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Subject: Cinderfella 2, Chapter 23 Chitto Story: Cinderfella 2: A New Life Chapter: 23 Chitto Author: Eric McQueen ail) Mature Readers only due to sexual situations and graphic sexual content Freedom of expression is precious. To do that Nifty needs help. Your donation is greatly desired. Give to fty/ or this story ends and all the others! That would be a crime! Race? Ethnics? Religions? We are all one family. The Human Family. Chitto “What is it with these people?” Seth balked holding his hands out in exasperation. “First Len Na and now this Tawa!?” He waved at Adistan. “Tell me that wasn’t a Child of Lilith!” He challenged me. I shook my head. “It’s not.” I looked again at Adistan and asked him. “Is this…” I stopped, “the Charging Bear speaking? The other name will take practice for me to say.” “I am.” He said sort of echoing. “Really!?” I asked. “But you are also Tawa?” “I speak through this willing soul.” “Then you know who I am.” I said simply and you know what’s happened to me and you know what I’ve experienced.” “My knowledge of the insignificant is not important. You will submit or be purged.” Tawa said. Seth got closer to me and added. “We were significant enough to attack.” “You are a means to the end,” this so-called god said. “There’s no room for negotiating?” I asked. “This world will be cleansed.” The voice said finally and the man Adistan collapsed in what seemed to be exhaustion. “I knew one of those things were involved!” Seth nearly spat. There were rare times Seth angered me and this was one. I turned to Seth. “One of those things?” I repeated testily. “One of those THINGS.” I shook my head. “It was one of those things that got us together, built our house and found our boys. One of those things.” I knew he didn’t trust many of them because of his past. “Tell me you don’t trust Demetrius or Dara.” I challenged Seth. “There’s more than just those two or three! There are others that don’t like us and even hate us!!” Seth said loudly waved toward the outside of the barn. “Len Na was one of those things! She tried to kill all of us!!!” I took a deep breath for patience and to compose myself. “When he couldn’t find Sam, did he lie about it? He told us from the beginning he didn’t know and that he couldn’t feel anything.” “Lukus put all that in play!” Seth shouted. “He did not!!” I argued as loud. “That was Thorne and you know that! He gave Arthur the means, yes, but it was Arthur who did that.” I narrowed my eyes at Seth. “He helped retrieve your memory of your mother. Besides, you forgave him. I heard you, I was there!” “I thought I had!!” Seth shouted back angrily. He sighed and forced himself to calm down. “Maybe I’ll always be distrusting of them.” He looked at me more directly and waved at Adistan. “You have to admit this is very like them.” I nodded and walked close to Seth. Pulling his head toward mine I pressed my forehead against his. “I know a little about your pain and what Arthur did. I experienced what that did to you a little, but I didn’t live it.” I wrapped my arms around him bringing him closer. “I understand.” I kissed him. “Demetrius has done nothing but help us. I refuse to even consider he could be lying.” I patted Seth on the chest. “He said it wasn’t one of them, but one of us. This is a Child of Eve who says he’s Tawa. He says he’s god.” I shrugged. “Is he?” I shook my head. “I don’t think so.” Max had been listening to all of it and stepped forward a bit. “Excuse me, Erik, but how do you know?” He asked me. “Why would God or Tawa speak through him?” I asked. “God spoke to Moses, but never talked through him. Even Demetrius said he’s never seen God and God doesn’t speak directly to him. All of the prophets said what God told them. He never spoke through anyone. He sent angels to people to talk to them. Hell, He even sent an angel to tell the Virgin Mary He made her pregnant! He never spoke to her!” Seth shook his head, “But he’s not even talking about our God, but theirs!” “There are at least two Gods then?” I challenged them. “We have been taught there is one. Did Zeus, Hera and the others exist?” I shrugged. “I don’t know. What I do know, is this world was made by something so powerful and we have been taught who that is.” Max’s eyes widened. “How do you know this stuff?” Seth grinned and hugged me. “He studied it. Religion was a subject he was taught.” I smiled looking at Max. “And I did a lot on my own.” I shrugged. “It was fascinating and I wanted to know.” “Why?” Max asked. “My very soul is at stake! I’m basing my life and any afterlife on who and what I worship,” I chuckled. “I wasn’t trusting some man in a white collar to tell me what it says in the Bible. When he says God said to do this and don’t do that…don’t just tell me. Show me where it says that! Prove it! I can read. I needed to know.” Again, I sighed. “Look, if this person is Tawa, we’ll deal with him. If it’s not, we’ll deal with him. Any way you look at it. We’ll deal with him.” Seth chuckled hugging me and looking at Max. “He’s argued with priests and won.” He rocked me slightly back and forth. “He even got the priest here before banished from all of Blethos.” Max’s smiled as his eyes grew. “He did?” “Well,” I grinned. “He chose banishment over execution and it was King Samuel that banished him and the other one.” “But he knew what he was talking about and the priest couldn’t argue with it. He was shown in his self-believed superior face in black and white.” Seth chuckled. “He may have been the only one in Royal Valley, not related to him, that missed Arthur.” “That wasn’t about religion when I confronted him, but sure. I go by facts.” I shrugged. “It was, too.” Seth shook his head. “The law was wrong because of religion. But the time when the priest told everyone God said it was punishable for us to marry and destroyed two cities to prove it.” He shook his head. “That priest said God said we shouldn’t have been married. You challenged him on every point with knowledge of what you were saying.” Seth pointed down at me. “If you are in a jam you will want him on your side.” He chuckled. “Toby really takes after him.” “I got it from my grandfather. King William.” I stated. “I didn’t know him well. He died when I was a little boy. He, like King Alexander, had very little tolerance for the organized Church. Saying we were giving the power of kings to the priests and the Pope. My own father said,” I lowered my voice to imitate my father. “Who the Hell do these Popes think they are? He can’t dictate how I rule! I don’t tell them how to run the Church! He can shove it up his holy ass!!” Max chuckled. “And that thing in Europa? It started in Parsia, where the Church where they persecuted anyone not with the Church.” “The Inquisition?” I nodded. “Yep, they did and still do there. My grandfather and my great-grandfather would not allow any laws that granted the Church power over people.” I laughed. “We got a new influx of citizens because of it.” “Wow,” Max grinned. “You believe there is God?” He said to confirm. I grinned at Seth and ran my hand over the right side of his face where the scars had been kissing Seth. “I most certainly do. Even before this miracle I did.” We continued to question some of the others and didn’t get much difference in their stories. We got back to the manor and discussed what we now knew. Somewhat. “Adistan didn’t claim to be Tawa,” I reasoned out loud at the table in the kitchen where we enjoyed some juices and Seth and a couple of others had coffee. Val, Reese, and Beau were included in the discussion. “Then again, Wahkoowah, or the Charging Bear doesn’t either. He just claims Tawa speaks and works through him.” I looked at Seth. “But you may be right. Wahkoowah is channeling someone, but is it Tawa? Or someone else? It could be a Child of Lilith, but Demetrius should be able to sense that if it were. So, I don’t think so. Wahkoowah is a Child of Eve who managed to