. Raphael stood up and bowed to her. He smiled and lifted his hands up and rotated his wrists as he displayed for her some of the more noticeable changes to his physical being wrought during the integrative process. He said: “Greetings, lady – apparently the process is complete! Does this sort of thing happen often?”
“Not always – it depends on the subject and need,” she replied. She smiled as Raphael’s voice had also deepened to a baritone instead of his former light tenor.
As Lady Anna surveyed the young man’s appearance further, she noted that now the Ashkerian heritage of Delos was clearly displayed in Raphael’s appearance, the light hair and complexion, and those extraordinary eyes, the blue-green tint being a blend of the Pleiadian and Ashkerian portions of his spiritual heritage and lineages. What’s more, there was a subtle growth of golden hair on his arms and legs now; just a hint of the legacy of the Lion King Rigo, what little the priestess could see as he was dressed in his Medinian robes. He asked her: “Why did these physical changes occur, my lady?”
“Your DNA has changed, Raphael, with the reintegration of the soul essences of your two prior incarnations. You are now physically, emotionally, and mentally a complete blend of these three primary incarnations. You have gone through this final stage of this process quickly because you were ready to do so. Congratulations, Raphael! How do you feel now?”
“I feel calmer and stronger. Much of my concerns about what other people might think has also dissipated, although it may be a shock for my friends and family to see me as I am now,” replied Raphael with another smile. “I feel more whole now, like I’ve always missed a part of myself this life. It will be interesting to see how Julia reacts to my new appearance as she remembers me as Delos, too. My voice has deepened, too, hasn’t it?”
Lady Anna nodded, but then she surveyed Raphael’s auric field and saw that it had now changed, appearing to be more of a golden white field rimmed with a deep indigo blue. It had also expanded with the confidence gained by the addition of the stronger personalities. With the scan, she could also see that the transformational process was now complete. His personalities had stabilized into one stronger one, which would now enable the young man to face the challenges that lay before him. The priestess said: “Would you now like to introduce your new self to Lord Mathdis? This will be your first test.”
Raphael took a deep breath and stood up, as he replied: “I am ready, my lady!”
Lord Mathdis was taking his breakfast in the courtyard, enjoying the water features and flowers which his son had planted and maintained for him. He looked up as he sensed the presence of people approaching. He saw the priestess first and said: “Good morning, my lady – are you here to continue working with Commander VaCoupe?”
Lady Anna gave the lord a great big smile and said, “Lord Mathdis, I am so pleased to introduce you to the new Raphael DeAires VaCoupe!” And as she announced Raphael’s name, she stepped aside so Lord Mathdis could see the young man more clearly in the morning sunshine.
Lord Mathdis looked stunned. All he managed to say was: “Commander Raphael – is that you?”
More surprise registered on Lord Mathdis’ features as he heard the deeper voice as Raphael greeted him: “Good morning, Lord Mathdis. Yes, it is I. ‘We’ are now one.”
“You’re already done with your metamorphosis? By looking at you and hearing your new voice, it would appear so. I am simply stunned by this transformation, young man! Now I can clearly see your Ashkerian heritage stamped upon your face. Have you seen yourself in the mirror yet? Your eyes are a beautiful sea green now!” replied Lord Mathdis. “We’ll have to invite some of your Ashkerian relatives to visit you. They will also be astonished with the change; and what of your mate, Mistress Julia?”
The servant Alexei came out with a tray of fruit. When he saw Raphael standing there, he stopped and stared for a moment and remembered himself, saying: “Here is some fruit for your guests, my lord. Would they enjoy some juice or tea for breakfast? I also have some fruit pudding and smoothies made up for your pleasure, my lord.”
Lord Mathdis stood and took the tray from his servant, “Take a good look, Alexei. Do you remember ever meeting this young man before?”
The tall blonde servant studied Raphael closely and shook his head, “This man looks somewhat familiar, but I can’t say I know him, my lord. Is he a friend of Lady Anna’s?”
“Ah, this is Commander Raphael – remember, the man with the golden ship in the town square who startled the entire populace? This is him!” said Lord Mathdis, as he drew Raphael forward and turned him around. “Commander – did you know your hair, eyes, and skin tone have changed? You are truly a new man! If I had not witnessed what you looked like previously, I would have never thought such a thing was possible!”
Raphael drew out a lock of his straightened hair so he could study it and remarked: “My hair should be easier to brush out now!”
Lord Mathdis chuckled and said: “You are an amusing young man, Commander VaCoupe! After you break your fast here, we should visit your companions over at my son’s inn. Now you look a little more like your lovely mate and child with their white blonde hair.”
The Lady Anna and Lord Mathdis observed the young commander as he quietly ate his morning meal, while answering a few questions. It was clear Raphael had finally reached a new pinnacle of calmness and self-acceptance. Despite all he had suffered prior in this life, he was now whole and more than whole. His two benefactors were incredibly pleased to have aided him on his way.
When the meal was done, Raphael went to his room to gather up his scanty belongings. He kept on his Medinian robes and bundled his uniform into his bag. He had also decided that he wanted to officially leave the Command. He was going to be part of a family business, at least initially. He would now present himself as himself and not a member of a military force. When he reemerged into the courtyard, Lord Mathdis and Lady Anna were also ready to accompany the commander to the inn to meet his companions and family.
Lord Mathdis led the small party to the compound gate of the inn. Lady Anna followed him leading the hooded Raphael. He had drawn a hood up over his pale blonde hair to shade his face, at least initially. When entering the courtyard, Lord Mathdis and his companions were surrounded by the curious men waiting there. Commander Esturias was the first to speak: “How is Raphael? I understand he’s been under isolation in your house. It’s been days now! What is going on?”
Lord Mathdis firmly but patiently told everyone to sit back down at the table or nearby benches in the courtyard. Then Lady Anna led the disguised Raphael into the center of the courtyard where all could see him.
