Only Fools Complain
Chapter Twenty-Four

Success Could Come

Soldiers informed me that some of their better associates had sought fights with the oozes. Most ran as soon as their weapon encountered the wall, but a number focused past the mental vision and stayed to fight one or two oozes. When I set my weapon to the wall, I again saw the vision of a great swarm of oozes coming upon me. It however was not until I did it the third time that an ooze actually appeared. That had me brag to the soldiers that I would be out with my wives the next day to see the shell collapse.

I returned to my apartment to find Aden crying. One box at least had the belongings of her son. Mersidda came from the bedroom to whisper to me that they had spoken of children, which had Aden open the box. I thanked my little wife for the information, then moved up to deal with the one crying.

“Honestly, Aden, crying should be like drinking, you should not do it alone.”

She came to me. I simply held her as she wailed. This sorrow I understood, as my family had some children die due to some peril of life. Seeing a toy, I felt a connection to the youngster that had played with it. I felt Aden’s hands come to my face to wipe away one of my tears.

“You know what I like about the life you say that you are going to give me?” I simply waited for her to supply the answer. “There will be other children. There really were not others about the castle. Aneron had girls, and my boy was a little too active for them. There were a few boys among the servants, but Therlik’s family did not want their children playing with the commoners. I was actually glad that Therlik would spend time with Jouder.”

I replied, “Well, our children will probably play with commoners, but a lot depends on where we actually settle.”

“I am not scared of the life you are going to bring me to, Berair. Just don’t be gone all the time.”

“I am sure that there will be periods, but there are also periods where I am at home. Still, yes, I will let you see a range of possibilities for making our home. Just don’t you take a long time making your decision.”

A smile finally came to her face as she said, “That is where having Mersidda will help. She and her mother are discussing options, and have already concluded to make it a house in Serussdal or the property of a nearby gentry. I promise not to be problem, but willing to settle as your wife where my companion wife decides.”

I picked Aden up, then sat down with her in my lap as I spoke of what happened that morning at the shell. Her mood cheered hearing that I did expect the shell to collapse the next day. Mersidda coming to sit near us further improved Aden’s mood. It seemed that the two had been packing when she went to the boxes. Upon starting to cry, my young wife tried to comfort Aden, then retired to the bedroom to pack on her own. Seeing the cheer as we spoke to each other, I was surprised to hear Mersidda speak softly.

“I am sorry, my lord, for having our problems come to you.”

“What problem, Mersidda? You two weren’t fighting.”

“No, but…”

I spoke to put an end to whatever she was thinking. “No, but this was something I somehow could handle. There will be things between the two of you, because you are both women, that I cannot handle. Fights and squabbles should not happen between people that love each other. I don’t want my children fighting with each other or other children, and I expect us adults to set that example. I will be gone, and I need the two of you to work with each other. If you have disagreements, we can work them out between us as the loving adults that I expect us to be. Understood?”

“Yes, Berair.”

I believe Aden expected me to get the same promise from her, but I felt her maturity put her above such a need. “I will probably get some soldiers or servants to move the boxes down to the wagon later in the day. Any problem with that?”

Aden replied, “No, my lord. I would like the strength to go through Therlik’s belongings. There are some things I would want, and a few that I feel you could use, but most can be returned to the family.”

“I completely do not want to be cruel, Aden, but after today we probably won’t be able to leave them.”

“I thus would like for you and Mersidda to go through the boxes. My lord, Berair, I ask that you keep the children stuff. While they will have me remember Jouder, I feel that it is best if other children make use of them. There are things that should be recognized as a part of my dowry, and those we definitely should keep. As for the other items, Tamesa should be able to let you know what I want. Anything else is yours to decide.”

The servant replied, “Princess Aden, I can show you what Lady Mersidda was doing, and you can pick up from there.”

My mature wife kissed me, then rose from my lap to follow Tamesa. I then went with my young wife to start looking in the boxes. The past of Aden being a daughter of royalty showed in the quality of tableware packed between expansive gowns. Pulling one dress out to look at it, I asked Mersidda if she had such garments. She said two. I told her of occasions when such dresses could be worn, and promised to take them. We both smiled when the voice of Aden drifted in that she would hold me to that promise, then went back to work.

