The day of the dissolvement ceremony arrived, and everyone was ready. Alarica could not wait to declare her marriage dissolved. She believed it would set her free of the responsibility of caring for her queen.
The ceremony would be held in the public arena, in full dress, which consisted of a layered dress, secured with a sash. The traditional color for such a ceremony is a black dress with a long, white vest, the sash matching the two colors. Full accompaniment would be worn, including the crown, single layer veil, armlets, scepters, and closed greaves. Melisandra would strip everything off her body, including her dress, to present back to the sovereign. The sovereign would then dress her in a peasant’s dress as the final act.
The council, all of Alarica’s family, Bellona’s family, and Meschelein’s family would be present at the ceremony. Alarica rose and stood in the center of the dais to present her speech, with Melisandra kneeled on the floor directly below.
“I am here today to declare that my marriage to Melisandra has been dissolved. I have attempted to nurture her, teach her, and love her during the course of our partnership. I am sorry to say that my efforts have failed, and that is the reason that we are here today. As the last and final act for the reason of the dissolvement of our marriage is an action unbecoming of a queen . . . an attempt to use sexual desire to lure her sovereign into a decision her sovereign knew to be untrue. Melisandra . . . present yourself.”
Melisandra stood in front of Alarica with tears streaming down her cheeks. She had lost everything now, there was nothing left. What would she do? Where would she go? She took the crown off her head then the armlets, the closed greaves . . . everything. There was no more.
“Head up, Melisandra, as I place the peasant’s gown on your body.” Alarica dressed her in a peasant’s gown with boots to match. “From this day forward, you are no longer Queen Melisandra. From this day forward, you will no longer reside here at the palace. From this forward, if you intrude onto palace grounds without my permission, you will be placed in a cell for one day’s time. You no longer have the rights of a queen. Do you understand everything that I have explained to you?”
“Yes what, peasant?”
“Yes, I understand.”
“Yes, you understand what, peasant? You will address your sovereign properly.”
“Do I have to?”
“I am waiting for your answer, peasant. What is your answer?”
“Yes, I understand my sovereign fully! There, now I said it!”
“You will show your sovereign proper respect or face my wrath.”
“I am sorry, my sovereignty. I understand everything that has been explained to me.”
“You will leave now, peasant.” On Alarica’s cue, everyone turned their back on Melisandra as she left the palace grounds in tears. The only thing left for her to do was run. Run where, though, she did not know. There was nothing left . . . nothing.
Once the guards announced that the peasant has left the grounds, Alarica stepped down from the dais to change into a more comfortable dress. The more formal dresses were put away for another day. Melisandra’s belongings, dresses, and boots alike, would be destroyed. The queen’s jewels, however, personal or not, would be placed in Avalon’s vault for the future queen. All resemblances of the former queen, paintings and pictures, would be taken down and stored away. Any records made during her reign would remain intact.
Bellona had followed Alarica to the sleeping chambers wondering if her childhood friend would be all right. “Timor, are you all right? Was all of that pageantry really necessary? What are you going to do now?”
Alarica peeked her head out of the wardrobe, lightly laughing at her friend’s worry. “Yes, Mugio, everything is fine, do not worry. All of that is necessary as a form of symbolism in declaring the dethroning of the queen. As for what I am going to do, well, I was told to grasp the love offered to me by my friends and family, to provide me with strength for what may lie ahead. That is what I will do. I am not sure if I will ever remarry though.”
According to the Scrolls of Protocol, once the present queen has been dismissed, the sovereign may remarry at any time to someone of their own choosing. However, the future queen must be a member of the aristocracy and a member of Avalon society, as well as meeting the approval of the council.
Meschelein was amusing herself by playing with the children. It had been raining all day, and the children had nothing to do to expel their energy. Meschelein found an empty room, gathered all of the children, and created balls of light for the children to play. Now, magical balls of light floated through the air as the children attempted to catch them. It was a happy sight to see, especially in Leonessa’s eyes as she watched the children run and jump to catch the balls of light. Sensing being watched from the doorway, Meschelein created a ball of light for which to tease Leonessa. It flew towards Leonessa and stopped just in front of her nose then stopped. Tiny bells were heard as it bounced up and down in front of Leonessa, attempting to draw her into the play.
