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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?

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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 Storm and Calm: Part 6 (24 - 28)

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TerishD

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PostSubject: To Know Storm and Calm: Part 6 (24 - 28)   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 6 (24 - 28) Icon_minitimeMarch 16th 2019, 7:46 am

To Know Storm and Calm
Chapter Twenty-Four

(Slidell)

No sooner did those thoughts pass through my mind than I realized what was wrong with the statement and my conclusions from it.  A feeling came over me to continue the fight.  I however could not bring myself to orate while performing combat.  That was not the way of calm.  I did strike and kill an opponent near me, but that was just to get everyone's attention.  Seeing others look to me, I felt the one that needed to hear did as well.  I thus started to let him know what was wrong with what he said.

"If that is true, why are you acting as you do?  Why are you here alone?  If you truly represent Wanuyeth, you would be able to possess all that Nemerry has, which includes me.  It would further include all the Champions of Nemerry the world over, yet I do not see any in your company."

I finally found myself able to recognize a distant figure as a voice returned, "They were like you, and opposed me, so I killed them."

"That is not how a husband is to treat the things of his wife.  A man should also be free to enjoy the presence of his wife, but the one person you have not marched upon is Nemerry."

"I am to take possession of this corrupted realm, then give it to her to remake according to her desires."

"You will fail."

Those words were not broadcast in the way of storm.  The only strength I put behind those words was the conviction that I had a job to finish.  I studied the army before me, fixed my eyes on those who I felt would next see death, then set back into my routine for combat in the way of calm.

Hallith jumped from the siege engine he had just broken to return to his slaughter of the troops.  I gained the impression that he was working to advance upon the one that spoke.  I did consider a way of moving with him, but the forces around me did not give me any options.  Hallith would just have to hold out until I could reach him.

As I fought, I however heard a voice near me say, "Slidell, you are good."

Ayither spoke from a distance, "She's calm, Sesothy.  She does not talk in combat, except to provide tactics or other information."

"She doesn't have to say anything, but I do want her to know that she is good."

"She's still calm.  Deal with it.  Get to work."

Suddenly horns sounded.  I recognized the blares, although the actions and words of those around me verified that a retreat had been called.  I however made certain that my comrades knew that the sounds of the horns would not stop me.

"We fight!"

"OH, YEAH!" Sesothy screamed still in a position near me.  "WE FIGHT!"

From a distance ahead I heard the words of Hallith proclaim, "WE FIGHT!"

Ayither just screamed out an agreement with what we said.  Our commitment to continue the conflict however scared the troops.  We had already been moving through them leaving bodies along our path.  Those around us however had been trying to prevent our advance.  With the call of retreat, they however accepted that the battle had been recognized as no longer being in their favor.  Those around us now screamed as they tried to move away in order to save their own lives.

My concentration on staying with the fleeing throng while continuing my attacks was broken by the one I recognized as my primary enemy shouting, "YOU DID NOT WANT TO DO THAT!"

I heard Hallith reply, "I don't know about that, as I did not miss my target."

Accepting that a grand battle could soon occur, I set myself back to making attacks as the main opponent declared, "You do not know what you are up against."

"Evil about sums it up in my opinion."

"Oh, such petty thoughts only reveal the foolishness of your behavior."

"Yes, about that, I believe that you stopping your flight with your tail between your legs was not exactly wise on your part."

Hearing Ayither speak out in favor of what Hallith was saying I felt was unnecessary, although I appreciated what she said next.  "Sesothy, we need to get to him."

He replied, "I am doing my best, Ayither.  You however got a weapon from Hallith.  While I am empowered by weapons that are fully divine, they are still of air and we are fighting those of earth."

"You should be able to blow by them."

"Not Gesaha.  While the siege engines are of Phetosan, the people have the essence of Gesaha, and her presence is more pervasive even if not as mighty."

I paused in my combat to say, "Ayither, you can fight with me."

"If you can speed up, Slidell."

"Hallith will need us."

Since I had paused, I could see that my words were more than true enough.  What had been a definitely larger figure, now grew to great size.  Reptilian wings suddenly sprouted and stretched out over the mass of those attempting to flee.  I saw Hallith easily kill those who felt able to make attacks as they rushed by, even as he kept his focus on the growing opponent.  I had to look to Ayither as she spoke some words that troubled me.

"I am storm.  If he starts to fly, I will call upon Typhorsh to take me to the battle."

I warned the lady, "Do not act foolish, Ayither.  There is more to this battle, and I would prefer not fighting it alone."

I expected her to make a statement in return, but found comfort that another of Typhorsh spoke instead.  "Listen to her, Ayither.  If this was a regular battle, you would not have been summoned."

Instead of immediately saying something, she struck and killed a man, then commanded, "Get over here, Slidell!"

Satisfied that things would go properly, I determined a route that would have me advance as well as bring me closer to Ayither's position.  As I set myself again to the battle, I could tell that she fought to meet me.  While he claimed to not be effective, Sosethy did manage to match her advance.  There were thus soon glances of satisfaction as the three of us came together, then with a singular focus we began to clear a route to Hallith.

It helped that our opponents were fleeing.  We thus did not need to effectively fight against the tide of the enemy.  Those of storm actually worked better in such circumstances, as they could react to the moment without worrying about maintaining a certain rhythm to their actions.  Accepting the advantage of Ayither and Sesothy, I set myself upon a couple attempting to protect the retreat of others while voicing a command of my own.

"Hallith is right there!  I can take these!"

Ayither did rush on by, but in an act I had seen Hallith perform, Sesothy stepped up to send his blade into the back of one of my opponents.  He then told me that he did believe I could manage before going after Ayither.  I accepted my place as guarding their rear, and set myself to performing a set of attacks to prevent others from disrupting my comrades from facing the greater threat.

I do not know if the leader of the army actually intended to fly.  The wings did begin to beat, but I felt the intent was to cause the force of the wind to unsteady us.  Sesothy commanded Ayither to keep up her attacks, then he stopped to call on the presence of Typhorsh.  In this case instead of rushing upward on the wind to make an attack, the force of the air around us worked to strengthen our attacks.  Even being of calm water, I felt something come behind my strikes and cause my blade to sink deeper, if not all the way through, my opponents.  I do not know if the leader of the army understood that his actions were being used against him, but his voice spoke of feeling the attacks begin to hurt him.

"Fools, the power you fight against is more than you can comprehend!"

Hallith calmly replied to another, "Keep at it, Ayither.  No need to comprehend anything, except that this guy needs to go down."

She laughed, then said, "I like the way you think, Hallith."

The form had become gigantic.  From what I saw during my maneuvers, it seemed that the great opponent grew in size with every attack from Hallith and Ayither.  I found myself becoming worried, so reacted a little strongly when the form of one I had yet to attack, but only defend against, fell.

Sesothy said, "I am with you, Slidell.  I cannot aid the others, although I am to witness the outcome."

In the ways of calm, I made an action of acknowledging the words.  Considering the grand figure my two companions were going up against, I fully accepted that they needed to stay focused on the battle.  Distractions from the retreating horde could cause the loss of life of those who fought with me.  Most of the regular troops had now fled, so those who remained certainly had the hope that the battle could be turned back in their favor.  I worked with Sesothy to assure that those engaged in the main fight would not be hurt by the actions of some lesser threat.

I almost lost my own concentration when Hallith yelled, "Ayither, there!"

"Got it.  Typhorsh!"

I do not know exactly what they did, but suddenly things begin reacting around me.  My opponents suddenly had a mixture of shock and fear upon their faces.  Sesothy turned from battle to lift up to gain a clear view of things.  After killing an opponent, I saw weapons drop, then the mass remaining begin to run.  Wondering exactly what my companions had done, I turned to witness what was occurring around me.

The form of the major opponent was even larger, although also appeared to be losing substance.  Hallith had his weapon at the ready.  Instead of working an attack upon the growing enemy, he spun I believe to assure a safe landing for Ayither who dropped safely from a height.  Once she gained the ground, they both then turned to watch the substance of the great form disperse.

