A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 34

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Thirty-Four


We had made the climb over the foot of one mountain and were presently looking at the terrain ahead of us. I listened as Marekel spoke of his decisions over a decade before, and heard things he suspected of present conditions. The men made comments of appreciating his statements, but I did not. I was in the mood to fight, and what was being discussed was how to move through the terrain safely.

I could only guess Irgamy had been studying me during the lecture, as he chose after we again started moving to speak to me. “Honored Jelnaya, I have to say that you are a much more composed person than I expected.”

In my mood I was being calm when I said, “You just expected me to go around looking for a fight when one was not around.”

“Well, no, but I would expect you more active considering our present situation does have them around.”

“Honestly, Irgamy, the fact is that one can usually find a fight if one goes looking. What you are failing to hear are my comments of becoming a part of a great number of fellow fighters. I do not want to stand before them bragging of being a bully or someone who simply survived when most fools don’t. I want honor in that company.”

“You do speak of a different afterlife than most. I usually only hear of people saying it will be nice to be free of the cares of this world. I guess the halls of Fergush will not be free of cares.”

It was my job to promote my god, and the talk did help me control my present feelings. “I believe all people will find the next life to have its issues, but we just pick the deities that promote the things we enjoy and work against those things that bother us.”

“You enjoy talking about fights?”

“I am not going to treat them as something to be ignored, or not a part of my life. There might not be war any more, but I believe my experience of going through wars will help me in what life awaits me.” Wondering if I would find myself not liking Irgamy, I added, “I also believe listening to others speak of their battles will be preferable to other things I hear people talk about.”

“I see.”

Irgamy did not press the conversation further, but simply went to quietly moving with the rest of us. There was a pause as the men in the lead stopped to drop a deer. As it was quickly dressed, we spoke of the kill and what it meant. I had to agree with the others that while the game was attempting to stay wary, what they feared was something other than men. What kept the animals present however was what they were fearing the most was not interested in feasting on them. Something more dangerous than a predator was about, and the only option for the animals was to stay still and hope the threat passed. Telling each other to stay alert, we went back to moving.

Our beliefs were supported by soldiers holding a watch tower. None who were present could speak of previously meeting Marekel, but all spoke of having heard about him. This small fortification represented another kingdom, but they welcomed us saying they feared internal threats more than incursions from those of other lands. When the men spoke of the deer they killed, the soldiers agreed that the animals were stressed by the presence of things other than normal predators.

Moving to my bedroll after making my usual formal prayer to Fergush, I heard Irgamy begin to speak of a battle he once was involved in. It was a good story that included some clever tactics and let me know things of his relationship with Sephex. I had to interrupt the tale a couple of times to allow the mage to speak on things Irgamy said, but otherwise allowed the narrative to continue. At the end, I heard the man ask something about his presentation.

“Honored Jelnaya, is it things like that you want to spend eternity sharing with others?”

I replied, “Think of what we are doing right now. How would you like to return to your life unable to speak of it with others? Now, think of having to hold this story in for the rest of eternity.”

Sephex said, “That is what I was telling Irgamy. Unlike the tart he has been wooing, you will be someone who will not put restrictions on him to satisfy her.”

“No, other than the restriction that he is only to satisfy me.”

“Chertamae will require that as well.”

Irgamy admitted, “But that is only fair, as I will require the same.”

I said, “Glad there is no problem with that. Is Chertamae why you have been so distant, Irgamy?”

“No. At least not directly. Both of you will require things of me. At present I believe I can leave the matter to fate. Should I gain eternity, I will seek you out, Honored Jelnaya. If not, I will be a little more gracious to Chertamae or another damsel. Do not take this wrong, Honored Jelnaya, but I believe that should things turn to you I will have time to make amends for any fault made.”

“Honestly, Irgamy, you have not made any faults evident in you. I admire a man who can show caution. I make enough foolish decisions. I really want a husband, a home, where I can find safety and comfort between these dangerous times.”

“Most say that I make foolish decisions as well, Honored Jelnaya. I however agree that I look for safe harbors, and one’s home should be ever a comfortable place to find refuge. Honored Jelnaya, let me say that I have found no fault in you either. I am pleased to share your company, and my hesitation to interact with you is in fear of having you find me at fault. Trust that should this mission prove true in gaining immortality for me, you will find me more daring in seeking time with you.”

As Irgamy moved to his own bedroll, I heard Dumourl ask, “Sephex, is your captain that reserved around the other ladies?”

“He wants one that he feels is deserving of him needing to rise and obtain. Up to now the fine jewels have been eager to be possessed by him. He has been reserved simply because he had to be. I believe he is simply afraid he does not have the skills to actually gain one he feels might be right for him.”

“Give the man time, Jelnaya.”