Leonessa began to laugh as she said, “All you had to do was ask, Meschelein.”
“Then please pardon me, my elder. Would you care to play with us?” Meschelein replied with a bit of laughter in her voice, bowing in recognition of her visitor. Leonessa lightly laughed before entering the room and playing with the children.
Clarissant and Nerissa were left by themselves in the Hall of Trophies, a room of old weapons, armor, and paintings, reminding future generations of the days of old. Nerissa remembered the lecture she received from her wife, but judging from this room, it would not be looked upon as being unqueenly to challenge somebody else to an arm wrestling match. It would help to break the ice between them, as they had not spoken with one another since they arrived.
“Queen Clarissant, could I ask you a question?”
“Yes, of course you may ask. What can I do for you?” Both had been studying the same picture, a picture of a sovereign with full armor on top of her horse adorned with armor as well.
“How about a wrestling match . .?” Nerissa asked with a slight smile.
“I understand the request. However, I believe I do not need to remind Queen Nerissa that there is hardly any room here in the hall.”
“I was thinking about an arm wrestling match, actually. That is, if you feel you’re up to it. If not, we don’t have to. We could just continue to look at the stuff that’s in here.”
I know, Lexa, careful what you wish for, because its curiosity that killed the cat. But the only thing about that is . . . curiosity has not killed this cat . . . yet.
Now fully intrigued about this match, Clarissant asked, “An arm wrestling match you say?”
“Like I said . . . if you’re not up for it . . .”
“I am definitely up for it. It does sound interesting, and I look forward to the lesson. What is required to do this wrestling match?”
“All that’s needed is a small table and two chairs, unless you want a referee.”
Clarisant and Nerissa found the table and chairs in a now unused room in the palace. Asking one of the passing guards to be a referee, and after explaining the details they had agreed upon, they started the match. Both equal in strength, neither budging, the queens’ hands were locked in the middle of the table.
Bellona had finished her visit with Alarica and was now searching for her queen. Seeing the guard in an unusual position in the hall intrigued her enough to find out what was going on. Entering the room, she witnessed her queen and Nerissa deadlocked.
“Now I see how my queen has been amusing herself. Anybody win the match?” Bellona was slightly amused by this.
“Not yet,” Nerissa managed to answer, although a bit strained.
Both red faced and straining, they continued to concentrate on winning this match. Clarissant was growing tired of this deadlock, and was losing strength. Finally deciding to give in, she loosened her grip, giving Nerissa the push she needed to win the match.
“Oh boy, I don’t think that has ever happened before. You’ve got quite an arm, Queen Clarissant; you’ve got a strong arm.” Nerissa slowly sank down into the chair as far as she dared to go without hitting the floor.
“Well, my queen, have you finished showing your strength?” Bellona had been amused to witness such a thing, never imagining witnessing her queen in an arm wrestling match.
“Yes I have, my sovereign. Perhaps we could find some seclusion so that you will be able to sooth all of these aching muscles.” Knowing exactly why Bellona had come looking for her, she thought she would play just a little.
“I believe I know of such a place, my queen, a place where I will be able to sooth those aching muscles.” Bellona led the way, with Clarissant following close behind, listening to a giggle emanating from the room they had previously occupied.
The following day, Alarica received a message from her Prime Minister. The message briefly stated that she believed they may have an opportunity in meeting the American President, further details would follow. This excited Alarica tremendously, hearing the very thing she had hoped for since she took the throne, another dream coming true.
Feeling the excited energy intrigued Meschelein as to its source. She smiled as she found Alarica glowing while sitting at her desk reading the message. “What makes my friend so happy? It is good news I would say, from your energy.”
“Yes, it is good news. Something that I have been dreaming about is finally getting closer to reality. Since I have taken the throne, I have dreamed of forming an alliance with the American government. I feel that both of us would benefit from such an alliance. You know as well I do that we have been under this Cloak of Secrecy for many centuries, at peace for just as long. I have always been intrigued with American society, its views, values, and customs are so much different than ours. What about you? Did you want to form an alliance with America?”
