King Randor was horrified. He had never seen his daughter exhibit such a loss of temper before. Still, he tried to reason with his daughter. "Adora, please listen to me. I am perfectly aware that..."
"No! Be quiet, I won't hear any more excuses!" Adora shouted back. "You have no idea. You didn't see a single battle! You didn't find me! Adam rescued me, and... and..."
"Adora!" Her mother was outraged. "That is not fair! If your father or I had known where you were, we would have done everything in our power to make things right. We love Adam just as much as we love you." Marlena tried to sooth her daughter, and reached out to embrace her.
Adora gently but firmly pushed her mother away. "No, mother, you do not!" Her voice continued to rise in agitation. "Adam was more than just my brother! And I... and I was responsible for his death!" The last came out as an anguished scream, and Adora ran from the sudden tears in the eyes of her surprised parents and Teela.
Now it was finally out. For fifteen years, Adora had lived with the burden of responsibility for the death of her beloved brother. Finally, she had shared that with her parents, had admitted her responsibility and her guilt. Above all else, it didn’t seem fair to Adora to continue to let Teela believe in the fact that she could have been able to prevent it. It was her fault alone.
Without looking around, the princess ran down the steps of the palace, past Man-At-Arms and Orko, out into the palace garden, and into the rain...
Behind her on the balcony, Randor, Marlena, and Teela were frozen in shock. This outburst had been the first time in fifteen years that the Princess had revealed her powerful feelings. Before any of them had recovered, Man-At-Arms and Orko approached from the stairs.
"Your Highnesses, what happened?" Duncan asked, concerned. "Princess Adora ran past me, very upset, and went back out in the rain."
"We had a discussion, Duncan," the queen told him. "Apparently, Adora blames herself for Adam's death. Had you known that, Duncan? Or you, Teela?"
"No, sovereign,", both replied almost simultaneously.
"But this is nonsense! Why should Adora blame herself for Adam's death?" Randor's question was almost rhetorical in nature, but even had he expected a reply, none present could have provided one.
"Should I put together a search party to find Adora, sovereign?" Teela asked the king.
"No, that won't be needed, Teela," Duncan replied instead. "Adora is sensible enough to not bring on unnessary difficulties. I think she needs a little time. Perhaps the funeral service today was simply too much for her."
"As you say, father. If I may be excused then, your Highnesses, Father?" asked Teela, absently picking at her still-wet clothes that she had worn to the funeral.
"Of course you may, Teela. Finally, you will take my recommendations about changing to dry clothes," said the queen with a forced smile.
Gratefully, Teela left the terrace and went to her room. With every step, she pondered Adora's words: And I was responsible for his death! They resonated repeatedly in her thoughts. Why? Why did Adora blame herself for her brother's death. And since when? Adora could not have come up with that just today. There had been too much pain in her voice.
Teela reached her room, near the rooms of the royal twins, and pulled her door closed. After picking out some fresh clothes from her closet, she went to the bathroom to change. She pulled off the wet clothes, and shivered as a cold blast of air hit her damp skin from the open window. When she closed the window, she found herself face to face with her own reflection, and stared in shocked fascination.
On the outside, she had changed little in the past fifteen years. For that matter, neither had the King, Queen, Princess Adora, her father, or the other Masters. All Eternians enjoyed a relatively long life, and for most of that remained in the best of health, but what had happened to Teela in the last fifteen years had been exceptionally good health even for Eternia. She had visibly aged only three or four years, even though four times that many years had passed. Princess Adora and Teela looked barely out of their teens. Teela, like her friend, had never been informed for the reasons of this slow aging, and over time came to consider it a gift.
Now she was almost spooked by how tired she looked. Several rings circled her blue eyes, which were currently red from a long day of crying. Her long hair was disheveled, and many strands had escaped her usual ponytail. All in all she looked exhausted and wrung out - and she knew that it wasn't only how she looked. If she was honest with herself, she had to admit this was also how she felt.
Because her father had thought a search for Adora unnecessary, Teela was free to relax. She turned to the bathtub and started running hot water into it, then carefully stepped in. As the hot water glided over her skin, she noticably relaxed. Her thoughts circled to Adora and her sudden dash out of the palace, then inexorably to Adam. Once again she felt the stark clarity of how much she missed him. Soon, though, fatigue had its way with her, and she drifted to sleep with the hot water lapping at her neck...
"What is wrong with Adora? I've never seen her like this," Randor said to the three others still at the balcony.
"I think she may just need a little more time to come to terms with herself ," said Duncan.
"Adora’s had fifteen years to come to terms, and even if my grief for the death of my son still runs very deep, I have learned to live with it. Adora should have learned that too," Randor told the weapons-master.
"You forget that Adora was very close to her brother, Randor," added Marlena thoughtfully. "The two of them were closer than we ever imagined, I think. After all, Adam did return her to us, gave her help. They had many important experiences together. He helped her to get over her experiences with the Horde. I don’t know what these monsters have done to her. Even today she won’t talk about that period of her life with me. I’ll look after her tomorrow. Today, it all just doesn't make sense."
Randor nodded approvingly. He could not help but agree with his wife. She was probably right, or at least he hoped so. The small group embraced each other, then each went to their rooms, and went immediately to sleep.
To be continued ...