Without a Light I See
I was drunk, but I deserved it. Saved two kids, then came back to assist in the birth of two goats, which I guess was saving kids as well. The first set were stupid, but the second set were innocent of any wrong doing. In each case I did the right thing by helping them. Feeling I deserved a period of numb solitude, I started drinking.
No, the house was not locked. I did good deeds. People needed to come to me when they needed help. The fact that I was drunk really should not have been a factor. Knowledge of what I had done that day should however have. Still, the house was not locked, so people could come in.
I do not know how many times Genorll had to repeat his words, but I finally heard him say, “Potorly, there’s a strange man.”
Grumbling, I said, “That’s what you do. You take in the stray men. Most are good and spend time working.”
“No, Potorly. Come.”
Having the reputation of doing good deeds, I did what I could to stand up. Genorll helped me. He said nothing about me being drunk. Honestly, most of the men he worked with started out being drunk. It is strange how a man that is down on his luck, down on his money, and down on having anything good in his life can still manage to get drunk. I could respect a man that was at the bottom of every ladder life could provide and sober. I however knew that most of Genorll’s good deeds started with him dealing with someone who was drunk.
It did help that it was close to a mile to where Genorll ran his ranch. I lived in a small house, some called it a shed, in the back of a mansion. I had the title of ‘lord’ because I was my own man. Lord Belkain had no claim on me. I wandered onto his property doing some good deeds, and he let me have the bed. It was almost three years now, and I still did good deeds with no one speaking against me spending time in the small house. Genorll had his ranch beyond the property of Lord Belkain, but outside the walls of Etrasky.
Having managed to shake most of the effects of the alcohol, I noticed the men about the ranch standing around. There were periods when there was little for them to do. Animals did sometimes go through spells of not causing problems, but that happened about as rarely as it did with people. The first thought was that the men were goofing off, but I discounted that not seeing any alcohol.
One of them said, “Lord Genorll, we got him in a bed. My bed. I’ll sleep on one in the back for the night.”
I simply moved past the men to step into the bunkhouse. Considering Genorll worked men whenever they were active, there was always something to do around animals, it did not surprise me that some went on to bed feeling they had worked their allotted number of hours. One however lifted himself enough to move an arm out of the blankets enough to point, and with those directions I moved to a bunk to shake a man.
“I guess I had enough sleep,” the man grumbled. “What do you need done.”
I replied, “Hold it, Hero. I’m the guy that does good deeds around here. Who are you?”
“Where you from?”
“Nowhere. I told them I would move on, or else I might go back there.”
Sensing part of the reason I was summoned, I asked another question. “How can you go somewhere if you are standing still?”
“It chases me. I have fought it, and fought it, and I won’t make you fight it. I will leave.”
“Hold it. I told you I was the guy that does good deeds. Now, are you just running, or do you actually have a destination?”
The man began climbing out of the bed while saying, “I’ll leave.”
“What is your problem?”
I fought through my alcohol soaked memories to seek the reason for Genorll to have come for me. He did not speak of trouble, and honestly he could have handled any feisty man. Those who were belligerent, stupid, or simply not good around people were those who usually ended up at his place, and those did not get treated well. Genorll however only spoke of the man as being something different, and with that memory I kept talking.
“I was not summoned to fight. I was not summoned because you were a problem, at least not something that would make Genorll mad at you. He works with stray men. You would be surprised how many men around here are grateful for what Genorll has done for them. Well, I would say he wants to do you right as well. Now, as the local hero around here, what do you need?”
“Ferrigote. He once ruled my world. Conquered it all by himself. Always claimed he represented a fighting god. I need to speak to him.”
I guess he understood certain tones in my reply, as he asked, “You know of him?”
“Know of him? Well, yes, I know of him. Can’t bring you to him, as he lives too far from here. I however can do you something close enough. His niece, great-niece I believe, lives close enough that I can bring you to her.”
“A woman? I don’t need a woman.” He began crying as he said, “They die.”
“Well, never met Honored Duchess Jelnaya personally. She’s scary. However, come on.”
The man did not know me any more than I knew him, but I felt it was time he accepted some things about me just as I was accepting them of him. “Listen, I don’t know your story. However, if you need to go to Honored Duchess Jelnaya –“
“I told you I don’t need a woman.”
“I told you she is scary.”
It was Genorll that said, “Go with him.”
Lerdiyo again made the simple retort, “What?”
“You’re obviously not going to do me any good here. Potorly has a good reputation, and the one I sought to help you. Trust him. Go.”
The eyes of the man darted between me and Genorll, and finally looked to me as he admitted, “I needed sleep.”
I replied, “It is the middle of the night. Let’s get some distance away. There’s a lake, well a large pond, about an hour from here more or less in the direction we are going. We can both get some sleep there.”
Seeing the man get a simple sack had me concerned for him. Genorll came over and saw me indicate where the rough canvas had been repaired with corded leaves. When he came back with a leather satchel, I believe a number of men became concerned for Lerdiyo when he indicated a desire to refuse the gift.
“I can’t repair leather.”
