The scrolls were not read the night before they left. It was felt that Bellona should hear the story as well. However, her not willing to participate after the traumatic events had changed the timeline only slightly. The following morning after breakfast, everyone gathered in a circle around Meschelein. Just as before, a loud bang was heard along with a bright flash of light . . . and then they were gone. Everyone reappeared again on Avalon, safe and sound. Meschelein was placed in the sleeping chamber to recover her energy.
Alarica prepared the necessary documents to notify the council of her decision to dissolve the marriage between the sovereign and her queen. The council would carefully review the documents to be sure that everything was as it should be. The queen herself had her own documents to prepare, to refute the claim that she had become slack in the performing of her duties. The queen, though, had everything working against her, as there were numerous accounts of the queen doing everything else but the performing of her duties. Her documents were therefore declared null and void. This is the first step in a succession of three, the first being the one that took the longest.
While everyone waited for word from the council, Alarica thought a special dinner would be appropriate as soon as everyone had recovered. Two and half days had passed since their arrival, and it was in the middle of the third that Meschelein started to awaken.
Moaning as she opened her eyes, she felt a damp cloth on her forehead. Knowing she had nothing to fear, she continued to lay there on the sleeping cushion enjoying the attention.
“It is good to see you are waking up. Welcome to Avalon, we have been here two and a half days now, since you brought us back.”
Meschelein recognized the voice and smiled. “Bellona, it is good to hear your voice. It is a little colder here, no?”
“It is a little colder here, yes, though I think Tutela is much colder than either island.”
Meschelein started to rise on the bed, sitting on the edge looking into Bellona’s eyes. “I suppose so. How do you feel, Bellona? Do you feel all right?”
“Yes, I feel fine now. You certainly did give me a lot to think about. Alarica told me what happened to my mother. I always wondered what happened to her.” After a moment, she added, “Thank you, Meschelein, for granting me the gift of knowledge. I will never doubt your word again.”
“You’re welcome, Bellona. My family is all right?”
“Yes, everything is fine. No trouble at all, in fact.”
“You are lying to me.”
“I could not lie to you, especially knowing what you can do. They have not been trouble.”
“Bellona, I say that because I am a mother of a three-year-old. This particular three-year-old is very adventurous and has learned a great many things from her other mother as well.”
“You have to realize that all of us are mothers and are used to the antics that children are capable of getting themselves into.”
Both laughed a little, but suddenly stopped as Leonessa stepped into the room. As she did so, Meschelein rose off the sleeping cushion to greet Leonessa.
“Oh, you have awakened. My daughter will be pleased to hear this news as well. I am Lady Leonessa. Is there something that I might be able to do for you?”
“I am Meschelein. I am going to search for my family, would you know where they might be?”
“One is in the gallery, fascinated by the pictures.”
“That tells me where Gretel is, and my wife Nerissa?”
“She is currently playing poker with Carissa.”
Meschelein bowed her head and shook her head back and forth.
“If it will make you feel any better, Carissa owes Nerissa a back rub and a bubble bath. I believe they were betting on the last meal as I walked past them just now.”
“Thank you for telling me. Would you prefer Lady Leonessa or Leonessa?”
“Leonessa would be fine, thank you. I will leave you now. I must discuss some things with Alarica. Alarica has arranged for a special supper tonight. I leave you in peace.” Leonessa bowed as tradition dictated on Avalon before leaving the room, leaving Meschelein and Bellona behind.
“How is Carissa? She is well?” I do not remember if I saw her when she returned from the match.
“Carissa is fine. She definitely learned her lesson from the last time she had a match. She had the gall to tell me she did not have any loose marbles . . . this time. Everyone believes I am crazy, I lost my mind, but the way I see it, Carissa had loose marbles to begin with when she agreed to the match.”
Meschelein stood there and laughed as Bellona told her tale.
Meschelein found the gallery, which meant she found her daughter as well. “Momma, momma,” Gretel screamed when she saw her mother walk towards her, and ran towards Meschelein, who in one fell swoop, picked up her princess to hold her, giving her daughter a tight squeeze of love.
