SUMMARY: The scrolls in the archives record three islands inhabited by three separate groups of survivors. Is that the truth or was history altered? Alarica and Bellona set sail for Tutela Isle, the isle of the children of the devil to form a bond with their leader that will be forever recorded in history as the Great Triumvirate.
DISCLAIMER: No people, places, and things in this story are real. Any relationship or resemblance to anyone (living or dead) or anything real is purely coincidental and in no way is meant to cause harm. No part of this story may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the author. Sorry folks no explicit sex scenes in this story. I leave that up to your imagination J. No excessive violence or bloody gory scenes either. However, there may be a few exclamations that we were all taught not to say. You know what they are.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the conclusion of the Triumvirate series. It would help to read the other stories first before reading this story. It would help you to understand the characters. I would like to say a very big thank you very much to all the betas that helped to make this story what it is. I took a few liberties when creating this story. Please excuse the bad history lesson. Any questions or comments please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Mother Alarica, where are we going? I asked Ernestine and all she did was grunt and walk away.” Emily is six years old now and every bit as adventurous now as she was when she was just a toddler. Since coming back to Avalon, Emily has excelled at everything that was a challenge. She looked up to Leonessa as her teacher, guide, and best friend. If there was a question that neither mother knew the answer to, or unwilling to answer, she could rely on her grandmother for help.
There had been rumors spreading through the palace that Alarica, as well the rest of the household, would be leaving on a journey to parts unknown. No one had ever been there since the original settlers had crashed on the islands. Alarica felt it was time to explore further. Recorded history says that the inhabitants of this mysterious island are witches and too evil to associate with. She needed to find out for herself.
“Emily, it is good to see you. In answer to your question, we will be leaving for an island far to the north of us. It lies between Avalon and Andromeda. No one has ventured there before. I believe it is because of old superstitions that caused fear. I will speak to Ernestine. Maybe now that she is older I can convince her to leave her chair in the council.”
“Okay, mother Alarica, I love you.” Emily left the room to find her other mother, Breanne. Breanne flourished on Avalon, growing stronger and more confident. Her speech had become clearer through the years, and though still not considered normal, was much improved compared to their first meeting. People enjoyed her art, and a traveling tradeswoman helped to sell it. There is always room on my cart, the tradeswoman would tell her. Any money she collected from the sale went towards purchasing art supplies to teach the villagers how to paint.
Melisent and Claryvorra grew like sisters, fighting with each other one moment, and best friends the next. There was still time before Claryvorra and Melisent were sent to the sages to further their education. It was decided that as Claryvorra be named the rightful heir to the throne, she would take the crown. If anything happened to Claryvorra so that she was unable to fulfill her duties, Melisent would take over the crown. Standing next to each other, no one could tell they were not true sisters, since they looked so much alike. They, too, had heard rumors, and wondered if they were true. Knowing that Alarica would be busy, they sought after another source of information.
“Grandma, are we going somewhere? We hear rumors and were wondering if they were true.”
“Melisent, pay attention to what you are doing. You do not, you will lose a limb. I am not sure if the rumors are true. The only one that would know would be your mother Alarica.”
“Oh, Grandma, I’m fine. I’m just testing you, that’s all. After all, isn’t the student supposed to teach the teacher?”
“That is only when all the lessons have been learned, Melisent. You have a long way to go still.” So the fighting continued. Melisent quickly graduated from one weapon to the next. Basics first, Leonessa had said as she showed Melisent the slingshot, which she would be learning first.
In the meanwhile, inside the palace on Andromeda, Bellona searched for Carissa, knowing she was in the palace. She heard the exclamation that could only come from one source. Bellona backed up a few steps and slowly opened the door to an unused supply closet with more dust than artifacts. “Yow, fuck man that hurt. What did I trip on? Okay, what asshole put that shit here? The spittoon does not belong in front of the staircase.”
“Carissa, calm down and think about what you say. What happened, what is wrong?”
“Sorry, I didn’t think anybody was listening. I ahh . . . tripped . . . over this.” Carissa held up a container.
Bellona took the container to inspect it. She did not know what it was. She had never seen it before, and still held the container as she climbed the stairs, followed by Carissa. Now that the light was better, she could inspect Carissa for any injuries. Seeing nothing, she said, “I doubt this is a spittoon, but for the lack of a better description, let us just say it is a container instead.”
“Whatever, do you need somethin’?” Carissa was in a hurry to leave. Andromeda, for the most part, did not have the same abusive substances that America had. Carissa never did any drugs, however, would often be caught drunk. Andromeda did not have a legal drinking age because it was simply not necessary. Not necessary, that is, until Carissa arrived and discovered she could walk into any tavern and drink. Bellona would always bring back Carissa no matter where she was. It was not until one night when Bellona let Carissa know she had had enough. It was either stop or be thrown out of the palace, never to be able to return. Carissa lost her control and let everything be known. The drinking dulled the hurt and anger she felt having a mother that was both a drug addict and an alcoholic. It was always up to Carissa to take care of everything. Bellona held Carissa that night and never let go until Carissa was ready. When everything had passed, Carissa promised Bellona she would never drink again. Carissa intended to keep that promise. If she broke that promise, Bellona would take immediate custody of both Tristan and Tobie. It was her right.
“Yes, would you bring back the blacksmith upon your return from the archives? Maybe she would know how to open this lock.”
“How did you . . . never mind, I don’t wanna know. I’ll bring her back, is there anything else?”
“No, that is all for now.” Bellona continued to inspect the container, noticing the writing that was carved into the structure. She recognized the writing, but was not able to decipher it right away. It had been a while since she learned the text. If there was someone who would read to me the first few letters, I know I would be able to recall how to read this text. But who would know?
Sometime later, Carissa returned with the blacksmith. “Blacksmith, would you be able to open this container for me? I would appreciate it.”
“Sure thing . . . let me see this.” The blacksmith inspected the container then with a push, pull, and squeeze, the container opened, revealing the contents.
“How did you open this without a key?” Bellona was curious. She had been studying the box since it was found. It would not open, no matter what she did.
