Without a Light I See
I noticed that Lerdiyo kept the stick, but I could not fault him for that. The dead limb had served him well, and considering the situation I would have also kept it. When we arrived at the lake, he however spoke of using it to make a fire. The temperature had begun to drop, especially at night, and thinking of the coming winter I told him to help me gather wood to burn as well as hopefully finding a stronger and better balanced length to keep as a weapon.
The blaze not only allowed us to gain some warmth, but also worked as a signal for Genorll. When I heard the horse, I left the fire. Meeting Genorll a distance from the camp, I felt able to speak to him without disturbing anyone.
“Lerdiyo is asleep, but there is a problem. I’ll see him to Phanigist. Right now heading to Tafferdeyn, as I don’t know whether to go north or south.”
Genorll handed me a pack that I recognized as mine. It was however stuffed with belongings I probably would have left behind. He did have my sword, so I returned the one I had borrowed while Genorll let me know he was willing to do more.
“I’ll tell the baron, Potorly. Maybe he can send word ahead.”
“I don’t know, as I suspect we will be traveling as fast as possible. Can’t make it tomorrow, but might travel on through the night to get there by morning. Won’t sleep in the city.”
Genorll had learned of those who would help him in troubling situations, so it did not surprise me to hear him say, “I would feel safe in the castle, Potorly.”
“No. Whatever Lerdiyo got himself into, it isn’t normal. He’s right. He needs to find someone special. This isn’t me. It might actually be something for Honored Duchess Jelnaya. Still, the man has been surviving, and with me helping him we should make it.”
“I’ll send word to our baron.”
While I could have taken the phrase as Genorll being simple-minded, I knew he was not. I might have taken his statement as him just being adamant about certain procedures, but I honestly knew better than that. I actually took the phrase as Genorll concluding that I would need help, so did not argue with the words when I said something to send the man back to his ranch.
“I went and got you, Potorly.”
What he meant was that he felt he was the one who should have been thanking me, but I wanted him to know that I would not put any fault on him for doing so. “Yes, and you did right. However, this is beyond me, so I guess I need to learn how to get help. Will stop by on my return to let you know my story.”
“May the gods be with you.”
Thinking of where I was going, I replied, “Well, not all of them. I would actually prefer Fergush to stay away, but I don’t want him helping the other side either.”
“Can say that about all six at times. While they all can be a bother, having them work against you is worse. Even sweet Onathia can do a man wrong, although my wife always said she was the one who lost the favor of that goddess.”
Again trying to send Genorll on, I said, “You’ve proven yourself a good man. More than willing to help you, so let me get to work. Go back to the other men and your animals.”
“Hard to tell which is which at times.”
“I’ll leave you to it. Let me handle this.”
Genorll did ride off, which brought me some relief. Returning to camp I however found Lerdiyo up and gathering his stuff. I however had brought back some wood with things to kick the fire back to blazing and used them while I let Lerdiyo know my plans. He did seem agitated, but I felt some relief seeing him calm down as I fed the flames while talking.
“Listen, we are heading to the viscounty. There are two ways to Phanigist, and I need to know the way to go. Involving your situation with an already aggressive attitude will not be good. We need to know where battles are raging or where they are planning to have a battle. I believe you will agree with me to get our business done as quickly as possible so as not to have whatever is following you involve the good people of the town. That means we sleep, get ourselves good and rested, then we travel to get to Tafferdeyn by tomorrow morning.”
He settled back down while admitting, “I haven’t had a full period of rest for a long time.”
“Yes, well I was good and drunk when Genorll came for me. When I finally get up, I will have a terrible hangover. You’re just going to have to deal with it, as we will need to travel, which probably will not help either of our moods.”
Actually attempting to see if he would talk, I spoke to set his mind at ease. “Listen, I make my living doing good deeds. Don’t really get paid, but no one complains about feeding me or helping me with what I need. As for what I want from life, I’m looking for it. I’m not going to explain, so I won’t expect you to explain either. Might not be true for where we are going, but I’ll leave you to handle things there.”
