East of Queen Skoria and King Tarrak’s Royal Palace, lies Duchess Anna and Duke Ture’s Highland Dukedom. It is a land of gently rolling hills covered with spruce, pine, fir and oak, and broad fertile valleys. On the western edge of the highlands is the Krem River, which flows through the lowlands and empties into the Sea of Baltos. Near the headwaters of the Krem River, is the Highland Castle, the favorite retreat of Crown Princess Skoriana. Among the folk of the Highland Dukedom, Skorana has always been known as ‘Cindy’, the name given to her by O’Conner, the earthman who kidnapped her when she was two years old, and almost succeeded in taking her back to Earth with him and an earthwoman who was helping him raise her. The night before O’Conner was going to leave Dracorma with Skoriana, she escaped and made her way to Tallar, the city where Anna and Ture were living.
Anna, thinking Skoriana was an earthgirl, took her in. When the truth was discovered, and Skoriana was restored to her rightful place as Crown Princess of the Fifth Queendom, she made sure Anna and Ture were well rewarded for their kindness. Before they realized what was happening, Anna and Ture went from common folk to the Duchess and Duke of the Highland Dukedom. Skoriana and Anna’s daughter Mina quickly became inseparable, at Skoriana’s request Mina was taken in by Queen Skoria and King Tarrak as their second daughter and became Princess Mina. For several years Skoriana and Mina flew arund the queendom getting to know the common folk and their problems.
In these travels, it was discovered that Skoriana possessed many of the powers of the original Royals. Skoriana could heal many of the people’s wounds and sicknesses with a touch, she also had wisdom and knowledge far beyond her age. Stories began to spread throughout the five queendoms giving Skoriana far more power than she really had, some were even calling her the Goddess Taqueet (said: Tah-Keet). There were several Princeses trying to attract her attention, but she had been in love with Anna’s nephew Tempae since she first saw him. Before long Skoriana and Mina would finish their travels, and there would be time enough for choosing husbands then.
Winter was coming on, with the increasing storms and cold weather, most of the people were spending as much time as they could inside. One cold stormy night everyone at Highland Castle was sitting by the fire drinking hot spiced wine. Skoriana suddenly said: “The Lowland is flooding. Many farmers are not going to make it without help. I must go and help them!” Torr asked: “How do you know this Cindy? And why don’t they just fly out of danger?” She said: “I can hear them calling for help Uncle Torr, but I don’t know why they don’t fly to safety.” HE said: “I trust your feelings Cindy, you are rarely wrong. If you hear them, we must go to their aid!”
The Highlanders quickly gathered every dragon-lizard they could, and tied the Castle's trade boats together. A few stayed to guide the boats down the Krem River, the rest took the dragon-lizards and flew just over the tree tops straight for the lowlands. Using their lizards, the Highlanders began gathering the farmers and their families together above the flood waters near the Krem River. By the time the trade boats arrived all of the farmers they were able to help were safely waiting. When everyone was dry and warm in the Castle, Ture asked: “You are not earthmen and earthwomen, why didn’t you fly to higher ground?” A man named Hovar spoke for th farmers: “Duchess Anna, Duke Ture, thank-you for coming to our aid. As you can see, most of us had already left the Lowland. We have been working on the levees since last spring, we thought they would hold. Late this evening several levees broke, sensing the danger our dragon-lizards flew away. Many of us who stayed to keep an eye on the levees had too many children to carry and we were not going to abandon them to the flood. So we stayed, to live or die with them!”
A farmer’s wife said: “My Lord, thank-you for saving our lives.” Torr replied: “Good woman, there is no need for thanks. Knowing the danger you were in, we could do no less.” Then she asked: “How did you know?” Skoriana said: “I told them!” The woman looked over at her and said: “Princess Skoriana! I didn't know you were here. The stories are true then, you are our Goddess Taqueet in person!”
Anger flaired up in Skoriana’s eyes as she said: “Woman, do not ever call me Goddess again! I am a woman, nothing more.” The frightened woman hid behind her husband, still believing Skoriana was a Goddess. Skoriana walked over to her and said: “You should not be frightened, you should be happy. Because I heard your cries, your lives have been saved, and your farms will be replaced.”
