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 Eight - A Life Begins Anew

 

From Chapter Seven: "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 cannot adopt Justin he is my responsibility I promised his father and mother I would take care of him."

Before anyone could react to the interruption and try to control the ensuing chaos Just' with all the exuberance of youth and absolutely no knowledge of Royal Audience Decorum; turned the Audience upside down again. As soon as Just' saw who had cause the disturbance and he had confirmed his thoughts by the shouted words he quickly grabbed Jonah in partial hug and then stood up and in almost the same motion deposited Jonah in the Queen's lap. Just' then took off running towards the doors screaming;

"William, William you are here."

The travel weary Lord Mariscal met the charging teenager halfway and grabbed Just' in a Bear Hug, whispering;

"I am here now, Justin; everything will be fine, you will be part of our family now."

"But what about Joth? I lov..." Just's' worried question was cut off by the Duke's laughter.

"Justin, I love Joth almost as much as Neal and if you and he are going to have a life together I couldn't be happier. I came back here in a hurry because the King sent me a politely worded order to get my ass back here yesterday. Not only that but my mother, "The Duchess", had what seemed to be an army of pages waiting for me when I landed. And her orders weren't as polite either. But what she doesn't know is that I was already planning to do what she wanted, anyway. But don't tell her that and by the way, you had better call her granma or grandmother or else; she is just as bad as Nana about that." The Duke gave Just' a peck on the cheek and then whispered in his ear;

"I think we have held everyone up long enough now, we need to get this adoption rolling and don't worry about anything you hear me or Rafe say to each other. Because he loves you he was going to do something he shouldn't have, and I am going to get him out of his trouble. You will be my son, don't worry, you do want that don't you?" William released his hold of Just' as Just' released his own bear hug.

"You mean that, and I can still be Joth's Consort?" A slightly shocked Just' asked his friend.

"Of course, now do you want to stand here with me or sit on your throne?" He had to grin when Just' didn't answer him but stood next to him and gripped his hand strongly.

While Just' and Duke William were getting reacquainted, the King and Queen were trying to maintain some form of decorum on the Dais.

"This is perfect; I am sorry we couldn't have told William what we were planning, but it is still going to work." Angie said softly to Nana, leaning over slightly while everyone's attention was on William and Just'.

As soon as William stood up straight and looked the King directly in the eyes with a grin on his face, Rafaelo stood up and silence again reigned in the chamber.

"Who are you and how dare you forbid Us to do anything? Speak up before I have you thrown in the dungeon." Bellowed an irate appearing monarch.

As soon as the words came out of the King's mouth, Just' started to shake;

"I told you don't worry Justin, this is all just a 'Dog and Pony Show' and Rafe is enjoying himself." William told Just' in a quiet voice which got him a;

"Huh?????" In reply from a confused Just'; 'I hope he knows what he is talking about.' Was one of the thoughts running through his overloaded brain.

"Your Majesties and Esteemed Prelates, my name is William Campbell, Duke William Campbell, Lord Mariscal of the Kingdom of Erehwon and by my oath to Justin Lennox..." The Duke was interrupted by Just' tugging on his sleeve and whispering in his ear;

"My name is Just', in this my new life."

"Excuse me, I mean Just's parent's and by the laws of this Kingdom, I have the right to tell you No!" William answered in a powerful and commanding voice, clearly meant to be heard across large battlefields.

"If you desire to challenge my right, I respectfully request a Challenge by Arms as is my right as a Loyal Citizen of this Kingdom and under the 'Laws of Chivalry'!" The Duke continued before the king could respond.

At those words, the entire chamber went deathly still and William had to grab Just' to keep him from passing out in shock at his friend and the King fighting over him. The King had to turn and face away from the audience as he couldn't stop laughing.

As the King turned to back to respond to the seemingly impudent Duke, there was a loud disturbance at the rear of the Audience Chamber. Everyone turned to look at who was disrupting the proceedings yet again.

The Duke and Just' were the only ones who did not turn around as William knew who it was and he put a hand on Just's shoulder and stopped him from turning around. Luckily for the Royals on the Dais, everyone's attention was on 'The Duchess' as she made her grand entrance. When the folks on the Dais saw who had come in, they broke out in laughter as they knew they were going to be embroiled in a 'Battle Royale' and they were looking forward to it. Artur and Eduardo were trying not to laugh themselves and so far their faces were remaining well schooled.

At the rear of the chamber, 'The Duchess' was entering, dressed to 'the nines' as was befitting The Queen Mother with what seemed to be an army of attendants. Mathilda had pulled out all of the stops as she was wearing the crown she only used for Coronations and Royal Weddings. She had six beautifully dressed Female Pages carrying her full length train. She was also carrying the Royal Mace of the Queen Mother from Aeon's past. Once she had ascertained the full import of Rafe and Angie's plan she decided to throw all of her prestige and power behind them. This was going to be a day that the planet Draconis would never see the likes of again.

Without a by your leave, 'The Duchess' and her entourage proceeded royally up the aisle ignoring everyone in the chamber with a very haughty mien. When she started to pass her son, she whispered quietly while looking straight ahead;

"It's about time."

The Duke just grinned and Just' was still standing there in shock.

The Duke being the wily campaigner that he was, quickly took advantage of the opportunity his mother's disruption had caused and began speaking again.

"Your Majesties, if you deny me my request and refuse the 'Challenge of Arms', then you can deal with 'The Duchess'! The Duke finished his impertinent speech by pointing to his mother who had just reached the Dais, headed towards her throne.

Once Mathilda had reached her throne and had been imperiously seated by her Lady in Waiting, she then announced in a very regal voice;

"The Audience may continue."

Rafe decided it was about time to get things back on track, as there were a lot of things still to accomplish.

"You have made some very valid and important points and We will take them under consideration." Rafe responded to William who said nothing but gave a full and courtly bow.

The King then turned to Mathilda and very politely inquired;

"Would you be amenable to having another grandson, Queen Mathilda?"

"I think that Just' will make a wonderful grandson and I am very glad that you have arrived at the correct solution." Mathilda replied very calmly, while smiling at Just' and ignoring Rafe.

Smirking inside at the de facto Queen Mother's answer, Rafe then turned towards Just' and Duke William.

"Citizen Just', is it your request and desire to be adopted as Just' Campbell and take Duke William Campbell as your father from now through eternity? The King asked Just' in a very solicitous and caring tone.


As the newborn lifeform reached a space just below the surface of Draconis and paused and expanded his senses to make sure he was where he needed to be. His senses quickly found that he was exactly where he needed to be. He quickly sent a mental probe to his master with the information that he was in place and ready to proceed.


While the events were going on down in the castle, Draconis was simultaneously circling over several places on the planet in her usually ghostly golden dragon form. All over the planet certain people suddenly knew something momentous was about to occur. As usual, the majority of the people were blissfully unaware that anything out of the ordinary was going on.


Now totally stunned by what was happening around him and now to or for him, Just' responded tentatively with the only thing he could think of.

"Could I still call you Rafe and Angie and would I still be family?"

At that question, the audience finally released all of the tension they had been under and broke out into joyous laughter. The Royalty on the Dais joining right in.

Seeing Rafe unable to speak, as he was overcome with laughter because Just' had unwittingly turned the tables on him, Queen Angie replied with a hint of laughter tied with love in her voice.

"Of course, Just' We will always consider you Family, just as We do Lance and in fact you will still be our 'Son', as you will find out later."

Before Just' could even begin to think about the ramifications of the Queen's loving response Rebekah spoke up in her usual no nonsense tone of voice.

"And Prince Just', I will still be Nana to you except in Public. Also my farm will always be a 'Haven' for you when you need it; now get up here and take this munchkin from me; he is getting too heavy for me!."

Of course the last was too much for Jonah who turned and looked up at his grandmother and said quite loudly;

"Nanaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh...."

Jonah was quickly silenced by one hand over his mouth and the other one tickling him.

"But...But...I am not a Prin...!" Just' was cut off by Both Nana and the King.

"Later, We will worry about that later, but for the record, you are one."

That shut Just' up just long enough for Rebekah to speak to Just' again;

"Answer the King's question, Just', so you can get back up here and sit on your throne. Now hurry up so I can give you the munchkin." Nana quickly silenced her grandson the same way as before.

Turning to the disheveled and dusty Duke standing next to him with a paternal arm around his shoulder, Just' asked William;

"Can I?"

"Just', of course you can. I told you and your family before, that if you weren't so loved and needed by your family, I would have taken you with me any number of times," William replied, very lovingly while looking directly it Just's' piercing Emerald Green Eyes. "I would be highly honored to have you as a son, and I know that Neal would love to have you as a brother." William then gave Just' a wonderful hug and a paternal kiss on the lips.

The chamber was mesmerized by the loving scene in front of them and even the Elven Eyes were fogged by a mist of love.

Duke William released Just' from his hug and stepped slightly away from his soon to be son, and gave him a bow normally reserved for the King.

Just' blushed at the honor shown him by his presumptive adoptive father and then began to address the Court.

"King Rafaelo, Queen Angelina and Queen Mother Mathilda, I am humbled to be even offered this chance and I would be honoured to call Duke William my father and to be his son. He has shown me nothing but love and respect since I met him and I know his son Neal loves him with all of his heart. I would be proud to be called a Campbell!" Just' then gave a full Court Bow to the DAIS and then to William.

The chamber broke out into cheers and even Paladin and Misha joined in the celebration by mantling and shrieking with joy. Nana had to physically restrain Jonah until someone 'spoke' to Jonah.

'Calm down young one, your time will come.' Jonah sat up quickly and went instantly silent. 'You know Just' will need all of your love to help him adjust to what has happened to him and what is to come.' Misha sent to a slightly shocked Jonah.

'Misha???'

'Yes Jonah, it is Misha, I know you can hear and understand me 'Goos' has told me all about you and I want to thank you for healing Just'; he is a wonderful friend. Don't worry you will be back in his lap in just a bit.' Misha sent lovingly to the now calm munchkin.

While Misha was 'talking' to Jonah, Gustavo was sending to a surprisingly calm Just' who didn't jump. [Or was he in such a state of shock at the whole day that nothing could faze him anymore or could it?]

'Just', you are doing a wonderful job; I am surprised that Joth isn't speaking to you to tell you the same thing?' A smug King Dragon asked his good friend.

'I was trying to, but some big bag of wind was hogging all the mind paths!' Sent Joth to 'Goos' and Just' along with an image of him sticking out his tongue at the two of them.

As the chamber regained some semblance of order, the King began to rise and the Seneschal pounded his Ceremonial Mace three times upon the floor to restore decorum and silence.

The moment silence reigned supreme once more, the King began to speak;

"It is great pleasure that we formally announce, by Royal Fiat and Proclamation, that from this moment forward through perpetuity, the Loyal Citizen of Erehwon, formally known as Justin Lennox and Just', will now be known throughout the land as Just' Michael Campbell, son of Duke William Campbell or Master Just' Campbell! And anyone who questions this decree risks the Royal Ire and that also of The Royal Erehwonese Army..." Before the King could continue, a loud shrill screech rang out through the chamber.

"Yes Paladin, I will tell everyone." The King spoke out loud and was answered by two gentler screeches.

The King took a deep breath and then began speaking again;

"I have been ordered to inform all of you and have the proclamation amended to state 'anyone who questions this decision will have to face all of The Royal Aerie and all of The Royal Dragon Weyr. This adoption is so granted." As the King finished speaking, the Seneschal brought him a Parchment Scroll Bordered in Burgundy and Blue with a huge Plumed Pen to sign it. Well, actually them, as there were two copies.

Once the signing was completed, the Seneschal bowed to the King then beckoned Bethany to him. The Seneschal then handed Bethany the Official Copy to place in the Royal Archives. The Seneschal then turned and with a stately walk, he headed towards Just' with the fancy rolled up scroll.

"Congratulations, Prince Just.'" The Seneschal then bowed and walked away before Just' could respond.

The King then beckoned to Just' and then spoke;

"Master Campbell, please join me for a moment before regaining your seat and relieving Mistress Rebekah of her burden."

"Granpa, I no burden!" A slightly indignant Jonah muttered, just loud enough for the first row and of course Eduardo and Artur to hear.

As soon as Just' arrived on the Dais, the King turned him around to face the audience, took a deep breath and announced in a joyous and powerful voice;

"Loyal Citizens of Erehwon and Elvandia, it is my great pleasure and honor to present to you Master Just' Michael Campbell the youngest son of Duke William Campbell." The King then bowed to Just' and Duke William who, thanks to the army of pages and servants his mother had brought, was now looking more like the Regal Duke he was.

The audience rose and gave Just' and William a standing ovation even the entire Elven Delegation, who, throughout the spectacle, were casting looks back and forth between them as they had never attended a Royal Audience like this one. As they used the opportunity the celebration afforded them they looked around and instead of looks of disdain and scorn, they saw looks of love and respect. The head of the delegation looked at his assistant and gave him a questioning look including the famous raised eyebrow.

