Chapter 47: Revelations – 160 AK, Late Autumn
I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The Lion & Tiger Inn
Daryl Andrews settled in behind the bar. It was nice to have been involved in the celebrations at the capitol. It had been even better to catch up with Peter Taylor and Steven Blackhawk. Both had become good friends over the years.
But life needed to go on.
He had to evaluate a potential son-in-law, one of Daikon James’ lieutenants, whom Missy had taken a shine to. The young lad might get his blessing, not that he was going to tell his younger daughter that.
Charmaine and her husband were expecting their second child in winter.
His wife had quickly tired of the hustle and bustle of High Castle, and ushered them back home to the Lion & Tiger Inn as quickly as possible. Although, she had been delighted by the king’s largesse… and already had plans to expand the inn.
Lastly, there was the Lion & Tiger Inn. It was his home, a thriving business and the center of a growing community. Farms had sprung up nearby. There was a biweekly market. And the Roving Knights were building a road between Caswell and their inn.
High Castle – The Royal Forest
Rebekah prodded Jonathan along. She did not want to be late. David had invited them for a picnic and let slip that they had a big announcement, most probably, that Cynthia was pregnant. She was dying to know if that was the case.
She doubted it could be anything else.
She was too well informed, which was the biggest drawback to working with Dwain. Getting professionally reinvolved in spying, gossip and rumors meant that she was never caught by surprise anymore.
So, being unsure was a refreshing change.
As it was a small family affair, Rebekah and Jonathan had chosen to ride horses, of which, Jon inevitably complained that they owned too many.
He really needs a mission Lord. After twenty-five years of marriage and fifteen years apart, I hardly know the man. Hell, even in the early years, we only spent two or three weeks out of every three moons together. He’s itching to travel… and I need time to adjust.
They’d set out early, taking a roundabout route but she had become increasingly anxious as they rode.
What if it’s something bad? What if they’ve decided to do something foolish like resign from their new position? Was Cynthia still so spooked by Blackhawk that she’d flee the capital just to be away from him?
She didn’t like uncertainty. And her uncertainty kept building. Jonathan kept dawdling. So, she spurred her beautiful bey mare into a gallop and let him catch up.
As she rode over the crest to where David and Cynthia would be waiting for them, Rebekah wondered if she’d followed the wrong directions.
Instead of her son and daughter-in-law and a modest spread of food, wine and ale, there was a pavilion large enough to seat twenty… and perhaps that many very well-dressed people milling around.
Jonathan’s horse halted beside hers. “What the…? Why is the king here?”
Rebekah’s head snapped around to look at her husband to see if he was joking.
He wasn’t. “Those are the king’s banners… and the queen’s… and the Locke’s…?”
“We must be in the wrong place,” she muttered.
“Mother! Father!” David called out. “You’re early. Dismount. Let my people take your horses. I do hope you haven’t guessed our surprise.”
Jonathan slid off his horse easily, walked around it and offered his wife a hand.
Rebekah was still sitting in the saddle, stunned.
What’s going on? How could I have missed this?
At Jon’s urging, she dismounted, still confused.
“Come along,” David waved them toward the oversized tent. “The king insists everything is done properly today, in accordance with older customs, so please go along with it. He’s even insisting that his minstrel, Dwain, do the introductions. Again, please don’t make a fuss if the bard goes on a bit too long. This is the king’s idea of a treat.”
Rebekah allowed herself to be guided forward, Jonathan following in her wake. She recognized the royal midwife, Kennah Beecher, tending all three royal children.
Gregory and Ellyth Locke were chatting with their son, Danyth.
Sagen and Melyssa came out to meet them. Both wore smiles that set off alarm bells in Rebekah’s mind.
What do they want now?
“Before we eat,” Sagen grinned wickedly, “I’ve never had the opportunity to properly introduce all you people to each other and it’s way beyond time that I did so. Therefore, please get yourself something to drink and something to nibble on, then I shall correct my woeful oversight, and after that we’ll all eat, drink and wile the afternoon away.”
Rebekah and Jonathan bowed indicating their agreement, then were herded to a circle of chairs that had been set out in the shade. The only thing that struck her as odd was that the Royal Midwife was seated with them while others tended to the royal children.
“Before I start, I have one more restriction to place on everyone here, “Sagen announced. “Once my minstrel, Dwain, has done his job no one – that includes you, Jon – gets to hit me. Not only would my guards object but what you’re all about to learn is something I only became aware of very, very recently… and before you jump to conclusions, Baroness Rebekah, yes, it does concern your daughter, Sarah.”
