CHAPTER 16 – Visit to Morova
More than a month had passed since Raphael had become Regent. The last session of High Council was over. Raphael had met with more of the Isle representatives and things seemed to be progressing well. The representatives who had not voted for Raphael reported that their Isle populations had approved of the change in leadership. So, things appeared to be going smoothly.
It was time for Raphael and Francis to take their tour of Morova, the last of the primary Pleiadian worlds. It would have been an insult to the people there not to go, yet Raphael was experiencing some anxiety. Being back on the world where he had been subjected to such abuse was bound to bring up a lot of deeply buried emotions and feelings… and he was not even there, yet. So, Raphael enlisted the aid of his Veyan physicians to help him move some of the ancient trauma from his Light Body, from his mind and from his physical body. In order to have the time and focus for his personal healing, he took a week at home in Medina before launching into this new tour, despite the fact that Alyona was considerably closer to Morova than was Medina. Thus, he delivered himself and all of his relatives and followers back to Medina first.
Lorenna’s pregnancy was progressing well. She remained in good health and whether in Alyona or Medina, endeavored to walk inside or outside for mild exercise. She was just beginning to show. Her tall slender body was taking on the rounder, more bountiful curves of motherhood. Before her pregnancy, it had been hard to tell whether or not Lorenna had ever had children… although she was the mother of three full-grown children.
Raphael did not want to take Lorenna on this first trip to Morova. He had no idea how he was going to react when visiting the places of his youth and his past life as Raphael DeAires. He had shared the information given to him by Chief Ramirez about his relatives having been found to Monteras and DeAires. They were very excited about meeting long-lost relatives; Raphael was not. He dreaded the upwelling of grief that might ensue when the memories arose once more. Still, he knew he had to face his personal demons and so he planned out the trip with the aid of Chief Ramirez and his aides.
By their second official meeting, Ramirez and Raphael had become good friends. Raphael was looking forward to meeting the chieftain’s family, who, despite being wealthy were still similar to the close-knit Morovian tribal family that he had once grown up within… at least for six years of his first Pleiadian life. He was also curious to see if his friend and aide, sensitive Salaniel would discover his life’s partner on Morova.
During the first session with his Veyan physicians, Raphael connected with core piece of his uneasiness around priests… actually there were two primary instances. The first being his long uneasy relationship to his former priestly son, Aman, during his lifetime as Lord Delos. Aman continually argued with Delos about his choices and criticized him for being a ‘killer’. Warrior he was and did nothing to deny it, but Delos had felt his purpose was to defend his people from the onslaught of the enemy, so he fought.
The second confrontation that Raphael’s lifestream had experienced with priests was during the brief period when the young Morovian Raphael was placed in the boarding school in PoLiafee. It was run by priests as a small part of the religious school run there by the Temple of Post Ton. The school had been opened up for male children orphaned by the war. The priests were not open to being lectured by small children like the precocious eight-year-old Raphael who contended he wanted to be promoted to the next class level. The priest in charge had disagreed with the irate and bored youngster. So, an angry young Raphael picked his time and ran away as soon as he could manage.
As Raphael visualized this and related instances, he began to understand that the priests had been looking out for his welfare and, at the time, didn’t comprehend his advanced abilities to learn quicker than other students. He had always been precocious when he was with his family, but his parents and siblings had tolerated it and listened to him when he experienced periodic visions and felt intuitive hunches. The nomadic tradesman family were more tolerant and grounded individuals in comparison to the intellectual priests, so Raphael related to his family members better being a strong naturally intuitive being.
Raphael took the time to explain to his physicians what he was seeing and remembering. Master Mei Li listened with great interest and replied, “You know, my lord, that you are bound to experience quite an upsurge of emotions, old beliefs, and visions of past experiences when we visit Morova.”
“I am well-aware of that, Master, which is why I have postponed going there for a long time. I wanted to be assured that I will not experience any replay of my last visit to Morova when I was kidnapped there and… well, temporarily enslaved once more. It was like stepping back into a nightmare, only it was very real, very physical, and exceedingly painful to experience,” Raphael replied.
Master Leu looked at Raphael with some concern and asked, “According to Chief Ramirez, have they successfully freed the entire Planet of the enemy pestilence?”
“Yes, Chief Ramirez was careful to assure me that Morova is now freed of any and all enemy agents and influences. Still, with our particular sensitivities I am aware that both Salaniel and myself might experience some flashbacks or even be able to detect some things that may have been overlooked by both the Command and Morovian forces,” replied Raphael.
Raphael’s anxiety was easily picked up by the two Veyans. Master Leu asked him another question, “Are you sure you will be all right just taking one of us along with you on the tour, my lord?”
“Yes, I do – I want you, Master Leu, to remain here to both continue Gareth’s education and to oversee Lorenna’s health. I will have Master Mei Li to care for me and to oversee any bits of Francis’ education that can be inserted into our agenda. I thank you for your concern, Master Leu,” replied Raphael with a smile. He took a deep breath and announced that he was going outside to take a stroll through the gardens.
It was still early in the morning, but the day was going to be hot, so Raphael wore one of his uniforms that had an older rank marking on the chest. Over it, he wore a long full lightweight linen robe that had a hood he could pull over his head while out in full sunlight. It never occurred to him that the outfit would make a good disguise…
Raphael had entered the garden and was walking around when a loud voice rang out, “Halt! Identify yourself, stranger!”
Raphael felt his arm grabbed by a strong hand and the hood ripped off of his head. He heard a gasp as his assailant recognized him. It was a startled Andros who let go of Raphael’s arm and stepped back, horrified by what he had just done. “My lord, forgive me! I… I did not recognize you!”
Raphael rubbed his arm knowing he would have a sizeable bruise from the confrontation and stared at Andros thoughtfully for a few minutes, while the embarrassed warrior stood frozen, carefully studying the tiled pathway at his feet. Then, Raphael laughed and replied, “I should have let you know my intentions, Andros. I’m merely out here to take some air, despite the heat. I need the robe, so I won’t get sunburned. With my light complexion, precautions are required.”
“I must apologize, my lord…” Andros voice faltered as Raphael raised up a hand.
Raphael inquired, “How do you determine friend from foe, Andros? You are a highly trained warrior. What senses do you rely upon the most? As a VaCoupe, you certainly be able to use some of the higher senses. What did you feel when you saw me here?”
“I’m not sure what you mean, my lord,” replied a confused Andros. He had never mistaken friend for foe before and was extremely embarrassed by the incident. “Somehow your energy was different today, my lord. I don’t really know how to express it in words. I could feel your anxiety like you were afraid to be seen… which is probably why my protective instincts kicked in…”
“Interesting – yes, I admit to be experiencing some anxiety, but it’s more like a case of stage-fright; anticipation over the upcoming tour of Morova has me a bit unnerved, Andros. I didn’t realize that you or anyone else would pick up on my feelings so easily. I had better endeavor to again find that calm place within that kept me alive during my captivity long ago,” replied Raphael. “Do you mind if I replace my hood, Andros? The sun is quite bright today and very hot on my head. I guess I had better take a robe like this to Morova and probably my uniform, as well… since it is air-conditioned!”
“Forgive me, my lord!” Andros went down on his knees in front of a startled Raphael.
Raphael took his adopted cousin by the shoulders and said, “There is nothing to forgive, Andros. You just reminded me of something I need to do. I will go to the chapel inside the house now and spent some time in meditation. Thank you.”
Raphael released Andros, turned, and left the garden, entering through the great double doors of the ancient house. Andros stared after him for a long moment, then regained his feet. He looked around; the gardeners were all staring at him. They had all witnessed the confrontation. He growled, “Back to work, men. The sun is getting higher, and we will have to go inside soon. Don’t dawdle!”
