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The sorcerer wakes a few minutes later to find himself wearing manacles, slung over a shoulder and moving. Sporting a headache, he struggles against his captor who just drops him to the ground. Groaning, he sits up. “Ready to move on your own?” The wolf who was carrying him asks.
”I need a minute.” He says.
”Get up!” Grey Nightwalker demands and grabs his arm and pulls him up. “Walk”!
Someone shoves him from behind. Too confused about what is happening and his head aching too much, the sorcerer walks instead of trying to use magic to get away.
Along the way to the jail, he has time to think. He can remember his motivation for what he has done but now finds he is no longer interested. Slowly, he puts it together and realizes that that was a potion they poured down his throat. He can feel it working.
In Kavala, Galen and I have just sit down to dinner and there is a knock at the door. “I’ll get it,” Galen says then gets up. I hear him open the door but miss the name of the person at the door. I join them in the front room to find that Galen hasn’t invited the person in.
”I am not returning to the military.” Galen says.
”Come back. We can use you. You are one of the best that we had.”
”Stan, I am not going back. I have a wife, kids on the way and a life to live.”
I walk up at that point. “Galen,” they both look at me. “Are you going to eat dinner? Oh, hello, Stan. Why don’t you join us?”
”Uh, sorry, I can’t. I need to be somewhere. Galen, we will talk later. Myelle, nice to see you.” He sneers at me as he turns to leave.
Galen shuts the door then we return to the kitchen. Sitting down at the table, “ What was that about and how did he know you are here?”
”He must have seen me in town. We served in the military together. He wants me to go back.”
”I got that but why insist when you said no?”
”I don’t know. There isn’t a war going on so they don’t need more people. Maybe he just misses my company. He is going to have to find another person to work with.” He starts to eat.
We have dinner, clean up then take a walk. In town, we find a new computer cafe. “Let’s try this place for a bit of dessert.” I suggest with an ulterior motive of checking on the lodge.
”Okay.” He says an we enter. “I’ll get us something “ he says and goes to the counter. I go sit down in front of an empty computer and get to work.
I find that the lodge’s website has been changed and looks better than my design. I check my email next and there is a message from the guy we hired to run the place as general manager. “I don’t know what has happened to you but you are needed here to see to the events. The lodge is doing really well and with summer here, we are very busy. Please contact me.”
I write back, “We were kidnapped, escaped and are some place safe. We will be back when we know it is safe to do so. Please tell no one and continue to email me. I will try to help by email as often as I can.” Hit send just as Galen sits down with iced herbal tea and a dessert to share.
“Is everything okay?”
”All is well.” I say as I check for news of the realm. I find the games in Nemea have begun and tell Galen. “We should be there.”
”We will, when all is safe.”
”You know, we could try emailing Lucius and Antheia. Lucius would be happy to come get us.” I say just as I find an article about Antheia going into labor and speculation about the baby. “Or not,” I say and show Galen.
”Guess it will have to wait.”
We discuss what we want to do while we have our drinks and food but by the time we leave, no plans are made.
In Nemea, Lucius and Antheia have gone out on their balcony for some fresh, cool air. Hermès appears before them.
”Greetings to you both.”
”Greetings, Hermès. What brings you here?” Lucius asks. Antheia just acknowledges him with a nod.
”I have a message for you. Doctor Poppet, Belle, Sebastian and Ben will soon be here for the birth of your child and for the games. You are charged with making sure they are kept safe.”
”They will be safe here. Thank you, Hermès.” Lucius answers then Hermès leaves.
”We need to prepare rooms for them.” Antheia says.
”I will see to that. You just get some rest.” He helps her to her bed just before another contraction happens. Lucius speaks to the maid and sends her to see to rooms for their guests.
It is now about dawn and Antheia’s contractions are 3 minutes apart and she is feeling the need to bare down and birth her child. No one nearby is sleeping any longer and the women of the court have gathered for support. It won’t be long now.
