To Bless Those Deserving
Steve did not have his hand go to turn off the weapon when we heard the voice of Jelnaya come through the door, “Steve, Doris, are you all right?”
He answered, “We’re fine, Jelnaya.”
“How about my slaves?”
“They are fine as well.”
“Do you need anything?”
He rubbed the stubble on his jaw, but did not speak about us needing a bath. “We are getting hungry.”
“I’m hungry as well. You can either come with me, or I can have something brought to you.”
“I believe we could both use a bath.”
“Your room is good. Will you trust Doris coming with me?”
While he had been responding, Steve had simply sat in place without moving. I thought a question like that would have him check with me. He however did not move except to voice a response.
“Is it safe?”
“You know, we really don’t know. Doris should be, as we let Baron Pechend know just how much trouble we can inflict upon him. If he had tried to use Doris as a shied, he might have realized just how many ways he could die. Oh, Steve, did you hurt him? When I hurt him, he seemed to be suffering another wound about his left shoulder.”
Now he reached up to deactivate the weapon, then said, “You can open the door.”
Ubremander was with Jelnaya, and both spoke of the weapon. Not only the type of bullet loaded, but the events that occurred in Steve’s bedroom were discussed. Ubremander appeared as impressive up close as he had on the throne. His size was much more apparent, as his head almost touched the high ceiling. He however seemed to be friendly, and spoke to us in a soft, respectful manner.
Soldiers did accompany us, but Ubremander spoke of needing to prepare himself for a proper meal. I had no idea of what concerns an elemental might have. Looking to our slaves, the two dryads appeared to show some signs of being cooped up for hours, but the nymphs showed no sign of the period affecting their appearance. Jelnaya spoke of Ubremander needing to assure some basic details about the management of the castle, and not of him needing to handle any physical necessities.
Reaching the door to my room, Steve asked, “Are you sure Doris will be safe?”
Jelnaya replied, “Oh, his move to grab her was definitely the wrong tactic. Not only did he get hurt, but he should have realized that gaining her would not have helped his cause. Fergush is praising me, which is great, but his manner of doing so is letting me know that this is not over. While Doris is safe, the reason behind all this is still strong. Relax, and let me see this through.”
“Okay, but I want you to verify with your father that I deserve combat pay.”
“Verify? Tell you what, Steve, you write your bonus and I will sign off on it. We can then dare him to challenge it.”
In an almost apologetic voice, Steve explained, “I want a vacation, Jelnaya. I am talking about something to take my nurse and the children on. Something to let them know that I do plan on spending time with them.”
“You know your schedule, Steve. Make your plans, then tell father. If he argues, tell Balerk. If you then need to call me, it will be worth my while to come.”
“If anyone should know not to get on your bad side, it should be them. Okay, Jelnaya. I’m trusting you with Doris.”
She laughed, then explained, “Baron Pechend should also know not to get on our bad side. Still, he will be up to something, although I doubt it will include Doris.”
Jelnaya sent Steve to her room with instructions for Maney to go and retrieve what she could of his belongings from his room. Fellota was told to gain Jelnaya’s armor and a few other things. While the servants did their duties, she and I checked things in my room. There was no sign of any tampering, but we both spoke of feeling better having made the inspection. By the time we had finished, my slaves were saying that a bath was ready and Jelnaya’s was letting her know of their accomplishments. She told me to go ahead, as she was just going to do things to freshen up before putting on her armor. Hoping Steve would take his time preparing himself, we ladies did what we could to prepare for what might occur.
I was entertained listening to Jelnaya and Maney discuss being in front of the weapon Steve had been using. While the nymph had not actually been sent in front of the gun, she had imagined things. Jelnaya spoke of her experience, and it ended with me having to peek around the screen as she and Maney performed a little dance in the front of the room.
When I finished, Jelnaya used the bath water to simply wash away whatever had settled on her skin. She then put on her armor. As she did so, she mumbled certain prayers. I knew she was a champion of Fergush, so had only assumed the number of icons on her person were simply due to her service. Some of the things she said as she transferred talismans from the dress to her armor however spoke of there being a history behind them. I guess that she noticed me watching, as when she finished she made a comment about her actions.
“Great-uncle Ferrigote told me to have them incorporated into my weapons. I hide a lot of my weapons however, and I cannot hide things about my relationship with Fergush.”
I had to say, “I believe even without that hair that everyone would know who you represent.”
“I agree that the hair is a little over-the-top. Still, it doesn’t limit me. I was just as accepted walking around with Ubremander as I would be on a battlefield. Where it actually helps is that there is no way anyone can go around claiming to be me. It is not hard to find someone using Grandfather Terish’s name. I however once found someone claiming to be Great-uncle Ferrigote. He then tried to flee from the battlefield, and found himself facing me. Great-uncle Ferrigote heard about it from Fergush himself, but had me retell it in front of his army.” She laughed I assumed with the memory, then added, “I have claimed at times to want to make a wig like my hair, then go around wearing it and seeing if anyone would challenge me as being a fake.”
