People in the Mist
I stayed with Mochsha that night. Father reminded me of my studies, but admitted we talked until too late to expect me to work at his ability. I spent time with Mochsha speaking about things we should have in common, but the decades between her life and mine had provided us with different memories and not just perspectives.
As we directed Thursdeck to a room, my sister said, “You would be more than welcome to go to the galas with me, Vernallor. Orintious is coming, but Baron Amonter and even Viscount Precormin know you.”
I had to say, “I am still young, Mochsha.”
“No, Vernallor, but at the right age to start being seen. I know this isn’t your world, but it is time for you to get an idea about what direction you are going to direct your life.”
Thursdeck said, “One of the reasons I was sent to you, Master Vernallor. There are a lot of particulars that can create stumbling blocks for a young men, and it would be for the best if you learn to trust me to handle minor details.”
I had to reply, “It would help if I knew who sent you.”
Mochsha said, “No, Vernallor. There is usually a number of steps involved for a child to get presented to Father. It is not like somebody can just walk to our home in order to drop of a baby or can just contact Father about a possible infant. Allow Thursdeck to do his job, and see whether what he represents actually benefits you or if you feel led along another path entirely.”
“I still like mysteries.”
“I did not find Orintious’ family by tracing the clues of how he came to Father, but clues I found in him. The mystery is you, Vernallor, not Thursdeck.”
My valet said, “I would have to support her words, Master Vernallor.”
I had to admit, “I really do not know much about myself.”
My sister replied, “And that is just something we all need to seek. You however do seem to be a good person, Vernallor. Don’t lose that.”
A smile came to my face hearing Nerframe say, “Yes, Vernallor, don’t lose that.”
With those words I found myself able to settle for the night. I however woke the next morning without anything to fix my mind upon. One advantage in being in Mochsha’s house was that I could go outside. My father had chosen his properties for some exotic rationales usually with histories that spoke of events in the far distant past. Most did not have survivable atmospheres outside the residence with the rest not really having an environment that I found pleasing. Something about the property of Mochsha put me at ease, and I walked out the door to settle my mind on what I hoped to accomplish this day.
I waved at people finding that to be another advantage to Mochsha’s property. Orintious had taken over a property that had been mismanaged. While I had nothing against his mercenaries, they were not a group that wanted to make money doing regular labor. Orintious had given a number certain chores to try and restore the industry of his property. I knew most of those men, but they did not have the attitude of those coming to Mochsha. The people I saw on her property were those attempting to make a life for themselves, and I found myself interested in speaking to them.
Walking about looking at the terrain, the plants, and the people I kept having my mind disturbed. I had come to accept that my ability to sense arcane energies was something others did not have. What I had yet to fully realize was how I could make use of the ability. Coming to a decision about what was disturbing my mind, I felt it could help me to work on a certain task.
Coming back to eat breakfast, I told my sister, “I am going to head out to Bectim’s Pond. I’m going to see if I can find the channel they cut to drain the pond in order to erect the grave for your father.”
Mochsha replied, “Why would you want to do that, Vernallor?”
“Because it needs to be done, Mochsha. I agree it can be left as the resting place for your father, but it was erected to also support something evil. What Heratin and I did was only enough to remove the major spells, but there could be something still active. It needs to be consecrated, which means having it further spoiled if not completely rebuilt.”
“Okay, Vernallor, but don’t do anything further.”
“That shouldn’t be possible, Mochsha. I mean, the pond is deep, so it should be a lot of work to redig the channel. I believe it needs to be done however, so some appraisal of the actual work necessary should be done.”
My sister turned her head when Nerframe said, “Vernallor is correct.”
Mochsha replied, “Okay. Listen, I trust each of you. Still, winter is coming, so no work starts now. Vernallor, take Thursdeck with you.”
While I was not against the command, I looked at my manservant and said, “I don’t know if that assignment falls under his duties as a valet.”
“It is his problem to be assigned to a young man. You need more watching over than someone mature.”
Thursdeck said, “Your sister is correct, Master Vernallor. It however should do me well to get out and about.”
“Vernallor, I don’t care if you do have Irvachin with you. You do not go into the water.”
Nerframe reminded me, “You and Heratin were quite filthy coming back out of the pond.”
Again I agreed with the commands, although I felt a need to voice what I felt was an important fact. “If the pond is still filthy, then something evil should be considered still active.”
