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Friday, July 10, 2015

Mirror of Dreams - Chapter 12

12

To my dismay, I wasn't going to ride in the same enclosed carriage that Henry and I had once used to visit the Temple in. Instead, I would be on display in a delicate looking open carriage. It was driven by four russet horses that had been made to look almost as pretty and adorned as I had!
Sir Barrett helped me into the carriage, arranged my skirts so that they wouldn't get caught in the door – and also looked elegant – and then mounted a horse to ride beside me. I was downright confused!
Uh... Sir Barrett? Isn't this... uh... dangerous?” I wondered. “You all keep telling me that I might be targeted by enemies. What if I get shot like JFK?”
Huh?” He asked, confused by my reference. Then shook his head. “You should be fine. We had a company of soldiers line the street to prevent anything bad from happening. And the Town Watch have been alerted to keep an eye out for trouble.”
By why must I be on display?” I asked, still not sure why they didn't insist that I be hidden in a closed carriage.
Because the people haven't had a chance to see you yet. Your portrait was copied and sent out to towns all over the kingdom – to adorn the public squares – but this will be the first time that the average citizen will have a chance to see you in person. I'm almost positive that they'll all line up for the chance to wave at you and wish you well.”
Oh...” I uttered, not knowing what else to say.
True to his words, all along the road to the Temple, people formed a thick crowd. They were held back by soldiers, which seemed a shame because most of them held flowers that they wished to give me. Sir Barrett gestured for the soldiers to collect them, and assured me that they would be carefully inspected and then brought to my palace.
I waved that special little wave that I'd been taught in school to prevent fatigue. It felt strange to have so many people cheering for me! More than ever, I really wanted to get out of my palace more and simply hang out and watch the people. It was going to happen if I had to execute Lord Gregory to do it!
When I arrived at the Temple, a squad of 12 Priestesses knelt as they waited for me. Sir Barrett helped me out of the carriage, stepping away as I stood in front of them. They incanted a blessing, which ended with a pretty explosion of light that swirled all around me.
Welcome, Your Majesty!”
A moment later, doors opened and the Priestesses all stepped aside to allow me entrance to the Temple. I looked at Sir Barrett in hesitation.
None of this happened when I came here before...”
Sir Barrett smiled at me. “It's more or less your one year anniversary as our Queen. The people all assume that you're here to claim your wish. You don't have to, of course. King Henry waited until he had ruled for about 200 years. Even so, this is an important occasion.”
Oh...” I murmured, not having known that. Squaring my shoulders, I entered the temple, looking around when I realized that it was empty. Once again, there was a plush cushion waiting for me. I knelt on it with a sigh of frustration.
I don't even believe in Gods, you know. It's not fair to make me worship you...”
A chuckle startled me. It sounded like it came from right next to me, but there was no one there. A moment later, the little old Priestess entered the Temple from a different door. She stood off to the side and intoned. “Presenting our most beloved God...”
The transparent man with the blonde hair appeared before me. Once again, he sat in a nonexistent chair and gestured for his Priestess to come closer.
Tea?” She offered me with a warm smile.
Yes please,” I murmured, taking a cup from her before she poured the brew into it. “Thank you.”
The cute God gave me time to take a sip and sigh in pleasure before he asked the obvious question. “So... what brings you here?”
Ian,” I stated as if this explained everything.
Ah...” he murmured with a mysterious smile. “I thought as much.”
I'm confused. I thought you and my father both explained quite clearly that no one could cross between the worlds without someone else to cross too. But after I brought Ian here, I went back to check, and there was no one there,” I explained.
And that is exactly true. When one person crosses, their mirror image must cross too, trading places with them. The only exception is you, who had been created by a parent from each world.”
Even though he said that, his face puckered up in a concerned frown. “I honestly don't know what happened, but I can make a reasonable guess...”
So guess then!” I insisted. I needed to know what had happened, because if I could bring anyone I wanted across the worlds without involving innocent people, then I had a list of people to bring, such as my mom...
He sighed and looked at my tea mournfully, as if wishing he could drink some too. “Well... A long time ago, right about the time when your father crossed between the worlds – actually about a year later, I think – there was a devastating battle. A large amount of Rolandians lost their lives, including a very important man. He was one of my best friends, and the only man to ever dedicate himself to me as a Priest.”
As he paused to gather his thoughts, I wondered if this so called holy man had been the God's lover. The thought made me smirk. As if reading my mind, the God smirked in return and shrugged as if telling me that I might be right but he wasn't going to admit to anything.