We were still talking about hair when we entered the dining room. Instead of the others assembling for their procession, they were standing around chatting as well. Things had been arranged differently, and seeing us enter Ubremander strode over to let us know some decisions.
“I have not seen the presentations chosen for the day, so will be out here with you.”
Jelnaya said, “That’s good, Great Ubremander, but remember that the throne does have its importance. Should there be decisions, policies, or other business to handle, you should move to the throne.”
Snerara glided up to say, “I was telling our great one the same, Honored Jelnaya. Dame Doris, glad to see that you are well.”
“Yes, well, glad that Steve,” I did look for him, and waved glad to see him enter the room, “knew his company’s products.”
Snerara did a slight curtsey as the lawyer joined us, then asked, “Company products?”
Jelnaya explained, “Steve works for my family’s business, which is mostly very dangerous weapons.” Her expression changed to curiosity as she added, “But you should have known that.”
“Why should I have known that?”
“Because you knew where to send people to pick up Doris. It was at the opposite end of an island my family owns.”
As Snerara said, “Our Great Ubremander set up your reception,” I saw the large man bend over to whisper something in Jelnaya’s ears.
She then moved over to Steve to say, “Uh, listen, actually the two of us are hired help. Let us allow Doris to enjoy herself.”
Snerara said, “I believe the two of you have more than earned your honor.”
Steve almost had no choice but to follow as Jelnaya grabbed one of his collars and moved away. I found myself alone with Ubremander. He put an arm behind my back, and I felt that I had no choice but to move as he directed me.
He said, “I want my apology for your situation to be as warm as possible. I am sorry. I feel that there was a reason, but I really cannot say what that reason was. I want to say that I found you attractive, as I do, but being what I am I cannot say why your human form pleased me. I would like to say that I saw all of this developing, but I cannot say that is true. All I can say is that I have this chance to speak an apology, so I am doing it.”
“Thank you.” I wanted to say more, but all I could think of was to add, “I will let Steve know that you did.”
“And let him know that I did it again. I apologize, Doris.” The way he spoke worried me, and I guess he saw my expression as he began to explain. “There was a reason. I cannot say why. What I have to assume is that I feel you will become involved further.”
Attempting to find the logic behind his statements, I asked, “Is that what you told Jelnaya?”
“No. I told her that there was something behind my actions, so if she knew more than me she should make plans on that knowledge. I feel like a pawn. If today has taught me anything, it is that I have not truly been in control of this world. You, Doris, were used as a pawn. That especially makes me concerned for you. From one pawn to another, this game is not over. You know Jelnaya a lot better than I. You should at least know things about her history. I hate to say it, but I do not know much at all. I need Jelnaya Doris, but I feel that I should be watching after you as well. If you however do find yourself involved again, I want it said that I did apologize and that I will apologize again when all is finally settled.”
I replied, “And to think I was turning to you for advice.”
“That summons worked, Doris. I hope after this that you never fear doing it again. I will owe you; I will owe you so much. If you ever summon me in the future, know that I will arrive as a friend, and not as some really annoyed powerful figure. I might not have the best advice, but I would hope that we both enjoy our time sharing what we can with each other.”
“My parents are in law enforcement. They are good people, but really set in their ways. Sometimes I feel that I need, want, just to hear a different perspective.”
“I am surrounded by people that expect certain things from me. Sometimes I will feel a need to just get away. Being summoned by you would be a major relief.”
What he said sounded good, but I could not help but state, “No more seeds.”
“No more anything, except conversation. That is a promise.”
“Are promises from elementals binding?”
An arm went around me. While the actions were that of a warm hug, Ubremander did not feel like a normal person. His body had a strange texture. Still, the strength he applied with his arm did not cause me to feel too much pressure.
He said, “A loyalty with a reason will hold as long as the reason remains. If elementals could not hold loyalties, all this society would have no hope. There are things I have to learn, but I do plan on succeeding. I understand the reason for my promise to you, Doris, so you can consider it binding.”
Curious, I went ahead and asked a question I really wanted to hear an opinion on. “So, what are your thoughts on magic?”
“As a conjured creature, I believe that I have a good deal of thoughts on magic.” He looked up for a moment, then set his eyes back on me. “The food is ready. Come to my table. You can eat. I can talk. When I have said too much, let me know.”
I thought the evening was wonderful. Ubremander really did know things on magic. I cannot say that I understood everything he said, but he fit things together in a type of framework that helped me to begin to truly comprehend things about the arcane. When the evening was over I did not only feel that my original inquiry had been responded to, but had a number of things to tell others that I felt would not have them feeling sorry for me.
And we continue with Doris.