A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 23

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Twenty-Three


No one in the castle had any idea of Sennapre, Davelda, or any other world. They had some idea of fantasy, but only considered those stories as being flights of fancy and not a real history. Those of us that had come with Marekel were not treated graciously as legendary figures, but only as rare guests. I found no problems with the castle, although it was my nature not to relax.

It did not surprise me to find that the others who had come with me were also doing things out of the usual routine of those that lived in Chaliger, although I found it nice no one was working against the strange activities. I climbed to the battlements, then moved to a rather tight section over a long drop. While the soldiers did have orders to keep a watch on this section of the outer defense of their home, I could tell that they did not like the duty. Finding someone willing to keep a willing presence on the avoided section, it did not surprise me to find the visitors left alone.

“Ah, Jelnaya,” Irgamy said keeping his relaxed position, “it does not surprise me to see you.” As if not to be found in error, he tipped his hat while adding, “You `are always a wonderful sight.”

I looked at him and Sephex, then let them know that I recognized what they were doing. “Should have expected the two of you to have float stones.”

The mage replied, “Float stones is a little obvious in its description, so we tend to use the technical term: Torgaphic Stone.”

“How much trouble is it to have them work?”

“As pure as these, not much. The problem is having them work properly, but if they are not powered then they do not work at all.”

Irgamy asked, “How many tricks do you have up your sleeve, Jelnaya?”

“I have the grace of being a woman. Most of what I do you men consider mysterious.”

Both laughed, then Irgamy asked, “Are you also looking about and realizing why not every parcel of land within fifteen days travel has not been mapped?”

I did lean between some merlons to look over what I could of the land in the dark as I replied, “It is not the most pleasant of scenery, but I can understand the pride of those who are able to make a home here.”

“Would you rather live here or on the water?”

“I told you, I like to move around. Being a pretty bird in a cage high on a mountain or on the limited deck of some boat will not please me.” Wanting to supply a better answer, I added, “I call Nehallum my home, and it is stuck in the middle of mountains. It is in a nice little plateau however, so not nearly as confined as this place.”

“Not for a home. How about excursions?”

I thought about returning some improper phrase, but calmly went ahead and admitted, “I can ride a horse for days on end, so I guess I can ride a boat.”

Sephex commented, “So hope springs eternal.”

Irgamy said, “I believe Jelnaya, that you and me have similar personalities. Different backgrounds, but I do not find you much different in opinions. I am not losing my desire for you.”

I had to say, “You really have not been courting me, Irgamy.”

“No. I wanted to make it plain that I would not treat you as a pretty bird in a cage. If you stepped aboard my boat, it would be of your own free will with me accepting that you could jump off. You might not have a Torgaphic Stone, but I would assume you to have some other trick to survive the fall.”

“I have a cloud stone. It is not the best method of surviving a drop, but I know that I will live through it.”

Sephex said, “You end up wet.”

“Yes, but having me angry at needing to use the cloud stone then wet only gets me really committed to doing you harm.”

Again the men laughed with Irgamy then saying, “I have never married, Jelnaya, although I have had women.”

“Whoever gets me will have all the honor a man should have in his wife. Break that honor, and you will wish that I was only angry at you for having to use a cloud stone.”

Sephex commented, “She isn’t turning you down.”

Irgamy replied, “I noticed. Jelnaya, I have cooks, so don’t need them. I do not have maids, as I don’t trouble myself with them. To keep myself busy on a boat ride I will clean things. I will sing, but most of what I write is just reports to my superiors.”

I understood the statements, and saw no reason to not give honest responses. “I have ladies in my family that taught me to cook, although it is rare I make use of the lessons. I would suggest you keep the cooks. As for maids, I do what I can to keep things clean around me as well. As for me needing maids, I can get in and out of a dress, and there is nothing that can really be done with my hair. I can sing well, seldom bother to write anything down, but I do like to read. I thus will quote things, although usually not poetry.”

“Unless it is on the Spring of Cormorphin.”

While he probably made the statement in jest, I replied, “If I cannot tell you about whatever mission I am on, you probably will be wise to question my decision to go on that mission.”

“So, why did you make the decision to go on this mission?”

“Fergush told me to. End of that.”

I liked his smile, so was in a good mood when he asked his next question. “Will your husband gain the same level of obedience?”

“If I don’t think so, I won’t marry him. If he has me after the marriage thinking that I am as annoyed as when I use the cloud stone, trust me that my obedience will not be his concern.”