While Just' was resuming his throne with a squirming bundle of excited young Jonah sitting on his lap; the King had signaled two of his guards to bring a chair for the Duke to sit in. The two guards placed the fancy chair to the left of the king. Before returning to their posts, the guards bowed to Just' and each gave him a warm and caring smile.

As Just' and William were being seated, John had entered the Audience Chamber from the Royal Entrance and not the normal Private Entrance. To the amazement of those on the Dais and Joth's consternation, John continued across the Dais carefully conveying the object on his arms to a surprised Arch Prelate. John handed his prize to Eduardo and then said;

"Gustavo told me to bring you this; he said you would know what to do with it." John then bowed to Eduardo and began returning to his normal place behind a very curious Crown Prince.

'Why did John bring the Coronet to Eduardo, I told him to bring it to me?' Joth was thinking as John was presenting the Coronet to the Arch Prelate.

'Que Sera, Sera.' Was all the reply he received from a very smug King of The Royal Dragons of Venezel to his thoughts.

Joth was not the only one having similar thoughts; in fact on all of the planet, only Draconis circling high overhead had any idea of what was yet to come!

'If this is what I believe it is, Draconis has given me a gift beyond measure. I can now get back at Rafe for not letting me know what he and Angie had planned and can also go him one very large step better. I just hope Just' is mentally up for how his world is going to be turned even more upside down than he could ever imagine.' Eduardo was mulling things over, as John was taking his place.

'I wonder if Joth knows exactly what miracle John has brought me and if I know Rafe and Gustavo, they haven't informed Joth of the whole of their plans.' Eduardo finished his internal retrospection.

'As I just told Joth; Que Sera, Sera.' Gus sent to a very surprised Arch Prelate who had to work very hard to keep the shock off his stoic appearing face.

While Eduardo and Joth were absorbed with their thoughts and Joth was trying unsuccessfully to probe John's mind, Jonah was snuggling up to Just' and sending him lots of love.

"I wuv you Jut and I always be here for you, I even pwotect you from Jot if neccess... you know what I mean. And 'Goos', Paladin and Misha help too." As Jonah finished whispering to Just', there were agreeing chirps from the two War Eagles on their respective perches.

The Seneschal decided it was time to get things moving again and checking his constantly changing agenda prepared to make his next important announcement. Pounding his Ceremonial Mace the required three times on the beautiful granite floor he began his announcement.

"The Crown calls Citizen Joth Forte."

As Joth was getting up from his throne and striding towards the appointed spot from which to beg his boon; John and Jonah were hustling Just' toward the Royal Entrance which was being held open by Bethany. As soon as the Seneschal had started banging his Mace the King had signaled to John that it was time. Once the three friends had arrived in the Private Audience Room, John began assisting Just' out of his clothes, while Jonah and Thomaso, who Bethany had summoned earlier, began laying out Just' change of clothes. When Just' saw the magnificent set of Court Dress that he was expected to wear, he almost fainted. John, having been prepared for this occurrence, gave his set speech just as Angie had given it to him.

"Just', be quiet and get dressed. Nana and Angie said if you didn't behave, I was to call them and they would dress you!"

For some unknown reason, Just' began dressing very quickly; again amazed at not only the quality of the clothing but the fact that the suit was very similar to that worn by a Crown Prince at Formal Occasions. The main difference was that in addition to the Royal Colors, there was also the Forest Green of the Lennox Clan which would always remind him of his roots. Just' was uncomfortable with all of this new finery, especially the sashes and belts that he had never used before. In spite of Jonah's help, the two pages had Just' outfitted as a Prince before Just' was ready. Of course a lot of the time Just' and John were pushing Thomaso's roving hands away gently. They finished just in time, as Bethany had opened the door and said;

"Everything is ready and The King and Queen are waiting."

Meanwhile back in the Main Audience Chamber, everyone was trying to figure out what was going on. They had no idea what Joth was going to say, since he had been introduced as a "Citizen" again and then Just' had pulled his disappearing act. Hopefully they would know soon.

"Your Majesties, now that Just' has been adopted into the Campbell's, I need to beg a boon of you?" Joth began speaking to those on the Dais.

"And what would that boon be Citizen Forte?" Inquired the Queen Mother, deciding that Rafe and Angie shouldn't have all of the fun.

"Ahh, I need a few minutes to change into the appropriate clothing as I need to make my next petition as Crown Prince." Joth for one of the few times in his life actually stuttered.

To further confound Joth at some unseen signal, Rebekah was the one who responded.

"Citizen Forte, We grant your boon with the stipulation that you return as swiftly as possible. We still have a lot of business to accomplish!"

"Thank you, Your Majesties. I will return shortly." That was all Joth could get out without stumbling over his tongue. Joth then bowed to the Dais and remembering his manners, gave a Half Court Bow to the Elven Delegation before moving to the Dais and heading towards the door leading to his family's Private Audience Chamber. As he neared the door, he was surprised to see that Bethany already had it open, but she wasn't looking at him. As he got near the open door he was almost run over by his stunningly dressed lifemate.

With Just' being pulled by Jonah and pushed through the door by John, all Just' could do was nod at Joth and quickly whisper;

"Love You" and then Joth had been pulled into the other room by Thomaso and the door quickly pulled closed by Bethany, who quickly regained her seat; leaving no time for Joth to reply.

Needless to say, when Just' resumed his throne, there wore more than a few muttered "What's" and "Why's" being bandied back and forth between members of the audience. To top things off, Jonah decided to play a part of the ongoing spectacle by giving Just' a full court bow before carefully climbing back into his favorite seat on Just's' lap. Jonah helped Just' the last little bit so he wouldn't muss his wonderful new finery.

While Just' was getting seated, Artur was speaking with the Seneschal who now had a worried look on his face. Every time that the Seneschal would point with his head to the King and Queen, Artur would just wave his hand over to Eduardo the Arch Prelate. The Seneschal finally decided that although his head may not remain on his shoulders much longer, the fate of his soul was secure. The Seneschal amended his agenda for the umpteenth time and Artur returned to his seat.

The Seneschal, after receiving a positive nod, made a surprising announcement.

"This audience will recess for five minutes; their Royal Majesties request that you please remain in the chamber. Pages will bring refreshments for those who need them."


While everything was happening in the Main Audience Chamber, in the chamber normally used for the Daily Audience, the atmosphere was quite different. In there, everything was very orderly and professional. The guards in the room were doing everything possible to insure that they wouldn't let Ranulf, Captain Kyron and Joth and Just' down. The Corporals and Sergeants were making sure that every member of the Prince Consorts' Honor Guard's would make a stunning impression when they appeared. All of the Guards who had been picked to serve Just' were very happy as they felt it was an honor to serve him.

All of the guards had fallen in love with Just' the same way the rest of the Castle Staff had; and the reason was the same. Just' treated the guards the same way he treated the servants; he always had a smile and a kind word for them. He even knew a lot of their names which amazed both servants and guards alike. For as much as Joth was respected and loved as Crown Prince, Just' knew many more of the guards and support staff than did Joth. One of the wonderful things that both his mother Barbara and Cleric Tomas had instilled in Just' was to love everyone as you wanted to be loved yourself. Although it was called the 'Way of Draconis' we would know it as the 'Golden Rule'; and whatever it was called, it is a beautiful way to live.

Due to Just's' overwhelming popularity, Captain Kyron had been faced with a major problem that actually made him very happy. Of course certain officers in the Army and The Dragon Guards, let alone the King and Queen's Honor Guards, were not going to be very happy. Brandt had so many offers to join The Prince Consort's Honor Guard that he had to turn away enough men and women to staff another whole Guard Corp. He was stunned when Lieutenants and Captains with more seniority than he had, applied; the fact that all of these officers would take cuts in grade seemed to phase none of them.

This will be a first for the planet of Draconis, a Royal Honor Guard consisting solely of Officers and Noncoms. And the officer he had put in charge was younger and had less seniority than any of the guards under him. Captain Kyron just shrugged his shoulders and went on with his inspections.


While Joth was busy changing clothes, the Elves were having conversations among themselves over the unusual audience they were attending. The Ambassador turned to his assistant and began asking pointed questions.

"I would like to know if today's audience is usual for this Kingdom and why the Old Ambassador had never mentioned this in any of his dispatches. We may need to revise our plans for changing our Alliance from Limited to Full, especially if things don't change shortly. The Old Ambassador has a lot to answer for what we have seen so far today." B'rad then accepted a glass of Sangiovese from the page who had brought it to him personally.

As Bethany opened the door and allowed Joth to reenter, the Seneschal again pounded his Ceremonial Mace on the floor the required three times.

"The Crown calls Crown Prince Joth Forte to present his next petition."

As soon as the Seneschal had finished his announcement, Joth resumed his earlier position facing the Dais.

"Your Majesties, now that my friend Just' has a new family, I am petitioning for Just' Campbell to become my Consort and Lifemate."

When Joth had finished speaking, there was silence in the chamber and then everyone erupted into cheering and clapping. Of course, Just's' reaction throughout all of the hoopla was to blush a wonderful crimson color. Before anyone on the Dais could respond, Artur stood up and the Seneschal performed his automatic duty.

"Prince Joth, before we proceed any further, I have some very important business to address before your petition is addressed. The business I need conduct will have a positive bearing on your petition. Do I have your permission to proceed?" Artur addressed the Crown Prince.

"You have my undivided attention, Arch Prelate, please continue." Joth very deferentially answered Artur, then gave him a full court bow, then he stepped back and joined Duke William.

"Your majesties, as I stated earlier, We owe a great deal of gratitude to Just' Campbell and We are ready to start making amends for some of the things that have happened to him. We realize that your Majesties may have other plans to help rectify this situation at a later time, but we have some options which are not available to yourselves and we would like to proceed." Eduardo addressed the Dais and waited for a response.

Rafe stood up and gave a slight head bow to the Elven Delegation, trying to keep their attention. He then turned towards Eduardo and began his reply;

" Arch Prelate Eduardo, we greatly appreciate any assistance that you can provide Us and the Kingdom of Erehwon in rectifying this despicable situation. We do have some ideas on how to help Just' and ensure that something like this does not and cannot ever again happen to any Citizen of our Kingdom. Please proceed with our Carte Blanche."

Eduardo then approached the Dais followed by Artur; as Eduardo went to grab his robes to lift them so he could step up onto the dais John appeared in front of him to help him up. A very nervous Bethany was preparing to assist Artur. Once the two prelates were on the Dais, they proceeded until they were standing in front of Just'.

Without being told or asked, Jonah very carefully removed himself from Just's' lap and then stood quietly next to Just' while placing his small hand on Just's' arm with a loving squeeze.

"Master Just' Campbell, it is my understanding that you received instructions regarding our Church and Draconis, is that so? Eduardo asked Just' in a very formal tone of voice.

"Your Eminence, that is correct." Was Just' confused reply.

"Thank you very much, Just', I have a few questions to ask you before We can proceed. Is that alright with you?" Eduardo asked in a slightly warmer tone, causing Just' to relax slightly.

"Your Eminence, I will answer every question I can." Just' replied as calmly as he could under the circumstances.

"This won't take long." Eduardo then proceeded to ask a wide range of questions covering both secular and religious areas. After a few minutes of questions, Eduardo was interrupted by The Duke.

"Your Eminence, I believe I understand where you are going with your questions and I have a slight idea of what you have planned. You do not need to continue asking my son any questions regarding the Kingdom or our history. What Protocol issues he doesn't know, I will help him learn. He was taught extensively by his mother, whom I believe was your top student while she was here. I can vouch for the fact that his knowledge of the Kingdom probably exceeds the majority of The Privy Council." That last statement brought a few ohs and ahs from the audience. The Elven Delegation sat up a little straighter, now very much interested in the drama on the Dais.

"Thank you for your assistance, Lord Mariscal and with your assertion, I am done with my questioning as I have all the information I need and I am ready to proceed! Citizen Just' Campbell, please rise and kneel in front of me and bow your head." Eduardo pronounced, looking directly into Just's eyes.

The request from the Arch Prelate stunned Just' momentarily; he was brought out of his slight trance by Misha giving the back of his head a nudge followed by a chirp.

When Just' had assumed the requested position, Artur reached into the bag he had carried with him and began removing an exquisite set of robes. Once he had the robes out of the bag, Artur then placed them reverently around Just's' shoulders and then he stepped away to stand behind Eduardo.

"Master Campbell, please repeat after me: "I will do my duty to the flock, and to my Kingdom. I will ensure that all edicts from the Prelates' and their Council, that adhere to all of the Kingdom's Laws and Traditions will be enforced by the right and might of my arm. Furthermore, I will also assist the Military Forces of the Kingdom as I am instructed by the Arch Prelate or the King. I also pledge my mind and body to the protection of all of the Church's Flock wherever they may live to the best of my ability," Eduardo paused between each phrase to allow Just' to repeat the phrase which Just' did, solemnly.

Several times Just' started to question the phrases but each time Misha sent to him.

'Just', it will be fine, they are trying to help you.'

When Just' had finished, Eduardo placed both his hands palm down on Just's quivering shoulders.

"But...." Just' tried to whisper but was silenced by Eduardo.

