The Depth of the Mists
Father came in saying that he had been in contact with Dechapper’s place of business. They spoke of him alerting security that he was on his way to work, but never arriving. They had since started their own investigation, admitting they had contacted Lekarry. The fact that she had disappeared as well had them worried. Father told the lady that they were relieved to know she was all right, and that the family were active in the search for Dechapper.
It surprised me to see the medallion establishing the portal to where I had gone previously set before me and not the older brother, although Father did explain. “This is your mission, Vernallor. It has definitely gone beyond a mere curiosity, but I feel certain that it will come back to whatever started you on this little adventure.”
I simply asked, “Aren’t you going with us, Father?”
“No. I do not know why Dechapper does not have his medallion for contacting me with him, but if there is trouble one of you had better contact me. Orintious, tell your men not to expect any bonus from this, but it has gotten my curiosity. If that is where Dechapper is, it also has my concern.”
As Minchell went to change into some of the sturdier garments she wore on our rescue of Mochsha, we found some better shoes for Lekarry. Having worked with a number of men over the years, Orintious had a wide selection of boots available. Krakengoff was also the residence of Father’s that Orintious would use as a staging area for some of his expeditions, so we did not need to go far to get what we needed for Lekarry.
Finally feeling that we could safely check out the situation, my brothers had me use the medallion. The ladies expressed their surprise at their surroundings as Sterrig went to all fours. He really did not like using that method of locomotion, but his form seemed built for it and he found it useful at times. In this case he simply felt the same sense of danger in moving that the rest of us did with his curiosity causing him to do what he could to learn the most of this situation.
As he moved to the edge, he said, “Certain death below? Damn, Orintious, this is certain death right here. This cannot be a permanent landscape. It’s too fragile.”
The older brother replied, “Vernallor and I have been reading documents that speak of this place millennia in the past.”
“Well, I – wait! That’s Dechapper! I hear Dechapper!”
Sterrig then yelled out the name of our missing brother. I then could barely make out a response, and certainly could not when the ladies exclaimed that they could hear him. Sterrig moved around until he was certain that Dechapper was below him, although what he said next was not so positive.
Sterrig answered, “No. We find a place, settle down, then really just move between it and Father’s home. Orintious is a mercenary that knows about the omniverse, so he moves between realities a lot. Dechapper is settling on your world, which explains him getting a house and dating you. He however does work for Eskrion Assimilations, and they are multi-world in scope, but you can just consider it a good paying job.”
“How about the children?”
“Most forget about us.”
“Are those your plans, Vernallor?”
I was surprised to have the lady focus on me, so did not mind Sterrig answering that question as well. “He’s still young, Lekarry. The boy is still trying to determine what questions to ask, much less try and answer them.”
It helped my attitude seeing her smile at me as I replied, “That is basically the truth. It was nice going with Orintious and Heratin to rescue Mochsha, but that was really my first time to be away from Father’s home besides some fishing trips with Dechapper.”
Minchell said, “He did well, though. If it was just Sterrig here, I doubt Orintious would have left me.”
That statement started an entertaining exchange between Minchell and Sterrig. She made it clear how dastardly he could be at times while he found various ways to point out the fact she was just a possession to be used at will. I however had seen just how properly Orintious treated Minchell, and knew that Sterrig was a trusted member of the family in spite of his reputation among others.
Orintious returned with Begaxy and the other men I had seen work the ropes in the rescue of Mochsha. They obviously had been warned about the terrain, as they had boards to help protect the integrity of the cords over the sharp edges. While a man was brought set up with gear to make the descent, Sterrig made it known to Orintious about who was going down.
“You brought me for a reason, Orintious, now let me earn some pay.”
The older brother replied, “Remember you weren’t force, Sterrig.”
“Remember I said that I needed to be paid.”
I saw relief on the face of the man Orintious had brought as the length of one rope needed to be added to that of another, then another. Finally, the voice of Sterrig could be heard to speak of having reached Dechapper. I believe we all were wondering what was taking so long before the word came to start pulling the brothers up. This process also seemed to take an eternity, but we all felt relief when the blocky hand and arm of Dechapper could be seen attempting to grab a hold of the edge.
