The Depth of the Mists

Chapter Twenty-Six

This time the men were speaking of actually having seen our target island.  The problem they claimed we would face was the presence of the whirlpool.  It seemed that the vortex was close to one shore.  They spoke of one advantage of the phenomena was the lack of a barrier around the island, although they admitted to miss the island could be death.

I heard one mercenary say, “We need you to commit to this, Theria.”

“I’m not suicidal,” she spewed back.  “I’ll do what is necessary.”

“Yeah, I heard women tell me that before.”

I turned hearing sounds and excited comments being made.  Theria had a weapon out.  The one I assumed spoke had his hands up, although some told him he probably did need to arm himself.  It was the calm voice of Orintious that stopped the sounds and comments.

“Theria, do I need to transfer you to another boat?”

She answered, “Yes, that might be good for the moment, Orintious.”

“Okay.  Listen, we have what appears to be our objective in sight.  Just hold on.  You and Sterrig have definitely been put through an experience, and it’s not over.  Hold on.  We finish this, then we can work out other things.”

“Well, I’m in.  Don’t doubt me on that.”

“You’re in my boat.  Kornorn, you take Theria’s place.  Theria, let me remind you that I have Heratin as a brother, and he gets a new lady every year.  If I do a lady wrong, I can have a horde of ladies lecturing me.”

The lady put her sword away while saying, “I am just now learning about your family, Orintious.”

“Yes, well, be thinking about something else.  Most find their spouses not wanting to know about us.  I have had a number of brothers and sisters who stopped even coming to the regular family functions.  The next thing I know, Father is telling me that I need to go to a funeral.  As one of the immortal members of the family, let me ask that if you truly decide to join our family, that you commit to being a part of our family.”

Stepping over to check where she would now be sitting, Theria asked, “Well, Orintious, do you feel it?  You have been active through all of this.  Surely the purishorten has been working on you.”

“Honestly, Theria, what I hear from you is stuff I feel all the time.  I’m responsible for you, for all these men.  If you think that does not bother me, well you shouldn’t be here.  As for a lady, I am thinking on that as well.  As for your relationship with Sterrig, honestly I would think less of you if you weren’t taking a good hard look at what it would mean to have a life with him.”

There were a number of comments made to those words.  I felt good seeing Theria not get upset.  She simply got into position, then made a comment of being ready to do what was necessary to make the next island.

This crossing did get scary, as we came closer to the whirlpool than we desired.  While the men by now had a good understanding of what we could do with the boats we had, what they failed to take into account was some of the effects water could have on one’s vision.  The fact that the island could barely be seen had them placing the location further back, but the whirlpool must have caused its own distortion as we found ourselves caught in the current around the vortex as we neared the land mass.  Luckily we had the experience of the previous island landings, so easily corrected our position and velocity to make a landing.  Pulling the boats up on the shore some spoke of being fools for not taking what we found and leaving while others spoke of the wonder in being so close to such a grand whirlpool.

The vortex had its own sound that added to the noise of the water flowing around us.  When Orintious commanded everyone to get some sleep, many spoke of not being able to drift off with the roar.  Others replied that sleep would not be a problem, as the wearied bodies would have one collapse in slumber.  While I did not doubt the words, I found myself standing wanting to just spend my time gazing at the vortex.

Seeing me move to the column of layered rock that made up this island just like the others, Therper approached to ask, “What are you thinking, Vernallor?”

I answered, “Just wanting to get some height.”

“Oh, that’s not going to help.  You climb up, and it just looks like any funnel formed by draining water.  Up near shore you actually have a perspective on how large that thing is.  That is what makes it fascinating, the size.”

“You’ve seen things like that before?”

“Oh, from a distance, and they looked like the funnel formed by draining water.”  Instead of making another comment, I found Therper to ask a question.  “Is this life getting to you, Vernallor?  You think you would like to stay working with us?”

“Well, I am enjoying this.  I cannot say that I have the mentality of Orintious.  He has a more organized mind, so can plan in ways that I cannot.  These missions are fun, but I doubt you have jobs like this often.”