I saw the gaze from my sister, and understood to wait for her words. “It is still filthy. I have been out there. Okay, Vernallor, check it out.”
Having Nerframe refill my plate and glass let me know that she highly approved of my plan. I really did not know how much she knew or sensed, but I had learned she was aware of things about the house and property. She however also had a history of accepting things and not being an active presence. Nerframe however did have her own personality that reflected a desire for things to be a certain way, so her acting gracious I accepted as a desire to support my plan.
Thursdeck did not present any problem as we moved over the property. While there were mountains in the distance, most of the land in the barony was free of the rocky substrate. In one rise of bedrock there was a mist of warmth where a flow of water came up near a source of heat. Thursdeck went with me up the stony landscape and did not complain as I moved about looking for signs of previous excavations.
Not finding any sign of a refilled trench, I was actually glad to hear my valet ask, “Just how deep is the pond, Master Vernallor?”
I thought about my work to swim down with Heratin, then gave what I felt was a good approximation. “Probably forty feet.”
“Is it possible they dug a tunnel?”
“I guess they did. I certainly cannot find any signs of a ditch.”
We checked along the flow of water from the pond, but found no place where someone possibly excavated a path into the ground. As we were moving around the pond looking for possible places where a major work into the ground was performed, I saw Heratin coming. He did not have any of his ladies with him, which I found suspicious.
I guess he saw my attitude, as he spoke as soon as he got in range for me to hear him. “Yes, Mochsha sent me, Vernallor. It’s not like you could not use the company.”
“Speaking of company,” I replied, “you could have brought your ladies.”
“I’m sorry, but I do like to get away from them every now and then. They are however with Mochsha talking of making blankets. We men can spend time doing our own thing.”
Heratin listened to what I was seeking, and the steps I had taken so far. He did help in our search, as he had gone down into the pond with me. With his aid, we were able to recall a lot about what lied below. After a period of discussion looking over the pond, we felt able to limit the area for seeking the method for draining the body of water.
Again nothing was found, but with the conclusions from the earlier talk I had to agree with what Heratin concluded. “This pool holds the key, Vernallor. Look at the rocks here. This is construction forming a dam. These rocks here were moved, so the water could drain. I say if we tear this down, the shaft used to drain the pond can be found.”
“Why did they do it that way?” I had ask.
“Why? I cannot say. However, you were the one saying that the reason Uncle Decholl needed Mochsha was that he could not go under the water himself. Maybe he thought he could at the beginning, but we can see how the pool filled up to hide the work. Well, to open the dam one would need to get under the water. He thus could never get to the burial place of Mochsha’s father to do whatever he wanted done.”
Wanting to test the logic, I replied, “His wings would have stopped him.”
“Not if he could simply drain the pond.”
I studied things about the pool, then said, “Well, I am not going to go into the water to test your theory until I first warn Mochsha and Nerframe.”
“Especially Nerframe. You have a special relationship with her, Vernallor, and it would do you well to preserve it.”
Just to be conversational, I said, “I wonder if the house I get will have a house elf.”
“Depends on the world you choose, Vernallor. I doubt you will have one like Nerframe however.”
“Yes, she is something special. Let’s go back and see if the –“
I turned as I heard Orintious speak to interrupt my other brother, “Heratin, what are you getting Vernallor into?”
I had to say, “He’s helping me.”
“I know, Vernallor. I went to Mochsha looking for you. She and Heratin’s ladies told me what the two of you were doing. What did you find?”
While Orintious would complain about Heratin, the two were always quick to actually help each other. It was actually a period of honest discussion of explaining what we suspected, and not an exchange of insults. Orintious ended up approving of our conclusion, then he spoke about why he came.
“Vernallor, no doubt you are turning into a good head man. That is what I need right now. I would like for you to come with me.”
Heratin asked, “And what are you getting Vernallor into?”
“Something really odd. Like I said, my men and I are wanting a head man, and Vernallor has been proving himself. I thought to hire him.”
“I’m going with him.”
“I’m not paying you, Heratin.”
I had to suggest, “I have a valet.”
“That’s not the job of a valet.”
Heratin nodded while saying, “Send Thursdeck back to Mochsha’s house, Vernallor. Come on, let’s go see what is bothering our older brother.”
And what Vernallor sees is indeed perplexing.