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Excerpt for Druid Rumors by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Druid

Rumors


Book Three of the Druid Saga Trilogy



R.L. Berger


Copyright © December 18, 2018
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of spiritual discovery,
science fiction and fantasy.
All names, characters, places, and incidents
are the product of the author’s imagination,
intended for use in fictional context only.
Any characters’ similarity to real people
or other fictional characters is coincidental
and unintentional.


1st Edition

Published on December 18, 2018
ISBN-13: 978-0-9600813-2-5

Smash Words Edition
ISBN: 9780463527764


Table of Contents

Title Page

Author Preface

Prologue

Chapter 1 Degradations

Chapter 2 Compulsions

Chapter 3 Herald

Chapter 4 Transference

Chapter 5 Nightmares

Chapter 6 Illumination

Chapter 7 Adjustments

Chapter 8 Resistance

Chapter 9 Sacrifices

Chapter 10 Pretensions

Chapter 11 Violations

Chapter 12 Atonements

Chapter 13 Eradication

Chapter 14 Introductions

Chapter 15 Celebration

Chapter 16 Transitions

Notes from the Author

Author Preface



This is a work of spiritual fiction and fantasy. All of the characters are fictional. Any similarity to real people or other fictional characters is coincidental. As many other books before these, it is based upon several religious beliefs and draws heavily from those stories and tenets. The purpose of this novel is not to abridge or interfere with traditional beliefs but to provide unique insights and perspectives on those widely known values.

It focuses primarily on the spirit that dwells within each and every one of us. Despite every effort so far, no definitive scientific proof is available on the existence of our souls. All that we have to lean upon are religious references, vague feelings and our own unique personal experiences.

Religions relentlessly ask initiates and members to believe. There is little provable evidence to support the stories their books hold. They record accounts of mortal men and women as they witnessed extraordinary or miraculous events. Many believe that our souls are silent watchers and witnesses inside us that remember everything that occurs every second of our mortal lives.

This book challenges the reader to seek out their soul and try to connect with it. They are the only part of us that lives on when our mortal bodies turn to dust. Our soul may be more ‘us’ than we know. Imagine our abilities without the heavy, slow, limited shells we wear now. I’d like to take the reader into that realm of possibilities and explore the limits of their imaginations.

We will travel to new and strange worlds and explore very different cultures. We will encounter beings and energies both wonderful and terrifying. It is an adventure in belief that may bring about a new understanding of our sometimes inexplicable emotions and behaviors. The universe is our playground on a journey with unique and interesting characters swept into a strange fellowship.

It is also filled with romance, follies, frills and frivolity. At times the reader will encounter deep drama amidst silly hilarity. Follow unique and colorful characters as they search for hidden hints and clues, discover new understandings with them and try to unravel the mysteries they hold. I sincerely hope that you will find this work as enjoyable to read as I found it to write.

R.L. Berger

Prologue



Regardless of what you may have heard or read about druids, the real story is very different. Druids did not originate on Earth. Our heritage begins long before that on a distant planet among different stars. Druids do not wield mysterious powers like witchcraft, sorcery or magic. There are energies much more powerful and dangerous than mortal beings are aware of in this physical realm.

The forces of creation and chaos exist together in every molecule of this reality. In their natural order, such forces remain somewhat balanced. Their effects are accepted as simple and unavoidable fate, a part of life that all must accept. If, however, some form of intelligence acts to bring about chaos, we druids must try to defend this physical realm of creation. This has always been and always will be our purpose for being and our highest mission.

Edgar Drake has been very receptive to the Elementals and the new beings in his life. His spiritual evolution has been inspiring. He has become my first and closest mortal friend. Through the new beings in his life, his spiritual energies have increased dramatically. Curiously, their spiritual energies have multiplied as well. He has the unique ability to absorb negative influences in his life without letting them affect his positive character or outlook. Both of those qualities inspire others to emulate his emotional and heartfelt examples.

Through a series of unpredictable and tragic twists of fortune, Edgar’s family suffered too many fractured relationships. Edgar suffered each loss horribly and retreated a little more into his research and routines every time someone left. He was not the only victim of loss. Many of the advanced worlds had serious mishaps that led to suspicion and apprehension on the part of the races inhabiting them. The results were nothing less than devastating. Alliances were broken, trade suffered immensely and communications became few and far between.

Edgar now suffers from lack of faith in his own intellect and abilities. He has no idea how to handle the current situation. The Elementals and druids are also at a loss. Instead of steadily advancing, worlds, governments, societies, families and individuals are losing cohesion. Most beings have become isolated and reclusive, which only makes the situation seem more hopeless. As Edgar’s friend, I must try my best to support Edgar. I must be there to reinforce his resolve through those setbacks and disappointments. I cannot abandon my friend in his time of need.

Chapter 1
Degradations

Years after the dark leaders surrendered and became mortal again, things should have gotten better. Instead, they were much worse. Edgar woke up alone as he always did these days. For reasons Sheema did not explain, she left. One by one, the girls left for their home world or accepted employment elsewhere. Orlan left Trilla after he accepted a position as guard for the Elementals’ confinement facility under the dais. Kleff and Kelva decided to start a new restaurant in the community hub. Vith and Lirrat were still at the house but Edgar seldom saw them. They were busy caring for their young.

The house was almost empty now. Most of the staff members left to seek other employment. The furniture was covered and most of the doors were left closed. It was deafeningly silent in the large structure. Edgar washed, dressed and stumbled out to the patio. Almost all of the tables had been placed in storage. The pool was drained and the lawn was neglected. Edgar sighed and went back to the den. He made a few selections from the food dispenser and ate breakfast. After depositing the utensils back in the dispenser for recycling, he took a cup of coffee to his desk. After an hour of staring at the book he was trying to read, he got up and went to the portals. His lodge on Earth was more comfortable. There, Edgar relaxed and waited for the sunrise. He never went upstairs or into the rec rooms. The staff there had been reduced to only a few individuals as well.

