People in the Mist
Most of the plates establishing the portal with Father’s residence were near the front door. It was actually pleasant that Sterrig placed his beneath a veranda. Instead of needing to rush due to the weather, it was snowing, I paused to simply look around. The structure looked more like a poorly constructed set of domes, although I knew inside it was very pleasant. The mountain scenery was also lovely. I did not enjoy the cold however, so soon rushed to the side door nearest the veranda.
Actually knocking, the butler having horns and the general appearance of a goat opened the door saying, “I saw you arrive, Master Vernallor, but you are one to normally let yourself in.”
I replied, “I am in the wrong mood to do that, Genalda. I need to be pleasant and agreeable at the moment.”
Hearing a lady ask, “Are you certain you came to right place, Vernallor?” brought a smile to my face.
There were humans on this world, but a noticeable percentage of the population was something else. The butler was actually a goat best I could tell. The horns curving around his head definitely gave that impression, although the facial hair and long growth from the chin could have been done on purpose. My brother, Sterrig, and his wife, Theria, were close to being badgers. The one reason I tended to visit this sibling and not Dechapper was because I appeared completely alien to those of his world while I had no problem in being human when on this one.
Seeing Sterrig, I went ahead and mentioned my problem. “Someone tried to kill or do something drastic to Orintious, Heratin, and me. Caught us completely by surprise. I want to know why.”
Being a sibling, it did not surprise me to hear, “I can completely understand not liking two of the three of you.” Of course those words were followed by better ones. “Sounds like you need a drink to loosen your tongue. Theria, dear, get a bottle and – oh, get us each a bottle.”
The wealth we had gained from the last adventure had not gone to Sterrig’s head. He already thought like that, but had never been able to afford his wants, much less his dreams. What surprised most who knew him was that he was actually doing well with his wealth. It really was a pleasant house, at least on the inside. The beer was good as well. While Dechapper did know how to handle money, I actually felt to get some advice from Sterrig on what to buy when I finally decided to strike out on my own.
Hearing my facts along with the tale, it was Theria who had some words. “The assumption you always make in a situation like that, Vernallor, is the man is desperate. Whatever he hired you to do, he wanted it done. That is a problem with being a mercenary, sometimes you are not considered of value until all other options have been tried.”
I did appreciate what she said, but I still had my problems. “I felt I gave them the important information. I definitely did not hold back anything.”
Theria had brought more than a bottle of beer. I thought of her as cute and not attractive. Having fought with Sterrig all through my years growing up, I knew how loose his skin was. He tended to dress in tight clothes that gave him a more normal appearance, but he would rip off buttons and belts to give him an unexpected advantage in close combat. Theria also was in a pretty tight outfit. Having traveled with her, I knew she did not have the curves of a human female. I however saw Sterrig enjoy her presence, so suspected Theria had more than enough female badger qualities to satisfy.
She said, “They were probably holding back a lot.”
I replied, “But there was no answer on the trunk. Well, honestly, I felt there was. I felt I was providing important clues.”
Sterrig said, “But you did all that research, right?” After nodding to him, he continued, “Well, then – you’re right. You needed to talk this out. Let me however talk for a while. You definitely have immortal presences. The problem is they aren’t supposed to be. This should have been a normal royal joining. A special occasion, of that there is no doubt, but not a singular event in the world’s history. Kings take themselves a queen just like everyone else. What you need to look for, Vernallor, is that singular difference in this wedding.”
Theria now supplied her own advice. “You probably got the history of the man’s kingdom, Vernallor. I mean, that is where things happened. What you probably need to do is get the history from the lady’s kingdom.”
“And follow that with histories from those other kingdoms that are involved. While internal politics can get deadly, foreign matters are always potentially deadly. Why were certain kingdoms considered worthy of holding pieces of the trunk while others were not.”
“Always look at who benefitted from whatever happened. Somebody instigated it, so somebody was ready to pounce. Well, look at those who did.”
I pulled from my bottle, then said, “All that work.”
“Father was going to have you work on something. Might as well do something that will get you paid.”
Those words settled my mind. Feeling comfortable, I sat and talked with my brother and his wife. These two were not immortal. With Sterrig being about forty years older than me, I wanted memories of him in good times. Growing up he had lived in hovels where there was not anything to do but scuffle with each other. I remembered when he would come into Father’s home seeking to lie low while police forces looked for him. I smiled hearing that Theria was pregnant. Exchanging words about each other lives, I believe the time went well for each of us.
