People in the Mist
With his sword still in his hand, Orintious proposed, “How about we finish dealing with the entity?”
Sterrig answered, “No. If we do that, then the monarch can summon her people without any fear for them.”
Lexonor said, “Except for us, and she probably believes the numbers to be on her side.”
Orintious asked, “So, Vernallor, you are proposing we start with the lady in the center of the room? Are you certain that is Melarintha?”
I whispered to my slave, and heard her softly reply with some syllables before saying, “I do not know the language, my lord. If it is coded like on the walls, it is a different code. It is however Nortelac over there and Neslare over here.”
Actually hearing her say something I understood, I looked at the large panels wondering why the female would be on the right. The man should be on the right, which would put the lady on his right hand. I then looked to the one in the middle of the room, and realized in facing the front Nortelact would be on her right hand. Thinking I understood things about the room, I took steps toward the center.
Orintious asked, “Are you going to break the glass, Vernallor?”
Lexonor said, “I will help you move it. Something that large surely has some value.”
Seeing that I would not be alone, I moved up to the center. Lexonor came up to me as I looked at the lady through the clear substance. I believe he intended to touch the glass, but stopped putting his attention on me. I believe Orintious saw his action, as he stepped up while asking a question.
“What do you see, Vernallor?”
“The obvious,” I replied. “There is no blood on the floor. Now, that makes sense, as this place was erected after the fact. Why would they however have left the sword in her body and not place it in a crypt as well? Why put it on display?” Looking to the elephant, I found myself concluding, “This lady is still alive.”
Lexonor walked around the crystal shell. No one else did anything. I then saw him stop to also look at the elephant, and after walking forward to the edge of the marble he loudly made a statement.
“Might have you a girlfriend, Orintious.”
Queen Lonarey replied, “She’s evil.”
“Who isn’t evil? The entity is evil. The girl is evil. The elephant is mad. Neslare and Nortelact might be victims, but I suspect they were behind all this somehow as well. That is why everyone forgot about these people. There was nothing good worth remembering.”
Orintious asked, “What are you trying to say, Lexonor?”
“Say? Nothing. If none of you don’t have anything to say, I’m going to help Vernallor.”
“What do you have to say about that, Vernallor?”
My first inclination was to tell him that I thought nothing about it, but those words stayed unspoken. I then considered the options I had, and realized there really was not any. Allowing Orintious to continue would have us on the wrong path, so I felt I needed to speak words in support of acting on Melarintha.
“Her place here speaks of this place being erected for a reason. I am talking about something more than a regular mausoleum. Dealing with that entity won’t solve anything. Dealing with this lady possibly will.” I then gave the command, “Crinorra, go to the other side. I want to know the other name besides Nortelact. Do it as quickly as you can, please.”
A number began asking questions as Lexonor and I put our focus on the crystal covering. We quickly determined that while it was heavy, it was a solid piece with the lady preserved inside. That had others accept my statement of her being alive. The decision to lift the crystal covering was made as all agreed it would have no value if we broke it.
Two other men came forward to help us work the removal of the clear shell. With the four of us the trouble was not in the weight, but carefully having it pass without disturbing the lady. Luckily there was plenty of ceiling space, so we managed the removal without any real issues.
Actually able to see the lady without any distortion, I verified my impression that she was young. While with the traits of a lady, I did not think she had fully matured. Her brown hair had been done up in braids then wrapped on her head. While her garment was white, there was only an indication of red around where the sword went through her back and splatters where it came out her stomach before sinking into the spread of fabric between her legs then I could only assume into the floor. When I knelt to try and look the lady in the face, I saw her open her eyes and softly speak.
“It is hard to talk with the sword through me.”
I replied, “The fact that you speak at all tells me things, and lets me know you can tell me more.”
“You live. That is more than you should be doing.”
Sterrig exclaimed, “You tell her, Vernallor!”
While I could tell she wanted to turn her head, she instead simply did what she could to look at me while asking, “Are you in charge?”
“No,” I answered. “I’m just the head man.”
“The head man?”
“I like solving mysteries, so they trust me to find the answers.”
“Do you have a good history of doing so?”
I thought about what to say, then admitted, “I have the credit of a couple of successful missions.”
“So, you decided it was best to rescue me?”
“My choices were to restore Veskagren, open up the crypts of Nortelact or Neslare, deal with an evil entity, or determine things about you. Believing you could actually help us is what had me remove the crystal shell. It was not a decision to rescue you.”