I gasped seeing a grand vision of grass covered mountains with thick forests both of tall, massive trees and wonderful growths of lesser plants.  Water abounded both in turbulent flows and serene pools.  The colors I had perceived were glorious fires of light making up the substance of wondrous structures in fantastic combinations of hues.  People abounded sitting or standing around where I could tell they had been watching the conflict.  Aromas so pleasant assaulted my nose that I almost stopped breathing.  As I realized why I had been not allowed to fully perceive the divine land, I saw a horrible darkness pass over us that tempered the overwhelming greatness of my vision.

From the void over the majesty of the setting came a voice saying, "This fight should now be realized for the foolishness that it is.  Your plight is hopeless.  You cannot win."

It helped my sanity to hear Hallith say, "Stand strong, Ayither.  We have won, at least this battle.  We thus can win this war."

Sesothy spoke an agreement, "Indeed, Ayither.  The storm that rages within you is divine, so equal if not surpassing whatever this thing is."

As the darkness rushed off in the direction the troops had gone, the obscuring mist that had protected my senses from the grandness of the land around me returned.  I however found it hard to deal with the amount of sensations that had assaulted me in such a small period of time.  Hearing Ayither make a statement of us needing to follow the army, I had to ask her about what her senses had detected.

"How can you deal with that, Ayither?  Did you not see?"

She replied, "Yes, it was nice, but I have no longing for this land.  Do you?"

The words struck me in a strange manner.  I considered my own thoughts, and realized that I had not been enticed by the vision, only overwhelmed.  Working my mind into sorting through the massive amount of data that had assaulted my senses, I found myself being able to speak words to answer the question.

"No, but I found things glorious all the same."

"That thing was not glorious.  We need to stop it, but I don't have any idea about how."

Hallith replied, "We were told that we would need to gain answers.  Come on, our work is not over."

_________________
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.


Last edited by TerishD on April 10th 2019, 6:39 am; edited 4 times in total
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PostSubject: Chapter Twenty-Five (Part One)   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 6 (24 - 28) Icon_minitimeMarch 21st 2019, 6:36 am

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

(Hallith)

I felt the decision to follow the enemy to be a good one. When I started taking steps in that direction, I found Ayither to go with me. We both turned hearing a rush toward us, although felt some relief seeing Slidell running to join us. Sesothy advanced as well, although I felt his suggestion to be a good one.

"Why not mount back up?"

Slidell finished coming to us, then asked, "How far are they going to run?"

I felt that I had an answer to that question. "Further than I would like to run."

"Yes, I guess. Okay, let's ride."

That answer did not come with the confidence that I usually heard in Slidell's voice. Ayither made a comment about Slidell not wanting to ride even a tame wind horse. I however saw her hang her head as if something deeper was troubling her. As she settled in the saddle, she directed her mount to move next to mine. While soft, I listened to her voice ask me a question.

"Have you fully experienced the divine realm?"

I looked around while attempting to come up with a response. "I don't know what you are seeing, but I believe that I am seeing it right now. Everything was misty at first, but as our mission became apparent I found myself able to see more clear. As Ayither said, I do not find myself wanting to stay here."

"But the wondrous nature of this realm is just overwhelming."

"Yes, it will be great to come here one day as a native, but we are doing great things where we are. No reason to rush from where we are doing good to simply waste time here."

Her voice gained a little in strength as she asked, "Is that what you consider life here, wasted time?"

"Considering what I face in the physical realm, yes. I don't really see much purpose to this life. I accept that one day I will find some substance to help me settle into this existence, but I am not ready to quit what I am doing."

Her voice became more conversational as she said, "I have devoted so much to advancing my relationship with my goddess that I cannot help but want to come here one day. I agree that I have done a lot, and I want to do more, but I cannot deny that I found the sight of this land wondrous and a little enticing."

"Then you are right not to advance your relationship with me. I have personally met and spoken with my god on multiple occasions. I have personally spoken to other divine entities. I had a conversation with Aslerrida, the goddess of fire, in her halls. While all were exceptional experiences, none had me desiring to quit my life. I hope you do not mind me returning some attention to Ayither."

"No, but she is a good friend. Don't you ever hurt her, or keep her from me."

Those words surprised me, but I quickly let her know why I thought they were wrong. "If you ever even think that I might hurt her, or attempt to lock up her spirit of storm, you are not much of a friend to allow our relationship to continue."

"Oh, I think you have things to learn of Ayither. You might have shown your ability to overcome her, but she has shown me that she can learn. She is not the girl today that she was when we first met. For a champion of storm, Ayither has proven herself many times."

"Well, then tell me something that bothers me. It's a good thing, but it still bothers me." I waited for her to look at me before saying, "As much as she rushes around, she has not rushed into my arms. I find that pleasing, as considering the situation where I left my world I really am not in the mood for a serious relationship. Still, it has me wondering about Ayither's mind."

"She likes you, Hallith. She likes you a lot. To me it is obvious in the manner that she acts around you. Still, the last twenty plus years has been spent taking on challenges and not being romantic with other men. I do believe a few tried, but they could not get her to change her focus from the storm to them. That is what you are doing. She is recognizing you as a possible life companion. If you continue to keep her traveling with you, I suspect that you will find her giving you more of her attention. She is storm, so she might be a tough lady to manage."

I found those words comforting. While some things of Ayither and Slidell had been revealed to me, I really did not have a complete life history of them. Their world was also a little different. I guess that such was possibly true for most worlds I visited, but on this one I was doing more than just facing an obvious evil. The reason for being here also had not been to face a serious threat and defeat it. While that was what I was doing, my reason for being here was to possibly gain a life companion toward having more of a normal life. I do not know what Aslerrida thought of the two ladies, or what Kierle would think of either one, but it comforted me to know that I had not spoiled any possible relationship.

As I rode along, I thought about possibly having a female companion. I traveled for centuries with Pesloe, but she and I never had a true romantic relationship. She was my princess, and our focus upon acting on behalf of our god kept us from anything but a romp in all my time with her. Honestly, I doubt that I would even consider a life with a lady, except that I had learned of immortal couples. Pesloe even had such a life now. Also, Kierle had been given to me in order to help prepare me for such a life of my own. There was an intimacy with her that I had enjoyed. She however could not travel with me, or truly comprehend a lot of things I came home speaking about. To actually have someone who would be there with me in all sorts of weather, through all types of encounters, and share whatever bed might be provided I however thought as not being possible for me.

Ayither made some exclamation, then had her mount rush her ahead. I however stopped and looked. Slidell continued her casual travel forward. Sesothy however stopped his mount, then had it rush back to me.

"What do you see, Hallith?"

"They must have been here a while," I said in response.

He turned in his saddle to look over the terrain. Where the trees had been cut down was clearly apparent, as was the trash from the camp of such a large number of people. I saw the places where tents had been placed. A good lake and river were nearby. I thought of the quality of the siege machines I had attacked as I studied the distant sight of work areas for the craftsmen. Overall, I was getting the impression that I did not want to hear the answers to the questions I would put to Sesothy after he did his own examination of the terrain.

He turned back to me to say, "As many people as he had, it only took a few days."

I commented, "And give another two days, at least, to get to where we met them. I mean, they did not have the luxury of wind horses."

"What's your point?"

"No one stopped them here. No one stopped them back where they all went through their preparations to even survive here."

"How many of you do you think there are, Hallith? Those two ladies with you are something special as well."

Sesothy rightfully sounded offended. I certainly had not spoken my words in a kindly manner. My intent was to get some answers. In a way he did provide some information, but Sesothy did not speak on the topic I actually wanted.

I explained, "This divine land surely has its own inhabitants that desire to see to its consistency. Also, how about all of you champions who have felt led to take on the service of the gods?"

"The champions here are not bound by any strong promise such as you did with your fellow Quartermasters. For storm, it is usually just a passing moment of personal bragging that usually comes to an end rather quickly, either by something like my act of invading a castle without support or simply being able to return home wanting to bask in the gratuities of having gained a solid victory. For calm they usually return to their studies, meditations, or whatever calm does, but otherwise just do not stay active in the activities of a divine champion. Those two ladies with you are quite special, and it is rather amazing to have such a choice available to be presented to some foreign divine champion. I think you were actually to go with Slidell, but I have to agree that Ayither is the much better choice."