“It is good to see you have moved on from the events of the past and that they no longer trouble you. In answer to your question, I have never thought about forming anything with anyone except Andromeda and Avalon. I do not believe the same as you, but if you feel that is what is best then you have my full support on the matter.”
“Thank you, Meschelein, for being honest. All of us have exchanged stories of our beginnings, and I have to say that yours is the most remarkable. To have to suffer through such a thing, I am not certain I would have been able to. What I do not understand, though, is your reservation against forming an alliance. I hear your words, but do not understand them. Explain to me your views.”
“Avalon and Andromeda are the closest match to the people of Tutela Isle. We were once labeled witches, devil’s children, the names continue. I am afraid that if I expose the people to the outside world we would be ridiculed again, and the other fear . . . I chose to not live the life of a guinea pig.”
Alarica nodded her head in understanding, not sure what to say. She had never thought about that point of view. Although she did not have the same power that Meschelein possessed, she would be viewed as being different as well, which brought up another question that she had never thought about. How much of herself would she expose? It would only be a matter of time before she was found out. Would she be made into a guinea pig as well?
“You have given me something to think about. Right now, I am going to chance sounding naïve in that from my brief exposure to the American government, I do not believe they would ever find out who we truly are. It would mean being very careful as well as being very strict in allowing visitors. But I believe that the American government would be too blindsided in that a woman is a ruler of a country. It simply is not something that is done in the outside world.”
“There will be times we will have differing views. Those would be the most trying times, and those would be the times that we need to remember to keep our minds and ears open, our mouths functioning. If we can remember that, the future of our partnership will be victorious for everyone, not just you and me, but for everyone. As I had said before, if you feel that is best, then you have my full support, no matter my reservations.”
“Have you ever been to America?”
Meschelein laughed a little at the question, only because it brought back fond memories of the past. “Yes, I have been there. It is where I met Nerissa.”
“Do you have a residence in America?”
“No, we do not, it was not necessary. When we left we felt it would be for an eternity.”
“I believe you know what the message said, but to clarify, my Prime Minister informed me that a possible meeting with the American President may come about after all this time of begging, pleading, and deal making. If we were to travel to America, would you be willing to come with us?”
“How would we get there? I would be able to transport you, yes, but I do not feel comfortable going to a place that I am not familiar with.”
“I understand your concern. Unlike Andromeda, Avalon has a magic portal that is used to explore the outside world. We are able to move about the world freely with its use. We blend in to the environment, nobody knows we do not belong, and travel back to Avalon with stories and experience from the outside world. We have had the portal since the very beginning according to recorded history.”
“I would like to see the portal, please.” Meschelein’s interest in the magic portal had sparked at the mention of such a thing. She had heard the story of its creation and inception while growing up on Tutela Isle.
Alarica escorted Meschelein to the portal located in a secure part of the palace. Opening the curtain, she announced, “This is the magic portal. The doorways are random, so anyone who wishes to use the portal would need to step through at the right moment. To step through at the wrong time, while the doorways are in transition, would mean being lost for an eternity.”
“The doorways are not at random. The doorways are chosen according to the thought patterns of those that surround it. You must be very careful in choosing where you would like to go. It requires great concentration to use.”
“Tutela Isle has a magic portal?”
“The sages that once lived on Tutela Isle created the magic portal as a means of kidnapping the aristocracy of the neighboring islands. It is said that a lowly servant discovered a magical mirror in the sages’ dwelling. The sages destroyed their own and left the one on Avalon believing no one would know or understand its use. They had just started creating the one for Andromeda before one of the sages left. Without all of the sages present to create the portal, it could not be.”
“So what you are telling me is that Tutela Isle is responsible for the birth of Avalon?”
“The people are responsible for the birth of Avalon, not Tutela Isle. We may have influenced the people of Avalon and Andromeda just a little in certain aspects.”
“Why would your sages want to kidnap our aristocracy? We would have nothing to offer you.”
“Nothing to offer us, no, something for us to gain, yes . . .”
“What was that something?”