I had to reply to one I considered a trusted friend of the family. “I told him that he had not shown me any faults. Should Irgamy gain time however, and spend none with me, that will be a major fault.”

Sephex said, “Irgamy is a good man, and understands things. He also accepts my council. If he does not seek you out, Honored Jelnaya, the fault will be all his.”

I actually did appreciate Irgamy’s reserved manner. The fact that he was staying with the mission had him continue to gain my honor. He did not rush into combat, but was quick to support those who stepped up. In a few situations, Irgamy did find himself on the front line and he showed no hesitation in directly facing the threat.

That exact situation did occur the next day about a couple of hours after leaving the watch tower. I could not say the man was not reacting to something he sensed. Whatever the reason for him to have done what he did, Irgamy came face-to-face with a monster.

The creature swung down from a tree as if a snake that had a hold on a limb with its tail. Irgamy did not just avoid the creature, but stepped around to gain a position behind it. As the monster let go to drop, all the internal mass of the serpent seemed to rush to the front. What Irgamy attacked had the appearance of a large-headed short-nosed canine with long fangs. I saw only two front feet as I moved up looking for more threats, but they secured the monster as the front shot forward to make a strike as a snake.

Again Irgamy stepped aside to avoid the lunge. While he made good strikes, the pliable nature of the monster worked to prevent most of the damage from his weapon. Irgamy moved quickly to avoid another strike, and I guess the fact he did not call for help had Chering ask a question instead of simply joining the battle.

“Would you like aid, Captain Irgamy?”

Irgamy’s voice rose in pitch as he asked his own question while continuing his attack upon the monster. “Honored Jelnaya, I know this is not something with which to use the icon, but can I claim this battle for you all the same?”

While I had my own appraisal of the creature, I still asked, “Do you think it is worth my notice?”

“Well, it’s not a rabbit, or a snake. It is odd enough that I will probably be speaking of it, and bragging about it.”

“If you believe it is something to brag about, I guess I should be pleased to hear my name come up as well.”

“Okay. Thanks, vice-captain, but this fight is mine. Jelnaya, ignore Sephex. He is my usual associate.”

I was not certain what the mage did, but I assumed it kept Irgamy alive while he spoke to me. I did turn my eyes to assure there were not other threats, but watched as much of the contest between the man and the monster as I could. While it continued to alter its form to appear less like a snake only to then strike as a serpent, it also proved to be very agile. Irgamy however practiced a tactic that I would use at times, which was to turn every attack of an opponent into an opportunity for it to impale itself on my weapon. As the monster began to show damage along with a wariness of its opponent, Irgamy found his opportunity to make his own fatal strike and end the life of his opponent.

While still panting, he turned to me to say, “I can take care of myself, Honored Jelnaya. In accepting me, you will not be gaining an anchor that constantly keeps your ship from moving where it would.”

I replied, “Then your place as one of my suitors will not be denied. However, should I ever visit you, I better see nods of approval letting me know they heard this tale and my name associated with it.”

Vulge exclaimed, “Hold it! Jelnaya, you will go to Irgamy?”

“I don’t stay still, Vulge. If the guy intrigues me, I will go check on him. I am also the representative for Fergush, and do not think that my god will let me marry without first checking out the man.”

“You will need a chaperone. What would it take to gain that position? You have admitted that we of Davelda are of the elder generation.”

Chering said, “I assume you would need to gain approval from Empress Straekin.”

I had to correct that suggestion. “My mother! You would need to go to Kernovull on Emigaila. The horse handlers can direct you.”

Vulge asked, “I can’t go with you?”

“No. I almost never visit my mother. I will head to Nehallum or some other place on Sennapre most probably. That is the world of my god. Once you gain authorization from my mother, I would suggest going to Nehallum. Again, the horse handlers can direct you. You should gain comfort and information about me, and enjoy your visit waiting for me to show up.”

Vulge looked to Chering while saying, “Vice-captain, I should be able to gain a leave of absence from the Navy to do that.”

Chering replied, “After all these centuries, you should have some accumulated time off. Other than that, I am sure Empress Straekin would approve.”

I had to admit, “She would not stop you, Vulge, and she would surely tell you that your position in her Navy would stay active. If anyone would understand a leave of absence for traveling, it would be Grandmother Straekin.”

Irgamy said, “I would welcome your presence, Vulge. In fact, I would have to honor you for going to the trouble to assure a proper courtship.”

Vulge replied, “Now, I feel useful.”

He pestered me through the day for information about the steps in the courtship. Some conversations were fun, but others were bothersome. I however did appreciate that Vulge also bothered Irgamy about steps toward matrimony on his world. While I really did not enjoy the topic, I understood that I would need to go through everything one day, hopefully would look forward to going through the process, so calmly dealt with Vulge as he kept pestering Irgamy and me about what would need to happen should we decide to become a couple.

And Jelnaya's group continues to travel.