To Bless Those Deserving
It actually surprised us that they did knock. We had sent our slaves to a far corner. At the knock, after a surprised expression was passed between us, Jelnaya signaled for Pishau to return from the other slaves and advance to open the door.
Instead of a greeting, Snerara said, “Lady Jelnaya, you could have informed us of this.”
I assumed she pointed to the uniforms, as Jelnaya replied, “They were not worth bragging about.”
“Well, I’m glad that you are safe. I was coming to supply you with men to protect you.”
“I was feeling that you might need protection from me.”
I did move enough to now see that Snerara had indeed referred to the uniforms. Looking around Jelnaya I could see that Snerara looking to the side of the door I assumed to estimate how many soldiers Jelnaya had killed. Snerara signaled to a soldier to collect the wet attire, then turned to face the one at the door.
“Lady Doris is our guest. I accept that you are her bodyguard, but actually you are our guest as well.”
“Well, presently, I am very uncertain who to trust, if anybody.”
Snerara actually sought to advance into the room, but did not push Jelnaya out of the way. Snerara then went to her tip-toes and craned her neck to look into the room. Strangely, she did not look to me. What she referred to in the room was something I really did not think she would care about.
“And you trust the slaves you gained from this land?”
“I have done what I could to give them reasons to trust me. They have also performed as desired, so I have had no reason to question their loyalty.”
“That cannot be said about you.”
While the words from Snerara were said as an accusation, Jelnaya kept her voice firm. “And yet here you are talking all nice to me. My loyalty is to Doris. I believe that I have made that clear to her and you.”
“Jelnaya, you cannot fight what is coming.”
“I’m going to have to, as my first action will be to remove whatever soldiers you leave here.”
It was a soldier with some distinguishing additions to his armor that said, “You can trust us, Lady Jelnaya. Still, I understand. I will put men at both ends of the hallway. When trouble comes, you will find them fighting the same opponents as you. Hopefully, that will allow you to focus on removing those who are really at fault.”
Jelnaya pointed to the soldier holding the wet uniform as she said, “Like those there?”
“I assure –“
Suddenly, an alarm sounded from something Steve carried on his person. As he pulled parts of a gun from his clothing, he moved his body in a manner of protecting me. Jelnaya yelled that she had the door secure even as Snerara and the officer stated that they were not our enemies. It seems that Steve’s device agreed, as he had me move away from the window as he assembled his gun.
What appeared as sparks played about the window, then I heard Jelnaya ask, “Protected yourself against lightning?”
Snerara answered, “Fire, really. Lightning is just part fire.”
Whatever was at the window kicked it. I thought it was slightly comical that instead of a grand explosive entrance, Ubremander had to physically clear out the opening. It did concern me that his arms and legs showed no damage from the metal frame or broken panes of glass. I thus was glad that Steve had moved me back as Ubremander floated into the room with an electrical glow showing on his body.
He looked around before declaring, “There is nothing you can do to stop me.”
Jelnaya glared at Snerara while saying, “Attack from behind, and this whole castle will die.” She then turned to stride upon Ubremander while stating, “Fergush, I am going to find out if this guy is a worthy opponent.”
The fight did not have Ubremander appear to be a threat at all. He put out a hand as if to stop Jelnaya’s initial strike, but found it almost completely removed. She did not stop, but immediate spun to send the other end of the drahabard into his neck. I believe what saved him was the flinch from feeling the pain from his hand, although the strike to a shoulder had to hurt. While I believe Ubremander now sought to use some of his elemental power, Jelnaya still did not stop in her attack. The end that had cut the hand went into Ubremander’s gut. Turning the drahabard this time had him fall to his knees, then he disappeared in an explosion.
Snerara advanced into the room while saying, “You probably should not have done that, Jelnaya. He now knows to be a little wary of you.”
“Honestly,” she replied, “he should have known that already.”
“Uh, yes, I guess so.”
“Where would he have gone to?”
The demand from Jelnaya seemed to alarm Snerara, although probably seeing the drahabard twirl as if to make another strike caused her to pause. “Probably where he should not.”
Hearing a loud, but distant explosion, had Snerara rush from the room. She only crossed the hallway to unlock a door on the other side. Going into that room, another apartment, she passed through some curtains to stop before a window. Jelnaya followed, as did the rest of us, but it was the officer who pulled aside the drapes so we all could see what Snerara referred to.
“Ubremander is attacking Baron Pechend, his creator. That is not good.”
Jelnaya asked, “Because he is winning or losing?”
“If Baron Pechend is weakened, then our control over the elementals weakens. If Ubremander winds up victorious, then he will gain immense power.”
“In other words, you are out of a job?”
