A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 27

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Twenty-Seven

(Jelnaya)

I am the champion of a god known as He-Who-Fights. That does not mean that I like to fight, but that I will take on a fight. I heard some mumble with worry about facing threat after threat until finally reaching the Spring of Cormorphin, and then facing a truly grand battle. The prospect of that happening did not bother me at all. I was a champion of He-Who-Fights, and I would prove myself as being able to handle the situations.

I expected some comment, but not from Kandrid. He was a blond, blue eyed, Navy man that came with Chering. Kandrid usually did not say much, but I liked the fact that he would regularly work on his routines. He also tended to watch things very closely. I felt he was a good man to have with us, although it was unexpected when he spoke to me.

“Princess Jelnaya, you looking forward to fighting all our way to the pool?”

“If we do, I will brag about it,” I replied. “If we don’t, I will probably still brag about making it to this legendary pool. How about you?”

“Yes,” he smiled as he said that. “I cannot say that I am looking forward to fighting, but I do want to prove myself. Up to now I have been proud of my service to my world, but it was not something to brag about. Like most of Davelda, I was in a rut. It was a good rut however. I was happy, but I wasn’t bragging about my life either. If I do survive this, and felt like doing more, what would you suggest, Princess Jelnaya?”

Vulge replied, “Strong drink.”

We laughed at that, but I felt Kandrid needed an actual answer. “Go places. You have places to go. There is Thiminy where your empress has been living. There is Nehallum. Well, don’t know why you would want to go there. Oh! There is my father and the other children of your empress. That is what I did. I told Great-uncle Ferrigote I was going to see Aunt Debbish, and I took off. Nothing happened, but just the satisfaction I had made it on my own was a boost of confidence for me. I had a fight leaving Nitreal, but it was with something that was more of an annoyance than a real threat. Still, surviving that just increased my confidence, and I took off to see Aunt Chemiana. Again I had a problem, but in handling it I gained even more confidence. Sought Grandfather Terish, and it made me feel good that he claimed I had something he could work with. Between periods with him, I visited my father wherever he would be at dealing with those who would buy his weapons. By the time I went to Fergush, I had been moving about enough to have a small reputation.”

Kandrid replied, “I don’t know if I will take to a life like this, but I am simply wanting to get out of my rut occasionally.”

“Learn how to get to Grandfather Terish’s library. Hang out there when you feel a need to get away. As a citizen of Davelda, you can claim hospitality from the castle above. If you’re lucky, you can find a group planning some journey to a place of some interest and join them. It is a relatively safe way to travel, and a good way to start making a reputation. It will also give you things to talk about when you return to your regular life.”

“That’s a good idea. Thank you, Princess Jelnaya.”

I had actually asked this before, but the answers still did not make sense to me. “Why do you call me ‘princess?’ Grandmother Straekin has the title of empress, but she actually does not rule like any noble. Her status really was not supposed to be hereditary. Those of Davelda also did not like Grandfather Terish, and did not extend any real status of nobility to him even though he did take over a land and rule it as a feudal monarch. I am second generation, so why should I gain any title of nobility?”

Kandrid again broke his usually silent presence by saying, “You’re just something magical to us, Princess Jelnaya. You cannot imagine the centuries of seeing nothing but each day, each year, going by. The rut your grandfather pulled us from with the help of your grandmother was extremely deep. He did not supply a breath of fresh air to our stale lives, but a grand breeze. It was not a one-time event either, but him and now all these children continue to bring fresh air into our lives. Straekin is our empress, and you are a grandchild of our empress. Your father was the first child on our planet in centuries. We have to give you recognition in some manner, Jelnaya, and princess just seems like the right term.”

It was a good response, although I asked, “And what is your rank?”

“Senior Sergeant in charge of ammunition. Without me, your grandmother would not have had anything to fire on the opposition. I remember listening to her propaganda statements to pick out the clues about where we would be going in order to assure the right type of ammunition for the type of fight we would be undertaking. I was proud of your aunts, Jelnaya. They went in search through our archives to pull out all the propaganda stuff your grandmother did. I had to listen to them, and found myself enchanted by them. I really did not get enchanted the first time, as we were at war and I treated them as coded messages. When they found the one with the first use of the little jingle that became our national anthem, I was really grateful for what your aunts did. Only children would have done that. In all the centuries, we never did.”

I could not say what the others thought, but Chering and Vulge joined Kandrid in singing or quoting things my Grandmother Straekin did centuries ago. I did not join them, although I did enjoy listening. I could remember my aunts speaking of taking on the assignment after finding a few of the ancient propaganda videos and wanting to see more. They had never known their mother to have short hair, or even considered it possible that she would do some of the cute little things that were done to inspire her people during the war. Grandmother Straekin was also younger then, as she did not undergo the immortality process until after the war. I appreciated the others allowing the men from Davelda to do things from their history, as I felt a connection to the performances.

We had been told that we should be crossing a road. The path ahead was not paved, but there were rock slabs placed to assure an even surface. All of us reacted upon hearing a horn, although Marekel simply told us to proceed to the road.

The soldiers that rode up did recognize the local noble, and dismounted to show appreciation for the baroness. They did question the reason Baron Marekel would be traveling as he was with his wife, but did not speak of it being unusual for either to be spotted. The soldiers mentioned that the threat from monsters had been increasing, although when Marekel mentioned where he was going with his wife they looked at him perplexed.

The officer said, “Mount Trakenmor is spewing smoke, Baron.”

Marekel replied, “I will tell you the same thing I told the leader of a patrol years ago: Mount Trakenmor is not the threat.”

“Last time you were the only one to return, but it must be said that things have stayed peaceful until lately.”

“No shame intended upon those that went with me last time, but I believe I have a better group this time.”