tap into the magic and is hearing this person and even letting him speak through him.” “Are you sure?” Seth asked. “Baby, the Children of Lilith have needs that are different from ours,” I said taking his hand. “They don’t need shelter as we do. They can whip one up. They don’t need wealth for the same reason having any treasure they want. They could easily overthrow any government and take over. They don’t.” “So, who’s doing it?” Max asked following my logic. Val shrugged. “It could be Wahkoowah himself.” Reese nodded, “He could just be mad and just thinks the voice is Tawa.” He suggested. “There are people who claim to hears voices only they can hear.” I gave a shrugging nod and groaned. “We can speculate all day and night.” I sighed and chuckled. “Hell, I researched you guys before I went to you dangerous Creid.” I threw my hands out. “There is nothing about Tawa or any other Native Aboriginal gods in our archives. Some tribes don’t even have a written language. History is passed mostly through song.” I shook my head. “There were several tribes that were here when we settled A’Dore where we did. The Creek was one, Cherokee, and Seminole. They just blended with us. They kept their culture and didn’t leave but kept a lot to themselves.” I shrugged. “I have a distant cousin who is Muscogee Creek. I have more Cherokee in my line!” Max chuckled. “I think we all can claim that. I have Comanche in my ancestry.” I chuckled looking at him. His coloring and blondish hair didn’t say that. “That was a while back, I assume.” “Yes,” Max nodded smirking. “You don’t look any more Native than I do.” “My point is,” I pressed on returning the smirk. “I need to speak with Chitto.” “That’s your cousin?” Seth asked. I nodded and grinned at Max. “He is and he looks more like a Native.” I chuckled. “We share great-great-grandparents. He and Cousin Harjo, Chitto’s father, came to a palace function when I was nine and Chitto was ten. I liked him. We got along great!” “But will he be on our side?” Max asked cautiously. I shook my head. “I can’t believe he’d be into something like this.” I said. “Those people have been a part of A’Dore for over a thousand years. They are from A’Dore! They aren’t stupid.” I grinned. “We’ll see if he lives up to his name.” “Chitto?” Seth asked. “In Muscogee it means brave.” I said simply. “And Harjo?” Max asked. “What does his name mean?” “Bear.” I said smiling at the memory of him. “He lived up to that name.” I pointed to them. “They have a written language, but I’m afraid my Muscogee is not up to par.” I brightened. “We’ll talk to Christian!” “If he’s back,” Seth reminded me. “But we can visit Chitto.” I suggested. “Their village in A’Dore is a few hundred miles southwest of A’Dore’s Capitol.” Max smiled. “A quick trip to A’Dore and then a few days ride,” He said happily. “Quick trip?” Val asked suspiciously. His eyes narrowed. “A’Dore is two weeks away! That’s not a quick trip.” Max looked horrified. “Oops.” “It’s okay, Max.” I gave a shrugging nod. “I think we all need to be up to speed on the doorway instead of guarding what we say and when we say it. We are a little more than just allies. We trust each other.” I spent the next few minutes explaining the mirror to them. They all listened, but I got one amusing response from Beau. “Wow.” He said. Seth smiled at Beau. “Everyone says that when they find out about the mirror.” This time, we all came through to A’Dore. Seth smiled at the now crowded room we arrived in. Beau looked at the mirror again. “Wow.” He said again making us laugh lightly. Seth chuckled. “Christian may have to move the mirror to another room.” He grinned at me. “This room is getting smaller!” “Maybe we shouldn’t be worried about who does and doesn’t know.” I speculated nodding at Seth’s words. “The number of people that know we travel back and forth quickly has grown.” I looked with a smile at Max. “We need to be careful so those with less…” I sought a word to describe what I intended, “educated minds. I don’t want us to be accused of using dark magic.” This time we walked out of the room to the laboratory area. The men here had seen the Children of Lilith come to our aid. They had seen us come and go from the room. As well educated as they were, I’m sure they spoke among themselves. We got only a few raised eyebrows from those that may have heard, but not see it. There were many service staff that knew something was happening that was miraculous. This time, Dr. Warren wasn’t surprised at our arrival. He was surprised by the number of us. I introduced them all to Dr. Warren. “Has King Christian returned?” I asked. “He has,” Dr. Warren nodded. “I’ll fetch him.” He turned to do that but I stopped him. “It’s time,” I began, “to just admit we do travel an unusual way. Under the circumstances we should have the mirror moved.” I smiled. “I think the palace employees know enough. We aren’t doing much medical research now; this is mostly military now.” I pointed to the door. “It’s early afternoon. Do I assume he’s in the Throne Room?” Dr. Warren nodded. “He is, Your Highness.” “Thank you, Doc.” I patted him on the arm. There had been guards posted at the door to the lab when Len Na was threatening us. None were posted now. However, when we walked through the wide corridors of the palace, we did get some surprised looks from people that were passing by. The men from Creid didn’t wear any armor, so no one knew they were anything but men they didn’t know. Seth and I got the occasional “your highness” and bows but they kept going. Our friends that came with Seth and me were looking around, but once again Beau was the only one to vocalize it. The corridors were wide and tall. Above on the domed shaped recesses of the ceiling where chandeliers with reflectors to keep things bright at night. Elegant paintings, flower arranged on little tables… “Wow,” he said again almost reverently. “This is very pretty.” He even did the occasional turn around when something caught his eye but kept going. I chuckled again at his child-like appreciation of the world around him. “It is, Beau.” We entered the Throne Room where Christian was listening to a gentleman that was speaking about the town he represented. “…we have the new defenses in place, Your Majesty,” the man in his mid-forties said. “We could use more troopers.” Christian nodded. “I understand, but right now the cities and towns north of here are threatened more. The troops are needed there.” He said patiently. “They will have to come past us in the capitol to get to you.” The man nodded. “The citizens of Crystal Springs are frightened, Sire.” He explained. Christian smiled. “Of course, they are,” he said again and I heard the tone of tolerance he would give to those who just didn’t seem to understand. “Let my citizens know we are doing all we can to keep them safe.” His eyes looked beyond the man and fell on us and his eyes widened slightly and his left eyebrow rose in inquiry. “If there’s nothing else?” The man bowed, “No, Sire.” He left the front of the throne. Again, my friends from Creid looked at the room. It’s three-story high ceiling also had several chandeliers to brighten the room after dark. The high windows allowed a lot of sunlight in and reflected off the reflectors allowing you to see what you were doing easier. The Arbitrators, Scribes and others needed to see. “Erik! Seth!” Christian rose from his throne as we walked up the red carpet that ran over the black and white marble floor to the foot of the platform that held the throne above everyone else. “This is unexpected.” I chuckled. “You know me. I’m never what anyone expects.” I turned and introduced all of men from Creid. They all bowed and gave the proper your majesty. Christian smiled. “I was told about your attack. Royal Valley is the only one able to do that in Blethos or A’Dore.” Seth nodded. “Hopefully, we won’t be the only one in the future.” “What’s changed?” Christian asked coming down and hugged Seth and