People in the Mist

Chapter Thirty-Four

Feeling the air begin to swirl around the room, I felt we were in trouble.  I actually expected her to somehow start working to have the sword removed from her body.  Melarintha however did not really show any concern for the large silver blade passing through her.  I found her somehow acting to control the air while still seemingly harmless.

For some reason I felt safe on the floor, and went low while continuing to watch the lady.  Sterrig tried to attack, but was blown back against a wall.  Lexonor did draw his weapon, but reacted to a force in a way that placed him against one of the legs of the arches.  I did not doubt he would wait for his moment to make a move.  I saw Melarintha look at me, and for some reason I felt I presented her with a need to remove the sword.

While she still could function with the blade inside her, I saw an expression of agony cross her features in an attempt to stretch out her body.  Again her eyes moved to me, as if scared I would attack.  I however was still attempting to tie all the pieces of the puzzle together.  I fully recognized that those who created this place did not understand the forces they were playing with.  While I had some confidence that things could go our way, I had been serious about my need to assure I did everything properly the first time.

Orintious tried to attack, but he was flung back.  Those outside the arches were having to deal with growing gales.  Things were not so bad within the arches, but I had seen the others with me tossed away.  I did not know why I had not been flung back, but held my place close to the floor working hard to figure the solution to this mystery.

After again attempting to overcome the pain of trying to have her body work against the sword, I saw her glare at me while asking, “What are you looking at?”

I replied, “The short answer is you.”

“You’re all dead.”

“Obviously not at the moment.  The trick right now is to survive a few more.”

As if scared that I was completely correct, her head turned to look around her.  She then smiled.  Hearing Queen Lonarey scream about the corpses being blown away did not really trouble me.  While the royal lady sounded scared, my oldest surviving brother had confidence as he gave instructions.

“Into the room with the slab, Your Majesty!”

“Are you crazy?” she blared back.  “That demon is waiting for its moment.”

“Well, I’ve had moments with demons.  They did not go well for the demon.  Now, inside!”

Over the sound of the wind, I heard the noises of a scuffle.  I continued to keep my focus on Melarintha, so did not actually watch.  However, I felt I knew my oldest surviving brother had been successful when I heard him yell over the wind to me.

“I hope you are figuring this out, Vernallor!”

Hoping to continue to buy myself some time, I decided to reply with a misdirect.  “Sterrig will tell you that I will take my time, Orintious.  Remember, he is the one who reads the back of the book then tells me the solution.”

From somewhere else I heard my middle brother reply, “No back of the book here, Vernallor.  You’re on your own.”

“Couldn’t be happier.”  Seeing Melarintha again glare at me, I said, “It’s been a few moments.  You wanted to be queen, didn’t you?”

She exclaimed, “What?”

“That’s why you are in the position you are in.  You knelt thinking they, whoever they were, were going to crown you queen.  That is why you coded the inscriptions.  You did not want the focus here to be your sister or her spouse, but on you.  Coded, you could claim those inscriptions said what you wanted them to say.”

“I thought I had them fooled that I would be rational and pleasant monarch.”

Having a statement of being on the right train of thought, I continued.  “I think you made your mistake sealing off the demon.  They probably would have bought the idea you were controlled by it.  They however somehow realized that was not all of the story.  Probably due to what you did to the elephant.  A simple loyal animal servant, and you had to twist its power to your purposes.”

“I cannot say for certain, but they figured out something.  What they said while sealing me in was simply a recognition that I had sold my soul to evil.  Yes, the demon was bad, but what I had done to gain its service was just as bad if not worse.  You cannot imagine how much power I have.”

“I don’t know.  I seem to be figuring all this out.”

“Probably read all this in a book.”

I could not help but allow myself to laugh at that.  “I wouldn’t be having half as much fun if I had.”  Seeing Melarintha turn her head to again look around, I yelled out, “Crinorra, are you still all right?”

“My lord,” my slave returned, “the wind is fierce!”