I had to ask, "You know about that?"

"Of course I know about that. Do not think that Typhorsh does not watch over his champions. As for one as dedicated and successful as Ayither, you better know that Typhorsh checked up on you."

Not really having any words to say in return, I simply stated, "I'm honored."

"Listen, I know I'm storm and Ayither's storm, but you are right to take it slow. Give her time and she could make you a fine wife. Stay active, and I doubt you will ever have a problem with her."

Just curious, I asked, "Were you ever married?"

"No. When did I get a chance? I was killed by my own stupidity in wanting to prove myself."

Slidell rode up to us to ask, "What are the two of you talking about?"

Before Sesothy could say anything, I answered, "Things between us men that could be important, but we can talk about later. The portal is over there." I pointed while asking, "Are you ready to fight some more?"

"Yes, as we need to stop this desecration of the divine realm, as well as the name and standing of Nemerry."

"I don't think we will do that right away, as there is no information here. I am hoping there is back where the actual plans for this incursion was made."
Ayither joined me as I rode down with Slidell and Sesothy explaining what I felt the layout of the camp revealed. It seemed that I had the better understanding of how opposing aspects could work in positive and negative ways. The focus on storm and calm seemed to gain importance over what I considered basic physical relations of certain elements, but knowledge of contrasts I felt gave my words some substance. After I heard some agreement to my facts about certain things found left about, they all joined me as I moved to where I felt the connection back to the physical realm.

Sesothy said, "Now that you mention it, I can see it. It connects to the foundation of a very ancient temple to Gesaha."

I had to admit, "I really cannot see it. After a few centuries of moving between worlds I however have learned what to look for. I also cannot claim to know how to activate it."

"Well, Gesaha does have an aspect counter to air, but Nemerry should not have any problem gaining some concession."

Slidell said "I can certainly try."

I watched and listened as she made an appeal to her goddess. We all then stood around as if waiting for something. Soon there was a strange type of rumbling, then I watched as a robed figure came up from the ground.

Slidell made an identification. "Nechitall, I do not ever remember you looking so good."

The man had on very ornamental robes as if a very respected elder, but appeared barely old enough to grow a beard. "Why thank you, Slidell. You were a pleasant student. It hurt me to see my teachings used to enable you to better spot game, but I have to admit that your methods were also used for their proper purposes. Now, you have a portal to open?"

"Here is supposedly a way to an ancient temple of Gesaha."

He took a moment to study the site, then admitted, "Yes, although there are quite a number of people on it right now."

"Yes, and we plan on killing as many of them as possible."

"They are not proper worshippers of Gesaha, so I will not complain. Whether Gesaha sees fit to reconsecrate the site after the bloodshed is up to her. As for what you are requesting, no, I do not see a reason to work against you. Hope that you are ready."

_________________
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-Five (Part Two)   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 6 (24 - 28) Icon_minitimeMarch 26th 2019, 6:44 am

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

(Hallith)

We did not pass through the portal with any attempt to negotiate. The memory of the blackness was strong in all of our minds. We stepped through quickly taking the lives of those who thought they had a period of peace.

I did notice that none of my companions had second thoughts about our actions. I personally knew the illness that would spread should an evil be allowed to continue. Usually, I was called in because others had not stopped the spread of some vile malignancy when it was still a minor problem. Over time I had heard my own stories corroborated by the tales of others. I thus accepted my actions as being good for this world, and found some relief that I did not hear my companions speak of the pain we were inflicting.

It helped to find the usual rush of those who felt they had not been given their chance in the earlier battle. They came upon us with a ferocity that could possibly turn the battle in some situations. I however found myself appreciating the attitude of Ayither and Sesothy. Their storm matched the strong emotions, and helped prevent others from also getting the foolish idea they could stand against us.

In clearing my immediate area, I looked to my companions. Ayither and Sesothy had started just clearing the place of living bodies. Looking to Slidell, I however saw her advancing upon one larger person who seemed to stop and wait for her. Feeling that she had chosen the right target, I spoke to my other companions.

"Ayither, we probably should help Slidell."

The female champion of storm replied, "You should know her usual style of battle. I will work toward the man from this direction. You should probably work to the other side of her."

Sounded like a plan to me. I thus turned and began my own path of destruction. Nothing different in this battle and others over the centuries. Even as a Quartermaster, I had to fight regular soldiers. For some reason great evil would gain its followers that would support it. I had agreed with others that those who fought to protect and advance a malignancy were the worst type of people. In leaving the Quartermasters I found myself at times working with certain nobles to advance their own agendas, which had me fighting for lesser causes. I fully believed that this battle however had a higher purpose, and I set myself to the plan of helping those who fought with me.

Slidell found herself attacked with the power of one of the earlier opponents who felt they had their chance to prove themselves. Her wide stance provided the security to take the strong blows. Her method of attacking in return worked to slip in a blooding cut as her target reset for another attack. Considering that there were lesser opponents around her, her methods kept her protected even as she weakened the one she directly fought against. I indeed did see Ayither coming from one side, so set my attacks to relieve Slidell from worrying about another of her flanks.

It started to bother me that her opponent began increasing in size. I then thought of my own battle and how that person had grown until the body could no longer contain the darkness within. I continued to attack, but put some of my focus upon my surroundings. In the divine realm the vile essence had fled to here, so I wondered where it would go to now. Not finding any solution, I yelled to one I felt would be able to provide some information about what bothered me.

"Sesothy, where can this thing go now?"

"What?"

There was a throng around us, so I accepted that his focus was elsewhere. "The darkness fled to here, so where can it flee now?"

Before Sesothy could respond, the one growing in size declared, "Oh, you cannot stop me."

Since it spoke, I felt like enabling it to provide us with information. "Okay, so, who are you? I'm Hallith by the way. The lady fighting you is Slidell."

"I told you that I was a Champion of Wanuyeth. Name is – well I have no name."

"I believe you were told that Slidell is a Champion of Nemerry. Her continuing to fight you should let you know that we are not accepting your claim to Nemerry's husband."

Ayither removed a man from Slidell's other flank while saying, "You seem to be using the influences of other gods than Nemerry."

The growing person replied, "Yes, well that is to demonstrate her power over the other gods. We were going against Typhorsh, so we chose Gesaha to give us some resistance to wind. I can use who I want, because Nemerry has ultimate control."

I cleared all threats from one side of Slidell. I saw her nod to me, but that was all the acknowledgement she presented of noticing my action. Ayither had not gained anything more. I had learned things about Slidell. While her focus on combat was a good thing, I felt it also demanded those with her to understand her methods and objectives. Considering the lonely nature of her, myself, and other champions, I felt it improper to assume a standard fighting style. Looking to the oddity of our opponent, I also considered it less than wise to think that all objectives could be known ahead of time. I however saw no reason to fail in my support of Slidell, so assured that she could concentrate on the major threat without worrying about lesser problems.

The battle stayed with the ladies. Ayither turned to the grand opponent showing knowledge of fighting with Slidell. Sesothy and I worked to keep the ladies without other concerns than their battle with the ever growing menace.

Again I saw the enemy grow so huge that the fleshy shell split. No loud statement of any kind came from the blackness that rose in the air. It simply rushed away. Not being able to consider any method of dealing with it, I turned to Slidell and asked a question of the enemy.

"Could it be serving Wanuyeth?"

She looked to me and simply answered, "Nemerry says that it is not."

I had to allow that both of the ladies were in almost constant contact with their deities. Zetrullid and I did not have such a relationship. I basically had the freedom to do as I would. The places I was usually sent tended to have immediate threats that were obvious with the need for me to make direct and impersonal attacks. From my original arrival on this world I had been perplexed as to what I should do. While I did not have a constant contact with my deity, I knew where he tended to dwell. I also could rely on him to speak to me should I visit any temple of his. Of course, on my own world almost all of the gods would bother to speak to me should I have a reason to approach their altars. In all cases the deities of my world spoke of knowing what I had been doing, which had me accept that they would have bothered me if I was involved in a cause that was improper. Since the gods of this world also tended to be sociable, I had to allow that the ladies could gain an insight into just who our opponent truly was.

