A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 31

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Thirty-One

(Jelnaya)

No sooner did Namill rush off than Marekel announced, “She is not the threat! If we had turned her, which I still hope to happen, or we had killed her, there would be another. With her active, we could have the threats against us reduced.”

I had to admit, “That is possible even with a worst case appraisal. Okay, let’s get moving!”

While I was trying to stay positive, I cannot say that I appreciated Marekel asking, “Jelnaya, could you provide any help to my wife?”

Looking at the girl, I only said, “Get your armor on, Ulemai.” When she went to do just that, I moved to her to softly say, “You do not want help from me, Ulemai. The wife of Fergush is Samayer, She-Who-Survives. While she will get you through the mission and the pregnancy, it might not be in the best of manners. Surely you have a goddess to turn to.”

She replied, “Na – my mother never did anything related to the gods. I did that with Marekel.”

Not fearing anyone else hearing, I asked, “Marekel, is there a goddess Ulemai should be praying to?”

He removed his backpack while answering, “Casanor.” Instead of opening the container, he moved up to Ulemai and showed no fear in how he touched her to indicate an item she was wearing. “There. That icon is to Casanor. Ulemai, you should have already been praying to her.”

She admitted, “Namill did not speak of our gods and goddesses, Marekel. It was a traveling priest, yes – to Casanor, that told me to wear this. I believe he did mention it helping with childbirth, which is why I wore it. Of course then I was only hoping to become pregnant.”

“I will assure that we pray to her, and probably others. Let me at the moment advise that you grab the icon and say things about your situation and concern. As with all other manners with our gods, we have to hope that they are listening.”

I admitted, “The wife of Fergush is She-Who-Survives. Not exactly the focus for a lady with child.”

“Honestly, Jelnaya, if you can do that, if your god will grant you advice to assure that, I will be pleased with you.”

“I’ll probably remind you of those words. Still, Ulemai and I have been getting along.” I looked to the young lady to say, “Remember, I do plan on having children one day. You might want to tough it through some advice I give you, just to possibly have me think to do the same when I get pregnant.”

Ulemai giggled at that. Marekel and I both took the sounds positively. I guess everyone else did as well, as we were ready to go soon enough. As we began to start recognizing the upward slope of our route, Ulemai came up to me to ask a question.

“Jelnaya, what does your name mean?”

I answered, “It’s a fruit. That’s all I really know about it. I have tasted some, but that is a separate story. An important lady in the life of my Grandfather Terish raised the jelna fruit. My father wanted to name me after the lady, but there were already girls in my family with that name. My mother said that she wanted something different for her girl. As a compromise, he mentioned naming me after the fruit. My mother actually liked the name.”

“It is a good name. I was thinking if I have a girl to name her after you.”

“Yes, name her after me. Don’t name her after the fruit.”

Again I heard Ulemai giggle, and I guess the positive attitude gave her the confidence to ask, “Do you think my mother can be saved?”

“Yes, she can. Look at yourself and your relationship with Marekel if you ever doubt it. Namill still has her own problems to overcome. There are reasons she made the choices she did, and you need to accept that she has to face them. She could not just continue with you. She needs to put her past at ease. Maybe she has her own battles. Maybe she can simply accept that her past can be left behind. Still, she needs to find a place where she can come to you as a loving mother. As much as you might love her, if she is a monster then your love is wasted.”

Major Horbron said, “Listen to Jelnaya, Baroness. She speaks correctly.”

Ulemai asked, “How can I know that she is not a monster?”

I replied, “I cannot answer that. It is possible that you never allow yourself to see her as a monster. Still, Ulemai, let me ask that if I need to kill her, or any one of us needs to kill her, that you accept we killed a monster and not your mother.”

Again I heard Major Horbron speak, “Yes, Baroness. We knew Namill as well, and do hope that she will return to us. If we fear she hasn’t, even if she is acting like she has, trust us that we did not see Namill when we struck.”

“Major, I would ask your aid in one thing. Let us step in to keep Marekel from doing the deed. Don’t put that memory in his relationship with Ulemai.”

After a chorus of men sounded their agreement, Marekel started the song of his country. I heard Ulemai begin to sing it as well. Her sound was more nasally, so I worked on having her breathe properly. When she asked me about it, I told her that the lands I was from had a lady needing to sing an aria to her husband. Proper breathing helped in performing the song, although also aided in wearing certain tight garments and in combat. I had the men perform some other songs in order to give Ulemai practice in breathing.

Coming to a stop, I however heard a different kind of strength in her as she confronted her husband to ask, “Marekel, what was the promise between you and my mother?”

“The promise was that you would love me and I would not see the monster in your mother. My hope was that our bond would bring out the love in your mother as well. Surely in seeing us have such positive emotions, she would desire those in her life as well. I treated your mother as well as I could ever with the hope she would speak of wanting to stay a part of our family.”

“I grew up being told what you could do to me, but you were always so playful and sweet.”

“A woman has times. I knew that, Ulemai. When you were young, it was time for play. You were my wife, but I knew it was not the time for certain things.”

She stepped up to touch her husband, then said, “I cannot say that you were ever angry or cruel to my mother. I do not fault you, Marekel. I will continue to be your wife and love you.”

“I seek to restore your mother to us, but more than that, I seek to ever have you as my wife.”

“You want to make me immortal?”

