To Solidify the Mist: Cp4

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To Solidify the Mist
Chapter Four

World: Heracropolis to Hantarrow Forest step one (of three)
Ecology: Herbacious mega-fauna.
Destination for day: Heracropolis to Hantarrow Forest step two (of three)

The route should be a fine day for marching. From this lush primitive jungle to the depth of a ravine and finally across a vast plains with wildlife hopefully within range for us to provide for some fresh meat. All notes made for the day should be events along this route with any detour resulting in extensive explanations for providing proper amendment to the record.

I cannot say that I liked the way that Orintious’ chronicler kept his records. I want it on record that I did go to him for a lesson. He was kind enough, and actually seemed pleased that I would ask. My assignment was to basically copy what he wrote, which explains how I started this record. Orintious told me that it was surely for the best that I tracked things in my own manner, as it assured a richer final version of the report, so I am back to doing it the way Father always accepted.

It must be said that everyone seemed to know the way we were going, except me. Even though we were moving from world to world, and crossing distances over various terrains, the soldiers spoke of the difficulty of their march and what type of game they hoped to find. I gained the impression that searches for Mochsha had occurred with enough frequency to make the route known. Everyone did what they could to assure themselves that this time the lady would be found, and I heard various forms of advice to hopefully not duplicate the errors of previous journeys.

The event worth writing about occurred on the second world as we reached the bottom of deep split in the earth. The soldiers had been hoping to find some game. Orintious and Heratin had spoken of the air smelling wrong. I guess hearing agreement between them had the older brother think that the time was right to ask certain questions, and I heard them make the exchange while I looked at the flow of water that appeared to state that the split went deeper than where we traveled.

Heratin repeated, “It is much too early.”

Orintious stayed persistent, “Heratin.”

“Much, much, much too early. And don’t you tell me either. You might distract me.”

“Heratin.”

I was looking to the water. It was clear enough in one’s hand, but black in the ground. While it looked like it could be good, only from a very deep source, the men who tasted it spoke of it being salty. As I wondered about the geology of the place, I saw a face. It was mostly round, but elongated just enough to give it some character. The hair that floated in a mist around it was I felt to be a blue in color, but I was captivated by it. Realizing that it was coming up from the depths of the water, I had to speak.

“Uh, what is that?”

The face stopped its advance as my brothers and a number of the soldiers suddenly looked into the water, although it was Heratin that made an identification. “That, dear brother, is a mermaid. If you would have kept quiet, she might have come up.”

Orintious questioned the identification. “Not a nymph?”

“No, as your own men spoke of the water being salty. Nymphs are also much more lovely than that. She’s cute, but nymphs are simply gorgeous.”

Heratin then began to speak of differences in the two types of ladies. The way he spoke did have nymphs seem much more attractive, but also dangerous. I do not believe Heratin expected the mermaid to swim on up, as he continued to speak poorly of her appearance even I watched her approach through the liquid to break the surface.

“I must ask.” All the men turned to the lady, but after a moment of embarrassment she did voice her question in my direction. “Are you Heratin?”

The one that had been speaking against the quality of her looks replied, “I am.”

It had to have been her fins on her lower body that turned her, as I saw her hands stay at her side. “I see that you are not alone.”

“I must say that the multitude with me I expected to scare you away.”

I saw her nod, again turn to look to all around her, then focused on Heratin to reply, “Your aunt, my queen, Amphitrite, sent me.”

“And how is she and my dear Uncle Poseidon?”

“They both say that they expect you to visit. And hearing your remarks, I will demand that you dance with me when you do.”

“Are you saying that I will prefer you to the abundance of nereids in my mother’s service?”

“I believe that you can be shown just how pleasing we mermaids can be.” Before Heratin could retort, she asked, “Are any of these around you brothers?”

“Why, it was my youngest, Vernallor, that first spotted your form. The big guy in that fancy armor, I mean fancier than all his soldiers, is Orintious.”

I had bowed when identified. My older brother simply lifted a hand to wave. It did please me to see her smile in my direction, although she turned back to Heratin.

“That was all I was sent to do. I will however tell Queen Amphitrite the demand that I placed upon you.”

“You and her can chat as much as you feel you must. We men however have work to do.”

“Yes, you do. My king and queen were however worried that their nephew had taken the initiative to accomplish something on his own. They will be relieved to know that you were wiser than that.”

Orintious began laughing, which had Heratin not speak so boldly. “I am sorry that my reputation with Uncle Poseidon and Aunt Amphitrite has sunk so low. I however must admit that I have not visited within a few years. I will make it a point to head to their watery realm.”

I could tell that her lower body worked to keep her steady as she lifted a hand to wave. I believe that I was not the only one who spoke a farewell to her. She however looked to me when she made a reply.

