The Depth of the Mists
Neither Sterrig nor Theria spoke of why they, or specifically she, was wanting to descend. I gained the impression that Theria also lived a dastardly life, and she had some time in jail behind her. While barely half the age of Sterrig, she spoke of not having any guidance and suffering because of certain decisions. She basically started hanging around him because he would provide the advice she needed on how to choose objectives and gain them. In working with Sterrig, Theria had fallen in love with him, and spoke of that as being her reason for staying with him.
She did speak of wanting a family. When she attempted to explain her thoughts, she stressed the word ‘normal.’ I fully gained the impression that she was not insulting our family, but often told us how she wanted to sit at a table with her children. While we were clearly not a normal family, she mentioned the way we interacted and had meals together was how she felt a family should be. I gained the impression that she had given birth to children that she gave up for adoption, but wanted a life with Sterrig that would enable both of them to raise any future children together in the manner she felt children should be raised.
Orintious let us all know about details he and his men had taken into account. They had studied the jackets in the room, but felt that they would truly offer no protection from the land. Sterrig brought out the point that Orintious usually traveled in armor. He reminded Sterrig that he was the one determined to go down, so asked what had he prepared for the journey. Sterrig mentioned an oiled leather suit he used for crawling through some tight passages. Those words had Theria speak of a set of clothes she had, then she had us describe the jackets we had found in Mochsha’s house. The age of the garment prevented any actual use of it, but after hearing us speak of its composition Theria let us know about something in her past.
“Sterrig, I’m responsible for the Epperday Massacre. I was the one who went into the Riggors and stole the Lisor idol. I thus know who has it, as I know who paid me.”
She was quickly told by Sterrig that he did not care, and really did not desire to know. Theria however seemed determine to confess her actions. We listened to her story of sneaking into a heavily fortified prison to steal an ancient object that inflicted pain upon those forced to stay in its presence. The Lisor idol had been such a wonderful deterrent to crime that upon realizing it was missing the authorities went to extremes to find it and gain it back. At the end of the story, Theria added the information she felt Sterrig needed to know.
“I still have the garment I wore to perform that mission. Come with me and let’s get it, and I will make one for you as well.”
They both quickly cleaned their plates, then politely made their leave. Once they had gone, I listened as everyone began discussing the couple. Of course, in a family like ours we had to support anyone who could deal with our diversity, so Theria was spoken of in a positive manner. We did know of the Epperday Massacre, as Sterrig had settled on that world but came back home to stay a while in order not to be caught up in the events. Having actually spent my youth admiring Sterrig, I knew a lot about him. While he made it clear to me that he had not done the crime, he had spoken his admiration for whoever had done the deed. I thus felt the revelation had not hurt the relationship, and expected both to return with a more solid determination to make a life together.
Mochsha then asked, “Vernallor, what are you going to wear?”
Orintious spoke before I could, “I was planning on having him wear a suit of my armor.”
I answered, “I actually was planning to wear the suit given to me in the mansion of Poseidon.”
Heratin said, “I will let my uncle know of your appreciation of the garment.”
“Yes, but I want it stated that I have not made up my mind about going. While I do believe there are agents seeking to involve me, I don’t believe their direction for my life is a good one. I definitely am willing to trust in Orintious and his men, but I don’t want to commit my life in such a direction. I will be there at the start of the mission, but I might back out and come back home.”
A number of words of support were stated. Father assured me that he found no fault with my statement. Of course, he mentioned my youth, so surely in need of more education before establishing my life. Orintious mentioned a number of the problems he had in establishing himself, so accepted that it was probably wise for me to set another course for my life. I then heard some of the talents I displayed on the previous mission stated with possible future occupations mentioned.
We broke with all of us speaking of desiring a good night of sleep. Orintious assured me that he and his men would be ready in the morning. Heratin and Mochsha wished us luck. I however felt good seeing Father break from returning to his documents to move to speak to me.
“Vernallor, let me say that I should not need to speak any promises to you directly. I have three boys going down, and all three of you are precious to me. Unlike Mochsha, I know where you are going. While this reality does present some problems, you can trust that I will call in some favors with some really powerful entities to come to your aid.”
I had to reply, “Father, I cannot believe this reality has not been studied. Purishorten cannot be something others have allowed to remain as an obscure reference.”
“Think of what it is claimed to be. Those that would not desire it, would weigh the cost of going after the gold and decide against it. Those that would desire it tend to understand the worth of earning their place before their chosen deity, so would not go but turn to the usual methods of relating to their gods. Let me further say that in both cases, those who felt they could make the journey would be rather committed to their plans for their lives. Only someone like Sterrig would find it interesting and possibly worth the risk. However, just as in the case of Sterrig, those people are usually not skilled in any manner giving them a reasonable chance of success. Only me with the children I have raised is there a proper mix of desire and qualities. I have told all of you that I accepted you because I found you interesting. I will go save you simply to satisfy my curiosity about you.”
I heard, and had heard before, what Father said, but spoke my own conclusion. “You’re not evil, Father.”
