The Scrolls of Icaria by Jamie


Part III – The Alliance


Chapter 30


Two days after I brought Barsetba to the Amber Palace, Charles appeared at Nic and my apartment with news. He told us that just as General Zakaria had suggested, a great council that would include representatives from all of the kingdoms was being arranged. Their intention was to meet with us and discuss the alliance that Charles, Nic, and I had been proposing to General Zakaria and the High Council of the Kingdom of Kalas. He explained that in the days since our arrival, the High Council had sent messages to the other kingdoms concerning our presence and – just as I’d expected – many governmental representatives and some of their military leaders had come to Konassas to discuss our sudden appearance. Based on those discussions, it had been decided that a formal grand council should be convened, that would be a summit meeting of the heads of state of all the kingdoms.


While Nic and I attended our share of meetings, Charles shouldered the brunt of the load. He worked many long days, and attended countless meetings. His efforts were now paying off as everyone began to prepare for the grand council. As the time grew nearer, Charles became even busier, but he also tried to take time to prepare Nic and me for what to expect at the upcoming event.


“They’re looking for you to legitimatize yourselves. They’ve had centuries of war, strife and turmoil,” Charles told us. “They want peace – a lasting peace. They were on the verge of forming a new series of alliances, but our appearance changed all that. They will agree to an alliance with Icaria if we can deliver peace, prosperity and security.”


“Those are very large objectives to fulfill,” Nic mused, “considering the fact that we don’t have a city, a country, a formal government, or an army.”


“Maybe so,” Charles said. “But Küronas is the key – I’ve convinced them of that. If we can get to Küronas with their assistance, we’ll have everything we need to become a legitimate government and a powerful force in this land.”


“It all sounds good, Charles,” I said, frowning, “but like everything else we’ve encountered, I don’t see any easy answers.”


“Neither do I,” Nic agreed.


“Well, you’re both right, it won’t be easy,” Charles said, “but you do have to agree it will be a lot easier than having four hostile kingdoms barring our way.”


Nic and I both agreed with Charles on that point. We were in no position to do anything if a large enough power tried to stop us. I was a wizard, but a wizard without all of the powers I needed, and I was only beginning to learn how to use the ones I did possess. Nic was a king without a country or an army to back him up. Both of us had lost our memories, and we had two hostile forces, Loran and Abbot Gude, already out to destroy us. At this point we needed friends, not more enemies.


General Zakaria had indicated weeks before, when we first appeared in front of the High Council of Kalas, that such a convocation – he had called it ‘The Grand Council of Kingdoms’ – had only occurred two or three times in his lifetime and was a rare and special event. Charles affirmed that fact, and was adamant in pointing out its importance.


True to Charles’ pronouncement, two days after he told us that a grand council would be convened, there was a brisk knock at our apartment door and a young boy, dressed in regal attire, appeared before us. He carried a small, red, leather pouch with an embossed and gilded crest. Upon entering our quarters, he bowed, opened the pouch, and took out a sheet of parchment that had been folded in thirds and secured with a large wax seal.


“I’ve been instructed to present this to the King of Icaria,” he softly said.


Nic stepped forward. “Then you’ll want to give it to me,” he replied, extending his hand to the boy.


The boy bowed deeply, placed the sealed parchment in Nic’s hand, and then stepped back and lowered his eyes to the ground.


“Yes?” Nic inquired. “Is there anything else?”


“Your Majesty,” he shyly continued. “I’ve been instructed to await your reply.”


Nic didn’t answer back, but instead removed his dagger from its sheath and broke open the seal. He placed the paper on a nearby table, pulled a small bench over closer, sat down, and began to read. As he did, I approached him from behind and looked over his shoulder. With a closer look, I could see that the document was elaborately illuminated. An exquisitely rendered border of vines and leaves, some inked in gold, curled around the margins of the paper. At the top of the document was a map set within an oval circle made up of scrolls and ornate lines. All the letters in the body of the message had been carefully printed and illustrated – some with both gold leaf and colored inks that gave them a raised look. I touched the parchment and as my fingertips glided across the paper, could feel the engraving stand out from the page. My eyes went to the words on the paper. I squeezed in next to Nic on the bench, and we silently read the missive to ourselves.





Niklas, King of Icaria


Be informed that a Grand Council of Kingdoms

will be convened on the 10th day of the month of Orn in this,

the 2,562nd year after the fall of the City of Light.


You are formally requested to attend the council along

with James, self-proclaimed Wizard of Icaria, and any

other representatives that you choose.


By my hand this 7th day of Orn,



King of Xannameir



Under Wilum of Xannameir’s name was a large wax seal. A black and yellow ribbon had been included in the seal at the time it had been placed. Below it, along the bottom of the paper, were three other seals.


One of the seals had a green and red ribbon affixed to it and below it, the signature Ottavia, Viceroy of the High Council of Konassas. Next to the seal of Lord Ottavia was another seal with a blue and gold ribbon and the signature of Juston, King of Aradamia. The third had a red and white ribbon and was signed Oslo, King of Vorhalla.


“Nic, look at the date,” I said. “King Wilum signed this four days ago. Today is the 9th day of Orn. According to this, the council is to be convened tomorrow.”


“Yes, it would appear so, Jamie,” he replied.


Then he turned to the young boy. “Tell your master that Niklas, King of Icaria, will attend along with His Grace, James the Wizard of Icaria, and the rest of our companions.”


“Very well, Your Highness.” the young boy said, then bowed again and left, closing the door quietly after himself.


