People in the Mist
Neither of the ladies gave us any problems, so we left before noon. Sterrig griped about not getting any sleep, but he knew to keep moving. As Queen Loraney had promised, no one gave us any problems as we left the town.
Orintious had gained some maps of the area, but we still checked for landmarks as we set ourselves to find our real objective. There was also the fact that we had no real evidence of where the bodies were interred. At one stop we discussed how we did not gain any information in the town. As Orintious looked at the terrain comparing what he saw to his maps, Crinorra looked to me and asked about what she had heard.
“You are looking for a crypt, dead people?”
I replied, “They probably are not dead, so what we are looking for could be more than a crypt.”
“Simply because people who tried to kill us wants to find them. They did something that showed an ancient story to be true, then came to us to ask for help. We gave it to them, but they did not like the way we did it. I personally want to prove that the information we gave them should have been enough. We are acting with even less than those people have, and expect to succeed.”
Queen Lonarey commented, “Last I heard, they still had the pieces of the trunk.”
“And I have not requested my father to give us his piece, or even to tell me who had the other pieces.”
“Do you not think you will need them?”
“For what? I assure you any treasure secluded there has already been robbed, or we will take it.”
Lexonor sounded out, “Which is why Vernallor is my man!”
I continued, “As for any power, I believe it can be studied on the trapped bodies a lot easier than if they are again animate.”
Queen Lonarey said, “I must say your group is a lot more rational than I expected. For your information, I heard the ranting about what you did, and felt that they had handled you very improperly. Honestly, I like it when I am proven correct. You continue to have my support, Gentlemen.”
That conversation gave Orintious time to assure his location, and we again started traveling. I was telling Crinorra some basics about what we expected from our travel when Sterrig rode up next to us. I was in the mood for conversation, so did not mind his presence, although I should have known he had other concerns.
“Crinorra, you belong to Vernallor. That means you are not a citizen of this land. That woman right there is not your queen.”
From the monarch came the words, “He is right, Crinorra. From what I have seen, you should put all your loyalty with Vernallor. If he tells you one thing and I another, you do what he tells you. Now, do any of you children of Galabur consider anyone your king or queen?”
Orintious replied, “We accept the authority of wherever we make our home. I have purchased a property. Since I own the land, there is no rent. There is only a loyalty tax along with other taxes recognizing the authority of the nobles who will provide some protection of my property.”
Sterrig said, “Basically the same with Dechapper and me. Ours is in a civilized area, so a little heavier on the tax burden, but also a lot more protected.”
Queen Lonarey asked, “How about you, Vernallor?”
Orintious answered for me. “He’s still young, Your Majesty. He still lives with Father, although will stay with me or Mochsha.”
“What if I requested you settle with me, Vernallor?”
I answered that one myself. “Convince me. Prove yourself as not being duplicitous.”
Sterrig strongly let his opinion be known. “Well said!”
She commented, “I do have a number of loyalties to contend with.”
I stated, “If you want my loyalty, you will need to be loyal to me.”
Sterrig whispered, “Don’t give in, Vernallor.”
Crinorra giggled, then asked, “Is he really your brother?”
I replied, “Really, but don’t think he is the only strange one. Dechapper is rather blockish in appearance. Mochsha glows. One brother was a dragon. A sister well before my time was a starfish.”
Sterrig said, “And then there is Father.”
“Oh, yes, and then there is Father.”
“Which one was the starfish?”
Orintious answered that one, “Ashamohn. I knew her well, Sterrig. I allowed Vernallor to read her diary, as she had given it to me upon her death.”
I admitted, “I had to go look at her picture again, as I had not really thought her that strange.”
“Just as Father regularly updates our pictures, the same was true of Ashamohn. Ask to see the other pictures he has of her. Some of them has the fact she was a starfish as rather obvious.”
From there the conversation broke down as the terrain became a little troublesome with us having to dismount and walk our steeds up some sections. While I had spent time with the maps, I trusted Orintious and his men to find our way. I put my focus on Crinorra. She did say close to me, but really gave me no problem. I still knew this type of life was new to her, and not just all of us around her, so I did not focus as much on the conversations due to being concerned for my slave.
When we finally settled for the evening, I sat Crinorra down after showing her how to place my belongings. My intent was to see just how much magical knowledge she had. Orintious however walked up demanding I let him know what spell I had her cast earlier. Not wanting to challenge him, I pulled the section of parchment from my journal and showed it to him.