Once back inside the house, Raphael did not pause but passed several people who looked like they wanted to speak to him, but seeing his set face, thought the better of it. Within minutes, he found himself in the passageway leading to the old chapel. It was open and Raphael found Lady Arla inside, immersed in the process of cleansing the energies with incense and fresh herbs. Raphael spoke up, surprising Arla as she concentrated on her task, “My lady, forgive me… I didn’t know you would be here.”
“What do you want, my lord? I am cleansing the chapel so I might use it for meditations. It is not always convenient to walk to the Shemont every day,” replied Arla.
“I need a quiet place to meditate for a while, my lady. I just experienced an incident that informs me I have allowed myself to forget my center. I have become too involved in the world and cannot defend my energy bodies. I am about to visit the world where I was once a captive. I need to prepare myself for this journey by going deep within. May I have a few moments alone?” said Raphael.
“Would you mind if I sat and meditated alongside you, my lord?” inquired Lady Arla.
“If you wish, my lady. I shall go deep within… into the Heart of the Mother,” replied Raphael, who was already feeling the strong insistent energies of the Mother Crystal of Medina communicating to him through his heart center.
Raphael sat down in a corner of the old chapel, resting against the cool plaster wall, relaxing his body, and sinking his consciousness deep within. Physical eyes closed, he saw a golden figure take form before him and knew it was the ancient Light Being father of the VaCoupes. The figure silently greeted him and drew him down even deeper within. “Greetings, my Son!”
“You were my Son, long, long ago, one of the original sons of the Coupe Family, created from my own seed. Long ago, before you ever lived as a Son of Ashkera, you were a Pleiadian. I have not told you of this before as you were not ready to hear it… and someday, in the future, in another Now moment of the ever-present Now, you will be a daughter of the VaCoupes. You know this… having seen it and have shared it with the one who will be your Father in that life…”
“Yes… I was your son?”
“Yes… so, it is proper that you lead the people through this transitional period while your nephew matures. Do not judge yourself as wanting because in this life you were not born a VaCoupe. You know the reasons. Now, sink down even further within and re-live the darkest moments of this your present life and then let it all go. Those who enslaved you no longer live. Release yourself from the fear you have been experiencing this past month in anticipation for this tour you have committed yourself and your people to… to travel to Morova, your birthplace… twice, to balance the lifetimes you lived as a Ashkerian. Morova will be your home world once, twice, three more times in a future now moment. Until then, let the darkness that has haunted your emotional body be shed now lest you re-create it, again, in your future…”
Raphael found himself confronted with visions of his life as a captive, the leering faces, pawing hands, brutal treatment, half-starved, devoid of companionship and affection, alone… until he felt and reconnected to the strength of the inner crystalline core of his Spirit, and tapped into his determination to survive whatever arose, to remain untouched by what happened to his outer shell, to his physical body, to remain whole and unblemished by the sordid reality surrounding his young consciousness. He saw that he was never a victim of his circumstances. His inner strength and purity were untouched and undiminished by whatever was attempted to break his spirit by his captors. Their frustration was his power. Their anger was his detachment. His body might ache, bleed, and bruise, but whatever the outer threw against the inner broke not the crystalline core of his being, his consciousness as a fractal of Source. As the visions faded, he still felt the presence of the core reality of his spirit and knew all that had happened to him was an illusion. For him, the pain and struggle dissipated, like the vestiges of mist upon a lake at dawn, fading away in the warmth and light of the sun of his Higher Self. At the end of the long vision, he saw only Light and felt only Love.
Again, the golden figure reappeared before him and spoke silently within his mind: Do you see now that that which was your suffering no longer has any power over you to disturb your hard-earned peace and sense of well-being? It no longer exists. The ones who hurt your body have vanished from Morova like a lake mist in the heat of day. The sun of your Spirit protects you always. You are my Son; I am ever with you, within you, singing in your blood. And I shall be with you as you move through the next days, face your demons, and strike them down with the Light of your Presence.
The golden figure began to fade, replaced by a powerful wave of Love that emanated from the great crystalline heart of the Planet of Medina, the great yellow diamond core of the planet. The energy encapsulated his auric field, wrapping his bodies in warmth, melting away his sense of anxiety and replacing it with a serene regard and love of life, all life, without condition, even encompassing those who, in the past, had embodied his greatest enemies. He felt the wonder of the sensation and power of the all-encompassing love of the Creator, Source, God, which permeated his being, melting away fear and replacing it with a sense of calm detachment, non-attachment to outcome, in complete and full surrender before the grandeur and scope of that Love.
Raphael felt like he was swimming in a great golden lake of Light. He gasped for breath, feeling like he was sinking, sinking, until he felt someone take his shoulder and begin to shake it. He heard a distant voice seeking to penetrate the depths of his meditative state. “Wake up, my lord! Wake up!”
As his consciousness began to settle back down into his body, sensations began to inform him that he had been out quite a while. His body was stiff and achy. He jerked away from whoever was holding him and then opened his eyes and mumbled, “What is a matter?”
“My lord, you have been unconscious for three hours!” replied Master Mei Li, looking at Raphael with some concern. “Lady Arla was concerned about your welfare, so she came looking for us! Are you feeling all right, my lord?”
“Yes…yes. I am fine. I really went deep. I had visions… and saw a Light Being, father of this House. He called me his son!” Raphael knew he was babbling, but it was taking some time for his consciousness to settle back into his body. “Could someone help me up, Master?”
“Yes… I brought Loki with me, my lord. Loki, take Lord Raphael back to his rooms. It is best that he rests and sleeps on his own bed for a while,” ordered Master Mei Li.
Raphael felt himself lifted up bodily by the strong Feline Eagle, like he was still the young boy who had just been rescued from captivity. He relaxed against Loki’s warm chest and felt himself falling back into a deep sleep and knew no more.
Hours later, Raphael woke. He was in bed and felt Lorenna’s warm body cuddled up next to his, her arm flung over his chest. As he stirred, she pulled her arm away and propped herself up on one elbow, “Raphael, how are you feeling? You gave us all a fright this morning!”
Raphael didn’t reply immediately but listened to his body. He felt well and relaxed; the anxiety he had been feeling earlier in the day had vanished. Finally, he replied, “I feel renewed, Lorenna – like I was reborn. This morning I was filled with major anxiety, worrying about any possible reactions I might experience while on Morova. Now, it is like the anxiety has vanished. I just incorporated some of the healing work that Masters Leu and Mei Li have been doing for me… in a major way.”
“Are you hungry? Milo brought us some tea and refreshments in case you woke up before dinner,” said Lorenna.
“Oh, let me sit up first. How long have I been sleeping?” Raphael looked around at the room. Strangely, everything seemed changed… perhaps it was he who had changed… who had shifted in his perception of reality.
“Hours… dinner is not too far away now. Arla said that you started meditating and then just seemed to go unconscious, slumping down on the bench. She said if you had not been leaning against the wall, you would have fallen to the floor! She was concerned about you and couldn’t shake you awake so she enlisted the help of Master Mei Li and Loki. Loki carried you here and pulled a blanket over you. I thought my presence might comfort you when you woke,” replied Lorenna, her worry still filtering through her voice.
“It did, my love,” his deep voice lending reassurance to Lorenna. “I had visions of when I was a boy on Morova, as a captive… then the visions turned into Light. I was speaking to the Founder of this house… and then was so filled with love emanating from the Mother Crystal of this Planet. It was an extraordinary experience, but I am sorry that I caused you and others to worry about my well-being.”
“Andros reported that you and he had an ‘incident’ this morning, as well. What is going on, Raphael?” questioned Lorenna.
