People in the Mist
I left Orintious to go to Father’s. My oldest surviving brother did not speak against me leaving, as he understood why. What he did not consider is how much I had pieced together from the simple clue the house provided. I really did not go to speak with Mochsha, but to check my own theories.
It did not completely surprise me to find the maps still in my room. The books had been looked through with a couple taken, but nothing on my work to locate things had been considered of value. Feeling that I had the final piece of the puzzle to solve a certain mystery, I sat down to again look over the maps and my notes about places.
Seeing Father come into my room surprised me, although I calmly waited to hear his words. “Mochsha felt it was time to return to Orintious. She mentioned you being there, but, Vernallor, I can sense you just as you sense me. Wondering why you had come here, I told Mochsha I would inform you to prepare to return to Orintious.”
I reached to tap a point on a map while saying, “It’s here. The place we want to go is here.”
A tentacle moved to turn the paper, then he said, “Yes. Getting there isn’t so easy, so you probably need to start in Junorshy.”
“That’s what clued me in, Father. Slavery. Orintious once had a slavery operation going on beneath his home. Junorshy is known for being active in the slave trade. One reason people were lost to history is that they were sold as slaves.”
“You are going to learn that Junorshy is active in other things, Vernallor. Do some more research on that city before you go there. I believe Mochsha has the books you want, so speak with her. Whether you decide to do so in front of Orintious and his men is up to you.”
“That is what is troubling me. Some are seeing possible wealth secured as well, but I cannot believe it. If there was any reason to have done what we are planning, it would have been done. People are acting now out of ignorance.”
A tentacle came around my shoulders as Father said, “Yes, mostly. There is always the dream with men like those who get hired by Orintious to find the treasure that was lost. What they tend to forget is that no one hides treasure to lose it. They hide it to secure it in a place where only they can find it, then it becomes lost when something happens to them. Usually, the simple minds of the greedy do not have them doing much to hide their treasure, so it is usually found by others who simply live and work in the area. Occasionally however what is secured is something no one wants to find. The locals do more to hide the things, as they fear it being found. Only ignorance will cause later generations to seek to recover that which was lost.”
I looked Father in the eyes as I said, “What you just said answered another question. We do not need the trunk to open this place.”
“That was actually never the intent of the trunk. There are different types of greed, Vernallor.”
After thinking on those words for a moment, I said, “Well, let me see what Mochsha, Orintious, and others have to say. Oh, Mochsha gave me permission to work on her father’s crypt. My next project would be to assure that we do remove the evil and erect a proper place of rest.”
“Those texts would probably be better gained on that world, Vernallor. Texts on magic I do have, but evil is more of a concern of the gods. People do not come to me for information of that nature, and I never sought it either. I probably should have.”
Finding fault in what Father said, I replied, “But you raise us to be good.”
“I raise you to see the value in yourselves and your actions. That simple lesson is something few learn with me having pride in that I have taught it to all my children. If you value yourselves, and seek to add value to your lives by your actions, people will see you as good. There does come a stage where one then wants a god to see value in themselves, either that or they want their lives to continue. With me, I sought to have my life continue. If I had not lived all these millennia, I never would have gained you children. You are a blessing to me much more than what I believe any god could offer me.”
“I cannot believe your god, that of your original world, does not see value in you.”
“That is a discussion for another time, Vernallor. You need to accept what I truly am. There are evil gods, Vernallor. Now, you need to get ready to return to Orintious and Mochsha.”
Thursdeck came when I called, and I let him know that I wanted to appear better than I usually appeared. He took the command without any complaint or comment, but simply let me know that he would have my bath prepared. I chose one of my better outfits from Heratin’s society, then worked on how I wanted to appear.
Arriving at Orintious’ home, I saw everyone standing around as if waiting for me. I had taken some time to work on my appearance, but I did not believe I had taken that long. While I saw Orintious and Mochsha, it was Mellurd, the oldest of Orintious’ men who stepped up to hand me a stein of ale.
“Drink up, Vernallor,” he said, “as you deserve it and need it.”
“What is this in honor of?” I asked.
“No honor, except that we are recognizing you for bringing this to our attention. Souls need to be made at peace, which includes yours.”
Orintious said, “We found another room, Vernallor. It surely was hidden behind a secret door, but the fire destroyed the mechanism. In the gutting process we found the other room with a number of bodies, all manacled. No doubt most were females.”
Hearing that, I did drink some of the ale, but then asked, “Any indication of the age?”
“We’re saying about fifty years, but I sent a local man who could ride a horse to Baron Amonter. We are supposing he can tell us things. At the worst, I want his reaction.”