The druid had to search for a few moments to find Edgar. He was never where the druid expected him to be. Finally appearing at the Earth lodge, he found Edgar staring at the mountains. The sun had just come up and he felt a little better for it. “Good morning, Edgar.” The druid offered quietly.

“Good morning, druid.” Edgar replied. “Has there been any word yet?”

“No.” The druid answered truthfully. “The hall is quiet and the Elementals are still searching for clues. Sheema still lives with Clia in the palace on Keel. I am afraid I have more bad news…”

“Might as well tell me.” Edgar groaned. “”I can’t see how I could feel any worse than I do now.”

“Yorca left Alva yesterday.” The druid sighed. “She moved into the palace. Yorca moved out with the kitts. He lives with his sire now. Apparently, he used Alva’s history of violence and dual personalities to discredit her as a parent.”

“Oh, no...” Edgar hung his head. “How long has it been now? Is Alva all right? I hope she hasn’t lapsed back into her primal self.”

“No.” The druid answered. “She is devastated and depressed, but otherwise she remains herself.”

“Well, that’s something.” Edgar looked up. “How’s Jason? I haven’t seen him since he left for the University of Spiritual Technology on Fath.”

“He is doing well.” The druid nodded. “He excels in his studies and has a new girlfriend. Kelly is faring better too. She is intent on learning how to be a teacher. The College of Education was a good choice. She has many friends but no boyfriend. I think her last boyfriend convinced her that it was too soon for outside relationships or serious romance.”

“He scared her, didn’t he?” Edgar groaned again. One by one, his children were on the verge of losing the innocence of youth. Jason, now twenty, was focused intently on starting his own life. Kelly and Myra were both teens. Edgar knew from experience that they would alienate themselves from him during that time in their lives. Whatever the real cause for their problems was, he was the one they blamed.

“She would not say.” The druid replied. “She hides her spirit now. I think she is trying to protect herself from heartbreak.”

“Probably.” Edgar agreed. “She always was overly sensitive. Have you seen Trilla lately?”

“She works in the archives.” The druid related. “I think she is waiting for a chance to talk to Orlan. She still does not understand why he left.”

“No one understands anything about one another these days.” Edgar groused. “Am I going crazy?”

“You still make sense when you speak.” The druid shrugged. “I almost wish you would display some anger or frustration about your situation.”

“What good would that do?” Edgar sighed. “Jumping around in a fit of rage would only make me tired again. I have no one to be mad at but myself. I can’t help but think that I’m the reason that everyone left. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what I said or did to cause this.”

“I do not think it was you or anyone else that initiated the breakups.” The druid pondered. “No one seems to be able to give any reasons for it.”

Edgar walked to his desk. “It’s been awhile since I visited with my spirit.” He dug around for the disk. “Do you want to witness the chewing out or leave? It’s up to you. I’m in for it either way.” He held the disk in his palm and waited.

“Well...” His spirit appeared after a few long moments. “The good news is that you’ll get no guff from me. The bad news is that I don’t know any more than you do, partner. The worst news is that our spiritual energies are way down. I’m tired all the time and just don’t feel like doing anything. I think it’s universal. I don’t feel any spiritual energy in the area. It’s like this whole planet is empty.”

“Druid, are your spiritual energies drained too?” Edgar asked.

“Very much so.” The druid confirmed. “The Elementals keep track of them as always. Spiritual energy levels are at less than ten percent of their former rate five years ago. That rate is still dropping steadily.”

“What in thunder is going on?” Edgar felt the urge to kick something. It was far too easy for him to get upset. He put the disk back in the drawer carefully. Holding his breath every time he inhaled slowed his heart rate down. He had to think. “All right...” He decided. “”It’s time to find out exactly what’s going on. You told me that Yorca left Alva recently. I’d like to have a talk with him about that. Maybe he can remember what made him decide to leave.”

“The permanent portal to Keel has been deactivated.” The druid informed Edgar. “I had to do it at Sheema’s request. The queen supported her decision to disable it. I had no choice.”

“Druid, do you know where Yorca’s sire lives?” Edgar inquired. “I don’t need to get near the palace. You know, if I can’t go there at all, could you maybe bring him here? I just want to talk to the guy.”

“I will bring him to your residence on the planet of the Elementals.” The druid sighed. “Bringing him here might trigger reluctance on his part. He knows that the planet of the Elementals is a safe destination.”

“Safe...” Edgar got more irritated. “I’ll meet you there.” The druid disappeared quickly. He grabbed his disk, tidied up and went back through the portal. It was going to be another extremely long day.

The druid was waiting for him as the residence. Yorca was with him. He didn’t look happy. “What do you wish to know?” He sneered. “Sheema hates you, you know. You are not allowed on Keel.”

“Understood.” Edgar stared him in the eye. Yorca averted his angry gaze. “Sit down.” Edgar offered. “I have no intention of causing more bad feelings. All I want to know is how you came to the decision to leave Alva.”

“Why” Yorca growled. “Do you want her now?”

“That’s ridiculous…” Edgar chuckled. “I’m not the least bit interested in Alva as a mate. She was a friend of the family. Come on, now. What was the thought process before you left Alva? Do you remember?”

Yorca thought hard. “My headache is starting again… I think it started with Alva disciplining one of our kitts. That was over three years ago. I didn’t think it was fair. She never touched Indra but she scolded her severely. The memory stuck with me though I tried hard to forget it. After Sheema arrived, she and Alva talked often. Sheema started disciplining the kitts too. She was harsher than Alva was. I did not think it was fair of them to do that without consulting me. We argued about too many things. Sheema was very accusatory and demeaning toward me. We stopped talking. From that time, I was not allowed to play with my kitts. When Alva demanded that I stop talking to them at all, it broke me. I went to my sire. We petitioned the regional court for custody. When I knew the kitts were in my custody, I left with them. I left no note of explanation to Alva. I just left. Our kitts are six years old now. They do not need that kind of anger and negativity in their young lives. I must consider their welfare and best interests first.”

“It sounds reasonable to me.” Edgar agreed. The druid nodded as well. “What about your headaches… When did they start?”