“You see this writing here. You see, we normally read from left to right, well, this writing here, you read from bottom to top. It’s an old secret code that was used during the wars. It helped to keep secrets a secret. Watch this.” The blacksmith demonstrated slowly, step by step, how to open the container. “That’s how you do it. My momma taught me when I was a kid. Her momma taught it to her, who learned it from her mother, and so on down the line. Do you need anything else, sire?”
“No, that is all, thank you for your assistance. Do you require reimbursement?”
“No, that’s okay, no payment necessary, you know where to find me if you need anything.” The blacksmith left, leaving an excited Bellona to discover what she might find. Inside were old documents, written in an old language that was not used on Andromeda. Bellona knew this language well.
“Carissa, do you know what these are?”
“All I know is that I almost broke my foot from tripping over the damn thing.” Carissa was lounging in a chair enjoying the breeze.
Bellona continued to inspect the documents, being very careful with them because of how old the documents might be. A while later, she commented, “Where are the rest? There must be more?”
“Do you want me to go look, Bell? I could, I don’t mind.”
“No. I doubt anything else is down there. I will, however, show this to Alarica. She might have seen these documents.” Bellona very carefully replaced each document into the original container.
“Well, you can try. The worst she can say is no.”
“I am hoping, though, she will not say no. Avalon is a two-day trip to the west of us. We will leave for Avalon immediately. Go to the captain and tell them to prepare to leave on my order. As soon as everything is packed and ready, we will leave immediately.”
“Aye, aye, sir,” Carissa stands up at full attention while saluting Bellona, causing her to laugh. There was only person who would be able to do that. “I’ll get the boys and have them come with me, SIR. Do you have further orders for me, General SIR?”
Bellona, trying very hard, could not stop laughing long enough to give her an answer. She was only able to shake her head ‘no’ before Carissa left.
Carissa told Tristan to let the queen know about Bellona’s plans, and to help everyone get ready to leave. Carissa and Tobie went to the docks to find the captain to pass on the message. Once that was done, Tobie entered the palace to find Tristan to help him pack.
Carissa entered Bellona’s office, only to find it empty. Always curious, she opened a scroll to see what was inside. “Fuck, who cares anyway. The fuckin ass-wipes that wrote this probably didn’t know how to spell anyway. So who gives a shit?”
“Carissa, always remember . . . there is always a chance that someone is listening. What is it that you are talking about, Carissa?”
“It’s nothing. I did as you ordered. Can I go now?” Carissa was embarrassed that Bellona had heard her. Although Carissa was proud of her accomplishment at being able to pass the GED, she was still embarrassed by the fact that she could not do it on her own.
“Carissa, you have learned a great deal since coming here to Andromeda. You have started your consors lessons as well as continuing your education under the guidance of the archivists and the council members. We are all proud of your accomplishments.”
Carissa wanted to escape the embarrassing situation. “Can I go now?”
“Very well, Carissa. I will bring along your studies. We can review them during the voyage.” Bellona never did accept Carissa’s avoidance of the issue.
“But, Bell, look, there must be something I can do?”
“There is something that you can do.”
“See, I told you. Now, what is it?”
“Study . . .” Carissa started to leave the office with slumped shoulders. “We do not have slumped shoulders in the palace.” Carissa immediately stopped, turned around to salute, and proceeded on her way with the goose step.
Two days later, Bellona, her queen, her consors, and Tristan, and Tobie arrived, they made it to Avalon. After securing transportation to take all of them up to the palace, they rode in comfort with the boys looking out the window in wonder, and Carissa wondering if her best friend lost her mind.
A guard at the gate approached the visitors, “Halt, who requests to enter the palace of Avalon?”
Bellona bows respectfully, “It is I, Sovereign Bellona of Andromeda, and her family, who request permission to enter.”
The guard immediately sent a messenger through the gate with the request. There was nothing to do but wait for a reply.
Alarica walked through the gate, smiling. “Bellona, this is a welcome surprise. Of course you may enter. Follow me, and I will lead you to your quarters.”
After everyone settled in, Bellona immediately found the container she wanted to present to Alarica. Bellona led, with everyone else following in formation, this being the first time Bellona had brought everyone to Avalon. “Timor, it is good to see you. Carissa is the one responsible for this visit. If you would spare a few moments, I will explain further.”
“Permission granted, however, I am preparing for a voyage of my own. What it this about?”
Carissa and the boys left the palace to walk around the neighboring villages. One of the palace guards volunteered to be a tour guide to show them Avalon.
“Three days ago, Carissa stumbled upon this container. Once it was opened, I found old scrolls inside telling the tale of our beginnings. However, the story is incomplete. Would you have the rest of the story?”
“The story of our beginnings . .? Bellona, we both know the story of our beginnings. It has been taught to us since we were both children, as a lesson in strength and perseverance.”
“I wonder, though, if that is our true history or a fairy tale. The scrolls in here tell a different tale. Some of the facts are consistent with what we were taught; however, there are some passages in these scrolls that tell a different story.”
“May I see the scrolls, Mugio?” Bellona gave Alarica the scrolls, and Alarica recognized the language. “Yes, I see why you came to that conclusion. I have never seen any scrolls such as these in our archives.”
“Carissa did not find them in our archives. She found them in an old storage closet.”
Alarica heard what Bellona said, but did not reply. She was thinking of the possible places that similar scrolls would be located. The one that may know other than herself was Breanne.
Breanne appeared in Alarica’s office after being summoned. “Hi, did you need thometing? Can I help you with thomething?”
“Hello, Breanne, and yes, I think you may be able to help. Sovereign Bellona found a container of old scrolls. They were not located in the archives. They were located in an area that is not visited often. Would you know someplace here that would fit that description?” Alarica always had patience and a smile for Breanne.
“They were in the archive?” Breanne was confused. What was that again?
Alarica shook her head no. “They were not located in the archive.” Let me see if I can encourage her to understand. Step by step if need be.
“Then where were they?”
“They were hidden in a closet.” Alarica waited for any indication that Breanne understood. She could tell that Breanne was thinking.
