Sergey Streltsov.

Yester-times.

The mini-novel for children.

 

1.1

 

It was bright spring morning. Dawns in the land of Sainted Lakes were something special. And tenderness of those dawns led loyal folks of king Talantus to peaceful feeling that land of their fathers’ is best on the Earth, and to be such a wonder at least till the End of The World. Which was inevitable according to prophets and saints of this land, which was abound of good and righteous people in its private and really inimitable way. Generous in fruits and cattle Sainted Lakes’ land were teaching benevolent folks the lesson to be generous in the love to fellow beings. And this lovely day of April was doomed to be the day of great sacrifice— the king Talantus was going to offer on the castle altar in midday his biggest white ox to attain merci of Savior, the only God of this land. Now God’s divine grace was to be dedicated to king’s only child, princess Lavinia. She was in her mid-teens, or if to put it down more accurate— fifteen. Pretty girl of slim figure, innocent looks and freckles. The last thing, as we must notice, was the sign of royal blood in her. And in these days freckles could be seen on only this awfully rare occasion, and acknowledgement of this fact sometimes made Lavinia’s virgin heart to beat faster with girlish pride, she felt in these moments that her utmost beauty is a sort of prophecy of her unusually happy future, as we must to admit— girls since then changed very little, and she was, like girls are now-a-days, dreaming of prince charming whose soul to be devout to her caprices. Not a plausible attitude, you know, but with girls that know of their almost unbelievable beauty, with girls that know that all others know about it, the situation is always on verge of funny conclusion that these young princesses are not all there, sorry for the ruthless wording.

This morning was breaking into existence in gentle way that was not to disturb those sleeping and, the same time, was to raise cheerful atmosphere in minds of those who already woke up and started to fulfill their daily duties. These working class and priesthood people were already occupied with their affairs after short but obligatory morning prayers at the saint altars in their houses and on the main squares of their villages.

Sun seemed smiling to the land of Sainted Lakes. And land of Sainted Lakes seemed smiling to the sun with its flowers, fields of corn, forests and famous lakes that gave their name to this land because of purity and medical aspects of their waters which had always been full with fish and lilies.

The castle of king Talantus was already busy with servants, bakers, cooks, and other people so plain of rank and unseen in day-by-day life that their names had not survived till our days. Only few of them now remained in historic rolls of fame. One of them was Nadine, the maid general of princess Lavinia. She was named after her mother, who was in her time maid general of Lavinia’s mother. These Nadine girls were very industrious ones in their time, they had to rise early and after brief washing of their lively and intelligent faces went to prepare dresses and bijoux for their young princesses.

When princess Lavinia’s mother was dying after giving birth to her only child, she asked her best friend in the world, her maid general, you know name of this girl was Nadine, to give birth to maid general for her daughter, and at the end of that year, little Nadine was borne and destined to fate of faithful service to the court and especially to another little girl, who, then in gilded cradle, was waiting for days to come and fortune to fulfill.

 

1.2

 

Lavinia slept in her bedroom in her father’s castle. Her rich bed was adorned with flowers of spring, and above her head hung the tapestry with brave prince with freckles on lovely face and in expensive armors. He was riding white horse since occasion when father presented this thing to her at her third birthday. And since the day, the boy, prince was the beautiful boy, was night guest of Lavinia’s dreams. They walk along lakes, they rode chariot, they sometimes kissed, but the latter was secret from the universe. The dearest bijou of Lavinia’s heart, it was considered in her private opinion as only her bijou that was true.

Nadine entered into Lavinia bed-room with little silver bell announcing the time to rise for the princess. Lavinia showed her face from under the blanket with grimace of intolerance to any disturbance of her privacy.

‘It’s time to pray, princess.’ Nadine said as if she had not seen Lavinia’s face.

‘Pray, pray. Night and day.’ Princess teased her sitting up.

‘Good people are always praying in the morning.’ Nadine, long ago accustomed to ways of life in royal family, was steadfast at her duties.

‘Good people have no need in praying. God is already on their side and inclined to bless every need of those he loves,’ Lavinia retorted in her usual morning stubborn mood.

‘But why, if you’re right, saints dedicate to prayer most of the time?’ Nadine simply asked.

‘I think it is old-fashioned tricks,’ Lavinia proceeded in arrogant mood.

‘And if so, their wonder-working is old-fashioned tricks, too,’ Nadine was unable to hide her wise and sensitive smile.

‘Would be. Who need wonders now-a-days? Ill beggars? Stupid crones? Gullible illiterate men? Who?’ Lavinia was inexorable.

‘I think wonders are needed by every one. Everybody has his grief and sorrow to relieve, sickness to heal, and vital problem to solve,’ Pious heart of Nadine found due words with steady effort.

‘But we have friends for sorrows, doctors for sickness and king to cope with any problem,’ Lavinia now spoke looking baldly in the eyes of her maid general.

‘You speak as haughty princess, if you can see the world as sage one, you’ll know that not everything can be helped by friends, doctors and kings.’ Nadine sighed.

‘This must be appraised as sign of disloyalty?’ Lavinia raised her eyebrow.

‘Just as you wish. But I beg Your Highness to rise, then though shortly but to pray, then to dress something appropriate, and then…’ Nadine began.

‘It’s enough, my dear Nadine. Let’s get praying.’ Lavinia interrupted her.

They kneeled at the window with view to altar of castle, lifted their hands and sang three hymns— first to glorify the God, second to ask Him for mercy, and third to declare their love for Him forever and ever. Getting on her feet Lavinia suddenly asked Nadine.

‘Do you remember the knight. Fluctuantius is his name. He was at our last tournament, and won it.’

‘That who all the time boasted about his riches and exploits.’

‘Don’t be so rude. He made a several advances to me,’ Lavinia said.

‘I’m awfully sorry to hear.’

‘But he is rich.’

‘He is not of royal blood,’ Nadine retorted.

‘Don’t be such a fool. The royal blood is no more ruler of world. The things gold is doing, no king can do.’

‘You speak like commoner,’ Nadine smiled.