A light baritone voice spoke, “Greetings, my friends! I am Raphael DeAires VaCoupe made anew.” Then, Raphael pushed the hood off his pale blonde hair and looked around at the astonished faces of his brother, cousins, Master Pelleur, and the three Eagles present. Raphael heard a crash of crockery behind him and turned lightly; Aiden had dropped a tray of bowls upon seeing his new appearance revealed. Then, Sukio led Julia and Jychondria into the courtyard.
Julia stared at Raphael with his light blonde hair and complexion, and greenish eyes. With tears starting in her eyes as she murmured, “Delos, is that you?”
“No, my dearest, I am still Raphael, but now a combination or blending of the essences of Rigo, Delos, and Raphael. This metamorphosis has forever changed my appearance, my very being,” replied Raphael softly, stepping up to her. He gathered up her small hands and kissed them. Then he tenderly took his young son into his arms. The baby took a lock of his loose pale hair into its mouth and pressed his little head to his father’s chest in complete trust.
Julia also took a lock of his hair and examined it, comparing it to hers. Then, she held his face between her hands and searched his eyes, his sea green eyes that were alight with new joy and laughter. She next picked up his large hand and stroked his skin and its new golden hair, marveling at the softness. The two mates sat down together. Julia sighed and cuddled closer to him, saying: “You are still my love, Raphael.”
Raphael’s cousins, Commander Monteras and Adario Kadish, were staring at Raphael, attempting to find there the old Raphael, but all that remained was the basic underlying bone structure of his face with its broad forehead, high cheekbones, long straight nose, firm squared jaw, and sculpted lips. His coloring was altogether altered by the metamorphosis process. And there was a greater serenity and a sense of contained power and presence now emanating from the young man. He was gently smiling, watching his young son as he jostled him on his knee, the baby chortling and gurgling with glee to see his father, again.
Lord Mathdis was grinning as he glanced around at the stunned onlookers, “Well, are any of you going to speak to the Commander?” Esturias was still staring at his much-altered younger brother. He didn’t really know what to say other than: “Raphael – Father is arriving soon — earlier than we expected. He’s coming directly from Alyona to Elexa. He will be bringing a few guests with him, including Lady Arla and Master Tzulo. He said he also had a few ‘surprises’ for you. He will be here tomorrow midday or earlier.”
Raphael regarded his older brother calmly and replied: “Thank you for telling me this, Esturias. Now, I would imagine we should gather up our three smaller ships so we can ferry some of our arriving guests to the outpost if they wish to visit it?”
“That is the plan we…er, I discussed with Lord Mathdis, brother,” replied Esturias. “He has thoughtfully provided us with some hangar room at the landing field outside of town. We were hoping to be able to fetch the ships today but weren’t certain what was happening with your…process.”
“You hardly need me to fetch a few ships when you know where they are located, brother,” replied Raphael patiently. “You did not need to wait for me.”
“We can’t access anything new without you there…Raphael,” said Monteras.
Raphael shifted his son to one shoulder and stood up. He looked around at his companions and said in his new baritone voice: “Well, finally you all begin to appreciate my worth and that I might, indeed, have a purpose in being here now?”
Master Pelleur regarded Raphael’s blue-green eyes and pale looks with wonder and said: “You look more Ashkerian than Pleiadian now, my friend.”
“Indeed, my small friend, Master Nathan,” replied Raphael with a laugh. “Except I am much taller and broader in the shoulders than my Ashkerian kin although they might see a small resemblance now of their former commander within my eyes and countenance.” The young commander strode restlessly around the courtyard and picked up a nasturtium flower for his boy to play with. These were edible, although peppery in taste, with their colorful yellow, orange, and red blooms spilling over the sides of the large blue pots standing in the corners of the red-tiled courtyard. “Whatever changes have been wrought within my physical being matter little when you begin to understand why I was drawn to this place now. Lady Anna has spoken of an old prophecy that told of a time which would come when our worlds were going to be threatened by a great darkness. Lady Anna, could you recount this prophecy to my friends and my brother?”
Lord Mathdis stepped forward and introduced the priestess to the companions: “Men, Mistress Julia, this woman is Lady Anna, the High Priestess of our village. She was trained in the great Temple of Groche on Maia and has been with us here in Jolf for a long time. She is well-experienced in all matters spiritual. Listen to her words!”
Lady Anna stepped into the middle of the courtyard and began to tell her tale: “When it was apparent, I would be trained into the Order of the Lily, I became one of many who served the White Ray of Purity as symbolized by that beautiful flower. The other day, when I was introduced to Commander Raphael, I recognized the essential purity of his being. I was reminded of a tale told to us by a great teacher of an age-old prophecy long held sacrosanct by the priestesses of the Order of the Lily of a young man who would appear in a time of great need. He would undergo profound changes in both his outer appearance and his inner being as his existing consciousness was augmented by those of at least two previous incarnations. When Lord Mathdis told me of this young man and his struggle to integrate with several personalities into one, I knew the prophecy had come true and the man of whom we had long expected has arrived. The need is real – our worlds are under attack by a relentless enemy – and help is needed. And it would come from an unexpected source, from an ancient outpost where once, in another life, this same man planted seeds in preparation for just such a day as this. He is here and standing in your midst. Now is the time to unite with him in the significant effort it will take to free our people from the darkness that threatens to swallow our worlds.”
The priestess then strode up to confront Esturias: “Raphael is still your brother, but more now, he is the brother of all our people, and stands here waiting for you to accept him or not. If you cannot, he will gather others to stand with him so he may accomplish what he has come to do by returning to this planet where he once lived long ago. The stars took him, and the time spirals returned his soul essence, blending it with the one you have known as Raphael, the sensitive dreamer. His consciousness is now augmented and united with the essence of two great leaders, one a king and one a head commander of a great star fleet, King Rigo and Lord Delos. They are here, now, within this one you call brother, cousin, mate, companion, and friend. Will you stand with him now?”
Carlos, Adario, and Master Nathan stepped forward and said together: “I will stand with you, cousin, friend!”
