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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 (26-31)

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TerishD

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TerishD

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PostSubject: To Know Black and White - Part 6 (26-31)   To Know Black and White - Part 6 (26-31) Icon_minitimeSeptember 12th 2019, 6:38 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Twenty-Six

(Hallith)

I expected to see things in this sphere like the other one.  While the other one was earth, there was water flowing, air to breathe, and the temperature was comfortable.  All I however saw in this one was an expanse of nothing.  I remembered hearing the rush of air when we entered, but in moving with Ayither I suspected some indication of Typhorsh.  I however found myself making an assumption in seeing the inside of the sphere completely clean and bare.

"This sphere was created to let nothing in or out."

Terish replied, "Probably a combination of incompetence and a fear of allowing some of the contaminants of the previous sphere."

Ayither said, "But that place held the earth pure, because it simulated a natural system.  In here the fear is strong of corruption."

"He was already corrupt," Dalinth advised.

Terish asked, "So, was this place built to try and keep out even corruption, or have we simply arrived before it had a chance to settle in?"

"How old do you think this place is?  The other sphere was very old.  From the construction outside and what I see of this place, I would say only a couple decades at most."

"Elementals are immortal.  They were created as the universe was forming.  Some do give birth and die, but you still cannot compare their life spans to that of a normal creature.  Air would also not be – Ayither!  Can you stop the wind and protect that volume of air over there?"

She did not reply to Terish, but simply stated the name of her god.  I suddenly felt my own movement shift as something seemed to take control over the lady.  When she spoke to Terish, I felt that Ayither had full control of things.

"What do you want done with it?"

"I trust you.  Simply tell me about it."

"It's dead air, most probably the remains of one of the elementals brought in here that died by some means.  Wait – it has been etched."

I trusted Ayither as well, so stayed silent, although I did appreciate that Dalinth voiced what I thought.  "Etched?  How can one etch air?"

"It does have substance," Ayither explained before providing more information.  "It seems to be a prayer petitioning a god by the name of Bruzia to reclaim the essence.  That is strange.  Elementals are a by-product of the creation, so are usually treated as only annoyances by the divine."

Terish said, "They were probably hoping that they would be missed, and with the deity reclaiming the lost air the rest of them could flee.  It also presents the elementals in here as good elementals, as most would probably assume the deities would be glad to have them gone."

"I would have to agree with that.  What I do not see is a reason for us to be in here."

"Ah, that is where my devious mind proves its worth.  Look at the seal, Ayither.  Now, tell me if you can see what I do."

She softly gasped, then as if recognizing I heard the sound she softly said, "I can see it, Hallith."  She then announced, "There is another seal on the other side of the dead air, but it is rock that has been especially enchanted.  I believe that the one that built this place was very scared.  I however am air, and this has definitely worked to prevent anything air from passing."  She again lowered her voice she added, "You could break the seal, Hallith, but it would hurt you."

As if he heard, Terish said, "I got this."  I saw him fly up, then he said, "There is a guardian beyond.  Still, three of the four of us are good in a fight.  I hope that we can prove ourselves again."

I softly said, "Put me in the lead, Ayither, unless you just want to show off some more."

She laughed before asking, "Are you getting bored?"

"No.  I enjoy watching you and listening to your voice.  However, when I hear someone mention an opponent, I am used to being the one who goes and fights it."

"Terish, Hallith says that he expects to take the lead."

He replied, "Ayither, I have known Hallith for over a century.  I remember those days of him being a Quartermaster.  Trust me, I know he can lead in a fight.  I however also know that I can fight beside him.  So, if we are ready, I will open things up."

I saw Ayither do something, and as if annoyed that I watched her, she explained, "No reason to be disrespectful.  I moved the dead air to preserve the prayer."

Nodding with agreement, I said, "As divine champions, we should be respectful of things dealing with gods."  Feeling myself now moved toward the wall I felt a need to say, "I am finding myself agree with how you think, Ayither."

"And I am agreeing with Slidell that you are a good man, Hallith.  I like standing beside you.  Well, behind you at the moment, as we agreed you get to take the lead.  Still, let me say that I also enjoy looking at you."

"I'll always make you glad to have me in your life."

It was Terish that broke our chatter by asking, "Ready?"

My only response to that was setting my stance.  I saw an explosion of strange greenish energy, then watched as a circular portion of the sphere became a mist.  A wind pushed me forward, but as soon as I felt my feet on a surface I propelled myself ahead.  I saw a mass of movement appearing as a great tangle of vines, but I set myself and attacked feeling that was the only applicable response.

I had faced creatures like this guardian before.  With the sphere being made to contain air, it could easily be assumed that what passed would not be air.  However, air could be behind their champion who freed them.  Thus, the one wanting to challenge whoever passed through the seal had to have something that would affect all the elements.  The problem was that there was no perfect champion who could prove undefeatable to all opponents.  I had faced all sorts of guardians in my time as a Quartermaster, and found the monster now before me as not that different than others I had defeated.