He rose from his relaxed position to come before me with both hands on the stone behind me before saying, “I am not hearing anything to lose my desire for you, Jelnaya. In fact, you are making me think. I know a lady like you will require things of me. I however need you to tell me something. Do I start the courtship now? Will I lose you by not going ahead and making my mark, or can I simply spend time with you until the desire to gain you forces me to make decisions and commitments I truly might rather not?”

“Honestly, Irgamy, what you are doing is acceptable. You are not ignoring me. The questions are the right type of questions.” He had his arms to each side of me, but I lifted a hand to grab his bearded jaw as I made a statement. “However, what you are doing grants you no tolerances for romantic advances. Yes, my divine champion status will force certain decisions from you. Until you come to terms with that, I am off limits except as a companion.”

He backed up, bowed, then said, “I understand, Honored Jelnaya."

We both turned as the voice of Dumourl said, “Well, good to see the two of you are getting along.”

Irgamy replied, “And how about you, lizard guy?”

“No problems at all. Not the first time I have been in a situation like this. It isn’t my non-human presence that bothers the people, but simply that I am a stranger. It seems here that they really long for something to break their monotony, so are more than glad to see me. They are also curious people, so were wondering about any blossoming romance.”

“Indeed it might be. Jelnaya and I are getting around to breaking the ice with each other.”

I saw the lizard person look to me, and I said, “Don’t tell me you are not considering anyone, Dumourl.”

My father’s friend replied, “Probably not, Jelnaya. This adventure will determine that.”

“I can understand. I was there once. Cannot say I would have liked my life if it had gone otherwise. Hope you can look back and say the same.”

“Hope I can look back. Is there any place at Fergush’s table for losers?”

The fact that Dumourl was still alive to stand before me had me reply with confidence. “No, but don’t think just the final battle counts. I believe you have stories to tell, Dumourl.”

“I’m not like you, Jelnaya. You have a way of making people want to listen to what you have to say. I have my stories, but I seldom get to tell them. I drop in on your father a lot of times just to talk.”

“I find him running the family business, and he makes me listen to him. He reminds me that I get the stock. What does he tell you, Dumourl?”

“The kill power of his ammunition. He also tells me how you will dance in front of his sentry weapons. Claims to have a team working to make one that will keep even you from challenging it.” Dumourl changed his focus as he said, “You know, Irgamy, that if you get serious about Jelnaya then you will need to meet the great Venicht Dozzrine.”

It was Sephex that replied, “Him and Fergush, so it seems.”

“Oh, Fergush already has Irgamy under inspection. Don’t think Venicht will be surprised by Irgamy either. One thing you can learn as you get older, the younger ladies do not mind you looking. Fathers and deities however have even more leniency. They both have different attitudes however, so you treat them differently.”

I felt a need to put an end to that conversation. “Yes, but in the end it comes down to one thing, am I happy with the man.” Seeing the men nod, I asked, “Are you here to send us to bed, Dumourl?”

“We don’t leave tomorrow, Jelnaya, and we are guests. I saw them pointing to you being up here and speaking of the danger. I reminded them that you were the danger, not where you were at. They then thanked me when I said I would check on you.”

Irgamy said, “Assuring a proper charge on our Torgaphic Stones, Durmourl. Do you have something for a fall?”

“A fall never bothered my father, and I assure you that I won’t die from a fall either. If you know the stories of my father, you should know that heights do not bother me.”

I felt it wise to call it a night, so said, “Okay, so a fall won’t bother you guys. Meet me on the sparring field tomorrow, and let me see if I can help assure a fight won’t bother you either.”

Sephex rose to bow with Irgamy. Durmourl had the standing to grab me and hug me. Moving to the castle, I noticed an elderly man rise up to open the door for me.

In a soft voice, he said, “We have a fighting god. He is not one for women, but admits that you have sent a number of men to look to him. He wanted me to warn you that the fight is not the threat, but he said your words with the men has changed his mind. What he now tells me to say is that Baron Marekel is where he is because he saw past the fight. Forcing the fight can force a win, but what we have now is better.”

I had to reply, “Graciousness between deities is as mandatory as it should be between us people. Is there something I can do to acknowledge my gratitude for the words?”

“I told you that upon the return of our baron many of the men sought out our fighting god. He feels that you already honored him. He wishes you well, Honored Jelnaya.”

And the actual adventure starts, and the first death occurs.