“So, are you going to rescue me?”
Hoping to make sure everyone understood, I answered in a rather loud voice. “I have to get this right. I have a number of people around me. Whatever I do some are going to react in one way and others are going to react another way. I have to figure this out so things work out right.”
“What works against you releasing me? You think I am undead?”
Trusting that everyone was warned, I knelt to look the lady in eyes while saying, “No, but possibly evil all the same. They sacrificed people to resist one I am certain is evil, which means they did not consider you a force for good that could work against it. Your name was put on Veskagren’s trunk, and the actual reason they did that I am not completely certain. I however believe one answer is that you are responsible for your name on the trunk with the reason you are in your predicament is that people turned against you.”
Instead of speaking to the point I brought up, she instead said, “I don’t believe there are that many here.”
“We have a monarch with us. Right now there is, or soon will be, a company of troops outside. If I get her upset, I have military to deal with. I have two brothers with me, each with differing philosophies. If I get either upset, meaning something more than the usual disputes we have, I have family issues. I then have other men, mercenaries, who will simply start doing things on their own if I get them upset with me.”
I believe the lady was about to say something, but paused hearing Crinorra inform me, “My lord, the other panel has the name Neslare on it as well.”
Attempting to make sense of things, I still did the polite thing and said, “Thank you.” At the same volume of voice I added, “It does not help this one here, but it does help.”
I was not looking at Lexonor, so could not tell his expression when he asked, “Crinorra, do both walls on this side say the same thing?”
Begaxy replied from his position at the opening, “I could look at the panels and tell they don’t.”
To assure she answered the question, Crinorra said, “They do not, Sir Lexonor.”
Lexonor replied, “Thank you, Crinorra. Okay, Vernallor, I believe I am following your logic. Continue.”
It was Melarintha that said, “Okay, I can tell the part about having mercenaries is true. How about the girl?”
I replied, “She called me her lord, so there is really only two people she could be.” I kept my focus on the lady as I reached to tap the sword going through her while saying, “Sterrig, how about some more information?”
It seemed he was already doing exactly that, as his voice was close as he said, “Chopetaung. The runes are containment.”
“Chopetaung?” Nassenor exclaimed, only to then sound out something unexpected. “Dibs on the sword!”
“Dibs?” I asked. “Orintious, is that how your men claim things?”
There was laughter as Lexonor replied, “No, Vernallor. It’s not. Nassenor, you know you will have to pay for it?”
The man replied, “I know, but I had to trade weapons with Vernallor on the mission to rescue Mochsha. Well, I want my own magic weapon.”
Orintious said, “Nassenor does have reason to make the claim. You still pay for it, Nassenor.”
I had to ask, “Do you know anything about Chopetaung, Nassenor?”
The man replied, “There’s a poem about it. That’s what I read about, Vernallor. I sought what magic items I could possibly gain. Well, Chopetaung was one. I cannot recite the poem, but I know there is a poem.”
“Honestly, Nassenor, I would help you pay for it if you could recite the poem. Still, I believe I can make a decision with what I have. Orintious, no magic runes on your slab?”
My oldest surviving brother answered, “None.”
I knew that, but still felt it better that I verified. My problem was that I felt I knew the situation. The only problem was how to unravel it in the safest manner, and manage to have all parties satisfied with the outcome. I felt it better if I took some time to think a little more on all my facts and the possible tactics, although knew there could be potential trouble as Lexonor made a comment.
“If it was me, Vernallor, I would kill this lady and that entity.”
Melarintha said, “Don’t you see the sword through my body and still hear me talking to you? I’m immortal.”
Fatayer, a dark-skinned man who was one of those from Davelda replied, “You’re not the only one immortal here, Lady. We can deal with you.”
Orintious added, “And it is not like demons are the easiest things to remove from existence either. Still, we can get the job done. Let us know what to do, Vernallor.”
Melarintha grumbled out, “Not the only one?”
I worked to suppress my smile as I said, “There are various types of immortality. I mean, not everyone avoids aging or dying in the same manner. Most are not able to tolerate having their bodies pierced through by an enchanted sword, but honestly you had to do things to ensure you could. You’re not really invulnerable, although there surely is a trick to putting an end to you.”
“Well, I can’t give you time to figure that out, now can I?”
Things get desperate as Vernallor tries to do the right thing.