A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 3

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Three

(Namill)

I wanted to discuss things with Marekel, but had to spend time with Ulemai. She had never taken a long journey. There were a number of concerns that had to be considered along with lessons to my daughter about what certain things were for. I thus stayed busy with her while sorting through my mind how to speak with Marekel once I had the opportunity.

While Ulemai came to the evening table speaking of her excitement of the coming journey, her husband began a series of serious statements about all the considerations that he was having to make decisions about. While I did participate in the discussion, my questions drained away hearing Marekel mention the things that he had done and spoken with his advisors about doing. Hearing things like sleeping in a tent and taking baths in the cold water of a pond or lake kept excited tones in Ulemai’s speech, although my statements had the heavy tones of knowing about reality.

“Why seven men?” I asked.

Marekel easily answered, “I wanted six, but my men preferred the number seven. One extra man I did not feel would make much of a difference.” I saw him fix his brown eyes upon me as he asked, “Would you want me to take thirteen?”

Not afraid of who I was, I returned, “No, ten.”

“Oh, yes, I should have known. Anyway, seven it will be, which, I guess, will make ten with you, me, and Ulemei. You should thus be happy.”

He knew I would not be, although in my silence he had the blessing of Ulemai asking, “We leave in the morning?”

“No, my sweet wife, but the next morning. I need to give the men time to decide who gets to travel with us, and assure the quality of certain items.”

I interjected, “Like your dresses, my lady.”

My daughter replied, “Oh, yes. How do they dress in Davelda?”

I thought that a strange question, considering that my daughter had her own style of clothes, but Marekel answered in what even I thought was a proper tone. “We will all probably find ourselves looked at rather strangely. I have not been there either, my darling wife. I however will step into this alien land declaring my pride in who I am and where I am from.”

The smile that came to my daughter’s face not only showed her pleasure in the statement, but in the man who said it. “Namill, you are excused to see to matters or retire for the day.”

Still wondering why she had yet to bless the man with a child, I replied, “I will surely do some of the former before allowing myself the luxury of the latter. Until morning, my lady.”

I did have things to take up my time. Everything was for the benefit of my daughter. Stating that my malevolent nature would stay subdued due to wanting the best for my child had been Marekel’s stated reasoning for claiming Ulemai. I had accepted the bargain because I did want the best for my daughter. Strangely, Marekel fit my desires, because I knew that he would not seriously harm her. I really did not trust him around a baby, or a girl, but my plan to put her to sleep inside a magical flower had even more risk. Having Ulemai as a cheerful married young lady did please me, although her situation still vexed me. Not trusting Marekel to do everything properly, I took the time to enact certain plans.

The next day pleased me in seeing the amount of concern that was being put into the journey. Marekel did have experience traveling, but even he had to admit that he had no guarantees for this trip. While he would normally just load up his horse and take off, uncertain of the terrain, the challenges – one of which he certainly considered to be me – or the people we would meet had him including items that had been sitting idle in places for untold years. Having gotten the horse from a bull person, there was no telling what type of people he thought we might encounter, so he considered bringing alternate foods than the simple fare he usually consumed when traveling. When I heard about some of the concerns that were troubling those helping us prepare, I actually felt some pleasure.

Ulemai seemed to grow more and more nervous as the day went by, but she also showed more and more pleasure in Marekel. I again wondered why I had no grandchild. I actually found myself hoping to be able to catch the couple in a private moment behind a tree or through a break in some canvas, so I could check on whether Marekel actually knew what to do with my daughter and was not simply continuing to perform childish play with her. Wondering myself about what might occur on the journey had me feeling more and more anxiety as the hours went by.

I stepped out the next morning to see Marekel walking down the hall carrying my daughter. I mentioned getting her ready for the day, and he spoke of us simply riding in the buggy. He told me to get some pillows to enable Ulemai to continue sleeping once put in her seat. Seeing the mass of cloth around her, I had to ask Marekel about the condition of my daughter.

“Is she dressed?”

“No. I did manage to get a simple gown over her, then a robe. When we stop for her to do some business, or for us to eat, or to rest the horses, you and her can work on a more acceptable attire.”

“I’ll get the pillows,” I mumbled, although then had to turn back to ask a question. “Why don’t I have… a…” No, I was not going to chance breaking my promise. “Why hasn’t she given you a child?”

“I know not, but maybe an answer can be gained.”

“Is that why you are going?”

“You do not know the full story, Namill. Still, yes, it is for her. I do love her, Namill.”

