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Monthly Writing Prompt
For this month's writing prompt write a scene using the following sentence to start;

The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?

Writing Tip
Our monthly writing tips are written by our very own TerishD. You can read more in Terish's Blog located in "The Abstractions" area of the forum.

Look Back

When not able to write ahead, it helps to look back. In my case I had written a paragraph ahead of the story. What I needed to do was add a section of exposition (talking) presenting some facts. In going back, I realized that I could insert a section where a 'tour' of the surroundings could be done. This allowed for character interaction, story development, and other things that enabled me to present the facts in an entertaining manner.

One should not face a writer's block with the mentality of bursting through it. I have found in my own experience that a writer's block is usually due to my mind indicating that it has a problem in 'channeling' the story. One reason might be a re-imagining of certain story points. Another reason however is that there is a problem in where you are at in the story, so you need to look back and find out the problem with the 'journey' that prevents the tale from advancing.

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» To Know Black and White - Part 6 (26-28)
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» To Know Black and White - Part 2 (7-10B)
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 To Know Storm and Calm: Part 5 (20B - 23)

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TerishD

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PostSubject: To Know Storm and Calm: Part 5 (20B - 23)   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 5 (20B - 23) Icon_minitimeFebruary 14th 2019, 7:47 am

To Know Storm and Calm
Chapter Twenty – Part Two

(Hallith)

It caught me by surprised to learn just how much the two ladies did not know about courtship and men.  Kierle had been barely older than the physical age of Ayither when I gained her, yet knew a lot about the interactions between the sexes.  While my life as a Quartermaster had been rather active, there were still times when I had to move in polite circles and play a different type of combat.  I thus knew certain types of behaviors, and considering the amount of fame both these ladies seemed to have I was surprised to learn that they knew little of the ways of relating to those of the opposite gender.

Memories of the conversations between Pesloe and Straekin came to mind when my fellow Quartermaster was considering accepting Cornispe as her husband.  My princess had never been a darling lady about the castle.  Her older sister would always have on the fancy clothes and be polite to any man, especially those young and single.  Pesloe worked with those in the military, and seldom allowed herself to be tied down learning certain lessons of proper female behavior.  While Straekin did have some basic foundation for instructing the lady Quartermaster, it took work to actually get some lessons to be accepted.

Ayither was physically young.  I could thus accept that she had not finished her training to be a proper lady.  She might not have had any proper instruction other than helping her mother do things around the house.  I had not heard anyone refer to her with any titles or mention of her parents.  Slidell appeared mature, and I suspected she was physically of the same age as Pesloe.  I had watched Slidell prepare meals and handle things around the camp as if knowing the skills of most ladies, although her lack of desire for others to help her stated a history of low status.  While their attitudes had put both of my companions near a battlefield where their initiation into the order of divine champions could be witnessed by many, I felt both had been too young to suffer through the lessons of courtship.

I sought to learn things from both the ladies.  Of course I had no reservations about my own history.  I however focused my memories on the days of Pesloe being courted by Cornispe and not those troubling events far in my past when I took on the status of a Quartermaster.  I wanted to learn of the ladies, and not the heroes they had become.

As Slidell worked to cook a stew, she admitted, "The fact that I am a lady has caused me to accept certain roles about the camp, but when in a group of men they usually will take up the work and just tell me to stay sitting.  In those times I almost feel like Ayither and want to get up and move around."  That really was not what I wanted to hear about, but before I could restate a question she kept talking.  "In a city everyone recognizes my status as a lasting divine champion, and I have to speak and act according to that status.  As for being a lady, that really is not something that is considered."

I replied, "I can fully accept that.  Pesloe was a fellow Quartermaster all those centuries, and even wearing a dress and a wig she often was noticed by other ladies as being improper.  Still, now that she has taken on additional roles of wife and mother, there are circles she will enter where they expect certain behaviors from her."

Ayither once again proved that she eavesdropped on conversations by approaching the campfire to say, "Yes, that is what I don't get.  Why can't you be calm in such a setting?"

Slidell answered, "Because I have the drive to be out, I would say as much as you do.  I am not comfortable in a dress and acting as a lady.  While I am in a dress right now, there is a comfort being out here.  I believe it is because I know that I am about my work as a Champion of Nemerry.  In the city acting as a proper lady I do not feel that I am busy at the tasks I should be."

"Yes, that is how I feel as well.  When I am not acting as a champion of storm, I feel that I should be acting as a champion of storm.  Hell with being a lady, I'm a Champion of Typhorsh."  Before Slidell or I could comment, Ayither said some more.  "I mean, I know I'm a lady.  I'm not stupid, but my status as a champion of storm sets a priority.  I like being a Champion of Typhorsh.  It is really, really what I want.  There are other things..."  She pointed at me and declared, "If it comes down to becoming a wife and mother or staying a Champion of Typhorsh, I am staying a Champion of Typhorsh."

She spun to again move off, but I called after her, "What does Typhorsh say about that?"

"He says for me to take it slow, but it could happen that I will accept you.  Now, if you are not going to help Slidell cook, come out here and spar with me."

I looked to the champion of calm, and saw her make a quick motion with her head indicating for me to go out to Ayither.  I looked around to assure that there was not something undone that I could quickly do.  Seeing that everything had been managed, I left Slidell calmly stirring the stew while I went out to see about the storm.

I believe Ayither did not like her god telling her that I could take her.  She came upon fiercely and powerfully in repeated attacks until I felt some strain.  Finally panting, she fell back to ask me about a god of my world.

"Who is your air god?"

"Nekeli."

"You've met her?"

As I told her of my experience with Nekeli, Ayither fell to the ground.  She did not roll with laughter, but chuckled with her body declaring just how deeply she felt the humor of my story.  I did not hide anything from her.  I spoke of having my hands move against the meager breasts of the servants moving about the camp, and even reaching to grab those of Kierle who had a much more substantial set of mounds.  She sat and chuckled without anything I said of the experience breaking her display of pleasure in the story.

At the conclusion of my tale, and she had finished chuckling, Ayither said, "That sounds like something a female goddess of storm would do.  Don't have one here.  Typhorsh and Thor are both men.  The women are calm."

Attempting to relate, I commented, "I guess not having a reference to go by would make it hard being storm and a woman."

"I guess that is why I need you, Hallith.  I need someone who can tell me stories like that.  I am going to have to think.  Thus, I will take first watch.  I will wake you or Slidell when I get tired."

Slidell let us know that the stew was ready.  We thus began all the steps to properly ending a day.  Once I had done what I felt necessary, I went on to sleep to assure that I would be ready when awakened to take my time at watch.

I found Slidell kneeling next to me while shaking a shoulder, and seeing me open my eyes she softly said, "Ayither put me on watch after her, I believe so as not to have to talk to you.  Still, what I need for you to do is listen to me."

"Sure," I replied.

She did not say anything, but motioned for me to follow her.  I noticed that the fire was close to going out, but did not let that bother me.  Slidell staying low as she moved let me know that what she wanted to talk about was something other than relationship issues.  I thus grabbed my sword and followed her.