"Hush Just', it is okay. We will explain everything shortly." Eduardo whispered to Just' while giving his shoulders a reassuring squeeze.

As Just' had finished repeating the oath, Artur moved to his side, sharing the space with the very protective Jonah. Eduardo then began speaking softly to Just'.

"Please kiss my ring and then rise and face the audience."

Still in a state of shock, Just' followed his instructions and leaned forward and kissed Eduardo's ring, a beautifully created representation of a Dragon with two perfect Dragon's Eyes for the eyes. As Just's' lips touched the ring they glowed slightly. As Just' attempted to rise he staggered slightly as the full weight of the unfamiliar robes became noticeable. Artur quickly reached out and steadied Just', his actions explaining his presence there.

While the oath taking was happening, the audience was glued to their seats, not sure at all what was happening; even though it was occurring directly in front of them. Throughout Just's' recitation of his oath, the chamber was virtually silent with only a few low murmurs heard occasionally. That all changed when Just' rose and faced the audience; the murmurs ceased instantly and the feeling of shock that ran through the chamber was palpable. Before anyone could find their voice to express their thoughts and feelings, Eduardo made a stunning pronouncement.

"By the love of Draconis and the power she has given to me, I give you Prelate Just' Campbell, your new Justiciar Prelate!"

To say that everyone's minds were in a whirl because of Eduardo's pronouncement would be a major understatement! The audience didn't know whether to question or applaud what had just happened. The matter was taken out of their hands, however, by the actions of those on the Dais.

"Why did you do this? I am not qualified, I am not even a Cleric, let alone a Prelate." Just' was barely able to squeeze the words out in a whisper.

As Eduardo was responding; "You are more than qualified."

Jonah gave Just' a very reverent bow and said in a calm clear voice, heard by most;

"Your Eminence!"

Mistress Rebekah arose from her seat and repeated her grandson's action. Rebekah and Jonah were quickly followed by Joth, the King and Queen and the Queen Mother. Duke William took his obeisance one step further and went to a knee before bowing his head.

Eduardo raised his hand palm facing the audience and began to speak solemnly and powerfully.

"Our newest Prelate has just asked me why We made him the Justiciar Prelate when he wasn't even a Cleric, let alone a Prelate. Well, We will answer him and those of you who have the same question, now. I will also answer the question he didn't ask and that some you are thinking. First, We will address the question of his age. Far too often, we place too much importance on the age of an individual as a sign of their knowledge and maturity and in most cases, that is a good idea. But not in all cases and certainly not in this one, although to most eyes, Just' Campbell may be seem to be a callow youth; he is anything but that. He has had his mettle tested by trials that would have broken most of us, he may have wavered, but he never quit; he kept moving on. When he was at the lowest point of his existence, he still carried on with what he considered his duty to those younger than he was. While in the depths of loss and pain, that would have stopped most of us in his tracks, he continued to teach young Brion to sing. He continued to help the other younglings learn the things they would need later in life.

All of you here have heard the depth of his knowledge, both Ecclesiastical and Secular. You have seen his character here today and he is still young and proud, a little battered, yes, but not sullen or beaten. You have seen the love he has for young Master Jonah and you have seen the love displayed for him by his friends. We know of no person who has gone through what Just' has had to overcome, and still be such a caring and loving person. How many of you could have tamed and befriended a Wild War Eagle like Misha, and have that War Eagle come to your defense? No one that We can think of.

All of that is fine and good, but should he be the Justiciar Prelate, you ask? Yes, He should, because with everything he has gone through at the hands of men and the church, he wants not revenge, but Justice. He wants Justice for the people of Potters Village and he wants to insure that nothing of this nature ever happens again, to anyone, young or old. He wants nothing for himself, but only for others; he has the soul of Draconis and the courage of the ages. He will be able to temper Justice with Compassion and Mercy, yet he also has the courage to mete out justice without hesitation when needed. As to him not being a Cleric, let alone a Prelate, that is only a matter of definition and parchment. As Artur and Duke William can tell you, Just' has the Ecclesiastical Knowledge he will need to perform his duties. He has more knowledge than most of the Prelate Council and definitely more than any Cleric. His knowledge is equal to or exceeds that of Artur, who none of you questioned as Imithian Prelate; and, as We have already stated, he has the soul of Draconis and that alone is enough for Us.

As to the Militaristic aspects of the Justiciar Prelate, no one and certainly not We, can doubt that with the Lord Mariscal as his father, his Military training will not be up to the task. So for these reasons we have conferred the title of Justiciar Prelate upon Just' Campbell, with all the rights, privileges and responsibility the position entails.

While Eduardo was speaking, actually commanding the audience, Joth was trying to give Just' some love and confidence through their link, but he was shocked to find it totally unnecessary as Just' had plenty of help from a different source.

Joth, Misha and Gustavo could not understand why they could not reach Just' mentally, they could each feel him, but when they tried to speak to his mind, there was something blocking them. Gustavo tried to reach Just' through Jonah and found the same strange thing. Until Gustavo decided to try something different, something only the King Dragon could do; he reached out mentally to Joth and Misha at the same time and brought them into a gestalt that hadn't been seen on the planet Draconis since the days of the Dragon Lords. Once the gestalt was completely formed, and the three had adjusted to it, the gestalt reached out under Gustavo's direction to Just' and Jonah again. When the contact was made, it was not what they expected, and there was no barrier. What each of then saw in their minds eye was a glowing green aura of a Healer around Jonah, and a glowing orange aura around Just'. The two aura's were touching but not merging. When the gestalt made contact with the minds of Jonah and Just', they were met with another three way gestalt which should have rocked then back on their heels and shattered their gestalt.

Circling high overhead and seeing everything that was occurring in the Castle below her, Draconis intervened in a very subtle way. She reached out and gently began to twist the strands of time so that time flowed slightly slower for everyone but Just', Jonah, Paladin and Gustavo's Gestalt. She then reached out and brought Just' and Jonahs Astral Selves to her.

'Just', you are always in my arms from now and forever in whatever form the times choose for you. You have many things still to accomplish for me, for yourself, and for your love, Joth. Jonah my dear healer, for one so young, your heart knows no limits and is filled with boundless love. Together you, Just' and Joth will heal many needed souls far and wide across time and space. The three of you and friends yet to come will be a team united by love and caring for all of my creations in whatever form they may have. Just', what has and will happen today is necessary, not only for you but for the kingdom. Eduardo is only doing what I have willed, and what his heart and soul has decreed. You will never lack for the love of a father, for now you have three.

Jonah your grandmother did you a greater favor than she could ever know. Your place is at the side of Joth and Just', and nowhere else. With Joth, you become a complete Healer, and together, both of your gifts will continue to grow. Joth will teach you all you will need to know, as a child of Royalty, and as you continue to help and heal Just', he will teach you even more about how to live and play with my children. Just' shares many of your same gifts only vastly more powerful than either of you can imagine.

Welcome my children; we have been waiting for you, your friends are fine and are almost ready to return. Gustavo, my young old friend, you have chosen and have done well, Misha you have exceeded my expectations. Joth it is okay, you aren't dead, you are safe in my arms, that is, but it is none of your times and it will not be for a long, long time. As I have told your love and your young friend, you all have a lot of life ahead of you. You will all travel places unknown and unforeseen, meet and help many of my children, some here and some far. Some similar and some unknown, you will have the help of friends yet unmet and yet unborn, some from the here and now and some from other whens and wheres.

Misha and Gustavo, it has begun and we must not fail, for the foe lives again! It is time for all of you to return. All you will take from this meeting is a feeling of confidence and the knowledge that you are secure in my love. All that I have imparted to you will be hidden from you, until you are ready for it. Just', you and I will meet again and again. Go with my love on the wings of Draconis.'

The gestalt was gently broken and all those involved heard the end of Eduardo's speech and they all had a faint memory of being wrapped in the warmth and love of Draconis. Just' had a renewed sense of confidence and worth, as he took power from the depth of Eduardo's words and the love of Draconis and his friends. Somehow, Just' knew he would never be able to speak of what had happened to him and his friends, and as he was trying to remember, the scenes slowly faded from his consciousness. However, the warmth of her love and his confidence remained.

"Your Eminence, you have given me a great honor today and with the help of Draconis, I will strive to prove myself worthy of it." Just' finished his reply by starting to bow slightly to Eduardo, but he did not succeed.

Eduardo pulled Just' into a hug and said;

"Welcome my son," and then released Just' into the care of Artur who repeated Eduardo's actions. Artur then released Just' from his hug and turned Just' to face the audience again as both he and Eduardo did the same. Once the three of them were facing the gathered folks, together they spoke as one as if they had done this countless times.

"From the wings of Draconis, Peace and Love be upon you."

With those words, a joyous pandemonium erupted causing Just' to blush yet again.

The Elven Ambassador now had even more to think about; 'I wonder if anyone here truly realizes what is occurring here? Their Majesties in consort with the Prelates are not only sending a powerful and definitely unsubtle message; they are also ensuring that young Just' will be a power to be reckoned with. I only wish I knew what else they had planned.' The Ambassador paused his thoughts for just a minute and glanced over at the person sitting next to him. As his glance passed over the younger person next to him, a slight look of pain and worry crossed his face. As his personal pain began to surface, the face of Just' appeared before his minds eye. With the appearance of Just' before his minds eye, a heavy weight was lifted from his shoulders as a solution to that problem began to form. 'This just might work and solve two problems at the same time, and possibly cement our new alliance even more firmly. Although they may do things a little differently here, they do believe in and enforce their laws. Unlike a lot of Kingdoms, the Citizens here matter more than protocol or the rulers comfort.' Deciding that it was worth the chance, the Ambassador uncharacteristically reached over and gave his younger companion a loving squeeze on the shoulder.

The younger elf was greatly surprised because while Elves did have emotions and were affectionate, it was not something usually done in public. And most certainly not out kingdom!

As the three Prelates started to take their seats, the King stood, and placing his hand on Eduardo's shoulder, whispered a few words in to his old friends ear. Eduardo then turned and waved Artur back to his seat. As he was turning to head towards his seat, 'oh well his throne', Just' sent Joth a quick grin that said 'what can happen next?' Misha chirped disapprovingly which brought a few chuckles from those who recognized the sound.

"Prelate Campbell, one moment please." The King interrupted Just' before he could reach his throne. Stopped in his tracks, Just' responded;

"How may I help your Majesty?"

As the King was preparing to respond, a member of the audience rose and was recognized by the very harried Seneschal whose precious agenda was again in disarray.

"I beg a moment's indulgence, your Majesty and Eminence; I realize I should have spoken up sooner, but as the saying goes, 'better late than never'." The Master of Pages paused to catch his breath for just a moment.

"You may proceed, Duke, but please keep your comments brief." The King commanded.

"Your Eminence, forgive me, it took me this long to realize that you were the young friend of the Crown Prince and young Master Jonah. Your Majesty, it is my belief that between young Master Jonah and the Crown Prince's Page John, you need not worry about Prelate Campbell learning the necessary Royal Protocols. As strange as it may seem, the two of them probably know as much as the rest of the Page Class combined. Duke Campbell, with your help, your son will have the best teachers available. Thank you for your time. The Master of Pages then gave a head bow to Just', Eduardo and the King and then sat down.

"Thank you Duke, We appreciate your thoughtful comments. Now we need to move forward before the night is upon us. Prelate Campbell, please face me and kneel." The King commanded Just' and then in a softer and quieter tone; "It is okay, this is just to put that son of mine in his place for not telling you everything he should have."

Complying with the King's command, Just' slowly turned and knelt the King's words helping to allay the concerns and confusion swirling through his head.

'Don't worry Just', I will help you throw him over the balcony when ever you are ready. Misha and Paladin will help as well.' A smirking Gustavo sent to Just', who luckily was kneeling so he didn't fall over in shock. Lifting his head up slightly Just' saw Joth turn as red as an apple; obviously Gus had sent him the same message. Jonah was trying in vain to stifle a giggle from Just's' throne; luckily for Jonah, the King began speaking so no one in the audience heard him.

While Just' was being ordained, Jonah had decided he wanted to sit in Just's new throne so he could talk with Misha while the old folks did their thing. Jonah didn't really understand what was happening to Just' exactly, but he knew it was important by the way, the audience had quieted and was paying close attention.

"Duke William, I have need of 'Dark Slayer'1 which caused William to snap to his feet very quickly. The King's request stunned the audience as the Duke's sword was of historical significance and had been made by a Master Bladesmith from at least the time of the Dragon Lords or before. The Duke's Sword had an even longer history than that of the Kings own. Duke William quickly transformed his features into that of a Royal Duke and Lord Mariscal of the Kingdom. When William reached the King, he very carefully drew his sword and even more slowly handed it to the King, hilt first. If you have ever tried to draw a sword from a scabbard while keeling and bending your neck down you have no idea how difficult a thing William was doing. Even though the King had requested his sword, drawing a blade in the Kings presence was still considered treason and could result in William being filled with the crossbow quarrels that were even now being aimed at his head and neck. Usually, when a sword was needed for Ceremonial Occasions, it was carried in on a velvet pillow by either a Page or a Prelate, depending on the occasion. As this was obviously an unplanned occasion and the fact the Duke and the King were like brothers', everyone knew the King was perfectly safe, but protocol had to be followed.