“It’s just air.  Wait until you do something really wrong.  You will feel my hot air then.”  Those words had Melarintha again turn to me, and to keep her focus on me I said, “Just got her before coming out here.  At the moment I am not certain just how much fun I will have disciplining her.”

The lady replied, “Those who gained my wrath usually did not survive.”

“Which is one way they probably realized that you were truly evil.  That sword through you seems to really hurt.”

“It will come out, and when it does you will be in trouble.”

Those words did trouble me.  I then realized a basic fact.  While I felt it was an answer, I also understood my situation.  Up to now the wind had not affected me, and I really was not certain as to why.  Something about being low to the floor comforted me, but I really did not understand.  It troubled me that in attempting to keep the lady’s focus on me, I could actually be setting myself up for serious trouble.

I then recognized the reason for the glass covering.  While it did display the humiliated state of the one that had sought ultimate authority, it also had a more practical purpose.  Set upon the smooth floor, an actual air tight container had been created.  While possibly not a perfect seal, the glass covering provided enough of a limited environment to restrict the elemental power the lady was displaying.

She again started to look around, so I yelled out, “Nassenor, are you still wanting this sword?”

The man screamed back, “If you think we need to leave it in place, I will understand, Vernallor!”

I put strength in my voice as I said, “Those with me are just as committed as those who put you in your predicament.  I doubt you have a chance.”

Melarintha replied, “Don’t think I will trust you half as much as I trusted them.”

“Why are you way out here?  Why did you erect this place way out in the middle of this mountain range?”

“Nortelact turned the fight from any civilization.  He realized the powers that were at play, and wanted them away from the people.  Mountains, well, I really do not know why he had us enter the mountains.”

She did not know it, and I certainly did not say anything, but I had gained another answer.  I had wondered how Melarintha was present.  Neslare had gone off to become the wife of Nortelact.  There was no mention of family going with the lady.  In fact, the reason for the elephant being so heavily warded was due to the young lady needing to travel by herself.  In putting together her coup, Melarintha had followed in some manner.  Glad to know another truth, I sought to determine the way to end the predicament.

“Orintious, are you having problems with the demon?”

“No!” I barely heard my oldest surviving over the gale.  “Not pleasant in here, but not worried about the demon.”

“She is pulling her power from the creature.  If you see a way to kill it, go ahead!”

“Sounds like something for me consider doing!”

Melarintha said, “The demon is not my only source of power.”

“I really do not want to kill Veskagren.  It is a good, loyal animal.  It probably does need to be released, but that will trouble me a lot more than what I am going to have to do to you.”

“It’s just a stupid animal.”

There was an urge to repeat the ‘good, loyal’ part of my earlier statement, but I felt the words would be wasted.  That had me consider what I actually considered useful.  Recognizing that I needed to start being effective, I mentally worked to consider what facts I still needed to bring an end to the situation.  Reminding myself that I had actually come up with an answer, my next thought was how to bring it into action.  There was an urge to simply act, but I again told myself that I needed to assure that what I did would be correct.

I said, “I will actually take your word on this.  How honorable of a burial did you give Nortelact and Neslare?”

Melarintha admitted, “I let those with me do what they felt was right.  It was an expense, but I felt it would be useful.  I could have gone into town, but I wanted to be in charge when I did so.  I let them call out the priest, intending to use the man to give me a proper coronation.”

“He is probably one of those who recognized your evil nature.”

“He is the one that supplied the sword, so I believe the same.  The blade was supposed to be only some historic relic, which I felt was proper for my coronation.”

I had to ask, “Did you love Nortelact?”

“No, and he definitely proved himself too honorable and good to have been a good man for me.  I actually wanted an old man, someone I could watch die.”

“For your information, the history books also said that Nortelact was too idealistic.  It seemed that a number felt he just did not have what was needed to rule.  I am assuming you had a number of people claiming to support your rise to power.”

“I was young and foolish then.  Not going to let that many people so close to me, and none close enough to do what they did.”

I smiled as I said, “I’ve been here the whole time.”

“So you have.”

“Time for me to make my move.”

“I was thinking the same.”

And the final play is made.