It helped that I had always traveled with others.  My rush upon the mass of vines came with a trust in those with me not to abandon me to the entangling lengths of animated growth.  I did cut through the fibers supporting sharp leaves, but still felt a number more move around my body.  My experience told me to keep fighting, although it helped hearing some instructions to work with the others.

"Attack left, Hallith!"

The order from Terish helped me focus on an action.  Just attacking really did not get my mind on any clear purpose to my movements.  What Terish told me had me fixate my thoughts on doing something definite, so I concentrated and pulled against vines that sought to restrict me in order to fulfill the order I was given.

I felt some type of energy behind me.  There was a sensation of heat, but also a tingle as if some other energy was present at well.  The restricting tugs of the vines however greatly reduced having me in a good mood when I heard the voice of Terish behind me.

"You good, Hallith?  I think some of that reached you."

I kept attacking as I answered, "I'm good, Terish.  Do it again if you need to."

"Ah, you just say that because you are used to having Anerth around to heal you afterwards."

"Haven't had Anerth with me in a few decades, Terish.  Honestly, Zetrullid gave me the authority to do some healing.  In a way, I am a priest as well."

"How about Ayither?  Will she take care of you?"

Those words had me pause.  No sooner did I stop for a moment than I heard a soft curse before noticing a number of attacks.  Those words set me to attacking again, and with a strong slice that cut through a number of vines I found myself looking at Ayither.

There was strain on her features as she said, "I will face the calm for you, Hallith."

My time of having a lady in my life had me ask, "Why would you needing to look after me be one of calm?  When people I care for are hurt, I really am not calm at all."

There was still some of the great mass of vines active, and I turned to fight them as I spoke about coming home and finding one of the children in trouble.  From simple sicknesses to broken bones, there were times I had returned to Kierle and not found a period of peace.  It helped that I had gained some divine power to restore bodies, but with children the experience of the pain had to still be dealt with.  Seeing the frightened eyes of a child who had been sick worried that the tortures would return had me sometimes crying as I tried to comfort the youth while explaining some basic facts of life. I found myself getting mad when a child would fuss at me for laughing when I heard about the actions that had caused them to become injured.  The challenge was overcome, but instead of moving on I stood on the remains of the vines and told stories about times with my children.

Ayither just stared at me, but it was Terish that spoke, "No wonder your children allowed you to go in the manner you did."

"Calm would not speak during battle," Ayither said while turning to cautiously move down the passage.

Those words struck me as strange.  Confused, my gaze turned from her to the men with me.  It was Terish who tried to say something implying that what Ayither said was not really strange.

"Women."

Since Terish was married, I probably would have sought him for some advice with Ayither, but instead we turned with concern hearing her yell, "NO!"

She then yelled out the name of her god only for a clear masculine voice to return, "No."

I rushed into a great work room.  Tables with all sorts of equipment were about.  Between then were circular cages holding women deformed in some manner.  I could see what upset Ayither, as each lady had been corrupted by applications of air.  Most had feathers on their bodies or instead of hair.  Some had wings spurting from their backs while others had their arms extended as if to transform into wings.  The legs of all showed some distortion as well as if to make them more like birds.  I did not know how to help Ayither, but moved into the room to gain a position where I could easily provide her with aid.

"WHY?" she screamed as her body lifted from the floor.

I could see no source of the strange voice as it replied, "Because they were done separately.  No great act from your god would do what was necessary to restore them."

Terish took a position of support for Ayither at another angle.  Dalinth stayed in the doorway where he could do whatever he felt able.  I was glad that neither spoke, as Ayither came to the proper conclusion on her own.

"But I can do what is necessary."

"They are in pain.  Be calm and gentle with them."

I could feel the breeze from the wind supporting Ayither.  It seemed to increase as I felt I recognized her problem.  Calm was not a word she considered a part of her existence.  For over two decades she had kept a storm in her life, and she traveled with me to hopefully find a life where she could live without having to accept calm.  I felt the breeze while worrying that my lady of wind would not be able to act as she had been instructed.

_________________
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-Seven   To Know Black and White - Part 6 (26-31) Icon_minitimeSeptember 17th 2019, 6:38 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Twenty-Seven

(Dalinth)

I had learned enough about Ayither to understand the predicament presented to her. She had the power. Her connection with her deity of air was strong. While the construction of her universe was along an elemental framework of earth, air, fire, and water, the actual divine separation was along a line of lifestyles. Ayither spoke of being the storm, and felt the loss of her existence should that energy leave her. She however had been presented with a need under the instructions of being calm.