“Well, until then I guess we can discuss other things. I know where to go.”
Mochsha said, “I was telling Orintious about that as well.”
“Yes, well, you left the maps in my room.” Laughter sounded at that statement, and after taking another drink I went ahead and said, “Father did not deny my conclusion, but told me to check a nearby town.”
“Glad we agree on that. That however does not mean we have agreed we are going.”
Orintious said, “No, but let’s talk about that tomorrow. As strange as it might sound, let’s discuss slavery. I know Minchell is a slave, but I have not ever really treated her that way. Honestly, Father teaches us to recognize the importance of all. Whatever Minchell’s duties, I have always tried to treat her as important. Mochsha and I are looking for people to work our lands, but let me say that slavery is not an option. That is not to say that I am against slavery. If any of you want to commit suicide, go tell Minchell that you are going to work to have her freed.” There were some chuckles, then we drank to the lady when she sounded her support for those words. “Let me however say that what we found below is a clear statement of the evil that can be found in that business. I am here because I asked Mochsha to find out about my past. She says she sought to solidify the mists. Well, when later children come seeking things of me, I do not want them finding evil in the mists of their past. I am glad to know who my father was, and to have the luxury of speaking with my mother. I hope the same for those who follow me.”
I felt those were good words, but after drinking some more I had to say, “We’ll need to stay strong dealing with Junorshy. I believe they deal with illegal commerce, as the sources say there are a number of groups handling slaves. If that is all they can say positive about it then we should worry about what is not being said.”
Mochsha admitted, “What I read says the same.”
The men seemed glad we opened up the topic. I found a number to gather around me with them gaining Mochsha to take part as well. They were worried about layers of difficulty, so I understood when I heard voices of relief in hearing we did not need to gather the pieces of the trunk. My concerns about terrain and unreported acts to secrete the tombs were not considered important, as the men felt they had dealt with those issues enough time to feel successful. We however continued to discuss the topic until a company of soldiers arrived with Baron Amonter.
While the noble did allow Orintious to show him things, he never spoke of being surprised. He did speak words of sorrow at the number of bodies found, and assured everyone that a priest would be summoned to consecrate the grave and sanctify the space. When Orintious mentioned having no desire to handle slavery, the noble moved responsibility on to his superior.
“Viscount Precormin does get in ships with human cargo. If anyone wants to purchase the lot, he won’t stand in their way.”
Orintious had to ask, “So no one concerned themselves with these?”
“No. You have the history of your property, Orintious. It would not take much research to figure out who did this. Just to make certain you understand, it was since that time the welfare of this parcel of land began to fail. While you can accuse me of knowing about this, it takes an owner who cares to truly turn things around. I saw that in you from the first, and what I see here is that my assessment of you was correct.”
“I’ll be waiting for the priest, Baron.”
“There’s a special type of wood that is best for lining the walls behind the paneling of that type of room, Orintious. I will see about having a load delivered to you. Do a good cleaning, then wait for the priest to show up and perform the rites. After that, restore it as you deem best.”
Orintious did have the baron discuss slavery. From my point of view they did not go into too much detail, although I could tell both were familiar enough with the topic that they easily handled some issues. Baron Amonter did not seem pleased that no financial ledger of the slavery transactions had been gained. All Orintious had were the sheets of paper, which were the ownership deeds. There was one for each body. He checked certain details he found on the documents with the noble, and he freely answered the questions, but neither really gave me enough to fully understand the particulars of slavery.
I broke from the discussion hearing Mochsha say, “I’m going back to my house, Vernallor. Do you want to go with me?”
“After a couple of steins, I might as well stay here,” I answered.
“Of course, Vernallor. Just for your information, I’m not going. You’re being successful, so I understand you wanting to go. Times will however change, so keep listening and learning.”
“Mochsha, they tried to kill us. I’m not going for revenge, but I’m not really certain why I want to go. Yes, there is a mystery, but I believe I have solved it. I want to say I am going to stop evil, prevent evil, or just assure that evil does not take hold. They tried to kill us, and that was not a good act.”
She kissed me, then said, “You’re young enough to make mistakes. Just learn from them, Vernallor. Should I hear others talk of what you did, whatever you did, I want to know in my heart that the person I continue to know and love is a good man.”
“Father says that he did not raise us to be good.”
“If you have value, you’re good. Evil people have no value, or negative value. Those influenced by an evil person will feel that their lives would be improved if the evil person is removed. Those influenced by a good person will have the people feeling a loss when they are gone. You can argue exceptions, but please don’t.”
Smiling, I said, “Okay, I won’t. Good night, Mochsha.”
And Sterrig shows up.