“No, but I agree these missions are fun.  The other missions are all military actions.  They are good money, but really not fun at all.  I can’t go back to those.  Your brother, or whoever takes us on the next mission, will need a chronicler, Vernallor.  I see that you are continuing to keep your journal.  There will be an opening for you.”

“I don’t keep a journal like you do.”

“That doesn’t matter.  The fact that you bother to write things down is all that matters.  Those that come out to a life like this are not the people that will sit around, whether to write or do anything else.  The fact that you will write is all the qualifications you need.”

After a moment of thought, I simply said, “I’ll think about it.”

“Yes, well, I heard you speak with Lexonor earlier.  He told you that you could buy a woman.  That’s what I am going to do, Vernallor.  None of the bothers of dating.  I’m just going to buy one, and die with her.  I mean, yes, I am going to have children, a house, and all that.  But I am ready to write about that.  All this, I don’t want to write about that anymore.”

Orintious stepped up to say, “You’re going to miss all this, Therper.”

“No, Sir, I come to the decision I won’t.  I have come to the decision that I have been missing things, and with the success of this mission I will be able to move on to things I have yet to see.”

“Well, Therper, tell me this.  Do you think it is the purishorten making you think like this, or what you are thinking is just stuff you would be thinking anyway?  As far as I am concerned, a mission like this with the struggles we are facing and the wealth we have seen will change a man by itself.”

“I would have to agree, Sir.  We have had good payoffs before, and some did have a good percentage of men leaving.  The wealth we are facing here cannot help but have a man think on his future.  What bothers me, Orintious, is that none of us are thinking on rushing off to another adventure and gaining even more wealth.  Usually there are some speaking of their own missions where they had heard of a good payoff.  We are all speaking of turning to a more normal type of life.  With me, well, I was thinking that anyway.  With others, it might be the purishorten.”

“What do you think, Vernallor?”

Actually, the question did not surprise me, but I also did not have an answer prepared.  “I am really not feeling different.”

“Of course, most would say that you are too young to know what you should be feeling.”  I just looked at my brother, and he smiled while saying, “I hear lots of things on missions.  Let’s see what we are talking about after this is finished.  Right now, I want both of you to go get some sleep.  The hope is to make it to that island with the treasure on the next run, but challenging the currents that form that whirlpool we know is rough.  Relax for a time.”

I moved around to see the boats again set against each other to form a shelter.  Men told me that they erected it just on the chance that another storm might come, as they did not want to disturb anyone resting.  Again I heard the statement that we should reach the treasure with the next trip with the boats, although it was joined with the words that it might be rough.

Climbing in to find a place to relax, I heard Theria ask, “Vernallor, do you like Sterrig?”

I replied, “He was fun growing up.  As I found myself interested in books however, I found his antics more annoying.  I learned how to appreciate the wisdom of Father, and I found the attitude of Dechapper to better fit my personality.  Still, Sterrig did stay in my life.  I seldom saw Orintious growing up, and Heratin had his own personality that never really matched my own.”

“So, Sterrig should be well with children?”

“Until they start growing up.”

“I haven’t made any decision yet.”

Those words came rather fast, but I did not let them bother me.  “Well, we are a pretty strange family.  You won’t be the first one to leave.  I remember hearing tales of suitors rushing from our home from Normanie.  Dechapper was really worried about Lekarry.  I hope you have a good life, Theria.”

“What?  Just like that?”

I suddenly had the lady upon me.  This time her hands were not reaching around my person, but they held parts of my shirt.  Unsure about her feelings, I said the only thing I could think of to calm the lady.

“You want me to tell Sterrig?”

“No, I don’t want you to tell Sterrig.”

The voice of one of the mercenaries, one who was probably awakened by the lady rushing over him, said, “The lad is still young, Theria.  It does you no good to get mad at him.”

“Oh, Hell.”  She let go and dropped down before saying, “Sorry, Vernallor.”

Seeing her move back to where she had been lying, instead of going out to Sterrig, I said, “Maybe I could come to you later when I am having girl trouble.”