Nothing of Therlik’s actually interested me. He was not as large of a man as me, so his clothes would not fit. His personal items did appear of better quality than my own, but most also had his name upon them. I thus felt that I could continue to use what I had. Tamesa pointed to the flutes saying that those were what Aden would want, along with a mandolin. I again heard her voice drift to me saying that she would like to teach our children some music skills. I could not argue with that, so did set Therlik’s music paraphernalia aside to be packed with my stuff.

I hushed Mersidda as we looked at the stuff for the child. There surely were some good memories with the stuff, but I felt that Aden needed more time. I did ask Tamesa about some of the things being heirlooms, such as the crib, but she replied that Aneron had those items, so for me to take everything boxed for Aden. I hushed and considered the matter settled.

When I called for lunch, Aden came from the bedroom promising me that all would be ready to be packed tomorrow morning. Before Mersidda might say something improper, I took up the topic of assuring that the items I saw in the apartment did not go with us. Aden never mentioned anything about the boxes, but I saw her stop to use a hand to transfer a kiss to the three set apart from the others.

That afternoon when I went down to identify the wagon for soldiers to transfer the boxes into, I was met by a general. I noted the man watching as I gave the orders to the men to start packing the vehicle, and he came up to authorize the duty. He then asked me if I really expected to leave, and I said what I could. I saw General Shobirth come up as we discussed how to divide up the available soldiers, but deferred to his peer, General Levitt, even when a personal comment was made.

“I want it known that Princess Aden will be missed. I am not saying that there have been any bad reports about you, Major Berair, but you are getting a fine lady that really deserves better.”

I replied, “My only response would be to say something against Prince Therlik. Since I did not know the man, I will thus simply say that I promise she will get the best life I can provide.”

General Shobirth joined the discussion to assure that he knew what General Levitt and I had concluded. The two military leaders began speaking of specific companies and officers, which slightly put me out of the discussion. I was thus glad when the baron showed up to join the discussion.

“Berair!” He had my attention. “Berair, what is this about you bringing the shell down?”

“The oozes were almost not a threat this morning. Assuming that soldiers again do what they can to reduce the numbers, should not have any trouble tomorrow.”

“Is that all we had to do?”

I looked to the generals wondering how often they spoke to the noble. Considering that orders had been given to the troops, and they had acted upon them, I felt that the baron should know. I really did not want any hard feelings however, so just went ahead and spoke to the baron.

“I have a plan. Still, with the oozes gone we can simply try things until something works.”

“What? Oh, yeah – I guess that is true.”

The faces of the generals caused me to believe that they had suggested that tactic previously. Of course, the mental vision would have given a reason to consider it unreasonable. Sometimes it took independent idiots, usually local heroes, to see past certain barriers. Considering that even the available show-offs had been frightened by the image of a horde of oozes, I could accept the baron had expected a more elaborate solution.

“Listen, Berair,” Baron Norvaum said, “I know what you said the other day. Still, there will be no dishonor upon you should you drop the barriers and just take your ladies home. I will have a letter to that effect brought to you in the morning.”

“Honestly, Baron,” I replied, “you think you can handle what will be beyond the shell?”

“There should not be anything out there. It is least a week before the deadline.”

My eyes jumped to look at the generals. I had not heard anything about a deadline, so wondered if the lack of communication had gone both ways. The mage had mentioned there being a duration to the shell, but not that the date of completion had been set with any ultimatum. Seeing the generals keep their faces blank, I spoke to seek my own answers.

“Honestly, I know that you have to be wrong. There should be troops of your duke, if not your king. Honestly, I would not be surprised to see a company from Mernill present.”

“Aden was only a third daughter of a baron. I cannot see those of Mernill being concerned about her.”

Just because I felt that he was wrong did not mean that I considered it worthwhile to argue with him. “Still, I am expecting the view beyond the shell to be more interesting.”

The baron dismissed my words as if he did not want to argue either. “None of that will matter. Take your wives and go, Berair. Thank you very much.”

Feeling that tomorrow would force its own reactions, I simply stated my desire to be moving out to the shell first thing in the morning. Both the generals and the baron assured me that they would have personnel to gain what luggage would be remaining. Wondering exactly how tomorrow would go, I returned to my wives.

Well, any suggestions on how tomorrow should go?