A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 15

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Fifteen


The supper with all that would be going on the mission bothered me heavily. All of those that had joined Marekel were more qualified than the soldiers he had brought with him. As I sat at the table, I found myself actually considering accepting my place with my daughter. An inner fire however built in intensity, and I found myself after the meal bothered by my thoughts that wanted me to send Marekel and all his companions to their deaths.

“Namill?” The voice of my daughter pulled my mind back to my usual duties. “Jelnaya is not like me at all.”

I really could not relate to my daughter at times. She did not have my past, or even knowledge of my true past. She lived a pleasant life without complaint. All I had done in my youth was gripe and make threats to those who tried to provide for me. Ulemai wanted the love and guidance that her husband could provide, while I had mocked and ridiculed those suitors who came with the desire to provide such for me. I had been so angry when I was the age of my daughter. Even when I did hear her voice some dissatisfaction, she almost never had tones of anger. If I had said something about another lady at my daughter’s age, it would not have been nice, so I found it hard to make sense out of what my daughter had said.

“No, Ulemai, you and she have completely different pasts.”

“She is of nobility. Her father might not be a noble, but he seems rather important. Definitely a wealthy freeman. Her grandparents are definitely of the nobility. Am I of the nobility?”

My promise bound my words, but some vague answers could pass. “Yes, Ulemai, your parents and grandparents were of the nobility.”

“Jelnaya knows her parents and grandparents, but I don’t.”

“She has had to make rather difficult choices because of her situation. You had yours set for you.” Some words troubled me even now to say. “You have a good husband and a good life. Jelnaya would probably want what you have. She is right now attempting to get what you have, but is not certain about how things will turn out. Be satisfied with your place, Ulemai, because it is a good one.”

“I still would like to know.”

That was the question that ever plagued my thoughts. I wanted to tell her. She was my daughter, and I wanted her recognition of my true place in her life. I however had become a creature of darkness, and I did not want her hate and fear. I did not want her cursing her parents the way I did mine. I really did not want her following the path I had traveled. Not because I sought to keep her soul pure, but to prevent myself from having to kill her.

“Marekel saved you from having to learn. Times were hard around the time of your conception and birth, Ulemai. He saw you as a chance to start without the blemish of the past, and it has worked. You have so far honored that, Ulemai, and have been honored in return.”

“I know. I do love him, but up to now I have seen so little.”

That was the truth, as were my words. “He should have been happy, as you have been.”

I thought that I was saying good words. Not the words that I wanted to say, but the words necessary to keep my promise. I however saw something wrong in the gaze from my daughter. She did not speak to me however, but moved from the bedroom where she cared for her appearance to the one of her husband.

“Marekel, I want to learn to fight. Jelnaya knows how to fight, and I am going with you as well. I thus want to know something of fighting.”

I rushed to my daughter scared of what Marekel would say, but his words as usual were kind. “Certainly, Ulemai. Here is a dagger. Start with it.”

He had not given her a little stiletto as might be hidden in her garments for personal protection against minor threats. I looked into the room to see my daughter holding a substantial blade for slicing through tough hides, making serious marks in wood, or other practical uses. She looked at the hefty blade while asking another simple question of her husband.

“What do I do with it?”

“Well, uh, swing it around.”

I saw him smile as she made some motions with the dagger before asking, “What else.”

“There is no ‘what else,’ Ulemai. Just keep swinging it.”

She did not do as much this time as she did the time before. “How long should I do this?”

“Tell you what, Ulemai. When I go down tomorrow morning to do some sparring, you come with me. While I work with others swinging swords, work on my footwork, dodging, parrying, and all that, you simply stand and hold that dagger.”

I really could not tell what went through my daughter’s mind. Marekel was not smiling, but he did not have a displeased expression. Ulemai had grown up with him, so knew his moods. She thus could tell that he was not mad at her, or playing a joke upon her.

“It is heavy.”

