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
From Chapter One:
Justin felt something new though his severe pain, he felt someone trying to comfort him. He came completely out of his stupor when the warm tears hit his face. Justin opened his eyes and looked into the deepest most caring sapphire eyes he had ever seen. "My Angel I am Just……………"
As Just' passed out from shock and weakness Joth carefully picked him up and very gingerly carried him over to where Gus was patiently waiting. Once Gus had seen through Joth's eyes and senses how hurt the youth was, he withheld all comments until Joth had reached him.
"Will he live?' questioned Gus as Joth carefully lay Just' down on the grass at his feet.
‘Yes, if we can get him back to the castle very soon' ,answered Joth as he was unpacking the winter blanket from his emergency pack on Gustavo's back. ‘I am going to wrap him in this blanket to help ward of any more shock due to the chill air of flying. I need you to help me get him up on to your back.' Joth sent to Gus.
Gus saw the picture in Joth's mind and lowered himself to the ground as much as possible. When Gus was as low as he could possibly get, he carefully picked up Just' and carefully laid him right on Gustavo's wing next to his body with Just's head pointing towards Gus's. Joth then moved to Just's feet and then very carefully grabbed, a hold of them, while he was grabbing the feet, Gus was very gingerly grabbing the belt Joth had tied around Just's chest and with the word "Lift" from Joth the two carefully lifted Just onto Gus's back. With Gus holding Just' still, Joth carefully secured Just' in the webbing attached to his saddle that was there for just such an instance. Once the webbing was secured, Joth very carefully stepped onto Gus's wing then lifted his left foot into the air. Gus opened his mouth very wide while moving towards Joth's foot. Once Gus was under the foot Joth placed his hands on top of Gus's snout and Gus lifted him high enough so Joth could swing onto Gus's back with out jostling the wounded youth.
Once secure, Joth patted his friend on the neck and prepared for the launch. This was going to be nearly impossible but if any dragon could do it, Gustavo could. With a mighty lunge of his legs and almost simultaneous flapping of his powerful wings, Gustavo leapt into the air. It took several very rapid and powerful strokes of both sets of wings for the trio to actually become airborne.
Once airborne, Joth sent ‘thanks dear friend, I owe you one, however, I have another request to ask……..'
‘I will fly us back to the castle so you can put him into a healing trance, I have already called for an escort' replied Gus
Feeling Gus level off in flight, Joth attached the safety harness from his saddle. Now secure, himself, he took both hands and placed them on either side of Just's head, then began the mental exercises that would open up his inner healing power channels and block out the outside world. Feeling the golden warmth that was his healing power, he now concentrated intensely on pouring that power into Just'. As the power left his body, he could feel Just's body relax as the pain was dulled. As Just' was falling into a deep healing sleep that would hold him until the castle Doktors could help, Joth could feel sleep overtaking him also. Once he was sure that Just' was completely asleep, Joth slumped forward in the saddle, asleep himself.
While Joth and Just' were sleeping the return trip away, Gustavo was busy arranging things back at the castle. The poor Master Sergeant of The Royal Dragon Guard was in a major quandary. His dragon was passing on the requests that he was receiving from Gustavo, and he was supposed to act on them. He had never been in such a position in all of his military life. The Sergeant had only been in his post for a week and only had been bonded with his dragon for a few months, which was a very rare thing indeed. In fact up until three months ago, Sergeant Ramero was quietly going about his business as Senior Sergeant at the Palmetto Crag Outpost several days' dragon flight from Highmont.
One evening, he was headed back to his quarters after partaking of the evening meal, when the Corporal who had relieved him came rushing after him, "Sergeant, Sergeant come quick we have major problem!"
"Corporal Aken, what kind of problem can we have way out here at the far edge of nowhere at this time of night? If we were at war with anyone they wouldn't be attacking us here and especially at this hour! Only uncivilized savages and barbarians would attack at dinner unless they were hungry! And if they were hungry, they can have what they call food here for free! Now, speak up and this had better be good or you will be Sub Private Aken. Do I make myself clear?" bellowed a highly infuriated Senior Sergeant.
"It is a dragon Sergeant, a dragon…………"
"Aken you fool, a dragon? Do I have to remind you that we are under command of The Dragon Guard, and that this is a Dragon Guard Outpost?" asked an even angrier Sergeant who was about ready to explode.
"Yes, I mean no Sergeant. But this is a Riderless Dragon and it is wearing the livery of The Royal Dragons……………."
"Why didn't you just say so ‘Private', now just shut up and lead me to this Dragon" ordered the now curious Senior Sergeant.
The now totally subdued ‘Private' quickly turned and led the way towards the outpost's main courtyard. As the ‘Private' and Sergeant came around the corner, the Sergeant pulled up short. For in the courtyard was the second largest dragon he had ever seen, nearly 30 feet long, outfitted in the Royal Blue and Gold of Castle Highmont. What struck the Sergeant as strange was the fact that there were no personally identifying pennons or pennants. ‘I wonder who that dragon belongs to; I thought all of The Royal Dragon's had bonded and had riders?' "Okay Private', lets go find out what he is doing here and why he has no rider."
As the Sergeant and newly demoted Private walked towards the unknown riderless dragon, the private slowed his steps until he was walking slightly behind his Sergeant. Private Aken wanted to get no closer than needed to fulfill his Sergeant's request.
"Private, are you sure there was no rider, was he carrying any dispatches?" the Sergeant asked just before the two reached the center of the courtyard.
Before the Private could continue his answer there was a loud thrumming sound and swirls of wind as the dragon suddenly rose to his full towering height, spreading his forewings full as he did so. The dragon suddenly turned and looked with his emerald eyes directly on the two approaching guards and stared intently at them. The Private turned to question his Sergeant who hadn't said a word since the dragon had arisen from his crouch. The Private's jaw dropped and almost hit the ground, for the Sergeant who everyone knew as "Fearless Ramero" was standing still, frozen in place with a glazed look in his eyes, as the Private tentatively reached over to shake the Sergeant, there was trilling sound from the dragon. As if the sound was a signal; the Sergeant's body shook slightly and his eyes blinked. As the Private was trying to figure what had happened to the Sergeant, the Sergeant was experiencing a totally unexpected communication.
As soon as the dragon had spied the two guards, Sergeant Ramero's head rang out with these words, ‘I have finally found you, we are now a team, you are my dragonrider.' Sergeant Ramero went ‘huh, what did I just hear?'
‘My name is Alejandro, and you are my dragonrider and we are a team, you must hurry; we need to leave soon' sent Alejandro.
‘Leave soon, what do you mean, wait a minute talk softer, what do you mean I am a dragon rider and we are a team?' sent Sergeant Ramero not yet believing he was actually mind speaking to a dragon let alone a Royal Dragon.
‘I meant exactly what I said, I have been searching for my dragonrider and I have found him. You are whom I found, and are now my dragonrider and we must hurry, because we have to be home at Castle Highmont by mid morning on the morrow. You still have to be fitted for your new uniform before the Crown Prince's Birthday Celebration. You will find out the rest when we get to Highmont. Now hurry, we have a long way to fly tonight……….'
‘Tonight?' sent the now majorly stunned Sergeant.
‘Yes tonight, and you'd better open your eyes and your mouth and tell the Private what is going on, before he has you hauled off to the medics, then you must go pack.' sent Alejandro.
‘Yes almighty master, but he ain't gonna believe this.' sent the Sergeant with just a hint of sarcasm.
‘You just leave that to me.' sent Alejandro, as his eyes started to glow a little brighter.
