A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 17B

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Seventeen Part Two

(Jelnaya)

Grandmother did enjoy being able to make little speeches and demonstrations. She always made us grandchildren feel excited to have reached her home. Once the little opening greetings were handled, it was actually my Grandfather Terish who would be fun. He had the energy to run around with us children and the fascination to actually be interested in our topics. Grandmother showed her skills in making our breakfast a wonderful occasion to bless those of us going the mission, but afterward I sought out her husband.

I found him with Menasha. I did not mind trading banter with the centaur. I however found myself surprised to have my grandfather hand me an icon to Fergush.

I asked, "What am I to do with this?"

"You do know that you can toss it into the arena as well? You doing it is not a statement of honor, or wanting to honor, your opponent. It is however a statement that you consider the battle itself to be something worthy of Fergush's respect and deserving of your full power."

"Great-uncle Ferrigote told me to never do that."

"Yes, as there have been some champions that over-used that ability. You also have the right attitude of taking every battle with the full focus and skills of your capability without any statement of intention. However, you are a Champion of Fergush, and there is something extra within you when that icon of your deity comes into play. I thus want you to have the option."

Sounded like good advice from an elder, but I turned the icon over to show some small print. "It was made in Davelda."

"Does that matter to you?"

I knew that the one used earlier was also of Davelda manufacture and it had worked just as fine, but I still felt the knowledge of its source. "Yes."

Menasha did have a saddle on, but Grandfather Terish had to walk over to where the saddlebags were set. He reached into one. Sensing what he was doing, I walked up to trade icons with him.

He said, "That one was made by Ferrigote's own blacksmith. It should thus be everything you could want."

I looked it over. Indeed there was something different about it. Not just the workmanship, but something in its presence. I looked at my grandfather to let him know my appreciation.

"Thanks."

"No problem. Now, what brings you out here? Your horse is already saddled and out in the front courtyard."

"If you had some final words of advice, and I did not make myself available to hear them, then I would be at fault."

"Just did that. The only other thing I can tell you is that I love you, which is something that we can never tell each other enough."

Usually we would hug after those words, but I stood with the icon still in my hands. "Fergush said that I would never get as good as you. I beat Great-uncle Ferrigote once in honorable combat, but my god said that I would never beat you. I however find you treating me more and more as an equal."

"You're out there fighting, Fruit. Most don't. Thus, you deserve your honor. The fact that you are surviving is one thing, but I recognize that you are out there still fighting. Here we are on Davelda, a world of immortals who all claim to be veterans of a great war, but there really is not a one, save your grandmother, that is out there keeping to the battle. Yes, you are my grandchild, so deserving of my love and support. You however are out there taking on the fights to hopefully make things better, and that gains you something deeper from me. Honestly, though, it is my love that is important. I love you, Fruit."

Now we hugged. I even exchanged an embrace with Menasha. While she was only a mount, everything my grandfather said did apply to her as well. She was out doing what she could instead of staying at home just managing to live out a normal life. With the acts of affection, and the icon of Fergush in my hand, I felt that I was now ready to face this mission.

Ulemai must have just arrived, as I saw her and Namill packing some items of clothing taken from boxes I knew to be those of local businesses. The soldiers from Chaliger were standing together near their vehicles, each with a steed from Davelda set to power the travel. I saw Irgamy with Sephex. Where Chering was with Vulge, also stood Negrosh and Kandrid who I did not yet know very well. Dumourl was hard to recognize, as it seemed that a number of those from Davelda had him surrounded. Feeling that everyone would be ready soon enough, I saw my grandmother and knew that I better have some parting words with her.

I hugged her, but found myself also having to share some affection with others of Davelda. I was a grandchild of the empress. My father had been the first child to come to this world of immortals, and as his eldest those of Davelda did feel a connection with me. While they were now having children of their own, I found myself sharing affection with those who felt a connection to the first set of children in centuries to bless this world.

