To Face the Ugly Deed
I looked up from where I was setting a trap. Winter was coming, which usually brought predators seeking food outside their usual territory. Wondering about Eashae on those nights I felt it necessary to stay up watching for threats to my animals, I looked up surprised to see her coming to me.
“Husband, come home.”
It was unusual for her to come out of the house. While she did participate in the local events, she tended to keep herself to me. When not being a part of the community or active on business, she stayed home. The house had become a lovely place to spend my days, so I could not say that she was bored. Wondering what had happened to have her come for me, I spoke to let her know that I did intend to obey.
“Let me just walk around, Eashae. I want to make certain a villager will see the warnings.”
“Husband, you care?”
“Of course,” I replied. “I don’t want to feel sorry should someone step in this trap.”
She watched me as I made my circuit. I could not help but look to her. I chose her because I found her lovely, and after days of having her in my presence I still felt she was a beautiful creature. While she freely allowed me to do with her whatever I wanted, I hoped she was also pleased as she watched me.
As we headed to the house, I saw others being brought home by their wives. Comments of having a good meal, then time with the wife before handling business passed between us. I heard most of the ladies fuss at their husbands for pausing. Eashae however stood holding my arm patiently waiting for me to assure some detail before again moving to our house.
She had a full meal prepared for me, although first had me wash up. I ate while barely clothed, which allowed me to again have the blessing of Eashae. When I kissed her while telling her that I loved her, she took a hand and placed it between her legs I guess to assure that I listened to her.
“Husband, take the money.”
“They will want you to take a horse, but tell them you want money.”
I remembered Lord Felther and Lord Avell taking the money. It made sense to me, because they were already married. Having Eashae tell me to take the money, I assumed was because she had learned things about my life.
“Well, you’re correct. We don’t need a horse.”
“If you find any of your friends also speaking of the money, support them. They should also take the money.”
Those words caused me to think over the others with me concluding, “Yes, most of them are not set up to take care of a horse.”
“No, Husband. Most of them should not yet have their wives pregnant.” I believe she saw me think over what she said, as she moved to kiss my neck while saying, “Love, Husband. Continue to love.”
“Of course, Eashae.”
I finished getting into my protective suit. The hardened leather could not actually be called armor, but I saw cuts on it after the last mission that stated it had worked to protect me. As I dressed I saw my wife look at me with what I felt to be a mix of concern and pride. She brushed the protective suit as if it was a treasured set of armor, then kissed me before assuring I heard her command.
“We do not need a horse, but money.”
“Of course, Eashae.”
I left not thinking obeying my wife to be a hard thing. Again the memory of those directing us was of them taking money. I however found myself wondering when the youngest of our group came up to me to ask.
“Nebard, is a horse a lot of trouble?”
I looked at Priven, and wondered about his very young wife. “Winter is coming, so they are a lot of trouble. I knew to put away good grass for those in our community. While your parents did right in giving you that grove, I doubt you and your wife will have an easy winter even without the concern of a horse.”
“Good. My wife told me that she was pregnant, and that we would need money and not a horse.”
Just thinking out loud I asked, “Why would they want us to take horses?”
“I don’t know, but Kairsy told me not to take the horse.”
“We might need to advise the others in the same way.”
No mention of horses was made as we grouped together before heading off. Lord Felther and Lord Avell counted us off, then spoke of only desiring to make a show of force before winter to assure our enemies of our strength so they would not think to challenge us should they find themselves needing provisions during any harsh weather. I listened to the words thinking them to be only said to give comfort to the others in the community, as my thought of gaining horses or money to mean we would actually being heading off to do something else.
We did head to Buramergt. I considered this a good thing, as they did have a history of disturbing us in the midst of winter. What became a show of force turned into a major attack upon a lord’s private storehouse when the Privileged showed up. As we found ourselves able to take some whiskey, we were encouraged to head to another place.
Albroth declared, “Come on, men! Not only fine things, but horses to bring them home on!”
I felt that I knew how my wife, and Previn’s wife, knew of the horses when Lord Avell said, “That is what I want to hear! To come home sitting on a fine horse like a true noble!”
“Oh, indeed! I promise all of you men that you will find yourselves with great wealth! COME ON!”
