A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 21

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Twenty-One


The social with Jelnaya went nothing like I expected. I actually had the hope of gaining a reason to put the lady down. She however treated Ulemai kindly while providing a period of instruction and entertainment. I enjoyed hearing the things said about the Spring of Cormorphin, as I knew much of the speculations were wrong resulting in conclusions that would only misdirect those trusting in them. The words said at the end however let me know just how dangerous Jelnaya truly was, and as I cleaned up after the social I considered how I might go ahead and remove her presence.

Marekel returned to his room to find his wife looking over his weapons. Telling him what Jelnaya had told her, the two started into a conversation that quickly had me ordered to leave their presence. While the sounds from the room assured me that the two knew certain things about their bodies, I found myself wondering about my own relationship with Marekel and what future he expected to provide for me.

I found the voices challenging my relationship with Ulemai. She was my daughter, but what I heard in my head spoke of wondering why I felt an attachment to her. I had killed her father. In a way he had been only considered a necessary component in my own desire, although I could not conceive of why I wanted a child. The thought of eating Ulemai disgusted me, but I really had no plans for her. I did not think of my own death, and leaving this life in the hands of my own offspring was something only humans considered. Ulemai actually offered me nothing, so I found myself questioning why I even had a relationship with her.

Looking out a window onto the practice field I however realized the challenge I would be up against. I found myself accepting that I always knew it would happen. I had planned for someone to come and take what I had. My memories of carrying the baby Ulemai had me thinking of her as a lure. Other events actually had brought Marekel to me, and he fought for something other than her with me thinking back that if he had defeated me she would have become nothing but a spoil of war. I ended up using her as nothing but a bargaining chip, something to keep me alive. I expected Marekel to break his promise, and give me the opportunity to achieve a victory. I however looked to the practice field and realized that the challenge was my own limitations in imagining a better future for myself.

I could break the promise. The conditions were my own as much as Marekel’s. The glory would however be in the complete domination of him. Having him before me realizing that it was his mistake that put him in that position would make his defeat wondrous. My need to taste such a sweet victory was what had me keep the promise, although I realized that Marekel also planned for his dreams, which were much more glorious than mine.

He had not broken his promise however, and spoke of never feeling the need. As I waited for my moment of glory, I did not simply watch my daughter devote herself to the man, but found my own devotion to the lady. My promise did limit my deeds around Ulemai, but I found myself cherishing my place with her. Some respect even had been given to Marekel. I however found myself questioning the true value of the promise, and the actual grandeur of regaining my place.

It hurt hearing myself repeat that Marekel had defeated me that day. My thoughts turned to what might now be holding a place around the spring. The strategy of allowing it to soften up Marekel and those with him before I moved in bothered me. He had defeated me that day even after going through the others that sought to feed on those passing through the mountain, and had not lost any of his strength or abilities in the years since. If something could defeat him then it could defeat me. It hurt me realizing that my best strategy might be to support him.

I turned hearing footsteps, and stood in shock as a military officer, Lt. Nehelson, came before me. “Gracious Namill, what is your opinion of Baron Marekel returning to the pool?”

I felt a twinge of pain in understanding that others looked upon me with honor. They did not fear me. I had been a part of their lives, and they accepted me just as they had Marekel and Ulemai. The land had stayed at peace, and even prospered. The people saw me as a good thing. Instead of taking pleasure in having such a trusted place among those I could consider food, I could not help but feel pain that I might lose my place among them.

“You cannot ignore one’s past,” I replied. “Marekel knew that he would have to deal with it sooner or later. As with other things in his life, he is showing himself capable of seeking a way to rise above the past of others.”

“Yes, but the past we speak of involved us all. Our good baron, Marekel’s family, and many more suffered that day. What he hopes to face I believe we all need to face.”

“No. You stayed here. There was a lot to do here. It was Marekel that found fate sending him elsewhere, and it is fate again calling to him. You accepted him upon his return. I believe he is trusting in you to do the same, and with the past dealt with moving into a secure future.”

“Some say, I say, that we shamed ourselves by not going with him.”

I thought of Ulemai as I said, “You would have provided a different future if you had gone. Marekel has given you a good life. Why don’t you trust him?”

“I do trust him, dear lady, and I want him to continue to lead this land. I am here because I do not really trust him feeling the need to go.”

“If you don’t trust him to make good decisions then you don’t trust him. Your conversation is for him, and not me.”

The man saluted me before saying, “You are right. I’m sorry.”

I should have thought of the life I would be going into before making the promise so long ago. I however took on this form and began caring for my daughter assured that it would be Marekel to make a mistake. Coming to Chaliger and finding him to gain his position of authority should however had alerted me to something he could claim that I could not. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by people who were working to make their lives better. Even now, they sought to strengthen and support each other. Those from other worlds were also doing what they could to aid the local people. Strangely, in this form of a simple servant I had a much better life than I ever had in all my power.

