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Lucius and Antheia are awakened by the crying of their daughter a couple of hours later. Antheia moves to get up, “stay here, I’ll get her,” Lucius says as he gets up. Antheia sits up and arranges the bedding around her.
Lucius carefully picks up the baby and brings her over. As Antheia breastfeeds her, she sends Lucius to the nursery for diapers.
In the nursery, his son’s wet nurse is feeding him. “Good morning “ Lucius says.
”Good morning, sire. Is there something you need?”
”Yes, diapers. Where are they stored?”
She point, “in that cabinet. How are her majesty and the new little one?”
”They are doing fine” he answers as he grabs a handful of them and a couple of blankets. “How is my son?” He can see that he has really grown.
”He is doing great. If I may?”
”What is it?”
”You should spend more time with him. He needs to know his father.”
Lucius smiles “I will certainly try. Thank you.” He leaves the nursery and heads back to the bedroom. At the door, he hears Antheia softly singing to her daughter. He stands there listening for a bit before entering.
Quietly, he puts his bundle on the dresser and waits for the song to end. “That was beautiful.”
Antheia looks up, “Thank you. How long have you been there listening?”
”Long enough. You have a beautiful singing voice, like an Angel.”
She blushes a bit, “no I don’t.”
”Yes you do. I would like to hear you sing more often.”
”No you wouldn’t.”
”I would but we need to talk about what to name our daughter.”
”We do. I did some math awhile back. She as conceived about the same time as Amethyst’s death. I wonder what she would have named her if she had been born to her.”
”Are you saying what I think you are?”
”Depends on what you are thinking. I told you how I was rescued from death and wonder if she came with me. If she did, her real mother was Amethyst. I think we should name her after her mother.”
Not quite over her death “Let’s make that part of her name, a second name and call her something else.” He says with the pain of Amethyst’s death in his eyes.
Seeing his pain, “Let’s think about it for awhile. How is our son? I have seen so little of him.”
”He is doing good and getting big. We need to spend more time with him.”
”I know. She is nearly asleep.Bring me a diaper and that clean blanket.” Lucius does as she bids. Using instinct, she unwraps the baby, changes the diaper and swaddles her in the clean blanket. “Will you have that taken care of?”
”Yes, my lady.” He takes the baby, puts her in the bassinet then gets the dirty items to have them cleaned. “See you in awhile. I need to see to the games.” He kisses her on the forehead. “Get some rest. I’ll have some food sent up.” He leaves.
Antheia settles down to rest as he leaves but soon needs to get up. Fortunately her handmades are walking in the door.
On his way out, Lucius stops by the kitchen for a small meal and has one sent up to Antheia.
As I walk to the store, the air around me really isn’t cold but it is drizzling. At the store, I find what I need for Buddy and a few groceries that I feel we need.
Galen’s mother is waiting outside. “Hello, Myelle” She says in a neutral voice.
”Hello, Issa. Nice to see you.”
”If only I shared that sentiment.” She took a good look at me. “I see we are breeding. Is that my son’s or someone else’s?”
I know what 2 names she is holding back but wants to call me. “I don’t owe you any explanation but you should know that I have been faithful to Galen.”
”Really? I am surprised considering what you are.”
”And what is it that I am?”
”Unpure. Your blood is polluted by your father’s human blood and so will your offspring be.” She sneers.
”With that attitude, You won’t be seeing much of your grandchildren, especially not alone.”
”You can keep them to yourself, I don’t want anything to do with those mongrols.” She leaves and takes her bad attitude with her.
”Sorry that you had to deal with that.” Baldor says behind me.
I turn to him. “What took you so long?”
”I was dealing with something that kept me away.” He smiles, “Hello, Myelle. You look good. It shouldn’t be too much longer. When are you do?”
”Hello Baldor. Soon, but I feel like I could go into labor any day now.”
”You look it. May I?”
”Sure.” He puts his hand on my stomach. My babies reward him by kicking. He smiles and I say “looks like they sense their grandfather.”
”It certainly does.”
”Baldor! What are you doing with...her? Get your hand away. Don’t touch that trash!”
”Issa, that enough!” He says angrily. “She is our daughter-in-law and that makes her family. You will stop this right now.” He grabs her arm. “Sorry, Myelle, we need to get going.” They walk off together as I nod.
Then I turn and go my way. I head for home and take the route through the park.