“Every bad experience triggered a headache.” Yorca confirmed. I was sorely tempted to get angry but fought the impulse. That is when the headaches began. I cannot forget those bad experiences. I recall every moment of them like they just happened. They affect my sleep, my mood and my emotional stability. Most days I must stay home. I doubt my ability to remain calm around others. My sire keeps me from going berserk. He minds the kitts and counsels me frequently. It calms me to hear him talk of love and understanding.”

“Interesting...” Edgar thought. “Do Alva and Sheema get along well?”

“No.” Yorca shook his head. “Right after Sheema silenced me, Alva kicked her out. Sheema is not allowed near the queen either. She shouted at the queen, reminding her that she was her counsel and advisor. The queen stripped her of the advisor position and appointed someone less toxic to take over. She stopped short of calling it treason.”

“Ouch.” Edgar winced. “That had to hurt.” He saw the hint of a smile cross Yorca’s face. He was finally getting a positive response. “Does Sheema have any friends there? It isn’t good if she’s left to herself.”

“I do not know if I should tell you this…” Yorca hesitated for several long moments. “Sheema is under restriction from entering the throne room. Now she solicits others to mistrust the queen and calls Clia a usurper for being a female on the throne. She incites anger in everyone around her who will listen. I think she wants retribution for her punishment. She rages against anyone who tries to tell her what to do. Sheema is definitely not who she used to be.”

“I’ll say...” Edgar wiped the sweat from his forehead. “That was hard to hear. What about Alva? Is she still herself?”

“She has not reverted to primal behavior.” Yorca sighed. “But she teases other males relentlessly. I seriously do not know why she hates me so much. It is as though someone was whispering lies to her behind my back.”

“Curious.” The druid remarked. “Excuse me for a moment.” He disappeared.

“Would you like something to drink?” Edgar offered.

“Yes, please.” Yorca got up. “It is remarkable… Since speaking to you about my troubles, my headache seems to have disappeared. My stress levels are lower than they have been in years and I feel… happier.”

“It’s good to get the bad stuff off your chest.” Edgar brought two iced teas from the dispenser. “That’s what therapy does. All you do is talk honestly about how you really feel.”

“What about you?” Yorca seemed puzzled. “Are you not upset that Sheema has not returned to you?”

“Of course I am.” Edgar said with a crooked grin. “This is my second time down separation lane. I know how it works. If one expects bad news, it isn’t as much of a shock. I suspected that Sheema found someone on Keel that she liked better than me. I spent a lot of hard years obsessing about her. I’m done now. She sealed herself away from me. That was her choice.”

“And you did nothing to provoke her?” Yorca asked.

“If I did, I can’t imagine what it was.” Edgar took a sip of his tea.

The druid chose that moment to return. “I was at the medical center talking to the head psychologist. She confirmed my suspicions. Dominant personalities are most susceptible to manipulation. Most of their patients admit to hearing voices and developing suspicions about their mates. They quickly grow to hate them for purely imaginary reasons. None of the doctors could find a definite source, though. They are at a loss to explain the causes for those emotions.”

“Hmm...” Edgar mused. He pulled the disk out of his pocket again. When his spirit appeared, he asked the question. “Do you still get a lot of messengers?”

“No.” His spirit lounged in his chair. “I haven’t seen one in quite a while. Influences, though… There’s a constant stream of them coming in. These are a lot bigger and nastier than they were. I feel like a shut in over here.”

“Thank you.” Edgar smiled weakly. “It’s too bad you can’t sneak over and do a little eavesdropping.”

“Why would I want to do that?” His spirit was curious. “It’s tough to read some of your thought patterns today. What’s all the fuss about?”

“We’re trying to sort out the reasons beings are separating and becoming isolated.” Edgar explained. “If we do that, maybe we can find a way to fix this situation or at least stop it from getting worse.”

“Got it.” His spirit grinned. “This is my body too. I can go anywhere I want. Let me get sneaky. I’ll let you know if I find something juicy.”

“Thanks again, spirit.” Edgar managed before his spirit winked out. “I think we’re onto something. Influences that are bigger, stronger and meaner than they were and virtually no messengers to speak of… That can’t be good.”

“You are right, Edgar.” The druid went to the bookshelf. Withdrawing the large volume, he opened it to references about messengers. “This is the passage. Both positive and negative messengers come from the spiritual realm. The influences are rumored to be made by violent thoughts of revenge by dark beings. We cannot reach those beings if they are in the spiritual realm…”

“True.” Edgar thought hard. Yorca was paying close attention to them. “If we can figure out a way to block those influences, though…”

“Perhaps more powerful messengers are needed to discourage them.” Yorca chimed in. “Do you know how to summon messengers?”

“No.” Edgar remarked. “I never thought about doing that before.”

“We should speak to my sire.” Yorca offered. “If the druid brings my sire here, he will have to bring the kitts too. Have you ever met them?”

“No.” Edgar’s mood brightened. It had been too long since he’d heard the happy sounds of children.

The druid disappeared. After several minutes, a portal opened. Four orange streaks sped through followed by an aged Kee male. His eyes looked full of wisdom as he smiled at Yorca. “What is it, my son?” He spoke in deep tones. “We were just finishing our midday meal. I am sorry if the kitts are so energetic. They do not get many chances to go outside.”

“I can fix that.” Edgar grinned, opening the patio door. The kitts raced out to explore. “They’ll be fine on the patio. There’s a solid fence around it.”

The group moved out to the table on the patio to keep an eye on the kitts. “Sire, we have some questions for you.” Yorca began. “This is Edgar. I mentioned him to you before.”

“Yes, I remember.” The older Kee replied. “He was responsible for bringing you and Alva together.”

“Yes, sire.” Yorca continued. “We were discussing good messengers and bad influences from the spiritual realm. Is there any way for a mortal being to summon a messenger?”

“Oh, there are many ways to do that.” The older Kee smiled.

“Sir...” Edgar interrupted. “First, may I ask your name? Yorca didn’t tell me. Second, please elaborate on ways to summon messengers.”