“In a clothet . .? Well, I could athk Emily to help me, she knowth all the hiding platheth. The only plathe I can think of ith the clothet in the counthil chamberth. No one lookth in there.”
“Start with the council chambers, then, and work your way around the castle. Think of any place that is not visited on a regular basis. Do you understand?”
“‘Kay, I will go look now. I have to find Emily.” Breanne immediately left to find Emily, and to start looking in all the closets and hiding chambers in the castle.
“How is Breanne? It seems so long ago since I saw her last.”
“She is well. She has grown in strength and confidence. Her speech is much better now than it was when we first met. Avalon loves her; we all love her and her art.” Alarica smiled with pride as she always did when she spoke of Breanne.
“That is good to hear. Can I tell you something in confidence?”
“Of course you may, Bellona. What you say to me will stay with me.”
“Carissa has grown so much since we were last together. She has achieved the highest education that America has. We are all very proud.” Bellona swallowed hard, hoping Alarica would understand. There was always a chance Alarica would not understand, so Bellona had to be sure.
“Well, that is good news. I need to congratulate her upon her return.” Alarica continued to inspect the scrolls, reading and inspecting the scrolls over and over again to be sure she had not missed anything. These scrolls seem out of order. The story does not make sense. Perhaps when the other scrolls are found they will complete the story.
Emily came back to Alarica a while later, with the rest of the scrolls, which had been hidden in a hole in the wine cellar. “Bellona, look at these scrolls here that were found in the palace. This stack is the scrolls that you brought over. Even after rearranging the scrolls in order, the story is still incomplete. There must be more scrolls.”
“I understand, Alarica. Where would we find them? If there are more scrolls, where would we go to look?”
“How would you and your family like to go on an adventure with me and my family?” Alarica had an idea that the rest of the scrolls would be located on the island of mystery. The only way to know for sure, though, would be to go there and see for herself.
“Where would this adventure take us?”
“Our travels would lead us to the mysterious island of the north. No one, at least that has been recorded, has been there. I feel it is time we go there, despite the tales of witches and evil beings. Maybe both of us will be able to form an alliance with the leader of the northern island.”
“I am not sure that would be a wise choice. However, in the interest of finding our true history, I will agree. When will we be leaving port?”
“We will be leaving as soon as all the scrolls have been secured and our families have been gathered.”
Bellona nodded her head in agreement, and as soon as everyone had been gathered, they left Avalon.
It was a rough voyage, with stormy seas that seemed to take longer than the five-day voyage. It tested everyone’s will, especially Breanne, who took the worst of it. Alarica was not able to comfort her consors because Alarica was using all her strength to remain stable. Finally, they arrived at a port near a fishing village. One of the villagers ran to let one of the stationed soldiers know of the visitors.
Alarica was the first to awaken to the sound of footsteps on board her vessel. Everyone was gathered by the soldiers, to be taken to the prison yard while one of the soldiers left to deliver the message of the visitors to their Empress.
“You may enter.” A soldier appeared to deliver the message of the visitors. Meschelein wondered if this was true. No one visited Tutela Isle. It was simply too hard to reach by ship.
“I will go and see to our visitors. Please excuse me, Alverad. We will continue our discussion when I return.” Meschelein left with six soldiers following close behind to the prison yard. Visitors . . . when have we ever had visitors? Will they be friend or foe?
Meschelein recognized the direction they were headed, not understanding the reason, for this was confusing. Not being asked what to do about the visitors was considered insubordination. “The visitors were taken to the prison yard for what reason? Were they hostile?” Meschelein did not think it would be proper to escort visitors to the prison yard. She wanted to open Tutela Isle to any visitor that happened on the shores of her home. Taking visitors to the prison yard would not be a good way to greet any visitor properly.
“We escorted them to the prison yard because it is to be expected.” The leader of the army was of the old school, and was Sire Brogan’s most trusted soldier.
“It is to be expected by whom, by you?” Meschelein had come to her wits end with this soldier. He was always challenging her, and Meschelein did not take to challenges from subordinates very well.
“It is to be expected by your soldiers, as that is what we were told to do. Any visitor is to be escorted to the prison yard until the sire is ready to hear their plea.”
“I never gave you such an order! And what is it that I am supposed to hear, their plea for mercy?” Meschelein was slowly losing her temper, and those who were aware of her temper tried their best to keep matters from escalating.
“Open the cell immediately then report to the bunkhouse immediately. You are to wait there until further orders.” Meschelein had other matters to take care of, her visitors, for the most part. Then she would give her so-called leader of the army a dressing down, literally.
Meschelein immediately entered the cell to greet her visitors. She took Alarica’s hands within her own, “Hello, and welcome to Tutela Isle. I am Empress Meschelein; let me show you to a more comfortable place to rest.”
“Empress Meschelein, thank you for your kindness. We were escorted here immediately upon arrival. Does Tutela Isle wish not to have visitors?” Alarica was still recovering from her voyage. She also had a need to stall their host. Breanne had not woken up, and Alarica was worried. Meschelein sensed Alarica’s worry and wished to rush this along to find them a more suitable place for recovery.
“On the contrary, I welcome visitors. It has been centuries since we greeted any outsiders. Please follow me.” Meschelein noticed Breanne lying on the ground, and bent over to pick her up. Meschelein led them all back to the palace, escorting everyone to her bedchamber within the palace. She laid Breanne carefully on her bed. “I will return with tea and something to soothe your stomach after your travels. Please relax and be comfortable. I will not be long.”
Alarica immediately sat down on a cushion close to Breanne. Clarissant and Melisandra instantly found somewhere else to be comfortable and fell asleep. All the children curled up in a corner, with Carissa at their side. Bellona sat down on a cushion on the other side of Breanne. It would have to do until they recovered from their voyage. At least so they thought. Servants immediately rearranged the room, placing more cots and cushions for everyone to rest. Now everyone had a soft spot to recover from the rough voyage.
