A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 39

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Thirty-Nine


Vulge tried to smile as he asked, “You really like this?”

I grinned stepping on the skull of one of the smaller monsters that had pestered us even as we dealt with some more formidable foes when I turned to answer the question. “And I will enjoy bragging of this.”

“In my opinion there comes a point where the battle just gets old.”

“Yes, I have been in battles of that type. Still, I am glad to say that I survived them. I also appreciate the honor from those who have to admit that I stayed true to my purpose.”

It was Marekel who said, “That I must grant you. I have not found any lack of commitment in you, Jelnaya. While the men with us are staying true as well, I believe some of their determination comes from not wanting to be found out-performed by a girl.”

Hearing a sound, I turned saying, “Yes, Vulge, a girl.” Smiling at seeing a large creature with rough skin from which came horny projections that shimmered from a coating of some substance, I had to ask, “You getting tired, Vulge?”

The large man replied, “I’ve been tired, Jelnaya. Still, I want you bragging of me staying with you. Let’s go, girl.”

Not just Vulge, but all the men continued to fight. I did not doubt the words from Marekel that I was giving them some inspiration to continue. Honestly, I considered it my purpose whether the reason was my gender, obvious enjoyment of the conflicts, or other more subtle or personal rationale. I noticed the eyes of Vulge look to me as the large opponent was joined by other monsters, and with large gulps of air he made it known that he would do all he could to stay in the fight with me.

As we stepped through the ichor that gushed from our large opponent, Marekel said, “I have only been on this path once before, but I feel certain that is our destination ahead.”

Ulemai asked, “Why would mother want to live in a place like this?”

“It’s actually rather nice. There are plants that produce fruits and other things that were pleasant to look at. Your mother had covered all that with webs, and no telling what the creature that replaced her has done.”

It was Major Horbron that asked, “Baron, do you mean webs like those?”

I saw Marekel look around. I agreed with his hesitation to respond, as I did not feel Namill had enough time to make extensive preparations even if she had managed to regain the chamber containing the spring. Marekel looked at long strands along the wall, then lit a torch in order to have a substantial flame touch the silk.

He concluded, “This is not the work of Namill. Still, stay alert. Traps were present the previous time. I managed to use them to ward off other creatures, although Namill was warned. We might be better off to leave them.”

I looked to Vulge, then the other men, and offered a suggestion. “Let’s get a few traps behind us, probably set one or two ourselves, then chance resting. It will do us good, and give whatever is around the spring a chance to make a first impression. If it is Namill, and she does not just attack, maybe some other resolution can be managed.”

Marekel replied, “For the sake of my wife, I will give in to hope. Let me also state my appreciation for your companionship. Last time at this point I was all alone. I could not chance taking a break.”

We all spoke of again hoping to get a couple hours rest while reminding some that after taking the chamber with the spring the threat should be over or highly reduced. No vote was made about who was allowed to sleep first. Marekel and I simply relaxed while discussing tactics. We then smiled hearing snores. When I looked at Vulge, he spoke in a manner of wanting an understanding before getting rest.

“You hear Chering snoring? That is why I am with him. He knew I would have his back. Still, this is nothing like I have ever done before. Give me some time, Jelnaya.”

I replied, “You take it, Vulge. Just understand that I do not want sleep. I want this finished so I can start bragging about it.”

“If you are going to brag about not sleeping while the rest of us did, I’m not going to sleep.”

I got up while replying, “Then come with me. There are things to do.”

“You would brag about staying up while we slept, huh?”

“I am a divine champion. Of course I would let others know that I went beyond the abilities of others. People would expect it of me, and my god deserves his honor of having a person like me support him.”

“Well, we of Davelda saw our Goddess. We know She is true. I want Her bragging of me. Maybe I might become a divine champion.”

I had to let the man know just how well I knew what he was talking about. “That’s my father in those videos.”

“So when I call you a princess of Davelda, don’t you challenge me.”

“Are you really good, Vulge?”

“Remember, Jelnaya, all of Davelda went to war centuries ago. There were stretches longer than this. Our type of fighting was different, but it took its toll on us all the same. Those presentations by your grandmother was all that kept me going, but I did not fail her and I will not fail you. Yes, I’m good.”

After working to set up a few traps, I spent time with Vulge practicing our accuracy with bows while discussing the merits of fighting monsters with other weapons. While he did not show the skills for handling a bow, he could send the arrow close to the target. He had a good eye, which he completely blamed on needing to aim guns at distant moving points on the water or in the air. I enjoyed the conversation, and felt Vulge after over seven hundred years was growing as a person when I heard him speak of sensing something that really was not obvious.