Lantrill and Sukio stood together and said, “We are with you, brother!”
Monteras and the four Eagles also stood, as Tomás said aloud: “You know the Eagles are pledged to protect you, Raphael, so we are with you!”
Then Aiden stood alongside his father and said: “You are not here to be a ruler but to show us the way that we might help our people free themselves from the darkness. We will stand by you!”
“Under my guidance, this young man finished the metamorphosis which started upon his entering the ancient outpost; now it is complete, and I chose to stand with him!” proclaimed Lady Anna.
Then all the people within the courtyard looked at Esturias, waiting for him to declare himself or not. Esturias was studying the red tiles carefully, although occasionally, he glanced up at his younger brother who had been transformed by an act of alchemy he couldn’t even begin to understand. After a few minutes he relented and said, “I do not understand by what process you accomplished this ‘feat’ of transformation and so quickly, but it is obvious even to me that you are here for a purpose, brother… Raphael. And now, can we fetch those ships? Father is going to be here tomorrow!”
“Yes!” exclaimed Aiden. “I’ll have my cooks prepare some snacks and drinks for you to take on your errand for I sense you may linger at the outpost a bit longer today now that Raphael is free to accompany you once again.”
Esturias nodded reluctantly and asked Raphael where his uniform was now. Raphael looked at his commander brother and stated clearly, “I am going to formally announce to Father tomorrow that I’m leaving the Command. I do not feel a need to remain within its jurisdiction to perform the work I came to do here. In fact, I would be freer to pursue my dreams outside the limitations of the present Command structure. So, Esturias, as the highest commanding officer present, I am now informing you of this intention. If Father requires my expertise in doing scans or similar projects, I will pursue these tasks outside of the Command. I do these things for the people of the Pleiadian Federation, not just the Command. Being one who has watched two sets of parents die in these wars, I want to protect as many as possible by assisting in the creation of a highly advanced fleet, but I choose to work within the scope and practice of a family business. And I do not wish to carry the title, ‘Commander’ anymore save for the fact it was originally granted to me by my mentor, and long ago, Father, Lord Lyonell.”
“You earned the right to be called commander, Raphael. Wear the title with pride, even if you are no longer in the Command,” remarked Monteras.
“Okay, we can discuss that later; here comes Aiden with the baskets. Paul and Felipe, could you get the viscars ready? And who wants to go this time? We need Sukio, Lantrill, and me or Raphael can fly one of the ships back,” said Esturias, who was getting restless and impatient to do something besides stare at the results of his brother’s startling transformation. “Raphael, are you coming?”
Raphael calmly regarded his brother with his green eyes. Esturias, who had not served with many Ashkerians, unlike Raphael, and was, frankly, a bit put off. He enjoyed being the center of attention and these changes in Raphael were working against his attention-seeking behavior. Raphael didn’t care. He replied: “You, Esturias, am not my commander in this endeavor, we’re equals. And, without me, nothing would get done, so keep that in mind within the vicinity of the outpost. Who knows what Rigo has left behind in the way of surprises? We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what is hidden within the ancient outpost, and you have no comprehension of what lies hidden within me, brother.”
With that declaration, Raphael stood up and handed Jychondria, over to Gareth to watch, along with Julia. First, he thanked Lord Mathdis for his hospitality and Lady Anna for her instruction. Then, he strode out of the courtyard to wait for the viscars and the Eagles driving them to arrive. He felt he should have remained alone for another day or two, but events were pressing forward, and things needed to get done.
The other men who were going on this trip finally came to the gate, Sukio, Lantrill, Adario, and Esturias. For once, Master Nathan was going to remain behind. He didn’t want to have to climb down the steep slope to the beach once again. Instead, Tomás decided to take Master Nathan’s spot. Carlos would have loved to come but decided to stay with Julia and Jychondria. He wanted to discuss with Julia her impressions of the changes that had manifested in her mate, seemingly overnight. The two friends joined with Master Aiden, Lord Mathdis, and Lady Anna as they sat down for a brief discussion on the changes that had occurred in Raphael. The priestess reminded everyone that Raphael had probably started his transformational process months before as the two previous incarnations began to meld within Raphael’s consciousness. They were merely witnessing the culmination of a lengthy process as the coalescing personalities and their associated physical features precipitated into the physical body after going through the spiritual, mental, emotional, and then the etheric, just before coming into outer manifestation. So it was with all change; it begins within. None of the citizens from Jolf knew much about Raphael’s character save what they had themselves witnessed, but truly felt blessed to be on hand for the outplaying of prophecy.
The viscars pulled up in front of the inn and the men going on the outing piled in. No one was saying much, especially Raphael who wanted to be somewhere else. Still, he also wanted to investigate just how integrated his personalities were now. Going to the outpost would surely be the next test he faced. He sat quietly next to Paul Dominguez as the Eagle expertly steered the viscar over the rolling green shoreline and rocky outcroppings. At present, there were no storm clouds on the horizon, but the day was wearing on.
After the hour drive, the two viscars set down as close as was safe along the coast near the tower. As he climbed out of the viscar, Raphael looked carefully at the tower. He began to feel a pull to explore the building, so he announced he was going over to inspect it. Adario and Tomás followed him closely, with Lantrill, Sukio, and Esturias trailing behind. As Raphael approached the building, he saw a distinctive-looking door, much like the door to the ancient tomb of Lord Lyonille, with a sigil in the middle but no handle. He waved the men closer to him and then stood before the door, paused a moment in with his eyes close, opened them and made a quick sign with his fingers. The door opened inward, and this time remained open long enough for all the men to enter the structure.
When Esturias finally passed through the door, he noticed the spiraling stairway looming to one side. He was standing on a landing which led to one of the four levels within the tower. Curious, he ventured into the small room beyond the stairwell. On the walls were holographic star charts. He recognized one as being a chart of the nearby systems containing most of the stars in the current configuration of the Federation, along with mathematical computations on the spatial configuration and location of each system, as well as all the stars, nebulas, and planets within each solar system.