“Dwain, you may commence.”
“Your Majesties, your Graces, Lords, Ladies and others, it is my honor and privilege to present Rebekah, Baroness of Myhufri, and mother to David and Sarah.”
What the hell?
Following the queen’s example, everyone politely clapped.
“Next,” Dwain continued, “please all welcome Midwife Kennah Beecher, a woman of great expertise and mother to many, including a daughter named Sarah... whom she gained along the way.”
Rebekah was almost out of her seat when the queen wagged a reproving finger and indicated that the baroness should remain seated. She sat back down.
Is Sarah alive or is she dead?
Again, there was polite applause.
“Third, it is my privilege to introduce Ellyth, Duchess of Alexandria, mother to Danyth, Melyssa, Melyssa, Rodyn, Lyrena, Saryssa, Deryca and Neryssa. You will have noted that the name Melyssa appeared twice in that list. This is because—”
“At this point,” the queen leaned forward, “I shall take over. Thank you, Dwain. You have done beautifully. Play something for us.”
The queen paused until the minstrel strummed his first chord. “Due to an outrageous set of circumstances, I find myself in the oddest of positions. How and why that came about, some of you know parts of but none of you know all of. As all of you were, directly or indirectly, involved in creating the path that led to me sitting before you as queen, married to a man that I love, and with three adorable children, it is time that was made plain.”
Ellyth smiled at Rebekah.
Kennah bowed her head to Ellyth.
Rebekah was simply impatient. She had the pieces but couldn’t put them together in a meaningful way.
“That odd circumstance began a little girl being saved from a dragon by a knight. She traveled with him for a time until Sir Hawk found her a new family. She grew up in a happy home. Then she was asked by a friend, almost a sister, to play pretend as an adult. The Lord Joshua encouraged her. And so, the little girl’s name changed, becoming Melyssa.”
She can’t be!
“Thus, I find myself with three mothers and two fathers. Sadly, Kennah’s husband, the third of my fathers passed away in 158, leaving me only Gregory… and Jonathan.” Melyssa grinned at the knight. “Of course, my mothers are Ellyth, Kennah and Rebekah. Hallo!”
Rebekah did not recall leaving her seat, any more than seeing Jonathan dash forward, only that she was hugging her safe, living, long lost daughter… and queen.
What followed was a joyful blur. The only clear memory was David’s knowing grin.
How? When did he learn…?
It did not matter. Nor did the fact that neither Jonathan nor she could publicly claim Queen Melyssa as their daughter. The only thing that was important was that they had finally found her.
High Castle – Caswell
James of the Wood did not feel like a daikon, despite his fellow knights thrusting the title upon him. He was a Roving Knight and that was all he cared to be.
Yet, having a home, somewhere to return to was something he and the others who had lost their parents quietly yearned for.
Having Caswell Castle as a home… that was ludicrous, wondrous and splendid. However, for someone who had lived rough for most of his life, it was excessively furnished. There were all sorts of bits here and bobs there. None of which were necessary for him or his boys. So, they’d decided to give them to those who could use them.
The lads were darting through the halls, gathering up anything they had no need of. The items were being piled in the main hall until they could be disposed of. Some were bid upon and bought by Alexandrian merchants, after the locals had claimed what they could use.
There were lots of people moving into Caswell due to the new road to it from the Lion & Tiger Inn. Coming with them were a lot of families who had daughters of marriageable or soon-to-be-marriageable age. That pleased his lads almost as much as having their own castle.
Outside High Castle – The O’Toole’s lodging
Jonathan leaned back and grinned at his opponent. It had taken some moons but he had finally forked Steven’s rook and bishop. Thus, reversing their situation when they’d found Geleib’s treasure trove.
“Humph…” was the only reply he got. Blackhawk’s eyes were glued to the board, his forehead furrowed, his elbows planted on his knees. “Don’t suppose you have a secret room we could discover, do you?”
“I see you remember.”
“Of course, I do,” Steven responded. “It was one of the very few games where I was confident I’d win. Not that dealing with Melazera wasn’t important. But…”
“Gentlemen,” Rebekah intruded, “I don’t believe we have any hidden passages, secret treasures, or diabolical traitors to distract you but dinner is ready. If either of you can come up with a suitable bribe, I’m sure one of the servants could knock the board over… or, I might do so if you both continue to ignore me!”
Both men looked up sheepishly.
“We’ll finish this later,” Jon acceded.