Dragon Earl

By The Story Lover

Preface and dedication: This story may seem familiar to you and there are reasons for that. This story is inspired by “Memories” and “A New Day Dawns” as well as the true life story of our favorite nephews THP. I want to personally thank both ACFan and Gunrunner for allowing me to write this story which infringes upon their copyrighted material. I greatly appreciate them for doing this. This story is a Fantasy it will have Dragons and Elves and sundry other Fantasy Races. It is also being written as a tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey two of my favorite Fantasy Authors. This story is dedicated to August Christopher as a continuation of his legacy.

THIS STORY IS . DISTRIBUTION FOR COMMERCIAL GAIN, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, POSTING ON SITES OR NEWSGROUPS, DISTRIBUTION AS PARTS OR IN BOOK FORM (EITHER AS A WHOLE OR PART OF A COMPILATION) WITH OR WITHOUT A FEE, OR DISTRIBUTION ON CD, DVD, OR ANY OTHER ELECTRONIC MEDIA WITH OR WITHOUT A FEE, IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED WITHOUT THE AUTHOR'S WRITTEN CONSENT. YOU MAY DOWNLOAD ONE (1) COPY OF THIS STORY FOR PERSONAL USE; ANY AND ALL COMMERCIAL USE EXCEPTING EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS REQUIRES THE AUTHORS WRITTEN CONSENT. THE AUTHOR MAY BE CONTACTED AT: The Story Lover

 

Chapter Seven - The Edict of Tolerance and Equality Part II

This Chapter is Dedicated to Codey who is putting up a brave fight!

 

From Chapter Six:

A few seconds later as expected there was a knock on the open door and a deep voice calling;

"Master Lansing I believe you lost something."

John then headed back out of the bathing chamber before even getting inside and went to the door into the hallway. As John got closer he saw the sight he expected, for there was Captain Kyron holding a squirming Jonah at arms lengths by his underarms. John tried very hard not to laugh and then said in as commanding a voice as he could;

"Jonah Timoty Medici ..... I said after you got dressed!"

           Of the two new lovebirds Just' was the first to awaken wrapped lovingly around Joth whose slow and steady breathing led Just' to believe that Joth was still sleeping. Trying not to awaken Joth, Just' began trying to remove his arm from where it was wrapped around Joth's chest as he did Joth stirred slightly and pulled the arm even tighter into his chest.

"Stay here, want to snuggle more, like sleeping like this with you," Joth sleepily muttered to his love.

"Okay love but just a few more minutes or Jonah will be pounding on the door and rushing in here to drag us to breakfast," Was Just' smiling reply as he pulled Joth closer to him and gave his new love a kiss on the shoulder.

"Won't be a problem this morning, the guards will only let John in to get our clothes ready for us to wear; they will keep Jonah occupied by sending him out to play with Gus or Paladin and yes Misha too." Joth replied while basking in the warmth of Just's' love.

"Don't worry, Jonah won't get too upset; they will bribe him with 'Cinmon Crumbles' for which, as you know, he will do almost anything."

"Now I know why I love you, you are so smart and caring; I think I am going to enjoy living here and with you." Just' lovingly replied before continuing; "I think we do need to get up and take a shower though, before we go eat. It is getting late and I don't want Cook mad at me; I like it here and the food she feeds me."

"You just like it here cause she gives you twice as much as the rest of us and you also get lots of 'Cinmon Crumbles'. Of course you realize, now that you are family, you won't get waited on hand and foot when you are completely recovered?" Joth replied, as he began untangling himself in preparation to get out of bed.

As Just' started to get out bed himself, he smacked the top of Joth's head and then as he jumped out bed and ran to the bathing chamber told Joth; "You're just Jealous!"

While Joth and Just' were lovingly washing every nook and cranny, Jonah had finally dragged John out of bed and was driving John crazy as John was attempting to bathe the squirming youngling.

"Johhhhhhhhhhhhnnnnnnnnnnnnn hurry; I clean enuf now I wanna go see Jot and Jut," whined Jonah.

"Hold still Jonah, the more you move the longer this is going to take," responded the slightly exasperated John. Finally Jonah was clean and John finally let him out of the tub and then quickly grabbed Jonah by his hair before he could escape. With his other hand, John reached over and picked up a waiting towel and proceeded to attempt to dry Jonah, not an easy task any day, but a particularly impossible one this morning. Finally getting Jonah at least dry enough to try and dress him,

"Stand still, Jonah and don't move;" John told his young friend, as he reached over removed the drain plug to drain the tub.

As soon as John had turned towards the tub, Jonah streaked towards the door. John slipped on a small puddle of water then Jonah was out of the bathing room and heading towards the door leading out of his room, towel trailing behind him like a cape. John got up from the floor shook his head, then grabbed a towel dried himself quickly and then dressed and went after Jonah. As he suspected, Lance and Ranulf were standing guard outside of Joth's Suite and were refusing to let Jonah even near the door. When Ranulf spotted John he said;

"They are in the shower go on in and get their clothes ready, Just's' new clothes are in his new room. Go ahead and get them ready, yet leave the curtain over the door; Joth wants to surprise Just'."

When Ranulf had finished speaking, Lance began,

"While you are taking care of that John, I will take Master Jonah and get him dressed and then we will go visit Gustavo, and Jonah, you will behave or 'Cook' says no 'Cinmon Crumbles'..." Lance had barely gotten the words out of his mouth before Jonah was dragging him off to see Gus.

"I be good Lance, I wanna go see 'Goos' I luv 'Goos'."

Ranulf and John just shook their heads at Jonah's antics and then Ranulf opened the door for John, never taking his eye off Jonah and Lance, the love of Ranulf's life. Ranulf had learned the hard way as soon as your attention was off of Jonah, anything could and would happen.

Inside Joth's Bathing Room, Just' was learning how sensual getting clean could be. He was a little wary of what could happen as he was totally inexperienced in the physical acts of male to male loving.

"Don't worry my love, we will take things very slowly, you are still recovering and I am in no rush. I believe we are in this for the long haul and we will have plenty of time for everything else. I can hear John getting our clothes ready, so I think we should get out, dry off and start this first day of the rest of our lives." Joth then hugged Just' and give him a very loving kiss which Just' started to respond to. Joth gave Just' a light smack on his rear cheek and whispered; "Later".

By the time the two lovebirds exited the bathing room, wearing robes embroidered with the Royal Crest, John had already left or at least that was what Just' believed. When they entered Joth's Dressing Room, there was only one suit of clothes laid out, causing Just' to ask;

"I see my clothes where are yours?"

"Silly boy, those aren't yours, those are mine; yours are in your room. Let me show you and don't ask me any questions; I will explain everything in just a few moments." Joth then took Just' by the hand and started leading him towards the entrance to his suite. Just' automatically turned towards the door when Joth stopped, and Just' was surprised when Joth said; "One second Just', we aren't going outside yet."

'What does he mean not going outside, all there is on that wall is a beautiful tapestry showing Castle Highmont with Dragons and War Eagles flying around it.' Just' thought to himself, or so he thought.

'It is what is behind the tapestry that is important, let me show you;' Joth sent.

'Draconis!!! this is going to take some getting used to, I have to learn not to 'send' my thoughts;' Just' thought.

'You will learn, and if my lazy git of a rider won't teach you, Misha and I will. So Joth get busy and do your job!' Gus sent to Just' and Joth.

"Yes your majesty, right away your Majesty, at once your Majesty!" Joth said to the air, causing Just' to start laughing and Ranulf to open the door and stick his head in and ask;

"Gus?"

"Of course, who else gets me talking out loud like that?" Was Joth's laughing reply to Ranulf who just shook his head and then closed the door, leaving Joth and Just' alone again.

"Okay Just', let me show you what is so important behind this tapestry. Now, close your eyes for just a minute and trust me. Can you do that for me?" Joth asked his new love.

"Of course my love, I trust you with my heart and soul;" with those words Just' gave Joth a light kiss on the lips and then closed his eyes waiting to see what was behind the tapestry.

As soon as Just' closed his eyes Joth reached behind the tapestry and pulled on the cord hidden behind it, which caused the tapestry to roll up and out of the way.

"Okay you can open your eyes Just'," and as Joth said that, he slid the door that had been hidden behind the tapestry open and then took Just's' hand and walked into the room that had appeared.

"This is your suite my love; the suite of the Prince Consort; and before you say anything, you don't have to sleep here; this is just to store your clothes, and so you can entertain guests when you need to. We can still sleep in my bed or yours it is up to you."