Snerara turned to face the other lady as she explained, “I am not one of the bad guys, Jelnaya. This world has been almost wasted by the elementals. The only thing that saved us was that the elementals have natural oppositions to each other. Fire and water, earth and air, there are innate conflicts within the elements that can be used against them. There were periods when the elementals went at war with each other, and left those of us native to the world alone. That was when we regrouped. Baron Pechend gained the power to oppose the elementals, but instead of complete opposition we made pacts. As you have found out, air and water is quite prevalent around us. Part of the pact however was the promise of one of their own kind also gaining a position of authority. Ubremander was to represent that. Yes, he was to be only a figurehead, but he would be someone the elementals could identify with. What we, I’m talking humans, wanted was an understanding of the society. Elementals can be deadly simply because they do not understand us. Ubremander was created new, and we were instructing him in his place in our society along with knowledge of what differences he would need to take into account in properly officiating over our separate strengths and weaknesses.”
“So, your little baby is growing up and being rebellious?”
“He shouldn’t have anything to rebel against.”
Jelnaya turned to the officer, and asked, “What is your version of the facts?”
He answered, “Ubremander was made of parts of all four elements. There is thus natural opposition within him. The humans should have known that.”
“I assume you were in favor of one of your water lords?”
“Our request was that there be an authority over the water and an authority over the air. The throne of Ubremander would be ruled by a lord of the air.”
“I believe negotiations have turned in your favor. Your disagreement however is not with me, Doris, or Steve, or those connected to us.”
Before a reply could be made, more than an explosion was noticed from the distant estate. Clearly some type of magical battle was occurring. I believe to force a reply, Jelnaya sent an edge of her drahabard to the jaw of the elemental officer.
He calmly said, “Our disagreement is not with you, Dame Jelnaya, or Dame Doris, or anyone or anything attached to the two of you.”
She removed the weapon while saying, “That satisfies my mind. Steve?”
He said, “It would be wrong to force further negotiations upon a people who have their own dire struggles. All I want to say is that if further relations transpire, it better be on an entirely different matter, hopefully normal trade, and not anything stirring up the issues we are agreeing to leave undone.”
It was Snerara that replied, “That is very gracious and –“
The room suddenly was filled with a bright light. The man that appeared did not appear that old. While Snerara also did not show any age, I knew of methods women used to hide certain faults. The elder man who would work with her did show a number of features indicating the passing of years, and I had assumed Snerara to be comparable to him in experience. This man had light brown hair, although eyes dark enough that even with the brilliance around him I only noted black pools.
“Snerara, I – a divine champion. That is what I need.”
Suddenly, Jelnaya and the man disappeared. It took a few moments for my eyes to adjust from the brilliance to again only have normal light. Steve however pulled on an arm and was rushing me down the corridor before I could clearly see.
“Where are we going?” I had to ask.
“To my room,” Steve replied. “We need my weapons.”
“Why? We had an agreement.”
“Jelnaya gained the agreement. Not that it matters, as this place is at war. The best we can hope for is to be left alone.”
Talking and running really did not work well together. I thus went silent to simply go with the lawyer. He took me to another corridor, then down some stairs. I indeed saw a number of soldiers also rushing, so accepted that the tone of the situation had changed for the worse. We stopped running in order for Steve to retrieve something from his pocket. He tapped some commands and waited for everything to turn blue, then he had us enter a room together.
It was not a bad room. Nothing near the elegance of the apartment I had, but something comparable to most hotel accommodations. He moved to a weapon, then began disassembling it while signaling for me to sit. Wondering how bad things were, I did as directed.
Steve explained, “Yes, getting to our horses would be a good idea. However, hostilities are breaking out. It is best to wait until there is a clear understanding of the situation. An accidental death is still a death, so let us wait until the chances of an accident are slim. Right now we wait.”
I had to ask, “What about Jelnaya?”
“Jelnaya chose her life. She’s probably fine. It would not surprise me at all if she is the one that arrives and gives us the all-clear.”
“I don’t understand.”
Steve continued to work with his weapons. I saw him hand me the one that he had on his person. He then sat and began working with a larger weapon while talking.
“It is like Jelnaya was telling you. Gods have their systems. Some have set up a system involving magic. Elementals are however not part of the system. Gods are awesome, and it is their systems, so they have precedence in most matters. As you have seen, Jelnaya has pretty much been in control. Her problem however is that every deity establishes their own system, so the rules do change as she moves through the realities. She is probably right now learning certain clarifications and loopholes in the present system concerning her place. It is however best if we do not cause her any concerns. Just as everyone around is attempting to figure out their loyalties in this war, we need to allow Jelnaya the freedom to work out her own problems. I did pack some MREs, so we can last for a couple of days if we need to.”
That did not sound pleasant at all, so I asked, “Could you spend the time teaching me some magic?”
“With everything you have seen, you want to learn some magic?”
“That was the reason I took the chance with the summoning.”
“Let me get this gun readied, then teaching you some magic will be something to do as we wait things out.”
As you can expect, Jelnaya is not making things easy.