To Bless Those Deserving
Being someone that worked with words, Steve understood that I had figured something out. The problem with most solutions during a battle however was that revealing the strategy could have the enemy change his own tactics. I thus did not want to explain things, but Steve did his best to get me to say what I had figured out.
He finally blurted out, “All right, Jelnaya, why won’t you tell me?”
“Let’s start with something basic,” I replied. “If you cannot ask the question, you won’t understand the answer.”
“How grand of a game are you playing, Jelnaya?”
“Grand? I’m a divine champion. I interact with a god.”
Those words actually calmed him, and he refilled his glass with juice while commenting, “Nobody here is at that level.”
Doris asked, “Where was Lerall?”
That was actually a question that I wanted to know earlier. I however remembered from looking over the town a large building that had icons on its roof like those worn by Lerall. That recollection enabled me to ask a question of Fergush, and he had given me an answer that I could relate.
“She is in town. Considering what Pechend might do, having someone among the people is proper.”
Steve asked, “You are not expecting him to attack the town.”
“Not if he wants to control the town. Control Ubremander, and he gains the town and more.”
“Well, why isn’t he able to control Ubremander?”
“Ah, now you are thinking along the proper line of thought, Steve. You have to get your mind away from how dangerous this game is, and start looking at it as someone committed to fighting it.”
Doris commented, “But this is dangerous.”
My thought was that Steve intended to make a normal calming statement, but suddenly had his mind think along a different path than it had been. The expression on his face changed in the manner of seeing something he had not suspected. Any thought along the topic however was disrupted by me seeing a flash out the window right as a pounding sounded on the door.
Pishau must have gained a nod from Doris, as it would not have been opened otherwise, although there was no problem with the officer that stepped in and announced, “Baron Pechend is approaching in a flying coach!”
I was at the window, so could see that. “Tell Ubremander that we are going to have to trust each other. Hopefully, when we meet we will have no fault in the actions of the other.”
“Dame Jelnaya, I was told to obey any order you gave to me.”
“I just told you to tell Ubremander that we are going to have to trust each other.”
I guess he saw me climb through window and felt that I did not take into consideration how he might help. “I have men that are air, Dame Jelnaya.”
“And there will probably be others in defensive positions. I will call to them if necessary. You have your orders, Major.”
He saluted, then turned, but Steve stepped up to ask, “What is your strategy, Jelnaya?”
“Stall. Pechend is actually doing the right thing. What I hope to do is not have him realize that.”
“Why wouldn’t he have already realized that?”
“Because he is not doing the right thing.”
I knew what I said was confusing, so could only smile as Steve showed a perplexed expression while blurting out the question, “What?”
I wanted him to think about it, but my trust in him to do that had me give him other orders. “Close the shutters and set that weapon back up. This time use fire – no, no, air. He’s flying, so needs to be subjected to air. If you can hurt him again, winning could end up being rather easy.”
Climbing was just something those in my profession understood they would need to do. Expecting opponents to give up an advantage was a foolish thought. A fight was never truly fair, and when facing death no one wanted a fair fight. My instructions had always been to win, and to buy a drink for anyone who felt they needed to come up and explain how I had not fought fairly. If Pechend thought that I would give up because he was using an aerial attack that I could not match, he had the wrong idea about me. I had a building to give me my own height advantage, and began climbing to make use of it.
As expected, there was a balcony where soldiers were positioned. They signaled seeing me, and I returned an acknowledgement along with an indication that I would head to them. Gaining the balcony, I then made a request.
“Give me a bow.”
Considering the height, I expected them to have a better weapon than just a length of wood. The bow I was given did indeed have a laminated design that gave a very strong pull. I handed the arrow back to the soldier, then pulled one of my own from a small quiver on my back.
“Let me see if I told Steve correctly,” I said as judged the strength of the pull and the distance I needed my projectile to cover.
There were so many factors that could disrupt the flight of an arrow. You actually spent time shooting the bow not to perfect your draw and angle, but simply to gain an understanding of how to compensate for all the factors that could have the projectile miss. A good archer, especially one that could hit things at a distance, was more of an artist than a skilled technician. I did not feel that I was that good, but I also compared myself against two people who had been surviving against dangerous opponents for over two centuries. I might not have been a master artist, but I released the arrow feeling that I probably could brag about the shot I made.
I had the soldiers gather around me as the projectile sliced through the air. I smiled seeing Pechend not change his direction of travel. The arrow I used was not a big thing. It had length, as the longer the arrow the more one could pull back. Still, it was just a sliver against a vast expanse of city and impressive castle. Even if Pechend had seen it, I doubted he would consider the one projectile as anything more than just a foolish act.
