To Solidify the Mist: Cp13

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To Solidify the Mist
Chapter Thirteen

I found myself froze seeing a large flying creature lift into the sky and begin to head in our direction. The soldiers spread out speaking of tactics in how to battle the threat. Some did mention the creature flying toward us being a dragon, but I was unable to look at it too closely as my body stayed frozen in position as it flew low over us.

Orintious broke the spell over me by saying, “All right, it did not want a fight and neither did we. If any of you had attacked, I promise you that he would have ate dragon tonight, tomorrow, the next day,” other soldiers joined in as he went, “and the next day, and the next day, and so on.”

Realizing that there was a major predator in the area, and it had not signaled itself as a threat put everyone at ease. It however forced me to consider exactly what was around us. I walked away from the beach to the top of dunes to see a coastal swamp. I had not studied botany, but I did look at the plants with the memories of some of my mystery books being resolved by a knowledge of foliage. In the end I did locate where the dragon made its home, but headed back to camp with the ease of feeling that we could find peace for the night.

“Not that way Vernallor!” I saw one of Orintious’ soldiers, and in seeing me turn to him he explained, “Your sister is taking a bath. Camp is in that direction.”

I looked in the direction I was heading and realized that I had noticed the glow. In taking a moment to consider the facts, I realized that I was heading to a clear green radiance, while the flickering light of a fire was in the direction the soldier pointed. I started toward the camp mumbling things I felt I realized, and when Orintious told me to get something to eat I spoke my conclusions to him.

“Why didn’t Hera know that you and Mochsha were brother and sister? If she was speaking to Mochsha’s mother, who we now think is your mother, why wasn’t Heratin said that it was the mother of both of you sending him after Mochsha. That would have assured he waited for your help.” When he stayed silent, I spoke of another concern. “Mochsha glows. Fairies glow. You don’t glow.”

The older brother now spoke. “Those are good questions, Vernallor. Get something to eat. I don’t want to speculate now, since we are heading toward finding the answers. However, we also do not want to be fooled. You thus keep asking questions.”

From near the fire I heard Heratin speak to my concerns. “The first question is very good, Vernallor. Sorry that I did not think of that one. The second one is easily answered by saying that we do not gain all the traits of our parents. The final fact however is that we can only solve this one by confronting the source. Mochsha contemplating for decades did not provide answers, and we could speculate for just as long without gaining any answers.”

Orintious had not moved off, so spoke from close by. “We however do have the knowledge that our opponent is dangerous, and will use deception. We thus have to keep our wits about us. You are the right man to have with me, Vernallor. Even if you were not my brother, I would be glad to have you in my company. Now, go take a seat, Vernallor. I will have Minchell serve you.”

As I moved to a place, Therper came to me to have me relate what I saw. I spoke of things, mentioning my looking at some of the plants. Some of the soldiers were able to help me identify species while providing some information about their uses. I related some of the stories I had read, and what solutions had been provided due to certain facts of the plants. The discussion was something novel for me, and I stayed entertained by it until I admitted that I needed to go to bed.

I woke up thinking that the soldiers were being risen, but only to find that they were waking those to take on the next shift of keeping watch. Not really feeling sleepy, I decided to get on up. I took a bath out in the surf, only using the nearby stream of fresh water to rinse off. Feeling refreshed, I went to join the soldiers.

Looking up at the stars, a nearby soldier said, “I have a puzzle for you, Master Vernallor. What if we had gone for the treasure? Think of it. We were sent to rescue Mochsha. The monster however thought we were there for something else. Further, from what you are saying, we were not even the ones to go. Heratin should have gone alone. Everybody is getting this wrong. Some of us want to go for the treasure down below, but I believe that if we had gone down after it, we would not have found anything.”

I replied, “That begs the question of why the monster felt we were there. You are correct that it did not mention its treasure as being much, it however did act surprised when we freed Mochsha. It surely felt that we had arrived for another reason.”

“You think there was someone else down there to be freed?”

“Yes, but… but –“

I had turned, and saw a soft amber glow that I recognized as being from my sister. While the intensity had greatly reduced, a light still shown from her. Thinking of fairies had me change my line of thought, so I turned back to the soldier thinking he could answer a question.

“You have been to the Hantarrow Forest before?” When he said that he had, I asked, “How often had you noticed fairies?”

“Can’t say that I have, but its not like fairies will hang about around people like us. Wait, of course I have seen fairies. I mean, you said they glow, right? In the forest at night you can see distant tiny spots of light.”

Wondering just what else I could learn, I asked, “How big is a mountain fairy?”

“Oh, so I’m told, they are big. Definitely not the tiny things you think about when you think of fairies. They aren’t as big as mountains, but I accept they are big enough to entertain a man.”

“So, normal size to us?”

“We are talking about fairies, Master Vernallor. No telling what the truth is about them.”

I turned to look back to the glow from my sister. She had been rather confident about who Orintious’ parents were. The connection with herself was however not so clear. She however did have some obvious fairy traits, so I accepted the association due to her belief that Orintious did have a fairy parent. That however forced me to accept that my father had accepted two children from the same source, and that did not match his reason for adopting babies. I came to the conclusion that my sister did not have the same parents as my older brother, but I turned to get myself a cup of coffee not wanting to voice it.

As can be seen by the scribbles in the margins, I continued to ponder things until morning. When Therper stirred from his bedroll, I asked him about the books on fairies. He indicated a pack, and I dug through to gain the text written by the amazon. Seeing me stop to actually read the text and not just scan pages, he asked about what question I was pondering.

I answered, “I want to know why they wanted to hunt and kill fairies.”

