A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 24

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Twenty-Four


We did not leave this day in the same manner we left before. Three draft horses were loaded with gear, but everyone walked. Behind one of the animals was connected the buggy. While my daughter spoke of being determined to walk with the others, Marekel and others expected her to quickly tire. I spoke of moving on foot in a manner of being there for Ulemai, although truly wanted to be alert for my chance to act in some manner this day.

The armor put together for my daughter did seem heavy. The leather and cloth did have a style, although it also did not appear flattering to her form. Ulemai did check with Jelnaya about thoughts on the outfit, and as we began walking out of the castle I listened to the exchange.

My daughter said, “Jelnaya, your crystal armor cannot be lighter than this outfit. There is a lot of metalwork beneath those glittering stones.”

Jelnaya replied, “It is not as bad as other suits I have worn. Not that it matters, as going into combat without armor is not wise at all.”

“Will we see combat today?”

“I will see combat today. It might just be sparring with the men, but I will do something to promote my god.”

“Oh, but why do you not tire wearing your armor?”

The expression on Jelnaya’s face was partially frustration, although there was a slight smile of amusement as well. “I am going to wear something. Think of what you usually wear, Baroness. All that finery with a number of accessories. Do you tire in it?”


The simple answer did not bother Jelnaya, but she continued with the discussion. “No, because you got used to it. I am used to wearing armor.”

“So I just need to get used to it?”

“Wear it, Baroness. At the end of the day think of how well it served you. You might want to make adjustments. There are probably pieces we can remove. When we do see combat, definitely pay attention to how the outfit helped or kept you from making certain moves. At first I would recommend just becoming more used to the armor, but later we might decide how well other adjustments will work for you.”

Jelnaya then went into a discussion of her armor. She spoke of finding it, and wearing it for the benefit of the magic even though the outfit was not in the best condition. Ulemai did speak with Jelnaya concerning cleaning the garment. Support for the earlier words was made when the divine champion mentioned wearing the armor for a time even in its poor condition, so when she did find artisans able to repair it other alterations were also discussed to have it better work on her body.

The conversation did help my daughter. Not only did give her some information, but it simply allowed time to pass with the outfit on her body. At the end of the conversation Ulemai did not simply display confidence in managing with the garment, but moved in a manner of having some comfort with the attire on her person.

It was as the men began discussing a possible place to rest for a long break that Ulemai asked, “My lord, is that a bog down there?”

Marekel replied, “Yes, Ulemai, that is Flaudeir. It is where I met Degretet and gained the horse from Davelda.”

She looked around, then admitted, “I know we left the road over an hour ago. I have never been here.”

“I am sorry that you have not seen this land to the extent that I have, Ulemai. The men with me took off after a goat. There is fish in the bog, so I went down simply to check on the quality of the water. It was then that I heard this great splash and saw the two creatures attempting to make it to shore. One I learned to be this minotaur-like creature and the other the aged horse from Davelda.”

As we approached the accumulation of water, I pretended to slip and upon having a hand contact the ground I sent a message, “Wait. Prepare however, but do not act too fast.

I saw ripples in the murky liquid, then looked around to see if the men noticed the action. They actually did, although did not speak as if feeling threatened. I could only smile at the words. I was also pleased when Ulemai looked around for something else.

She said, “My lord, you said that Degretet went ‘there.’”

Marekel replied, “Yes. After coming from the water, we went to rest on these rocks over here. As you can see, there is a good patch of grass here for the horse. Let me see, I have been trying to keep the direction proper.”

I softly smiled seeing Jelnaya move with Marekel and Ulemai. Of course, when the young ladies moved a number of eyes followed them. There were those that did not, and they moved to the bog speaking of what animals could live in the water. As the local soldiers spoke of certain fish and other animals that could be found near the bog, a spray of soupy liquid resulted from a rush of a threat I knew to be usually lurking in the area. I was impressed to see Jelnaya hold a position near the couple, although surprised that Irgamy did not move either.

Vice-captain Chering screamed out, “Isn’t anyone going to do anything?”

Irgamy replied, “If he was my man, I would have.”

“Not your man?”

Jelnaya said, “What part of deadly did you doubt, Chering? Also, you certainly let an opportunity pass to prove yourself to me. Tell Grandmother Straekin that Negrosh did not commit suicide.”