‘But I’m right.’

‘Noble soul is stronger then gold.’

‘But even noble soul without purse is nothing.’

‘I don’t want to go in the theme.’

‘Don’t give up! You can make me better girl, Nadine.’

‘There is no better for best.’

‘I love this line of thought.’

Nadine approached wardrobe to choose Lavinia’s dress for the day, and looking at the purple pillow in it she had not found princess’ diamond diadem, the symbol of her principality.

‘Your Highness, your diadem is stolen.’

‘Don’t drivel, I was undressed by another maid, and there was no diadem. I think it just was left somewhere. I danced at the yesterday ball till the end and I took off the thing in the middle of the night and it would be in any place in ball-room.’

‘You must be more careful with signs of your power in future.’

‘My power is only to obey my father, and to avoid pleading for all little needs of modest girl who want a comfort of paternal understanding.’   

‘Take this dress, Your Highness, I’ll help you to fasten its clasps, and we go to seek it.’ 

 After mounting complicated attire on royal figure of Lavinia, they set forth to ball-room of castle. It had still kept traces of yesterday ball. Tables and chairs were covered with colorful ribbons. Pieces of meals and puddles of wines were on the floor. Instruments of musicians were left on the scene, beside them there sat Ririo, clown of king’s retinue. He was funny midget, with soft eyes, and brisk laughter, ready to outburst in every possible moment. Ririo turned his face to girls when heard them approaching.

‘Nice morning, Highness. What about the breakfast with me. I see nice apple on the floor— we can go in shares for it, if you please.’

‘God bless you fools. You can kiss my hand, poor Ririo, to apologize for improper behavior.’ Lavinia gave him her hand for kissing.

 ‘No matter how improper general politeness is, I am to obey.’ He blew his kiss to her hand not rising from his place. ‘I never knew that inviting to the restorative addressed to those who need it is felony in your eyes.’

‘Poor ugly, you know what I mean,’ princess said and sat down in her chair. ‘Do you know by the way where my diadem is?’

‘Every fool in the castle knows it.’

‘And would this every fool show me the way.’

‘The way is only to stand up and get here.’ Ririo showed her the diadem which was lying behind him.

‘Look, Nadine. I was right— gold will always find its way.’

‘What do you mean, Highness.’ Ririo said throwing to Lavinia her diadem.

‘We were discussing with Nadine super power of our days.’

‘And that mighty one was gold?’ Ririo asked askance.

‘How many wits are in this awkward head!’

‘Then I wish to propose little song, one of my latest. The ripe product of gift not to be compared with any in tough poetic business.’ Ririo said rubbing his sleepy eyes.

‘Then we are all the ear, Ririo. Sit down, Nadine, let him make the morning funny.’

Ririo took the lyre from scene, and after two or three skillful chords performed the next.

 

“I feel somewhere that I will die.

No matter how. No matter why.

But it is laughable to think

That death can peace and make and bring.

On tomb of mine will dance new folk

And name of mine will be small-talk.

And purse of mine- the laughing-stock,

With certain hearts will pay its joke.” 

 

Lavinia shortly applauded and then, turning to go back, said to Ririo.

‘Good piece, my fool, you are deserved your apple on the floor.’

He smiled at her back and whispered to himself.

‘God bless your heart, my princess.’

 

1.3

 

King Talantus was old warrior and had simple habits. He never permitted to his servant to make his modest face to blush. He served himself in all his needs. He loved to go hunting alone, to make light lunch from his game. He woke up always early, kept especially long morning prayers for about an hour and then usually went to the library where he was reading books about ancient kings and their kingdoms, about flood that effaced life on the Earth, about brave and honest man who saved human race from perdition in those terrible days, also he especially loved books about travels in distant lands he never saw, about food, animals and languages of those lands. He had tender heart and quick imagination and that opened to him the unseen and the mysterious.

He was clever ruler of his lands. People were not overtaxed, they had regular feasts, and education even among poorest wasn’t rare thing. The first care of king Talantus was weaker ones. He watched that the orphans, the aged, the ailing, and the poor had enough from his treasury. And in the midday he himself was visiting gates of his castle to give alms to beggars, and he knew almost all of them by the name.

When Delio, chief priest of his kingdom, and Ririo, the clown, entered into his chamber that morning, king was still praying on his knees. When he heard them coming he asked them.

‘Pray with me, my friends, and would be Savior will show to-day his mercy to us.’

‘We willingly do what you wish. But what to pray about?’ Delio said.

‘I feel I must die and very soon. But I want to see my only child happy.’

‘Then you should not indulge her, Your Majesty.’ Ririo chuckled.

‘No time for laughter, brothers. I am old. And I know that in very short time Lavinia will became the orphan. What I can do to protect her.’

‘Only way, I think, is to marry her off and do it quick.’

‘Oh, Delio. You see me through. But marry off to whom.’

Delio raised his hands.

‘Good heavens. You’re asking me to whom. The kings or heirs can only be contenders for her hand. Daughter of great king must became wife of great king, too.’

‘I think otherwise, Your Majesty.’

‘What do you think Ririo?’

‘She was educated by fool, namely me. She accustomed to my follies, of which main is poetic gift. She must marry poet. Great poet, for I was great fool.’

‘Thank you, brothers. Please, kneel down with me. And let’s pray to marry her off to great king who is in the same time the great poet. Must he be also the great fool, Ririo?’ King smiled.

‘Not necessarily. Poet is enough.’ 

 

In the midday dozen of silver trumpets sounded over central square of castle, where was situated the altar. King among priests and his faithful knights in something long but lively procession came out from doors of chamber of state counsel. King loved to hear advices from nearly everybody from beggars to his daughter. But especially he loved words of wisdom from Ririo and Delio. Delio was always serious when Ririo was always laughable from first word to last. Even in awful grieves Ririo had often found spot for mockery. And those who were ready to weep a moment ago with Ririo’s cracks had burst with roar of ha-ha and no one could hush them then. They were uncontrollable.