On the opposite wall, Esturias found there was a holographic map depicting the planet of Medina with her twelve small continents. Esturias recognized one of the largest continents as being Maubene. It was marked on its southern coast with a bright golden nine-pointed star. From the position of the star, Esturias guessed it marked the location of the outpost. As he looked about, he began to understand the function of the tower being a command, control, and communications center for the outpost and it was not the only one. For within the room, there was a diagram of the outpost itself, indicating the existence of at least six more potential towers which had not yet shown themselves. And there were at least six more hangars from what he could tell looking at the plans. Besides these basic structures, there was what appeared to be living quarters, a research library, and a great hall for meetings. There were also smaller rooms that might contain untold treasures of information, including more seed crystals and small instruments that could be useful in building a fleet. Despite his reservations about the place and project, Esturias could feel a certain amount of excitement building up within him. He knew he should catch up with the men, so he left the small map room as he came to describe it and began to climb up the stairs until he could hear some voices above him.
Like him, the other men were exploring all available nooks and crannies of the building. On the second level, he found Lantrill and Adario studying some more paintings depicting a star map, but these he did not recognize. Then, he realized the map depicted star systems far distant to the one they were located within now. Perhaps some of the pre-planning for the great space voyage took place in these small rooms. There was enough room for a circular table that might hold nine to eleven individuals the size of the present-day Felines, who were still large men. There was no table there now, but Esturias could very well imagine it and the discussions that must have taken place there, led by Rigo and attended by Lantrill, Sukio, and him, as well as others.
Lantrill remarked: “This is an interesting place. I don’t recognize these stars, but they must be a system to where the Lion People were thinking of heading to long ago. It must have taken a long time to gather all the data and spatial configurations of each system they would pass through or by. Generations of work I would think.”
“And downstairs on the first level, I discovered a painting of a star chart depicting most of our present star federation, as well as a map of the planet of Medina, and a diagram of this outpost with all its original configurations,” replied Esturias. “There’s no guarantee the entire site is intact, but I can tell you it is vast in its proportions. Raphael was right in his initial analysis that it would take years, not days or months, to explore the entire site. And most exciting to me, at least, there are perhaps six to eight more hangars. I have no idea how large of ships they might contain if any.“
Adario asked: “Have you seen Raphael and the rest of the men? We better check and see how Raphael is doing in here.”
Lantrill and Esturias nodded in agreement. Esturias said, “I was the last one in the tower, so I didn’t see where he went.”
“He went up to the top floor. At least he mumbled something to that effect before I lost all sight of him,” replied Lantrill. “I guess we better climb up the rest of the way and see what’s going on.”
Accordingly, the men began to climb another flight, and discovered a closed door to the next room. They decided not to attempt exploring it right now as they heard some voices coming from the floor above. After climbing some more, they emerged onto the final floor, what appeared to be the main communications and control room. There were three deep set windows circling the tower, giving good sight lines to visually see any incoming ships or to see anyone approaching by land. On the inland side of the tower (as could best be deciphered by Esturias) there was a great screen where Raphael must have encountered the king and his shaman, Lord Edrus. Sukio and Monteras were there standing watching as Raphael, seated at the control panel located below the screen was punching at the holograms displayed there. As he did this, the tower began to quiver slightly. Esturias rushed to the window and saw another tower erupt from beneath the ground. And then another and yet another, until after about fifteen minutes, six new towers soared above the surrounding countryside. In what had been a lonely green slope dotted with flowers now stood seven formidable towers, each about four to six floors high. All the men except for Raphael peered out the windows, while the Eagles who were with the viscars backed away the vehicles, so they were out of reach of any other surprises emerging from the underground outpost.
Esturias demanded: “What are you doing, Raphael?”
“I am delineating the extent of the site so we can assign teams to explore it once we find more men who are either Felines or attuned by their light frequency to the site. That, in and of itself, could take some time to discover the individuals we need. I want Father to be able to visualize the sheer scope of the work that needs to be done here,” replied Raphael in his new baritone voice, very calmly. His face was quite serene, but also focused. He didn’t appear to be entranced or experiencing any visions for the moment.
“How are you feeling, Raphael?” asked Adario.
“Rather well, which is as much a relief to me as it is probably to all of you,” he replied.
“Are you experiencing any more visions?” asked Tomás.
“Not now; I just know what to do. After all, as Rigo, I was the primary designer of this outpost,” replied Raphael. “Now that I have more awareness, I realize there are more hangars, as well as an assortment of other rooms within this large outpost. You forget, this was a launching site for thousands upon thousands of ships, large and small. It makes the Elexa space port look like a small oasis on Morova.”
Esturias said: “We found maps in some of what looked like small conference rooms inside this tower, Raphael. I found a diagram of the outpost, too. Maybe you’ll want to see it before we leave.”
“Did you also check the third floor of the tower?” asked Raphael.
“No, I did not,” replied Esturias. Adario and Lantrill shook their heads.
“Then, let’s check that before we fetch the ships out of the hangar. Don’t worry, Sukio – I’ll fly yours for you today!” said Raphael. He waved his hand across the console and the holograms disappeared. Then, he turned around and walked to the beginning of the steps. He glanced out one of the windows to see if he could see Paul and Felipe. The viscars were parked a safe distance from the outpost. He sent both men telepathic directions to return to town as the ships would get there much faster than the viscars could. It would give them a slight head start while the men inside the tower could do a little more investigating. Raphael said: “I just sent Paul and Felipe back to Jolf. They should be there about the time we arrive once we’ve looked around at a few more things since we’re here. How is everyone feeling?”
Esturias replied: “You know, I found the star charts interesting. They’re painted onto the walls of this place and appear to be highly accurate, at least for the time they were originally created.”
“They are or were, Esturias; it took our people several generations to collect all that data and many scouting trips throughout the surrounding systems,” said Raphael. “We were a people who never did anything by half-measures.”
