To Face the Ugly Deed
Makinor was waiting for me at the gates to Delchell. I did not get the impression that he knew when I was coming, but that he had set himself to simply maintain a presence until I arrived. He was in his fancy polished metal suit patiently waiting. I would not do that, but would find something to keep me busy. As a representative of a fighting spirit, I would at least be going through katas or other actions to keep myself ready for battle. I approached thinking he was keeping himself attractive for a potential romantic encounter. I heard Fergush laugh when I said that the polished armor and inactive presence did not have me think of love at all. Understanding that I was a visitor to this holding, I only wore a dress. With an expression of me being the one not acting as a real representative of her god, I saw Makinor straighten out his form. He then stepped out from the gates to bow in recognition of me, but spoke as if he truly wanted to speak to another.
“Baron Ferrigote is not with you?”
I pointed out to a field where a multitude of men were camped as I asked, “They aren’t enough for you?”
“Pardon me, Honored Jelnaya, but this is a matter involving other worlds. Baron Ferrigote has made his reputation in his travels. I recognize your history as well, but, well, his help would have been appreciated.”
“He’s my great-uncle, so I can call him. Still, I am going to be doing my best to allow that this is not a mission from Fergush. Get me and Great-uncle Ferrigote together, and it will become Fergush’s mission.”
Makinor bowed low before saying, “You are correct, so I deeply apologize, Honored Jelnaya. Let me further say that this is not Debogda’s mission. I understand why we both came here, but upon reaching the temple I was informed that Onathia had dominance.” He then approached while saying, “You are very lovely, Honored Jelnaya.”
I dismounted Petty while saying, “I told you that I was doing my best to recognize that this was not a mission from Fergush. Oh, and drop that ‘honored’ part. I am no more honored than you are, unless Onathia has gotten fed up with your service to her.” Before he could apologize, I added, “You were supposed to have been sent a warning.”
“I actually took those words lightly, Jelnaya. You have your own reputation, and what I heard simply matched what I had previously heard. Let me speak my pleasure in seeing you dressed as you are, and acknowledging the leadership of my goddess. Uh, Jelnaya, can I take you out to eat?”
“Do I change into my armor or are you going to change into a suit?”
He whistled, and I saw a horse come through the gate to him. “Let me escort you to the temple where an apartment has been assigned to you. You can refresh yourself while I change my attire. There is an altar to my goddess in this town, and a café nearby serves a wonderful meal. We can talk there.”
I replied, “Like I said, Makinor, this is your mission. If that is how you want to do things, lead the way.”
Delchell showed a lot of stone construction as did Nerkeggon. The fields however must have been a lot better for crops, as I saw a number of storage silos. Seeing also a number of wells, and knowing that a sizable lake was nearby, I gained the impression that this city would be more than comfortable during a siege. Seeing what appeared as a stone stepped pyramid, I recognized the compartmentalized and promoted hierarchy of the religion of Debogda. Knowing that the god had no more claim to dominance than my god, I allowed Makinor to show me into the structure without any complaint.
Entering the room, I saw a lady in a simple gown rise, then curtsey to me while saying, “I am assigned to you.”
I replied, “You mean you were assigned to sleep away the day. Must be nice. I am freshening up then going back out. Have fun.”
“You do not need help with your dress?”
“Unlike those of Debogda, we of Fergush learn how to put on and take off our clothes.”
There were no real rivalries between the deities. Honestly, the six divine authorities did a good job of promoting harmony between the various groups. A normal person would usually be reprimanded for saying some of the things I did, but as a divine champion it was my place to promote the distinctions between my deity and the others.
I did what I needed to do, then left promising the lady in my room that I would tell the others that she was doing her work diligently. Makinor met me in the front foyer of the temple wearing an elaborate green suit. I had read all the other holy books, so knew that the worship of Onathia focused on kindness and promoting the ways of others. Great statements of devotion and ostentatious displays toward those of the opposite gender were not preached. I however allowed Makinor to do what he felt led to do, and did not feel out of place in my much simpler gown that did happen to be green as well.
He did give me the impression that he spent more time concerned with his appearance than I did. One benefit of my brilliant locks was that they basically kept themselves clean. I did wash my hair, but that was about all the attention the strands needed. Attempts to fashion it never lasted long enough to be worth the effort. The bright red and yellow coming from my head did require some cosmetics to bring out details of my face, but too much ended up making me appear silly. Makinor however had used substances to have his brown hair flow the way it did. I gained the impression that he had done things to his face other than shave. He also stunk far more than I did. The way he acted in escorting me gave me the impression that he was trying hard to make me think well of him.
Makinor did not show any sign of having immortality. I however had to approve of his body still showing signs of strength and grace. My immortality came from certain requirements from the type of missions I would take on, which had been especially true for the situation that caused me to gain my divine status. Makinor surely had his own reason for being recognized by Onathia, but had not forced the concessions of eternal life from the goddess I demanded from Fergush.
After stopping at the altar to show recognition to Onathia, we sat at the café with Makinor ordering for both of us before speaking. “I really know nothing of other worlds, Jelnaya. That is why I am grateful for your help. Also, I am told there is going to be fighting. While I am skilled in combat, it is the focus of Fergush.”