“Andros thought I was a stranger walking in the gardens. I had a hood pulled over my head to protect it from the sun. He didn’t immediately recognize my energies since he detected the anxiety I was experiencing earlier in the day. It… the anxiety is gone now, all gone,” replied Raphael. He sat on the edge of the sleeping platform and then stood up slowly. He felt a little light-headed from the tremendous amount of Light that had passed through his body while he was in the midst of his deep… very deep meditation. He smiled at Lorenna and continued, “Let me remove this uniform and put on some other clothes. Then, I need to go out and reassure everyone that I am well.”
Dressed in their comfortable Medinian gowns and robes, Raphael and Lorenna made an appearance in the family rooms. Raimundo immediately came over and asked Raphael how he was doing. Raphael waved his hand and replied… in a loud voice that carried well across the room and into several others, “I am fine. I was down in an extremely deep meditation when I was woken up out of it by a concerned physician.”
“Mei Li said you were unconscious, Raphael! We were concerned that you had lapsed back into one of your spells. Did you experience some visions?” queried Raimundo, as a small crowd of concerned relatives and friends began to fill the room as the word got out that Raphael had re-appeared.
Raphael smiled, a radiant smile that reminded Monteras of his older brother, Ezekiel, before his death long ago. “Visions… yes, I saw visions. First, I saw the Light body of the Founder of this House. This time, he told me that I had been his son long ago, well before my two lifetimes as a Ashkerian. He guided my visions through a deep healing journey where I first saw myself as a boy, a captive… faces, places, darkness, difficult times, abuse… fragments of the past flooded my consciousness and then were replaced by a great Light that infused my body. Then, I saw the Light Being once more. He spoke to me about the near future… that I had rediscovered the crystalline core within and would not be affected by what I was to see or witness while on Morova. When the figure of Light disappeared, He was replaced with the loving energy of the great Mother Crystal of Medina, flooding my Being with a beautiful golden Light of encompassing Love. It was only then that I began to feel someone tugging on my arm or shoulder. I was far away… very far away and very deep. It took a long time to come back to my senses and that was only long enough for Loki to lift me up like a child and carry me back to my room where I fell asleep. I just woke up a short time ago and was greeted by my sweet mate, Lorenna!”
Mazzie had been sitting nearby, her ears perking up when Raphael stated that the Founder of the House of Coupe, had called him his son. In a voice filled with wonderment, “Raphael, if you were the son of our Founder, then you are the reincarnation of one of our ancient forefathers! No wonder you have returned to be among us, once more!”
Raimundo was thoughtful, too, and commented, “This bit of knowledge only cements in my mind and probably that of others, your right to be holding the Regency for your nephew, Francis. You may not be a blood son of Lord Demetrius in this life, but a son of the original Founder of our House, himself! Who would have a better right to be our Lord… even if it is a temporary arrangement for now?”
Raphael gave his adopted uncle an unexpected grin and replied, “I still don’t look anything like a Medinian or a Coupe for that matter, not with my blonde looks from my grandparents and parents… Airians, Seranians, and Dinos!”
“Three fine peoples, Raphael – there is no need to be ashamed of your present bloodlines,” said Master Leu, as both he and Master Mei Li were making a discrete scan of Raphael’s energies.
Raphael glanced towards both of the Veyans and remarked, “I can feel your scans, Masters. I am well. I just underwent what appears to have been an extreme healing crisis, diving deep into some ancient emotional trauma which was ready to be released.”
The Veyans completed their scans, compared notes, and then nodded. Master Mei Li replied, “It is as Lord Raphael said. His energy has changed considerably since just this morning. All of his anxiety has vanished. My lord, it was as if your former Father wished you to be well-prepared for the upcoming trip to Morova!”
“It would appear so, my friends… family. Now, I am ready. Francis are you?” asked Raphael.
For a moment, Francis appeared confused and then he realized Raphael was speaking about the upcoming tour of Morova. He replied, “Uncle, I have not experienced anything like you did as a child. As far as I am concerned, Morova is yet another world to visit and explore. In answer to your question, yes, I am ready. When do we leave?”
“Well, let me connect via comm with Chief Ramirez first. If it is approved by him, we could leave the day after next. All of you who intend on going with me had better start packing!” replied Raphael with a chuckle.
Two days later, Raphael’s party set off on their tour of Morova. Raphael fed the coordinates for Morova and PoLiafee into the ship’s quantum computer and then let the ship set course for the desert Planet of Raphael’s childhood. He exclaimed, “We’re off, then! Morova, here we come!”
As Morova was situated closer to Alyona and BerWare, Raphael again set the ship into hyperdrive, creating its own portal to enter hyperspace and effectively folding space. When the ship exited hyperspace, the reddish planet was seen off to the starboard of the ship. Raphael directed the Cat to circumnavigate the Planet in order to see what it looked at relatively close range. When he had been taken aboard ships in the past, Raphael had not been unable to see through any windows or portholes in the superstructure of the vessels. Typically, he had been bundled into a storage hold without windows, often bound, and gagged to prevent him from crying out. So, it was with interest that he regarded the view from space of the mid-size world that had been his birthplace for two lifetimes.
Morova was a desert planet but there was evidence of life throughout the arid reaches. The vast stretches of desert were spotted with small oases, each with groves of life-sustaining date palms, fruit trees, and irrigated gardens that were watered carefully by the families who lived in scattered compounds near the oases. Rugged mountains lifted their eroded crests high above the surrounding plains. These, too, were pock-marked with oases and secret springs, even short-lived streams that soon disappeared into the rocky and sandy pockets at the bottom of rugged canyons. The primary underlying rock of the desert planet was sandstone, with occasional igneous intrusions of ancient granites, basalts, and rhyolites. Strong wind storms that blew seasonably across the vast plains, carved out colorful spiraling towers in some of the mountain ranges. Then, occasionally, in the midst of a flat plain there rose a forest of frozen sandstone goblins and toadstools carved into fantastical shapes by the winds. Caves were another major feature in some of the deep mountains. If there was a water source, some of the nomadic families found refuge in these great sheltering caves, but at times the rocks weakened and fell leaving great sinkholes behind or high arching features in the landscape.
As the ship swiftly crossed the skies of Morova, Raphael found himself reliving many of the desert passages he had made with his previous family over a century before. He recognized some of the features even now, so burnt into his subconsciousness were those long-buried memories.
Despite the desert, there were some small cities, towns, and family compounds scattered across the desert planet. Active trade routes were maintained both on land and in the air, with small spaceports spotted across the planet to accommodate off-world vessels and the smaller trading vessels and desert hovercraft that were used to transport goods and people across the long barren reaches of the desert between the oases. Raphael remembered having been transported in such vessels when he and other children were moved across the desert under the cover of dark.
Since those days, the Command had set up monitoring stations, not to interfere with trade, just to keep an eye on the traffic. There were a couple of spaceports overseen by the Command, especially near the larger trading posts, including the city of PoLiafee, the city in which Raphael had been born in this life. Commander Adrigus had notified the command posts that the new Regent was going to visit the Planet, so Raphael wasn’t surprised when he spotted two Saber fighters come close, intent on escorting The Golden Cat down as she came closer to the outskirts of PoLiafee. The vessels finally reached the spaceport and landed, the Cat like the animal she was named after. The Sabers landed more heavily, their powerful engines rumbling into silence, even as the passengers on the Cat began to disembark. The Saber pilots and their warrior passengers scrambled out of their ships and formed up columns in order to welcome the new Regent to Morova, Lord Raphael Kantor-VaCoupe and his party.
