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 Into the Land of Immortals - Chptr 8

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PostSubject: Into the Land of Immortals - Chptr 8   December 16th 2008, 7:49 am

Into the Land of Immortals
Chapter Eight

Part 1

Straekin saw the centaur children run through the meadow and hoped that Terish would finally be returning. She had arrived to share the midday meal with her husband, but learned that he had gone with a number of others to the human civilization for a festival of some type. Some of those in the tribe had pointed out Kethal to her, but mentioned that he eagerly sought wisdom from the non-humans so felt that he needed to be left alone. Straekin thus set herself to cleaning out the hut where she expected to sleep with her husband that evening. She however saw the movement and hoped that she could soon be doing something much more satisfying.

She watched as a couple of young male centaurs ran up to the hut barely managing to carry between them a couple of large hide covered bundles. They showed enough control over their parcels to have the one on top softly plop on a leaf-covered section of ground. Before moving off with the other burden, one spoke some words of explanation.

"Terish said that he wanted one slab of bacon, but that we could share the other."

Straekin knelt down to lift a flap of the hide to verify that it was bacon. Most of the non-humans were vegetarians, although appreciated some meat occasionally added to help their bodies. She thus allowed that it could be bacon, although seeing the size of the bundle had her wonder about those around her eating their portion, much less her and Terish. Straekin felt that she recognized the aroma of a familiar wood, had no doubt about the layer of salt, but could not place the animal that would produce such a large block of fatty meat. The hide was only that of a deer, but as she tried to consider what large animals this world had she saw another male centaur ride up.

"Lady Straekin! So glad to see you! Look at this shield. It is well balanced, and I like the colors. Terish won it, but does not use a shield, so traded it to me for some arrows – nice arrows but our tribe makes better – that he could then trade for some outfits for your girls."

As the male centaur moved off, the lady saw a number of female centaurs and satyrs run around with ribbons sailing from their hands or already tied to their hair. She stood still as she tried to see what glistening objects the fairies were showing off to each other. Starting to move to meet her husband, some female centaurs rode up setting bags and bushels of fruit next to the slab of bacon. Straekin did not know whether to thank those setting down items, but when one mentioned that Terish had been asking about her she took off to find him.

A yell met her almost as soon as she left the perimeter of the village. Terish was in the bed of a wagon handing out goods to those that came by. Celatia stood nearby talking to other non-humans. Straekin could see the bed of the wagon leaning as one wheel rested at a strong angle indicating that an axle had broken. She thus understood why the wagon had not been brought on into the village, and ran to where the journey home had ceased. As she came to the wagon, Terish spoke to her.

"I have always preferred the diplomacy of this world."

Straekin knew her husband, and the politics of the present world, so could not prevent herself from asking, "How many people did you kill, Terish?"

"Two." He looked to a male centaur to ask, "Two? Wasn't a soldier healed?"

The one questioned answered, "Yes. When you turned the dagger, it broke on the armor bands. The blow was thus not fatal."

Terish looked apologetic as he admitted to his wife, "I wasn't using my weapons. The humans on this world do not make the best stuff."

With exasperation in her voice, Straekin asked, "What happened, Terish?"

"They didn't believe that I was who I said I was. I have been coming here for about a century, but they called me a kid. Only Ferrigote calls me 'kid,' and that is because he is so much older than me. I mean, I am almost two hundred, but Ferrigote is way past that. Why, I believe he is over two-hundred and twenty."

Straekin did not mention that she was close to seven hundred, but waited for Terish to get back on topic. "Anyway, had the usual meeting last night. Everything went fine, and received the invitation to come back with some non-humans and join in the events at a festival. Sounded good. Arrived back at the city this morning, and they called me a kid and claimed that the war was ancient history. Well, the fight started, and I killed two. Should have killed more, but the humans quickly realized that I could actually pull one of my own weapons and start really reducing their population. They apologized; gave us some stuff; allowed Celatia to do her thing; gave us some more stuff, then allowed us to compete in the events where even more stuff was won."

The lady figured that things could have really gone worse, so decided to focus on immediate concerns. "I see the wagon. Did you gain any horses?"