Once again I noticed something odd about the land we charged through. The trees changed, as did the type of ground. The architecture of the place we advanced upon was not like anything I had seen before. What came from these wooden huts were goat people, while those we fought last time were dog-like in appearance. As with the others they however showed little ability in combat. We destroyed and slaughtered them. While no one spoke against us taking anything, after we had secured a victory the Privileged directed us to a barn speaking of us claiming the horse we would desire.
“Uh, Albroth,” I said, “I’ll take money.”
I felt good hearing Priven say, “Yes, me too.”
Lord Felther said, “You raise animals, Nebard. Surely you know the value of a horse. What they will pay you will not be as much.”
I lifted my voice to say, “Friends, a horse is a lot of trouble. It takes special fodder. Most of you do not have a stall for a horse, and fewer still have stored up the proper fodder. It might be a lesser value, but with winter coming the money is a better decision.”
“You can eat a horse, Nebard. I have seen winters where no one will sell what they have, and you cannot eat money.”
That was something I had not thought of, so allowed, “If you need meat, take the horse.”
Most of my friends laughed and headed toward the barn, but I heard a couple more mention that their wives had also told them to take the money. Others however spoke of their wives bragging on how wonderful they would look coming back on a horse. That bothered me, as it said that all the ladies we brought back knew we were going to be offered horses. That had me want to look at the horses, but hearing those of the Privileged mention the payments for those of us that wanted money I headed toward doing what my wife told me to do.
I heard the voices of ladies speak their pleasure in seeing their men return riding horses. The sounds bothered me, so I was a little reluctant to walk up to Eashae and only drop a pouch of coins into her hands. It really disturbed me when tears came to her eyes, and I heard her voice ask a question I did not want to hear.
“You took the money?”
Fear of the truth had me only voice it softly, “It’s what you told me to do, Eashae.”
She threw her arms around my neck while declaring, “Our child will love you, Husband! I… I… I will… also,” she paused then finally said, “love you.”
Those last two words came out dryly spoken. I was glad to hear them, although concerned in the manner they were said. Before I could think about things with my wife, I heard the words from another lady.
“Thank you.” I turned to see the young wife of Priven curtsey to me as she stammered out some sounds before replying as her husband directed her, “Nebard. I needed my husband to take the money. You supported him and took the money as well. Thank you.”
I looked to the youth as I asked, “You love your wife?”
“Yes!” he replied. “She’s great!”
“Get your mother to speak to my mother. You don’t have to say anything else, just get your mother to speak to my mother.”
“Of course, Nebard. I think they do, as they are training our wives.”
“Still, you tell your mother that. I am hoping that you do not need to tell her anything more. I am hoping that will be enough. Now, go home and enjoy your wife, Priven.”
I saw the youths move off. I really was not that much older than them, barely a couple of years, but I felt like an older brother to Priven. We really had not been friends, although I now sensed a need to help direct him. Wanting some privacy, I had my wife move off with me to our home.
No sooner did I close the door behind us than Eashae began removing her clothes. I saw what she was doing, and was pleased, but I felt a concern for my wife. I reached out to grab her. She turned with her chest presented in a manner as if to allow me to undo the laces holding certain masses, but I grabbed her shoulders to ask Eashae a very personal question.
“Why can’t you tell me that you love me?”
She did not evade the question, but a distant gaze came to her eyes as if she was seeing past me. “I am not here, Husband. Our child is here. Our child has a soul. I feel that when he is born that he will already be old, as I am using his soul to make contact.”
“Where is your soul?”
“Where you will be enticed to come after it. They do not just want to eat mine, but yours and our child’s as well. Do you think your mother can help?”
While I was concerned, the only reply I could make was, “She can do a lot. We need to at least alert her what to help us with.”
Eashae took the hands from her shoulders and moved them to her chest while saying, “I promise. I promise, I promise, I promise. I promise if you restore me that I will continue to do as I have. You will continue to be able to touch, to have, to command just like you can now. You love me, and I will be your obedient and submissive wife in the midst of that love. I promise, I promise, I promise.”
Thinking about what I had done with the Privileged, I asked, “This isn’t going to be easy, is it?”
“It depends on just how much help your mother can provide.”
Jelnaya and Makinor meet again, and get around to discussing what they are going to do.