Reaching a high point on the land, she had me come beside her and directed my sight toward some moving sources of light.  "Those are forces of Nemerry looking for me."

Understanding things about the religions of this world, I asked, "Evil forces of Nemerry?"

"Probably not.  They probably have the best of intentions.  They are however dupes for the ones that gave them the orders." As if to assure my understanding, she added, "Like Ayither, I also stay in contact with my goddess."

"So, what is Nemerry telling you to do?"

"What we are doing, of course.  She cannot determine the true disposition of Phetosan or of those of the monastery we are going to, but Nemerry allows that the choice of destinations is probably the best.  At present Phetosan has not been engaged in any manner, so what advice we get should not be with any unresolved biases."

Just because I wanted to know, I asked, "What historical biases should we be suspecting of Phetosan?"

"He likes storm, but in a rather threatening manner.  With stone and tall trees he feels that he can stand against the rage.  Subtle forces, like calm water, actually are the most influential with his aspects, so he is cautious around us of calm.  About war, it is his aspects that others use to stand against the attacks, although strangely to keep the peace, the calm.  It can get tricky depending on the flow of the conversation, but I feel able to recognize certain clues.  Trust me."

"I do, but thank you for the information all the same."  As she nodded, I asked, "Does it bother you to have to distrust others of Nemerry?"

"If I did not have the direct guidance of Nemerry, it would.  I however understand that good and evil are sides of my religion and those with my life probably do not get the focus they should."  As if to assure her own understanding, she asked, "I do not hear you speaking of evil gods."

"No, but the gods of my world all promote good behavior.  I believe that is one reason why Zetrullid had to keep us Quartermasters moving to other worlds."

"I guess then that I am sorry you had to come here."

Actually hoping to put her thoughts at ease, I said, "It was not a matter of my desire to fight evil that brought me here."

"And I am glad for the comfort you are giving to me and the option you are presenting to Ayither.  Still, I feel that you are seeing the reason for our gods to claim champions, although you are not seeing the worst of our world."  When I looked to her with a serious expression, she admitted, "As you found out when we battled that army, there are evil champions as well."

_________________
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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PostSubject: Chapter Twenty-One - Part One   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 5 (20B - 23) Icon_minitimeFebruary 19th 2019, 7:44 am

To Know Storm and Calm
Chapter Twenty-One – Part One

(Slidell)

Of all the divine champions I had traveled with over the years, Hallith was most unique. Even had I not heard of the Quartermasters, his presence would have convinced me of his most unusual status. The fact that he claimed a water god, although not one of storm or calm, I felt would have me connect to him, or able to find him at fault, but strangely my goddess stayed silent concerning him. She did verify certain facts about him, including that he was sent to us in order to possibly gain a permanent relationship, which had me ask why him and not another divine champion of my world.

"Slidell," my goddess said, "there are no other divine champions that can equal you. The status was never meant for one to claim and keep. The blessing was provided to keep our spirits among the people. Should trouble come, those affected may claim our blessing to overcome. Once success was gained, everyone should desire to return to a normal life."

"But the feeling of connection to you is most special."

"And it pleases me to have you so close, so appreciative. Still, your persistence in this life is not how things should be. Others understand the purpose of the blessing, so graciously return to their lives. Zergus only persisted due to you, and I feel others are also persisting due to the example you are setting. I must say that having you continue as my champion does trouble me when I consider my other champions."

I had to think upon the words of my goddess, and could not help but ask, "So, you wanted me to marry Hallith?"

"I felt he might be an option. I was seeking some method of providing aid and guidance when Aslerrida, the fire god of Hallith's world, made known things of Hallith. He is a good man, and a champion of the necessary status for the challenge before you. I thus accepted what his presence could mean for you, Slidell. However, Typhorsh is pleased with him as well, and Ayither will probably be better served by the life of Hallith. In such a matter as your heart, Slidell, I will stand back. All that matters to me is that you give primary allegiance to me. If you do that, then all can work out for the best, which would have even included your life with Zergus."

Not really pleased with that last statement, I said, "Well, I thank you for allowing me to realize exactly what type of man Zergus is."

"Yes, Slidell. There are a couple of men who are attempting to do as you are doing elsewhere on the world. Give them a decade or two, and if they persist I might be a little forceful in forming a union."

"I feel that I will be ready to take on the life of a wife and mother by then."

"I feel that you will be even more committed to more centuries as my champion."

Those words troubled me. I did not doubt that Nemerry knew me, but what she said went against my own beliefs. I had been ready to step down from being a divine champion to be the wife of Zergus. Honestly, I could look to Hallith with desire to claim him as my spouse. It thus troubled me that my goddess felt that I would completely turn my back on having a normal life.

"All right, Slidell," Ayither said riding up near me, "what is Nemerry telling you?"

I replied, "Like you, it's a private conversation. If there was something of a general nature, I would let you know."

She rode close, then softly asked, "How about of a Hallith nature?"

"Okay, Nemerry said that Typhorsh is pleased with him."

"Yes, but I don't know."

Hoping to help, I tried to get her to focus on other matters. "Ayither, there is no pressure being put on you. We have a mission, then there is a simple offer from Hallith for you to travel with him."

"But if I accept, there will be a clear assumption of what that means."

"Ayither, I had my own relationship, which I had to break off. Just as you come to me now, please understand that I will hurt with you should you have to tear your heart away from Hallith."

For a time Ayither simply rode along beside me. I found that surprising, although felt that for once I could see the lady at the core of this champion of storm. The strength and assured personality of her faded enabling me to see the youth who actually had a lot to learn about life. I rode along thinking about my conversation with my goddess hoping to find an answer for this girl who I considered my dearest friend.

"Nemerry said that this continual life as a champion was not how things should be. She said that there were a couple of men who were also attempting to prove themselves as steadfast champions unto her, and that if they held to their station for a decade or two then she would probably arrange for me to settle with one of them."

"But you will then be mortal, Slidell. The life that Hallith is offering to me will have me continue as an immortal. I will lose you."

"I doubt it, Ayither. His slave pulled him into the divine realm. This mission will surely have us enter those blessed territories. If you want me, or need me, I doubt anything will stop you from coming to me."

Suddenly the image of the youth again was covered by the visage of the divine champion. "Oh, YES! I am storm! I will not stop!" As she rode off, I heard her ask, "How much further until we reach this monastery?"

Trusting my voice to cover the distance, I answered, "The terrain will prevent us reaching it today. Tomorrow, before midday, we should be there."

Ayither returned to her usual self of riding around. While I kept a steady pace with my mount, she would have her steed take off to one side of our route, then the other side. If you asked her, she would say that she was looking for trouble. I never argued with that statement, as she was the one who usually found it.

"Damn, calm!"

That was not an insult directed at me, but a warning that something was attempting to come up behind us. If you asked, she would claim such would only be possible due to the slow gait at which I had my horse move. I argued with her about that in our early days together, and lost the argument. I did not learn to set a faster pace, but only that Ayither was not stupid. She could win an argument. I learned to quietly prepare for trouble when she issued a warning.

