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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.
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