“Of course, Edgar.” The older Kee got comfortable in his chair. Yorca went to get him something to drink. “My name is Addan. Yorca is my only kitt and my greatest joy. He never cared for my real name. He always calls me ‘sire’.” The older Kee coughed. It sounded a bit like he was trying to laugh. “Messengers come when we make a wish, say a prayer or feel a need. It helps if those wishes and prayers are not selfish. I have never wished for anything special. All of my wishes go to Yorca and his kitts. They are my blessings. I teach only love and understanding in my house. It is the only way to live happily.”

“Very wise.” Edgar bowed his head to Addan. Yorca returned with another iced tea. He brought juice cups for the kitts as well. “Can messengers stop or discourage bad influences?”

“Of course they can.” Addan took a sip from his beverage. “One must merely make the right wish. My wishes are well planned and usually take some time to phrase correctly. One must be specific to get the most accurate result. Too many beings rush wishes. They are too simple or obscure to be clearly understood. How can one get what they wish with only a word or two?”

“That’s why the messages were so cryptic.” Edgar realized.

“If you were to actually speak to the Creator, would you think first or just blurt something out like a fool?” Addan coughed again. “One must be polite and respectful when speaking to the Creator. That being does not abide selfish desires or meaningless mortal frivolities.”

“That makes a lot of sense.” Edgar was attentive now. Addan was wise. He was learning new concepts fast.

“Clear communication leads to complete understanding.” Addan nodded. “If our wish is not clear, how can we expect real results? Once we are understood, all that is required is a simple thought or action.”

“That was very astute, Addan.” The druid interjected. “Must our thoughts be framed as a wish or can they be a simple desire?”

“Mortals have too many desires.” Addan grimaced. His glass was empty. “I desire to be young again so I can play with the kitts. I desire that Yorca abandon his pride and go to Alva before too much time goes by. Should I frame a wish from that, it would be to have them reconcile their differences for the sake of their kitts. It is a wish inside a wish. They are the most powerful of requests. None of them are selfish and all of them are good.”

“Amazing.” Edgar whispered. “I’m sorry, Addan. I hunt hard for hints and clues about spirituality. You’re sitting here pointing them out as though I’d never heard of them before. They’ve been sitting in front of me the whole time.”

“That is the way of all things here.” Addan smiled. “They are plain to see if we only open our eyes and minds enough to recognize them for what they are. Why are you so intent to find answers like this?”

“All of the civilized worlds are at risk.” The druid summarized. “Mates and families are dissolving and beings are becoming isolated at alarming rates. The Elementals are gravely concerned. This house used to be filled with dozens of happy souls. Now they are gone.”

“That is upsetting news.” Addan sighed. “Too often beings make the wrong assumptions about others. It is easier to confront them and ask. Accusations and anger bring only like responses or silence. Once again, we must be polite and respectful if we want to resolve the problem. It matters not who we are upset with. We must respect them if we want honesty and respect from them.”

“You are a sage, sir.” Edgar knew what to do now. “Thank you for your wisdom. It could help countless beings on all of the inhabited worlds. We all owe you a deep debt of gratitude.”

“You sound older than you look.” Addan observed. “But thanks come after we see our wishes fulfilled and are happy with what we receive. They feel better that way. Your spirit feels warm, Edgar. I like that.”

“Well, feel free to stay as long as you like.” Edgar beamed. “I need to compose a very special wish.”

“Oh?” Addan sat up in his chair. “And what might that be?”

“I want to get my mate back.” Edgar confessed. “Without her, my life has been a shambles. She was everything to me.”

“It would take more than a wish for that to happen.” Addan counseled. “If your mate is reluctant, other bonds must be broken first.”

“Really?” Edgar sank back into his chair. “Well, I’m not allowed on Keel any longer. That ends that wish.”

“You give up so easily...” Addan looked at him.

“I know where she is.” Yorca spoke up. “I can show you.”

Addan nodded. “Time is crucial. If your mate fell into ill fortune, she may become a victim of violence.”

“Excuse me.” The druid stepped up. “I thought the laws were changed on Keel. All Kee are supposed to be treated as equals. Violence is prohibited.”

“Except to the strong and powerful.” Addan cautioned.

“Why would that make a difference?” Edgar wondered.

“Many of those in power on Keel consider themselves above the law.” Yorca explained. “They can say anything they wish if there are no witnesses to violence. The court has no choice but to believe them.”

The druid disappeared abruptly. Edgar sat back in his chair and worried. Addan had a look of concern on his face. Yorca looked a bit scared. The kitts ran up to get a drink. Yorca grunted when they landed in his lap. “Kitts, mind your manners.” Yorca counseled them. “We are guests here.”

“Yes, sire.” They answered together. Yorca handed them glasses of juice. Edgar, this is Indra, the youngest. This is her sister, Illadi. The two males are Kelt and Brak.”

“I’m pleased to meet you.” Edgar smiled. “You’re certainly growing up fast. Do you enjoy living with your grandsire?”

“The eldest nodded. Kelt wasn’t shy. “It is better than with our mam. She was always mean.” Indra nodded.

“Always?” Edgar invited more from the kitt.

“Well, not always.” Kelt admitted with his head down. “She was really nice when we were young. Then she just started hating everyone. She was mean to us too. We tried to go to our sire but she stopped us. She told us he was bad. We knew better.” Addan nodded and smiled. “We ran away with our sire when he came back for us. It was really bad then. I do not want to remember…”

“It hurts, doesn’t it?” Edgar commiserated. “I’m sorry kitts. Sometimes my heart hurts too when someone I love is suffering.”

Indra started to cry. Edgar picked her up from Yorca’s lap. Cradling her in his arms, he sang the old lullaby. She cuddled up in his arms and went to sleep. Addan looked over. “You are very good with young ones.” He smiled.

“My young are grown up and gone.” Edgar stared at the little kitt. “It’s nice to hear the sounds of play and laughter again.”