Beyond the tarmac of the spaceport, there was a short line of viscars waiting to transport Raphael and his party into PoLiafee. Chief Ramirez was standing there with his men, observing the landing and military welcome. His handsome reddish-brown face was serene, detached, undisturbed by the actions of the Command. When Raphael approached, the Chieftain stepped forward and gave the regent a salute, hand to chest with a slight bow, then reached out and took Raphael’s arms and Raphael held his in greeting. Ramirez said, “Welcome to Morova, my lord! Is this the first time The Golden Cat has landed here? She is a beautiful ship! How was the trip here?”
“Short!” exclaimed Commander Monteras, as he made a military bow to the Morovian chieftain. “Lord Raphael has begun to use portal technology to travel across the Federation, which shortens the length of these trips down considerably!”
“Well… you will have to explain this technology to me later, my lord,” replied the chieftain. “Now, let me and my people escort you to my home… that was once your home!”
Monteras looked confused over this statement as Raphael had not shared the news Ramirez had given him about his old family home. Yet, the commander did not have the time or leisure to ponder this curious statement, but was guided into a viscar along with Lord Raphael, who was joined by the Morovian head chieftain. The string of viscars then began to wind their way through the narrow Morovian streets, entering into the heart of the largest city on the planet.
PoLiafee was originally founded as the location of the Temple of Post Ton, a large spiritual training school for girls, drawing students from all over the Federation and later on, from over the Omniverse. During the war, many male and female orphans had been taken in and given a place to live and to receive a proper education, as a means to lend continuity to the culture of Morova and that of the Pleiades. The war having ended, the boy’s school was in the process of being closed down, the children sent elsewhere to schools like Arconia on Medina, which were intended for the education of all children, male and female.
The great Temple was at the center of Morovian life within the city, with most of the inhabitants attending daily meditations and participating in the great festivals sponsored by the Temple. The morning meditation had just completed before the arrival of Raphael’s party and therefore, the streets were filled with people walking home and to their work. It was also a market day, so as the viscars carrying Raphael and his party entered into one of the marketplaces, they saw small ships pull overhead, and begin to lower large crates down via long ropes, with slim wiry figures clambering up and down to guide the crates into place.
As Raphael witnessed a re-enactment of what he used to do as a young Raphael DeAires, he gasped aloud and felt tears spark in his eyes and run down his cheeks. Ramirez overheard and witnessed Raphael’s reaction and asked him what the matter was… Raphael stared at the busy scene and related how he, too, used to perform this very work, setting up his master’s tents for market.
Chief Ramirez looked at Raphael thoughtfully and commented, “You were truly a son of Morova, my lord, to perform such tasks. When did you do these things?”
“In my first life as a Pleiadian… that I know of Juan. After my parents and family were killed in an attack… I worked for other men, who owned and had tents set up at the markets especially during Festival. When I was older, I was a member of the crews who set-up and took down tents, and then I had a job where I worked, handling some of the animals for my master,” replied Raphael, who was still staring with some fascination at the busy marketplace as the tents and booths were taking form.
“Well, my lord, I can escort you and those of your party who may want to visit the marketplace later in the day. Now, I wish to escort you safely to my house, which is on the other side of PoLiafee,” said the chief, firmly, signaling an order to his drivers to commence travel. Consequently, the viscars again began moving through the streets, which gradually began to widen as the perimeter of the city was reached, the vehicles passing through a wealthier neighborhood with large walled family compounds. Then, finally, the vehicles entered a courtyard through a high open gate and settled gently upon the tiled surface. This time, both Raphael and his cousin, Monteras, were staring at the edifice rising above them, a large spacious three-story house built of solid sandstone. For Raphael, it had been decades since he had seen the house he was born in; for Monteras, longer, since the first Pleiadian lifetime of Raphael and his death in the desert. Ramirez grinned at the expressions on their faces and announced, “We are here! Commander Monteras, do you recognize the structure before you?”
As Monteras scanned the sandstone structure, he replied, “Yes, sir; it used to be the home of Lord TorSeth Kantor, Raphael’s father! Do you own it now?”
Chief Ramirez nodded and patiently replied, “Yes, Commander – I told Lord Raphael that I and my family purchased the house after the ending of the war. It had been deserted after it was sold off by the then Morovian Council upon learning of the deaths of Lord TorSeth and Lady Katrina. The monies were put into a trust for the Kantor sons, who were then Ezekiel and Raphael. Believing the house to be haunted by the spirits of the departed owners, both of whom were alleged to have died violent ends, the house remained empty until this past year when my family purchased it and moved in. We have found it a comfortable headquarters for our extensive trade company, that, and some warehouses we also purchased later…”
Raphael looked at the Morovian chieftain with some curiosity, “Warehouses, Chief Ramirez? Would they be located on the southside of the city by any chance?”
Ramirez raised a dark brow at this question and countered it with a question of his own, “You wouldn’t be familiar with such places, my lord?”
“Oh, but I am or was, Ramirez… all too familiar. I will explain later in private. The house is looking well-kept. My mother loved the gardens,” replied Raphael as they entered the house, passing into a large chamber or great room that had a mezzanine completely surrounding it on the second level, with a couple of great stairways climbing up to the second story.
Raphael remarked, “My parents sleeping room was on the second floor; my own was on the third floor. I could access a balcony from my rooms and see over a part of the immediate neighborhood from it and smell the winds blowing off the desert…”
“You’ll find the rooms on the third floor are reserved for my precious daughters… whom you will be meeting later in the day when we have supper together with our guests,” replied Chief Ramirez. “Now, my sons will escort you to your rooms for this stay, my lord. Please follow them. You will find refreshments, fresh tea and fruit already laid out in your rooms. Later, if you require a bath, the house contains a large bathing room. Normally, we bathe as a family but will grant your party some privacy during your visit. Now, let my boys take care of you, our honored guests!”
The boys were shorter, wiry versions of their tall slender father. They appeared before Raphael and gave deep bows and then bobbed up, great bright smiles lighting up their darkly tanned reddish-brown faces, with deep blue eyes sparkling. Both boys had long straight black hair carefully gathered now into singular braids, held with bright beaded bands. They were dressed in well-made comfortable robes, gaily beaded across the chest, and covered with layers of light colorful robes. The outer robes, the one with the Family color, were a bright maroon in color, with intricate beaded patterns around the collars and cuffs. The sandals of the boys were also well-made and covered with bright beads.
Raphael knew from observing the boy’s attire that this was, indeed, a wealthy and well-positioned family. As he and his men climbed the stairs to the second floor, he gazed over the banister, remembering the times as a child he had peered between the rails to watch his parents below entertaining their guests. The boys led them past what Raphael knew to be his parent’s former sleeping room and to another wing of the great house which was laid out in a ‘U’ shape. Throwing open a set of double doors, the two boys showed five of the men (Raphael, Francis, Master Mei Li, Monteras, Salaniel) the large, comfortable suite that would be their living quarters for the visit. The Eagles would be housed next door in another set of rooms.
One of the boys peered up at Milo and flashed another bright smile. He said, “Father had to order special mattresses made for your Eagles, my lord! We seldom see Felines here… except when they came during the war…”
Milo gave the two boys a crooked toothy grin and growled, causing the boys to giggle, flash a quick salute and run back laughing along the mezzanine to the stairs.
Raphael grinned for a moment, but he knew why the Felines had been here on Morova. They were part of the first Command forces to invade the Planet and start seeking out the individuals associated with the vast human-trafficking networks on the planet, the same ones that had held him a captive for a decade. The Feline warriors were from The Golden Falcon, commanded by Myka Strom, whose own crew was heavily impacted by Morovians implanted by enemy agents or even their own parents who were, like Michael Kadish of Airus, involved in the dark trade. Those were grim times for the people of Morova. Raphael sincerely hoped the spirit that made the Morovian people shine as traders and travelers… he hoped it was shining and strong, once again.