I replied, “Let’s skip the other world part of this, Makinor, and jump to the threats. Just how much diversity in your battles have you had? I don’t want to brag on killing dragons, but I do want to get you to speak on what exotic threats you might have faced.”
“Wolves, a bear once. I really do not brag about killing a horse.” Before I could say anything, he added, “That is really why I need you, Jelnaya. Onathia says there are people we are going up against, but I’m getting the impression they are not people as well.”
“That makes it easy for me, Makinor. If we meet people, you take the lead. If we find ourselves going against something else, listen to my directions.”
“I can do that, Jelnaya. Now, Onathia tells me to let you direct me in moving from this world.”
I allowed that his concession obligated me to perform one of my own, but there was also the fact that this was not my mission. “I need to know where we are going.”
He had to undo a couple of buttons on his jacket, and I believe one on his vest, in order to pull out a parchment. I found myself wondering about it as I unrolled it to see an odd drawing. I lifted it up to the descending sun and could tell that there was more to the artwork than what could be seen on the surface. While I did work at puzzles, I stood recognizing that I had a source of wisdom for what was on the parchment.
Laying the document on the altar to Onathia, I suddenly found myself hearing a number of groans along with some piercing screams. There were also the sounds of animals. Everything built to a crescendo, then I found myself in the presence of She-Who-Loves.
She appeared a lot more matronly than I expected. Usually she would be represented as the ultimate vision of femininity. I suspected that she just was not attempting to appeal to me, as being a Champion of Fergush my attitude was to be opposed to Onathia. I however curtsied in recognition of her authority, and she smiled as if not expecting my action.
She-Who-Loves said, “This is not my mission, but was brought to me by a goddess with the same attributes as me. Strangely, she found herself surprised to be recognized. She however also felt worried about those causing the trouble. She had heard of you, Jelnaya, but in seeking you she found me, and not Fergush, as she is a goddess of love just like I am.”
I replied, “Then when I finally feel that it is time to love, I could have more than just you seeking to assure my satisfaction with a man.”
“Yes, Jelnaya, I believe you can think like that.”
I felt good hearing that response, as I sometimes wondered about finding a man that I could truly get along with. “How much do you want me to baby Makinor?”
“He really is a sweet man. He also is more than capable. I believe once you give him some understanding of the situation, that he will prove my faith in him.”
I looked at the parchment, and in the presence of a divinity I could make out what was important on the sheet. “You are wanting me to go there, but it seems out of the way.”
“You have two days, Jelnaya. Can you make it?”
I went through the motions of testing various routes, then said, “To make it in two days will require Makinor to start proving himself.”
“Put him to the test, Jelnaya. I see no reason why I cannot have a champion as qualified as Fergush has in you.”
“I’ll tell him you said that.”
“He is expecting you to have words from me to him. I do speak to him myself, but I believe you and he need to gain some experience with each other. Both of you work well with others, so I should expect the two of you to work well with each other.”
I curtsied as I said, “It is an honor to meet you, Onathia.”
“Fergush has every right to be proud of you, Jelnaya. Make me proud of you as well.”
I picked up the parchment from the altar, then turned to hand it back to Makinor as I said, “I’m not going to give you a lot of sleep, and you’re not going to like where I take you.”
“You mean we are going to a fight?”
“No. Well, maybe. What I mean is that I was given two days, and the only way to get there is through some worlds even my paternal grandfather would rather avoid. He taught me about them, but the odds are we will be eating your horse.”
“Onathia had a horse from Davelda brought to me, Jelnaya. She knew my mount would not survive.”
I thought back to earlier, then said, “That was not a horse from Davelda I saw you riding.”
“Uh, no, as that was my regular mount. I like her. She is getting a little old, but I am going to ride her as much as I can.”
“Okay.” I saw the food was being brought out, so said, “Let’s enjoy the meal, as it might be the last good one for a while.”
I had Makinor speak of the way Onathia usually appeared to him. As expected, he spoke of a lot lovelier form than what I had been shown. I then told him how I really had not seen Fergush, although often heard his voice and felt his touch. The conversation helped to break the ice with Makinor, which led to him asking about my family. Compared to him, I had a lot to speak about. A number of my relatives also had some fame of their own, while Makinor showed some surprise that I knew some things about him as his relatives were not famous at all. I had him speak about a few adventures some minstrels had sung about him, and as we left to return to the temple I found him speaking about looking forward to the journey we would share together.
It was still dark when I carried my things into the stables. Dropping the items near my horse, I looked to see another animal of the same breed. I went over to check it out and let it know about some of the things that would be required of it. Hearing some things dropped near me, I turned to see that Makinor had made it to the stables.
“You can talk to it?” he asked.
I showed him a tag on the bridle as I said, “Her name is Shining Mountain Bird the fifth, but she is called Sonjy.” The horse nodded when I said that, so I added, “And you treat her with respect. Grandfather Terish recognized the quality in these animals, and they have proven themselves. The name of my horse is Petty. We take care of these animals, and they will make us glad that we do.”
He went to the stall for the horse I saw him ride the day before in order to acquire a saddle, then said, “I have never had a horse that I have spoken to.”
“That just means that you have never been somewhere without anyone to speak to.”
He stopped, then smiled before admitting, “I guess so.”
“Well, that is probably where I am taking you. Saddle up.”
Nebard realizes that he is involved with something much grander than he could imagine.