“You are the youngest?”

Everyone turned their attention from the mermaid to me as I replied, “Yes. I’m Vernallor.”

The water showed some disturbance as she did something about her waist, then I saw her fish-like lower body almost blur as she worked to stay steady while lifting something out of the water with both hands. It surprised me to see a sword sheathed in a covering that shined a strange multi-colored form of white that I associated with mother-of-pearl. I did not take it right away, but her body quivered in a manner that let me know the gift was mine to take. When I did, her hands fell back to her side, and her lower body showed less effort in keeping just her head above the water.

“You are right to have come with Heratin. Family however is a not a personal issue. You are blessed, Vernallor, and I am not talking about this sword. It is indeed a wonderful weapon, but its purpose is to bring you comfort and not others stress.”

As she turned and began swimming back down, Heratin declared, “This does not change anything!”

I looked to him while asking a question that was on my mind, “You can breathe underwater?”

“Of all the questions to ask. Still, probably, but I just know of ways to make being underwater not such a pain. Actually, gaining that sword means that you could consider yourself invited, so I could let you know when I go to the depths of the ocean.”

Orintious asked, “Do you know how to use a sword, Vernallor?”

I knew the proper answer, and said it actually feeling that it applied. “I have had some training with weapons, but I will make it a point to spar with your men.” Hoping to assure his mind of my words, I added, “I went this morning to get a lesson from your chronicler.”

While it was good hearing the man speak to verify my statement, Orintious made me aware of another reason for him to have asked. “I’m not Father, Vernallor, but we both know what questions Father will ask should something go wrong. If you don’t practice, I want it known that I did make the suggestion.”

“Yes. I’m sorry, Orintious.”

“Oh, we are just now truly getting to know each other, Vernallor. Honestly, you are doing fine. I am even seeing potential in you, something I never saw in Heratin.”

The middle brother in our group replied, “You are not going to win points with such comments, Orintious. Damn, though, do you understand how odd this is?”

“I believe that I do. Not that it matters, as you will rant on things for quite some time surely explaining things to the dimmest of my men. Makes me want to command my army to move double-time over this rugged path.”

There was laughter. I stood to find Orintious helping me with putting on the sword. With it in place, I then drew the blade. No one made a sound as the clear glass-like length illuminated the land around us. My thought was to strike something with it, but thinking it possibly fragile I just put it back in the sheath. There was still silence with it only broken by Orintious.

“Heratin, it might help if you rant on what this thing is that was given to Vernallor.”

“Listen, if you expect me to know the mind of a mermaid.” Orintious turned his head to glare at Heratin, which had him say, “Okay, it had to come from my aunt and uncle. Let me see the sword, Vernallor.”

I again drew the weapon, and presented it to Heratin in the proper fashion. Being on my skin, the blade felt cold. It did not cut me. Heratin seemed to also consider it fragile, as he gingerly held it studying the blade, then carefully turned it over to study the grip.

He then handed it back to me in the proper fashion while starting his explanation. “What you have been given, Vernallor, is Irvachin. You were asking about breathing underwater. Well, having that sword on your person will give you that benefit. It will also allow you to speak to fish people. With that on your person you could say sweet things to that darling mermaid in her own language. It is actually a sword for diplomacy, although has killed a number of important people. The fights were duels, not skirmishes like Orintious gets involved in. Treat it with respect, and it should be a weapon you will be proud to claim on your person.”

Orintious said, “What he said, Vernallor, is that you do not spar with that weapon. Practice with another, then perfect your moves with that in your hand.”

I had to admit, “It does look fragile.”

“It has survived up to now, but I would not mistreat it. You use it properly, and it should be effective when you need it.”

The chronicler said, “Master Vernallor, I would like to request that you make the sword available for viewing tonight, as I would like to sketch it for the record.”

I replied, “Honestly, that is a skill I would enjoy working on as well. I will appreciate your tutorage during the exercise.”

Heratin did rant about the oddity of the mermaid appearing to us. I really did not know about the world he was from, but gained the impression that the society was not the best. While it had been improved with the assertion of the goddesses over the antics of the male deities, there was still a rather unreliable core to the moral structure. I ended up not paying attention to Heratin, although I accepted that I would visit his world in order to state my thanks for the gift.

That evening we were indeed upon a vast plain. The open sky helped the glow from my blade and the illumination from a lamp to enable me to see to work on my illustration of my sword. I again found my style and that of the professional chronicler to be different, but we compared our methods with the conversation enabling us to form a type of friendship. Feeling that things had gone well, I set myself to finishing my work for the evening.

And the search for Mochsha begins in earnest.