A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 28

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Twenty-Eight


I awoke hearing Chering demand, “Damn it, Jelnaya! Get up!”

She moved to a sitting position as she asked, “What is it?”

“How do you know?”

“Know what?”

“You say that you are going to keep watch, and something attacks.”

She wiped her eyes, then glared at him while saying, “The something that attacked was me. I attacked.”

Chering crossed his arms as he stared down at the young lady to ask, “You’re saying it was not going to attack?”

“I’m saying that I saw it flying around and decided I wanted something different in my diet. I don’t just stand by the shoreline wondering about things. My god is He-Who-Fights. I see something large and different flying around, think about what we had been eating, then decide I want something different to eat. I tell you I am keeping watch, but string my bow instead of simply taking a position. The man from Chaliger was not fooled, and your man was not fooled. It flew by close enough to chance a shot, I make a good strike, and that just put me into action. Both Marekel’s man and your man showed themselves to be good companions.”

As if the words had not affected him, Chering asked, “What about the wolves?”

“I’m going to say they were just in the area.”

“You’re saying they would not have attacked?”

“If they did, are you saying that Marekel’s man or your man would not be able to handle them?” Seeing Chering pause as if to think, Jelnaya said more. “You do not just wait for things to attack. If you want your opponents to truly fear you, you choose your moments to make your own attacks. Instead of allowing your enemies to pick their time and places, you make it known that you might pick the time and place. Not only does it keep your enemies uncertain, it allows you to have some fresh food as you move into enemy territory.”

“Okay, Jelnaya, I’m –“

“No, you idiot. If you have a concern, you voice it. You do not apologize. Trust me, I’ll let you know if you need to apologize.”

He glared at her as if waiting for her to tell him that he did need to apologize, then said, “Okay, Jelnaya, so tell me this. Do you have an active contact with your god?”

“Yes.” She pulled out the gold dagger-like icon she kept in a place over her heart as she said, “Fergush. His name is Fergush.”

“Okay, and does Fergush let you know when a fight is coming?”

“Not unless there is a reason. Some fights gain his attention, and he feels a need to warn me. Most of the time it is just that I am talking with him, and in the conversation he mentions something. It takes some getting used to, but I have been learning how to listen.”

“Okay, so has he told you anything of this mission?”

“Now you apologize, Chering. You know he sent me on this mission, so you know he considers this challenge to be worthy of my honor.”

He knelt down to face the young lady as he said, “You’re right, Princess Jelnaya, and I am sorry. This however is getting to me. This is not like the stories I read of Terish, but like something out of a nightmare.”

“That is because this is not one of Grandfather Terish’s type of adventures. This is an adventure set by Fergush. If you want something close to this, you should check on the stories of Uncle Althery and Aunt Neselle. Uncle Althery and Uncle Nuchirg first went to Aunt Neselle’s world on a challenge from Fergush. It was with her that I gained my status with Fergush. That drahaberd I carry is from her world.”

He turned to look at where she had her weapons placed, then said, “Haven’t really seen you use that thing you have wrapped up.”

“It would actually have been the better weapon to use last night. Wasn’t expecting the wolves.”

“Listen, Princess Jelnaya, I’m beginning to get scared. I am hoping it is good scared. Our empress has been telling us things like this were out there. Still, she made her life out here, and others of Davelda have.”

“So, what are you going to do, Chering? Davelda now has Grandfather Terish and Grandmother Straekin. They have me. They have the horse handlers. When you find a child of Davelda coming out here, what are you going to do?”

Chering stood while saying, “I’m just going to warn them that the stories are true, and I wish they survive them like I have.”

As he walked away, I watched as the lady got up to move to me and ask, “Are you becoming afraid?”

Wondering if she knew about me, I replied, “Just worried.”

“Listen, Ulemai has a good spirit. You keep supporting her. I don’t know where the two of you came from, but both of you are clearly good people. Marekel has a wonderful wife. Keep them strong.”

I thanked her for the words, then watched as she went to spend time with the men working with the meat from the carcasses. Looking at what was being done, I noticed a smell. Feeling that I had my chance, I knelt down to have a hand touch the ground. I made contact with something I hoped would be nearby, did what I could to enhance a certain desire, and rose to watch what would occur.