"Private!" snapped the Sergeant.
"Yes sir." answered the private as he snapped to attention; his mind still awhirl.
"You are now a Lance Corporal, and will assume my duties until a replacement is sent. This is effective immediately………….."
"No ‘but Sergeant', just follow your orders, now I need you to go inform the captain of your promotion and inform him also that I am leaving immediately for Castle Highmont and the Royal Dragon Guard, as the Dragon Alejandro's Rider." now move it Corporal!"
The newly promoted Corporal's words were cut off by a burst of Dragon Flame that splashed against the cobble stones, inches from his boots.
"Yes Sir, right away sir!" shouted the Corporal as he quickly turned and fled on his assignment. The crotch of his uniform breeches began darkening as he went on carrying out his strange and surprising orders. The Corporal's mind was torn between elation at gaining his rank back plus a promotion to boot, and fear, at trying to explain to the Captain what he didn't understand himself. The Corporal finally decided just to repeat the Sergeant's words verbatim and then say that was all he knew.
Sergeant Ramero finally decided to simply follow the orders from Gustavo as if they came directly from the Crown Prince. The fact that Alejandro had told him that unless the Sergeant got busy, Alejandro was going to pick him up by the boots and hold him over the edge of the battlements might possibly have had something to do with his decision.
"Corporal Noad, please find the Crown Prince's Page, John and bring him here immediately, Private Logi, prepare your dragon, a transport dragon and five escorts for immediate departure. Make sure they all have been fed, and bring extra rations with you. You will be making an emergency trip at the highest possible speed and an immediate return with at least one passenger. Now move, both of you!" Barked the Sergeant and then turned to the next guard waiting for orders as the first two sped off on their assignments.
"Private Deanna, please find the Prince Joth's Personal Physician and ask him to attend me. If you can't find him, ask the King's Personal Physician then, and tell whomever you get that it is a matter of utmost importance." the Sergeant requested of one of the few female dragonriders that rode a male dragon.
"Private Tish, please find the Head Housekeeper and Prince Joth's Valet……."
"No need Master Sergeant, I am here and I will take care of the Prince's Valet, just tell me what you need, and I'll take care of it." announced Anne, the Head Housekeeper as she came out of the castle onto the balcony. "Now tell me what is going on and why you have turned the castle upside down."
Blushing slightly, the Sergeant quickly recovered his professional demeanor and replied in a very smooth and controlled voice. "The Crown Prince is bringing in a severely beaten and abused teenager. Somehow this affects the Kingdom, but I am not sure exactly how, he wants his rooms prepared as he wants the youth to be in with him. This is all I know at this time, other than the fact that the youth is of a similar size to The Prince, and that The Prince wants sleeping attire prepared for him."
"Thank you Sergeant, I will make sure that everything is ready when they arrive." replied Housekeeper Anne.
As the Head Housekeeper turned and left, a young teenage boy came out of the castle looking around warily. Finally the boy spotted The Sergeant and slowly walked over to him and in a wavering voice asked, "Are you Sergeant Ramero? Some guard said you wanted to see me."
"Yes, I am Sergeant Ramero and you are?" the Sergeant asked in a very kindly tone unlike his usual gruff bark.
"I am John, The Prince Joth's Page." John replied, feeling a little more confident with the change in the Sergeant's demeanor.
"Very good, thank you for coming so promptly, I have a very important job for you to do for The Prince." Sergeant Ramero paused briefly as John's head snapped up in excitement. "I need you to accompany Private Logi, and bring The Prince's Nanny back to the castle."
The Page's eyes brightened perceptively, as soon as he heard what he was being asked to do.
"Good, you do know her." At John's ecstatic nod, Sergeant Ramero continued, "you will accompany Private Logi on dragon back and and explain to Mistress Rebekah that …….."
"Really, I get to fly on a dragon, but I am not a dragonrider." interrupted a now very excited young page.
"Yes, you get to fly on a dragon, my young friend as you will be on official business. I needed someone familiar with the Prince, and luckily familiar with his nanny." replied the Sergeant, who was quickly warming to the bright eyed youth standing in front of him. "Now please go with Corporal Noad, as he has just returned, he will get you fitted with flying gear to keep you nice and warm."
"Yes sir, thank you sir." bubbled the excited Page.
"Corporal, you know what he needs, when you are finished, bring him back here and I will give him everything else he needs then." directed Sergeant Ramero.
Just' awoke confused, very sore, and had no idea where he was. He was very confused indeed, because he was in a soft warm bed with a pair of strong arms wrapped around him in a comforting embrace. His body did not ache as much as it had, and he had no memory what so ever of how he got here or who was sleeping with him. He stirred slightly and before trying to sit up, Rebekah leaned over him and pushed him lightly back down. Rebekah then whispered "Shhh, go back to sleep, little one. Relax and sleep; you need sleep to heal, you will be just fine."
Just' immediately started to go under again and the last thing he heard was "He will protect you, you are safe in his arms. Now sleep." ‘Whose arms? Where am I? ……………' and the velvety blackness of sleep once again overtook the injured and weary teen.
When Just' awoke again, he knew it was close to noon as the sun coming through the windows was quite bright. He was confused, as he still didn't know where he was, but that didn't seem important. He suddenly realized that he couldn't feel the arms that had been around him while he slept. He also realized that he had his arms wrapped around someone instead. In fact, it was a little someone. Just' rose up slightly, trying not to disturb the child in his arms. He looked down at the person in his arms and was strangely surprised to be holding a six or seven year old sandy haired boy. As he continued to look, the head turned towards Just' and opened a pair of soft grey eyes. As Just' started to ask a question, the little boy reached up and put a finger on Just's lips while shaking his head no.
"I'm Jonah and Jot is in da shower. He will be out soon; I'm supposed to keep you company and warm. Jot says I can't tell you anyting, he will splain." the boy called Jonah told Just', and then he snuggled closer into Just's chest. Jonah then reached his head up and gave Just' a peck on the cheek.
"Who, Wher……………………….." was all Just' could get out before Jonah silenced him again by gently putting his finger to Just's lips again. "Jot says you be fine soon, he keep you saf til you betta. I hep you get betta too." came pouring out of Jonah's mouth so fast that Just' could barely understand him. Just as Just' was realizing that he could barely feel most of his aches and pains, Jonah started speaking again. "Nana we awake now and Just' thirsty"
Without thinking, Just' reached down and stroked Jonah's hair. "Thank you little one."
As Just' was stroking Jonah's hair, a feeling of warmth and comfort spread over him. As he was trying to figure out what was happening a grandmotherly looking woman came around the corner and into the sleeping chamber.
"Good, you are awake and I see you have met my grandson, Jonah. I am Rebekah, and Joth will be here in a few moments. I know you have a lot of questions, and we will answer them soon. For now though, just relax and recover. You have been severely injured and you need to rest for a few more days. Joth will explain everything in a few minutes." Rebekah informed Just' and then raised her hand to stop Just' from asking a question. "Trust me, you wouldn't believe me if I told you, where you are and how your life is going to change."
Just' replied, "Okay, I'll wait, I am too weak to do much else."
"I'll be right back with some water. Just hold on to my grandson, you'll feel better. If he squiggles too much, just push him onto the floor." Rebekah then turned and started to leave.
As she was going through the doorway, Jonah spoke.
"Nana, I no worm, I don't squiggle." pouted Jonah.
"I won't hurt you Just', you nice." Jonah told Just' while giving him a great big pair of Puppy Dog Eyes.
