Here is the second and last part of Chapter Six. I hope the waiting you all did for it was worth the time it took for me to finish it well enough. Life got in the way, you see, as did at least one or two of my other writing projects, and I was only recently able to finish typing it up here well enough to suit me here sufficiently well. If you can, then, please try to give me some rather clean, rather courteous, and rather constructive reviews for it and/or any of the other parts of the story here that I've already posted before now, in due time, okay, people?
With no further ado here, then, I hereby give you the second and last part of Chapter Six for this story, and I hope you all really like it quite a bit. Until later, this is TUS signing off, of course!
Chapter Six: Winter Caribbean Vacation, Part Two
A few days later, on Thursday, Cassie and about ninety others flew to Puerto Rico with each other on the flight that Jonathan had mentioned to her on the previous Saturday. They landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at its main local area airport at noon local time, after a flight of about three hours, more or less, from Nashville, Tennessee. Several members of Jonathan's family met him and others at that airport, and as soon as they could, took him and others to the Bardington family's winter home somewhere near San Juan. While others who'd been on the flight as well chose to go elsewhere in Puerto Rico, after they were released to do so by Jonathan for at least a day or two. But not for more than about two weeks, at most, in any case, were they released to do that by him. For if they wanted to get back to Tennessee along with everyone else at the same time, they then would have to get back together with them all by a certain time. This was for all the obvious reasons here, of course.
Within about thirty minutes of leaving the airport with Jonathan and his family for the Bardingtons' winter home, Cassie and 43 others, including Jonathan himself, went with nine members of his family to the Bardingtons' winter home some distance to the west of San Juan on Puerto Rico's northern coast. Eventually, they came to that place, and it was named such that its English name was "Pilgrim's Dreams-Brought Saga Haven." The place's name was posted in black paint on a rather good-sized sign in English, Spanish, Hebrew, Gaelic, Welsh, French, Dutch, Latin, Greek, Japanese, and Lakota. And that sign was posted at the main entrance/exit to a property of roughly 3,200 acres, more or less, for that matter, here.
Jonathan's father soon led everyone's vehicles to a rather good-sized mansion of sorts in a largely Spanish style for much, if not most, of it. It had been built at about the time that England had begun to discover and colonize the New World in the early 17th Century. By the time that it and its immediate vicinity had come under sufficient enough non-Spanish control, about half the mansion of sorts, more or less, had already been sufficiently completed, in terms of its construction, at least.
There were now five fully-completed above-ground floors to the plantation-type mansion of sorts, with about 70 or so rooms accessible often enough at the current time, in fact. A sixth floor was currently in the process of being designed, and construction on it was due to begin sometime in the next year, at the very latest. After everyone got quite out of their various vehicles that they'd come to the property in, several of Jonathan's family members, including Jonathan, of course, gave several guests on that property tours on several parts of it as needed and/or desired.
Eventually, Jonathan brought his fellow Pilgrims, Cassie, and her future bandmates to his fifth-floor bedroom in the mansion of sorts. It was a bedroom with dimensions of twenty feet from hall to outer wall, 32 feet from one side wall to the other, and a twelve-foot ceiling. In the bedroom's southwestern corner, there were many flags in a nook of sorts. In the southeastern corner, a small computer nook featuring four computers was present. His sleeping area took up much of the northeastern corner of the room in still another nook of sorts. And a small, yet rather functional, library took up much of the northwestern corner of the room in a fourth nook of sorts. There were doorways into his room on three sides and some windows facing the sea on the northern side of the mansion and his room in it.
Jonathan's bed was about eight feet long and about six feet wide on a bedframe just about 28 inches off the surrounding floor, which often had various rugs spread out on top of a mostly black walnut, red cedar, and white pine-tiled floor, wherever necessary and/or desired for it. Various designs were on those carpets, and they had a rather eclectic look to them in his room. Some were writing-related, some sports-related, and some nation-related, among other things, for example, here and now. His bed had several rugs of various sizes, shapes, and looks near it, and two quilts were on it, just below two pillows with assorted nations' flags sewn into them as his mother had seen fit to decorate those pillows for him. One of the quilts was completely decorated with a writing-themed series of quilting squares for it on both sides. While the other had many sports-related patterns on both sides of it. At the moment, the sports-themed one was above the writing-themed one on the bed, totally hiding the latter from everyone's view at the current time.
Jonathan soon provided chairs for everyone to sit on from under his bed, as necessary. And then several of his current companions sat down for a while in his room, as he began to share some information about various things now in his room here. He said, for instance, that he had collected many of the flags now in his room during trips to various other nations elsewhere in this world. At least some, though, of his flags, he'd received from others, either through inheritance, from gifting to him by, or by buying them through, those other people in his life. Among the flags that he had were ones from the Mexican-American War of 1854-1859, including assorted Japanese military units' flags from when Japan had actually been allied with Mexico at that particular time during that war, by the way.
He often conversed with his current companions in his room from about 2:15 pm to about 7:30 pm, when he learned that it was almost time for supper to begin. From about 7:30 pm to about 8 pm, then, he and his current companions all prepared for supper as they now needed to here.
Supper for everyone was served and begun promptly at 8 pm on the nose, once a short prayer had been led by Jonathan's father Seth over all of it, of course. Much conversation, and even some music, from time to time, was shared during it over at least the next two or so hours, for that matter. And not just music from Cassie and the other future members of Dreamheart, either. Even Jonathan's siblings Abel and Sharon, along with their parents Seth and Tabitha, provided at least some reasonably-good music here for the mutual enjoyment of everyone then on the property while supper was still being consumed here.