I heard chuckles from the men, although the voice of Theria did not sound cheerful.  “You might be better off not knowing, Vernallor.  Find a girl that acts like she understands you, and that you find yourself able to deal with whether you understand her or not.”

One of the men said, “You won’t understand Vernallor.  Just find one who will put up with you.”

I replied, “It sounds like you understand women.”

“It’s like the weather, Vernallor.  You cannot predict it or understand all that is involved with it, but you can recognize some signs and prepare accordingly.  Now, get some sleep.”

Not having anything else to go on, I decided to ask a question from an earlier conversation.  “Theria, do you think the way you are thinking to be due to the purishorten?”  Not hearing a response, I explained.  “Orintious said that he heard men say a lot of thing during a mission.  I know I do not feel any different.”

The lady now said, “You are not facing any real decision about your life, Vernallor.  If you had things to think about, you might find yourself thinking differently.”

“But purishorten is supposed to make you good.  So, if it is having you think to make a life with Sterrig, wouldn’t that make it a good thing?”

“He’s just a man, Vernallor.  I don’t have to make a life with him.”

This time a mercenary lifted himself to speak, so I knew it was Fornatten who said, “No, you don’t have to make your life with him.  Vernallor however said that you are resisting doing a good thing by not making a life with him.”

I saw the features of Theria soften as she admitted, “But it is not the life I was wanting to live.”

“I’m going to turn that around on you, Theria.  The life you were wanting is not a good life.”

“It’s not right.”  Theria moved to point a finger at Fornatten as she said, “I did a lot to gain that life.  Now that I see myself able to gain it, I’m being told that being a wife and mother, something I could have been all along, is the better life.”

“Don’t tell me that being a wife and mother with all that money will not be better than your other options.  I have a wife and children.  The fact that I come home with these wonderful payoffs has definitely improved things.”

Another mercenary mumbled, “But it also has your wife urging you to come back out here.”

“A payoff like this, I might feel like arguing with her.  Up to now I knew I needed to keep working to keep the money coming in.  I don’t know what else I would do, however.”  There were various comments, but instead of speaking to them Fornatten spoke to the lady.  “You don’t have to make a decision right now, Theria.  Sorry if we are forcing it from you.  Let’s get that gold.  When we find ourselves really coming home with this glorious haul, then we can start treating what is going on in our heads seriously.”

She replied, “I’m pregnant now.  It is better if I make a certain decision now.”

“Killing a baby is an evil thing.  As someone who has killed other men, I will take pride in not killing a baby.  If you need a home for it, I believe we can find you one.”

As Theria hissed, “That’s not...” another mercenary, Rogensk, rose to say, “Making a life with Sterrig is not your problem at all, is it?  It is making a life with that baby that has you worked up.  Well, let me say making a life with your children is the right thing to do.  Hell with good, it is just right.”

“None of you understand.”

“Bull!  I know a number of men who were pulled into a family situation because the woman got pregnant and demanded it.  Now I am with a woman who is facing a family situation because she is pregnant, and thinks she cannot be pulled into a family situation.  That’s life, Theria.  Kids are a pain.  Me and a bunch of those in this room with me can attest to that.”  Voices spoke agreement.  “Still, that is life, and it is good, and whatever other plans you had can be worked around them to make it a really good life.   That child should not be causing you problems, Theria.  Deciding on the type of life you are going to have with that child should be what is on your mind.”

The calm voice she replied with bothered me.  “I simply abandoned the other ones.”

“I’m glad this time there is purishorten to help you think properly.”

As she began moving to the way out, Fornatten commanded, “Lay back down, Theria.”  When she glared at him, he said, “If we don’t get the treasure, all these thoughts are worthless.  We need you pulling your weight.  We need your mind and body able to fully respond.  Get some rest.”

It surprised me to see her move back to the place she had vacated.  As I settled back down, I heard the snores of men.  I felt the noise added to the sounds of moving water would keep me awake, but my fatigued body soon had me ignore the problems that sought to keep me awake.   

And another encounter of a different kind.