me. bursa escort I told him about what we found out. Tawa, the Charging Bear, Adistan and the others. I looked at Christian. “Have you heard anything from our cousins Harjo and Chitto?” Christian looked puzzled. “Sure, he comes here often and I get correspondences from Harjo now and then. He is the representative of Mikosuki.” He shook his head. “But they aren’t part of this. They are citizens of A’Dore.” I nodded. “I know they aren’t. However, they would know about Tawa. We need to talk to them.” Christian nodded. “Sure. We can set that up. When do you want to go?” Max smiled. “Is tomorrow too soon?” Christian nodded. “I’ll see that you are provisioned for that.” He grinned at me. “And please take Thomas. He’s been annoying me to be included in something to do with this.” Seth chuckled and gave a little smile. “We got that the day after the attack and we told him and Ella.” “We’re going to see extended family,” I shrugged. “So, why not?” Returning to Royal Valley and back in the attic, Beau looked at the mirror again. “Wow.” His mind was just overwhelmed! Reese just patted Beau on the back. “Isn’t amazing that he communicates so much with that one word?” Seth asked Max and me. It wasn’t belittling Beau but praising him for his use of tone and inflection. Beau was awed, humbled, and so impressed with what happen. That came through in volumes. Again, in the bath that night we had a naked Demetrius just pop into the tub with us. Nearer to me, but there. “Hi, Demetrius!” I greeted hugging the man. Seth shook his head. “We invite you to join us once and now you just help yourself, don’t you?” He snickered at Demetrius. “What?” Demetrius asked. “There’s nothing I haven’t seen with you two. You’ve seen all of me…so?” He put his arm around my shoulder and waved at Seth. “You weren’t in a private moment or conversation. Why shouldn’t I?” “No reason you shouldn’t,” I said happily. I jutted my head toward Seth. “He’s just had his feathers ruffled.” Seth snorted. “Yes, they were ruffled.” He said but sounded a little testy. “The only reason you come here is to tell us something. What is it?” I lowered my eyes at Seth. “Don’t start, Seth. Demetrius is a good man. He’s family and helped us a lot.” I did growled lightly. Demetrius sighed. “Don’t blame him too much, Erik.” He looked with compassion at Seth. “While your experiences with us has been positive. He experienced a lot of negative. It will take time.” He said patiently. “And he’s right. I do come when I have something to share.” His voice got serious. “I don’t want you to waste time figuring this out.” He smiled at me. “I have every confidence you would, but…” he looked at Seth. “I can promise you. No Child of Lilith has anything to do with this.” He shifted in the water. “This is getting cold.” He commented and I felt the water’s temperature rise again. “But the Children of Eve can’t do what we’ve seen.” Seth argued. “They can. The magic is there, but don’t believe they can.” Demetrius said pointing at Seth. “Again, I refer to your scars.” He pressed his own chest. “We can’t do that.” He cocked his head. “In your very own scriptures they say men healed men. They were Children of Eve. They cured blindness, leprosy and made people walk again. The Quran has the same thing. The Torah has them. They accessed a part of the magic we can’t.” He smiled a little sadly and a little humble. “The Aborigines here are the one group of the Children of Eve that could do it. Their whole culture is based on a reverence for the Earth and sky. They believe in balance. Between man and Earth’s environment and between the mind and soul. If any Child of Eve could access the magic, they could.” “Is this Tawa real?” Seth asked. “I don’t know.” Demetrius shrugged. “He could have been real, but I don’t believe it’s him tormenting you now.” Seth frowned. “They have gods on gods. Gods who have sex and bare other gods.” “The ancient mythology from Greece and Italia have those, too.” I said. “Zeus, Apollo, Hera and the others…” Demetrius nodded. “And you worship a being that was born from a woman who was impregnated by God. You even made the woman a demigod because she gave birth to him. You do it with all your saints people pray to!” “I’ve never prayed to a saint,” Seth confessed with the corner of his mouth turned up. “I’ve never said a Hail Mary in my life.” Demetrius shook his head. “So? You believe something is in control?” “Sure, but I don’t know who,” Seth said rubbing the right side of his face. “I’ve seen more evidence there is. You believe,” he said to Demetrius. “Are the scriptures right about Him?” Demetrius gave a reluctant “eeeh.” Which said sort of, but not really. Then he looked at us. “No one knows God. They think they do.” He shook his head and again pointed to himself. “I don’t know any more about Him than you do.” He grinned. “I do believe there is something after we die and personally, when we do meet God and tells us the meaning of all this is. Everyone is going to do a forehead slap and say, so that’s what He meant!” He then returned to being serious. “Have open minds when you do talk to the Aborigines. Some will know what they’re talking about.” The he chuckled again shrugging. “Then again they can be lairs and thieves. Just use your own judgment.” And he just vanished. I chuckled after Demetrius left. I looked at Seth and crossed over the tub to him. “You have to love Demetrius.” Seth gave a grudging nod. “Yes, I do.” He pressed his lips to mine. “You know I love you.” “I do.” I smiled back. “As you know I love you.” “I do.” Seth said kissing me harder. In the morning we went down for breakfast. Again, it was getting crowded at the manor. The kitchen table was full. Grace was there as usual cooking and supervising what was being cooked by others. There was a shiny brass urn there for the coffee now. Seth only looked surprised a second at the new urn and got his precious coffee. “Mom, we are going on a trip today,” he told her. “We’ll be gone a week or more. It could be a month.” Her eyes widened. “Those men are still out there, aren’t they? Will they attack us again?” “You’re safe for now,” Seth assured. “We have most of this group either in a barn or on their way to the dungeons in Blethos’ Capitol. We’re not leaving you unprotected. You still have most all of the guards.” He patted gently on her shoulder. “We’re taking Toby and Dennis with us.” “And Kitty,” I added coming in behind them. “They will be safe in A’Dore,” Seth assured. “Is it dangerous?” She asked. “You’re taking the boys, it can’t be.” She reasoned. “No,” I said. “We’re visiting a distant cousin of mine to get more prepared for what we need to do.” “Oh,” she smiled. “I see.” “Only these four men from Creid will be going with us.” Seth said. “The rest will be here to protect you.” We sat at the table. Toby and Dennis came down to sit with us. Again, Dennis sat close to Beau. “Boys,” Seth began smiling at them. “We’re taking a trip. We’ll be gone maybe two or three weeks.” Toby looked at Seth. “You say we. You mean us, too?” He motioned between himself and Dennis. “You are, Toby. Dennis is going to A’Dore but staying there.” I said. “Yes, you are coming with us to see a cousin of ours.” “Another relative!?” Dennis his voiced raised a little in amazement and disbelief. “How many relatives are there?” I chuckled. “Hundreds! We kept track of Aunts and Uncles and their children. This one is descended from the brother of my great-great grandmother. He had children and their children and this one is one of his descendants, but he is a relative.” Seth laughed. “It’s a thing in royal families. They all keep track of relatives just in case a disaster takes place, like we had in Blethos. Everyone thought I was dead and the throne would be vacant. We used the knowledge of those relatives to find the right person to keep the line going.” Both Dennis and Toby thought a while. “So,” Toby began slowly, “we are in that line?” I nodded. “You’re both princes so