To Bless Those Deserving
I could not say exactly why, but I found myself very displeased with things about this reality. Up to now I had been taking the problems of the journey with an easy level of tolerance. I had not been out of the city except for some vacations, and those were so controlled that I never felt that I was really roughing it. I had never ridden a horse. Everything I faced I thus accepted as being a new experience with certain pains and pleasures resulting from my lack of knowledge and conditioning. Actually those on board the boats were attempting to put me at ease, but for some reason I did not feel the desire to tolerate this experience as I had the others.
While I did not consider my discomfort to be the right attitude, I gained the impression that those attempting to satisfy me seemed to expect me to act in a rather distant and disgruntled state. I watched the dancers and listened to the music, and noticed that they focused on me. Those playing the instruments attempted odd musical interludes in what I felt were attempts to try a number of styles hoping for one that would have me smile or nod. The dancers would try really bizarre steps that I also felt would mix a number of routines seeking the one that would have me react positively. The food and drink brought to me always had a new smell or texture.
Looking to Jelnaya, I saw her lying back with her eyes seeming to find more enjoyment watching the birds than the entertainers. Turning to Steve, I found him standing with his hands crossed giving the impression that he was bored. While their attitudes did help me to not feel overly out of place, I still felt the need to lean over and speak to the other lady about how I was acting.
"Jelnaya, are we breaking any customs?"
"These are elementals, Doris. They don't have customs. They have styles of behavior, but they will change those with the wind or current. You need to stay alert."
Steve knelt behind me to say, "You should not feel any sympathy for these people. They represent the problem that made you come here. Your attitude should be for them to apologize and correct the problem with you."
I explained my feelings by saying, "Well, I don't feel my best, but I also don't want to be rude."
Jelnaya replied, "Well, Steve is your lawyer, Doris. He is paid to talk. The fact that he is staying quiet means that he feels no need to talk, which means you have nothing to worry about."
Steve simply said, "Yes, Doris. Trust me to know my job. Do what you can to deal with the boat ride. We should be at the docks within the hour."
We all turned our heads as Pishau said loud enough to be heard, "Dame Jelnaya would kill me, so it will not be done."
The one that now spoke appeared as a common ship worker, although I remembered being told that all on board were elementals of some kind. "Why should you care about your master's bodyguard?"
"Because my master's bodyguard is my lady's future superior. My lady is important, because the ones that support her are even more important than her."
Suddenly the crewman dropped as a pool of water, and as Jelnaya moved to retrieve her dagger she said, "Pishau, no need to explain things. We are not here to be friendly. You however did act properly, and I suggest that you continue to do so."
Steve asked, "He wanted to drug Doris?"
Jelnaya picked up a carafe of wine, then sniffed it before answering, "Calm her. I am suspecting that Doris was not to be Ubremander’s first, or only, wife."
"I want to say that I disagree with that, Jelnaya. I am doubting that Ubremander has any real experience with women – definitely human women."
"You know the rule on that, Steve: don't cloud your judgment with preconceived ideas."
He simply nodded before rising to again stand with his arms crossed. Jelnaya returned to where she had been reclining. I however could not simply allow that the things happening around me were my fault.
I softly asked Jelnaya, "I don't see how all of this resulted from the spell I cast."
She replied, "If we did, we would probably have different attitudes about this. Honestly, there is a lot that does not make sense. All we are doing right now is maintaining some standards and clarifying our position. What we hope will happen is that Ubremander then does his part to present himself in a manner that explains his actions."
Jelnaya then turned to further provide me with some background. "You have to understand, Doris, that I am usually working around people who fully understand who and what I am. I am usually called in to deal with some army or grand monster. I however demanded that Fergush give me everything he granted to Great-uncle Ferrigote. He and Grandfather Terish had all sorts of adventures. I thus am here enjoying the fact that this is something different."
I had to ask, "Do you think that Ubremander thought I was important?"
"I believe he had something else driving him other than simply being horny. Still, this is not the time for supposing things about him. We are arriving at our destination. Let us wait and see what truths will present themselves to us."
Hearing the sounds of the sailors yelling to others, I realized that we were coming to shore. I was rather glad of that. While I had not truly suffered any sea sickness, I still had not felt my best. I however heard Jelnaya giving instructions to Steve to assure things about how we would arrive on shore.
Going from the boat to my horse I did not consider the most comfortable of choices. A coach had been provided, and riding in something more like a vehicle I would have preferred. I however understood the philosophy of continuing to present myself as my own woman, so I climbed back into the saddle of my horse while finding some amusement in seeing everyone uncomfortable in having our slaves gain the coach for their transport.