I asked, "Does Nemerry, or Typhorsh, happen to know who this blackness is?"

Sesothy replied, "You are supposed to be looking for clues."

"Black gaseous possessing presence is not enough of a clue?"

Ayither said, "You would think, but Typhorsh says that something is shielding its identity. He actually says that he is sensing a creation of Nemerry."

Slidell stated, "I will not take offense at that. However, I will be looking around for clues."

I agreed that it would be the proper thing to do, although first looked at Ayither to say, "Solving puzzles are not the type of situations I get. I never have claimed to be an overly smart person."

The female champion of storm replied, "If you remember, I was thinking things strange when I first arrived to meet Slidell and Zergus. I had just destroyed an altar of Thor. I have been confused ever since."

"Well then, how about helping me? I mean, I am not dealing with my gods." She shrugged while coming closer to me, so I felt a need to start stating some basics. "This thing does not really act calm. I mean I have been traveling with Slidell for a time, and this thing does not seem to match her methods or attitude."

"Oh, no, not calm. Really not storm either. I mean we will get together armies, but we do not lead from the rear. Calm does that. One benefit of fighting for storm is that we champions will take the initiative and set the examples."

"Okay, so not calm or storm. How many deities will fall into that category?"

"Honestly, except for water and air, none of the gods claim storm or calm. We have already dealt with Gesaha and Phetosan. About all that is left is Vulcan. Fire is fire."

As if intrigued by the conversation, Sesothy came over to say, "Then there is Neptune, Rayell, the moon gods, and then all the other gods. Maybe one of them is attempting to gain an influence on our world."

Not hearing something, I had to ask, "What about Wanuyeth? What is he like?"

From a distance came the voice of Slidell. "Tonight I can show you. He is a large blue light in the sky. Said to be strong and dependable. In our religion he represents the perfect husband."

"Not someone who feels the need to constantly present his wife in the best light, and wants to give her everything?"

"Are you saying she could have it better than she does?"

I was actually impressed that Slidell was willing to continue the conversation, so freely returned, "Well, I don't know. I assume that Nemerry has things pretty good, but can it be that she might want things to be better?"

"Part of having it good is the relationship she has with the other gods. I would have to agree, since I consider it a good thing to have such a friendship with these champions of storm. What this – whatever it is – is doing will not continue such a social structure."

Everything got quiet, and seeing the champions of storm look to me I said, "That is all I have. If someone can tell me what to look for, I will help to look."

Ayither said, "I will look with you."

She walked around with me. I saw a number of chests, and Ayither wanted to head to those. I told her that the chests would tell us about the people, and we did not need to learn about them. She just looked at me, then I mentioned needing to find the outhouses.

Ayither just pointed while saying, "They're over there."

"Come on."

I smiled when she looked at me strangely. I guess that she saw in my features that I did not intend to do a certain act, or just felt a curiosity in what I did mean. As she walked with her, I told her what I intended to look for.

"I am not interested in what they felt like keeping, but what they felt a need to give up."

"It's feces."

I chuckled as I replied, "Yes, the smell, but what else is here?"

"What else?" Ayither moved toward the midden, then turned to me with a surprised expression. "There is something else down there."

I moved up to brave the smell while looking with her. The sight of a number of icons of various types disturbed me. Ayither looked to me, went to get a stick to poke around, then looked to me again. I could tell from her expression that I needed to explain.

"When you are dealing with gods, always expect the extreme. The minor stuff isn't worth their concern. The problem however is that if something is worth their concern, it is something major."

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PostSubject: Chapter Twenty-Six   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 6 (24 - 28) Icon_minitimeMarch 31st 2019, 7:15 am

To Know Storm and Calm
Chapter Twenty-Six

(Slidell)

I looked up from the journal that I was reading as Ayither came to me with Hallith. She tossed something in the dirt beside me. The smell clued me in, but looking at it I saw both the reason she did not throw it to me and the reason she considered it worth my attention.

She said, "This thing does not represent Wanuyeth, as there was an icon of his tossed into the sewage along with all the other gods, except Nemerry. Found one to the sun and moons. Hallith thinks it's important that we did not find one to Neptune, but I just was not going to search that hard, and there really is not a reason for anyone to have that icon. Of course, there was not a reason for anyone to have an icon to Wanuyeth either."

I tapped the journal I was reading as I replied, "It is Neptune. By defaming Wanuyeth and promoting Nemerry, he is hoping to gain her love for his own. Should he actually succeed in making her predominant, that would be even better for Neptune."

"You're crazy."

I could have tapped the book again, but felt she would trust my own words. "No, Ayither. The gods will fight with each other. It has not been anything major in our lifetime, and really not in a very long time, but Neptune seems to feel the time is right for this power play. According to him, both he and Nemerry wins just by the relationship. We, the people, win by having a future of almost constant calm oceans."

"What? But –" I once again saw the intelligence in Ayither as she suddenly asked, "How do we fight the gods, or god – specifically Neptune?"

"I was asking Nemerry that very thing, but she was telling me that the question had already been provided."

It was Hallith that said, "Well, if that is the case, then –"

He whistled. When a head lifted, he called Sesothy over. He came asking what we had discovered, and I had to say that I was glad to hear what Hallith told him.

"We found some evidence that we need to go down into the ocean and kick Neptune's ass. You would not know the best way to accomplish that?"

In a more serious and focused manner than I thought possible for a champion of storm, Sesothy asked, "What evidence do you have?"

I believe that Ayither thought her fellow champion of storm had been watching her, as she looked at him suspiciously while answering the question. Sesothy did move up to see the defiled icon of Wanuyeth, but did not ask to see the icons of the other gods not really considered active in our lives. I tossed the journal I was reading at him, then spoke of what it said. He simply sat the text down, then looked at us before speaking a response.

"You cannot affect the gods. They do consider us important to them, and do care about us, so we can turn their attention to matters. Both of you ladies are active champions of your gods, so you can trust that Typhorsh and Nemerry now know. You will have to trust them to deal with Neptune. The vile presence however still needs to be dealt with."

I replied, "We cannot kill it. What we kill is its host."

"No, which is why I am with Ayither. She cannot kill it, so needs protection. You and Hallith however can."

That made no sense to me, but luckily it did to Hallith. "If you are suggesting what I suspect, wouldn't that kill the host?"

"It's already dead. It dies when the entity fills it."

"You and Ayither can help. It seems to surround itself with devotees. Not only will we need for you to keep threats off of us, but clear a path as well."

Ayither declared, "We can do that."

Not following the conversation, I had to ask, "Clear a path to where?"

I believe all three said in unison, "A body of water."

Sesothy added, "I would suggest a rather deep one."

Suddenly, the strategy became obvious to me. I thought about the previous battles, then considered what was said and how it could work. I also thought about what powers Nemerry would bless me with. That had me suggest a strategy that would not be so dependent upon the terrain.

"Hallith, I can assure you that the water is deep enough, if you can do what is necessary."

"Zetrullid is a water god, so I do have certain blessings. Being underwater will not bother me, and I have fought evil for too long to have disgusting situations bother me. This however will be Nemerry’s battle."

Ayither asked, "Well, where to now?"

I answered, "I assume following the tracks. I do believe some of those here got away leaving a physical trail."

Ayither started to move, then turned back to Hallith who asked, "How are you and Slidell holding up? We just had some serious battles. I went for centuries from battle to battle, but one thing I have realized since quitting the Quartermasters is how much a nap and some food can help."

She replied, "Not here. This place has been defiled. While I have no ill will toward Gesaha, this place was abandoned, and what was done to it has not helped. Let's move on."

I had to agree. Desiring to keep the pressure on our adversary, if not actually go ahead and end our confrontation with him, I had Ayither work with me to determine the route they had fled. While the darkness had floated, the other opponents had to leave in a method that left tracks. Now that they were infused with the essence of Gesaha, their footsteps had a little more weight to them. We were thus able to easily determine that they had fled in the direction they came. What kept us talking was not recognizing where we were. The grassy hills looked reasonably close to those we knew, but Ayither stressed that she saw a different type of rock and grass, as well as the trees being of a type she did not know. I found myself unable to recognize the flow of the waterways. We both ended up having to agree with Hallith to focus on our mission and not where we were.