Raphael paused at the first step and looked around at the room and said: “I’ll come back another time and do some more exploring in this room alone. There is more to see, but let’s go the third floor. Only let me go in first, please.”
Raphael led the men down the stairs to the third story landing. There was a door to the room beyond, one that had a sigil on it. He closed his eyes and made a sign in front of the door, which opened it. Then he stepped through the door and allowed it to close behind him. The room was dim at first, but gradually grew lighter. On one wall there hung a painting of a large Feline being dressed in elegant regalia. Raphael recognized it to be a portrait of King Lyonille, long before his physical decline. As he gazed upon the painting, he felt the presence of his father with him guiding him. Next, he placed his palm on the wall below the painting where there was some inscribed writing. A small drawer popped open. There was a carven box within which Raphael drew out. He was able to open the box. Within it was a necklace with a large pendant made from crystal; a large ring and bracelet made of the same golden metal that the ships were built from. At first the ring and bracelet appeared to be too big for his present fingers and wrist. Both the ring and bracelet appeared to be inscribed with the ancient language of the Feline race. Curious, Raphael drew on the bracelet and was startled when it adjusted to his wrist as if it were designed specifically for him. He tried on the ring and watched as it also adjusted to the size of his present ring finger size. He placed it on the left hand as he always wore his VaCoupe signet ring on his right hand. He quickly surveyed the room but didn’t find anything else outstanding. Returning to the door, he gave a sign which opened for the men who were waiting on the landing. “Do you want to see a painting of King Lyonille? There’s one here in this room,” said Raphael.
“Did you find anything else here?” asked Sukio. “Only some keepsakes from our father, a ring, bracelet, and a pendant,” replied Raphael. “Come in, brothers, and you, Adario and Monteras – let us look upon the Father of our people of long ago.”
The men entered the small room cautiously. Both Sukio and Lantrill felt a subtle difference in the room’s atmosphere than the other ones within the structure. It felt more like a little chapel than anything else they had encountered. The three former brothers stood before the portrait of their once father. Then Raphael tapped on the bracelet he wore activating a hidden video system on the opposite wall. A curved screen came to life. All the men swung around as the sound came on and a vid showing five men began to play. Lantrill and Sukio stared at the pictures and understood that the vid depicted what all of them had looked like long ago. Lantrill and Sukio had not changed a great deal in their appearance, perhaps just being slightly smaller in height. Raphael and Esturias studied their own appearance, which did not in any way resemble their current physical vehicles. In the vid, Raphael was the tallest son and still had light creamy fur with a tawny golden mane. Beside him stood King Lyonille, a giant of a man, who was wearing the bracelet, signet ring, and pendant which Raphael had found just moments before. Raphael realized that these tokens were some of the ancient regalia of the Feline people. Nothing more would establish his right to claim the outpost for his family than these small jewelry pieces. Raphael was sure that Lord Edrus the shaman would also recognize the pieces as being important. Although he realized the significance of the jewelry, he didn’t feel it necessary to bring the pieces to the attention of the rest of the party at that moment. It was time to go down to the hangars.
“Are you done looking now?” asked Raphael.
Esturias nodded and replied: “It’s odd to think that’s all of us standing in the vid alongside our father. It’s rare to see a painting or picture of yourself from another life. Now, let’s go to the hangar to get the little ships. First, do we want to see if Monteras has one of the smaller ships?”
Tomás was curious as to whether he would also have a ship that responded to him. He said: “Could we?”
“I don’t see why not,” replied Raphael. “We better check the smaller ships first then. Once we enter the hangar, the launching mechanism is on alert.”
Raphael took point being the most familiar with the tower and facility. He brought the men down to the ground level. This time, he noted the door was still showing on the outside wall of the tower, but they weren’t going that way. He made a sign, sweeping his hand across the wall and the door disappeared. Then, he started down the stairs. Lantrill and Adario exchanged looks but didn’t say anything. They were in Raphael’s hands.
The underground corridor was soon reached, the door opened as Raphael approached. He turned to the right and headed along the curving corridor towards the old control station. As he ran his hands along the wall, a ribbon of bright script was activated periodically, indicating what might lay behind the wall. Another door opened into the control room. Raphael didn’t hesitate, but walked up to the console, sweep his hand across it, and activated the holograms. This time he understood what the assorted colors meant and told the men: “The yellow block was the tomb. I might be able to re-enter it by activating the block, but not today. The green blocks are for the various hangars in this part of the facility. There is more than one cluster within the outpost. The blue blocks are research and development; there should be some interesting artifacts available in those areas. The orange blocks are for storage or what we now call ‘libraries’ utilizing crystals. The large violet block is where the Mother Crystal of the planet can be accessed as she was also utilized as a storage device.”
The men gathered around while Raphael was describing the function and meaning of each block. He looked at them and started explaining the what, how, and why of his metamorphosis. “I realize some of you are wondering about how it would appear I changed in appearance seemingly overnight. However, this process started about 18 months ago when I first received a download from the Mother Crystal of this sacred planet. The Mother Crystal is a yellow diamond of gigantic proportions. The ancient Feline race utilized crystals to store information. The crystals can do this indefinitely but will only give over their information to someone with a correspondingly high light frequency within their being. When the Felines stored the information long ago, it was keyed into an extremely specific frequency, namely that of Rigo, one of the personalities that just recently melded with that of Raphael. When I encountered the Mother Crystal, she ‘recognized’ me and gave me the download that would initiate the change in my being. I did not have any outer awareness of this pending transformation as the download was not activated in its entirety. Meanwhile, the coalescence of the three primary personalities that could become useful in disclosing this outpost and its long-hidden treasures began, namely combining the attributes, memories, experience, and strengths into one persona made newly whole.”