you are, of course. But not only for Blethos, but A’Dore, as well because of me. Blethos is because of your Daddy.” We had told them many times not only who they were, but what they were. Now it was sinking in more. “We’re princes,” Dennis said for confirmation. “Being a prince is what we are and not just what we’re called.” Seth nodded. “That’s right.” “Wow,” Dennis said really understanding now. I knew he felt the swelling of self-importance in his heart. Just as I did when I understood what I was. “Son,” Seth began softly. “That does make you important. The problems come when you stay there at that realization. Many of our cousins stayed there becoming selfish and self-entitled to whatever they wanted.” He frowned. “They thought themselves more important than anyone.” He sighed. “You’re not. That’s why your Dad and I prefer being addressed without the titles.” I nodded. “My parents and brother taught me I was not more important than the woman scrubbing the floor or the man in the street. The thing most important is we are born with a job to do. It is a duty.” “What job do we have?” Toby asked. “You two are in unique position,” Seth smiled. “You have the means to do whatever you want. You can go to any college and become doctors, scientists, arbitrators or engineers.” “But remember to use that position to serve the people, not just yourself.” I said seriously. They both nodded understanding even more. Toby recovered first from the massive information we’d told them and understood. “So, when are we going?” Seth grinned. “As soon as we pack,” He said. “We’ll be eating and sleeping outside. So, pack accordingly.” “You’re going camping?” Dennis whined disappointed. “I want to go camping, too.” Seth chuckled again. “We’ll go camping some time else. I promise.” Dennis consented reluctantly. “Okay.” “You’ll be visiting with your cousin Edward,” I said. “You’ll have lots to do. It will be fun.” I watched him brighten a little. I touched the crystals on the mirror and what we saw what was reflected had changed. I didn’t know what room it was. There was dark fabric covering the mirror. I pushed against it stepped through to A’Dore. It wasn’t the room attached to the lab. It was dark and my eyes had to adjust to the little single light that burned in the room. I tried to remember this large room. I moved from the area so the others could come through. Then I remembered this was a storage room beneath the palace near the dungeon. Looking around I saw various items held in question that were taken by thieves and others. It wouldn’t be crowded for us like the other room attached to the lab was. Max looked around the room. “Where are we?” I chuckled. “I know where we are. Apparently Christian has the mirror moved.” I waved at the heavy cloth covering. “He did the same as we do. Covering it to keep people from finding out.” I waved at the various items around the room. “This is where we kept whatever loot criminals took and we find the owners and give it back. Some of this has been here since I was little, but it’s kept here.” “Okay,” Seth accepted what I said. “Then lead us out of here?” We covered the mirror again and stepped into the dark corridor. It was dark because we were underground. The floors here were stone, but not the polished floors above. The walls were stone with an occasional lamp lit for them to see down here. Dungeons weren’t supposed to be pleasant. “This,” Beau said a little in revulsion, “is not pretty.” Max chuckled. “It isn’t supposed to be.” He turned to Beau. “This is where the bad guys go when they catch them.” He patted Beau on the shoulder. “I won’t be bad.” Beau promised. “Beau,” Val laughed. “I don’t believe you could be bad even if you wanted to.” He gave Beau the one arm hug men gave, squeezing him at the shoulder to him. Kitty stuck his head out of the large satchel Dennis used to carry the cat. Kitty meowed softly as if to ask where he was or if we’d gotten there yet. Dennis stroked his head. “Almost there, Kitty, but not yet.” I lead them up the stairs to a part of the palace that was again pretty by Beau’s standards. High ceilings, chandeliers, art on the walls and on tables such as small statues and other sculptures. Beau even seemed to relax once we got up to the first floor of the palace. “Prisoners are brought through here?” Max asked. “Only if a judge or Christian sends them here from the Throne Room.” I answered. “Those that are brought like the ones that attacked Royal Valley are brought in another entrance. They only see this if they appear before a judge or Christian.” The problem with a castle this size was finding someone. Christian wasn’t in the Throne Room. No one was in the Throne Room. I found out through a guard Christian had been in the Family Communal Room. Entering we found Ella, Ada, Ana, and Edward. Edward was first to see us and said excitedly, “Uncle Seth!” I laughed at that. Edward has loved Seth since he was a baby. I nodded, “And Uncle Erik.” I reminded Edward chuckling. Seth grinned at me as he received a big hug from Edward. “Don’t be jealous, Honey.” I was a little. “I just want Edward to know there are others in this family.” I nodded. “Yes, I’m a little jealous, but it’s all good.” Edward looked at me. “Aw, I love you, too, Uncle Erik. You know that.” He let Seth go and hugged me. I introduced the men to Queen Ella and they paid the proper respects. The door opened and we heard Christian and Thomas in a discussion as they came in. “I got it, Dad,” Thomas was saying to his father in the ongoing conversation. “Hi, Thomas!” I greeted him and hugging him. Then someone else entered the room and I recognized my friend and former sparring partner Delbert. He’s been a guard a while and helped to locate Anastasia, Ella’s former stepsister before Len Na’s attack. “Are you all ready to go?” Christian asked Delbert. “I am, Sire,” Delbert said. “I thank you again for this privilege. And your trust.” Christian looked at us. “I asked Delbert to go with you.” He began explaining. “Erik, you know I trust you with my life. You and Seth will protect Thomas with your lives, but you will be doing other things as well. Delbert’s only duty is to protect Thomas. Understand?” I nodded. “Of course.” I punched Delbert lightly in the arm. “It’s great to see you, Bert!” Delbert smiled. “It’s great to see you, too, Erik.” Then he smiled a little maliciously. “Maybe we can get together for a rematch.” “Rematch?” Seth asked. Delbert grinned. “I’ve never been able to beat him sparring.” He looked at me. “I’ve improved over the decade.” “You think I haven’t?” I said coming toward him. “I’ve also learned some Creid dirty tricks. When this is over, we’ll have that rematch.” Delbert threw his head back and laughed. “Mister, I missed you.” He said and hugged me. He had permission to touch me since we were teenagers, so he did. He was a great looking man, but we were just friends and he liked the ladies, so… Dennis let Kitty out who made his rounds. He’d been here before, but he needed to check it out to familiarize himself with any changes. We gathered in the courtyard. Ten men were getting ready to go. There was a wagon coming with us with a cook. I noticed something under the carriage at the wheels. “Christian, what’s that?” I pointed to these things at the wagon’s wheels. “Improved absorbers for rough terrain.” Christian said proudly. He waved at the wagon. “He keep the pace you take without breaking anything or shaking anything apart and rides more comfortably for passengers.” I smiled. “We had them on our two carriages we used to travel back and forth.” Christian nodded. “These are even better.” I shrugged, “We’ll see them in action.” I nodded and hugged my brother. I leaned down a little to speak with Dennis. “Have a good time with Edward, but remember…” Dennis nodded and said escort bayan with me what I’d said to him before. “Uncle Christian and Aunt Ella are in charge and do as they ask as if they were you.” I laughed and hugged him. “That’s right.” I kissed him on the head. “You’re a prince. Behave. Set an example. I have to.” Dennis smirked. