To Solidify the Mist: Cp2

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To Solidify the Mist
Chapter Two

The beer was not affecting me as bad as I thought it would. It however did help that some food was brought. I grabbed as many biscuits filled with stuff as I could, and ate them as I followed my brothers. Both Orintious and Heratin, especially Heratin, would kid around, but they were treating the present situation as serious. Upon arriving back outside, Orintious called his men back into formation. Once they were standing in rows at attention, he then told Heratin to speak. As if he was not affected by being put on the spot, he went before the men.

“Listen, we have just gone through the celebration of rebirth. Still, I am the one that does the rebirthing. I have to spend the week with Uncle Hades and Aunt Persephone. It really is not that bad, but the people around us want their crops to grow in order to have the abundance for our celebrations. Sounds like a good thing to me. Also, since I am the one that has to die and rise again, I get to enjoy the good things all through the year. I offer my bounty to you. You can step away from your duties to my brother. Yes, you might end up being called a coward, a fool, or just someone who is no longer deserving to be a member of this merry band. You however also might find my brother crawling up to cry on your lap as he speaks of your wisdom in not going. You might find others praising you for having the courage to step away when the challenges set before you are truly more than any amount of wealth could recompense you for your troubles. You might also simply find yourself enjoying the good life while those of us who went are never heard from again.

Heratin paused. He probably intended to give time for members of the mercenary unit to actually step away. They however remained in place. After a longer pause than I thought proper, Heratin went back to speaking.

“Okay, we are going after a sister that has been missing for a number of decades. You have to understand that our father does not take children with any frequency. I was almost twice as old as Vernallor before father accepted the next child. By the time a new baby was adopted by Galabur, I had already died and lived again a few times. However, before my next sister was accepted into the household, Mochsha had already left us. There were two more children before Vernallor came into my family, and Mochsha is still missing.”

Heratin paused to wipe a tear, and as he did so Orintious moved up to begin speaking. “We are going to move with my brothers. All of you know Heratin. All of you know what a bastard pain he is. Through all the times I have known him, he however has been a good brother. He has been told to go find our lost sister. Well, I’m going with him. Vernallor is as well. The two of us might have our hands full caring for Vernallor, so you guys might have to fend for yourselves. If you don’t think you are up to the challenge, take up Heratin on his offer.”

A voice from the soldiers sounded, “Will we be paid?”

“I will assure you the usual salary. I am saying that knowing that I might have to drain my own vaults, but I know Heratin and our father has the wealth to recompense me. Any bonus, as with any bonus, will come from a successful mission. One difference in this mission and most others is that success is not so clearly envisioned.”

Another voice asked, “Will the bonus take into account the risk?”

“No. Heratin and I expect serious trouble. Mochsha has been gone a long time. If there is one thing our father is known for, it is knowledge. He does not know what happened to Mochsha. Let me say that he has even sought information from those who seek knowledge along the more mysterious paths. Something has secreted my sister from all seekers of the unknown, and it is that unknown that you are being warned you might face. If you gain the bonus, it could well be too little for too much sacrifice. You might have to gain the satisfaction that for the rest of eternity you can at least face fellow heroes with the knowledge you went where they did not and returned.”

Another voice announced, “I have already claimed that bonus a couple of times, Orintious. It is why I joined your company. The third time is supposed to be charmed. I am expecting a walk in the sun. Sorry about the rest of you.”

Laughter sounded, then others also spoke of their joy in accomplishing missions others could not match in difficulty or danger. Feeling my stomach speak of its pleasure in being full of good sustenance, I counted the men. There were six rows of fifteen. I found myself wondering if they would be enough or too many as I listened to them speak of previous missions.

A very young lady, probably no older than me, rode up on a horse leading another, and Heratin announced, “I’m packed.”

Orintious said, “Surely you are not bringing such a dainty wench, Heratin.”

“I get one each year. They stay with me, and I do continue to enjoy them, but my time with her is new – and for her the time is most especially new. Also, Mochsha will surely need help, and having a lady with us should provide some understanding we men would never be able to match.”

“If she lives. You were just warning my men of the dangers, and now you bring a mere girl to travel with us. They might take you up on your offer feeling that the challenge is not half of what you promised.”

