To Bless Those Deserving
I woke up hearing Jelnaya tell Mr. Eckles to get moving. Seeing me stir, she simply smiled at me. She was wearing her crystal armor. As I sat up then moved to the fire, Jelnaya began juggling a number of her weapons.
Mr. Eckles went to the water. I saw some oatmeal, toasted bread, and strips of meat along with butter, honey, and assorted jams. I felt it to be a good meal, so began eating. Jelnaya told me that we had only water to drink, or alcoholic beverages if I was inclined, which I was not. As I poured some water into my stein, Mr. Eckles returned from the stream in a different cowboy outfit and looking as much of a dude as he did the day before.
As he looked at the food, he asked, "What's your conclusion, Jelnaya?"
I guess they had talked the night before when they traded shifts, as I had no idea about the topic. "I am not certain, but I will lay money that we have a pleasant day of travel. They tried to take charge, and failed. Since we are heading to them, they will see how well we fare on their turf."
"It doesn't look to me that you are expecting a pleasant day of travel." Mr. Eckles began fixing him a plate as he added, "Food looks good however. Heard you say that you wanted it all, including a husband. Food like this can certainly keep a man happy."
Jelnaya continued to juggle her weapons as she asked, "Have you met Dirchein, Great-uncle Ferrigote's golden wife?"
"No. I have heard about her, but never had the pleasure."
"Well, she committed herself to Remidda, She-Who-Serves. Considering that she is of the same pantheon as Fergush, and considering that Grandmother Straekin and my aunts were already giving me certain lectures, I learned how to cook. I don't do it all the time, don't do it much at all, so enjoy."
I had to say, "It is good."
Mr. Eckles said, "I however take this fare to mean that you were worried about things."
Jelnaya said, "Yes, and by the fire reading, so went ahead and cooked. How much did you and Father discuss this mission?"
"He summoned you, Jelnaya. Need I say more?"
"No. Trust me, Father knows certain things. I mean, he grew up with Grandfather Terish and had plenty of time with Great-uncle Ferrigote. I just want you, Steve, to understand what I am expecting."
It was clear from the conversation that they had spoken more the night before. I however could tell that no real decisions had been determined. I thus listened to the conversation to learn what I could.
"Trust me, Jelnaya, I know. Old man Kallespry loved your father, because he was one young man that could discuss the weapons with indifference. Venicht can sell massive amounts of kill power while having his clients feeling they are buying fireworks."
"I know. When I began to learn, I practiced my knowledge by traveling to my father. I often found him in foreign countries making sales pitches. I spoke more with my father during those times than I had growing up. I came to like him – a lot."
"He would speak about those meetings with me, Jelnaya. He started discussing things with Balerk more and more, because he understood Balerk would be the next to gain the company. He however warns Balerk that you have management control."
My parents would at times discuss the management of Kallotech. They knew of the Dozzrine children, but not too much about them. The education of Jelnaya and her siblings had not been done through the local institutions, so little about them became available to the local media. My parents would discuss what tidbits of news came to their knowledge, but I listened understanding that I was gaining facts they would be pleased to learn.
Jelnaya said, "I know. I get the stock. Balerk gets the company. Balerk is okay. We get along."
"You're also immortal, Jelnaya. I thus see you as my constant employer. If there is any loyalty, it is to you."
"That's nice, Steve. Still, I don't see myself as really worrying about the company. Once I eventually have children, I will have them learn about Kallotech. If one shows a good interest in the company, I will let him deal with whichever relation of mine is presently running the company."
A statement bothered me, so I blurted out, "She's immortal? Jelnaya, you can't die?"
She replied, "Well, that would not be fair. Great-uncle Ferrigote and I will however speak of which one of us will take a seat at Fergush's banquet table first. I just won't age."
"Must be nice."
"No. That was my major complaint to Fergush. I did not want a life of fighting. Great-uncle Ferrigote has this wonderful home, wife, and the time to spend raising us children. That is what I made Fergush promise. I made him promise that I could have that as well."
Mr. Eckles said, "That is what makes me respect Jelnaya. She makes demands of gods, and they give in to her."