Telling her daughter that they needed to find mother Nerissa in her mother tongue, they headed in the direction of an open room. Meschelein shook her head as she saw the sight. There was no harm in letting her wife have a little bit of fun, but the truth be known, this was not proper behavior for a queen. Queens are not supposed to play poker with anyone, no matter the station. Nerissa needed to be told of her indiscretions and the sooner it was done, the better.
“I see you have found Nerissa, and it looks like the both of you need to be alone. I will just get my consors, and if you do not mind, I could look after Gretel. She and Tobias have become good friends.” Bellona had seen Meschelein walk into a room and thought to follow.
“Yes, and thank you.” Meschelein was grateful for the offer, which would provide her with a couple of minutes of privacy while she addressed this issue with her wife.
Of course, that did not stop Carissa from protesting. “Hey, that’s not fair! I haven’t had a chance to win back anything yet.”
“Carissa, let me tell you a little about my wife. You see, she was taught by a poker champion.”
“You mean to tell me that I never had a shit load of a chance to win back anything?”
“Nothing, I am afraid.”
“Just lovely, well, maybe I can beat somebody up. It might just give me a little satisfaction.”
“Carissa, need I remind that these ladies are foreign dignitaries that you need to treat with respect?”
“But, Beeelll, I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“If I did not know any better, I would say you were the one that offered the game.”
“Well, she could have said no.”
“I refuse to have this roundabout argument. You have something to say before we go . . . do you not?”
Carissa looked back at Bellona, feeling like she had just gotten caught taking the family car without permission “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” Not without learning a few pointers.
“Carissa, before you go, it will take more than just a few pointers to win the next game,” Meschelein responded to Carissa’s train of thought with a little bit of a smile.
Bellona, Carissa, and Gretel left the room, leaving the couple in peace.
“Nerissa, need I remind you of your station in life?”
“No, I don’t think so?” Oops, I made a big booboo. She doesn’t look happy. I knew I should have listened to Lexa better.
“Then why is it I was told that my queen was playing poker?”
“Because they wanted to tell you what I was doing?” Maybe a little . . . no, better not chance it.
“Nerissa, the queen does not play poker. The queen represents her country. If the people see you playing poker, what would they think? It is not a good image to portray, Nerissa. You must always think about image.”
“We were hiding in a room?”
“Not hiding well enough since someone saw you well enough to tell me that my queen is playing poker. I love you, Nerissa, but you must keep in mind that above all else, always portray your country to the best of your ability.”
“Does that mean I can’t have fun?”
“Having fun is acceptable as long as it is in an acceptable manner. Meaning simply, strolling, riding on horseback, exchanging stories. Playing poker is not acceptable behavior. Do you understand?”
Carissa just looked at Meschelein, saw her eyes, saw her facial features, and saw her facial expression. Her eyes always expressed her emotions, and they were not happy. There was only one thing she could do now. “I’m sorry, and it won’t again, I promise.” I better make a mental note of this.
“You do not have to worry about making a mental note of this incident. I love you, Nerissa, and I will always have patience for my family. Did you win the last meal bet?” Meschelein asked as she held Nerissa close.
“I was working on it when you came in.”
“I have to remember . . .” Meschelein suddenly stopped, to look behind her.
“Meschelein, what’s wrong?” Nerissa was shocked that Meschelein had suddenly stopped talking.
Alarica, is everything all right?
It depends on the definition. Come to my study and I will explain.
Nerissa followed Meschelein to Alarica’s study, practically running to keep up with her. Seeing a chair by the door, Nerissa found the opportunity to catch her breath. Boy my wife has long legs.
“Alarica, what is wrong? Has something happened to a member of your family?” Meschelein was concerned. As far as she could tell from hearing everyone’s thoughts, everything was all right.
“No, it is not a member of my family, rather a thorn in my backside ever since I can remember.”
“Ernestine, your advisor, she is dead, isn’t she?”
“Yes, she is. Normally in these circumstances, the next up would take the place. However, these are not normal circumstances, as no one has been appointed. To appoint someone to take Ernestine’s place would take a little while. To be more specific, it would take thirty days.”
