People in the Mist

Chapter Twenty-One

Sterrig continued to drill me on what I considered minor facts, and after a period of really having to concentrate to remember certain things I had to say, “Damn it, Sterrig!  You can read the books for yourself!”

He replied, “I would not have remembered half that stuff.”

“What do you mean you would not have remembered half that stuff?  You would have found that stuff interesting.  I read it in an attempt to get a handle on certain economic factors that could work to our advantage.”

“Which is why I would not have paid that much attention to it.  It’s a trade town.  If they don’t need it, the price is low.  If they don’t have it, you can get good money for it.  There is no way to tell what the situation will be when we arrive.”

“So why is it important for you to ask me now?”

“Because you figured out the value system.”  I just looked at him, and he explained, “I bet if you go back and read those books, the information you are telling me is not presented in the way you are telling me.”

“Well, I do organize the information for my own use.”

“Which makes it valuable, Vernallor.”

I was glad to have Orintious step in and remind Sterrig that we had over a week of travel ahead of us, so had plenty of time to discuss the details.  With those words we all spoke of heading to bed.  Since I had a room in the main house, I went with Orintious.

The home was pleasant, but I looked around feeling it lacking in not having the presence of a house elf like Nerframe.  I did remind myself that no other home I stayed in had such a creature.  Most worlds did not even have house elves.  Wondering about my attitude when I finally gained a home of my own, I headed to bed.

Having been on two missions with Orintious, I noticed the difference in this one.  Of course he had been active for over a century.  He had the experience of traveling to a multitude of places in numerous manners.  Orintious gave the signal for us to leave without any comment about things being noticeably different, so I accepted this mission was just something new for me to experience.

There were not that many of us.  Orintious, Sterrig, and I were joined by only a dozen of the mercenaries.  Those did not travel in the orange and pale orange of my older brother’s uniform, but as they probably wanted to be seen.  Wondering if things would work out in a regular organized manner, I watched everyone’s behavior as we went through the day.

Strangely the lack of uniforms worked to have us brothers help the men.  Usually they would be given assignments while Orintious watched over them or associated with his siblings.  I found us however considering the men to be one of us, and set to work with them without any feeling of being special.

The same thing happened as we did things after the necessary chores were done.  While I had spent time with the men on previous missions, there had been the feeling they were the hired help.  By this time I knew the men, and having them dressed in regular clothes I had no reservations about socializing with them.  Sometimes we did speak of things concerning our previous missions but I often simply found myself chatting about things each of us were interesting in doing once this journey was done.

Narfleur, one of the men who missed the last adventure so Lexonor had convinced to go on this one, asked, “Vernallor, how is your valet working out?”

I replied, “I really don’t have the life where I need one.  Still, he has proven beneficial at times.”

“My wife wants me to buy her a lady.  She is right; I am gone a lot.  Also, what I am willing to help her with is not everything she is going about doing.  Still, we have a daughter.  I believe it would be better to teach her the ways of a woman than getting another woman.”

Not being able to reply to that had me grateful to hear the others chime in with their comments and opinions.  I found myself learning things of women being around the ladies in my family my brothers had not taught me.  While I had no doubt I was hearing details from a male point of view, I was grateful for the information.

I then realized we had no women on this mission.  Ochally and Minchell went with us on my first adventure, and of course we gained Mochsha.  On the second mission there was Theria.  Realizing there were no ladies to have the men watch their language, I found myself wondering what more I might hear.

On the next day the men took off after some game, which had us make camp early to handle the carcasses.  Having extra time, the men had Sterrig teach them about the gambling game I showed them as well as others.  While coins were set out, they were merely used to demonstrate how the wagers would be made.

While I was interested in the topic, gambling did not really hold my attention.  I began to have my mind wander as wagers were being made, then got up with my thoughts settling on another concern.  Actually interested in this topic, I moved off no longer thinking of the gambling.

I still could not understand why the information of the couple had been sealed away and forgotten.  Some memorial stating their existence in history and assuring a moral could be passed down through the ages I felt was the proper ending.  At least a solid historic record should have been created.  Attempting to finally settle my mind on why the information had been suppressed, I looked at the strange stars hoping my mind would see something I had yet to get into focus.

Seeing what I felt was a cloud pass overhead, I found a line of thought come to me.  It was not that there had not been something to the events, but something else had felt itself to be more important.  Considering other conclusions, I then realized that what was behind the cloud was not what anyone wanted to see.