Once Just' had picked his jaw up off of the floor, he began looking around and saw a suite that was exactly the same as Joth's, only flipped. One thing was different though, there was a lot of Forest Green scattered throughout the rooms and his Family Crest as well as the Royal Crest. 'This is amazing how did they do this and why?' Were the thoughts going through Just's head as he caught sight of John bowing to him and saying,

"Good morning your Highnesses, your clothes are ready and breakfast will be in ten minutes. I need to go rescue Gus and Lance from Jonah." With that, John was out of the room through the main door before Just' could even reply.

"It was done because everyone who has met you loves you almost as much as I do and they were able to do it because Nana had the whole castle helping her. I will show you one more thing, then we need to get dressed and get to breakfast before Jonah eats it all. One more thing, this was going to be your suite whether I asked you to be my consort or not and if I asked and you had said no, it would still have been yours. The only difference is that the connecting doors would not be left open. Yes I said doors, now follow me; times a wasting." With that Joth grabbed Just's' hand again and took them into the Bathing Room in Just's' Suite.

When they were in the Bathing Room, Just' asked,

"Why are we in here?"

"Because the other door is in here can't you see it? Joth asked and by the look on the face of his love, knew the answer was no.

Taking Just's hand, which Joth hadn't released Joth reached over and turned what looked like a beautiful clothing hook that was at convenient height. As the two hands turned the hook slightly the door opened into the Bathing Room they had just left.

"See you can go back and forth easily, but now we need to get dressed. When you are finished come on into my... our suite and we will go eat." With that Joth gave Just' a hug and a loving kiss and then headed off to get dressed.

Just' of course was standing there completely shocked and had absolutely no idea what was going on. He wasted a few minutes trying to get his thoughts in order until his stomach took things under control and with a large growl reminded Just' he was hungry. He turned and left his Bathing Room and headed towards his new Dressing Room and started getting dressed in the clothes John had laid out.

When Just' had finished dressing he went to meet Joth and almost knocked him over as he went through the connecting door into the foyer. Joth just laughed hugged his lover and kissed him on the cheek and then cheekily asked;

"Are you happy to see me or just hungry?"

Just's' stomach answered for him with another growl as they headed towards breakfast. Ranulf gave them both a half bow as they passed him and then turned and followed them.

"John and Lance are waiting for you with the munchkin who may already have a few dents in his head from 'Cooks' Wooden Spoon." Remarked Ranulf to Joth's unasked question.

When they entered the Family's Private Dining Room, Joth and Just' were both surprised to see Joth's parent's, Nana, Ronaldo and Thomaso already seated, along with Lance, John and Jonah. Ranulf headed towards his seat on one side of the table. Just' stood there for a second, trying to figure out why his usual seat at the head of the table was vacant; which was his when it was just the four of them eating. He couldn't figure out why the King and Queen were sitting on the sides instead of at the head of the table. Seeing the Queen sitting in the seat that Just' would normally use during a Family Meal, further perplexed Just'. Joth of course was no help; he just headed to the seat at the head of the table closest to him, leaving Just' alone.

Angie spoke up. "Come on son, sit down; you are the guest of honor, so the head of the table is your's."

"This is your welcome to the Family Breakfast, Just', we are very glad you agreed to be Prince Consort. Now at least there will be one intelligent Prince in the family." Rafe told Just', smiling and pointing to Just's' seat.

"Mom, Dad..." Joth replied, trying to say more but he was laughing to hard to do so.

Just' decided that he was too hungry to worry about it, so he headed towards his seat, stopping to give Angie a hug and accept a kiss from her as he walked past her chair. He wasn't surprised at who was sitting to his left because that was the side of the table his plate of Joth's Energy Bars and 'Cinmon Crumbles' were on. And like every other morning that week, 'Cook' was standing there with her Wooden Spoon guarding his food from Jonah.

The food as usual was wonderful and the conversation was friendly and casual with only a few bits of court business thrown in here and there. Most of the conversation was directed at Joth's early years but every now and then Rafe or Angie directed a comment or question to Just' that had to do with how the kingdom was run. There were also a few mentions of some upcoming events that Just' would have to attend in his official capacity but there was no pressure and everything hinged on when he felt strong enough to handle them. One thing was said that Just' thought was really a good thing and that was the fact that he was welcome to attend classes with John and even Jonah while Jonah was still at the castle. The fact that Jonah may be leaving brought a slight frown to Just's' face.

Rebekah, seeing the frown, quickly tried to put Just' at ease while chuckling inside;

"Don't worry Just', I will be here a few more weeks at least, this is harvesting time for several different kinds of Tea, including 'Dragon's Gold', and Jonah's parent's are happy with him being here. And if you want I can ask them if I can leave him with you?"

"Nanaaaaaaaaaaaa"

Just' reached over and ruffled Jonah's hair and then said;

"Jonah, Nana is just teasing us, don't worry." 'At least I think she was teasing;' Just' thought.

"Yea Jut they get up weally early and go to bed weally late and they are very tired all of the time. But when dey done we have big party and you can come too. Are you going to come to Granpa Rafe's audien... thingy today and sit wit me thos tings be very boring sumtimes?" The words came flying out of Jonah's mouth so fast Just' wasn't sure if there was a question in there or not.

"Jonah if Just' isn't too tired, he might come sit with you awhile and then the two of you can go take a nap with 'Goos', I am sure he would love the company." Angie replied to Jonah and looked directly at Just', smiling. "But only if Just' wants to and only if you behave!"

"I will let you know Jonah, I need to check out my new rooms and learn where everything is. Why don't you come get me in plenty of time for us to get dressed for the audience and I will help you get dressed, okay?" Just' asked Jonah while getting a loving smile from Joth.

"Okay Jut, I hep you dwess too, I be there in pwenty of time we don wanna be late it makes Granpa Rafe look bad." Jonah replied to his older friend, causing Rafe to cough into his napkin as he tried not to laugh out loud.

"Yes Just' if you do come, please be on time; I don't want to look bad;" Chuckled the King, getting grins and giggles from the young pages.

When breakfast was over Nana took Jonah back to her rooms for some bonding time while John, Rolando and Thomaso headed off to their errand. Rafe and Angie gave Just' a hug and a kiss before they headed off to the business of ruling a kingdom. Just' and Joth headed back to their suites where Joth and Ranulf headed off to some meeting.

"I can show you where things are if you would like, Just' and answer a few of the thousands of questions I am sure you have," Lance offered to his new friend.

"I would love that but don't you have things to do?"

"Actually not really, all I have scheduled for the whole day is keeping you company while Joth is at his meetings. And before you say anything, I volunteered to do this because I like you and I know a little bit about what you are going to be doing, and I know how little Joth told you." Lance replied with a grin.

"Deal, let's get started". Just' and Lance went into Just's suite and soon the sound of laughter and a comment or two were occasionally heard.

"Father?"

"Yes Joth, what is it? You know our Public Audience begins in twenty five minutes; is it important?" Inquired King Rafaelo of his son, Crown Prince Joth.

"Yes father, it is very important to me and possible to the Kingdom, or I wouldn't ask you now," replied Joth in a very controlled and serious tone.

"Does it concern Just', and why you had to rescue him the other day?" Asked his father with a slightly concerned tone to his voice.

"In a way father, it does but it is more serious than Just' alone, and what happened to him," his son solemnly answered.

"Walk with me and explain the situation to me on the way to the audience chamber."

"Father, can I explain now, because I still need to change into my Formal Court Uniform?" Questioned Joth with a very subdued tone, yet with an intense fire burning in his sapphire eyes.

"Also you may need to postpone your audience and use the main audience chamber as this may require my petitioning you," added his son.

At that statement, the King's eyes opened wide in surprise and his eyebrows rose inquisitively. "Joth, are you sure?"

"Yes father, as sure as I have been of anything, and Gustavo agrees," replied his son, quite firmly unbowed by the inquiring look his father was giving him.

"Okay, if it is that serious and Gustavo is supporting you, I will have the change in audience announced. Is one hour enough of a time for you?

"More than enough, Father, and thank you; I can assure that you will agree with me," replied Joth quite fervently.

"Captain, please inform the Chamberlain that today's audience is now at One, and will be in the main audience chamber, and have it announced throughout the city" ordered King Rafaelo.

As the captain hurried to obey the orders of his King, Rafaelo turned to Joth, "Okay son, let's have a seat and you can explain what is so Draconis shattering

"Father, I need to ask a few questions first, before I explain everything," Joth answered, looking the King directly in his eyes, sapphire ones blazing into emerald ones.

At his father's nod, Joth began "The Edict of Tolerance and Equality has never been rescinded has it?"

