To Solidify the Mist: Cp30

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To Solidify the Mist
Chapter Thirty

As I was helping Nerframe onto the craft, I looked out on the water and had an idea. Orintious was right there directing his men. I thus did not need to go far to mention my thought.

“Here, take my sword.”

“Why, Vernallor? You think you can handle a weapon of my size?”

He really did not have that great of a sword, but I had to admit that I had not grown enough to wield it even as I explained my thoughts. “It gives the power to breathe water. I doubt I will need it, but you might.”

The older brother spoke to the one between us. “Heratin, how about your sword?”

Heratin replied, “My uncle is Poseidon. Don’t think I’m not able to breathe underwater if necessary. I agree with Vernallor. You take his sword.”

“Actually, I have taken the matter under concern already. My men have as well. If you see them lightly dressed, it is because they expect to need to swim.” He looked about, then called out, “Nassenor, come trade swords with Vernallor.”

The man pulled a blade of silver, but stated that it was not magic. Orintious explained my reasoning for giving up my weapon. Nassenor came over to present his sword in a very respectful manner. Simply not to want to make a show of being superior, I copied his move. We exchanged blades, then wished each other the best before I went on the craft.

The journey across the water was as peaceful as we expected. I believe Nerframe wanted to play in the water, but the vessel was packed with our pack horses and almost thirty soldiers. There was really no option for her except to sit between me and Mochsha. What comforted me was that the vessel did not act as if it was close to sinking, but actually seemed to float securely on the water with the heavy load.

Four soldiers went back to gain the next group as we looked for a place to comfortably rest. While there was murmured agreement on a location, we all kept looking out on the water. The pack horses were unloaded with some getting fishing gear, but even those soldiers sending lures into the water mostly watched across the inlet.

Cheers went up when Ochally rode the other horse onto the land. Mochsha rushed to hug Heratin, but the men directed their attention to the young lady. I was glad to see all disembark safely, although found myself worried when a different set of four soldiers set back away from land.

Heratin did work to get the men performing duties to establish a camp. He noted those that were hurt in the last battle needed some care. He had the men treat the fishing a little more seriously and had others begin to prepare for cooking what they might catch. Heratin never assigned a duty that would last a long duration, but only had them do enough that when Orintious arrived he could not complain of them only sitting around idle.

Everyone rose when a black mass came pouring around the lighthouse to move out on the water. I heard it mentioned that Orintious had saved his best fighters for the last voyage. One soldier commented to me that Nassenor found himself selected for that group because he had my sword. I understood that while it was an honor to be in such a group, he could now die. Worried about the impact of my decision, I watched with everyone else as the battle with Decholl occurred.

The men went into the water, but I noticed that I never saw the black mist sink beneath the waves. Suddenly, I had an idea. I however looked around at all those watching the battle, and felt that now was not a good time to state my thought. I thus watched the men fight the waves and the mist looking for further clues to support or deny my belief.

I guess all those in the final group could breathe water, as there were no splashes of people in panic of needing to catch a breath. I heard some soldiers mention that Minchell had something to use for herself and the lighthouse keeper. Others spoke of recognizing certain ripples as Orintious or others of their number taunting Decholl, which was supported by sudden eruptions of water as the gleam of swords rose above the waves. Two men, I heard shouts of names other than my older brother, were pulled out of the water by the black form. They dropped to splash back into the water as the form dispersed into a black cloud.

Any cheers were silenced by the sight of the black mist coming toward us. Weapons were readied with the soldiers mentioning attacks that had worked previously. Suddenly Ochally called to Heratin concerning those men hurt. Our group backed up to circle the camp in order to protect those who could not effectively protect themselves. As the black mist arrived, we all went silent as we readied ourselves for trouble.

It moved up high over us. I heard soldiers remind me of my actions that ended up cutting through a wing of the creature protecting the tower holding Mochsha. I did not know if this silver blade could work as well as the one I gained from Poseidon, but I felt not to use it would be the wrong action. I thus looked at the blackness over us and waited in hope of us ripping it to shreds when it descended.

Decholl suddenly moved off. Soldiers yelled taunts I guess in a desire to actually battle the entity. Honestly, I thought it wise to avoid combat, so stayed silent thinking of what might be needed in future battles with Decholl.

Cheers had sounded when those who went back to the shore saw a signal of everyone being well. The soldiers yelled again as their wet comrades stepped off the craft. Even the lighthouse keeper gained a cheer, then told that he could come gain a meal by the fire before making his way back home.

Nassenor returned my sword thanking me for its use. He mentioned that breathing underwater was a strange sensation, but that he was pleased to be able to focus on tactics and not have to concern himself with gaining gasps of air. I accepted my sword back admitting that I had yet to be able to use the special feature of the blade. He told me to keep practicing with it, as it would be definitely a good sword to keep with me.

