A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 5

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Five

(Namill)

Bizarre crickets and millipedes were seen as we traveled through the odd, barren terrain. They did not attack us, but we only saw them from a flock of wings moving off into the distance or as a massive covering on the ground scurrying away on a multitude of legs. Wondering why they had developed the instincts to flee, the men stayed alert for trouble. None was seen before the horse again stopped to let us know that we were about to go to another world.

The vast grassland was actually a welcomed sight to all of us. I know that I preferred the feel of life around me, and I heard the men speak with approval to the horse for bringing us to this reality. The sense of danger from the previous world however carried over into this one, and I heard men react when one of their number stated a sighting of something rushing toward them through the grass.

Marekel told us women to stay put, then moved from the buggy. A couple of the soldiers spoke to their baron of having the advantage being on horseback. Marekel did not reply with me not having to see that he simply held his position. He had earned his rank by besting a number of opponents. He had his lovely wife because he had overcome me. While he had only moved from the buggy to the ground, if his soldiers truly understood who they had as a ruler they would have stayed put.

Ulemai turned to me for comfort as a rumble was heard through the grass. She however twisted her neck to watch as two mounted soldiers set their lances and had their horses gallop forward to meet the threat. My daughter gasped as she saw her husband rush forward as well. The two poles that tapered to a point struck true, but did not stop what appeared to be a very large low-bodied boar. As the creature began moving the horses back in a desire to pierce them with its tusks, Marekel stepped forward to dart around the head before making a grand slice upon a leg. When the great beast swung its tusks at the man, the bone struck broke with a shoulder dropping. Ulemai turned to me with joy on her face after witnessing her husband reduce the threat to a corpse on the grass.

Her head spun to look back to Marekel as he boldly asked, “Jernst, is that a river over there?”

After only a short pause, the named mounted soldier returned, “Yes, Baron.”

“Men, I want two to go find a good camping spot. The rest prepare this animal. I believe that we have seen and done enough this day.”

The replies to the commands indicated that the men highly approved. I heard a couple of horses gallop away while the other men spoke to the driver of the wagon about ways of managing the carcass. Marekel did not stay in view, but moved about assuring that his men were not facing trouble. When he finally came around the buggy to climb back into his seat, Ulemai leaned forward to show her own approval of her husband.

While he did say things to his wife, Marekel looked to me with his usual grace of accepting my place in his life. “Namill, I know that you watch over the preparation of meals in my home. I feel that the men would not deny your supervision of their efforts at cooking this beast.”

The soldiers did not know who, or what, I was. No one knew me except as the governess, now handmaid, of their baroness. Marekel fought me alone that day. I thus replied accepting that I could do as I please.

“Do you want me to stay?”

“There is also the oversight of the setting of the camp. You can decide where you are most needed.”

“The men can clean and prepare the carcass. I can decide how to cook it while overseeing where we will rest and bathe.”

He took the reins while concluding, “Then we will head to the river.”

As the buggy began moving, Ulemai asked, “Marekel, is Davelda a city?”

I thought that marvelous question, so listened for his answer. “Davelda is supposedly a land of wondrous people. Look at this horse, Ulemai. It knows how to move between worlds, and acts as if it understands. A land that has such intelligent animals surely must have a highly developed civilization.”

Feeling that Marekel needed some support for what was surely to him just a rumor, I said, “There are whispers of Davelda being a wonderful haven of rest for those that travel the most dangerous paths. I believe that there is a city.”

The man did at least nod to my words, although he kept his eyes on his wife, who asked, “So how long until we get there?”

He replied, “There is no telling. I am simply hoping that we can get there before the horse breathes its last.”

Ulemai asked, “What is the horse’s name?”

“Morgan.”

“Morgan, please take us to Davelda.”

The animal had its head go up and down, which caused Marekel to quickly add, “But not right now. Rest, Morgan. This has been a good day, and you are proving yourself as a good horse. I spent good money for you, Morgan, so trust that I will care for you. There is grass here. You may thus graze while we eat, and hopefully tomorrow will be a good day as well.”

It was not Marekel, but my own daughter that brushed the coat of the animal. Her husband helped the two soldiers erect the tent for him and his wife, build a fire pit, and check the river for dangerous animals or currents. By the time he was done, Morgan was grazing and I had my daughter helping me prepare some vegetables and spices to provide a proper evening meal.

The men did what they could to preserve some meat for coming days while I cooked enough to feed them through the night. I considered mentioning that less meat would be going to waste if we had three more soldiers with us, but decided against it. Honestly, the relationship between Marekel and me was not confrontational. I did not like my situation, but had to admit that he was a good husband to my daughter and bestowed some respect to me. I thus kept a pleasant outward attitude while I acted a proper female servant and cooked for the men.

