The Depth of the Mists
Dechapper and I were out on the river as the sun started to rise. The land had a number of natural springs, but fish did not come up from the depths as did the water. We had to get out on the larger flow of liquid that passed through the property to have a chance of anything biting our lures. I spoke of the split in the ground where Mochsha’s father was still interred, and how with all the foul growth that had been present in the pond no fish had bothered me. That had Dechapper begin to speak of the different type of fish one would find in different bodies of water.
It was strange how us children of Galabur would treat information. Some had spoken of themselves growing irritated at constantly being loaded with sources of facts. With our father being an ancient librarian, we usually were presented with a massive amount of documents on whatever topic was being considered. We however were raised to appreciate the wealth the family had, which was the vast source of information, so we treated new facts as things to be treasured.
Seeing my brother’s rod suddenly react had us go quiet. There was a big smile on his face, but I knew that his focus switched to bringing in the fish and not on talking. More than simply gaining the aquatic animal, I had no doubt that he felt his own reputation was being put to the test. He had been in the middle of instructing me on a different style of casting where the fly was intended to go about a foot beneath the surface and not light on top. Finding the tactic to actually work brought him joy, although he did not consider a strike to have anywhere near the bragging power of actually ending with the fish in his hands. My brother would definitely start into a long lecture on the fishing technique once he had proven himself the master of it, but at the moment he quietly worked the rod to claim his victory.
Suddenly, his line reacted rather violently. Dechapper was a large man, but whatever now had the line was able to move him. As I reacted to grab his belt, he still had the attitude to win the contest.
He said, “I think something caught our something, Vernallor. Whatever it is, it’s a story, but we’re liars unless we can get this to shore.”
“I’ll vouch for you,” I replied.
“You should already know how far that gets us. Hang on, Vernallor.”
Suddenly, I saw a hand beneath the water reach and grab a leg of my brother. I then felt his body jar from having to resist a pull from another direction. I considered it lucky that I brought the sword I had gained on the adventure to rescue Mochsha. It gave me the ability to breathe water, which I felt might come in handy on a fishing trip. While one hand stayed gripped to my brother’s belt, the other hand grabbed the hilt of my blade.
Dechapper was a large man, and whatever the apparent appendage was had not reached high on his leg. I thus had a distance through the liquid to power my blow and had to direct the blade attempting to judge the location of the hand through the diffraction of the water. The liquid was making noise, my strikes were making noise, so it surprised me when Dechapper spoke of another making noise.
“Orintious, you cut my line and the two of us are going to have to fight!”
My oldest living brother asked, “Vernallor, what are you fighting?”
I replied, “I don’t know. It’s a hand.”
Another voice declared, “That’s the tail of an ahuizotl. That thing is dangerous, Vernallor!”
I felt what had been said was already apparent. My training however would not allow me to speak badly to anyone providing accurate information. I finally put the power into a strike that properly directed the point of my weapon, and seeing a strange fluid suddenly hiding the hand from view I also felt Dechapper reset his feet from no longer having them stressed to resist moving in two directions. He then told Orintious how to help claim the turtle, and I felt we would indeed be the victors.
It was a very large turtle. Accepting that if we got it to shore the reptile would use its feet to resist us just as Dechapper had used his legs to resist those pulling on him, Orintious sent his sword into the creature. As my two brothers then worked at getting to the meat of the turtle, I saw Baron Amonter move up and ask a question.
“How many are you cooking for?”
Dechapper answered, “Well, how many will we need to cook for? This should be well over ten pounds of meat.”
“I’m not staying. I came to simply return to your sister’s house the things I took. House elves can be bothersome, but Nerframe can be even more so.”
“How about you, Orintious? How many men do you have with you?”
The older brother answered, “Four and Minchell. This should be more than enough.”
“I however was hoping to be fishing a while longer.”
“Yes, I know how bad it can be when you have a good day.”
We all laughed at that. Orintious had his men help us gather our equipment while he spoke of his reason for being present. I knew my older brother wanted to gain an estate near Mochsha. They had learned that this was the home world for both of them with our sister inheriting her family lands and assets. The baron was very willing to gain successful people for his domain, so had considered his properties to find an estate for Orintious. He had finished another contract he had accepted for his mercenary company, and spoke of presently having a clear schedule so had come to see what options would be presented to him by what he considered his new superior. We all laughed when the baron mentioned that where our older brother would be was nowhere near the river, so he would also have to visit his sister when he wanted to fish.
Returning to Mochsha’s house, Nerframe greeted me by saying she was glad that I was not filthy. I simply smiled while telling her that I still needed some dry clothes. She was not so kind in her words to the baron, but nodded in acceptance to him after he made a presentation of returning some items. I however had to look to my sister when Nerframe turned to hand one of the things to me and tell me that it was mine.
Mochsha said, “If Nerframe gives it to you, Vernallor, then it is yours.”
