The Depth of the Mists
Only one of the books was a novel, but it was not a mystery. It was the text I had hoped Father could locate. It was a more rational version of the erotic book found in the house. Father had also brought back the original novel, and I returned it to Nerframe before giving Sterrig the other texts.
He moved over to a corner of the room, and began reading. Being that Father was a librarian, he had raised all his children to appreciate the written word. None of us thus considered Sterrig strange. We accepted that he presently had a desire for something other than our company that the books could provide. He did not ignore us when we spoke to him, so we did what we could not to bother him as he spent time reading.
Our conversation shifted to other topics than the Misty Peaks. Lekarry wanted to know things about the family, and found herself helped by Mochsha who sought for tales of things that happened in the years she had been imprisoned. Considering my youth, I really could not claim to be present through most of her lost years. Dechapper however had a number of stories that entertained both his intended and our sister. Orintious and Heratin helped the topics of conversation, and for a time we all forgot about the Misty Peaks.
It finally came time that Dechapper felt he needed to get himself and Lekarry home. Father mentioned being responsible for enabling the two to have time together, since the usual portal to Dechapper’s home was presently off limits due to the presence of another portal. As we said good-bye to the three, Sterrig rose from his place in the corner to say that he would go home as well.
He came to me and said, “Give me the other books, Vernallor. I got this. You return to your studies or whatever you do.” I found it surprising when he then turned to the house elf to say, “Nerframe, you can trust me with these books.”
I said, “They are not from the house, Sterrig. Father brought them.”
Nerframe said, “I however thank you for caring, Sterrig.”
“Glad to know you, Nerframe. It’s just my luck that the damn portal will fade away, but I need to think on this. I am however claiming this project. If I need help, Vernallor, I’ll let you know.”
We all watched as he walked out. I believe those who were planning to go found it strange that Sterrig left without telling anyone good-bye. After he walked out the door, Father spoke I believe to calm the rest of us.
“I will keep track of Sterrig. Doing research is a good thing, but I’m still worried that I might lose him like I lost Mochsha.”
Orintious said, “I am available, Father. I am sending men out, but I had excused myself to help Mochsha with repairs while preparing things for when I claim my own property.”
“You know what you are committing yourself to, Orintious.”
“I have men that were considering it a challenge, Father. I’ll let them know to keep thinking on what they might do to take on the Misty Peaks.”
Seeing Heratin signal his ladies that they would be leaving as well, I found myself not wanting to go. “Father, I’m going to stay here. I’ll show up tomorrow to get what books I am to study.”
Father replied, “I believe that to be a good decision, Vernallor. Let me worry about Sterrig. Mochsha and Orintious could have things for you to do, although you are correct that your education is not complete.”
My sister said, “Vernallor will always be welcome here. I also have plenty of chores I could put him to work doing. Don’t worry about him.”
“I will worry about him, because he is one of my children. This was a wonderful evening. Spending time with all my living children was a wonderful experience. Look forward to doing it again.”
After everyone had left, Nerframe said, “It is a night like this that gives me confidence in the future.”
“Oh, it was wonderful,” Mochsha replied. “I need to get this house in better shape, but I believe it will be a wonderful home.” She then began picking up things with me being surprised when she spoke on something other than giving me orders about doing certain chores. “Vernallor, should I worry about Sterrig?”
I really could not answer that question. “I don’t know. He found something, but I sensed that it was not what he was looking for. Since he mentioned further research, Father is probably the one that should keep track of him.”
“Well, what were the other books about?”
“One was a geography text, so I suspect it had something to do with the rock formations. A couple were poetry books.”
More than willing to speak to Mochsha, I began helping her and Nerframe clean up. I had done nothing more than scan the texts, so could not go into details about the contents. We however cheerfully spoke with each other on a number of topics with us displaying disappointment when we realized that our work was done.
The next morning I heard a voice that sounded different, but opened my eyes thinking that I did recognize it. I was amazed to see Ochally. She had just been given to Heratin before our mission to rescue Mochsha, so sought to spend time with him by traveling with us. She had been a wonderful addition to the group, and I had missed having her around. She reminded me that she was new to her life with Heratin, so had a number of duties to learn. Ochally told me that she had complained about not being able to see us, and griped louder last night when Heratin spoke of his visit here. When she heard him speak of coming here this morning, she made certain to stay with him.
