Only Fools Complain
Chapter Seven
Battle Won with the War Raging

My sword did not have a barrel grip. The large blade had a large tang, which one wrapped to provide a softer and more secure grip than just holding the piece of metal. After taking the weapon for my own, I had removed the simple covering of pig leather, as I felt it to make my special sword look plain. After carefully considering the look and feel that I wanted, I set to work one day to improve the quality of my grip of my sword. I wrapped it with tough leather to provide strength while assuring that my hold would not slip. I then covered the base material with some clam shells set with glue, then laminated the work with a silk cloth covered in some rosin. The handle of my weapon ended up looking horrible. It was supposed to have some exotic appearance that would enhance the aura of the enchanted blade. The sealing rosin however dried in some ugly uneven brown color that hid the textures of the materials I wanted to show off. I had not redone the attempt to cover the tang, as it did provide a secure handle for using the weapon. Even with the odd gloves, I knew that I could wrap my hand around the grip and work the sword.

Before drawing my weapon, I however wanted the monster to know that I was not lying about the gloves. When it rushed upon me, I thus just slapped it to grab the monster and make the battle up-close and personal. I cannot say if the monster was surprised when I latched myself to one of its thick lower tentacles, but I felt it was more of a reflex action for it to lift into the air than an attempt to scare me. Honestly, I felt that I could have held on to the thick leathery length without the gloves, and released one hand to grab the hilt of my sword to prove that I would weaken it to have it bring me back down.

It did flail me with its lower tentacles, but I found myself to have the same advantage that it had in normal combat. I learned to force the creature against a barrier to enable me to use my strength. Just attacking the rubbery body would have it give and flow in a manner that greatly reduced the power I intended to inflict. In the air, the buffets of its lower tentacles only caused me to swing instead of delivering pain.

The fight went the way I expected, although had complications that I did not consider. Neither one of us were actually hurting the other. It came down to who would tire first. The glove did provide grip, so I felt rather confident in maintaining my hold. All I could do was hope that what little pain I delivered would indeed cause the monster to descend where I felt the fight would turn to my advantage.

Having the monster suddenly twitch caused me to worry about my predicament being in the air. I actually felt it to be a good action from the kormesh taugh, as it had the better chance of dislodging me. Realizing that my attacks were doing little damage, another twitch from the large creature had me think to sheathe my sword and just hold on for a time.

The sound of men cheering however had me continue the fight. The monster jerked again, but I recognized it as being from the pain of arrows piercing its flesh. After a few more blows, the monster did indeed begin to come down in height. Preparing for an impact with the ground, I did stop my fight with the monster and sheathed my sword so both of my gloved hands could be available for grabbing a hold.

Hitting the ground, I drew my sword back out and hacked at the monster. It tried to get into position to enable its mouth tentacles to suck out my inner fluids, but I put what energy I still had in my body to end its life first. Choosing points of attack that would put the support of the bedrock walls behind the hacks of my sword, the monster suffered the worse.

When the creature fell down the slope from no longer being able to control its rubbery flesh, I thought to drink my other potion. I instead saw soldiers coming toward me and realized that a stack of stones was in their path. I thus screamed at them to stop, then picked up a stone to toss in their directions. They gasped in amazement as the nets fell to each side of a rock fall, then came on down the slope to me.

A man with the rank of sergeant said, “Major Berair, we were sent with different orders. Your words of belief that we would realize that you were not the enemy, but those killing our kind were the true threat, proved true. They also matched the words of Princess Aden. General Shobirth was slow to give his orders, but then three people screamed from across the cavern to help you, and he gave the orders that had us come to your aid.”

Princess Aden? Oh, yes, she had been married to the baron’s second son. More than willing to speak to my wives some more, I put my focus on the men before me.

“Well, I will not fail you. I will figure out your problem. Consider this a gift, as the presence of these monsters would not have helped me.”

“And they were killing our people. Thank you for leading us in the proper direction.”

I looked around, then said, “I doubt any answers are down here. You however will need to deal with this cavern, as it does provide a method for other horrors from the deep to rise up and threaten your city.”

A voice from above said, “I would like your help dealing with the baron and his advisors, Lord Berair. Your wife, Princess Aden, fights hard for you, but she is a voice that the baron never intended to listen to. She needs your support.”

