The Depth of the Mists

Chapter Twenty-Three

I had to admit that I was more interested in what Theria was doing than the activities of the others.  What I heard from Orintious was the chatter of them again attempting to peer through the mist, checking currents, and otherwise doing all the things necessary to plan the next crossing.  What Theria was doing I felt would help us understand some of the secrets of this place that might allow us to have a real advantage.

While the goop did get washed away, I saw what those working with it pointed out to each other.  The white substance did not just dissolve and flow away.  Only where the water went around an edge did the material get taken away.  I watched Theria as she described the manner of the arranged rocks as protecting the erected barrier from certain angled flows of water.  I however had to look intently for problems in what I heard as another mercenary worked at being the one to point out the flaws in the evidence of the one attempting to solve the mystery.

“But, the protective barrier did get washed away.”

Theria replied, “Yes, but the evidence is that it lasted long enough for the one here to have made a fire.  I assume from the fuel provided by other pieces of his craft.”

“So, he had a meal?”

I had to point out, “It was a rather large fire.  If we weren’t where we were, I would say he was hoping to attract attention.”

The one who mentioned magic to me had his own point to make.  “He worked a spell.  One that required fire.”

Feeling that he spoke against his own supposition, I pointed out, “But it did wash away.  We also know that the barrier can go very quickly.”

The mercenary working with the lady admitted, “Yes, it goes fast.”

“Those books were ruined, even though the shelter is still there.  There is something else that happened.”

The one in favor of magic said, “Maybe the result of the spell was rather dramatic.”

“No.”  I looked to the boulder as I stated, “He knew what he was doing.”

We all turned as someone yelled, “STORM!”

While others began working to protect what we had, I felt evidence of another difficulty with this reality solved some problems.  Another source of flowing water could well be the reason for the barrier being removed and water getting where items were normally protected.  As the others worked quickly, I however stood around attempting to assure that I had all the clues available.

The ever present mist did give the impression of very high humidity whose water content could condense with some minor changes in the atmosphere.  The sun was however constant in the sky.  The waves in the water were clearly the result of strong currents, and not those pushed by the wind.  Having spent my life up to now within residences, I actually had little experience to back up my suppositions.  The fishing trips with Dechapper usually were planned when he had checked the weather and could assure a pleasant period out in the open.  While I accepted that a storm could occur in the atmosphere of this limited reality, what we were finding in the mist were simply designed problems causing me suspect the same in this problem.

I did appreciate the words from Orintious.  “Vernallor, I will be the last to speak against staying out in the rain, but let me point out that this place is not normal.  Seek shelter until we see what this storm is really like.”

Responding to my oldest brother, I said, “There will not be a lot of wind.  I also don’t believe it has to be strong.  I should be safe enough.”

“Come on, Vernallor.  There is lightning, and we both know the top of these spires are above the clouds.  Don’t want you getting struck.  We need to survive this, not talk about it when we reach the other side of life.”

Accepting his words were good, I went to work with the others to secure the boats in a manner that would keep them with us while also providing some shelter.  We all noticed how the storm moved quickly, although we felt little wind.  While the evidence spoke of something I mentioned, I had to conclude with others that we still knew little of our reason for being here or what our objective truly might be.  We huddled together speaking of what might be found while admitting we had yet to find any proof of there being purishorten or containers of gold.  The metal sheet did appear to be made from a number of smaller pieces like we had found beaten together.  I listened to the words, even said some of my own, although turned with others when Theria slapped away Sterrig before moving.

“I don’t feel good,” she said.

Sterrig did not get upset at her action, but softly replied, “I feel it too.  Purishorten is in the water.  You went out in it to get that goop.”

The one that worked with the lady was shivering as if cold as he said, “That stuff might itself be purishorten for all we know.”

Theria roughly asked, “And what the hell is purishorten supposed to do to you?”

“Purify your soul.”

“Our souls?  You really don’t believe that crap, do you?”

Orintious was the one that said what I felt any of the rest of us would have told her.  “You are beyond belief out here, Theria.  We are not out here on belief, except maybe that we will get rich.  Still, we either find wealth, or we don’t.  Purishorten either exists, or it doesn’t.  If it does, we should learn things about it.  We won’t go home speaking of belief, but of what we found.”

The one shivering said, “I believe it does.”

While he actually could have meant a number of things, Sterrig spoke as if it supported the main belief of the substance.  “You’re not any worse than me, Theria.  Coming out as better people with better souls should not be a problem.”

She replied, “Maybe not for you.  You have a good family.  You have something to look forward to.  I don’t.”

I did consider it strange when she began crying.  Having spent time with the lady, I felt certain the show of emotion was not usual for her.  Something in the depths of her sobs however had me accept the crying as not being fake, although I could not determine what to do about it.