 When procession stopped at the center of square between death-stone, where each sacrificed animal was to die, and altar, where it was to be burnt down for sake of God, king lifted his hands and said.

‘Be blessed those who in love for they are improving this world! Be blessed those who in war for they are fighting for peace! Be blessed the young and the old for they are alive! Be blessed cruel and merciful for they are humans! Be blessed all in all and each in each! Be blessed our God, The Savior, for He loves us though we are mean and sinful! Amen.’

He put his hand on the head of his biggest white ox, and led it to death-stone where according to his life long custom beheaded the animal with his sword in one stroke. Then king took body of ox on his shoulders and slowly brought it to the altar. When king Talantus was young it was pleasure to him to perform this with his strength and agility. But with years it was getting harder and harder to bring body of ripe ox to altar from death-stone. It always took twelve steps. But now everybody could see that face of Talantus was pale and covered with perspiration. King felt that his heart was beating weaker and weaker, he felt that he was about to die. But he would have never postponed this sacrifice for he vowed to God that he was going to do it for sake of Lavinia, his daughter. ‘She must be happy in her life,’ he thought. ‘She must be happy, even if I won’t see it. And she must meet her love, this king and poet boy.’ When he put body of ox on the altar he already knew that it was his last sacrifice in this life. He put on fire the wood under the ox with torch given by Delio, and held hands lifted to the Heavens till appearance of blue smoke above the altar, which was always sign of the God’s acceptance of sacrifice. His heart was about to stop.

‘Oh, Savior, bless my little Lavinia. From now on she is in your hands.’

It was his last words. He fell breathless before the altar.

 

1.4

 

The funeral service was to have place the next day. King was lying in his coffin with soft countenance with which he died. Lavinia on that night was tired of her tears. From time to time she fell asleep and again woke up and sank in melancholy. Nadine was always near, she had not slept. When Lavinia woke up last time and felt that she cannot sleep more, she told to Nadine.

‘Now my life is useless. No one will help me. And the main shortcoming of my new situation that no one will help me to get married in proper way.’

‘Why you’re so sure?’

‘Father had sense of people. He could spot the man in a jiffy. I am too naïve to be able for any of this spot-the-man practices. I’ll be cheated out of my kingdom in one day.’

‘But you have your knights, and people who love you.’

‘They love power but not me. Don’t be ridiculous.’

‘I don’t agree. But you can make them to revere and venerate you, if you try.’

‘I’m not so rich.’

‘Your Highness, in ways of love the gold is nothing.’

‘In ways of gold the love is nothing. That’s right, I think, dear.’

‘But what the gold is menace to your throne.’

‘Not precisely gold, but I think someone with comparatively strong army can approach my people with more convenient taxes.’

‘But your father’s taxes were low.’

‘They are no more low, dear, since I’m in power.’

‘You have good deal of treasure.’

‘Not so good for new dresses, horses, and friends.’

‘You need gold for friends? It sounds strange.’

‘Clever, beautiful, educated, well-disposed to My Majesty friends. Dozens of them. I’m exhausted by these Delio-and-Ririo kind of men. And if to say more they never were my friends. Father’s would be. But mine— no.’ 

‘And what you’ll do with your new friends, Your Highness?’

‘No more Highness— Majesty is correct.’

‘Excuse me, Your Majesty.’

‘With my new friends we’ll relax.’

‘From what?’

‘Relaxation is only thing I need after being constrained in hands of my late father.’

‘I think he wanted for you something different life.’

‘Let’s forget it.’

 

1.5

 

Till the midday funeral service was finished. And according to ancient tradition the sword of dead king was laid on his tomb stone to make all knights to swear loyalty to new monarch.

‘Lavinia, look it’s beginning of your glory,’ said Delio.

‘What glory? You’re laughing at my little kingdom, little treasury, and fame as quick as a wind in pursuit of the day.’

‘You must be ashamed— from Heavens your father sees you. And your words are of capricious girl, not of queen of great descent.’

‘Father doesn’t see me and never will.’

‘We’ll all see each other at Judgment Day, when God will give to everybody his due.’

‘Delio, you know I never really believed in this stuff. I prayed and attended sacrifices as my father wished me to, but since now I hope to see nothing of this stuff. We’re modern people. We must be cute and reasonable. So don’t ask me any more to observe that that I don’t want to.’

‘I already heard these words. Do you know from whom? From myself. But wisdom comes with years. I was young and arrogant, and became old and wise. Don’t hurry and years will do their job. You’ll see the life, and the life will show you what’s right and clever and what’s wrong and unsuitable.’

The trumpets blew three times. And knights approached Talantus tomb stone in vivid and colorful procession. In the head of them came Sidon, the knight general of this kingdom. He was grey-haired giant with childish blue eyes. Scars of old wounds adorned him in great more number then arrows in his quiver. He was sagacious old warrior, and remembered youth of the late king. The death of the latter grieved him a lot, he thought it was his fault to give Talantus to make his last sacrifice; he should be more attentive to old Sovereign. But his sorrow was mostly not with king who was dead, but with king’s daughter who was alive. He knew Lavinia and his intuition was telling him: there’s no more of quiet reign. The intriguers and rogues of all kinds and of all parts of world to sweep on the Sainted Lakes in a short time. Lavinia is too blind to see hearts of men and too proud to friendly counsel. She will rule like a vortex. Her soul is a toy to her pride and to her folly.

‘Lavinia… Sorry. Your Majesty, you’re father was father to all of us. So and you will be our mother in joys and sorrows and so judge us not without mercy. Your army is yours till the end of your life, or life of your soldiers. We’ll be your friends and servants in peace and war, like we were so far. Receive our oaths of loyalty. And, God bless your heart to be clever not to begin the war.’ Sidon said, and kneeled before Lavinia to kiss her hand.

‘Queens with such a tiny army never begin the wars, Sidon.’ Lavinia said.

‘You’ll make me an honor if you’re one of them, Your Majesty.’

‘Your men can approach me to show they’re loyal.’

One by one knights were kneeling before the new queen, kissing her hand with oath to serve faithfully. Lavinia was nonetheless frustrated by something.