At this totally unexpected question Rafaelo's head snapped back and he had to catch his breath, as the question totally stunned him. "No, and it never will be as long as our family and allies are in power!" responded his father vehemently, once he recovered enough to answer.

Before he could ask why, Joth continued, "Can I assume then that all the Codicils regarding age of consent, breeding (sexual activity) and use of force are still in effect also?"

"Yes they are son, are they being broken; is that what happened to Just? Inquired a now concerned King, because his kingdom prided itself on its tolerance and diversity.

"Father, Yes, it involves Just, but unfortunately, that is only the beginning……………

"What do you mean ONLY THE BEGINNING!?!?! Bellowed a now irate monarch, “Tell me the rest of it and tell me now!”

Joth told his father everything that he had learned from Just' in the last few days, including the fact that they were becoming a couple. When he finished, his father hugged him tightly to his chest and said very calmly and firmly, “Son, I assure you, those wrongs will be righted, and Just' will be taken care of."

Joth interrupted his father just as the King was going to call the Captain of The Guard. "Father, I have a plan," and proceeded to explain his plan to his still inflamed father. As soon as he finished, his father clapped him on his back saying, "My son, what a marvelously devious plan! It will certainly set the miscreants on their ear. Does Just' know of the plan and approve?

'It looks like we were right to plan like we did, Angie will be furious and if Mathilda ever hears of this I don't know if the planet can handle it. If we had any doubts about what we had planned they are all wiped away; little does my son know how neatly what he wants fits into what we had planned. Now we just have to advance the plan a few days and do it now, not when we had originally planned. Having this audience today works out perfectly.' Rafe was musing to himself and Joth was putting his thoughts together.

"Yes father, he helped me with some aspects of it, even though he is still feeling a bit out of place and unsure of himself. However, he has said that he wants the transgressors punished and his town and all others made safe for youth like him again," Answered his now calmer son.

"I realize that Just' has only been reunited with his War Eagle Mi….."

"Misha, Father."

"Yes Misha, I know it has only been a short time, but Misha was responding well to the general training he was receiving here. Can Just' control him in a public situation? Rafaelo questioned his son and co-conspirator.

"As long as it isn't too noisy and too many people very close to them, it shouldn't be a problem. Plus, if I am near by, Gustavo can help control both of them." At his father's shocked look, Joth added "Ooops, I guess I forgot to expand on Just's' gift with animals. Just' can communicate and control any and every raptor he has come into contact with, he can hear and communicate with a few other animals, and he and Gustavo are making life hell for me with their jokes and pranks." Joth had to stop in the middle of his explanation as his father had almost fallen off the bench they were sitting on.

"Okay, I think I understand; Gustavo can speak to Just' and to Misha through his link with Just', is that right?" and at the affirmative nod from his son continued, "Okay, here is the new plan you will dress in your best non court dress clothes, have Just' dress in your spare Burgundy and Blue Court Dress; I think it will fit him, you two look almost like twins in size and build." Before Joth could ask a question, his father continued speaking, "Have Just' bring your court suit with him. You will change while I give him an audience you will stay out of sight and listen until I call you. Don't worry, Just' will be fine I am just improving your plan a bit."

"Okay father, I hope you know what you are doing, Just' is still a bit unsure of himself and might unravel under the stress of an audience," opined Joth. "You might want to have Jonah nearby as he can help keep Just' calm.

"Don't worry son, I will have that taken care of also," turning to the corporal of the guard, "Corporal, please find your Captain immediately it is a matter of utmost importance. Have him turn out mine and my son's Honor Guard and the Consort's Honor Guard also. The Consort's Honor Guard is to assemble in complete silence and security no one and I repeat no one is to know they are being assembled…………….."

"Quiet Joth, I'll get back to you," in the same breath Rafaelo continued his orders to his corporal "Tell the Captain I want High Dress Uniforms and to Inform the Chamberlain that the audience is now moved to Two and it will be a Grand Audience. All members of the court are hereby ordered to attend. There will be no exceptions! Also, please send your Chaplain to his Eminence the Arch Prelate, informing him that his presence is requested. Please have your chaplain phrase that in the most polite and flowery phrases possible. However, I will accept no excuses from him either."

"Joth, don't worry, if it wasn't Just' it would be some other poor soul, and you may not have been able to rescue him; we will put a stop to this heresy and defamation of our honor, NOW!" the King fumed.

"Yes father, I understand, but risking the ire of the Church?” Inquired a very concerned young prince.

"Don't worry Joth, The Arch Prelate and I go way back, he won't be a problem. He is just resting his lazy bones at this time of day, drinking a chilled sparkling wine and eating cheese and fruit, if I know Eduardo. HE will be annoyed at the interruption, but he will come and once he hears why, he will probably jump on Gustavo's back screaming curses at the miscreants," answered Rafaelo in a soothing tone, as he reached over and ruffled his son's hair. "Now go and change and inform Just' of the new plan and give him a hug from me."

Joth tried to reply, but his father had already stridden off towards his apartments barking out orders as he went.

As the King headed to his quarters to inform his wife of the change in plans, he came across Rolando on some errand.

"Page Rolando, I need you to run an errand for me at once! I need you to go to the Quartermaster and give him this message for the Lord Mariscal. 'Duke William, you are ordered to report to me as soon as possible. This is a matter of great importance to the Kingdom.' Do you have any questions Rolando?" Inquired the King of a now totally startled page.

Rolando was only able to shake his head no.

"Good, now take this and show it to the Quartermaster, and hurry!" The King then removed a ring from his hand and gave it to Rolando and then, without looking back, headed quickly to his wife.

 

While Joth was getting dressed with John's help, and Just' was helping Jonah get dressed, also in response to request from the Queen, all hell had broken out in the barracks that housed the Royal Honor Guards. Captain Kyron not only had to get his troops ready, but the Consort's Honor Guard also as they had no captain.

"Lance, Ranulf, front and center!"

Lance and Ranulf quickly appeared in front of their captain, still struggling into their Court Uniforms.

"Can you tell me what in Draconis is going on? I know you two must know something all I know is I got a message from the King to get us and the Consort's Guard ready for a Grand Audience and yet to keep the Consort's Guards under cover. And as far as I know, we don't have a Consort, do we? None of the King's Honor Guard know anything either, now spill it." Captain Kyron ordered his two right hand men.

Ranulf turned and looked at Lance, who shook his head negatively first, and then to the second question nodded yes.

"Well Captain, it is like this, as to what in Draconis is going on I can only guess, but it probably has to do with the new Prince Consort..." Lance was interrupted by Kyron's bellow.

"Prince Consort, what Prince Consort, and who is it?" The Captain's face started to pale as things started to come together as his brain began putting the pieces in place.

"It is Just', isn't it!? Joth finally did the right thing, and I bet Just' has no idea what he has gotten himself in for and what is about to happen to him?"

"Yes Captain, it is Just' and that is why I said Prince Consort as to the rest of what is happening neither Ranulf nor I know anything else; other than the fact that Joth was supposed to speak to his father this morning," was Lance's tentative reply.

"Okay, this is what we are going to do; Lance, since you will be at Joth's side, Ranulf, I am promoting you to Lieutenant and placing you in charge as Captain of Just's' Honor Guards until we can work out the details. Check with the Chamberlain as to where you should muster until needed. I expect you to make your troops toe the line and not let us down. Send someone to the Quartermaster for your new Rank Insignia, Helmet and Sash.

 

When those who had been commanded to appear for the Grand Audience entered the Main Audience Chamber, they were taken aback by the sight of all three Royal Honor Guards in position on, and behind the Dais and at each entrance. Coupled with the fact the audience time had been changed and that everyone had been commanded to attend caused lots of comments by those arriving and those already seated.

The Queen's Page Bethany, whose turn it was to inform their majesties when everyone was seated was startled by the entourage that came in the Main Entrance, causing the Majordomo to stutter his announcement.

"The Elven Ambassador B'rad and his party!"

The announcement and the arrival of the Elven contingent started the murmuring all over again.

As soon as the Elven contingent had finished seating themselves, Bethany quietly opened the door and entered the private audience room where the King and Queen were preparing for their parts in what was about to occur.

"Your majesties, the Elven Ambassador has just arrived and has been seated with his entourage in the Main Audience Chamber." Bethany cautiously told their majesties.

"It's okay Bethany, it isn't your fault that they arrived three days early, the Elves have been known to do things like that, to see if they can catch us humans off guard. Don't worry about anything." The King replied to his wife’s page.

"Won't them being here cause a problem with the plans for the audience?" Bethany timidly inquired.

"That shouldn't be a problem, it will help show them how serious we are about being a Tolerant and Diverse Kingdom. I am also sure that they already know about Joth and if this becomes a problem with them, it will be to their detriment!" The king reassured his wife’s page.

