Only Fools Complain: Cp31

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Only Fools Complain
Chapter Thirty-One
The Worth of Things Unsalable

I looked at the second pouch of money, then turned to say, "You people around here really have a weird idea of marriage. I mean, I am happy to have two wives, but I cannot say that my nobles, and they are a rather diverse group, would consider that a proper payment for services to be rendered. They would also not condone, with my support and most of the people I know, selling a wife. Mersidda is one of my wives, and I have done my husbandly duties with her to definitely state my acceptance of her into my life. She is not for sale."

Suddenly, a female voice said, "I am glad to hear that, Major Berair. If you would be so kind, please mount back up and follow us."

There were no rules against women joining the military. It was not a common practice, and not encouraged, but no one would stop a lady from proving herself to protect her land. There were not a lot of females in the army of Thiminy, but I knew of some. I had found it common to get a lady to join my company just because of our duties to rescue those attempting to cross the desert to our valley. A woman just would gain different reactions from people, usually of a positive nature, so it did help to have a female soldier on a rescue mission. Those I spoke to, and I usually spoke with those under my command, found the hot arid air uncomfortable, but felt the service they provided to those attempting to survive and not fall victim to slavers was worth the stresses. Honestly, us men felt the same, but it did sound different coming from a woman. Having a history of knowing female soldiers, I did not show any surprise at hearing the voice of a lady, although was amazed upon seeing her remove her helmet to reveal a long cascade of black with a number of glittering objects set in the tresses.

"I am Queen Nauthia. Someone that understands proper behavior would be appreciated company at the moment. You may keep the second pouch as well."

I picked it up, then threw it at the lady while saying, "Oh, no – as it was clearly indicated to be for the purchase of Mersidda. It's blood money as far as I am concerned."

She threw it back to me while saying, "Well, now I give it to you as a proper payment for services to be rendered. You can give it back should you feel the need to decline."

"You do understand that Baron Nauvorn gave me two wives as services to be rendered. However much is in this sack, it is not equal that payment."

"Those two wives gained Baron Nauvorn the removal of a monster lair, the eradication of a magical barrier, and the death of a dragon. I really am not going to ask so much of you, Major Berair."

I did not want her to think that I planned to repeat my performance. "The dragon was a bonus, as being from Thiminy I had bragged about my previous success against the monsters. I just had something to prove."

"I am sure that your happiness with your wives encouraged your willingness to provide the bonus. Please, Major Berair."

Actually interested in what might be said, I did climb upon my horse and follow. Considering that my own queen was known to take control of things about her land, no thought of the lady being out of place came to me. This noble lady was far different than Queen Straekin, but I felt that Queen Nauthia also had strengths that inspired her people. I thus followed her hoping for something to speak to my own queen about and not just my wives.

King Chellor was easy to recognized, as he wore his crown. Queen Nauthia did not gain her own head ornament as she dismounted. She did not even bother removing the armor of a common soldier. She simply moved to stand beside her husband.

He put an arm around his wife while asking, "What was your reason for coming, Major Berair?"

I answered, "Not wanting to leave without assuring things were resolved to some degree. With both of my wives from the area, I felt it best to assure that they had no concerns for their land. This whole situation mystifies me, and what I have heard from what I assume are credible sources has not completely put my mind at rest."

"I am honored that you came to me."

"Aden has no kind words for her last husband, and her displeasure goes deep into her past in-laws. Considering the methods of Aneron, Mersidda's parents really would prefer not having to pay fealty to him. I thus come with words of support for you, King Chellor. I believe the words from Baron Behammir say the same, although I have not read it."

He motioned for me to take a seat. As I did, he kissed his wife and told her that she should properly remove the armor. She agreed, although signaled for servants to serve me and her lord. With her departure, I did take my seat.

The monarch politely allowed me to taste the brew before speaking. "I thank you for killing the dragon, but it was not the main problem facing my troops."

"The way we figure it, King Chellor, you are facing a crisis in the transfer of allegiance of your mage."

"Yes, but I believe the same can be stated for Aneron."

Thinking of some of the odd tactics my own monarch had done, I calmly asked, "And what plan do you have in mind?" As if he did not know, I added, "Your wife already paid me."