The King very nonchalantly took the 'Dark Slayer' from William's hand and in a clear and powerful tone that left no doubt of where William stood in the King's heart said;

"Rise, Brother, and assist me."

The Duke rose and stood next to the King, giving his new son a loving smile; although he wasn't exactly sure what Rafe had in mind. It obviously wasn't a knighting per say or the King would have used the Royal Sword that hung from his waist. To use 'Dark Slayer' meant that the King had something very special in mind and that he was sending a stern message at the same time.

"Although the Arch Prelate has done what he can to try and rebuild Just's life and to try and repay him for the injustices he has suffered, it is not enough and it is now the Kingdom's turn to do what is right! It is my intention to elevate Prelate Campbell to the rank and position he will need to fulfill Our plans for him. At the same time, this rank and position will allow him to render Justice where Justice is needed. And now, I must ask as the laws of the Kingdom require for several people to stand surety in the Eyes of the Law and the Eyes of Draconis." The King paused while glancing out at the members of the audience taking special care to catch the eye of the Elven Ambassador who gave a slight nod of his head in acknowledgment.

"Duke William, will you stand surety for your son's Honor?"

"I do you Majesty," Duke William responded without hesitation.

The Seneschal pounded his Mace on the floor the required three times, very majestically as if he had been ready for this new twist the King had thrown at him.

"Duke William, do you stand surety willingly and freely fully knowing the consequences?"

"I do freely with my life and my Family's Name and Honor!" The Duke almost shouted to the world. He resented the implications in that question, but he knew that the Seneschal was obligated under the Laws of the Kingdom to ask that question.

"Your Majesty, the Surety is stood for the aspirant's Honor." The Seneschal announced in a very formal tone brooking no interruptions from anyone.

"Who will stand surety for his Soul?" Inquired the King.

"I..." Eduardo started to reply when both Paladin and Misha mantled and let out a War Screech that caused the castle walls to shake. Eduardo's eyes took on a slightly glazed look for several seconds. Joth started to speak, but his mother silenced him with a wave of her hand.

"I apologize, your Majesty, for my stuttering, I was prepared to stand surety for the aspirant's soul myself, and gladly would have, but I have been overruled. Gustavo, has spoken to me and through him by the will of Draconis Misha and Paladin as well. They will stand surety for the soul of Just' and they know full well that the laws of the Kingdom apply to them." Eduardo finished his surprising response, and then bowed to Misha and Paladin who returned the respectful gesture.

The Seneschal did not know how to continue, so he tried a gamble.

"Crown Prince Forte, will you declare under the Laws of the Kingdom that Gustavo, King of the Royal Dragons of Venezel freely and under no compulsion from you or any other being has made that commitment?"

"I do, and I stand with him," Joth stood and answered the Seneschal as Royally as he had ever spoken.

The Seneschal then proceeded as if this was an everyday occurrence;

"Paladin and Misha, I must ask you both the same question, do you stand surety for the soul of the aspirant Prelate Campbell?"

To almost no one's surprise except the Elves, both Misha and Paladin squawked what surely sounded like a 'yes' and both nodded their heads in confirmation. Then to everyone's surprise, except Jonah's, Misha launched himself into a short flight in the direction of the Seneschal. When Misha was close enough, he gloriously back winged and landed gracefully at the feet of the Seneschal and then gave the War Eagle equivalent of a Court Bow.

Misha then very carefully turned around so he was now facing the King and Just'. Misha then very uncharacteristically leaned forward, and by doing so, raised his very sensitive and susceptible to damage tail feathers. War Eagles and other raptors never presented their tail feathers to any chance of them being damaged or removed. The tail feathers or retrices are very essential during flight as they act as brakes and rudders; missing one or more center tail feathers is a serious problem for any falcon or hawk, let alone a War Eagle!

While everyone was trying to figure out what to do next, Jonah, with Paladin's help, got everyone's attention. Paladin calmly let out a moderately pitched squeak that nearly shattered all of the wine goblets in the chamber, but only caused them to quiver so they appeared to shimmer. As soon as everyone was looking forward again Jonah began to speak.

"Uncle Ilú, Misha wants you to carefully pull out one of his Center Tail Feathers. He says if you need help he will do it himself; but he wants you to do it, because that way he is subm... he is showing you that you have power over him. He also says that by giving you one of his very precious and neces... impotant feathers, you will know he means truth. Don't worry he won't bite you he likes you." Jonah stumbled over a few of the words but otherwise sounded like a prince.

The Seneschal stood there indecisively until Misha chirped and the King responded;

"Go ahead Baron Ilú, Misha has granted you quite an unparalleled honor, and by doing so, neither he nor Paladin's intentions can ever be questioned either under the Laws of the Kingdom or the Eyes of Draconis.

Baron Ilú then handed his Ceremonial Mace to his page, then carefully leaned forward and with one hand selecting a feather and the other hand steadying Misha by placing it in the center of Misha's back. All the while talking to Misha in a calm non threating manner.

"You don't have to do this; I believe you, and so does everyone who counts. I know this is going to hurt you no matter how carefully I try."

"Uncle Ilú, Misha say pwease do it; he wants to do this for his Just'." Jonah's speech was answered by another chirp from Misha.

Without hesitation this time, the Seneschal, as quickly as he could, plucked the chosen tail feather out and as he did so, he nearly fainted. For the feather he had chosen was the smallest of the four center feathers and it was basically brown with a little streaking of gold tipped with white. But when he went to hand the feather to his page to place in the vault, it was completely golden in coloration.

Before the enormity of what had just occurred, Misha turned around, facing the Baron again, and again gave him a court bow only this time he also hopped forward and extending his beak kissed the Seneschal's hand. Baron Ilú had presented his hand in an automatic motion without even thinking. Misha then turned around and in virtually the same motion launched himself into flight back to his perch above Jonah's head. The flight was as beautiful as ever, but the landing wasn't quite as graceful as Misha would have preferred.

The King waited a few moments for Misha to get settled and as soon as Misha leaned down and began grooming Jonah's hair, the King began speaking again.

"Seeing as surety is stood for his soul; Who will stand surety for his compassion?"

"I will stand surety for his compassion in the place of his village, as I know they would want to do this; every man woman and child in that village loved Just' as if he was their own child or sibling. Well except for those blinded by that Viper whose name won't soil my mouth." The Queen Mother's voice rang like a bell throughout the chamber as she stood in front of her throne, looking more like a Lioness protecting her cubs than a Queen.

Before the poor unsuspecting Seneschal had a chance to perform his duty Mathilda spoke again only this time in a very formal and no nonsense tone in what sounded suspiciously as if she was giving orders.

"Don't even go there, Baron, I know exactly what I am doing and exactly what the consequences are. I have spent time in Potters Village and believe me, I know of what I speak. My response is the same as my son, the Lord Mariscal, and before you ask, yes I know that my position as Queen Mother is in jeopardy. Well, so be it."

"Your Majesty, surety is stood for his compassion isn't that right, Baron?" Mathilda answered for the Seneschal as she had made a resolute statement not a question!

"Thank you Baron and Mathilda." The King acknowledged the two and then facing the audience again questioned one more time.

"Who will stand surety for the aspirant's virtue?"

"Your Majesty, I do!" Answered young Jonah with as much power and control in his voice as he could muster. And shockingly, he was echoed by every page and Castle Servant in attendance.

Rafe was absolutely and completely stunned by not only the amount of responses, but by the identity of the respondents. To his credit, Rafe recovered very quickly.

"Our Thanks to all of you who have volunteered; I am deeply touched by your generosity for someone you barely know. That alone speaks volumes for not only Just', but for all of you. For Our purposes we only need one volunteer and I believe Master Jonah would be very upset with his Grandpa if I don't choose him." There were a few muffled chuckles at that but not many considering the seriousness of the proceedings.

"Master Jonah, why are you willing to stand surety for the aspirant?"

"Your Majesty, cause I have seen the Jut no one else has. He loves me and I love him and he had many chances to do bad things to me, and he never did and he never would. He is a honable person. So I will stand suity for him." Jonah was almost spitting the words out as he was determined he was going to do something for his friend to help him get over what those bad people had done to him.

Jonah then surprised even Nana and the King and Queen by what he did next!

"Uncle Ilú go ahead and ask me the bad qwestion; I know you have to do your duty."

The Seneschal had no idea what to do; he was caught between a rock and a hard spot. He had to choose between his duty and the young child before him who was beloved of his rulers and all of the castle. The King decided to take pity on him.

"Baron Ilú, it is your sworn duty under the Laws of the Kingdom and under the Eyes of Draconis to do as you have been requested by Master Jonah Medici, and I order you to perform your duty."

"Master Medici, do you stand surety willingly and freely fully knowing the consequences?"

"I do and if you mean by conseqen, that big word I can't say right, that if Jut don't do what he sposed to, I be thrown out of Kingdom or killed! Yes I do, and no one make me say that; ask 'Goos' if you dont bewieve me!" Jonah replied as defiantly as he could and the look in his eyes and his total demeanor said don't cross me. The fact that both War Eagles had copied his attitude was missed by virtually no one in attendance.

"Your Majesty, Surety is stood for his Virtue and that is the last of the surety's necessary under the law. You may proceed." The Seneschal proclaimed and then gave full court bow to Jonah who was still standing daring anyone to say anything about Just' If that wasn't enough it seemed every dragon in the Royal Weyr choose that moment to trumpet their response.

"We have had all of the obligations answered to Our complete and utter satisfaction and in incontrovertible fashion. So now to right some grievous wrongs and hopefully empower a sense of right and empowerment into Prelate Campbell. While Arch Prelate Eduardo and Prelate Artur gave Just' Campbell, Ecclesiastical Authority and Rank; I am going to confer not only Secular Rank and Power but also Royalty. And while I am doing that; at the same time, I am sending a message to those of "Patoral's" ilk and persuasion that what they preach and profess is not only unconscionable heresy, it is also a despicable travesty of our laws but a condemnation of everything that my Family and our Kingdom stand for and IT WILL NOT BE PERMITTED AS LONG AS A SINGLE MEMBER OF MY FAMILY IS ALIVE! Is that understood?"

The Audience, except for the Elves, jumped to their feet and as one shouted "Forte and Erehwon Forever"! The King let his people show their respect for a few moments and then with 'Dark Slayer' held in one hand and laid across the other arm; raised the palm of that hand and the audience stilled and regained their seats.

The King then turned and now, facing a very confused and frightened Just', continued the ceremony that was part of Their plan to heal Erehwon.

"Just' Campbell, do you swear to always follow and obey the Laws of the Kingdom of Erehwon and do you further swear fealty to Myself and the house of Forte?" The King then whispered, "Say yes or I do."

"I so swear, on my honor, my life and on the light that is Draconis!"

Only the King and William along with Eduardo and Artur understood the significance and origination of the oath Just' had sworn. Unknown to them though, Jonah understood it also. That oath had not been sworn since before and during the days of the Dragon Lords and no one alive knew how and when exactly it had originated.


The words that Just' had spoken reverberated across and through the planet that was Draconis. Andreu was awakened from his nap by the words echoing in his head; Sammy heard them also and entered a contemplative state. Margé began packing for her and Andreu's trip to a location hidden in a valley high and to the east of their village that was a locus of ley lines. This pocket valley also had a large concentration of Volcanic Vents and Hot Springs. The valley held a large amount of significance for the Olde Folke and the early settlers of Draconis.


Kyle was hard at work turning out some standard farm implement s when the back of his neck started itching intently. As he reached back to scratch his neck, his hand and neck chilled rapidly. As fast as the back of his neck seemed to freeze he heard 'Finish the Sword, NOW!' in Michael's voice.


Taking 'Dark Slayer' in both hands, the King proceeded to tap Just' lightly on first the right shoulder, then the left; and then the King tapped Just' on the top of the head an action normally only reserved for family being knighted before their coronations. The King then turned and laid William's sword across the waiting arms. Rafe then tuned back, leaned over and kissed the top of Just's head then told Just',

"Arise Sir Just', Earl of Dragonsholme and Baron of Potters Village..." The rest of the King's words were drowned out by the celebratory shouts and acclamations of the audience members.

*/When A Knight Libera/*
When a knight won his spurs in the stories of old
he was gentle and brave he was gallant and bold
with a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand
for God and for valour he rode through the land

No charger have I, and no sword by my side
yet still to adventure and battle I ride
though back into storyland giants have fled
and the knights are no more and the dragons are dead

Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
gainst the dragons of anger the ogres of greed
and let me set free with the sword of my youth
from the castle of darkness the power of the truth


©Libera

The Seneschal was furiously pounding his mace futilely on the floor, trying to gain control of the audience. The King and Queen each had a hand raised in the air, also trying to quell the noise. Misha and Paladin were beginning to bate when Eduardo decided it was time to act. Eduardo calmly adjusted his mitre, with the help of his crook, he gained his feet, turning slightly to the right, he faced the audience and in a very low voice simply spoke one word,

"Silence."