It then hit me what was so important.  The reason for the priest to be mad and for him to have developed a talent for arcane magic all made sense.  I even understood why my father had been contacted, and they now associated with Orintious.  What it did not answer was whether treasure was there.  I still felt there was not, although I understood why its presence was not considered important.

Finding my oldest surviving brother to come out to me and ask, “What has your mind, Vernallor?” I wondered whether to tell him the truth or not.

I said, “I don’t think gambling will get us what we want.  What I am trying to figure out is how to get what we want.”

“What do we want?”

“Immortality.”

“Immortality?”

Since I had said that much, I went ahead and let him know the rest.  “That is why the priest had to study arcane magic, and why he wanted the entire trunk.  The pieces he had did not reveal any secrets, so it had to be on the body of the elephant.  He needed the entire trunk to find the elephant.  Why he attacked us is that he felt we were going to keep that secret to ourselves.”

“That actually makes sense, Vernallor.”

“Now, we don’t have all the pieces of the trunk.  So we are not going to revive the elephant.  Logic however says that the immortality is there on the body.  Finding the elephant should give us that secret.  That however puts us back to square one.  If there is really something of value there, it has already been plundered.”

A hand of Orintious came to my shoulder, then he said, “Take a break, Vernallor.  Relax.  Put your mind on other thoughts.  Immortality is something I have lived with.  Also, I know this world that is giving us this problem.  Let me take over the brainstorming.”

Just wondering, I asked, “I’m still being paid?”

“Vernallor, I would be stupid to take you off the payroll, and I’m not stupid.  Let me prove it, and have you give me a vote of confidence, by letting me have time considering the evidence.”

I did have every intention of giving Orintious time to go over the conclusions I had formed.  I completely agreed that he had the capabilities of better evaluating the evidence.  Looking about for something to turn my mind upon, I went to get a cup of coffee while wondering if I should have brought Thursdeck with me.  Just because I found the idea as worth considering, I imagined what it would be like to have a lady caring for me.  It did not surprise me that Sterrig sat next to me, as I suspected he would want to know what Orintious spoke to me about.

“What you thinking about, Vernallor?”

Not wanting to get my older brother mad at me, I replied honestly.  “Thinking of getting a female slave.  According to what I read, they should not be that expensive.  How do they price them?  It’s not on looks, is it?”

Some men chuckled, a couple laughed, and a few made comments with Sterrig saying, “They will price them on how much they think they can get from you.  Yes, if they see you fixated on a girl, she will be expensive.”

I began a conversation on the details involved in purchasing a person.  I had read some things about slaves in the books, but that did not provide me with any experience in the actual business.  Not really finding any of the men having gone through the purchase of a slave, what I heard was understood to be mostly conjecture.  The conversation had certainly gone nowhere I thought would bother Orintious.

Hearing my name yelled, I jumped up only to hear, “What are you doing!”

Unsure what I had done wrong, I replied, “Junorshy is said to be a slave city, so I was discussing slavery.”

“That’s it?”

I assured Orintious what it was we were discussing.  With their faces also showing bewilderment, the men around me also spoke of their being nothing improper in our topic.  When they assured Orintious that we were not talking about the things one could do with a slave, my oldest surviving brother calmed down.

“Okay.  You can continue.”

We all glanced at each other wondering what had set Orintious off with Sterrig softly asking, “What did you two discuss?”

Feeling this brother had just as much right to know as my other brother, I answered, “Immortality.”

“Immortality?”  I definitely did not want to advance that topic, so stayed silent only to hear Sterrig say, “Oh, yes, that would be something I would spend… good… money… to… get.”

His voice dropped off.  I looked at him getting the belief he wanted to drop the topic as well.  Instead I heard the mumbled voices of others indicating they had heard what was said.

One of the men from Davelda asked, “I don’t need it, but what type of immortality is it?”

Sterrig replied, “That’s not the question.  Would you pay for it?”

“Mine’s scientific.  To have real immortality, Hell, yes,     

Another man, not one from Davelda, said, “Hell, I would kill…  Oh, I get it.  There could be good money from this mission.”

Someone else admitted, “And those that knew would be among the slavers, and not in the gambling halls.”

One of the men that had been keeping a watch came in to ask, “What are you talking about?”

“We are going to buy us some slaves.”

The reasoning does get challenged.