I heard a strange feminine voice say, "I wa-uz naught sha-neek-eng. I hau-ave to mauve theez wau."

Nagas were trouble. They could be deadly, but usually did not attack sentient creatures. Having the body of snakes, which meant no arms, they could only attack by biting or magic. Usually they were loners, learning the best manners to find prey. When they went after sentient creatures, they prepared. While Ayither faced the naga, I looked around for other sources of trouble.

The Champion of Typhorsh asked, "What about us made you think that we would be easy targets? Oh, and rise up so you can talk properly."

As I saw the human-like head of the naga lift up a few feet, I saw Hallith begin to string his bow. I found myself wondering why I did not think to look up. I had been attacked by various aerial opponents before. Accepting that it had not occurred often enough to truly trouble me, I repeated an adage about the real victor being the one who learned from his failures even as I strung my bow.

I believe Ayither looked to me to ask about how she should treat the naga, although seeing me with my bow drawn and sighting along an arrow had her ask, "Can I just kill it?"

It was Hallith that answered, "Go ahead," right before he released his arrow.

Seeing his projectile not fly toward the one I had targeted, I released my arrow. No sooner did it take flight than I heard a scream even as magical energy crackled around us with Ayither exclaiming, "An illusion? I am set to attack you, and both of those are fixed on judging the flight of arrows. Who is looking at your illusion?"

There was a period of movement. If the champion of storm was not screaming for help, I knew to trust that she was doing fine. I thus kept my focus on the aerial threats. I believe Hallith took momentary pauses to check on Ayither, and as he performed a movement to set the bow back on his mount before drawing his large sword he spoke some information.

"We have two diving toward us."

Ayither replied, "This thing does have poison, Hallith. If you are joining this combat, prepare to fight using a solid defense. Just being a little careful might not be good enough."

"I think what's coming down has poison as well."

I released one more arrow before verifying, "Yes, wyverns."

Ayither fumed, "Wyverns? I'm the Champion of Typhorsh!" The naga was slain, then she spun and said, "I should be fighting the wyverns! You two could have taken the naga!"

I watched in awe as Hallith again used his mount as a support. The horse proved its trust of the man by staying as still as possible as he sprung up. The wyvern had prepared for a regular strike with its venomous tail, but found its preparation to attack to be cut short as Hallith's great weapon thrust up to split open its gut. My fascination in watching the maneuver almost kept me from reacting, but I did manage to get in a block in time to keep myself from suffering.

"ALL RIGHT, TYPHORSH!"

Ayither screamed before launching herself into the air. She was a Champion of Typhorsh, and one could not fault her for not proclaiming her god. A strong burst of air sent her flying up with enough speed to have her catch up with the remaining wyvern, slice off its tail, then grab the monster by the neck to fatally attack it as both came down. Again a blast of air kept her from suffering harm on the descent with her coming to the ground proclaiming the power of her god.

"Typhorsh is in control!"

Hallith set his scabbard back on his mount, then began to unstring his bow as he said, "I assume four would have been too many."

Before Ayither could boast again, I said, "She could probably take on four, although one good strike would really hurt her."

She approached to ask, "There were four?"

Hallith proved that he had marked where those we killed with arrows came down, so Ayither had to accept that there was evidence of four wyvern carcasses. I moved to take an arrow from the body of the one she attacked. I did not say anything, but let it be known that she had not attacked an undamaged opponent. I thought it proved her intelligence not to get into a debate about who was the best fighter.

She said, "Nagas do not work with wyverns. Wyverns would eat them and want more."

I believe Hallith referred to our conversation the night before when he looked to me and asked, "Did they find us?"

Ayither answered, “Anyone looking for us should have found us. Assuming they were watching the wyverns. If they left the wyverns and naga to finish us, it is their fault."

I spoke what my goddess was telling me. "Those we fought in Dethechar would have been active around here. There could have been some with that company acting on orders putting them elsewhere. Still, I don't believe they have the resources to actually hunt us. There is just a bounty on us. Wyverns are not that smart, but they do understand wealth. I thus believe the naga was informed of the bounty, then enticed the wyverns to take wing and look for us in the hope of sharing the reward."

"So, our plan still holds?"

"I guess," Hallith said, "but there is meat."

Accepting that there could be differences in our wyverns and those on other worlds, I replied, "Well, the one that Ayither cut the tail off of. The other three are having the poison spoil the carcass. As for the naga, its human-like head will keep me from eating it."

_________________
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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PostSubject: Chapter Twenty-One - Part Two   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 5 (20B - 23) Icon_minitimeFebruary 24th 2019, 8:17 am

To Know Storm and Calm
Chapter Twenty-One – Part Two

(Slidell)

Hallith had the size to work in preparing the one good wyvern. They were too big to bury. I worked at covering the naga while Ayither went to the other wyverns in order to cut off the heads to attempt to have the poisonous blood drain off enough so as not to fester and corrupt the meat to where only vile things would want to eat it.

When she returned, she helped Hallith, although as he spoke of how he was going to cut the flesh from the bone and divide it she stated, "I'm storm."

He asked, "Does that mean you do not help?"

"Your instructions sound like you want me to act as calm."

"My instructions were me telling you what I was going to do. If you feel there is a better way then you may instruct me. You may also not help."

She glared at him. I then saw her features slacken in a manner I knew well. Seeing an expression did cause me a little concern, but I recognized the way she strode off. Hallith began to set down things as if to follow her, but I rushed to him to provide advice.

"I'll help. Leave Ayither alone."

He began to return to his work even as he asked, "Are you sure?"

"I have known Ayither for a long time. Yes, I am sure."

It took a little longer than I expected, but she did return, although her voice lacked its usual strength. "Slidell, I might be coming back to you."

I asked, "What did Typhorsh tell you, Ayither? All Nemerry told me was to stay calm. Not that I really needed that advice."

"I'm not going to tell you what he told me, but go back to what you are doing. I will help Hallith." I did start setting things down to do as she said, but was not surprised to have her tell me something more. "We will be going to Typhorsh. Remember when I told you that they had tried to storm through the gates of Hurria? I was told that another attempt was going to be made, and Typhorsh said that those of Phetosan will send us to him."

"I might be calm, Ayither, but I am your friend. I believe that you are my friend as well."

"I am!"

"I thus will not fear coming before your god, Ayither. I will in fact consider him a friend as well."

"For once, Slidell, you're not helping."

I saw the subdued way that she took a position to help Hallith. Even without any guidance from my goddess, I felt that I understood something. Instead of moving back to what I had been doing, I stopped to move to Ayither and whisper something I felt would help her.

"Don't let Typhorsh rush you, Ayither. I am not telling you to act calmly, but to simply stop and think before you get involved too deeply. In the end, it is your heart."

She whispered to me, "We can talk about this later, okay?"

