To Bless Those Deserving
I have to admit that things did not sound like a war. There were no marching of boots or explosions. Things actually sounded quiet.
Steve took time to prepare what appeared to be a really nasty weapon. He admitted that it was one of Kallotech’s deadliest close unit devices as he looked through some smaller cases holding ammunition. He finally settled upon a set of bullets that he said cost about ten dollars each. After that he sat back and tried to nap, which I did as well, but neither one of us drifted off for more than a few minutes at a time.
I believe hearing the knock did awake me, but the sound of Steve chambering a round in his personal weapon had me open my eyes. I saw him hand me a pistol as the knocking sounded again. I did not like the feel, but practiced holding it as a sound of the lady that had spoken to us could be heard.
“Doris, are you in there?”
Steve replied, “We’re safe, but you’re not.”
“I can appreciate the advice. I however cannot say –“
The sound of someone tampering the window was quickly followed by the nasty weapon jumping to point in that direction. The burst of it ejecting the bullet actually was not as thundering as I expected. The sound of the glass shattering seemed much louder.
While the sounds were not extreme, I cannot say that I heard anyone react to being shot. It thus took me by surprise when Steve began cursing. He yelled at the lady that she better not appear threatening as he quickly turned off the nasty weapon. I did hear him ordering me to follow him to the door, but his words were almost drowned out by the sound of the outer wall to the bedroom collapsing.
Steve had one arm around the nasty weapon that had fired in the room, but with the other he pointed a handgun at those in the hallway. The lady raised her hands. The soldiers simply held their place. Seeing the outer wall of the bedroom completely fall away, Steve told me and our slaves to follow as the lady directed him down the hallway.
He asked, “Where is Jelnaya?”
The lady answered, “Right now we are unsure of a lot. However, you are a guest. The fact things are happening as they are state that you are not in the wrong. If you were in the wrong, the one attacking could have just walked in on you.”
I had to ask, “Is Jelnaya alive?”
Steve answered, “She has to be. If she wasn’t, whoever that is would not need to be in such a rush to get at us.”
The lady said, “I have to agree. Baron Pechand is usually a most regulated person. Something however has him very agitated.”
Instead of leading us further, she stopped as a name ripped through the corridors. “SNERARA! Our puppet has turned traitor! Let me have those visitors, as I need them to protect us from those who now have the loyalty of my conjured figurehead.”
Instead of looking to Steve or me, the lady turned to fixate on each of the guards with us. She then shook her head before whispering some orders to the military. Steve told me to follow him and the guards, and I did as the lady stayed back I assume to speak to the one desiring us.
As we came to another door, the lawyer asked, “She was checking if you guys had turned.”
The one with the most decorations on his uniform replied, “Yes. Honestly, we want this society to succeed as much as the humans. Our problem is that it troubles us as little seeing the humans fight with each other as it does them to see us with our feuds. Still, you are not our enemy. We recognize that.”
“Thank you. Once in this room, I however am setting this weapon back up. Don’t come in without my approval.”
“And I would advise you to not come out without approval.”
“It’s a deal. I wish you guys the best.”
The soldiers returned the statements before unlocking the door. It surprised me, and I believe Steve as well, to see a rather elegant room. There however was no furniture, but a lot of pillows scattered on a richly carpeted floor with marble basins along the walls. The slaves told us that they would make us feel welcome in the room. The soldiers admitted this was a room more fitting an elemental, but that humans could find comfort in it as well.
While the ladies did try to make us feel comfortable, Steve continued to be agitated as he set down the weapon. I trusted him to desire our protection, so made certain that the slaves heard what he said about warnings about where not to go in the room. Finally, Steve took the glass of wine offered to him before asking Maney a question.
“Why do you still serve? Can you sense that Jelnaya is still alive?”
She replied, “No, but as a divine champion it is simply wise for me to serve until assured that the bond I have with her is no more. I also understand my service to Fellota, so would like to think one of you would help to restore her.”
“I can accept both of the things you said. Okay, the bullets this thing is presently loaded with are aligned with earth. As water, they should not bother you.”
“They will trouble me, but with me warned I can deal with them.”
