A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 32

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Thirty-Two

(Jelnaya)

I was not one to sleep. Hearing the warning from Fergush, I got up and prepared myself. As I strung my bow, one of the men of Chaliger on duty, Corporal Bremorn, asked about what I was doing.

I answered, “My god is He-Who-Fights, and it is not much of fight if an opponent simply comes up and attacks while you are sleeping. I am not certain how this is going to go, so you might want to get prepared.”

“Should we awake the others?”

“And spoil our fun? No.”

I heard what I felt was my opponent coming down the slope. Paying attention to the dark terrain around me I made out a large black mass. Picking what I felt to be a good point for bothering the lumbering giant, I released an arrow. Hearing a groan while the dark shape continued to move, I choose a duplicate spot on the other side for another missile. Hearing a declaration that I would die, I released another arrow only to hear the snap of two other bowstrings as well.

As the grand being roared while charging toward us, I set my bow down before drawing my sword. I might not have had the best vision in the dark, but I could make out the large shape of my opponent. Seeing the mass of a large fist, probably wielding a weapon of some type, I changed directions to duck under the attack, step up a slope, then used the pull of gravity on my descent to help power the edge of my weapon. The giant roared while turning upon me, but I could tell faced other threats even as I reached to have NeverRose pierce what I hoped to be a vital area.

I had to assume those of Chaliger had their own experience with giants, as they fought in a manner that seriously threatened the grand humanoid while not allowing them to suffer. Standing still with a huge opponent that could harm you simply with a touch was not a smart thing to do. I however found my movements to be tracked by my companions, so we did not find ourselves threatening each other.

As we panted near the corpse of the giant, the voice of Marekel said, “Men, you should have awakened us.”

Corporal Bremorn replied, “And spoil Jelnaya’s fun, Baron? I think not. A good fight was a pleasant way to break the monotony of our watch.”

“Jelnaya, are any of my men hurt?”

I replied, “Just Corporal Bremorn and Lancer Jernst with me, and they both gave me the impression they had fought a giant before.”

“Yes, they are known threats to my land. Okay, men. I will keep watch around the fire as you deal with the remains.”

As we checked over the body, Jernst asked, “Jelnaya, could one of us of Chaliger gain immortality and claim your hand?”

I replied, “You mean seek to claim my hand? Sure. I mean, you have been hearing what I have said to the other men, so I should expect you to understand what you will be put up against.”

“I give honor to the fighting god of this world, but not enough that he should care if I take on your fighting god. At present I ask no more than you think no less of me should you find me looking at you.”

“You have not been looking at me?”

“Do not take this wrong, but I have been watching merely imagining using some of the things you do in my own antics with the ladies back in Chaliger. I however am understanding that should I make it through this, that I might be among the immortals. My baron will not step in my way to prevent my own dive into the Spring of Cormorphin. Suddenly, I am realizing what those of Davelda are facing. I will be in a higher category, one that might have only temporary comfort with a regular lady. You are not a regular lady, and I am thinking to go ahead and see if I can gain approval in your eyes.”

“Well, I will consider you a lot more favorably than those of Davelda.” Accepting he might not understand, I clarified my position. “Those of Davelda are of the generation of my Grandmother Straekin. Now, I understand that their bodies are just as spry as they were centuries ago, but they are still in my mind of my Grandmother Straekin’s generation. You do not have that problem, although you will find yourself simply needing to gain my acceptance. Still, gaining immortality then claiming Fergush will be two good steps to doing that.”

“Should I gain immortality, then convince myself to seek you, will gaining a horse from Davelda be enough to get me to you?”

“The answer is yes and no. Yes, a horse from Davelda can get you to me, but you will have to know your way through the omniverse to do that. The best thing to do would be have the horse take you to Davelda.”

He interrupted me to let me know that he could do that. “All I need to do is tell the horse to take me home.”

“Yes, as it will consider Davelda its home. Tell the horse handlers that you want directions to Nehallum. Once you gain Nehallum, study the ways of Fergush until I arrive or you are given a way to get to me.”

“I would not need one of your icons?”

“You want me. That will be an honor, but one of a different type.”

“Truly.” The man then knelt to say, “I am not joking, Honored Jelnaya. Take my presence seriously.”

I took out the icon my Grandfather Terish gave me and tossed it to him. Even though it was dark, he caught it. I did remember the man as being one the others claimed to have a good eye. Before he could say anything, I took off to the pool saying that I needed to wash up.