I simply nodded, then moved back to care for the horses and prepare them to carry the loads of meat. As I worked, I however saw Ayither work with Hallith. She at first obediently followed his commands, but slowly regained her spirit. Soon enough the two were trading jokes and working closely together without any reservation should they touch. I set to work while making a prayer to my goddess about Ayither truly being my friend, so someone I did want a happy future for.

I heard Nemerry reply, "Of course, Slidell. While I said that I would step back to allow you to determine your own heart with the assurance that all things would eventually work out for the best, it was Typhorsh who whispered the clue that had you realize certain things of Zergus. Ayither prayed for you. Trust that if I feel Hallith will be bad for Ayither, I will whisper a clue to her."

Worried about my words, I went ahead and said, "Then, Nemerry, let me say that you will be wrong to ever keep Ayither from me."

"You will not be the first who passes on to the divine realm and leave love ones behind."

"She will stay immortal, Nemerry. I will not be able to simply wait for her." I turned to assure that the others would not see me begin to cry as I said, "No, please, no."

"I believe your earlier words were correct, Slidell. I don't believe certain barriers would hold against her should she set her mind to it. Concerning Ayither, I feel that I must concede to not standing against the storm."

The words did help, but I had already begun to cry. I thus set myself to work to get my mind away from the dark thoughts. It helped that the good relations between Hallith and Ayither continued. He clearly was not storm, but he tolerated her antics in a very encouraging manner. While she was someone I considered a good friend, many of her ways did not please me. I had accepted her behavior, as I had spent time with numerous champions of storm before the coming of Ayither. I thus began treating her as others, and simply assuring her that I would not change my ways on account of her. After one successful mission, she went on a discussion tallying her kills against mine. Not only did I have the higher total, but I had been the one to perform the steps necessary to actually end the threat. She then set the words that had her begin to take a special place in my life.

"Okay, whatever you are doing, you have my support. I don't like it none, but I cannot doubt what I've heard of you or seen myself."

Since that time the two of us had seen the other overcome a number of great challenges. We actually seldom worked together. Being in the same area, it however was not unusual for us to travel along the same routes. Displaying my aspects of calm, I would go and politely speak to other divine champions. Promoting her connection to storm, Ayither would rush to me and brag of her exploits. Such actions had us more familiar with each other on those occasions we were working together on some great challenge, and the bond now present between us slowly became woven.

We ate some of the wyvern that night. Hallith actually cooked the meal. Ayither did help some, but mostly kept up a chatter about her not liking to cook even as she did the things requested of her. Knowing of my own relationship with the lady, I compared Hallith's action with ours of calm. He however then tossed a knife at Ayither and told her to sharpen it. I never would have done that, but she caught it. As she worked the blade along the whetstone, the two spoke of certain ways they tended to their equipment. It was a pleasant conversation that I joined in with during the meal, even though it was not one I had ever discussed with anyone.

After sending Hallith to bed, Ayither came near as I bathed to say, "You know, the guy is interesting."

I could not help but admit, "I have enjoyed the conversations I had with him."

"But, honestly, he would completely annoy you."

I came close to denying that statement, although honestly had to admit that some of the things he did would not please me. "I would not say that he would completely annoy me. Being calm is a constant. Those moments, those things he does that are not according to calm, would disrupt my mindset. I thus feel that I am better off not claiming him."

"I believe he is doing the opposite for me. He is showing me how to stay storm."

"I feel you do rather well at it."

She laughed before saying, "Around you, Myriah would be put to sleep." I usually considered that statement to be a high compliment from Ayither, but I now felt the power of my friendship probably put stress on her convictions to storm. "One cannot rage all the time however, but one must feel the activity of the storm even when not at its fiercest. That gets hard. I often have to just up my activity to keep up my inner sense of storm. Around Hallith I however can feel his agitation. Not just from being around ladies, but from being in unknown territory, of possibly having to face unknown threats, of really not knowing what the future might be. Not only can I feel the storm, but I sense a style of life that just energizes me. Our world is too predictable, Slidell. Even on this mission, I know enough that I can feel some confidence in the future. It however must be exciting for Hallith to not really have any idea about things. I feel the storm there, and that has me like being with him."

"If that is true then it is probably best if you have him instead of me."

"Yes, Slidell, I guess it is."

That admission had me say something that I did not think I ever would. "I told Nemerry that she better not ever stop you from coming to me. I see your attachment to Hallith to have you going ever into the future. However, I will probably step down in a few decades to live a normal life. I will always be your friend, and I told Nemerry that even death should not prevent us from sharing our lives."

"We have always followed different paths, Slidell. Still, yes, our relationship has grown. This mission, including our challenging paths through the divine realms, will make us even more beings of legend. I want to meet those Hallith says that he knows, but I will also want to tell someone about those meetings. Yes, I would want to tell you."

Looking at the sky, I asked, "Should I send you to bed, or do you want me to split the time between you and Hallith again?"

"While I feel that he would be a right decision for me, the whole idea of getting married and settling down is still aggravating. I will need to travel with him and truly see that his life will support my storm. During those periods, it will be just me and him, so certain issues between us can be worked out or found not to work at all. Right now however, I have enough storm within me. I would thus recommend that you continue to stay between us, or you might end up not feeling any calm at all in the storm that might brew."

Words like that from Ayither helped me accept that she was truly my friend. I had been around many champions of storm with most constantly heaping abuse upon me for being calm. A few men had actually tried to get me to turn from calm, although they found themselves come close to losing their storm in seeking to relate to me. Ayither however never let my calm bother her, even as she worked to gain what advice I was able to provide. I guess her attitude helped me accept her, as I felt it to be a trait of calm to tolerate the antics of others. She never challenged me to turn from the calm even as she took my lessons and used them to help her continue to power the storm inside her. I guess seeing some of my own actions in her attacks and style of life helped me begin to see her as more than a fellow divine champion, and being able to actually have pleasant conversations with her had me start considering her my friend.

I looked to Hallith as I settled preparing to get some sleep. His armor was set conveniently nearby, although not in the manner that I would keep mine. I saw the icons of his god, and wondered how he got along with his slave who had been committed to fire. Being water myself, I knew the issues of dealing with those of an opposing aspect. He had however loved a lady of fire, and been loved in return. I thus found comfort that he could indeed be able to relate and have a life with Ayither, who actually had aspects that could blend with water. After once again praying for my friend, I settled to allow her some rest from my calm.

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Twenty-Two - Part One   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 5 (20B - 23) Icon_minitimeMarch 1st 2019, 7:49 am

To Know Storm and Calm
Chapter Twenty-Two – Part One

(Hallith)

I came to the conclusion that the gods of plants were really the deities promoting the aspects I would consider those of earth. Slidell and Ayither did not speak of storm and calm relating to their two gods of plants, but I got that impression as they informed me of Gesaha and Phetosan. Slidell did not speak of any troubles working with the champions of either deity. Ayither however did, which I would suspect since her aspect of air would be opposed to that of earth.

Mentioning such a line of reasoning to her after an outburst, she asked, "Well, how did you get along with your slave of fire?"