Steve stayed beside me and simply instructed me to smile as Jelnaya had her horse wander about with her speaking to people and acting as if she was the one invited to town. The fact that people were along the road disturbed me. I found myself wondering if Ubremander intended to make me his queen. The citizens appeared poor, although clean. Considering some of the ways his people had treated me, or expected to treat me, I wondered what quality of life the regular citizens had. I saw something of those acting as maintaining control of the crowds, and asked Steve about those in the town.
"Are any of the police humans?"
He did not look around, although his answer stated that he had been studying things around him. "I doubt it. Most of the people are."
"Do you think Ubremander wanted me to help him relate to his human citizens?"
"As Jelnaya told you, this is not the time for suppositions. We watch and learn all the facts we can."
It appeared that the crowds parted ahead. What I realized was that there was a wide expanse with the people just continuing to stand at the sides of the thoroughfare. I did see a grand structure beyond the open area, although a line of horsemen in what appeared to be a type of military regalia tried to block my sight.
Jelnaya had stopped and sat on her horse while twirling the drahaberd, and as I rode up I heard Steve ask, "Disappointed?"
She rode back to set her horse beside mine before asking, "How about you, Doris?"
Considering my reason for being here, I asked, "Do you see Ubremander?"
"I don't. Steve?"
He smiled while saying, "I assume these soldiers will part for us should we ride forward." Seeing Jelnaya simply twirl the drahaberd, he then instructed, "Doris, ride first."
I turned to see our slaves. I told Rosemary and Pishau to simply stay in their place until they heard us give them other instructions, then signaled my mount to start moving forward. It took almost cautious steps at first, but I then decided it was time for something to happen and I snapped the reins. The horse began a confident canter, and I turned to smile at my slaves as the line of mounted military parted before me.
Gates made of metal bars between two great stone pillars sealed the courtyard of the great edifice before me. I watched as men worked a couple of cranes in moving the central pillars necessary in opening the way. Wondering if I would be entering a castle, a palace, or a prison I rode through the gates to the doors I saw ahead of me.
There were no steps up to what I considered the front portals. I did see in the rock wonderful designs, although could only imagine whether they were hieroglyphs or simply works of art. There were few windows, and definitely no balconies. Still wondering if this was a place of government or a home, I watched as a multitude of people rushed out to bow or curtsey. Still wondering when Ubremander would make an appearance, I heard instructions from Steve about how to proceed to the portals.
"Ignore the servants, but just go on inside."
I replied, "I would think that to be a little rude."
"If you planned on marrying Ubremander, I would agree."
Accepting those words, I had my horse stride up to within about ten yards from the front doors. As I dismounted, I told my slaves to continue to follow me. Jelnaya also dropped from her horse while telling me that we were not going to be separated. As a group we proceeded to the front doors.
No sooner did I enter the building than I saw a number of people dressed in very good clothes with one of them saying, "This is not how things are done."
Steve quickly replied, "We completely agree, and have come with Lady Doris to assure a proper restitution of the crimes done. Should you be willing to consider making amends, I will gladly begin reading off the charges we hold Ubremander accountable for. Let me say that any graciousness bestowed until restitution is made will not count in his favor, so it is recommended that our grievances be quickly recognized."
A voice from the back declared, "I believe you have completely misunderstood the situation."
"We have not come with preconceived demands. We did not send messengers ahead with warnings to have certain payments ready upon our arrival. Honestly, we do not know Ubremander, so are willing to hear him out. Still, our attitudes toward him are presently not good, and for our complaints to be dismissed could seriously hurt any future relations with Ubremander."
One of the ladies at the head of the crowd said, "This is not what we expected, but we must continue."
Jelnaya declared, "No, as that is why I came. To assure that Doris did not become a victim to the blind stubbornness of pig-headed officials, I came to present another unstoppable force. Since I am armed with something other than words, I presently believe that my unstoppable force would put an end to your unstoppable force."
I saw an elderly man step up from behind others, then ask, "Dame Doris, would you really be in favor of carnage?"
I replied, "I really did not know Jelnaya until this journey. From what I knew of her family, could not really say that I originally liked the idea of traveling with her. However, since knowing her she had not forced anything upon me. When she made decisions, she always acknowledged that I could make others. I am however here because Ubremander did force things upon me. If I feel that anyone has things to learn, if anyone is to suffer, it is thus not Jelnaya. I thus give Jelnaya the same graciousness she has bestowed upon me. She may make her own decision about how to act."
And the choice of actions does not get any more simple to decide.