And there was silence; Eduardo turned and faced the King and Queen winked once at them and then espying Bethany, winked at her again and then sat back down in his seat. Meanwhile, Joth had quickly rushed to the side of his lover and helped him to his feet on one side while Jonah helped on the other.

"Please be seated; we have several more important announcements to make and we still have another adoption to perform." Angelina implored and commanded the audience to seat themselves.

While the Queen was getting the audience seated, Joth and Jonah were trying to get Just' into some semblance of functionality. Joth was channeling as much energy as he could to replace what the day's stress had taken from his love, and Jonah was sending Just' as much love and care and he could, to help. Suddenly Joth had three more sources of strength added to what he was sending Just'. Gus, Misha and Paladin were all contributing energy so Joth didn't drain himself also. While the three J's were pulling themselves together, Nana had moved up behind them to offer her support.

"Don't worry Earl Campbell, you are still just Just' to me and I am still Nana to you! Do you understand?"

"Yes Nana, how did you know that I was worried about that?" Just' inquired.

"Grandmother's intuition." Nana replied with a smile.

The audience was finally seated and Joth walked himself and Just' the few steps needed to join them, with Rebekah taking Jonah's hand and staying slightly behind them, where they were joined by the Duke and the Queen Mother.

"Will Just' be okay? Will he be able to handle everything that has happened to him?" Mathilda asked Rebekah.

"I believe so; he seems to be indestructible and he has something inside him that he hasn't even used yet." Was Rebekah's thoughtful reply.

"Don't worry Grandmas, Misha, 'Goos' and I help Jut too, we keep his head straight." Giggled Jonah, and was joined by two giggling War Eagles and the page, Bethany.

"Not only have we raised Just' to the Peerage, we are also appointing him as Minister of Tolerance and Diversity and Co-Minister of Education in honor of his Mother. As such, he will be joining the Privy Council and due to a quirk in Parliamentary Rules, he may hold as many as three votes." Angie paused for just a second and before the audience could respond, she turned the tables on her son.

"Crown Prince Joth, I believe you had a petition before Us; would you like to restate your petition for us at this time? Or shall we proceed on it now?" Angie asked her reddening son.

"I would like to restate my petition, as it now has even more importance than even I knew!" Joth responded, somewhat sheepishly as he had realized that his parents had turned the tables on him but good.

'I told you to explain things to him better, but did you listen to ME? NO you had to go and be a Big Headed Pratt of a Crown Prince! Did you listen to your Page John, who loves you more than you deserve? Are you going to listen to us from now on? If not, don't plan on many Pleasure Flights on my back!' A quite aggravated Dragon sent.

Joth stepped forward and down off the Dais and on bended knee, began to speak.

"I, Joth Forte, Crown Prince of Erehwon, humbly beseech their Royal Majesties for the honor of taking Earl Just' Campbell, as my Consort to Love, Honor and Cherish for the rest of my life. And I will correct the error of my ways and endeavour to fully inform my love of all things that he needs to know in the future. I realize that it was unfair to him to keep him in the dark about my plans. I ask your Majesties permission, that is assuming he will still accept me?"

"Prince Joth, we will have to take your request under advisement; your actions have not reflected well on our Kingdom. Do we have your word that you will treat Just' as your equal from this day forward?" Queen Angelina asked the Crown Prince, very formally.

"If I may, Angie; I don't believe he kept me in the dark for other than a good reason any more than you and Rafe did. I will hear his petition and I and I alone will decide its worth!" Just' rose from his throne and addressed their Majesties, to answering War Eagle Calls.

"Prince Forte, I believe you have a request that you would like to make of me. I believe it is also of great importance to the Kingdom; I will give it the thought it deserves. You have my ear and I would love to hear what you have to say." Just' told his love as he smiled lovingly.

"Just', ever since you came into my life, I have felt complete and at one with myself. You have filled a place in my life I never thought would be filled, and you did all of this unknowingly; just by being who you are. You have made my life worth living like it never has been before; you have pointed out the little things in life that make life special. Even when I threw all the trappings of royalty at you and tried to impress you, it didn't matter, you were still the wonderful person I have fallen deeply in love with. You have shown me that there are more important things than being a Crown Prince. You continually point out things which I overlook, like how many people it takes to keep this castle running and how much easier I can make things for them, just by doing little things. I have lived here all of my life and yet in the short time you have been here, you know more people by name than I do. The way you interact with everyone is something I would love to do. When we are together, I feel we can accomplish almost anything. I have felt a connection deep in my being ever since the day I heard you cry for help and then I found you beaten and battered on death's door. When you opened your eyes and looked into mine, it was as if a door had opened into my soul. Over the last few days, I have realized that I want to spend the rest of my life with you at my side as equals and soul mates. If the only way you will be my love forever is for me to renounce my crown, that I will do, quite willingly, for I believe that life without you isn't worth a kingdom, Sorry Mom and Dad, but it is true. Just', I want more than anything for you to be my Consort and not in name only, but it all things and in all ways. Everything I have, everything I am, is yours if you will be my love for life." Joth took a pause to catch his breath and finally looked into his loves eyes. Everything Joth had said was reflected back at him from the deep pools of emerald that were Just's' eyes.

"Just' Campbell, will you do me the honor of becoming my Consort to stand at my side to rule with me and in my place? Will you share all that I have to offer, and allow me to spend the rest of my life with you, all and evermore? If you say yes, I pledge you my heart, my soul everlasting on the Wings of Draconis." Joth finished his plea for love, and stared into the eyes and heart of the one who held his fate in his hands.

As Just' began his reply, the King stood and began to speak;

"Before you answer my son's heartfelt and loving request, We need to make sure that you fully understand what your answer will mean. You have been blindsided enough today, though all in a good cause, we have learned Our lesson well. If you say yes to Joth's request, unlike a lot of Kingdoms, you will not be simply a figurehead; you will in fact be a ruler equal to Joth." The King paused slightly to allow his words to sink in.

"As the Queen has also stated, although obliquely, you will also at times rule in Our Name! You and Joth will truly rule in CONSORT. Although you will have a lot of time together, there will be many times that you will be away from one another, doing the Kingdom's Business, and since there will in essence be two Crown Princes, there will be many Royal Affairs to attend and many of them will be occurring at the same time, so you will be required to attend one while Joth attends the other. Now that We have pointed out some of the obstacles, We must also tell you that we believe for many of the same reasons Our son mentioned, that he has indeed made the perfect choice for his consort. We believe that you will be a wonderful asset to Our Kingdom and Our Family. Your differing viewpoint and ways of looking at things are something that will be very valuable. If you decide to accept his offer and We sincerely hope you will, We will do everything in Our power to help you adjust to your new life. We will endeavour to allow you as much time as possible to learn your new duties and all of the benefits that also entails. If you decide to accept, we have picked the perfect tutor for you, someone who you are already comfortable with and are beginning to love also. Before you answer my son, do you now understand what is being asked of you, and what the benefits are, Son?" The King finished his oration with a heartwarming smile directed at Just'.

When the King had finished speaking, Just' arose from his throne and walked across the Dais until he was standing in front of Joth, but he turned and faced the King.

"Your Majesty, thank your very much for clarifying my situation and I appreciate your honesty. With your permission, I would like to respond to the Crown Prince." Just' addressed his Majesty the King and then turned and faced his love.

"It would be my honor to serve with you as your consort, and to share your life for as long as the Light of Draconis wills it. You are the light of my life, the heart to my soul, and without you, there would be no stars in the sky. To share your life will be worth anything life may throw at us. I pledge my heart and soul to you as you have offered yours to me. Cariad, Mo Shíorghrá, Tá m'anam is mo chroí istigh ionat."6 Just' finished his reply by leaning forward and then pulling his love to his feet. Just' then whispered;

"Please join me up here, Mo Shíorghrá."

No sooner than had Joth joined Just' on the Dais, than Just' pulled Joth into the most loving and beautiful kiss the Kingdom of Erehwon had ever seen. Anything anyone said for a few minutes after that was lost in the roar of applause that nearly shook the castle down. Had anyone cared, they would have heard all of the Royal Dragons in their Weyrs trumpet their happiness.

Draconis circling high over head also trumpeted a paen of joy and congratulations.


The coalescing lifeforce felt a surge of energy that said it must hurry to the surface, that time was now of the essence. Things on the surface were coming together that required action and his presence. Hopefully, there was still enough time before things on the surface changed beyond repair.


The tumultuous applause finally made its way through the two star crossed lovers' brains. Separating but now holding hands, the two faced an Audience Chamber full of joy.

Joth raised his right hand towards the audience and gradually the cheers and clapping quieted.

'If I had not seen this with my own eyes or heard it with my own ears, I never would have believed it. Two males just promised themselves to each other for eternity in public, and in court and everyone is ecstatic. Now I know why their Majesties and their Eminences were so wrathful they truly meant everything they said, and they fully intend to right the wrongs against their new Prince Consort and their Kingdom. Woe unto any Kingdom, Principality or Country that tries to ignore or defame Just' Campbell now. I now firmly believe that there are reasons unknown, for Me replacing our Ambassador at this time and with Myself. This Kingdom fully deserves our complete trust and a new treaty of support and alliance. I don't know if we deserve them?' The Elven Ambassador was so deep in thought he nearly missed the Crown Prince's Announcement.

"It my great honour and even greater pleasure to introduce to you my Consort, Just' Campbell soon to be known as..." Joth had to pause for a second as Just' was sending him a message.

"Just' Michael Campbell-Forte..." This time Joth was interrupted by his parents.

"Joth my dear, aren't you getting a little ahead of yourself? Just' has only agreed to be your Consort, there are a few little details like Our Permission and the Official Proclamation, and before I forget, there is also the Privy Council approval to be obtained. Now, don't you think you should restate your announcement and then follow the proper procedure." Queen Angelina asked her wayward son, trying very hard not to laugh. The Duchess on the other hand had given up entirely and had resorted to a coughing fit to cover her laughter.

When the Queen had finished speaking, Just' let go of Joth's hand and then smacked him on the shoulder muttering.

"You just can't keep your FEET out of your mouth, can you?"

To say that Joth was stunned by his love's response to his mother's very polite rebuke as he stood there with his jaw wide open ready to hit the floor would be a large understatement.

While Joth was in shock, Misha and Gus were busy talking to Just'.

'You did the right thing, Just', don't worry he will recover and you can do the request yourself. Don't worry about the fact that it isn't traditional, as a Peer of the Land you have the right. Jonah says 'Don wowwy he got your back'...' Draconic and War Eagle laughter over a mind link was something different. Just' casually reached over and closed Joth's mouth and then addressed the King and Queen.

"Your Royal Majesties, I, Just' Michael Campbell, Earl of Dragonsholme, Baron of Potters Village and Justiciar Prelate of Erehwon, do hereby beseech you, for permission to become the Prince Consort to his Highness, Crown Prince Joth Forte. I promise, with all my heart and soul, that I will love and stand by him for the rest of our lives. Furthermore, I promise to uphold all the laws of the Kingdom and to perform the duties of my office to the best of my ability. Do I have your permission and I would also like to remind you that including myself as Minister of Tolerance and Diversity, we have a Full Quorum of the Privy Council. I move we poll them for the answer when you have agreed to me becoming your loving son's Consort."

"Earl Campbell, as much as We would love to honor your request; such a request must come from the Crown Prince himself, according to Royal Protocol..."

"Your Majesty! May I speak?" An eight year old's voice rang out as commandingly as Jonah could project.

The King was stunned by Jonah's request, yet he nodded his head affirmatively to the Seneschal who, muttering under his breath, pounded his mace the requisite three times upon the floor.

"The Court recognizes Master Jonah Medici!"

"I am sowwy your Majesty, but you are wrong..." Jonah paused for a few seconds to let the gasps and titters of shock die down.

"You qwoting pwecedent not protocol; under the protocol established when Dragon Lords ruled either party could request the approval of a consortship. Of course, the person requesting was usually a member of the peer uuh peerage. That means the Earl Just' can ask for Prince Jot's hand." Jonah bowed to the King as he was worn out trying to get the big words out. Jonah had worked very hard to control his facial expressions, trying to be respectful.

As the King was formulating his reply, The Master of Pages stood up and got the Seneschal's attention. The King decided to save Baron Ilu some work and acknowledged the Master of Pages directly.

"Yes Duke, how may I help you, and for your sake I hope you are not going to tell me I am wrong also are you?"

"Not exactly, your Majesty, however, I must agree with Master Jonah. His knowledge of ancient history and protocol surpasses anyone that I know. How he has come across that knowledge I have no idea. I have spent days researching some of what he has told my classes and he has been right every time. So if he says that Earl Campbell can request a Consortship, I must agree with him. As your son can attest, his knowledge of protocol has been of great assistance before." The count paused as he nodded his head towards the Elven Delegation seated in front of him. "I cast my vote with Earl Campbell." The Count then bowed to the King and regained his seat.

The King was standing on the Dais unsure as to how to proceed.

