To Face the Ugly Deed
I readied my weapon feeling my body speak of fear. A foul odor could be detected that had me momentarily consider a desire to move to a better place. Seeing Jelnaya adjust her stance with her drahaberd, I prayed to Quafrey that my weapon would be able to harm the one coming.
Hearing a question from my goddess I felt displaced, although I kept my body ready for an attack. “Nebard, have you learned?”
I replied, “I will go where I need to go and do what I need to do.”
“No, Nebard. That was actually something I needed to learn. Are you going into Hell?”
While the land around me was not what I considered a healthy place, I answered, “I will go.”
“No, Nebard. Sometimes the only thing you need to do is prove yourself willing to do it. It does help Jelnaya that she has actually done the things she claims. There is not only the conviction in her, but the history of acting on those convictions. This is not your time, and it may never come, but you have done well. Yes, Nebard, your weapon will be sufficient.”
Suddenly, the sensation of fear came upon me in an almost physical wave. The stench of decay surrounded me. Having kept my body in a battle stance, I however easily managed to make a strike. Feeling a physical resistance to the movement of my weapon, I realized that the one who needed to fear was my enemy.
It was disconcerting to hear Makinor scream in pain before yelling out the name of our lady, although I felt her words were the only things needed to be said. “Just fight, Makinor!”
“How do you fight this thing?”
“How are you fighting it, Makinor? Just keep doing what you are doing.”
There were a number of sounds from the man. I made out grunting, and I believe a scream of actually feeling pain. I then heard him again scream out the name of the lady.
She replied, “You are not a worshipper of Fergush, Makinor. In fact, your goddess is opposed to mine. There is no reason for you to like your situation, but you are here with me. This was the reason Quafrey came to get me. I am having fun. This is what I want to do, what I want to brag about having done. You came willingly, so you need to accept you are here understanding the situation. Fight, Makinor.”
I could only assume that he did. As we had learned earlier, the demon attempted to hide its presence. Either using invisibility or a dark mist it tried to not let those it moved upon see what it was truly doing or how it was doing it. Honestly, I felt Makinor had an advantage, as his holy armor would reflect radiation in a manner that enabled the truth of things around him to be revealed. Hearing the man no longer complaining, I could only assume he accepted the task before him.
I felt Jelnaya did not care about what her eyes did or did not perceive, but when I saw her in action, aided by her brightly colored hair seeming to shine, she reacted to how her weapons ended up after an attack. If a blade bit into something, she pulled on the weapon to hopefully have it slice deeper or further along the body. At times she would simply hold the drahaberd with one hand, whether in the monster or not, and swing her other hand with a dagger as if to make out the location of other parts of the creature. When an attack appeared to completely miss, Jelnaya looked at us men then jumped with her drahaberd to where we were focused. I learned to feel hope when my eyes registered a blur of motion including red and yellow, as I knew Jelnaya fully intended to cause damage with a strike on our enemy.
Not being able to see really did not bother me either. The wild dashes into neighboring communities gave me some experience in reacting to situations suddenly. It was common to find myself meeting someone rushing upon me. While I had no clear vision of the demon, the darkness around it gave me a sense of where to direct my attacks or if some part of it was coming at me. The only thing that bothered me was a feeling of fatigue as I continually needed to move to swipe with my weapon or perform a block.
I had to react even faster when a rush of small black monsters came upon me. Again the experience was not unusual for me. I kept animals. If Eashae had not told me otherwise, and Jelnaya had not killed them, I would have probably taken two wolves. Memories of raiding other communities and suddenly facing a number of animals helped me deal with the onslaught of small demons, although again I heard Makinor scream for our lady.
She replied, “I am fighting these things as well, Makinor, and your armor covers a lot more of you than mine does me.”
Suddenly, I noticed a bright radiance near me and noticed that Makinor had made a strong thrust upon the major demon. The clarity the radiance from his armor provided helped me in directing my attacks upon the bodies of the small monsters. As I worked on removing the minor threats, I encouraged Makinor to continue to inflict harm on the true source of the evil that had corrupted and destroyed so many souls.
While he gasped in a clear indication of also feeling weary, he asked, “How are you able to keep at this, Nebard? Your goddess is also not a fighting spirit.”