“Avalon . . .” Meschelein was not sure how Alarica would take the new history of being told something that she had not learned, first the scrolls and now the true beginnings of the portal. Would Alarica declare war against Tutela Isle after so many centuries of peace?
“I hear your concerns and you can believe that I do not dislike you in any sense of the word. You are my friend, and I wish it to be so until our dying day.” After a pause to absorb the new information, she continued. “I thought this would be much easier on all of us to use rather than asking you to transport us. That is, if you do not mind an undignified landing.” Alarica and Meschelein looked at one another’s eyes before laughing, breaking the tension that had started to build.
“Very well, all you would need to tell me is where you would wish to go.”
“Thank you, Meschelein, I appreciate the offer and the assistance. I think this journey will go a lot smoother than my previous one, possibly even more interesting. I will need to wait for word from my Prime Minister. Until that time, we may stay here and enjoy ourselves.”
Meschelein moved her head suddenly, concentrating on something. “I think Bellona is searching for you. I am not certain, but something about Carissa . . . I do not know.”
“In that case, we need to go.” Alarica led the way back up to the main part of the palace. It was then that she heard Bellona calling for Alarica.
“Bellona, what is wrong? Has something happened to one of your family?” Alarica placed her hand as a gesture of friendship on Bellona’s shoulder, giving Bellona a silent message of comfort.
“I have searched everywhere in the palace, and around the grounds. I have asked a couple of your soldiers to assist me in my search, and she is nowhere to be found. I do not know where else to look.” Bellona was frantic. Carissa was missing, without word of where she was going or went since after the morning meal.
“Who is missing, Bellona . .?”
“Carissa . . . she is missing, and I do not know where she is.”
“Tell us about Carissa. Tell us about her habits, where she would go, what she would do.”
Although reluctant to do so, Bellona realized she did not have any choice. Alarica had always been trusted friend and knew that this would not change that “Carissa used to be a scarlet woman before we met. She ingested intoxicants, alcohol mostly. She does not do that any longer.”
Turning toward Meschelein, knowing that she had the ability to help narrow down the search, hoping that she would assist them, she said, “Meschelein, please, I am begging you, will you help us find Carissa?”
Meschelein smiled at Bellona in response. The gesture was misinterpreted however. “Before you voice your anger, have you checked the cellars? If she has ingested intoxicants in the past, is that not where she would be?”
“In the wine cellar . . . why would she be in the wine cellar? For crying out loud, if she is causing trouble down there, she will not be able to see liberty until the fall of the empire!”
Bellona angrily walked ahead of Alarica and Meschelein in the direction of the wine cellar. Sure enough, there she was, looking at the bottles, not drunk, just lost in time and space.
“No, this does not belong here, because this is dated after this one, so switch this with that . . . oh, hi, guys. I got bored and started walking around the palace. I got turned around, I think, and ended up here. I’ve been rearranging the bottles . . .” Carissa looked at Bellona and started shivering in her boots, as lightening bolts were shooting from Bellona’s eyes and her face was turning an interesting shade of purple. “Now, Bell, I didn’t drink anything, honest. She can take an inventory and can tell you that everything is still here, not one drop, no siree Bob, nope, not one drop.”
In a very low and menacing tone, Bellona stepped even closer to Carissa. “I believe you when you say you did not drink anything, because for as long as you have been down here, you would have been unconscious by now! I have been looking all over the palace, inside and outside, looking for you, my dear consors,” she finished, looking at Carissa straight in the eye.
“I took a wrong turn, that’s all. She doesn’t have any birds down here to send you a message.”
Bellona grabbed Carissa’s ear and pulled her all the up back to the main level, ignoring Carissa’s yelps. “Consors Carissa, be sure to gather everybody together. We will be taking a very long bath. Somebody is in need of a good cleaning.”
“I said I’m sorry.” Puppy dog eyes can’t hurt right?
“I suggest you leave now . . . before I decide to talk Alarica into letting me order you to clean the floor of the public arena with the smallest brush available.”
Not having any other choice, Carissa responded, “Okey dokey pokey.” She ran straight out the door and headed towards the field area in the hopes of finding everyone and no one at the same time.
Bellona let all the air out of her lungs, shook her head, closed her eyes, and started laughing. Life has never been the same since Carissa came into her life, and would not trade anything for it.