"If not, they will have to deal with me and we can always threaten them with 'The Duchess'!" Angie replied with a laugh which brought smiles to all in the room.

Bethany bowed and then quickly returned to her watching post. She had just finished getting as comfortable as she could on the hard wooden chair, when the party she was waiting on entered the chamber. She was genuinely surprised when they entered from the interior entrance in full regalia and went directly towards their seats at the side of the Dais, directly opposite Bethany. She had a double take when she thought the older of the two winked at her and motioned towards the door. Bethany quickly left her seat and headed back inside to perform her duty.

"Your Majesties, the Arch Prelate has arrived... An..." Bethany couldn't get anything more out and the Queen took her off the hook.

"Spill it Bethany, what has that old reprobate Eduardo done now?" The Queen laughingly asked her startled page.

"Your Majesties, he... he came in the private entrance with someone else and they are dressed really fancy I have never seen them dressed like that, only in their brown robes. They are both carrying staffs and wearing funny pointed hats. Plus, the older one winked at me and then with his hand told me to go and get you!" Bethany was able to stutter out and then she didn't know what to do when the King and Queen started laughing loudly.

"Bethany, everything will be okay, trust us. Eduardo is a dear old friend of ours and he is just getting back at me for ordering him here today. How he knew to show up dressed in full High Church Regalia and to bring Artur with him is beyond me. Sometimes I swear he has a direct connection to Draconis." Rafaelo bent his head for a moment and then continued speaking; "With both him and Artur here, that will simplify things immensely and we can get the ball rolling on fixing this horrible problem we have in the Kingdom. As soon as Joth and Just' arrive, we can get started."

As if their ears were burning, Just' and Joth were announced and entered the room arm in arm, glowing slightly. As they entered, they both said;

"Hi Mom and Dad." At which both Rafe and Angie tried to look very stern and officious, but failed mightily and broke out smiling at the two clowns.

Seeing the fact that other than the clothing carried over their arms, Joth was empty handed.

"Ahh Joth, I believe you may have forgotten something?" His father asked the Crown Prince.

Joth turned a brilliant shade of crimson, and handing his clothes to Just', turned around and headed back out the way he came in, muttering something unintelligible under his breath.

Once he was outside, he quickly found his page, John, and then gave him the needed instructions;

"John, take my ring and go into the vault and get the formal Consort Coronet, not the plain one that Lance usually wears, but the one that looks like the one I have on. When you have it, bring it to me on the Dais from this room.

While John was off on his errand Rafe was explaining to Just' the schedule of events for todays audience.

"Just', you and Joth will stay in here until you are sent for, as we have some business to discuss that you aren't needed for. I will send Jonah in here when you are needed, Joth and then Jonah will stay here and keep you company until YOU are needed, Just'. Don't worry, everything that happens while you are secluded in here will be explained to you in good time. Any questions?" Rafe asked his two sons, as he and Angie had been calling Just' their son since they first saw him and Joth together. The two teens just looked like they belonged together and everyone thought it was very cute the looks they were always sneaking at each other. Of course, the funniest thing is they didn't think that anyone had noticed what they both had been doing.

'What do my parents have up their sleeves, this is not what Dad and I had planned;' mused Joth 'and Gus don't tell me, "Que Sera, Sera!"'

'Joth, your parents have only your best interests at heart as do I; you know we would never plan anything to cause you problems! Now would we?' And with that Gustavo broke contact and Just' started speaking before Joth could reinstate contact.

Just' replied for both he and Joth, "We understand, and we can use the time with Joth teaching me more of what it means to be Prince Consort, and then Jonah can tell me all of Joth's secrets while Jonah and I are alone."

While Rafe was talking to Just' and Joth, Nana and Jonah had entered the Main Audience Chamber and had been seated in the chairs reserved for them in the front row. As soon as Just' had replied, and before Joth could open his mouth in retort, Bethany stuck her head inside the door and announced;

"It is time your majesties."

Their majesties rose from their comfortable chairs, and with a few last minute clothing arrangements by their attentive pages, headed towards the door and their duty. To Just's' amazement though, they both stopped and gave him a kiss on his cheek and whispered;

"We love you." and then headed to the audience, followed by their respective pages and bodyguards.

Just as they approached the door, Bethany signaled the Seneschal who was acting as Majordomo for this Grand Audience who announced in a powerful voice,

"Please rise for their Majesties the King and Queen of Erehwon, King Rafaelo and Queen Angelina Forte!'

As if they had practiced over and over the audience rose as one and declared;

"Vivo o rei e a rainha"

The King and Queen bowed graciously to the audience and then took their seats in their appropriate thrones. Their thrones were placed in between two slightly smaller thrones which were unoccupied at the time. Usually Joth sat on a very comfortable chair set to one side of either the King or the Queen; he very rarely used his throne as he found it too pretentious.

Once they were seated, the Seneschal began to speak but was stopped by a signal from the King who arose and began to speak;

"We have called this Grand Audience to address a very serious problem that has occurred in the Kingdom. We will address this very serious issue after we take care of some personal and some positive issues. So please bear with us while we take care of this personal business. Seneschal, please announce the first petitioner."

"Will the petitioner Mistress Rebekah please step forward and present her petition."

Rebekah and Jonah rose from their seats and took a few steps forward until they were standing at the base of the Dais and then she began speaking in a clear and powerful tone that reached the all of the Main Audience Chamber easily.

"Your Majesties, on behalf of my Daughter Rose and my Son-in-Law her husband Denali and myself, I hereby petition that my grandson standing here with me, Jonah Timoty Medici become a ward of the Kingdom of Erehwon." Rebekah paused for a moment as the Main Audience Room went completely silent, you could have heard the proverbial dragon scale drop.

"Why would you as a family, request that Jonah, who we consider our grandson also, be made our ward?" The King inquired, in an emotionless tone of voice.

"There are several reasons, and I will explain some of them now and the rest are enclosed in this petition which I would like to present for your approval." Rebekah then presented the scroll she had been holding, to the Seneschal who unrolled it, took his copy and then handed the other copy to Bethany whose turn it was to be the gofer.

Bethany took the copy and returning to the Dais handed the petition to the queen, who looked it over and then handed it to her husband.

"Please continue Mistress Rebekah, We are very interested in what you have to say." The Queen pronounced regally.

Rebekah gave the King and Queen a slight bow and then continued with her petition.

"First of all, there are no other children of Jonah's age either at my farm or at my children's Tea Plantation, for him to develop his social skills. Secondly, Rose and Denali feel that they do not have the necessary time to spend with him, due to the continued expansion of their Tea Plantation. This is partially the Crown Prince's fault, as he has extolled the virtue of their 'Dragon's Gold Tea' across the kingdom." At those words, there were giggles and titters heard throughout the chamber; Rebekah took a deep breath and then continued speaking.

"Of the reasons that I can make public, this is probably the most important one! Even at his young age, Jonah has demonstrated a remarkable ability to heal small creatures as well as fellow Erehwonese. Doktor Bazaar has even taken to calling Jonah his assistant. My family believes very strongly that Jonah can best learn more about the healing arts and his own abilities in healing, here at the castle. Jonah also looks upon you, King Rafaelo, and you, Queen Angelina, as his grandparents also. My family and I would appreciate you reviewing our petition and accepting it. We humbly await your decision." Rebekah and Jonah then gave the King and Queen full court bows.

"You have given us a lot to think about Mistress Rebekah, and before We announce Our decision, we would like to speak with Master Jonah ourselves and ask him a few questions; after all it his life we are discussing! Master Jonah, please approach us." King Rafaelo announced in slightly kinder voice than he had used earlier.

When Jonah stopped the required distance away from their majesties, the King and Queen chuckled among themselves and then the King spoke;

"No Jonah, we want to talk to you privately, come and sit on my lap, where you belong."

Jonah complied very quickly almost as if he was waiting for that request. Once Jonah was seated comfortably on the King's lap the conversation began.

"Jonah, I know your Nana explained what is happening to you, but Grandma Angie and I need to know officially that this is what you want; and that you understand exactly what is happening and also that it is permanent until you are eighteen. Okay?"

"Yes grandpa Rafe, I unnerstand; if you say yes I gonna come live here forever and only visit my old parents sometimes." Jonah very calmly replied to the King

"Jonah, you do know your parents still love you, don't you?" Cautiously inquired the Queen of her soon to be grandson.