But Skoriana was not a normal woman. True, she was not a Goddess, but she was able to do many things no other woman on Dracorma could do. That next spring while flying with Mina near their southern border, she saw a wild dragon-lizard attacking a little girl. Skoriana went into a dive leveling out close to the ground. With her arms stretched out in front of her. As Mina flew along above Skoriana she saw her grab the girl without stopping and the dragon-lizard was knocked backwards several feet. It was as if she was surrounded by some kind of power. When it was over, Mina asked: “Cindy, what did you do to that dragon-lizard? You never touched it, and yet it was knocked head over heels!” She laughed and said: “Nothing much Sis, just gave it a little push.”
Most of the time Skoriana and Mina were at the Royal Palace fulfilling their duties as Princesses. It was up to Anna and Ture to keep the Highland Dukedom running smoothly without the help of the Princesses. Silmar and her husband Torr, were in charge of the trade boats, and guiding the rafts of logs down the Krem River to the lowlands. Yistel and her husband Starn, were in charge of the orchards, where they raised fruit and nuts. Anna’s younger brother Olumne was in charge of the Highland dragon-lizards and other domestic animals. Anna’s younger sister Koree, lived at the Palace with her husband Paetor, who was the First Captain of the Palace Guard. There was also twenty common families who lived in the Highland Dukedom. One family worked as servants in the castle, one under Olumne with his animals, two with Silmar and Torr on the river, two with Yistel and Starn in the orchards, four with a man named Tincor who worked the Highland valleys, and ten wih a man named Bayn in the Highland forests.
Each season, they all got together for a celebration at the castle. But the Winter Solstice, with its short days and long cold nights was a two week celebration with all of the families staying at the castle. This was also when they got together and made plans for the New Year.
The Fifth Queendom’s population was growing, and it was not going to be long before the Highlands would not be able to produce enough fruit, nuts, grain and timber for the Queendom. Something had to be done to keep up with the peoples needs or they would have to begin importing goods from the Third and Fourth Queendoms. Skoriana, Mina, Koree, Paetor and Tempae were there for the Solstice Celebration. Paetor said: “Duchess Anna, Duke Ture, it is not my place to speak, since I am not a member of your Dukedom. But there is an abundance of good timber in the Coastal Dukedom. And if they had water, the land near our southern border would grow more than enough food for years to come.” Ture replied: “You have been one of us since your marriage to Koree, your thoughts will always be welcome here. I know you speak the truth, and if Queen Skoria and King Tarrak will command it, the Coastal Dukedom can supply the additional timber. But to bring water to the southlands will require a long canal from the Krem River. It will take too many years to dig such a canal, even though we should start at once!”
Skoriana stood by a window watching the snowflakes gently falling to the ground and listening to the others talk. She said: “You do not remember your own history! There was a time when we were wingless space travelers, just like the earthmen.” Anna asked: “Where did you hear that Honey?” Skoriana smiled and said: “All of my journeys have not been just to help people Mother, I have spent much time learning who we are and how we became the Five Queendoms.” She walked over and filled her cup with hot spiced wine. After sitting where everyone could see her she began again: “Queen Tamar and King Karnur of the First Queendom, have a private library containing books dating back to our arrival on Dracorma. They allowed me to read them.”
“We came to Dracorma from a planet which was about to be hit by an asteroid. There were eleven ships with one thousand people in each ship. There was no time to build anymore! As each ship reached Dracorma, it was unloaded and stripped of everything useful and then sent into the sun to burn up. Ten ships carried people from the common races, and one carried the Royals. Once all f the people were here on Dracorma, it was divided into the Five Queendoms, one for each of the common races. Two hundred Royals were sent to each Queendom to become their Royal Family.”
“Three important things happened in the following days: First, we lost almost all of our technology. Second, we grew able to sense the thoughts and feelings of others, to move heavy objects without touching them and to make stone and wood split where we wanted without using tools. Third, for some reason no one has understood, we began to grow wings.”
“In recent times we have lost nearly everything we learned, and the earthmen have not shared their technology with us as they agreed too. I have told you this so that you will see, that we are not as helpless as you might have thought.”
Skoriana sipped her wine and waited a few moments to let them think about what she had said. Then she said: “The powers that we learned are not dead. You will have to search for them, but there are plenty of people able to do the things you say must be done. Also, the earthmen can help us with vehicles to transport goods much longer distances than we do now. I will help you with the earthmen if they are not willing.” When Skoriana stopped talking, the others began to discuss what she had been saying. After a while Torr said: “Cindy, I know that there are still some among us who seem to have a measure of the old powers, but how do we find them? They keep their abilities as secret as they can. As for the earthmen, they would never listen to a Duchess or Duke, and a Barroness or Baron would never even get in to talk with the Ambassador. We need Queen Skoria and King Tarrak’s help.”
