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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.
After hearing of Antheia giving birth, Lucius’s parents seek him out but they miss him at the amphitheater. They head to the castle to see Lucius, Antheia and the children. Jonah and Illeena enter the castle and make their way up to the queen’s chambers. They knock and Lucius opens the door.
”Dad, Mom, come in.”
Hellos are exchanged as they enter and gather around the bed. Antheia, having just fed her daughter, is holding her. “It is nice to see you both, she says.”
”It is good to see you as well. How are you feeling?” Jonah asks.
”Good but tired, thank you.”
”Why didn’t you send word of this? We had to hear of it at the games when it was announced.” Ileana’s asks as she looks at Lucius. She continues “have you named her yet?”
”No, not yet. We will in time.” Antheia answers then looks at Lucius.” Why didn’t you tell your parents when I went into labor, Lucius?”
”I was so worried about you, that I didn’t think of it.” He answered.
“That’s okay, son. I was the same way every time your mother went into labor. We are just happy to see you all well. Where is Alexander?”
”In the nursery with his nurse. I’ll get him.” Lucius says then leaves.
Antheia lets Illeena hold her granddaughter. “She is beautiful.” Illeena says.
Jonah takes a look at the baby and agrees.
Lucius soon returns with Alexander.
While I get some lunch at the local pub, Galen heads off to send our message. As I enjoy my burger, salad and tea, I have a chance to think about what happened earlier. Those young dragons never actually harmed anyone; they only dove at us and flew by. Thinking about it, I realized that they were playing a dangerous game of some sort. Around me, people were discussing it and I could make out different opinions. One thing was clear for sure, they wanted those dragons punished.
Elsewhere, more of Lucius ‘s family have shown up to celebrate the birth of the newest member of the family. They move the gathering to the queen’s solar and food and drink are sent for.
Birch lay in his favorite spot by a window on the second floor of the Castle on the pillow he stole from Poppet and Ben’s bed.
Suddenly his ears perk up as he hears talking and laughing outdoors on the ground floor below.
He witnesses Blackie / Lee jumping into Pegasus’s right saddlebag and Hermes at the helm as they are ready to take off into the sky.
Oh my, there’s absolutely no way that his buddy is going on an adventure without him! Birch thought.
And with a leap of faith and his pathetic toy in tow, Birch pounces out of the window and miraculously lands in Pegasus’s left saddlebag with no one the wiser.
Let the adventure begin he meows
Galen joined me for lunch after running his errands that he needed to do without me for some reason. After stopping at the general store fir a few necessities, we headed for home.
Our day ended with dinner at home, play time with Buddy and then a movie.
Antheia needing to hunt and feed her dragon, after all of the celebration and visiting was done, saw her children put to bed.
”I need to hunt. I can feel my dragon half’s hunger.”
”Then let’s go feed her.” Lucius says. He kisses her then heads outside. Antheia follows and soon they are winging there way to find their favorite prey.
It was cold. Bitter cold. The wind blew through the roof and walls of the little cottage, as if the structure merely a minor impediment to its fury soon to be covered and filled with snow.
The old woman was shivering as she stirred the kettle over the smoldering fire. Nearby, her husband lay on a makeshift bed, buried under blankets, his eyes fixed on the spoon going round and round. Neither said a word.
It was not always this way. This had once been a prosperous farm, the fields tilled and sown with wheat and vegetables, the nearby orchard tended and laden with fruit. Although the farmer and his wife were elderly, they were able to make a life for themselves.
Then last spring a hole appeared in the roof and the farmer, as he had done in the past, went up on the roof to fix it. He fell. His wife found him later, on the ground, barely conscious. She managed to drag him into the house and then rode into town to summon a doctor. The prognosis was grim. The farmer’s back was broken.
From that point on, her world became smaller and smaller. She could not leave her husband alone as he could not take care of himself. The crops withered and died, since she could not harvest them. She gathered what fruit she could that fell to the ground, but most of it rotted. She sold the livestock, since she could no longer care for the animals and needed the funds to buy food and necessities. When winter came, her world became a single room, in which the fire was the center. A fire for which she was almost out of fuel.
Out of the silence, there began a scratching sound. At first the woman though it was tree branches blowing against the house. But then she realized the sound was coming from the door.
She went to the door and what appeared to be two snowballs came in and shook. A black and a grey tabby cat appeared and went over to the fire. Green and blue eyes regarded her thoughtfully.
“Well, I cannot offer you food, but I can offer a little warmth,” she thought to herself. She went back to kettle and began to ladle out a bowl of stew for herself and her husband. Taking the bowls over to the bed, she helped the farmer eat. She cleaned up the dishes and placed over the fire the few branches that she had left. She went to bed and both her and her husband fell asleep.
Sometime during the night she woke, feeling overheated under the blankets. She was startled to see that the fire was now blazing merrily, with cords of wood stacked neatly by the fireplace. The cats were gone.
(To Be Continued)