I was relieved when no one gave a speech. I expected that to happen on upon seeing Chering wave to a group coming from the government side of the main building with a number in Naval uniforms. I could not have faulted him if he went through some little good luck ritual with his mates, but having his traditions intrude on our own philosophies I believed I would not appreciate. Of course, people put up with me, so I would put up with him, but I was relieved when Chering and his three companions simply went to their horses.

It was Marekel that approached to whisper, "Champion Jelnaya, have you been given instructions about where we are to go? I have, but I cannot say that I truly understand them."

I had my hands go through a series of movements, then said, "That was what I was told about getting you back home. Brullusk knew Degretet pretty well, so knew the way to his home. If I end up taking you there, it should be a simple matter of getting instructions from him on finding your home."

I did not believe that Marekel understood what my hand movements meant, but his response simply indicated an acceptance of my words. "I will then trust in you should I not feel right. I am however hoping that I will remember the terrain that I passed through."

"Sounds like between the two of us we should not get lost."

"Anything to further hold us up?"

"Not with me." I then raised my voice to ask, "Ready to set sail, Chering?"

His companions looked to him with concern, but the vice-captain smiled as he said, "If you put your hands to the oars, you will not feel that you row alone."

I let the answer suffice, although could not help but ask, "How about you, real captain?"

Irgamy quickly replied, "If my vice-captain says everything is ship-shape, I will accept that it is."

No sooner did we mount up and travel through the gates from Castle Davelda than did Chering ride up next to me to say, "That was cold, Princess Jelnaya."

"You telling me that you cannot take it?"

"Am I going to have to?"

"What if I said, 'Yes?'"

I noticed that he had enough control over the horse to continue to look at me before finally saying, "By Fergush, I will best you too."

I could not help but smile before saying, "That was the right response, although I still consider you to be over seven hundred years old."

"I am over seven hundred years old. I deal with it. Let's see how well you are impressed with me at the end of this adventure."

"You got it, Chering. I will keep the jabs down. I am usually a loner however, so excuse me if I am not the best in social situations."

"You've done well so far, Princess. Watch it however. If you put me too much in the position of some used up piece of driftwood, I could simply fall back to being an annoying chaperone."

That response took me by surprise, causing me to ask, "You can actually handle poorly done seaman references? I really am not from such a family, and have not done much myself."

"I am over seven hundred years old. Which ones do you think I have not heard over a million times?"

"Point in your favor, Vice-captain."

"Good. Now answer a question. All of us have horses from our fine horse handlers. Aren't they supposed to be eaten?"

I knew the answer to that, as I had learned it when I gained directions. "Marekel said that he could have us stable them once we reach his castle. The price of these steeds is rather high, so he plans on having most of them, and probably all, returned."

I expected Chering to ride off. He almost did, but his horse skittered as he directed it back to me. I calmly waited for his next words.

"Can you cook? I want a wife that can cook."

"What do you know, problem solved. No, I cannot cook. Grandfather Terish and Great-uncle Ferrigote do not teach cooking, and neither did me being off on my own."

A confused expression crossed his features before he asked, "Really?"

I could lie, but with my deity not being a god of lies I tended to tell the truth. "Really, although that is not an honest answer. The women in my family did have me learn some skills, but I tend not to use them. I will hunt, and can dress a carcass, but I will then ride into a settlement to trade it for whatever they have already prepared. Unless you want to try pot-luck on what I manage to find others cooking, you are better off doing the cooking yourself."

"I am going to have to think that over."

Now, he did allow his horse to take him away. I expected one of the other men to ride up to ask about what was said, but none did. It was Marekel to bother me next. He had his horse pulling the buggy for him and his wife to slow down, then called my name to check our path to take us away from Davelda.

I just told Petty to take me forward. I signaled for the animals to look to me, then I gave a hand signal. My Grandfather Terish and Great-uncle Ferrigote did not claim to create the motions on their own. While others taught them, they did admit to doing some things to learn why they actually worked. Grandfather Terish even admitted to me that such knowledge was one of the steps toward him going insane. Having grown up with him, I knew enough about the motions to trust them and left it at that. The horses had also been raised to understand the hand signals, and in seeing what I did they understood where to go.

And the journey begins.