I looked up to see that it was a man not that much older than me wearing the uniform of a general. Hearing what he said about one of my wives had me wonder about the politics of the domain. Curious about whether I fought monsters or people with really deviant beliefs, I sought to end my business in the underground. I thus carefully phrased my response to the general.

“Your land has blessed me with two ladies. While I originally felt that it might be a curse, I have been pleased with both. Yes, I will definitely speak with Aden and let her know my support for her. As for my reason for being here, I am feeling that it is not as simple as removing some monsters.”

“Not at all. If it was, we would never have needed you. Our land has its share of heroes, but this went beyond their skills. Let me say, none had the daring to openly challenge these flayers. I also doubt they would have had so much success. From now forward, do not consider me or the military your enemy, Major Berair. I have already given orders for a uniform of our land to be made for you. I would hope that you would wear it proudly while in our service.”

Honestly, I did not want to, but accepted my decision along with my words. “Considering what I was told at the start of this little stunt, it might help appearances. Is there armor with the uniform, or can I least trust in the defense that I usually wear on my person?”

“No armor. Yes, Major, you may see how your pieces fit. Our colors are royal blue and orange.”

“Thiminy is clear water blue for the river that carves our valley and violet for the mountains that surround us. Our blues are different, but I can at least cover the violet with ribbons of orange.”

He did not digress into a discussion of colors, but simply replied, “I hope that you will trust me to relieve you of duty. Go back to your wives, Major Berair, because they need you more than we do.”

I trudged back up the path feeling good to have accomplished what I set out to do. My training of letting my men know my pride in their work had me speak to others as I left the underground. The soldiers simply made a cheerful reply. I found the rescued citizens to however walk with me while speaking of how the monsters treated them, then reacted once I began killing their kind. I encouraged their talk, hoping to learn something of the creatures and their influence in the community. While my body felt heavy, the people letting me know their pleasure in what I had done for them had me trudge up the path feeling very good.

The people parted for a small lady rushing toward me. After fighting for a great length of time, the weight of her small form almost was too much for me. I however stood firm and held Mersidda as she kissed my face. I continued to keep her upon my body while waving at the others who walked with me, but now left to be welcomed by those of their own family. Only after the crowd parted to where I could safely set my small lady down did I actually speak to her.

“You need to trust that I can do my job, Mersidda.”

“Oh, I waited, my lord.” Her head spun, then she pointed as she said, “Well, I was waiting over there, but then everyone spoke of you coming out over here, so I came over here.”

I meant to turn my little wife to the castle, but in looking up I saw the shell. I understood that I really had not solved the problem that had called me to the city. Not really feeling able to take on another challenge, I put my attention back on my little lady.

“I need to rest, Mersidda. Where is Aden?”

My youngest wife pulled on my hand while answering the question. “She told me to wait for you, but said that she needed to speak to her previous father-in-law. Oh, my lord, are your parents alive?”

“My mother is, Mersidda. My father passed away three years ago. Both my older brothers and I speak of hearing the man speak his praise of all of us before he died. He went peaceably.”

“Well, I’m sorry that I won’t be able to meet him. Anyway, Aden was married to the second son of the baron. It seems that Aden never got along with Baron Norvaum, but she still felt that she needed to face the man. She told me that it was going to be my job to wait for you, as she had the standing to handle the politics of what you might get yourself into.”

I pulled my little lady next to me, and as she turned to hug me I said, “Well, I am sure that you have your skills as well, Mersidda. Still, I am glad that the two of you were not fighting.”

“No, my lord. Aden is really very nice. I wanted to wait for you anyway. You are my husband, and I want you know that I am glad to have you as my lord.”

“You are a wonderful lady to have as my own, Mersidda. I hope that I never do anything to spoil your energy.”

Her brown turned to me with what I felt was a hopeful expression as she asked, “Do you want me, my lord?”

“I am really tired and hungry, Mersidda. Maybe later. Right now, I just need your support. Really, it was great having you rush to meet me.”

She hugged me. I bent down to kiss her. After the period of simple affection, she turned me to the castle promising rest and food. Promising Mersidda that she could then have more of me, she cheerfully hugged me, then told me that she would take me where she could again care for me.

Berair might be thinking of his success, but the reason for him being in Nemurk still exists.