Meschelein returned with tea and a remedy for their stomachaches, as well as bringing Nerissa along to greet the visitors. “Here is a remedy to help soothe your stomach. Queen Nerissa will pass the remedy around to the others. The little one will need time before she wakes up. She will be all right.” Everyone took the remedy, drank their tea, and soon fell asleep to let the medicine take effect.
Breanne woke up to find herself in a strange room. Her head pounding and stomach churning, she sat on the bed for a while looking at her surroundings. Curiosity took hold now that she was starting to feel better, so being careful not wake anyone she left the room to explore her new surroundings.
She had just stepped out into the hall when she heard a voice. “Little one, it is good to see you have awakened. Welcome to Tutela Isle, I am Empress Meschelein. Is there something that I may do for you?”
Breanne continued to look at Meschelein, trying to absorb everything she said. Meschelein continued to wait for Breanne’s response. “Hi, my name ith Breanne, where am I?”
“You are on Tutela Isle, Breanne. Have the rest of the party awakened as well?”
Breanne was not sure what to do, as the rest of the party was still recuperating from their journey. The sea had been rough during the voyage to their new destination, and all she could do was hope that this stranger would understand. “Everyone thtill theeping . . . could I explore the cathle peath?”
Her new visitor was enchanting Meschelein. The more they spoke to one another, the closer she felt. “Of course you may explore, but I suggest you remain in the palace.” Breanne nodded her head in agreement, and started to wander around the palace.
Alarica was the next to awaken, relieved to find that her headache and nausea had disappeared. She sat up to take a look around and noticed two things, the first was that the rest of the party was still sleeping, and the other was that her Breanne had disappeared.
Alarica stepped out into the hall when she heard a voice in her head. Do not worry. Your little one is fine. She awakened not long ago. She is admiring the flora on the eastern side of the palace. You will find her there. My queen and I will meet you there in a moment.
“There you are, Breanne, always admiring the flowers. You worried me when I woke up and you were not there.”
“Hello and good afternoon. My name is Nerissa. Meschelein will be along in a moment. She had to find something or other. Are you two the only ones up?” Alarica and Breanne gave Nerissa a strange look. “I know, I know, I’m the queen and I’m not supposed to say something or other. But the problem is . . . if I say it in the native tongue, it comes out to something like the elephant’s nest. Meschelein says my accent is wrong, so my sentences are not always clear.”
“I understand, and yes we are. It is good meet you, Queen Nerissa. This is Breanne, my consors. Please forgive the intrusion she has a fascination with flowers.”
“We don’t mind. Flowers are supposed to be admired, and what’s a consors.”
“There you are. It is good that you have found your little one. I just finished arranging a supper for tonight for all of us to enjoy.” Meschelein stopped for a moment to look at Breanne. There was something odd that Meschelein could not pinpoint. “Little one, Breanne, what is it that is troubling you?” After just a moment, she queried, “A soldier? Oh yes, that soldier. The soldier has been taken care of, Breanne, do not worry.” Seeing a smile on Breanne’s face caused Meschelein to smile as well.
The soldier did, indeed, receive a dressing down. All the soldiers were in attendance and watched as their esteemed leader was stripped of her rank. Now, their leader a mere foot soldier, suffered further humiliation as she watched the soldier who had brought Meschelein back to Tutela Isle and had proven herself over and over again, come into the rank of General, the leader of the army.
“You know what she is thinking?”
“Yes I do. Her thoughts are simple and very easy to read. I believe all of you would benefit from a good meal, warm bed, and some time to rest. We will discuss the parchment at a later time. In the meanwhile, enjoy my hospitality. Should you be in need, ask for it, and I will see what I can do.”
They started walking back towards the palace when Meschelein heard Alarica thinking . . . I am not so sure about this. Maybe this is a mistake, just maybe. I wonder what she thinks about all of this.
It will take time, Alarica, it will take time. Let your mind and body rest and we will discuss things further later. When you know all of the facts, then you may decide if this is, indeed, a mistake or not.
I’m sorry, Meschelein. I am sorry, Sovereign Meschelein.
It is Empress, and it is all right. Mealtime is at sunset. Do not be late. My family is always very hungry.
Yours and mine both . . .
They both laughed and both earned a strange look from their loved ones.
Everyone woke up from their nap feeling better now that the nausea and headache were gone. Melisandra, however, decided to lounge a bit longer, it was a horrible trip after all, and she could not be expected to recover so quickly. As they all left the room, leaving Melisandra behind, they explored the palace grounds. Breanne, of course, found fascination with the many pictures hanging on the wall, telling their own story. The dinner bell rung and everyone gathered together in the formal dining hall. Just as the meal was being set on the table, Melisandra entered the room. To say that Alarica was angry would have been very mild.
Mealtime was had, with good food and good conversation. Meschelein was puzzled by Carissa’s thoughts. Thinking that confrontation would not be good at this time, she let the matter go. Instead, she brought up an earlier conversation.
“Earlier it was asked to describe a consors. I am aware that the word means companion, but what role do they play?”
Bellona had been quiet during the meal, observing everything that was going on. She felt the need now to speak up. “The role of the consors is as the sovereign’s companion. We do not marry for love, we marry because it is what is done, what must be done. Therefore, the role of the consors was created to keep the sovereign’s heart.”
Curiosity came over Nerissa. “So, just like here, then, you have arranged marriages? The thing that would be different would be that we don’t have such a thing as a consors. How come you have one? When did it all start?”
“It depends on which version you would like to hear. For a more revised version, I will let my own consors, Carissa, tell you the story. If you would like a more detailed version I will tell the story.”
“Well, hold that thought, Sovereign Bellona, while I get my daughter to bed. Then we can all sit down and hear your version. I don’t think it’s something that can be condensed. I’ll be back.”
Everyone stood up from the table to go to the terrace to enjoy the night air, the lit torches around the terrace providing the necessary light. Nerissa returned from putting Gretel to sleep to hear of the explanation of the beginnings of the consors. “All right, I’m back. Now let’s hear the story.” Everyone started laughing. “All right, once upon a time . . .”