‘What the use, Delio dear, of these customs. If someone will want to betray me, to rob me or even to kill me— all this huge amount of the kneeling and the swearing won’t do any help.’

‘You’re may be right. But they swear not by their name, not by yours, but by God’s one. There’s all the difference. You see?’

‘I see that it’s foolish. What good can make me the name of what’s barely exist?’

‘For the first I can point out the huge privilege that your traitors will be judged not only by your judgment but by God’s also. But I’m afraid you will laugh at it.’ 

‘Laugh? No! These well armed and well trained men are menace. Don’t you understand? And you propose to entrust to Godly-something all these rot of troubles to come.’

‘What do you want?’

‘To buy them.’

‘But how?’

‘Time will show.’

All twenty four knights of Sainted Lakes had gone through the ritual of oaths and it was turn of mercenaries to swear their allegiance to new queen. Tirido, their chief approached Lavinia and Delio who stood with Sidon by their side, but he didn’t kneeled.

Sidon, you’re not too stupid to believe that I and my men will serve to this doll without brains. We’re may be illiterate but not to that extent. Now history of the kingdom is closed point. We won’t serve to her.’

‘What do you want?’

‘Our part of treasury we helped to build.’ Tirido winked to Sidon.

‘How much?

‘The half will do.’

‘Tirido, you can have a great honor just to walk away with your dumb mob, and I awfully strongly opinionated that the sooner you’ll leave the better.’

Sidon, is it you’re last word?’

‘No doubt it is.’

‘Then we’ll fight for our right to have what we want to.’

In this moment Ririo flew out from crowd of the castle square, grasped Lavinia and with one word ‘Run!’ dashed dragging her by the hand into the castle. As they closed the door of state counsel chamber behind them, through another door Nadine ran in.

‘Are you safe, Your Majesty?’ She asked.

‘Quite.’

‘This Tirido man is loony. I’ve heard about the half of your treasury! How nice of him!’

‘Yes, move is clever.’ Lavinia whispered coldly.

‘Your Majesty, fools are often clever in their ways.’ Ririo came up with his new joke.

‘Thanks. But you fools can cost me a kingdom.’

‘Or save your life.’

‘Thanks, Ririo. Thanks. But what is amazing— taxes are not yet risen, but mutiny is already here. What we’ll see later.’

‘Stratagems and tribulations.’

‘You’re right, Ririo. But there’s no consolation in your rightness.’

Nevertheless in a very short time Sidon with other true knights of Lavinia sent all mercenaries to exile from the castle and kingdom of Sainted Lakes.

 

1.6

 

In this very time on Labion island, Elizora, the enchantress, was sitting in her dark tower in the castle of Hieroglyph, the chief of marine robbers. There were no windows in the tower. Only torches gave light to stairs and chamber of Elizora. She was beautiful but this sort of beauty was never about peace of mind, it was about power and strange uneasiness in hearts of those who were to deal with this woman who seemed frozen in her middle-age and never to be approached by time or whatever that makes us older. As though she already had gone through gates of death, and then returned to this world to spread spells of horror and destruction.

   In her green eyes lived some tension unavoidable for all who had seen her. And only wise people could say what it was— for it was absence— absence of love.

In hands of Elizora was transparent sphere which was changing its colors every moment. It was sphere of Nemigo, the evil genius, mighty spirit of this world. People who had this magic sphere could talk with him. And to summon him up just one ancient conjuration should be addressed to Nemigo through this sphere which resembled more ball of fire than something made of glass or precious stone. And indeed, it was made of no material thing but out of spells of ancient magic.

Lips of Elizora slightly moved in conjuration addressed to Nemigo, and suddenly all the chamber was alive with light of every color and hue which could be seen on earth or in heaven.

‘Good day, Elizora,’ Nemigo said from inside of the sphere.

‘Good day, Your Excellence,’ Elizora mumbled with supernatural fear that she felt in presence of Nemigo.

‘I have good news for you.’

‘I’m ready to obey,’ powerful with others Elizora could not help but to cringe before Nemigo. 

‘King Talantus is dead, and you can get his kingdom to me.’

‘By spells or by war?’ Elizora asked him.

‘Spells are of no use there because people of this kingdom are righteous in ways of God. You must take all your warships and hold castle of Talantus in siege till Lavinia, his heiress and daughter, will give up defense.’

‘What then?’ Elizora was getting impatient.

‘I’ll explain to you the whole plan in due time.’

The light of sphere disappeared in this moment by the same magic power with which it appeared.

 

1.7

 

When dinner of Hieroglyph and his marine robbers was in its prime, Elizora came out of the entrance to hall of the castle where drunken songs and shouts were heard. It was feast of booze of people if not fearless but then just pretending to be unafraid of guns and sea, of death and pain, of treachery and blasphemy. Elizora silently approached head of the huge table where Hieroglyph was sitting on silk cushions.

Elizora raised her hand above to bid silence.

‘Time is come,’ she said. ‘Sainted Lakes is ours.’

‘When we must begin campaign?’ Hieroglyph asked from behind the veil that covered his face.

‘Tomorrow, when wine will evaporate from your heads we shall start our invasion. I talked with Nemigo about it.’

‘Nemigo is real thing,’ Hieroglyph said and voice drowned in the drunken shouts of men. 

 

1.8

 

On the next morning warships of Hieroglyph was unmoored and started on their long way through the sea to shore of Lavinia’s kingdom.

Invasion was unexpected, so when troops of Hieroglyph surrounded Lavinia’s castle, only knights and servants were on the walls and at the gates to defend heart of their kingdom. And they defended it effectually because Sidon, knight general of Lavinia, was skillful in arts of war.

Lavinia herself was all the time on verge of hysterics. She claimed surrender and defense almost simultaneously.

 

1.9

 

 After one month of the siege Elizora came to the tent of Hieroglyph.

‘I have solution for our problem with castle.’

‘I glad you have,’ Hieroglyph answered from behind veil.