“I didn’t mean to make this explanation into a lecture, but it seems important enough to convey the process to you, so your own psyche can understand and feel comfortable with it as being a natural progression of a potential life mission set up by my Higher Self before this incarnation. The seeds were planted and began to sprout within the higher spiritual body when the download was received. My outer mind did not have any inkling that such a process had occurred, and I was distracted by the news my mate was pregnant with our first child. The next step came when I realized my plans would have to change due to the child and a lessening desire within to remain in the Command. When Lady Arla told me about a dream that Claudine had regarding the creation of a fleet of golden ships, yet another download was activated, and I suddenly developed a yearning to find out where I could locate the materials for the ships. I knew of the golden aluminum that was tougher than any other material known to us but had no clue as to where to find it, until I was meditating in the small chapel within the VaCoupe house. By this time, the transformational process had percolated into my mental body, and I became aware of a possible location sited on this very continent, which was finally revealed to be near Jolf. Since the town of Jolf did not exist during the time the Felines were stationed on this planet, it was apparent the Mother Crystal knew the exact location due to awareness of spatial specifications having been inputted into the crystal long ago. When I discovered the location of the site where I could find a sample of the golden medal, I became obsessed with coming here. And the first day I entered the outpost, the transformation moved into my emotional body. All of you witnessed my strong reactions to being here as I was tapping into yet another download, affecting and reviving ancient memories. When I entered my father’s tomb, those emotions were strongly triggered which hastened the transformational process, yet I did not have control over the direction in which it was going. As a result, I seemed to be experiencing alterations in my outer personality as there were three strong-willed personas vying for control of this physical vehicle. It was then I realized I needed assistance to allow an orderly progression to complete the process. I was assisted by Adario and Lord Mathdis acting as surrogates in bringing my dilemma to the attention of a trained priestess, the Lady Anna. She recognized the symptoms and cited the cure by giving me beautiful meditations that allowed the various parts of my being to coalesce into a new form, the one you see today. The changes you see in my outer being are merely a reflection of the reordering of my inner being which will allow me to work calmly in the future without being completely overcome or entranced by the overwhelming influence of a powerful presence. I hope you can now understand what I have undergone. Know that someday this could also happen to you, but it usually a process that is the response to a great need, and reliant on a previous soul agreement first made thousands of years ago by one named Rigo.”
Esturias looked very thoughtful and then asked: “So why do you look like an Ashkerian and not a Feline?”
“Good question – but perhaps that can be explained by saying it is simply a matter of genetics. My DNA carries a more recent memory of Lord Delos and his form, whereas the Feline form was long ago, and I am no longer a member of that species. The personality of Delos was apparently also thought to be able to contribute to the process of developing a fleet as he participated in a comparable manner in the creation of the Ashkerian Fleet and not that long ago. Perhaps my higher self-decided the memories and experiences of Lord Delos would further enrich the knowledge of Rigo. I do not yet fully understand why certain physical characteristics were chosen but there is always a hidden purpose within a metamorphosis such as what I have experienced. And my hair will be easier to brush out now that it is straighter in texture.”
The last comment elicited a laugh from Tomás who often had to help a frustrated youngster comb out his thick curly and exceptionally long hair when they first met. It was an ordeal at times and one of the reasons he often wore a braid or braids; simply to keep his hair from tangling.
“Yes, Tomás remembers helping me to comb out these locks after I was first delivered to Medina. My hair was even longer than it is now, down below my waist as it had seldom been cut during my captivity,” said Raphael with a chuckle. “And now, I think we can resume our explorations. I want to take you all next to one of the hangars where the smallest ships were found.” With that, Raphael swept his hand across the console and the holograms vanished. Then, he turned and walked towards the right side of the control room, to the door leading to another corridor. When the group reached the first door beyond, it opened revealing the hangar wherein six of the smaller viscar-sized ships were resting. The lights activated revealing the golden shapes. Raphael looked for Tomás and waved him forward, directing him to walk by the ships where they sat in a semi-circle. Tomás looked at Raphael for a moment and then did what he had suggested. He approached the ships somewhat cautiously. Nothing happened as he walked up to the first ship, but when he got closer to the second one, it began to respond to his presence. The engine started humming and the door opened. Raphael overtook his cousin and told the ship: “Not now, little one!” The ship responded by immediately shutting down even as Raphael commented, “The ships respond best to telepathic communication, but be sure you know first exactly what you’re trying to communicate and keep it simple.”
Raphael swung around, “Okay, we made our point, and another ship has found its owner. Tomás, you’re going to have to take some time and learn how to fly!”
“Okay – let’s head over to the hangar where the three medium-sized ships are stored. After all, getting those was our main objective of this outing today,” said Raphael as he began to walk back to the exit. The men quietly followed him today, refraining from making remarks about his behavior and even his altered appearance. Perhaps it was something about the new-found authority in his deeper voice that seemed to reassure his companions, but Raphael found an even greater sense of inner calm because of just being accepted as he was in the moment.
Since they were going to fly back to Jolf in the medium-sized ships, Raphael headed next to the hangar where those ships were, activating the ribbons of script as he went. Just before the door, he stopped and illuminated the script written there and said: “Take a good look at this word, men – it means ‘vaynas’ or in our lingo, small ship. In the future, we will be finding a few more of these hangars within the outpost. Okay, enough of this… let’s go fly those babies!”
As Raphael stepped into the hangar, the lights illuminated the space. He walked up to Sukio’s ship, the final one and instructed Esturias and Lantrill to load up their ships. Sukio and Raphael went into one; Esturias and Tomás into the second ship; and Lantrill and Adario into Lantrill’s ship. Raphael activated the first ship and soon it was lifting out of the newly opened hangar ceiling. The other two ships soon followed as the ‘pilots’ calmed down and focused on their tasks. Raphael requested his ship to lift to a higher altitude so he could, once again, survey the site from the air. This time the towers delineated a stronger outline. When combined with the patterns he could detect in the hummocks, Raphael began to have a good sense of what was beneath the turf-covered mounds. He hoped the towers had access doors from the outside or they might have to dig down through the turf to discover other means of entry, especially on the sections of the outpost further away from the coastline and other possible front doors.