“Yes, Ulemai, it is heavy. The first step in learning how to fight is to accept the weight. You learn how to accept the weapon as an extension to your body. Just as you do not consider your arms heavy, you have to get to the point where you do not consider the weapon you hold to be heavy either.”

“Oh.” She swung it a few times, then said, “I am going to keep it.”

“You are my wife. Whatever I have is yours. Here.” He undid some straps, then brought her the scabbard. “This is so you can safely carry it, or have it on your person without others feeling threatened. You should also get used to simply having its weight on your body.” I saw his eyes dart to me, then he grabbed my daughter by her shoulders to force her to look in his eyes. “Ulemai, you are my wife, and I love you.”

“I know. I love you too, Marekel.”

“I have never lied to you, Ulemai. Trust me there. I have never lied to you.”

I sensed some indication of the rebellious nature that once fueled my own life. “But you have not told me everything I wanted to know, Marekel.”

“That is life, Ulemai. No one knows everything they want to know. Definitely none truly know the future. We all have to accept that. Yes, there are things that I know that you probably wish that I would tell you, but trust that those are secrets best kept buried. If I told you, you would find yourself just as burdened by them. I do not need you burdened, Ulemai. I need you as you are. When life pulls me down, I need you as you are. Let me carry the burden. You just be there to bring me joy and make my rest comfortable. Do that, Ulemai, and our futures will be pleasant, and our children will grow up having a glorious home. That is what is important, Ulemai.”

“Will I ever be told?”

Hope flared within me at the question, but I felt it collapse into a pool of inner fire upon hearing Marekel’s reply. “No. I am sorry, Ulemai, but what I hope to happen will bring us eternal joy, but also seal the past. You will never be told.”

I saw the head of my daughter move in an indication of acceptance, although heard her whisper, “I would like to at least know that my family loved me.”

“I cannot speak for your father. I cannot even say that he knew you existed before he died. As for your mother, yes, I believe very much that she loved you. You were given to me by her, and I don’t believe she would have done so had she not truly loved you.”

“Could you at least tell me what she looked like?”

“It was a horrible situation, Ulemai. Your mother had been abused and mistreated. I would rather not tell you what she looked like. I did not see her at her best.” He moved to kiss his wife before adding, “I’m sorry, but I cannot tell you what she looked like without lying. The horrors of the place and the moment does not help my memory of certain details. I remember you, because a baby was not something that should have been there. I bargained for the baby, you, and ended up gaining it as a wife. I took you from that place, Ulemai, and I have been a good husband to you. I want to keep you, although it means going back. It pains me deeply, Ulemai, but I guess all of us must face returning full circle to those places that affected our lives.”

I had heard Marekel expertly weave around the limits imposed by his promise before. What always impressed me was not his ability to avoid speaking the truth, but his way of setting his words in a framework that actually gave his response some substance. Hearing what he said often got me mad, but seeing the satisfaction in the responses from my daughter forced me to hold back any outburst.

There was a moment of silence, then my daughter asked, “Did she die?”

I saw Marekel glance to me. He however quickly moved his eyes back to my daughter to keep her focus on him as he thought. Finally, he gave an answer that continued to keep his promise.

“That is a hard question to answer, as I don’t know if she was truly alive when I met her. I however believe that her love for you still lives. Namill serves because of that love, so as long as you have her in your life, you can be certain that you mother, whether truly alive or dead, loves you dearly.”

My daughter turned to look at me. There was no need for her to ask me anything, because we had spoken about my place in her life many times before. I cannot say that I gave answers that sounded as substantive as what Marekel would state. She never argued with me, as I would have done with my mother. My daughter would simply look at me then state her power over me.

“Go away, Namill. I will be with my husband.”

Those words hurt, but also filled me with pleasure in knowing that she did enjoy her place. None of my fears in gaining a husband had been made real by Marekel. He did love his wife. He cared for her, spent time with her, and basically provided the life, the home, the love that a spouse was supposed to provide. While the words of my daughter did hurt, seeing her happy brought me peace as well.

And some more interaction is necessary before they go.