“Good. Let me apologize, but I might send you out in front of the weapon. I will have my reason. You however can complain to Jelnaya later, but should hear her speak of her own times in front of this weapon. I was not there to witness those occasions myself, but I heard about them.”
I had to ask, “Jelnaya stepped in front of that weapon?”
Steve laughed, then said, “It fires at the rate of one per second. Its purpose is to take out snipers, so was built for extreme accuracy. One hertz is a slow rate to Jelnaya however, and she danced around the shots. All the sniper decoys were destroyed, but those watching clapped for Jelnaya before making their orders. I am told that some tyrants have those that fall into disfavor attempt to dance in front of one of these machines the way they saw Jelnaya do.”
Really not wanting to continue that topic, I asked, “Why did you choose earth?”
That question got me another lecture on magic theory. I had already heard the details of the four elements. Where Steve took the lesson was in arcane theory using those elements for damaging others. At the end of the lecture, he felt able to say that he had chosen correctly, because if he had not hurt the one coming through the window there would not have been the response of pulling down the entire wall.
I heard his final words, but had to say, “He did not sound hurt to me.”
“Definitely sounded annoyed. Those who think themselves big and bad do not get upset when things are going well for them.”
“That is true for most people.”
He glared at me for a moment, then his features softened as he explained, “When you are dealing with people of power, you have to assume different standards. They will work on appearances. Most people will scream with pain, but powerful figures will want to return, double if possible, any discomfort upon those that troubled them. Considering what he was trying to do to us, I have to believe that I really hurt him.”
I believe that he waited for me to comment. Honestly, I had nothing to say. To me the traits he described matched cartoon villains, although I had heard stories of the atrocities done by some real leaders of some war-ravaged countries. I actually hoped that we could speak on a better topic, but not hearing me comment had Steve begin speaking further.
“I hate to say that I have some experience with what I am saying. It happened early in my career when I was married to Darlene.” He paused, then his eyes locked on me as he added, “The nurse you hear Jelnaya speak about. She kept wanting to say that whatever I was experiencing was not as bad as what she faced daily. She was my wife, and I did not want to speak to her of witnessing people killed in front of me. I thus kept it in, and the marriage failed. I then hoped to completely keep separate my work and home life, so married Elizabeth, but she felt she could also keep secrets from me. Darlene and I have promised each other that we would not compare our lives, but would simply love each other while allowing each to speak about whatever is troubling their minds.”
I felt that he had turned the conversation to a good topic, and to assure it stayed there I spoke. “My parents say that it has helped their marriage that they both have basically the same job. While they want me to be a cop, the truth is that I do not know a cop that I would want to marry. I thus want to work in a field where I feel that I could share it with someone. My parents won’t like me saying this, but as extreme as these events are, I would like to be able to talk about this with someone.”
“I would then recommend a degree at Bellesdun. Among the student body you should find someone who would be more than interested in your stories, and should be someone with stories, or dreams, that you would like to hear.”
Those words were really not ones I wanted to hear, so replied, “I am not going to college to find a husband.”
“I am sorry for suggesting that.”
Really not wanting to get mad at him, I asked, “Is there something else we can speak about?”
“Actually, there is something we need to speak about.”
Steve reached for a case, then pulled out his notebook. He then spoke to the two nymphs about the location of their source. It was in that conversation that I gained some acceptance that I would remain a slave owner. None of them spoke of wanting a different life. What they seemed to desire was some security to their lives. What they had been hoping for in this developing society was actually some end to the chaos. The words from Maney and Pishau stated that no elemental society lasted, but would shift in quality according to the whims of whoever presently held dominance. The ladies all sought from Jelnaya and me some consistency. I mentioned that my life was in flux, but that I did have options to see to providing a life for them. Steve assured them that what I said was true, and that on our journey back home a discussion of their future would be seriously handled.
Pishau refilled my glass while saying, “I am looking forward to serving you.”
I replied, “It could get really boring.”
“It has been really boring with the non-boring parts being scary. You take away the scary, and I will always be glad for the life you provide.”
I heard some distant rumbles, then said, “Yes, I don’t like scary either.”
Well, Jelnaya does well with scary.