“Is that it, Jelnaya?”

“Yes, Chering, that’s it. Again, what part of deadly did you doubt? If that had been a misdirect in order to get us to drop our guard on Ulemai, I would feel bad. Negrosh was your man, so you should feel bad about not doing a thing to help him.”

I could only smile when the man did not focus on his faults, but attempted to blame Jelnaya. “Ulemai? She has her men.”

“They are regular men. They have less experience with the omniverse than you. They are not immortals. They do not have special weapons. If it had been one of the soldiers from Chaliger, I suspect Baron Marekel would have gone in. He has experience with the monsters of this world and that bog. That was your man. I hope those of the Davelda Navy look down on you for losing that man.”

Vulge replied, “Honored Jelnaya, if Chering had gone in, could we have saved Negrosh?”

“He would have been armed and ready for a fight. What killed Negrosh was surprise. Chering would have gone in understanding the threat. It is highly possible he could have encountered the monster as it worked on Negrosh and forced it to consider other things than moving off with a meal. He should have also been able to give some sense of location to others on where to provide their help. Yes, if Chering, or you, had immediately gone in, a rescue could have been made.”

Chering asked, “What is so special about Ulemai?”

“I was with Ulemai. If I had been at the water, I would have reacted. I might be the champion of He-Who-Fights, but I do not worship He-Who-Dashes-Off-Into-Deadly-Peril. I noted my position and possible tactics of the threat, then made a decision on my situation.”

Irgamy said, “If you see a monster moving about, you should be prepared and cautious going toward it.”

Vulge replied, “Negrosh was deadly with his hands. I however do not believe what attacked him could have been hurt by his hands. Negrosh was also a strong swimmer, but I doubt he had a chance there either.” The big man moved to look at the water, then commented, “It must be really deep right there.”

Marekel said, “Deep enough to drown a horse. If you had seen my condition coming back that day, you would have no doubt that I never found any real bottom.”

Ulemai supported her husband by saying, “He was very dirty and stunk.”

As those from Davelda said a prayer for their lost man, I found myself scared. While the strike had been successful, the death did not produce the fear and confusion I expected. Very limited and practical reactions were made. I had actually hoped to lose another man or two, but found myself surprised to have lost the one. Worried that I had taught a lesson instead of breeding uncertainty, I found myself wondering if I should worry about someone from Davelda killing me once I revealed myself.

I listened as Marekel spoke concerning the travel ahead. The intent surely was just to get the mind of the men off the loss and back on the journey. I however listened with concern in not feeling any victory. There was a time when I savored the taking of any life. Whether a bird caught in my webs or a man seeking to remove an evil, the misery of a creature realizing that its life was at an end was a sweet pleasure. As Marekel spoke I wondered if the man had simply died too quickly, and considered to assure that the next one would have his life seep from his body a little more slowly.

There were places along the trail that I felt it would be easy to take a life. There however were not places to take all the lives. Considering what had happened, I concluded that any of the monsters I could contact would need to prove itself especially deadly, or I would have to take actions that might have me break the promise a little too soon. I started moving with the others along a path away from the bog planning how to take another life, although realizing the problems I would face during and after any attempt.

Seeing the extra caution taken at the camp site had me concerned that things were not going well for me. Instead of having the group scared, they were attentive. I thought it would be amusing to find the group too scared to take a bath. Men went in the water first with weapons in hand, but came up speaking of finding no threats. By the time us ladies were told to bathe, the men had moved on to assuring the camp would be safe from other threats.

That evening Irgamy and Jelnaya gave lessons on fighting in water. Vice-caption Chering tried to join them, but could not match the proficiency of the two heroes. What also helped was the two having different weapons. Both stressed the usefulness of daggers, although mostly worked on defenses instead of attacks. While both Irgamy and Jelnaya spoke of their success with underwater threats, both lectured the men concerning the pride in simply surviving contests in dangerous environments.

Ulemai went to bed that night feeling that she had been wise to have forced her artisans to make her the armor. While it was questionable just how much, if at all, it might protect her, I found her to feel more a part of the group in having the outfit. She went to bed feeling able to survive the journey with her husband, and I actually laid down hoping she would indeed find a way not to prove herself as being worthy of my heritage.

The men from Davelda begin to realize their situation.