A portal formed and the druid stepped through. An unconscious and bleeding Sheema lay in his arms. A Kee male floated behind the druid bound in spiritual energy. Edgar carefully handed the kitt to Addan and ran to her.

“What happened?” Edgar struggled to stay calm.

“When I arrived on Keel, I sensed Sheema’s presence nearby. When I found the structure, this palace guard showed up at the door. When he opened it, Sheema tried to run. He caught her at the foot of the stairs and shouted at her. He put his hands on Sheema’s throat and held her against the wall. I had to stop him before he made good on his shouted threat to kill her.”

“He is a monster.” Addan nodded.

“He said that he was going to kill her.” Yorca gasped.

The druid formed a projection. They all watched the grisly scene together. His angry shouts were unmistakable. “Those are my memories of the events.” The druid clarified.

“If the queen sees that, she will be forced to incarcerate him.” Yorca nodded. “I know him. Blint has been a guard for many years. I wonder how many others he killed.”

“I will deal with him.” The druid went to the living room door. A sofa floated out to the patio and landed near the table. “Place her there, Edgar. I will check her injuries. She may need medical attention.”

Edgar did so and stood back. She was breathing shallowly. The back of her head was bleeding. Her clothing was in tatters and she stank from too many days without bathing. Edgar could see the leather collar around her neck. The druid knelt and checked her vitals. Propping her up in one arm, the druid stroked the wound on her head until the bleeding stopped. The kitts were gathered around the sofa. “That is Sheema.” Kelt spoke up. “She was meaner than Alva.”

“Sheema used to be my mate.” Edgar confessed. “When we were together, she became mother to my children. They couldn’t ask for a batter matron.”

“Used to be...” Addan was surprised. “I thought she was your mate.”

“She left quickly.” Edgar elaborated. “Nothing formal was ever declared.”

“Then she is your mate.” Addan confirmed. “Being held prisoner and forced to endure abuse does nothing to change that.” He gestured to the collar and the extensive bruises. “Too many females realize in the same way that the new laws do not make much of a difference. The ways of violent Kee males will never change.”

“What about Alva?” Yorca looked at the druid.

“Alva remains in the palace” The druid turned to look at him. “I am not allowed there. Is it possible for you to go?”

“Yes…” Yorca answered tentatively. “I fear Alva’s wrath, though.”

“Why?” Addan glared at him. “She may scratch and bite but you are twice her size. She is your mate until the courts say otherwise. Bring her to me. She has yet to discover how important my family is to me.”

Yorca stood. He took it as a command. “Yes, sire.” He squared his shoulders. He was tall and solidly built for a Kee male. Edgar certainly wouldn’t want to face him in a conflict. Addan’s words inspired his loyalty and determination.

The druid formed a portal. “This leads to the cottages behind the gardens. There is little chance you will be seen. I will leave it open for you.”

Yorca nodded and went through. The druid took his cape off and covered Sheema with it. “I do not know how long it will be before she awakens. Her head wound was shallow and her skull and spine are intact.”

“Oh, Sheema...” Edgar shook his head. “Why did you leave?”

The kitts gathered around him. They could sense his sadness. It wasn’t long before Yorca leaped through the portal with a struggling Alva in his arms. She stopped as soon as she saw her kitts. Yorca put her down gently. She ran to them in tears. “I never thought I would see you again, little ones. I should mark you for running away with this brute. Where did he hurt you?”

Addan cleared his throat. Alva stood up and backed away. “Sire, I did not know you were here.” She looked down in shame.

“I heard what you said to the kitts.” Addan spoke gravely. “Go inside, my young treasures. You need not need hear this. He handed the sleeping Indra to Yorca. “Go with them, Yorca. Make sure they find somewhere comfortable to rest. It is past their nap time.” Yorca herded the young inside.

“You will punish me.” Alva accused.

“I should cuff you.” Addan stood. Alva backed away further. “But I choose to teach you a lesson instead. Look over there.” She stared at the unconscious Sheema. “That was your sister, was she not? Did you lead her to Blint? It is a wonder she is still alive. Blint hates you. Sheema looks enough like you to enrage that beast. Without the druid’s intervention, you would have been guilty of murder.”

“I did not know that would happen...” Alva looked at the unconscious Sheema. “Blint is a very dangerous Kee.”

Addan prodded. “You lied to the queen about Sheema, did you not? You accused her of abusing your kitts. You did far worse to them, Alva. They still have nightmares of your careless abuse. What kind of mother are you?”

Alva started to cry. “I did not know what I was doing!” She wailed.

“You did.” Addan accused her. “You let the animal inside of you out. I could feel it then and I can feel it now. You reek of hatred. Why did you force Yorca to leave? Why did you condemn him in front of your kitts? Was it to ease your conscience about the way you treated them? Speak!”

“I am sorry...” Alva went to her knees. “Please forgive me. Clia promised to protect me from him.” She pointed to Yorca.

“And what did he do to you” Addan asked politely. “I would like to know.”

“He… He… He made me feel horrible in front of everyone!” Alva stammered. “He shamed my anger and the way I treated our young. I am a good mother!”

“Really?” Addan’s eyebrows went up. “So a good mother should abuse her children because of what… a spilled cup of juice… an unfinished meal… a simple refusal or argument? Oh, yes, that will teach them. It will teach them to do the same things when they grow up! Wake up, Alva!” He shouted in angry frustration.

Alva’s eyes blinked and she looked around. “Where am I? Why am I on my knees? What happened to Sheema?” She ran to the sofa. Edgar nodded. It was her nasty alter ego. “Where is Yorca?” She wailed loudly.

“He is tending your kitts.” Edgar stepped up. “Sheema was almost killed by Blint a few moments ago. The druid rescued her before that happened.”

“She was with Blint?” Alva gasped. “He is a murderer. She wears a collar. I will kill him myself!” She looked around the patio. The accused was still hanging in spiritual restraints. She sprinted for the Kee male.

The druid appeared in front of her, blocking her way. “Blint is in my custody.” The druid droned. “He is incapacitated and docile. There is no need for violence.”

