To Solidify the Mist: Cp31

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To Solidify the Mist
Chapter Thirty-One

We started the march the next morning toward Mochsha’s estate. While all the men assured Orintious that they were able to handle regular action, he felt it better if they were not stressed. He however confided in Heratin and me that he simply did not trust Decholl. He thus wanted an easy march to assure everyone was fresh should battle again be necessary.

That was when I found my opening to state my belief to Orintous. “I believe we will find Mochsha’s father in a well, aqueduct, or deep pond on the property. Decholl could not go into the water. He wanted Mochsha to give him access to a watery place.”

My older brother replied, “It’s not a bad philosophy, Vernallor. Listen, when we get to the property there will need to be a lot of checking. I’m going to handle the main house. Heratin will probably check about the property noticing for what he finds interesting. If you want to use that sword of yours, go ahead.”

Heratin whispered to me, “He will have men assigned to each of us, so you get those that can also handle being below the water.”

Since he was right there, it did not surprise me that Orintious heard. “That is correct. Note that my men will be informed, so there should not be any big deal once we reach the property. You go wandering off, and you will hear the sound of boots following.”

I traded a smile with Heratin, then moved off to gain a comfortable place to continue the march. I however heard boots coming behind me. I turned to see Orintious, so waited to hear what words he wanted to trade with me.

“Vernallor, you spoke of the house. Does that mean you do not expect Decholl to attack again?”

I had to admit, “Only if he is stupid, which there is evidence to support. We have beat him every time. For him to attack is foolish. Our need is to determine how to put an end to him. He has the need to simply figure out how to take the battle to us.”

“No argument with that at all. He did have terrain and weather to his advantage at the lighthouse, but even then he did not hurt us that much. Why would finding the body of Mochsha’s father be important?”

“Did Decholl kill his brother? Was Mochsha’s father sacrificed? There is also the hope that things about the body will help determine some facts about what type of magic we are dealing with.”

“Those are basically the same facts Heratin and I want to look for. Good. We are all on the same train of thought, just thinking along different paths.” He was silent for a moment, but then confided, “I however believe he will attack. He does not want Mochsha at the house. He wanted to turn her, to get her on his side, then take her to the house. Whatever is there, is what he truly has as his goal. He will do all he can to defeat us before then. I however agree with you that his efforts to stop us have failed, so I am trying to figure out what he will attempt.”

All I could say in return was, “If I think of anything, I will let you know.”

“You will fish with Dechapper?”

That question took me by surprise, but I answered more than willing to chat with my older brother. “Yes. He is pretty good at it. I enjoy the conversations, but have not really got the hang of fishing.”

“I need to do that. I have been out selling my sword for a long time, Vernallor. This journey however has answered questions that have plagued my thoughts about doing something other than taking on challenges. As we move through this land, I am looking with the acceptance I might call this countryside my own. I could be following this route coming home to family, Vernallor. I always avoided family gatherings before, but now I see myself as being able to treasure them. A good start might be to join you and Dechapper on a little fishing expedition.”

“I don’t see why you couldn’t.”

“Maybe not with Dechapper. He is the brother before you, so not so old. While he is like you and knows me to keep to myself, he might not think it extremely odd if I start hanging around. Heratin would. Not that we get along that well anyway. If we weren’t brothers, I doubt we would speak to each other. Minchell says different, but she’s not nearly as old as me. I however need, want, to start changing my ways, and a fishing trip might do that.”

I thought about his words, then smiled with my conclusion. “I think you and Dechapper would get along. I told you that I enjoyed talking with him. I have also enjoyed speaking with you, Orintious. I thus believe that you and Dechapper would do all right with each other.”

“Thank you, Vernallor. Now I want to end the threat of Decholl even more. You found my missing sister. She indeed found my missing parents. Now, I am going find myself a home. I am feeling complete now, Vernallor. You, Dechapper, and those siblings that follow should find me to be a different person”

“Just stay a good person, Orintious.”

He had an arm go out to grab me and pull me close before saying, “You let me know if you feel I’m doing wrong, Vernallor. I am finding that I can trust you, so if anyone can reach me with words, it should be you.”

As he moved away, I looked at the scenery. What bothered me was what I was not seeing. With Orintious I figured that it would not matter. He did not want to find his parents in order to move in with them. He desired to know the gods, the forces that would have expected to make an influence in the path he chose. While he had yet to do any religious study, he had the comfort of knowing that he could seek such guidance. Looking at the scenery and seeing only distant mountains did not bother me.

