Some of you might be surprised by what you read here...
The next day, the Palace of Eternos was abuzz with activity. The grounds were open to all residents of the capital city, with various shows and displays for the entertainment of all. Tumblers and fortune-tellers, actors and illusionists, dancers and musicians, all plied their trades to the public. By far, the favorite was the actor known as Man-E-Faces. Many claimed that his ability to quickly change costumes and to mimic people to be almost magical.
Later that afternoon, the various nobles and emissaries from Eternos and other kingdoms gathered in the Great Hall for Prince Adam's official introduction and Advancement ceremony. Lord Stratos and Lady Delora represented the bird people of Avion. The bee people of Adreenos sent Buzz-off, a high-ranking warrior.
King Randor was dressed not in his usual red and gold, but in red and white in honor of his son. Queen Marlena chose purple from her personal colors accented with white.
Trumpets blasted, and a herald announced, “Prince Adam, accompanied by the Lady Teela.” Adam had chosen his personal colors and bore an empty scabbard, while Teela looked radiant in a gown of white and gold. The assembled crowd erupted into applause at Adam's entrance, then quieted into an awed silence.
“Everyone's looking at me,” Teela complained through her smile as they walked arm-in-arm down the steps into the Hall.
“The men are admiring your beauty, and the women are jealous,” replied Adam.
“And 'Lady' Teela?”
“It's true enough. If asked, you're a Lady of the Palace. They'll assume you work for my mother. Which, in a way, you do.”
At this point, they had reached the bottom of the stairs, and several guests crowded in to greet the man of the hour. Adam disengaged himself from Teela, and after giving her a smile and a gentle squeeze of the hand, slowly navigated his way to the dais upon which his parents sat on their thrones.
Reaching the thrones, Adam dropped to a knee and bowed his head. Randor rose, sweeping his hands in a gesture that silenced the guests. “Adam, Prince of the Kingdom of Eternos,” he began in a booming voice, “on this day, the fifteenth anniversary of your birth, by Eternian Law and Custom you become a man. As a Prince and Noble, your duty is to protect the people of Eternia and the Royal Line. Do you accept this responsibility?”
Adam looked up and declared, “I do.”
Randor reached to the side of his throne and produced a sword, the work of Duncan, The blade was forged from a rare red form of Eternium, with a silver and ruby guard and a large amethyst on the pommel. The King dubbed his son on both shoulders, then reversed the sword and bade Adam to rise.
Adam stood and accepted his new sword. As the blade found its sheath, Queen Marlena rose and continued the ceremony. “This new sword represents your new life as a man. The blade represents your power and authority as Prince and Heir to the Throne, as well as your duty to protect the people. The sheath represents your desire for peace and diplomacy, and the choice of wisdom over violence. Now, it is time for you to join us at our side.”
From the curtains behind the thrones Palace servants produced a new throne for Adam, smaller than that of his parents, and placed it to the right of Randor's. Adam took his place on the new throne, and a sage stepped up to the dais to lead the gathering in a prayer for the Elders' blessing upon Adam's Advancement.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Randor clapped his son upon the knee. “Now I suppose it's time to meet your well-wishers.” As the Royal Family rose and descended the dais, King Stephen, with his son Dell, clad in the purple of Dyperia, approached, and embraced Marlena.
“Ah, little sister, you must be so proud.”
“Yes, Adam has grown into quite the young man.”
“They grow up so fast. My own son, Dell, comes of age in three months.”
Randor clasped arms with Stephen in a gesture of old comrades in arms. “My dear friend, it would be an honor to attend Dell's ceremony. The arrangements have already been made.”
Adam greeted his uncle and cousin then began to mingle with the other guests. The first he met was a tall man, black of hair and beard but with traces of gray.
“Congratulations, young man,” greeted the tall noble. “I am Drayne, Count Marzo.”
“Marzo, I've heard much about your territory. Beautiful land, I understand,” replied the Prince.
“Ah, yes. Quite a fertile valley. Water as clear as the finest crystal, soil as black as, well, as my hair used to be.” Marzo chuckled.