"Thank you little one, can you at least tell me who this Joth person is?" Just' asked casually.
"He can't but I can." answered a surprisingly deep baritone voice from the teenager who had just walked through the same doorway that Rebekah had just left through.
Just' took a long look at the person who seemed to hold his life in his hands. He saw a young male, who looked to be of similar age, and a few inches shorter than himself. Suddenly he realized that this was the Angel he saw in what he thought was a dream. He looked deep into the same sapphire eyes he remembered, and finally felt safe, secure and loved. Without thinking he murmured "My Angel".
Jonah answered him "He no angel he Jot."
Joth was laughing so hard at the look on Just's face and Jonah's response he couldn't respond.
The last part of his realization hit him like a ton of bricks. When that feeling hit him Just' shivered involuntarily. Before he could respond, he felt Jonah wrap his arms around him and give him a gentle hug. Just' then felt a feeling of peace, love and caring sweep over him.
"My name is Joth, and you are in my home. The wonderful lady who has been helping me take care of you along with the rug rat in your arms is my old Nanny Rebekah. And the answer to your next question is: you have been here for the last three days. I found you injured in Simon's Valley, outside of Potter's Village. Gus and I brought you here. Jonah, can he eat now?" Joth answered Just's unasked questions and then turned and questioned the rug rat in Just's arms.
"Pri……. Ahhh ok, yes I tink so, but member Doc Tickle Fingers wanted to see him when he woke up for weal." answered Jonah, who had almost slipped and called Joth "The Prince"
"Okay Jonah, please go and get the Doktor and behave or I'll tell him what you called him! And don't forget to tell him it is for JUST'." Joth smirkingly replied. "I'll sit with Just' until you get back with the Doktor; now scoot."
As soon as Joth had finished speaking, Jonah leaned up and gave Just' a quick peck on the cheek. He then threw the bedcovers off and attempted to streak out the door on his errand.
And streak he was trying to do, for Jonah, like most kids' his age, detested clothing of any sort. His parents, grandparents and even Joth had given up keeping him clothed, unless they were in public or had visitors.
"JONAH!!! Clothes, NOW!" bellowed Rebekah, as she had just entered the room outside of Joth's sleeping chamber.
"Yes Nana, bye Nana." as Jonah grabbed the outgrown royal blue tunic that was Joth's in his younger days. With the dexterity of one who doesn't know that he shouldn't be able to do something, Jonah slipped the tunic over his head while still heading out the door. "Bye John, bye Lance." was heard as the door to Joth's chambers opened and closed.
Joth went over to the bed and carefully sat down next to Just'. Joth put his arm around Just's shoulder who the leaned over and laid his on Joth's shoulder and relaxed.
‘I don't know who this guy is, but he makes me feel so safe. I feel like I have known him for all of my life. He looks familiar somehow, but I can't remember where I know him from.' were the thoughts running through his head as Just lay there soaking up Joth's warmth until Rebakah came in with his water and a few crackers. As he started to sit up, Rebekah motioned him back down.
Rebekah walked over to the bed and Joth carefully pushed Just' into slightly more upright position. "Take a few sips at a time, then take a cracker and let it dissolve in your mouth then take a sip of water. These should help tide you over until the Doc says you can eat solid food." as she was saying this, Rebekah was holding the mug of water up to Just's mouth.
‘Hmm, there is something familiar about that mug.' was the thought going through Just's mind. Before he could remember why the mug was familiar, a teenage boy dressed fairly nicely came into the room.
"Joth the Doktor is here, shall I escort him in?" inquired the polite young man.
"Thank you John, just ask him to come on in, I am sure he knows the way." replied Joth.
John gave a slight bow and turned and left the room.
Before Just' could even question the bow, the strangest person he had ever seen came swirling into the room. Swirling was the perfect description, because the person who came in was wearing robes of different colors and lengths. Just' thought he had on three or four different robes, but he couldn't be sure as they were all slit so they moved as the person walked. Before Just' could ask who this was, Joth started laughing so hard he was shaking Just.
"I am Doktor Bazaar, and I am here to see if you are really alive." the strange individual announced with a flourish and a deep bow.
Just was so stunned and amazed that he couldn't put a thought or question together. Rebekah quickly moved out the way as Joth whispered into Just's ear "You will be okay my fine young man, he really is a good Doktor."
Just' started to reply to Joth, but was stopped by another utterance from the Doktor that would have had any wooden framed house falling down around their heads.
"MY APPRENTICE, my apprentice; where is my apprentice, you just can't get good help now a days." the Doktor paused a second in his bellowing to turn and glare at the door. "Jonah get in here you lazy scamp."
Just' was laughing so hard he never felt Joth move away and slide a pillow under him as support. Before Just' could stop laughing, Jonah came stumbling through the door, dragging a leather satchel of some kind that was obviously very heavy. Just' was concentrating so hard on watching Jonah trying to drag the heavy satchel that he never even noticed when the Doktor had moved next to him. He felt this strange sensation on his left arm. When he looked at his arm, he saw that the Doktor had a hold of it and was pressing and probing. The Doktor just smiled and said "Blink, turn your head, now stick out your tongue, okay, now look right at me." as soon as he said that, the Doktor pushed in where Just's stomach was, all the time staring into his eyes. "Now, lift your arms and take a deep breath." As soon as Just' took a breath, the Doktor probed his complete stomach area and even below, very quickly before Just even knew what hit him.
"You can put your arms down now; we are done." exclaimed the Doktor who then turned to Jonah and said, "Okay Jonah, open the bag now."
Jonah opened the bag and then pushed the sides down and an oval shaped green stone was visible. The stone seemed to have a slight glow to it.
"Just', I think you will recover completely in a few weeks physically, mentally though, it is going to take quite a long time. However, with the treatment plan and the people in this room and with this stone, I believe that you will make it without a problem." The Doktor told Just' that, while ruffling his hair, which broke the spell he was under.
"How, wha……………" was all Just' could get out before The Doktor interrupted him.
"The answers to your questions are several, I have been checking on you almost hourly since you have been here. Plus Rebekah has been keeping me updated. You have also been treated and examined by three other individuals, which Joth has said he will explain to you. I do have to admit my clothing and entrance was designed specifically to accomplish what it did. You were so enthralled by my appearance and Jonah's entrance, that you offered no resistance to being examined by a complete stranger, in a room full of strangers. It also gave me a very deep look into your mental stability, and I am relieved and happy to say, you are doing extremely well for someone your age that has gone through what you seem to have suffered. The stone is a real device I use for people in your situation; it is called "The Bad Feelings Stone"; whenever you are alone and you start to feel like you can't handle things, or some memories of what happened to you overpower you, just grab the stone and talk to it. Explain exactly how you feel and what is bothering you. I don't know how it works, but believe me, it does; after talking to the stone, everyone has reported a feeling of contentment come over them. They were then able to talk about the issues with someone else or look at them coolly and calmly and deal with them. Don't use the stone for everything, Joth and Rebekah can be a big help to you, as well as Jonah and his friend ‘Goos'."
"Thanks Doc. I assume he can eat a light meal now, then I can explain everything to him?" interrupted Joth.
"I have given Rebekah a list of what he should eat for the next few day's; in fact I think she has a meal ready for the five of you. Now young man, take it easy for a few weeks, just relax, and let your new friends take care of you." The Doktor answered Joth's question and then left the room without saying anything further.
The whole room burst out laughing as Jonah tried to escape The Doktor as he was leaving. Jonah was just a little too slow and The Doktor picked him up and began tickling him unmercifully. As John came through the door The Doktor tossed his squirming bundle directly into John's arms. This of course, caused the two boys to end up in a giggling mass on the floor. With that, The Doktor was gone.