"Ah, Fergush is really nice. I completely enjoy my conversations with him. I however also do not argue with him. If he makes a statement, that is something not to question. Anything else however, and it is open to discussion. Honestly, though, most gods I have spoken to have been nice."
I had to ask, "You have spoken to gods?"
Mr. Eckles said, "You should study her family, Doris. Jelnaya is just a recent addition to a really wonderful set of truly amazing personalities."
Jelnaya said, "Daddy has faced Terdeskollit, and still will go to Davelda to speak to Munulva. He worships Her. Mother worships Argonittum and Kannertin."
I had to say, "My father always laughs when that gets mentioned, as he says the entire family is ruled over by Manerdal and Opicharn."
Mr. Eckels quickly replied, "The weapons made my Kallotech are not to kill, but to provide security to those who feel threatened. While we accept that those who buy our weapons might have the inclination to use them for the purpose of killing others, we are not ashamed of saying that we will also sell to the other side to hopefully cause each side to seek a more peaceful resolution to their disagreements."
"But you would be out of a job if peace broke out all over the world."
"No, but Kallotech actually has a number of beneficial products. If peace broke out all over the world, people might see through their own hatred to realize that there is good in all."
I wanted to respond to that. A lifetime of hearing my parents preach against Kallotech I felt would supply me with plenty of ammunition to retort. I however could see in Mr. Eckles eyes that he was prepared for whatever I would say. As I stayed silent, it was Jelnaya who spoke a response.
I could not help but say, "I am sure that he is worth every penny Kallotech pays him."
Mr. Eckles said, "When you work for the best, you have to be at your best. Isn't that right, Jelnaya?"
She replied, "Neither one of us would be where we were if we did not believe that – each in our own separate way."
"Amen. Still heading to Logramming Isle?"
I felt it was best to change topics as well, so went back to eating as Jelnaya answered, "It is the only directions I have. I am not as good as Grandfather Terish, but I feel that he would go this way as well. I think the other way would only bring us to the headquarters of the mercenaries and not to the one who is important."
I had to ask, "The other way?"
"There had to be another way. It is obvious that they did not come this way."
Mr. Eckles picked up the explanation. "Once contact is made with a world, magic basically gives you access to the entire world. The problem is however that teleportation is easily warded against. Your summoning spell was not that powerful, especially being worked by such a novice. The world thus could not be far from ours, but Ubermander could be on the other side of that world from us."
Jelnaya said, "You cannot see what I am learning to see. There are a multitude of worlds available to us right here, but they are spots and not large vistas. I could access a portal right there," she pointed, "but moving a step or two in that direction would not have me come out right there. My Grandfather Terish went insane learning how the multitude of universes interacted with each other. While I would like to know certain things, I don't want to chance certain things."
"Translation: we keep going in the direction we are heading. Finish eating, then we get back on the horses."
"I'll have them ready."
I went to eating with the intention of washing the dishes. I however heard Jelnaya talking to the horses. She did not speak in anything resembling baby talk, although she stressed certain terms in a manner I recognized as indicating instructions to the animals. One word however bothered me in that it did seem demeaning, so when I finished eating I first turned to ask Jelnaya's intention for using it.
She turned as if confused by what I said, then explained, "It is the name of my horse. Her name is really Petunia, legally Pretty Flower by the Shore the Fourth, but I called her Petty from the first. Your horse is Shortbread," I knew that, "and Steve is riding Calliope. I am sure that both have legal names as well, but I have not bothered to learn them."
"Oh." I then admitted, "I thought you were talking down to your horse."
"These horses are smart, so you don't do that. I have had Petty for a few years now, so she knows I will take care of her. If she did not like what I called her, she could have let me know."
Mr. Eckles said, "And they will. Also, in case you do not know, if you have trouble, get to your horse. It will take you to a place of safety. If it is not the Dozzrine estate, do not worry. It will be a place of safety where word of your presence will get sent."
He went through a litany of basic instructions while helping me finish breaking camp. I found myself wishing that I had heard the statements earlier, but most I considered to be common statements of self preservation. Some things specific to other worlds than my own, and magic in general, I did however feel that I needed to hear, even if I had been told before. As I strapped my belongings to my saddle, I felt that I gained enough instructions to feel a little more secure in traveling through possibly dangerous terrain.
And one destination is reached.