Later on, Raphael and his men witnessed that the strong spirit as being alive and well along the Morovian people. Chief Ramirez personally escorted Raphael and Francis as they wandered through a busy marketplace, teeming with people and goods, every kind of good imaginable, some from Morova, some from far afield, other worlds and even other star systems. Now that the wars were over within the Federation, the trading ships of Morova ventured far afield, gathering and trading goods and information.
Ramirez owned several trading vessels, smaller sturdy freight vessels that could hold enormous amounts of freight. He spoke about the network that he and his associates, all family members, uncles, and cousins, had built just during the last couple of years since the day of the Last Battle. Ramirez turned to Raphael and said, “It is thanks to you, my lord, that our people are enjoying a new sense of freedom now that the dark shadow of the enemy no longer walks upon this land. I can tell you that in those dark days, I did not let my children leave the house without a heavily armed guard. Those were desperate times that lasted far too long. Now, I am pleased to hear laughter, singing, and the music of instruments rising through the air throughout the city and the desert camps. We are happy to be free, once again!”
Raphael looked around at the jostling crowds, the busy shoppers, the industrious shopkeepers, little gatherings of musicians on a corner, puppeteers in another, acrobats in yet another, songs rising up above the din, smiles on the dark faces of the active slender people. Occasionally someone would stop and peer up at the pale blonde stranger, a lord by his dress, the rich soft blue robe trimmed with braiding draped over a shining silver uniform, a star on his chest heralding a commander of the Fleet. Then, the same curious ones would note the lord’s massively tall guards walking behind, their golden and blue eyes carefully surveying the crowds for threats… and would slowly but quietly walk away. Yes, much had changed for Raphael since he was a child on this planet. He began to relax and enjoy the gaiety and noise around him.
Then Ramirez led the party to another house, a more modest two-story house, yet one that seemed prosperous. The chieftain knocked upon the doorway leading to the courtyard. A tiny girl answered the summons, her dark blue eyes staring up at the tall strangers arrayed behind the chieftain. She asked, “Chief Ramirez, do you bring strangers here? Father is waiting inside the courtyard…”
Stepping aside, the young girl watched the strangers as they passed through into the courtyard of her father’s house. Then, she joined her father who was seated on a bench next to some large pots filled with healthy vegetables. “Father, Chief Ramirez is here with his visitors…”
“I see that little one; now, go inside and get your grandmother. We have someone with us who may recognize her,” replied a dark-haired, wiry man who glanced up with some curiosity at the blonde stranger who was surrounded by his men, including some huge guards. He continued, as he went to stand, giving Raphael a short bow, “I am given to understand that there is someone here who claims relationship to my mother. She belonged to the DeAires clan before she mated my father, Sanarius Monteras.”
The Monteras male stared in astonishment to witness three men step forward, two were Morovians by their looks, dark and wiry, although one was quite tall and muscular… and the blonde lord who also had the most extraordinary blue green eyes. The lord spoke first, “I am Lord Raphael DeAires Kantor-VaCoupe. In my last life, I was Raphael DeAires, son of Betony and Anor DeAires. This young man who stands beside me is the reincarnation of Anor DeAires. His present name is Commander Salaniel DeAires. The other man is Commander Tomás Monteras, a cousin of the DeAires clan.”
The Monteras father replied, “And I am Santos Monteras. I would be a cousin of Tomás, descendant of my father who survived a kidnapping after our family was either murdered or captured and taken into slavery. It was only through the bravery of his cousin that he and two of his brothers were saved… and my mother, their third cousin. You are that cousin, little Raphael who spoke to crystals and slept with camels?”
Raphael stepped forward and declared, “I am that Raphael… only not, as you can see. I was killed at age 12 and then reborn as you see me, a blonde born of two off-worlders, but born, again, here on Morova. Where is my sister… my former sister, Lia?”
“You know her name? Then you must be him. Chief Ramirez said he did not mention my mother’s name to you when he spoke about finding us here in the city. We only moved here recently, my lord,” replied Santos, standing, and bowing to Raphael.
A petite and slender woman was led out of the house by her granddaughter. The two women stopped and stared up at Raphael who, even at his 8’2” towered over them. The grandmother was about 6’ in height and the child was about 4 feet, yet bravely staring up at the massive golden-eyed Felines who loomed up behind the blonde stranger and his two Morovian companions. Unexpectedly, Raphael bowed to Lia Monteras and stepped up to her, “I am Raphael, reborn. And behind me, is Anor, reborn. Greetings, Sister!”
Lia Monteras blinked in shock and surprise; then, with tears pouring from her eyes, she stepped into Raphael’s embrace, hugging him tight. “I thought I would never see you, again, brother! Well… you are different, but you feel the same to me.” Then, she noticed the rich clothing and the polished uniform and ventured a question, “Are you a Commander in the Fleet, Raphael?”
A gentle quirky smile lit Raphael’s pale face as he replied, “Little sister, I am both a Commander and a Lord. In fact, Lia, I am the Regent of the Federation today… and one of the young men in my party is the Heir, my adopted nephew Master Francis Dino VaCoupe!”
“The Regent and the Heir? Oh, Chief Ramirez, you did not tell us who you were bringing to see us! The older woman dipped into a curtsy, while her young granddaughter gave a little bow. Then, Lia stepped in front of Salaniel and stared into his face and said, “Father, you’re younger than I, now! The ironies of war time! I survived and you didn’t, but now you’re back! It is so good to see you both… and who is this other gentleman, this officer? You look like my uncle?”
Commander Monteras gave Lia a bow and announced, “I am one of your elder cousins who entered into the Command when you were but a baby, Lia. I’ve been with Raphael for most of his life since he was 14 years old.”
“How remarkable!” exclaimed Santos Monteras. “You are also a Monteras? Then, you must be another cousin. This is a family reunion! Can we meet the rest of your companions, too?”
“Of course, the tall slender young man is Master Francis Dino VaCoupe, destined to be the Lord of the Pleiades someday. Francis?” replied Raphael, signing Francis to step forward to meet his new-found relatives.
Francis bowed to the Monteras family members, and said, “I am honored to meet relatives of my wonderful uncle and mentor, Lord Raphael. I must say I am impressed with Morova although all we have seen yet is here in PoLiafee. Have you lived long here in the city?”
“No, my lord, we came in from one of the oases. After the Command and the Morovian chieftains cleared the city of the dark agents, it was safe to return and to bring back our families and children. Before, we would not have dared to live here. What happened to you, Raphael, after we were rescued? I remember we were all taken to different places, separated, but eventually I found my cousins, again… one of whom I ended up mating,” said Lia, her face filled with curiosity.
“I was placed in the orphan’s school next to the Temple of Post Ton. I did not like being cooped up, prevented from going out into the desert, so I ran away. Several years later I was killed during yet another attack,” replied Raphael, glad that he could tell the tale now without feeling the need to shed more tears. “In my next life, this one, I was born again on Morova but to off-worlders, the Lord TorSeth and his mate, Lady Katrina Morena-Brown Kantor.”
“Oh… we heard what happened to them, my lord! You were their little boy? You disappeared… and now we find out it was you? What happened?” Lia and Santos were both curious.
“My unfortunate father was implanted by an enemy agent and then controlled by a dark lord. He arranged for me to be kidnapped and I was held as a captive for ten years. Young Salaniel here, was also a captive for about four years, wasn’t it, Salaniel?” inquired Raphael. “I was rescued at age 14 and then fostered by Lord VaCoupe after the Morovian Council refused to hear my case. I was later adopted by Lord Demetrius and joined the Command, to which I still belong. It has been a long, arduous journey for someone who was once called a camel boy!”
