To Solidify the Mist: Cp14

TerishD's picture

To Solidify the Mist
Chapter Fourteen

As everyone settled for bed, I went to Heratin. He and Ochally were discussing things about assuring a quick rise in the morning, although she giggled a lot. Heratin turned to me as I approached, then told his slave to go do whatever business she felt was necessary.

I simply asked, “Are troubles like this common on missions? I don’t remember any of the reports I read mentioning things like this.”

“For that question you are talking to the wrong person. I would suggest that you go look over what Therper is writing. This little escapade will just be a notation, and if nothing more comes of it the final report will probably have nothing about it.”

I thought for a moment, then asked, “Well, is he right, or am I? I am mentioning it.”

“That, dear brother, is a question for the future. The reverse can happen, and it can be of critical importance. In that case, Therper will be going back over his notations to hopefully have his mind recall all the details. In case you want to know, Father will say that you are right. He and most who come to him often are looking for those little jots in the records to clue them on where to find certain threats, treasures, or something that has been lost to time."

"Do you think it is important?"

"There are two types of important, Vernallor. Do I think it is 'we need to go after it and destroy it' important? No. Do I think it is 'something we will persistently talk about and later go check up on' important? Yes. While I will find the conversations boring, I believe I will be dragged into them a number of times in the future."

Feeling that I had my question answered, I spoke on something else that I considered interesting. “You and Ochally seem to be getting along.”

“What? Oh, yeah, well she seems to be enjoying the travel. A lot of women don’t. I mean, I get those that grew up in the better homes. The little urchins grow up, and their family decides to get rid of them and win religious points by having them sent to the temple. Most get assigned a more practical duty, which they do until they grow up enough to gain a husband. I really do not know how my ladies get chosen, but one gets chosen to become mine. You would think having grown up in a nice home that the ladies I get will all expect sitting around all day and fluffing pillows, and I do get those. It is nice however getting someone that actually enjoys a broader range of experiences.”

“Minchell seems to be enjoying the trip as well.”

“Oh, the magic of the more experienced ladies. That should have been what you got during your little week, Vernallor. Minchell is just old enough to know that life about the temple is not all there is, and that her man is finding happiness with things beyond the affairs about the city. An experienced woman can appreciate things whether they enjoy them or not. Enjoy them, but then watch to see if they are eager to join you again, or if they are finding excuses to get out of responding to your call.”

That was more of a response than I expected. I however had to accept that Heratin knew about women. He started life being loved by Mochsha. There was a sister after him, but by the time she was growing he was enjoying the benefits of his life with his divine mother. I only knew Normanie as a very elderly lady with me enjoying visiting only because she had grandchildren that were close to my age. Accepting the response from Heratin as enough, I headed to bed to think on what I had been told.

The next morning I paid attention to the actions of the three ladies in our group. Ochally still giggled as she did things to pick up her and Heratin’s things. Minchell simply smiled as she did the same with her and Orintious’ belongings. I guess Mochsha saw what I was doing, as she came by to help me gather my things. As I watched her actions, I saw her smile.

“You should watch, Vernallor. The wrong thing is to take things for granted. Still, we need to get moving.”

I had to ask, “Would you rather be here, or about a house?”

“I was captured because I was out away from a city or any settlement. To answer your next question, yes, I would like to find a man. I however have come to completely agree with the words of Orintious. I need to know my past, as it is the only way to be assured of my future.”

Wondering about what we were doing, I asked, “Do you think I will have that problem? I mean, I have not heard this from any of our other brothers or sisters, and Father definitely does not speak of it. He has all this information available to him, but I have only heard of this concern from you and Orintious.”

“You are here with me, Vernallor. You are the one that found me. Don’t you ever doubt me, Vernallor. Should you find yourself asking these questions, you can be certain that I will be there to help you answer them.”

I began to help her as I said, “I will see this through with you. I don’t see how Father’s collection can be complete without these facts, much less your own life.”

After eating, final packing was done and we moved through the portal. Immediately upon stepping into the world we would be traveling through we could smell an aroma that had many choking and a few spewing their breakfast. Orintious had a man climb a tree with us waiting for his report after he moved to the top.

“Sir, the place where we rescued Mochsha is surrounded by a thick plume of smoke. I believe we are smelling the bodies.”