It was a long, thick leather glove. The baron stated that it was a glove for handling birds of prey. He had taken it after having robbed a falcon’s nest, and not wanting to bother with getting a glove for himself.
He then bowed to Nerframe and said, “It was a wrong thing to do, and I apologize.”
She then said, “You may come in.”
“Not at this time, but I merely came to set things right between us. Whatever I have to say, really should be said by Orintious. I will thus leave you siblings to speak to each other.”
The soldiers stayed outside, but Minchell was allowed in to help with the cooking. She was the slave of Orintious, and had decided that she would settle with him. While her life had been keeping his apartment clean in the home of another brother, she had mostly lived a quiet existence as Orintious traveled on his assignments. Wanting to spend her later years as much with her master as possible, she had left the ease of the estate where she had lived and came with him to this world.
Minchell was attractive, but compared to the eternal youth of my sister and the pleasant appearance of Nerframe I could tell that Orintious’ slave was starting to show the signs of age. While her blue eyes were bright, her dark-brown hair showed strands of gray. She applied more cosmetics to achieve the effects the other two ladies had almost naturally. I had traveled with Minchell, and found her to be wonderful person, so was glad that Orintious would allow her the freedom to be part of our family gatherings.
As the turtle was prepared, my older brother spoke of where he would soon be establishing his own home. There was a present owner to the estate, but he was far behind in taxes. The only reason the baron had not already claimed the property was that he had no other option for it. Now certain actions would be taken, and my older brother spoke of taking over the land within a couple of months at the most.
Mochsha said, “Well, you can stay here, Orintious. I have another room, although it will be in worse shape than the two I prepared for Vernallor and Dechapper.”
The older brother replied, “The men I brought, Mochsha, are in need of proving themselves. They need to be put to work. If you will show me some things needing to be done, I will see about giving my men a chance at redeeming themselves.”
We spent the day going about the property and marking things needing to be done while talking on a multitude of topics. Mochsha had put her focus on the house, and other buildings on the estate, and not on a number of concerns dealing with the land itself. I knew nothing of farming, and was surprised that Orintious did. I believe that he was relieved to find some people still working the land, as it helped him assure some facts. By the time we had finished the day, we had a lot of new things to talk about.
The next morning Dechapper went fishing he said to have something for himself. I knew he would come up with some reason to return to the river, and joined him eager to see what we would catch this time. Orintious came with us, probably worried that we would again have trouble with an ahuizotl, although he did get out in the water and attempt to fish as well.
While we did spend a good part of the day with Mochsha, Dechapper finally admitted that he needed to return to his home. There was also the promise to Father that I would return to my studies. He and I packed with me agreeing to help Dechapper bring back his catch of fish and not simply take the portal back to where Father would be found.
There was a tree next to the location where Dechapper had set the portal to his home. It did help hide the appearances and disappearances of us using it. However, the tree was not large enough to protect us from those seriously watching. I thus saw the face of Dechapper show alarm when a voice rang out.
“Dechapper is that you? Where have you been?”
My brother whispered a command to me to go on inside the house. As I rushed working to carry some things with me, I heard Dechapper speak to the parents of the lady he intended to marry. Since I had heard him speak of his plans, I knew that they did not know about other types of people than themselves. Reaching the house, I however found the door locked. That enabled a lady to reach me and realize that I was not like her.
As she simply stared at me, I said, “Glad to meet you, I’m Vernallor.”
“Well… you… talk.”
She roughly had the same blockish build as Dechapper. There was some curve to her body, so I felt the race had more in common with mine than initial appearances would have one assume. I could not say her hair was long, but strands of the growth seemed to rise up to be topped with what I could only assume were some type of flower. I had heard Dechapper speak of this lady, so saw the details as just verification of who she was.
“That is why I like to fish with Dechapper,” I replied. “I enjoy our conversations.”
She lifted to speak to my brother, “Are all your relatives like this?”
“Oh, no,” he answered, “but some are stranger.”
I said, “Sterrig is an animal, Mochsha glows, and then there is Father.”
“Yes, that is the one I worry about. I am really concerned about you meeting Father.”
It helped that Dechapper had mentioned something about his concerns with introducing his family. That had his intended and her parents speculating on just what he had hiding in his background. While they were rather disturbed with meeting me, I heard relief in their voices that the truth was not as bad as they had feared. By the time Dechapper and I had put away his fish, his intended was admitting that she would be willing for a meeting with more of his family.
As I needed to return home, I stepped out with the lady and her parents only to hear her father ask, “Are only people able to use your portal, Dechapper?”
“Well, yes,” he answered, “and even they need to know how.”
“So are those members of your family, because they are not of any species I recognize from this world.”
In the trees were crows, owls, and a number of other birds. Up in the sky I could see vultures, eagles, and other flying creatures. Remembering things that occurred with the rescue of Mochsha, I became very concerned.
Things begin to get desperate as our group works to learn about a problem.