That evening Nic and I ate a private meal in our apartment, separate from the others.


“Nic, what do you suppose is going to happen?” I asked, absentmindedly pushing the food around on my plate. Thoughts surrounding the upcoming Council of Kingdoms crowded my head and dampened my appetite. The fact was, I’d hardly eaten any of Master Arnod’s masterfully prepared cuisine. Nic didn’t seem to have the same problem and had cleaned his plate of even the tiniest scraps of food.


“I’m not totally sure Jamie, but my best guess is that they want to get a better look at us. From what we’ve heard from your friend Abbot Gude, we’re some sort of scourge that was prophesied would one day appear and begin a reign of terror.”


“Yes, that much is clear. And… ah… Niklas, Abbot Gude is not my friend.”


“I know,” Nic said, “I was just trying to make a little joke. I guess it’s not very funny.”


“Actually, it’s not. If you’d been the one to stand in front of that old man, after being dragged around Tardon in the confused and disoriented state that I was in at the time, I think that you’d probably feel the same way.” I paused for a moment, and then went on with a small grin, “Though I did take some comfort in watching you knock him down in the abbey.”


“I supposed it wasn’t a kingly moment, but I was a little pressured at the time.” His brief smile never made it to his eyes, and he remained distracted.


Nic got up from his chair and wandered over to one of the large windows overlooking the forum of Konassas. He stood there for a minute, staring out at the large open square that lay before him, and I knew he was lost in thought. As I sat and watched him, standing there in his bare feet and dressed only in his short tunic, I could feel my two hearts beat a little faster. The evening sun was shining through the window and it caught the golden flecks of his beautiful wings.


I knew he could be a fierce fighter, especially when my protection was at stake, but he was also very loving, gentle, and kind, not only to me, but also all the others. In fact, the more I reflected on it as I gazed upon him, the more I realized that he was warm and to anyone who needed him. Many evenings, during our trek through the wilderness, I had seen Jonathan or Luc curl up in his lap and fall asleep as he softly spoke to them or told them a story. He continually praised Cody, always thanking him for his help, and I knew that the beautiful young blue-winged angel adored him. Lance, of course, respected him immensely. And the twins looked to him as their natural leader – the one person they could trust especially in times of danger.


Sitting there looking at him, I mused over the fact that I was so in love with him. How could I have been so lucky as to have him as my mate? I got up from my chair and walked over to him. I wrapped my arms around him and placed my head on his shoulder. I felt the doubled beating of his hearts in his chest.


Nic bent down and kissed my neck; I felt his strong arms encircle me. I looked up into his beautiful face and as our eyes met, he bent his head and tenderly kissed me. When he pulled back, I smiled and looked back into his eyes, but as I did I could see that there were still many thoughts racing through his head.


“Do you think there’s anything more we can do to prepare for this grand council?” I asked.


“Not really, Jamie. I think that we go before them, state our case, and tell the truth. So far, they can see that our actions haven’t been hostile, and I hope they accept the fact that we only want to find Küronas and establish our kingdom.”


“I agree with you Nic, although I wish I knew what the truth really was. There’s still so much missing. Some days I get frustrated trying to remember the things that Charles and Philippe have told us in their stories… things that I know I should remember. And you know how I feel about the conflicting details in each of their testimonies?”


“Yes, of course I’m aware, but remember Jamie – it’s the same for me. Like you, I don’t remember ever seeing Küronas, or any of the other things that either of them talked about. I wish I had even a small scrap of a memory to cling to. But the fact is, we don’t. So we just have to accept what happened even if we don’t have all the answers yet. And, as you yourself pointed out, we’re looking back on them through the mists of time – over twenty five hundred years of it. We can’t live in the past, a past that is so distant none of it may even have any bearing on our present circumstances. We must look forward, to the future and to our own destinies.”


“I know you’re right, Nic. But sometimes it’s hard to pretend to be strong. Here I am, supposedly this great wizard, and I often feel like I don’t know a thing. Sometimes I feel so helpless. I have powers that I’m really not sure how to use. We’re searching for a city that I have no memory of, or am even sure still exists after twenty five hundred years. And to tell you the truth Nic, I often think that even if we ever do find it, it will probably be in ruins – then what will we do? Sometimes I’m worried, and sometimes I’m scared. I try not to show all the others, but exactly who is the great ‘Wizard of Icaria’? Everyone tells me that it’s supposed to be me, but I’m what? An eighteen-year-old boy if my almost nonexistent memory is to be believed?


At this point Nic’s face began to go blurry, and I am sure he could see the tears threatening to overrun my eyes. He took me back into his arms and embraced me.


“Well, first of all, you’re at least a twenty five hundred eighteen year-old boy,” he said with a chuckle, giving me a kiss on my lips. “And second, remember what Charles told you about being a wizard? He said that you were going to be a great wizard, even greater than this Jonas ever envisioned. He told you that everything we are going through would only make you stronger, wiser, and better. I can see it already, Jamie. You’ve been changing and evolving from the moment we were released from our coffin.”


“Do you really think so?” I lifted my head and asked pleadingly.


“No, my love, I know so. You’re getting stronger every day. Maybe you don’t realize it, but you are. Yes, you may worry about the future – we all do. But you’re not the scared boy you were many months ago. Remember how you looked your brother Loran in the eye, stood wing to wing with him on two separate occasions? Remember how we escaped from the abbey with your help? And remember how you defended me in front of the high council? You have iron in your bones, and courage in your blood. I know you’re scared. We’ve all been scared from time to time, but we have a destiny to fulfill. I’m willing to go on as long as you’re with me, Jamie.”