The ships belonging to Lantrill and Esturias emerged from the hangar and so the trio headed off to the landing pad located outside Jolf. There Raphael saw the two viscars waiting for their arrival with the two Eagles searching the skies for the ships. He had his ship lower gently closer to the ground and then carefully maneuvered it into one of the open garages located at the edge of the port. Then, he and Sukio climbed out. Raphael gave the little ship a departing pat and went outside, closing the doors behind him. The other ships landed and repeated the procedure until all were secured. Now the explorers would have a quicker means of transport than the viscars. The men climbed into the viscars for the short trip back to the inn. Before they left the landing area, Esturias noticed another sleek ship sitting to the side of the field. He shouted to Raphael: “That’s Father’s ship! He’s here already!”
“I wonder who came with him?” asked Raphael. He began to feel a little self-conscious, straightening his robes and braiding up his hair as the viscar drove through Jolf to the entrance of the inn’s compound. As the viscars pulled up to the front gate, it opened and a tall, slender white blonde man stepped out. Raphael exclaimed, “Jon! Commander Jon deAir!”
The Ashkerian head commander took one look at Raphael’s new appearance, then stepped forward to hug his old comrade as Raphael climbed out of the viscar.
Raphael didn’t hesitate, but tears began flowing. He laughed and then pressed his head into Jon’s shoulder, “I may look more like Delos now, but still feel like Raphael!”
Jon held his old friend at arm’s length and studied his face, noting the green-blue eyes and said lightly, “If you weren’t a man, I would have to call you beautiful. What a remarkable change, Raphael!”
Then Raphael heard a younger voice behind them, “Grandfather?”
Raphael swung around to see who was speaking. It was Delos-Ramanda and beside him stood Tazo. It was his two grandsons, Tazo being much the older of the two. Raphael was beside himself with emotion and leaned over to breathe. The youngest grandson, Ramanda came up to hug him, “Now you look more Ashkerian, grandfather! I love you!”
Then Ramanda stepped away to allow Tazo his turn to greet his grandfather and comrade in arms. They stood staring at each other for a long time, Raphael just soaking in the closeness of his beloved grandson and former companion. Jon laughed, “Just hug, you two! You would think you haven’t seen each other for a lifetime!”
“No, Jon, it’s been two lifetimes,” replied Raphael in his deeper baritone. “Delos is here within me now.”
“Has it indeed been that long…my beautiful son?” remarked another light baritone voice.
Raphael looked over at the gate. Standing there was a slender Ashkerian man of high caste, a personage of great dignity, power, and presence. It was Delos’ father, Lord Chananda. And beside the great Ashkerian lord stood his present adopted father, Lord VaCoupe, smiling gently at an overwhelmed Raphael. Jon and Tazo took his arms and drew him towards his Ashkerian father who gathered him into his arms as Raphael wept, overcome with emotion. “Let’s take you inside so you can collect yourself, Delos,” said his Ashkerian father gently.
Raphael looked at his once father, Lord Chananda and whispered, “My name is Raphael now, Father.”
“I know, my boy; I can feel the changes, but there is now more of Delos present, as well,” replied Lord Chananda. “Now come, there are more people to greet within.”
Lord Chananda gently but firmly steered his once son through the compound gate and into the courtyard beyond. The other men followed quietly. Once inside, Julia came up and handed Raphael his young son to hold. As Chananda came close to the boy, the baby reached out with his arms wanting to be held by his grandfather. “Now, I have three of my sons back. My beloved Jychondria – it is lovely to see you in your new body!”
“And this was my older brother and now my uncle,” said Tazo, smiling. “He makes a beautiful baby!”
“He’s not so much a baby anymore!” answered Raphael as he hefted the growing youngster onto another shoulder. “And here, Lord Chananda is my Anya-Julia, my beautiful, long-suffering mate of my first child!”
“Yes, we met earlier while waiting for your return,” replied Lord Chananda. “It brings me great happiness to witness the gathering of my family once more!”
“My dear mate, there are still more people to greet,” said Julia. “Come into the garden beyond.”
There were several people seated on benches in the herb garden enjoying the soft sunshine, flowers, fragrance and the play of bees and butterflies. Raphael recognized Lady Arla who smiled as she saw him approach, but who was also studying his auric field to see the results of his transformation. Then he noticed a tall elegant Feline dressed in long robes whom he took for the shaman from the Suriya System, Lord Edrus. There were also a couple of small individuals seated alongside Master Nathan. One other person stood up as the men approached. He was a very tall massive individual, who gave Raphael a quick scan and smiled, reaching out with a large hand to greet him with a powerful bass voice: “I’m Peter Traños. Greetings, Commander Raphael – I understand you have been doing a little exploring nearby and have discovered ‘interesting’ things. That’s an unusual bracelet you are wearing, for instance!”
“Yes, I found this just today, Master Traños. Everyone, may I welcome you to Jolf! Thank you for coming!” Raphael made a sweeping court bow to the newcomers.
Lord Edrus stood up. He was much taller than Raphael. He gracefully walked over to greet Commander Lantrill and Captain Sukio as they approached the visitors. He bowed to Lantrill and addressed him briefly: “Greetings, Prince Lantrill! It has been many years since I’ve seen you and your cousin, my son, Sukio. How have you been? Could you formally introduce me to your friend, Commander Raphael VaCoupe?”
“Certainly, Uncle, Lord Edrus – this gentleman, dressed in Medinian robes is Commander Raphael VaCoupe, adopted son of Lord Demetrius VaCoupe, blood son of Lord TorSeth and Lady Katrina Kantor, both deceased. I was, personally, the one who rescued Raphael from captivity and certain death at the age of fourteen. Since then, we’ve grown to be fast friends and comrades. He is an honorable man, uncle,” replied Lantrill firmly.
Lord Edrus regarded the tall broad-shouldered young man standing before him, with his nearly white hair, unusual green-blue eyes and light complexion and said: “Well, you look nothing like my people, Commander, yet I sense within you a strong affinity and allegiance to the Feline People that you’ve held all your life since my nephew here saved your life.”
