A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 26

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Twenty-Six

(Namill)

It caught me by surprise to realize that I was singing the national anthem of Chaliger. Not only had one of Marekel’s men been targeted by the monster, but two of the three geese had been killed by them. They felt that they had proven themselves equal, if not better, than those from other lands. While they gave Jelnaya her honor for killing the other bird and sending the arrow into the monster, the soldiers from Chaliger broke out into song with Marekel and Ulemai joining them, and I found myself singing along with them.

As I stopped to put myself to some task, Ulimae said, “You have a good voice, Namill.”

“I sang to you when you were very young,” I replied.

“Well, you should continue to sing. Surely Chaliger has become your home. Still, Namill, if you want your freedom.”

“I am not a slave. You cannot free me, Ulemai.”

I was glad my daughter approached to softly say, “That is what Marekel told me. He said that you served willingly, and that I needed to honor you for your service. I do, but…”

“Do not concern yourself, Ulemai. This matter might involve you, but it does not concern you.”

“I love you, Namill.”

From a distance the voice of Marekel said, “And you should, Ulemai. Namill deserves your love.”

I stormed from before the young lady to put my face before her husband in order to only have him hear me hiss, “You involve Ulemai in this and I will –“

“Hate me, Namill? Does that mean you do not?” When I did not reply, he said, “After all this time, surely you understand that things have changed. Surely you have the same motivation for this journey as me.”

"I don’t need that pool.”

“Then why are you going? Don’t lie to me, Namill. I’m not lying to you. I will admit that I am playing this for keeps. I however have showed you that I do love Ulemai. I have shown you that I will be a devoted husband. Why are you going with me if not to do the same thing I am?”

When I still did not speak, Marekel kept talking. “Admit it, Namill, you burn. It’s still there, and it wants to take you back over. I am trying to get you to see, and I feel Ulemai is helping, that you can come away.”

“It is me,” I hissed.

“It hasn’t been you for a long time, Namill. You have kept the promise between us. I’m not asking you how, but I am trying to get you to acknowledge that you can step away. I’m not just saying for you to live with us, but children – I am saying for you to become part of our family.”

The fact that Marekel came so close to breaking our promise caused me to reply, “You won’t win this.”

“Why not, Namill? That is my question to you: why not?”

As I simply strode away, Sephex came up to ask, “Lady Namill, there are no other civilized areas around here?”

I did not get the impression that he had heard the conversation with Marekel, but only accepted that I knew something of the route. “No. We will cross a road tomorrow that runs between the Barony of Karayn and the Viscounty of Nagrundy, but we should continue straight to a mountain.”

“Do not get me wrong, but Baron Marekel traveled all that way with you and the baroness, as a baby, alone.”

It was Ulemai that replied, “He wasn’t a baron then. He was just going home. Both my lord and Namill tell me that he spoke of only rebuilding his home. It was as he returned that the surviving military of Chaliger proclaimed him as the new baron.”

Sephex listened as my daughter spoke of the tales of the early days of her husband’s rise to power. I could speak in support of those events that happened after the promise was made, although it was soldiers that verified facts of Marekel before he left to confront a growing evil. I watched Sephex as he listened to the tales, then asked a questions as things grew quiet.

“Thinking of backing out?”

The mage replied, “No, dear lady, as there was never any promise of things being easy. With a champion of Fergush being assigned to this mission, Irgamy and I fully suspected a difficult route. Still, it is a fool who does not check what information is available.”

He thanked me again then moved to take a place next to the fire. I gained the impression that he would be studying his magic. Ulemai commanded me to see to her needs before she moved to her husband. I looked to Marekel to see him watching, then moved to where my daughter’s things had been set out.

I awoke to a feeling of power. There was also a hunger, but I had grown accustomed to resisting it. I heard a commotion, but it was strange glittering red and yellow lights that had me sit up. I found myself with a feeling of concern hearing the voice of a young lady.

“That was a good attack,” Jelnaya said. “I caught the misdirect you managed with the shield, but if alone you could have lifted a thigh. The greaves should be able to take a stray blow.”

The monsters were trolls. They were formidable, but also normal monsters. The fact that they should arrive could not really be associated with any spreading evil or source of malignancy. I really did not know why I should have felt the connection to them. While I wished the trolls luck, I moved to Ulemai as Marekel left her actually feeling safe.

