To Bless Those Deserving
I really felt bad not knowing how to cook. I did all right at home, but there I had my spices in marked bottles and a recipe book. Jelnaya spoke of potential recipes for the large amount of meat we gained, but spoke of not knowing how to adjust for what ingredients she had. I believe that Mr. Eckles was expecting one of us ladies to cook, as he was the one that issued a comment about having to eat bad food.
Jelnaya asked, "Do you want to know how I cook my food?"
Mr. Eckles replied, "I would hope that some of the ladies in your family taught you how to do more than put it on the end of a stick and hold it over a fire."
"They tried, but it didn't work. Now, do you want to know how I cook my food?"
"Sure, Jelnaya. I mean, we left with rations. I thus won't go hungry if you completely make a mess of things."
Mr. Eckles began snickering as Jelnaya loaded all the meat on her horse. I think he knew what she was going to do. I however was clueless. Seeing Jelnaya disappear through a portal leaving Mr. Eckles and me all alone caused me to worry.
It really was less than a hour later that she returned with different parcels on her mount and her chewing on a hunk of some type of meat stuck on a dagger. "I believe that I cooked real well this time. Sometimes I don't do so well."
Mr. Eckles mounted his horse, then had it move over so he could look at what she was eating. "Let's see. Your process of cooking had our lesser dragon, basically reptile, meat change into pork?"
"You're obviously no judge of meat. It's raccoon."
"Raccoon?" I felt like agreeing with his less than positive expression, but Mr. Eckles then smiled. "Okay. I can deal with the magic of your style of cooking. Whatever, it looks good."
"I told you, it is."
I had to ask, "You are going to have us eat raccoon?"
Mr. Eckles said, "We are out in the middle of nowhere. You eat what you can to stretch out your rations for those periods when you cannot get anything to eat. Also, if you knew how to cook then we would not need to rely on Champion of Fergush taking on the culinary challenge."
"Out in the middle of nowhere? Where did she go to get cooked food?"
Jelnaya answered, "A camp where they had just had a successful coon hunt. Honestly, they were not too keen with eating coon either. They knew how to cook it, but considered the varmints pests. They gladly exchanged their wonderfully cooked raccoon for our lizard meat."
Mr. Eckles added, "Which they will probably now wonderfully cook."
"Probably. Come on, let us reach our camp."
It was actually a nice place for a camp. The pond was deep and clear. The water was also cold, but actually the coolness helped my aching muscles. Jelnaya dove in with me, but otherwise did nothing to challenge my privacy. She swam for a time, then used some soaps to wash herself and her hair. Getting out of the water, she basically shook herself dry before putting on a robe and heading back into camp.
It took time for me to comb most of the water out of my hair. I returned to the camp ready to eat anything. Having had to admit that I had heard of people eating raccoon, I did try some. It was good, and Jelnaya also had some bread. By the time I finished eating, I felt that I could work to put some style back into my hair before going to bed.
As I did what I could to manage my locks without a hair dryer, I heard Mr. Eckles say, "Go on to bed, Jelnaya. I can keep watch. Should anything else happen, I want you rested."
"I'm good, Steve."
"Listen, Jelnaya, I know your family. I even know the other side of the family. I have met Ferrigote on a number of occasions. If things are bad, I know that you will go the distance. Things are not bad, so I want you to get some rest to be ready when things go bad."
There was a pause before Jelnaya said, "Okay. I mean, I'm not expecting trouble anyway. The problem is, which is something both my Grandfather Terish and Great-uncle Ferrigote would consider important, is why not?"
"I'm a lawyer, Jelnaya. I consider things like that as well. Thus, you sleep on it, and I will think on it. We can compare notes later."
"Well, fill me in on what you have not told me, Steve. What about any threats? There is magic on mother's world. Surely some divination brought out the possible trouble."
I could not help but be very interested in the conversation. It took work to have me stay seated and not move closer. Luckily, neither were whispering. I thus was able to hold my position and listen to the conversation.
Mr. Eckles replied, "Doris' parents are cops, Jelnaya. As you said, we live in a universe with some magic. The police have learned some tricks in recognizing and dealing with the arcane. Considering how powerful Kallotech is, I had strings to pull in checking on matters like that. None."
"Father or one of his agents did not do anything?"
"This matter occurred to Doris before she contacted Kallotech. Still, Jelnaya, no."
I expected another question, but there was pause with Jelnaya simply making a comment. "There has to be a smell, Steve. Something should stink."
"I'm a lawyer, Jelnaya. If something stinks, I will be drawn to it like a fly. Now, go to bed and let me do the checking on aromas."
I heard some movement, then Jelnaya asked, "Are you really trying to get back with that nurse?"
