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p. 02, (DR)- Her Lordship’s Summons


Page #2-

Her Lordship’s Summons

“That I don’t believe!”  Mihai poked an accusing finger toward Zadar.  “You?!  Miss out on a sweet interlude with our most beautiful of flowers just to keep company with me?  Please, don’t make me laugh.”

“That’s not so!  That’s not so!”  Zadar cried.

Pretending offence, Darla grumped, “What’s not so…that I’m the most beautiful of flowers?  You weren’t shy about lavishing your attention on me last night in your attempts to lure me out here!  Was it out of obligation you delivered your ‘innocent’ sister to the tower, saying ‘Let us watch the sunrise over the mountains’?  And did you keep my glass filled with wine only fearing I might become thirsty?”

Zadar was shocked.  “Lure you?!  As I recall, you dragged me under the first mulberry tree we passed after leaving the others. As for the wine, you treated yourself to many more than I dispensed, including mine.”

Mihai stopped the teasing.  “Enough of this!  You’re both incorrigible!  Should all the ‘children’ be as passionate, there would be no time for strife or war.”

She spread her arms wide, drawing both her companions close, and speaking in little more than a whisper, confiding, “I told no one I was coming.  This council meeting is secret… at least it is to be for the moment.  I believe my lieutenants are trustworthy, but…let’s just say not all secrets remain secrets. I didn’t dare trust the enemy finding out about my absence.”

Mihai changed the subject.  Looking at Zadar and Darla’s attire, she commented, “It must have been some fancy gathering you two were at last night.”  She was justified in the statement.  The couple dressed in sheer, silky, ankle-length garments.

Darla’s was more feminine in cut, gathered at the waist, accented by a diamond-studded belt.  It also had an opened bodice, with golden lace sweeping down from her shoulders and around her exposed breasts, which refused to be hidden under her knee-length cape of woven silk, gold and silver.  A pair of white, laced sandals finished the woman’s apparel.  Her braided locks, although disheveled, were festooned with rings of diamond-studded gold.  With her dangly ear-fobs, three bejeweled gold necklaces, and jingling anklets, she made quite an alluring sight.

Zadar’s garment was more like a long robe, and his ornaments were simple, consisting of a finely braided gold chain necklace, and a black onyx ring on his right hand.  He also sported a finely crafted timepiece on his waist-belt, while a jade brooch tied the two ends of his long, flowing cape together.1-008 outer ranges c

Zadar explained the party had been a reunion of sorts.  Some close acquaintances recently returned from a long sojourn in the Outer Ranges were celebrating the successes of their expedition.  Mihai then asked if the party was last evening, why were they still dressed in such garb so late the following morning?

Zadar leaned close, nuzzling against Mihai in a sensual embrace, and whispered romantically, “Because they make me feel sexy…”

Mihai pushed him away and laughed.  “Feel sexy?!  Zadar, you have never felt anything but sexy!  From the day of your ‘coming of age’, you have chased the ‘ewe’.  Your first lover surrendered you up to her sisters before your days with her were to end, worn out and in need of rest.  She said of you, ‘But for necessity of food and drink, we would have grown to the bed.’”

1-009 Winter gardens b      Zadar looked abashed, then grinned.  “That aside, these clothes can still make you feel…well…special.”  He put his arm around Mihai.  “The council isn’t going to assemble until evening.  Do you want to come with us to the Winter Gardens?  That’s where we are to join up with the others.  I’m sure we could find some brandy there…”

The merriment disappeared from Mihai’s face.  “It would be my greatest pleasure, but I must decline.”  She took Zadar’s hand. “I have some business to conclude this morning.  I need to change out of this stodgy uniform and freshen up first.  May I walk with you to the palace?  We can talk along the way.”

Darla wrapped her hands around Mihai’s arm, while Zadar did the same with her other.  Darla made her ‘little girl’ face, grinning with satisfaction.  “How sweet a walk it will be, too.”