Vulge asked, “Do you wear greaves, Jelnaya, or is it just that crystalline skirt that protects your legs?”

Jelnaya was not wearing any protection at the moment. She had on the light garment she had been sleeping in, but that barely protected her modesty. Her red and yellow hair however sparkled letting all know her connection to her deity was active. Jelnaya also moved with a grace that provided enough protection from the monsters.

She replied, “I have worn that armor enough around you, Vulge. You just are not a leg man?”

A number of the men laughed with Irgamy replying, “I guess he’s not. They’re white, aren’t they, Jelnaya?”

“Polished walrus tusk enchanted to give me some protection in water.”

Vulge said, “Well, I hold no shame in saying I was not looking up your skirt, Jelnaya.”

Chering replied, “Indeed you shouldn’t, Vulge. What do you say about that, Jelnaya?”

The lady answered, “The skirt moves, and I accept that you men will look. As for my chest, not much I can do about it. I know it’s there, and a part of the female anatomy that you men will look at. Of course, I figure you men look at all my anatomy.” After hearing some agreement, she said, “Be proud of who you are, Vulge.”

Jelnaya darted from the troll she was on to make a strong cut on the one Vulge was fighting. He worked strong direct slices with his blade. Her attack showed a knowledge of what he would do, as her wound weakened the monster in the area Vulge’s sword came down upon. As the troll collapsed, Jelnaya darted in to peck the large man on a cheek.

He smiled while commenting, “I might not ever wash my face again, Jelnaya.”

“Then I might not ever kiss it again,” she replied.

“Women.”

As the fire was enlarged to assure a burning of the bodies of the monsters, Marekel had his men sound off. It did not surprise me to hear everyone make a response. Some spoke of being hurt, but against trolls it would have been surprising if no one had taken damage. All spoke of the noxious fumes that came from the fire, but those on watch told everyone else to return to their beds once most of the monsters’ flesh had been consumed.

It was Horseman Askerly that asked, “Baron, should we expect things like this the entire way?”

Marekel replied, “If you’re not expecting them, do not expect to survive. I want you to survive, as I could use your support and advice. I did what I could the first time, but you can see that the evil was not eradicated. Maybe your presence will help me do better.” He then raised his voice as he declared, “Maybe we can get the evil to realize that another path, a good path, is the better way to live.”

I knew those final words were directed at me. It was not the first time I heard them, so tried to ignore the suggestion. Having to suppress the hunger, I however considered what I would be losing should I defeat Marekel. While I could contact certain entities, I knew the aid they supplied would cost me. Having those with me defeat the other malignant forces would prevent me from having to pay, although would also have me needing to confront Marekel and those with him. I did not lose hope however, but felt that attrition would put things in my favor as we gained our way back to the pool. I however turned knowing it was too early to break a promise as Ulemai directed words to me.

“Namill, do you have something for nausea? For some reason I am not feeling well. I think the smoke has really bothered me.”

Those words caused me concern. Ulemai had never been a sickly child. I however looked at my daughter accepting that I could ignore any implications of her complaint. The time required to reach our destination would not be enough to force any complications. The truth however was that her constant devotion to Marekel had me expecting those words for some time.

I replied, “Yes, my lady. I have something that might help.”

As she followed me to my belongings, Ulemai asked, “The travel is not bothering you, Namill? You are older than me.”

“You are not that old, Ulemai. I made this journey helping Marekel care for you as a baby. The things I do for you now are not so demanding.”

“Marekel fussed at me for implying you were a slave, Namill. Why are you so devoted to me?”

“Don’t ask that question. I was there, and you were a baby. You needed someone to care for you. I had my own reasons, and that should be enough of an answer.”

She took the substance I provided to her. I saw her face, but I knew there was nothing harmful in it. I had never hurt her. In looking at my daughter, I felt an attachment to her. It actually pained me that she was so devoted to Marekel, but that was my promise. In breaking that agreement I felt other associated details would shatter. Ulemai took the substance, then let me know how much she trusted me.

“You need not continue to serve me, Namill. Once we return, I can see that you gain more of a life.”

I could not help but smile as I replied, “We can discuss that at a later time, Ulemai.”

And they leave civilized territory, so things get more dangerous.