While cleaning myself, I heard the words of Fergush telling me that I was doing my job. Being the champion of He-Who-Fights did not mean that I led a life of constant battles. It was my job to promote my deity, which meant getting others to see a life with him as acceptable. In claiming Fergush I made him promise that I could have it all. What I had since learned was that those were the words he wanted to hear from others, as he wanted to be promoted as someone who could be more than just a token of victory.

As I went through the day I reminded myself of lectures from my Grandfather Terish. He was known for his great amount of knowledge. Not only had he earned respect from a world of immortals, but he constantly read or sought even more knowledge just because he had goals most could not even fathom. Grandfather Terish had told me what to look for when things appeared to be dull, and I found myself considering those lessons as I went through the day.

The men did speak to me, but I had heard those statements. What I listened for was a conviction, or lack of it, in the comments that would tell me something deeper about the man. Things about our surroundings were pointed out, but I had already discussed the terrain along our path. What I looked for were those things I felt were not as described or showed signs of problems not warned about. Basically, I spent the day understanding that we were beginning to enter the territory of our enemy, and setting my mind to looking for trouble and getting the men to understand we needed to set our minds on matters other than personal desires.

I heard some statements between Marekel and Ulemai during the day. While it sounded like an argument, the exchanges were separated by periods of time and were not scathing in tone. In a way they sounded like each simply stating their position, which I considered a good thing for any couple. I noticed how the men directed me to sit as they started to establish our camp, although felt alarmed when Ulemai took a seat next to me with Marekel coming to sit on my other side a few minutes later.

He said, “I want it said that I am glad you are with us, Honored Jelnaya. Originally I just saw you as someone to assure the protection of my wife. You however have proven yourself to be very much a representative of a warrior god. I began to fear for my wife, and told her not to put her faith in your protection. She however has said that she would be better protected with you, even should it put her in the middle of the fight, than with anyone else. Considering where we are going, I find myself agreeing.”

I replied, “Listen, you are both correct. I would even say that I am the better one to protect your wife, as I won’t be distracted by her the way you would be. However, my focus on the threat will not keep her from the harm of others. If I have to make a choice between myself and others, I will choose myself.” I looked to Ulemai to say, “You need to seriously work on practicing.”

She shot back, “I have been practicing.”

“I will admit that you have stayed in your armor, and have even worked at carrying a weapon in your hand. That has been good. Where we are going, good is not good enough.”

Marekel replied, “Those are true words. Come, Ulemai, let us practice.”

I saw her hesitate, so said, “Your husband is a good man. If that has not been proven to you, you are a stupid lady.” While she stood, I felt a need to say more. “In any fight, we must all make decisions in a moment that could affect us for a much greater period. Whatever you decide in the battles to come, I will accept that you felt you made a good decision. All I am going to tell you is that you are going to have to accept that you will need to live with your decisions.”

She curtsied while saying, “Of course, Honored Jelnaya. Marekel, I will gladly spend time with you, even to practice our fighting skills.”

As they went off, Chering moved to take a seat next to me while saying, “Sorry about treating you as a lady, but that is what you are. Really, Jelnaya, we men are trying to say that we are glad to have you with us.”

I said, “I’m not going to argue with that, but if you think I am going to sit here calmly, you don’t know me at all.”

“Actually, we’re surprised you sat here this long.”

“Well, I do know I’m a lady. I also am not cruel. I will go along with those I trust, at least for a time.”

“Listen, what you said to Bremorn got the men talking. Not wanting to spoil their spirits, assure me that we are going to a place that will bestow immortality.”

I quoted the poem to him, then said, “Grandfather Terish made it clear to me that you don’t do it for the treasure. You do it because of other reasons. I’m not doing it for immortality. I don’t even have the problem of you from Davelda. My reproductive organs work just fine.”

“You doing it for the fight?”

“I’m going to be able to brag that I was there. It won’t just be a poem to me, but a place I visited. Whatever happens there will be my story of the visit. I just quoted the poem to you. Don’t think I won’t say those stanzas boldly in the halls of Fergush, as I know it will be a claim none there can claim as well.”

“Well, I’m still in, Jelnaya. Whatever else happens, I am going to claim that I joined you for an adventure. I might just be vice-captain, but I can assure you that there will be crews out on the oceans of Davelda speaking of you, their Princess Jelnaya.”

He blew me a kiss as he got up. I expected the other men to do the same when I looked to them. Seeing only smiles, I felt my work was done. I got up and set myself to going through katas if not actually sparring with someone.

Namill will not be forgotten.