“The story starts during the reign of the second sovereign, Sovereign Chrysanta Sostrate of Avalon. She took the throne as an unmarried woman because she was not able to find anyone worthy enough to be her queen. Back then, you could be single and take the throne. The sovereign did not have to be married to take the ruling crown. The war between Avalon and Andromeda was at its peak during this time. It was not uncommon for the enemy to send spies into the enemy’s domain. Sostrate was very involved with the goings on of her troops, and often involved herself with the fighting. She was a good fighter, and the army relied on her fighting skills, which would prove to be their mistake. There was a particular battle that is of note because it is the birth of the consors of the sovereign. Andromeda had been winning the battle, and felt they had nothing to lose by sending in a spy. Her name was Jezebel, Andromeda’s lieutenant of their army. The plan was to kidnap the sovereign, infiltrate the troops, and take over the power of Avalon. As the story is told, Jezebel was wounded in battle. Sostrate found Jezebel mortally wounded and brings her back to camp to be healed. It was during this time that they fell in love with each other. That progressed to their marriage, which then Avalon had her queen. Now that Jezebel had infiltrated the kingdom, all she had to do was to be sure to weaken the sovereign just enough so she would be unable to defend herself. There is a mixture of herbs that separately they do nothing, but when combined at the right time, will weaken anyone, rendering the person or people helpless. It was the Venenum ab Tres or the Potion of Three. They fall into a sort of drunken haze; the person will see things, hear things, and believe in things that are not there. There is no cure for this. The only thing that they could do was to wait for the potion to wear off. Unknowingly, Sostrate took the Potion of Three as she rode out to notify her troops that the enemy had found a soft spot in their defenses, but by then, it was too late. The potion started to take a hold on her. Avalon was helpless to defend itself against the invading army of Andromeda. There was one hope. Sostrate, just like the former sovereign of Avalon, had special abilities. With those abilities, she could convince the enemy’s army to withdraw without fighting. Sostrate wandered into a forest glade. No one inhabited the forest for the simple fact that there was nothing to build upon, the ground was too rocky. What nobody realized, though, was that someone had found a way to build a home in the forest. It was that someone who cared for the sovereign until the potion wore off. As the sovereign started recovering from being poisoned, she not only saw her heart, she could feel it for the first time. The one who had healed her held her heart. Sostrate had to leave to warn her troops. She left knowing exactly where to go when everything was done. Sostrate thought she was too late, thought her army had been destroyed. She saw a glimmer of hope, though, as the sun caught a reflection of metal on a hilltop. She realized it was her troops. Knowing what she had to do, she stood just behind enemy lines demanding to speak to the general. The general was intrigued and wanted to know more about the great sovereign. She knew it would take time for the general to come, so she used that time to her advantage. It was during that time she mentally influenced Andromeda’s army to withdraw.”
“Don’t tell me you are going to stop right there.”
“Actually, I am afraid I must. My family has fallen asleep on me. I must go. I will continue in the morning, however.”
“Oh, okay. Let me give you some help.” Nerissa and Meschelein aided Bellona in getting everyone in bed.
Alarica escorted her own family to another apartment for everyone to bed down for the night. Alarica, however, was not tired yet, and knew that the queen was ready to hear the rest of the story.
“Queen Nerissa, would you like me to finish the story for you?” Alarica followed Nerissa and Meschelein to the sitting room
“You know the rest of the story?” Nerissa really wanted to know the rest of the story now that her interest had been peaked.
“Yes, I know the story. It is a story that is taught to us as children.”
“Then please, sit and be comfortable. Tell me the story.” Meschelein started laughing.
“Hey, I wanna know what happened. I wanna know if it worked.” Turning her attention back to Alarica, she continued, “Please tell me the rest of the story.”
“Sostrate’s powers were unequaled. She was the most powerful in the recorded history of Avalon. Not only did she influence Andromeda’s troops to withdraw, she was also able to find out information that only a few people would know, some of which was about the general. And the general never realized or knew that the information that she had been told to keep secret was now in enemy hands. The enemy’s troops withdrew, leaving Avalon’s shore. However, it also left a very angry sovereign, who had learned that the person she treasured the most had betrayed her. Now armed with the knowledge of what had transpired she rode hard back to the palace ready to execute her queen. A trip that would normally take two days to travel by horse took her only one. Once she arrived back at the palace, she found her queen packing her belongings. A secret messenger had arrived at the palace letting the queen know that their plan had failed, and must leave immediately or face execution. The queen was executed immediately upon arrival. She was shown no mercy. Sostrate left the palace without delay, to ride back to the forest, back to her heart, back to the place she promised she would return. What she did not realize was that the enemy had used that same forest to cut the trees for firewood. There was nothing left. She found her love lying dead in a ditch. Broken with grief, she set the forest on fire to burn everything, including her heart. Sostrate was never the same. She lost everything that day, her will, her pride, and her heart, all to the enemy. She did not feel a hero. She felt like she had lost a war. In a last desperate attempt to find peace, she rewrote the Scrolls of Protocol to include the clause of arranged marriages. She also stated that every sovereign needs a heart, needs a companion. That is how the role of the sovereign’s consors was created. It has been that way since that time long ago.”
“Okay, now I know how the consors was created, but what are the Scrolls of Protocol? Would they be the same as ours?”
“The Scrolls of Protocol are a set of scrolls written a long time ago to tell the ruling crown how to govern the kingdom, a set of instructions of sorts.”
“It sounds like ours all right. What happened to Sostrate though?”
“She continued to rule until her death, and never took a chance to love again. She was very harsh in her rulings, never showing mercy.”
“Ooohhhh . . . Well, I’m going to go to bed. We’ll talk again tomorrow. Have a good night.”
That left Meschelein and Alarica to socialize with each other. Meschelein could not forget what she felt with Carissa. “Sovereign Cyan Alarica . . .”
“Please, just Alarica, it would not serve a purpose to remind each other of our titles. Am I right?”
“Only if you promise to call me Meschelein . . . I am wondering why Carissa had thoughts of parties and men and something else I could not decipher. Why is that?”