“Well, we are happy the war is over, and our planet has been cleansed of the dark lords and their agents,” exclaimed Santos. “Now, enough of these sad tales. You are our guests. Would you care for some refreshments, my lord?”
Raphael and his party graciously accepted the modest hospitality of his former relatives inside their house, seated on pillows around low tables.
Upon noticing the small statured man among Raphael’s companions, Santos Monteras asked, “May I ask, my lord, who is the little man in your company?”
“Oh, pardon my oversight! Master Mei Li, introduce yourself! Master Mei Li is a Veyan physician in my company. He is also the mentor for Master Francis Dino VaCoupe and one of my advisors,” replied Raphael, slightly embarrassed by his misstep. However, when he glanced over at Master Mei Li, the Veyan physician seemed unconcerned, gently smiling at the shy daughter of Master Santos.
The Morovians shyly regarded the Veyan, who was dark-haired and slightly built, yet much shorter than their own slim height. Santos said, “Welcome to Medina, Master Mei Li. We do not see many Veyans here and the ones who visit are usually associated with the Command forces who periodically stop on one of their patrols. Is Morova anything like your own home world, Master Mei Li?”
Mei Li bowed and looking up at Santos, he replied, “Morova is nothing at all like my world of Vey. We have jungles, seas, and high snowy mountains. There is, perhaps, greater diversity of geography on our world. Yet, Morova has its own beauty… especially in its lively and colorful people.”
“Thank you, Master Mei Li,” replied Lia. “You are truly a physician? Why are you with my brother Raphael?”
Mei Li smiled to hear Lia call Raphael her brother, the tall blonde lord with strange blue green eyes and pale skin. Yet he understood – Raphael’s frequency had not changed; if anything, he was now more of himself than ever before, stronger, and more centered. The sensitive empathic people of Morova instinctively knew their own. He quietly replied, “Due to rough treatment as a child and severe stress caused by his powerful gifts during the war, Lord Raphael suffered a nervous condition, periodically falling into fainting fits and experiencing strong dreams and visions. I and another physician worked to alleviate and correct some of these issues so Lord Raphael might be able to serve as he wishes. Other than that, I cannot discuss these matters in further detail due to patient-physician privacy.”
“Oh, that’s quite enough… Raphael, you have suffered much, even though not a native Morovian in this life. To have suffered as long as you did – you said 10 years – tells us just how strong your will and heart are; we are glad you have received help, as a young boy and now as a man. And we are proud that one of the sons of Morova is now our Regent!” said Santos Monteras, with a huge smile and a pat on Raphael’s back.
The mate of Santos brought out the repast for their visitors. Tea and fruit were presented on well-polished silver trays, brought out for the special guests. Towards the end of the ritual, Raphael thanked his hosts and announced they would be leaving. As he stood up, holding out his arms as if to encompass all who stood in the room, he exclaimed, “It has been a great joy to see you all, now… happy and alive, my family… our family. It is like a miracle for Salaniel, Tomás, and me. We will treasure the knowledge that our families still thrive on Morova. Thank you, Chief Ramirez for finding them for us and making this visit possible! And now, we must say good-bye. Now, Chief Ramirez, shall we continue with our tour?”
Ramirez was very pleased with the reception of Raphael’s former family members and Raphael’s reaction to it. He could see why Lady Chokama felt Raphael was a special person. He accepted people despite their hardships and issues. He wasn’t disappointed to see the modest dwelling; he was more focused seeing that his former family group were happy and well.
While Salaniel and Tomás had not spoken much during the interview, Ramirez could tell that the commanders were also touched by the visit to the Monteras house. To see little Lia, hug her former brother was enough to bring tears to any onlooker and Ramirez had witnessed some in Salaniel’s eyes. For Chief Ramirez was considering a possible future union of one of his own daughters with the tender-hearted line communications officer and aide. Observing the men interacting, the chief saw that Raphael accepted them fully as family and treated them as such, while still depending on their skills as commanders.
In walking back to the Ramirez household, Chief Ramirez engaged Commander Monteras in some conversation. It was there he learned that the commander was mostly in charge of Raphael’s security, overseeing the disposition of the Eagles, and acting as an advisor and confidant. Ramirez also sensed there was something Tomás was not telling him about the special relationship that he and Raphael had together, although it was obvious Raphael depended quite a bit on the Morovian commander.
It was also apparent that Raphael highly regarded his aide, Salaniel. When Ramirez questioned how long he and Raphael had known each other, Raphael surprised him by telling him about their first encounter when Salaniel was only 10 years old and then meeting again at age 18, and yet again, after Salaniel transferred to Alyona and eventually became the military aide of Raphael. Ramirez remarked, “It would seem that you were all meant to be together in this life, Salaniel.”
“Yes, sir,” replied Salaniel, “Raphael went so far as to not retire from the military to keep the two of us in his life. It was just as well, as the Command is very supportive of his Regency, which makes any possible detractors think twice before taking him on. A mothership and a platoon of armed warriors could quickly show up to discourage any such actions.”
“Yes, it is a wise precaution on the part of Lord Raphael. Actually, since Lord Demetrius was the Supreme Commander of the Fleet as well as the Lord of the Pleiades, the various representatives accepted Raphael more easily as they are already accustomed to that relationship. It is also apparent that Raphael is dedicated to serving the people in whatever capacity he is able, through his service in the Fleet and now as Regent. We are fortunate to have him among us now,” replied Chief Ramirez.
Salaniel gave the Morovian chieftain a great smile. It lit up his angular face and made him appear very handsome. Ramirez did think Salaniel had beautiful eyes for a man. And he knew the young commander had suffered, too, as a child, losing his family and being bereft until he joined up with Raphael once more. It pleased the chieftain to learn these things. Ramirez was aware that Lady Chokama had watched Raphael from afar for most of his life. After this visit, Ramirez, would be able to speak to her about the new Regent as he felt he was beginning to take the true measure of this complex individual.
The party walked slowly through the busy streets. Despite the day’s heat, the citizens of PoLiafee were quite active. Families who were beaders, were hard at work inside, but other family members were watering gardens, sweeping courtyards, mending garments, and cleaning house. Morova was famous for its beads, and beautifully beaded garments, accessories, jewelry, and shoes/sandals. Raphael had in his possession an excellent example of the fine craftsmanship of the Morovian craftspeople, given to him by Chief Ramirez many years ago. He had brought the robe and gown set to wear to the dinners while on the tour.
As the men passed through the marketplace, the tents and booths were being struck and packed up, once again. The party watched with fascination at the swiftly working crews. A huge tent and its contents could be completely packed and broken down in less than 20 minutes! Then, chatting about the market and other sights within the city, they continued on their way to the Ramirez residence as Raphael now regarded the house that was once his own parent’s.
Upon entering the great house, Raphael and his party were greeted this time by the mate of Chief Ramirez, Mathidia. She was a beautiful slim, dark-haired beauty with large liquid sapphire blue eyes and a light reddish-brown complexion. She smiled to see her mate returning with his guests, “Juan! You have returned in time to have some tea before we sit down for dinner. Can you introduce to our guests?”