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I will.” He assured. We headed out and Christian was right. The new absorbers were better. We would take the other carriages at a leisurely pace. The improved carriage did well at a good gallop. The wheels would move up and down with the bumps on the road, but the carriage stayed steady and only bounced lightly keeping everything from being shaken apart. We had been to A’Dore frequently through the years but never left the palace. About a mile from the town’s outskirts, I saw what I’d never seen. A river was now there. Well, it wasn’t a river, but the canal! Wide enough for two ships to pass each other with no problem. Men were working on a dock and warehouse for goods imported and what we exported. The canal, I was told was completed to the ocean, but not finished to the gulf yet. That didn’t stop A’Dore from using it now. The men working at old wharf didn’t lose their jobs. Half of them stayed to unload goods that were nonperishable. The other half were offered jobs and moved to the capitol. Jobs were now available in both locations. We crossed the bridge there that allowed ships to pass underneath with no problem. There was an Inn on the way to Mikosuki, but only had a few rooms. But they did have a bath for weary travelers. We stopped just to let them know we would need that in the morning and asked where a good camping spot would be. We were directed to a nice spot near a stream. It was growing dark and it was the end of Autumn so a little chilly. That was no problem. We put up tents. We made a fire. Al cooked us dinner and we put rocks by the fire. Those rocks at bedtime would be put in our bedrolls and keep us warm all night. Of course, Seth and I shared a tent. Thomas and Toby shared a tent. The others shared as they felt like. Delbert slept in the wagon with Al. Al was a man in his early forties and loved what he did. Cooking food. He wasn’t fat yet, but if he didn’t watch out he would be. We found out who snored and who didn’t that night. If Max ever did find someone to share his bed with, they needed to be warned. Reese did a little, but Max won the contest if there was one. We were roughing it, but Seth and I had a private tent, so we did what we always did before we went to sleep. Getting up we ate, went to the Inn bathed and shaved. We moved on. We pushed it a little having the horses go at a faster gallop. The wagon kept up! We made good time. We entered the village/town of Mikosuki. Here there were buildings and a paved street, but there were a few differences. The buildings and houses didn’t reflect the style of A’Dore’s Capitol. The houses were smaller and square. The color was the color of mud and stone. They didn’t paint their dwellings or buildings. However, the people themselves added the color. They all dressed in bright reds and vibrated blues. Dresses were both white and those colors of red or blue. The men wore trousers and shirts of bright red and blue. The curtains in the windows had those colors. The awnings in front of businesses had those and other colors that were bright and festive. The people here had the darker skin. More like a dark tan but it was natural and all over. The other thing was many of the men that wore their hair long. Handsome men, but I didn’t really like long hair on a man. Not all of the men, but more than a few. Some wore them in braids others just let it hang loose. “Why do the men have long hair, Dad?” Toby asked riding beside me. I gave a slight shrug. “It has to do with religion. They adhere to a belief that causes many to keep their hair long to show they follow the religion.” I chuckled. “So, I was told. You can ask why that is to our cousins. The only time they cut their hair is when they’re mourning a relative or loved one.” Toby nodded with a huff. “You and Daddy make me get mine cut when it touches my collar and ears.” Seth snickered. “If you want your hair longer, fine,” Seth shrugged and waved at the men on the street. “Their hair is straight. Yours curls like mine does when it get longer. If you can keep it up, go for it.” “You may have to put your hair up to keep it out of your face by braiding it when you begin sword fighting.” I added. “It can get in the way.” Seth chuckled. “The guards are required to have their hair short. An enemy can grab it when fighting.” I chuckled. “Yes, there are some disadvantages to having long hair.” “Oh,” Toby said simply. We rode to what was the town hall. A large man came to the door smiling. He was Muscogee with the dark skin and a shirt of vibrant blue and white. He was huge! His black hair was short and closely cut to his head. I knew he was in his late fifties but looked ten to fifteen years younger. He was barrel chested and reminded me of Eb or Zeke back at home. “Well, well,” the man said smiling. “I do believe I see my cousin!” I grinned and dismounted. “Hello, Harjo.” I walked over to the man and yes, we didn’t see each other for a while, but we were family. He grabbed me in the tight hug. His name meant bear, so this was a true bear hug. He could do that. He was family and didn’t need permission. It was a stupid rule anyway and I wouldn’t have him punished even if he didn’t have permission. I like the visits to the palace he did. I liked it even more when he brought his son Chitto. He held me back a little to look at me better. “You grew up!” “I was supposed to,” I laughed. “Is Chitto well?” “He’s fine and a father now.” He chuckled. “He’s made me a grandfather twice now.” “Good,” I grinned and turned to Seth who was dismounting. “This is my husband, Seth.” Harjo didn’t even blink. He held his hand out to Seth and shook his hand. “It’s great to meet you.” I waved at Toby who had also dismounted. “This in one of our two sons. This is Toby. When you speak to him make sure he can see your mouth he’s deaf.” Again, Harjo didn’t even blink. “Nice to meet you, Toby.” “It’s nice to meet you, sir.” Toby said. Again, he didn’t speak like a hearing person would, but it was understandable. Harjo shook his head. “None of that sir stuff, just call me Harjo or Bear. Everyone here calls me Bear.” “I could always see that,” I chuckled. “And this is Christian’s son Thomas.” I waved at Thomas. Thomas shook his hand, too. “It’s good to meet you, Bear” “I hate to do this, but this isn’t a pleasure visit,” I confessed. “You know of the attacks that have occurred in A’Dore?” Harjo nodded. “I do. We have gotten notices from Christian about them.” “It’s being done by Aborigines that live in the northwest of our continent.” I confessed. “We need your help.” Harjo nodded. “Sure. Whatever we can do.” “Do you know about Tawa?” Seth asked. “Tawa?” Harjo repeated shaking his head. “I’ve not heard of him.” “He may go by another name for you. He claims to be god.” I said. Harjo’s eyebrows rose. “Which one?” Harjo asked. “There are a few.” “He claims to be the god.” I said. “We have nothing about him or any other god for any tribe in our archives. Can someone here help us? We saw some pretty god-like manifestations from this being claiming to be Tawa.” Harjo nodded. “I see.” He smiled again. “Then Chitto is the man to see.” “Is he a priest or shaman?” I asked. “Better,” Harjo chuckled. “He’s a historian. He’s recording much of our culture’s history and culture. Part of that is our religion.” “Great!” I said happily. Harjo chuckled. “I’ll send him a note.” I introduced the others, including the men from Creid. Again, Harjo wasn’t shocked or even bothered knowing that. “I better let Sehoy know.” Harjo laughed lightly. “She will love having you for dinner, but she’ll appreciate being told beforehand.” “That’s his wife,” I told Seth. “And that names means?” Max asked. “Beauty.” I answered. Harjo smiled at us. “And she still is!” They didn’t have a large house, but they had one big room they lived