To Solidify the Mist: Cp3

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To Solidify the Mist
Chapter Three

I threw up that evening. The troops were establishing camp with both of my brothers commanding their slaves to assure a place of comfort for me. As I found my body calming from the day of movement, the treatment of my body during the week finally sought some release. After I voided what was left in my stomach, Orintious announced something I really did not need to hear.

“And now my youngest sibling starts his process of becoming a man! Just think, Vernallor, of the wonders you experienced for a week, and now of what your body thought of it. There is supposedly a lesson there, but I have found wisdom in not learning it. May you do the same!”

A chorus of male voices agreed with those words, then sounded again after Heratin said, “And only the foolish find the lesson to have value!”

I went to the stream to freshen up, but only heard silence. I do not mean that everything went quiet, but no further words on my situation were spoken to me. I expected the men around me to have some wisdom on my condition, but their smiles only spoke of their own memories. I found the silence to mean that they indeed did not consider the lesson of dealing with such a period of pleasure to have any value, so went back to camp wondering about my own thoughts on the experience.

There were men with the same dark skin and curls of wiry hair like my own, but I did not think of them as family. There would be no knowledge of where I came from should I ask them. I was an orphan with a father who had no physical connection to any of those around me. Orintious and Heratin were my brothers, and from them I knew I would hear words of how our family dealt with the matters of growing up.

That thought was reinforced as Ochally came to me to say, “Your bed and other items have been set up other there, Vernallor.”

I saw a wonderful set of thick, blue blankets. There was a small chest holding I knew not what, but on top of it was some pleasant foods and carafes of some beverages. I walked to the place mystified by the site.

“None of this is mine,” I said.

“What is yours, Vernallor? I saw you with no supplies. Heratin had things gathered for you, and I have the instructions to assure that you have certain comforts provided for you. I am not one, but I will still do for my master’s younger brother what I can.”

Looking to the campfire wondering when something more substantial than the light refreshments would be available, I asked, “How did you survive the week?”

“Drinking more than wine and eating more than sweets. As for other pleasures, I enjoyed them fully and eagerly await to enjoy them again. Learn to do better in choosing what you eat and drink, and you should end up with your body not complaining so much.”

Thinking about my own past, I asked, “Were you taken from your family?”

“No, but it is an honor to be chosen. Heratin is Hera’s child. Any offspring will be welcomed by my family as it will have divine blood as well. Just as your family is made up of various members, Heratin has such a wide range of those who call him father. He does what he does not just to honor his mother, but to bestow honor upon his offspring. Heratin will find your sister.”

“You don’t trust Orintious?”

“He has his own virtues and those that follow him because of them. I see the virtue in Heratin, and am glad that I can follow him in more ways than just my heart.”

I had to say, “They are my brothers. I hope to one day have proven my own virtues and have those who follow me.”

“You must start somewhere. You have the grace of having two fine men to guide, protect, and provide some instruction. You see the love they have for each other. You would be foolish indeed to not want to return that love to them, much less to an even younger sibling one day.”

That I felt was very true. I thanked the lady, then sat down to write these words. It helped me ignore the passing of time, and soon enough I was being brought a solid meal. It was actually hard eating the substantial fare, even though my body signaled pleasure in having the food on the stomach. As I settled to feel my body finally say it was tired even as it worked at digesting what I had fed it, I found the advice given by Ochally to be very true.

Heratin put on a show while the soldiers ate. I did enjoy dancing, and thought of my time doing that during the festivity. His little performance ended with him taking his young slave off to his own bed, and I looked to my own blankets thinking to trust the soldiers to protect my rest.

“What are you doing, Vernallor?” I turned to see Orintious approaching with barely more than a towel around him. “You can bathe over there. Water is fine, but you might think different after the sun goes down and the temperature drops.” He stood over me, then said, “Oh, yes, should have known. Father does have us all keep a journal. Actually, it is a good habit.”

I had to ask, “You don’t keep one?”

“I did, but I got to where I did not want to read them. I have a chronicler. Therper, over there – if you look he is writing now as well.” Nodding with indeed seeing the man, Orintious said, “You can speak to him if you have questions.”

“Not right now. I am barely staying awake at the moment.”