“What is your concern?”
“Everything that I had planned is now sitting on Ernestine’s desk, and it will continue to sit on Ernestine’s desk until someone is appointed. The marriage dissolvement papers, and the preliminary alliance documents are sitting on her desk. There is not a thing I can do about that until they decide who it will be.”
“If it will help for you to feel more comfortable, I will take my family back home and wait for you to finish your business.”
“No, please do not leave. I have a feeling I will need you here. You are more than welcome in my palace.”
“We will stay, then, if I might be able to help. I hear that you planned a special supper for all of us. Perhaps you need to channel your energies on something other than business for a short while.”
“You may be right. Then perhaps I will be able to come up with a solution.”
Leonessa appeared at the doorway, waiting for permission to enter. Being granted permission, she said, “Alarica, I may have a solution to the dilemma.”
“Meschelein, go ahead and enjoy yourself. I do not believe you need to hear any more of the politics and goings on of a household than necessary. We will be having supper at sundown.”
Meschelein nodded her understanding, and left the room with Nerissa by her side, this time at a much calmer pace.
Meschelein wandered around the palace enjoying the carvings and paintings of the palace. Nerissa had told Meschelein that she would be outside to see what the children were up to. Meschelein was still wandering around the palace when she felt a strange energy. Following its path, it led her to Breanne, who was painting a picture. Meschelein probed Breanne’s thoughts, to find them incoherent, puzzled, and jumbled. The best that she could do was to get an impression of the strokes, lines, and colors of the picture Breanne was currently painting. Thinking that Breanne needed the time to sort her thoughts, Meschelein left the room.
It was just before sundown, and everyone had come back to clean up for supper. Meschelein was not sure, but there was something odd. She now had a clear sense of Breanne’s thoughts, but this was different. All of the children left the bathing pool first, Bellona, Alarica, Clarissant, and Leonessa left just after the children. Meschelein, Nerissa, and Carissa were still in the bathing pool.
Meschelein approached Nerissa cautiously. “Nerissa, are you all right? Are you feeling ill?”
Nerissa was shocked to hear this, and did not know quite what to say. “Yeah, I’m fine now that you’re up and about, everything is perfect.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m fine, really I’m fine. All I did was take a look at the horses. I swear I did not gamble on the ponies.” Nerissa added the last bit in hopes of bringing a little relief to the tension she was feeling. It did not work, however.
Now out of the pool, the energy that she had tuned herself into had become stronger, and Meschelein realized she was wrong. It was not Nerissa, it was Carissa.
“Carissa, are you all right? Have you been injured or are you ill? Is something wrong?”
“What?” Carissa was confused. She had been thinking of a nice juicy steak with all the trimmings, not hearing Meschelein’s question.
“Let me explain. Though you heard the story of Bellona’s confrontation with her mother, you did not see the events that took place. There are other things that I can do. One of which is to feel other’s energy. Sometimes the energy is very strong, and sometimes the energy is very weak. Your energy is not so strong now, and I am puzzled as to why that would be.”
“Are you a psychic?” Nerissa tried her best to hide the laughter, remembering she asked the very same question.
“I am an Enchantress, a person with great magical abilities. I am very sensitive to other’s energy, and as I feel yours, it is not as strong as it should be. I wonder if you are well or injured. If you are not, I may be able to help.”
“I feel . . .”
“That is where everybody is. We have been waiting for everyone. I thought that maybe you had gotten lost in the palace. It is easy to take a wrong turn and end up in a place that you wish not to be. I will lead the way.” Bellona had ‘drawn the short straw’ to find the rest of the party. She thought that they would be in the bathing pool, as she had observed Meschelein watching everyone closely.
“Bellona, I am confused. You say everyone is well, but Carissa’s energy is not so. It tells me something is wrong. Do you know?” Meschelein was truly worried about Carissa. She had become very fond of everyone since they landed on Tutela.
“As far as I know, Carissa is well. There is no indication of any injury or illness. The last time she was sick was the winter before we left America. Since then she has been very healthy.”
“I trust your judgment, but something is wrong. Maybe it is not an injury or illness, maybe she has not eaten well?”