“It is so, Lord Edrus. When I was a Line Commander, I insisted in training mainly Felines since I understood their naturally developed sensitivities and ability to see through the dimensions and to decipher the frequencies as easily as I did myself, my lord,” replied Raphael politely. “More recently, I have discovered that your two relatives here were my kin when I was Rigo, son of Lord Lyonille. I have seen his picture, my lord, within one of the towers in the outpost on the edge of the sea. Only today, I was able to retrieve these three items, which I believe belonged once to Lyonille. As his son, I did not inherit them then, but other more sacred relics that were passed onto my son when I died long after deep in space. See the ring, bracelet, and pendant that I drew forth today from beneath the picture of Lord Lyonille.”
Lord Edrus studied the bracelet on Raphael’s extended wrist, reading the ancient script. Then he looked into those mysterious blue-green eyes and said: “It would appear you are who you said you are, the reincarnation of King Rigo, the once king. Only he could enter the room where these items were kept.”
“We’ll save that discussion for later, gentlemen,” said Lord Demetrius coming to stand by his adopted son. “Now, look at me…your current father…and let me see just how much you have been altered by this transformation.” Lord Demetrius took his son aside and whispered to him, “I always regarded you as a handsome young man, but now you’re beautiful. Those marvelous eyes! I’ve never seen a color quite like them! Even your hair and complexion has changed, and your voice – you’re now a baritone? Was that Delos and Rigo’s influence?”
“Yes, Father – they are here within me now. I feel stronger and more whole than any other time within this life. This transformational process has allowed me to gather parts of my soul essence that had been lost due to trauma. Now, it is like all my suffering has disappeared like a rain cloud when the skies clear after a storm. And the outpost is amazing, what we’ve seen and discovered so far,” replied Raphael. “If you wish, we can visit there tomorrow. I would especially like to show you Rigo’s ship – the one that caused such an uproar in Elexa and here in Jolf. Did Lord Mathdis fill you in on the results of the court-martial of Commander Kadish?”
“He did and more – apparently Lady Anna spent some time with him, Aiden, Carlos, and Julia, explaining the process you just completed. Do you understand what happened and why, son?” asked Lord Demetrius as he searched his son’s brilliant blue-green eyes.
“He does, Lord VaCoupe,” replied Lantrill. “Raphael spent some time with us while we were in the outpost this morning explaining at length the approximately 18-month process he underwent after an encounter with a Mother Crystal — just where this occurred, he won’t specify.”
Master Aiden came out into the garden and announced, “My servants and I have prepared some refreshments and fresh tea for our guests. I invite you now to come into the courtyard and be seated at the tables set there. This is looking like a true celebration with such a distinguished gathering! I am so honored to have you all here, ladies and gentlemen!”
Lord Demetrius gathered up Julia so he could escort her back into the courtyard and hold his grandson. The rest of the considerable gathering filed into the garden court, finding seats and plenty of delightful tidbits and drinks waiting their delectation.
Everyone was just getting comfortable when Lord Mathdis made an appearance. He was escorting two young ladies, one of whom Raphael recognized as Mistress Lorenna VaCoupe, but the other he had never seen before. Raphael looked from his father to Esturias, who upon seeing his mate, got up, went over, and kissed her forehead in front of everyone. Then Lord Mathdis brought forward the other lady, a blonde, blue-eyed beauty and introduced her to his son, Aiden, who looked profoundly surprised. “Aiden – meet your future mate, Lady Brunella Kadish of Airus, a distant cousin to both your new friends, Raphael VaCoupe and Adario Kadish!”
Apparently, the lady was a wit and said in a light soprano voice, “My dear Aiden, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you! I was informed myself only a few days ago of this arrangement – I’m a peace offering for one of our cousins having offended the citizens of your lovely village!”
“Father! You couldn’t do that to this lovely young lady!” said an alarmed and suddenly very shy Aiden. He tentatively smiled at the young woman who smiled back. His father made note of the interchange and exchanged a knowing look with Lord Demetrius whose dedicated assistant, Francis, had arranged the contracts binding these two young people as being betrothed.
Lord Demetrius said: “My assistant, Francis, who is not here – assured me that the lady in question is quite content with the arrangement. After all, Aiden, you might be an innkeeper now, but in the days ahead, you will be the Lord of Jolf in your father’s place. Lady Brunella was recently orphaned by the death of her father and would have had to live with cousins, but for this arrangement being put forth by Adario’s father, Lord Pietro Kadish. The arrangements were ironed out within a few days and now she is here. Lady Anna has already set aside your family’s charming temple to be used for your mating ceremony – which will take place in a couple of days!”
“I also assure you, Master Aiden Mathdis, that I am fully trained in running a household. I can cook, garden, and perform other necessary household chores. I am not afraid of demanding work, and I enjoy entertaining people with my singing and playing. I will enjoy being the mate of a busy innkeeper and getting to meet all kinds of interesting people,” stated Lady Brunella, who despite her youth and beauty, was a determined young woman. She was also taking in the extraordinary assortment of guests now staying at the inn and the house of Lord Mathdis. She was certain her life in Jolf would prove far more exciting than living with an aging aunt and uncle on Airus as she surveyed the two lords, the tall commanders, the powerful Feline warriors, the Eagles, the assorted crystal masters, and the elegant women already present. “I am pleased to be here, Master Aiden. Besides, Master Adario Kadish is my cousin, and we are mildly acquainted having met a few times at Lord Kadish’s residence.”
“Then, may I offer you a seat, dear lady, and I hope you enjoy some of the refreshments I and my staff have prepared for our guests,” replied Aiden. He glanced over at Raphael who was already engaged in chatting with his Ashkerian relatives and Lord Demetrius about their recent discoveries and his own metamorphosis and smiled. Aiden realized he wasn’t the only one going through massive changes to his life and offered his new lady a plate of fresh fruit.
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