Finding her not wanting Sterrig to comfort her did bother me, although I did wonder about the conclusion voiced by one of the mercenaries, “She was going to dump you, Sterrig.”

“What?” Sterrig exclaimed.  “Theria, we were speaking of going to have a life together.  What I was looking forward to was having you to share it with me.”

Theria exclaimed, “Oh, come on, Sterrig!  We are not out here to become good people.  We are out here for the money.”

“What good is the money?  You would just spend it.”

There was laughter to that statement.  Considering that most were actually here for the money, I had to allow that they found the words funny.  That had me think of my own financial situation.  I had been given a small fortune.  Money was not my concern.  I did not find the statement humorous, but troubling.

I mumbled, “Someone knew I would be going on this mission.”

Orintious asked, “What did you say, Vernallor?”

I looked at him while demanding, “How much did you pay me for the last mission?”

He stated a figure.  I then let him know how much money had been placed in my account.  Hearing a value over ten times what he said caused everyone to go quiet.  Feeling the silence indicated the weight of what I had mumbled, I stated the words so everyone could hear.

One of the mercenaries asked, “You think you have a parent watching over you, Vernallor?”

Sterrig said, “The acts that had us take this mission originally did seem to be directed at you, Vernallor.”

I had to say, “Yes, but that is not our father.  He doesn’t tell us anything about who we are, who brought us to him, or anything of our history.  We’re orphans.  On the last mission we did find the mother of Orintious and Mochsha, but both of them were abandoned all the same.  Neither were doing anything to care for their immortal children.  Heratin does have a mother that cares for him, but she is a major goddess and uses Heratin for her own purposes.  All the rest of us, including Sterrig and Dechapper who are still alive, have no history whatsoever.  Even in the case of Orintious and Mochsha, they had to go looking.  Father did not tell them.”

My oldest brother replied, “Don’t go complaining about father, Vernallor.”

Therper, the chronicler of Orintious and one of the older members of his group said, “Don’t bother Vernallor, Sir.  The boy is just attempting to find his own life, and looking at the evidence he has.  Honestly, what he said would bother me as well.  Not finding myself with a large amount of wealth,” there was laughter at that, “but just trying to find some value in his own life.”

“I actually understand.  I was in a similar place when I went to Mochsha seeking information of my past.  Vernallor, I am glad that I did that.  I am not glad to have had Mochsha taken, but in regaining her I found both of us to better our place.  Whoever is responsible for you, what they did made you my brother.  I am glad to have you in my family.  Don’t you ever doubt that.”

“Oh, DAMN!” Theria exclaimed.  “None of you can be real!”  She moved to a break where two boats came together, although after moving only enough to stick her head out she spewed out something vulgar before going on out while demanding, “And what do you want?”

We all showed signs of alarm hearing the grand duck ask, “A woman?  They brought a woman with them?”

“They did not bring me.  I came.  I came for the wealth.”

“This is not the place for a woman.  You do not understand.”

“Why in Hell would we understand?  No one knows about this place.  What was found was all conjecture and rumor.  There however had to be something here, as this place was too dangerous.  I felt something really wonderful had to be protected.”

I felt I actually heard quacks as the creature laughed before saying, “Those were my thoughts as well.  Problem after problem without any way of knowing what might lie ahead.”

“Are you one of the problems?”

The question was one I was glad to hear Theria ask.  None of us men had come out, although most around me were tense as if ready to rush to the lady’s aid.  She however seemed to be doing a good job of dealing with the giant duck, and we listened for the answer to her question.

“I could be.  I however see you as an answer to one of my own problems.  Be careful of what solutions you come up with, as they might have you end up like me.”

We started heading out as we heard Theria yell, “Wait!  Is there wealth?”

It was still raining, although no longer with the power of a storm.  It was surprising that the great creature could fly when the first thing we discounted was any method of moving through the air.  I however came out to see the grand duck lift after only a short run with the odd sound from his feathers proving themselves to power his flight even in the rain.

He did not simply become lost in the distance, but we watched as he turned then came back over us to say,  “Come and find out more about this place.”

As the great duck now flew off Theria exclaimed, “DAMN!  I really hate men!”

One of the mercenaries asked, “You don’t think a lady would have acted like that?”

“Oh, leave me alone!”

I wanted to ask the men around me if there was something we could do for Theria.  It did not seem right for her to be angry.  While we were not in the best of situations, we were here with some understanding of what might be faced and the risks we might face.  None of the men however spoke of going after Theria or having ideas about how to deal with her, so I could only assume things would work out on their own.

Getting the money is not easy, and they have to wonder if they really want it.