Only Fools Complain
Becoming a Citizen of Nemurk
My wives let me see that my uniform was clean and properly folded in a trunk. They however stressed that I needed to do my best not to appear to be a stranger. Part of the reason I had been given wives was to help me blend in with the locals. Placed on top of uniform were a number of garments with my wives choosing the one that I would wear.
Aden said, “You are Lord Berair of the Serussdal holding right on the border of Nemurk and our ruling Duchy of Aperkin. You usually deal with Duke Menishall, but came into Nemurk to check on politics and prices when the situation occurred. You brought your two new wives with you just to give us a chance to shop for our needs and direct some of the purchases for your home.”
That was a lot of names, which I knew that I would not remember, so I focused on what I considered important. “How did I get two wives?”
“Two wives are common around here?”
Aden was pretty. While her voice and demeanor stated her to have some actual knowledge of life, her body showed very little of previous maternal experiences. She did display desire to have my form, but her reaction to things was much more subdued than Mersidda. I suspected that my little wife was not that old, but that her parents were ready to regain their privacy. The same was probably true for Aden, but her demeanor showed that her years beyond those of Mersidda had been rather rough on her. I had to really watch Aden for slight expressions that declared her thoughts about things, but as she was pretty I did not mind.
“No, Berair, but there is no law against it.”
“No, of course, but there is usually a story behind why someone has an extra spouse.”
I saw her face turn to look at Mersidda before saying, “As your wives, we will not challenge any tale that you tell.”
I tried to show disgust with her answer, which was rather hard when looking at a lovely lady. “You and Mersidda need to remember whatever I blather then, to assure that I keep my own story straight.”
“I guess that just like you, our job is not as easy as it might actually sound.”
I kissed her. A smile came to her face, which was what I wanted. I then looked to her to move the conversation along to what I considered the next important point.
“How much money do we have?”
I saw a perplexed expression cross her features before she said, “I don’t know. My previous husband did not allow me to have any dealings with the finances.”
“Well, I know that I had some money with me, but none of those coins are local.”
Mersidda piped up, “Here is your purse, my lord.” The same expression of pleasure that she had when dealing with me showed on her face as she lifted the leather pouch from a chest. “Ooh, it is rather heavy.”
I moved over to grab it. Opening the purse, I recognized the dispersion of coins, although found that I now had two local coins for every one that I usually carried. I had my eyes move between my ladies while giving an answer.
“To keep myself from spending all my pay, I have about half my pay kept in the company vault. This is just my spending money. Honestly, it looks like double my usual spending money.”
Aden said, “It seems that I now have a husband that is not just larger and stronger, but more responsible with his money.” A hand came to my shoulder as the lady lifted herself to peck me on the chin. “That was praise, my lord.”
“Yes, Aden, I recognized that. Still, don’t go thinking that I will have a vast amount of coins to spend when we get back to my home. We could probably spend my wealth rather easily. Anyway, we do have money to shop with. How about the two of you show me about town?”
Mersidda chirped a cheerful, “Yes!” while Aden simply said, “Of course, Berair.”
My next concern was my weapons. I actually expected the ladies to try and have me go without, but they only went silent as I pulled out my sword and daggers. One scabbard was not as I remembered it, but recognizing the crest of Thiminy I set it down without any concern.
I won my primary heavy blade from a mercenary protecting a group of slavers picking up those almost near death in the desert. There were enough honest misfortunes of fate to condemn people to being the possession of another, but those crossing the desert to reach Thiminy we felt deserved some compassion. The word was spread to distant lands to leave travelers alone headed to Thiminy, and simply to leave well enough alone attacking Thiminy. I had seen the carcasses of armies dry up and blow away because they marched in the direction of my homeland, and I helped rescue those who sought solace in the river valley that I gained by birth. I saw the man that previously owned my sword kill those of my squad that ran ahead. Determined to avenge my fellow soldiers, I grabbed some sand as I charged forward and threw it in the mercenary’s face. When his hands came up to protect his eyes, I rushed and sent my military issued blade into the wrist holding the sword. The strike was effective, and the injury caused the weapon to drop to the ground. I noticed the sheen of enchantment when I went to kick it away. Eager to give myself an advantage, I took the weapon as my own. With the magic sword I did avenge my fallen men, then went to enhance my own reputation. The heavy blade had come to be called Freedom, and I checked it out hoping that it might earn its name again for this land.
The daggers were of the usual quality that I carefully maintained. Feeling that I could properly arm myself, I took up the unknown weapon. It was a light, slim blade of silvery mithral. I could tell that this weapon was also enchanted as I took it from the scabbard, and picked up a note that fell out. The handwriting was not of my king, but of light strokes I knew to be those of my queen saying, ‘Don’t let yourself feel alone.’ Feeling that I would have enough ways of keeping myself safe, I carefully considered the best way to make use of the extra dagger.