It was so strange to have the men thank me. They had killed and cleaned the animal. Setting up the fire and the spits to cook the meat had also been done by the soldiers. They however acknowledged what I did to add some flavor and variety to their diet, which had me feel strange when it was with rougher tones that they spoke to Marekel.

Major Horbron noticeably cleared his throat before saying, “Baron. Pardon me, but what is the importance of this journey?”

Marekel first looked to me before answering the question. “I hope you do not learn. I however hope upon your return that all of us have a good story to share.” I guess that he noticed some expressions, because he went ahead and said some more. “Let me thank all of you for coming with me. I am proud to be your leader. As you know, I was not born noble. Not that my family was poor. I was born of some rather prosperous gentry. My family’s property was however ravaged while I was out seeking the hand of a wife. Through a number of events, told in a number of ways…”

Now Marekel paused to look at his men. I want to say that he was giving them the opening to take charge of the discussion. They however stayed silent with many turning their heads to scrape from their plates another bite of food or pretend to guzzle a final drop from their mugs. After assuring silence, Marekel spoke some more to his men.

“Let me just say that I like being your baron. We have a good land. I might be carrying on my family’s name, but I would like to think that our dear departed Baron Mauserd would be proud of me. The reason for this journey is thus to hopefully do something that will secure my reign. I have questions, and I know some things are said about me. I would hope to put an end to all that, or at least have some secure foundation for others to say things in my favor.”

Major Hobron put strength in his voice as he declared, “I have no shame in claiming you as my superior.”

“Yes, but I feel that I have done nothing to earn your support. Baron Mauserd and his family died. My family died. There was thus a vacuum for me to be sucked into. Yes, I will claim to be the one that stopped the evil, but I have to accept that I was all alone when I did that deed. If nothing else, I will return having you men speak of seeing me in different settings, dealing with different people, and just not being the one holding down the castle and sitting in the throne. Having some positive personal tales of who I am and what I am like would be helpful.”

One of the regular soldiers said, “Well, you were all alone again when you got that horse.”

“I sure could have used your help. You should have seen me when I arrived with it.”

The men laughed with almost all claiming to have witnessed his arrival. They hushed with smiles on their faces when Ulemai spoke of her own vision of her mud-covered husband. With a good mood established, other stories were told until we finally agreed to break for the night.

Marekel personally oversaw my daughter take her bath. That did let me know that the two of them were familiar with each other’s bodies. She called to him to join her, but he mentioned needing to oversee that his men did not take advantage of the lack of complete privacy. He sang to her, and I noticed heads turn when her voice joined his. Ulemai did have a wonderful voice along with a very lovely body. I had promised him that she would be worth him keeping his promise, but even I truly could not be certain which traits she would gain. She did not look much like me, but mostly reflected the traits of her father. I had not liked him, but only had sex with him to gain some power over him as well as state something of my own desires. I loved my daughter however, and felt good that her husband was so protective of her.

As the couple went into their tent, I moved to begin cleaning up the area. I noticed that the soldiers had already done most of the basic steps of cleaning up. There were still things that I felt needed doing. When I finally turned to head to my own blankets, I found a soldier, Lt. Nehelson, move to privately speak to me.

“Lady Namill, did you know the parents of the baroness?”

Having to keep my promise, I simply replied, “Yes.”

“Was either of them an alien?”

“No. Her father was from another kingdom not that far away. Her mother was from another land, but one only a distance away and not from another world.”

I was worried that the man might get personal with his questions. Chaliger was not a large domain, so most knew of most others. It would thus be rather easy for the soldier to get too nosy with his questions. Lt. Nehelson however spoke to let me know that his thoughts were going in a different direction than getting personal about potential parentage.

“Oh. I ask because we were thinking that the baroness might be from Davelda.”

“No. I really do not know why the baron wants to go there, but there are vague reports of it being a wonderful land for travelers. It could have people of wisdom that might resolve some questions. We will just have to wait and see.”

The man nodded, but instead of moving away he asked one of the questions that I was scared he would. “What land are you from, Lady Namill?”

“I would rather not say, except that I have known Baroness Ulemai from her birth.”

As hoped, Lt. Nehelson’s expression showed that he felt I had a usual story of being bought and sold a few times. “I will consider that enough. Your devotion to the baroness is worthy of honor. When the baron does not see to his wife personally, he more than trusts you.”

“Yes. He can definitely trust my care of his wife.”

Determined to keep my promise, I did not say more. I simply turned to my belongings. The soldier thanked me for the time, then moved off himself. Actually glad that nothing improper had occurred, I did what I needed to be done then headed to bed.

And our group from Chaliger finally reaches Davelda.