“Yes Nic, I’ll go on,” I said, blinking back the tears. Then taking his hand, I looked up into he eyes. “But only if you’re the wind that I fly on.”


“Have no fear love, I’ll be that wind. You can count on that.”


Nic kissed me one more time; he lifted me up in his arms and carried me to our bedroom. He laid me on our bed, then bent and kissed me. My arms went round his neck and pulled him closer. We melted into each other’s arms. Just as I was about to let Nic help me take off my tunic, I heard the sound of our apartment door open. Frowning, I got out of bed and walked through the darkened sitting room to the salon of our apartment, calling back to Nic that I would join him shortly and to prepare for bed.


When I walked into the salon, I saw Jonathan standing in the doorway. On either side of the entrance stood two of the many guards who were assigned the rotating duty of guarding our room, day and night. They appeared a bit flustered. While they knew exactly what to do in the event of an attack or unlawful intrusion, and had even been instructed to rebuff unwanted guests during our private time, it was obvious they weren’t sure what protocol to follow for an eight-year-old angel boy coming to our door so late at night.


“I can’t sleep,” he said turning his sightless eyes toward me, “I had a bad dream.”


Approaching him and kneeling in front of him, I took his shoulders in my hands.


“Every one has bad dreams sometimes,” I said in a quiet and what I hoped was a soothing voice. “Even Nic, and he’s the strongest one of us all.”


“It scared me,” he said. “I saw blood, lots of blood, and then fire. The fire was different colors. It was bright and flew around me.”


“It’s alright,” I said, holding him close to me. “It was just a dream. You’re here with all of us in the Amber Palace. Let’s go back to your room. Luc is there, and Charles’ room is next to yours. Cody and Lance are close too, and Miro is in the room across the hall. Nobody would try to get you with Miro across the hall. You’re safe, ok?”


Jonathan nodded his head slowly, if a bit reluctantly. Just then Nic, wearing just his cotton small clothes, stuck his head into the room.


“Is there a problem, Jamie?” he asked quietly.


“No Nic,” I replied, “Jonathan just had a bad dream. I’m going to take him back to his room.”


Taking the little angel by the hand, I walked him down the hall to his apartment. The door was ajar and I pushed it all the way open. Leading him to the bedroom, I saw Luc sleeping soundly in the large overstuffed bed that dominated the room. Once more, I knelt down in front of Jonathan.


“Luc is here, sleeping.” I said. “Why don’t you try to get some sleep, too? Everything’s all right. If you want, I’ll even ask the guards who stand watch at my door to come down and watch your door tonight – or any night that you like.”


“No,” Jonathan said. “Luc told me he’s my knight and he will protect me. He told me Charles told him to take care of me.”


“OK,” I said, then looking at the unconscious Luc, I smiled. Jonathan’s knight was dead asleep and hadn’t even stirred as I stood only a few feet away during my conversation with the little boy. “Well, go and sleep next to your knight,” I said. “Tomorrow’s a big day; we’re going to a very serious meeting. There will be important people there, and some kings.”


Jonathan didn’t respond. Instead he crawled into bed, lay on his side, tucked his wings back, and curled up in a ball. I bent down and kissed him good night and left the room. Closing the boys’ apartment door behind me, I walked wearily back to my room. At my door, the guards looked sheepishly at me – a rather amusing sight, I had to admit – both men, tall, muscular, armored and heavily armed, looking down at me like small children.


“Your Grace… we’re sorry that…” one of them stammered.


“Everything is fine,” I quickly responded in an attempt to save them from any further embarrassment. “He couldn’t sleep – he had a bad dream. You did the right thing in not turning him away, or scaring him. Thank you.” Smiling at both of them, I added, “He’s back in bed, and King Niklas and I will be in bed shortly. Carry on, and don’t worry.”


Still looking a bit uneasy and embarrassed, both men bowed. One of the guards opened the door, and after I walked into the salon he closed it behind me. After turning back to bolt the lock, I made my way to the bedroom. Nic, who was sitting at the small table in the sitting room outside our bedchamber, looked up as I walked in. I noticed he had our invitation from King Wilum to the Council of Kingdoms open before him.


“Is everything alright?” he asked.


“Yes,” I said, “It was just a little boy’s bad dream. He’s back in bed. The guards, who were completely thrown off balance, are calmed down and I’m ready for bed.”


“So am I,” he answered. Leading me back into the bedroom, he closed the door.


The morning came all too quickly. I awoke with Nic’s arm wrapped around me and his body pressed tightly against mine. I startled when I heard a rustle coming from the opposite side of our bedroom.


“Get up, you two,” a young and happy voice said.


I raised my head, propped myself up with my right arm and squinted blearily in the direction of the voice. As the sleep cleared from my eyes, I could see Cody standing there.


“It looks like you both had a nice evening,” he giggled.


“Maybe we did Cody, but if you’re going to start talking about romance, maybe I should point out that I’ve noticed Lance spending more than a few nights in your apartment.”


“Well, it’s not just my apartment any more,’ he said with a broad smile. “ He moved in for good two days ago.”


“I knew it. I thought that something was up. I’ve been watching the way you act every time you’re within twenty feet of him.”


“Unlike you and Nic?” He laughed as he said the words.


“He’s got you there, Jamie.”