in, ate in, and cooked in. There was enough room for everyone. The room smelled wonderful. I introduced everyone to Sehoy. She was in her early fifties and like Harjo looked ten or fifteen years younger with long black flowing hair. She was a beauty. Hugs for the family and she shook hands with the others. When I introduced Seth as my husband she just smiled. She laughed lightly. “It was about time for all of you to catch up with us.” Seth looked confused. “Catch up with what?” Harjo chuckled. “We never had a problem with men marrying men or women marrying women. We do it often, even before it became legal in A’Dore.” He shrugged. “We never understood the problem.” He waved at Seth and me. “When you married, we just knew you were two spirited.” “Two spirited?” Seth asked. “Sure,” Sehoy nodded. “Most of the world sees male and female. We know a person is more than what he or she is based on their anatomy. Male and female are only two genders. You two are just another gender.” She said simply. “Wow,” Seth marveled. The front door opened and walked a someone I knew when he and I were young boys and teenagers. He was a man now. “Someone told me there was an incursion of white men from A’Dore here. Is that you?” He had a big grin on his dark face. He was always good looking and now, he was even more handsome. He had dimples. Not those little holes, but longer ones that gave his handsome features an even more charm. He too had hair cut short and groomed. I don’t know if he put something on it, but it was more shiny than his fathers. He wasn’t as large as his father, but he was tall. Just over six feet. “Chitto!” I greeted happily. “Hi, Cousin!” Chitto said grabbing me and hugging me tightly. I will admit it. If Chitto liked men and wanted to test it out as teenager, I would have given in. We weren’t that close of cousins. Even if he had been, I would have given in. We couldn’t conceive a child, so what the Hell? He didn’t and I didn’t, but we were great friends. The hug went on a few seconds longer than most. He stepped back, like his father looked me over. “You got old!” He said with a smile. “So did you! And you have me beaten by a year.” I shot back grinning at him. We clasped arms as they did here. Handshakes were fine, but this was how Muskogee friends greeted each other. Our arms parallel clasping at the elbows on each arm on both of us and a squeeze slightly. “I wanted to come to the wedding, but I’d have to be gone for over a month!” Chitto declared. “It was a thousand miles away,” I chuckled. “You would have been welcome if you came, but I didn’t expect you to. I didn’t come to yours either for the same reason.” He looked behind him where a young woman stood with a child in her arms and a little boy at her side. “Nila, this is my often-crazy cousin. His Royal Highness, Prince Erik of A’Dore.” He grinned at me. “And Blethos now.” She was stunning. She could almost tempt me. “Erik, this is my wife Nila.” He touched the infant about six or seven months old who was looking around with alert brown eyes. “This is Makya and this,” he brought a boy about five forward. “Is Tadi.” Nila hugged me, “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. Chitto has told me so much, I feel I know you already.” “It’s wonderful to meet you. And just for the record, I wasn’t the crazy one.” I protested and looked at Chitto. “You were the crazy one!” Chitto grunted. “We’ll agree we both were?” “But we had fun.” I said. Chitto nodded. “We sure did.” I shook the hands of his sons, including the baby. Makya just patted my hand as I shook his tiny hand. He was adorable with his lightly covered head of black hair. I was remembering and missing Dennis at this age. “Sorry, but you’ll have to tell me the meanings as you did for your Dad.” Chitto smiled. “Nila means victory. Makya means eagle and Tadi means wind.” Looking at Chitto I said. “You have a handsome family, Chitto.” I turned back to Seth. “This is my husband Seth.” Again, there were no adverse reactions from any of them but smiles. I motioned to Toby. “And this one of two of our sons. His name is Toby. We have another son named Dennis back at the palace.” I looked at Chitto. “Toby’s deaf, but he can speak. Just make sure he sees your mouth and he’ll understand you.” Perhaps because of their culture they just excepted what was. I turned to Thomas. “And this handsome man is my nephew and the Crowned Prince of A’Dore, His Highness Prince Thomas.” Thomas stepped up and extended his hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Chitto smiled but shook his head. “No, you are my cousin. Do you want to use your title? Erik doesn’t. Do we have permission to touch you? I don’t want to break any protocols.” Thomas shook his head. “Sure, you can touch me.” Chitto smiled bigger and hugged Thomas. “Hello, Cousins!” He hugged Toby, too. Seth chuckled. “Hugging runs in the family I see.” I smiled at Seth. “Do you prefer a cold handshake or a warm hug?” Seth gave a shrug and nod in agreement. I introduced the others in our party. Max, Val, Beau, Reese, Al, and Delbert. There was no couch or chairs in their home. We ate at a low, round table. There were large cushions around in patterns of bright colors. Again, the main colors were blue and red. Other colors were added to make the decorative patterns, but all the colors were vibrant. No pastels. They all met on the floor for everything. The cushions just made it more comfortable. After we ate we gathered on the cushions. The meal we just talked about what we were doing in Royal Valley. What they were doing to improve things for the town of Mikosuki. Pleasant conversations. Unpleasant things were not discussed when dining. Just like in our culture, meals were a bonding time with family and friends…and of course ate. It was delicious. After the meal, the table was removed and we got down to business. “You know of the attacks in Blethos and A’Dore,” Max confirmed. “Yes,” Chitto nodded. “Dad was sent a message from Christian of the ongoing attacks.” “We were attacked in Royal Valley,” Seth said. “But we managed to repel them.” “We spoke to one of the survivors,” I felt confident about telling them about the magic. “Adistan spoke and then this entity spoke through him, claiming to be Tawa.” Chitto’s eyes widened. “Tawa?” “Do you know about Tawa?” Seth asked. Chitto nodded, “I know of him. Other tribes believe in him, but he’s not one of our gods. Ibofanga is our main god. He created this Middle World.” He tapped the floor meaning Earth. “It is a buffer between the Upper World where Ibofanga and the other deities live and the Lower World where to forces of evil live.” He shook his head. “We don’t follow Tawa.” “But you know about him?” I asked. Chitto nodded, “I do. However, there’s a man you should speak to first. He is the High Priest of Mikosuki. He would know more details. His name is Hakan.” “Can we speak to him?” Max asked. Chitto shrugged. “I don’t see why not. I’ll set it up tomorrow.” “Now, you all must stay,” Sehoy said determinedly. “As long as you don’t mind bunking together.” Reese shook his head. “I don’t mind, but isn’t there a separate room or even another building for Max.” “Why?” Max asked. “You snore.” Reese said simply. “I don’t either,” Max said irritated. “You do,” Beau said nodding. “It’s very loud.” Max frowned but he wasn’t bothered. It was in humor. “It never woke me up. I don’t believe you.” All that had spent the previous night together said at the same time. “Yes. You do.” We slept in both Harjo’s and Chitto’s homes. Naturally, Chitto insisted Seth and I stay with him. Thomas, Toby, and Delbert did, too. There was not a lot of difference in the two homes. The cushions we slept on were large and flat. Basically, a fat mattress on the ground, bursa escort but they were very comfortable. It was like when the guard Matt came from the Blethos Palace after the measles incident and he and Seth spent some of that night together because they were