The eyes of the man looked us over, then said, “I don’t see why you would want to bring your wife there.”

“She is from there. If things are to truly stay peaceful, I need to bring her. Tell the viscount about meeting with us, and to pray for our return in order to hear our report.”

One of the soldiers kept moving his head to whisper something to the officer, and he finally felt a need to speak on what he was being told. “Baron, that lady with the red and yellow hair would not be claiming to be Jelnaya?”

“She does. The lizard person is known as Dumourl and the strange men have their honor as well. I would hope you would trust that I seek to remove a threat and not to duplicate my foolishness of over a decade before.”

I heard the name of Davelda spoken by the soldiers as they looked over our group again, but the words from the officer did not speak of any of them wishing to join us. “I will tell our viscount what I have seen and heard.”

“Add that Chaliger continues to be blessed. He should continue to consider it a bright jewel in his crown.”

One of the regular soldiers asked, “Does the hair truly glow?”

I was surprised that they knew of me, much less had such questions about me, although listened as Marekel replied glad to know my reputation was spreading. “It does not glow with its own light, but there is something about it during a fight that has one notice the lady. She is a formidable opponent in battle with the men doing all they can to be worthy of gaining her attention.”

Just because I had been recognized, I felt could ask, “Men, how much have you been troubled by monsters?”

The officer replied, “Cannot say we have been troubled more than normal, but there has been evidence of them moving. We have actually been discussing whether the fact they are not attacking to be an acknowledgement of us being able to handle them or something more sinister.”

It was Marekel that declared, “They are just preparing. We are hoping to stop the evil before it builds. If you remember, I now rule because Chaliger suffered greatly. My nobility is something I take pride in, although I hope to establish a strong foundation that would make the past rulers of Chaliger proud of those who have taken over the authority of their land.”

“I will definitely send a report of this meeting to our viscount, and I feel certain he will send a message to our king. May the gods be with you, Baron Marekel, Baroness Ulemai, and those that travel with them.”

After a few more parting words, we set off on our journey. The land continued to stay rocky with trees somehow managing to force their roots down for stability. In one meadow we however paused with Marekel pointing out our objective. Between the break of two grand projections of land we could see another behind which lifted a plume of black smoke. I believe he expected some words about the sight, but everyone simply set themselves back to the journey.

Establishing camp, Chering did approach Marekel to ask, “From your experience, the monsters will be attacking at night?”

“No,” the baron replied. “Most actually are no better at seeing in the dark than we are. In any event, they are not organized. Those that target us will be looking for individuals.”

I saw Chering turn to look to me as he said, “So, if we want a fight, we can go off on our own.”

Hoping to make a point of not being an idiot, I replied, “There is a difference in a sparring session and a fight. There is also a difference in something worth bragging about even in death, and something foolish to pass the time.”

Marekel stated, “I have to agree with those words.”

Chering said rather loudly, “I like what I heard. Going off on your own is foolish! We keep double watches, and we do everything with another nearby.”

I smiled hearing Irgamy say, “We were actually doing that already.”

Looking at the sky, I announced, “I will keep watch.”

The men had been allowing me to sleep, but I kept a smile on my face hearing no one tell me to go on to bed. Chering simply commented that we would have three people on watch for a time. As I pulled out my bow, it was a man from Chaliger who also pulled out his bow while asking me what I planned on shooting at.

I replied, “You don’t have dragons, do you?”

“No. There is the nusagor.”

He spoke of a bird with thick feathers that would soar at night blasting the ground with strikes of lightning. It did not sound like a real animal to me. I however suspected something, and I felt the stories of the odd bird would pass the time.

Being dark, I really could not tell what I shot at. I however could see the black of the celestial lights being blocked, and set my aim for where I expected a shoulder to be. Having a moment of brilliance from a lightning strike caught me off guard, as did seeing the creature drop and not fall. I started the fight, so took off determined to end it. Footsteps sounding nearby let me know a man ran with me. Hearing a snarl, I turned, rolled, then came up with my sword slicing through a wolf. I did not pause, but rolled again to stop my momentum by sending my blade into the mouth of another wolf. Rising, I ripped my sword from the carcass, to strike through the skull of another attacking canine. Not sensing another close, I took off hoping to reach what I shot at.

Dogs would usually chase something moving, so I was wondering about not hearing sounds behind me. Only the noise of something ahead of me did not have me simply put my attention on what I might be running from. I darted to a side noticing a rush upon me. Ready to face another canine I watched as one wolf rushed pass before being grabbed by talons and lifted. Seeing the actual creature I wanted to claim, I darted beneath the corpse, set my feet, then launched myself at my prey. I thought it was wonderful when the world around me erupted in yellow and red. I had a device set to help me manage my hair that would protect me from energy attacks. Usually did not see the shine from my head, but I felt good actually seeing the light from my locks. Another wolf came up to jump toward me, but I was pulling myself up the corpse of the grabbed wolf to climb on the winged monster. I however did look down to see an ax from a soldier of Chaliger kill the canine. The strange bird lifted a claw as if to attack me, but I struck to cut muscle and ribs. The act had me lose my hold, and I felt myself falling. Coming down I used the cloud stone to protect my drop, although smiled at seeing the monster tumble down. I moved toward the large carcass listening for something moving wondering if I would need to kill another wolf.

A soldier from Chaliger said, “Honored Jelnaya, I will always speak of this battle.”

“We’re going to have more,” I replied.

“Up to now I have not fought with you. This time I fought with you.”

Vulge came up complaining, “Jelnaya, don’t tell me that if we can’t eat that thing that we have to eat wolf.”

I replied, “The wolves might not be good either. Come on boys, let’s check out these carcasses.”

Lessons in fighting are taught and learned.