To Bless Those Deserving: Cp1

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To Bless Those Deserving
Chapter One
(Jelnaya)

They were shouting my name. I just laughed in response. They probably thought I had paused recognizing the problem. I however simply slowed down enough to safely jump from my mount. Doing something stupid that might kill me was one thing. Having a good animal die from my foolishness was another. While they shouted my name, I ran on knowing that the only life I had to be concerned with was my own.

There was a drop in front of me. The monster had wings, and was flapping them as it sought to gain height after descending from a downdraft due to the land below still being in shade so not providing any lifting warm air. Luckily, my objective was large, so was not ascending with any speed. I could tell the ground dropped, because I saw the top of pines before me. I ran on however as the green tips in front of me stated that I could have something to break my fall.

While I did not consider myself foolish in running to the cliff, I did worry that I would lose my objective. This was not a normal manticore. The bearded face was that of a man, declaring that it had intellect. The body was of great cat, possibly lion from the thick beard and flow of hair from its head. The feathered wings were not of an eagle. If they were, it would already be gaining height. I felt that maybe they were like the flight appendages of an owl, intended to get the monster silently upon its prey. I had been called in because the rear of the monster was like that of a scorpion, and its attacks had been deadly. Not wanting to lose my objective, as it meant more people would die, I ran toward the cliff.

Suddenly, I saw the spread of eagle wings. One of the large predator birds had been nesting or resting, I had no way at the moment to determine which, in the top of a tree. Feeling that I was really going to look foolish, I screamed out before jumping the only prayer I really knew for moments like this.

"FERGUSH, MAKE THIS WORK!"

I actually had to consider that my god had seen this opportunity for me. The way the eagle lifted, the distance of my jump, the amount of support I gained when my feet landed on the back of the bird, all worked in a spectacular fashion that I felt no one would believe when I related this event. The truth however was that I found myself being lifted while I set my legs for a jump heading straight for the manticore. With a smile on my face, I felt that my god needed to be reminded what my devotion to him was about.

"All right, Fergush, FOR IT ALL!"

I grabbed a leg of the manticore, then pulled with one hand while thrusting with my other one. I had chosen a sword like that used by my Grandfather Terish, because the reach would help provide an advantage. Seeing the tip go into the groin of the monster had me take pride in choosing the right weapon. I used what strength I had in my hand holding the leg to keep my sword point lifted as the monster reacted to the pain in order to inflict even more damage.

As I felt the spray of internal fluids from my cut, my hold on the leg was challenged by the monster doing what it could to regain control of the situation. Scorpions could not attack beneath them, so I was safe from the tail. The claws of a great cat could deliver terrible gashes, but the working of the owl-like wings kept the body from bending in a manner that would enable the feet to work as would be needed. The human-like head roared in its pain and frustration while I roared out the name of my deity declaring my control of the situation.

Feeling a drop in height only had me laugh. Grandfather Terish and I would speak of these situations. Some of the most dangerous times was after a victory. Overcoming a dragon, or manticore in this case, when up in the air brought about the possibility of dying on the way down. Grandfather Terish had survived numerous situations of that type, and I laughed knowing that I would have another one of my own to talk about.

I dropped to a tree feeling the manticore losing its ability to maintain its flight. While it surely hoped to land and regain the advantage, I could tell from the amount of blood and other bodily fluids that it had been fatally wounded. While the limbs of the tree did have me grunt due to the force of them stopping my fall, I descended feeling glad that again I would live to see another day.

Roars sounded from those attempting to come down the cliffs as I proclaimed my victory over the monster. I sounded out the name of my deity, and screamed even louder when the voices in return were not as great in volume as I felt they needed to be. By the time those who had sought to be part of the fight joined me, I had a fire going and was finishing my acts of giving Fergush his honor in my victory.

By the time I had washed up, those with me had dissected the carcass. The poison in the tail had been contained by an alchemist for use in concoctions I could only hope would not damage his reputation. The meat of the monster had been found good to eat, so the flesh was being wrapped to be taken back to town to allow all to feast. The head was being treated to assure that it would make a good trophy. I could have claimed it for my own, but I honestly expected to kill many more great threats to fill up any walls of any home I would one day claim. I thus told those with me to do with the carcass what they felt was best while I made sure that tales of this victory would be worthy of proclaiming my god.

Returning to the town I heard men speak of my hair blazing. In gaining the status with the god, the locks of my hair had been changed to streaks of bright yellow and red. They did not illuminate themselves, but would somehow enhance the radiation around them to have all notice me as I did those things that promoted my deity. Fergush was a fighting spirit known as He-Who-Fights, so I when I fought my hair would blaze in a spectacle to be seen.

My eyes were dark blue, but I found many declaring them black due to the brilliance of my hair. I tried to use cosmetics to bring out the color of my eyes, but most really did not focus on them. I saw eyes that turned to me either lift to my hair or drop to my womanly form.