“And prove to you, to all, that you are not a monster. If I ever showed your mother as a monster, there would be a taint upon you. I want those of Chaliger to love us, honor us, and trust us. Being immortal will set us apart. Having tales spread of a heritage of a monster will have the people fear us. I do not want those under us to be afraid of us, but glad to have us.”

Ulemai turned from her husband to look about as she asked, “Men of Chaliger, what say you of these words?”

Major Horbron replied, “We are with the both of you. I agree that we can be your blessing or doom. However, these last many years have been a blessing. Life is hard enough, we do not need to fear a curse.”

Marekel pointed as he said, “Men, let us make for that level ground for the night. Think on what you have heard, and if more discussion needs to happen, it can happen then.”

As we went back to the climb, I found Vulge to come near me and ask, “Princess Jelnaya, what are your thoughts on this?”

I replied, “Should be same as you, Vulge. We don’t need immortality. Our desire should be to find the proper cause, support it, and leave with all considering that we did the right thing.”

“You like it out here, Jelnaya?”

“A lot better than sitting around some castle or house.”

“I am made for a life like this. Look at me. I however would rather be sitting around my house.”

Vulge did have a large, magnificent body, so I had to ask, “And you cannot get a woman to stay with you?”

“The ones I get are like you, Jelnaya. They would rather be out and active.”

“So, are you like Marekel? You going out to find you some young girl that you can raise to be your perfect wife?”

“No, but – I guess I am. Empress Straekin said that there were answers out here. She certainly found a life out here. Really, Jelnaya, I am looking for a lady who is keeping a house waiting for her man to arrive. Probably on a white horse, so I guess I will get me one of those.”

At first I did not know how to respond to that. Some of the other men took advantage of the silence to make their own comments. I however found myself believing Vulge needed something to give him hope. I thus spoke to Fergush, and found him giving me a response.

“Vulge, I have two answers for you. The first is after this I want you to go with me to my Aunt Debbish. Talk to her. If she does not have an answer for you then come with me to Nehallum. Fergush says that he can direct you to a wife.”

Vulge asked, “If he can do that, why not go there first?”

“It’s a god thing, Vulge. Gods are going to test your conviction, your heart. Aunt Debbish can do that.”

“I’ll go with you anywhere, Princess Jelnaya.”

“Don’t do that to me, Vulge. If you go, go seeking an answer and not just to travel with me.”

It was Kandrid, one who usually did not speak, who said, “It’s a god thing, Vulge. What Jelnaya is doing for you, it will not just be a go-and-find-a-lady thing.”

The large man replied, “I however will just be going to find a lady.”

I put stress in my voice as I asked, “Vulge, am I your princess?”

“Well, yes, Princess Jelnaya.”

“Then let me be your princess. Let me do this for you, but accept that it will demand a price from you. Getting the right lady, or the right man in my case, is nothing easily done. Trust that as your princess I mean the best for you, then go and prove yourself.”

“Okay, but why are you going to do this for me and not any other man from Davelda?”

I heard Fergush remind me that not all battles were with weapons, and I replied accepting that learning to deal with men was a fight I did at times enjoy. “Because you came out here. You have taken the first step. I also am seeing you committed to going through with your plans. Finally, your objective is something I feel I can meet.”

Ulemai said, “You could return with us to Chaliger.”

Vulge replied, “No, dear baroness, as I would need an immortal lady. I didn’t see that many in Chaliger, and your own men will come back with that blessing. They should have a priority with you and those from your lands.”

Marekel supported his wife by saying, “Well, they should also have their own stories. Should you fail, you might come to Chaliger and listen to their advice. Should you succeed, you might show up with your wife and provide them with advice.”

I had to say, “That is one more thing that my Grandmother Straekin found in her travels with Grandfather Terish. She found herself coming out here and making friends.”

Vulge said, “I’m immortal, Princess Jelnaya. Let me go home after this and think on things. Is there a way to contact you?”

“I already told you how to gain that, Vulge.”

I expected him to ask, but was pleased that he asked the right question. “The icon will do that?”

“A blessed icon will. Honor is not just a momentary achievement, Vulge. It means something. You gain my honor, and you gained Fergush’s respect. You call for me, and Fergush will see that I come.”

“Hell with you, Chering. I’m in for Princess Jelnaya. Baron Marekel, I’m in for you as well.”

Marekel replied, “With me you are just a friend, Vulge, but that is an honor as well.”

There were sounds of agreement from the soldiers of Chaliger as their baroness said, “You will be welcomed as a friend should you ever visit Chaliger.”

Chering said, “You find you a lady, Vulge, but be warned that when you brag to me I will be wanting you help me find one of my own.”

Vulge replied, “Jelnaya is your princess as well, Chering. You work on gaining her honor yourself.”

I had to say, “Yes, Chering.”

Chering replied, “Well, I have definitely found that gaining your hand, Princess Jelnaya, will not be an easy task. I will have to honor the man that does gain it. As for me finding someone, I am recognizing that I should be a little more concerned with who I choose. I might ned to go speak with Empress Straekin after this.”

“Well, it seems there is hope for you as well.”

Irgamy said, “Well, it seems as if my competition is falling off. I am still in the running, Jelnaya.”

“Well, we can talk later whether you are just the better man, or the bigger fool.”

Of course a fight comes with the group working to stay positive.