"No. It is not the best, but the humans prize their horses. After the insult I was not going to purchase anything. Anyway, the centaurs said they would help me pull it. I need to see how large my share is before seeing if I keep the wagon or let it get chopped up for firewood. Oh!" He moved to bend over the side of the wagon and kiss the lady before saying, "I have missed you, and I love you."

"I love you too, Terish."

"We can head home in the morning. I want to see our girls."

"I am worried about them." Straekin decided to go ahead and make a statement hoping to keep her husband speaking. "Terdeskollit is moving."

"I hope that he finds what he is looking for. It would be really neat if I can achieve my destiny over a meal with a handshake."

"He is dangerous Terish. You are dangerous, but have truly managed to work for good. I do not doubt that you needed to kill those two people. I also do not doubt that if Terdeskollit had been in your place, that third person and more would have died as well."

Her husband jumped from the wagon to hug her as he said, "And you love me."

"I love you because I know that you can return my love, and because I know that you will return my love. That is something I don't know if Terdeskollit can gain."

"I was not raised in hate, Straekin. Yes, life was a living hell. Yes, I have some very early memories of doing some very horrible things just to get my bread money. I also have some good memories of my family. The Dozzrines were good people. There was something there. It might have been pure rebellion. Rebellion against evil might be good, but I think not. I tend to believe that there is something positive about Terdeskollit. I am hoping for that meal and a handshake, Straek."

The lady did not mind that her tone was not as positive as that of her husband. "I don't believe that you are going to get it, Terish. I do however believe that you won't let your people down. When Terdeskollit does create his next world, you will find a way to get him to offer them salvation."

"I guess that I will figure something out. Now, if we use the wagon, we will probably need your horse to pull it."

~^~^~ ^~^~^ ~^~^~

Turning down the path to Merkinnist actually scared Giluchex. All he could think about was having to ride the horse back. He looked to the manicured grass along the passage through the woods, the well trimmed limbs that did not completely block the sun, and properly placed flowers thinking of the pilgrims that would walk or crawl to the holy grounds. Giluchex actually believed he would tolerate the travel back to home on his knees better than on the back of a horse.

The practice with the mechanical animal had given him an early advantage with riding the horse, but Chorrik had proven more capable as the days progressed. Giluchex could only believe that having a dancer for a wife had the man keep himself in better shape than regular hours at a gym, and the personally prepared meals had been healthier than what could be gained at restaurants. Of course, part of his improvement could simply be that he was going to meet his wife, while Giluchex knew that he would merely gain an objective.

He stopped to look at the artwork on an arch. The white stone appeared old, but there was something unnatural about it. Moving towards it did not reveal it to be oddly painted plaster. Touching it gave no sensation of the stone being light or temporary. Giluchex could only move from the circular boundary of archs with the understanding that they were quite old.

The grounds within the perimeter showed obvious signs of being tended. The grass had been mowed. The buildings were mostly of stone, but cracks and irregularities did show as well the signs that older such faults had been corrected. The architecture was not of any style that Giluchex could recognize, and the attire of the people did not show any formalness that placed them within a specific time period. Seeing people come towards him and his companions, Giluchex felt a need to ask some specifics.

"Ferrigote, how old is Dathol?"

"I don't believe that he is as old as you. Probably five hundred years."

"Well, how old is this place?"

"It dates back to the time that the nearby city was but a settlement, so it is at least a couple of thousand."

Giluchex knew Dathol from pictures, but had no idea who the others were. He also found himself only able to understand the holy man. Giluchex thus just did his best to follow the lead of Ferrigote through the opening formalities. While he had heard the others being asked a certain question by Dathol, their answers did not help him when the words were directed at him.

"I… I just had to come. Things were happening, and I found myself unable to respond."

The holy man showed no displeasure with the response. "Our ways are different than yours, but you are far from the first stranger this place has welcomed. Feel free to look around. Some here can speak to you, and I will see that you gain a translator."

It was not so much a need to maintain any reputation as a debater, only that Giluchex felt a need to gain some control over events around him. "But, hold it, please. You are a holy man." Giluchex waited for a nod. "You represent whatever God this world has."

"Sanver."

"Yes, Sanver. And this God, Sanver, speaks to you?"

"Not only speaks to me, but every five years out of fifty I must go to reside with him in the divine realms. I would say that we converse."

