To Bless Those Deserving
I actually went back to my room and changed clothes before going out. Grandfather Terish always wore rather colorful outfits, even though he usually did the underhanded stunts. He taught me a lot about being sneaky with one of the lessons being that the clothes were for those not looking for trouble, or for those with a set mentality about what sneaky people would be wearing. He could be somewhere he was not supposed to be doing something he was not supposed to be doing, and wave at people with them waving back and not sounding an alarm. One time I was certain he was using magic, but he assured me that if he had used magic that the sentries would have been alerted. While it still seemed a little preposterous to me, I dressed up in pretty clothes to go out and perform a covert operation.
The first thing I did was climb on the roof. This was actually an easy thing to do, as there were battlements at the top of the structure with soldiers patrolling along the perimeter of the building. I simply found the staircases up, and went up the risers until reaching the roof.
A guard looked surprised to see me, and I was surprised to see him, but luckily I spoke first. “You cannot be comfortable up here.”
That statement had him react by stopping whatever he was going to say, then simply asking, “Ma’am?”
“You’re a water elemental. You would think they would put air elementals up here.”
“No, ma’am, as in wanting to be below we look down. The same argument goes for the air elementals you will see around the base of the castle.”
I moved to the battlements while saying, “Well, I just want to look. Never been to this land.”
“Don’t know what you can see up here.”
“I don’t know either. Still, heights don’t scare me.”
In case you are wondering, I did have my weapons on me. My sword was in its scabbard. The drahabard was wrapped in cloth, but its shape on my back should have been obvious. I found myself wondering about what my Grandfather Terish would say about how I managed things.
The guard said, “I am going to make a circuit, ma’am. Walking around yourself should allow you enough of a view.”
I thanked him then started seeing what I could. Indeed I found the information I wanted to gain. I thus put into motion the second rule my grandfather had taught me. I did not hang around. By the time the guard was returning from his circuit, I was on my way to my room.
The soldier appeared shocked, but he died as a special dagger went into his neck. By the time I reached the door he was guarding, my drahabard was out. I picked up the dagger, killed another soldier, then reduced to water the others in the room.
Since they were water elementals, I looked to Pishau and asked, “Are you all right?”
With a shocked expression, she replied, “Me? They did not come here for me.”
Doris said, “They were saying they were to take me somewhere.”
I moved to shut the door, then softly informed her, “I would say that they would have taken you to Ubremander. However, that would have involved you, us, in whatever is going on.”
“This does not involve us?”
“No. In fact it works in our favor to get us out of here.”
I exited the room to only go to my door and call out Filly. I then had her and Rosemary work to pick up the uniforms and stack them outside Doris’ door. After having the dryads help me mop up the water, I then sat in a chair, told Filly and Rosemary to rest, then called out to Pishau to serve us something to drink.
Doris accepted a glass of wine, then asked, “Do we tell Steve?”
“Not right now,” I answered. “Right now we wait.”
“And what are we waiting for?”
“Ubremander to realize that you are not coming. He should then come himself, or send a polite lackey. The other option is that he does not come at all. I am leaning toward the third, the most boring, option.”
Doris actually laughed before saying, “Yes. I have to say that I am not having a good time either.”
“When you are dealing with things magic, it is however best to allow the other side the first move. You do not plan defenses, but your own attacks. Still, it is an ineffective strike if your opponent is not where you are making your attack. That really applies if you do not even know who your actual opponent is. Right now we are needing to determine exactly what type of fight we are fighting. I might be the champion of a warrior god, but that does not mean that I simply fight. I assure you that I fight to win.”
Doris sat down in a nearby chair, then said, “Well, I did what I did for advice. How about you providing some, Jelnaya? What are your opinions about magical occupations?”
I actually felt that I was the worst person to gain advice on occupations from. My career decision had been rather extreme. I however had to admit that I had grown up among worlds that used magic. My parents’ world did have a high level of technology, but magic was there as a form of energy that could be manipulated. The other realities that my relatives inhabited also made use of magic. I thus had to admit that I knew of many who did make their living from the manipulations of arcane power, so spent time speaking with Doris about certain occupations.