Walking away from the ocean however disturbed me. Mochsha might not have known who her mother was, but her father definitely planned for a special child. Why had he gone all the way to the ocean to gain an ocean fairy, much less the trouble to find one?

Having arms wrap around me broke me from my concentration. I looked to see the smiling face of Minchell before she kissed me. I changed my concentration to look at her, and she had a cheerful expression as she softly gave me an explanation.

“You waited. Thank you. I told you that he would talk with you. I also told you that he would go on about this mission. He needed the break though, and you gave it to him.”

I replied, “Well, we got a few days before reaching the estate.”

“Oh, he’ll get bored, or tired, or possibly things will happen and all of us will be tense and doing the best we can. For the moment he’s prepared, and for that I wanted to thank you.”

“Well, you’re welcome.” I paused, then simply added, “Minchell.”

She kissed me again, then said, “Don’t you worry about my relationship or status. I care for Orintious. You care for Orintious. I came to you with my concern for Orintious, and you abided by it. That is all the respect I need.”

I had her speak of her life. She gladly walked with me while speaking of a horrible childhood, then a period of being passed from man to man, basically used as a means of payment by her father. Minchell spoke of not really knowing the events that had Orintious rescue her. He was with Heratin about the city, and somehow became alerted to some illegal activity. One of the culprits was her father. After a lengthy period of confrontations, her father tried to buy off Orintious by offering her to him. He did not accept, but somehow understood from the conversation that there would be no settlement. When the final confrontation was over, and her father was dead, Orintious asked what would become of her. Heratin had the older brother take her, saying that he needed someone to care for his room between visits. She then gained a life in the large estate. Slowly she had become accepted by Orintious, but from the first Minchell made it a point to never have the man find fault with her.

“This is the first time I have traveled with him, but I am glad Ochally gave me the opportunity. If Orintious is going to make his home here then I will be here as well. He might get another. He might get a wife. I have my place in his life however, and he better get used to having me around.”

Trying to lighten the mood, I replied, “Well, at least he does not get a new one each year.”

“Oh, Heratin and Orintious are very different. I have heard Heratin’s ladies speak of him, and they are good words. They don’t hear me speak of Orintious, but you are seeing my devotion to him. I’m glad to get to know you, Vernallor.”

Heratin came near and said, “Minchell, are you telling my young brother what a lady-killer he’s going to be in a few years?”

“I’m probably going to be the old lady making the cookies and serving the drinks as he and Orintious spend time courting some pretty thing.”

“Yes, well I’m wondering if they are going to be the same ones. We need an immortal one for Orintious. Not too certain yet about Vernallor.”

“I might not be immortal, but I have enough years to know things about Orintious. If a lady doesn’t agree with me, they won’t succeed with him.” She saw both of us smile, then asked, “Heratin, does Orintious have other slaves?”

“I don’t know of one, Minchell. At his headquarters the men do the chores in the down time. Father has the researchers at the houses handle the chores. My place is really the only residence Orintious claims where he has need of someone.”

“That’s what Orintious says, but I felt a need to prepare myself.”

“Minchell, when has my older brother ever lied to you?”

She paused, then said, “I told Vernallor, but I shouldn’t need to tell you, Heratin, that this is my first time to travel with him. I however was telling Vernallor that if Orintious is going to make his home here, that I will make it my home as well. I just felt worried that I would not be the only piece of property brought into the house.”

“Women. Well, you know that whatever house you claim is going to have a house elf like Nerframe.”

We all laughed at that, although it was Minchell that said, “I doubt we will have one like Nerframe.”

“I’ll have Father’s researchers find out where I might get another hat.”

“Yes, well, you better get two. I’ll tell your ladies to have the little darling who cares for you after your next revival to be wearing one of them.”

Before Heratin could make a reply, Michell called out to Ochally. Soon the jokes were flying about magic hats and what could be done with them. I almost believe I laughed continuously until Orintious called for his men to set up camp. I know the soldiers moved close to hear what was said, and I heard them repeating lines to others. Orintious should have known some of the jests made about him, but he warmly accepted a sign of affection from Minchell without making any reply.

There are more players, but they quickly learn they are not as qualified as hoped.