After looking at it, he said, “This is really clever, Vernallor. You did this yourself?”
I replied, “I guess you can see why I was impressed with her.”
“Yes, but why an Earth spell?”
“Because we had accepted that the place we are looking for could have been covered by debris, so I had picked up a book on that type of magic. The spell is just a minor lifting spell. I was going to work with Crinorra to see what she knows, then give her an assignment while I studied how what happened occurred.”
The girl said, “You give me a spell and I can cast it. All the work is in developing the spell.”
Orintious replied, “No. It’s not. I however used to say things like that. Now that I know my mother is a mountain fairy, I understand better what my gift with magic actually is. You’re part elf?”
“My grandfather was an elf, but he never claimed us. My grandmother and mother were slaves.”
“You made a good purchase, Vernallor. Work with her. Crinorra, you work with Vernallor. When we get back I will have you spend time with my slave. You do things the way Vernallor wants you to, but with another lady you probably will learn things a little better.”
I said, “Minchell, his slave, is a real nice lady. Mochsha, my sister, is a real nice lady as well. Nerframe is not really a lady, but she is, and is definitely a friend.” Not wanting to overwhelm the girl, I advised, “Let us however simply work on some basics with magic and a few other things.”
No one bothered us as I worked with Crinorra. I was sensitive for a duplication of the connection I felt earlier, and not just the overwhelming result of something she would do. Considering what I felt in the tent, I had to allow that the problem was my own. There was also the possibility that another presence had caused the effects. Crinorra at least did show some understanding of magical theory, so I did not feel that I had been tricked into purchasing her.
As we ate our supper, she asked, “How much magic do you know, my lord?”
I replied, “Not really any. The father I have and the life I grew up in has a lot of magic to it. I thus have dealt with magic. What I however mean is that I have not chosen any real study of magic toward a profession. That is what I am seeing if you have the desire to seek.”
“I do like magic.”
“I like mysteries. Give me a good mystery, and I will happily seek to unravel it. Nobody has to force me. Magic will require that of you.”
There was a pause, then she said, “I believe I like it that much.”
“We will see, but I still had to do my regular work. I did mysteries in my time. Now, part of your work will be with magic texts, but no slacking on your regular chores.”
“Yes, my lord.”
From where my oldest surviving brother ate, I heard him ask, “How about you, Vernallor? That text on Earth magic is not a mystery. How much of it have you read?”
I replied, “I had not determined that I really needed it. I skimmed enough to know the spell I wrote down.”
“Read it through.”
“Will do.” I then whispered to Crinorra, “He’s the oldest, so it is best if you don’t argue with him.”
She smiled, and the cheerful demeanor stayed as we went back to work. I gave her some language lessons to help her understand some of the words in the text we were going to read. As I tried to explain some details of grammar, she stopped smiling upon a command from Queen Lonarey.
“Come with me, Crinorra. As the only other lady, we will need to do some things together.”
The girl hissed, “Master, you may do with me as you would.”
I replied, “That does not remove the fact that you are a female. If you seek to have me or some other man see you as a woman then you need to learn from other women.”
“Yes, my lord.”
As I helped assure Crinorra had what she needed, I heard Queen Lonarey say, “Such devotion so soon.”
I replied, “I hope to never tarnish my reputation with her, but I did not purchase her for a warm body in my bed. I actually went seeking another for that purpose, but found myself displeased with her.”
“If you find a lady willing to give herself to you, you should accept.”
“Not if she is someone else’s lady or you need to keep the relationship at a certain level. At present, the second applies. She is also far too young for me to truly enjoy her. We shall see what type of relationship we have when she has grown into someone who truly can be pleasing to me.”
It did not surprise me to have Orintious come near after the ladies had moved off, but I held my place actually wanting to hear his words. “You are maintaining a lot more dignity than I did or most men do. However tough it might seem, hold your mentality.”
I replied, “Something happened when that spell went off this morning. I sensed it, but I feel it really affected Crinorra. I am glad to have her devotion, but I fear whatever happened losing its affect upon her.”
“Oh, women will go through their phases with some not making sense at all. Stay true to yourself, Vernallor.”
From Sterrig came the comment, “If our older brother will shut his mouth right there, I would tell you to listen to him.”
Orintious smiled as he moved off. I waited for Sterrig to say more, but he only let us know he was heading to bed. I felt they had both said good words, and started doing what I felt I must before moving to do the things I felt I must before ending my day.
The travel continues.