A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 6

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Six

(Namill)

For the next three days we moved through worlds. We saw trees of crystal, a frozen swamp, and a multitude of things that were unfamiliar enough to cause us to discuss what we saw with what we knew. Marekel actually fussed at his men when they complained upon entering a world with mountainous terrain like that of their home. The men knew that he was not serious, but stayed silent until Marekel mentioned something he noticed about the rocks. They cheered, then spoke with their superior about what type of world they would find themselves on next.

We met bird people, but most appeared to be people like us. The horse did not bring us to any large community, but we did have opportunities to buy some fresh supplies. None could speak our language, but those we met seemed accustomed to dealing with strangers. With us staying polite, and Marekel having brought a good amount of gold, we ended up leaving with us waving our hands and not our weapons.

The men had to fight a number of threats, but not of the seriousness that a journey of this type could possibly present. Being from mountainous terrain, the men were used to having to adjust their attacks due to their immediate surroundings. Some small creatures attempted to overrun our group, but there was actually a similar pest in our mountains. The soldiers and Marekel thus quickly eliminated the annoyances while speaking of having a thick soup for supper. A few larger threats also challenged the men, but they never had me fear for my daughter.

It caught us all by surprise to step into a world and see grass that appeared to have been recently cut. Again there was no large community, although the group of buildings declared that we had come upon an established and well-maintained holding for breeding and training horses. There were people about, but none showed fear in seeing us. Some waved, but most called out something. The men did not draw weapons, even when one man jumped a fence to race toward us being accompanied by a young lady with bright red and yellow hair. It further surprised us when the man ran up to the aged stallion saying words that we could understand.

“Moves Like Syrup the Third? What did Degretet call you? Morgan?” When the horse had its head go up and down, the man looked to Marekel that held the reins to ask, “How did you get this horse?”

“Degretet said that he was going home, and sold it to me. It was supposed to take me to Davelda.”

“Yes, we train the horses to find their way home. Degretet was a good man.”

“He looked like a bull.” The man silently smiled while petting the aged animal, so Marekel felt that he had an opening to ask a basic question. “Is this Davelda?”

The man pointed to a lovely white structure in the distance that appeared as a type of castle while saying, “This is most certainly Davelda. What brings you here?”

“I would like a private audience with your leader.”

The lady that had come with the man said, “I can bring them, Brullusk.”

He spoke to her. “Go call the castle. I cannot have these people continue to use Morgan. I am going to change him out for another horse. Your grandparents might be busy, so the warning will give them time to find an opening.”

Marekel asked, “Will the fresh horse cost?”

“If anyone asks you, tell them, ‘Yes.’ I spend a lot of time training my horses, so I know them. I have also come to know certain customers. Degretet was a really strange one, but Morgan fit his personality. It seems that you did him right, and I can say for certain that you did nothing improper with Morgan.” As a younger stallion was brought forward and Morgan was released from the tack, the man said, “Let’s just call this a loaner until you find out how things go. We can discuss an actual purchase before you decide to leave.”

“Thank you.”

The man let others do the work while he simply chatted. “You’re welcome. By the way, my name is Brullusk. Where are you from?”

“Chaliger. I am Baron Marekel and this is my wife, Ulemai.”

“Welcome, both of you and those that traveled with you. Never heard of Chaliger, but you seem to be good people. You said that Degretet was going home?”

“Yes, Hilbriya.” Marekel pointed as he did when first speaking of gaining the horse. “He said it was right there, and there he went.”

The man laughed while patting the new horse as it was placed in the tack, and told us its name was Dancing through a Dark Night the Second, but that we could call it what we would. The animal was black with spots of grey, so I silently thought it a good decision when Marekel simply said that he would call it Dark Night. When the man told the horse what it would be called, it nodded its head.

The man then said to Marekel, “Listen, I will give you a fantastic deal on this horse or another one. Your story sounds right, and I cannot complain about how you brought back Morgan. Still, talk with our empress and her husband first.”

The lady with the red and yellow hair returned to say, “Sir, Grandfather will be present to meet you. Grandmother will be there as well, but it will be grandfather that will primarily speak to you.”

Marekel asked, “Grandfather?”