Seth had been born in the Inverness area of Scotland, in 1959, while Tabitha had been born in Cuzco, Peru, in 1961. They met each other sometime later on, fell in love, married, and eventually had eight children together. And they were now quite happily married to each other in their own respective mortal lives. Both of them had come largely from what many people would say was "Old-Money." But there were some people now in Jonathan's family tree who were more recently able to somehow finally gain an upper middle-class to upper-class societal status. At least as it might then pertain to them being financially wealthy, anyway. Like at least a few of Jonathan's uncles, aunts, or cousins, for instance.
Seth was due to become the head to a major media-type conglomerate sometime in the near future. While his wife Tabitha was most likely going to inherit from her parents control over still another major media conglomerate within the next five to ten years, at the very most. The Bardington family's media conglomerate had its overall global headquarters in Scotland's Inverness local area, while the Montebraca family's media conglomerate had its own overall global headquarters in Lima, Peru.
As things now stood for the two conglomerations and the families that controlled them, there were plans to fully merge them together. Or at least considerably more than they'd yet been merged together, anyway. If they were merged together to a sufficient enough degree, the resulting mega-conglomerate would quite possibly become, in the near future, the world's very first such non-governmental entity, business-wise, that was worth at least 400 billion American Dollars, if not at least 500 billion, in overall value of its total available assets.
However, the Bardingtons and the Montebracas generally lived on annual average incomes of somewhere around five to ten million American Dollars a year, at most. Mostly from what they made working in more white-collar activities, but also from various blue-collar activities from time to time. Jonathan didn't make a lot working either as an evening shift manager or as a Pilgrim, but he didn't mind that at all too much, just the same. He handled his money wisely, even though many other people might not think so, and he always had enough ready cash available to him whenever he wanted or needed to give it to other people in his life. He gave a good portion of his yearly income away to people much less well-off than he was, often without them expecting him to do just that. He gave at least twenty to 25 percent of his annual income to God and/or His Chosen People, for that matter, with at least the standard tithe going right back to God as God led him to do just that in his life. Taxes ate up at least some of it, as well, of course, and he generally lived on about 240,000 American Dollars a year, more or less. His own personal overall net worth was probably somewhere in the area of 80 million American Dollars, more or less, when everything was taken into account well enough at the current time. But he still lived much more of a simpler lifestyle than many people with substantial personal holdings often quite common amongst the wealthier people in the world might.
For instance, he didn't always need to jet halfway around the world to enjoy himself, as many wealthy people often did. Instead, whenever he didn't have too much other stuff to do in his life at any particular time in it, he could often be found reading, writing, or riding a horse, for example. Most likely, he could be found doing either of the first two things in his life, whenever he could, in fact.
Eventually, supper ended, and then several members of Jonathan's family escorted any number of the guests on the property to various rooms in the mansion of sorts where they could sleep for the rest of the night, if they wanted or needed to, in it. Cassie, Miresha, Sam, Ariana, Purity, and Honor, for example, were escorted to a hexagonal room with many medieval-looking paintings hanging on its walls and six beds similarly decorated to each other on the third floor, by no later than 11:10 pm local time, in any case. Everyone on the property was eventually in any number of beds then present there by no later than 11:30 pm, and they were all quite soundly asleep in them all by no later than local midnight as well, for that matter.
The following day, everyone spent a rather long period of time either largely enjoying themselves on the property or in getting ready for a fairly good-sized Christmas dance or an equally-sized gift-giving celebration, as they then saw fit to do so, by the way. Jonathan, for instance, spent much of the day around Cassie and Purity, with Purity generally keeping a close eye and/or ear on Jonathan and Cassie for various reasons at the current time. Some of those reasons were fairly obvious, and some weren't, of course. But Purity still often did so, just the same.
Jonathan and Cassie had grown to like each other quite a bit more over about the last month, ever since the nearly tragic trip to the Duluth area with each other. While they had not yet fallen in true love with each other in their lives, they both thought that it might not be too much longer before such an event or such events actually happened for either or both of them in their lives, just the same. They also didn't really want to rush certain things in them, if they didn't absolutely have to. Hence the quite-frequent companionship of Purity with them, for instance.
During one of the periods that Purity was with Jonathan and Cassandra, the subject of children came up when Cassie asked Jonathan, "How many children do you want to have for sure, God willing?"
"At least four biological children, but I'll gladly accept more than that, if He chooses to bless me with more of them. And if He brings other children into our family through adoption, for instance, I'll gladly accept them as well. What about you, Cassie?"
"As you know, I have a much larger family that most other people do, Jonathan. If things hold true enough to form, then, for me, I would expect to have at least six to eight children, and perhaps quite a bit more than that in the next fifteen to twenty years. And I'd gladly let God decide how many I should have with my husband in the future."
Purity said, "I don't know if Eternity and I will ever marry each other. At least not yet, anyway. But I do know that I'd still like to have at least a few children in the future. God willing, of course. I too want a full house, so to speak."
"And would you submit yourselves to a man's authority, when needed and appropriate enough, ladies?"
"If he was leading us according to God's leadings for sure, Jonathan, of course I would," said Cassie.
"As would I," added Purity. "I know God never leads men astray. Or women, for that matter. Do you agree, Cassie?"
"Sure I do, Purity. It's Satan and his followers who do so, whenever people are led astray from Godly things well enough, I'm quite sure."
"Satan and his followers do often try to tempt people in their lives through various avenues of actions. They often suggest that messing around in physical enough ways never hurts anyone, for example," said Purity.
Cassie said, "That's true. But lust wasn't what ultimately led to my mother seeking and getting the divorce that tore my family apart for Vincent wasn't yet in the picture then. Instead, Mother didn't want to be with my father any longer, it seems, after she'd essentially fought to be able to marry him while she was still in her early teens. She should have still been with Dad to this day, but she's now still hitched to Vincent."
"When are Hercules and Andromeda likely to make their big announcement or announcements, then?" asked Purity.