I started to say, “I can repair –“ but then I remembered coming with Genorll while drunk.
He heard me curse, and asked, “What do you need?”
Attempting to go over my steps returning to my house with the intention of getting drunk, I said, “By the door, probably on the chest, over by the –“
“Your house is not that large, Potorly. I know your stuff. Listen, I assume you will be walking.”
Lerdiyo said, “Unless you want to eat the horses.”
As I started saying, “We’re not going –“ Genorll said, “I’ll ride a horse. I’ll bring your stuff out to the lake. Kazaynt, give Potorly your sword. I’ll bring it back.”
As if understanding what we could be up against, Kazaynt gained the weapon then brought it to me while saying, “It’s sharp and of good metal, but that’s its only blessing.”
I replied, “If this guy has been surviving, it should be enough.”
One of the younger men said, “I heard she’s beautiful.” When we looked at him, he added, “Honored Duchess Jelnaya, I hear she’s very lovely. Has red and yellow hair that shines. Fairy blood I say. She’s someone I would like to meet.”
I smiled hearing an older man say, “I keep telling you, Adoron, that all women are beautiful. If you want to see beauty, just look at a woman. Those that don’t look lovely, are just the gods telling you that they are not for you. Trust me, other men look at them and see them as gorgeous.” My smile dropped when the man pointed at me while adding, “Potorly called Honored Duchess Jelnaya scary.”
Those words had me admit, “I’ve never met her or seen her. Only heard the same things you did. Her association with Fergush just does not seem right. I fight. I mean that I will fight. Still, I don’t see that as the best method of combat resolution.”
The younger man, Adoron, said, “The stories I hear speak of her doing more than fighting.”
“Well, I’ll see about telling you my own story. It seems I am going to meet her.”
Genorll interrupted any further conversation to get us going. Of course he loaded us down with supplies. He was just that type of person. My actual fear in taking the stuff was that he would bring more with my gear, and then I would really be loaded down. Still, Genorll was a good man, and I did not want to speak against that virtue in him.
I noticed things about Lerdiyo as soon as we set off. He set an erratic rate of travel, as he would almost sprint between moments of looking back over his shoulder. The guy actually looked scared. What really troubled me however was noticing things that said something was indeed tracking us.
My attention on things had me grab Lerdiyo before he ran into a tree. I had been telling him which way to go, and he had been obeying my directions. He also kept diverting his attention. The apology Lerdiyo said however spoke of another reason for him to have almost run into a tree.
“Can’t really see in the dark. Thanks.”
With there being no way I was going to mention something, I simply replied, “Well, I find something like a tree rather evident.” Hoping to put the conversation where I felt it needed to be, I asked, “What are you scared of?”
“Fear. It changes. Not always the same, and you cannot kill it. At least, I can’t. Emperor Ferrigote could. If not, if it was something of a different nature, he would call his friend.”
Having heard stories, I said, “Terish Dozzrine.”
“Jelnaya is Terish’s granddaughter. Let’s see who she calls.”
“We need to get there.”
He went to grab a stick. Honestly, I believe he meant to grab a rock. When he bent down to feel along the ground, he seemed pleased to have his hands close around a dead limb that had fallen some time ago. As he found it to stay sturdy in his grip and not fall apart, he went into a battle stance.
If he felt capable of fighting with just a stick, I considered the sword I was given to be sufficient. What troubled me was him fighting in the dark. If he could not see a tree, there should be no way he could effectively manage combat. What however surprised me was seeing him suddenly dart forward to swing upon something I could not see, and hearing the crack of the wood striking something.
Hearing Lerdiyo say, “Left!” I could only wonder what was coming upon us.
There were stupid manners of attack. They showed no skill with weapons or experience in battle tactics. One usually saw such actions in war with raw recruits. What the attacks however did reveal was a person’s bravery. Those that survived a battle were considered worthy of being trained. With the understanding that people did live through some of the stupid things they did, I simply held the sword point out before me as I charged to the left.
Uncertain of where my opponent actually was, I did swing the weapon slightly from one side to the other. As blind luck would happen, the creature had moved surely hoping to attack as I rushed by. The sword however caught something, and I proved myself as having some experience in fighting by immediately turning, dropping to roll in order to have the ground help me redirect my momentum, and striking where I felt the enemy to be. Not only did I find my sword meet something, but heard movement to help me adjust my swing.
The wild attacks of Lerdiyo did keep him alive. I could not see what I was fighting, or what he was fighting, but things about the ground along with sounds helped me direct my attacks. When I no longer could detect the monster on me, I moved to help Lerdiyo.
Feeling both of the threats upon us had been defeated, I heard him say, “Come on.”
Really not wanting to argue, I gave him directions before asking, “What were those things?”
“Don’t know, but I know I am responsible. I was looking for Emperor Ferrigote, but instead found them. I accept my responsibility, so I am looking for Emperor Ferrigote.”
“You don’t believe we killed them?”
“I keep hoping.”
I had to admit, “Yes, I believe you do.”
More with Potorly and Lerdiyo in the next chapter.