“I am not the one to ask about that, though I have wondered the same thing myself. The best person to ask that question to is Bellona. She is the one that would know the answer.”
“The only issue that I have in regards to your behavior is that of your queen. I realize you cannot control your queen, though try as you might, what I am asking is that you remind her that there are certain behaviors that are expected. She is of a higher status, therefore, must behave accordingly.”
“I apologize for her behavior. We will talk first thing, either first thing tonight or first thing in the morning.”
“If you cannot communicate with your queen then you must think about your welfare and the welfare of your family.”
“Meschelein, I appreciate what you are telling me, and I do realize the consequences. However, it is my own matter to deal with.”
“Alarica, I am only mentioning this because I heard Breanne quite clearly, and she is afraid she would be blamed for something she did not do.”
“Breanne said this to you?”
“Breanne need not say anything to me. I am concerned not only for her welfare, but for the welfare of my people. As long as you are in my kingdom, you are under my jurisdiction. That is why I am telling you this.”
“I better get to bed. We will talk in the morning.”
“Yes, that would be best. I will meet with you first thing in the morning.”
Alarica knew better now than to let her thoughts wonder. Keeping herself under control until she reached the apartment, she closed the door silently, feeling Melisandra caressing her back. Attempting to gather whatever strength she had, she was about to confront Melisandra when she heard . . . In the morning, Alarica. Now would not be the time. Do it in the morning. There will be no misunderstandings then.
What gives you the right to tell me what to do? She is my wife, and this is my family.
There was a knock at the door. Alarica opened it to find Meschelein on the other side. Etiquette dictated that she let Meschelein enter the room. Meschelein declined however. “I came to show Melisandra to another room so she may rest peacefully this night, without being disturbed. It has been a very long and nasty voyage after all. While the others are well, even Breanne, it seems she has not fully recovered as yet. Shall we go, Queen Melisandra?”
Alarica smiled, and Melisandra growled, at least that is what they thought it was. Feeling she did not have any choice, she left the apartment to follow one of the guards to another room, leaving Meschelein behind. “In the morning, Alarica, the morning will bring about a bright new day and new focus. Then you will be able to discuss with your queen your disapproval with her. May your dreams be pleasant, Alarica.”
“To you as well, Meschelein, and thank you, the morning would be a better choice.” They bowed to each other, feeling a tentative bond forming.
Alarica and her family were dressed and ready for the day. Being sure that Breanne understood this was not Avalon and she must be careful, Alarica left to deal with her queen, who undoubtedly was still sleeping.
Bellona had been wandering the palace, taking an unguided tour, as it were. She knew that Meschelein was aware of her doing this, and felt that if Meschelein did, indeed, not like what she was doing Meschelein would have done something to prevent this from happening. Carissa had taken the boys out this morning in an early opportunity to expel some of their pent-up energy.
“Mugio, it is good to see you this morning. Did you have a good night’s rest?”
“Yes, Timor, I did. I did not realize how tired I was until I laid down on the bed. Are you in need of someone to talk to this morning?”
“I am in need of speaking with my queen. Her behavior is appalling, as well as bringing about the attention of Meschelein. Maybe I should dissolve the marriage as soon as we are home on Avalon. I cannot tolerate her behavior any longer.”
“I am sorry you feel that way. I know you tried your best to keep the marriage. If I am not mistaken, your queen is in the third room, on the left, just past the statue gallery. I believe that is where she is sleeping.”
“How would you know this, my friend?”
“Because just like everybody else in the palace, she was heard snoring. She kept my daughter up all night long.” Meschelein had heard the conversation and wanted to be sure that everything was well.
“She does do that when she is tired. However, tired or not, there is business to attend to.”
“I will order the guards to gather everyone for breakfast. I just need to know if you would prefer coffee or tea this morning.”
“I prefer tea this morning, thank you. If you would all excuse me, I must attend to my queen.” Alarica left in the described location, and sure enough, she was there with her door wide open, lying bare-naked for everyone to see, and snoring. This is going to be a long day. Maybe I should have coffee instead.
“Would you prefer Sovereign Bellona or Bellona?”
“Bellona would be fine. Is there something that you would like to discuss with me?”
“I would like to ask you about your consors Carissa. There are strange thoughts and images in her mind. Is there something that I should know? Would there be a need for concern?”
Bellona stood and thought for a moment before replying, “I think I know what you are referring to. Is there something that you should know? The answer to that question would be that would be up to Carissa to tell you. Would there be a need for concern? I do not believe so.”
“That is all I need to know for now, thank you. If you will excuse me, I must see that everyone has been safely found.”
After getting a report from one of the guards that everyone had been found except Breanne, she left to find her. She ordered the guards to escort everyone to her tower and wait there for her return. It did not take long for her to find Breanne, knowing just where she might be.
“The two scoundrels of the kingdom, Breanne, consors to Sovereign Cyan Alarica, and Princess Gretel, both enjoying the sight of the flowers.”
“I . . . I’m thorry . . . day prechy.” Did I do something wrong? I was only looking at the flowers so I could paint them. What do I do now?
“Breanne, do not worry so, everything will be fine. You will worry your sovereign, however, if we do not return. I thought today we would have breakfast in my tower instead of the palace.”
“We each your tower . .?” What was that again?
“I have confused you. I am sorry, little one. Let us go this way back to the tower.” Gently leading them back to the tower, they walked the long flight up to the living quarters.
“Hello, good morning, pull up a chair, it’ll be done in a minute.” Nerissa was happy to be back at the tower again. There really was no place like home.
Alarica knew Breanne was confused, but about what, she did not know. “What happened, Breanne? Did something happen to you?”
Meschelein entered the room a little after Breanne, with a cup of tea in the hopes of soothing her little friend. “Here is a tea for you. Make yourself comfortable. Would you rather have something to hold?” Meschelein really was trying her best to comfort Breanne.
“Meschelein, what happened to Breanne this morning?”
“I think I might have confused her. Her thoughts are jumbled now, not coherent. I thought maybe an offer of tea and something to hold would help her settle.”
