To Solidify the Mist: Cp5

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To Solidify the Mist
Chapter Five

We arrived in the Hantarrow Forest with it still early in the morning. Heratin just took off. Orintious grumbled, but then assigned patrols to his men. I was told not to get lost, then watched as everyone moved off into the forest in a manner that had me believe they would be the ones to get lost.

The trees were mostly pines, but I saw sections of hardwood. The underbrush was not that thick, but I did not get the impression that people regularly moved through the forest. Looking around, I saw no road or habitation. Thinking it would be a place where people could easily get lost, I moved through the trees trying to keep a position where others could easily find me if they looked for me.

It was a pleasant day. The smells, sights, and I guess sounds of the forest were much more enjoyable than the gardens of father’s various homes. Other than insects and small birds, I saw no wildlife. That however was explained as I heard barks from Orintious’ men that they had made kills. I also heard at times the older brother calling out the name of the middle brother with the reply continuing that it was much too early to share secrets. The sounds let me know that I had not wandered off away from everyone, so ended the day rather pleased to have been able to do something so different than had been my life.

Orintious continued to pester Heratin about revealing his method for finding our lost sister. Heratin however said that the only secrets he would share tonight would be with Ochally. Orintious however could not let that statement go without challenge.

“Surely, Heratin, whatever secrets she had you have discovered.”

The middle brother replied by raising his voice and asking, “Minchell, does your master know all of your secrets?”

From where the bedrolls had been laid out came the answer, “I feel that he should, but it seems that he continues to be mystified by me.”

Orintious declared, “She at least does try to reveal herself to me, which is something I would wish you would do concerning a certain topic.”

Heratin replied, “Oh, come on, Orintious. What about your plan? If you ask me, you were giving up on your own logic even before we got here. What type of leadership is that?”

“I am just having my men do the very same thing I have had them do on previous visits to this forest. I have changed up some directions, but that is about the only difference in this visit and others. If you have a new idea, I want to hear it.”

Heratin took a central position so that while he was speaking to his brother, he made certain that everyone could hear him. “Okay. Think about it, Orintious. You have been to this forest, and been to this forest. For decades, right?”

“Yes.”

“Now, trees live a long time, but not all of them. Even the longer living eventually die.”

Orintious took a seat, then said, “I’m not hearing anything to argue about, Heratin. Keep talking.”

“Okay, so our sister has been kept all this time. As far as we know she hasn’t been moved or anything like that.”

“As far as we know.”

“Okay, so Mochsha has been in this forest, in the same place for all these decades.”

Frustration sounded in Orintious’ voice as he said, “Get to the point, Heratin.”

“My point, dear brother, is that wherever Mochsha is, it hasn’t changed. I am going around looking at the forest hoping to find a familiar spot that has not changed in all this time.”

Orintious shot up to move and hug Heratin before saying, “That is a wonderful idea! You are right, I do indeed see a good logic in your plan.” Orintious then broke the embrace to turn and declare, “I will need to reassign units. Those who have knowledge of these woods will lead groups of the newer personnel.”

I was brought a plate of food as Orintious went about reassigning his men. Heratin sat down as if feeling that his work was done. I however felt a need to consider my own assignment, so stopped moving food to my mouth in order to ask a question.

“Heratin, what do you want me to do?”

“You? You’re fine, Vernallor. You seem to be enjoying yourself while staying out of trouble, and I cannot think of a better way to have you. I was certainly not that way.”

I felt the need to confide, “I learned a lot with Father, but it was all in books. It is nice being out where I can experience things directly.”

“Yes, well, experiencing some things directly is not so nice. Orintious got me in trouble. All that fun during the festival is actually stuff all people go through, or want to go through, so it was safe enough. Out here, well, you are with people who can handle themselves. All you need to do is not get yourself in trouble, and you are doing that. Keep doing that, and all will be well.”

“Honestly, I have not seen any way that I could have gotten into trouble.”

“Oh, trust me on this, if you are looking for ways of getting into trouble, you will find them.”

I took a bite of food, then swallowed it to say. “I don’t want to get into trouble.”

“Well, my attitude is to treat it as fun, and not as trouble. I mean, I don’t want people mad at me, but it does fill me with pleasure when they are a little disturbed by me. Still, find your own way, Vernallor.”

Hoping to keep a pleasant attitude with this brother, I said, “I hope you find Mochsha.”

“No, you don’t, Vernallor. I can assure you that there will be trouble when we do. When gods are involved and they are handing out special items, there is going to be trouble.” He winked at me then said, “Still, we’ll handle it. Orintious and I enjoy trouble. You just stay out of the way, and we will return speaking well of each other and everything.”