"She was my slave, so there was a clear understanding of who had the authority in the relationship. Also, her purpose in my life was not to glorify fire, but to simply promote the regular things of life. She had a fire inside her, of that one should not doubt. Kierle however never set herself where I would have to douse her spirit."

"Well, just to let you know, I find those of Phetosan to be arrogant. They have this belief that I can rage around them without it even bothering them. I have proved a couple wrong, but only in sparring matches. I would like to say that I proved them wrong in actual battle, but I guess that I showed them that they were right. I raged right through them and took out the main source of trouble without those of Phetosan even being a bother."

Slidell supported the lady by saying, "Indeed. There is a song of one of those battles where it is said that those of Phetosan stood like trees while the storm of Typhorsh blew past them."

I listened as Ayither sung the ballad for me. She did not have a good voice, so I powered my own lungs to join her on a chorus once I felt I knew it. She laughed hearing me sing it, then actually worked to project her voice in what I considered the proper manner. As we sounded out the chorus again, Slidell had to speak to have us hush the singing.

"All right, no need to put those of Phetosan in a bad mood."

I looked ahead to see what I considered just a regular forest. The trees however were all stately plants of approximately the same height. Instead of the usual haphazard growth with smaller plants between, I saw a regular array of grand trees with blocks of stone to fill the spaces. The rock did not touch the wood, so I found myself accepting that a single person, especially one with the aspect of air, could move ahead without being stopped.

While movement and flashes of light informed me that there were people in the trees and on the rocks, I saw a panel of one set of stones part to allow a mounted figure to pass. Slidell and Ayither stopped, which had me halt the movement of my horse, then the ladies spoke of identifying who was approaching. I however looked at the one riding toward us, then informed the two ladies that I knew the man.

"Homiggen!"

There was gray in his hair, and I could tell that old age had sapped some of his strength. He however raised a hand to wave to assure the identification. Once he came close enough that his aged voice could carry, he let the ladies know that we had indeed fought together.

"Hallith of the Quartermasters, what you did for our world was a blessing. Those were dark times with us needing the fighting spirits of the Quartermasters. I am sorry to see you without your companions."

I replied, "Well, they are well. Chertish has renounced his immortality, but he was still strong the last I saw him. Pesloe has married, although promotes Zetrullid with a man who loves her dearly. Anerth had taken on three more and leads them along the paths of the Quartermasters."

We spent some time discussing particulars of my once fellow travelers. The fact that he knew enough about me and my fellow Quartermasters spoke of the challenge we faced on this world being rather great. Usually, we would show up on a world and set upon the trouble only to leave once done. Speaking with the locals was usually only done to yell out for them to get out of the way or apologies for the damage done to structures. When I said such to Homiggan, he laughed before indicating the two ladies that traveled with me.

"So true, Hallith, yet here you are with one of calm and storm. Many spoke of you Quartermasters as being storm, but I would tell my stories speaking of you being more than that. Glad to see that my memories were correct."

Ayither was visibly growing agitated, so I was not surprised to hear her say, "You are supposed to give us access to the divine realm."

"Ah, storm. I am not calm, but age now comes to my once powerful form. There are requirements, and I am sorry if my slow bones are the ones to manage them. Still, I am the one that knows Hallith, and you, Ayither of Typhorsh. You blew by me once, and I must say that it is because of that I finally felt my time as a champion had passed."

"I was teaching Hallith the ballad of that day."

"And you were on the right side, Ayither. It hurt to learn that. I stood strong that day, but had to collapse not just with your victory, but in recognition that I supported the evil that caused others to rise against us. I had a son that turned to storm, and I allowed it in recognition that there could well be a nobleness in the drive. He died in a skirmish, but I had pride in hearing him come back to me a couple of times bragging of the good he accomplished."

Slidell said, "Those were not words I expected. I however have heard you speak well of both of my companions. It feels me with pride to be with them, and to have such a noble figure of Phetosan come out to meet us."

"Slidell of Nemerry. While you are a champion of distinction, one that I had to honor previously, I must now speak against you. The forces that rage in the divine realms do so claiming the greatness of your goddess. If there is one I would rise up to stop, it would be you. However, Phetosan speaks of your association with these others, and says that we can trust you to do right. Let me say that there are Champions of Phetosan here ready to charge through the great sphere to make their own attacks upon you should a darker side to your nature reveal itself."

"If they, you, or even the youngest of your acolytes feels that they have wisdom to share with me, I will listen."

"I wish we had such time. Phetosan has already powered the sphere, so you are expected to pass without even a blessing. May your own gods grant you the grace to see that good is done, although again as seeing one of Nemerry I have some reservation in my words. Still, Phetosan has commanded, so it shall be done."

We thanked the man. He only nodded, then gave the commands to his mount to turn. Ayither quietly allowed her horse to follow next to mine. Slidell however felt a need to speak to the man.

"The Quartermasters came to our world from even before my time. I am sorry to say that I have never met you, Homiggen."

He replied, "We of Phetosan fight a different type of battle, usually. Still, I learned of you, Slidell. I was glad to have never needed to fight against you, and I am sorry that today my words had to be so harsh. Once you are done, and assuming you continue your good reputation, please come and spend some time with me. I agree that we should come to know each other."

"Yes, as I am finding myself having to continue even after serving so long. Speaking with another who served for such an extended period could help me."

"It is my belief that we must pass on, Slidell, to receive our true honor. While the praise of men has its satisfaction, only the words of our god, goddess in your case, can truly bring us comfort."

I had to say, "That is so true. Anerth did not like it when we turned from our constant battle to go and face Zetrullid, but even he took pleasure in basking in the presence of our god. While I did not continue as a Quartermaster, I have an ease in my present life knowing that my god is pleased with my service."

Ayither asked, "Won't this be the same? I mean, if we are to pass into the divine realms, and actually to aid Typhorsh, shouldn't there be some comfort?"
Homiggen was the one that answered, "For you, I would hope. If not, I hope that your condemnation is not overly harsh. As I have admitted, you were right that day, Ayither. Some honor should weigh in your favor."

"But I talk to him all the time. Surely it cannot be that different."

"Come back and tell me, Ayither. I feel the same, as I have also found Phetosan to direct my path. Still, I was wrong that day, so I accept that our connection is not perfect. I have questions, and it would be nice to speak with you Ayither about what answers you gained."

It caught me by surprised when she had her horse move to bump into mine, but I understood when she whispered, "You might have to wait on me, Hallith."

I softly replied, "I know him as well, Ayither, and would also enjoy the visit."

"How often do you get around to actually visit people?"

I felt that she should have heard me speak of finally deciding to take the time to visit certain friends. I stopped however with the question of why I had not done so earlier. The thought of Kierle came to mind. Instead of visiting friends, I had focused on the one providing a life for me. With her now dead, I felt that there was nothing to command my free time.

I answered, "There are some rough periods, but you should find us able to stay in contact with those we consider important."

"Okay."

That was all she said before having her horse again move away. I did not doubt that both Slidell and Homiggen noticed, but our words could not have been loud enough for them to hear. Considering nothing was said, I simply had my horse move with the others.