No sooner did I start moving than I heard the voice of Jelnaya say, “Don’t ask things like that, Irgamy. You are with immortals of Davelda. The response you will get is one of their ancient adages.”

The voice of Vulge could be heard to say, “We don’t think of them as ancient.”

“I’m the granddaughter of your empress. You are of her generation. Anything you say, whether you think of it as old or not, is old.”

It was the voice of Chering that replied, “Wisdom does not age, Jelnaya. You should be glad to hear what we say, and I will compliment Irgamy for asking. The adage, Irgamy, whether ancient or not, is that the worst thing you will have to face is that you had it good before you ever sought to improve your state. Part of the horror of growing old is realizing you should have stayed young.”

Vulge said, “And don’t speak of our immortality. One thing we of Davelda had to accept was that we had all grown up. When Jelnaya’s father came to us, he had no one to play with.”

Jelnaya replied, “One of the reasons he is friends with Dumourl is that his father would bring him on journeys. Slagell however traveled alone. Actually having someone to play with was something both boys appreciated.”

The voice of the lizard person responded. I advanced to find the conversation being held in a parlor. The men had made themselves comfortable, but Jelnaya stood near the fireplace as a couple of men worked at getting some wood to stay lit. A number turned as I advanced to the doorway, although it was Chering who responded to my presence as if concerned.

“Lady Namill, we were told that a storm was coming.”

It really did not concern me why they had come inside, but I did reply, “Yes, they will come suddenly, although tend to stay the night.”

“And here I was thinking to sing to Jelnaya beneath her window.”

The man had to react suddenly to something the lady threw to him. I could tell it was silver, but its shape was not familiar with me. Seeing Chering handle it I however could tell that it was similar to the icons on her body with the man reacting to it probably in the same way I would.

“Why did you toss this to me, Jelnaya?”

She replied, “If you are really going to seek my hand, you will have to come to terms with my god.”

“Why? Ferrigote did not demand it when he gained his wife. I heard the story and saw the movie, so I know about it.”

“I am a divine champion. I don’t just worship Fergush. If you are going to gain my hand, you are going to have to face Fergush.”

Chering handed it back to Jelnaya while saying, “That requirement is going to heavily limit the men available to you.”

Irgamy moved up to take it while asking, “Will the man truly seeking you need to worship your god?”

Jelnaya answered, “No, but he will need to accept some things. I did not mean to turn Chering off, but I did not get the impression that he was taking my position seriously.” She looked into Irgamy’s eyes as she asked, “How about you?”

“I am going to return talking about you, Jelnaya. That is all I am going to say at the moment. I have certain requirements on me as well. I do have oaths to certain nobles, but I am also looking for a wife who will be able to join me in my life. I am not certain that I am looking for you, Jelnaya, but definitely someone like you. If you want to speak of your god with me, I will not refuse the topic.”

As if hoping to put the topic on a more conversational topic, Chering looked to me and asked, “How about you, Lady Namill? What about the gods of this world?”

I replied, “They are inhuman and uninterested in most things of life. Some worship them to have them close, others perform certain rites to keep them at a distance. I have never felt their presence.”

Jelnaya said, “Now, Namill, I see indications of your deities about the castle.”

“Well, I have never been that religious.”

Irgamy said, “That is your choice, Lady Namill. Was there something you wanted to tell us?”

“No, but I just heard you speaking as I moved about. Your voices were unusual. All is well. Sorry for interrupting.”

“Let your lord and lady know that their home has been gracious. Another day or two here will not trouble us, and we do want to state our thanks.”

The others spoke support of those words. I politely turned as if I would bring their message to Marekel or Ulemai. I however moved to a lower level of the castle thinking about what was said. That day long ago Marekel also spoke of the gods. His land had been devastated, and he sought relief for the troubles. I had been the cause, and my place of dominance had not given me reason to be careful about what I did or left behind, so it did not surprise me when he tracked me down. By the end of the battle there however were no words of gods, but only of concession and promises between ourselves.

Jelnaya was correct. There were icons and other things presenting a knowledge of our deities. Any priest or devotee to a god was welcomed by the people and Marekel. I however also felt I was correct in thinking that no deity was responsible for what happened that day long ago.

A crack of thunder reminded me about the group speaking of a coming storm. While the descending water would present its problems, most of the local people considered themselves with enough problems of their own. They would almost continue with their work ignoring the rain. Having a life in the castle, I could move about without concern for the storm, and reminding myself of things I needed to be concerned with I returned to my duties.

And there is more Namill must face.