Galen and I have settled in for a movie and snacks when we hear scratching at the door. We look at each other then Galen gets up and answers it. There is a happy bark then paws running in. I am greeted on the couch by flying fur and doggy kisses.
Laughing, “Hi Buddy” I say as I try to pet him and Galen sits down with us.
”Hey, Buddy” He says as he pulls Buddy off of me and pets him. Galen calms him down.
”Wonder how he found us.” I say.
”I don’t know but it is good to see that he is okay.”
“Yes it is.”
”Okay, ?Buddy, that’s enough. Down” Galen says and I get up.
”Come on, Buddy.” I head into the kitchen, get out 2 bowls and fill 1 with water and put some of our leftovers in the other. “There you go.” Buddy goes for both and I watch a moment before heading back to the front room and joining Galen on the couch.
”All settled?” He asks as he turns on the movie.
”For now. Let’s watch the movie.”
I sit quietly in my chair in the corner of Queen Antheia’s room. The midwife is holding her hand and coaching her. Lucius is pacing beside the bed. An hour ago I began experiencing everything Antheia was experiencing. The knowledge and experiences of my predecessors prepared me for the feelings but not their intensity. I am Antheia but not her.
It won’t be long before all the existing dragon queens appear to us. I’ve already caught a glimpse of the Golden Queen, who is the only one I have personal knowledge about. The other occupants begin to fade.
I relive Amethyst’s first meeting with dragon Lucius in the meadow then her death. I feel Antheia’s understanding and acceptance of her importance in Lucius’s memories.
The mating ritual sweeps over both of us. Her feelings of confusion and love are battling until the ritual is complete and love dominates.
The uncertainty of being a queen and Lucius’s anger temporarily stop the contractions. They resume with Lucius’s acceptance of her as ruler.
I take her hand and we become one. The head crowns. The room fills with the dragon queens. Everyone is frozen in time.
The queens share the wisdom of the ages with Antheia. Peace and contentment flow through us.
The queens disappear, the shoulders appear and everyone is in motion again.
One last push and the baby makes it’s arrival into the world. The queens return for a moment for a look at the newest female and future queen in the line.
The midwife catches the infant in a towel and takes a good look.
”Congratulations, it is a girl.” The midwife says.
Lucius and Antheia smile at one another.
Poppet comes over to check her out. She takes the infant from the midwife and makes sure she is breathing and everything looks right before returning her. Lucius , now calm but inwardly excited comes over. The midwife gives him a small knife after crimping off the umbilical cord and has him cut it. The queens vanish, their role in this done.
The infant is taken to the side so that Antheia can deliver the afterbirth while the infant is cleaned and wrapped in her first blanket. The infant is handed back to Antheia and the midwife helps her to breastfeed the infant.
”She is beautiful,” Poppet says. “What are you going to name her?”
”We don’t know yet. We need to talk about girl names.” Lucius answers.
When the baby falls asleep, the midwife takes her then has Lucius help Antheia out of bed so the maids can change the linens. When that is complete and Antheia is back in bed, Poppet checks her out before taking her leave and going to the room prepared for her and Ben.
The baby is put into a bassinet in the room, Antheia goes to sleep, The ladies of the court and the midwife leave. Lucius lays down on the bed and soon, he too is asleep.
I wake to find Buddy cuddled next to me and no Galen. The house sounds quiet and I wonder where he is. I next notice the dim light and slight chill in the air so I sit up and look at the window. It is a grey morning outside and Buddy has woken with my moving. He is up with good morning kisses and telling me in his own way that it is time to get up.
Laughing, “Okay, Buddy, I’m getting up. Get down.” He jumps off the bed and I get up, put on a robe and follow him downstairs.
In the kitchen, I put on water to heat for tea then get something for us both to eat. After he eats, I let Buddy out to do what he needs to. After my breakfast, I get dressed, make sure Buddy is in then go out to do a bit of shopping.
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.