"Yes. Really, Jelnaya, I had some good years with her. The second marriage did not work at all. It ended with me not wanting to go back on the prowl, and very interested in my kids. That is really why I am doing it. Yes, there is the hope to have some more good times, but I really just want time with my kids."
"Okay. For a lawyer, you're really a good man, Steve."
"Listen, you don't ruin my reputation and I won't ruin yours – okay?"
I could not say for certain from my position, but I believe Jelnaya kissed the man. Not in any sensual way, but just in a way to let him know that she appreciated him. That caused me to realize that I really did not know anything of these people. They seemed really decent. There were clearly things about them that justified the things my parents said about them, but they had lives, relationships, and personalities just like everyone else I knew. I could not say for certain, but I felt that I would not be as incriminating in my speech about the Dozzrines as my parents.
Jelnaya told me good night, then went to her gear. She had not set out a bedroll. As she did, I felt that she never intended to get any sleep. All I could think of was settling my muscles so I could relax for the night. Once Jelnaya had everything so she could lie down, she came to the fire and did some things. When she then turned to her bedroll, I had to ask her about what she did. What she told me I guess that I should have expected.
"I'm a Champion of Fergush. Besides the fight, there are little ostentatious prayers and such I need to do. Honestly, I have no shame of the guy, so feel that I speak his name and things about him enough. He is god however, and he wants things done a certain way. Whatever. I'm going to bed now."
"I hurt too much to go to bed."
"I would bet that you would just collapse into unconsciousness if you would lie down."
While I felt certain that I knew the answer, I had to ask, "You trust Mr. Eckles?"
"One thing you learn about my family and my father's business, there is a high degree of danger. Steve is high enough in the corporate ladder that he could cause trouble, but there are many in my family that have faced worse. Honestly, the thought of stepping back from Fergush's table to return from the dead in order to drag his screaming corpse to a really bad place actually feels me with joy."
From a distance came the voice of Mr. Eckles, "Go to bed, Jelnaya."
I heard her snicker, then she strode to her bedroll. I found that I liked her. She had an outwardly rough personality, but if you listened to her she was fun and easy to relate to. I found myself wishing that she had gone to the same school I did. As I snickered thinking back over some of the comments she made during the day, I heard the voice of Mr. Eckles.
"Why are you still up?"
"I still hurt. Waiting for the medication to kick in."
"It won't kick in, Doris. You are not in anything resembling normal pain. Those are your muscles speaking. You just need to lay down. Trust me. Your mind will shut down as your body works on adjusting to the work you had it perform."
I did not want to challenge him, but he was not a doctor. "You done this for a while?"
"Yes, Doris. Magic is not a dark room lit by candles occupation. Old man Kallespry basically treated it that way, but the Dozzrines have much better understanding of the arcane. When Venicht took over Kallotech, the whole attitude on magic and arcane weaponry changed. The old men in my position did not like the new policies, or the travel. I took to both, which is where I started my rise in the company. Machines cannot operate in differing physics, but organisms can adjust. You have to learn to ride a horse. I went through what you are going through, and have seen many others do the same. Now, go to bed."
Again I felt the answer was glaringly obvious, but I just had to check. "You've known Jelnaya for a while?"
"Yes. She was always an active child, and always taken to magic. She was a good kid however. Doted on her Grandfather Terish, and just would not relax when at the family estate. Worked, worked, worked both at magic and in learning to fight. That is how I first met her. I would be late studying for some court case. Since I deal with arcane law, she and I happened to have similar interests. She caught sight of some of the texts I was perusing and stopped to chat. At first it was the library, but then she would be tapping on the windows to my room. I came to know Jelnaya pretty well. She then started traveling on her own, and I lost track of her, but I would chance asking Venicht about her. Like any father, he loved bragging on his children. That is how I stayed aware of what was going on in her life."
I did start moving to my bedroll as I said, "Well, thank you for what you are doing for me."
"Honestly, Doris, take what Venicht said very seriously. You are a local kid, and you have kept your nose clean. I don't care what your parents told you. We have families and kids as well. Instead of berating those living other lives, we preach that we ar
Attempting to save face, I replied, "My parents just do not like the death your weapons cause."
"Death our weapons cause? Listen, Doris, our weapons are meaningless. That girl traveling with us could wipe out our entire city with a fork, and her grandfather, who she wants to be like, would not even need the fork. When she mentioned coming back from the dead to drag my physical body with my soul inside to Hell, she was not joking. It is not the weapons that cause the death, but the mentality to use them in a certain manner. Your parents do not know what they are talking about. I am scared that you are going to learn that. I hope that you can deal with it. Now, go to bed."
That was not the reply I expected at all. I actually felt fear as I lied down. While the words might have scared me, I had a feeling deep within me that what Mr. Eckles and Jelnaya said was correct. As they expected, I collapsed into unconsciousness.
And Doris learns more during the travel.