"Rafe, they called your bluff, you might as well go ahead and poll the Privy Council so we can move on with things." The Queen Mother spoke up from her throne.

"That won't be necessary Mathilda, unless protocol calls for an official polling?" Rafaelo was looking at Jonah throughout his response. Jonah was shaking his head yes. "My new Official Protocol Master has just informed me ever so delicately that I do need to poll the Privy Council. Can I just ask for negative votes?" When Jonah again shook his head yes the King continued speaking.

"Are there any Privy Council Members who wish to vote against Earl Campbell's Consortship with my Son, Crown Prince Joth Forte?" Rafaelo scanned the audience along with the Seneschal and there were no 'Nays' cast.

"For the Official Record, will all Privy Council Members in favor, please say 'Aye'." Rafaelo's request was drowned out by the overwhelming Ayes.

"Earl Campbell, are you entirely sure you want to join our family, after what we have put you through today?"

The King was answered by Just' grabbing Joth in a hug and planting a very passionate lip lock on his soulmate.

"We will take that as a 'Yes' my sons," Rafaelo addressed Just' and Joth who then blushing, broke apart and faced the King.

"That was a 'Yes' Father," Joth and Just' answered simultaneously.

"We will then continue on with the rest of Our Official Business; the Ceremonial Coronation and Formal Banquet will be held a week from Saturday, on the Winter Solstice..." The King had to pause a few moments because of the uproar his announcement had caused. It took Baron Ilu's energetic pounding of his Ceremonial Mace on the floor and both Just' and Joth raising the hands asking for quiet for the tumult to subside.

"People, pay attention to what I said!" A very frustrated King announced. "I said the Ceremonial Coronation and Formal Banquet! We want Just' to be crowned with all of the ceremony and honor he so justly deserves. We are going to go ahead and crown him this afternoon, in just a few moments. We are holding his Ceremonial Coronation on the Winter Solstice to show how much we honor Just' and our son Joth. That day is very special to all of us, and this will make it even more so! In addition, I am sure that my Wife and The Queen Mother would have several pieces of me if we didn't do this right and do it grandly. Joth do you have the Coronet?" The king asked his, for some reason, now blushing, son.

As Joth started to reply, he was saved from embarrassment by Eduardo standing up and replying.


In the small Theocracy of Puritania, preparations were also progressing, although with a far different emphasis. Puritania was one of the few places on all of Draconis the Planet, where Dragons and Draconis herself were reviled and not revered. The Puritanians revered and worshiped themselves or at least an Idol that vaguely resembled them. The Male Essence ruled in Puritania, and women were treated as chattel, less than property and even pets. It was the place for women to be pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen, and like children in other societies, to be seen and not heard.

Women in Puritania never ever spoke without permission for fear of a beating or worse, Male children were revered and Female children were despised. While the males in a household live high off the hog and were waited on hand and foot, the females live in depraved captivity. The females were required to sleep in unfinished and unheated quarters attached to the rear of the house.

While females were treated as lower than dirt in Puritania Society, Male to Male Bondings past the age of maturity where equally abhorred and the penalty was a particularly gruesome Death Sentence. Even stranger was the fact the below the age of maturity, sexual congress with a female was absolutely forbidden. The penalty was immediate and public execution for both transgressors; there was no trial and no mitigating circumstances! Males below the age of maturity were encouraged to relieve there sexual anxieties and pressures with another male consensually and non consensually, leading to a very confused and repressed society.

Many young males whose bondings with other young males progressed passed the sexual needs found ways to escape their repressive society and escape into neighboring countries. Not all of them survived unless they were very resourceful and moved far away from the border with Puritania. Otherwise raiding parties would capture them and return them to Puritania. Once they were back in Puritania, they were taken to the top of their sacred mountain peak called Ápice Maskottchen, where they were bound to a stake piled with fagots and then stoned until they were unconscious; the fagots were then lit and then the burning stake with the still living, burning males was pushed over the precipice.

Needless to say that few nations, countries or principalities did any official business with Puritania. Only Male Traders and very few of those were allowed into Puritania and those were usually Puritanian's who had moved out of the Theocracy in order to keep the Theocracy supplied.

The Chief Preachers of the main religion of Puritania the Quatro Quadrado Igreja of Puritania4 had announced signs of their Saviour coming to free them from the tyranny of Draconis. The Theocracy of Puritania was formed by a few radical insurgents escaping execution by the Dragon Lords for crimes against Draconis and the people of various nations and countries.

The preachers of the Quatro Quadrado Igreja of Puritania were preparing their rituals to allow their Saviour to cross over on the Winter Solstice.


"Your Majesty, Crown prince Joth intended to bring the Coronet as he told you he would. His plans were set awry by orders from a higher power. Gustavo, King of the Royal Dragons of Venezel, overruled the Crown Prince's instructions, and somehow had a message sent to John to deliver the Coronet to me, instead. John is absolved of any wrongdoing on his part..." Eduardo paused for a moment as both his and Joth's eyes glazed over slightly.

"His Royal Majesty Gustavo has just informed both the Crown Prince and myself of the veracity of the Page John's statements to me. It seems Draconis herself enabled the message to be 'sent' to John. Gustavo also informs me that the Coronet I am now holding on this pillow is not the one that Joth had requested, but it will fill the need admirably." Eduardo paused for a moment to blink his eyes and shake his head slightly before continuing.

"Although I am slightly used to Draconis making her wishes known to me by various ways, I am still disconcerted when she mind speaks to me. Under the circumstances, in another century or so, I guess I will be accustomed to Dragons mind speaking me also." Eduardo's slightly veiled barb at Gus was met with muffled laughter and chuckles. Misha and Paladin nearly fell off their perches in amazement.

"Your Majesty, if you will assist me, We can proceed with the next portion of 'Your Agenda'. If the Coronet inside this carrying bag is what I feel it is, we are all in for a surprise and young Earl Campbell, you are indeed being honored." Eduardo then looked directly into Jonah's eyes and saw what he thought he would see. Eduardo then handed the pillow and its case to Artur, regained his Crook and made his way to join Rafaelo on the Dais followed closely by Artur.

When the King and the two Prelates started to approach where Just' was standing with Joth, he started to kneel but was quickly stopped by his love who whispered, "This is for you; go sit on your throne."

Just' took a quick look over at Rafe and he nodded his head so Just' walked over and took a seat on his throne. The three men approached his throne and then stopped and Eduardo then turned and again faced the audience.

"Although this coronation I am about to perform with his Majesties assistance is as he pointed out, not the Official Ceremonial Coronation, it is still an Official Coronation in the eyes of the Church and in the Eyes of Draconis."

Before he could say anything else, Rafe began speaking; although he was also speaking to the audience, he was looking directly into his son's eyes.

"This Coronation is also Official under the Laws of the Kingdom and We consider the vows that Joth and Just' have stated towards each other, to be official as well. Eduardo, we may continue now."

Eduardo then turned back towards Just' and Artur who presented the pillow to Eduardo so he could remove the coronet it contained. Artur held on to one end of the carrying bag so Eduardo could remove the coronet easily. As Eduardo pulled the coronet off of the pillow and out of the bag, he gasped and nearly dropped the coronet.

Jonah came flying from where he was standing next to Just's' throne and grabbed the pillow from below to stabilize it. As Jonah got a hold of the pillow, he was stunned at what he saw, as it confirmed what he had dreamed.

The "Perdido Arrematar"5 came out of both Jonah and Eduardo's mouths.

The Coronet that Eduardo pulled out was spectacular; it was slightly larger than the one Joth was wearing. The Coronet was made of lustrous Dragon's Gold and was set with precious stones to increase its grandeur. The Piéce de résistance was the perfectly shaped and absolutely perfect Dragon's Eye as the centerpiece of the Coronet. As Eduardo lifted the Coronet into the air and held it up for all to see, the audience gasped out loud for they had never seen such a thing of beauty before. The Elven Ambassador looked over at his assistant startled as they knew that Coronet from their histories.

"Before we crown you, Just' your friend Jonah has something to tell you." Eduardo informed his Prelate.

"Jut, you be really lucky that crown be real old and real impotant it be the Crown worn by The Dragon Earl!"

Before Just' could respond, Eduardo began speaking again.

"By the Light and Power of Draconis, and the Laws of the Kingdom of Draconis, with this crown, I, Eduardo, Arch Prelate of Erehwon, crown you Prince Consort of Erehwon and Consort of Joth Forte, Crown Prince of Erehwon." As Eduardo and the King placed the Coronet on Just's' head, the members of the audience would later swear that they saw a Golden Dragon helping also. The King and the Arch Prelate were absolutely stunned when the over sized coronet adjusted itself to fit perfectly on Just's' head as they placed it there. When asked later about that, all Gus would say was "Que Sera, Sera" Just' knew better, as he had heard Jonah whispering, 'Goos'.

"We now present to you, Prince Just' Michael Campbell, Crown Prince Consort, Earl of Dragonsholme, Baron of Potters Village and Justiciar Prelate of Erehwon." The King announced to a joyous crowd.

"Your Majesty, you have my name wrong, don't you?" Just' casually asked the King.

Before the King could answer and even before the Queen could save him, Just' stood and proudly announced,

"My name is now Crown Prince Consort Just' Michael Campbell-Forte and this is the love of my life, Crown Prince Joth Forte for now and forever by the Light of Draconis."

Eduardo decided to carpe diem and moved in front of Joth and Just' and grabbed both hands whispered an invocation and then offered his ring for both to kiss and then turned and faced the audience. For it seemed that only he and Artur and maybe Mathilda knew what Just' had just done. Eduardo looked over to where Jonah was standing and saw a grinning eight year old. 'I wonder how in Draconis he knows so much?'

'How in Draconis indeed', echoed through his mind in a female voice.

"This consortship is now sealed and blessed and under the Eyes of Draconis is Official."

As Eduardo stepped to the side to allow the audience to see Joth and Just' with their joined hands raised, he whispered to Just';

"Next time warn me before you marry yourself and take away my job."

Within seconds, neither Joth nor Just' were able to breathe very well as they were mobbed by all on the Dais hugging and kissing them. It took several minutes for all of the celebrations to die down and while that was happening, the Elven Ambassador turned to the Elven Youth seated to his right and quietly asked.

"Do you understand the import of what has happened here today?" The Elven Youth nodded yes and the Ambassador then said very quietly and solemnly.

"We will go with our secondary plan and move towards a full and complete alliance." The Ambassador paused as his word caused the youth to stiffen his posture a fraction and then he continued. "Will you do your duty?"

The Elven Youth replied, "With my life, if necessary." They both then returned their focus to the Dais.

While the celebration on the Dais was ensuing, the pages and guards were busy rearranging all of the thrones to their proper positions in a wide "V" shape. Of course, neither Misha nor Paladin was a lot of help as they decided to stay perched on the thrones while they were being moved. Or at least they did until John came up to them and in a no nonsense tone said.

"Silly birds, get out of the way, move now!!"

Misha and Paladin complied in their own way by deciding to fly over and visit with Artur and Eduardo who had returned to their own thrones to allow the Family to celebrate. Eduardo and Artur began a conversation with the two War Eagles at least that is what it looked like.

Mathilda's Throne was now situated between Rafe and Angie's with King and Queens slightly in front with Rebekah's to Angie's left the audiences right. Joth and Just's Thrones were now together seated to Rafe's right the audiences left. William's chair had been moved to slightly behind his son's.

After what he had decided was an appropriate amount of time the Seneschal began pounding his Ceremonial Mace upon the floor in an attempt to regain control and some quiet. Surprisingly it only took the Baron pounding his Ceremonial Mace on the floor twice before silence reigned.

"The Court calls Mistress Rebekah."

Rebekah started to rise but quickly regained her seat as Rafe motioned to her to sit back down.

"We have decided to grant Mistress Rebekah's Petition and have Master Medici adopted by..."

"Prince Jut, will you be my new Daddy, you and Prince Jot?" Jonah beat the King to the punch. [The best laid plans of mice and men]

"Earl Just', would you like to adopt your new Protocol Tutor, Master Jonah Medici as your son, together with your Consort, Joth?"

"Pwease Jut, Pwease, I be a good son, honest?" Jonah was begging and pleading, while giving Just' his best puppy dog look. Joth was trying very hard not to break out laughing, as he now knew for certain that his parents had bested him completely.

'Cariad can we, please? You know that I already love him, and I know he dearly loves you.' Just' sent to Joth.

'Of course, my love, but here is how I want you to answer. This is going to be priceless; Tell my father, while looking directly into his eyes, "Yes father, we do, indeed wish to adopt Master Jonah as our son, and I also want you to know that I will remember this day for the rest of my life," and then wink at him.' Joth sent in return.

'Very good Joth; you are learning; that is very subtle and devious. Just', don't worry, Rafe deserves it also. It will give him something to mull over for a long time.' Gus sent to his friends.

Just' hugged Jonah and gave him a loving kiss on the munchkin's lips before answering the King.

'Paladin and I will help also, Just' you will be fine.' Misha sent before Just' answered the king.