"I think this evening at about 5 pm Central time, meaning 7 pm here, if I'm not too mistaken here at all," answered Cassie.
Jonathan checked two watches now just above his left wrist, and said, "No, you're not, it seems to me. And that time's about two hours or so away now, so we should perhaps have a few Pilgrim Company people show up at Ashton Place very soon, for the obvious reasons, of course."
"Yes, that's true. She has a right to know what they have to say, and I can't take that right away from her, for she shares blood ties with them now, quite obviously enough. As much as she might need almost-total societal isolation for at least a little while, I can't deny her the right to know what my full-siblings might want or need to say. It is not my place to do so. If they don't want or need her to know certain things, then they can deny her the ability to know those things, to the best of their ability or abilities, of course, but I can't. She doesn't know, however, that you and I have been seeing each other often enough since we eventually got back to Nashville from the Duluth area with each other earlier, Jonathan." Cassie soon went with Jonathan and Purity back to the mansion of sorts, and Jonathan soon sent a few Pilgrim Company employees out to Ashton Place as necessary here.
A few hours, at most, later, in the actual presence of about ninety people, and in the Internet-added presence of four others, Hercules and Andromeda announced their respective personal engagements to Cherry Berry and Eyldaur Berry, respectively. Cherry was the eldest daughter of Mallory and Tomato Berry, while Eyldaur was their oldest son. And a double wedding was planned between both couples on June 21, 2005, for that matter. When Julia heard the news, she didn't take it too well. However, Deborah's ex-husband Luke, Vincent, and Vincent's ex-wife Beryl, each did not oppose the idea of such an event, much to Julia's surprise. In fact, they all quite heartily supported that notion on the parts of both applicable couples here. Which, quite naturally enough, stunned and shocked Julia even more here, of course.
Cassie said, when all the necessary other things had also been said and done here for at least a little while, at least in terms of Hercules, Andromeda, Cherry, and Eyldaur, "My mother must have really been quite shocked, to say the least, when Vincent didn't share her opinion about Herc and Andy's news, I think, Jonathan. I wonder what she'd say if we ever got engaged, at least, to each other as well."
"Your mother is a woman with various problems, many of her own making, it seems to me. I still have absolutely no malicious feelings towards her, even though her actions nearly led to my death. At least indirectly, if not directly, anyway. She is being attacked by Satan and his followers, whether they're human or not, no doubt. I still pray for her quite often, in fact, Cassie."
"As do I, but I still can't condone those actions of hers then, just the same, Jonathan. You most certainly didn't deserve such treatment then and there from those who treated you in such ways, I'm quite sure."
"While I may be rather naive and tender-hearted at times, Cassie, I couldn't just stand by and let them just take needless shots at you like they did, without trying to defend your honor. Even if it meant I'd be pounded like it ultimately turned out like I was, or worse. So I eventually deflected their attacks on you to me, and nearly got killed for it."
"Which would have really gotten me quite angry, Jon," said Purity, as the three of them began heading to a stable somewhere on the property. "I probably would have caused the other Pilgrims to go on the warpath, so to speak, against the guilty party or parties, and not rest until sufficient justice had been achieved against them."
"Fortunately, you didn't have to do that, Purity," said Jonathan.
"True enough, Blue. True enough. Julia, for instance, might have not escaped my wrath, and I might have put her away somehow once and for all. Even without me using any of my Pilgrim-related items or powers, I think. Yes, I do know it's not necessarily just as God would probably have wanted me to act if you had actually been killed. But I probably would have still been quite furious indeed, and I think I'd have really been quite out for blood, then, in such a case, somehow, Jonathan. Especially considering our rather long personal histories with each other in our respective lives, of course."
"You might have killed Mother, in that case?"
"Perhaps. If not me, then someone else might have, I think. You considered doing so yourself, didn't you, Cassie?"
"Maybe only for a bit, before I eventually found out that Jonathan had somehow survived, at least, I believe, Purity. After I learned that, however, that particular option was no longer truly available to me at all, of course. I showed her mercy, even though she might not have deserved it then, by sparing her life like I did. She hasn't evidently changed her ways much yet, though. Vincent has not even touched her needlessly since our trip up North. He has hardly associated with her when he doesn't have to since then as well. What's more, he's spent much more time working on things that really matter than he used to. Even his former wife Beryl has begun to change her once-sinful ways, and there's even talk that she might even be developing an increasingly close friendship, at least, with Debbie's ex-husband Luke, believe it or not."
"No kidding? Whose idea was it for that to happen?" asked Purity.
"Several of my step-siblings, it seems. Luke had divorced Debbie at about the same time that Mom did the same with Dad and about the same time that Vincent and Beryl split up, if I'm not too mistaken here. It was sometime around Labor Day of this year, I think, when Leonard, Tyler, Miranda, and Phoebe suggested to Timothy, Kimberly, Logan, and Mallory that the eight of them should try to get Beryl and Luke together as best as they could whenever possible in the future. Vincent and Deborah each eventually found out about their match-making plans, rather accidentally on both their parts. And they each decided, quite independently, to try to help them out as much as they could with their respective exes, strangely enough."
"And does your mother know of this, by any chance, Cassie?" asked Jonathan.
"Yes, she does, and she's not very happy about it, of course. Even though she has no real right to object, seeing as she doesn't share blood with any of the eight children in question here, Jonathan."
"Has she heard from Scrooge and any of his associates, as far as you know, since Thanksgiving weekend?" asked Purity.
"No, I don't think so. Vincent quite his corporate world job sometime in early December, it seems, after rather quickly adjusting to their changed circumstances much better than I thought he actually would. He's becoming considerably more like my father ever since that time, and if he does so well enough, there may even be a chance we could become friends to each other in our lives. Maybe not close friends to each other, but friends to each other, eventually, just the same. Vincent is really taking to the usual nature of farm life, it now seems to me and various others."