“Carissa not eat, I cannot imagine that. The three of them put together out eat my entire army. I have 134 soldiers in my army. I have had to remind them about their manners on numerous occasions while staying here, and they still eat very well. So I cannot imagine that would be the case.”
“Then the only thing left is sleep. If she cannot sleep, she cannot replenish her energy. Her body does not have the time to properly care for itself if she does not sleep.”
Carissa started sneaking out of the bathing chambers just as this conversation had begun. But as she had one foot out the door, she heard, “Carissa, is that true? Have you not been sleeping well?”
Carissa slowly turned around to face everyone, scratching her head to think of a way out of answering the question. She couldn’t think of anything. “Well . . . I just can’t sleep in a new bed.” I can’t tell them I’m scared, I’ll look like a wuss, big, bad, tough Carissa afraid of a new house.
Meschelein jerked her back after hearing Carissa’s thoughts. “Nerissa, what is a wuss?”
“It’s a slang term that describes a person that’s weak.”
Meschelein shook her head back and forth, still not understanding, but she had to try. “Carissa, why do you say you will appear weak if you admit you are scared?”
“How do you . . . but I didn’t . . .” Carissa was both angry that her thoughts had been read without her permission and embarrassed at the admission. Taking in a deep breath, she stated, “My name is Carissa, and I’m a bad ass, that’s why. I grew up as everyone’s whore. I can’t admit I’m afraid of the palace. People will look at me like I’m . . . I’m . . .”
“Not the bad person you pretend to be, but the caring sister that you are. Fear is only as powerful as you make it out to be. Fear is what wins the fight if channeled correctly, Carissa.”
“Carissa, how about if we sleep next to each other tonight. Maybe with the close contact of someone that you love and trust will help to ease the fear.” Bellona had been observing the entire conversation, thinking how to remedy the situation. The remedy simple, but the person to apply the remedy too . . . well, that would take some work.
Having a need to get out of the conversation, a quick and sudden change of topic was in order. “How about we go eat now so that Tristan doesn’t eat everything?”
Bellona knew she made some sense to Carissa. It was not something that she could explain only feel. “All right, Carissa, but just remember, tonight, we will discuss this issue again.”
“What’s left to discuss?” Carissa shrugged her shoulders, appearing perplexed because as far as she knew, there was nothing left to discuss.
“What side of the sleeping cushion you will be sleeping on?” Bellona stated matter-of-factly directly to Carissa. Carissa offered Bellona a puzzled expression in return, which caused everybody to laugh.
Issue solved, they were led the way to the main dining hall, a grand room with carvings on the wall telling a story, and music playing.
Everyone was in attendance except Breanne. Alarica had grown concerned because Breanne had isolated herself since the time they arrived. Something was wrong, but she did not know what it could be. Everything was fine as far as she knew. What could have happened?
“Alarica, I hear your concern, and feel that it is warranted. Let me tell you, though, that things have been happening a little faster than what Breanne can deal with. Painting as she does, it helps her to stabilize and work through everything that she has seen. When she is ready, she will be here, just as she always is.”
“So what you are saying is to give her time? What you may not realize is that she has not eaten or slept for two and half days. She refuses to do either.” After a moment of contemplation, she asked, “Is there anything that you can do, something, anything, about Breanne . . . please?”
Meschelein heard the plea loud and clear, and walked back in the direction of the room that Breanne occupied.
Breanne was still there, painting, thinking only of the brush strokes and colors of the picture she was creating. Meschelein positioned herself in front of Breanne, and started whistling a tune, a different tune this time than the one she had used with Nerissa. It was on the first try that Breanne started to fall to the floor, but was caught just before she did by Meschelein’s skillful arms. Meschelein laid her down on the sleeping cushion for a good night’s rest. Tomorrow, she would be well again, ready to face a brand new day.
“What did you do? I was hoping that you would be able to bring her around so that she would be able to spend some time with us, not go to sleep.”