‘You should offer parley to Lavinia where you to announce as your decision that when she and her people leave the castle without weapons you grant them their lives.’

‘It’s just as cute as war. What’s the after that?’

‘When door will be opened your men must kill Lavinia’s men and capture her for me.’

 

1.10

 

Lavinia wasn’t at parley which was done through little window in the gates of castle. And when Sidon brought to her Hieroglyph’s offer she cried.

‘Give them my castle. And let them keep me alive.’

‘Don’t be so stupid,’ Sidon said. ‘It’s only trap. They’ll kill us as soon as castle will be theirs.’

‘Save your wisdom to yourself, Sidon.’ Lavinia snapped through the tears. ‘We can die either from hunger or from their swords. I prefer swords. And, if to be honest, I believe that Hieroglyph will spare me. Open the gates.’

‘Just as you want,’ Sidon sighed, and had gone to give final orders before surrender of castle. He was old warrior, and had been in much worse situations, but somewhat weird feeling told him that once gates are open— he and his men are dead.

 

1.11

 

Sidon was right. As soon as gates were opened, people of Hieroglyph drowned its walls in blood of Lavinia’s knights and servants. War was over in the moment. Nadine took her queen to late king’s bedroom. Delio and Ririo with swords in their hands come with girls for protection. But just as Ririo bolted door from inside, they heard shouts of invaders, and after some attempts on the side of men of Hieroglyph door gave way and fell on the floor.

Delio and Ririo raised their swords but right off were killed by archers.

Malvenuto, the eunuch of Hieroglyph, who was leading hunt for Lavinia in assault of the castle, smiled.

‘Now you’re our prisoner Your Majesty. And Majesty no more.’

‘Can I accompany my queen to captivity?’ Nadine asked him.

‘All right. Come along, girls,’ said Malvenuto, ‘You will be murdered if any sign of disobedience will be shown by your people.’

‘At least we’re alive,’ Lavinia sobbed and swooned.    

 

2.1

 

When his father king Miran died world seemed lost its colors to prince Timeus. He prayed about his father through the nights and daily wrote book about exploits of late king showing new pieces to his mother queen-widow Cora. It was becoming wonderful book about true hero, true love and true meaning of life. This miracle of literature was to survive through the ages to tell to future generations of people of earth where road to glory is and how to find it. The book consisted of verses. They were light and strong, tender and mild, sage and prophetic. Timeus was very young but his mother was proud of her son, she listened to his reading in the evenings before the dusk and hid secretive tear of happiness tinted with sorrow about death of her beloved husband. In the month book was about to be completed, it lacks only one thing- description of enthronization of new king. But Timeus liked to be simple prince leaving all decisions about The-Seven-Hills kingdom to his mother.

Once in the morning mother found him weeping in his room.

‘Why are you crying, dear?’ She asked.

‘I never, never will be hero like my father. I’m just poet, nothing more. And though my father taught me how to use sword I will never have enough courage to brave the enemy out.’ Timeus stammered through tears, his eyes ablaze.

‘You even don’t know yourself.’ Cora smiled.

‘What I must to do to know myself?’ Timeus asked.

‘You must find your love.’

‘Love? But what the love you speaking about?’

‘I speak about love of your life. The only thing that makes life to be lived, and fight to be won.’

‘But where I can find it?’

‘In your heart.’

‘My heart is empty.

‘Fill it.’

‘How?’

‘Time will show. And now just to dry your tears go to hunt and bring me whatever you like for the dinner.’

‘All right, mother. I will think about your words. I’m not afraid of my future. Let’s hope we’ll be worthy of father.’

‘So get on your white horse and go to the forest.’

Timeus snatched the bow and quiver and went to stable yard. And the next moment he was riding from the castle.

Timeus was unhappy with hunting this day, only three arrows left in his quiver and he had no game at all. He missed every shot from beginning. Suddenly he had seen Nouvelius, the messenger. It was good spirit that was telling news to kings and saint people.

‘Hear, Timeus, the prince of The-Seven-Hills. I have to tell you where your fate waits you.’ Nouvelius said.

‘I will obey every word of yours.’

‘Lavinia, queen of Sainted Lakes, is seized by Hieroglyph, chief of marine robbers, and brought to Labion island with Nadine, her true servant. If you want to find your love, make free Lavinia and marry her. Omigo, the good genius, is waiting for you at the old alter in the forest. Go to him and receive what God sends you.’

‘Thank you, Nouvelius.’

‘I hope I’ll help you in your adventure.’

Nouvelius disappeared and Timeus get harried up his white horse to old altar.

 

2.2

 

As soon as Timeus dismounted from horse, kneeled and said first words of great prayer ‘God, who is almighty and good…’, he saw beam of light descending from heaven on the old altar. As beam touched stone of altar, Omigo, the good genius, appeared there with all his glory.

‘I’m glad to see you, Timeus.’

‘O, master of all good spirits, tell me what to do.’ Timeus was full of joy and said first words that came to his heart.

‘Take this sword and apple of ruby color.’

‘Thank you, Omigo. But what to do with them?’

‘This apple for charmed princess you will meet soon. And this sword that made from golden lightning will help you fight any enemy you can encounter in your life. If you bless with this sword any weapon of your friends it will receive part of its power enough to help you.’

‘But where I must go?’

‘Say fare well to your mother and hit the road to Itania and then to Labion island.’

‘What I must do there.’

‘Help to princess Carmille, she was charmed by Elizora.’

‘Who is Elizora?’

‘She is servant of Nemigo, the evil genius. She charmed three princesses. The all charms must be broken if you want to find your love.’

‘I will try.’

‘God help you’ Omigo said and ascended in the beam of light to the heaven.

 

 2.3

Cora met her son before gates of castle.

‘What happened?’ She asked when saw him smiling.

‘I have seen Omigo and Nouvelius.’

‘What did they say?’

‘I must go for long journey.’

‘Why?’

‘They explained me how to find my love.’

‘O, Savior, you don’t forget us!’

‘Fare well, mother, and bless me.’

‘God bless you, my son, you will be always in my prayers.’

