A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 40

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Forty


Majestic did not sense the presence of the others until long after I had. After a period of anxiously awaiting for Marekel to attack, I went into a period of wondering why they did not. Noticing a growing nervousness in Majestic, I found myself smiling with the knowledge of what the group was doing.

“Are they coming?” the caterpillar finally asked.

“Of course,” I replied, “but not until they are ready. They have had to fight their way through the passage, so are taking time to rest and prepare.”

This time I barely noticed a change. If it had not been for my own work to incorporate my influence in the weaving of the silk about the chamber I might not have detected the clues revealing how things were developing. Before I could speak of what I noticed, Majestic voiced the influence he felt from his own magic.

“I am going out to them.” As if he needed to explain, I heard him add, “Before they are fully prepared.”

I warned him, “They have a divine champion and a rather skilled mage with them. Do not think that they cannot set up their own traps.”

“I have survived worse than them. I have my own magic and tactics. They will fall victim to me.”

Watching him move to the entrance, I could only think it was for the best. I really did not want my actions with Marekel and Ulemai corrupted due to the influence of others. He had people with him, but I felt they would have been warned to give some deference to my connection to the rulers of Chaliger. In the end, what happened here would affect them, so they needed to be the ones responsible for any outcome. The only thing that bothered me as Majestic moved forward was I could not think of any option for him that would truly be for the best.

For someone in the form of a giant caterpillar, he fought very well. The flight of arrows did not pierce his skin. It seemed that the weapons also did little damage to him, and I had to move up to watch upon hearing a scream of Corporal Bremorn that I felt was his final breath. I made out the large blade of Marekel as it struck, and with the caterpillar reacting I heard Jelnaya voice a change of tactics.

“Chering, Vulge, Kandrid, support Marekel! Men from Chaliger come with me!”

I heard Majestic speak momentarily of feeling a coming victory, but his confident voice dropped as I could tell he faced experienced men with quality weapons. I did not know what plan Jelnaya had, but accepted that she had put those in front who could grant her time. While Majestic seemed able to challenge those before them, nothing he did proved able to overcome those opposing him.

The sounds of a song had me understand what Jelnaya had gained the support of those from Chaliger to perform. As a divine champion, she would seek the presence of a god. Her deity was not of this world, so she needed those local to make a plea for those in control of this world to grant their blessings. I felt a certainty of doom in my situation hearing the voice of my daughter join in the song.

Seeing a glow from the passage let me know the battle had become more than a normal contest. The yell of Jelnaya commanding the soldiers of Chaliger to fight I could tell spoke more than just the inspiring tones of a leader. Seeing the body of the great caterpillar quiver before Majestic roared in pain let me know the battle had turned from being one he thought he might win.

Jelnaya stepped around Major Horbron to strike with an odd ax that ripped into the side of a section of Majestic. Suddenly an eruption of what appeared to be spirits filled the space around the grand caterpillar. I found myself awed by the swirling ghosts. While I had eaten the corporal bodies, another had claimed the souls. Majestic however incorporated both physical and spiritual into his form. While the non-physical presences were freed, they acted as another level of protection that I could not claim in my own fights. As he spoke to command those who he had absorbed to fight for him, Jelnaya blared out her own instructions.

“Men from Chaliger, fight as you have never fought before! Men from Davelda, prove yourselves!”

The cloud of spirits prevented me from getting a good view of the battle, but I knew things were not going as Majestic expected when the form of Jelnaya stepped up to send her odd double-bladed ax into another section of the great caterpillar. I had been with the lady enough to feel that I had seen her in the variety of moods of which she was capable. I however heard her shout with extreme glee as spirit after spirit dispersed with her attacking another part of Majestic when the battle became reduced in the number of opponents.

When I could sense the combat had turned against the one who had held the chamber in my absence, I prepared for my own fight. I tested the strands of webs where I had placed my magic. I did not know who to expect to advance first, but I was ready to prove myself in combat.

Having Ulemai come through a cloud of spirits surprised me, as did her statement. “Mother, this is lovely.”

“What?” I could not help but reply.

“Marekel said that there were fruiting plants beneath the webs, but he did not mention them flowering.”

“You don’t get fruits without the flowers.”

“Why don’t you appreciate the beauty?”

Not enacting the attack I prepared, I simply warned, “Ulemai, step back. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“So, am I to want to hurt you? You’re my mother. I want to get to know you.”

“What? This is what I am, Ulemai. I don’t think there is anything more to know about me.”

“That is not what I am, Mother. If I am truly your daughter, why am I not like you?”