“Alarica, you need to calm down and think what would be best for Breanne. Breanne’s spirit, thoughts, her entire being is not like yours or mine. Inside she is still a small child that is nurtured by the love and protection that she feels here. By sleeping, it will allow her mind to sort through all of the events that have happened so far. Give her time, Alarica, and she will reward you.”
“How do you know so much? How is it you know exactly what the answer should be? Why is that?”
“I cannot answer those questions, Alarica. What I can tell you is I do this, all of these things as your friend. You told me that you had given Ernestine the preliminary alliance documents to look over. I am assuming that is in reference to an alliance between us. For me, it is a given. Let us go and enjoy ourselves with good food and good people.”
Feeling a little bit better than she had before, they returned to the dining hall.
Emily felt like she was starving. “Are we going to eat now? Mother Alarica, are you going to ring the dinner bell now so we can eat? I’m starved.”
“Yes, Emily, I will ring the dinner bell now. Your mother is not feeling well at the moment, and it has me a little concerned.”
“Momma always gets better, you’ll see. We’ll all give her a great big hug and she will be as good as new. And why are you waiting, I’m hungry.” Everybody laughed, and the dinner bell rung.
Everyone enjoyed themselves, with good conversation to follow.
After dinner, they sat in the antechamber drinking a good wine. All of the children had been laid down to sleep. With only the adults present, there was still the issue of the ancient scrolls. Carissa was not ready to face the issue of her insomnia, so to stall, she asked, “Meschelein, did you bring along those scrolls, with which I almost broke my toe with by bumping into them, with you?”
“Yes, I brought them along with me. When all of the scrolls are in order . . .” with a wave of Meschelein’s hand, all of the scrolls appeared, hanging there in midair, “. . . they tell a story of long ago. Listen to the story.”
Everyone in the room sat there stunned at the true history of their beginning. Alarica and Bellona did not know what to say or think. The history that they learned as children was nothing like the one they had just heard. All for the attempt at hiding a sister that loved her father so much so, she betrayed her sisters.
Leonessa was the first to speak. “Meschelein, is there a way for you to translate for us so we may see the written word?” Meschelein nodded her head, and with a wave of her hand, the ancient text was changed into a more familiar language. Leonessa rose off her cushion to see the scrolls for herself. She could not believe that they had learned a false history. “What you read to us is true. I cannot believe my eyes. All of this is the true history of our beginnings. For so many generations we have been lied to.” Leonessa sat back down on her cushion, shaking her head. There was no way to deny that these scrolls are real. All of the questions had been answered in that story.
“Meschelein, thank you for reading the story to us, I think I speak for everyone when I say that I am not sure what to believe any longer. Do you know what happened to Drusilla?”
“I am not sure what truly happened to her. I only know that when she cast the spell, it used all of her energy. And not knowing how to replenish the energy that she lost, she wandered aimlessly to parts unknown.”
“A forgotten soul wandering aimlessly to parts unknown, not knowing anything, a remarkable story I must say.” That was the only thing that Bellona could think of to say about the story. What started as an adventure ended with a story causing doubt on all that they knew.
The scrolls were gathered and locked securely in a box to be placed in Avalon’s vault, a room that only Alarica knew how to enter. As soon as everyone entered the sleeping chambers, Alarica checked Breanne to be sure that she was well, hoping that she would be better in the morning. Everyone laid down on their sleeping cushion for a good night’s rest, which would have been possible had Melisandra not made it known exactly how tired she was. The sound of a bear in need reverberated throughout the palace, and not knowing about anybody else’s comfort, Meschelein took it upon herself to solve the problem.
It is peaceful once again in the palace, with everyone enjoying a good night’s rest, because Melisandra mysteriously appeared inside of a bear cave. The bear had been lonely, with no one by his side.
The following morning was amusing, as everyone witnessed the former queen streaking through the halls of the palace, running away from the bear. Everyone knew who was responsible for this, and as everyone turned in Meschelein’s direction, of course, causing her to turn a bright shade of red. “I though she was lonely with that noise she was making,” she stated, causing everyone to laugh even harder.