Timeus bent on his saddle and kissed his mother cheek.

‘I will be worthy of my father.’ He said.

‘I believe you.’ Cora said through the tears of gratitude to God and His will.

 

2.4

 

Just before the dusk to set in Timeus saw knight sleeping under apple tree with black horse pasturing near him.

‘Hey, you.’ Timeus said loudly to sleeping knight who instantly woke up, jumped to his feet and raised his sword.

‘Who are you?’ Knight asked.

‘I’m prince in search of his love.’

‘And I guess you have name.’

‘Yes. I’m Timeus from The-Seven-Hills.’

‘I’m knight Fluctuantius. Where are you heading?’

‘Now to Itania, but finally to Labion island to save and marry queen Lavinia.’

‘Then I offer the duel, for I’m heading to save Lavinia, too.’

‘Why?’

‘I once was in love with her, and I thought that to be her king is worthy wage for her freedom.’

‘So let’s fight for her.’ Timeus said, dismounted and brought out his miraculous sword.

‘It will be difficult for you because I’m good fighter.’ Fluctuantius teased raising from the ground his massive shield.

‘We will see.’ Timeus said and broke shield of Fluctuantius to smithereens with one stroke.

‘Where you learn to fight, Your Highness?’ Knight asked.

‘So if you don’t mind Lavinia is mine. But if we’re friends now let’s travel together. There will be more wonders to see.’ Timeus gave his hand to defeated knight.

‘I will be only too glad.’ Fluctuantius shook hand of prince.

‘So come on and hit the road?’ Timeus asked his new friend.

‘Agreed, Your Highness,’ knight answered.

 

3.1

 

Hieroglyph came to dark tower of Elizora with heavy heart.

‘I feel troubles to come,’ Hieroglyph said.

‘What troubles?’ Elizora asked.

‘We conquered three kingdoms and I wait that someone will come and take them from us.’

‘Just calm down,’ Elizora whispered.

‘What do you want to do?’

‘We will ask Nemigo.’

‘All right.’

Elizora took her sphere in hands and mumbled old conjuration. Room was in a moment alive with colors.

‘I’m glad to see you.’ Nemigo began.

‘I feel very, very troubled.’ Hieroglyph confessed.

‘And you are right. Prince Timeus and his new friend knight Fluctuantius on their way here.’

‘What they want.’

‘They want to free Lavinia and destroy your power over conquered kingdoms.’

‘What should we do?’

‘I’ll help you.’

‘How?’

‘I’ll put the river of perfume on their way to stop them for some time to confuse their plans.’

‘And what we’ll do next?’

‘Be prepared for battle with them.’

Battle? They’re only two.’

‘Yes, but they have powerful weapon.’

‘Thank you, master.’ Elizora said.

‘It will be tough business to fight them down.’ Nemigo roared and disappeared.

 

3.2

 

At the midday Timeus and Fluctuantius sensed the strong and pleasant smell from ahead of them. Soon to their eyes opened beautiful river that was emitting this smell.

‘What a marvel!’ Fluctuantius exclaimed.

‘I think it is not marvel but some sort of charms.’ Timeus corrected him.

‘Why?’

‘Because no map in my library back home have a sign of perfume river.’

‘We can build great kingdom here just by selling this stuff to people who do not wash themselves with honey essence.’

‘Don’t stick to that nonsense.’ Timeus was firm with his point of view.

Fluctuantius ladled out some perfume in his helmet from the river.

‘It’s quite a fortune to find this fabulous place. With little of investment I’ll be most rich man on earth in a moment,’ knight wondered.

‘Wait. I must to pray.’ Timeus kneeled and began silently to pray. In that very moment river was gone in sparkles and whirls leaving bad odor.

‘What is it?’ Fluctuantius asked.

‘Now spells are broken and we can go further.’

‘So you destroyed it?’ Fluctuantius could not believe to his eyes.

‘Yes. It’s our mission to struggle with magic.’

‘Good mission, my dear friend. I never knew that simple prayer would be so strong.’

‘Yes, if it’s honest prayer to God. So go on.’

They mounted their horses and by the evening they were at the gates of castle of princess Carmille, ruler of Itania.

 

3.3

 

‘Prince Timeus of The-Seven-Hills and his honorable companion knight Fluctuantius.’ Dinario, the butler of princess Carmille, announced.

‘Thanks a lot, dear. Lead them in.’ Carmille echoed from her divan of cushions.

When two travelers came in they sat down at the feet of princess, as etiquette of those times requested.

‘So you are my guests. What I can do for you?’ Young Carmille asked them.

‘I heard you were charmed by Elizora.’ Timeus began.

‘It is very possible.’

‘Why?’

‘I was always perfect gourmet. And I always would read every dish or wine like a book. Now since Elizora visited me I can nothing of this.’

‘Then take this.’ Timeus gave her apple of ruby color.

‘What I have to do?’

‘Just eat it and we’ll see.’

When Carmille ate apple her eyes suddenly cleared from fog of spells.

‘I can say that this apple was from Heavens,’ Carmille pronounced after short meditation. ‘It was from grove where heavenly birds sing and lion of fire guards them.’

‘So your gift is back?’ Timeus asked.

‘Yes, I think it is back completely.’

‘So we can go?’ Timeus said rising to his feet.

‘O, please, don’t go. I’ll set up great feast to honor you.’

‘I’m sorry, but I must leave you.’ Timeus apologized.

‘I will remain here.’ Fluctuantius said.

‘O, how it is good of you.’ Carmille kissed cheek of Fluctuantius.

‘So good bye.’ Timeus left castle of Carmille and mounted his white horse for further journey.

 

3.4

 

In the midnight Fluctuantius caught up with Timeus.

‘Why had you left her?’ Prince asked him.

‘It’s very hard to sit at the table with girl who constantly reading every dish and wine like a book.’

‘Tough experience?’

‘Awfully tough.’

‘So let’s go on.’

‘Thank you, Timeus.’

 

3.5 

 

‘Dear, Malvenuto.’ Hieroglyph began.