"So are you suggesting that Luke should have married Beryl originally, perhaps?" asked Jonathan.
"I'm not sure. Perhaps if they had, Deborah might have ended up with Vincent, and my parents might still be together now, Jonathan."
"Why did Vincent and Beryl then split up, if you could perhaps tell us both accurately enough?" asked Purity.
"I think it was because Beryl didn't want to deal needlessly with certain things that Vincent was still into then. But I'm not too sure about that here and now, you two. As for Luke and Deborah, I think that they might have split when Luke didn't want any more kids with Deborah for quite some length of time and when their ideas of where they should live their lives together began to become quite incompatible with each other. Though I could be quite wrong about that here, as well, of course."
"And, of course, we already know at least a little of the history that your parents share with each other and/or with their respective current spouses," said Purity.
"Yes, that's true. I would love to see my parents back together. But for that to happen, my Dad and Debbie would have to split, and my Mom and Vincent would too. Either that, or my parents and Deborah, at least, would have to consent to a multiple-marriage arrangement with each other, of course, Purity."
"Could Debbie willingly do that, or could your Dad, at least?" asked Jonathan.
"I'm not sure. I do know that Dad still loves Mom very much, even after all she's done to our family over the years, Jonathan. I honestly don't know if he'd be willing to do the Jacob sort of thing with multiple wives at the same time. He loves both of his life's wives very much indeed, and I really don't know if he'd be quite interested in such a notion, to be totally honest here, for he's not the kind of man who deliberately goes around seeking various women's hearts to break in his life. Sure, he probably broke several girls' hearts unknowingly and/or unwillingly when he and Mom got married to each other. If so, he never actually meant to, as he's told me at least once before in my life, for sure. If not more than that."
Jonathan soon said, "Ladies, if you want to ride with me for a while, please pick horses for you to ride on here. As for me, I'm taking 'White Eagle,' AKA 'Aquila Blanco,' out for a bit of exercise here." He chose a mostly white stallion with some quill-like brownish markings on his hips. Or at least where they'd be if White Eagle might stand fairly erect on his back feet as he'd often been known to actually do before in his life by his own choice. It was no more than five minutes longer for Jonathan before Jonathan was already sitting quite easily on White Eagle's fully-saddled back, in fact.
Purity chose a mostly chestnut mare of about fifteen hands and about ten years of age. While Cassandra chose a mostly black mare with streaks of red and silver on her sides who was about fifteen hands high at the shoulder and about six years of age. When both ladies were each sufficiently enough on their chosen horses in a safe enough manner, Jonathan soon led them for a bit on a ride to another part of the property, of course. After they got there, all three of them had a short picnic with each other.
As they were having that picnic with each other, Purity eventually asked, "Cassie, where do you see yourself as being in the next five to ten years?"
"Happily married with at least two kids by 2015, Dreamheart well-established in the musical industry, at least, and perhaps even me as a college graduate from somewhere. I plan on having as many kids as the Lord seeks to bless me and my future husband with. Whether they're our biological children or not. And hopefully Mother will fully reconcile with Dad and agree to have more kids by him, for that matter."
"But wasn't she sterilized?" asked Purity.
"Yes, at least temporarily, if not permanently. Her womb and all the other necessary organs were preserved, though, through a court order and certain medical technology, for potential later re-insertion into her, as needed, desired, and/or possible, Purity. She may never re-marry Dad, but she still might eventually have more children by him, just the same."
"And, of course, you want to have more full-siblings, Cassie," said Jonathan.
"Yes, I most certainly do. I would like to have at least a few more, even if I, or at least one, if not more than one, of my sisters might have to carry them ourselves as surrogate parents. I happen to know that some length of time before the divorce was finalized, my parents had a certain number of fertilized eggs frozen just in case certain known or unknown medical conditions might somehow rob them of any further ability to procreate or be able to do certain other things with each other. I also know that if anything sufficiently bad happens to either of my parents, if not to both of them, I will inherit those fertilized eggs, by certain required clauses in their respective wills, Jonathan. If sufficient enough control of those eggs ever falls to me, I will do all in my power to see each of them carried to term, if and whenever I can. The youngest such eggs are about six months older than the triplets are now, post-birth, I think. The oldest, perhaps, are about three or so months younger than myself, post-birth, if I'm not too mistaken here about them all."
"Oh, my. Are you sure you'd be able to carry them, if the need arose, then, Cassie?" asked Purity.
"No, of course not. But I'd still do all I could to see them get to be born children as well, of course, if the actual control of them ever passed to me somehow, Purity."
"I see," said Purity, eventually, after the three of them had finished their little picnic with each other and had begun to return to the stable from which they'd each gotten their horses. Some length of time later, then, they all were in that stable, and putting them to bed, so to speak, for the rest of the night. Not too much longer after that, they were all back in the mansion of sorts, and getting ready for the soon-to-begin Christmas Eve dance in it.
By 10 pm local time, that dance began. Cassie, along with many others, attended that dance for some considerable length of time, quite naturally enough. Andromeda tried periodically to get Jonathan and Cassie to kiss each other under mistletoe for at least a little while, but eventually stopped when Cassie said, "Look, Andy, I know you're ecstatic about you getting to marry Eyldaur in about six months, God willing, but Jonathan and I haven't yet fallen for each other in our lives. Yes, we've been seeing much of each other lately, but we're not yet in love with each other. We may be, or we may not be. Only God knows for sure right now, though. We're trying to not rush certain things right now, by mutual agreement. You might have better luck, perhaps, with Apollo and Naoko, Naoko's parents, a few of Naoko's siblings and their significant others, or Sam and Gradiok, for example."
"Fine, Cassie. I'll leave you and Jonathan alone for now, at least. But I want to be invited to your wedding later, when you decide to have it, and I want reasonable access in the future to your home, of course."