“Yes, thanks. Listen, I’m not from this world. My world is not like this at all. I am told that it was worse. People actually praise Emperor Ferrigote for what he did to our world. He couldn’t solve it either, but it is said that things are better. This world seems to be good. People do help people. I’m sorry for coming here.”
“Like I said, I make my living doing things like this. Let’s get you somewhere you actually might want to go, then see if you feel like apologizing. It actually might turn out that I need to apologize to you.”
There was really nothing good about being drunk, and my body let me know it. While the activity surely burnt off most of the alcohol, its effects only multiplied the discomfort from what damage I suffered in the fight and the poor comfort of sleeping on the ground. I came to seeing Lerdiyo working at eating some of the stuff Genorll had provided, and got my body moving feeling that sleep would no longer be something I could enjoy.
While we both kept a watch for something attacking us, nothing bothered us during the day. The directions were easy enough. We followed a stream until it came to the Allodyne River. We then stayed along it with me knowing it would take us to the place of authority over the realm. While I really had never been to Castle Tafferdeyn, I trusted the waterway to direct us even when things got dark as the day ended.
Seeing the lights of civilization, Lerdiyo and I stopped to bathe. While I really did not need to speak to anyone of actual importance, I still did not want to give a reason for someone to avoid my presence. With us feeling able to enter civilization with some dignity, we went back to traveling.
Coming into the castle, I told a soldier, “Listen, I am just seeking some advice on travel. Really don’t need to bother anyone.”
The military man replied, “Politics are a little odd at this time, Sir. Best if you speak to the viscount. It’s a slow day. Shouldn’t have any trouble. Go on in.”
Before I could say anything to counter those words, the soldier signaled someone dressed in a manner of importance. Finding myself in the presence of the steward, I gave him my name along with my desire for some simple directions. He did not act put off by my words, but soon enough I was being introduced to the nobles.
Viscount Adegorn was at a seat near a fireplace looking over a document, but got up to shake my hand as he said, “Potorly, it is good to meet you. Have read some good things about you. How can I help?”
Glad not to have to deal with any formalities, I quickly replied to the question. “Ah, well, I need to take this man to Phanigist. I was hoping to avoid going into any details. It is a situation that I feel Honored Duchess Jelnaya needs to take into consideration. I was wondering whether to go north through Laphall or head to the Lewarly River and follow it.”
“Well, don’t go north. They might actually help you get to the duchy, but you would have to explain things. I however will see that you have a letter of introduction, and that should help you while in Mekont.”
The viscountess looked up from where she was embroidering something to say, “It is the shorter way. Do you worship Samayer, Potorly?”
I patted my left breast while saying, “I keep her icon close to my heart, Viscountess. I practice Remidda, but actually worship Samayer.”
“Then all should be well for you, Potorly. The realm Jelnaya rules over is devoted to Samayer, although she is actually a champion of Fergush.”
Since I was before high nobles, I felt a need to relate something of my mission. “Viscounts, how much do you know of Baron Ferrigote? This matter actually seems to involve him.”
The viscountess was again the one that spoke. “Jelnaya is not from that side of the family. What I hear speaks of her involvement with Terish and those from his wife’s world.”
The viscount said, “But Ferrigote does promote Fergush as well, so I suspect Jelnaya does have some manner of contact with him. It seems before she was given the duchy that she stayed with Baron Ferrigote in Nehallum.”
I had to say, “Yes, well, thank you, both. I really need to keep moving. It would not do well to involve this land. Let me get on my way.”
“I assume you are not hurting your reputation, Potorly.”
“No, Viscount. I have no intention of doing that.”
“Then I am glad to have met you. Do not put off coming to us again.”
Thanks were again stated as I parted from their presence. As I moved from the castle I however noticed Lerdiyo seem agitated. Worried about what was following him making an attack in the castle, I looked to him. He however stated something bothering him I did not expect.
“They were nice.”
“Well, yes. No reason for them to create problems where none exist.”
“This is a better world. I understand why Emperor Ferrigote came here.”
I pushed Lerdiyo to get him moving while I said, “This world has problems as well. Hopefully we can continue not to find the problems with this world while we work to solve the problems we have.”
And Jelnaya comes to help the men.