A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 37

TerishD's picture

A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Thirty-Seven

(Jelnaya)

I have to give credit to the men from Davelda. They sang with me, continued to fight, all while watching for threats and working to orchestrate our movements to keep us effective and safe. Marekel and his men would also take up songs, which helped me to believe they were determined to make it through the conflict. At one point Sephex began a story of him and Irgamy, and I saw the others work to better include him in their actions. It was Marekel that appeared distracted, although I could not fault him for giving attention to his wife. His lack of presence was however covered by those of Davelda presenting themselves as the leaders of our group.

While it was a moment of quiet, my mind was actively seeking another threat when I was jolted by Chering asking, “Do we break?”

I turned to see a small cave. Major Horbron and Kandrid appeared to be checking the interior, but I had to assume the question indicated that a safe location had been found. I tried to determine just how long we had been active, and other things about our situation before making a decision on the cave.

I said, “Marekel said that it would be three days. I assume those were not easy days, although he also did not have the luxury of naps.”

Marekel replied, “That is true, Honored Jelnaya. Let me also say that it was Lancer Eharrit and Footman Romark that sought a respite. They died attempting to give me a period of rest. I woke to their screams, and did not sleep again until laying with my infant wife intending to comfort her, but my body was especially fatigued.”

Ulemai asked, “You allowed my mother to watch over you?”

“If she was going to break the agreement, she certainly had her opportunity. She could have done so at other opportunities through the years. If you still have hope for your mother, it is not without reason.”

“I loved her. I did not know she was my mother, but she was very concerned for me.”

“I saw hope in how she treated you, and even me. What I have seen has not given me cause to lose my hope, so I accept you still seek her restoration. Still, we cannot lose ourselves.”

While there was a wariness from our situation, I believe most of us met the eyes of the baroness as she looked around. “I am pregnant and I believe you men are endangering yourselves with the belief you can just keep going. My lord, we must rest.”

Marekel kept his eyes on his wife as he asked, “Major Horbron, is the recess safe?”

The officer from Chaliger replied, “Our situation is not safe, Baron, although no enemies should get into the recess without going through those on watch.”

“Jelnaya, would you recommend that we rest?”

I replied, “I do not hear you speaking of a better place further on.”

“True.” I saw Marekel look into the recess, then make a decision. “Two hours half, then two more hours for the other half. Ulemai, you get to rest through both halves.”

“No,” the baroness replied. “I need to be treated as one of this group. Our number has gotten that desperate.”

Major Horbron said, “You’re still our baroness, and you are with child.”

“I am not far along with the child, and I am no less than my lord. If he does not sleep with me, I will not sleep.”

I felt a need to support those points, so said, “Marekel, you intended to have me spend time napping. I want to support your wife in assuring you gained some rest as well.”

Marekel did not appear to like that idea, so it did not surprise me when he declared, “Then, to assure my wife gains her rest, I will take the first half. Jelnaya, I trust you will awake me for the second half.”

Ulemai said, “Jelnaya, you wake me as well.”

I replied, “I do not have any experience of my own, but from what I have heard you should awaken easily enough or will not wake without us going to extra effort to arouse you.”

Major Horbron smiled as if pleased with my response, and said, “Indeed, dear baroness.”

I passed the time sitting with Chering and Major Horbron with us testing the accuracy of our bows on what monsters we spotted. Sephex stayed with us appearing agitated. While I accepted he felt the loss of Irgamy, I wondered if his nervousness was from a fear of his own death or an expectation of Irgamy to return. He shrugged when I asked the question, but did not answer. Allowing the man to come to terms with his situation, I kept the attention of the other men.

Ulemai did get up when we shook her husband. It was said when Marekel called for a return to our travels that she spent the time while we rested sparring with a larger weapon gained from Vulge. I did indeed see her with a hefty mace, but said nothing about it feeling the weight of the weapon would actually help her physically. The fact that her husband did not speak against her swinging the mace I felt was a good thing.

Everyone was already watching out for the lady, but I had the experience to put out extra effort when she stepped up into battle, sent the ball of the mace upon a monster, then stood in amazement when it dropped. I knew my Grandmother Straekin had supplied the weapons for those of Davelda, so full accepted that the blow had been more effective than Ulemai expected. I also knew the wonder and joy of making one’s first real kill. When I saw the monster drop, her reaction did not surprise me, so I quickly responded to assure she would survive to do more.