“Oh, they might be amazons, but they are still women. They wanted them to enhance their appearance.” When I simply glared at him, he explained. “The author does not come right out and say it until further along, but she is wanting a man. Thinking to actually give a man a chance to have her in the usual fashion, she and some others want to appear as a regular lady. Some fairy concoction is supposed to help them appear to not live so harsh a life, which is what they feel the men raised in the city would want for a mate.”

Just curious, I asked, “Would it work?”

“It’s magic, so who knows. The rules for magic change between worlds usually to a greater extent than the physics. The reason those of us that move between worlds use magic, and not machines, is that magic can be manipulated while machine components just become dead weight. I however assume the amazons have some experience in the concoction, as there is no mention of what they are doing being some new idea.”

From elsewhere, I heard the voice of Mochsha say, “That is not a nice thing to say about us women.”

“Oh, dear lady, what I said is only that you ladies are more like us men than you want to admit. I mean, the cruel things us men will do, usually to gain or keep a lady, is usually worse.”

Various comments to the statement were voiced. While Ochally and Minchell were also allowed to say things, the fact was that there were many more men present. While I did find some pleasure in the comments, I held myself from making any further statements.

This day put us again traveling through mostly open terrain with seldom a mountain in sight. Orintious kept up a steady pace that I believe began wearing us all out. Mochsha climbed on the horse with Ochally saying that her years of confinement prevented her from having the stamina for such a continuous rate. While I assumed my older brother had a reason for his hurrying our travel, it still surprised me to see a group of soldiers preparing for further action when the rest of us were settling to finally gain some rest.

Simply curious about what was being done, I moved over to where Orintious drew on the ground while speaking to some of his men. “Okay, Prekovan should be here. You are not to enter, but only verify. Assuring its location will help in establishing other directions.”

One soldier asked, “What if we’re spotted?”

“By those of Prekovan, buy something. Flour, ale, whatever you feel we might need. If you see birds, well, we will just have to deal with that. If the other side is going to play their hand so openly, we might as well see if we can learn what cards they are holding.” My older brother then looked to me, and asked, “Anything you might add, Vernallor?”

“Yes, see if you notice any fairies.”

All the men turned to me as Orintious asked, “Fairies?”

“Your men will be coming upon the world suddenly through a portal?” Hearing mumbled affirmations, I explained, “Well, that means they could surprise fairies going about their business.”

“Okay, but why should that be a concern?”

“Because we are looking for a fairy. You would think the fairies would be the ones concerned. If the men see watchers, but also fairies, then whatever is being watched for is not what we are watching for.”

“Makes sense.” Orintious changed his style of speech as he ordered, “You heard Vernallor; make note of any fairies. We know that fairies are really not that concerned with matters outside their scope, but something this big should be making some impact on them as well. Thus, pay attention.”

The men did not just acknowledge the orders, but spoke to me to indicate they would do as I suggested. With them moving off to pass through a portal, Orintious left to assure his other men set up a good camp. He spoke to all of us about getting some rest, as tomorrow could end up being another difficult day of travel. We however all turned when the men that had left marched into camp.

No order was given, but as soon as my older brother advanced one of the soldiers began to speak. “Sir, upon our arrival there were fairies about. We all bowed in an obvious sign of us wishing the tiny folk no harm. We then went about our business with me climbing up into a tall oak. As I sent down word of the location of Prekovan and in what direction I saw the mountains, I noticed a fairy take a seat on a leaf near me. After I had mentioned word of other groups of lights I saw, the fairy asked me where we were going. I told her the mountains, as we were in search of a mountain fairy. I mean, Sir, that lying to the fey folk is not a good thing.”

Orintious said, “You’re right, Culbright, continue.”

“Thank you, Sir. Well, she replied that indeed the mountains was where one could find mountain fairies. I thanked her, then asked about a group of lights I saw in the forest I suspected were near where we rescued your sister. The fairy said that was where men were trying to stop an evil. The light had been taken, so what had not been allowed to escape could now rise. I thought about our own battle, so commented that if that was true, then the one holding captive the light had to have been good. She said, ‘No, but there are degrees of evil, and what was being held was so evil even those evil sought to oppose it.’ I thanked the fairy, of course, then climbed down and had us return.”

“Mochsha, what do you say about this?”

It was Heratin that replied, “What does she say about that? She says, ‘Thank you my dear brothers and all those with them in freeing me.’ That’s what she says!”

“All those years of contemplation, and could not sense this powerful evil?”

Mochsha returned, “Why should I have cared? That was not my purpose.”

Heratin chimed out, “Yeah! And I’m going to say one thing more: it is not going to become our purpose. We start tomorrow marching our butts to the mountains, and let those of that world deal whatever evil their world has.”

Orintious replied, “That world could be my world.”

“Okay, so one day you can take on whatever evil you must to protect your family. You and I both know that nothing we do actually eradicates evil. Let those people handle that fight. We have our own at the moment.”

There was agreement from the soldiers. I found myself nodding to some comments by those mentioning that it was possible for us to end up having to fight the citizens and the monsters. Heratin also heard those words, and repeated them in a loud voice. Orintious clearly stated his words of wanting some other voice to give him an option other than simply speaking in agreement.

“Mochsha, do you have anything to say?”

She answered, “Only the truth, Orintious. Yes, I sensed an evil, but I definitely did not want my own thoughts to go there. I sought to push away those emanations, and am glad not to sense such feelings in anyone around me.”

“Okay. Get some rest, everyone. As you heard Heratin say, our butts will probably be marching to some distant mountains tomorrow. The further we go tomorrow, the more we leave trouble behind us.”

Evil never seems to go away, however much we wish it would.