Sterrig said, “I don’t know what gods he prays to, but he managed to find a sturdy ledge down there. You cannot see down there, as the mist is thick. There is also something wrong about it. If you’re using magic to fly down, you’re doomed. If there is a way down, it is going to have to be by some physical means.”
Orintious asked, “Can you see a change in the rock?”
Dechapper answered, “Not really. Like Sterrig said, I was on a solid enough edge. This is not shale, but some layered quartz. Where I was appeared to be a granite block, but its top was clearly showing the fractures that would have it one day look like this stuff here.” Orintious started to ask another question, but Dechapper stopped him with the demand, “Get me home. I am more than willing to talk, but let’s get back where we can relax in comfort and safety.”
Minchell was talking about taking care of the cuts to Dechapper’s body. He spoke of being lucky that he was going to work, as the suit he was required to wear gave him some protection from the rock. He however spoke not of the edges, but of the bumps that tried to send him away from the side of the precipice. He spoke of cuts to his fingers in order to grab the face of the rock, and his relief at just having a surface to be up against. He would then speak of his hands eventually tiring and him dropping further. Coming back to Father’s house, Minchell was told to relax as the second oldest surviving brother, Heratin, had a number of his ladies present to tend to the lost brother.
As she watched Dechapper being cared for, Lekarry said, “Well, the only one I guess I haven’t met is Mochsha.”
From a doorway, Father said, “I’m sure you’ll get a multitude of opportunities. Right now we need to get you home.”
I noticed the activation of a portal at the front of the house, then saw Monquier step forward. “Oh, you have found Dechapper. That’s a relief, although he appears to have been tortured.”
“We are still assessing things, but it is time for us to try and restore some normalcy to the situation. Monquier, isn’t there others like Dechapper at your place of business?”
“Yes, which is how Dechapper found the world of those like him. Why?”
“I am seeking a means of calmly returning Lekarry to her home.”
“Well,” the lady said, “my car is in front of Dechapper’s home. I came here by portal, so can’t I just leave?”
I answered, “The portal that took Dechapper was surely the one in front of his home.”
I felt ripples of power from Father before he said, “Very well spoken, Vernallor.”
Father moved to Lekarry, then escorted her to the portal. He had her face a certain direction, then told her when she appeared in Dechapper’s yard to rush forward then curve around to her vehicle. She thanked him, and smiled when he said to simply wait for Dechapper to call her. Father then activated the portal, and I sensed the power he used to see through worlds and assure that the lady made it safely.
He then turned to me to ask, “Any more conclusions, Vernallor?”
Before I could give my simple answer, Sterrig said, “We go back. Listen, Dechapper was on a solid ledge. Another similar drop and we should have solid mountain around us.”
I had to ask, “How do you get back up?”
“It’s a mountain range. Walk out.”
“And millennia of people seeking the treasure have not thought of that?”
“Won’t be the first – Hey! Don’t tell me you aren’t going.”
I finally gave my answer, “Orintious and I were beginning to find references and pieces of clues. More study could give us the information we need to be successful.”
“With an open portal? We cannot leave that active.”
Father said, “The portal is in Dechapper’s yard. He can stay here and go to work from here until the matter is settled.”
Monquier asked, “How are you feeling, Dechapper?”
The brother directly ahead of me in birth order answered, “Do not doubt the healing power of Heratin’s ladies. I will be in fine shape for work tomorrow, Monquier. Thank you for coming to check on me.”
“You are a valued employee, Dechapper, and in your family are some valued customers.”
Sterrig said, “Not me.”
“No, not you, Sterrig, but the value your family places in Eskrion Assimilations is apparent in that you have never done any disreputable business with the company.”
“Which means very little business with your company. My problem is that I’ve just never had my big score. This is it. I can feel it. Come on, Vernallor, let’s go do some research.”
“I was taking a break when we went for Dechapper,” I replied. “Now, I am tired. Let me get some sleep, then I will be glad to join you, Sterrig.”
“So, you’ll be there?”
I almost reminded him that he was older than me, but simply replied, “Yes, Sterrig, I’ll be there.”
And the research begins.