People in various suits of armor, robes, or clothes all bearing what I accepted as the symbol of Phetosan lined a path through the settlement. Homiggen stayed in the center of the route. From the constant gait of his mount and his straight position in the saddle I knew that we were not to stop. No one waved, although bows and curtseys let me know that they recognized our presence in a positive way. I saw the ladies nodding to the people, so I did as well to let them know I accepted their attendance as a good thing.

In front of a building I felt to be the temple unto Phetosan was a glowing piece of artistry. I could not exactly say how it appeared on other days. I made out some stonework set with wonderfully carved wooden lengths, but mostly just saw a wondrous radiance. Homiggan rode to the side before coming close to the illuminating volume.

Ayither said, "Slidell?"

She answered, "Go ahead, Ayither. I am with you, but we cannot ride our horses forward without killing them."

I heard Ayither agree with a rather disagreeable tone to her voice. She stopped her horse and jumped off. Allowing her to set the pace, I did the same. Slidell was to my side as I turned to get a couple of items from my saddlebags, and I heard her voice ask me a question.

"Any advice? I mean, you have been into a divine realm."

I could not help but ask a question in return. "Do you know what we are going to face?"

"No."

"Well, are you ready to face it?"

Ayither chirped a laugh indicating that she had again eavesdropped, but Slidell did not show any reaction. She turned back to her horse, got a few things from a saddlebag, then turned back to me with a confident expression. I smiled, then reacted by speaking to the other lady surely listening.

"Ayither, are you ready!"

She boldly exclaimed, "I am storm! Come on, we can take this."

_________________
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.
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PostSubject: Chapter Twenty-Two - Part Two   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 5 (20B - 23) Icon_minitimeMarch 6th 2019, 7:49 am

To Know Storm and Calm
Chapter Twenty-Two – Part Two

(Hallith)

Having spent almost my entire life traveling through portals, the illumination did not trouble me. The knowledge that it would take us into the divine realm of this world did give me some concern, but more of the anxiety of stepping into someplace I knew could be trouble and not just someplace I had yet to be. Ayither had her usual lightness of steps. With her in the lead, I found Slidell come beside me and match my own pace in following the champion of storm through the illumination.

As with the realm of fire where I last spoke with Kierle, I found the colors to be bright. They however did not shine as if on fire. That made sense to me, as we were not in the realm of fire. Since we had come into this land from a site dedicated to the god Phetosan, I was expecting to step into a setting of magnificent trees amidst glorious masses of stone. Instead I saw a swirling mist disrupting any clear vision of what might be around us. Three men stood where they had been speaking to each other, although I found them to almost rush to us.

Ayither threw herself upon one saying his name, "Sesothy!"

He caught her form and hugged it while saying, "Ayither, we shall fight at each other's side again." He then set her down to introduce the others. "This is Broteyin, and this is Pasoth. They must return to Typhorsh, but are here to help assure that you are as prepared as possible for what is to come."

"Are we not to face Typhorsh?"

"Oh, I hope it's not your time, Ayither. Your soul is bright, so stay strong. You indeed might see him, but not in any way that will spoil your existence."

Slidell asked, "How dire is the time?"

"We of storm are only late when not warned in time, usually due to calm going through their ways."

"Well spoken by one who challenged a castle tower before his support could take up position. And you," she pointed at Pasoth, "weren't you warned that the bridge had been sabotaged."

Broteyin brought his hands up before him and waved them to signal Slidell to advance upon him even as he verbally encouraged her. "Come on, Slidell. You can say your mind to me as well."

"No, Broteyin, as I probably would have gone into battle against the ogres as well."

"Well, it seems that the waters of Nemerry need not always be a swamp. The time is not dire, but we should be moving. It is hoped that the three of you understand the predicament. This land is eternal. Those who come here blessed need not ever fear. Such is not the way with the physical realm. What is thus being decided here is how those who are gods will relate to those that are men. However, what is being proposed is a malicious reassessment of what the gods are. That cannot happen, as the gods are gods. Thus, there is nothing good in this incursion. That is the reason for the three of you to be brought here. Should we of the divine realm strike, souls are destroyed. Your damage is not so decisive. Your attacks are no more serious here than they are back on the world. Also, you can maybe determine the true source and objective of this incursion. The gods allow men to have their hearts, something all three of you have learned. Thus, it is hoped that you three will have the wisdom to determine the hearts behind this advance, and either stop it or better present the case to those who have ultimate authority."

Slidell had listened, and knew things of her world, which I felt entitled her to ask a question. "We wiped out a couple of armies already. How should this be harder?"

"Probably will not, although we hope it does. What that means is that there are some powerful entities driving this advance. Sesothy's presence will be to provide aid and support, although he will probably not do much until you find yourself confronting someone who seems to be your equal. From there he will do what is necessary, hopefully according to your commands."

Ayither piped up to ask, "Her commands?"

Sesothy turned to her to say, "Well, I certainly would prefer obeying your commands, Ayither. Still, we have passed on. We no longer have ties to the physical. However, you three do, although Hallith is not of our world. If you, preferably you, or Slidell gives certain commands, I can obey even to return with you to the physical."

Broteyin said, "Actually, you will need him to return to the physical."

Slidell asked, "Could we have Sesothy summon the two of you?"

"You could. Ayither could see the need for the whole host of Typhorsh, and gain it."

Ayither said, "Not out of need, but only to see the storm."

"Make certain that it is something that will need the time to fully show. We are storm. We will not march around and do drills the way calm will."

I had to say, "You would think the rivalry would die down on this side."

Sesothy said, "Oh, no, as storm and calm are divine aspects. What is there in the physical realm is just a reflection of the divine."

Broteyin did attempt to put it in perspective, "It is all in fun however. We do not war with each other. There is also nothing antagonistic against Nemerry due to this group attempting to make her the one with ultimate power. We would however like to know why."

Ayither said, "Well, enough talk. Let's get going. Are you ready, Sosethy?"

It was Pasoth that said, "We will ride with you, Ayither. You might have more questions, or simply think the horde is too great for you."

"If Typhorsh says I can take then I will take it."

Broteyin said, "Remember, Ayither, Thor did suffer a defeat. Thus, there is something in the leadership that can defy the gods. Take his humility as a sign of warning, and do not be afraid to call for help."

"Who do you believe that I have with me? Slidell might be of calm, but she is one that I often went to for advice. Let me say that I have called to her for help, and each time she has been there for me. Hallith might not be of our world, but he has aided our world before. I have also learned things from him, and am thinking of traveling with him. I thus have help already. Sosethy, I also know well. I cried upon hearing of his death, and rode to that castle to assure its defeat. Let me say that I have also spoken to Thor, and he told me that I could call on him for help should I need it. I am actually surprised not to see one of his champions here. I am not saying that I will not call upon help should I need it, but I am saying that I am confident not to need it."

"Ayither, you are storm and I am storm. I should not have taken on those ogres alone."

"I'm not alone. I have also already faced two groups of these opponents with these companions, minus Sosethy who I also have with me now." She did pause, but not hearing any of the dead champions speak, Ayither turned to another. "Are you ready, Slidell?"