Those of Typhorsh spoke of their pleasure in the wind that blew over the open terrain. I found it a little cold myself, but my style of clothing did not have me suffering. The chill became stronger as the sun descended, and I sought a place to build a fire and warm my hands. Hallith pointed out a line of scrub plants saying it would be a good place to make camp, and I agreed as they grew along a waterway. Ayither and Sesothy raced ahead with the lady sounding laughter as a strong gust came and sent her hair flying. I would have found the act bothersome, but I had come to accept that as a Champion of Typhorsh she saw her god in what most of us considered natural actions.

Water was also a necessary part of our environment, so I knew of many that did not take pleasure in finding good sources of liquid but only relief. I however settled near the pond to enjoy a tangible presence of my goddess. Hallith took off claiming to look for game, saying that he felt that some would be found along the stream. I did not argue with him, but took his words to indicate that I would have some time of peace. I took pleasure in the nearby water, and spent time seeking a deeper connection with my deity than I had during the regular events of the day.

I heard a command to listen. I lifted my head to hear Ayither and Sesothy arguing. Their words were not loud, but I heard a hissing sound that I recognized. As much as Ayither was storm, she was not one to cause a scene. The boiling spirit inside her did not have her disrupt the calm of others. She thus would keep her voice low during serious arguments with her hissed words doing more to proclaim her god than defend her beliefs.

Hallith came back with a couple of badgers. He spoke of not really desiring badger, but that the animals did not allow him to dismiss their presence. I left my prayers to ask him about the kill. Hearing his story I helped him prepare the animals while explaining that they were a gift from Gesaha. Hallith did not argue with me, but accepted my instructions about how to prepare the items along with making a statement of thanks to the goddess of minor plants and the soil they grew from. When Ayither came back with Sesothy, they spoke of the food smelling good.

As we all prepared to end the day, Ayither came to me about going on to sleep. I informed her that Nemerry had told me to stay up. She did not seem happy with those words, but moved off in a direction other than where she had chosen to sleep.

I heard her say, "Hallith, tell me something." He grunted an acceptance even as he sat up. "Did you enjoy a normal life? I am not talking about Kierle, but about the life she was to teach you about. Did you enjoy the life?"

He said, "That's a good question," then went quiet I assumed to think about his response.

I found it strange that Ayither waited. She did not move about. She did not ramble about why she asked the question she did. She simply waited for him to respond, and that had me curious about what he would say as well.

"No, I cannot say that I liked the life. Those days were pleasant. Kierle was wonderful, and there was something really special in watching the children grow. I'm a big guy, so usually I am a rather imposing figure to a child. My children however would rush to me without fear. As they grew, I could tell that they saw something in me that no other child had ever seen. They did grow up however, and Kierle aged. I thus felt like I was enjoying something that I knew had always existed around me, even as I did not feel myself truly a part of it. It was an experience I would appreciate to repeat, but at no point did I find myself wishing that such was what I really wanted in life."

Now I heard the usual quick reply from Ayither. "I'm being told to go with you."

"I can promise you an experience, Ayither. I was thinking to bring you to Anerth first, and have you experience the life of a Quartermaster. It is a stormy life. I was thinking that you will fall in love with it, although hoping to find you willing to see what more I could show you."

"Love. That word scares me, Hallith."

I expected a pause, but he seemed relieved to speak. "Yeah, I guess it does me as well. Still, if it is there, it's there. I honestly would not have told you that I loved Kierle, but I have to admit that it was there. I'm an immortal, and I do enjoy the life I have, so I feel no rush to develop a relationship. As for a loving relationship, I feel that such is something best appreciated in hindsight."

"It's different with me, Hallith. I need to see it up front. The problem is that I'm not looking. Sesothy is right there. I'm not looking, or interested. The problem I am seeking to find is how to keep the storm inside me raging. Slidell handles the periods between conflicts a lot better than me. She is of the calm, so can let the time pass without it troubling her spirit. I cannot. I am being told that you can teach me how to find that lasting level of peace that keeps me storm even through the most pleasant of times. I however am also being told that I should allow myself to love you."

"I'm not telling you that."

"No, and because you are handling things as you are, I have gained the confidence in you to have this discussion."

I thought it wonderful that their relationship had developed to that point. I could see the change in the manner Ayither acted around Hallith, but I could also tell that she suspected her method of operating around him was no different than any other male champion. Most other men would however make statements or otherwise react to her closeness that would scare her back away. Hallith had an ease, I would say calmness, about him that did not trouble Ayither. She had come to feel free in acting with him as I had not seen her manage with any other man. The fact that she was coming to accept a relationship with Hallith I felt to be a wonderful thing.

He said, "Listen, Ayither, I cannot promise you anything. I however can show you. I can have you join with the Quartermasters. You can ride the storm of that life. Should you find it to match your spirit, then know that I can promise you centuries of defeating evils that no other champion on your world could match. Should you however feel that it is not the life for you, then I can show you other lives. Somewhere, amidst all that I can show you, I hope you can find something you can be at peace with."

"Yes, well, Sesothy is telling me to have you show me other things. I however want to have you make certain promises. I now –"

Hallith interrupted her to say, "I can make the promise, but only because I suspect you will be the one to break it. Don't back yourself into a corner, Ayither. I am not going to become your enemy. I spoke with Pesloe all those centuries. I spoke with other important ladies. I spoke with Kierle. I will speak with you. Talking is a step right there. If that is all that happens between us, that is not a bad thing."

"No, I guess it is not. Okay, Hallith, I will go with you and see the things you have to show me. If I end up seeing love, we can discuss it. Now, get some sleep."

As she moved to a place to lie down, I softly said, "You are making the right decision."

She came close to whisper back, "Are you sorry that you are not claiming him?"

"No. I am sorry that Zergus was not the man I thought he was. If there is one thing that calms me about Hallith is that I fully believe that he is the man that he says he is. He will show you some wonderful things, Ayither. Pay attention, please. I want to hear you tell me all about those people, places, and challenges. I do not believe that I need to see, but I do need to know that it is all real."

"Real. Yes, I believe that is something you probably need. Okay, I can do that."

"Ayither." She turned back from heading to her place of rest, and as her eyes met mine I said, "You better not let anything stop you from telling me. If you have to storm into the halls of Nemerry, you do so."

"You think I'm going to be gone that long?"

"I think it is possible, yes. I mean, think about how long ago it was that Hallith was on our world previously."

I saw in the pause her face clearly indicate that she thought over my words. "Yes, I guess. Okay, but tell Nemerry that it would probably be wise to simply open the doors for me."

"She already has conceded to that, Ayither. You are my friend, and as my friend you will be welcome."

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Twenty-Seven   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 6 (24 - 28) Icon_minitimeApril 5th 2019, 6:46 am

To Know Storm and Calm
Chapter Twenty-Seven

(Slidell)

As it got dark, Sesothy approached the fire to say, "Get some sleep, Slidell. You might be a divine champion, but I have passed on to being completely divine. I don't need sleep."

I replied, "All right. I trust you, but, honestly, I am unsure about what rules you are operating under."

"Ah, well, as storm I have to say that I am often unsure as well. Still, you saw how Ayither met me. We were close. I want the best for her." He moved to sit beside me, I believe for the single reason so he could talk real softly. "It's scary to consider the future for her. How about you, Slidell? Wouldn't you want to go with them? I mean, even if you don't want Hallith."

"No. This world needs me. I am at peace with that. Ayither did always see a bigger picture. That is why it did not surprise me to hear her speak of desecrating Thor's altar. She would think of that. Hallith is from a much bigger picture. He can thus probably meet her needs and present her with a life that she would feel at peace with. While I would be interested in seeing what he would show her, I feel that what she eventually tells me will present enough information for me. Just seeing her happy would give me a peace that I believe will even transcend what Nemerry can provide."

"Well, then get some sleep. This will probably be a big fight, so you need to assure that you will be at your best."

I really did not believe the part about it being a big fight, but I did trust Sesothy to keep watch. If he failed, I would be the one marching into the realm of a different god. Typhorsh would know about the failure of one of his own. What suddenly came into my mind I however did not fully believe.