A number did speak of me being attractive. A few men even said it as they poured a little more alcohol into my cup. Love was one battle I did plan on losing one day, but these men did not even come close to presenting me with a challenge. However attractive they might consider my body to be, I moved about with no man gaining more than a moment's notice from me.

The noise of the festivities dropped as a number of riders approached. Men in suits dismounted to take up positions with weapons, but the fact that none wore armor had no one think to challenge them. The were armed with obviously dangerous items and moved in a fashion clearly stating their professional nature. I stepped from my location toward the new arrivals letting everyone know that there was no reason for the festivities to come to an end.

"This is my father, Venicht Dozzrine."

No immortal youth showed itself in the man who dropped to advance toward me. While my hair would blaze with red and yellow, his kept showing more and more gray. He walked with strength, but I felt the tightening of his hug to be less than I remembered it. He was still my father however, and I let all know that I would show as much devotion to this man as I would my god.

He said, "Jelnaya, it seems that you probably have another story to tell."

I replied, "You probably will not believe this one, Father."

"I believe in you, Jelnaya. I thus will listen in fascination. I hope we do have time to talk, but I must have us rush back home. I have come to hire you, Jelnaya."

My father did not just say, 'Jelnaya, I will be paying you money.' My family had money. Maybe not Grandfather Terish's cavern of gold, but if money could solve a problem then the problem was solved. As the oldest child I could claim whatever amount of wealth I desired. I could have had the family business. My brother was not going to claim it because he was the male heir, but because I went and claimed the status of a god's champion. My father however was still my father, and he did not need to pay me anything to gain my support.

I spoke to the point my father had really intended with his words. "I have no pressing business, Father. I can thus go with you without any concerns."

"Good. I brought another horse, just in case you needed one."

"Petty is still alive, Father. Cannot say why, but I don't get stupid with her. Give me time to gather my things and saddle her, and we can be off."

The actual name of my horse was Pretty Flower by the Shore the Fourth. When I gained it they had shorted it to simply Petunia. I called it Petty. It did not seem to mind, but actually acted in a manner stating that it liked being with me. Stupid animal, but I had come to be attached to it, so I would never allow it to be exchanged with another horse.

I had a number of weapons that had their place about my saddle. That longer than normal sword that I usually used was enchanted and called Neverrose. People who asked me about its name would smile when I told them it was always a thorn. There was a strange double-bladed halberd type weapon called a drahaberd. It was not the weapon's name, but simply what it was. Calling it a drahaberd was the same as calling my dagger a dagger, or my bow a bow.

Father saw the way my horse was loaded, then said, "I never saw Uncle Ferrigote have his horse that way."

I replied, "Sounds like you never listened to your father or watched how he loaded his centaurs. They hide most of their weapons. Great-uncle Ferrigote has his one big weapon, but the bow goes here under the saddle blanket, extra sword under the blanket on the other side, mace behind saddle covered by bedroll, and who knows how many daggers, knives, and other weapons stashed into places. I have this yellow and red hair. If someone does not recognize me as being dangerous, hopefully the show of weapons will."

"Did you hear that, Anthony?"

One of the hired help with father said, "Yes, Lord Dozzrine. Thank you, Lady Jelnaya. I mumbled about your horse as I watched you load it."

I looked to the man and realized that I knew him. "You usually travel with father. I have ridden by you before, and even handed you the reins of my horse once."

"I had the question for some time. Now, I know. Thank you again, Lady Jelnaya."

"You're welcome." Father began riding off, and as I had Petty come beside him I asked, "I assume that you need me because of something magic."

"Yes," he replied. "If it was from one source, I would have gone to my father. It however is something I consider family, immediate family, related. That means you. I assume that you have a weapon that can take on something really fantastic."

"The drahaberd is of divine origin. I did promise to return it should I end up not using it, but it actually is a good weapon in some fights. My sword might not be as good as Grandfather Terish's, but it is much better than it was. It is handling a lot more opponents now. Still, there are occasions I am glad that I have not returned the drahaberd."

"Good. Jelnaya, I have only been warned of some things, so I am not really going to explain things to you. I will tell you what I can when we make camp, but as soon as I heard certain warnings I made certain decisions. As I said, I considered this problem to fall to you. Fergush trusts you. I trust you. Thus, you do what you are led to do."

"Okay, but really nasty – really, really nasty, or gee you better be as good as you claim to be nasty?"

One of the hired help that I did not know said, "Not the first, Lady Jelnaya, and probably the latter. Your father is going to have you work with a lawyer."

I did not say anything, but only looked at my father who smiled before saying, "He's right. You are going to need a lawyer."

I replied, "Even Fergush has not been that bad," and everyone laughed.

It is a more involved story than one would expect with a hero like Jelnaya.