The champion of calm replied, "They said 'ride,' Ayither. I have been waiting for our mounts."

"They're right there."

I had to say that I had seen the creatures. As someone that had faced my own goddess of air, I had some knowledge of the ways of that aspect. For creatures of something as intangible as air, they appeared with the bulk and weight of griffons. Ayither simply called them wind horses, although on my world we had a more unique name for them. I knew that they did not have the substance, although the congealing gas would have them seem solid enough. While I could make them out, their vaporous nature could be overlooked by one unaware of their existence. What I had assumed even Slidell to have seen was the saddles. As she worked at focusing her eyes on the creature brought to her, she did not show any pleasure in realizing that she would have the honor of riding one.

"You might be stressing the limits of my calm."

Broteyin moved over to speak with Slidell as well as help her on the mount. "This realm is more vast than the physical, at least in its accessibility. You are limited to the world, or worlds in the case of Hallith, but there is space, and other planets, and such even beyond. Here everything is obtainable in some way. Thus, accept these mounts, champion of calm. I promise you that they will not disturb your controlled demeanor. They can be hard to handle, especially for one still connected to life, but these are under orders to divest themselves of their divine nature and simply perform as a means of assuring those who need them will have to speak of the graciousness of Typhorsh. Nothing more is asked of you, Slidell."

"I am already known as a friend to Ayither, and I have spoken of my acceptance of Typhorsh's grace. Riding wind horses however might take my appreciation beyond my ability to proclaim."

"I think not, Slidell. While you might be calm, like Ayither you can claim to overcome any adversary Nemerry says is yours to defeat. I believe you could handle a wind horse, if necessary."

"That does not mean that I would praise Typhorsh."

Broteyin grabbed the head of the creature, then said to it, "Did you hear that? Lose or disobey this one, and Typhorsh will lose his honor. She is calm, deal with it." He then released the head to speak to the lady. "I doubt that you will have a problem, Slidell." When she nodded, he added, "Oh, I could have beaten those ogres. I wanted to show off and do a special move, and chose the completely wrong time to do it. That's us of storm for you. If Ayither tries any stunt like that, rescue her, then be as vicious as possible in letting her know how stupid she was."

"I have done so in the past, Broteyin."

From Ayither came the verification, "She has."

"Even in this realm we could use more friendships between storm and calm. I understand that you are not trying to be the one for Hallith, but, Slidell, don't let Nemerry stick you with a man that is too calm."

I thought that would be the end of that conversation, but Slidell was quick to say in return, "You said that the gods will not take our hearts."

"Then, Slidell, expect some harsh words from me should you find yourself not approving of your husband."

"You never married, Broteyin."

Ayither and the other men were obviously enjoying the exchange. Broteyin looked around, and seeing those looking at him accepted that he would have things told about him. He thus turned back to the champion of calm with the expression of winning the exchange.

"I will get a group of men to come with me and counsel me on what words I say to you, Slidell."

"I will let the man that I finally feel is worth marrying to know that, Broteyin."

He laughed, then changed the tone of the exchange by saying, "You are something else, Slidell. I now wish that I had not died, but lived to gain a friendship with you such as what Ayither has. Still, we both have an eternity. Look forward to having time with you then."

"I will still be calm."

"And I will be storm, but I have already said that this realm needs more friendships between those of storm and calm. I will practice what I preach, Slidell. Thus, live knowing that someone is waiting to be your friend."

_________________
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To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 5 (20B - 23) Empty
PostSubject: Chapter Twenty-Three   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 5 (20B - 23) Icon_minitimeMarch 11th 2019, 7:52 am

To Know Storm and Calm
Chapter Twenty-Three

(Slidell)

I had heard stories of wind horses. Usually, they were the steeds for evil characters, as their speed and almost invisibility made them the perfect mounts for those wanting to steal or otherwise cause trouble. The one that I was on moved me along in a manner that had me feel like I was floating to my destination. Hallith kept a tight grip on the reins of his mount even as he appeared to drift along. Ayither and the deceased champions of storm rode about having their mounts do all sorts of maneuvers. The fact that such activity was normal for them, and that we were not advancing toward committing some crime, allowed me to ride my wind horse without complaint.

My surroundings continued to be nothing more than fantastic sights clouded by vapors. I saw magnificent visions of color that suggested all sorts of wonders, although I could actually recognize nothing. Considering that we were not in any specific realm, I tried to imagine who lived in whatever structures were being obscured to my sight.

In contrast to my surroundings, I found it easy to perceive a mass of people moving through a lowland between what I saw as hills of multi-colored mist. How they knew their way, I had no idea. As I tried to determine the number and best tactic for opposing them, Ayither declared her intention to simply rush the people.

"All right, I think we can handle them!"

I thought it good that Hallith paused to ask a question, "How did they get siege weapons into this realm?"

Pasoth supplied the answer, "We are out beyond the volumes of the specific gods, but their aspects are ever present. One reason Phetosan was willing to allow you to pass was that his trees were being used."

"Okay, so a large number of those need to be craftsmen and not necessarily soldiers."

"Yes, but it takes a method for them to be here. The three of you are recognized by gods, and you came through one of the few recognized passages between the physical and the divine. These have neither blessing. There is some process, and in this case they chose earth. The trees for the siege engines are Phetosan, but their forms are composed of Gesaha."

"My weapon can pass through stone. One of the complaints about us Quartermasters is that we destroy the infrastructure and not just the enemy."

I had to say, "My weapon is blessed, but not so strong."

Broteyin dismounted his wind horse and came to me while saying, "Let me see your weapon, Slidell."

Hallith commanded, "Show him all of them, Slidell."

I saw Sesothy having Ayither present her weapons to him, so I thought nothing of dismounting to bring out my weapons to show to Broteyin. As I did however, I saw him step back. I felt water move about my feet, then flow away as a mass of the liquid formed into a person near me. I saw the figure of a man, then realized that I knew him.

"Redittin, I have always wanted to apologize as well as thank you. I live because of you."

The new arrival appearing younger than I remembered him said, "Slidell, you have more than honored me in your life, which continues. The fact that you can stand before me now with the honor you have only has me willing to lay down my life for you once more."

I had to curtsey. I wanted to genuflect, but seeing him bow to me in return had me know that he would match my admiration. I thus had to put my focus back on my weapons.

Reditton smiled at me, then said, "Cannot have you using air weapons. Also, they might not work against the things of this army. I know that you have fought some infused with fire, but here physical laws need not apply. You must trust air to turn to you if they must, and you could well need to again show honor to those of air."

I quickly replied, "Of course. Ayither has proven herself as a friend."

"And yet she is clearly storm and you are clearly calm. There is something wonderful in your relationship, Slidell." He made some motions over my weapons, then said, "Go in peace, Slidell. We are proud of you."

I wanted to thank him, but instead I said, "I am still sorry for my actions that day, Reditton."

"I am still glad that I did it, Slidell. Now go, as you should know that storm is not one for patience."