Anyway, Harold had had a wife and son. His wife was a talented medic who was on hand for the battle, and when she saw her husband fall, she rushed to save him, and was killed herself. This left their young son – still just learning to walk – an orphan...
I sent my Priestesses out to get him before the enemy could find him and kill him. We all made a vow to Harold's spirit that we would raise him here in the Temple, but then something happened. An event so rare that I could not believe it had happened...”
He paused to think some more and heaved a heavy sigh. “The child's mirror image was dying of an illness in your world. I think the doctor's called it pneumonia. Apparently, he could have been saved, but the parents hadn't realized how sick he was in time to save him. So, their child was dying and here was a child who had no parents. I felt that the solution was simple!”
He shook his head with another sigh. “As it turns out, I may have ultimately made the wrong decision, but at the time, it felt right. Just as the one baby lay dying, I switched them. There! Now the orphaned child had loving parents again! And the parents were beyond grateful for their son's miraculous recovery.
The sick child died in the arms of my Priestesses, and was tended to as lovingly as any baby should be. We gave him a burial befitting one who serves me, and even mourned his death for many years. Meanwhile, the son of my friend grew up in your world. Perhaps because he was born in this world, you were able to use your power to bring him back even though there was no one to exchange him with...”
Ian...” I whispered softly. My heart hurt for him because he'd had a rough childhood – well, adolescence. His parents had simply adored him until they started arguing with each other when he was about nine. And then, it was as if he represented everything they hated about each other.
They suddenly hired a nanny to take care of him and went their separate ways. They never divorced, but neither did they spend more than five minutes together each year. Sometimes, not even that much!
Each used to take turns coming home to visit him, but by the time he was a teenager, that had become somewhat rare as well. His years had been spent choosing zany things to learn and doing basically whatever he wanted. He attended circus school for several years in a row simply because everyone there worked well together, like a family should! When he was home for the summer, the two of us would spend almost every waking second together.
To be honest, the reason that my mother felt that Ian was unsuitable to be my husband had nothing to do with his family or his looks. It had everything to do with how she thought of him as another son. She'd taken care of him more than his own mother had!
A tear escaped my eye as I wondered which choice would have been better for him. It was true that as a baby, he had a loving family in my world, but the rest of his life had been so lonely that perhaps it would have been better to remain in this world as an orphan in the care of Priestesses. I brushed the tear aside and returned my attention to the transparent God.
So that explains why he has magic too...”
Yes,” he confirmed. “If I had to guess, I'd say that he's probably the second most powerful person in the world – with you being the first.”
Oh...” I murmured softly. Then a thought occurred to me. “Huh! I wonder if that's why we get along so well!”
He shrugged. “I don't know, but I need you to understand something important. I did not make you become friends. I have no power in your world. I can see things if I need to, but I can't influence them. Therefore, I had no idea that the child I sent there would ever even meet you. I was just as shocked as you are now when I realized what had happened. I was also happy since he needed a good friend like you...”
I nodded in understanding and agreement. “Yes, he did. He does! Oh... I don't know what I am going to tell him!”
I suggest the truth,” the God murmured dryly.
My lips twisted in a wry smile. “I still don't believe that you are a God, but I think I like you anyway.”
He shrugged again. “Believe what you like. Also, let Ian know that he is welcome to come visit me anytime. He doesn't even need to dress up and lead a procession!”
I laughed at that. “Good to know! I bet he'll want to come talk to you about his parents once he comes to accept the fact that I'm not just telling him some wild story.”
I look forward to it,” the God stated, and then disappeared.
Your audience has ended,” the Priestess informed me, collecting the empty cup from me.
With a nod, I got to my feet, stretched a bit to work out the kinks, and then left the Temple. Sir Barrett was waiting patiently for me. He grinned when he saw me coming.
Did you make your wish?”
I stopped short. “Ah! I didn't even think about that!”
Sir Barrett laughed and shrugged. “That's probably for the best then.”
I sighed in agreement, and then let him help me into my carriage. People cheered for me all the way back to my palace, making me feel better than I had any right to feel since I had such heavy news to tell my friend. I entered the palace, relieved like a coward that dinnertime was announced and I could avoid the conversation for even a little bit.
Or at least that was the plan. Ian, fresh from a bath and wearing something borrowed – but I'm not sure who from – took one look at me after we all sat down to eat, and immediately knew something was up. He frowned at me, leaning forward to get a better look at me.
Alright, out with it! What's wrong?”
Who said anything was wrong?” I asked in an attempt to avoid the question. Everyone else looked at him curiously before looking at me. It seems no one else had noticed anything out of the ordinary. Not even Nathan, who was pretty good at reading me by now.
