The Depth of the Mists
Once Sterrig, Theria, and I took a position at the table, my brother said, “Whochamitorrichar.”
I immediately wondered what would have happened if Orintious had been with us. With only three of us, there was an open side to the table that happened to face the tentacled entity as he worked on his own piece of furniture. Not feeling that our choice of sides could be predicted, I assumed the magic of our change of location had been conjured to orient things. Had Orintious been with us, there would not have been a free side, so I wondered what manipulation would have resulted.
The entity said, “I was giving up hope that you would do this.”
My brother replied, “Yes, well, we did spend time considering our options. Your ears should have been burning, as we were discussing you.”
“I did introduce myself to Vernallor.”
“No, you didn’t,” I replied. “I introduced myself, but you never told me your name.”
“I am so sorry. My name is Chanamich.”
Sterrig asked, “Lord Chanamich?”
“I appreciate the title. It will suffice. And who are you?”
“I am Vernallor’s brother, Sterrig. The lady is my intended, Theria.”
Chanamich moved his tentacles to make a sign of graciousness as he said, “I am pleased to meet both of you. Now, what is your reason for coming here?”
“You mean beside this being the right thing to do? Just simply leaving might have gained us some bragging rights, but really would have been rude.”
I heard chuckles as Chanamich repeated, “Rude,” but with some composure he said, “I do appreciate having visitors.”
“Yes, and we do not mean to be ungracious, but we feel that we have overcome your little reality.”
“And you want a prize?” This time it was Sterrig who made a sound of graciousness, and with the tentacles showing what I felt to be a shrug I heard Chanamich ask, “And what would you suggest the prize to be?”
“The gold. All of it.”
“All of it?”
“That is not a demand, but merely us wanting to stress the extremity of our success. We know of no other that has succeeded. Vernallor spoke of you admitting that no one else has come so far. We do feel that we have earned a prize, and not some minor token of our accomplishment.”
Not just the tentacles, but the body of the entity moved in a manner of becoming relaxed as he said, “I will have to concede on that point. There however is a lot of gold. So much that it could be a burden, and completely spoil any economy. Gold would become so common as to make it worthless.”
“How about each person on this final island gaining their weight in gold plus ten pounds along with their freedom to leave.”
“That does seem more reasonable, but I would like something in return.”
“Oh, we will be bragging on our success.”
Again I heard chuckling as Chanamich said, “That actually is not something I will take pride in, although something I want as well. You see, I want it known that this reality has been bested. I want a memorial to you. You deserve your honor, but your success is also an indication of my own accomplishment. Up to now, I have been considered most deadly and ungracious.”
I had no idea how to respond to that, but was pleased when Sterrig spoke of something I considered basic and easily granted. “You want a picture of us?”
“Picture? Yes. Individually and as a group. Also, a lock of hair from each of you.”
“Lock of hair might be difficult. Some among us cut it.”
I added, “And Cleripetus has feathers.”
Chanamich said, “All of you have hair somewhere on your body, and I can restore the duck. It is my magic keeping him as he is.”
Sterrig replied, “So, we are talking about exchanging enough gold to equal the weight of us three and all on the island plus ten pounds each for the honor of being memorialized by our pictures, both individually and as a group, along with a lock of hair?”
“Sounds like an agreement.” Sterrig then smiled at me as he said, “See, Vernallor, that was not so bad.”
Chanamich asked, “You thought I would not be so gracious, Vernallor?”
I admitted, “I simply could not imagine what you might want.”
“Ah. So the youth turned to one of his elders for handling the situation. You are going to make some people proud of you, Vernallor. There is a reason for you to exist, and I believe you will meet the demands to be placed upon you. It is good to have this meeting with you, Vernallor. Now, let me go about seeing to meeting our agreement.”
We actually had a good time granting Chanamich his pictures and locks of hair. Some did show some embarrassment in where they had to gain their locks of hair from, but removed the strands speaking of other acts they had performed that also challenged their dignity. Cleripetus was amazed to be returned to his original body, which surprised me to find him with dark skin like me, although not having shaved his feathers he found his locks of wiry hair rather long.
After taking the group picture, we all found ourselves with a block of gold that none could argue of not being of the proper weight. We all proved ourselves able to handle the load. While there was some laughter at how some of us looked managing the weight, we got the metal to the stone circle to be transported to the top of the stone column of this island.
Father appeared almost immediately after Orintious activated his medallion. The joy he expressed in our return was great. While he made his usual demand of us telling him the entire story, Orintious let him know about another concern that needed to be handled first.
Monquier of Eskrion Assimilations assured us that his company could handle the division of the gold. He was aware of how Orintious handled his finances. Monquier spoke of the time it would require, although assured us that my oldest brother would gain a detailed report of how things were managed.
Cleripetus stayed with Father while waiting for the division of the treasure. In that time we got to know more about him as well as hear his story in detail. Of course Father quizzed him about his past along with having him tell his side of the story concerning the pocket reality. Finding himself with access to the vast wealth of information, Cleripetus freely added to the bulk of knowledge. He was an interesting visitor, and I found myself glad to have someone different to speak with for a time.
I forgot about certain percentages being promised, but I was glad Orintious did not. When we gathered at Eskrion Assimilations to gain our part of the treasure, Monquier took the time to explain everything. None of us however spoke displeasure in the share we received, and I heard most who had traveled with us speak a farewell to Orintious as they now felt a need to do something else with their lives.
A feeling of pleasure came over me hearing Monquier say, “Sterrig, I would hope that you would now become one of our respected clients.”
Sterrig replied, “Well, you have dealt with me all this time. I guess I will continue to deal with you as well, whatever I plan on doing with the funds.”
Theria replied, “Monquier, add my funds to his. We have been married, and I do plan on the two of us having a respectable life. Cannot say what it will be, but it should not be anything dishonorable.”
Monquier said, “Glad to hear it, both of you.”
Mochsha spoke of her own plans. “Monquier, I will be accessing my funds to fully restore my house and land. There is a historic industry, although also a history of it failing. I might come to you seeking some advice on how I might secure my domain.”
“I can provide some consultants, dear lady. Your continued trust in our institution is appreciated.” The financial officer then turned to me to ask, “And what are your plans, Master Vernallor?”
I could only say, “We will see what the future holds for me. Honestly, staying with my family as I continue my education seems to be the wisest choice at the moment.”
“Of course, and I will assure you that interest on your funds will accumulate as long as you leave them with us. You however seem to be on a good path. I can only hope that your luck continues.”
And next is a very dark Jelnaya story.