“Jelnaya, you hear a faint sound calling you? It’s not loud like a voice, but just nagging at your head.”

I tried to hide a smile as I asked, “What can you tell me about this call?”

He paused, then said, “I was going to ask you if you thought it might be Namill, but it’s not a woman’s voice.”

“Is it speaking to you directly, or does it mention having a message for someone in our group?”

Davelda did not have monsters as I knew them. While my Grandfather Terish with the help of Grandmother Straekin, who was the empress of Davelda, opened up the omniverse to enable them to directly experience other realities, those of Davelda were notoriously close-minded in thought. Chering had however taken the initiative to go with me, and of the men he brought with him only one had so far been lost. Vulge however did not think on monsters, but I saw him look to me as if I was the problem and not some odd mental voice.

“You hear it, don’t you, Jelnaya?”

Hoping to stress a lesson, I replied, “I asked you a question, Vulge.”

“You’re a champion of a fighter god, Jelnaya, yet we have been sending arrows back in the direction from which we came and not toward the chamber where we are going. You cannot tell me that you don’t want to fight because you are worried about hitting Namill.”

“Good observation, Vulge, but I asked you a question.”

Marekel supplied the answer. “She is hoping whatever monster is calling will come out either to await our arrival or to wonder why we haven’t shown up. If we can take it alone, we can deal with Namill or the Spring of Cormorphin should Namill not be present. She is though. Ulemai sleeps too peacefully without me with her. Her mother is nearby.”

I had to admit, “That is an observation I cannot make. You however have had a lifetime to learn about her.”

“Which isn’t enough, something I hope she will ever say about me as well. How about with those immortal couples you know, Jelnaya?”

“They give me encouragement that I can have a long happy marriage as well.”

“I’m anxious, Jelnaya. I want to go on.”

I had that feeling as well, but for the sake of others I considered it best to put some reasoning with my answer. “We can sleep on our thoughts, but I doubt it will change our minds. I would rather have lack of sleep as an excuse should we make a bad decision.”

Marekel turned to look at his wife, then moved closer to whisper, “There is no bad decision. If you kill Namill, I will never hold you at fault.”

“I keep telling you, Marekel, that Fergush is He-Who-Fights and not He-Who-Slaughters. I am not determined to kill Namill, but I am not going to let her get away with any schemes either.”

“Hearing you say that is enough for me. What I said stands, and I will ever abide by it.”

I turned to look at the man beside me as I asked, “How about you, Vulge?”

He answered, “I’m ready to get this over with. Might sleep like a baby afterward, but not right now.”

Marekel said, “I just went in that day so long ago. I did have a torch to burn webs, and used it as my shield. It didn’t last, but it bought me time to learn my surroundings. It was a hard fight. Namill used magic and was rather skilled with her form. If she’s in there, and I am saying she is, I can assure you that she has lost none of her deadliness.”

I rose from my place while commanding, “Then let’s get people up. All but Ulemai. Let’s get in some practice in what tactics you learned in fighting Namill. When everyone says they’re ready, then we go on.”

While I knew about monsters with a form like Namill, I did not pretend to know anything of her. Marekel had the experience, so I fully gave him my attention. The others had even less knowledge of battling odd creatures, and they also listened carefully to everything Marekel had to say. Not only did he provide guidance in battling the great spider-like form, but he did his best to give a sense of the chamber. We ended up not only practicing movements in combating Namill, but tactics on not disturbing each other while in the chamber.

Ulemai did get awakened by our activities, although did nothing to disturb us. Honestly, it would have troubled me if she had joined us, as battling one’s mother was not something a person should set their mind upon. When Ulemai came to us with some items from our rations, I told her my thoughts on the coming battle and saw a smile stating that she was not disturbed by my words.

What she said was, “I will try and try to reason with her if I think it is at all possible. Don’t hold me at fault for that.”

“Of course not,” I replied. “I would probably hold you at fault if you didn’t. Still, we are committed to doing what we feel we need to do.”

“You say Fergush is He-Who-Fights and not He-Who-Kills. Well, I want you to know that you act that way as well. I trust you, Jelnaya, to do the right thing.” Ulemai then turned to the others to declare, “I trust each of you. I fully accept that none of you are going to kill my mother, but do what they feel they must. I will ever love each of you, and promise you that my land will ever honor you. Now, if you are ready, let’s go see how this ends.”

And the final confrontation begins.