Giluchex paused as he tried to accept that fact, but decided to simply continue with his questioning. "I guess that I can understand why Terish comes to you for answers, but does your God approve of him?"

"Ah, but that is where you are mistaken. Terish never came here for answers. He needed rest. I remember the evening that I received a message from Sanver that there was somebody of great importance out sleeping upon one of the archs. He was but a boy then and traveling with Ferrigote, although already showing signs of great intelligence and abliity. I have gone with Terish on adventures not to give him advice, but to give Sanver my witness of events."

Giluchex felt that he heard a fault in the words of the holy man. "Your God could not see things for himself?"

"Each universe has its own reason for existence. Gods may travel, but outside their own realm they are limited as are all. Their limits might not appear as great for those such as us, but for beings of such expansive power and untold abilities they feel extremely constraining. I have experienced times when I traveled through places that Sanver was not allowed."

"Why does he need you? Wouldn't anyone from your world be sufficient?"

"Well, very few deities will associate with those of whom they have no relationship. Most are nice enough when met, but they do not abide with such."

"We are taught that our Goddess travels with us and a part of her resides in our heart."

Dathol tried to keep smiling, although Giluchex noticed the man pause before he tactfully said, "I tend to sense that is true for those that truly worship her."

"What are you implying?"

Chorrik interjected, "What are you implying, Giluchex? You are asking Dathol questions, and he is answering. There are many who would wish what you have."

Giluchex went livid as he returned, "I did not travel all this distance…"

"To what? Get honesty? I was watching, Giluchex, as you questioned Venicht on national television. Annalia, who was there at the event, was sent out of the room, 'so as not to influence the prince's testimony.' Well, guess who was sent along with Annalia? Me. When you told Venicht that no one ever sees Munulva and rolled your eyes when the prince responded about his mother, I told Annalia that I always suspected you went to church for show."

Giluchex tried to hush his colleague by saying, "There is no way for you to know what my private beliefs are."

"Sure there is. I can ask Munulva. She has a history of not answering, but recently I believe she has been speaking."

Dathol tried to calm the conversation by asking, "How is Venicht? I was there at his birth, and the birth of all of Terish and Straekin's children."

Giluchex changed to a friendly demeanor as quickly as he had become angry. "The prince is a fine young man. All of Davelda is proud of him."

Chorrik added, "For the son of 'a disreputable alien to the society of Davelda,' he is a welcomed guest."

Dathol tried again to cut short the exchange of statements as he spoke to Ferrigote, "It seems that you had an interesting journey."

"Oh, no, you are getting them after they had time to acclimate to riding. Most of the trip they were quietly suffering on the back of a horse."

Giluchex saw Thaunya running to her husband from the buildings, and decided to try and save face. "Yes, excuse me. I am sore from the travel. It was my first time to be an extended period upon a horse. I apologize for a poor first impression."

Dathol smiled as if glad to see the man go. "Both of you, Giluchex and Chorrik, are welcomed to Merkinnist. I hope you have a recuperative rest, then feel free to move at your leisure."

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PostSubject: Reply   December 21st 2008, 8:27 am

Into the Land of Immortals
Chapter Eight

Part 2

Thaunya did not pause in her rush to her husband until her body pressed against him while embracing the man. She hugged and kissed him, but her eyes quickly turned to stare at Giluchex. He noticed, spoke a greeting, but saw that her eyes stayed on him. He stopped to hopefully answer the question he felt had not been spoken.

"I can no longer send others out to search for answers. It is time that I went out myself."

One arm stayed around her husband even as Thaunya put her focus on the other man. "But you politicized my reports. They were censored."

The eyes of Giluchex showed anger as he replied, "They were not censored. The council does not have that authority."

"I read what was entered in the archives. Those were not my reports."

"I believe that your actual reports were put forth on a number of non-government databases."

"I believe it was my husband or Empress Straekin that put them there, not you. My point is, Giluchex, that you cannot be trusted to reveal the truth."

Frustration entered the man's voice as he returned, "There is Ferrigote. I am certain that Terish will show up eventually. There will be other reports than mine." He pointed a finger at Thaunya as he said, "If you come on this mission, it will not be due to my manipulations."