"If there is a wedding, then, of course, you can come. But it's not going to be for at least a little while, if ever, just the same, Andy."
"Understood," Andromeda said, just before she went off in search of people she could perhaps persuade to kiss in her presence.
After Andromeda left, Cassie said, "Andromeda is much like Purity, in that she's almost always interested in things like love and romance. Ariana also is to a degree, but not to such a degree as either Andromeda or Purity each are. In fact, I think Ariana's started to hang around the library on campus quite a bit more of late. According to Miresha, who's been hanging out more and more with Oliver of late, it seems Ariana might be at least a bit interested in one of the library's student staff members there."
"Interesting. Who else knows this for sure besides Miresha and Oliver, as far as you know, then, Cassie?"
"Wolfgang and I do," said Honor, as she and Lorecomet were dancing towards them both as part of a waltz-type dance.
"Really?" asked Cassie.
"Ja. It is good for Fräulein Walker to see true love where it might be found. The music of her heart is good, from her side of things. But I can't detect his heart's music just yet, though. If they spend much more time with each other, I will hear his heart's music as well, for sure."
"What about Purity and Eternity?" asked Honor.
"Their music is still quite faint at the moment, but it still seems to be blending together now. At least gradually, if not even faster than that, anyway."
Honor considered that for a bit, and then asked, "What about us, then, Wolfgang?"
"Our hearts' music is apparently blending. But I can't be entirely sure about that until we have acquired and maintained control over at least one more Sarmian Orb of Wonder for a long enough time, it seems, Honor."
"We have the Orbs related to Dobron and Mozart by now, Wolfgang," said Honor. "Aren't they enough?"
"No, Honor, they aren't. We likely will need the Orbs from Klemen, Zachar, and/or Sarm to be totally sure, or at least as sure as we can be in the near enough future, anyway."
Eventually, after much dancing for many people at the dance, the dance ended at about 1:30 on Christmas morning. And then everyone now present on the property eventually found any number of good enough places to sleep in on it for at least a few hours, of course.
Several hours later, everyone congregated again with each other near a Christmas tree in the mansion's rather good-sized area, just as they'd done during the dance the night before. Several Christmas trees were spread out along its walls, and hundreds, if not thousands, of gifts were piled under or near those trees. And not just for the numerous guests on the property now, but also for Jonathan and his family, and for the entire work staff on the property, of course.
From about 9:30 am to about noon local time, then, gifts were quite often exchanged by any number of the many people now in the mansion's ballroom area. Many pieces of jewelry, for instance, were given and/or received by various people. It was a rather festive occasion, perhaps, for many, if not most or all, of the people at that gift-giving occasion here, in fact.
The rest of Christmas Day and much of the rest of 2004 went by fairly well for Cassie and everyone else then at the Bardingtons' winter home. Several people eventually left it, at Cassie's request, so she could go with them to a certain musical festival, if not more than one such festival, so that they could perhaps perform at it or them, for at least a little while. Cassie and about fifteen others showed up at one or more of the various musical festivals going on in various places all over the Caribbean, and even swam or sunbathed periodically as they did so.
Eventually, by the end of the first full week of 2005, they were all back on the grounds of the Bardingtons' winter home, along with any number of other people. However, most of Cassie's family, at the very least, had eventually needed to go back to various other places elsewhere in the United States. And a certain number of Jonathan's relatives also had to get back to certain school-related matters, of course. Others of Jonathan's notice stayed at least a little bit longer than that on it then, for that matter.
And now, only about a dozen or so other people who weren't part of the property's work staff were generally still on it, as of Wednesday, January 12, 2005. Meaning, essentially, just Jonathan and his team's other members, and a few members of the Pilgrim Company that Moonlight Serenade had earlier sent to Puerto Rico on company business. Not to mention Cassie and her friends Sam, Esha, Ari, Gradiok, and Oliver, of course, at least.
It was while several of those people were participating in a traditional Bardington family monthly scavenger hunt with several other teams chosen on Christmas Day that Jonathan and Cassie found themselves paired up with just each other on a team. Specifically the Blue Team. The Yellow team had Eternity and Purity on it. The Red Team, Wolfgang and Honor. The White, Gradiok and Samantha. The Black Team, Oliver and Miresha. And the Purple Team, a yet-unfamiliar young man and Ariana. At least that young man was yet-unfamiliar to Cassie and the other future members of Dreamheart besides perhaps Ariana, anyway.
Each team was given essentially free rein to search for the various items on their lists, whatever they might be. Each team didn't have all the same items on each of their lists. All the lists had at least a few items in common on those lists, but all the lists were not completely identical to each other, just the same. The scavenger hunt would last until one team had collected all the necessary items on their lists and had been confirmed the winner of it sufficiently well enough, of course. And it began right after breakfast for everyone on the 12th, for that matter.
After searching for a few hours, at least, together, Jonathan and Cassie eventually found themselves both in an underground cavern rather unexpectedly indeed. After they did, they soon found themselves having to choose from at least eight different tunnels heading away from that cavern. Each tunnel had a different yet-unfamiliar design on some sort of plaque placed just above its opening. They didn't know it at all just yet, by the way. But each tunnel would eventually lead them both to another totally different underground area that actually contained a computer console that was tied somehow into any number of places in a single solar system somewhere in the Universe, whether known or unknown to them now.
They briefly consulted with each other here, and decided to choose a tunnel that led away from the cavern at an approximate average bearing of 48 degrees from due north. Not too much later, they came to another underground area, and saw a rather sparsely-filled room of sorts. Other than a computer console, two chair-like rock formations, a platform of sorts, a walk-in closet of some sort, there were only just a few small-sides to medium-sized paintings present in that room of sorts. They examined the very room they were in for a little while, once they learned that they were now apparently trapped in it somehow. Jonathan tried to call for help from anyone else who might be close enough to receive their call for help, but he couldn't reach anyone else at the current time, for some yet-unknown reason here and now to them both.