I could not voice that answer. When the truth was that she was as she was because I wanted to prove I was not like I was, I had no choice but to question my own existence. From within me I again felt the anger at being nothing more than a governess instead of ruling over the people. My daughter however would reign. I had made her something I wanted for myself. I could not help but be proud of her.

Resigned to hope for a different ending than total annihilation, I commanded, “Ulemai, step back. I don’t want to hurt you.” Seeing her ready a mace, I had to ask, “Why are you here? Are you going to kill me?”

She held her stance as she said, “You know why I’m here, Mother.” Her head only momentarily turned, but it was enough to assure I knew what she asked about. “Is that the Spring of Cormorphin?”

“I never heard it called that until going to Davelda. Marekel found the name somewhere, but as far as I knew it has always just been ‘the pool.’ Some have called it holy, but it is surprising what some consider holy.”

“It will make me immortal?”

That was a question I could not honestly answer. “I don’t know. I always felt it corrosive, and wondered how the plants could survive when their roots surely tapped the liquid. Marekel came that day to end the source of the evil that destroyed his home and land. He did not come to gain immortality. He did consider the pool to be filled with good water, and jumped in without speaking of feeling anything harmful. I wondered about him at the time, as he did come from the pool clean from the battle and not hurt.”

“He didn’t wash me in it?”

“You were a baby, and there was a need clean you. He didn’t dunk you in it, no.”

She laughed at that. Finding some humor in what I said, I chuckled. The eyes of both of us moved hearing a scream from Majestic. Ulemai then made an assumption from me staying back and allowing a man to lead in battle. I could only laugh at the question.

“Did you plan on having another child with that monster?”

“You don’t plan on children, Ulemai. You just assume they will come after doing certain things with a man. As for that caterpillar, I could not imagine how I might do it with him. He was just here when I arrived.”

Hearing another scream from Majestic, my daughter stepped back saying, “I told them they could kill you, Mother. Not you, but the monster. I demanded my chance to save you, but… I DID LOVE YOU!”

Marekel now rushed forward. He came to the side of his wife. She nodded, then stepped back into his embrace. Instead of attacking, Marekel however stated a difference in this meeting and our previous one.

“You need not fight me, Namill. I thank you for giving Ulemai her time. I was as scared as she was that you would not be so gracious. Now, your memory will be precious to me as well. I have others to do what is necessary.”

I had to reply, “My fight is not with the others.”

“Your fight? You’re a monster. You fight whoever comes. You fight whoever is in your way. The only reason you care to fight me is that I am the one who made you make a promise of concession. Still, I gave you time with your daughter. Give me my honor, Namill! Your fight is not with me.”

Jelnaya stepped up to say, “The only way to get a chance to fight Marekel is to overcome those who are here with him. I believe it should be you and me. What Marekel said of you can be said to apply to me.”

I saw only two from Chaliger step in front of Marekel and Ulemai. I did not see Major Horbron, and knowing that he would protect his nobles I had to assume he had been seriously wounded or killed. Those from Davelda worked to remove the carcass of Majestic, but I had to assume they would also confront me before I could face the husband of my daughter.

While I knew what I had planned, I looked at the number before me and asked, “Is there no way to gain a truce?”

“Sure,” Jelnaya unexpectedly replied. “Allow your daughter to go into the pool. Give her a future with her husband, and we will leave you to your future.”

As I was about to reply, I watched as the two soldiers from Chaliger dropped the ends of their torches to burn the webs around them. Remembering the difficulties I had with Marekel after he realized the importance of the strands around him, I quickly acted to make my opening attack. Having an arrow pass very close to a hand had me pause with concern, but seeing Jelnaya act let me know the fight was on. Determined to prove my superiority, I activated other spells I had set in the webs.

Jelnaya was like Marekel in that she managed to avoid obstacles and get to me. While I did trap a couple of those from Davelda, their free member had the opportunity to manage a rescue. Marekel did not fight, although did manage to provide some instructions to his men that had me concerned about moving in their direction.

Another trap did catch the leader of those of Davelda. He however called out that he was all right and instructed his men to fight on. Jelnaya paused enough in her attacks to give orders to Vulge and Kandrid. As I defended myself from the lady while considering if I had any more traps available where the men were, I found myself concerned for the actions of another.

“MOTHER!” my daughter screamed, “JUST STOP!” Almost as a whimper she added, “This is my life being decided as well.”

I was not the only one that yelled as she took off. Ulemai had chosen a good moment however. Her husband was directing his soldiers, and they were out of position to stop her. Jelnaya and two from Davelda were before me. We however all yelled as Ulemai ran and jumped into the pool.

It was Jelnaya who voiced a concern other than immortality, “Marekel, can she swim while wearing that armor?”

And the final chapter comes.