Just' was still very confused and in shock at what had just transpired, to him, it was almost a dream that had lasted for only a few minutes, yet looking at the beams of light coming through the window, he knew it had been longer than that. As Just' started to ask a question, Joth moved over to him and started helping him to his feet.
"I'll meet you in the Private Dining Room, Joth. Come with me John." and Rebekah was out of the room.
"You want to know why five of us for lunch, well, there are actually going to be two others, but I will get to them in a minute. I have seen the look on your face when you look at me, you think you know who I am, yet you can't remember. Now stand up and put you arm over my shoulder and we will go get lunch. Jonah, come get next to Just' on the other side." while Joth was talking, he was slowly and carefully helping Just' stand and move to towards the door.
"Goooddy, gooodddy, Nana and cook have been cooking special food for you Just, and baking Cinmon Crumbles for you, and I get to have sum for heping you." bubbled Jonah as he came over, wrapping his arm around the waist of his new friend.
"As we walk out of my rooms, don't be frightened, but this mean looking young man in a uniform is going to walk behind us………………" said Joth, before he was cut off by Jonah's wail.
"Jot, Lance not mean wookin, he is my friend and he used to be you Bo………" Jonah was cut off by Joth lightly smacking the top of his head.
"Oops sory Jot, I member now." answered a contrite munchkin.
"Just', Lance is my personal guard on duty today; in fact, he has been on duty almost all the time you have been here. Actually, he has been sleeping in my guest room. He is one of my oldest friends, and wants to help you adjust to your new life." Joth was pulled up short at the end of his last comment by Just' stopping and asking.
"Why do you have a guard?" asked Just' as Joth started them moving again. They soon reached the door leading out of Joth's rooms and were quickly joined by a handsome young man dressed in the uniform of The Crown Prince's Personal Guard. Suddenly it all clicked, the face, the mug and Just' stumbled slightly.
"Yes, I am Prince Joth, and you are at Castle Highmont. I will explain everything else as soon as you have eaten. Please don't worry everything is fine, we just want you to get better. No matter what you decide later, you will always have a place here or with Rebakah." Joth calmly said, while giving Just' a reassuring squeeze.
As soon as Joth had announced who he was, Lance saw Just' stumble and swiftly moved to Just's side and took over for Jonah who quickly scampered towards the food."Relax Just' everything will be okay." Lance said in as reassuring a tone as he could. "Prince Joth has never lied as long as I have known him. I have known him almost all his life and I have known him "very well" as he will explain. You have absolutely nothing to worry about. Your past is over, you are now beginning a brand new life, just relax and everything will sort itself out."
While Lance was talking, Just's mind was a whirling dervish, ‘My dreams have come true, I am in The Prince's arms and have slept with him and another gorgeous guy is holding me, this must be a dream. But what will happen when they find out my secret?' Just shuddered slightly at that thought.
"Just', please relax and trust me; I assure you all your questions will be answered as soon as you have eaten. There will be no problems, no matter what you think, ask Lance he will tell you the truth." Joth said reassuringly.
"Yes your maj…………………" was all Just' could say before he was cut off by Joth.
"Joth, it is just plain ole Joth to you, as you will find out shortly." Joth said with a blinding smile and a twinkle in his eyes.
"Just' believe him; I am here specifically because of one of your fears and questions. You will be alright." Lance replied to Just's unasked question and the subtle request from Joth.
Before Just' could put together a reply, they came to the door of the dining room where lunch was awaiting them. Any doubts of where he was and who Joth was, were dispatched immediately upon entering the Dining Room. For Rebekah, at Joth's suggestion had the curtains on the main window completely opened. The first thing Just' saw as he entered the room was the magnificent expanse of Highmont Valley spread out below him. Just' was so stunned that he didn't even notice the two additional people in the room. Joth and Lance took advantage of that fact to maneuver Just' into a specially padded chair, directly across from the window. Joth then took a seat on Just's right while Lance sat across the table from him.
Jonah, sitting on Just's left, tapped on Just's shoulder and whispered "Its okay, they will love you too."
‘Who will love me too' wondered Just'; before he could ask a question, Joth started speaking.
"Just, I would like to introduce you to my Mom and Dad, Mom and Dad, and this is my new friend Just' and 'Presumptive Consort'."
Just' didn't hear the last part of Joth's comment because he was completely distracted by the fact that his King and Queen were sitting at the end of the table, smiling at him. Just' sat there and didn't respond until Jonah hissed at him.
"Just say thank you and good afternoon; dey don't bite."
With a start Just' spoke "Good afternoon your Maj…." Just' was stopped by a sound from Lance and another tug by Jonah.
"Dey not majesties here, they Jot's mommy and daddy. This room for family only."
"Forgive me folks, I have just been informed that I almost committed a huge error. Good afternoon and thank you for allowing me to stay in your home." finished Just'.
As the King started to speak his wife placed her hand over his and squeezed slightly then spoke. "Jonah, thank you, but Just' didn't know any better, he is new here and I'll just bet that rascal of a son of mine didn't warn him, either."
"Thank you granny Ang I don't tink he did eider." answered Jonah, smiling proudly.
"Just', you are welcome to stay here as long as you want to or need to. If my son gives you any trouble, just come tell me or Rafy here." said the Queen.
"My wife is right, Just', and what she also neglected to tell you is that in these quarters, it is Rafealo and Angelina, nothing else. As you get to know us and become part of the family, Rafe and Angie, or whatever you are comfortable with is fine. Right Lance?" was the King's response.
"Yes Dad, I mean Rafe." was Lance's answer.
Just' was amazed at the lighthearted and casual nature of the conversations. He never would have believed that royalty would be so down to earth. He was brought up short by Lance's answer and his reaction was noted by Joth's mother.
"Just', Lance is not our son, in the way you think. I guess I will have to explain a few things that my son has been too lazy or embarrassed to explain. Before you interrupt Joth, you had your chance, now be quiet!" The Queen's response to Just's reaction was cut short by Jonah falling out of his chair laughing at Joth being told to be quiet. The Queen continued without saying anything to Jonah.
"Lance is a member of our family, and we consider him a son, because he was Joth's First Love and cared for my son deeply. Even though they are no longer together, Lance is still part of our family and one of Joth's best and dearest friends."
"Just' I told you I was the answer to one of your fears and questions, now do you believe us when we say you are safe here?" Lance asked Just'.
Before he could respond, Joth reached over and pulled Just's head onto his shoulder then lightly stroked Just's shoulder to relax him.
Just' forgot where he was and just let Joth soothe him. He soon felt another familiar body crawl onto his lap and another pair of arms wrap around him. As he started to completely relax, he suddenly had a frightening thought.
"But, if you knew I was that way, why did you let a naked young boy sleep with me?" came bursting out of Just's mouth, before he could stop it.
"Just' relax, don't worry about it, my son will explain that now; or I'll box his ears. We would stay longer, but we do have some court appearances. Just relax and listen to our son. he will explain everything. Right Joth?"
While Joth was answering, his mom and dad had risen from the table and walked behind Just' and Joth. They both leaned forward and gave both Just' and Joth a kiss on top of the head, ruffling Jonah's hair as they did so.
"Get better Just', and we will see you later." they both said and quickly left before Just' could reply.
Jonah reached up and pulled Just' and gave him a kiss on the cheek while hugging him softly "Don't worry Jus, I know you not hurt me or do bad things to me, ‘Goos' said you nice and need my help."