Seeing as he and Cassie were apparently trapped in a room together, and with no visible means of escape now, Jonathan soon began to very closely indeed examine everything with them now in said room. He did this in the hopes that he could figure out how to get them out of the room well enough somehow, of course. And he even quite thoroughly examined the various computer panels of assorted shapes, sizes, and appearances here, in fact.
Cassie watched him rather closely studying everything for at least a little while, as she somewhat causally glanced from time to time around the room as well. She eventually asked, "Do you think we'll ever get out of here somehow, Jonathan?"
"Sure I do. How else will it ever become possible for you and five others to form Dreamheart, then, Cassie? We're going to get out of here somehow," said Jonathan, as he rather unexpectedly found his right thumb suddenly brushing slowly across a small square panel on the console until it bumped against a switch near that panel. His thumb caused the switch to flip, and a holographic screen of some sort winked into visible enough existence in between them both here. Also, several of the paintings on the room's walls began to glow and project holographic representations of themselves onto that screen above that console.
Eleven figures, with nine of them being females and two of them being males, were now on that screen. They were in a park-like setting in some yet-unknown location on that screen. As Jonathan then began to touch the screen between Cassie and him, the platform of sorts that was about ten feet away from him as he stood behind the console suddenly began to glow, and glow in various patterns of light. Even as he still continued to touch the screen in certain yet-unfamiliar patterns to them both here, somehow, by the way.
After this had continued for a few minutes, at least, both he and Cassie rather unexpectedly found themselves then drawn rather unconsciously to the platform, and saying, "Alitikarsi Buskotchi, Suchozai Mogure!"
Five seconds later, they vanished suddenly and without warning from that platform and were sent to the Moon of about 1000 BC in their solar system's timeline. They materialized in that park-like setting, and the eleven figures that Jonathan had seen on the screen moments before came up to them both here in very short order.
The oldest of them soon handed them both key-like crystals, and they then began speaking to both Jonathan and Cassie here in their main non-Terran tongue. Jonathan and Cassie heard, though, in English, "Welcome, travelers from an age yet to come. I am Queen Sutaki, and these people are members of the Inner Court of the Sol system except for the two males and one of the females now here with me. The one in light blue and gray represents Mercury, and her name is Myrtana. The one ext to her, in yellow, blue, and orange, is from Venus, and her name is Aphrenka. Kebotaku is in black, red, and white, and he is from Earth, the beloved of my daughter Kyutaki, who is now in pink and silver, and her planned future husband, as he stands between Aphrenka and Kyutaki here. Next to Kyutaki, my twin daughters Sachumi and Hoshuyaki now stand, with Sachumi being the one with blond streaks in her brown hair. Hoshuyaki has pink streaks in her black hair, for that matter. Mishokai is in red and brown, and she represents Mars. Next to Mishokai, Kuchusaku stands in green, brown, and tan. She now represents Jupiter for us. Standing between her and the last girl here is Oshitagumi, the beloved of the final girl here. And the last girl here is Wakutoko, by the way. Wakutoko and Oshitagumi are both from Earth as well. As for me and my daughters, we are from the Moon, just the same. Our civilization doesn't exist in your time period, but it will still be known of to at least some degree, somehow, by then." Queen Sutaki and Kyutaki shared a twin-bun hairstyle, with their buns somewhat strangely resembling six-pointed stars, somehow.
"How did we get here?" asked Cassie.
"You used one of our Chrono-Transport .decks without planning to do so here, Young Songbird. You are both descendants of Wakutoko and Oshitagumi, and you both have some Sarmian blood in your family trees. Young Chronicler, you and many others have been searching for various Sarmian Orbs of Wonder, have you not?" asked Queen Sutaki, as she fingered one of her hair buns.
"Yes, but how do you know this, Queen Sutaki?" asked Jonathan, as he and Cassie moved to a nearby bench.
"There was a prophecy just fulfilled that said we would be visited by people of an age yet to come, while they were participating in a scavenger hunt with many other people, from about a millennium ago. It also mentioned various Orbs that many people are searching for in your time. The Orb of Klemen will actually appear before you all return to the places of your current primary residence. Aphrenka is half-Venusian, half-Klemeni, and she is one of the ancestors of your friend Purity. When you return to your time, Aphrenka will accompany you and assist you in recovering it. There will be Shadow Snakes from a quintet of sailing ships invading your family's property within two hours of your return. They will find it first, and it will be necessary to fight them to keep them from making off with it. Aphrenka will be in your time period for six hours, maximum. Before she leaves it behind, you and your associates must acquire and hold effective control over that Orb for a long enough time, however long that may be. At the end of six hours, maximum, she will return here as she is actually is native to this time period, and may not spend more time out of it consecutively without the presence of a Time Monitor of some sort to a sufficient enough degree. One of your associates has powers related to time, but he is not yet able enough to control time to that degree. If I could send another with you, specifically who is, then Aphrenka could perhaps stay longer in your time. However, she is off on another mission for our Kingdom at present, and is not able to accompany you at present, as a result. So six hours, maximum, for sure, is all the time that Aphrenka will be able to spend with you in your time period."
"What does this Orb look like?" asked Cassie.
"I myself do not know. I have never personally seen it, but I know it exists. It is from Klemen, yet mined by Venusians on a mutual commercial venture, according to records dating back to the time when it was discovered and excavated many years ago. When it last vanished from known existence on your world, it spent some length of time here before returning to your world. Aphrenka will help you and your associates recover it, when you encounter those Snakes. She is connected to it at least a little bit, due to her duality, in terms of her ancestry. Yet not totally, for she is not totally of either Venus or Klemen. Purity is mostly Terran in her ancestry, but the Klemeni part of it is now beginning to assert itself to some degree, even though it's still not surfaced for her. When that happens, things will not remain as they now are. Jonathan's Orb has appeared, and while he lives, and while it is present, it will bring out more Dobron-esque qualities over a period of time. His hair, for instance, will start to change as specific Dobronian genes assert themselves in his life. I'm not sure just how, but it will happen, just the same, Young Songbird."