Complete disbelief showed on the lady's face as she turned to her husband, "Chorrik?"

"I came to be with you. It is not right for you to have to make decisions alone. I promise you that I am here just to be with you, and not to make you travel anywhere. Giluchex came on his own with his own reasons."

"I don't trust him."

Giluchex's retort was cut off by Chorrik saying, "Well, at least Davelda is safe from his scheming for the time being. Come on, Thaunya. I need to work off some aches. Get me away from here."

Ferrigote began walking with his wife leading the horses to the stables as he said, "Gee, it seems that people don't like you, Giluchex. Probably surprises you, don't it?"

The man felt a need to sharply return, "What is your gripe about me?"

"Oh, I don’t know. Maybe the fact that my best friend has been slandered, libeled, and generally not appreciated by you."

"I was trying to protect my empress."

"You failed. She is happily married with wonderful children living like a queen. Oh, yes, she is a queen. Might be a social demotion from being empress, but the perks at Thiminy I believe make up for the cut in status."

Giluchex looked sternly at the man while saying, "Maybe I should visit Thiminy."

"Maybe you should have done that a few decades ago."

Not really certain what he should do presently, Giluchex asked, "Where are you going after this?"

"A vast horrid desert that does not need any more hot air, thank you."

Giluchex turned to see that he was being watched by some people. Dathol was present, but conversing with an elderly man and woman. Feeling his muscles complain, Giluchex considered what hospitality he might gain now that he was again in something resembling civilization. Assuming that someone watching him held some status, he asked a question.

"Do you have a spa?"

One nodded as he replied, "Yes, many pilgrims and travelers come here in need of restoring their bodies. I can direct you."

"Thank you, as it seems that I was carrying more baggage than I realized."

~^~^~ ^~^~^ ~^~^~

Straekin watched as Kethal returned from the dance smiling in a manner that broadcasted his pleasure with the events. She understood that he was in the midst of a number of beings he thought did not exist, yet interacting with them and being accepted in a manner that he never thought possible even if he had known of them actually being real for his world. Straekin smiled with her own memories of first traveling with Terish and meeting those of other realities. An expression of unease came to the face of Kethal as he took some food that a satyr offered to him along with a wooden mug containing mead. His features returned to showing pleasure as he looked at the lady, and Straekin pointed to a nearby bare spot agreeing that he could eat beside her.

She knew he did not speak the local language, although seemed able to quickly pick up the meaning of expressions. Straekin however accepted that he came next to her simply to settle his stomach by eating while enjoying the company of someone with whom he could relate. As he ate, his expressions toward her changed from enjoyment of the sight of her to those of curiosity. She did not doubt that her clothes and cosmetics were not in the fashion of his wife or the other ladies of his village. Straekin studied his features and concluded that while the sight of her did calm him enough to have the food stay on his stomach, he thought of her as something as exotic as the strange creatures around him. It thus came as no surprise that he finally swallowed the food in his mouth before asking a question.

"Lady Straekin, you are not dancing?"

"No, Kethal. I always had too many social stipulations on such activities."

"Many men wanted to dance with you?"

She smiled as she recognized he understood what had been said, "Yes."

"But you let Terish dance with you?"

"No, Kethal, you have not been listening. Terish came and showed me answers to my questions. I left with him to find more, and found that I loved him."

He pointed to other couples that moved together while saying, "You should dance with him."

"Terish has his own past. There are moments when we dance. They seem to happen more and more often however, so life is getting better."

Kethal nodded as if he thought the answer proper. Straekin turned her attention back to the dance. After a time a young female brownie brought along a pitcher to refill mugs, and Straekin gladly allowed the action. She saw the brownie look to Kethal, but move away. Straekin turned to see if the man was beginning to drift off. He did appear to have lost some of his cheer, although his voice still had some strength.

"Lady Straekin, I am ready to go home. I have been to the realm of the gods. I have seen the actions of a god. I have spoken to immortals. I have danced with the creatures of legend. It is time to face life again."

She hoped to honor the man as she said, "I am amazed, Kethal. Few are strong enough to return to a life when there is no life to return to."

"Yes, but I truly left to gain the blessing to overcome my cowardness and restart my life. If these experiences are not enough, there is no hope for me."