"Okay little one, thanks, but who is ‘Goos' and who, is this Gus everyone keeps mentioning?" inquired Just'.
"Before I answer that, let me explain about that wonderful rug rat in your arms. He has been a major help in your recovery, both physically and mentally. I know he is just a little kid." Joth answered that question before Just' could ask it. "However, he is an empath with a twist, he can feel people's pain both physical and mental. But he can do more than that; he is able, just by touching the person, to make it so the pain is not as intense. For mental issues, he just understands that people feel bad in their head and sends out love, care and a feeling of security. He is able to do this without thinking about it; also the strength of this is increased by full physical contact. That is why he was sleeping with you."
Just' stared at the cute little boy in his lap and was totally amazed at what he had done for him. Just' gave him a hug and whispered "Thank you, little one."
Jonah just hugged him back and gave Just' a great big smile.
"Now who or what is Gus, ‘Goos'?"
"Well, you know that I am the Crown Prince and that the Kingdom has Dragons, well I have a Dragon named Gustavo who just happens to be The King of The Royal Dragons of Venezelos. I was flying him, when we rescued you, and as he just reminded me, we haven't been flying much since we returned." Joth finally started answering some of Just's questions, which of course led to more. "Just a moment" Joth's eye's glazed over slightly.
‘Joth quit teasing Just' and get on with you explanations. Jonah quit eavesdropping! Joth the webbing you ordered is ready, and has been fitted. Yes Jonah, you can now fly me while Joth is busy.' Gus sent to both Joth and Jonah.
While Joth was talking with Gus, Jonah started laughing and both Lance and Rebekah both started smiling.
"Don't worry Just', you will get used to that." Lance told him with a smile.
"What Joth didn't tell you is that Gus is Gustavo and he and Jonah are really good friends. ‘Goos' is what Jonah calls Gus, for some reason, Gus and Jonah can mind speak to each other. Joth is talking to Gus right now, which is why he has that far away look in his eyes. Jonah is probably laughing because Gus said something funny. And Lance is right, you will get used to it. Joth only gets like this when he isn't near or in contact with Gus, so don't worry. Joth won't talk to Gus mind to mind unless he is in a safe area or with someone to guide and watch out for him. I see he's back, I'll let him finish his explanation." Rebekah finished her explanation and gave Just' a warm smile.
"Sorry about that, I see Rebekah has explained a few things for me. Further explanations will have to wait until after we eat. John, please tell, cook we are ready to eat. So just relax and enjoy the food." Joth calmly informed Just' and John and took a long drink of water.
Just' replied "Okay, but I have one important question first? Why does everyone call me Just'; when my name is Justin?"
"That is an easy one, when we rescued you the only the words out of your mouth were "My Angel, I am Just." so we have been calling you Just'.
As Joth finished explaining why they called him Just', John came out of the kitchen followed by the cook and two assistants carrying steaming platters of wonderful smelling food. After the food had been placed on the table, the cook and John served everyone. Just' was amazed at the aromas he was inhaling, to him the food smelled better than anything he had ever smelled in his entire life. Just' was totally shocked when John placed a plate in front of him that looked the same as everyone else's.
"Rebekah, may I call you Rebekah?" Inquired Just', unsure of what to call the woman who had helped him recover.
"Just', or do you want to be called Justin?" asked Rebekah in response.
After a few moments of thought Just' carefully replied "I want to be called Just', Justin was my name in my old life. Just' is my name now, in my new life."
"Just' it is then, and a great choice" came from Joth who then raised his glass of juice. "To Just' a new name and a new life.""To Just'," echoed around the table.
"Just', my name is Nana except in Public or Official things, then I guess you'll have to call me Mistress Rebekah. Call me that any other time, and I'll have to box your ears, alright?" a smiling Rebekah informed Just', who grinned at her response.
"Nana, I thought I was on a special diet for a few days yet, I am eating the same food as you?"
"Yes you are Just', but it isn't that strict. You just have to avoid certain foods that are hard to digest and things that are too spicy. We are eating almost the exact same thing so you feel more comfortable. Yours is just seasoned a little less; I have found that trying to feed one child something different than everyone else just doesn't work. Someone is always jealous or when the food is too different, the injured or sick person won't eat and that causes problems. So as much as possible, your food will be the same as everyone else's." answered Rebekah.
The rest of the meal proceeded with general conversation about the type of food they were eating, how Lance and Joth met and other things of a non serious and non personal nature. As soon as the dessert was served, of which Just' had only a teeny portion, Joth spoke.
"Let's move out onto the balcony and enjoy the wonderful weather, and Just' a little sun will be good for you."
When everyone agreed, Joth started to lead the way but stopped and spoke to Lance. "Lance please, inform my guards and the castle staff that this balcony is off completely limits to everyone but my parents, unless it is an emergency. As soon as you have done that, please rejoin us."
"Okay Joth, I will be back shortly, don't forget Ranulf is on duty today, you know he won't let anyone through." Lance paused for a second as Joth started laughing hilariously. "Just' don't pay any attention to him; he is laughing at me and at something that happened several months ago. Ranulf is my Lover and had just been promoted to Joth's Personal Guard, shortly after that, Joth needed some private time on this balcony and had issued the same order only he phrased it as family. I came up to visit Joth as I always did and Ranulf refused to let me pass. I tried to get by him, and he barred my way, he even put his hand on his sword. I had just about given up, when Joth came on the scene. He took one look at what was happening and burst out laughing like he is now. I screamed ‘Joth' and instead of telling Ranulf to let me pass he said to him "Ooops I guess I forgot to tell you Lance is considered family, Great Job Ranulf." He then turned to me as Ranulf let me pass, "Just wait till dad hears this, you are never going to live this down." Okay Just' I'll see you in a few minutes; just relax and enjoy yourself." Lance then went around the corner of the balcony to alert the troops.
"Sorry Just', I couldn't help laughing. I can still remember the look on Lance's face when Ranulf wouldn't let him pass. Before we sit down and finish the explanations, there is someone I want you to meet. Let's go over to the wall this will only take a minute." Joth then led his party over to the battlement wall. Rebekah stood next to Just' on his right side as she knew what was coming up.
Joth then put his fingers to his lips and gave out one of his patented five note trilling whistles. Joth's whistle was soon answered by the same notes only much richer and more vibrant in tone and depth.
Suddenly, there was a rushing sound of wind and a sound like the beating of huge bird wings. Before Just' could ask what the noise was, a huge serpentine head rose over the battlement wall, followed by the body of the largest dragon Just' had ever seen!
Joth turned towards the hovering dragon and said "Gus, this is Just'," he then turned to Just' and said "Just', this is Gus."
Gus dipped his head then looked Just' in the eyes and blinked.
Just' was stunned when heard this unknown voice in his head ‘Hi Just' , I am glad to see you up and walking around, we were worried about you.'
Just's face took on a look of total shock and he asked out loud "Did he just talk to me?"
"Yes, he probably did. GUS you bad dragon, you were supposed to wait! Now go wait at the landing pad." Joth replied and scolded his dragon at the same time.
Just' could have sworn that Gus winked at him before flying away.
Rebekah stepped quietly away as her grandson took her place. Jonah took her place and tugged on Just's arm to get his attention. Just' then looked down into his new young friend's face.
"See Just', ‘Goos' is nice he likes you. He winked at you he only usually does that to me, Jot is jealous cause ‘Goos' won't wink at him." bubbled the excited munchkin.