"So when do we return? And will we ever see any of you again?" asked Jonathan, a few minutes later.
"It depends on whether Cassie can somehow defeat a certain foe all by herself in a fight nearly to the death. If she does, you will see us all again at least a few more times after that. If Cassandra does not, then you will not. You and your associates must do all that you can to ultimately ensure, somehow, that she wins that fight, when it has to be fought by her on some later date, at any and all necessary costs, Jonathan. She must win said fight, or none of us will you ever see again after it."
After Queen Sutaki said those things, she said nothing more before she motioned both Jonathan and Cassie, along with Aphrenka, over to the place where they'd materialized earlier in this particular setting. Jonathan and Cassie handed their keys over to Aphrenka at a motion from Queen Sutaki, and Aphrenka soon hung them from her ears by using key rings attached to those keys. Ten minutes later, at most, Jonathan, Cassie, and Aphrenka were then present in AD 2004 in the room of sorts that Jonathan and Cassie had found themselves in earlier with no apparent means of escape. Aphrenka bolted off the platform and right to the console, where she then inserted the keys hanging from her ears into certain keyholes there. After she turned both keys as needed, the door that Jonathan and Cassie had come into the room through became completely visible again. She urged them through it, and then retrieved the keys herself, before it was too late. She then hurried out of the room herself, for that matter.
They hurried to the specific underground cavern where Jonathan and Cassie had rather unexpectedly found themselves earlier. After the three of them got there, Aphrenka shouted, holding up the keys as she did so, "Romance Beacon, hear my call! Take us to the Chronicler's property now, if you please!"
Ten seconds later, they were on a beach near a multi-ship dock of sorts. A good-sized boathouse was nearby, as well. All the other teams' members were already on the beach, looking for certain other items on their lists, in fact. Aphrenka ordered them all to man certain sailing ships then present at those docks, and each of them did so, when they realized the seriousness of her order here.
When they all did so, many android-like crew members appeared rather suddenly aboard six different ships, and Aphrenka boarded the same one that Jonathan and Cassie did. All six ships sailed from those docks, and soon afterward, then came upon five sailing ships of largely-merged Arabian and Asian design with an average of 56 guns apiece. A battle between those ships soon began, and the Black Team's ship was soon forced to make a run for its dock before it sank. It barely made it in time, and didn't sink. Oliver and Miresha, along with their remaining crew abandoned the ship and returned to the beach to await the obviously-inevitable invasion of it by any number of Shadow Snakes. Just then, one of the Shadow Snakes' ships blew up quite close to the White Team's ship. The White Team's ship took some damage because of that, and was soon pounded by two of the Snakes' four remaining ships. They soon forced it to make a run for it as well. Like with the Black Team's ship, it barely made it back to the dock in time. As soon as Gradiok and Samantha made it back to the beach well enough with their surviving crew, they joined the 50 people already there. 96 people were now on that beach, awaiting the invasion that was now certain to be made on it. Two more ships from either side soon tangled, and the Purple Team's ship was soon forced to withdraw to the docks as well. 24 people, including, of course, the unknown man and Ariana, made it back to the beach well enough somehow, as the Blue, Red, and Yellow Teams' ships sent three more ships for the Snakes to the bottom of the Caribbean well enough. The remaining ship for the Snakes soon forced both the Red and Yellow Teams' ships to withdraw, and then engaged the Blue Team's ship on-on-one. Jonathan, Cassie, and Aphrenka did what they could to fight off the last Snakes' ship, but were forced to withdraw from the battle. However, they did manage to somehow inflict a guaranteed-mortal series of damaging shots that would ultimately sink that ship, just the same. It wouldn't sink quickly enough for their tastes, at least, but it still would sink eventually. At least a few hundred members of its crew would survive long enough to attempt an invasion of the beach area, though.
Three or so hours into the battle, then, and just under 150 minutes before Aphrenka would be whisked away, the surviving Shadow Snakes began invading the beach. The battle soon resumed in full earnest, of course. Heavy casualties piled up soon enough on both sides. Many Snakes and crew members fell to either swords or guns that were now accessible by fighters on both sides.
Eventually, though, several dozen, at least, of the Snakes began changing. Which, of course, forced the Pilgrims to power up not too long after that. And not just them, but Aphrenka too, in fact. She did that just as soon as she saw the Orb of Klemen in the claw-like hands of the apparent raid leader, for that matter. She called out, "Ardent Desire Power, Make-up!" Which then turned her into Monitor Venus, in a mostly yellow, blue, and orange fighting uniform of some sort. She almost immediately flashed out another sword to go with the one already in her left hand, as she began to fight her way towards him here.
Cassie soon called for assistance from Jonathan and Aphrenka here, seeing as she and several dozen crew members were being forced back rather quickly into a rather steep-walled box-like area with only one open end to it, not counting the air above it. Pink and Blue Pilgrims then completely wiped out about 130 Snakes who'd either changed or begun to change within about another two minutes or so, at most, while now having absolutely no choice in the matter here, of course.
Five minutes later, there were only about two dozen snakes left in the fight. Twelve of them were fully changed, ten partly, and four not at all. Sixteen Snakes were soon destroyed utterly, leaving just the four non-changers, and six of the fully-changed. That was done, somehow, at the cost of nearly all the android-like crew members, of which only six still remained able to fight here well enough, however.
