To Bless Those Deserving
My parents did not like magic. I remembered many lectures after my parents came home from work about the horrors that could result from someone devoting themselves to arcane studies. Of course, it did not help their opinions when other facets of our world promoted magic. Bellesdun University advertised their college of magic, and would promote those occasions Terish Dozzrine would schedule lectures. I grew up knowing that it was Venicht Dozzrine in charge of Kallotech, and that he was developing the arcane weaponry for that company. The knowledge that the destructive weapons of our town's leading industry now included those that harnessed magic caused my parents to like the company less.
The experiment I performed I thought had come from a reputable source, and I did my best to go through the rite as prescribed. I knew that my parents would not like what I was doing, so I worked hard to make sure that I would not do anything to cause them to know what I did, much less detect any problems from what I did. The fact that the rite had gone wrong caused me to understand the problems with magic, although I looked to Jelnaya with a desire to still learn the things that I had sought.
As we traveled the next day, I asked, "Jelnaya, why did you devote your life to magic?"
"Magic? I don't use magic. I wanted to, but the things I wanted to use it for were not things easily done. I thought they would be easy, but I found Grandfather Terish to always do things in a normal fashion instead. That troubled me, but the more I studied the more I learned what I wanted to do was not easy at all. Further, using magic causes one to be detected. There are times when magic has its benefits, and I saw Grandfather Terish do some fantastic things with magic, but to simply use it creates its own problems."
I found myself pleased when she kept talking. "I'm not magic, but divine. My powers come from the god Fergush. It still marks me. Gehedorn came down from his lair because he sensed me. Still, people see others using magic and think they might be able to take them, or need to take them. People see me and realize that they up against the powers of a god, and that makes them reappraise things before challenging me. Usually that is good, but it also means that I get challenged by those that think they can challenge the power of a deity, and sometimes I find that they have some reason to feel capable of bragging."
Hoping to get her back on track of my own situation, I said, "Well, what is your opinion of magic?"
"A lot of work for little benefit. Nice tricks, but usually requiring a lot of preparation and focus at the time of casting. I have been around a lot of people who use magic, and generally I find them doing things in the same way I do them."
"But your father has Kallotech developing magical weapons of war."
"And people buy them. Still, I am a dangerous person. My Grandfather Terish is a dangerous person. Great-uncle Ferrigote is a dangerous person. None of us are buying weapons from Kallotech. Father is only developing a part of the industry that actually has a demand, but only from those that do not understand the lessons those that actually use magic will teach."
Actually surprised with what she said, I rode up to get a close inspection of what she carried on her horse. I saw what I actually considered archaic weapons. No guns, explosives, or other weapons I associated with her father's company were visible. She did wear armor, but the crystal suit was not like anything I saw advertised by Kallotech or worn by their security forces, even the female members. I finally had to ask a question wondering if I would be surprised to find her agreeing with my parents.
"What do you think of the products made my Kallotech?"
"They are for people not wanting to bother with the true issues. We are going to solve a problem. The weapons made by Kallotech do not solve problems. They do not even prevent war, which is what Kallotech tries to claim their weapons are to do. They are simply for people who want to cause havoc, and those who are unwilling to actually deal with those who cause havoc. My tactics are more personal, but I find people saying that I am worst than those who use Kallotech weapons. I don't force the issue. Think what you want."
Not really feeling satisfied with her response, I turned to Steve to ask, "What is your opinion?"
He answered, "I'm a Kallotech lawyer, and I know Jelnaya is to become one of my bosses. I thus will only support her positions."
Jelnaya said, "She knows that, Steve. What you said was not an opinion. Now, answer her question."
"Doris has not seen me question you, or assure myself of your position. It thus should be obvious that I agree with you, Jelnaya. We have also told Doris about how our association goes back in time, so it should be obvious that there are no historic disagreements between us."
That response had me go back to look on his horse. I did see the Kallotech logo on some cases on his animal. I thus had to speak seeking a better response from him.
"You carry Kallotech weapons."
"I am not trained in the type of weapons that Jelnaya uses. I can point a gun and pull a trigger. I actually can work some magic. I am not here as Jelnaya's companion, but as her lawyer. Considering the potential for trouble, I did come armed. However, I am not going to claim any equality with her in combat."
Thinking of what I heard from my parents over the years, I had to ask, "Well, what do you think of the carnage they can cause?"
"The weapons? Darling, I am a lawyer. Trust me, humans do not need these weapons to cause carnage. You already mentioned how Jelnaya does not have a Kallotech weapon on her, and you personally witnessed a dragon express its concern about her just being in the area. The products that Kallotech produces do not excuse any human from the results of their actions." He then softly added, "I also know for a fact that the weapons, ammunition, and body armor used by the Kernovull police department are provided by Kallotech."
Both of us turned to see Jelnaya stringing her bow. She saw us watching her as she notched an arrow. Jelnaya smiled, then turned to pull back on the string with her releasing before I felt she took any time to aim.
"Before you ask," she said while unstringing her bow, "I am actually going to cook."
As she took off, Steve asked me, "Did you see what she fired at?"
I shook my head while answering, "I don't think it was the dragon."