“Oh yes there is...” Alva tried to get around him.

“Go tend to your sister.” The druid pointed to the sofa. “I will see that Blint is punished for his actions.”

“She does not remember what she did.” Addan looked on.

“No.” Edgar confirmed. “With dual personalities, either one is in charge or the other one is. Neither personality usually remembers what the other did.”

Alva stopped on her way to the sofa. “What did you say? My other side was here? Oh, no…” She sat down on the tiles, stunned. “What happened? What did my monster do now?” She started to cry.

“The other side of Alva is primal.” Edgar went on. “It is vicious, cruel and violent. It appears when Alva is threatened. I think it’s a part of her that emerged when she was a child, running away from her violent father and Keel.”

“She had a violent sire...” Addan nodded. “Her behavior makes sense now.”

“She witnessed her sire kill her mam.” Edgar revealed.

“That explains it.” Addan sat down. “Trauma brings out the worst in victims unless it is addressed right away. Her sire might have killed her too.”

Sheema blinked and moved her head. The voices she heard sounded familiar. It took long moments for her eyes to focus. She hurt all over. Her muscles were stiff and sore. She felt the collar around her neck. She looked down at her tattered clothing. She was a prisoner… She spied Blint, hanging upside down. Screaming, she leaped off of the sofa and ran… right into Edgar’s arms. “Sheema...” His eyes were full of tears. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen you.” She melted into his embrace and started crying. She felt happy and loved and ashamed and sorry and more emotions than she could name. She wailed until her breath was gone. Struggling to breathe again, her gasp only brought more shrieks of grief. Edgar held her tight and walked to the far end of the yard.

When she could speak again, she looked up at him. “I left you… I do not remember why. Blint tortured me, chained me up and abused me. I do not deserve your love. I do not deserve love from anyone. I am trash…”

“Hush...” Edgar began to sing the lullaby. Sheema relaxed slowly to the quiet melody. “You will always be my mate, Sheema.” He whispered softly. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to stop this sooner. We think Alva’s evil alter ego exposed you to him. Blint kept you captive at his home. You’re safe now.”

It took some time for Sheema to absorb the truth. Finally she stopped crying and looked up at him. “You must let me go. I would be nothing but a burden to you now. I must return to Keel. That is there that I will meet my fate.”

Edgar stared at her. He knew what she needed but he didn’t know if he had the strength to give it to her. He gripped her tighter. She started to struggle in his arms. The spiritual wave he generated was powerful enough to throw rocks and gravel against the distant wall of the cavern. The lights overhead rattled and shook with the force of it. Sheema’s eyes went wide as he said the words; “I forgive you for everything, my mate. Please stay with me.”

She started to cry again. This time they were tears of joy. Her spirit filled with energy. She accepted and welcomed Edgar’s love again. The druid looked on proudly. “My friend, Edgar Drake… He is back.”

“I remember that name.” Addan spoke up. “He was on the vid-casts several years ago. Something about saving the advanced worlds from darkness…”

“They are one and the same.” The druid smiled.

Yorca nodded as he walked out to the patio with the kitts. He remembered that Edgar very well. Alva shrieked and ran to her family. First she slammed into Yorca and gave him a long loving kiss. Then she knelt and hugged all of her kitts together. “Ooh… I missed all of you so very much” She whispered. “I will never leave you again. You are my life.”

Addan elbowed Yorca. “Was that not worth a few bites and scratches?” Yorca nodded silently. His tears were stinging too hard to answer.

The first evening at the residence was peaceful. Edgar opened the spare bedroom for Yorca, Alva and the kitts. He prepared the sofa in front of the vid-screen for Addan. The older Kee male was satisfied with the accommodations. The evening meal came from one of the dispensers.

Later that night, Edgar finally lay on the bed next to Sheema. She whispered, “I am still in pain, dear. I will not be able to…”

“Let’s not worry about that.” Edgar held her in the crook of his arm. “You are back in my arms. That was all I ever wanted.” She sighed and snuggled up tight against him. Edgar’s dreams were soft and peaceful that night. Sheema slept soundly in the arms of her love. It was where she was meant to be.











Chapter 2
Compulsions

The next morning, Edgar rose first and took the covers off of the living room furniture. He arranged a few more tables and chairs on the patio. The colorful umbrellas gave the place a more welcome feel. In the den, he picked up a cup of coffee from the dispenser and began to read at his desk. After more than two hours, he peeked in to check on Sheema. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, fully clothed. It looked as though she was staring into space at nothing. He opened the door the rest of the way. Sheema just looked at him. “How do you feel today, Sheema?” He asked quietly.

She looked down again. “I do not feel right here. I should be on Keel, hunting through the trash for something to eat. Why did you drag me back here? I am nothing to anyone. I ran away from everything and everyone important in my life. That is where I deserve to be. This is no life for someone like me. You deserve better.”

“So you like being abused and mistreated?” Edgar looked away. “Tell me the truth, Sheema. Why do you hate me so much? Why would you want to waste your life hopelessly when you can be here with those who love you? I spent every day worrying about you. I love you. If you try to leave again, I won’t allow it. I couldn’t bear life without you, my love. Something is making you run away from me and your family. This isn’t you. I want to help you, my love.”

Sheema was crying again. “You say you love me but you bury your head in books and run off to risk your life for beings you do not know. I need you more than they did. On Keel I feel like I am where I should have stayed. Your death would kill me too. If you loved me, you would have stayed with me.”

“You’re no longer welcome at the palace on Keel.” Edgar sighed. “Clia had to take away your position as counsel and advisor to the throne. On Keel, you were angry, abusive and cruel to everyone around you. That isn’t the Sheema I know and love. You’re not yourself. I want my Sheema back. At least let me try to help you… You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by staying here. I’m not going to let you become a homeless beggar sifting through trash for food.”

“It is my fate.” Sheema shrugged. “Death will bring an end to it.”

Alva was listening outside the room and started crying. Edgar watched her sprint off. “A lot of beings would miss you if you died.” He offered. “If you want to hurt me by doing so then get it over with.”