You look like someone just kicked your dog!” Ian stated.
It's private,” I murmured, not looking at him.
He rolled his eyes so hard his whole head followed. “No such thing! You tell me everything!”
I know, and I plan to tell you, I just don't think you want to hear it right here in front of everyone,” I explained.
Ian got a strange look on his face and tilted his head to the side. “Don't tell me, I'm actually the long lost holy man I look like!”
Uh... well...” I drawled out, probably looking guilty.
Wait what?!” Ian blurted out incredulously. “No way! I was definitely born and raised in our world!”
I scratched my head and looked away. “Well... Not quite...”
Ian pushed his chair out from the table and rushed over to me so that he could pull me out of my chair too. He shook me rather roughly. “What do you mean 'not quite?!'”
Everyone was staring at us in open mouthed shock. I'm not sure what they were shocked about; my news, or his treatment of me. Probably both!
According to – I don't even know what to call him! God, I suppose – According to him, the you that was born in our world died of pneumonia as a baby, and the you that is standing before me was orphaned after a battle, so he switched you two. That's why I could bring you back, you were born here!”
Ian looked like all the blood suddenly drained from his face and he wobbled. I caught him before he could fall and held him tight.
No way...” he exhaled in shock. He clung to me, trembling like a leaf in a breeze.
Ian...” I whispered, trying to comfort him. I well knew that he wouldn't have the slightest clue how to deal with this news.
My real parents are dead...” he murmured sadly.
I know...” I whispered, resting my head on his shoulder.
Abruptly, he pushed me away and walked a few feet away. “I don't know what's worse! Growing up without parents at all, or growing up with the distant strangers who call themselves my parents! My nanny spent more time with me than they did! Hell, your mom raised me more than they did! It's just not fair!”
I know,” I stated. Sitting back down to watch him pace. “Apparently here, you would have been raised in a Temple full of Priestesses. Uh... God... says that you are welcome to go visit him anytime you like, no dressing up required.”
Impossible!” Lady Leeza and Lord Gregory burst out in unison. Lady Leeza continued. “Men are not allowed in the Temple unless they are the King!”
Or the Holy Man,” Lord Gregory added.
I had been looking him in the eye because I was surprised that he had basically agreed with Lady Leeza on something, but at his words I sort of looked up and to the side, tilting my head just slightly.
No...” Lady Leeza breathed out in awe. “He couldn't be! He's that baby?!”
We all thought he died too,” Lady Sophia murmured.
No one ever found his body,” Lord Antony pointed out.
Who? What?” Nathan asked, every bit as confused as Ian by this vague talk.
The Priestesses were sent out to get him before the enemy found him,” I explained, turning my attention back to Ian. “Your father and mother died in a battle – apparently having you stashed somewhere nearby. They were the holy man and his wife...”
Gasps sounded around the table, despite having figured this out for themselves. Even the maids and guards around the room gasped in shock at this news. Everyone but me stood up from the table and – as if they had practiced it – bowed or curtseyed to Ian in unison with the maids and guards.
Your Holiness...”
Ian looked pale again. “But that's not me... that was my father...”
Right?” I asked, also confused by this.
The fact that our God has asked for Lord Ian to visit the Temple is proof that He considers this young man to be the successor of our beloved Holy Man,” Lady Sophia explained.
Oh...” I murmured, not knowing what else to say. Ian still looked like he was about ready to faint. Standing up again, I made a decision. “This calls for ice cream and karaoke!”
And alcohol!” Ian roared in agreement. He took the hand I held out and gestured for me to lead the way.
Wait!” Nathan protested. “You just got back!”
We won't be gone long,” I promised as we walked away. “Just long enough to grab some supplies.”
Can we karaoke here?” Ian wondered, assuming that it was probably impossible.
Actually, yes!” I informed him with a grin. “I brought a solar powered generator here to keep my phone charged, and it does well enough that we should be able to power the machine for many hours.”
Awesome!” Ian exclaimed, happy to hear this.
We arrived at my mirror fairly quickly because we decided to run. Still holding hands, I kissed the mirror and then turned to smile at Ian.
We're back!”
Cool...” he murmured, looking around my bedroom to prove that it was true.
Let's split up,” I suggested. “I'll grab my karaoke machine out of the closet, and you run down to the kitchen to pilfer some ice cream and alcohol.”
Brilliant!” Ian agreed with a grin. “Your mom buys the best ice cream!” He said, referring to the stuff that my mom bought directly from an organic farm. It was made from raw milk, cultured to enhance flavor and health, and then blended with organic vanilla or fruit and berries.