"No. If she had anything against the dragon, she would have attacked it yesterday. Come on."
There was nothing to do but hold on as my horse followed that of the lawyer. After a few days the pain of being in the saddle had reduced, but I could not say that my skill in riding had improved. Jelnaya and Steve both said that the distance was enough that going fast or slow would not change much in our arrival time. It seemed that they both did not bother with a difference in hours, but only considered altering speed if a day would be won or lost. Up to now I thus had an easy time of simply staying on the back of the horse as the time passed, but rushing after the lawyer I found my legs to use every muscle in tightening around the body of the animal to keep me from falling to the ground.
When we stopped near her, Jelnaya calmly said, "Okay, if you want to help, you can go rinse out the pot over in that stream."
Steve did not move in his saddle as he asked, "An eagle?"
"Actually killed some the other day, and I found myself wishing that I had kept the carcasses. Saw one in the sky, and just had to claim it for supper. There should be enough for all three of us."
He now dismounted, and as he worked to release the pot from behind his saddle he said, "So I take it that you like eagle. Not really something you learned to eat at our restaurants."
"I first ate it in Thiminy, as that world has a special dish made with eagle. It is more complicated than I will cook, but it introduced me to eating the birds. I found that I like the flavor even when cooked in a simpler method."
"What is your favorite way of cooking it?"
Steve did go to the stream to wash out the pot, but as he did so he discussed various recipes with Jelnaya. I really did not understand the reason for the conversation. He might have been attempting to get me to start talking, but I was not interested. I could cook, but had only done it with a modern stove, oven, and microwave, and then with what I considered regular food animals. Raccoons and eagles had never even been considered as entrees. I thus simply moved to find a place to sit and wait for whatever was to be done to the eagle before we headed off to camp. I however went erect hearing Steve shout a warning as he came back from the stream.
Jelnaya whispered for me to stand near my horse as she went to hers. As Steve spoke of needing to take out a gun and load it with ammo, Jelnaya put on her sword belt, grabbed the drahaberd in one hand, took the pot from Steve in the other, then went back where she was working with the eagle. The drahaberd went in the ground, the pot was also set down, then Jelnaya whispered for everyone to remain calm as she went back to work.
I heard the roar of a multitude of hooves not that long before a number of riders came upon us. They were men in rather loose clothes of red and tan. The horses had crimson strips of light cloth tied to strands of their manes and tails. While I saw them with large-bladed curved swords, they did not have them in their hands. Three riders advanced slowly, then I heard screams as ladies riding behind the men on the right and left were pushed to the ground.
The rider in the middle said, "Both of you ladies have been found worthy. To assure that you look the best, a slave has been given to each of you. We will escort you to where the decision will be made."
Jelnaya finished plucking the eagle, and began cutting it up as she replied, "I hope that whoever sent you understands that I am a champion of the god Fergush. That slave had better be willing to convert to also serving my deity, or it really will not be in her interest to serve me."
One lady moved to kneel before Jelnaya to confess eternal service to her and willing to do whatever else would be necessary to serve her. The other lady crawled to me to basically say the same. As the two ladies continued to speak of their devotion to our service Steve boldly asked a question.
"Jelnaya, how many slaves do you own."
She answered, "Well, after giving the matter a lot of thought, I have to conclude – none."
"Both the world of Thiminy and Ferrigote's home world has slavery."
"You're right, and the fact of Sennapre does count since Fergush is from that world. Still, those that serve usually simply are made to confess their devotion to Remidda with the agreement that the life is in a specific household or duty."
"Do you have a holy book to Remidda?"
Jelnaya finished cutting up the carcass, then moved with the pot and her weapons to her horse while saying, "Fergush is considered married to Samayer, and works with Remidda. I thus have both of their holy texts along with one to Fergush."
Instead of saying something more to Jelnaya, Steve advanced to the riders to declare, "We did not whisper that conversation. If I had spoken in a soft voice, Lady Jelnaya would have proclaimed her answers. Her devotion to Fergush is that strong of an influence in her life. I did not speak to Lady Doris, as she has been wronged by one we know as Ubremander, and until restitution occurs she is not willing to consider any blessing in her life from him as having any value." I saw him move to kick what detritus was on the ground toward each of the slaves as he added, "You might as well have sent us dogs."
As if the words had no value, the central rider replied, "His excellency, Ubremander, wants the ladies to be appearing their best when they come before him."
I could not help but exclaim, "My best? You take these slaves back to this Ubremander and tell him to allow them to assure that he is looking his best. I am not going to him to impress him. I am going to him to have him undo a wrong, then grovel in apology."
Jelnaya stepped up to the one that spoke while drawing her sword, then sent it through the barrel of his horse while saying, "You might have the slaves take care of you as you walk back to Ubremander." While the man did gain his feet as his horse collapsed to the ground, I noticed that none went for their weapons. "We are eating eagle. I just served you horse. Enjoy it." I believe she also noticed that they held their positions, but kept a defiant tone as she said, "We are going to travel a bit further, then establish our camp. I would suggest that you keep far away."
Positions and plans continue to be determined and acted upon.