“I never wanted to hurt you.” Sheema sniffled. “I still hate you, though. Every night I prayed you would come to rescue me. You failed me miserably, Edgar. You do not love me. If you did, you would have died to protect me. I deserve to live among the reviled filth of Keel.”

Alva returned with two long sharp knives. Entering the room quickly, she put the point of one against her chest and aimed the other at Sheema’s heart. “When we embrace, we will die together.” She was crying hard. “It is suicide for both of us. Are you ready? One… two…”

“Wait!” Sheema backed away. “I do not want anyone to die for me or with me. I want to die by pain, hunger and starvation. It is my fate.”

“Well, then...” Alva dropped the knives. Unfastening her dress, she let it slide to the floor. “Stay and say goodbye to your handsome mate. He is mine now. I will make him forget all about you, ex-sister. You are a terrible mother and a worthless mate. No children should be around a broken down nothing like you. Get out and buy your way back to Keel. You might have been worth something if you cared for yourself better. As it is, you will have to beg males to help you. Edgar does need and deserve much better than you.”

Sheema’s face changed from grief to rage instantly. “Get away from him, you minx! I will claw your eyes out this time!” She and Alva tumbled to the floor, grappling with one another. Edgar jumped out of the way as they tussled. They were both extremely fast.

Alva ended up on top with her claws on Sheema’s throat. “Now you will die as you claim fate intended.” Alva growled. “Do not worry, dear. I will let you bleed out slowly. You can watch me claim Edgar as you grow cold on the floor.”

Sheema started crying. “Kill me quickly, sister. I do not want to see you with my mate. He was all I had in this life. He gave me everything I could ever dream of and more. When I had them all, I did not want them. I only wanted him.”

Alva stayed where she was. “And Edgar didn’t lie with you every night in your bed… He did not kiss or hug you enough to please you. He did not jump to serve you or worship the sand you walked on. He did not hold you tenderly and tell you he loved you more than life. He was always helping others instead of waiting on you like a servant. Is that what you are saying, Sheema?” She spat her name out like a curse. “You were right, ex-sister. You never did deserve someone like him. You should have given him to me like I asked you to.”

“I am so selfish...” Sheema bawled. “How could I forget the love in his eyes every time he looked at me? I sealed him away from myself in selfish pride. I cursed him to the stars every night. I was so obsessed with hating him that I forgot every moment we were together. He treated me like a queen. I am a fool.”

Alva stood and sheathed her claws. “I have heard enough. Sheema became too conceited with you, Edgar. You let her climb up on your shoulders. She felt like she was above you. She honestly thought that she was more important than you are. She is a Kee from a barbaric world with barbaric ways. It is easy to feel more important than everyone else if that honor is given to a Kee. She fell for the dream of power just like Kee males do. Now that she is nothing, she wishes to blame it on everyone else. Torturing herself gives her a reason to hate. It is the only thing she lives for. She is a slave to the darkness inside her. I will talk to Yorca. I am sure he will not mind if I take you as my second mate.”

Sheema curled up into a ball and wept silently. Alva pulled Edgar outside the room with her. “Great job, Alva.” Edgar winced. “Now she feels like less than nothing. What good is that going to do?”

“Kee are different from humans in many ways.” Alva pulled her dress on. “Sheema is as proud as any Kee male. When you put me in that cell on Keel, I was enraged too. It took seeing you every week, knowing I could never have you to realize that I was nothing. From there, it was easy to recover.”

“I get it.” Edgar mused. “Military training does the same thing. People need to be broken as individuals in order to be rebuilt into a team.”

“Exactly.” Alva nodded. “I must be careful not to revert back to my primal self, but I can accept the truth in front of me. I would never abandon Yorca or my kitts for anything. They are my family and my life. Do not go back into that room, Edgar. It may take days but she will come out eventually. She must do so on her own. Only then can she start to recover from her hate.”

Addan was standing nearby. “You are correct, Alva. When love and hate exist together in one body, there will always be war. One must defeat the other or the being will lose everything.”

“You and your riddles.” Alva went over and kissed him on the cheek. “I will tend to the kitts. Get something to eat before you waste away to nothing.” She prodded his protruding belly playfully before she left.

“She is right, Edgar.” Addan looked at him gravely. “Do not go in there. The hate will spend itself. Only then can the love be remembered.”

“Right.” Edgar walked out to the patio. Addan was right behind him. “It just bothers me that Sheema blames me for not rescuing her from her private hell on Keel. The portal was blocked and I was banned from Keel. I thought she was living in the palace under the protection of the queen. I had no way of knowing…”

“Her situation sounds as though it was carefully crafted.” Addan counseled. “Sheema was ejected from the palace by the queen, thanks to her own anger and spite. You had no possible way of knowing what would happen to her while she was like that. The queen is probably still oblivious to her fate. As Clia ages, she grows more haughty as well. It is one of the many weaknesses Kee suffer from.”

“Her too?” Edgar gasped. “How do you know so much about what goes on in the palace? Is Yorca telling you?”

“Yorca tells me very little of what happens there.” Addan chuckled. “The business of the palace is well known to a certain circle of my friends. We keep each other informed about the latest events. The palace has many servants and guards. If one knows where they will be in their free time, all it takes is a keen ear.”

“Are you hungry?” Edgar changed the subject. “I’m starving.”

“I am...” Addan confessed. “I still do not know how to work that dispenser of yours. I know about old things, not new ones.”

Edgar smiled and went to the den. In a moment he came out with two meals. “This is all we have right now. My friends, Kleff and Kelva used to be our chefs and best friends. When the house emptied, they decided to leave too. They run the best, most expensive restaurant in the community now.”

“Good for them.” Addan smiled. “I would imagine they felt useless here with no one to feed. Chefs are servers. They like to be appreciated for what they do.”

“Don’t we all?” Edgar said around a mouthful of fruit. “I try to stay in the background myself. I don’t like the bright lights of notoriety. This is where I’m needed most. Though everyone else left, I stayed and hoped that they might return.”