Yep!” I agreed as he ran off to do as suggested. I turned to rummage in my closet. Barely one minute later, I heard my door open again. “That was fast!”
I came looking for Ian... What are you wearing?!” My brother asked incredulously. “You know how mom feels about red!”
I giggled as I straightened up to look at him. “I'm married now, so I can wear red all I want!” I said to avoid telling him that I had been dressed up in all my Queenliness so that I could go visit my father's God. “Aha!” I exclaimed as I located my machine and pulled it out of my closet. It was in an easy to carry case, so I simply looked inside to make sure that it was all there, and then set it on my bed.
Yeah...” Kyle murmured, frowning. “But you may as well be naked for as much as that dress shows off.”
I glanced down and then shrugged. “Doesn't matter, I don't plan on going outside.”
And why are you dressed like that?” Kyle wondered. “Not just in a see-through outfit, but with your hair and makeup all fancy?”
I just felt like it,” I stated with a shrug.
He scoffed, shaking his head in disbelief. “Fine. Don't tell me.”
I smiled at him fondly, having missed him a lot. He was only wearing boxers, so it's not like he could lecture me on proper dress. He sat in a chair in the corner of my room, almost hidden by the door.
I took a moment to make sure I had my phone and my laptop, since I had some videos on it that I wanted to have access to. In just the moment it took me to think about one video in particular that I wanted to show to Lady Sophia, I completely forgot my brother was in the room.
All set!” Ian announced as he entered the room and held up an insulated bag style cooler and a bucket of various hard alcohols. He bowed to me irreverently. “Ready to go, Your Majesty?”
I giggled and grabbed the bag with my karaoke machine, slinging it over my shoulder and juggling my phone and laptop so that I could reach out a hand to him. “Ready if you are, my Lord!”
He got close enough to me and my mirror that I could put a hand on his shoulder before I performed the required kiss. The moment we were in my Royal bedroom, I gasped in incredulous dismay.
Oh no! I forgot that Kyle was in the room!”
Uh-oh!” Ian murmured, understanding the gravity of the situation. We'll just have to explain things to him later, I guess.”
I guess,” I agreed since I really didn't have any other option. “In the meantime, we should do this in the ballroom.”
Lead the way!” Ian stated with an eager grin.
As suggested, I brought him to the ballroom, which was kept in excellent condition even though it was rarely used. We uncovered one of the circular tables and set up our ice cream and alcohol. There was enough to kill us both several times over, but we didn't care. It wouldn't be the same if we didn't gorge ourselves!
I noticed one of the maids hovering nearby uncertainly, and sent her to fetch glasses, bowls, and spoons. As she did, we figured out where would be the best place to set up the four small but powerful Bose speakers. Mentally kicking myself, I had to send a guard to my room to get my generator – which was actually kept on my patio so that it could charge in the sun and be ready whenever I needed it.
The speakers were wireless that connected automatically to the laptop sized display box. The box itself was loaded with hundreds of songs to choose from and had a slot for SD cards and a port for a flash drive so that I could add other songs if I wanted to. The finishing touch was a pair of microphones that were also wireless.
Once the guard was back with my generator – followed by the residents of the palace, who were curious as to what the hell I was planning to do – I plugged my machine in and checked to make sure it worked. To my delight, it did.
As I fiddled with my machine – setting up a playlist and squealing happily that everything was working – Ian made us alcoholic rootbeer floats with vanilla ice cream. It loaded with flecks of dark chocolate and mixed with vodka and coconut flavored rum. A very generous amount of coconut rum! He handed me my drink and chuckled evilly.
We're going to regret skipping dinner later on!”
I laughed in return and downed a big sip of my float. “Oh well!”
Ian took hold of one of the microphones and blew into it. The speakers all blared his breath, making us giggle. “Sounds like it works!”
With a nod, I took hold of a sparkly pink microphone – Ian's was a dark blue – and set the playlist to start. The very first song was called “Never There,” by Cake. This was – after all – a party for Ian.
Those from this world gasped when the music started playing. I really wanted to ask if this was because they didn't seem to have music in this world, or if they were simply astonished to hear it come blaring out of tiny “magic boxes.” They also might find it hard to believe that Ian could sing into a device that projected his voice out of the speakers. I backed him up when the time came. Gods! I missed singing!
The next song that played was a little known number called “Me and Mr.Wolf,” by Real Weld Tuesday. Most of the songs I had were either actual duets, or songs that could be easily sung by the two of us at the same time. This was because I had insisted that he sing with me whenever I had a chance!