"Oh yes Grandma Angie, they still love me they jut think it better for me to be here near Prince Jot and Doktor Tickle Fingers." Jonah replied giggling, and then continued in a slightly more serious tone; "I know Daddy loves me, but he still ain't too sure of Prince Jot cause he don't like girls and when he finds out that he gonna marry Prince Jut, he may not let me come here no more." The last few words brought tears to Jonah's eyes and started to bring a forceful response from both the King and Queen. Feeling the King tighten his hug Jonah began speaking again;

"Grandpa Rafe and Grandma Angie, don't you worry none about my Daddy, Mommy and Nana said to tell you that they will reeducamate my Daddy and he won't be no pwoblem." Jonah had to stop speaking because his last words had caused the King to start chuckling and begin tickling Jonah who was soon giggling.

 

Several hours away from Castle Highmont, at a large Military Encampment utter chaos seemed to be reigning. However, what seemed to be soldiers running helter skelter and Signal Flags flapping aimlessly was actually a well coordinated transfer of Command. The King's Messenger had just arrived commanding the Lord Mariscal's presence back at Castle Highmont. Although Duke William really wanted to just drop everything to obey, he was too much of a professional to do that. At the moment he was still the Commanding Officer of the War Preparedness Drills, with portions of The Royal Erehwonese Army, The Roxian Army and select Regiments of Elven Lancers and Light Cavalry. In his tent listening very carefully were his two Subordinate Commanders, General Dellus of the Roxian Army and Colonel D'avid of The Elven Light Cavalry.

"Gentlemen, from the wording of this message, it is not a Military Incident that I am returning to the Castle for, but something extremely personal and important to the King and Queen and I believe somehow to my family. So far the integration of our forces has exceeded all of our expectations and now we have an opportunity for the final test under a situation that we have complete control over. We can now see how the troops would fare if the overall Commanding Officer were killed and the Second or Third in Command took over. As in this case, it will be the Third in Command, Colonel D'avid as we have agreed, since unfortunately General Dellus, you and horses don't seem to get along, which makes Commanding Cavalry Troops a little bit of a problem."

"Thank you for stating that so diplomatically and politely William, as you know for some reason horses actually detest me, and I reciprocate that feeling. When you add to that the fact that the composition of the Erehwonese Forces in this exercise are Seventy Five Percent Cavalry, it makes sense to give the overall command to a Cavalryman. Ordinarily I would ask that your son Captain Neal be put in command as the Erehwonese Forces are larger than my command and Colonel D'avid's together. However, our plan of putting Colonel D'avid in command is a much better plan, and will give us a much better idea of how well the integration is working. Go ahead and leave, your dragon is awaiting you some crazy Master Sergeant is out there terrorizing all of our troops. Neal is on his way and we can continue from here." General Dellus was interrupted by Colonel D'avid speaking.

"Please William go; my Elven Archers aren't looking forward to see how effective their arrows are against an angry Dragon." Colonel D'avid said as he hugged the Duke and then gave him a slight push towards General Dellus.

"Okay, Okay I get the message!" Chuckled the Lord Mariscal as he hugged General Dellus and then headed towards Master Sergeant Ramero and his Dragon Alejandro.

William knew the king really wanted him back yesterday, when he found out who his transport was. 'You don't pull a Master Sergeant of the Royal Dragon Guard off of his normal duties to provide transportation for just any old meeting. I wonder what Rafe's problem is this time and whether he wants me to solve it for him or if I am the solution?' William mused to himself as he nodded to Sergeant Ramero and said hello to Alejandro as he climbed on behind Sergeant Ramero. As William expected, he no sooner secured himself and said, "Go" than they were aloft and at full Military Speed1, headed towards the Castle. In fact, they were airborne so quickly the escort flight was caught off guard and had to go into a full dive to catch up.

Meanwhile back at Castle Highmont:

John was deep in the Royal Vaults, trying to find the Prince Consort's Coronet that Joth had sent him for. The Junior Archivist who was on duty, was in a foul mood because he had been yanked out of lunch with his friends to take over for the Royal Archivist who had been commanded to attend the Grand Audience. When John informed the Junior Archivist what that he needed access to the Main Royal Vault, the Junior Archivist just laughed at him and said go get me a Royal Order, 'Boy', and I might let you peek in the door. John could hear Private Logi about ready to come to his rescue, but knew he could handle this himself with the Private's help.

"JUNIOR Archivist Santorumas, I do not need a Royal Order, as you so rudely put it, to access any of the Royal Vaults! I am the page to Crown Prince Joth Forte and I am here on his orders; I also have his Official Seal Ring to authorize my access. I only asked you for access, as it was the courteous thing to do and I was hoping you could save me some time, helping me find what I need. However, now I will use the help I brought with me, and Private Logi will assist me. I would strongly suggest you read your procedures manual from front to back, until you know the proper way to perform your job. Private Logi we will proceed now." Without a further word or even glance at the Junior Archivist, John pulled out the key to the vaults from his wallet on his belt and followed by Private Logi, proceeded to look for the Coronet.

As Private Logi walked by the Junior Archivist he shook his head at the stupidity of the Junior Archivist and then followed John into the vault, preparing his torch if needed. 'What a stupid idiot anybody with half a brain knows Prince Joth's Colours and Crest. And how on Draconis would John have passed through all of the guards to get here if he didn't belong here. I would not want to be in that idiot's boots when his boss returns. I will have to let Captain Kyron and Ranulf know what happened here.' Logi thought to himself as he followed his charge and friend.

When Logi caught up with John he was surprised to see John shaking his head and looking about in confusion.

"What's the matter John? I thought you knew where the Coronet was?"

"I thought I did; it is supposed to be right here on this shelf on this empty pillow; see, here is the sign!" John told the private as he pointed out the sign.

'It is okay John, I can help you...' Gustavo sent, but was interrupted by John's shouts.

"Gustavo!!!!! I told you to warn me first before you did that!" John shouted and sent back at the same time.

Private Logi had to turn away so John wouldn't see him laughing. As soon as he could control himself, the private turned back around and facing John and replied.

"John, please inform his Majesty Gustavo that if he scares you like that again, I will inform Dragoneer Jeffords to reduce his feed!"

"Thank you Private Logi, I will do just that;" John replied with a slight giggle, and then prepared himself to do something he still was not used to doing. As Joth explained it to him, he wasn't really talking to Gus; he was just thinking very strongly and Gus was picking those thoughts up and then Gus would send his thoughts into John's mind. Unlike Just' and Jonah, who could directly speak to Gus, John wasn't able to, but this method worked when Gustavo thought it was necessary for them to communicate.

'Okay Gus, how can you help me?' Thought John as strongly as he could.

'Joth doesn't know it but the Coronet he sent you for is being restored, however, there is another Coronet that will work just as well, and in fact better for what the King and Queen have planned. When they see what you will be returning with, just tell anyone who asks that I said it is time to use it. Do you understand so far?' Gus asked his young friend.

'I think so, so far, but what do I do next?' John thought back at Gus.

'Did you happen to bring the key to Joth's Vault with you,' asked Gus.

'Yes, but Joth's vault is in his suite not here,' a confused John thought back?

'Yes, I do understand that, but that doesn't matter now. Do you remember the first time Rafe brought you down here to show you part of your duties because Joth was in Roxio, and Rafe showed you a very ornate trunk that was locked and he told you that the trunk had been here almost as long as the Castle had been built?' Gus asked John, who now understood a bit more.

'Yes the one carved with Dragons and Suns'? inquired John.

While John and Gustavo were conversing, Private Logi was straightening a few things and then he quietly headed towards the vault entrance and very carefully peeked out into the antechamber. He was quite surprised to see the idiot Junior Archivist was not seated at his desk. Seeing that and very curious at this breech of protocol, he carefully stepped out into the antechamber, loosening his sword as he did so. As he stepped into the antechamber, Private Logi relaxed slightly when he saw that a Sergeant of the Castle Guard was standing just inside the entry into the antechamber. As he stepped over to the archivist's desk to see the book that wasn't there earlier and was laying there open Private Logi detected an unforgettable odor in the air.

The sergeant didn't say anything just smiled and pointed towards the book. Private Logi instantly recognized the book as he got closer and started to laugh. Once he got closer, he saw that book was open to the Official Castle Protocol Manual and was open to page describing the colours and crests of the Royal Family.

"Yes, he is in his quarters changing and he will be a very contrite Junior Archivist when he returns,” quipped the Sergeant. Private Logi just shook his head and grinned, then quickly returned to John inside the vault. And as he expected, John was still staring out into space conversing with Gustavo.

Private Logi's timing was perfect as he arrived back in the vault, John's eyes lit up and John started looking around.

"We are looking for a a very ornate trunk with carved Dragons and Suns on it;" John explained to Private Logi.