One side of the fight had the six androids, the five Pilgrims, the six future members of Dreamheart, and Monitor Venus on it. While the other side had ten Snakes on it, for that matter. About 72 minutes were left before Monitor Venus would be whisked away again, as well. The two sides broke apart briefly to regroup and re-align themselves on the beach, but not too briefly.
Then the Snakes charged, and they soon saw the non-changers quickly knocked out of the fight by several future members of Dreamheart, but not killed by them at all, of course. That completely freed the Pilgrims and Monitor Venus to deal with the fully-changed Snakes as needed. Especially when they withdrew sufficiently well from Cassie and certain others then near her here, by the way.
65 minutes before Monitor Venus would disappear, the Pilgrims and she finished off the next-to-last Snake here completely. It took about another three or four minutes, more or less, for the six of them to steal the Orb of Klemen away from the last such Snake well enough, and escape with it well enough. That Snake was soon finished off as needed, of course.
The Pilgrims retained control over the Orb of Klemen, as a result, for the next hour, powering down automatically about a minute or so after doing so well enough here. Monitor Venus, however, did not, for she would now evidently have to get back to the room she'd appeared in with Jonathan and Cassie while still powered-up, it seemed.
She remained with them all only for a little bit longer, before having to leave them all behind here, in fact. Before she left, though, she said, "Daughter of Clancy and Aleta, you are the Pilgrim of love and romance. Bear no further upsetness with Honor in that she provided flowers or similar enough things to Jonathan and Cassie when they went to Ashton Place earlier. Those flowers helped identify your friends and associates who were wearing them then, and also helped protect them all from too much harm then. Such things have often happened to many people I and others I am now friends with in my life, for that matter. Jonathan and Cassie, in terms of reminders of our adventure here with each other as you sought to acquire and/or sufficiently control the Klemeni Orb of Wonder, I now leave you each with a music box which will come to play the various songs of your hearts, and it will also come to tie you both together for the rest of your mortal lives, if it is truly God's will that you are actually to be together for at least that long in them." She paused very briefly, before then saying to Purity, "Before I go, though, Purity, Pilgrim of love and romance, I would like to see at least your bows and arrows, please, if I may."
Purity looked very briefly at Monitor Venus, and then she suddenly pulled out from a subspace pocket of some sort a recurved bow, a quiver now filled with about forty or so arrows, and a pouch full of assorted supplies for making and/or repairing bows and/or arrows out of assorted materials. As she did so, she quickly passed them to Monitor Venus, somehow sensing that she was due to leave them all very soon here. Monitor Venus looked at each of those things for no more than a few seconds each before tweaking them every so often as necessary here, if she needed to at all to improve them in any way or ways whatsoever here. By the time Monitor Venus was done with her adjustments of all the things she'd just modified here, the maximum range and average effectiveness, at least, of those things, while in sufficient enough use, was increased by a factor of one hundred. Meaning, for instance, that any number of Purity's arrows would quite often have a maximum range of twenty Terran statute miles without any loss of effectiveness when she was shooting them at certain times in her life. She would also normally be able to often modify the bows or arrows she world undoubtedly fire off from time to time as needed so that they could be used at much closer ranges to her targets, whether they were animate objects or inanimate ones, as situations might then warrant, for that matter.
Eventually, about a minute before she would have to leave everyone here as needed, Monitor Venus gave Jonathan and Cassie each a music box, and Purity back all her equipment that Purity had just let her see here for a little bit, at least. Thirty seconds later, Monitor Venus then said a very short blessing of a sort over all the surviving people here as she actually saw fit to do that now. Finally, she made them all look at a rather unexpected light show of some yet-unfamiliar sort with their backs all turned to her, with a rather commanding tone of voice. A light show that she suddenly caused to appear here somehow, by the way. While everyone's quite-undivided attention was then so diverted, she quickly hurried at nearly the speed of light back to the necessary room and/or platform as needed here, quite obviously enough. She somehow made it right to where she then needed to be just in time, and returned to the past, quite safely enough, before it was too late for her to do so well enough in her own mortal life, of course.
Eventually, everyone else she'd left behind went back to their respective current sleeping areas in the mansion of sorts. Both Cassie and Jonathan were then the last to do so here, however. They both stayed all alone with each other on the beach for a short while, after first asking Purity Amber Valentine for a little bit of privacy. And they soon kissed. Just one kiss did they share, but it actually was a very romantic one.
Twelve hours later, then, at the very most, everyone else who actually had no further good enough reason to stay anywhere on the grounds of the Bardingtons' winter home in the near enough future was gone as needed for them all in their respective mortal lives. Even Jonathan and Cassie, to name just two of those people, were gone completely from it by no later than 8 am or so, in any case at all, on Thursday, January 13, 2005. Jonathan and any number of others landed at Nashville's main airport by 4 am Nashville time, and all of them were back at their currently-applicable residences for themselves no more than two hours after that time, quite naturally enough.
Things eventually got back to normal for them all, or at least as normal as they then could be, anyway. That was due to the simple fact that at least five people, if not more than five people, also had certain abilities and/or certain responsibilities that an average human being might not actually have in their own mortal lives, of course.
And so, eventually, things apparently settled down to at least some degree in various parts of the world for at least a little while, if not a long while. Even in the Nashville area, they apparently seemed to do that, most especially in terms of the Shadow Snakes, by the way. Although it was quite certain that the world had not yet seen the end of them, at least, of course. That would probably still remain the case here for at least as long as Scrooge was still sufficiently free and able to do any or all of the many things that he'd long been known to often do, if and whenever it was sufficiently possible for him, in his own mortal life, in fact.
Chapter Seven will be out as soon as possible after I finish writing and typing it out well enough to suit me here, people. I hope to make it very much worth the inevitable wait for you all, of course, if I possibly can. Until later, then, everyone, this is The Universal Storyteller signing off!