It was Nic. He was also awake. Quickly he sat up, then got up from the bed and walked across the bedroom, heading toward the bathing chamber.


“Well, when you have something like that to curl up next to every night…” Cody paused as his eyes followed Nic from the bed to our bathroom.


As was his custom, Nic had just climbed out of bed completely naked and was now in the process of beginning his morning rituals. The fact that Cody was there hadn’t stopped him. Nic was no prude, and he was giving the blue-winged angel a view that left nothing to the imagination.


I picked up my pillow and threw it at Cody, but he didn’t even duck – instead he stopped it in mid-air with his telekinetic power and hurled it back at me.


I jumped out of the bed, and flew toward him so quickly that it caught him off guard; I had him pinned on the floor in a second. Now he was staring up at me.


“Oh my, doesn’t anyone get dressed in these quarters, Your Grace?” Cody smiled up at me.


In my attack on Cody, I had forgotten that I too was naked.


“Well, if you would give us some peace, maybe we could get cleaned up and properly dressed.” I was smiling at the boy who was now pinned under me.


“All right both of you, enough of your fooling around. Cody, make sure the others are ready. Jamie and I will join you downstairs in the grand salon in a few minutes.”


“Your Highness, everyone is up and ready. Charles sent me to make sure you were awake. He said he wasn’t in the mood to catch you two in the act, so he sent me. He warned me about the sights I would probably see.”


“Pff…. Well, you can tell Charles…” I began hotly.


“Jamie, enough!” Nic turned and shouted at me.


“Fine, Nic,” I shouted back.


I got off of Cody, and as we both arose, I whispered in his ear.


“It’s not like you haven’t seen any of this in your own bedroom, is it?”


Cody beamed me a huge smile, and I could see him beginning to blush.


“Cody, just tell Charles we’ll be ready shortly,” Nic said sternly, but I could see him trying to suppress a smile.


“Yes, Your Highness.”


Cody gave Nic a slight bow and left the room, but not before he flashed me a smile and a quick wink.


As Cody was leaving our apartment, Master Jaysune appeared at the door holding some clothing. I was surprised to see him, since we already had been given extensive wardrobes.


“Lord Charles instructed me to make sure you had these for this morning, my Lords,” he said as he bowed slightly. “He approached me a few days ago and asked me if I could have special garments tailored for you for the Council of Kingdoms.”


I padded over to Jaysune, who held two new tunics in his hands. Picking up the hem of one of them, I could see that they appeared even finer than the ones that we had been wearing for the past few weeks.


“Very well,” Nic said. “Please leave them, and we’ll put them on after we’ve bathed.”


Jaysune walked over to our bed and laid them out carefully. “Will you require my assistance?” he asked.


“No,” Nic said, “we’ll attend to ourselves. Thank you, Jaysune,”


Jaysune made one more adjustment as he carefully smoothed out the tunics on the bed, then turned, bowed, and left the room.


One of the tunics – Nic’s presumably, being the larger of the two – was white with gold thread woven into the fabric itself. It was trimmed in dark red and sported a golden sash. The smaller tunic was light blue, and had a rich gold and silver knotwork pattern around the neckline, the ends of the sleeves, and the hem. Accompanying it was a silver sash.


After a few minutes in the bath, we were clean, dressed, and ready to join the others. We left our apartment, traversing the long hallway and descended the grand staircase to the formal salon on the first floor. As we got closer, I took Nic’s hand in mine. He gave it a squeeze and we entered the room together.


Inside we found Charles, David, Miro, Philippe, Cody, Lance, Luc, and Jonathan waiting for us. I was surprised to see Barsetba there, but learned that although he would not be attending the closed and somewhat secret council meeting, he had come to offer support – especially to Philippe, to whom he’d grown particularly close.


A few days before, I’d learned from Miro that Philippe had not just been rehearsing with Barsetba, but also told the young musician about his earlier life in the imperial court, and of his friendship with Damian. And while music had brought them together, they found they shared many similar interests and points of view. More than once Miro had thanked me for asking Barsetba to come to the Amber Palace and be with Philippe, for although Philippe continued to be sad over the death of Damian, his feelings had been tempered in discovering a new friend. Barsetba, for his part, was not only a talented musician, but also a kind and friendly boy and was quite interested in both the history and daily life of the Icarians among whom he now found himself residing.


As I looked around the room, it was nice to see everyone handsomely dressed in new clothes. In addition to all of the Icarians, I was pleased to see General Zakaria standing there as well. Looking past him, I could see that he was accompanied by a cadre of his men – including Juston Tark, who nodded gravely when I smiled at him. All of them were outfitted in formal military dress and looked quite dashing. I recognized one of the men as the young officer who had accompanied Zakaria the day Nic rescued me from the provisional offices in Tardon. His eyes met mine, and I smiled at him, but he quickly looked away. As he did, I became concerned that the initial impression Nic and I made in Tardon might not have been a good one – to say the least – and I resolved that if the opportunity arose to talk to him, I would attempt to learn his feelings toward us and possibly repair any negative opinions he may have formed regarding us.


Looking further to the right of the officers, I also recognized two of the members of the High Council. One was Lord Tevor. I recognized the other, but could not recall his name – Lord Balmor… Baldor… or something close to that.


“Is everyone ready?” Charles asked.


A quick series of nods and words of affirmation flew around the room.


“Well, it’s my understanding that they’re having a brief private session right now. As soon as they’re finished we’ll be called, so in the meantime we’ll just wait until we’re summoned.”