Just' stood up very carefully while still hugging Jonah and then turned and faced the King.

"Yes Father, we do, indeed want to adopt Master Jonah as our son, and I also want you to know that I will remember this day the rest of my life." Just' then bowed to the King, as much as he could, with Jonah still held securely in his arms and as he straightened back up, he gave the King a big wink and a wide grin.

The King was momentarily shocked, but he quickly recovered and then announced,

"Master Jonah Medici is now the adopted son of the Crown Princes, Joth and Just, and from now and ever more, he will be known as Master Jonah Timoty Forte..." The poor king was interrupted by his grandson.

"Granpa, that not my right name; I wanna have my name be just like Daddy Jut's."

Duke William nodded his enthusiastic approval, and the King began speaking again.

"I am truly sorry, I misspoke a moment ago; my grandson's new name shall forever be; Master Jonah Timoty Campbell-Forte." The King paused for a second, to discreetly cough, in order to stop himself from laughing at being bested by both Just' and Jonah, one right after the other. The King, of course, knew exactly what Just' was intimating with his answer, but the wink said, in essence, that he still loved Rafe very much.

As soon as the King had finished speaking, the Elven Ambassador signaled a page, who then took his message to the Seneschal. The Seneschal then approached the King and relayed the Ambassador's message.

"Ambassador B'rad, It is my understanding that you wish to speak to us on the matter at hand. If you would please come forward, I must say that I am truly interested in hearing what you have to say on this internal matter. And I can see that the Prince Consort is interested as well." King Rafaelo addressed his comments to the Elven contingent.

The low murmur that had existed before the King's speech started become elevated once again and then it came to an abrupt stop, as the Elven Ambassador stepped forward. What stopped the murmurs was the fact that the Ambassador had an Elven Youth by his side noted by his Youth's Braid on his left side. As the assembly took a good close look at the Elven Youth, you could hear and feel the shock and awe of the audience. The Elven Youth had to be a relative of the Ambassador since he was the spitting image of the Ambassador himself, he was a true chip off of the old block. But that wasn't what caught everyone's attention, it was his amazing good looks. The Elven Youth had a look of ageless wonder. His braid said he was still a youth, yet his face also held the wisdom of the ages. His features were definitely masculine, yet there was an ethereal feminine quality about him as well, that added to his already stunning good looks. He also walked with a stately grace and stature that belied his youth.

The Ambassador and his younger escort stopped at the base of the Dais. After courtly bows by both elves, the Ambassador began to speak. "Your majesty, I am actually semi embarrassed to speak to you of this issue. However, in light of your last pronouncements, I feel that I have an answer to one of your problems as well as my own personal issue."

King Rafaelo interrupted the Ambassador, "You have truly piqued our curiosity now Ambassador B'rad,2 please continue."

"As you know your majesty, the Elven People as a whole have a very low birthrate. As a survival trait, therefore, we, as a race tend to frown on same sex relationships, and the lack of issue that those relationships bring. We do not actively prohibit or proscribe these relationships, but neither do we encourage them. Those elves that do form those relationships, sadly, have much tougher lives than those in mixed sex relationships. As with most civilized races, we believe that those who form same sex relationships are born that way and hence have no choice in that! This is one of the main reasons that we, as a race, do not usually form alliances with other kingdoms. The Kingdom of Erewhon is one of those rare alliances. The main reason for this alliance, as you might have guessed, is your Edict of Equality and the policies of tolerance that permeates your kingdom. I have brought my son J'ame3 to court with me. He can live his life far more easily here, without the look of condescension and semi hatred, which he would, unfortunately, receive in our own court. As my son is the fourth in line to the Elven Crown, you can see the problem that this causes. I now finally have a solution for this and one of yours. I see that although Consort Just' now has his own personal guard force, I also notice that he doesn't have a personal bodyguard, as your son, the Crown Prince does. I believe his name is Lance and from what I have learned, he is in fact, very protective of the prince; even though they are no longer together."

Upon hearing the last words of Ambassador B'rad, the King's eyebrows rose in interest.

"Excuse me Ambassador, but you now have my complete and totally undivided attention. Although everything you have said about Joth and Lance is quite true, it is also common knowledge and I fail to see how it applies here," questioned the King in a very formal tone of voice.

"Your majesty, I am getting to that now, I would hereby like to offer my son J'ame, as Prince Consort Just's personal bodyguard. He is, as you may already know, a highly trained, well disciplined warrior and he has indeed been well trained in court manners and functions as well. If you accept this offer, it will make your point about diversity and tolerance even stronger, by including an Elf in the Prince Consort's Entourage. This will allow my son to be around others who are like him and he can experience the ways that humans deal with a multitude of issues. The Elven Kingdom would, in return, receive a Prince with a well rounded education which would be unlike that of any other Elven Prince. I do think that this is a solution that is good for both of our kingdoms." The Ambassador finished speaking and, along with his son, bowed to the King and then stood at Court Rest.

King Rafaelo was stunned at the magnanimity of the Elven Ambassador's offer. Taking a quick look around his court, he saw that everyone was stunned also. The King couldn't believe what he was being offered; this was the answer to his dreams. He took a quick furtive look over at his son and his consort and saw that they both agreed wholeheartedly. King Rafaelo then took the totally unprecedented step and rose while gesturing towards Just'. The two of them walked across the Dais and stopped directly in front of the Ambassador and his son.

"Ambassador B'rad and Prince J'ame, you do my kingdom a great honor with this generous offer. In the Kingdom's name, I hereby humbly accept your offer and I hope this will further bind and cement the relations between our two kingdoms. Prince Consort Just', may I present to you, Prince J'ame, who will be your new bodyguard. Prince J'ame, I present to you Prince Consort Just', and commend him into your very capable hands. Please guard him most carefully, as he means the world to the Kingdom and to my family." As he introduced the boys to each other, they embraced each other. Just' then led J'ame over to stand with him and Joth. Lance leaned over and whispered words of acceptance and encouragement to J'ame.

"I want to thank all of you for attending today, on such short notice. I hope that the events of today will help insure that what happened to Prince Consort Just' happens to no other child in this kingdom ever again. Please spread the news of my will throughout the land far and wide, so that this doesn't happen again. This has been a very momentous day for my family and for the kingdom. As a result, I declare the rest of the day to be a Holiday; this audience is now over." The King waved to the crowd and then turned to the Ambassador and escorted him and the rest of his family to his private audience room, where a luscious buffet snack has been carefully prepared for them.

Once they were inside the larger Private Audience room, and the pages and servants had made everyone comfortable, the introductions and congratulations began. Rafe and B'rad had begun a conversation and had begun discussing the status of the Elven Embassy as well as the possibility of changing their agreements when J'ame managed to get the room's attention.

"Before we proceed any further; Father, I need to ask you to leave now, and your Majesty, I must humbly ask that you clear this room of anyone other than the immediate family and your personal bodyguards. I assure you that I do not ask this lightly and I swear on the honor of my family and that of the Elven Kingdom, that this step is quite necessary and when you hear what I am about to tell you, I am certain that you will understand and agree with my reasoning. My father knows of what I about to tell you, but he cannot be a party to my telling you and actually cannot be allowed to know what is said here, for his own protection." J'ame formally requested of the King.

"Your Majesty, my son is correct and I bow to his wisdom and his request. I will join your guards outside with my own to ensure your privacy and security." Ambassador B'rad then bowed to the Royal Family and then left with his more than adequate bodyguards.

"Well J'ame, since your father obviously agrees, I will certainly abide by your, reasonable request. Everyone, except those people that J'ame has mentioned, are welcome to take a break for a while, just be available if we need you." The King gave a slight bow and gave the secret signal that everything was truly okay.

As the requested folks started to leave the room, Nana took Jonah by the arm and began to leave also, when she was stopped by J'ame's voice;

"One moment Mistress Rebekah............... I mean Nana; I would very much like you and Jonah to stay and hear this. You are obviously one of the King and Queen's most trusted advisers and a close friend to the family as well. Although I know Master Jonah is very young by Draconisian Standards, by Elven Standards, he is certainly old enough to know what his life may entail. He is also Just' and Joth's adopted son, so he has every right to be here. There is also something about him that tells my 'other senses' that this information is going to be quite important to him also. Please don't ask me anything more about that, because that is all I know at this time. If I may humbly suggest that we all makes ourselves comfortable and, if possible, send for some more drink and a little more food because this may take awhile; and to be personally honest, eating and drinking will make the atmosphere more comfortable for what I am about to tell you. Joth, your Page John is very welcome to join us also, as I understand he is usually with you, Just' or Jonah." J'ame finished speaking, gave a slight bow and then looked up to see how his semi cryptic comments had been received.

In a move very uncharacteristic of Just', he arose from his seat, looked at Rafe and receiving a positive nod, headed over to the private entrance, gave the door a quick knock and then opening the door stepped outside, closing the door behind him. Once outside, Just' saw one of the pages he knew and called him over.

"Thomaso, I have a job for you, and I need it done as quickly as possible." Just' paused for a second for Thomaso to reply and then nearly fainted at the answer.

"At once, Prince Consort, your wishes are our commands; the whole Castle Staff is at your command and we will do our best to provide for you." Replied Thomaso and then gave the stunned Just' a waist bow.

"Ahh.... Ahhh thanks, I think, Thomaso; could you please find Joth's Page, John and tell him that his presence is requested at the meeting, so if he has any other errands to run, he needs to hand them off to someone he trusts. Any questions, Thomaso?" Asked a slightly recovered Just'.

"No SIR! at once SIR!" Answered the impudent young page with a big smile on his face, who then turned and left before Just' could get another word out.

Just' shook his head in amazement, and then he opened the door and reentered the audience room. As he entered the room he heard J'ame talking seriously to his adoptive father.

"Duke Campbell, while I understand your position in this Kingdom's Hierarchy, and as Just's new adoptive father; and although the Elven Kingdoms respects you greatly as Lord Mariscal, I need to speak to you only as Just's' Father. As what you are all about to hear has never, to my knowledge, been uttered outside of our kingdom." J'ame spoke to William very deferentially.

"Prince J'ame, as long as I have known your father, I have never had any reason to question his loyalty or his integrity; as you seem to be the splitting image of your father, I will offer you the same respect I have for him. However, although I may only be Just's' adoptive father, I love him as much as I love Neal and I pray to Draconis that no one ever tries to harm him! Because not only will they have to answer to Me and my son, but they will have to deal with 'The Duchess' and that, as I am sure you know, is a fate I do not wish on anyone! Are we clear, Prince?" Duke William inquired firmly but respectfully.

"Eminently clear, Duke, 'The Duchess's' fame and protectiveness of family and kingdom is well known throughout the length and breadth of Elvandia. I personally have no desire what so ever to get on her bad side believe me. I also believe that 'The Duchess' is an old friend of my grandfather and father and actually once out shot him, in an archery contest. You will understand shortly how amazing that actually was; and before anyone says that my grandfather let a woman win, let me assure you by what they were wagering. My grandfather was putting up a barrel of his finest Mead, and 'The Duchess' was wagering a single ewer of her own Sangiovese! So you can easily see that my grandfather had no reason to lose and every reason to win. I do have one more simple request, and that is please do not call me 'Prince' while I am here, I am only tasked to be Prince Consort Just's Personal Bodyguard. It would be too confusing to have someone call out 'Prince' and have all three of us turn and look. Also, the fewer people who know of my true rank and status, the better." J'ame finally finished his reply and nodded at Just' who had just regained his seat next to Joth.

"Before we get started, since I assume we are waiting for John, I have a simple request to make also." Stated a slightly embarrassed Just'.

Angie replied, "Go ahead, Just', you know you can ask us anything; you are definitely family, even without the Official, spectacular Commitment Ceremony....."

Just's eyes went as big as saucers and Joth, feeling his tension, leaned over and kissed his forehead while whispering;

"Don't worry about it, everything will be just fine." Just' relaxed and lay back comfortably in Joth's arms.

Angie resumed, speaking as if she hadn't been interrupted; "and the Official Ceremonial Coronation." Angie did stop again, but not because of Just' but because John was entering, pushing a cart of what Just' would find out were Champagnone Flutes made of the finest Draconian Crystale' from the High Kingdom of Draconia and several of the strangest ewers Just' had ever seen. There was also something laying on a velvet pillow which was covered with a fancy silk cloth, embroidered with the seal of the Erehwonese Kingdom.

John made a very courtly bow to the Duke, and to Prince J'ame and then he began speaking.

"I apologize for taking so long, and I hope I am not too late, it is not Thomaso's fault; he had a very hard time finding me as Gustavo had me on what I thought was a wild 'goos' chase....." John stopped speaking at a sign from Joth, and waited patiently for a sign for him to continue.

Joth gently lifted Just' off of his chest, sat him up straight and then stood up and began speaking in a very royal and commanding tone of voice.

"Prince J'ame, what you have just heard from my page is privileged and restricted information the same as you will be imparting to us. I must ask you to keep this information entirely to yourself! No one, and I mean no one outside of this room, including your father can hear even a whisper of this. Do I have your word of honor and your bond?"