"I'll take the left side John, if you will take the right side?" Private Logi asked his charge.

"That's okay with me and the trunk we are looking for is about knee high and shoulder wide," was John's reply.

Several minutes went by as the two searchers progressed slowly towards the rear of the vault. Private Logi suddenly stumbled as his foot caught a tapestry that was partially puddled on the floor; as his foot got caught he groaned slightly. At the sound of his helper's groan, John turned around and saw the private catch himself and almost stopped himself from falling over by putting his hand on top of the rest of the tapestry. Unfortunately or fortunately for Private Logi, as he put his hand on the tapestry it slid off of the trunk it was covering. The last thing Private Logi heard before he hit the ground and John started laughing was;

"Good job Private Logi, you found the trunk."

As soon as John could stop laughing he went over and helped the Private to his feet and then picked up the tapestry. As John was folding up the tapestry he got a good look at it and it was a Battle Scene between what he assumed was The Dragon Lords and an enemy he couldn't quite make out. However, the most startling thing was the Dragon and Rider in the center of the scene. John swore it was Just', but the scene and the tapestry were hundreds and hundreds of years old. While John was examining the tapestry Private Logi was doing the same thing to the chest they had found.

"John, this trunk is beautiful, but there is a slight problem."

"What is the problem, Private?" John inquired while folding the tapestry. 'I need to tell Just' about this tapestry and see if he would like it in his suite.' Thought John as he was waiting for the private's reply.

"Ahhhh... it is locked and I have never seen a keyhole like this before." Replied the private as he was looking at the 'S' shaped keyhole.

"Let me see it please?" Was John's response.

As the private moved out of the way, John moved in front of the trunk and smiled. It looks very familiar to me Private, Joth has a lock just like this on a chest in his suite, and so do Rafe and Angie. I believe I just might have the key for it. John then reached into his belt wallet and pulled out a strangely shaped key that looked to the private to be older than the castle.

"Let's see if this works and I sure hope it does, because we definitely don't want to go back empty handed; this day means an awful lot to Joth and it will to Just', when all things are said and done." John then carefully fitted the key into the lock and turned it slightly clockwise, nothing moved so John gave it a slight turn counter-clockwise. When John turned the key counter-clockwise, the mechanism moved slightly but then stopped.

"Okay one more time," John announced and then turned the key clockwise again and there was a satisfying clunk as the mechanism moved. With the sound of the 'clunk' the lid to the trunk lifted slightly.

Laying on a tray nestled inside the top of the chest lay a magnificent coronet of a style unseen in eons; the coronet looked as old as the tapestry. The coronet was vaguely similar to the one Joth wore mainly in the fact that it was also made of Dragon's Gold. This coronet, however, had a Dragon's Eye in the very center of it and it had a very subtle glow to it. John and Private Logi stood there silently in awe at the simple yet majestic beauty laying on the Burgundy Velvet Pillow in front of them until Gus woke John out of his trance.

'Yes John, that is the one; now hurry you will barely have enough time to get back before you are needed. There should be a Royal Blue Carrying Bag under the pillow, please put the pillow and coronet inside and then hurry back to the audience; trust me, you don't want to miss anymore of it. Also do not give the coronet to Joth, give it to the Arch Prelate...' Gus sent, till he was interrupted by John.

'But Gus, I was ordered by Joth to bring the coronet to him!' John thought very strongly as he did not want to disobey Prince Joth.

'With everything that is going to happen, Joth won't mind at all. If he dares to give you a bad time, tell him you were ordered to do it by The King! After all, I am the King of the Royal Dragons of Venezel, am I not?' Gus sent to John, making him feel a little better about disobeying the Prince, but not a whole lot.

"Okay Gus, on your hide be it." John thought and said and then turned to Private Logi.

"Gustavo says to take this coronet to the Arch Prelate instead of Prince Joth."

Private Logi raised an eyebrow and then began speaking,

"I hope he knows what he is doing?"

John replied wistfully, "So do I, so do I."

"I am going to pick up the pillow and I would like you to see if there is a Royal Blue Bag under it?" John asked his helper.

As John leaned over the trunk and began to pick up the coronet on the pillow there was a flash of light and the Dragons Eye glowed for a brief second. John nearly dropped the pillow in shock but when nothing else happened, he lifted the pillow out of the trunk and then moved out of the way so Private Logi could see if the bag was there.

Private Logi looked inside the trunk and sure enough, there was a Royal Blue Bag with a Burgundy Draw String. What John and Gus had conveniently forgot to mention was the fact that the bag was embroidered with Dragons and Crowns in Dragon's Gold Thread and weighed probably almost as much as the coronet. Private Logi carefully lifted the carrying bag out of the trunk and then turned and faced John.

"John, something really big must be going on that Joth and us do not know about. This is no ordinary Prince Consort Coronet or Carry Case. I may just be a guard in the Prince's service, but I do know a lot of Erehwonese History. I think that this Coronet is from the time of the Dragon Lords or before."

"I do believe you may be right; it does look like something out of my History Books, in fact it looks like the coronet I saw on this tapestry." John then pointed towards the tapestry with his foot being very careful not to drop the coronet. While John was doing that, Private Logi opened the bag as wide as possible, holding it open for John to slide the pillow in.

John then slid the pillow in very carefully and then cinched the drawstring closed and then took a step back. John then put both arms out in front of him.

"Private Logi, please place the bag on my arms and then we can head back to the Audience and find out what in Draconis is going on. I thought I knew everything that was supposed to happen, but it sounds like there have been some major changes. It also sounds like Joth is in the dark as much as we are."

As soon as the bag was securely on his arms, the two left the vault, John never even noticed the Junior Archivist and Private Logi just gave him a look of utter scorn.

 

When John touched the coronet and the flash of light occurred, there was another disturbance deep in the bowels of Draconis. The lifeform which had been coalescing for awhile had finally completed the birthing process and began to slowly make its way to the surface. Although its presence would definitely make a splash where it was headed, the full import would be a long time coming. Once the lifeform made its presence known, life on Draconis would be vastly different for all concerned.

 

Back in the Main Audience Chamber:

"Although We agree with the merits of the petition before us, we are reserving the right to make our announcement at a later time during this audience. However, we will say that we are pleased with the answers from Master Jonah, he understands clearly the issues before us and has expressed his consent to the petition, quite strongly, I may add..." The King paused a few moments to let the chuckles die down before continuing.

"The reasons for our delay in announcing our decision will become evident as this audience moves forward. Mistress Rebekah, you may be seated."

Rebekah started to return to her seat as did Jonah but they were both stopped by a further word from the king.

"Master Jonah, you can remain sitting here or on Grandma Angie's lap and Mistress Rebekah your seat is also on the Dais with us." As the king was speaking, two of his guards moved a very ornate chair to the front of the Dais just to the side of the Queen. Rather then facing the audience the chair was placed as to face the Arch Prelate and the Imithian Prelate. This latest move further confused the audience who now had no idea what was going on. As Rebekah was being seated, a smile began to break out on the face of Eduardo, the Arch Prelate.

Before anyone could comment or ask a question the King spoke again;

"Seneschal, please announce the next petitioner."

"The Crown requests the presence of Joth Forte." If the Seneschal's naming Joth without his honorific wasn't enough to stun the audience into complete and total silence, Joth's attire and subsequent actions did.

As the Seneschal began his announcement, Bethany opened the door and sticking her head inside informed Joth it was his turn. Joth stepped through the door into the chamber, attired not as the audience expected in his robes as Crown Prince, but dressed in his standard court dress. But it was what he did as he stepped through the door that caused all the consternation. Once he had stepped onto the dais and Bethany had closed the door, Joth stopped, removed his coronet and handed it to an amazed Bethany. Joth then turned towards the front of the Dais and without hesitation strode forward, stepped off the Dais and continued walking until he was standing in the same spot previously occupied by Mistress Rebekah. Joth's actions had now completely unnerved the audience; even the normally stoic Elven Delegation were commenting among themselves.

"Your Majesties, I am here today as a private citizen to inform you of a terrible injustice that has been done to a citizen of Erehwon. I wish that were not the only bad news I have to bear, there may be even more injustices on the way. Not only has the Edict of Tolerance and Equality been broken repeatedly, but the Church has also been profaned..." Joth had to pause for a few moments while the Seneschal and Master at Arms tried to regain control of the chamber.

Before Joth could start speaking again, the Arch Prelate stood and signaled that he would like to speak.

"I am sure that the petitioner has more to say, but We will grant you a few moments to make your point before we allow the petitioner Joth Forte to resume speaking," The Queen announced and then nodded to the Seneschal.