Galen is home when I get there. He greets me warmly but senses my mood. He takes the bags and we head into the kitchen. “What happened?”
”I ran into your parents.” That was all I needed to say. He came over, took me into his arms and held me for a moment.
When Buddy came over for attention, that disrupted the mood and Galen let go. “There is a toy in the bag for him.” I said. Galen got the toy out of the bag and we headed into the front room to play for a bit.
The second day of the games in Nemea is just about to get started. The new sets of competitors are all set to get started and win their place in the finals. Lucius arrives with only a few minutes to spare. He is greeted by the officials with congratulations on the new baby. “Word got around quickly, thank you all.”
”You should know by now that it is hard to keep secrets around here.” Alain says.
”That has become obvious. So, how did things go yesterday?” He got a report of the races and other sports competitions and the started list of those going to the finals.
At the appointed time, the announcer takes his place and announces...
”Welcome to day 2 of this years games. Our queen has given birth to a daughter and we dedicate these games to our new future queen!”
Applause and other cheering.
”Let the games begin!”
With that, those competing paraded out before gathering in their respective places on the field and track. Then, the competing began.
The contests got off to a good start and Lucius stuck around to see the start before he headed back to the castle. Antheia getting a sponge bath and his daughter was sleeping in her bassinet. “Hello, Lucius “ She says, smiling.
He can see the tiredness in her eyes, “Good morning, my lady. How are you feeling?”
”Good. I still can’t believe that she came from me.”
”She did and she is just as beautiful as you are.”
”I was watching her as she was feeding at my breast. I could swear that she looks a bit like Amethyst.”
”She might if Ame was pregnant at the time that she was struck down, but we kind of talked about this before. Either way, she is our daughter. When do we want to introduce her to her brother?”
”Give it a week. We need to get used to caring for her.”
”Now that I am producing milk, I can feed him too.”
”You might want to wait to see how much milk you are producing first” the wet nurse says as she enters the room. The both turn to look at her. “Excuse me, Majesty, your grace, I couldn’t help overhearing as I walked past.”
They nod, “go ahead, what did you mean?”
”The young prince requires more milk than than his sister.” She stops next to the bassinet and looks down. Smiling, she continues, “if You try to feed him, he could leave you with not enough for her.”
”What if I feed her first?”
”Give it time to see how much milk you produce. If you have more than you need, then you can feed your son.”
”How long will that take?” Antheia asks.
”A month, Majesty. You daughter is beautiful. What is her name?”
”We don’t have a name for her yet.” Lucius answers.
Her bath done, Antheia puts on a clean dressing gown. “If this conversation is over, please leave the room. We need to talk.”
”Yes, Majesty.” The wet nurse replies then bows and leaves to return to the nursery.
”We do need a name for her.”
Lucius sits on the edge of the bed, “We have time for that.”
”I know. I will think about it. In the meantime, please help me out of this bed. I need to walk.”
Galen made dinner and dessert for us, we ate, enjoyed a movie then headed for bed. When we woke in the morning, it was Grey outside. We took our time saying good morning before getting up and dressed. While he headed outside for his usual workout, I got our tea made and took care of Buddy.
We had breakfast together after he took a shower and then we checked the news online. Word gets around quickly, “Hey, Galen, look at this.”
”What?” He asks while washing dishes.
”Antheia gave birth to a baby girl early this morning.”
”That’s great! Now it is our turn.” He walks over to me, holds me from behind and rubs his hands on my swollen belly. The babies kick in response. “When is your next appointment?”
”Tomorrow morning but I feel like I could go into labor any time now. Speaking of which, we should let them know we are okay and congratulate them.”
”Let me do that. I will use my connections in the military.”
”At least let me write the message.” I lean back into him and close my eyes. He holds me for a moment, that is, until Buddy wanted in on the attention. Galen let him out, I wrote the message and gave it to Galen.
”How about I get changed and we go baby shopping?” I say.
”Are you sure you should go out?”
”Yes and besides, I need the exercise.” He looks at me unconvinced. “We could take advantage of being out and stop at the tavern before coming home.”
”Alright but at the first sign of a problem, you and the babies come first.”
”Deal!” I head upstairs as quick as I can to change so we can go out.
Meanwhile, back at the Castle. Grey Nightwalker, Sebastien, Pixiu, Ben and Leander contemplate the sudden disappearance of the Black Magic Sorcerer. There has been no activity on Aphrodite's Love Connection site and Lee informs them.
