To Face the Ugly Deed
Onathia was correct about Makinor. He was a big baby about moving between worlds. He complained and shouted erratic sounds that had me wondering about his mentality. In the really difficult part of our journey where huge beetles would flip on their backs to walk as if the air provided more traction than the ground I heard him mention that the horse was doing well. I guess in realizing that an animal could tolerate the odd terrains and landscapes, Makinor stopped acting like a big baby and began to acclimate to his situation.
When I allowed a pause for each of us to gain a couple more hours of rest, he had me spar with him. It was not an intense workout. Mostly he just checked certain moves against me. I was impressed that someone associated with She-Who-Loves would even spend time in simulated combat. Saying that of course had him spar with me on his terms.
“Are you saying that you do not play with love, Jelnaya?”
I easily returned, “No. I am brutally honest with those that court me. Most are not prepared for some of the things I do at all.”
“But you do want someone?”
“I expect someone. I however consider it a fact of life. I will get married. Onathia is being warned even now to find a person. I will love that person, and expect him to love me, but more in a practical way. I have examples. I know a number of immortal couples. Onathia is thus not without standards. I however accept that whoever I get will be as rare and wonderful as my Grandfather Terish with Grandmother Straekin, Great-uncle Ferrigote with Great-aunt Dirchein, or even Neselle with my Uncle Althery.”
As if I had misspoke, Makinor returned, “You mean your Aunt Neselle?”
“Well, now she is. I however knew her before she married my uncle, and she is younger than me.”
“Okay, Jelnaya. I guess I am the same way about fighting. I know to expect to do it, but it is not what I spend my days planning to do.”
The second part of our journey went with more conversations with Makinor. He had completely calmed himself about the travel. He even started holding conversations with Sonjy seeming to not be bothered by me laughing at him.
Arriving at our destination, the skunk people did not seem pleased to see us. Seeing the distortion of the barn set in a separate existence, I did not bother with the locals. Having one lift his leg in order to spray his musk upon me had me make a quick move to grab the fur beneath his jaw. I saw intense concern as I spoke to him with displeasure clearly in my voice.
“Do you see my hair? This hair tells you to fear me. I am very dangerous. I will not flee. You need to flee. You need to turn and run and hide.”
The only thing that stopped me from lecturing the skunk man further was Makinor yelling, “Jelnaya, I believe trouble is coming!”
I replied, “I’m going into this barn. Do what you feel is best.”
The conversation with Fergush inside the barn was enjoyable. He tried to remind me that this was Onathia’s mission. I however told him about what I saw wrong with the wolves, and heard him give me permission to wipe them out. Hearing Makinor call me, I let Fergush knew that I was going to kill those on the outside of the barn as well.
He replied, “Onathia reminded me that you were the one actually requested, Jelnaya. Do what you feel you must.”
I had killed a lot of creatures, but I found those leading the men to be slightly odd. My impression was something like living vampires. They definitely were not human. Killing them just dispersed their physical form. When I peered through the veil between worlds opened by the non-physical essences returning to their source, I saw a massive number of them. Wondering about the true extent of this conflict, I found myself stepping back to give Makinor authority.
While I had been killing the odd humanoids, it seemed that my fellow divine champion had been gaining some rapport with the men. That freed me up to assure the location of those I marked as our enemy. I then put on a show of again contacting the locals and getting what answer I could from them. The story of them not selling their souls to sellers of dreams I felt was possibly some good information, and was glad to hear Makinor speak of appreciating what was said as well. He then proved having gained some control over the men by directing them in a manner that we could bring them home.
The young men rushed through the portal speaking of being glad to be home, although the two elders began screaming of everyone to flee causing me to scream back, “DIDN’T YOU HEAR THE SKUNK PEOPLE? They had fled, and thought themselves safe! You don’t fight and you get slain!”
One of the young men who had come back with us stepped up to say, “We could not understand the skunk people.”
That had others in the community ask what we were talking about. It seemed that the story told to them was of the group just going out to fight some wolves. That brought out other lies, and soon the whole community had gathered wanting to know a lot of things. I let Makinor take charge of the community while I faded back to simply assure some protection.
As in the case of lies, what answers were given just opened up the evidence for further lies. Things seemed to get out of hand when specifics about some ladies brought back into the community were mentioned. Something about love was said, then Makinor mentioned his goddess, and when it was brought out the evidence for him and I being present the women of the community rushed to hug him along with some coming out to grab me and pull me into the crowd.
Having everyone look at me, an elder lady demanded, “Tell us your name.”