I stood, looking at Nic. He was still holding my hand and I mentioned to him that we might as well sit down and wait until they called for us.


We’d just walked across the room and sat down together on one of the soft upholstered benches that were placed between each of the windows in the room, when the door of the salon opened and a young man, dressed in livery similar to that of the young messenger who’d delivered the initial summons from King Wilum, stepped in.


“Your presence is now requested by the Grand Council,” he quietly said.


Immediately on his heels, there entered an older man who had a dark black beard and wavy black hair that rested on his collar. He was dressed in a long robe that was heavily embroidered. A chain was draped around his neck and he wore a soft red and gold velvet hat. As soon as he was in the room, he began to bark orders.


“You’ll all come with me. Please enter the chamber in silence. Stand in front of the table where Their Majesty’s and Lord Ottavia are sitting.”


He pointed to Nic. "You’ll lead the way”


“No, that’s not the way it will happen.”


My head snapped to the left. I recognized the voice, but was totally taken by surprise at the statement of disagreement, and who was making it. There, standing in front of the robed man, was Cody – while I hadn’t noticed, he must have begun walking toward the man as soon as he had started to speak.


“What did you say?” the man said looked down at the young angel with a scowl.


Cody looked up at the man and gave him a large and genuine smile.


“Forgive me Chancellor Dunham, but we’ve already been through this. I spoke to your aide and we agreed on the protocol. I was under the impression that he conveyed our conversation and agreement to you and that everything would progress according to the protocol outlined. Perhaps this was not the case?”


“Well, he told me what you suggested, but…”


“Chancellor, we are not petitioners coming before the council, but a legitimate government. We have a head of state and a legitimate monarch, and as such are accorded privileges, rights, and honors under your laws and governmental structure.


“First of all, we are owed the respect of a military escort, which means at least one military representative from each kingdom. Second, there are to be chairs at the table for His Grace, His Majesty, and Lord Charles. Third, I’m to stand behind Lord Charles and General Lancelot is to stand behind His Royal Highness. Fourth, Luc is to be the first to enter, since he has no diplomatic portfolio; His Grace, as the supreme authority of Icaria, will be the last to enter. Fifth, upon the entrance of His Majesty, and then His Grace – in that order – everyone will rise, upon which time King Wilum…


The conversation continued on. Cody said all this in a matter-of-fact way. The gentle smile he had given the man never left his face. I stood there, stunned.


“Exactly what is he doing?” I whispered to Nic.


“Don’t know, Jamie,” he whispered back.


“He’s reminding the Chancellor of the rules of protocol that the grand council agreed to,” a voice at my shoulder quietly said.


I jumped at the voice and turned. Charles had glided up silently behind me and was now standing at my right side. He leaned forward in order to speak to Nic and me in confidence.


“What are you talking about, Charles? What protocol?” I said.


“If we’re to be treated as a legitimate government, then we have to act like one. Laws, rules, regulations, traditions, and protocols control all governmental functions. Cody is just reminding him of the protocol that they agreed to when this meeting was set up.”


“Who came up with the protocol?” Nic asked.


“Cody negotiated the agreement.”


I almost fell off the bench I was sitting on. Cody? Cody, the sweet boy who watched over us, and along with Luc, helped prepare our meals? Cody negotiated an agreement of protocol?


“How did this happen?” I must have given Charles the strangest of looks, because he smiled back at me and almost laughed.


“It’s one of his jobs, Jamie.” He was now smirking at me.


“Since when?” I shouted, but Nic squeezed my hand and I lowered my voice. “This is all news to me, Charles.”


“I’m sorry Jamie, but this meeting came about so fast that I had to enlist Cody’s help. After all, he’s both a Regent Power and an Archangel of the Diplomatic House, not to mention the scribe of the Imperial House of Diplomacy”


“Well, now’s a good time to find all of this out, Charles.” I said – my voice had once more risen, and everyone in the room turned to look at me.


“Please, carry on,” Charles said as he smiled at everyone assembled, before he turned back to Nic and I.


“Jamie, a few things have happened very quickly over the past day. I had every intention of telling you and Nic, but I’ve been working night and day to make this council a success. Please, just let us handle this, and the outcome will be to everyone’s advantage.”


“It’s not that we don’t trust or believe you, Charles,” Nic said, “but I wish that you could have at least given us some warning.”


“I know.” Charles hung his head. “I guess I handled it badly – I’m really sorry. But I can give you an honest and reasonable explanation when this is over.”


“Fine Charles,” I said. “Nic and I will be anxiously awaiting it.”


Nic squeezed my hand and looked at me with a slight frown.


“Not now, Jamie.”


“I know Nic, but…”


“Not now, Jamie,” he reiterated.


I sat there and continued to frown, but even as I did, I again became aware of the conversation between Cody and the man called Chancellor Dunham.


“…And then finally, the council will be called to order. That is what we agreed to,” Cody concluded briskly.


“Well, you have to give me a little more time then,” Dunham responded curtly.


“Please Chancellor, there’s no rush. Take your time. We’ll be happy to wait,” Cody replied. Still smiling at Dunham, he continued casually, “Of course, that means their Majesties and Lord Ottavia will also have to wait.” I chuckled, almost able to see the verbal knife Cody’s last remark delivered to the Chancellor, who quickly became red-faced.


Chancellor Dunham turned on his heels and flew from the room in obvious exasperation. The young man who had initially preceded him also left, following quickly in Dunham’s wake.