The dilemma of the next in line for Alarica’s advisor had been solved. Leonessa had approached Alarica with the declaration that she, herself, would take Ernestine’s former position. The Scrolls of Protocol did not specify who was permitted to take the advisory role, only stating that the sovereign must have an advisor of their own choosing. Alarica was curious as to the motivation for her mother to take on such a roll. Her mother had been asked on numerous occasions in the past, and had always declined.
Leonessa simply replied, “I need to extend my duties.” Not knowing how to interpret that statement, Alarica’s only option was to accept.
Breanne woke up feeling well and refreshed. Alarica examined her, knowing exactly what to look for if there was anything wrong. Not seeing anything, she told Breanne to go about her normal duties, and once they were accomplished, to report to her. Alarica needed someone to talk to, and Breanne always knew exactly what to say and what to do. She needed her consors.
Since Leonessa had taken a seat on the council as Alarica’s advisor, documents started having a faster turn around time. The first part of the dissolvement papers had already passed through, a process that would normally take about seven days. Five days after submission of these documents, they had already been processed and recorded. The recording of the document was the next step in line, and this process would take three days to complete. Two steps of the dissolvement had already been accomplished in five days. The third step, the final announcement, was the last and final step. After the formal announcement, Melisandra would no longer be allowed to reside or step foot on palace grounds without permission. To do so without permission would mean one day’s stay in a cell.
Ernestine’s burial was a simple ceremony. She did not have family or friends to plan a ceremony for her, so a traditional ceremony was done instead. Ernestine was wrapped in linen and placed on a funeral pyre, with Alarica shooting a fire arrow on the pyre to burn the body. Everyone in attendance, including Alarica, Leonessa, and rest of Alarica’s family, had an opportunity to say farewell. No one spoke up. Ernestine’s ashes were left for the four winds to carry away.
After the funeral, Breanne and Alarica spent some time with each other in the garden. Getting Breanne’s attention, Alarica asked, “Breanne, what happened? Why did you lock yourself away? You have not done that since you arrived here on Avalon.”
I don’t know. I just didn’t feel good. First there was the boat, then the magic lady, and then Bellona’s mother talking. I didn’t know what to do.
“I am sorry, Breanne. I did not realize that you were having trouble coping with new situations. Are you feeling better now?”
“Yes I am. Could I go find the magic lady now?”
Just as Breanne finished speaking, Meschelein made herself known. “The magic lady is here, little one. You are feeling better today, I hear. I would like to speak with Alarica alone for a little while, if you would, please. I know my daughter is looking for her new friend. She wishes to show you her picture.”
Breanne just smiled at Meschelein before running away to find Gretel. Breanne and Gretel had bonded in a way no one would be able to define. Not that anyone would want to.
“What would you like to talk about?” Alarica was a little angry at being interrupted, not having finished her conversation with Breanne.
“I understand your anger, Alarica, and I am sorry. I think Nerissa told me once, not to kill the messenger.” Meschelein paused to gauge Alarica’s reaction. “I am delivering a message from your mother, stating that the preliminary alliance document has passed through the council and is now on your desk. The sooner it is completed, the sooner it will return to the council for final signature.”
“I am sorry, Meschelein, for my reaction. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. I feel out of control. I do not know what to do anymore.”
“You will do the only thing you can do.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that the only thing you can do is to love your family as they love you. Remember that and believe in that love. Life is not so complicated with the presence of love. Breanne adores you. I cannot remember a time since all of you arrived on Tutela that she has not thought about you. Use that love to gain strength.”
“Is that your secret, Meschelein? Is that how you know what to do?” Alarica was lost and confused, and needed answers.
“I have a great many secrets Alarica . . . that is only one of them. Let us walk back to your study to review the alliance documents.” Meschelein held out her hand as a gesture of friendship, and Alarica accepted.
After a long afternoon of review, and talk, and negotiation, the document was completed. Submit it to the council for final review and signature, and that, too, will be completed. A special dinner to mark the occasion with everyone in attendance, including Melisandra, was had.
Melisandra had been staying far away from Meschelein. She would say it was because they are barbarians. Meschelein knew the truth though, only she knew that Melisandra was afraid of what she could not understand.
To be continued in part 3.Return to the Academy