friends. Chitto and I spent part of that night catching up. Memories of pranks we’d done in the past. We were both a little crazy, like when we replaced some of the sweet caramels on a plate for visiting representatives with caramel onions. They looked the same! It was funny to see some of those stuffy men gag when they bit into one. The other time we coated soaps with a waterproof sealant. They would use it and use it, but the soaps never made suds. We got fussed up by Harjo and Dad. They were harmless pranks and required thought to come up with. Dad fought to keep a sternness which he was unsuccessful doing as a smile came on his face when he scolded us. It was late or early according to how you saw it, when I crawled onto the cushion with Seth who wasn’t really asleep yet. He rolled toward me. “We could have stopped here on our Honeymoon or when we came after that. I know he’s a good friend.” I nodded. “We could have. If he was here. He did so much work with other tribes he wasn’t here much. He’s more than Mikosuki’s historian. He’s the Aborigine Historian. We knew Christian would be home. Chitto wouldn’t be.” I smiled contently. “Chitto is a great friend.” “I could tell.” He moved closer. “But I know I’m your best friend.” I smiled at Seth in the semi-dark. “And you always will be.” I put my arms around him. “You have all of me.” I kissed him. “I love you, Seth.” “I know.” In the morning, Nila made us breakfast. Chitto went to speak to Hakan. Tadi was still shy and kept his distance from us. Makya woke up, so Nila went to change and feed him. When that was done she brought him out and I asked for him. “He’s family,” she smiled. “Of course, you may have him.” She handed him down to me. Makya wasn’t sure about this. He frowned, but Seth was next to me who made the cooing noises and making faces at him getting Makya smile at first and then laugh. He even started reaching for Seth and I let Makya go to Seth. “One of these days,” I growled lightly in a pout. “Science will find out how you do that.” “What?” Seth asked with a grin. “You charm every child we encounter,” I said. “You must be touching the magic to do that.” Seth nodded with a chuckle. “Let’s just go with that.” Mikosuki wasn’t a big town. We went to Harjo’s home with the Max, Reese, and the others. Chitto returned quickly and said Hakan would meet with us after lunch. He was the village priest, so naturally he had things to do. Toby and Thomas got to know their cousins Nila and Tadi better. We went to where they practiced their religion. They didn’t have services every Sunday as we did. The people did come, whole families, when there was a need. The Priest was at every event and public forum. The church was called the Muscogee House. The organized Church from Roma and this continent tried to convert them and were tossed out and forbidden to come back. The reigning king all those years ago, I don’t know how many greats that grandfather was, told the Church to leave the Muscogee alone and made it a law they could not come here unless asked by the village elders to come. Hakan was a handsome man, too. His hair was long, but totally white. I don’t know if this was just them as a people or the little warriors that did that. He smiled at us. “Welcome,” he greeted us. He waved us in and followed us in. He wore the Muscogee colors proudly. The meeting place had the traditional pillows and cushions. There was a circular pit for a fire surrounded by stones. “Sit.” He invited. “Chitto said you were asking about Tawa.” “A man that survived our retaliation of the attack on Royal Valley,” I said. Again, I wasn’t worried he wouldn’t believe me. “During our interrogation of him a being claiming to be Tawa spoke through him.” “Well, actually,” Seth added. “A man named Wahkoowah was channeling Tawa and spoke through the man. So, Tawa was speaking through Wahkoowah who was speaking through Adistan, the man we were interrogating.” He clarified. I chuckled. “Seth’s right. The thing is, to fight this man claiming to be Tawa on Earth. I need information on him.” Hakan chuckled. “Knowing your adversary is a good way to defeat him.” He became a little serious. “I didn’t think those descendants of Europa believed in such things anymore.” He looked at Seth and me. His eyes softened. “You two have been touched by such things.” It wasn’t a question. He knew it. I didn’t know if all of the details about Seth and me had gotten here. I didn’t know if Christian even sent notices about Seth and me other than our marriage. “We have,” I admitted. “You have been touched by a shaman,” Hakan said. “But not one of Native shaman.” Seth and I looked at each other. We know no one would have told him about Demetrius or the Children of Lilith. “We have been,” I nodded. “Many, many times,” Seth growled lightly to which I nudged lightly in Seth’s side. “Ignore him,” I said grinning. “We met a being the could do magic and that magic helped bring us together.” I spent the next hour explaining about Demetrius, Dara, Lukus and the others. Hakan never once looked with distrust and his face never showed doubt. Hakan finally spoke. “You have a close relationship with these shaman. That is rare.” He smiled. “Tawa is not a god we follow, but I know of him. He is the child of Manituo who was his father and Nowutset his mother. Manituo is the god of the sky. Tawa has a sister named Pawa. He was said to have power over the heavens manipulating beams of light he rode on shooting arrows of fire. He even helped Thor…” “Thor!?” Max interrupted. “The Vikings Thor!?” Hakan patiently smiled and nodded. “He was helping Thor fight Demogorge, the God-Eater. There are many connections with Greek, Roman, and Asian gods. Yes, the Vikings’ Thor. Tawa helped Thor and Thor became the last Immortal standing.” “”Wow,” Reese said quietly. I couldn’t agree more with Reese. “I had no idea the connection went so far back! We arrive a thousand and five hundred years ago. This goes way before that!” Hakan nodded. “It does.” He chuckled. It was my turn to say, “Wow.” I shook my head. “Is this written down somewhere?” Hakan smiled. “It is.” He rose and went to a part separated from his part of this temple with three copper metal canisters. “We keep them in here to protect them.” He sat and opened one. He remove some of the contents that were rolled up. He unrolled one. “Here is written the information of the other tribes. Including their gods.” I felt we’d won a little and reached for the parchment. It wasn’t paper, but it wasn’t skin I thought. Then my feeling of a minor victory went away when I tried to read it. I was familiar with many languages, even some East Asian languages. I learned a little Arabic and Hebrew! This wasn’t any of those. It didn’t even look like Muscogee with the curves and zigzag lines, which I couldn’t read, but would recognize. This one had squiggly loops and pretty curves that looped around and look elegant. I even saw some Cherokee. They had symbols that almost looked like Greco-Roman. Their written language had D and A and T…if our A had decorative loops at what were the legs of the A, or the T with a tail or divided stem. This was something else. “I can’t read this. I could learn but that would take time.” “Then luckily,” Chitto said behind me, “you have me.” He came over, didn’t ask permission, and sat to share my pillow and pointed at himself. “Historian? Remember? Traveling to other tribes to gather information?” He bumped my shoulder with his. “Any of that coming back to you?” He took the scroll and looked it over quickly. “Sure, it tells about Tawa and his siblings,” he looked at me. “There were several.” His eyebrows rose. “Here,” he pointed to the writing. “Is Manitou’s father Goah.” He looked at me. “Goah was Tawa’s grandfather and Tawa had several siblings beyond Pawa.” Seth who was sitting on my other side balked, “Then how can he claim to be the god?” Chitto shook his head, “I don’t know.” “We can use this information to find out