Mihai thanked them both for their kindness and love.  She glanced over at Darla’s dress and asked, “I know it’s such short notice, but can you manage to find me some clothes like yours for my morning’s business?  It would make me feel…feel like a woman again.”

Darla giggled with pleasure.  “For you, my sister, anything…anything at all.”

*   *   *

Mihai lingered with her companions until they reached the Winter Gardens, located at the convergence of four wide concourses.  The ‘gardens’ were a grand expanse of exotic flowers, shrubs and trees, crisscrossed by dozens of walking trails.  A bubbling stream with its own waterfall completed the scene.  Of course, there were many hidden, secluded ‘corners’ where benches and tables had been conveniently placed for the wanderer’s benefit.

1-010 Early summer winter gardens- Blgspot bIndulging herself in the fresh, mist-filled air, Mihai sucked in a long, deep breath and exclaimed, “It’s always early summer here…like the after-breath of a late day shower.”  Looking up at the high, domed ceiling, watching the cool white of day shimmer through the translucent stone, she happily sighed, “In this place time forgets itself.  We are standing below the very center of Palace City, the North Concourse running directly under the ‘Old Palace’ that was constructed upon a butte of solid diorite.”

Darla and Zadar shot knowing glances at each other.  Here it came, another ‘you’re so young, you won’t know this’.

Mihai’s eyes scanned their surroundings as she explained.  “It is this part of Palace City that was said to have existed long before my kind were born.  The remainder of the city, including the Winter Gardens and long concourses, with their hundreds of eateries, cafés, pubs and shops, was designed and built by the children of the First Age, countless millennia before my birth.  How wel…”

Shouts echoed across the nearly empty building.  Zadar waved his arm, calling back to the new arrivals.  He excused himself and hurried away.  Darla promised to find Mihai a ‘sensual’ outfit and offered to walk her to the tramwaiter.

Mihai thanked her.  Glancing in different directions, she said with a shudder, “It’s such a long time since I’ve been here.  Where are all the people?”

“Pay no mind to it, Sister.”  Darla casually replied, taking Mihai’s hand.  “This is still early morning, by business standards, anyway.  Things will wake up around here by the lunch hour, and the dinner crowd will be pretty good.  It’s always quiet this time of day, remember?”

Mihai nodded.  She remembered all right!  Long before Darla was born, long before the Rebellion tore her people apart, long before all the wars, when she was a youngster, still in her teens, this place was off-handedly called, ‘the world that never sleeps’.  There was always a crowd here.

1-011- web- garden shops 3 b

Mihai thought back to those long millennia passed.  She could see the concourses packed with partiers and merrymakers, elbow-to-elbow, making their way from one festive event to another.  There were the pools, spas, theaters, and gymnasiums that entertained the body and the mind.  If food was to your liking, you could lose yourself in the hundreds of eateries, serving the palate anything from frozen chocolate crêpe to spicy, baked halibut smothered in clam sauce and onions.

And one must not forget the Palace Coliseum!  Sometime during the First Age, architects hollowed out a cavern in the butte, directly under the Old Palace.  Every technical innovation of that age was built into its design and construction, enabling artists to recreate their wildest imaginings in three dimensional sights and sounds, for audiences of over two hundred thousand.  The Coliseum’s doors closed many centuries ago, its vaulted chambers now filled with silent darkness.

The intoxicating excitement of that day was gone.  This day, Mihai only heard the quiet echo of a few footsteps on the polished marble floors, mixing with the lonely splashing of the garden’s waterfall.  She smiled with sadness.  “Yes, my dear one, I remember…”

Darla walked with Mihai down the South Concourse until they came to the tramwaiter.  In a few moments there was heard the whirring of powerful gyro-motors, announcing the machine’s rapid approach.  The whirring stopped, followed by a click and a hum.  Double doors slid open, revealing the coach’s opulent interior.