A long bath and an even longer lecture later, it was time for supper. Everyone was quiet, lost in their thoughts. Afterwards, the children were bedded down for the night, which left the adults. Nerissa and Clarissant found the archives, and upon Alarica’s approval, started reading a few of the legends of Avalon. Bellona and Alarica needed to discuss some private matters, leaving Meschelein and Carissa to themselves. Meschelein knew of Carissa’s fear, and respected that fear by doing her best to offer guidance in the hopes to calm that fear.
“Carissa, tell me about you. Tell me about the things you do.” Meschelein needed to find a way to encourage Carissa to feel more at ease with her. Meschelein was starting to feel like the enemy in the eyes of Carissa.
“Well, I’m twenty one, a bad ass, a . . .”
Meschelein stopped Carissa from speaking any further. “I need to know about you. Not about the perception that you wish for everyone to see, instead of the person that you really are.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I think you do, Carissa. You know exactly what I am speaking of. It is in your eyes, they tell me everything I need to know. It is not about what you are thinking. I see you in the stories from your brothers. I see you in the stories from Clarissant. I see you in the eyes of Bellona as she looks at you with pride. I want to know more about you.”
“You can’t read my mind? That’s a switch. Everyone’s always been able to do that, even mommy dearest.”
“So that is where your anger lies . . . with your mother. Carissa, you have a new family now, a new home that nurtures your spirit. Believe in that spirit and you will be able to achieve a great many things.”
“What do you know about my mother?” Even after so many years, Carissa could never forgive her mother.
“I know you are angry with your mother.”
“You don’t know the hell I went through when I was a kid, her drinking, the drugs . . . just . . . everything. If she was here right now, I’d . . .”
“You’d what? Kill me? Fat chance, fuck face, you could never do that.”
Carissa could not believe what she was seeing. There she was, her mother, standing in front of her. The boys were telling the truth. Meschelein can talk to ghosts. “Well, well, well, if isn’t mommy dearest. Well, how’ve you been, huh? Hell getting too cold for you?”
“You wanna know something, Carissa. You and the boys were not planned, but because I didn’t have the money or the resources to get rid of you . . . I thought, hey, I think I’ll keep ya. You wanna know something else? The only reason I kept you is for the money you raked in.”
“Money, money, money . . . that’s all you ever cared about. Well, I got news for you. I got my GED, Mommy dearest. I got it without any help from you. I got it fair and square.”
“You got your GED. What? I’m supposed to be impressed?”
“I would be if I were you. You want to know what else I have.”
“I have a family that loves me, I have a home, and I have a job that I am proud of. I have all of that, which is something you never had or gave us. I’m not the chicken shit you knew me as when I was a kid. I am a human being, my name is Carissa, my profession is companion to the Sovereign of Andromeda, my family is Bellona, Clarissant, Tristan, and Tobie, and I am damn proud of it. So who is calling who fuck face, Mommy dearest? Who is calling who?” The conversation brought everyone’s attention. Meschelein became herself again just as Carissa collapsed on the ground crying.
Bellona started to step forward, but Clarissant felt it was her turn now. Assisting Carissa off the floor, Clarissant held Carissa while she cried, letting out all that pain and anger, finally finding release. When the tears stopped, Bellona and Clarissant led Carissa to the sleeping chambers, deciding to push their sleeping cushions together to be close to one another, to comfort their lost child.
“That was a brave thing you did, Meschelein.” Alarica had tears in her eyes, and it took everything she had to keep them in check.
“I was not being brave. I was doing what I thought needed to be done. Now . . . maybe . . . she will be able to move past the anger and the resentment she has for her life. I do not know what will happen tomorrow. I know tonight, she feels tired because of the great weight of all of that anger she has been carrying all these years has been lifted.”
“How about we say good night now and then see what happens tomorrow. It will be a brand new day.” Meschelein nodded her head, turned around opening her arms, gathered everyone close to her to walk together to the sleeping chambers, wishing everyone a good night’s rest.