Cody turned, looked directly at me, and giggled. I’m sure I was looking back at him with a very strange expression, but he just smiled at me. I wrinkled my brow. Then I saw Lance giving Cody an adoring look, and their eyes met for a second. Cody smiled coyly, and looked away. Once more I caught the young angel’s eye, and when he realized that I had just observed what had passed between he and Lancelot, I could see a blush bloom on his face.


We’d only waited a few minutes when a loud rap came from the other side of the door. The same young man who’d arrived the first time to escort us re-entered the room; this time though, unlike before, in addition to Chancellor Dunham, he also had six soldiers, dressed in various types of uniforms, in tow. I guessed that these were the military representatives from the various kingdoms that Cody had requested.


As the soldiers entered, Cody began herding us to our places. After a few minutes, he had everything sorted out to his satisfaction. Leaving the formal salon of the palace, we headed for the grand foyer that contained the great staircase leading to the upper floors of the building, as it also opened onto the outside world and the forum of Konassas.


We arrived at the foyer, trouped through the large double-hung bronze doors of the palace, and passed under the portico. Then our procession headed down the steps to the forum itself. Two soldiers led the way, followed by the young man who’d first come into the salon to announce our summons. Two more soldiers walked behind him, followed by Chancellor Dunham, with Cody just to his left. Dunham looked straight ahead, never once acknowledging the young angel at his side.


Following Cody and Dunham came General Zakaria and his officers, along with the two Lords from the High Council. Two more soldiers walked behind them and finally, in single file, Luc, Philippe, Jonathan, David, Miro, Lance, Charles, Nic and myself.


Once our feet touched the marble paving stones of the forum, we walked rapidly toward the center of the large square. At the middle of the forum, the soldiers in the lead turned forty-five degrees to the right and headed off in a new direction. As we continued to follow, I began to see that our destination seemed to be a building that I was still unfamiliar with.


Earlier, during our first days in Konassas I, accompanied by Luc, Cody, and Jonathan, had explored many of the buildings around the forum. Edmond Cob had indicated which ones were open to our inspection and which were restricted. The building we now headed toward had been on the restricted list. As we rapidly approached it, I could see that its exterior was quite plain. It had been built of large, smooth granite blocks and it had none of the statues, decorative columns, bas-relief carvings, fountains or other distinguishing features that adorned most of the other structures surrounding the square. It was a circular building, about two stories high, with a slightly domed roof. It had a few steps in front of it that led to a pair of very large bronze doors. It appeared that the building had no windows.


It sat raised slightly off the floor of the forum, surrounded by a large expanse of reddish-colored marble, much like a cake on a platter. Four to five steps led up to the broad pavement that surrounded the building. We made our way up the steps, traversed the pavement to the door, then stepped through after the two lead guards pulled on the handles of the heavy bronze doors and held them open for us as we passed into the dark recesses of the building.


It was a bright sunny day as we walked across the forum of Konassas. The sun reflected brightly off of the marble paving stones of the square and the gleaming white buildings that surrounded it. Once inside this new building, I discovered that I needed time for my eyes to adjust from the bright light of the forum to the dark shadowy space we’d now passed into.


My observations had been correct; there were indeed no windows to illuminate the interior of the building. The large corridor we were standing in was quite dim, and as my eyes slowly became accustomed to the shadows, I noted that the only source of light illuminating the space we stood in was a row of polished bronze wall sconces, each holding a pair of flickering candles.


Once we were all in the building, the soldiers who’d been holding the doors for us closed them and remained outside to stand guard. As I heard them slam shut with a dull ‘thud,’ I felt the vibration through my feet as their heavy bulk made contact with the doorframe.


As soon as the door closed, Chancellor Dunham and Cody stepped out of line and once more made sure everyone was in their proper place. During that time my eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light, and I became aware that we were standing in a long corridor that curved away out of view as I looked to the left and right. This corridor apparently formed an outer ring around the immediate interior of the building, and served as a sort of lobby or antechamber. It reached all the way up to the ceiling, about sixty feet above our heads, and I suspected that it wrapped itself, three hundred sixty degrees, around the interior of the building. Other than the wall sconces – each one of polished bronze and made to look like the head of a ram –the marble floor beneath our feet that had a simple inlaid pattern, making the space we now stood in appear dark, cold, and rather plain.


Once my vision completely adjusted to the dim light, I could see another pair of large bronze doors in front of us. They appeared similar to the ones we’d passed through, with one exception. The exterior doors had been plain, without design or embellishment. These doors each had twelve large panels, and each panel showed a different scene. I could only imagine if the scenes depicted some event or story, but whether they were based on historical events, mythology or stories was a mystery that no one had the time or the desire to explain, it seemed.


The remaining two guards in the lead of our procession reached out and pulled on the handles of the doors, slowly easing them open. In the same order we’d formed in our procession, we passed through the open doorway into the next room. After a few minutes of maneuvering we were all through the doorway, and since I was the last to cross the threshold, I turned and pulled on the handle, helping the two soldiers close the door behind me. Just as before, the two soldiers who’d opened the doors remained on the other side of them, acting as sentries. As soon as the doors thudded shut, Cody shot a glance back at me.


“I don’t think you were supposed to do that,” Nic whispered.


“No, as the highest ranking person in our group, someone should have shut it for you,” Charles added.


“Well, I shut it myself, and I don’t care.” I whispered loudly.


I must have made more noise than I should have, because I noticed that now Chancellor Dunham was also looking back at me. He cleared his throat and proceeded onward.


