A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 19

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Nineteen

(Namill)

Over the next few days I found myself learning the foolishness of my calling of my power. Those Marekel had gained had the mentality and weapons to take on any threat. Where I saw hope was in a lack of calm when there were no challenges before them. Those from Chaliger were content to allow time to pass, but those that had joined Marekel acted as if they had things to prove every moment of the journey. With only a claim of providing meat for the evening, I saw risks taken that had me thinking someone would surely die. Understanding that I did not need to risk my own power, I watched hoping that the foolishness of others would seal their doom.

What brought me concern was learning some of the benefits of the new companions. Not only did they have certain weapons, but healing gifts as well. I thought of myself in learning those with immortality had bodies that would restore them. It concerned me that I could not simply seek to wound them, but would have to make certain to completely harm them beyond any benefit of their body to have them recover.

Listening to Jelnaya speak of her latest dragon slaying helped stress those thoughts to me. Not just the feat itself, but all the moves necessary to manage the kill would be a great risk to any regular person. The men however took to her story, although to possibly keep her speaking they moved their thoughts to another topic.

Vulge spoke of the large boar-like creature Marekel and his men spoke of killing on our earlier passage to this world by saying, “Riding a dragon is not my dream, although having a mount like that would be great.”

Jelnaya replied, “I doubt people would be glad to see you ride in on that.”

Chering voiced his agreement by saying, “Especially not like they do for King Terish riding in on a centaur.”

Vulge spoke over others speaking their agreement. “A mount like that will however make a statement of my power much better than a horse.”

Jelnaya replied, “The statement made will probably be that you need to walk.”

“What type of mount would you want?”

“Horses from Davelda are fine with me.”

Kandrid said, “You worship He-Who-Fights and not He-Who-Rides, right Jelnaya?”

“And what do you boys have to say about Irgamy’s boat?”

Irgamy replied, “It’s not big enough to have a need for a vice-captain.”

Chering said, “I do like the spaciousness of my vessel. I have no fear of walking over a railing every time I turn around.”

I had to turn my head hearing Marekel softly make an observation to Ulemai, “Jelnaya handles the attention of a number of men rather well.”

I replied, “With her type of life, how many ladies does she usually hang around?”

He raised his voice to say, “Jelnaya, I stated something about you, and my daughter’s maid challenged me. How many other woman warriors tend to be in your company?”

She replied, “I will not deny that Fergush is a male deity. The woman tend to worship She-Who-Serves, She-Who-Loves, or She-Who-Survives. The latter does have woman warriors, although they tend to act on a field of battle to preserve the life of those who fall. Strangely, She-Who-Loves, who is opposed to Fergush, does have champions who battle, but those are not particularly the females.”

“How many other female champions of Fergush?”

“None, although Fergush has few champions. Most are like my great-uncle and are just lifelong devotees. I know a number of women who fall into that category.”

Marekel then turned to me to ask, “Does that settle your mind, Namill, or do you have another question?”

I replied, “It just gives evidence to my claim that the reason Jelnaya handles herself so well around so many men is that it is the company she usually keeps.”

Jelnaya said, “That is true. While I have numerous ladies in my family who I spend time with, and who try to guide me, I have from an early age sought another type of life for myself.”

“So, these men have no chance at you?”

“Your men have better chances that these with me, except possibly Irgamy. Those from Davelda are equals with my grandmother. As for Dumourl, he is a friend of my father. Sephex is too old physically, although if he gains immortality I might have to give him a second look.”

Horseman Askerly mumbled, “If I gain immortality on this trip, would you consider me?”

Jelnaya moved over to grab the man’s head then pecked him on a cheek before proclaiming, “I guess the same would hold for any of Marekel’s men that gained the blessing.”

The demonstration did have the men that went with Marekel to show some interest in the young lady. Up to now I received the impression that they were not certain of the new people to travel with them. No mention had been made of Marekel taking the journey to Davelda to seek others for some mission. While knowledge of the legend of the Spring of Cormorphin was common in Chaliger, a connection between that tale and Marekel had not been strongly established. Something in Jelnaya’s demonstration however got the men to realize that they were becoming a part of a much greater story than they expected, so they began to show some interest in more than simply the exotic travel.