I glared at the man for a moment, but finally broke down to say, “I know enough of the story, Marekel, but that includes knowing that she loves you.”

“And you have never heard me complain, Namill. I know that I have it good. I also feel that you have to admit that you have it good as well.”

“No, Marekel, I don’t. I however do care for Ulemai, and her happiness does allow me enough comfort that I can sleep at night. Take her to the buggy, Marekel. I will be there shortly with the pillows.”

I performed the duty accepting that Marekel had ever kept his bargain to me. I was a part of my daughter’s life. I did not trust him during those early days, actually did not trust him now, but had to admit that I held an active place of respect in his home. I originally feared being chained in some bare stone chamber, but instead I moved about freely. I did have the binds of maternal love for my daughter, but I could not fault Marekel in how he treated his mother-in-law.

Once at the buggy, I saw our luggage being put in a wagon. A servant waited for me to take a place in a rear section usually used for baggage. Once I checked on my daughter, I sat back only to have a basket of fruit and pastries handed to me. Accepting my place, I adjusted to be comfortable even with the big container sharing my space. Marekel waited for my approval before giving the signal, then the buggy along with the wagon and a few mounted soldiers began the journey.

Ulemai woke up as her husband shouted to his men to fall back. They wanted to form a perimeter around their ruling couple. Not only did Marekel love my daughter, but those of his land adored their baroness. He had to stress the importance of allowing the aged horse to set the path to force his chosen soldiers to only do their duty from the back. They again wanted to move up hearing Ulemai ask some questions, but her husband put in threats to his soldiers as he answered his wife.

She had made some limited trips beyond the castle, so could point with Marekel and speak about certain landmarks. I watched quietly while the morning light illuminated the beauty of my daughter as she spoke with her husband. While I could also speak on the topic, Ulemai only knew me as someone who lived with her, so assumed I was equally limited in knowledge outside the castle.

The general positive attitude changed to one of confusion when the horse made a strange turn toward a thick growth of brush around some tree trunks. Not only did the animal clearly indicate a direction away from the road, but the dense foliage hid a sharp drop. I saw confusion on Marekel’s face as he told his wife to move back to her seat while listening to his men speak their opinions of the horse.

He silenced his men, then when things were quiet he spoke crisply to the animal. “Davelda. Home.” The head of the animal went up and down, then Marekel stood to command his men. “Formation! Prepare to march!”

The wagon was out of position, so it took some time for the driver to direct his team to a place it directly behind our buggy. Once where he was supposed to be, the mounted soldiers lined themselves up between the vehicles to make our group a cohesive unit. With all in position to the satisfaction of Marekel, he again took the reins while speaking two words with a more commanding tone.

“Davelda. Home.”

The horse tried to step forward, but found its progress held up by the mass of those seeking to move with it. While Marekel had obviously given certain instructions to his squad, they displayed complete unfamiliarity with the maneuver. I had noticed the earlier indication that the animal understood more than most horses. I sensed it again as it noticed the actions of the men, then took its steps as it felt able and not stressed his aged body in an attempt to simply do as it felt proper.

All were watching the horse, so noticed when it rolled its shoulders before appearing to shiver. While some soldiers asked if the animal was cold or made a comment about its age, I could tell that the horse had done something arcane. My suspicion was confirmed when with the next step a glow surrounded the animal’s head. The men then made sounds of surprise or fright as they noticed those before them stepping into a brightness without returning.

Sounds of fright changed from a concern for the unknown to an outright fear of facing something threatening. Marekel jumped from the wagon to berate his men even as he tested the strange surroundings. There was no grass or trees. We were no longer in the mountains, and what distant rises of land could be seen did not appear to have the immensity of the rocky heights we had lived among. Most of the land was sand. What appeared as rocks however quivered as if some type of fungi. Marekel spoke to subdue the anxious tones of his men, then reminded them of what they had been told of this journey.

Finally, he climbed back into the buggy, took the reins, then crisply spoke to his horse. “Davelda. Home.”

The animal had its head go up and down, then it began moving forward. The men fell into a tight formation behind the buggy with a number asking about again needing to form a united group. Marekel told the men that they were just going to have to trust the horse. The officer in charge of the squad, Major Horbron, moved in front of the animal, then gave a command for a stop. Marekel pulled on the reins without speaking against the order. Each man came forward to pet the horse and tell it some special words. The animal stood still while the actions were made, then turned its head to assure that all were again ready before again moving forward.

And back to Jelnaya. Oh, I have thought to update the Wiki. I never do much, as I do not want any spoilers, but I will try to add enough to supply some basic details.