All that needed to be done on Avalon had been done. The only thing left to do was wait for further word from Ethelmona. Getting an idea, Alarica approached Bellona about a possible excursion to Andromeda.
“Mugio, what would you say if we were to go to Andromeda? We would be able to use the portal or travel by ship, whatever your preference, and show Meschelein the beauty and splendor of Andromeda.”
“I was wondering the same thing, Timor. I know Carissa will feel much more relaxed at home. She is feeling better this morning, though still a little traumatized by last night’s events. I will send Carissa down to the docks to arrange for travel to Andromeda. All we would need to do is be sure everything and everyone is ready.”
“I will make the announcement.” Alarica smiled and left Bellona in the sleeping chambers taking care of the boys.
Alarica gathered everyone together in her study to announce the travel plans to Andromeda. Meschelein’s shoulders slumped slightly at the mention of traveling by ship. When asked why, Meschelein’s only statement was, “Let us hope the seas will be kind.
Two days later, they arrived on Andromeda, all safe and sound, much to the relief of everyone. Bellona led the way to her palace, being sure the palace staff would ready the sleeping chamber for the extra guests. Carissa still felt lost after her encounter. She felt relief in letting all of that anger go, but still felt lost because of not knowing how to feel anymore. Without anger, what would be the point? Clarissant led Carissa to a private spot to pray to the deity for guidance, believing that the deity would know what to do.
“Meschelein, could I speak with you a moment?”
Bellona and Alarica had discussed the alliance made with Tutela, and both felt it would be a good thing knowing they had good communication and feeling for the leader of Tutela Isle. Now it was Bellona’s turn to work out an alliance with her other neighbor.
“Empress Meschelein, I would like to discuss with you an alliance, bringing our two nations together. Andromeda and Avalon have an alliance that dates back many centuries, but because of fear, Andromeda has never ventured an alliance with Tutela Isle. My new goal is to change that. I think it would be wise to open your borders, to let us travel to Tutela Isle so all of that myth about the devil’s child, and witches, and warlocks can be just that . . . a myth. What do you say?”
Meschelein smiled at Bellona, sensing her nervousness over this issue. It always worked with Nerissa, why not Bellona. Meschelein approached Bellona, to hold her in the hopes of calming the nervousness.
After a quick embrace, Bellona commented, “Did you miss me? I know it was a long voyage.”
“You are very nervous, Bellona. There is no need to be so. Tutela Isle’s borders have been open since I have become ruling Empress. There is no need to worry about that. The only thing that we would need to worry about would be transportation. As you know, it is very rough seas between here and Tutela Isle. If not that myth that would scare them, it would be the voyage. Avalon has a magic portal that I could use to transport its citizens to and from the islands, but what about Andromeda. There is nothing.”
“How do you know we do not have a portal?”
“Tutela’s history tells us that while a portal was created for travel to Avalon, a portal was not created for Andromeda.”
“Travel to Avalon?”
“The sages of Tutela Isle were ordered to create a magical way, a secret passage, to invade the neighboring islands to conquer. We have careful records of how these portals were created. The story of how the portal was discovered on Tutela Isle though, is not certain. There are stories, yes, but nothing confirmed.”
Bellona nodded her head, feeling the same way she did when she heard the story of their beginnings. “Well, that would be one of the points that we would need to discuss and work out an agreement with Alarica.” Bellona turned around to walk toward the windows behind her desk, looking at the trees, the fields . . . looking at nothing. “Meschelein, I do not know what motivated you to do what you did to Carissa. I am not sure whether I should thank you or be angry with you. I have worked very hard to show Carissa what it means to be loved in the hopes that she would forget her past.”
“Bellona, would Carissa be truly happy with all of that anger inside. Anger is a very dark emotion, and nobody understands that better than I that darkness clouding the light of the love that you give to her freely. Would Carissa be truly happy?”
“I would like to think so. I am her mother, her mentor, her sovereign, Meschelein. I am all of those things for her, and now . . . I do not know. I do not know how she feels. I cannot get her to talk to me. I do not have the gift that you and Alarica have.”
“You have a gift of your own, Bellona; you just do not know how to look or use that gift. Look at Carissa, look at her and feel that love. All of your answers will be there. You do not need magic to be able to feel, to see love. You just need to be.”