“Certainly, my dear – gentlemen, may I introduce you to my mate of many years… although she does not show them at all! Mathidia Ramos Sareñtes, heart of my heart! This beautiful woman has given me five beautiful children. Tonight, you will meet my daughters, all delightful creatures. You have already met my two sons, the youngest of my children… Jose and Guillamos. Now, please come into the garden for that is where we have our tea before dinner. The air begins to cool and the roses there are lovely to smell. Lord Raphael, I think your own mother must have planted the roses long ago. Now, let me introduce you to my mate before we go to the garden…Mathidia… this gentleman is Lord Raphael DeAires Kantor-VaCoupe, a Commander in the Fleet and currently our Regent for the Pleiades. Next, the two Morovians with him are Salaniel DeAires and Tomás Monteras, both commanders and aides to Lord Raphael…”
Chief Ramirez continued with the introductions and then, everyone proceeded to the garden courtyard in the rear of the house. There, they found a collection of huge pots filled with vegetables and herbs, as well as flowers. The Morovians, being a very practical people, preferred to grow as much of their own produce as possible and housekeepers visited the markets early on a daily basis to obtain the freshest fruit and vegetables for smoothies, puddings, soups, and stews. The Morovian diet was primarily vegetal, much the same as Raphael and his family ate on Medina. Here, also, some herbs were grown for herbal teas, another thing that Raphael particularly enjoyed.
One of the Eagles took guard at the doorway leading to the garden courtyard. When Mathidia looked askance at the tall Feline warrior, Raphael explained, “Milo regards me as his charge, my lady; he seldom loses sight of me while he is on duty. I hope his presence doesn’t disturb?”
Mistress Mathidia smiled when Raphael addressed her by the title, “lady”. Officially, she wasn’t a lady, since Chief Ramirez was not a lord, but her standing in Morovian society was actually similar to many other ladies on other worlds. She gave Raphael a sweet smile and replied, “My two boys had already told me about your massive Felines. They are quite intrigued by them. Have you been around Felines quite a bit, my lord?”
“Yes, my lady… I was mentored as a young line technician by Lord Lyonell, the former King of the Felines of the Suriya System. Then, I’ve had Feline co-workers in Communications and Felines for Eagles. So, yes, my lady, I have had years of contact with Felines and consider my Eagles, all of them, as part of my extended family. Once they are assigned to me, they seem to stay. Some of my Eagles have been with me since I was 19 years old, which includes Commander Monteras, here, as he is an Eagle Commander,” replied Raphael.
“Oh, Commander Monteras… you must be a Morovian? Did my mate introduce you to Master Santos Monteras today?” inquired a curious Mathidia.
Commander Monteras gave Mathidia a brilliant smile and nodded, “Yes, my lady; Chief Ramirez has been a very kind host to find our still-living relatives and then take us to visit them. Even with my own connections, I had not been able to manage that achievement! We all appreciated being able to see the happy faces of living relatives… even Raphael who met his sister, Lia, from his first life as a Pleiadian.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful! I am happy for you all! And it is such an honor to sponsor the Regent as a guest in our home. Lord Raphael, did you know this house belonged formerly to your own parents’?” asked Mathidia.
“Yes, my lady – Chief Ramirez mentioned your family had bought their old house when I first met him in a private meeting over a month ago. I was very surprised to hear it. I did recognize the building, but it… or rather, I have changed quite a bit,” replied Raphael politely, then he took a sip of his cooling tea. It was chamomile with a little peppermint, a pleasant mixture, and very relaxing.
Finally, the young boys, Jose, and Gilly (as he was called) showed up at the door, peeking around Milo’s legs and announced, “Matteo says dinner is ready, Father, Mother… we’re hungry!”
“Children!” Mathidia laughed. Then, she glanced over at Raphael and asked, “Do you have children, my lord?”
“Yes, my lady – I have six children, although five are well-grown. My youngest, Daniel, is less than two years old and was a surprise. Unfortunately, his mother died during the childbirth, so my youngest son is being fostered by my adopted uncle, Lord Raimundo, brother to my Father, Lord Demetrius VaCoupe. Also, my second mate is already expecting… another boy,” replied Raphael. “I have also fostered three children beyond my own, two from BerWare and one from the Suriya System.”
“Oh… you are a family man! That is wonderful to learn, my lord,” replied Mathidia, “Now, shall we go in and see what Matteo has prepared for us tonight?”
Upon reaching the dining room, Raphael saw the children of Juan and Mathidia lined up to formally greet their guests. The chieftain turned to Raphael and said, “Here are all my present children. From the eldest we have: Roxanee, Annalee, Martealee, Jose, and Guillamos. My cousin Matteo also lives here but is not currently mated. He lost his mate and children during an enemy raid. Right now, he is acting as our cook and housekeeper. I hope you enjoy his handiwork.”
Then, Juan Ramirez, carefully introduced Lord Raphael and his companions to his children and cousin. While Juan was speaking, Raphael was watching the reactions of the children. The eldest girl was really not a child anymore. Raphael estimated Roxanee was probably about 20 years of age. From the garments she was wearing, it was apparent that she was a talented craftswoman or could afford to buy exquisitely made clothing. Roxanee was a tall (for a Morovian) slender slip of a young lady, wearing a colorful gown and robes, her long straight black hair streaming down her back to her knees. She was discretely observing the strangers, her lovely face serene, her blue eyes taking in the details of dress and costume, the strange accents, and appearance. When she felt Raphael observing her, she gave him a shy smile and then looked away with a blush.
Raphael also noticed someone else observing Roxanee closely… his aide and companion young Salaniel. Then, Raphael saw that the girl’s father was also observing Salaniel’s reaction to the beautiful young woman. Juan and
Raphael exchanged knowing smiles across the room. Then, Mathidia had everyone sit down on the pillows provided – Morovians sat on the floor and ate off of low tables in a manner used by many nomadic peoples throughout the quadrant. Despite living in a beautiful house, they preferred to keep the customs that had served them well in their nomadic tents out in the desert.
For Salaniel this was a moment when some of his deeply held grief began to surface. He looked around at the happy faces of the Morovian family, the children, and his own cousin and he could almost visualize what he had felt being included within a family once again. He found himself looking down at the table, holding a piece of fruit in his hand and gulping down tears. Roxanee sensed his distress and boldly asked him what was the matter.
Salaniel looked at Roxanee, blushed, then glanced over to Raphael who gave him a brief smile and commented, “Salaniel… I feel your grief. Explain to these kind people what happened to you as a young boy. I know this is not really a subject for dinner, but you need to re-discover some peace within.”
Salaniel nodded, feeling the warm healing energies that Master Mei Li was now sending him in response to his distress. He knew that he loved and valued, but he felt such an ache inside… He began hesitantly to speak about the attack that had taken the lives of his parents and other older relatives, only to have the children rounded up and put on a transport, tied up and loaded like freight. Then, he spoke briefly about the awful camp where the children found themselves next… the deserted world, the battle which ended the reign of terror the children had been subjected to for years and finally a return to a form of freedom. “After our rescue, I was placed in the boy’s school here in PoLiafee. Even though we were free, we were heavily guarded as children were still being kidnapped and stolen in broad daylight here in the city. Eventually, I managed to complete my schooling here, then took tests to enter the Medinian University Ship. And who would walk into the classroom on practically my first day, but Lord Raphael. He wasn’t a lord then, still a Line Commander, but absolutely brilliant. Commander Raphael insisted later that I join his party that were going to Medina on holiday, so I was able to meet some of his adopted family and friends. We’ve known each other a long time now…”
Mathidia felt Salaniel’s grief and gently chided him, “Eat, now, Salaniel – you are among persons who share some of your own story. And it is clear that Lord Raphael highly regards your presence in his life. Try the fruit pudding, my dear. Matteo is an excellent cook and would be disappointed to learn that you did not appreciate his handiwork.”
