To Face the Ugly Deed
I listened as Jelnaya had Makinor and me help her set up some weapons. While I could understand what the machines did, I really could not understand how they worked. Of course, it helped when she demonstrated how they would operate. Makinor and I however simply watched in amazement as she quickly moved along the route we were trapping in order to activate the weapons.
Hearing the reports of the bullets, I had to ask, “Wasn’t that dangerous?”
I had the point of a dagger at my throat as the lady asked, “Who or what is more dangerous?”
Makinor said, “Just worried about you, Jelnaya.”
The hand holding the dagger patted my cheek as the lady said, “It is called, ‘knowing the situation.’ I knew about the weapons, so could plan accordingly. My father’s company makes things like that, and better ones. I’ve had plenty of time to learn about them. Now that you have seen what should happen, hopefully you can prepare. Might be setting a high bar for you boys, but let me say that your goddesses should expect it of you.”
“How long do we have?”
“We have given them plenty of time. If they don’t show up too soon, I will be expecting one of you to come up with the next plan.”
As she moved off, Makinor said, “I really pity the man that gets Jelnaya for a wife.”
I felt able to reply, “I believe she will be a wonderful wife.” Thinking about Eashae, I mumbled, “I believe she will let her husband touch her.”
As if I had spoken out loud, Makinor exclaimed, “Touch her? Whoever gets her better hold, fondle, and squeeze her. And I don’t mean late at night either. I see her as the type of wife that will track her husband down and have him take her wherever he is.” I guess he understood my expression, as he asked, “Your wife does not treat you that way?”
“No. She kneels before me and lets me know that she will keep every promise she made to me, and she does.”
“You will learn that many men don’t even have that. You treasure that wife of yours. Don’t just love her, but treasure her. That is what I have yet to find. I have yet to find a lady that I believe I will treasure. Some tell me that I am comparing women against Onathia, but it isn’t that. I know the depths I will sink to for my goddess, and I want the same commitment from my wife. If a lady wants to come beside me as an equal, I expect an equal level of dedication to purpose. That is the one reason I will entertain the possibility of gaining Jelnaya. I believe she will give her husband that. In her own way, of course, but I believe it will be there.”
“I felt I was doing Eashae wrong. After getting her, I put my hands where I shouldn’t on a lady. I did things with her at times that really were not appropriate. She let me, she then knelt before me and told me that she would continue to keep every promise.”
The feeling of needing to confess was followed by one of saying something I should not. Makinor however just looked at me and again told me to treasure my wife. I thought those were good words. What I found myself accepting was that I would be helping good people. At the core, there would be people like my people able to continue their lives. Some would probably not be deserving, but most would, and a few would be precious. The feeling of needing to succeed at this mission came over me as I thought of allowing others like Eashae to bless their communities, their spouses, and their children.
The sound of a report had me look along the route we had trapped. From a distance I heard the shout of commands for others to rush forward. A few more reports sounded with Makinor stepping with me to the middle of the road. As a rush of people came within a certain distance, the weapons we had set up began their destruction. None of the people had the ability to quickly move as Jelnaya, so I saw the number of our opposition quickly drop. It did not help my attitude of those coming toward us seeing them survive by using bodies of others as shields. Those we saw who pointed weapons at us dropped from arrows that seemed to sprout from their bodies.
As some made it to advance upon us, Makinor blared out, “YOU ARE BEING LIED TO!” He set his weapon with me doing the same, then he added, “And if you were told you would be able to take us, that was a lie as well.”
One of those ahead of us replied, “You can’t kill all of us.”
Another gagged as an arrow sprouted from his neck, and the sound of him dying I believe helped Makinor have an aura of authority as he asked, “How many more of you need to die before you will believe we could?”
I had to ask, “Why are you here? What story did they tell to get you to rise up and come upon us?” When they did not answer, I pointed while saying, “You poured through that barrage to get here, but now stopped. That was our intention, but why would you risk death to come before us?”
One did reply, “You were killing people.”
It was Makinor that said, “Look behind you. There are bodies. Look behind us. There aren’t any. We came here expecting to kill things, but not people. We believe the things we want to kill are the ones that sent you to your deaths.”
Another person replied, “You took them away.”
“Why should we have bothered? If we were going to kill you, why should it have concerned us whether you saw bodies behind us or not?”
“You were going to trick us.”
“Out of what? Your lives? That means we were going to kill you.”
From behind the people, a man yelled, “Don’t talk! KILL THEM!”
“That is the person tricking you.”
It suddenly hit me what we were doing. I saw the people before me. While the architecture of the buildings and the things I saw in town were different, I found myself feeling that this community was like mine. The setting was not the way I heard Jelnaya and Makinor speak of their lives, but this was the way I lived my life. I knew what happened to those in the present town, because I lived in such a fashion. I knew who the people were before me, because I had interacted with those of similar traits in my life. Suddenly, I understood how to deal with this situation..
I set my weapon while saying, “I know what to do.”
Makinor asked, “You what?”
“These people don’t care. These were the people we told my people we were going out to encounter, and we did. We did not set ourselves to killing them, but only enough to raid certain items, make a show of strength, or other objective. We then went with the Privileged to kill other societies. The point is that these people came because they felt we would be weak. They came to take advantage of a situation. They did not come to help the people of this town. If the Privileged had not wiped these people out, these people would have done so.”