“I have heard in town that Nemerie is very unwell and is being treated by a doctor for pneumonia. Diantha pmd me saying that she is at Nemerie's bed side night and day. She's struggling for her life and her thoughts are concentrating on getting well.”
"Yes, and the Black Magic Sorcerer is probably at some kind of clan convention." Ben chuckles along with Sebastien.
* * * *
In a sanctuary not so far away, Diantha and Dr. Wilson discuss Lady Nemerie’s dire health situation.
“Miss Diantha, clearly the lady is in a great deal of stress. While she sleeps, she thrashes around and speaks of Sultans and Kings and a whole lot of other gibberish. I’m extremely concerned that she is not getting the stress- free bed rest she needs for this pneumonia to clear her lungs.
Any suggestions you may have in relieving her mind of her worries would be exceptionally instrumental on her path to full health recovery.” Dr. Wilson says with a furrowed brow.
“I understand Dr. Wilson, and I believe I do have an idea.” Diantha’s eyes twinkle as she sets the kettle to boil.
With Diantha’s common sense and quick actions, the chain of evil that links numerous people involved in the wellbeing and everlasting existence of the rare black butterfly pterippi foals in the realm begins to crumble and the news spreads.
At Mount Olympus, God Poseidon, lowers his head in relief as he watches over the foals and the herd.
In the Warlock’s Hut, Sorcerer Larry humbly snickers “My spells are foolproof”.
In a dark cave lair in the heart of the Pindus Mountain Range that is surrounded by black pine and beech trees and eerie mist and fog, nine men in black robes rise from the table and the elder declares. “Brother Marvin, you may take your leave without punishment. There is no longer any reason for it and our job here is done. However, a word of advice, stay off internet dating sites and pursue your darkness to the fullest.”
In the Castle, Grey Nightwalker, Sebastien, Pixiu, Ben and Lee convene. “I honestly can say that I didn’t see that coming.” Grey admits. “Our sights were focused on the Black Sorcerer and we couldn’t see the forest for the trees”.
Also, in the Castle, Dr. Poppet feels a wave of relief come over her. She looks at Belle and doesn’t have to say a word. She knows that this experience is now over and they both grab their journals to add their notes and prepare for their next adventure.
At Lady Nemerie’s bedside, Diantha encourages her to take another sip of tea.
Once again, peace fell over the denizens of Midnight Castle as the problem of the Black Magic Sorcerer and the disappearing magical creatures was seemingly resolved.
At least for the moment.
As Belle and Sebastian and Ben and Poppet celebrated in their rooms, a small back cat slipped out of the Castle.
Hermes was waiting for him.
“Going somewhere Leander?”
Leander shifted. One did not usually find a God standing in their path of escape. Much less one that was apparently in a very cheerful mood.
“Well, I was going out.”
“Anywhere in particular?
Lee squirmed. “No, just out.”
“Well, then. You can come with me. You have been summoned.”
“Summoned?” Lee turned pale. Pegasus appeared out of the sky and landed beside the now amused God.
“Yes, summoned.” Hermes smiled, and then he motioned to Pegasus. “It’s good, Lee.”
Lee mounted Pegasus and then the three flew off.
Pixiu watched and waited. A silver wolf padded over to him.
“Your doing?” said Grey.
Pixiu chuckled. “Whatever gave you that idea? Master Leander needs a purpose. Master Sebastien needs a vacation.”
“Is Sebastien aware of this?”
“If not now, he will be.”
Our walk to downtown or mid village is uneventful and peaceful. We meet few people and all have a Hello for us. When we reach mid village, a shadow engulfs us and we look up.4 dragons, an adult and 3 juveniles are flying over headed toward the mountains . As we watch, the juveniles turn away from the adult and fly at those of us on the street.
Galen shoves me inside the closest door which happens to be the first store we were going to visit. I move to the window to watch while Galen tries to help others as they scream and run.
Suddenly, a mighty roar and fire in the sky stops the action. The juveniles turn to the adult who bites at them singes tails. Before they can fly away, a new sense of peace, like a shockwave rolls over us. Peacefully, the dragons fly off and Galen meets me at the doorway.
We hug, “are you okay?” He asks.
“I, We are fine” I say smiling “I could ask you the same question “ and put my hands on my belly. Galen puts his hand over mine and the babies kick there before pulling me to him and kissing me. We part nearly breathless before returning to our shopping.