“It is not hard to confuse Breanne. You must approach Breanne carefully, slowly, and gently, as well as having a lot of patience.”
Breanne saw the tea on the table. She had tasted Alarica’s teas in the past, and knew nothing would happen if she drank those. This was different though, this tea was from somebody else. Meschelein had been very kind to her, treated her like a friend, so taking a chance, she took a sip of the tea, earning a genuine smile from Meschelein. Breanne saw the smile, and that was when she noticed Meschelein’s necklace.
“This necklace is very special. With this necklace, I can see you.”
Breanne scratched her head, not knowing how to interpret what Meschelein had said.
“Perhaps you would understand better if I did this.” Meschelein reached around her neck and took off her necklace, showing everyone her other self, Meschelein without eyes. Sensing that Breanne was getting scared, Meschelein replaced the necklace, restoring her eyes. “Do you see now? Do you understand?”
Breanne was interested now, and wanted to see more in detail the magical necklace. Breanne scooted on the floor closer to Meschelein, intently looking at the necklace, and carefully poked the amulet, causing the eye to blink. She looked up to see Meschelein lightly laughing. Breanne covered the amulet with her hand to find out what would happen. She looked up at Meschelein and saw that nothing had happened. She did this a couple more times before stopping.
“Are you . . .” Nerissa started asking before being stopped by Meschelein. Meschelein could hear Breanne’s thoughts of lines, and strokes, and colors, and the many magical pictures she could create. Breanne pulled away only slightly and looked up to Meschelein, to see her smiling. Everything was good, everything was very good, and she very hungry, as her stomach reminded her at that moment, causing everyone to laugh.
“Is everyone ready now?” Getting an affirmative all around, they ate breakfast.
“I don’t know why we just didn’t all sleep here the first night. I’m sorry, I really am, but Queen Melisandra sounds like a bear in need.” Everyone looked at Nerissa, which caused Nerissa to turn red just before the burst of laughter that followed, knowing that what she said was true.
“Did you have a talk with your queen, Alarica?” Meschelein was curious about the outcome, as well as hoping that the distance gave Alarica some time to think things over.
“Yes, I did have an opportunity to do that this morning, which is the reason she is not here. I have asked one of your guards to keep a careful watch on her, to be sure she does not get into any trouble. I have told Melisandra that as soon as we return to Avalon, our marriage will be dissolved. I cannot tolerate her behavior any longer.”
“I’m sorry, Alarica. If there’s anything that I can do in the meantime, I’ll be more than glad to help.”
“Do not be sorry, Nerissa, I am not. I find myself relieved of the burden, a bit lighter now that the responsibility of caring for my queen has been taken away.”
“Well, the offer’s still open in any case. Now, for the reason that you’re all here, I doubt all of you came here for a holiday trip.”
Bellona had been curious since she noticed Nerissa’s ease with the English language, “Nerissa, if I might ask, you are not a native of this land, are you?”
“You noticed that, huh? Well, no, I’m not a native, but I feel more at home here than I did back in the states. Here I don’t have the worries that I would if I was raising my daughter in the states.”
“Thank you for your answer, and as for ours, there was several pieces of parchment that we brought along with us. They are very old scrolls that we only recently recovered. The story it tells is only a small portion of an entire story. At least, that is what we believe. We, both Alarica and I, hope that you have the rest of the scrolls to complete the story.”
Meschelein got up from the table, to return a moment later with a box. “These would be the scrolls that you mentioned. Placing them in order . . .” Meschelein waved her hand and the scrolls moved magically to the desired location. “I see where this leaves off. Many years ago, while I was still young, I came across a similar set of scrolls which . . .” the parchments rearranged themselves to include the missing scrolls “. . . would complete this story.”
“Um, excuse me, your highness, but could you read the scrolls to us, please. I don’t know about anybody else, but that’s not in any language that I have ever seen.”
“Yes I will, Carissa. You need to be patient, however. They will be here when you return.”
“Where am I going? Did I get drafted and not know it?”
Meschelein laughed lightly, “No, you did not get drafted. One of soldiers saw you practice yesterday, and was intrigued by your fighting skill. She would like to offer you a challenge.”
“Sure, I don’t have anything to lose, why not, I’ll go for it.”
“Carissa, need I remind you the last time you were offered a challenge?”
“That was a fluke and a lucky shot. I learned my lesson then, and I won’t forget.”
“And the lesson would be?”
“Not to get knocked stupid. Where would I find the one that wants to challenge me?”
“She would be waiting at the steps of the palace. She will know who you are. If you so chose not to accept the challenge, no one will look upon you with disdain. Also, keep in mind that the one who is left standing wins the challenge. The opponent must not be able to rise again. Do you understand what I have told you?”
“Yeah, I get it . . . don’t get caught with my pants down.”
“Carissa, I do not believe that is the message she is relaying to you.”
“I won’t get knocked stupid, I will be just fine. After all, I had the best of the best for my teacher. Do you doubt your abilities?”
Bellona’s eyes suddenly hardened at the challenge. Doing her best to keep her composure, she stated, “I do not doubt my abilities, it is your own that I call into question.”
“That’s the Bell I know and love. I’ll be fine, don’t worry. I’ll be back. I love you.”
Bellona could do nothing but pray silently that her consors did, indeed, return. “Clarissant, would you follow her for me. Please, if you can, if things turn away from her favor, stop the match.”
“I will do as you ask, my sovereign, however, my sovereign must be reminded that her consors has a very strong will.”
“Yes, I know, and it is that will that will allow her to win, that is, if she remembers the mistakes she made the last time.”
“Yes, my sovereign, I will do as you wish.” Queen Clarissant left the tower following Carissa.
“Bellona,” Tristan spoke up.
“No, you may not.”
“But . . .” Tobie needed to have a say.
“No, neither of you may go.”
“Aww, but we wanna watch. Please?” Tristan had to try just one more time.
“No to the both of you, and my word is final.”
Both spoke at once, “Yes, Sovereign Bellona, we understand.”