‘What I can do for you, my master?’ Eunuch asked.

‘I think we must extort the vow out of Lavinia that she will never marry no one.’

‘I think it is right move.’

‘So go to her and do it.’

In a few minutes Malvenuto, the eunuch, was in a chamber of Lavinia.

‘My master claims the vow not to marry no one from you.’ He said to Lavinia.

‘Don’t listen to them, Your Majesty,’ Nadine implored her queen.

‘Why just not to obey?’ Lavinia asked her.

‘The world is full of brave and honest people. And I believe someone will help us to be free again and your kingdom will be returned to you,’ eyes of Nadine were in tears.

‘So we turn down you offer,’ Lavinia said to Malvenuto.

‘You’ll regret it,’ eunuch said and went off.

‘O, my dear father, if you were with me, I had nothing of these troublesome misfortunes.’

‘Let’s pray to your father. He is saint and will help us,’ Nadine proposed.

‘So if we have nothing to do but prayer, pray with me and we’ll see what is to come.’

After short time of prayers Lavinia fell asleep. She saw her father in her dream.

‘I found for you perfect groom,’ he said.

‘Who is he?’ Lavinia asked him.

‘Prince Timeus.’ Talantus responded.

‘But where is he.’

‘I hope you will meet him in short time.’

‘I’m afraid it’s impossible.’

‘All is possible for true loving heart.’ Talantus kissed his daughter’s forehead and dream was off.

 

4.1

 

Timeus and Fluctuantius were sleeping under old oak after long trip through the wilderness when suddenly both got awake with sound of golden trumpet of Nouvelius.

‘Good messenger!’ Timeus shouted with boyish joy jumping to his feet and then kneeling before good spirit.

‘I have two good news for you.’

‘What news?’ Fluctuantius asked who was very sleepy. Knight was unaccustomed to talking with spirits and did not know how to behave.

‘The first is about apparition of king Talantus to his daughter in her night dream. King approved of union of Timeus and Lavinia.’

‘Thank you Nouvelius, but what the next?’ Timeus could not fight down his agitation.

‘Do you see this mountain? On the top of it is situated ancient altar where you are both to meet in short time Omigo. He is about to give you new gifts from Heavens.’

‘Thank you, dear messenger,’ Timeus said and Nouvelius was off.

 

4.2

 

 It took whole hour to climb on the top of the mountain pointed by Nouvelius. But after prince and knight kneeled before this altar beam of light came from above and when they raised their heads they could see Omigo in all his glory.

‘Come to me, Timeus,’ Omigo said.

‘What I can do for you?’ Timeus asked approaching the altar.

‘Take this lyre and amber apple. Apple will save one life, but lyre which is made of golden lightening will save many lives.’

‘Thank you, but what I have to do?’ Holding new gifts Timeus asked.

‘You must disenchant second princess and travel to Labion island.’

‘What then?’

‘You will see.’ Omigo said and beam of light in which he appeared ascended to Heavens.

 

4.3

 

Hieroglyph barely slept last night. He felt troubles surrounding him. He came to Elizora.

‘I feel too nervous to rule my people. I’m afraid of death coming.’

‘Don’t be coward. I talked with Nemigo right off, he ordered me to build valley of precious stones on the way of this men.’ Elizora smiled with her cold smile.

‘That must stop them.’ Hieroglyph suddenly felt burden falling from his heart.

‘But not for long time. This prince Timeus feels spells and is apt to break them.’ Eyes of Elizora were cold and watching.

‘So what we are to do?’ Hieroglyph was dismayed.

‘Just wait for great battle.’

‘To die?’

‘We’ll see.’

 

4.4

 

When Timeus and Fluctuantius approached the valley of precious stones they saw strange light spread above it. When valley finally was open to their eyes Fluctuantius said ‘Oh!’ and closed his mouth with his palm.

‘We’re rich till the end of our lives,’ knight said as soon as he could speak.

‘Don’t be so gullible.’ Timeus was already off his horse and kneeling to pray.

‘Don’t, just don’t,’ Fluctuantius shouted.

But when Timeus just said first words of prayer ‘God, who is almighty and good…’ valley disappeared.

‘What have you done?’ Knight was nearly in tears.

‘Spells are broken so we can move on.’

‘But we could…’

‘Just forget it,’ Timeus said and got on his horse.

 

4.5

 

‘Prince Timeus and knight Fluctuantius wait for your reception.’ Doratio, butler of princess Oleria, pronounced.

‘How sweet of them! I’m always glad to see new nobleman in my castle. Are they philosophers?’

‘I don’t know, Your Highness.’

‘Bring them in my chamber and we will see.’

‘Good day, princess,’ Timeus greeted her as he entered.

‘Just as you say.’ Oleria was sort of coquette.

‘We came here to help you, princess.’ Fluctuantius added.

‘If you want to help me with my philosophy- don’t bother, because since Elizora visited me I have no inspiration.’

‘What about this?’ Timeus asked her giving her amber apple he received from Omigo.

‘Apple?’

‘Just eat it.’ Fluctuantius said.

‘No tricks?’ Oleria felt strange premonition.

‘Just eat,’ knight was unable to wait more for new miracle.

Oleria ate it and spells dissolved in her eyes.

‘This day has two wings. First of restoration of my glory as great philosopher and second of great danger to my enemies. With this wings news about this day will fly around my kingdom till the end of my life. Stop!’

‘What?’ Fluctuantius asked, he was always bored with this philosophic girl.

‘I have my inspiration again.’

‘Receive our congratulations, Your Highness.’ Timeus was smiling because he guessed about feelings of Fluctuantius.

‘We must leave you.’ Fluctuantius was inpatient.

‘As you wish.’ Oleria answered.

When they already were far from her castle Timeus asked his friend.

‘You don’t like philosophy?’

‘Only feminine one,’ knight responded and then they laughed. 

 

4.6

 

When Hieroglyph heard about the last achievements of Timeus from Nemigo he called for Malvenuto.

‘What I can do for you?’ Eunuch asked his master.

‘You must force Lavinia to kill herself.’