Returning to Father’s home, I found Orintious sitting in a chair in the front room. He did not say anything. I noticed that he was reading a book from my room. That told me that what I wanted to say to him was something he needed to hear.
“I hope I am still on the payroll, as I have work to do. Sterrig however did get me inebriated, but I suspect it will take time for Father to get me the books I will request. Probably be at work early.”
He replied, “I will determine that matter of you being on the payroll after I see you back at work. However, Vernallor, I hired you expecting you to already know that things could get deadly.”
“I don’t have your years of dealing with it, Orintious. Also, I did not understand why. It made no sense. That is why I needed to go to Sterrig. Life had not been good to him. I needed to hear things from him.”
“You could have told me.”
“You and he do not get along. He definitely would not have talked like he did if you were present.” Before he could say otherwise, I added, “And you would have come. Orintious, you are not a brother I grew up fighting with, which is something I would like to keep with us.”
He rose while closing the book, then tossed it to me before moving out of the house. “Three days, Vernallor. I expect you to prove yourself worth the money.”
It was good seeing Thursdeck. I tossed the book to him while telling him that I would return needing to sleep for a time before going to work. He assured me that he would be present to help. Feeling good, I went into the stacks.
Father was close to the doors, giving me the impression that he had also been waiting for my return. “Was the time with Sterrig productive, Vernallor?”
I admitted, “He gave me the perspective I needed to hear, but I don’t believe he gave me the answer. However, he was right. To truly understand what is going on, I need a broader perspective.” I told him the books I desired, admitting that those were just the kingdoms I could remember so would probably ask for more, then I added, “And go ahead and add any other texts you feel could be of relevance.”
“I don’t work that way, Vernallor.”
“Why not? This is my potential inheritance. This vast collection of material. Why can’t I also have access to your wisdom?”
“Because I am not going to direct you, Vernallor. Your answers will be along your path, which I will force you to follow. Mochsha would tell you that the movement in the mist ahead of you are those waiting to meet you. I don’t want to steer you away from them. Find your questions, Vernallor. I will help you gain your answers, as I want you to find the right ones, but I will not tell you what the questions are.”
Accepting the answer, I thought about what question I might need to ask, and actually came up with something. “Then I desire a text on the differences in arcane and divine magic. The high priest cast an arcane spell, not a divine one. The reason might be a clue into what is going on.”
“I believe you have read the basic texts, so I will provide one that goes into depth. If you cannot understand it, maybe it will give you the questions you need.”
“Thank you, Father.”
“You’re welcome. Now, let me warn you. Your valet could be one who will seek to steer you. The one thing I have not given any of my children is their past. That does not mean it is not out there. You have seen two of your siblings gain their past, and grown up knowing Heratin who has always known things of himself. However, I did not gain any of you because I was interested in your origins. Honestly, I find the past I give you to make you more interesting.”
I replied, “What I have seen is that Orintious and Mochsha are more comfortable in their pasts. Having the shadows of their pasts gain substance has strengthened the foundations of the lives they wanted to live. Neither of them have abandoned you, and Heratin has always considered you his father. Learning of my past could do the same for me, but I am not certain yet. I don’t have that many years behind me, so the greater mystery is what is ahead. Still, I see you and the family I have as something very positive, so something I want to keep.”
“Get some rest, Vernallor. The books should be there when you awake.”
I actually suspected I knew, but being tired and inebriated I felt the need to ask, “Father, you do know your past?”
“I know it very well, Vernallor. It is however something I fled. If I may be honest, I don’t want my past. If I am giving you a good past then I am bestowing upon you a blessing I wish I had for myself. Still, that makes me feel more like your parent. Every parent wishes the best for their children, and seeks to provide the best for them. I did not remove you from your past to curse you, Vernallor, but to bless you. Trust me, whatever you learn, I meant the best for you and always will.”
“If I have learned anything of my family, it is that none of my siblings abandoned you. They all claimed you until the end. As of this moment, I have no plans to do different.”
“I am glad that I did accept you into my family. Now, Vernalor, go get some rest.”
And Vernallor starts to work to figure out his situation.