Prologue - Prince Aldir
"Good morning, my prince." Hazma pushed open the twenty foot tall gold trimmed and ivory inlaid doors to the elegant, lofty royal bedroom.
There was a muffled greeting from the pile of satin bed coverings.
Hazma walked silently across the room to the eastern windows to open the twenty foot high gold trimmed satin curtains.
He never tired of watching the first rays of golden sun reach out from the horizon to touch their kingdom of clouds. A content, satisfied smile spread across his sun-browned, wrinkled face.
But today was more, another morning to meet them on this important day. "It is Redemption Day, Sire." Hazma's eyes glistened and reflected the contrasting salmon oranges and teal blues of dawn.
He was seeing more than dawn, he was remembering. "Redemption Day." He whispered.
Prince Aldir had silently risen and dressed. Without a word, he joined Hazma's dawn-gazing. The soft morning sun illumined the clouds that held the kingdom so that they appeared to glow.
The same soft light glowed on the faces of the two men. The aged, sun-browned skin of Hazma was in stark contrast to the young prince's smooth face.
Though also sun-browned, the prince's face sported an attempt at facial hair and lacked the evidence of concern and worry.
His face looked upon his world with the naivety of hope and belief in change, while his servant's face looked with the experience of time and gratitude of another day to live.
"Shall we?" Asked Hazma, turning slightly toward his prince.
"We shall." Prince Aldir smiled revealing a beautiful row of white teeth.
Hazma began the Morning Song of Greeting and Gratitude and the young man joined in harmony.
When the short song ended the two looked thoughtfully at each other with satisfaction. The lack of words, was not a lack of communication.
Both were thinking of the many struggles and adventures they had been through together. Hazma reflected not only on Aldir's life, but also on Aldir's father's life, Alkamar.
"It is Redemption Day, my lord." Hazma stated a little gravely as he struggled to keep his excited emotions in check.
"It most certainly is." Aldir responded cheerfully. His cheeks rose to meet his happy eyes as a large grin spread across his face.
"The happiest day in fifty years!" He clapped his hands together and rubbed them rapidly in excitement. "And I get to start my reign with it. Is everything ready?"
"Yes, my lord," replied Hazma. "We can go to the Announcing Chamber as soon as you've had your breakfast."
"Oh, I am too excited to eat." The prince walked to his garment cabinet. He wasn't a little boy anymore and the weightiness of the day would not let him go through his normal routine.
He shouldered the white royal suit coat. "If you will just help me finish preparing, I might have a small piece of fruit to hold me over until the banquet."
"The banquet is not scheduled until late afternoon." Hazma protested as he picked up the royal buckles and sash. "Could you eat a little more than a piece of fruit?" He asked.
Aldir hastily helped Hazma with the golden buckles and blue sash and reached for his gloves and pendant.
"Slow down, my prince," scolded Hazma. "It is better to do right once, than to have to do twice due to haste."
"Yes, sir." Pulling on the white gloves, Aldir blushed and humbly accepted his lifelong servant's correction. "I guess that is to be said about ruling the kingdom also.
" Aldir reflected as he slowed his movements and let Hazma take the pendant.
"That is a good and accurate observation, sire." Hazma stated softly as he took the pendant from the prince's gloved hand and pinned the sash to the coat shoulder.
Hazma chided himself for correcting the prince. Aldir was no longer a child, but today he was behaving like one. He smiled to himself as he thought fondly of old times.
Properly groomed and prepared, Aldir picked up half an apple and wedge of cheese from the tray which was brought while he was dressing.
He washed it down with a glass of sparkling morning dew which was harvested every morning from the cloud fields. It was cold, refreshing and a little sweet.
Aldir always believed the sweetness came from the sunshine. He held the glass, which was now half empty, up to the sun to examine the clarity of the water.
The sunshine, which was no longer the soft dawn, caught in the glass and water and reflected rainbows around the room. Aldir smiled at the beauty and then finished drinking the glass of water.
"I'm ready." He inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly. "Let's go."
The two men departed through the large bedroom doors into the quiet hallways that led to the busier parts of the palace.
A few turns and long stretches of corridor, they entered the Announcing Chamber's anti-room.