Joth walked around Just', picked up Jonah threw him over his shoulder and began tickling him. Jonah was squealing with delight. Rebekah got Just's attention and said, "don't worry they do love each other and if it isn't Joth tickling Jonah, it is Jonah tickling Joth. And when Gus is with them it is hilarious, Gus tosses Jonah into the air and catches him while Joth just laughs."
Joth sat the giggling Jonah down and told John, "Take him inside and change him into his flying clothes and get yours on also. When you are done, take the two of you down to the landing pad where Gus is waiting for you."
"Jonah, you get to take John flying on Gus, so hurry and get ready. Gus needs exercise and Nana, Just' and I need to talk about some boring stuff. Make sure you teach John everything he needs to know, and take good care of him, he is my only page."
Jonah didn't even give Joth a chance to finish; he ran over to him, jumped up onto Joth gave him a hug and a kiss, and then jumped down before Joth knew what hit. Jonah then ran over to John grabbed his hand and started dragging the stunned page back into the castle.
"John, it is okay; don't worry about anything, Dragoneer Jeffords has just installed some special safety webbing for you and Jonah. Don't forget, you will be flying with an escort and you know Gus will catch either of you before you can fall a few feet, now go." commanded Joth with a laugh in voice.
"John, com on, we getta fly ‘Goos' com on, hurry ‘Goos' is waiting. This is so cool ‘Goos' is the biggest, fastest, bestes dragon ever and I get to fly him."
That was the last they heard of the two, as Jonah had succeeded in dragging the two of them inside the castle.
"You are going to let the two of them fly on Gus?" Came flying out of a stunned Just's mouth.
Joth just smiled and took Just's hand and led him over to a padded bench underneath the dining room window. Rebekah grabbed a chair that Ranulf had brought over for her and sat down facing the two.
‘Don't worry Just', the new webbing will keep them completely safe. And I wasn't kidding about how fast Gus is at catching things that are dropped or fall off his back. Plus there will be five of my personal guard flying with him. Since Jonah and Gus are such great friends, Gus would fly him alone, however we all know that Jonah can't sit still for more than two seconds. John is just along for the ride, and to hold onto the Munchkin. John has a little brother the same age as Jonah and he loves his brother dearly. He treats Jonah just like his little brother." replied Joth, trying to ease Just's concerns.
"Joth is right, Just', Gus loves Jonah as if he was his own dragonet. He won't let anything happen to him. That was a nice gesture Joth, letting John go with them, he needs to have fun more and relax. He always works so hard for you and he has worked even harder the last couple of days." Rebekah told Just' softly and then seeing the look of consternation on Just's face when she mention how hard John had been working, looked directly at Just' and waving her grandmotherly finger at him told him in no uncertain terms that it wasn't his fault. "JUST' you knock off that nonsense right now, or I'll box your ears!"
"Yes Nana but…"
"No, 'Yes Nana but'! Now you listen to me and listen GOOD! John comes from a very large family and would probably be working in the fields or on a dock if he wasn't working here. Joth found him several years ago, crying on the steps of the castle and stopped and talked to him. When he found out what the problem was, he decided he needed a page. I still laugh when I remember what happened next:
Joth had just turned twelve winters old and had been doing who knows what with some of his cousins and some of the younger castle children. Joth wasn't a snob then, and still isn't. Joth was coming up the castle steps dressed like any twelve year old Highmont kid, when he sees this eight year old boy crying on the steps. Joth went over and talked to him and found out that John had been trying to get a job to help out his family. When Joth heard his story, he pulled himself up to his full height of four foot ten inches, puffed out his chest, and in as Royal a voice as he could manage announced to John that he was going to work for him! John couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry. Joth decided the issue by reaching down and taking a hold of John's hand; he pulled him to his feet and without asking, dragged John up the stairs and into the castle. The Guards attempted to stop them but Joth just glared them down and said "Take me to the King, NOW!" As this was the first time they had ever seen Joth act as the Crown Prince, the Senior Guard started off immediately with the two youngsters in tow. When the guard reached the door to the small audience chamber and raised his fist to knock, Joth strode right past him, opened the door and strode in. His father was just finishing a private audience and looked up at the interruption. He raised his hand in Joth's direction and ordered "STOP" Joth and John skidded to a stop. The king apologized for the interruption, finished his audience which just happened to be the last of the day. "Now, what do you have to say for yourself, young man? And who have you dragged in here to see me?" At the stern tone of the King's voice John turned and started to run out. Before he could take two steps he ran into the guard who had escorted them. The guard caught John in his arms and gently held him. The King's next words took John totally by surprise "Young man, you do not need to run. You are not in trouble, my son is, not you." John's world was torn upside down by those words, because until then, he didn't know who Joth was. The King then addressed his son "Joth what is the meaning of this unseemly interruption and why have you dragged that fine young boy in here obviously against his will?" For some unknown reason, Joth decided to grow up at that moment, "I am truly sorry for interrupting you, Sire, I would not have done this except, the issue was very important to me!"
"Okay son, what is so important that you had to interrupt an audience with the Prime Minister of Roxio? Before you answer, just let me tell you how lucky you are that he was your Uncle!"
Joth pulled himself up straight, and looking his father directly in the eyes, calmly announced, "I need a Page, and John is going to be it."
"I see, and did you even bother to ask John if he would be your page? I can see by the look in John's eyes that you did not! How rude of you, we will discuss that later!" Joth, shocked at his father's response, dropped his head in silence for a moment.
"John, you can relax, I will deal with my miscreant of a son later. Please come up here so I can talk to you easier. I don't bite; I let my guards do that." The King chuckled as John bolted out of the guards arms and cautiously walked over to the chair where the King was seated. "Sergeant, please inform the guards that this room is closed. Allow only family members in, unless it is an emergency. Also please ask Mistress Rebekah to join us."
"At once Sire." as the Sergeant turned to leave, he was stopped by another voice.
"I am here Sergeant, so you can go on the rest of your errand. As to you, Joth, I will deal with you later also!" Rebekah informed the room.
John was totally amazed by what was happening and still had a greater shock coming.
When John approached close enough, the King reached out to John and said "Come sit on my lap, so I can talk to you easier, and we can both hear what my miscreant son has to say for himself."
All John could do was nod as the King pulled him up onto his lap.
Once John was seated, the king pulled him close and whispered ‘Relax, John, everything is fine. I think Joth is right, but let's see if he can get himself out of this pickle."
John just giggled and nodded his head.
"Okay son, start explaining."
Joth decided to play this as if he was in an audience with the King, requesting a boon. "Your majesty, I came upon this young member of our kingdom distraught and in tears. I inquired as to the reason for his distress, and after listening to his story, decided that as a kingdom we should help him and his family. His family is a proud and hard working family and extremely loyal to our family. They need real assistance and not charity, as I don't have a page, yet, I decided that John should become my page. I humbly beseech you to allow John Lansing to become my Page?"
"Bravo son, Bravo; that was an amazing performance!" roared the King in amazement, for it seemed his son had finally grown up and become a man. He was now ready to fully receive his mantle as Crown Prince of Erehwon.
John was amazed when the King started laughing at his son. When John took a look at Joth he was even more amazed, for Joth was standing perfectly still with a perfect court face. There wasn't an emotion visible, except for the steely look of determination in his eyes.
The King continued before the silence became deafening. "As of this day, I hereby declare that the Honorable Master John Lansing becomes The Royal Page to his Highness, the Crown Prince Joth. His duties are to commence immediately with the appropriate compensation to come out of the Crown Prince's Household Accounts. Is that acceptable to you, young Master Lansing?"