After I refreshed myself and came down, I heard from some more of Heratin’s ladies about them missing me at times as well. They smiled as I tried to defend myself, and I realized they were simply having some fun at my expense. I however enjoyed the attention, so did not get upset with anything Heratin’s ladies said.
As they went silent while setting the table for breakfast, my second oldest living brother said, “I thought I could go ahead and bring your books to you, Vernallor. I am sure that the ladies, and probably Orintious, have things for you to do, but if the weather keeps you inside might as well have something for you to do.”
I asked about the weather. Mochsha spoke of not expecting rain, but that the ground would probably be a little wet for being active outside. Heratin spoke of Sterrig mentioning that he might go to the men’s room to do some more reading as I looked over the books sent to me. One was a mathematics text, and seeing Nerframe move near me I made a connection. She saw me focusing on her, but I turned to Mochsha to ask my questions.
“You found your ancestor’s journals, but how about their financial records?”
My sister replied, “I have not found those, Vernallor.”
I looked back at the house elf as I said, “And what did Nerframe tell you about them?”
Mochsha answered, “She said they were unavailable.”
Nerframe clearly looked at me as I said, “Because they were in a secret compartment in the men’s room. They were unavailable to Mochsha because she was not a man. They are unavailable to the rest of us, because they are not ours to have.”
My sister sternly asked, “Nerframe, is that right?” No answer came, but after a period of silence Mochsha stressed, “Nerframe, I give Vernallor, as a brother I trust and you trust, the authority to claim those documents.”
I added, “And there should be precedence for that.”
The house elf softly replied, “Yes, there is. I will meet you down there, Vernallor.”
I almost rushed to the room for the heir. After lifting the trap door, I quickly went down the ladder. Nerframe was there. It did bother me that she might have been angry at me, but there was a slight smile on her face as she pointed to a space low on a wall. We had cleaned the room, but I found myself surprised to now easily see where there was a small door.
There were a number of ledgers, but I had to open a small black book. I could not help but sit on the floor as I read certain pages. Nerframe sat next to me, then had her hand cover the pages of the black book.
“You really need to bring these to Mochsha.”
I replied, “I really need to determine whether to inform Sterrig or not.” We both turned hearing someone else descend, but it did not bother me to see Heratin. “I found the notes of Mochsha’s father and uncle concerning their visits to Egromus. My conclusion of them thinking those with tentacles were evil is also supported.”
Heratin asked, “So, do you have an answer?”
“That is what I was having to explain to Nerframe. If I bring the journal out, the information will get to Sterrig.”
My brother sat down in a chair as he said, “You know Father’s opinion about information.”
“You know Sterrig as well, if not better than I do.”
“I’ll lay you odds that he goes anyway, Vernallor.”
“I’ll lay you odds that Father sends us after him.”
There was a moment of silence, then Heratin said, “If we don’t go up, you know Mochsha will send Orintious down. You get Orintious involved, and – well, you’re right. Still, Vernallor, you cannot keep it secret.”
Nerframe said, “He is right about that.”
I looked at her with concern, then asked, “What can we do to keep Sterrig in the dark?”
“He’s going to want to come down here.”
There was no doubt a smile came over my face, because I saw Nerframe smile. I grabbed the ledgers, closed the door to the compartment, then stood. Heratin helped me by taking some of the financial documents from me, then we ascended to see the face of Mochsha looking with concern toward the trap door.
I asked, “You do not have a private parlor?”
My sister replied, “You mean other than that place for you men?” I tapped the black book as Heratin handed her some ledgers, then Mochsha asked, “Who do want a parlor to be private from?”
Nerframe said, “I told Vernallor that Sterrig will want to go down to the men’s room.” She had a hand go up, then said, “He’s here.”
The house elf disappeared. Mochsha told me and Heratin to take the ledgers to her bedroom, then rushed down the stairs surely to meet Sterrig. I guess Heratin noticed a rustle of movement, as he called out a name of one of his ladies. When she appeared at the doorway, he took the black journal from me and went to hand it to her.
“Yeshyte, Vernallor needs to honestly say that he presently has no new source of information on the Misty Peaks. Once we can get rid of Sterrig, we will need this back.”
She replied, “I don’t know what I would do with it except give it back to you, Grace.”
“That’s a good girl.” He kissed her, then turned to me, “Your excuse is valid, Vernallor. Now, let us go speak with our brother.”
Sterrig does seem determined to go.