Steve finally showed up, but when Pishau opened the door he did not step in. “Any reason I have a number of uniforms outside your door?”
I answered, “The same reason we did not go shopping.”
“Scared of being attacked?”
“Hoping this situation would play out.”
Steve now came into the room. He looked around as if suspicious that there were still threats. I directed him to the still damp sections of the carpet. He finally grabbed a chair, and came to place it near where Doris and I were sitting.
He then asked, “What are your conclusions right now, Jelnaya?”
I answered, “I cannot understand the entertainment. I feel if I could get a handle on that, I could start piecing this puzzle together.”
“My thoughts are not exactly the same, but I can understand you. What are you expecting to accomplish by staying here?”
“What have I accomplished?” An expression of surprised crossed Steve’s face, which had me smile as I said, “The Ubremander we saw last night was a stooge. He’s dangerous, although more of an annoyance. If we didn’t have those of importance going off, I doubt he would have made the play at abducting Doris. Still, he did make the play, so he is not satisfied with his place.”
“Okay, I have to give you credit for thinking things through. Now, let me bounce some decisions off you.” He waited for me to nod before saying, “The play for Doris was intentional.”
“Oh, certainly. There is a power play going on here. The control of the elementals. The regulation of the society. The entertainment was supposed to coerce Doris, but failed heavily. That is why I want to know about the choice of entertainment.”
“That response tells me that you don’t know where I am going with my thoughts. That was a seed, Jelnaya. The intent of a seed is to get an agent into another reality. Whoever is making the power plays is hoping to gain control of our world.”
“Seeds and the agents they produce just are not that good, Steve. At the best what is gained is a contact. Still, our world does have some magic in its physics, and some reputable magic institutions. Our world would be a good one to have some contact with.”
Doris interjected the question, “So, if I had gone with the soldiers to Ubremander, he would have tried to convince me to carry the seed?”
I answered, “If he is playing their game, yes. He might simply have been horny, and hoped to impress you in another way. I mean, if the dances and dramas did not influence you, maybe you liked the direct approach.”
“That would not have gotten my cooperation.”
“And would have exposed him for the fake he might be. I actually did him a favor by stopping the abduction.”
Steve stopped us right there and had the two of us explain the incident with the soldiers. Neither one of us had much to tell, but we explained things best we could. Steve however had to stop me as I explained my actions to get the guard on the battlements to give me time to watch.
“I wouldn’t brag on that, Jelnaya. You are a lovely lady. I would consider it a fault if any man did not honor your presence. Let me also say that he might have been the one that alerted Ubremander that Doris was undefended.”
Yes, I wanted to speak something in response, but I held myself back. One lesson that my immortal relatives were quick to present to me was that my body would not age. That meant the urges of youth would continue to drive my emotions. While most had lifestyles that demanded its own control over certain feelings, as an eternal warrior I could find a release of sudden desires to cause something I would ever regret. It was hard to hold myself back at times, especially in something as harmless as a conversation, but experience was showing me that it was usually the wisest thing to do.
Doris finished her description of what happened between her and the soldiers. I believe Steve was relieved to hear that her recollection of things agreed with my own step-by-step recount of events. When it was all finished, he sat a little more forward than he usually did when he asked his next question.
“Jelnaya, if they ask us to leave, do we?”
I paused because I really did not want to say the proper thing. “I believe we must. We have not received an apology, but honestly they did not stall in removing the seed. If they ask, we probably should be satisfied.”
She also hesitated before giving an answer. “Yes. I mean, I have gotten the message: magic is dangerous.”
“Listen, Doris, what Kallotech can offer is for a professor from Bellesdun University to speak with you. That is real easy. Jelnaya’s father, mother, and both grandfathers went to Bellesdun. They have connections, and can have the contact come from a source that has no obvious connection to Kallotech. If you decide to attempt a degree in magic, we can then supply a grant.”
“I really would like some serious, practical advice.”
“I understand.” Steve must have seen me shaking my head, because he asked, “You disagree, Jelnaya?”
“No,” I replied, “but simply making a private comment about the foolishness of some people.” Before he could ask, I went ahead and answered, “We have a whole group of soldiers coming to us.”
And strange things begin to happen.