As soon as Joth began speaking, John began to shake and nearly faint, luckily for him, Just' was still staring at the cart and quickly rushed over to John and steadied him with a hug and a kiss while whispering;

"Don't worry, John, nothing will happen to you, I promise."

'I won't let anything happen to you either John!' Sent Gus to John, Just' and evidently Joth, as Joth nodded his head and his eyes blinked quickly.

"I will be fine now Just', thanks very much; I wasn't thinking about Prince J'ame not knowing that Gus can speak to me. When Thomaso told me what had happened, and that he was your Personal Bodyguard, I just assumed he knew everything." John whispered to Just.'

"That is why everything will be fine and you won't get into any trouble; just wait and see. Don't forget that I am your friend and I need a page also, so if Dummy over there gives you any trouble at all, I will just choose you as my own personal page, so there." As Just' finished his whispered reply to John he got a huge hug. Just' then, instead of returning to his seat, went over and stood by J'ame and proceeded to stun the room by announcing,

"J'ame, do not answer that, I will!" Needless to say Just' definitely had everyone's attention; this was no shy rescuee standing there, this was a youth every inch a Prince and Justiciar Prelate.

"He has sworn a personal Oath of Fealty and Allegiance to me, and a general Oath of Allegiance to our kingdom; as such, I am responsible for his loyalty and his behaviour. I say here and now, that he will abide by your request, Prince Joth, but he will answer only of his on free will!" Just' spoke in a very similar tone to Joth's, something he had never done before.

Before Joth or J'ame could respond, the King stood, and crossing over to Just', gave him a big hug and then announced;

"Well Done and Well Said, Just', I could not have said it better myself. Joth has done very well in his choice of Consort; and our Kingdom will be the better for it. Joth, your reasons were well intentioned, but Just' is correct; it is his matter to handle and I think we should let him."

"Yes father, I do understand and you and my love are right. Prince J'ame, please except my apology for overstepping my bounds. I was only trying to protect my kingdom and help Just', as I was not sure how much of the protocols I have been force feeding him the last few days he would remember." Joth addressed J'ame and Just with a bow and then went over to Just', and dropping to one knee and taking one of Just's' hands, and kissing it, he said;

"My love, please forgive me."

Both J'ame and Just's spoke at once;

"There is nothing to forgive, I understand completely." As Just' was speaking, he reached down and pulled Joth to his feet giving him a hug and a chaste kiss on the lips. 'We will talk later, but thanks for looking out for me. However, next time, just send to me what to say, or ask Gus to.' Sent Just' to his surprised love.

"If I may, Just', I would like to answer?" J'ame asked of Just', and at Just's' nod, continued.

"As to whatever John said that I wasn't supposed to hear, I don't remember hearing anything so I am unable to tell anyone anything." Was J'ame's response which hit just the right chord with everyone in the room; if they had only known what was yet to come.

"Thank you J'ame, for your understanding and restrained response, I am looking forward to getting to know you better as you protect my dearest love. Now, if all of the interruptions are over, I believe you have some important information to impart to us." Responded Joth respectfully.

"Okay first things first, as my father has said, I am a highly trained warrior and have had training as a bodyguard in order to attend my father. In fact, in most situations and countries, I am introduced as a relative who is gaining training as a bodyguard. This is true, even in the High Kingdom of Draconia; this group here is the only group outside of Elvandia although my father's announcement earlier today may change that. But that is neither here nor there, the reason for all of the secrecy is that not only am I an Elven Warrior and Prince, I am also a trained Assassin!......."

Just' was the first one to respond to all of the gasps and the amount of hostility that now filled the room. Just' immediately grabbed J'ame in his arms gave him a huge hug and a kiss on the lips. Just' then turned and faced everyone with a look that said, "Don't Tread on Me." everyone but Duke Campbell was in a state of shock.

"So that is why you move like you do and even when you are relaxed, your body, to the trained eye, is ready to move in an instant?" Duke Campbell responded and then he continued speaking.

"Relax everyone, I think J'ame has a lot more to tell us and he certainly isn't going to do anything stupid with half the kingdom and the entire castle knowing he is in here and if I know that nosy eavesdropping dragon of Joth's, he knows exactly what is happening in here this very instant."

'Just', please go smack your father and tell him I am not nosy!!!' Sent a slightly surprised and amused Gus.

Joth, seeing Just' stiffen slightly at the end of the Duke's remarks figured out what was happening and spoke to J'ame, who was looking concerned for his charge and going into a defensive posture.

"J'ame, Just' will be okay in a few seconds, and we will explain what happened in just a moment."

Just' broke out of the slight trance he was in, gave J'ame a brief squeeze to show him that he was alright and then walked over and smacked his adoptive father on the shoulder while saying;

"Gustavo sends his regards and says that he is not nosy!"

Just' then turned to J'ame and said off handedly, "We have our spies also."

The way that Just' said that caught everyone totally off guard and finished banishing the tension that the news that his new bodyguard was an assassin had caused.

"J'ame, please continue with your explanation about your being an assassin; I may need to use your services some day." Just' started speaking to J'ame and then turned and looked directly at his lover while finishing.

The look on Joth's face as he realized that Just' had finally gotten even for some of the pranks he had pulled on his friend and soul mate was absolutely comical.

J'ame, wanting to finish the serious news he had started, began speaking before anyone could react;

"I belong to the Band of Assassins called 'The Hand of the Leaf', run by my grandfather and we follow the philosophy called 'The Way of the Leaf'. There is little known of us outside of our kingdom and we like it that way. We do not normally practice our arts outside of our kingdom anymore. There were times aeon's past and other worlds and places where it was very necessary to use them out kingdom against other elves and others. Our band consists of elves of all types and ages, some older than my grandfather and some younger than young Jonah here. We have glassblowers, farmers, millers and more, a veritable cross section of Elven life. We take our oaths, our jobs and our philosophy seriously and those of us who serve as bodyguards use all of our arts and skills to protect those we guard. One of the things about 'The Hand of the Leaf' is that if you see one of us it is usually too late, however, that will probably never be a problem here. Due to the fact that there are such good relationships between our two kingdoms; plus the fact I am now Just's' Personal Bodyguard and an Elf will go along way towards keeping anyone from trying to use my band against any of you." J'ame paused and took a look around the room to see how his speech had been taken and was slightly amazed at the looks he was receiving. The looks he was seeing were those of curiosity tinged with awe and only a few of concern.

Before J'ame could continue, their was a knock at the side door and then Thomaso stuck his head inside and very apologetically announced;

"I am very sorry, but he kept growling and hissing at all of us and kept trying to drag me over to this door. I kept telling him 'NO' but he wouldn't listen and the Elves didn't know what to do; luckily we convinced them that Matty wasn't some kind of demon."

Just then Matty came strolling in, very imperiously and then went behind the door and lightly pushed it with his head.

Thomaso took the hint and quickly exited the room while pulling the door closed behind him.

Matty then turned and looked at everyone giving them a look that said, "What?" Matty turned and started padding his way over towards Nana's lap when he suddenly turned and charged at Just' spitting and growling as he went. Everyone except J'ame stood or sat in complete shock. J'ame jumped towards Just' faster than anyone had ever seen, quickly pushing him out of the way of the charging Mountain Kat. J'ame turned and faced Matty ready to protect Just' anyway he could. Before J'ame could decide what to do, Matty came to an abrupt stop, looked at J'ame and started purring; when J'ame stood there completely stunned, Matty in one easy bound crossed the remaining distance and began rubbing up against the befuddled J'ame's leg, purring loudly the whole time.

'I like him, can we keep him?' rang through both Joth and Just's heads and they broke out laughing.

'Well, I had to do something; you folks were taking all day and I am hungry and there was no one in our rooms to pet me' Followed petulantly from Matty.

"I guess Matty has spoken, J'ame, you have been accepted into our family by the one who really rules this castle." Spoke Rafe, trying not to laugh too much while speaking. Matty of course gave the king a look of total disdain.

Just' decided he had better explain things, since it was his body that was being protected so he got up and went over and rescued his bodyguard. As he walked over to where J'ame was still staring at the monster rubbing against his legs, Just' spoke up;

"MATTY, stop that; leave J'ame alone he doesn't know you! You are a very bad Kat scaring everyone like that, especially J'ame; he could have killed you."

Of course J'ame thought Just' was crazy for talking to the creature who had just tried to attack him, or least that was what it looked like.

"J'ame, I apologize for Matty's behaviour; he is Joth's pet Erehwonese Mountain Kat but he seems to love me more than he does Joth. For some reason, he was testing you to see how good you were and how you would react to something so completely out of the ordinary. Matty doesn't usually like strangers, and he says he likes you and wants to keep you around. I feel safer already, and I know Joth will feel the same way; not to mention poor Lance trying to protect two of us at once. Luckily for him, he has only had to do that for a short period of time." Just' finished explaining things, then put his arms around J'ame giving him a hug to reassure him that things were okay.

"J'ame, I also apologize for my Kat he has a mind of his own sometimes. I think you and I need to stick our heads outside and let your father know that everyone is okay and that things are going to be fine. We can let him back in also, unless you have more news that he isn't supposed to know?" Joth inquired of his lover's new bodyguard.

Before J'ame could answer that question there was a pounding on the door Thomaso had just closed. Before anyone could respond except J'ame who was already moving towards the door Dragoneer Jeffords flung open the door shouting.

"Sire, Sire you must come with me immediately to the Weyr we have a problem. Without hesitation, Rafe headed towards the door directly on the heels of Dragoneer Jeffords. Lance quickly moved to Joth's side while J'ame did the same to Just' both of them telling their charges to stay behind them. As they exited the door, the party was joined by the Ambassador and his guards and the King and Queen's Guards also. Just' never noticed when Ranulf and the Prince Consort's Guards joined them; Ranulf whispered a few words into J'ame's ears and then fell in place behind Just'.

Nana had decided to remain behind and keep an eye on Jonah but that changed when Private, now Corporal, Loki, dressed in the uniform of the Prince Consort's Guards stuck his head in the door and said,

"Prince Jonah, Captain Kyron said for you to come with me."

TBC?

'Cinmon Crumbles'

Ingredients:
1 cup soft Butter 
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar (Fresh if possible)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt (optional)

Directions:
Cream butter, sugar and eggs till fluffy. Sift together and stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt (optional). Then chill dough for about 30 minutes to an hour. If making a double batch when removing from refrigerator split dough in half and return one half to refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough into balls the size of small walnuts. Roll into mixture of 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon (Gourmet or Fresh Ground is Best). If dough starts to melt or become gooey place back in refrigerator. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet (you can also use aluminum foil). Place in preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Do not over cook, edges should be golden brown and slightly crisp centers should still be slightly puffy.

Dragon GifAuthor's Notes:

Well we have reached the end of another tumultuous chapter and I hope you enjoyed it. If you did or even if you didn't please take a moment or two to let me or 'Goos' know your thoughts. We do appreciate all of you comments and we do respond.

Just' now has a new home a new life, a new son and new responsibilities; how will he react and will he survive what is yet to come? This chapter is the real beginning of the story and there is a lot more to come in the future. This chapter sets everything up for what is yet to come. Poor Just' I don't think he has any idea of what has happened to him and what everything means for the future. I am currently working on Chapter Two of "Potters Village" to add more detail into what is yet to come.

If this chapter confuses you or irritates you I am not at fault my teacher the one and only Str8mayb "THE Evil Author" and Master of Misdirection gave me an A+ on this chapter.

I would like to thank both him and the Radio Rancher as well as Taron W, The Phone and Ilúvantír for their comments and suggestions. Their help has been invaluable in the creation of this chapter. Hopefully in the next few months I will have some very exciting news concerning the "Dragon Earl Universe"!

All of the scenes regarding the Ordination and the Knighting were created from an amalgam of books, movies and other research. I claim no relation to any other facts this is a fantasy and it is my creation and I admit to nothing other than a lot of poetic license.

'Goos' and I would like to thank all of those who written us for all of your kind words. We also would like to thank those who have posted comments on Jeff's Fort Message Board. 'Goos' even visits a very special area of the board that is open to Registered Members you can leave him messages there also and talk with some of his friends like Neal from "Haven", Sammy from "Out of the Past", Cory from "Memories", Dell from "The Shimmering Ship" and Joel from "Sa'ren" just to name a few. So checkout "The Compound" and have some fun. There is also a link at the bottom of this chapter.

Thanks again for reading our story,

'Goos' and The Story Lover

Dragon Gif

1Duke Williams sword was originally named 'Bringer of Light' but as his military prowess and fame grew the sword took on even greater prominence. When the Duke was cut off from his men by an ambush of Republicanus Slavers he was forced to fight for his life. By the time the Duke was rescued, there were only three of the ten raiders still standing. The rest were either dead or out of commission. After that, his sword was known as 'Dark Slayer'.

2 B'rad – Pronounced Barad

3 J'ame - Pronounced Jah mey

4 Four Square Church

5 The Lost Crown

6Beloved, My Soulmate (Eternal Love) My heart and my soul are in you/yours

Comments greatly appreciated at The Story Lover


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