if this guy is a nutjob.” Max said in a little victory. All that weren’t Creid looked at him mystified at what he said. Max sighed, “In Creid, a person that is mad is said to be nuts. We say about someone acting a little crazy is a nutjob.” He explained. There were several “oh” from the non-Creids. “Can you go with us when we go to the northwest and confront Wahkoowah?” I asked. “I know you have a family and…” Chitto’s eyes widened. “I thought I already was going.” His eyes narrowed. “And you four are family, too.” I smiled at him, “Well, I would love it, but I didn’t want to presume…” Chitto shook his head. “This is not a presumption, assumption or obligation.” He got a serious look in his eyes. “A’Dore is being threatened. I am of the Muscogee Creek Tribe, but I am a citizen of A’Dore. As a citizen I am doing my part to defend it.” He crossed his arms. “I’m going.” I smiled at Chitto and hugged him tightly. “Your cousin Christian will be so thrilled!” Chitto chuckled. I felt arms engulf the both of us. “Sam and Yannick will be thrilled, too.” Seth said. We spent another night with my Muscogee cousins. I invited Nila and the boys to go with us to the palace, meet King Christian and Queen Ella. They would be guests there until we got back. I offered that to Harjo and Sehoy, but they declined. Harjo had to stay because he was the leader. He wasn’t Chief, but he was Mikosuki’s representative to A’Dore. He had to be here. We packed that evening and left the next morning. Nila, Tadi and Makya rode in the wagon. That wagon aided us to go faster with them. A traditional wagon would have been rough. Our other carriages would have been smooth, too. However, we didn’t drive them as fast. These new absorbers were springy but kept the wagon very steady. We stopped at the same Inn on the way back and stayed at the same spot to camp. Al and Delbert stayed in a tent that night giving Chitto, Nila and their children the space. That night at the campfire we all visited again, but Al cooked this time. Nila seemed a little lost not being needed to do that. “Think of this as a vacation, Nila.” Seth said. “When you get to the palace, you won’t be needed to do anything either.” I saw her face fall a little. “If you want to cook, they will let you.” I added. “You can cook a traditional Muscogee meal for Christian and Ella and their children.” She brighten a little hearing that. Then Makya began reaching for Seth and almost whining. Chitto was surprised, but Nila just handed Makya over. I chuckled, “Don’t fight it, Chitto. He did the same thing with Toby, Dennis, Michael, Ana, Ada, but mostly Edward. Edward literally cried when we left A’Dore to go back to Royal Valley.” I laughing and pointed to Makya. “Edward was about Makya’s age then.” Seth began bouncing Makya on his knee and making him laugh, “Is it my fault our kids have good taste in people?” It was later after most went to bed. Seth was going to leave, too, but I had him sit with Chitto and me. I didn’t want him left out of the friendship. We just talked. A little later, the sound of someone walking through the grass was distinctive. Chitto rose to face this unknown. “Don’t be alarmed.” A voice said that Seth and I knew well. Demetrius walked closer and we saw him in the light of the fire. “I’m Demetrius.” He said to Chitto. Seth and I got up hugging our friend. “This is our friend for over ten years.” I explained patting Demetrius on the chest while still in a partial hug. “He was our fairy godfather.” Seth nodded. “This is the shaman Hakan mentioned. His and Dara’s magic were what touched us.” Chitto didn’t disbelieve us. “You’re one of the great spirits?” He asked Demetrius, Demetrius smiled. “I am Demetrius. I am not from the Lower World or the Upper World. I am from this world.” Demetrius looked at Chitto. “Do you know the beliefs of Seth and Erik? Do you know of Adam and Eve?” Chitto nodded. “I do.” “Did you know Eve was Adam’s second wife?” I asked. Chitto shook his head. “Well, there’s a record of a first wife many of our people don’t know about and I can show you. Adam had a first wife named Lilith.” I grinned at Demetrius. “He’s a descendant of Adam’s and Lilith’s children. That’s why he can access magic. He helped Seth and me to marry.” Demetrius turned to me. “No,” he said again in an almost tolerant tone, “I presented the opportunity for the marriage and used your own laws to make it possible.” Seth rolled his eyes in the partial hug. “Whatever. The story of Cinderella and Prince Charming? His wife was the fairy godmother.” He smiled. “He and others of them restored the throne of Blethos and got me out of a Hell I lived in for twenty years.” Chitto nodded. “Okay.” “We owe them for a lot.” I said. Demetrius shrugged, “It’s what we do.” He walked closer to Chitto and extended his hand. “I wanted to introduce myself. I may have to pop in while you’re on this journey. I don’t want to surprise you at the wrong time.” He chuckled as they shook hands. “Pop in?” Chitto asked. “Sure,” Demetrius said simply. “Like I will pop out in a minute.” He hugged me and Seth again. “I’ll be around.” He said and just wasn’t there. Chitto’s eyes widened again. “He just pops in and out like that?” Seth nodded, “And at some rather inconvenient times.” We headed out the next morning and arrived the late after afternoon. Christian greeted us in the courtyard as was our tradition. Ella came out with Ana, Ada, Edward, and Dennis. We all dismounted and approached them. Except for Chitto. He went to the carriage putting Tadi on the ground where he was looking around in wonder at these new surroundings. Makya was handed to him and another hand came out and he helped Nila to the ground. I knew they had packed and Nila stepped down in lovely long dress of blue with lines of white in it. Not stripes, they were decorative swirls of thin white lines to accent the blue. Seth and I got hugs from Dennis and Edward. I don’t need to tell you who hugged Seth first. Introductions were done again and they were welcomed into the palace. Nila was like everyone who was not sure about not having to unpack but just walk into the palace. We gathered in the Family Communal Room. I looked at Delbert. “Is tomorrow okay for you?” Delbert was not ready for me and had to remember about the rematch. He nodded. “I’ll be ready.” Seth rolled his eyes, “Is that really necessary?” He asked beside me. “Absolutely,” I nodded. “Because he asked me for one and promised I would. That’s why.” I smiled. “I’m a man of my word.” After dinner we gathered in another room to discuss what was next. “Now that we are armed with some knowledge to confront Wahkoowah,” Max said. “We can confront him and find out if he is Tawa, or who he really is.” “Shouldn’t we send more troops along?” Thomas asked. Max shook his head. “We’re sending enough,” Max smiled. “Any more and we risk all out confrontation. We’ll go in showing we’re willing to fight but be no threat to them. They will see that.” “We need to go in with stealth,” Toby said. “We should scout the enemy before we do anything.” Seth nodded sitting forward. “My son is partially right. There is no we when we do this.” He looked at Toby. “You’re staying behind.” Toby shook his head, “But Daddy, you may need me.” Toby could speak, but to protest or yell he didn’t know how to change the volume or inflection. However, his face showed he wasn’t liking the idea he wasn’t coming, at all. I nodded, “You’ve been a great help, son. You can help us by staying safe.” “We’re doing this to protect all of the citizens of A’Dore, Blethos, and Creid.” Seth said. “But to your Dad and me, no citizen is more important than you and Dennis.” Christian added, “Thomas isn’t going either for the same reason.” Thomas’ eyes widened. “Dad!” “No, son.” Christian said firmly. “You stay.” “And you and Dennis are staying here with him.” I added. “We love you two too much to risk your lives.” A Journey

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