As Orintious spoke with his men while warming and drying himself at the campfire, I began to speak my thoughts, but found Minchell to pull my head back and whisper in my ear, “Don’t do it, Vernallor. You will have your time, but not now.”

I turned to look at her, and I believe she saw my confusion as she softly explained. “He’s needs to rest. Trust me, Vernallor, he is very interested in what you have to say. You men do not stop. If there is a cause, you will chase it until the ends of the earth is reached, and then you seek ways to keep going. I can see in your eyes that you are doing all you can to overcome this adversary. Right now though, stop. Let me have Orintious. Let me give him rest. I’m sorry there is no one for you, Vernallor, but you are young and in need of learning to develop your mind. You do that. Practice for a time keeping your ideas inside your brain. Let Orintious have time resting his.”

Not knowing what to say, I replied, “I will tell him you said that.”

She kissed me, then said, “And he will laugh at you. I hope to have him in a mood where your words will bring to his mind good things.”

While it was still early, Minchell did indeed get my older brother to go off with her. I looked to see Heratin working with Ochally in helping those wounded. Even though the eyes of most soldiers would dart to the sky, they worked at sharpening their weapons or otherwise assuring the quality of their belongings. Considering it was still early, I found myself wondering what I could find to do.

I heard Nerframe ask me, “What are you doing, Vernallor?”

Seeing the lady close by, I calmly replied, “Thinking of what I have to do. If I were at home, I would be reading a book.”

“You did not bring one?”

“No. What I was told about the festival in Heracropolis clearly had nothing associated with reading. I brought my journal and some pens, as I wanted to record what happened, but that is all.”

She went silent for a time, then asked, “Heracropolis? Is that where you are from?”

“No. That is where Heratin, Ochally, and I also believe Minchell is from. I don’t know where I am from. Not certain I really care. If these events tell me anything, it is that I am a part of a good family. I might end up thinking like Orintious, but right now I am having to conclude that it is better if I stay a part of a good family and have any family of mine want to be like them.”

“It is good to be part of a good family. The DeNachillims have always been a good family. They have had rough periods, but I have never been ashamed of my family. Decholl… Decholl did not treat me right, but really was not cruel to me. He was cruel to others, and I was very scared where I was. Some of the things I served your sister were very bad, but she seemed to sense that. I was proud of her for not eating some things. I really, really wished that I had known who she is. I am so sorry.”

I thought she would cry, but she instead picked the hat off her head. “I thought it odd when Decholl told me to wear the hat. I wore it, but did not understand. I still don’t, but I am glad to have the hat.”

As she put the hat back on, I said, “You didn’t change back.”

“Vernallor, I told you that I can appear as I want. The hat makes me be a lady, but I am enjoying being a lady. I have decided this is how I will appear.” I wanted to ask a question, but was grateful she just kept talking. “All I was to the previous DeNachillims was a small figure that would be about the house. I really did not even think they knew I existed. It thus surprised me when Decholl called to me, even using my name. I had told previous lords of the estate, as some went through troubles that I really felt could use my help. I however felt the pride of having things restored to a level of normal, and did not concern myself with any praise from the family. I felt times were good when the family did not need me, and I felt forgot about me.”

What she said forced me to ask, “But why did you appear as you did? I mean, how you now appear is just a female version of how you appeared when we first saw you.”

“Decholl wanted me to be an enticing figure. He wanted Mochsha to trust me, to confide in me. She kept to herself and meditated or exercised. She did tell me thanks when I brought her food, but that was about all she ever said to me.” Nerframe laughed, then said, “She did complain about some of the things I brought her, but those were bad things and I agreed with what she said.”

I mostly just spoke my thoughts out loud. “So, when Decholl gave you the hat to make you appear female, he could have simply told you to appear female?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I can assure you that Mochsha will be going over the journals and other records of the estate. If she finds the story of your hat, she will tell it to you. It might add to your appreciation of the hat to know how it was gained, and who might have worn it before you.”

She again took it off her head as she said, “I doubt I could appreciate it more.”

“The more I like something, the more I want to know about it. I am coming to truly like you, Nerframe, because I am learning about you. I also feel that you are coming to like us because you are learning things about us. I know you already like the hat, but only because it is magic. There are other things about it that could make you even more proud of it, or simply enable you to better appraise its value when offered something else.”

“I don’t need other things. What I need is for my estate to be restored. If Mochsha does that, I will ever be satisfied with my life.”

“Well, don’t be a stranger, Nerframe. If I come to visit Mochsha, you better think that I am coming to visit you as well.”

Strangely, she moved closer to me and simply settled against a side of me. I did not have anything else to do, so put an arm around her while I allowed my mind to think on things. In that manner, we passed the time until everyone got active preparing for supper.

And our group begins heading to where they suspect is the source of their troubles.