One of the soldiers exclaimed, “Although still demanding to be paid our full bonus!”
Laughter sounded to that. I saw Orintious move over to look over Heratin’s lady and what had been loaded on the other horse. I could not tell whether he approved or not, but once the laughter ceased he yelled for another.

“MINCHELL!”

There were people watching, but I had not seen a particular lady, although I found her voice relatively close. “I have always asked to travel with you, my lord.”

“Don’t you deny the seriousness of Heratin’s words.”

“You forget, my lord, that I was present when Heratin first spoke of this mission to you. I heard, and have now re-heard. If Ochally can attend Heratin, I most certainly can attend you. I know you a lot better than she knows Heratin.”

“I would say that you know me more than she knows anything. Gather your things, Minchell. You will need to march with me, as my luggage and the pack animals that carry it is with my men outside this city.”

As the lady rushed back into the building, Orintious turned to Heratin to say, “Tell me that you can at least give me marching directions for my men.”

Heratin replied, “Of course, but to the Hantarrow Forest.”

“Of course. Any other directions?”

“It has been seventy, eighty years, Orintious. Do not tell me that you have run out of ideas.”

The face of Orintious showed annoyance as he asked, “How about you?”

“We need to find her, Orintious. I do have my thoughts, but I will not rule out your own. If we find ourselves perplexed then we can speak to each other.”

“Well, any directions for our brother?”

I believe Orintious was hoping to get Heratin to say more, but I saw a smile come to his face before answering, “Why, he gives us a new perspective on the search. I would do wrong to give him any directions. I am also wondering what our ladies might tell us.”

“Our ladies will tell us what they feel we will find pleasing.” I then saw the large form of Orintious go erect before turning to his troops. “Men. I know some of you are aware of my missing sister. Still, at the time of her loss I was still proving myself. Even knowing a few of you share my grace of being immortal, none of you have my depth of yearning to remove this family failure. Give us a path that will lead us to Mochsha, and I will let you determine your bonus.”

A soldier sounded out the question, “How about us arriving at the start of the festival here next year?”

Orintious waited for a number to voice their support of the idea, then replied, “I cannot predict the future. Who knows what great challenge might present itself in a year. Still, you are right that I have ignored such an easily granted period of leave for you. That is a request given easily enough.”

“Oh, well then, I will think of something else.”

Others were assuring the man that he had a good idea when Minchell came out toting a large satchel. Heratin helped her load the luggage on the pack horse. His slave offered the lady to ride with her, but Orintious’ slave spoke of enjoying the presence of her master before moving to the side of the military leader. Orintious did not exchange any affection with Minchell, but simply nodded when she came to his side and began issuing orders to his troops to begin their march from the city.

I did have a question, and asked it after we had moved far enough to gain a rhythm to our steps. “Do we tell father?”

Both of my brothers answered with a strong negative, with Heratin explaining, “Do not ever doubt Father’s love for us. He however would have us begin going back over all our previous attempts to find Mochsha. While there is wisdom in his approach, there is not success. I will not grant Orintious the grace of hearing me say that I plan on using ignorance and foolishness to seek for our sister, but the methodical style of our father has been proven to not work.”

Orintous said, “I am going to hold Heratin to the same words he presented to me. After all these decades, surely he has considered one more plan to possibly find our sister.”

“I have one. I am however worried that it might make sense to you, so I am not telling.”

“Just hearing that is enough to comfort me.”

I had to admit that I knew nothing about what we were doing. Not only did I not know Mochsha, but I had traveled little except in the multitude of books about our father’s home. In explaining things to Minchell, I found myself informed of where Orintious planned on making camp, the worlds we would move through on our way to the Hantallow Forest, and things about the great woods. What neither he nor Heratin spoke about was Mochsha. Her name did get mentioned, but both would wipe their eyes with what I felt were memories while seeking to speak about something else. At times they did discuss our other siblings. I knew a number, and found my brothers to speak of even more. With almost two decades being the time between us children, most were spoken of in the past tense. I still gained some personal information about some I only knew from pictures. I guess to help me know who they were speaking about, Orintious and Heratin would date them in the line of those Galabur had accepted, and in that method I heard of those between Orintious and Mochsha, although hearing her name really caused me to learn nothing about them.

And the siblings learn that others are watching them.