"All I want from you is to take a squad and assure another squad travels safely through the forces of Aneron."

"And why do you need me, much less pay me to do it when I am sure you have men here that would be glad to do a little more for a little incentive?"

"Because you have the reputation for being successful against magical and grand threats. I have the men willing to take the chance, but you offer them the confidence to actually succeed."

I was a major in the army of my home kingdom. The position did not come due to the social status of my family. However much my king might identify with bakers, my father was not the only baker in the land and I knew of only two other officers that had bakers as parents. I had risen due to my own merits, and felt that my success in this kingdom proved that I truly earned my commission.

Without fear I looked at a group of regular soldiers attempting to act as if they were not paying attention and asked, "Is that true?"

A rather lightly built soldier rose from a seat where he had been polishing the blade of his weapon to answer, "You killed the dragon, Major Berair but going up against magic can be just as fierce."

"The slavers out in the desert beyond the valley of Thiminy will use magic. Are you telling me that your preying groups do not?"

"No. As you have found out, we have some rather talented mages around here. They tend to keep down the competition. We mostly face monsters – the non-aerial kind. Mostly stealth problems such as spiders, vampires, inhuman thieves, and stuff like that."

The man had the rank of sergeant. For many soldiers that was as high as they would climb in their military career. This man however did not show age, and comported himself in a manner that said he expected more from his service. I thus did not stress my rank, but accepted that he knew how to handle the threats to his land.

"What your monarch told me, this is going to mostly be a support position. If what you said is true, it would not do us any good to think we can move into position without anyone noticing."

"No, but we can look like a normal patrol. When others simply act to assure that we stayed away, that is when we show our determination to protect those that will need us."

Sounded like a plan to me, so I looked to the monarch to say, "I will need a uniform."

Before he allowed that, he brought me over to discuss the actual plan. I had no problem with that. It helped to meet the men that would go with me. The fact that they were brought over to discuss things with the monarch told me that the guy was not an asshole, and that I could depend on his support should it be needed.

It actually surprised me to hear that my mission was not the suicidal one. Those we would rush to support would be the ones directly facing death. Their only grace was that they would be carrying a staff that would negate magic in an area. Regular attacks by normal soldiers however could still bring them down. The objective was to plant the staff in the ground near the center of the camp. It seemed that the power and range of the special enchanted piece of wood increased when set in place, and it could not be removed without knowing certain commands. With the staff in place, Aneron's mages would need to move out with the soldiers where it was felt they could be separated and taken out. My squad was told we could use range, magic of our own, along with any tactic we felt would help those with the actual mission succeed.

In moving to put on the armor of Peranty, those who would go with me spoke of their own plans. While I was given the insignias of a major, I really did not consider myself in charge of this group of men. They knew their true superiors. They knew the terrain. They even had a history of the tactics of the enemy. I thus listened to their plans with the attitude that they knew better than me.

Since I really did not know much about the situation, I went to those who were preparing for the suicide mission and discussed what my soldiers had told me. It helped that they did not speak of their actions as being deadly. Most fools did not, but I knew many a man, myself included, that would put their lives on the line for a cause they felt was proper. Those who were to plant the staff spoke of understanding the risk, but let me know why they felt they would succeed. After the discussion of tactics, went back to those preparing to support the main mission and told them about corrections I felt would be necessary.

As I started leading my squad away from the main camp, one of the regular soldiers asked me, "Major Berair, are you really going to risk your life? I mean, you do have two wives."

"Yes, but I gained them for a purpose. They have seen me fight flayers, bring down a magic shell, and kill a dragon. They are going to know that I did this. When I get them back to Thiminy, and they learn about my family and my usual style of life, I do not want them ever doubting what I am capable of. I don't want them ever complaining about me. Only fools complain, and those two ladies of mine are not fools. I want them ever proud of their husband, no matter how dull and boring our lives become."

I heard a mumble in return, "You are still risking your life."

"You are only insulting yourself there. I would reprimand you if you claimed to be risking your own, as I do not plan on letting you men down. By saying that I am risking my life, you are speaking of your own lack of bravery and skill."

More than one voice replied, "Sorry, Sir!"

"Okay, glad that we have an understanding. Now, let us see how this goes."

Let us see just how complicated a simple plan can get.