I did as requested. “Jelnaya Minella Dozzrine. I am the champion of He-Who-Fights.”
Makinor said, “She is actually the one Quafrey went to gain. Quafrey is however a goddess of love, so she ended up speaking with She-Who-Loves, my goddess, instead of He-Who-Fights.”
The elder lady said, “We probably do need to fight.”
I replied, “I saw a huge number of these beings. They however may be like you with most innocent, a good number not able to fight, and just a few being those who need to be called to justice. I would like Quafrey to let me know the extent of this threat.”
They had me speak of myself. I told them of my family. They had heard of the one that rode a centaur, which was my paternal grandfather. They listened as I spoke of my paternal grandmother, then of my great-uncle and great-aunt. I spoke of others who I was related to, or associated with. Strangely, they knew of Neselle. Considering the type of communities the young men had been going to raid, I had to accept that they had a connection to worlds with intelligent animals. Feeling that I heard enough to explain why I had been sought, I spoke of moving the conversation along.
A female elder pulled a very young lady through the crowd, then had her kneel before me while commanding, “Look into her eyes! Tell me, divine champion, what you see.”
I did not speak to them, but to another. “Fergush?”
From the looks of those around me I could tell they did not hear the voice that replied, “Go ahead, Jelnaya. It is their ways. You need to work with them.”
Not really knowing what I was doing, I knelt before the young lady and looked into her eyes. The first thing that bothered me was the poorly applied cosmetics. Even with my past, I had learned things about improving the appearance of my face. It almost had me laugh finding a lady who had less concern for applying makeup than me. I then saw a depth in her eyes that let me know it was not a lack of appreciation for her looks, but an absence of everything I felt a woman should be.
A lady appeared before me. She actually had the poise, the elaborate hairstyle, the well proportioned physique, and perfect face I expected from Onathia. She curtsied to me, then stepped aside while having a hand direct me on. I felt myself fall, then saw another lady appear before me looking like the one who I knelt before with one hand freed from thick gray stands reaching out for me.
Not understanding the situation at all, I relied upon my training to direct my actions. Only knowing that I would be at fault for not trying, I reached out a hand to her. Feeling a clasp that told me the lady would not let go, I only hoped that things would continue to work in her favor. Having perfected my knowledge of my own body, I had my other hand go for a dagger. I felt the grip of the small weapon, then directed the blade upon the woman to cut at the gray strands. Having a family that regularly moved between worlds, I had access to wonderful weapons. It did help the dagger that the strands were taught, but they still cut a lot easier than I expected. Feeling the lady come free, I had the hand with the weapon join with the other one to assure a good grip on the lady. Not understanding the situation, all I could do was yell for her to hang on as I felt us pulled away.
I heard gasps, cries, and screams as I felt the weight of the young lady come upon me. I found myself gulping for air while attempting to come to terms with what happened. As I regained my composure, I however saw another young lady set before me with an elder lady telling me to do the stunt again.
“You need to keep praying,” I said. “I don’t really know what happened, but I know Quafrey was being active in making it happen.”
I heard the elder relay the command to those around her before she and others knelt. I looked into the eyes of this young lady wondering if duplicating the previous experience would happen. I still did not understand, but I had the same type of situation when I felt myself pulled into the orbs of the one before me. This lady was fully bound, but I descended upon her already gaining the dagger in my hand. I wrapped a hand about the head of the lady as I cut her free. Feeling her slipping from the bonds, I had my other hand go under a shoulder to assure that she did not fall from my grasp. As I felt the weight of this girl come upon me I heard loud pleas to Quafrey along with songs of praise.
As another girl was set before me, I felt a hand on my back as the voice of Makinor said, “Assuring you of strength, Jelnaya.”
“I can do this,” I replied, “as long as it stays like this. Let Onathia know to help Quafrey keep things like this.”
“I am told that you need to keep at it, as things will not stay the same.”
“I am the champion of He-Who-Fights. A good fight is never a short one.”
“Love is forever, Jelnaya. I’ll be here supplying you with strength.”
I did not know how many ladies I would need to free, but I dove into the eyes of the next one determined to see the battle through. Most of the ladies were still completely bound, but a couple more had a hand free with one having both lifted. She was the troublesome one, as her grip upon me almost prevented me from being able to cut away the strands that still held her. Finally, after freeing another lady I found myself surrounded by people hugging me while making sounds of joy even as their faces showed them with tears and I knew this fight was over.
And the people begin to realize just how bad their situation is.