Brullusk explained, “This is Princess Jelnaya. She is the granddaughter of our Empress and her husband. Terish is the one that taught me how to train these horses, so he is one to respect. You should be given rooms and food in the castle. I hope that your stay meets your needs.” He then turned to the lady to say, “Jelnaya, tell your grandfather that their story checks out with me.”

She replied, “You know my grandfather, he is not interested in their story.” The armored lady then turned to Marekel to say, “I however am interested.”

The lady suddenly sounded a shrill whistle by turning her lips in to her teeth. I had seen female warriors, but she was not dressed in their fashion. Her bright red and yellow hair fell from a wide-brimmed blue hat to settle upon her shoulders and down a part of her back. Her blue dress was of soft thick material that declared her feminine nature while also protecting her body from the covering of strange glistening scales, fastened together by wire of a bright silvery metal. Gems flashed from ornaments on her body and a silver sheath held a long thin blade. I saw the handles for a number of small knives about her body. She did not smile, but her words had a friendly tone. The horse that came in response to her whistle had a saddle and bridle of a dull green, as if made of a living plant-like material.

As the buggy began moving with her riding beside the horse that now pulled it, Marekel chanced a question. “Dear lady, Princess Jelnaya, is this your home?”

“Not really, but they will not deny me. This is my grandmother’s home. I usually go about taking on problems, but when I have serious problems I seek out my grandfather.”

It was Ulemai that asked, “The man we are being taken to see?”

“Yes. He really is not mean, but don’t think of challenging him. He does not lose.”

It really was not that far to the castle, but there was lot for us to see. Vehicles floated upon roads of stone. Even the distant great grass fields showed signs of having been recently cut. The castle glittered from what appeared to be colored jewels set into the walls of magnificent white. Ulemai and Marekel did speak to each other, but the rest of us just looked in silence.

Moving through some outer walls that were not even ten feet in depth, we saw a number of soldiers in shining armor before a large set of ornate doors set into the walls of the main building. Before the portals stood a young lady with long amber hair standing beside what appeared as an even younger man. Neither had any sign of age, so I expected to meet even more children of noble blood.

The lean man moved from the great doors to meet us. “Welcome to Castle Davelda. I am Terish Dozzrine, the husband of this land’s most marvelous leader. May I ask your names?”

My daughter’s husband answered, “I am Baron Marekel of Chaliger. This is my wife, Ulemai. I have come to ask for advice.”

“And who is that behind you, Baron Marekel?”

I could tell in Marekel’s expression in turning back to me that he was as mystified by the question as me, but he turned back to face the man and answer the question. “This is my wife’s handmaid, Namill.”

“Really? Are you going to require her presence in your audience?”

“No. She is but a servant. I am my land’s ruler. My wife, her maid, and my soldiers can be allowed to rest from the travel.”

Jelnaya said, “Grandfather, Brullusk said that their story of how they got here checked out.”

“That is not what concerns me, Fruit.”

Marekel proved that his mind was still sharp as he blurted out, “Grandfather? Sir, no offense to the lady, but she appears no older than you.”

“My age should not be the concern that brought you here.”

"No.”

“So don’t let it trouble you. I am not saying that you won’t learn the answer, because it is not a secret, but let us not bother with side issues at the moment.” He turned to look at the lady still standing before the doors. “Straek, any problem with handling matters now?”

She came from the doors to stand beside the man before saying, “As Empress of Davelda, let me welcome you to my home. Yes, we can go ahead and ease any troubles that may be pressing. I want you to enjoy your visit. I however recognize that serious concerns possibly brought you here, and that your journey was long and troubling. We can handle business. We can go ahead and allow those that need rest to find comfort. My land might have a troubling history, but it has proven itself to have a good people. Let us prove our qualities by relieving you of your troubles. Welcome.”

Coming from the buggy, I looked around to see no one appearing old. I also saw no sign of children. I really did not know anything about Davelda, but found myself having to agree that it was a land of wonders. I thus stepped behind my daughter. Marekel accepted an invitation to handle business with Terish. The armored lady tended to simply watch as the one that claimed to be the ruler of this land directed her soldiers in how to treat those of Chaliger. She then invited my daughter into her home. Following Ulemai, I looked around to see the splendors inside Castle Davelda.