He again became of water. Seeing the collapse of the liquid, I felt my feet become wet for a short time. Seeing the others look at me, I moved back to my wind horse.

Ayither asked, "Are you ready, Slidell?"

I looked to Hallith to say, "I assume that you listened in on those of air. Do you believe that they have anything close to a plan that might work?"

"I am a Quartermaster, Slidell. I am used to just coming upon an enemy and laying into them. Nothing I have seen or heard has me worried. How about you?"

"The dead Champion of Nemerry that came to me said nothing of me, or us, being unable. He did however mention that the weapons of Ayither and Sesothy might not be effective. It seems that those we are going up against have infused themselves with earth."

"If that is the case, instruct them to be active looking for clues while we focus on taking the fight to our opposition."

While the words came quickly, I had to smile with appreciation at the statement. It was a sensible suggestion that one of calm would propose. I thought of Ayither, then mentioned what I believed would happen.

"Those of storm will come behind us, grab the weapons of those we fell, then take up the fight with those."

"Ah, well, cannot blame them. Anyway, is there any reason to wait longer?"

I smiled hearing Ayither ask, "All right, Slidell, why are you and Hallith still talking?"

With a cheerful voice, I replied, "Just assuring that we were prepared, Ayither. I assume that you are going to lead the advance."

"If you're ready, let's go. I don't see any reason to wait."

I took off toward the advancing force. Even on the strange surface I could detect the heavy steps of Hallith nearby. Unlike Ayither, he did not pass me. While I did not doubt that his larger frame could cover more distance in an equal amount of time, he paced himself to match my rate. Feeling that we moved toward the advancing force in a proper fashion, I readied myself for combat.

Ayither and Sesothy met the front line of the enemy without much to show for their charge. I became slightly worried, although took faith in the truth of my words that Redittin did not warn me of the strength of the opposition. Seeing my blade, then the even larger sword of Hallith, slice into the enemies, I however thought of what I had been told might be a possibility. As we proved that we could overpower the front line of the enemy, Ayither had to admit that she had been stymied.

"Slidell, you knew these would be infused with earth?"

Feeling that she did need some information, I allowed myself to speak. "Of course. You were told that they infused themselves with Gesaha then dropped divine trees of Phetosan. You should have suspected earth."

"You are going to tell me to look for clues, aren't you?"

I could not help but feel pleased at the accusation. Ayither did know me, and I never thought of her as stupid. Accepting that I had the advantage in this battle, I gladly voiced a reply.

"It is an option for you."

"Yes, well – Hallith, you would not happen to have something for me to use?"

He answered, "Back right thigh. You're going to have to grab it, though."

"I'm storm."

She rushed toward him. We had just begun this battle, so the number of opponents was still great. While her weapon was not useless, it did not cut or pierce the skin with its usual effectiveness. Considering that it had been especially blessed, I am sure Ayither expected it to do an even better job, not worse. I changed my routine to take steps toward her, so her rush to Hallith would not have her face so many threats.

She put both hands on his thigh, then moved them until encountering a handle. With a cheer, she pulled out a sword almost as long, and definitely larger in size, than her own. With his body providing protection, she worked the blade to check its balance. A darting maneuver put her upon an opponent, and the blade sunk into the victim. With a cheer, she moved into combat definitely hurting the enemy.

The weapon forced a different style of combat from her. Such did not bother Ayither nearly as much as it would have disturbed my routine. She fought for a time around Hallith, using his large frame as protection should she make a mistake. As she found comfort with the weapon, she worked her way to where she could cut her own path through the enemy.

Showing that he understood how she had been fighting, Hallith asked, "Are you good, Ayither?"

"Yes. Why?"

"Because I am about to do what we of the Quartermasters do best."

"What's that?"

Hallith did have the potential to hack down a few opponents with one swing of his great weapon. Usually, he just made a fatal attack upon one with him taking a position on the strike to have the weapon just block other nearby adversaries. He however suddenly began swinging not exactly to cut down multiple enemies, but to provide a path through them. Altering the methodical steps of my routines enough to track him, I saw Hallith come near a siege engine and swing his great weapon to cut the binds giving extra support to a major strut.

Those opposing us suddenly became alarmed when one of the great constructions they were moving began to collapse. I believe Ayither paused to consider if her sword borrowed from the man would allow her to perform such a feat as well. I felt relief when she simply sounded a cheer before returning to the major combat. I saw Hallith push over another strut, then jump from the broken siege engine to again swing his weapon in a manner of quickly enabling him to reach another great construction.

A blast of color came down in the vicinity of the man. He showed no sign of being hurt, or even feeling a force from the impact. He quickly killed a few who did have their concentration disrupted from the sudden blast, but otherwise kept up his tactics.

The next blast was definitely red. Again Hallith showed no concern about the strike in his area. Whatever the enemy was doing, it seemed to only disrupt their own forces. No one was killed, but those in the blast acted strangely as if marionettes being handled by children. I gained the impression that the attack was not supposed to hurt anyone, although should Hallith, Ayither, or I be struck we would become easy victims for our opponents. Hallith's large body however kept its momentum allowing him to pass through the blast as if unaffected. I guess that fact caused the enemy to shout out some words to their leader as a mass of yellow came down.

In response I heard the proclaimed words of one who seemed to have authority. "Actions should speak louder than words, and the actions are to get you to stop!"

Hallith paid no more attention to the speaker than he did to the blasts. Again the effect had more influence on the enemy than those of us fighting them. Hallith in fact used the reaction of those around him to open up a route to the next siege engine, which he jumped upon to deliver a major strike to a strut.

As this construction began to collapse, he sounded out, "What were you saying?"

I again adjusted my position as the voice replied, "You will die!"

Ayither was cheering Hallith. Those of our opposition were either yelling for their leaders to give new orders, yelling to others to try and organize their own counter tactics, or simply yelling to hopefully strengthen their own morale. Over all the noise I tried to focus on the location of what I assumed to be a major leader, and I looked to Hallith to see where he directed his words.

"You do understand that this is the divine realms? Those here are already committed to death in some fashion."

"I understand that this realm has been corrupted. It should be the grand estate of only Nemerry. I will purify it. To do that I must first remove the vile incursions of lesser entities – the supposed other gods. Thor has fled before me. The others will as well."

I felt a need to join the conversation, so declared, "I am a Champion of Nemerry! By what right have you to speak? No Champion of Nemerry fights for you. No revelation of you has come from Nemerry."

"Oh, this is sweet. Lay down your weapon, Champion of Nemerry! I, Vinulst demand it. I am a Champion of Wanuyeth, Nemerry's husband. As his wife she must obey, and it is from Wanuyeth that this command comes."

Suddenly, I felt confused. From my own religious teachings I did know about Wanuyeth. He was not a deity who concerned himself with my world. However, he was present in the holy texts to demonstrate certain rules concerning gender and the order of life within a marriage. If this being was indeed a Champion of Wanuyeth, my goddess would have to obey.

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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.
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To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 5 (20B - 23) Empty
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