Anna said: “It does not matter if the earthmen will not help us with our transportation problems. We will find a way! But how do we get the folks among our own people to speak up? It seems they have a secret society and won’t let the normal folks benefit from their abilities.” Skoriana said: “Leave that task to me Mother, I know how to find them. As I do, I will send them here to Highland Castle. When Paetor returns to my Palace, he can speak to Skora and Tarrak concerning the timber in Duchess Vellor and Duke Rappa’s Coastal Dukedom. Tempae knows the eartmen,he should be able to get the help you want from them. Father, you should send a few men to start marking route for your canal. Uncle Torr, you might think about preparing the river for larger boats. The earthmen can give you plans for large boats as well as a way to power them.”
Yistell said: “I can see why the Queen wanted you back so bad Cindy, you are going to be the best Queen we have ever had, but tell me Honey, who is going to be our King?” Skoriana did not say anything for a while. Then she said: "Aunt Yistell, I did not plan on announcing whom I have chosen for my husband and your King, until I had spoken to Queen Skoria first. But I will place my trust in the folks here, since I look on you as my family. Please do not say a word until I have made a formal annoncement to the Queen and King. Aunt Yistell, Uncle Starn, your son Tempae will be my husband and your King!”
Starn sat there in shock and Yistell was doing her best not to start crying. Finally Starn said: “Cindy, you know we have always loved ou like a daughter, and nothing would make us happier than to see you marry Tempae. Even though Yistell is a Barroness an I am a Barron, you know that you are expected to marry a Prince with pure Royal blood. What is your mother Queen Skoria going to say when she hears of your choice?”
Skoriana said: “Do not worry Uncle Starn, or should I say ‘Father’. My birth-mother and father, the Queen and King, will be upset. But as the Crown Princess, it is my choice! The only requirement is that I choose the best man I can find for the people’s King. I believe Tempae is the best man. He is also the only man I love! I have spent time in every queendom and met every unmarried Prince. I have found the only man worthy of being our next King: Tempae!” Then everyone began to cheer and toast the Bride and Groom.
Ture turned to Starn and said: “Well my brother-in-law, a few years ago we were just a couple common men. Now we are going to be the parents of the next Queen and King.” Starn said: “I don’t know Ture, we have talked about Cindy before. I no longer have any doubts, and I don’t think the Queen and King do either. Cindy is a ‘High Queen’, she could exert her authority over the Five Queendoms right now if she chose.”
Skoriana was standing on the other side of the room with Tempae and some of the others. She looked over at Starn, and he heard her say: “I already have!” Starn was about to answer her wen he realized she had not spoken, she had put those words into his mind without speaking! He began to wonder how much power Skoriana really had. Suddenly he heard Skoriana speaking to him again: “Uncle Starn, I have more than enough to bring our people back to what we once were, and even more. You will understand before long.” Then he knew she could listen to his thoughts as well as speak to him.
After the Solstice Celebration was over, the family put Skoriana’s plan into action. Skoriana took Mina with her an began to send the folks who still had a measure of the power her people had once known to the Highland Castle, where they began building houses for the women and men to live in that Skoriana and Mina kept sending. Skoriana and Mina would come to a town or city and begin walking through the streets. Here and there Skoriana would stop and turn into a store. walking up to a woman or man inside she would confront them with their involvement in the secret society. They had heard enough about Skoriana to know they couldn’t lie to her.
Most of them admitted their abilities and involvement in the society to her. The ones who pretended not to have any of the old powers, she passed by, but placed their names on a list. She sent the honest ones to the castle and they moved on to another city.It took about two weeks to visit the cities and towns, then Skoriana and Mina returned to the castle and began to divide the women and men according to their abilities. She placed Anna, Ture and the rest of the family in charge of them. Skoriana and Mina then returned to the Royal Palace.
Shortly after returning to the Palace, Skoriana went to the Queen and King and told them of her plan to marry Tempae. Skoria was very upset when she heard Skoriana was going to marry a common man. She said: “Skoriana, you are one of the last pure Royals, and there is no doubt you are going to be the first High Queen in recent history. Why must you marry a common man? With all of the Princes in the Five Queendoms, can’t you find one you are willing to marry?” King Tarrak said: “You are the Crown Princess, our only daughter. It is your choice whom our next King will be, and it would be far better if you would choose a Prince for your King. I believe you are a wise young woman, and I will stand by your choice, no matter who he is. I am happy you have found a man you believe worthy of being our next King, congratulatins Skoriana. Tempae is a very lucky man!”