Bellona did not know what to say after that. She had not been expecting that reaction. A reaction of love offered instead of the angry resentment she was expecting. Maybe Meschelein was right, she just was not looking hard enough and clouded her vision into believing she was the only one in existence. Nobody else mattered. The truth was, though, there are other people in existence, and they do matter. Clarissant proved that over and over, but Bellona did not want to see that. It was time; it was time to have another talk with Carissa. Hopefully, both would hear what they have to say.
“How about if we delay those alliance talks and just enjoy ourselves. I need to see what has been going on since my departure. I will arrange for a special supper tonight. What would you like?”
Meschelein had been feeling a little homesick lately, and the thought of a special sort of comfort food came to mind. “Beef stew, bread, and milk,” she said in a small voice.
In the short time that Bellona has been with Meschelein, she had come to know her new friend, and had a good suspicion that something was wrong. “Meschelein, are you all right? If something is wrong, I may be able to do something now that I am home.”
“I am fine. I am in the need of a little comfort . . . that is all.”
“The beef stew, bread, and milk will offer you that comfort?”
Meschelein nodded her head just enough for Bellona to see. Bellona just stood there thinking, putting all the pieces together. Suddenly coming up with an idea, she said, “How about this? I will have the servants clean and ready a house that I have not far from the palace. You and your family can stay there for as long as you wish.”
“I appreciate your offer, Bellona. I appreciate your offer of being so kind. I think, though, if I just have this one thing then I think I will be fine.”
“All right, well, just keep that in mind. If you should change your mind, you let me know. We should not be here for more than a couple days. I think Alarica just needed to get away from all that has been going on. Alarica is a strong lady and knows that change is a part of life, but I think even she has her breaking point. I do not think she would have asked to come here otherwise.”
“Thank you, Bellona, and I believe what you say is true.” With that, Meschelein left Bellona in her study sorting through the papers that she had left behind.
Time for the last meal came and everybody was hungry. Nobody suspected anything when they saw what was for supper, but Nerissa noticed and thought that maybe she needed to have a little snuggle time with her wife. After supper, everyone gathered in the bathing pool to wash away the remnants from their voyage. Being the only boys, Tristan and Tobias would bathe themselves in a separate room designated just for them. A servant would keep careful watch to be sure it was bathing that they did, or as least attempted, to keep them out of trouble.
After the bath, Meschelein urged Nerissa to walk with her around the palace to enjoy the night air. The stew, the walk, the air was working wonders in improving her mood. Without saying a word, Meschelein came down for a kiss, a kiss of love between two people to reignite that spark, to keep alive that bond, the bond of binding their souls for an eternity. Coming up from sealing that bond, she looked down at her wife with a smile of love, happy to be there with her. The events of the day showed their ugly head in the form a yawn, a rather large one in fact. Both walked hand in hand back to the sleeping chambers to ready themselves for sleep. Meschelein picked up her daughter and placed her in between them to sleep for the rest of the night, dreaming of good things to come.
Bellona and Alarica met the following morning in regards to the dilemma of transportation to and from Tutela Isle. Both remembered the rough voyage, and did not think it would take too long before the people would protest sailing the rough seas. An agreement was reached in that a small group, no more than ten people, would travel to Avalon to use the portal only under certain conditions, including time of day, day of the week, and only doing so under close supervision. It did not have to do with trust; it had to do with being able to regulate the number of people, as well as watching exactly who was crossing the borders. Once that agreement was reached, then talks about an alliance with Tutela Isle could begin. This caused Bellona to feel many emotions, ranging from anxious to stress.
Meschelein met with Bellona in her study to begin the talks of an alliance, Bellona assuring that the dilemma of transportation to and from Tutela Isle had been established. Once that was done, the rest of the negotiations could continue. Finally finishing sometime after sunset with much success felt by the both of them, a celebratory dinner was had in honor of their newfound friendship.
A messenger arrived three days later to deliver the news that Alarica had been waiting for. The Secretary of State would like to meet with her first to establish good relations. Then at a later time, she would be able to fulfill her dream. She would be able meet with the American President.
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