"Your majesties, this citizen has alluded to some very serious charges relating to the kingdom and he has gone farther by mentioning the church. We sincerely hope that he can back up these allusions with evidence. We are very interested in hearing how the Church has been profaned. If these allegations stand up, We stand ready to offer any assistance We can, in resolving these issues and bringing any and all perpetrators to Justice." When Eduardo had finished speaking, he bowed slightly to Joth and then gave a full bow to the King and Queen.

When the King began to respond to the Arch Prelate, he was interrupted by Joth to the consternation of the audience.

"Your Majesties, with your permission, I would like to reply to his eminence myself," Joth paused and looked at his parents.

"We will allow you to respond, Citizen," the King responded in a fairly emotionless tone of voice.

"Thank you, your majesties, I will make my points very quickly. Your Eminence, I myself cannot offer incontestable evidence, however, I verify that the statements made by the person substantiating and expanding on my allegations are true. I can also inform you that what you are about to hear is not pleasant and will be very hard not only for you to hear, but for the person to repeat also. I offer not only my Personal Word, but that of Gustavo, King of the Royal Dragons of Venezel. Additionally Doktor Bazaar will affirm that his assistant has also verified the veracity of the allegations. Doktor Bazaar will also be available to substantiate the extent of the injuries caused to my friend." Joth paused and took a deep breath.

As Joth paused, Doktor Bazaar stood from his seat in the second row in case either their Majesties or his Eminence wanted to verify Joth's statements.

"Doktor Bazaar, will you on your oath as a Doktor verify that what we are about to hear is true and accurate?" The King inquired in a formal voice.

"Your Majesties and your Eminence, as I am not certain exactly what the next person to speak is going to say; I can only verify that everything Joth Forte has said is true and accurate. Additionally on my oath as a Doktor and on my own Personal Word, I can also verify that Gustavo has verified what Joth has alluded to. I will clarify and answer any questions necessary after we hear Joth's witness speak, and if necessary, verify what the witness has said." The Doktor then bowed to their Majesties and regained his seat.

"With the Court's permission, I would like to have Justin Lennox continue with his story?" Joth then bowed to his parents awaiting their answer.

The audience was slightly confused at the name Joth had given; some of the members of the audience knew the name, as they had dealt with the Lennox Family, but most of them had no idea who Justin Lennox was. Then there were those who had known Just' since he had been living at the castle, but they didn't make the connection. All in all, this was turning out to be a very interesting Grand Audience. One Member sitting quietly in the back of the chamber did make the connection and quickly sent one of her pages on a rush errand. Mathilda, for some reason known only to her, had decided to go directly to the Grand Audience and sit in the back, instead of in her throne on the Dais. Although she was not legally the Queen Mother, she was for all intents and purposes. Rafe and Angie greatly admired her and sought out her help and opinions frequently. Seeing the writing on the wall, they just started acting as if the "Duchess" was in fact the Queen Mother. The King and Queen knew they had done the right thing when they invited Mathilda to join one of their weekly audiences and ask her to sit in the throne that was the Official Queen Mother's. The members of that audience simply bowed to Mathilda as if she were the Queen Mother and so things have gone since then.

"Before we let 'Justin' speak, I must inform the audience that I know some of what 'Justin' is about to tell you, but I also know that he is still recovering and is still under Doktor Bazaar's care. For these reasons, We are requesting that you refrain from asking him any direct questions when he is finished speaking. With that, I believe it is now time to hear from 'Justin'." With that the King nodded towards Bethany who again got up from her seat and headed towards the door.

As Bethany was heading towards the door to call him to the Audience, Just' was starting to doze off. When Bethany stuck her head inside and called his name, Just' awoke with a start. Bethany giggled slightly and then told Just', "Please don't worry about anything; we all love you and will do anything we can to help you. You also have more help and people who love you outside than you know."

'Well I guess I'd better get moving and get this over with so I can get back in Joth's loving arms and relax. I hope Bethany knows what she is talking about.' Just' was thinking as he stood up and stretched a little bit to try and wake up before going into the Lion's Den. As Just' headed towards the Audience Chamber he was stopped by one of the King's Valet's who with a few quick adjustments repaired the minor wrinkles that had occurred to Just's' clothing while waiting.

In Andreu's Village, both Andreu and Margè felt the quickening of the coalescing lifeform when John touched the coronet. Neither of them knew precisely what had happened, but they knew that the next phase had arrived. Margè realized it was now time to step up Andreu's overall learning and that it was time he received some more experience outside of his village. Margè decided it was time to take Andreu with her on her next visit to the Palmetto Crag Outpost on the Valley Floor. [The Valley Floor is a bit of a misnomer, since actually the valley in question is still several thousand feet above sea level]

"Andreu, please inform your mother and the Baker's Wife that you will be going with me to the Royal Outpost the day after the morrow."

At the mention of the Baker's Wife, Andreu's stomach started growling; which of course chased any thoughts of studying the dry old tomes on the table in front of Andreu far from his conscious thoughts. Andreu could not understand why in addition to Herb and Healing Lore, he had to study the types of governments of the Nations of Draconis.

Hearing the growl again, Margè realized that she was hungry also;

"Okay Andreu, for being such a good student this week, I will buy you lunch at the Tavern."

Before Margè had finished speaking, Andreu had closed the tome he was reading and had pulled Margè halfway out her door.

As Bethany held the door open, Just' strode through the door and instead of joining Joth, turned and took the throne that was placed between the Queen and Mistress Rebekah. You could have heard a dragon's scale hit the floor when Just' appeared and then sat in the throne. The Audience did not know how to take or react to what they had just seen. A Teenager who most had never seen dressed exactly like the Crown Prince strides onto the Dais and calmly takes a seat in the throne belonging to the Royal Consort. To top matters off, as soon as Just' was comfortable, Jonah climbed down from the King's lap and went over to Just' and climbed up and starting hugging Just' and then made himself comfortable with his head leaning against Just's chest.

Once Jonah was comfortable, Joth remaining where he was, signaled Just' to begin.

"My name was Justin Lennox..."

As Just' began to tell his story in a voice totally devoid of emotion, the audience quieted completely. There wasn't a sound to be heard except for Just's voice steadily reliving the events that led up to now. When he reached the portion of his story pertaining to his mother's passing, he stumbled for just a second or two until Jonah stirred, whispering, "We love you," and increasing the amount of love and healing energy he was pouring into Just'. Looking out into the Audience Just's caught the eyes of Joth and they were full of love and care. As Just' started to resume his tale, a very soft voice spoke in his head;

'I love you with all of my heart and soul for now and forever.' With those words, Joth also sent more of his love and healing energy which filled Just's' heart to near overflowing. Just' resumed his story and as he did, he felt another source of strength and energy fill his being Just' thought he recognized the 'feel' of the energy, but not quite. At his mental query of who, Gus replied with a feather light mental voice;

'It is Misha and I, we wanted you to have all the strength and love you needed, to do this. And yes Just', you do need to do this, not only for yourself but for Joth, Jonah, Brion and all of Erehwon.'

The mention of Brion brought a slight frown to Just's countenance, but that was quickly replaced by a smile at the memories of the angelic voice. As Just' began speaking, his voice took on a little more strength and soon he was moving through his story with relative ease. As he continued telling his story, Just' was adding bits and pieces that not even Joth, or Nana had heard. As Just' was continuing telling his story Rafe kept looking over and making sure that both Just' and Jonah were okay. Rafe still was not totally convinced that this was a good thing for Jonah to be hearing; it was only the fact that Nana had assured him that Jonah already knew most of it from healing Just' and the fact that he knew both Gustavo and Paladin were monitoring Jonah, and Paladin would notify Rafe immediately if anything was troubling his 'chick'. So far, all that Rafe had 'heard' from Paladin was that Jonah wanted 'Goos' to fly him to Potters Village immediately, so Jonah could take care of things.

Just' was adding more slights and injuries to his story because as his healing had progressed, he had remembered things that he had repressed. Just' recounted the myriad of things that had been inflicted upon him from trips and shoves to spilt drinks and smashed lunches. He recounted tales of slurs and name calling, and a few attempts at forced sex. As Just' continued speaking the audience could not believe what they were hearing, but believe they did because Just' was finally letting his emotions into his voice and into his facial expressions. The members of the Royal Audience were slowly becoming a vigilante mob and their rage was building slowly and steadily until it was white hot. It had long surpassed the murderous red hot stage; this was now a coldly calculated white hot rage tinged with a large amount of shame. Shame because it happened so close to the castle; shame because it happened at all and shame because it happened to a youth.