Paetor had been successful in requesting King Tarrak’s help in beginning a logging operation in the coastal forests. Taking a company of the Palace Guard and one of the families under Bayn who worked in the Highland forests, Koree and Paetor headed for Duchess Vellor and Duke Rappa’s Coastal Dukedom. Tempae flew to the earthmen’s city to begin negotiations with their Ambassador to Dracorma, a man named Carpenter. Ture sent a small group of men to map and mark a route for the canal to the Southland Dukedom. By the Spring Festival, they were ready to begin work on the canal, and Torr had all of the places on the Krem River marked that needed to be deepened or widened. The houses had also been finished for the folks Skoriana had sent to the Highlands.
Because Skoriana chose the Spring Equinox for her wedding, the spring festivals were canceled, and almost everyone in the Queendom was at the Royal Palace for Skoriana and Tempae’s wedding. It was the biggest event in the Fifth Queendom since Queen Skoria married King Tarrak who was the Prince of the Second Queendom, the son of Queen Gwintesa and King Horran. There were so may parties being held in Skoriana and Tempae’s honor that there was no hope starting work on the schedule the Highlander’s had planned. So Ture put off their starting date one month. With his new title of Crown Prince of the Fifth Queendom, Tempae went back to the earhmen’s city to continue his work with Ambassador Carpenter, and Skoriana went back to the Highlands to help Anna and Ture with their work.
Among the people Skoriana had sent to Highland Castle, there were many highly skilled in stonework. Skoriana sent these folks to a granite cliff where they began using their power over stone to split off slabs to be used to line the canal Ture was digging. A second group was good at lifting heavy objects, half of these she sent with the stone cutters, the other half she sent down to Ture to life the rock and soil out of the new canal. A small group was able to split and shape logs, these she sent to Bayn to help with his logging. When Tempae returned to the Palace, he brought with him the plans for the boats Torr needed, he also brought ten motors powered by crystals which drew their power from the sun. Torr took part of the folks given to him and put them to work on the river, the rest began building the first of the new river boats according to the earthmen’s plans. Skoriana kept a few of the women with each of the powers she found for herself.
As soon as the work was moving along, and she was not needed at Highland Castle, Skoriana took Mina and her ladies and flew back to the Royal Palace. She closed off one of the towers and began to teach them to be able to use all of the powers instead of just the one they started with. Skoriana spent the spring teaching Mina and her ladies, by the Summer Solstice they were able to use each of the powers, but they were far from ready to teach others. Tempae joined Skoriana and Mina at the Palace, the three of them flew with Skoriana’s ladies to Highland Castle to spend the Celebraton with their family an friends. It was a happy reunion with Skoriana, Tempae, Koree, Paetor and Mina all at the castle. The people went back to work after the celebration, but the family continued on for several more days.
With most of the people who still had the old powers gathered at Highland Castle, and Skoriana spending a lot of her time there showing all of the powers and abilities of a High Queen, the common people began spreading many rumors about them. They were calling Skoriana a Goddess again, and claiming that she was giving strange powers to the Highlanders. Others were saying that she was an evil woman, and she should be put to death before the true Goddesses and Gods came down on all of them for her evil deeds. There was too much of the queendom’s power concentrated at the Highland Castle, and too many strange things going on that the people had never seen. Skoriana knew that the people would be afraid of what they didn't understand, but this was the only way to bring her people back to what they once were. She would be High Queen of Dracorma soon, she already was except in title.She had one hundred people openly using their powers now, and others who had at first denied to have the old powers kept coming to the castle one or two at a time.
By the end of summer, Torr had the river ready for the large river boats, all of the way down to where Ture was building the canal. The stone cutters had been working hard, and had a large stack of slabs near the quarry. But none of them were able to move the slabs more than a short distance. Because Dracormian’s flew or walked wherever they went, the had little use of roads. The earthmen had land vehicles, but they needed roads to travel on. No Dracormian wanted their countryside scared by a maze of roads! a way had to be found to transport heavy objects long distances. Skoriana went to the quarry and sat looking at the stack of stone slabs. To her amazement, the whole stack of slabs began to slowly rise. She jumped up and quickly flew over to the slabs, and stood beside them. She began to understand, and commanded them to go to the river beside the castle.
Suddenly the whole stack of stone slabs disappeared. Skoriana quickly flew to the castle, when she arrived, all of the slabs were neatly stacked beside the river as if someone had carried them one at a time and carefully restacked them. Everyone was standing around trying to figure out what was going on. She quickly called a meating of all the family members who were at the castle. When they were all sitting in the castle’s greatroom, she began to explain what had happened at the quarry.