A woman stepped out, offering her salutations, hurrying off, leaving the two alone.  Mihai glanced into the empty car.  “When the world was innocent, these things were always filled.  It would be nothing to see several dozen riders queued along this wall, waiting for the next tramwaiter… and that was at this same time of day.”

Darla said nothing.  She believed her older sister, but could not comprehend such numbers.  Her memory of large crowds had been watching great armies on the march, or slaughtering one another on the battlefield.

Mihai had seen that look in Darla’s face before.  She smiled and squeezed her sister’s hand.  “The hour is coming, or so I’ve been told, that another great celebration is to take place here.  It has even been said that the Palace Coliseum’s doors shall again be spread open.  Then you will see for yourself what a wonderful world this place really is.”

Darla’s eyes filled with wonder and then question.  “I have heard others speak of this ‘marriage of the lamb’.  Are you revealing secrets to me about mysteries hidden, or am I being the fool, wishing for shadows and dreams?”

Shaking her head, Mihai answered, “You are no fool.  Trust me, you are no fool.  If it has been promised to us, then it will happen, but when and how I don’t yet know.  My dear one, wishing for shadows and dreams is not a bad thing.  At times it may be all we have to hold on to.  As for the celebration that I speak of, it is something far grander than any of which you have been informed.  It is part of the greatest mystery of all.”

“What is it, my lovely one?  If you know what it is, please tell your sister.”  Darla was nearly dancing with excitement.

Mihai tipped her head back in laughter.  “You already know almost as much as I.  For now we must both place it in our shadows and dreams, trusting in the One who has promised it.”

Stepping through the door and into the tramwaiter, Mihai turned and asked, “You will find me a lovely dress?  I will have need of it soon.”

Darla assured her sister that she would deliver it shortly, said goodbye and started for her waiting company.  The doors closed and the droning whir started.

Mihai sat down on one of the ornate, overstuffed chairs as the machine whisked her away.  She relaxed to pleasant music as the tramwaiter snaked its way along hidden passageways toward her destination.  Built by artisans of the First Age to compliment the growing expanse of Palace City, the coach line traversed its length and breadth, except for the Old Palace.

1-012c Mihai's childhood courtyard b

In short order, the woman found herself standing in an opened courtyard, untended and overgrown with summer greenery.  A tiny apartment just across the way was her home during the early years of her youth.  She inhaled the pleasant wisp of memories passed.   This place was the ‘keeper of her innocence’… from its latticed balconies to its cool, shadowed walkways… the ‘protector of her heart and soul’.  It was for that very reason she returned to this childhood residence, to forget for a moment the dark days of despair and the evil that almost destroyed her.

The sun was still blocked from entry by the surrounding buildings as Mihai rambled across the deserted courtyard.  There was something special about this shadow-world, full of life but still shaded in morning’s mysteries.  Reaching the apartment door, she paused to watch the ghosts of happier times dancing on the multi-colored flagstone.   She lingered there to capture the fleeting vision, lest her mind might forget it completely.

A robin’s song broke Mihai’s dreamy spell.  She sighed, turned back to the door and opened it.  Glancing over her shoulder, she wistfully hoped to catch another glimpse of those bygone days.   The sun peeked over the roofline, flooding the courtyard with its yellow splendor, chasing away any hint of the past.  Mihai frowned, slipping inside and silently closing the door.

*   *   *

And the book continues with more in Destiny’s Road between the pages of

The Chronicles of Heaven’s War: Book 1- Sisters of the Bloodwind

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Section Two- Of Councils Great and Small, p. 06, 07, 08

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Section Four- The Forges of Hell, p. 14, 15, 16

Section Five- The Silent Tombs,

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Destiny’s Road 1-0011-0021-0031-004, 1-0051-0061-0071-0081-009,

1-0211-022, 1-0231-024 & 1-025

Of Councils Great and Small 2-0262-0272-0282-0292-0302-031,

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Forges of Hell 4-0764-0774-0784-0794-0804-0814-0824-0834-084,

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