It impressed me that she did not get all excited, but calmly returned to a place near her husband. I had seen many lose their lives thinking the kill was a sign their time had come, only to find their moment of glory to quickly fade. A few had felt the remorse of taking a life, and completely turned from the conflict. I did what I could to open up opportunities for Ulemai to again use the mace. Her eyes stated that she knew what I was doing, but stepped from her husband willing to put her skills through further tests.

Coming to a section where we could move unchallenged, I saw her attempt to overcome the weariness of having the mace in her hand as she asked, “Does handling a weapon ever become easy?”

It was Marekel that replied, “Nothing associated with serious matters of life or death ever becomes easy, Ulemai. Still, to think you can avoid them, or that life becomes easy should you completely ignore them, is foolishness. The mace is a good weapon for one new to a battle. The skills you learn will not be wasted.”

I had to say, “He’s right. You don’t see me taking the fights lightly. You also do not see me not granting respect for those that rule. Right now the mace is working for you, so keep working with it.”

While Ulemai’s body language indicated that she was going to speak, it surprised me what she said. “My lord, I do not believe I could attack my mother.”

Her husband replied, “She could well force that situation, but I hope not. Still, Ulemai, it seems we will not be alone this time. There are others with us, and do not doubt most would not hesitate to do the deed. All that has been asked is that we graciously accept their actions.”

She stopped to assure we looked at her before stating, “Do not rush to do it.”

It was Kandrid who replied, “We will be as tired as you, Baroness. What should trouble you is Namill rushing to force a decision from us.”

Marekel said, “Yes, Ulemai, that is the fear.” He then turned to me to say, “And, Jelnaya, you are correct. I do not see you taking the fights lightly.”

I replied, “It pleases my god to hear you say that as much as any compliment to my skills in battle. No, Fergush is not a foolish god. By promoting respect for the outcomes of combat, he gains respect for himself. While it is accepted that this is not his world, so none here should worship him, there is still a desire for him to gain respect from the people and deities.”

“Stay with us, Jelnaya. Men from Davelda, your presence is appreciated as well. Sephex, do not believe I will ever refuse to call you a friend. Now, let’s get back to moving.”

It might sound a little cruel, but the loss of two men helped the efficiency of our actions. While there were definitely benefits to large companies, as someone who often fought alone I also knew the qualities of small groups. Following a rough level section inside a split in the mountain, there really was not the room for a large squad of personnel. As we advanced with a couple more gone from our number, I found us able to move along comfortably with the freedom to respond more efficiently to any threat.

The monsters did continue to challenge us. Having the experience of going into combat against armies and the lairs of creatures, I easily settled into the thought process of simply enjoying the fights and not worrying about my situation, physical condition, or other concerns. If someone else began a song, I joined along simply as a pleasant sign of companionship. I however did not engage in conversation, as it demanded mental effort needed for the conflict. Hearing Ulemai however gripe about a growing weariness, I started a very improper bar tune. I smiled seeing her slam her mace into the throat of a monster, before yelling my name.

Finding herself having to step over the corpse of the creature, she thanked me. There was laughter from the men. She fell back behind her husband for a time, then came forward to again power an effective blow into a creature.

The baroness then said, “I will get through this. Marekel, thank you for all you have done for me. I however must ask what was your plan if you had not gained that horse from Davelda?”

He replied, “The promise between Namill and me was until you gave birth to our first child. There was a hope she would have simply stayed. However, there was still the matter of my immortality. What Namill and I might have decided about you I guess will ever stay a mystery.”

Again the young lady moved behind her husband, and I heard her ask, “Would she have told me?”

“I honestly doubt she would have cared if you knew or not. Seeing you happy with a growing family I felt would keep any malevolence from her thoughts.”

“There is a history there that I feel our family should know.”

“I cannot promise that Ulemai. I truly know little about her.”

She stepped up to again join the combat as she said, “Then that is my strength. I will be the one to confront my mother. I need to know if you fight her or a monster.”

And Namill reaches the Spring of Cormorphin.