During the musical interlude, we did a little old fashioned dance that fit the music, but stopped in time to resume our singing. After the song was over, we finished our drinks and paused the playlist so that Ian could mix us another drink before I set the next song to come on. It was “Blow Me One Last Kiss,” by Pink, which described our day so Ian and I sang it together. We also alternated on some of the lyrics so that we could drink. Slowly, I was starting to feel awesome. The sizzling in my blood felt really weird, like it was getting worse, but conversely, not too bad.
The really funny thing was watching with one eye as my court – who were slowly getting into the spirit of things – reacted to the lyrics of this song. I pictured my reaction if I attended a karaoke session at Buckingham Palace and heard Queen Elizabeth singing this song. I nearly giggled as I pictured that my look might be similar to theirs!
Next came “One Week,” by the Barenaked Ladies – which was actually a group of guys. We both sang this in unison too, because it was one of those songs that twisted the tongue and was so fun to sing. Especially as we downed more alcohol just before it started!
As we sang, people got ever more curious about the ice cream and alcohol. Soon, they were tasting everything, trying out combinations to see what they liked, and drinking the combinations that tasted good. I know there is alcohol in Rolandia, but I think it was mostly wines or beer. If there were hard liquors, no one had ever mentioned them to me before.
I encouraged the maids and the guards to join in on the fun, thinking that it was long past time that this ballroom hosted a real party. When Ian and I got tired of singing, I switched the machine to play mode. This meant that the songs played normally rather than only the music. This also meant that we were free to drink more!
Ian took me by the hand and pulled me into a lively dance to “Zoot SuitRiot,” by Cherry Poppin' Daddies. When the song was over, a slow song came on. Just when we slowed down to dance to it, Nathan marched over and pulled me into his arms. Rather than be upset by his jealousy, I simply threw my arms around his neck and pressed my body to his.
We do know how to dance in this Kingdom,” Nathan informed me. The way he danced with me was stiff and formal, making me wonder if he was exaggerating. “Even though we haven't done so since you became Queen. The war makes it hard for people to want to do fun things like this.” And harp music was hard to dance to!
Strange, from what I've learned, people were partying together as much as possible during World War II. I think they wanted to live life to the fullest in case they died in battle,” I murmured, looking at the ceiling as I thought this over.
Nathan sighed heavily. “Maybe it was like that in the beginning here too, but by the time I was born, it seems like all the joy had died...”
We danced together for a long time as Ian took turns dancing with Lady Sophia and Lady Leeza. He even danced with Lord Antony! The only person who didn't really dance was Lord Gregory, although he did consent to dance with Lady Sophia once or twice.
As the night grew older, Lord Gregory got utterly drunk, and perhaps this gave him courage, because at one point, he walked up to Lady Leeza and insisted that she dance with him. After their dance was over, he slung the Lady over his shoulder and strode from the room. To all our astonishment, she didn't really protest. She only pretended to protest as she rested her cheek against him and clung to his clothes.
Lady Sophia purred happily as she watched them go, looking like she prayed for them to just finally admit that they were a couple. And then get married. I doubted that would happen though.
Sir Barrett was dancing with the maids, and looked like he might have a very interesting night tonight. Sighing happily, I decided that it was time to go have a very interesting night myself. The copious alcohol I'd drank made me tipsy and giggly, and Nathan was busy keeping me on my feet. I hiccuped and then slapped a hand over my mouth when fire came shooting out.
Oops!” I giggled.
Let me try that!” Ian called out from across the room. He squeezed his eyes shut and scrunched up just a bit as if he was trying to force a fart out. Rather than hiccup or burp as I expected him to, the ground started to rumble.
Whoa...” we both muttered in surprise. I tried to walk to him and nearly tripped over my own feet.
Nathan caught me, laughing because I was so funny. “I think it's time to get you to bed!”
Hmm...” I neither agreed nor disagreed.
I don't feel so good,” Ian announced, looking a bit green.
Come, my Lord,” Lord Antony murmured. “Let me get you to a bed as well.”
Since the party seemed to be over now, I insisted that Nathan help me over to my karaoke machine so that I could turn it off and make sure it was unplugged from the generator. Feeling sure that my machine would survive just fine without me, I gestured for Nathan to carry me.
He obliged by sweeping me off my feet and carrying me to our room. Sadly, I was more or less passed out by the time he set me in bed. I murmured sleepily, kissing him before rolling over and getting comfortable.

Go To Chapter 13 

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