“Everything will be fine, I assure you. If anything happens to any of you and one of my soldiers is responsible, let me just tell you that they will no longer be my soldier. I would like to know more about the both of you. Bellona, Alarica and I have spoken on a few occasions. You and I have not had any discussions. Would you start first, please?”
“I am not sure there is much to tell. However, in the interest of diplomacy, I shall start.” Bellona told as much about herself as she could, from birth until present day, being sure not to miss any detail.
“Not much to tell? Bellona, you could write three books basked on that alone.” Nerissa started to laugh as Bellona turned red, and chose that moment to look out the window behind her.
“Alarica, I believe it’s your turn now.” Nerissa enjoyed these visitors, especially with all of the stories they brought along with them.
“Is it my imagination or are you intrigued by all the stories?”
Pointing to herself while mouthing ‘me’ then shaking her head no caused everybody to laugh, only because they knew better.
“It is my turn, then. I shall start from the beginning.” Alarica told her tale, capturing Nerissa’s full attention. Nerissa quickly glanced over at Breanne as she attempted to divert everyone’s attention away from her to somebody else.
I wonder, oh, Gretel, looky, go get the ball, Breanne thought, which caused Meschelein to laugh.
Breanne, it is not good to pass the blame onto someone else if you should get into trouble.
I didn’t do anything.
I believe you mean, did not do anything wrong as yet.
Breanne stopped thinking and only looked at Meschelein, who returned her gaze. Breanne turned her attention back to the story.
“I will speak with Breanne about this.” Alarica knew what was going on between the two and knew the reason why. “Meschelein, if I might ask, what is the extent of your abilities? How much can you do?”
Not knowing how else to answer the question, Meschelein stood up, closed her eyes, and all were amazed as the ground shook beneath them. Alarica was now convinced that Meschelein is, indeed, a powerful woman. However, Bellona had her doubts, speculating that an earthquake chose that moment to shake the ground beneath their feet. Meschelein could hear the internal struggle inside of Bellona’s mind. There was only one more chance that Meschelein had to be able to convince Bellona that she is who she says she is.
“Hello, Bellona, it has been a long time, little bush.”
“Little bush? No one has called me that except . . .”
“Yes, little bush, it is me, do not worry. Your mother is here wondering . . . have you learned to trust anyone yet?”
“I am not certain what sort of trickery this is! I will not stand for it!”
“Do not leave so hastily. Let your heart speak, not your mind, Bellona. You always had trouble with that.”
“That is because you betrayed me. You betrayed us all! Do you not understand! You betrayed me to that . . . that . . . woman who called herself the magistrate.”
“Oh, my darling little bush, you need to let me explain. There was no more love between Alessa and me. We became two strangers living in the same household. I told Alessa I did not love her anymore, but she refused to listen. The day of the trial, Alessa realized the truth, and was not only angry with me but angry with herself as well. That’s why she chose not to listen to me. Her pride got in the way. It wasn’t you, Bellona, it was never you. You are my daughter and I love you.”
Slowly, Meschelein became herself again and watched as a once strong and proud woman fell to the floor in grief and pain, crying for the first time since the events had happened many years ago. Nerissa led Bellona to the bed in the laboratory, to rest while she recovered from the trauma.
Alarica had a question of her own. “Where is Leone now?”
“She is dead. She has been dead for a decade and a half now. She perished while lost at sea.” Meschelein was aware of what happened. She could not control the events, but being the vessel for Leone’s spirit, she had a glimpse into the mind that called herself Bellona’s mother, and knew that the words she had spoken were true.
“Excuse me . . . miss? I was wondering, you see, I saw what happened just now . . . and I . . . well . . . I just wanted to know . . .” After seeing what this woman was capable of, Tristan thought that maybe he could get a few answers of his own, if not for himself then for Carissa.
“I know what you are asking, Tristan, but I am afraid I cannot grant your wish. The one who is in need must make the request. Then the spirit will truly hear their plea.”
“But I do have a need, I do. It’s just that . . .”
“No, you do not, Tristan. You know that is true. It is your sister who must make the request. Then I will grant her wish. She must do it on her own, though, Tristan. No matter how much you love her, she must do it on her own.”
Tristan did not know what else to say and only nodded his head in understanding. He sat down on the floor next to the fireplace, thinking about what he had seen. Tobie saw his brother sitting there, and being the brother that he is, did not say anything, just sat next to his brother, just being there.
“I admire your capabilities, Enchantress. You are indeed a woman with a great force of power.”
“Now you know for certain, Alarica. Is it still a waste of time?”
“No. I can say for certain it is not a waste of time. It has only inspired me to seek an alliance with you, Enchantress. That is, if it would agree with you?”
“Yes, it does agree with me, and my name is Meschelein. I was discussing with the council the possibility of sailing to Avalon to speak with their leader. It has never been recorded that our two nations ever communicated with one another. You are as much of a mystery to us as we are to you.”
“As much as I have enjoyed being here and your hospitality, I must return to Avalon to begin the proceedings of the dissolvement of the marriage between myself and Melisandra. It is a long and tedious process to begin, however, once it starts, there is no stopping.”
“Would you agree that we leave tomorrow at daylight, after the morning meal? That way tonight, we will be read the scrolls.”
“I really would rather leave as soon as possible, the sooner the torture is done and over with, the better.”
“I will be able to transport you back home. There is one condition.”
“The one condition would be . .?”
“The spell would use all of my energy. You must promise me that you will look after my family as if they are your very own. It will take me three days to regain my strength. During those three days, you must protect them.”
“I understand the condition, and I do agree. We will leave in the morning. I will check and see to Bellona. I also think that Carissa should be headed back by now, hopefully in one piece.” Just as Alarica turned to leave, she turned around to add, “Bellona is my best friend, my oldest friend. I consider her my sister. What you did was answer a lot of questions that she had since those events took place. When she is able, I am not certain if she will thank you, so instead, I thank you. Thank you for offering her the answers she would not be able to find otherwise.”
“What about you, Alarica? You have many questions as well.”
“I know, and one day I may be brave enough to ask
those questions, but for now, I have a kingdom to take care of.”
To be continued in part 2.Return to the Academy