I felt the words to be good. After finishing my food, I spent some time with the soldiers going over some combat sword moves. I was pleased that they admitted I knew the basics, although my skill quickly was found lacking in any real simulation. They showed me some routines and told me to repeat them often. As I left them, Orintious reminded me that I had a sword I needed to get used to holding. I felt all the words were good, and returned to my belongings determined to follow the instructions.

Irvachin did not feel the same as the practice sword. It seemed to be heavier, but the balance would shift. I was fighting to manage the routines shown to me when Orintious came over and told me to give him the sword.

He went through the very same motions I was attempting to perform, then properly handed the weapon back to me while saying, “Damn magic swords. The blade has been graced by those who are connected to water. That should not be surprising considering what Heratin told you. Learn to control your movements, and you should find the sword moving with you. Here.” He went to the sparring area and grabbed a regular sword. “Don’t be afraid to practice with this. Once you feel that you are getting good, take your sword and see how it responds.”

I looked at both swords, then sheathed Irvachin while saying, “I guess I should not depend on it for a fight.”

“You never depend on any weapon for a fight. Weapons do not resolve fights, Vernallor. A sword is a tool, and may the gods bless us when we have to draw them. However, don’t you ever think that sword is going to do anything but kill something. Those that don’t understand that end up with a long walk, and it is not a walk anyone wants to make. Don’t go there, Vernallor. Learn the sword, and have it available for when there is a need. However, you learn to smile every day that comes to an end and you did not need to pull it.”

I found myself worried as soon as I said, “Heratin said that we would find trouble when we found Mochsha.”

“Trouble doesn’t scare me at all. Listen, Vernallor, we have women with us. I promise not to speak bad about you if I find you cowering with them. However humbling the coming experiences might be to you, trust me that you will find comfort listening to the rest of us speak of our first time to see real trouble. Honestly, cowering with the women will not even be close to the worst you will hear.”

Not knowing what else to say, I simply replied, “Well, thanks.”

“You’re my brother, Vernallor. I would do this for any man, but you’re a brother. You expect this from me. I look forward to the day when I can expect it of you. As much of a pain as Heratin can be, you should be seeing that I can expect things from him. That’s where this relationship is going, Vernallor. I hope it is something that you come to appreciate. I have always been proud of my fellow brothers and sisters, so I expect to be proud of you. Glad to see you practicing. I’ll tell Father that you did not neglect your studies.”

That last part was important to me. That was one of the issues I had in convincing Father to let me attend the festival in Heracropolis. Actually, I was surprised that Father had not come for me, although I was with two of my brothers. While Heratin and Orintious did not have what many considered proper lifestyles, they were renown. I however wanted it in my favor that I had not let my time with them cause me to neglect improving myself. I thus spent time moving with the practice sword and found it important that I could indeed feel a difference in it and Irvachin.

With nothing else to do, I walked around the next day with my sword in my hand. At times I almost felt that I should hear sloshing from the blade, as the weight did seem to adjust as if it had a liquid center. It was a strange experience carrying the sword, but determined to make it mine I kept it where I could get used to its presence.

I looked around seeing a pond. It was not that big with a mass of vegetation around its perimeter. From a distance the water appeared very clear however. Wondering if I might test the power of my sword enabling me to breathe water, I advanced to the pond.

Sparks flew as I heard a grating sound. That surprised me, as I felt there should have been nothing to truly test the integrity of my blade. I only intended to cut some of the rushes near the shore of the pond. Stepping forward to see if there might be a pole left by some fisherman I found my hand coming to rest on a solid barrier.

Heratin?

I heard the name of my brother partially in my mind, but I felt certain that I heard it audibly as well. Excited, I turned and yelled out Heratin’s name. I then turned back to the invisible surface and tried to let the voice know a fact.

“I called Heratin.”

And who are you?

“Vernallor. I’m the youngest brother.”

Before any response could be made, Heratin rushed up to actually slam into the wall. I do not think he was crying with pain as his hands moved over the invisible surface, although I felt he should have been hurt. With tears rolling down his face he said the name of our lost sister.

“Mochsha?”

Heratin? The brother who I used as my doll to learn about my own body. Oh, Heratin. We have another brother?

“It has been a long time, Mochsha.”

Who else is with you?

“Orintious.”

Orintious? GET ME OUT OF HERE!

When gods are involved and they are handing out special items, there is going to be trouble.