Having nothing happen for a time had me feel that the monster had backed away. I really considered it to have little intelligence, but the size of the group could have easily had what mentality it held onto to overcome its urge to feed. I however moved to Ulemai as I heard a scream from the men. Realizing that the monster had indeed come in to make an attack, I waited for the slaughter.

The creature had tunneled beneath the men. The blood that had seeped into the ground surely pulled it to the right place. The strike had been good, but then things became desperate for the men and the creature.

A fire had been created to help cure the meat and hides. When the creature struck through the ground, it found the burning wood to descend upon it. That had it erupt in pain, although in showing itself it found others to also inflict damage. I did not move to watch, although the fight moved where I could see the conflict at times. The hardened body of the monster tried to overcome the mass of men, but found some of their weapons able to pass through the defense. While it put up a good fight, the monster found its body would join the meat and hides as things to possibly help us on our journey.

While Marekel could be heard lamenting the death of one of his men, Jelnaya rushed to push men aside while saying, “You stupid idiots! Vulge is from Davelda.”

I could not tell what she was doing, but had hope as I heard Chering say, “He fought well, Jelnaya.”

“He’s not dead, you idiot.”

The words from the girl shocked me, although I still felt things were to my advantage as Chering admitted, “It’s still a serious blow he took, and we do not have medical facilities out here.”

“You stupid, stupid man. He’s from Davelda! What in Hell did you go to war over?”

Suddenly I heard some sounds, then the large man said, “Jelnaya, did you kiss me?”

“I can be sweet, Vulge. Hold on.”

It was Irgamy that asked, “What is going on, Jelnaya? Can I help?”

“Those of Davelda are immortal because their science figured out how to have their bodies regenerate. If you can keep them alive, they will live.”

Kandrid exclaimed, “By the Goddess, she’s right! Hold on, Vulge!”

Vulge asked, “Is it bad, Jelnaya?”

She replied, “Yes, Vulge, it’s bad, but you should hear the stories from Grandmother Straekin and Thaunya. They took some damage in their travels, but while others were doing magic and potions, all my grandfather did with them was patch them up.”

“Thaunya, the dancer?”

I saw activity as Chering said, “Yes, Vulge, the dancer. She went with our empress and Terish on a few adventures. Jelnaya is correct, and I’m a fool. Kandrid, get some water boiling on the regular fire. Let’s at least do this as sterile as possible. Hold on, Vulge.”

“Will you kiss me again, Jelnaya?”

She replied, “Only if I think you deserve it, Vulge. Now, stay calm. Your fight right now is just to keep your body alive. This might hurt, Vulge, but we are going to keep you alive.”

Chering said, “Yes, Vulge. You listen to Jelnaya.”

The big man replied, “I would rather listen to her than you.”

“Right now that is a smart thing to say. I saw you and was giving up on you. Jelnaya didn’t.”

“Princess Jelnaya. You hear me, Jelnaya? You are our princess.”

The young lady replied, “Well, one of them.”

“The only one that visits. You keep visiting, Jelnaya.”

“I’ll tell my aunts and cousins you said that.”

Before we began preparing for travel Marekel and Ulemai were holding a service for one of their fallen soldiers. Those of Davelda were caring for one of their wounded who was recovering rather swiftly. Instead of being pleased that another member of the group was dead, I felt some pain that it had been someone from Chaliger. I had known the man. He would often watch over Ulemai when she went out to check on the crops, animals, or simply look at the flowers. It felt wrong that Marekel and Ulemai needed to say words over their dead while the others rejoiced in the survival of one of their own.

I however realized that I needed to do more than just keep the fights coming. Not only were they learning, but the only ones that would be easy to kill would be those I considered my own people. Worse, I knew Marekel also fit into both groups. Not only was he the husband of my daughter, someone I would prefer living under my authority and not dying, but he also was more than a normal man. Killing him would not be easy. He had fought me to the point where I agreed to the promise as just a man, but this time would not be stopped so easily. I realized that I needed to find some serious opposition.

There was also the problem of not feeling myself able to overcome this group. As powerful as I had been, I had been brought to near death by Marekel. Now with the support around him, I felt unable to assure even a position to negotiate. I would have to face the problem of the group with my only option being to kill everyone, and while it pained me to admit, I accepted that would have to include my daughter.

Jelnaya is told that there is wisdom from an earlier journey.