"You would be welcome, Slidell."

I whispered in reply, "Why? I am calm."

"You think this life is meaningless? No, Slidell, the friendships you form will transcend time. Most people do not make it into this state of existence. They are returned to the cycle. Those who do gain a life in the divine realms however are products of this life. Do not think that your life, that gained you the recognition of us gods, will be considered of no importance. Slidell you have not just made friends with one of my divine champions, but with me. I will be glad to have your calm nature in my realm of storm."

I thought of the stories I had heard of the divine realms, and the gods themselves, then said, "Then, Typhorsh, I hope you have a friendship with Nemerry. I would hate to fight against you."

"I would hope that you would be one of those fighting to restore the balance, Slidell, and not one of those hoping to simply win the day for Nemerry."

"Yes, I can agree to that."

"It should be an interesting eternity, Slidell. Now, sleep. I promise you that you will have no reason to speak against Sesothy."

I must have drifted off soon after laying my head down, as I was awakened by Ayither. "All right, time to stop being calmly asleep, and prepare to be calmly going about some business."

Hallith said from a short distance, "Hopefully some kick butt business."

"Yes, what he said."

I replied, "Well, it is not like we have not done so before."

"Hell, yes! Twice, just yesterday. Only difference today is in the tactics, but that is just so whatever-it-is can go without having to admit that we beat his butt day, after day, after day."

I could not help but smile, although I kept my calm and told Ayither that I would be ready soon enough. In my prayers I thought to ask Nemerry about any divine war with Neptune. The reply was to keep the focus on my own battles. As mentioned in the conversation with Typhorsh the night before, my goddess admitted there were politics in the conflicts between the gods. I kept my smile hearing her say that she would win her battles, so expected me to win mine.

It surprised me to see our mounts. We had come out on a place on our world far from the territories that I knew. Sesothy mentioned that Typhorsh had a wind bring our things to us. As I checked my mount, I however asked about a practical concern.

"Can we expect such a journey back?"

Sesothy answered, "No. Ayither will probably be going with Hallith. Your travel plans will thus depend on Nemerry."

From Ayither came the words, "Yes, I probably will be going with Hallith. Who knows, Slidell, you might have things happen that will be worth telling me about." Before I could reply, she added, "And you might meet someone handsome and calm."

I said, "Nemery has not mentioned anyone of a present standing for me to possibly consider."

"No, but you might meet them young. You might meet a cute youngster and get them to set their sights on being worthy of you."

Sesothy took up the conversation with Ayither. Soon I was hearing all about me speaking to a pregnant lady and having her belly jump as the child within her made a divine appeal to start right then serving Nemerry. I looked to see Hallith holding on to the saddle for his horse in order to keep from falling from a desire to laugh at the humor. I did not feel that the conversation was that funny, but the words did keep a smile on my face.

The journey started at a pleasant pace. Ayither did not stray too much, as the ground began revealing much more rock than stone. She also tried to keep up a conversation with Hallith, who did not have his horse make the constant activity that she did with hers. While he had a style of speaking that would better relate to her shifting topics of conversation, he did not stress his mount enabling me to pleasantly have some companionship while traveling with Ayither.

It was not unusual for her to rush to the top of a slope, then stop to consider what she saw. I did not consider her foolish, and accepting that she would pause to look over things before rushing forward helped support that opinion of her. It was also not unusual for her to ask advice about things she saw.

"I should have suspected this. Hallith, what do you think about this?"

Of course, by 'about this' Ayither meant what she was looking at. I would have made her wait for me to get there to see the vista for myself. Hallith however signaled his mount to rush on ahead to join the lady. He did not look long, but almost upon arriving with Ayither he spoke about what he was looking at.

"I agree. Considering what we have learned, it does make sense. Still, I would say that it makes our plan that much easier."

They both turned to look at me with Ayither commenting, "She's calm, but she will get here."

Even though being calm, I did get there. What I saw was a view of a rocky coast of the ocean. I got the impression of low tide, even though the waves were rough from a distant storm. Continuing to follow my ways of calm, I stopped to make a reply.

"I was told that we are to fight our own battles and allow the gods to fight theirs. Thus, the terrain should not bother us, and I will acknowledge that there is a large enough pool of water to keep our adversary submerged. It is Neptune’s realm, but we must trust Nemerry to overcome."

"Oh, yes!" Ayither exclaimed. "If you cannot drown him in that, we have problems."

Hallith laughed, then said, "I cannot see our enemy, but there is smoke indicating fires over there among the rocks. I would suspect arrows if we stay to the trail."

Sesothy reminded us, "And you know the gods will not protect your mounts."

"Even after going through the effort to bring them to us?"

"Even after going through the effort to bring them to you."

Hallith then dismounted while advising, "Let's keep to the rocks as much as possible."

I fully understood the possible threat. As I did before entering the divine realm, I prepared myself with everything that I might need. Thinking about the differences in this battle and the one I expected going to aid Typhorsh, I found another had similar thoughts.

Ayither asked, "Are you any good with that thing?"

Hallith was stringing a bow as he said, "Not really, but I can usually have the missile come close enough to serve my purposes."

"Give it to me."

He did while commenting about the pull. She simply had him also hand over the quiver of arrows. She commented about the small number in the wooden tube, and he admitted to not using the bow much. She asked if he had other arrows, and he released the straps beneath one of his larger saddle bags to show a number held there in reserve. Ayither took one of those arrows, then pulled back only to release after barely taking any time to aim. She then spoke a comment about our plans.

"You and Slidell are the water champions. You thus need to get to whoever now is possessed. I will provide cover."

I then heard Sesothy say, "Slidell, give me your bow and arrows."

As I released them from the saddle, I said, "I will still expect your aid, as I do not expect this one to be any more alone than the others."

Ayither replied, "Are you expecting me to stay still? You should know better, Slidell."

Sesothy said, "Not that either of you have enough arrows to keep us busy with the bows for long. Don't worry champions of water, we of Typhorsh will be with you."

"We are your friends."

I looked to Ayither and said, "Forever. Whatever happens and whatever we do afterward, we are friends."

She just smiled, then said, "Well, I'm taking Hallith back after you are done with him."

I looked at him, then turned back to Ayither to say, "Well, I have actually come to consider him a friend as well. You can thus trust me to take care of him for you."

"Oh, Sesothy told you that we will be there supporting you. What I want you to do is not take care of this black gaseous thing. Finish it, Slidell."

It was Hallith that replied, "That, we will."

As calm as I might be, I set off with Hallith at a fast pace. It was what would be needed for the situation. As strange as it might sound, sometimes the storm will come to you if you do not calmly rush forward to catch it before it builds. Arrows flew around us, but Hallith and I had on armor that would deflect anything but a direct impact. Those that took time to aim for such an exacting shot however found themselves targeted by arrows zipping at a fast pace by the strength and accuracy of Typhorsh.

Considering we had not yet reached the camp of our enemy, I found it strange to see Hallith break off. I followed among the rocks to see what he was doing. He reached a spot, then held up a body by an arrow that had gone through the skull.

He explained, "I just did not hear anything react to her first shot. Interested, that's all."

I had to comment, "Ayither is very capable."

He dropped the corpse without arguing, and sensing my relationship with Ayither he further explained his need to see the results of her strike. "I still like the feeling of knowing that I am telling the truth when I support the bragging of a companion." I saw him look around, but as he did so he asked, "Why doesn't she carry a bow?"

"If we were not facing so many possible threats, I would not allow Sesothy to fire mine. She's storm, and seems to take pleasure in what her connection with Typhorsh can have her do with arrows. Do not expect to get any arrows back."

Hallith slightly shrugged in a manner indicating that my words did not bother him, and I saw him smiling when he replied, "I will keep that in mind when I go to gain more arrows." He then pointed while saying, "I am going to head that way. Any problem with you continuing as we were?"

I did not, and said so. It was a standard of calm that we maintained our separate paths with no fear of the challenge facing us. While I had fought with Hallith, that was a special occasion. He had made it work, but only because he knew enough of combat maneuvers to recognize my style of fighting and had the knowledge to match my steps. I understood that we would need to combine our efforts, but we were all divine champions called separately. I thus did not feel a need to stay with Hallith, and said so.