Orintious replied, “All right! Let’s assume that problem is behind us. Get a hold of your stomachs, and get your asses moving.”

By the time the man came down, the older brother had his men in condition to begin a march. I had already seen the soldiers spread out through forested areas in what appeared to be a rather haphazard arrangement only to fall again in a perfect formation when in an open area. I did note that our pace was not as fast as the previous days, but understood when I made out the distant mountains. We would not reach them quickly, so to keep in condition to travel the march was at a more relaxed pace.

It did trouble us that when we stopped there was still the aroma of death. I heard some speak of hoping for a large body of water when we made camp, as they thought the smell had settled on their clothes and needed to be washed off. Others however were using their clothes to cover their mouths and noses in order to filter out the fumes. It troubled us that the aroma was not being left behind, so we quickly returned to our march.

At the end of the day the aroma could still be detected. A lake had been spotted, and the men marched until near dark to reach it. Their bathing and washing of clothes however made it very clear that the aroma was with us and not on us.

I was preparing my bedroll when I noticed the background clamor of insects, frogs, and other animals cease. The soldiers rose with most taking out their weapons. Nothing arrived. The smell did not get stronger. After a while the natural noise of our surroundings returned, but in what seemed to be a reduced volume with the men speaking of possibly increasing the rate of travel of the march the next day.

The next morning I woke up to hearing the soldiers speaking to Minchell about moving at a little better speed. There was even a suggestion that she take a seat on the horse with Ochally. Orintious joined the discussion speaking of supplies and other necessities that would be needed over the coming days. The soldiers realized that they could not make their concerns have short-term solutions, and settled into maintaining the comfortable speed of the day before.

The smell of the day before did not persist today. Some tried to say that the aroma was removed by the washing at the lake. Others spoke of finally getting some distance between us and trouble. I agreed with most that the lack of smell was a good thing, and found the journey to become pleasant.

There was a better mood in the camp that night, and the next morning began with some sounds of joking. The mountains really did not look closer, but the terrain did start becoming noticeable in changes in elevation. The ups and downs of the travel however only inspired jokes and comments that kept the mood light and travel enjoyable.

Orintious made a point of needing supplies, so when a town was recognized as being along our path he went with some men to make certain purchases. The rest of us altered our course to make a circuit of the small community. Waiting for those absent to return, we stopped and took a break. We all however became alert in hearing a distant rider suddenly have his mount turn from the road, as we recognized that he was coming toward us.

The horse was black. The rider was also dressed mostly in black, although had a bright blue shirt beneath his outer leather covering and a shock of yellow feathers coming from his hat. He had a glare that made him appear serious even though a smile was on his face. I believe he intended to ride his horse to the middle of our company, but Heratin stepped in front of him.

The man took off his hat showing some thick, short black hair, then asked, “May I request the purpose of this company?”

Heratin replied, “Personal. These men are mercenaries solely for our protection.”

“And may I ask who may you be, Sir?”

“Heratin Alls-friend.”

I knew my brother had gained the surname. While most knew who his mother was, the surname of being Gods-friend helped explain his divine relationship without getting into specifics. With Heratin traveling to worlds other than that of his mother, he tended to use Alls-friend as a more general, although still positive, surname.

The stranger commented, “I see women among you, and have the concern that a company with women are more to be feared.”

“Maybe for those who oppose us. I would hope that does not include you.”

I saw the man look over the soldiers, who were noticeably suspicious, before replying, “I would hope so as well. May I request the relationship of these ladies? Is one your wife?”

“Two of the three are slaves. The other is my sister.”

“Sister?”

Heratin quickly replied, “I told you that our concern was personal.”

“Uh, yes. And this lad not in armor like the rest?”

I found myself surprised to be singled out, but Heratin quickly answered the question. “My young brother.”

“His skin is quite darker than yours.”

“Are you saying that you want to involve yourself in our personal issues? I would advise against it.”

“No. Actually, you have helped me quite a bit. Thank you.”

The man then turned his mount, and rushed off. Heratin looked around rather disturbed. I guess the men were uncomfortable as well, as one turned to ask a question.

“Heratin, Sir, do you think we should move on?”

“No, but I want to thank you men for traveling with us. Something is going to happen, and I expect to once again be more than grateful for your presence. Stay alert.”

They have a long way to do with trouble following.