“That is extremely difficult but wise…” Addan nodded, working on his sweetcakes. “You have a bit of wisdom yourself, Edgar. If you wish, I will stay here with you. We can exchange knowledge and wisdom along the way.”

“You’ve already helped me immensely.” Edgar finished his plate. “It would be my honor to have you stay as my friend and my guest.”

“Done.” Addan grinned. “Alva and Yorca wish to stay as well. They gave up their cottage behind the palace gardens. Now they have nowhere to go except here or my home on Keel. I prefer them to stay here where I can watch them.”

“Good plan.” Edgar got up. “Finish your meal. I’ll get two sets of rooms ready. My den is getting a bit cramped.” Addan chuckled as he went into the house. He opened two sets of rooms on the main floor close to the living room. It only took a few moments. When he finished, he went to the archives on a whim. Trilla was there, cleaning shelves. The archives looked deserted. “Hi, Trilla.” He called from the doorway. “Would you mind some company?”

“Oh, Edgar...” She dropped the duster and ran up to hug him. “You poor thing. How long have you been locked up in that big house all alone? You were right about the archives. Hardly anyone visits them now.”

“Oh, I’m not alone any longer.” Edgar smiled. “Say, have you seen Orlan around? I heard he was a guard in the confinement facility.”

Trilla’s face sobered. “He is there. The fool tried to stalk me a few times. I called the guards. If he wants to keep his job, he will stay away.”

Edgar picked up the duster. “Tell me, Trilla… Why do you hate him so much?”

“It is many things.” Trilla began. “The way he… I hate his… It does not matter. He is horrible.”

“Right.” Edgar nodded. “But you like working in this dusty old tomb of records. This is your idea of interesting work.”

“Well…” Trilla was at a loss for words.

“There’s a reason for this separation and isolation, Trilla.” Edgar spoke quietly in the empty room. “It has to do with messengers and influences. You don’t really hate Orlan. Your hate is the result of dark influence. Those little black devils are invading your mind, poisoning it against the ones you love. It’s happening to everyone.” He teased her with choice bits of information. Trilla stared at him curiously. “The druid tells me that spiritual energy levels everywhere are at an all-time low. If I don’t do something about that situation fast, everything will fall apart.”

“All right.” Trilla stomped a hoof. “You had me at little black devils. They make me hate Orlan?”

“It’s different with everyone.” Edgar thumbed through the books on a nearby shelf. The hatred focuses on the one you love the most. It’s the quickest way to isolate you from everyone else. Then the others will move in to finish the job.”

“All right...” Trilla looked cross now. “What do you mean, finish?”

“I mean rid you of positive spiritual energies however they can.” Edgar got serious. “Think of it… Greed, lust, jealousy, doubt, fear, terror and despair working together inside you. I’ll bet you long for Orlan as much as you hate him. That longing only adds to the frustration and anger. They’re fighting hard, Trilla.”

“Hit me with a rock.” Trilla gaped. “I thought he hated me. If he did, why would he be stalking me? Why did I assume that? I pushed him away.”

“Think it through.” Edgar prodded. “Logic will get to the heart of it. I knew I could count on you, Trilla.”

“Wait.” Trilla eyed him suspiciously. “How did you figure it out? You were so obsessed with your own sadness, you could not think of anything else if you tried. Now you are happy and… Sheema is back!” She sang, hugging him again.

“Bull’s eye.” Edgar grinned. “I have a bonus for you too. I found a sage.”

“A wise one...” Trilla breathed. “Wait. Give me a moment or two. I need to… I will be with you soon.” She sped off in a cloud of dust.

Edgar sauntered back to the portal, As if on cue, he spied Orlan behind the shelves. “Hey, Orlan.” He called. “You’re it.”

“What?” Orlan peeked around the corner “What is ‘it’?”

“It’s an old Earth game of ‘hide and seek’.” Edgar joked. “Are you still on your shift?”

“No.” Orlan whispered noisily. “My shift is over. I just wanted to get a peek at Trilla. Have you seen her?”

“Do you mean her?” Edgar pointed. “Orlan tried to hide as she came running up. He failed. She ran into him full speed for a big hug and a bigger kiss. He looked dazed when she backed away. “I do not understand.” He looked at her groggily. “You hate me, Trilla. I know you do.”

“Of course I do.” Trilla grabbed his hand. “We have a mission. Get off of the table and come with us.” She dragged the confused buck through the portal. Edgar followed, shaking his head. Addan was still on the patio. Alva and Yorca were nearby playing with the kitts. He was surprised to see Vith and Lirrat at the table too. “Hello, everyone.” He called happily. “Look who I found.”

“Cervid.” Addan got to his feet. “It is a rare pleasure to meet you. I am Addan of Keel. I am sire to Yorca and grandsire to the kitts.”

“Addan, this is Trilla, my research assistant and Orlan, my former head of security.” Edgar introduced them. “The job is his again if he wants it.”

Orlan almost fell down. His confusion was reaching critical levels. Trilla steadied him with a hip as she bowed to Addan. “It is an honor to meet a wise one. I am thrilled to be a part of this mission. If you need any research materials at all, let me know. I know the archives like my own home.”

Edgar saw a little head peek over the edge of the table. “Oh...” He walked over. “You brought the young ones out to play. Who is this curious little one?” Edgar tickled it on the chin. The infant squealed at him.

“That is Doffa.” Lirrat crooned. “The others are playing with the kitts. They make quite a happy group.” She looked over at the giggling mass of bodies on the lawn. Alva was supervising the mayhem.

Edgar walked over to the group. “Alva, if you have a moment…” He looked at Yorca. He nodded and took over their supervision.

“Yes, Edgar.” Alva straightened her jumpsuit. She was still a vision.

“Are you still on speaking terms with Clia?” Edgar inquired. “I’d like to mend fences with her if that might be possible.”

“I would need the druid.” Alva looked around. “We still talk to one another. Why would you want to mend her fences?”

“I want to fix the separations between us.” Edgar clarified. Alva giggled.


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