Orintious sat down on the ground next to me, then said, “That is why I wanted to know about my parents. Heratin has it lucky. He knows his future, whether he spends eternity in this realm or the next. Our other brother and sisters, the mortal ones, however flounder not really finding comfort in where their souls will go. I cannot either. I have good men with most from good worlds. Those are good, solid men. There is a religion that I claim, and I feel confident that it is not false, but something also tells me that it is not mine. We have souls, Vernallor. Some god is responsible for us – I mean what is truly us. If there is one thing we children of Galabur lack, it is the knowledge of where it is that some higher power truly cares for us.”

I thought for a moment, then spoke a conclusion to put the conversation back on where I felt it should be, “That line of thought won’t help us find Mochsha.”

“I believe it will, as I believe that was where she was looking. Mochsha was strange like that.”

“Do you believe Heratin is thinking like that as well.”

“I can almost assure you that he is not. However, I have to believe him when he says that he has a valid idea. I however can also assure you that neither one of us cares who is right. We can tell our stories as we will after Mochsha is rescued, but we both really do not care how that happens. If we get mad at each other and storm off our separate ways, should either one of us find Mochsha our disagreement ends right then.”

I thought about this brother sitting there and speaking to me. I knew who he was, but really never spent time with him. Orintious had his own life, and showed up at family gatherings simply because he was family. He let everyone know he was alive and the high points of his life, then returned to his mercenary assignments. I realized that he also knew little of me, so I found myself glad for this time together.

“I am pleased to finally spend some time with you, Orintious.”

“It needed to happen. I have been there. All the names. All the things that get said about father. I am the oldest of us still alive. Whatever you go through, Vernallor, I have been there. You survive this, and I will show you how to always contact me. Heratin will be there as well, but he can be a pompous ass. If you don’t want to deal with him, there will be me. One lie you should never believe, is that Galabur is not a real father and he has not raised us to be a true family. You’re of my family, Vernallor, and I know how comforting that simple fact can be at times.”

I thought of a number of things to say, but my tired mind had me just settle on simply saying, “Glad to have you as a brother, Orintious.”

“You seem to be all right, Vernallor.” He started to rise while saying, “I hope you have a life that keeps you glad to have bothered with the writing of a journal. It is a good skill to develop. Father does us right to teach us to do that. Life however does us wrong and has us wanting to forget things.”

Just because I could not stop myself, I asked, “So why do you have a chronicler?”

“Because every now and then I do something worth bragging about. I however am going to have myself a drink. I fear that Mochsha will not be glad to see us, but mad at us for taking so long. I really, really hope that is not the case, but I have found it worthwhile to always plan for the worst. Still, yes, I do pay a chronicler, as sometimes there is something to brag about.”

Thinking of my life so far simply being a series of lessons, I said, “I’m just glad to be out here.”

“Well, it’s good to have a brother that might be able to relate to me. Don’t be afraid to take a stand, Vernallor. Who knows, you might find yourself having a reason to brag to Father. Of course, when you do, you know that he will want a record of it.”

I well knew the humor in that statement. Father did not have a large library, but vast libraries. We did not move from house to house in order to gain a change of scenery, but so father could have access to tomes that only existed in a certain collection. With each residence I was put to focus on certain material, and that had been my education up to now. Finally, I could relax under the stars. Some houses were on worlds where it was deadly to go outside. Around me were not only brothers, but people who I really did not know. All my siblings tended to have a life of their own, as I hoped to gain my own future as well. Only people Father trusted gained access to the houses, so it was rare to gain visitors, and even they had become familiar faces to me. Up to now my journal had just been a daily exercise, but now I felt good having things to write about. Father would indeed want to read these words, but I wrote these statements hoping to stress to him how glad I was to be away from home.

The evidence was however also around me that I was only a guest out here. Those doing things for me were the slaves of others. I had no duties about the camp as did the mercenaries. In a way I felt that was for the best, but I looked around accepting that I was to learn. A breeze let me know that the temperature was dropping, as Orintious had said it would. I opened the chest to find clothes and supplies not in the fashion or colors I would choose. Still, they were not as loose and bright as what Heratin tended to wear. I grabbed what I felt was tolerable, then wondered about taking a bath in natural water. Feeling that I needed to enjoy all the experiences of life away from the confines of father’s homes, I went to wash from myself the dirt and sweat of the day.

And strange ladies bearing gifts will occur in the next chapter.