Once the commotion with the door was over, I began to take notice of the room we were standing in. I looked up, then to the right and finally to the left.


“Oh my…” seemed to be the only words that would come to my lips.


From my position I could see that we were standing on a landing that wrapped itself all the way around the wall we’d just come through. It was about twenty feet wide – wide enough for our entire group to stand on without crowding each other. It had a beautifully carved wooden railing that was held up by bronze balusters. The railing and balusters followed the curve of the room around the entire landing. Each baluster had been cast in the form of a tree branch and the carving on the railing resembled the scales of a fish or snake. I reached out my hand to touch the railing and I felt the smooth yet scaly surface that it had been carved to mimic. The only place that the railing was absent was directly in front of us, where the landing opened onto a set of steps.


On the wall around the landing was a giant panoramic mural that went from floor to ceiling and rose at least forty feet high, on which maps, illustrations, and long columns of words had been painted. As I looked closer I could see that on this large circular wall had been placed the history of Konassas – maybe even that of the entire world. Each map seemed to depict a different era, or epoch, spanning many years or even centuries – it was hard to tell without taking the time to get a better look.


Some of the maps had arrows painted on them that appeared to depict trade routes, battles, or invasions. The words next to them were painted in long narrow columns. There were also dates painted all around the room at the top of the wall where it met the domed ceiling, along with other illustrations and the occasional portrait of an individual – some of whom were dressed in strange and unusual clothing. The entire mural had been exquisitely drawn and illustrated, and it was obvious to me that it was the work of one or more master artists.


As I gazed up at the wall, my eyes continued to follow along to where it met the domed ceiling, and I found that I was I was visually drawn to the ceiling itself, where a fantastic orrery took up the entire ceiling of the dome. A three dimensional representation of an astronomical chart, its various engines and mechanisms silently turned and whirled as the entire sky moved in some sort of preset rhythm, but I could only speculate as to its nature and purpose.


My eyes left the ceiling and scanned the entire span of the room we were standing in… it was huge. The expansive space was completely open; not one column or pillar obstructed the view. The dome seemed to float above our heads as if simply held there by some unseen power.


Finally I looked down, directly into the room itself. Resting on the floor in the very center of the room was a great disk of stone. It had to be at least thirty feet in diameter and five feet thick. It was hard to tell if it was one solid piece of stone, or made up of a number of large individual pieces. One huge chunk of the top surface, at least a quarter of the stone, had been broken off and was gone, leaving only a rough, jagged surface behind. I could see that the rest of the stone had an intricate map carved into it.


In addition to the finely detailed carving, the map also contained many colorful inlays of various stones, polished rocks and gems. Around the outer circle were markings like those of a clock that I could only guess indicated different degrees and directions in relation to the cardinal points of the compass. Surrounding the stone was an immense, circular table that extended completely around the stone. The stone itself was sunken into the floor, resting in a large circular pit. The table that surrounded it sat slightly higher than the stone, so that anyone sitting at the table could look down toward the center and have a complete and unobstructed view of the map carved into its surface.


Spaced around the table at regular intervals was a set of delicately carven, high-backed chairs that looked more like the thrones of kings than common, everyday chairs. Some of the chairs were occupied, while others sat empty. In addition to the occupants of the chairs, there were quite a few other individuals, who I guessed to be aides or ministers, attending to the men seated at the table. Some of these ministers, I noticed, were taking notes while others were simply standing and observing the proceedings.


As I looked at the occupants of the chairs and those individuals surrounding them, it became obvious to me that the men sitting at the table represented the power and authority of what I was coming to know as the Grand Council of Kingdoms. In one of the chairs sat a very old man with a long white beard. He was dressed in a white robe that had been embellished with gold and red embroidery. On his head sat an elaborate crown. As I looked at him, the name Oslo came into my thoughts. ‘Oslo of Vorhalla,’ I thought to myself. Sitting next to him was a man about twenty years younger, although he too appeared old. Before I could pick up any thoughts from him, Chancellor Dunham’s voice broke the silence in the room.


“If it pleases the council, allow me to present their Lordships Lord Tevor, second viceroy and Lord Balacore, secretary to the High Council of Kalas.”


‘Of course, Balacore… that was his name,’ I thought to myself. Both Lord Tevor and Lord Balacore moved across the room and stood directly behind the chair of Lord Ottavia.


Drawn back to those seated around the table, my eyes fell upon a man who appeared to be the same age as General Zakaria. Suddenly, the name Wilum appeared in my head. So this was Wilum, King of Xannameir. He was dressed quite plainly in a simple soldier’s tunic and cape; the only distinguishing ornamentation he wore was a plain band around his head that I assumed was his crown, and a large ruby ring on his right hand. My concentration was broken again as Dunham’s voice continued, echoing off the walls of the room.


“His Lordship the Duke of Lionsgate and Commander of the Grand Army of Xannameir, Marcus Zakaria.”


With that pronouncement, General Zakaria and his officers took their places behind King Wilum. I already knew that Zakaria was from Xannameir and the commander of its army – ‘Wilum’s army,’ I thought to myself, while suppressing a smile. I was sure that whoever had chosen Zakaria for his commander was indeed a wise leader. I blinked as the young officer, who had appeared to be General Zakaria’s aide, suddenly and unexpectedly took the empty chair beside Wilum and sat down next to him.