John was so happy and overcome with emotion that he forgot where he was and gave the King a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. He was overcome with shame when he realized what he had done. He tried to get down from the Kings lap to apologize for his offense.
The King just pulled John even closer and returned both the hug and the kiss. "I guess that hug and kiss meant yes?"
John just nodded his head and then turned to look at the Prince.
Joth's stance had relaxed slightly, but he was still standing at attention awaiting the next response from the King.
"John, please go stand over with Mistress Rebekah; she will make sure that you are taken care of. She will take you home and inform your parents of your new status. She will also bring a few guards along to help you bring anything you want, back to your new rooms." The king then leaned down and whispered to John "Don't ever call her Mistress Rebekah, you must always call her Nana unless in public, okay?" at John's nod then King then said "Okay now, scoot."
John then carefully climbed down from the King's lap, took a few steps away from the chair and made a perfect court bow to the King. In amazement, the King gave a bow of his head. ‘I can't believe my lucky stars my son grows up and in the same day finds himself a page with manners and intelligence. Also a page who, when thrown into the fire, doesn't panic and walks out unsinged. It looks like My Kingdom will continue to thrive under my son's rule. Now to straighten him out!'
"Prince Joth," at those words from the King, the temperature in the room dropped precipitously. "While your intentions were well meant, your actions were ill thought out and unseemly, not to mention rude! You never bothered to inform Master John of your identity, or even ask him if he would like to be your page. You dragged a distraught young member of my Kingdom pell-mell through the castle, disrupting many people trying to perform their duties; you also managed to scare Master John half to death. I am extremely proud that you want to help John and his family, and that you are ready to become The Crown Prince. However, in the future, you must think through your actions before embarking on them! Do I make myself clear? Do you truly understand the import of your actions and behavior?"
"Yes, your Majesty, and I will apologize to those persons whose duties I interrupted. I am also sorry, John, for what I put you through, will you please forgive me?" Joth replied with a very sincere and chagrined tone in his voice; for he knew he had drastically overstepped his bounds. He then turned to John and patiently waited for his answer.
John turned and looked up at Rebekah to see if he should answer and at Rebekah's nod replied. "Yes, your Highness, I forgive you."
Before either the King or Joth could reply, Rebekah announced in a no nonsense voice "His name is Joth to you, John unless you are in public with him. After what he did to you, you deserve that right."
"Absolutely, and it is so ordered." responded the King.
"Rafealo after your son has finished apologizing, I think I have a suitable set of punishments for him to atone for his errors." Rebekah informed Joth and the King.
"I think that is a wonderful idea, Now young prince, I believe you still have some groveling to do? Isn't that correct?" Rafealo asked his son.
"Yes sire, I further apologize for interrupting your audience and for frightening John. I will also think through my actions and words before acting on or speaking them. I will also try very hard to consider how these actions might hurt other people." a very subdued young prince replied.
"Thank you Joth, please remember those words for the rest of you life and you will save yourself and others a lot of grief. Now you have one more thing to do before I turn you over to Nana. You must formally ask John to be your page; if he says no, you will have to find someone else, the proper way this time. Now ask him, and do it correctly." The father told his son.
Joth then turned and slowly walked over to where John was standing with Rebekah's hand on his shoulder supporting him. Joth stopped three paces away and, as a sign of contrition, dropped to one knee in submission. "Master John Lansing, will you do me the honor of becoming my Personal Page; and assuming all the duties and responsibilities that come with that position? If you agree I will do everything in my power to provide for your needs and wants. I will also endeavor to protect you and your family to the best of my ability."
John, unsure of how to answer, first looked at the King who now stood behind his son with a huge smile on his face. The King nodded yes then nodded towards Rebekah.
Rebekah leaned over and whispered in John's ear.
"I humbly accept your offer and the honor of becoming your personal page. I will do everything within my ability to fulfill those duties and responsibilities." replied John stumbling over some of the words, but the whispered words of encouragement from his new Nana helped him through his Speech. He then gave another court bow to Joth and his Father.
Rebekah and the King both gave him hugs and said, ‘Welcome to the Family."
While the King took John aside to explain some of his duties, Rebekah was addressing her young charge.
"As for you, young man, you are extremely lucky you have such a loving and tolerant King and Father! Now while John and I are bringing the good news to his family and collecting his belongings, you, and you alone, are going to prepare his rooms. That means all the bedding must be changed, the windows must be opened and the rooms aired, the linen closet and bathing room are to be stocked. You will also ensure that all the facilities are working properly. When you have finished with that task, you will draw John a proper bath, using your favorite soaps, bath salts and lotions. Then you have a choice; you can either go to the Head Housekeeper and requisition John's Page uniform, or find some of your older good clothes that will fit him until we can have proper uniforms and clothing made for him. Any questions, young man?" Rebekah asked the now chagrined Prince.
"No Nana. May I be excused now so that I may get started on my tasks?" queried the Prince, eager to get started before his punishment got worse. As soon as Rebekah began to nod, Joth was out the door.
The King and Rebekah both began to laugh at the speed of Joth's exit and the look on his face. John started to relax and began to laugh a little. "Nana, does he really have to do all that just for me? Will he hate me because he got punished?""No little one; Joth won't hate you, right now, he would do almost anything to keep out of trouble. Joth really does need a page, and you, young man, will make a very good one. You are exactly the type of page he needs." The King interrupted Rebekah as he knelt down and pulled John into his chest.
"Joth needs you, because you know what hard work is and you are not afraid to do it. You are also very brave, because not many people your age would have come looking for a job at the castle without an adult or friend with them. Plus, you never showed any fear of me or your situation until I yelled, and that would have scared anyone. You also seem to be very intelligent and Joth will like that. You are supposed to serve and look after Joth and run errands for him when needed. But you are also supposed to be his friend and have fun also. If Joth ever does something you know he is not supposed to, or tells you to do something that is wrong, you come tell me, Nana or Queen Angelina. Okay, do you understand this?"
John nodded yes.
"John, I know Rafealo told you to call me Nana in private, well the same thing goes for him and the Queen. Although you work for Joth, you are a member of the family now. When we are alone like now, his name is Rafe and her name is Angie. Now say thank you Rafe." Rebekah finished her reassurance of her new young charge.
"Thank you Rafe."
"And that is why John loves Joth and will do anything for him. He knows that Joth cares for you and that you needed help. He gave his time and help willingly; no one ever ordered him or even asked him to help. He was asked only to help prepare for your coming the rest of his time and help were totally volunteered; he simply did what had to be done and that was it. So don't worry about him, he is fine. Joth is paying him back awesomely, very few kids get to fly on dragonback and very, very, very few get to do it by themselves without an adult. So all you need to do is say, 'thank you,' to him and that will take care of it." Rebekah finishes her story.
As Rebekah was finishing her story, their peace was shattered by two young screams! One of pure unadulterated joy and one of terror and joy combined. The three friends quickly went back to the battlement wall to see what the two young imps were up to. Just as they reached the wall, they were joined by Lance on their right side. As they looked over the wall they could see Gus making another dive run at the river. It seemed that Gus and Jonah were showing off for John. Gus had his wings tucked in tight and was seeing how low he could come to the water before swerving up to begin another run. The four on the balcony broke out laughing and as they were joined by Ranulf, he started laughing also. The escort dragons and their riders were having a terrible time keeping up with Gus. It looked like two of them had decided to just stay low along the river while one of them tried to stay in Gus's vicinity. The other two just circled overhead and were trying to stay out of Gus's way. The funniest sight though was Jonah and John, whenever Gus would begin to dive, Jonah would release his hands from Gus's neck and raise them in the air. John would then grab Jonah by his shoulders and try to hold him down. But what was so funny was it looked like John was actually holding on to Jonah for his own sake, not Jonah's. But every time they came back up, John obviously said yes cause down they went again.