“Sorry, Mistress Mathidia – I know the people here suffered greatly, even after I was able to leave Morova. I joined the Command, eventually, but asked to be transferred to Alyona after Commander Raphael and Commander Charles Lo’Telle formed up the Alyona Command Center. Like the Commander, I had powerful visions and dreams that haunted me. It was through the kindness of Lord Raphael that I began to heal. I owe him everything!” replied Salaniel, his voice trembling with his passionate feelings.
Raphael signed Salaniel, Quiet! Eat! His aide nodded, blushed, and began to obediently eat. Raphael nodded and began to explain, “Juan, if your children don’t realize it, yet, Salaniel and I… and Commander Monteras, are relatives of a sort. Both Salaniel and I had short lives due to the war and enemy attacks. He was my original Pleiadian father, Anor DeAires. He was reborn into the DeAires family, and I was not. Fate had an entirely different agenda for me, yet, here we are together once more, with Salaniel and my cousin, Tomás, acting as my military aides. Understandably, before we came here to Morova, we were all aware that there was the possibility we would experience an upsurging of emotions, memories, and grief. As your people here suffered, so did all of the Pleiadian people suffer. Yet, we survived and endured those hardships. Now, as Regent, having learned some profound lessons during my life, I intend to help lead our people back to healing, abundance, and prosperity.”
Juan Ramirez glanced around at his children and mate who were all listening attentively to Raphael, with the understanding that he suffered on Morova as many of their own relatives, families, and friends had suffered. Somehow, although he looked very different from the dark-haired Morovians, he felt like a brother to Juan. The wise and canny chieftain, a survivor of dark times, knew it would be a positive step to align his family further with that of Raphael’s. He admired the new Regent for his adaptive ways, taking in disparate people into his own family as kin even though they were of a different race, origin, and even species. Now that he had time to observe Salaniel he thought it might be a good thing to offer up his beautiful eldest daughter in order to strengthen those bonds even more. Yet, he also knew that he would have to wait his moment to speak with Raphael about such an arrangement. It was a big sacrifice for his own family – his daughter was a talented and much in demand beader who had learned her craft from his own mother. Yet, Roxanne had a great heart and would assist in healing the still-wounded heart of the sensitive Morovian commander, Salaniel DeAires. He smiled to himself and then noticed his mate now watching him, a question in her eyes. He signed her, Later, will explain…
Then, even as he signed his mate, he belatedly realized that probably everyone in Raphael’s party knew the Morovian battle language signs. His thoughts were echoed when Commander Monteras signed him back, Raphael taught all of his people the battle language.
Juan nodded and then grinned, asking, “How is everyone doing? Lord Raphael, I would like to have a short meeting with you and your aide, Salaniel, after dinner is finished.”
Raphael nodded and glanced over at Salaniel who was, by now, doggedly working his way through his plate. “That will be fine, Juan. I must say, it is enjoyable to be eating a good Morovian meal in this beautiful house.”
“Thank you, my lord; we are grateful to be able to host you and your people while you are visiting Morova,” replied Juan.
Later, after supper, Juan brought Raphael and Salaniel into his office. He waved his arm and said, “It is from here that I run my business. Once, when I was a lad, my father ran his business from his tent. We had both camels and desert hovercraft to transport our goods; now, we own ships… small ships, but ships and transport goods to and from Morova from all over the Federation. We can do this thanks to the efforts of the Command and most especially, to you, Lord Raphael. In recognition of your efforts, I have a proposition for you which involves your aide, Commander Salaniel. Would you be willing to act as Salaniel’s guardian and contract with me a union between your ‘son’ and my eldest daughter, Roxanee?”
“I would be honored, but first, I need to see what Salaniel thinks of all this. After all, he would be the one most profoundly affected by this big change in his life. So, Salaniel, what do you think of Chief Ramirez’s proposal? Since you are not my legal son, I certainly cannot compel you to take this step, so it is entirely your decision. What say you?” Raphael watched his aide’s thin mobile face as a myriad of emotions flashed across it.
After several seconds of feeling completely stunned… despite the fact Salaniel was aware that this might come up during the trip, he finally stuttered a reply, “Oh, my lord… Chief Ramirez… I… I would be honored to become a member of your family. You know, of course, that my fate is to follow Lord Raphael wherever he may go, so shall my mate. She would be welcomed in the VaCoupe’s Medinian home, a huge ancient house. And while, in Alyona… she will have a suite in the great Castle. Your daughter will see things that she could never see if she lived solely on Morova. Yes, my lord, I will accept, providing this contract is agreeable with the young lady. I would not force myself on any woman… not after what I have lived through and seen, Chief Ramirez!”
“Well, Salaniel, I will have a talk with my mate and Roxanee and see what they think about this. We can let you know sometime before you leave. Then, we will have to arrange a place where you can be properly mated, either here on Morova or at the VaCoupe house? Or even on Alyona when I attend High Council. If then, my mate would not be able to attend, but we can have the two of you visit us later, even with Lord Raphael and his lovely mate, Lady Lorenna,” replied Chief Ramirez with a fatherly smile. He was satisfied that the shy commander would make a good and loyal mate for his lovely daughter. Then, he turned back to Raphael and asked, “I understand that your mate, and that of Gareth Dino, and our heir, Francis VaCoupe, also travel to and fro between Medina and Alyona? Is that not so, my lord? Why, then, my daughter would be in good company, with ladies and a priestess! Then, my curious daughter could learn many things of which she could not imagined by attending High Council and seeing all of the different races and species who are represented there.”
“Yes, Chief Ramirez… Juan, my mate, Lady Lorenna, Lady Ella, and my youngest daughter, Lady Remilla Dino all travel with us. Lady Lorenna may be staying in Medina when her time approaches in about six months, but other than that, our mates accompany us. I would enjoy bringing Lorenna here to meet your family and to see your colorful culture. She enjoyed the excursion to Airus very much and got to meet some of my extended family there. At this rate, I will have ‘family’ connections throughout the Federation!” replied Raphael. He continued, “Now, Salaniel, we had better retire for the evening and let Chief Ramirez speak to his family. This is a very generous offer, Salaniel, as the Ramirez Family is very wealthy and influential on Morova… now that the war is long over, and things are improving for all here.”
“That is so, my lord,” replied Juan. “I know I am ready to retire, too; it has been a long day but most interesting being able to spend more time in your company, my lord, and that of your people. I am learning new things, as well!”
As Salaniel and Raphael made their way to their suite, Salaniel was muttering to himself. Raphael stopped him and asked him to speak up. Salaniel looked up at his friend and replied, “You told me that you would look for a possible mate for me, my lord and you kept your word. I… I don’t know what to say…”
“You don’t have to say anything to me, Salaniel. It was obvious that you were hankering for a family of your own. Now, treat the young lady with kindness and affection… and someday, you will also have children to dandle on your lap and play with in the garden. Now, it’s time to go to bed, cousin. I am quite exhausted!” replied Raphael as he opened the door.
No one was on watch in front of their suite, which concerned him. When the two men walked into the great room of the suite, all of his party, including the Eagles were waiting for them. Monteras stepped forward and asked, “So, what happened?”
“Salaniel was given a proposal that I doubt he will refuse. If Roxanee Ramirez agrees, our young commander is about to be mated to a very lovely, intelligent young woman and our party forges yet another strong family tie to help bind our Federation into one great Family!” replied Raphael.
Raphael was sure the family and their neighbors heard the great cheer that went up in response. Salaniel blushed and unexpectedly burst into tears. He sat down on a pillow couch and grabbing a pillow, hugged it tightly, and replied, “Oh, my lord… my friends, I am beyond words, filled with gratitude to be sharing this time with all of you, together. I hope you will all come to the mating if Roxanee agrees to become my mate!”
“Of course, we will, Salaniel,” growled Milo, “You have become our brother, our comrade, our family. We wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
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