Listening to the various tales of those that had joined Marekel had me begin to plan the doom of all those with me. The immortals of Davelda sounded like normal men who had lived too long, and I easily envisioned killing them. Joy filled me as I thought of the tricks I could perform in dooming Irgamy. While a positive figure, he gave me the impression of one who could be fooled making his defeat entertaining and not simply putting down a threat. Jelnaya I however could tell would be a challenge. She was constantly ready for a fight, and someone who would not fear any opponent. I listened to the tales seeking to find the weakness in her.

Returning to Chaliger I felt would enable me to hear the adventures again. Indeed the people were interested in those that returned with Marekel, but everything was novel to those of his community. He had left with an old stallion pulling his buggy, but returned with a young mare declaring the intelligence and power of the breed of horse that had enabled his journey. Marekel had taken gold with him, and passed out simple gifts letting all know that he had gone somewhere worthy of spending the funds. The people of Chaliger wanted to hear about the journey, but with most having their experiences limited to the nearby area they did not register the true difference in what they heard and what adventures a normal traveler of this world would relate.

The fact that the others also rode horses from Davelda were noticed by a number of the soldiers and those that worked with the animals. Hearing Marekel mention that we would be leaving again in three days, but walking or using regular horses caused a number of questions to be asked. He gave Ulemai the responsibility of seeing that the guests would be adequately housed, then went to assure things among the workers. My daughter had grown up in the castle, so knew the rooms. She easily directed servants on where to assign the men, then told Jelnaya to follow her. The steward however stepped up noticing the lady carried the saddlebags from her horse.

“Dear fairy lady, I can carry your belongings.”

Jelnaya replied, “Fairy lady?”

“That hair must be the result of fairy blood.”

“It is the result of the peculiarities of men. My god did this to me, and he is not a fairy god.”

Without any sign of committing an error, the steward said, “I’m sorry, dear lady, although I am pleased to know that hair like that is not normal.” As she loaded him down with her belongings, he then asked, “Do you want me to carry that as well?”

“No,” Jelnaya replied holding something that was wrapped in silk cloth. “When I said that a god did this to me, I meant it. This weapon is divine. I do not use it often, but I keep it with me. It is a drahabard.”

“A drahabard? Your god has you killing snakes?”

She laughed then admitted, “The original story is of it being used to kill a special snake. I haven’t used it upon such a creature, but I brag about the things I have fought with it.”

Ulemai hissed, “Legray, do not bother the lady.”

“No, Ulemai, but it is all right. To find that stories about me or my possessions are known makes me feel that I am in my place.”

“Well, Legray, come. You may listen as we walk, but then we ladies will need our privacy.”

Hearing those words bothered me. This was the castle my daughter had grown up in. She knew the building, and was very comfortable with her authority. While she ever gave devotion to Marekel, it bothered me that Ulemai would take command and possibly leave me out of her activities.

Jelnaya was polite as we walked through the corridors of the castle with my daughter explaining some things. It helped her spirits when the visitor mentioned things about the paintings, and allowed some moments of discussion about the artwork. As the steward moved on with the things he was carrying, I was glad to hear my daughter ask the question I knew she was waiting to present.

“Dear Jelnaya, would you be willing to attend one of my socials?”

She replied, “I’m a guest, Ulemai, and my business has nothing to do with your home. I also accept the days requested before we return to our travels. If you want to fill the time with a social, I will make myself presentable. However, I am not known to be calm.”

“I just want to have a guest. We have very few visitors, and almost none of your status. Those that come are usually just the men who are not here to speak to me.”

Jelnaya’s body language indicated that she sought to be polite as she replied, “You should have spoken to my grandmother about me.”

“I did speak to your grandmother about you. She said that you could be entertaining. She also said that you would not be mean.”

“That does not mean that I usually get invited back to socials.”

Ulemai quickly stated, “But she also said that you would be honest.” Seeing a shocked expression on Jelnaya’s face, my daughter said, “I want that honesty, Jelnaya. You gained a book on the Spring of Cormorphin. I cannot read the writing of Davelda, but I would like to know what you learned.”

“You are not going to like half of what I tell you, and I am not going to like telling the other half.”

“I will be going with you, Jelnaya. I thus need to hear the half I will not like, and it probably would not hurt you to tell the half you will not like.”

Jelnaya only nodded before she said, “I might tell you about the women in my family, and how they deal with me.”

“I did enjoy getting out and seeing new sights. I also enjoyed my time with your grandmother. You are someone I would not mind getting to know, and that would include learning about those ladies that help to guide you in your life.”

“I will allow you to have stories of me just like they do. Let me know the time for the socials.”

And Jelnaya feels out her place in this strange castle.