The members of the audience thought they had heard the worst, but there was more to come and it was as bad if not worse than what had come before. The audience was believing all of Just's' tale of woe until he came to the part about his friend Misha; some murmuring and and a few snickers began to be heard. When he heard those, Joth raised his hand in a commanding gesture and the audience was again stilled into a stunned and absolute silence.

At the rear of the Dais, almost hidden in the shadows, Master Tron and his Assistant, seeing Joth's command, removed the covering from two moving objects. As soon as the coverings were mostly removed, two large gold and white streaks were heading towards the front of the Dais. Several members of the audience started to shriek a warning, but quickly silenced themselves in embarrassment when they realized not a single guard or page twitched a muscle. The streaks were quickly identified as Paladin and another glorious War Eagle. Paladin quickly back winged and landed on the back of the Kings Throne spread his wings to their full majestic reach and then folded them in and gazed regally out over the audience. While they were flying across the Dais, Misha had sent to Just';

'Stay seated; do not move!' Just' was shocked at what he had received, but Jonah silenced his worries by whispering;

"It's okay Jut, granpa and Paladin pwan dis."

Misha came into the same beautifully styled landing on the back of Just's' throne that Paladin had demonstrated. If the members of the audience had any doubt of the identity of the second War Eagle, Jonah's next pronouncement laid those doubts to rest.

Jonah sat up perfectly straight and looked directly out into the audience and in a very clear and powerful voice for one so young, clearly announced while pointing to Misha;

"This is Misha, this is the War Eagle that Justin trained; he is Just's' friend and he is mine too." Jonah then went back into cuddle and hug mode, snuggling back into his friend's chest. Misha decided to take things one step further and began grooming Just's' hair as if it was the feathers of a War Eagle Chick. Wanting to get on with his story Just' reached up over his head and while commanding "Stop" lightly attempted to smack Misha who adroitly moved his head out of harms way. Misha then adopted the same pose as Paladin and then also gazed out into the audience. There was a difference now though, as both Misha and Paladin's gaze was now almost a glare and the look in their eyes spelled danger to the unwary. At the exact same moment, both Paladin and Misha performed what to the uninitiated looked like a bow. Their movement was far beyond something as mundane as that as both War Eagles moved the wings and head forward the revealed something unnoticed in the excitement earlier. They were both fully armed; for both the talons at what a Draconisian would call an elbow and the talons on their legs were now sheathed in the razor sharp metal talons only worn during War or War Exercises. That knowledge dispelled some of the joviality that Misha's grooming had caused. The next words out Just's' mouth finished the job.

Just' resumed his tale only now he began to speak of Cleric Tomas and Cleric Patoral; had Just' been watching the two prelates he would have seen the looks of shock and consternation flow across their faces. When Just' reached the part of the story where he and his father had sent Cleric Tomas's effects to the Cathedral at Highmont, the Arch Prelate teared up slightly but he quickly regained his emotional control. As Just' continue to relate the depredations of Cleric Patoral, Eduardo turned to Artur and whispered what was evidently a command. Artur very quietly stood, made a perfect court bow to the King and Queen and then to Just' who didn't notice and then quickly exited the chamber the same way he had entered.

However, Mathilda did notice and suddenly everything she was seeing and hearing fell into place and she, for one, knew that those for whom the plan was aimed at, their lives were as good as over. The Duchess quickly made a few decisions and quickly, with a few commands to her pages, set her plans into motion. Once her pages were off, Mathilda turned to her Lady in Waiting and told her to remain here and take notes and if she or her son did not arrive back in time, to use Mathilda's name and Signet Ring to stall things until either she or her son arrived. Mathilda removed her Signet Ring from her finger and handed it to her Lady in Waiting and then quietly left the chamber by the private entrance hidden just to the side of the main entrance.

As Just' continued to recite the slurs and slight offered by 'Cleric Patoral' the rage and shame continued to increase in the heart of Eduardo, nearly bringing him to tears. When Just' took a pause after describing several scenes where he had seen 'Cleric Patoral' in deep conversations with Tice, Pawlis and Dalos; Eduardo decided he had and the members of the audience had heard more than enough, and Just' had gone through enough pain reliving the misery. Eduardo carefully placed his Mitre on his head and then rose to his feet slowly and majestically grasping his Shepherd's Crook firmly in his right hand. Once he was standing on his feet Eduardo turned to the Seneschal, gave him a slight head bow signaling that he was now in his role of Arch Prelate and Shepherd of his flock. Eduardo then turned and faced his monarchs, who by now were looking quizzically at him. Eduardo then lifted his Shepherd's Crook a few inches into the air and then three times in quick succession, banged his staff of office upon the floor. And before the third echo had died, Eduardo announced in stentorian voice, belying his small stature and advance maturity;

"ENOUGH!! We have heard enough, the evidence is clear and incontrovertible. Your Majesties, before We continue any further I beg a boon of you?"

"Your Eminence, We grant your boon; We would definitely like your input and sentiments on this very serious matter." The King replied very formally, but with a slight smile directed to his old friend as both the King and Queen could see that Just's' charges had shaken and dismayed the Arch Prelate to the very core of his being.

While the King was speaking, Artur returned, now carrying a clothing bag of some type over his arm which he then carefully laid over the chair where he had been sitting; he then took his rightful place at Eduardo's side, after also placing his own Mitre on his head.

"Before I respond to your questions, your Majesties, We must offer our apologies," as He said 'our', Eduardo nodded towards Artur.

Everyone in the chamber's attention was grabbed by the word apology.

"First, we have to apologize to Justin Lennox and the people of Potters Village for failing in our duties to protect, shepherd and succor them in all time and especially in their times of need. Secondly We need to apologize to the Crown and all of the Citizens of Erehwon also for failing to perform our duties adequately. I can also state categorically that we will assist the Crown in all ways to right the grievous wrongs that have been suffered by Justin and his fellow villagers. We are also prepared to take steps to insure that such injustices do not occur again. We will takes steps both internally and in complete and utter co-operation with the Crown and its designates. But before we get into the discussion of how to rectify this situation, I must also offer Justin my sincere and personal thanks for the extreme kindness he and his father have shown to Me and my Family." Eduardo paused to catch his breath and took a second to send a smile towards Just' who was openly staring at the Arch Prelate.

"Justin, what you..."

"Excuse me for interrupting, but my name is now Just'; I have a new life now and a new name." Just' interruption surprised a lot of people.

"My apologies again Just', as I started to say, you and your father did me a very big favor unknowingly which just goes to show you the quality of the people who live in Potters Village. Cleric Tomas was my Father..."

"Your father????????? We had no idea; to us he was just our friend, Cleric Tomas, or as he preferred 'Tomas'." Just' could not contain his surprised and unwittingly interrupted the Arch Prelate again with his shocked outburst. When Just' made eye contact with Eduardo, he was expecting to see a look of anger for being interrupted; what he saw instead was smile and a look of gratitude.

"Thank you Just', for making my point far more eloquently that I could have. The point I have been trying to make is that when they returned my father's personal effects, they did it for no other reason than it was the right thing to do. They didn't expect to receive anything for their efforts, and for that they are to be commended. Because of their actions, We still have great hope for Potters Village because in spite of 'Cleric Patoral's' best, the majority of the villagers seemed to be unaffected by his heresies. So thank you again Just', and I will do everything in my power to ensure that your new life is wonderful one. Now I believe the King has a few words to say." Eduardo finished his speech by bowing to Just', he then remained standing along with Artur while the King rose and prepared to speak.

"As a result of what has happened to Just', We have decided to..." The King was interrupted by the crashing open of the Audience Chamber's Doors and a disheveled soldier came barging in.

"STOP!!!! You can't do this, I FORBID it! You can not adopt Justin he is my responsibility; I promised his father and mother I would take care of him."

TBC

Dragon GifAuthor's Note:

First of all I would like to thank all of you who have written 'Goos' and me; we greatly appreciate your responses. There is a lot more to come in this story and in "Potters Village" and "A Tale of Mantasia" as well.

I hope this chapter answered some more of your questions and has met your expectations. I will be working diligently on the next chapter of "Potters Village" very shortly, as it will be released near the same time as Chapter Eight of "Dragon Earl" which is already being written.

I also want to thank Jason Finigan, The Radio Rancher and Str8mayb for their assistance in writing and editing this chapter. Their assistance is greatly appreciated; please remember though, any mistake left over are my responsibility not theirs, as the author decides what is finally posted. Thanks again, my friends, for your help.

Please keep the emails and Forum Messages coming.

Til we fly again,

The Story Lover and 'Goos'

P.S. Dear Nephew SamSam it's all Uncle AC's fault. :)

Comments greatly appreciated at The Story Lover

Previous Next Chapter Return To Index