"Well, do you believe if the event that destroyed your village would occur again, you would be able to respond differently?"

She noticed that he really did not answer her question. "I did not try to rescue my family. I had returned from fishing, but was still outside the village cleaning them when I noticed the enemy advancing. I had gone with my son, but he had run on to his mother. Instead of rushing to gain my family and have them escape with me, I simply rushed away to save myself."

"What will you do, Kethal? Having no family or tribe."

"It will be hard, but there is no honor if I stay here. I have been given a second chance. I must honor the gods, the immortals, and all that helped restore me by returning to seek a restoration of life."

Straekin had moved through dimensions enough to know something about determining paths. Because the routes did not obey normal rules of directions, her hands started moving in strange ways as her mind considered facts of intervening dimensions. Kethal watched her with a curious expression. Straekin assumed that he thought she was working magic, but followed through her line of thought glad that he stayed quiet. While her cheerful expression had dropped as she concentrated on the task, a smile returned to her face as Kethal's features showed cheer when he heard her response.

"I guess we could. I will need to check with Terish."

She had seen the return of her husband. Straekin knew that he had gone with Celatia and a few elder centaurs to discuss some business. This was not her world or a world where she had a place. Terish had been instrumental in saving this world from a great evil, so had the respect of being a major hero. Straekin was not ignored, but this was one world where she had no status except as the friend, and now wife, of a prominent figure. She actually enjoyed being able to sit out certain discussions, although knowing that she was not forgotten did help her positive attitude. While Kethal seemed amazed with Terish's quick arrival after being mentioned, Straekin kissed her husband warmly letting him know that she considered it time for her to have him alone. He did not deny the tactile message, but did work to assure that all business had been covered.

"What have you and Kethal been talking about?"

"He says that he is ready to return to his world and seek to restart his life. I believe that it should take us three days to get there."

Terish's hands worked as he talked just as Straekin had earlier moved hers. "Well, yes, if we go the normal way. There is a place along the route where we could take a little turn and get there in just over a day."

Straekin had watched his hands, and felt she knew enough to ask, "Is that way dangerous?"

"Not really, but the physics turn really odd. If you are not aware of just what type of universe you are entering, things can go really bad. Luckily, I happen to know what to be aware of."

"How long will we be in that universe?"

"Two hours in that one. About an hour in another, then three hours in another. Only the first is extremely exotic however. After a couple of other worlds, we will come out in the universe closer to Davelda before where the breech exists taking us to Kethal's world."

Straekin did not doubt that Terish knew short-cuts through the omniverse. He had gone insane attempting to learn all that was possible of the interaction of universes along with a fine understanding of the various physics of those separate realities. Even while mentally impaired, he had shown amazing ability to accomplish tasks, and with the return of sanity he had clearly demonstrated that he had a good command of things beyond the awareness of most others. Straekin asked a question simply knowing that her husband was not one to reveal any advantages unless he thought it necessary.

"Is there a reason we need to get there earlier?"

"I hope only a father's desire to check on his kids. I am feeling anxious about something, but nothing definite."

"We leave in the morning?"

"Yes, I already told the elders that. They already knew about Venicht being sent to Davelda. They assume my anxiousness is purely parental concern, and they approve."

Straekin turned to verify what had surely been overheard. "We leave in the morning, Kethal."

"Thank you. Thank you both. I will always remember this."

Terish returned, "Well, the weight is on your shoulders now. You are going to have to reclimb those mountains on your return. While up there, tell your gods what you witnessed and what you feel it has taught you. Maybe they will feel the call to give you specific enlightenment on what your purpose should be."

"Thank you again, Terish."

"Have you been given a place to sleep?"

Kethal turned and pointed as he answered, "My gear is over by that tree."

"Yes, most of those around here sleep outside, so you should be all right. The buildings are for special occasions, special people, or rainy days."

Straekin assured a point, "I spent a few hours cleaning your hut, Terish."

"You know that I sleep up in the rafters, Straek. Did you dust up there?"

"Yes, but I prepared the bed, although really was not thinking of sleep. I hope Celatia gets some rest, because you might be dozing in the saddle tomorrow."

_________________
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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Into the Land of Immortals - Chptr 8
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