Cheers sounded and I felt the soldiers pat me on the shoulders and back. Pechend stopped having the point of my arrow slice into ribcage. As he yanked it out, then broke it, I climbed over the railing of the balcony to keep my options open. It helped that when I told the soldiers the type of arrow I used, they nodded in an indication that they had some of an appropriate material as well.
Pechend probably used magic to project his voice as he declared, “You will die, Jelnaya!”
A found a perch for a gargoyle to stand upon as I yelled back, “Not foolishly! When I die, everyone will speak of it as being a hero’s death!”
“A hero’s death from protecting a girl?”
Pechend made a mistake with that statement. He just let me know that he was indeed going for Doris. He really should not have done that, as it verified my tactics. I had suspected that would be the reason for him coming, but now I knew I was correct. I chose my words to make my statement not so revealing.
“I am more of a hero for protecting a girl than simply fighting a traitorous noble!”
“I am not a traitor! I am the one with the real power. Politics, that is the traitor to the people. It is politics that had me create that rebellious Ubremander.”
As if he had recognized his cue, suddenly the voice of Ubremander sounded out, “How am I rebellious? I am doing that which I was created to do. We have peace, Pechend. Why can’t you take pleasure in what you had a hand in creating?”
I picked up on that question. “Because he’s an idiot! Maybe he did have his own schemes when he created you. Still, he should have recognized that things were going wonderfully. He should have realized that he could sit back and enjoy a wonderful life. Surely that is what he really wanted, but no, he had to dredge up his feelings of wanting to be the one with ultimate power, and will suffer his doom because of it.”
The one in the air countered, “This peace cannot be truly lasting!”
I could not allow Pechend to continue along that line of thought, so interrupted him with more banter. “YOU WERE TRAINING HIM! Why couldn’t it last? It was according to your desires! You should have been happy, Pechend. It was your desires that were being put into action by Ubremander.”
He just screamed. Honestly, that was an appropriate response. It provided no information, and actually projected a longing for Ubremander or me to make another move and reveal our own tactics. Luckily for us, another decided to take advantage of the opportunity. From the window to Doris’ apartment came a shot. Why Steve decided to use water, I could not say. I think Pechend intended to scream in victory as the special substance of the projectile simply splashed around him, but his voice had more of a sound of concern as he realized a flight of arrows was also coming upon him.
I actually felt relief seeing an arcane barrier come up protecting Pechend. I had to admit that he probably would need to be killed, but right now his death would concern me. He was the one that had created Ubremander. Pechend had been the one directing the training of the one that had the position of power in this culture. For Ubremander to advance, I felt that Pechend needed to be there in some manner. While I wanted him controlled, I actually felt relief to see him avoid death.
I however did not want anyone to realize some of the things I felt were important, so yelled to keep everyone focused on other matters. “Don’t get all cocky because you avoided death, Pechend! You could have stayed home and done the same thing.”
He replied, “I feel that you and I are the same, Jelnaya. Neither of us wanted a simple life. This is my place here. I was born to rule. I gained my power to rule. Ubremander was made to be a figurehead, but I am the one behind him. The power is mine, and the authority will be mine as well.”
“I serve a god, Pechend! All I do is a presentation of my deity. I like Fergush. I don’t mind being his little showpiece at all. Ubremander is yours. All he does could be something for you to brag about. You could effectively be a god with a wonderful servant.”
“THAT IS MY OBJECTIVE! I have come to claim Ubremander!”
Ubremander declared, “You are not making me glad to be called yours, Pechend! I feel that the people will be better served without you. I feel that if I am to make a good life for myself, much less for everyone else, I need to keep you in your place.”
“MY PLACE? My place is with my boot pressing your head to the floor. My place is listening to you grovel. My place is sitting in your throne. THAT IS MY PLACE!”
“Then you should have never made me.”
Feeling that the conversation had gone where I wanted it to go, I shouted to continue to manipulate events. “But you did make him, Pechend! Be satisfied with your job. GO HOME!”
I drew a dagger. For the record this was not the one I sent upon him earlier. I made a show of reaching into a boot and drawing out one of my heavier daggers. Probably the only advantage it had was that the extra weight would assure that it could cover the distance. I however trusted that Pechend would remember that I struck him with a dagger before, and suspected that I had pulled the same weapon.
Pechend bragged, “There is not a weapon that could touch me right now.”
Ubremander replied, “I doubt it. Between Jelnaya and me, I feel certain something would get through.”
Suddenly a report sounded. Whatever type of bullet Steve tried only dropped upon being stopped before Pechend. I however knew that all my schemes were undone by that shot when Pechend sounded out the words I did not want to hear.
“Oh, yes, the girl. She will be mine, then I will take control of this whole world.”
Sometimes, you have to feel sorry for lawyers.