I called Mersidda to me, while telling Aden that I trusted her to keep herself from harm. As I looked at the waist of my young wife, Aden told her to lift her skirt. The scabbard was strapped to Mersidda’s right thigh, then the blade was used to cut slots in the petticoats. Finally, a pocket in her dress was ripped open. Aden then reached with the blade through the garments to sheathe the weapon.
Mersidda tried to reach it, and complained about it not being easy, to which I said, “I don’t want you using it, Mersidda. I however want you to have it available should you need it. That dagger is not a toy, but I was also not brought here to play. If you, as my wife, get into serious trouble, I want it there for you.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“It is from Queen Straekin. Her note said, ‘Don’t let yourself feel alone.’ Thus, Mersidda, use this if you fear not returning to me.”
My little wife nodded, then looked to another before turning to me to ask, “There is not one for Aden?”
“No, but sometimes getting something is not an honor.”
Aden said, “I don’t believe that Mersidda is foolish, Berair, but what you did was probably the better choice.” She then had me notice a thick seam on her left side before the cloth rose around a soft mound. “My blade might not be enchanted, but I do have some protection as well. Unlike Mersidda however, I did not get it from my first husband, but because of my first husband.” Aden then moved before me to say, “I will not leave you alone either, Berair.”
I kissed both my ladies before saying, “All right, then, let us be off.”
I knew that we were in a castle. The stone walls and size of the apartment declared that we were in a larger structure than just a fabulous mansion. Leaving the rooms I thus looked around to pay attention to the people. There were not many with all moving at a slow pace. The smiles and waves seemed friendly, but the movements were as if the bodies were heavily fatigued. I waved back almost feeling bad for the amount of sleep I had. The guards were alert at their posts, but responded to statements with soft words as if the simple effort of speaking tired them. Interested in how the citizens outside the castle would act, I moved with my wives through the edifice.
I really had not noticed the sky while in my room. I guess that I should have realized that no stars shown in the night air, but I had other sights to concern me. Stepping outside I noticed a yellow haze, then looked up to see a glowing network of strands blocking the view of any clouds or the sun.
I waited for both of my ladies to recognize that I was looking at the sky before asking, “How long has that been up there?”
It was Mersidda that piped up with an answer, “Over two weeks, my lord.”
“So I have to assume that your military and any local heroes have tried to get through.”
My little wife chirped, “Yes, my lord,” but it was Aden that gave a more complete answer.
“They have, but there is more to the situation than just the barrier.”
“None of those, but certain puzzling things should become obvious soon enough.”
Mersidda attempted to pull me on toward the market area, but I held my place asking what I considered to be another essential question. “Magic does not affect it?”
Aden answered, “No, my lord. The castle wizard, Berallid, was most pleased to have managed your transfer. He however has not recovered as quickly as you.”
“Does he have a wife?”
“Yes, he does.” She went on her tip-toes to kiss me, then replied, “Thank you for the compliment.”
“Expect them the rest of your life.”
“No, my lord. I will enjoy every time that you surprise me with one.”
Mersidda came up to me asking for a kiss as well. That was no problem with me, and I kissed the little lady without any hesitation. She giggled, but Aden simply held one of my arms with what I felt to be a large portion of her strength. I again asked my ladies to lead the way, and after sharing another kiss we moved on.
I noticed that some word had been passed about me when someone came up to ask Aden about why her new husband did not come out more often. Everyone acted as if they had known about me for my whole life, even as each made motions or innuendoes to have me tell them my name. I played along with the charade while getting to know some of the people that I was intended to help. Mersidda cheerfully spoke about her pleasure in having me as a husband, but I noticed more smiles to Aden as she hugged one of my arms while admitting that she was my wife.
There did seem to be food and other articles for sell. It was not unusual for caravans to avoid crossing the desert to reach Thiminy, so I knew of times when the merchants had little to sell. What I saw was not an indication of the people lacking things, but of not having anything new to display. While I spoke to people, I did not purchase anything as I sensed that would be unusual in that everything I saw for sell would have already been perused a number of times previously.
I spun my head hearing Mersidda gasp. She had asked me if she could purchase anything. I did not mind, although did consider denying the request when I realized she wanted a bolt of blue cloth. I had seen enough to accept that it probably did not sell because it was not the blue of the local land, although Mersidda wanted it because it was the blue of Thiminy. I however figured that the local situation would be resolved before anything actually got made, so told my youngest wife to do what she wanted with my money. Hearing her gasp, I figured that something else had caught her fancy.
What I saw in an alley was a bald head from which tentacles extended toward a lady. Since I was out of uniform, I looked around for the local military. They were however standing in a manner that I recognized as being aloof to what might be occurring. Worrying about the lady not receiving help in time from the monster, I told Aden to take Mersidda and go back to our apartment. I then headed to the alley while drawing my sword.
Where there are problems, of course there will be monsters.