The five of them returned to their seats as Ranulf grabbed himself another chair and joined them.
"Just', this is my lover Ranulf and a corporal in Joth's guard, he covered my shifts for me while I was guarding you and the rest. Ranulf this is Justin, now known as Just'." Lance introduced the two. Ranulf nodded to Just' and then spoke to Just',
"Don't worry about it Just' you don't owe me anything; it wasn't really a big deal. We are in the process of training some other private Royal Guards, so some of the more experienced ones filled in also in the non sensitive posts. That way we only had to work half shifts for the extra ones. And we got paid for a full shift. So we actually owe you, not the other way around."
"Thanks anyway, I really do appreciate everything everyone has done for me. I have no idea how to pay you all back for this." Was Just's answer.
"We'll figure out how you can pay us back after you have fully recovered. So don't worry about it until then, and in fact it won't be as hard as you think." Joth told Just' while again pulling him back onto his chest. "Now relax, and I'll finish my explanation and then you can tell us your story and why you were beaten half to death. And don't worry about Lance and Ranulf, they are both on your side and will be helping you no matter why you got hurt."
"But..." Just tried to continue.
"Just', what did I tell you? "No Buts" Got that, Mister?"
"Yes Nana" replied a sheepish Just' "Go ahead Joth, I'll be good I don't want my ears boxed."
That brought a chuckle to all of them; it was a very good sign that Just' was on the way to recovery.
"Okay, other than I didn't want anyone outside of the family to hear your story, there is one thing I haven't told you yet about me. Don't worry, it isn't anything serious it is just something personal and private. It is only known to a core few outside of my family, Doc Bazaar and My Guard Officers. Remember when I told you why Jonah was sleeping with you? Well, he was only sleeping with you when I couldn't. You see, I am one of the reasons you are alive and walking today." Joth lightly pushed Just' down and stroked his hair and shoulders to relax him. "You see, Jonah isn't the only one with a gift around here, I have a slight gift of healing. I can't heal broken bones or torn organs, however, like Jonah, I can dull pain to some extent, so people can relax and sleep, so the body can help heal itself. Unlike Jonah, I can't make you feel better or safe and secure, other than by my presence. I can however, induce the body's natural healing powers to work a little faster. That is one of the reasons why you have been sleeping so much the last three days. The other reason is that some of the medicines that Doktor Bazaar gave you made you sleepy also. He really is a very good Doktor and he helped heal a lot of things Jonah and I can't. He did all the cleaning and stitching of your wounds. Between the medicines, and Jonah and I dulling your pain, you felt very little of his work. He was able to do a lot of repairs all at once. After he was finished with his repairs, he woke you up enough for you to drink a restorative broth. I then climbed into bed with you and wrapped you in my arms, then Jonah helped you sleep. We slept together for nearly twelve hours the first time because healing exhausts me also. After we took care of some necessary things, I put you back into bed and Jonah climbed in bed with you and told you nursery rhymes, until you fell asleep, he then held you until you were in a deep restful sleep. He then would either go play with his toys in his room next door, or go chase Gus around the Weyr. Dragoneer Jeffords says he has never seen anything funnier than Jonah chasing an almost Forty Foot Dragon and then catching him and wrestling him to the ground. Jeffords had to leave the Weyr when Jonah crawled all the way onto Gus's shoulder nearly ten feet off of the ground and stood up and said "I am The King of the Dragon Slayers" He thought Jonah was going to fall off when Gus started laughing, but Jonah just reached down and smacked Gus and said "Dead Dragons' don't Laugh". Rebekah would stay in the room with you, knitting and keeping an eye on you, when it was time for your medicine she would send John for me, or Jonah, if I was busy with court or arms practice Then we would wake you up, give you more broth with the medicine and then crawl in with you until you were asleep. At night I would sleep with you, all the time easing your pain and accelerating your healing, while Jonah would go sleep with Gus. About Gus, whenever Jonah or I were with you, he would use our senses and his to scan your body for areas that needed specific help. He also read your Aura or mental picture so Jonah could help fix some of your fears. Gus can't and won't read minds unless you let him, or it is a matter of life or death. He read a portion of your mind and told us you were the victim and not the perpetrator. What else he found, he won't divulge to anyone ever. The only thing he would tell us was that Jonah was as safe with you as he was with him. And that is everything that has happened up until now. Now, it is your turn." Joth then looked into Just's eyes and kissed him on the forehead.
"Okay, I don't know where to begin…."
"At the beginning" came out simultaneously from the other four."My name is Justin Lennox and I was born in Potters Village in Simon's Valley approximately seventeen winters ago."
First of all, I would like to thank all of those who have made contributions to this chapter – ACfan, Akeentia, Boi_From_Aus and Darkmage. I hope you will have as much fun reading this chapter as I did writing it. This story still has a long way to go, so please be patient. At this time, I would like to say goodbye to Gunrunner as my editor and thank him for all of his hard work. Gun's new commitments and endeavours do not give him the time to assist me. However Gunrunner will be sticking around as Editorial Consultant. He has also contributed some cool graphics which you will find in future chapters, like the dragon at the beginning of this section. I would also like to welcome Darkmage and thank him for consenting to edit this story for me. I really appreciate him taking time away from writing his story "The Guardian" to assist me. If you haven't read his story read it, it is fascinating. I would like to apologize for the second cliffhanger in a row but I can't. This was a natural place to stop, however, Chapter Three is well on it's way to being finished. Stay tuned there are many more surprises to come. I would also like to welcome my new editing team of Str8mayb and The Radio Rancher; authors in their own right with their stories available at The Padded Room and Cracker's Den respectively.
Okay I agree with ya'll about the ending but StoryLover knows what I think about cliffhangers and even made me promise not to hurt him when he first sent me this chapter. But it is still an excellent chapter and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed editing it. If you find any errors that were missed then yell at Acfan it is all his fault. LOL well I hope we will see you back when chapter three decides to be written. Have a fun Halloween and make sure you bring me back plenty of candy.
Merry Part all
'Cliff Hanger? I don't see no stinking Cliff Hanger' That was indeed a natural place to end the chapter and a good reason to write fast so we get the next chapter. I have plenty of torches and pitchforks ready for the mob if we don't see the next chapter in a reasonable amount of time. Poor Just's head has to be spinning. So much is being thrown at him so fast and from so many different sources. I hope he can adjust to everything. I think he is going to have to get Joth to slow down, a lot.
Keep reading and enjoy.Str8mayb
Oh my GAWD!!!!!! I feel so inadequate. How in the world can I possibly follow all three of those other editors? Let's see, did they leave any comments for me?
Having read ahead a few chapters, I already know a few things that if I were to tell you, I would have to kill you. Let's just say that life is not going to get any less complicated for Just' anytime soon. That is not to say that he will be hurt in any way, just that his life is going to change and he is going to be really busy. I am so glad the Gus and Joth found him.
Like all the others that have made comments here, I must say that I love this story and the others in this universe. I strongly recommend that you read any story that appears in the Dragon Earl Universe. You won't be the least bit sorry.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher
One final word if you think you see yourself in this story it might be true. :) Don't forget feedback feeds the muse - firstname.lastname@example.org