We entered an extremely large foyer of a yellowish marble. The stone tended to declare a faded aura of age, but its polished surface announced that things were still being cared for. Bright objects of precious metals and stones declared the land to still retain its wealth. Empress Straekin did not brag about the rich displays, but mentioned how the present area was for the public to assemble and mingle with those who did their business. I smelled the aroma of food, and noticed a store selling various items. Great ivory doors were open with the ruling lady declaring the grand hallway beyond to lead to the part of the castle dedicated to handling matters of government. She however directed us up a wide marble staircase to what she said were pleasant rooms for more personal matters. We entered a lovely parlor of pink stone, pink cloth on the furniture, and generally a soft, feminine aura.

It was the armored lady that shut the doors behind us. I suddenly had a feeling of being trapped. Ulemai however stepped into a more central area to look at the artwork in the room. The armored lady held her position even as Empress Straekin moved to my daughter to discuss the things being observed. While the talk sounded pleasant, I moved behind the chair that I thought my daughter would prefer and watched.

We all turned when the door opened. It was another armored lady that spoke to the one that had come with us. The new lady was also armed and armored, but the dominant color of brilliant white covered by highly polished ornate plates of silver and gold did not give the same aura as Jelnaya of being a real threat. The one that had come with us and the empress both expressed surprised to hear that the new lady speak of Princess Jelnaya being summoned by Terish. As she left through the door, the other armored lady took a position in front of the door with the empress introducing her.

“That is Xeandra, my personal bodyguard. Do not let her bother you any more than my granddaughter.”

Ulemai asked, “How many children have you had?”

“Five children, although our family did not stop there. I must also confess that Terish and I are considering to have another brood. Our lives are not exactly settled enough at the moment, but in our time alone we do speak of the joy of having children.”

“I have not had any yet. I don’t know why.”

I felt some joy in hearing the empress speak of the quality of her medical staff. At least, such was my first reaction to the words. I wanted grandchildren, but something churned in my gut upon hearing of my daughter being checked by the medical staff.

Damn, Marekel! Why has he kept his promise? Nothing about our deal should have lasted. I gave him my daughter, my only child. She was nothing but a baby, but I gave her to him. Everything about his desire stated a perverse nature that should have worked against him keeping his part of the bargain. He had her as his wife – a baby, a girl, not a proper mate for a man. He would take baths with her, and she would sleep with him. He loved her however. He cherished her. He did nothing improper with her. Instead of feeling used and confined by the man, Ulemai grew up loving him and wanting to fully stay immersed in his life. No, this was wrong. Everything was wrong.

“Namill? Are you all right?”

I looked around remembering my place, and quickly came up with a reply. “No, my lady. If the empress does not mind, I would like to be excused to your room. I could relax and see about any necessary matters to assure that you could relax once your time is finished.”

Xeandra piped up a reply. “Empress, I could easily have another member of your staff available while escorting this maid.”

The ruling lady replied, “Deshell.”

“Of course, she will be present shortly.”

Ulemai did not let me go so easily, but hugged me before saying, “You never get sick, Namill. Maybe there is something here that disturbs you.”

I tried to put my daughter at ease by replying, “You do not remember those early days when we came to live with Baron Marekel. These fevers came often then. I just have problems with new places. I will be all right, my lady.”

“I will be all right as well, Namill. These seem to be good people. I would however agree that things are quite different here. Maybe you can however do things in our room that will bring you comfort.”

“I hope so as well, my lady. Now, please excuse me.”

Ulemai hugged me and kissed me before excusing me. I felt flushed accepting the affection from her before strange people. Marekel had also not shunned my presence in his life. His wife was my daughter, so he allowed me to share in her daily activities. She was allowed to express her pleasure in having me in her life. While she did not know me as her mother, she had been brought up to love me. Somehow I felt that she knew the true connection between us. What surely worked against a full realization was my unwillingness to return the affection. I would watch over her and protect her, but there was no love in me for her. As long as Marekel was present to possibly threaten my child, I would stay in my place to watch over her. I left her only because I felt that my daughter was not in danger from those of this world. Worried about what Marekel was doing, I allowed myself to be excused.

And we learn more of the reason for the journey when we switch back to Jelnaya.