Upashna woke early the next morning while Tao continued to sleep. Eno also woke to be with his mistress and Simone jumps upon Upashna’s bed and curls up besides Tao. Upashna and Eno leave quietly to visit her parents’ chamber on the other side of the courtyard.
“Mother,” asks Upashna. “Did father speak with you about my decision to assist Tao with reigniting the sun?”
“Yes he did my daughter. Although it brings pain and fear to my heart to think of your departing upon such a dangerous journey. I know there is nothing I can say or do to stop you.” Elza is visibly shaken as tears begin to form in her eye but she knows her words are true. Upashna wraps her arms around her mother and the two embrace. Baldwin enters and embraces the two women, his wife and daughter, standing in the center of the room. All are quiet until Upashna speaks.
“It must be done to save our realm and the planet. There is no other choice. All the other dragons left the realm after the last reigniting of the sun. I must go with Tao but do not worry, I will return. We both will. The earth will be safe again, at least for a little longer, until greed corrupts the humans once more.”
Baldwin asks, “Where is Tao?”
“He and Simone are still sleeping. I did not wake them. They will both need their full strength later,” replies Upashna.
Elza adds. “Our scientists tell us the best time will be early evening during the strong tide of the full moon. I would feel much safer if you had a third dragon to accompany you. Mars is the only other dragon wizard but he is too advanced in years. I know he would go if I asked.”
“No mother. Do not ask him. His years will be a burden for us,” pleads Upashna.
“I understand,” replies Elza.
Baldwin steps in to add. “There were rumors some years ago of a few dragons living on the underside of the astroid but it was never substantiated. As Dragon Lord, Tao could put out a call. If there are any dragons in the area, he will receive a reply.”
“I do not know if any will come to aid us but it is worth a try father. I will make the suggestion to Tao,” answers Upashna.
The three agree to meet in the Council Chambers later that afternoon with the scientists to plan the best approach to the sun’s core. Upashna and Eno leave to wake Tao and Simone.
“Philosopher. Philosopher.” A voice calls. “I am your father. You must listen to me. Today the scientists will tell you to form your advance to reignite the sun’s core directly at the core’s center. You must act as if you agree for them to save face but you must not advance upon the core’s center. Those instructions led to the deaths of Flo and Fi. I tried to have them change the navigation plan and light the core from its edges but they would not follow my instructions and perished when the core’s center erupted.”
“My father? Where are you?” Asks Tao from a sleepy daze.
“I am here my son. I have always been here. Watching you grow into the wizard you are destined to becoming. That is why I left the staff on your doorstep for your twelfth birthday. I am why you ran into Baldwin at the library. I wanted him to watch over you also and to invite you here at this moment to fulfill the prophesy of the ancient ones. I sent you the sparrowhawk in the desert labyrinth so you would not waste time wandering the dunes of sand. I have been with you your entire life. I am with you now as I will always be. You must put out a call for other dragons. Only two will answer but you will need no more. Do so now, my son. I have spent this life learning how to choose to do what I had no choice but to do. Such will be your course also. It is the course for all who follow their destiny.”
“Tao. My philosopher. Wake up. We must prepare to reignite the sun. Tao. Wake up.” Upashna calls.
“Upashna. Where….?” Tao looks around the room. Simone awakes and purrs while seeking Tao’s hand to rub her head. “Sorry my love. I must have been…” Tao get up from Upashna’s bed. “My love. Last night was the fulfillment of a dream I have had all my life and wish to experience with you for the rest of my life.” Tao gets down on one knee. “My princess, my beautiful Upashna. I love you. Will you honor me by being my wife and the woman I wake up with each morning for the remainder of this life?”
Upashna was shocked. Not at the request for it was her desire more than anything to share her life in marriage with The Philosopher but at the suddenness. She gets down on her knees facing the philosopher. “My love. It will be my honor to be your wife and to wake up with the man I love for the rest of my life.” The two embrace and kiss.
“Sire. Please forgive my interruption,” says Simone telepathically. “There is something around my neck. It was your mothers. Your father Ged empowered me to hold it for you until this moment. It is now yours to give to Upashna.”
Tao breaks the embrace with Upashna and turns to see a crystal ring hanging from Simone’s neck. He removes the ring and places it upon Upashna’s finger. It is the color of light in which every color is visible and shines like a heavenly star. “This ring was given to my mother as a symbol of my father’s love for her. I give it as a symbol of my love for you.”
Upashna is in awe of the ring’s brilliance and curious by its arrival but she so loves the man kneeling beside her that her questions seem not to matter. Tao finally breaks a long silence between them. “Upashna. As Dragon Lord, I will put out a request for any remaining dragons on the astroid to answer my call and to assist us in the relighting of the sun.”
“”That is an excellent idea my lord, but there are no more dragons in this realm,” replies Upashna remembering an earlier conversation with her father.
“There are at least two,” answers Tao.