I replied, “This fight actually has me thinking of what I would do before becoming a divine champion. The way I am fighting is very similar, although going against a real threat is comforting. The men of my community would raid other communities either to get things we needed or simply to warn them from thinking of raiding us. There was no expertise in how we fought, and no organized resistance from those we went against. It was mostly us attacking with surprise and our opponents doing what they could to overcome us. The reverse would happen when a group of men raided our homes.”
The fight had now become something I was comfortable with. My body was past complaining, and in finding myself surviving I felt some confidence in making it through the battle. There were also the memories of other battles helping me react and move to the things around me. The conversation had helped me direct part of my mind away from the fight, and I felt good not feeling the fatigue of combat as Makinor asked another question.
“So, the fact that I stayed in mostly civilized territory is what is bothering me now?”
“Considering that we are far from civilization, yes.”
“Well, most relationships do not occur out here.”
I felt the need to let Makinor know how wrong what I felt was his point to be. “I gained my wife on a raid. If no one had come out to us, especially a god, we would be on the path to corruption.”
The voice of Jelnaya could be heard to say, “That does not put you at fault, Makinor. I assume you were providing a service. It just should have you wonder why you were chosen for this and not some other Champion of Onathia.”
Makinor replied, “I know why I was chosen, Jelnaya. I was bored. I was complaining to Onathia about how I was facing the same problems over and over again. My goddess spoke of me getting married, but I griped about there being nothing special about the ladies I knew about. That is what had me dream of spending time with you, Jelnaya.”
“What type of dreams are you having now, Makinor?”
“I am just admitting that I could love you, Jelnaya. I feel I could bring you comfort when you come home. I however could not really relate to you, so you are not for me.” I heard the lady begin to reply, but Makinor kept talking. “I however will always speak of our time together, Jelnaya. If I stride into the halls of Fergush, it will not be brag of my deeds, but only to let all know that I am proud to know you.”
“I will honor that, Makinor, especially if you are instrumental in helping me find the one for me.”
The flow of the combat forced us away from being able to converse. As I again found myself having to push my body to attack and defend against things I really could not perceive, I found myself thinking of Eashae. She would have to love and comfort me, even though probably unable to comprehend the things I experienced. I did not doubt she would do all she could. I however set myself to do all I could to show her my love even if I could not converse in a manner she would understand, and accept what she did for me as her efforts to do the same.
I did not work with a shield. My other hand would at times be used to help power an attack, although I would do as Jelnaya and use a minor weapon to help defend or perform some action to set up a coming attack. It caught me by surprise to find myself gripping one of the small cat-like demons. It actually brought me some joy in moving my hand to work the creature as a shield against attacks, and having it disperse due to something done by another demon had me want to do that again.
One thrust had me find myself enveloped by the greater monster. My first thought was the advantage the drahaberd gave Jelnaya in such a situation. Not knowing what else to do, I set myself to power myself on through the monster. I could not say it was substantial. What I saw of it had it such a combination of parts that there was not really a physical body to it. One could move through it, although the fear was the amount of harm it would inflict on any who did so. Finding myself come out of the enveloping darkness, I turned while delivering a wide swing to state that I would not be the one to die this day.
Strangely, it was Makinor who asked me, “Nebard, are you all right?”
Considering that his sounds and what he said had me worried about him, I simply replied, “I’m making it. Not going to let some girl show me up.”
“Jelnaya is something else. She is over there having a good time. At least the song she is singing has me feel she is enjoying herself.”
I found myself wishing I could hear her. Jelnaya had a good voice. I also felt that her positive spirit could help mine. I however found my own joy as I again discovered an opportunity to grab one of the smaller monsters.
With pride I used the creature to defend against a couple of attacks. Seeing Makinor watching me, I used the radiance from his armor to help me identify a claw of the larger monster. I then slammed the demon in my hand upon a talon, and followed the action with a strong slice upon the appendage. With pride in seeing the small creature disperse along with part of our major opponent, I spoke of my belief in the battle.
“We will win this.”
A flash of a strange light had me suspect another threat was making an appearance. I guess displaying his own concern about the future of our combat, Makinor stepped back. As if to protect him, and possibly me, Jelnaya suddenly rushed to set a position in front of us. Seeing the form of the great bird-like angel that had faced us earlier, I could only imagine the seriousness of the threat that had waited to face us.
And the conclusion to this wonderful tale.