A tentacle came to my head as he replied, “There’s no value in it. I have not raised you to be good, but to see the value in your actions. Just as I have, each of you have found the greater reward to be in doing those things others see as good. Yes, Orintious sees his life as qualifying himself for recognition by a deity, but that is not how I raise you. Continue to see the value in yourself and your actions, Vernallor, and I promise to do the same.”
Thinking of things I had learned about my siblings, I replied, “But there are deities in our pasts, so we should expect them in our future.”
“Ah, well, that is my fault. Let me however warn you that like with Heratin, deities are awesome entities. While Heratin has a major goddess as a mother, he is still far removed from her in ability and mentality. Treat yourself as something like the people you meet, and you will better prepare yourself for any meeting with those who are much more grand in all ways.”
I could not argue with those words, so nodded as I said, “Good night, Father.”
Suddenly, I felt tentacles wrap themselves around me and I heard my father say, “You have worth, Vernallor. Never doubt it. The very fact you are my child should declare that you are something special. Find it, Vernallor. Not just to prove the validity of my interest in you, but to assure yourself of your destiny. Don’t seek to just be a good person, Vernallor, but a great person. You have that potential.”
I again nodded, but felt the end of a tentacle tap me on the nose as Father added, “Sterrig never listened to me. I cannot say that purishorten will actually help him, but I am glad that he is taking on a mission of this type and not things like he has been doing. If you get a chance, Vernallor, repeat my words to him.”
“Simply saying them and having him listen are two different things.”
“If he is not going to listen then there is no value in saying it.”
I could smile at agreeing with the words. This time when I told my Father good night he simply told me the same. Entering my room, I thought back on my relationship with Sterrig and wondered if there had ever been a time when he would have listened to the words from Father.
After looking over my belongings, I switched out some basic items for others I had acquired. On the first mission I only had a life around the house, so was really unprepared for the travel and events. I could not say that I had a lot of time to buy better items, but I had seen some items that I felt would better serve me and had made the purchase. I felt Heratin had sent one of his ladies into my room to lay out my things, as what I found set out were the things from him or I had gained from his Uncle Poseidon. I switched out certain items with what I had acquired, but otherwise started the packing to have things ready for the morning.
Stepping out prepared for travel, I saw Heratin leaning against the opposite wall. He smiled at me as he regained a standing posture. Considering most items were from him, and I suspected it had been one of his ladies that set out my stuff, I guess he was checking me. The assumption I felt was verified when he attached a small scabbard to my belt.
He said, “Don’t argue with me, Vernallor.”
I would argue with him, but I did feel the need to have a reason. “What are you doing? Irvachin is not enough of a weapon?”
“From what I heard, you won’t need Irvachin at all.”
Heratin had to release a strap to withdraw what I felt was only a knife, as it did not have the size to be called a dagger. The metal blade did have an edge, but instead of coming to a point it had been made to have a thick perpendicular projection at the end. He stabbed forward, then turned his wrist.
“I have no idea why this thing was originally made. This however could provide an option on this journey. Stick it in a groove of the rock. Hopefully it will go in enough to find good stone and gain purchase.” As I nodded accepting that his words did make some sense, Heratin added, “I’m not saying that I’m giving it to you, but, well, giving it to you. I mean, should I need it, or anyone else have a possible need of something like this, I expect you to let them have it.”
Sounded fair, although I found myself with a different type of question. “Does it have a name?”
“A name? Ah, that’s rich. No, Vernallor, it doesn’t. I guess you can name it if you want. I mean, if you’re that type of person. Only time will tell whether anyone else uses your name.”
Thinking back on my earlier success with attempting to get used to a new weapon, I said, “I will make certain to try and test it out.”
He nodded, then explained, “Ochally wanted to go on this mission. I’m not going, so she’s not going, but she enjoyed the last mission. She went looking for things for her to possibly use, and found this thing in the armory. She came to me with it explaining how it could possibly help, and I promised her to place it in your care. If you give it to Orintious or Sterrig, or even Theria, fine with me. Just remember who you gave it to you, because I might come back asking for it or simply about it.”
Thinking about my other weapon, I suggested, “Maybe on our return we can go visit your Uncle Poseidon and Aunt Amphitrite. They can hear about how I used Irvachin, possibly on both adventures, and Ochally can hear how effective this little device was found.”
“You better watch it, Vernallor. Ideas like that will please people, so you will find yourself having to fulfill them. Sounds like a great idea. Will wait for your return.”
I shook hands with Heratin, then went into the dining room. Minchell indicated a plate already prepared. Seeing that she was dressed in some rather thick clothing, I asked a question before sitting at the dining table.
I expected her to mention the presence of Theria, but Minchell instead replied, “Maybe not, Vernallor. I will see how much trouble the rest of you have on the descent and make my decision from there. I might simply stay with the group waiting for your return.”
As I sat down, I asked the next question in a general manner. “Expecting a quick trip.”
Begaxy, the soldier I knew would be managing the ropes for our descent, answered, “Well, not too quick. I want you to reach the bottom safely.”
There were agreements spoken. Some particulars of the descent were mentioned, but also some regular topics. Nothing however negative or depressing was said, so we all left the table in agreement that we were ready for this adventure.
They do start out attempting to be cautious.