‘But how?’

‘You must to do it or your dead!’ Hieroglyph cried and Malenuto kneeled before him and was gone.

When Eunuch came to chamber of Lavinia Nadine sang old song of Sainted Lakes ‘Do bring your enemy to death.’

‘Shut up, you slave!’ He said to Nadine.

‘Are you afraid of me singing,’ maid defied him.

‘Shut up!’

‘What do you want?’ Lavinia asked him.

‘You must kill yourself with poison in this cup or I’ll kill you myself.’

‘But I don’t want to die.’

‘Never mind, it’s about time.’ He made few step to approach with cup in one hand and sword in another but Nadine threw pitcher of oil at his feet. He slipped and fell on his sword.

‘What’s all this?’ Lavinia asked Nadine in tears.

‘I think he just occasionally cut his throat.’

 

5.1

 

When Timeus and Fluctuantius came to Labion in the ship of fishermen Nouvelius met them on the shore.

‘You must follow me to nearest forest.’

‘To find Omigo?’ Fluctuantius asked.

‘Yes, he will prepare you for final battle.’

‘So lead us, good messenger.’ Timeus said, and they ran.

Beam of light already waited for them.

‘I must give you something for your love, Timeus,’ Omigo appeared in the light.

‘What?’

‘This wedding ring which is made of golden lightening. Girl that will wear this ring will love you till this ring on her hand.’

‘And if it is off her hand?’

‘This depends on God and on you. Be ready because monsters are coming.’

‘Will we die?’ Fluctuantius was hesitative.

‘Timeus, bless sword of your friend with your sword to share your power.’ Omigo and Nouvelius said all together.

Timeus did as they ordered.

This moment monsters of Elizora’s charms appeared from the forest. There were six warriors in human shape and beast of six legs and six heads which breathed with fire.

‘For God’s sake,’ Fluctuantius murmured in fear.

‘For God’s sake!’ Timeus shouted and battle started.

It was no easy but in very short time Fluctuantius understood how to kill warriors. When his sword came through heart of one of them this warrior scattered with sparkles. The same thing was with heads and legs of beast. When Timeus pierced them with the sword there were sparkles and pierced member of beats vanished.

Finally battle was over. The grass around Timeus and Fluctantius was burned with fire and sparkles of monsters.

‘Now you have to go to castle of Hieroglyph.’ Nouvelius said and stepping in beam of light ascended with Omigo.

 

5.2

‘You must not kill me,’ Hieroglyph cried when prince and knight came before him.

‘We don’t want to kill you.’ Timeus said.

‘So what do you want?’

‘Freedom for Lavinia and Nadine and exile for Elizora.’

‘Can I trust you?’ Hieroglyph could not believe to his ears.

‘Most certainly.’ Fluctuantius assured him.

‘Then you, my servants, bring to us best wine and meals I have in my castle,’ Hieroglyph said to his men.

‘And do invite Lavinia and Nadine here.’ Timeus was insisting.

‘Agreed.’

When Lavinia came, she was in tears. The same was with Nadine.

‘So we are free?’ Lavinia touched face of Timeus as in dream.

‘Absolutely.’ Fluctuantius was happy no less than Timeus.

‘I want to sing new ode on occasion of our victory.’ Timeus said and took his lyre.

 

‘My dear, Lavinia!- my heart

Will serve you till the end of world.

This one among the men’s unheard

But I’m no hero and no smart.

When you’re be mine through ages come

In life and death and after

No one will say ‘Go-getter’

About me, my dear chum.’

 

When he sang and playing his lyre ring that was attached on the thread to his sleeve flew away to feet of Hieroglyph who took the ring and put it on his finger.

Thunder rumbled above them.

Hieroglyph took veil from his face. And everybody could see girlish face. Then Hieroglyph took helmet down and kneeled before Timeus.

‘Kind prince, my true name is Honoria. I am daughter of late king Estimeus who was brother of king Talantus.’

‘Uncle…’ Lavinia whispered.

‘Elizora came to me and turned me in chief of marine robbers. Labion is our kingdom and if you’ll marry me you’ll be my king.’

‘Very interesting,’ Nadine whistled.

This very moment Timeus found out that his ring was on finger of Honoria.

‘I will sing another song.’ Timeus said and took his lyre.

 

‘Dream will come to you, my sister.

Tired heart to sleep away

All its troubles, so to say

I won’t be you mister.’

 

When he finished Honoria was fast asleep. Timeus took ring from her finger and gave it to Lavinia.

‘O, dear.’ Queen of Sainted Lakes was not certain what she was about first to kiss him or to swoon.

At this moment Honoria woke up and saw that ring was her no more.

‘I’m afraid I was in too great hurry to offer myself to you, prince Timeus.’ Honoria was uneasy. ‘I think I love another man.’

‘Whom?’ Fluctuantius asked.

‘You, my knight.’ Honoria was even more uneasy.

‘Agreed.’ Lavinia, Nadine and Timeus said at once.

‘Would be- it’s what I wanted all my life. I say I heard about you, Honoria, but I was uncertain if you’re alive.’ Fluctuantius was blushing first time in his life.

‘Stop!’ Elizora shouted from distant corner. ‘No more of your nonsense, Timeus.’

‘No more of your nonsense, Elizora.’ Timeus raised his sword and lightening of pure gold came out of it and hit breast of Elizora, in a moment she was gone in sparkles.

‘Who was she?’ Honoria asked.

‘Monster of spells of Nemingo. His most beloved monster.’

 

5.3

 

Then Timeus, Lavinia, Fluctuantius and Honoria came down to altar in the yard of Honoria’s castle. And when they kneeled before altar to pray, in profound silence beam of light came from Heavens.

‘Now is time for great wedding on the Earth. Do take your crowns.’ Omigo said and from Heavens came four crowns which were made of golden lightening. This crown descended on heads of Timeus, Lavinia, Fluctuantius and Honoria.

‘And you, Nadine, will be in great glory one day,’ Omigo smiled. ‘Your prince is to come.’

 

 



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