Once more Chancellor Dunham was speaking. I noticed that he, along with Lieutenant Commander Juston Tark and the remaining two soldiers of the original six who had escorted us, now stepped down the broad flight of steps that led down into the room. Although Dunham had paused on the first landing, I could see that the two soldiers and Tark continued on into the room. The two soldiers took their place to the left of General Zakaria. That didn’t surprise me since I recognized their attire as that of the Xannameirian troops of the garrison. Likewise, Juston Tark moved to take his place slightly behind the general, to his right. Since both men were of similar height and build and wore the same type of uniform, I wasn’t surprised at how closely the general and his lieutenant seemed to resemble each other.


Dunham moved down a few steps after Tark and the soldier left him, and was now standing on another circular landing that was about a foot above the floor on which the round table sat. As he continued to speak, he turned to those of us still standing on the upper landing.


“You have been summoned to appear before the Grand Council of the Four Kingdoms by His Royal Highness, King Oslo of Vorhalla, who is accompanied by his Highness Drakis, Crown Prince of Vorhalla; His Royal Highness King Juston of Aradamia; His Royal Highness King Wilum of Xannameir, who is accompanied by His Highness Andrew, Crown Prince of Xannameir; and Arch Lord Ottavia, Viceroy of the High Council of Kalas.”


I could feel my eyebrows rise as the true identity of General Zakaria’s aide de camp was revealed. Now that the introduction of the members of the Grand Council was concluded Cody, who had been proceeding down the steps to the lower landing while Chancellor Dunham had been speaking, began his own speech.


“Your most Royal Highnesses, Lord Ottavia, Crown Princes, General Zakaria, Honored Guests and Observers, I present to the Grand Council of Kingdoms the members of the Icarian Delegation.” Cody made a dramatic pause, took a deep breath, and continued.


“Master Luc Tourney.”


Luc, who had been quietly standing with us, slowly began to walk down the steps. I smiled, watching him first wet his lips and then move forward. His arms were at his side, his back was straight and his head held high as he began his descent to the lower floor of the room. The former slave boy, while a bit nervous, appeared to be proud to be considered part of our group. As he approached Cody, one of the officials on the lower level directed him to an area behind a section of the table where three chairs stood unoccupied. As he did, Cody continued.


“Philippe, of the Royal House of Music, concert master to the House Imperial.” Philippe, following Luc, made his way down the steps.


“David and Miro, les Gemeaux of House Imperial, and Duet Lizard.”


The twins, in all their finery, marched down the stairs together, broad smiles on their faces, and I could almost hear the crowd filling Castle Rood roaring their approval. Unfortunately, no one seated at the table seemed that impressed as the boys reached the bottom of the stairs, bowed with a flourish, and joined Philippe.


“Viscount Jonathan, of Icaria.”


Just as the others had done, little Jonathan walked down the steps and took his place next to Luc – his friend and companion. I was amazed at how well he maneuvered for someone who was blind. He walked so quickly and purposely that I would have sworn that his sight was perfect.


“General Lancelot, Royal Commander of the Forces of Icaria.”


Lance slowly moved down the steps. He was dressed in Icarian battle armor and as he passed Cody, I could see the young Royal Dominion Archangel give his mate and love a shy and fleeting smile.


“What Forces of Icaria?” I whispered to Nic.


“Shhhh, Jamie.” Nic took my hand in his and squeezed it


“Lord Charles of Icaria, Archangel and first Counsel to the Legion of Red and Black, Keeper of the Keys of Hadrian, Historian to the Wizardry, Scholar of the Imperial Institute of Governance and High Council to the Wizardry.”


Charles confidently strode down the steps, bowed to the assembly, and took the far left of the three unoccupied seats that all the others stood behind.


Cody paused and took a breath, “His Royal Highness Niklas, King of Icaria,” he called out, “First Lord of the Realm, Duke of Agramon, Lord Protector of the Wizardry, Heir to the Seat of Escalade and Prince of Eagles Rock.”


Nic released my hand and began his descent. He looked regal and handsome. I could see the three kings studying the young angel king very closely as he made his way to the far right of the three unoccupied chairs.


All three kings and Lord Ottavia stood as Nic descended the stairs. They remained standing, and resumed their seats only when Nic took his.


One final time, Cody’s voice sounded throughout the room.


“His Esteemed Grace, James, Wizard of Icaria, Lord Protector of the Realm, Defender of the Gates of Justice, Vessel of the Orbs of Lon Nol, and Guardian of the Tower of Agramon.”


Initially, no one stood as I began my approach to my chair. Immediately I realized that as a monarch, Nic had commanded the other Kings’ formal respect according to protocol, while I was quickly discovering that the same respect did not automatically flow to me; the wording of the summons to this meeting suddenly flashed through my mind… James, self-proclaimed Wizard of Icaria


Nic abruptly stood, and as he did, Lord Ottavia quickly scrambled to his feet to join him; it was only then that all three of the kings and the two princes slowly rose from their seats – more out of respect for the King of Icaria than for me.


As I crossed the room, I could feel everyone’s eyes upon me. I didn’t know if I should look at everyone, or cast my eyes downward. I chose to look each and every one of the kings directly in the eye as I descended the stairs and strode toward my seat. Finally I was standing in front of the last unoccupied chair at the table. It was between Charles and Nic. As I took my seat, everyone else sat, and Cody left the landing taking a position behind Charles, Nic and I.


Chancellor Dunham’s voice rang through the large room and echoed off its rounded wall like the ringing of a bell.


“The Grand Council of the Kingdoms is now in official session.”