True to my nature, I went back to the route I was following. As I advanced to where I could see some of the enemies, I saw them readying weapons not really focused upon me. Hearing Ayither and Sesothy trade comments behind me I understood that their arrows had done more than stop archers from stopping our advance. The Champions of Typhorsh had caused the troops, already having a history of being defeated by us, to feel that their deaths had finally caught up with them. I believe that those I first set myself upon were unaware of me coming along the route, but were worried about those who were behind me.

Screams sounded from those I could only assume belonged to those who felt a need to flee again, only realizing that they had nowhere to run. This time there was no portal or open countryside. Hallith had set himself to gain a position along one direction of the coast. Seeing arrows fly from behind me to strike at those climbing the rocks in what I assumed to be a desire to get away, I had to believe that Ayither had stopped to get the bows and arrows intended to prevent our advance and were now using them to work for us.

I suddenly heard other screams, then a yell from Ayither to Sesothy to send arrows in another direction. I had to assume that Hallith now entered combat. As I found myself set upon not just by those enemies that were present, but those coming from other areas to help, I heard a yell from Ayither before the screams of those who found themselves set upon by her.

I heard her ask as her movements brought her relatively close to me, "Do you think we ladies can match the kills of the boys?"

She knew that I did not speak in combat. There were things that were necessary to say, but general chatter did not get done by us of calm. I however also knew that she would not keep a count of those she killed. She had ended some battles by throwing up when looking over the number of dead around her. I knew personally of champions of storm who went into an almost mindless zeal at the start of a major battle. Ayither had never done that, but there still was a sense of enjoying the power of her deity that had her not exactly aware of the extent of her actions. I thus did not think of her words directed at me. While she continued to speak, I silently kept my focus on the battle.

A roar sounded that let me know Hallith had engaged our true enemy. Understanding our objective, I worked on getting a better understanding of my actual situation. Seeing a number around us, I accepted that many stayed as attempting to flee had been a death sentence. While I knew the one directing the arrows was now fighting with me, I considered giving those enemies around me a chance to escape with their lives.

I asked, "Ayither, should we move on to the men?"

"If you would just speed up a little, we could be done soon enough."

While I was calm, there were things I could do to adapt my maneuvers to the situation. I again checked my surroundings, and found that Ayither and I were in a space cleared of rocks. That meant we were among a group of enemy, but not really in a massive battalion of opponents. Once the area was clear, we could move to the next area without any real resistance. Accepting that I could speed up without causing problems with fatigue, I adapted my maneuvers to a faster pace.

I felt relief finding my appraisal of the surroundings correct. I indeed was able to regain my breath while moving to another group. In this time I also was able to place the location of Hallith and Sesothy. While I did not get a clear sight of them, the sounds indicated that they were not directly engaged with the main opponent. As we had planned, they were removing the surrounding threats to assure no complications when an advance would be made on the primary enemy. Finding that most in the next area knelt in a sign of not desiring to meet us in combat, I looked to Ayither and asked her appraisal of an alternate strategy.

She answered, "Let us go on to Hallith. I believe we will be able to do as needed."

As if thinking they had caught us in a moment of contemplation, a few kneeling stood while rushing upon us. That was a strategy that might have worked with those of storm, but us of calm kept our focus on things around us. While considering another tactic, I had not dismissed my present situation. One of those that rushed me died with the others countered until I could strike them.

Ayither killed the ones who had engaged her, then said, "Yes, might as well. What these had done to them will mark them. Fleeing won't give them peace."

I felt an indication from my goddess that the words were correct. I actually had thought of these enemies as being like me, dedicated unto eternity to their fates. Just as I would continue my commitment to my goddess until the end of my mortal time, then serve Nemerry for eternity, I expected these to have given up their eternal loyalty. The way some tried to flee and those around me cowered told me that they really had not set their hearts into what had been done to them. That had me slightly pity them, because I did understand the extent of anything divine. Feeling that Ayither was correct about these being unable to escape their fates, I moved on to where Hallith and Sesothy were engaged in combat.

The one commanding those around him appeared as a big man, but was not even of the size of Hallith. That told me that he had not yet been harmed. I felt that was good, in that the stated plan was being followed. Willing to do my part, I set myself to removing the supporters for the one giving the commands.

I really did not expect anyone to put up a good fight. Considering that we had managed to reach the leader twice before, I felt that we should have already taken out the experienced fighters. A few however did manage to meet my initial blows and return strikes in return. I gave them respect for finally taking on the challenge of proving their skills along with standing up for their cause. I took some pleasure in being presented with a good fight before proving my calm experience in handling direct confrontations.

Finally, came the moment when we basically had our main opponent to himself. I was engaged with a couple of protectors, but I heard Hallith mention that he would finish our mission. Showing no fear of the weapon in the man's hand, he rushed to grab him, then continued the movement to put them both into the surf. After removing one of my present threats, I took a glance to see the two scuffling in the waves. I believe that Hallith intended to roll them into deeper water. The main opponent however used the movement to instead enable him to break the hold. He then rose to simply have the fight between him and Hallith occur in the surf.

"What was that?" the primary enemy asked. "This is the ocean, the source of our power. Neptune rules here."

Hallith replied, "Well, at least we got that confession out of you. Considering that one of the champions with us is dedicated to Nemerry, we never bought the lie of you trying to set her up as the main deity."

"You fools. Humans would have it better if you would have allowed this plan to work."

"No, as one is never better by living a lie."

I liked the words, but felt that combat was not the time to say them. Thinking to speak took away from one's concentration on the actual battle. To get things back toward calm, I dropped my other opponent to rush into combat with the main adversary.

My strike was deflected, but in turning his focus upon me I guess Hallith felt that our target had opened himself up to again become susceptible to our plan. Again the man was rushed, grabbed, and sent into the water. This time there was enough depth to actually drown the man. Feeling that our plan would work this time, I turned to see what other adversaries might be considering going to the aid of their leader.

A sound from Ayither had me turn my head just enough to check on what she saw. Not having an opponent near me, I was able to focus on what I glimpsed. A large wave clearly was coming upon me. Having a water deity as my patron, I simply set myself to calmly face the approaching mass of liquid. Ayither and Sesothy called upon Typhorsh to lift them up. Also having a water deity, Hallith showed no fear in keeping our adversary down.

The power of the wave did force me to move back. What troubled me was however seeing Hallith tossed by the wave. Our adversary rose with his form displaying a power to not be concerned with the ocean waves.

"You fools, you cannot defeat me! Neptune will have me victorious!"

It definitely did appear that our plan would not work. I looked to my companions hoping for another idea. Ayither was helping Hallith back to his feet. Sesothy was holding back, but as one whose time had passed I understood that he could not directly engage the actual challenge set before us still alive. Feeling that we had no plan to deal with our opponent, I wondered what I should do.

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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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PostSubject: Chapter Twenty-Eight   To Know Storm and Calm:  Part 6 (24 - 28) Icon_minitimeApril 10th 2019, 6:45 am

To Know Storm and Calm
Chapter Twenty-Eight

(Hallith)

I felt the weight of the salt water soaking the clothes beneath my armor. While not a pleasant sensation, it was not one that I would allow to stop me. I however appreciated Ayither coming back down among the surf to help me to my feet. As I did what I could to become comfortable with the weight on my body, I gained encouragement from her words.

"Come on, big guy. You can do that again."

I looked to see Slidell closer to the main threat. Somehow the wave that threw me off the man had not bothered her that much. While definitely a strong woman, she did not have the mass of our opponent. I thus wondered if Slidell understood the challenge before her as she spoke of taking on the main threat.

"No need, Hallith. I can do it."

I replied, "I doubt it, but I am here for you."

Ayither added, "As am I."

Slidell said, "Might need both of you," before running forward.

The opponent had seen me work the maneuver upon him twice. He thus set himself to receive her charge. Slidell however was not someone performing her stunt for the first time. With an experienced tactic, she avoided his lunge and maneuvered inside him to put herself against his body.

She did not have the mass to overcome the enemy. Not only had the possessing essence chosen a strong man, but I accepted that in the water of the ocean Neptune was adding to his power. Realizing that Slidell would not overcome our enemy on her own, I charged forward.