No one challenged my words. I felt Makinor was waiting for that to happen. He actually stepped away from me as if to have the people feel they could take me alone. Seeing no one challenge my words, Makinor readied his weapon while asking a question.
“Are you saying we need to kill these people?”
“No,” I answered. “These are regular people. I know these people. They have lives, homes, and both of those we should protect. They however live simple lives, and only hope to continue to live those lives. Actually, whether we kill them or not kill them, their lives will go on.” I shook my weapon while holding it before me and screaming, “GO HOME!”
They did not move. I stood scared I would have to kill them, and I found myself not wanting to do that. Realizing that I was fighting tears, I moved to Makinor while letting him know what I knew.
“We are fighting ugly things. They were not giving us things to make our lives better, but to make us into ugly things as well. I am here because I was not wanting to become an ugly thing. A wife is a beautiful thing, and I wanted to love her. A horse is a beautiful animal, and I didn’t take one because I knew I could not care for it. Those things we rode into town on are however NOT HORSES! They are ugly people who are hoping to make more ugly people. A wolf is a beautiful thing, and I’m glad Jelnaya killed those things because they were not wolves.”
I again shook my weapon before the people while screaming, “GO HOME! Don’t you see? You’re being corrupted! I am sorry we killed some of you. I don’t want to kill any more of you. Go home. Love your wives. Love your family. Love each other. Love those around you. Instead of rushing to take advantage of others, rush instead to help them. Instead of finding things to take, you need to fear those that are giving you ugly things, because you will find those things leading you down an ugly path that will make you ugly people. And then, when you become an ugly person, I will not hesitate to kill you.”
Still no one moved, so I was glad to hear an amplified voice of Jelnaya say, “You heard the man. Go home.”
The words did break up the group. They began trudging back. I waited to hear someone attempt to turn them back on us. I however stood feeling weary in the silence. While seeing those leaving stop to care for their dead and wounded, I found myself thinking over my words.
I looked to Makinor and said, “We need to kill our horses.”
The voice of Jelnaya spoke from behind me, “No, Nebard, we do not kill the horses.”
“But they are ugly.”
Makinor replied, “We know that, Nebard. What we don’t know is the depth of the ugliness. We need to know if we can save them.”
Jelnaya added, “We need to know if we could love them.”
I had to ask, “Can we?”
“I don’t work for a goddess of love, Nebard.”
Makinor said, “I do. Just as Jelnaya knows when not to fight, I have learned times when I should not love. The major difference between fighting and loving is that a fight can be over while love should not ever die. Jelnaya is usually sent in to finish things, while I am usually sent in to keep things going. Those horses are one step away from becoming members of the Privileged. If we can save the horses, we have done a wonderful thing.”
I asked, “Can one come back from being a horse?”
Jelnaya replied, “Fate is fate, and they might have sealed their fate. That however does not mean that they cannot change their mentalities. That does not mean that they cannot become faithful obedient, horses. Your wife, Nebard, is telling you she will be a faithful, obedient wife. You love her. Why can’t you love your horse?”
“You love your horse, Jelnaya?”
“Petty? Yes, I guess. I don’t change out my horse the way others do. I have kept Petty with me. She knows I will care for her. In all the crazy fights I get myself involved in, she knows I will do what I can to not see her hurt.”
Wanting to assure that she understood the meaning behind my question, I said, “You heard me say that some wanted a horse for the meat.”
“You heard that the horses you got were not horses. We did kill most of them, and you saw that they were not the corpses of animals. If you end up keeping those animals, you need to accept that they are not horses, although probably still needing your love.”
“I guess I need to start seeing things like that.” I looked at the people still moving away, then said, “I’m worried about some of the things we will need to do. I see a lot that is going to have to change, and I am not certain about that. Our ways are quite ancient.”
“What does your goddess say about that? She is the one that has the better vision of history, and she will be the one to keep you going when you would rather slow down if not stop altogether.”
I paused to consider Quafrey. At that moment I saw her. I felt a need to explain, but her smiling face shook her head. Assuming Quafrey could read my mind, I waited for her to let me know her thoughts.
“Something would have eventually caused a change, Nebard. Instead of simply working to continue positive experiences between people so as to have you continue your existence, I am finding myself with the means to direct things as I see fit. That means I will continue to have work for you, Nebard, but it also means that the lives of your people will change.”
“Of course.” I then realized that I still stood with my fellow divine champions, so asked them, “Did I fade out?”
Makinor answered, “No, but don’t let it bother you. You don’t see Jelnaya or me ashamed of our relationship with our deities. In fact, you should be ashamed if you are not communicating with Quafrey.”
“Yes, of course. Uh, she said that she will continue to have work for me.”
“Were you thinking of quitting your service to the goddess?”
“Of course not. Uh, does that mean I am immortal?”
Jelnaya answered, “Probably not, although probably. Makinor is definitely up in years. I had to be granted immortality, because the challenges I faced would not have allowed me to survive otherwise. I still get put into positions where my immortality is simply a requirement to take on the challenge presented to me. Don’t worry about the passing time, Nebard, but only focus on what Quafrey is having you do.”
“Okay, so Jelnaya, what do we do?”
“Those people gave us that answer, Nebard. Come on, as we have work to do.”
And our heroes move on to find the source of their troubles.