She said: “At first I thought I had learned of at least the existance of all the old powers our ancestors had. But while teaching the ladies I took to the Palace, I began to see powers in them which were not recorded in the old books. I don't know whether there are new powers still showing up, or if they were not recorded for some reason. While sitting at the quarry, I knew all of our work would be for nothing if we could not find some way to transport heavy things long distances. I was staring at te slabs wishing I could pick them up and send them wherever I wanted, when they began to slowly rise straight up in the air and floated a few feet off the ground.”
“I flew down and stood besde them, the whole stack floated in front of me, not moving an inch in any direction. Then I began to understand, my desire was to be able to send them where I wanted, all I had to do was tell them where to go! I was afraid to send them down to the canal, so I told them to come here. I thought they would slowly float along and I would fly above them, but they disappeared! I flew here as fast as I could, and there they were, right where I told them to go.”
Torr said: “Cindy, if everyone could learn to do this, we would not need the boats. We will have to find out if others can do this too. You are a High Queen after all, and your power is many times stronger then even a normal Queen!” Starn spoke up next saying: “Cindy, since you came to live wth us, we have learned that even the common folks have at least a measure of the old powers. I don’t believe anyone but you could lift, let alone transport so many tons! But if we could learn to send even small things, it would benefit everyone in our queendom and the other queendoms too.”
Anna had not spoken for a long time, but now she very quietly said: “Sometimes I wonder if O’Conner knew exactly who and what you are Cindy, when he tried to run away with you to Earth.” Skoriana asked: “Why do you say that Mother?” She replied: “Because we would have had to open up the whole planet to the earthmen before long. We could not have stood against them for much longer as we were, but now that we have you Cindy, and Dracorma has a High Queen again we can tell the earthmen to leave if we wish. We don’t need the earthmen any longer, we have our High Queen. And before long the old powers will be in every queendom!”
Skoriana thought about this and said: “O’Conner was not a wise man, he was a pawn, little more than one of the earthmen’s slaves. No earthman, not even Ambassador Carpenter, knows what we once were and will be again soon. O’Conner was an evil man who knew he could use me to buy his way into Earth’s royalty. If he could have sold me on Earth as he planned, he would have become a very rich man. It doesn’t matter what might have been Mother, I am here and Dracorma is going to become great again. The earthmen will never take Dracorma from us!”
Then Skoriana took off her crown and set it on a table beside her and said: “Uncle Torr, put my crown on Mother’s head.” Torr began to stare at the crown, and to command it to be on Anna’s head. For a while nothing happened, then Skoriana spoke silently to Torr: “Like this Uncle Torr.” Suddenly he could see the crown as if it was a living thing, then as he commanded it to rise it lifted up off the table and sat motionless in the air. As he said: “Go to Anna,” it disappeared and reappeared on Anna’s head. Starn said: “You did it Torr, you not only lifted Cindy’s crown, but sent it to Anna!” He said: “Yes, but not without Cindy’s help.” The others tried to transport small objects in the room, but no one could do it unless Skoriana helped them.
With all of the slabs stacked beside the river, Torr began shipping them down the Krem River, using the large river boat to Ture. Ture had finished five miles of the canal over the summer, except for placing the stones along the banks. The people working under Ture were getting good at using their powers to build canal and were now finishing a half mile each week. But there was one hundred miles of canal to build before they reached the Southland so it would be four years before they could begin farming. During the summer Koree and Paetor had begun bringing logs up the Krem River to the Lowlands.
Although Tempae had been successful in getting ten crystal motors and the plans for the large river boats, Ambassador Carpenter refused to give the Dracormian’s anymore of Earth’s technology until they had given the earthmen a spaceport city in each of the five Queendoms. When there was no hope of changing his mind, Tempae left the earthmens city and returned to Highland Castle. Skoriana’s ladies would be ready before long to be sent to the other four queendoms and begin the same work which was now taking place in the Fifth Queendom under Skoriana.
Mina had begun spending time with King Tarrak’s nephew, the Prince of the Fourth Queendom. Queen Celan had no daughters, as her eldest son, Prince Tancor’s wife would become the next Queen of the Fourth Queendom. Tancor was clearly in love with his Uncle’s adopted daughter Princess Mina, and there was little doubt she would accept him in time. She knew he would wait until she was ready to become the Crown Princess of the Fourth Queendom!