I grabbed both of them intending to throw us all into the water. While I probably had the necessary strength, I did not complain about feeling a strong wind suddenly gust behind me along with the weight of Ayither slamming into my back. We all went down beneath the surface of the water.

Slidell simply held him. I helped keep them down even as I saw great fish come upon us. My large blade was not the best in a watery environment. Reaching to my right thigh I however remembered Ayither taking that sword. My other hand reached to a dagger in my boot in time for it to move and strike at the aquatic threat coming upon me. I set myself to keeping Slidell down while using nothing but a dagger in my off-hand to fight off those attempting to end our lives.

Ayither did not worship a water deity, but I heard her sound out gasps as air came to her. There was a commotion in the liquid due to her continuing to fight. With Slidell beneath the waves, I trusted Ayither to handle certain threats close to the surface. With faith in my water deity to keep me alive, I stayed under the surface to assure that Slidell managed what she had to do.

I found myself pushed back as a mass of water surrounded Slidell in a manner of providing a hard shell. I found myself relieved sensing the liquid being fresh water and not salt. A glow then started beneath the waves even as the sun broke through the distant storm out in the ocean powering the surf. Light from below and above grew in intensity. I then felt myself pushed back as a strong force of water sent Slidell upon me.

After pulling her up so both of our heads broke the surface of the liquid, I heard her say, "We won."

I looked to the sun while saying, "It seems that the storm is over."

Ayither said, "That was not a storm, but a manifestation of the divine war with Neptune. I am storm, and I am still strong."

Slidell broke from me, but not in any angry fashion and even with kind words. "You take care of her. She is a wonderful friend, and I will miss her."

I looked to Ayither to ask, "Are you coming with me?"

She replied, "Think you can deal with me?"

"Deal with you? You will be the one in new territory. I told you that I will take you to those I know well, and into situations I have been dealing with for centuries."

"Look forward to it."

Sesothy said, "Typhorsh will be ever with you, Ayither. There could well be worlds where he cannot be as present with you as you are used to him being, but do not ever think that his influence will leave you."

I felt a need to support those words. "Zetrullid has never been unable to support me. When I speak to him, I have always found him knowledgeable about even the driest places."

Suddenly from out on the ocean where the storm had been raging, a multitude of divine figures rushed toward us. Creatures of water and air surrounded us. None directly bothered us, but just having the mass of activity kept us still. As quickly as they came upon us, they moved on. I however noticed that the multitude of people who had tried to avoid engaging us were no longer present and a nice camp was now prepared on the beach.

As Ayither moved to shore, I heard her say, "Typhorsh, you could have allowed Sesothy to remain." Tears then showed in her eyes as she looked back to Slidell and me. "I'm not going away forever. Yes, I will storm into the divine realms if that is what I need to do to speak to my friends."

Slidell said, "It's okay, Ayither. I have lived for over a century. There are people I miss as well."

I tried to soothe her by saying, "And those you will meet will be my friends, so they should become friends to you as well."

Ayither replied, "Yes, that is what Typhorsh is saying as well." She turned back to the shore while saying, "I get the feeling that he has plans for me. Not too certain if it means being your wife, Hallith, but we shall see."

Slidell softly said to me, "You would do well to gain her." She then raised her voice to say, "I suspect that you will find me married to someone. You will be free to compare him to whoever you meet."

"Yes, but your spouse will be calm. Don't think I will marry anyone calm."

I began moving to shore while saying, "If that applies to me, so be it."

"What?" She spun to look at me, then said, "I told you a few times that I like you, Hallith. I – whatever. I am sure that I have a lot to learn. I am just going with no guarantees. Understood?"

"Sure." Then desiring to change the subject, I asked, "What is cooking?"

"Fish stew. Probably made from those we killed." She looked around then said, "Some light bread, wine, nothing to complain about."

Slidell came to shore saying, "As it should be."

I enjoyed the evening with the two ladies. We shared some more tales of our lives. The two ladies had some stories of them fighting together, but many more of them speaking of their own accomplishments. Never did I hear anything of them being anything but friends, and simply glad to share the moments with them I enjoyed the evening.

I kept watch that night. Neither Slidell nor Ayither spoke otherwise. The two however broke off to wash up, and came back saying things softly between them. Eventually, I found them both asleep, and I stayed up to assure that they could rest peacefully.

I was watching the light of the moons play over the water when I heard Slidell say, "Okay, Hallith, time for you to get your rest."

As I picked up the things I had set out, she then asked, "Do you think Aslerrida or Kierle will be happy with Ayither?"

I answered, "I don't know, but I find it strange that they sent me to you. You're a wonderful lady, and I think we could get along, but we are slightly different. Ayither is different as well, but I believe we could work out."

"Yes, that is where I believe I would fail. My ways are set. Ayither is more flexible. I believe she is a little set in her ways as well, but a little more experience could show her how to be more relaxed in her storm. I expect to be informed."

"Of course. That is the difference I see in my future and what I had with Kierle. She presented a normal life, but not what I really wanted or had in my life. Ayither could show me what my life could really be, whether it ends up being with her or not."

"If it is not Ayither, do not think that I will not want to meet who you do find. Just as you are saying that your friends will become Ayither's friends, do not think that I do not consider you my friend. If you have to storm into the halls of Nemerry, you come and let me know how your life is going."

We both turned as a bright light suddenly shown near us and a voice said, "Hallith."

I stood to greet the blazing form of Kierle. She kissed me. It was a familiar weight and style of greeting. I held her as I had for decades. Without any fear of her fire, I allowed Kierle to show affection to me.

She then stood before me to say, "I hope that I have become your friend as well."

I replied, "I would say that our relationship went a little further than that."

Slidell rose as I turned to introduce her to my past slave. The two ladies then spoke of things in a way that they could relate. Fire and water even on this world were opposed forces, but as women Kierle and Slidell found a common relationship. I picked up my things while allowing them to speak. When my past slave called me back to the fire, I accepted that some decisions had been reached.

Kierle had me mention the places I intended to go. The only change she had me make was to save visiting Pesloe and Cornispe for last. I was told that once back on my own world that I would need to take Ayither to meet with Chertish as well before advancing up the mountain to have her meet with Zetrullid. I mentioned that I felt a direct meeting with my god to be a rather important step, only to have Kierle fuss at me.

"Don't let her get away, Hallith. You are a good man, and deserve a good life. If Ayither and you still have a strong relationship when you return to our world, there is no reason not to think of what further blessings can be shared between you. I was given to you to assure such would eventually be your fate, Hallith. Enjoy it as you enjoyed me."

"I will save this conversation for the future, Kierle."

Slidell said, "Sounds like a good calm decision. Tell you what. Hallith, you come back to me before you return to your own world. Give me time with Ayither. That way I will have a chance to assure things with Ayither before you make any statements with your own people."

Kierle spoke before I could. "That sounds good. Now, Hallith, get some sleep. You know how challenging time with the Quartermasters can be. Slidell, I am glad to have met you. I believe that I will have plenty of time to speak with Ayither, but you I needed to meet now. I love you, Hallith."

Suddenly the light of Kierle was gone from our presence. I believe we both needed moments to have our eyes adjust to the low level of radiation provided by the campfire. As I moved to obey Kierle, Slidell spoke of the time she had.

"I now am certain that you are a good man, Hallith. She was a wonderful person. I cannot fault you for once having a life with her. Zergus was at fault for spending time with women he should not have."

I admitted, "I had time with such ladies as well. In fact, I first purchased Kierle for such a purpose. Still, I did not make those ladies a part of my life the way I heard Zergus had done. When I sought to change my life, I found myself directed toward something better, and Kierle was a part of that. Who knows what fate might await Zergus, but I can say one needs to keep their focus on higher matters instead of weighing themselves down with low concerns. Slidell, keep looking to making your life something to be proud of, and I assure you that I will continue to have you proud to be my friend and glad to know that Ayither travels with me."

"Then we have a calm understanding. Go to bed, Hallith."

I am working on a new superhero story, but it will take time. Glad that fantasy tends to operate in trilogies. The second part will start next.

_________________
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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