“I shall look forward to visiting your land soon. I also understand you are quite the magician.”
Marzo laughed. “I am afraid that my reputation is quite exaggerated, my Prince. I dabble. Parlor tricks, mostly, to amuse the children. But of course, I should not keep you all to myself. You must attend to the rest of your guests.”
“Of course. Good evening, Count.” Adam paused to steal a glance toward Teela. As he had expected, she was surrounded by admiring young men.
He was next approached by an elderly nobleman. “My Prince.” Adam shook his hand. “My goodness,” the noble exclaimed, “your hand is so rough.”
“My father believes that a leader should take an active role in the defense of the Kingdom. 'A sound mind in a sound body' is a favorite quote of his.”
“How absolutely dreadful. Besides, there hasn't been a war in ages.”
“It is when we become complacent that danger looms.”
“More wisdom from your father, I suppose.”
“Indeed. And a fact proven over time. Forgive me, m'lord. I must attend to all my guests.”
Adam made his way to his Avian guests. “Lord Stratos, it is good to see you again.”
“Prince Adam, congratulations. Allow me to introduce my sister and co-ruler, the Lady Delora.” Adam took her hand, bowed, and kissed it, noting the reactions of disgust among some of the nearby nobles.
“How curious a custom,” remarked Delora.
“It is an Eternian custom, my Lady,” explained Adam. “”It is a gesture of respect a man shows to a woman when greeting her.”
“Indeed,” agreed Randor, who had followed his son unnoticed. Randor clasped arms with his friend, and then repeated his son's greeting to Delora, to much less reaction from the nobles. “It is good to finally meet you face to face.”
“It is seldom that we both leave Avion,” replied Delora. “It is our custom that there always be a ruler in the city. However, we felt this occasion warranted an exception.”
Stratos continued, “Avion is in good hands. General Hawk is overseeing things in our absence.”
Teela suddenly came up and whispered in Adam's ear, “Quick, put your arm around me.” He did so, and she kissed him on the cheek, then added, “I never thought I would see the day you rescued me. Now get me away from these creeps.”
“Father,” Adam said, “the Lady Teela feels the need to retire.”
Randor winked at his son and nodded. “I believe Duncan would like to speak to you before you go to bed.”
Adam led Teela through a side exit. As soon as they were out of sight of the party, she pushed him off. “By the Elders,” she swore, “if that's what passes for nobility, Eternos is in trouble.” She slipped off her shoes and walked off. “Go see my father.”
Adam watched her walk off, then headed for Duncan's lab. On his way, he came upon Orko, the court magician. Orko was a short, flying elf-like creature from Trolla, a land in another dimension. There, he was a promising apprentice to his wizard uncle Montork, but the differences in magical energies between Trolla and Eternia often caused his spells to misfire.
“Hey, Prince Adam,” Orko cried as he spied his friend. “Happy Birthday!”
“Wow, that is some party. Did you like your present?”
“It's wonderful, Orko. I already have it hanging in my room.” Orko had taken up painting in the five years since he became stranded on Eternia, and had painted a picture of Adam fishing, with Cringer nearby. In an example of Orko's magic actually working, he managed to enchant it so that Adam's image cast the line and reeled in a fish that Cringer promptly ate.
“Okay, well I'm going back to back to the party. Goodnight!” Adam laughed as he watched his little friend fly off, then continued on his way.
Inside the lab, he found Micheal, on of the mechanics that assisted the Man-At-Arms, performing routine maintenance on one of the Wind Raiders.
“You should be taking the day off.”
“That's what I told him,” Duncan answered from across the bay as Micheal climbed out of the Raider.
“Have you eaten yet?” Adam asked Micheal.
“Not yet, Your Highness.”
“Go on, then. There's plenty, but you should go before all the best stuff is gone.”
“Yes, Your Highness.” As the mechanic left for the party, Duncan turned toward his Prince.
“The party isn't over yet.”
“Yes, but Teela wanted to leave.”
Duncan laughed. “That's not what I meant. There is one more person you need to meet. We'll take this Wind Raider.”