The women were suffering. However wondrous the infusion of air into a form might result, such had not happened to those around us. Their naked bodies showed the imperfections in the processes used upon them, and I felt it was their whimpers of suffering that had Ayither make a decision.

Her body turned in the air, then it rushed upon Hallith. He caught her by simply using his body to stop her movement. Instead of being relieved by the success of his actions, or mad because he prevented her from doing whatever she was intending, I found her to plant a kiss on his lips.

"You are storm," she said. "Don't you ever deny it, Hallith. You are storm."

He looked perplexed as he asked, "That's good, right? I mean, with you?"

"Of course it is good with me," she said having him release her so she could drop to the floor. "Now, come be with me as I work."

"Of course. What do you want me to do?"

"Listen. I need someone to talk to. Calm does not talk as they work."

He followed her to a cage as he said, "You can talk to the walls."

"Do you want me to talk to the walls?"

"Uh, no. I like having someone listening as well."

As I heard the clang from Hallith using his great weapon to break the lock on a cage, Terish waved for me to approach him while saying, "We need to look about these tables and see what evidence we can find about what has been going on here."

I agreed with what he said, but watching the couple I had to ask, "Do you think things will work out between Hallith and Ayither?"

"I don't know what to tell you. It seems that you were never married, and your status as a divine champion not really one that will allow you to marry. I can give you answers, but they might not answer your questions."

Not seeing what he said as being applicable, I replied, "A simple 'yes' or 'no' would be enough."

"Okay, yes."

That answer only pleased me for a moment, but I quickly found myself needing to ask another question. "You are saying that they will find themselves to be compatible?"

"I am speaking to a champion of black who is a friend with a champion of white. Ayither speaks of Slidell, who is a good friend of hers that is a champion of calm. Compatibility is not a problem between any two people unless they are determined to be a problem with each other."

"I assume the rules are different for a marriage."

"No. The rules are the same. The degree of the commitment increases. If the commitment is there, the marriage will last. The problem between Hallith and Ayither is that they are both divine champions. There is already a commitment dominating their lives. Should they commit to each other, they will be held to a very high standard."

I could accept what Terish said. The reason for there being so few champions of white and black was the extreme standards for someone to live their lives, then act upon gaining the divine recognition. I knew what I had done as black. Defying the gods even in the minor manners that I had was not a minor decision. Without the depth of my personal belief in my cause, I would not have managed the deeds that I felt were glorious moments in my life. Knowing that both Hallith and Ayither had successful careers behind them, I could accept that each did not want to spoil any future where they would be found lacking by their gods.

The thoughts did come to me of the reasons my own deities did not allow those with divine callings to marry. One of the lectures to those seeking to become divine champions did speak of relations with the opposite sex. I remember the words about there being no rule against it with the question immediately following about if such a rule should be written down. The answer I quickly realized was that the devotion to the calling would transcend any relationship. The amount of conviction required would supplant any thoughts of relating to others on anything other than a temporary basis. While I did enjoy the presence of a female, and wished that I could gain the affection from such a lovely form as Ayither, I understood that my divine calling left no place for any intimacy in my life.

While Terish was looking through the items on another table, I still trusted that he would hear my question. "Things in their lives will not be easy for them, will it?"

He replied, "Did you just use the words 'life' and 'easy' in the same sentence?"

While I knew of others that would see the humor, I explained why I did not. "I consider my life easy. I am not saying that it is not challenging, but I see the problems I face as being the reason for my life. The situations I get brought into, including this one, are situations that I am glad to face. There is a joy in my service, and that prevents me from seeing my life as hard."

"That is actually a good philosophy to have. Most do not. However, according to what you said, I would agree that Ayither and Hallith will go through periods that are not easy. Children will do that if other things do not. Still, they should look back with joy at the things they experienced together, and find themselves glad to have overcome them. That is how my life has gone. I face each situation very worried about anything that I might not be able to handle. Looking back, I see that I have survived all sorts of dangers, and find myself glad to have those experiences to call upon in facing the new dangers. I guess that I am concluding that I have not had an easy life, and do not expect the future to be completely easy either. Must be nice having a life as a divine champion."

As Ayither left one restored lady, and moved past Terish to work with another lady, she detoured near him to say, "You are not calm either. You also talk while you work."

I saw Terish smile as he replied, "I just like to talk. It calms me to be able to talk to someone."

She stopped to say in return, "Does Straekin like to talk?"

"Yes."

"So you and her talk a lot."

"We will, yes."

She moved up to peck him on a cheek before saying, "I am glad to have you as a friend."

Hallith then passed Terish while saying, "I guess I did good in bringing her to you."

"It would be wrong to stop bringing her."

"You did not show up all those decades with Kierle. I guess we both need to change some things."

"You let Ayither know, and I will let Straekin know."

From Ayither came the words, "I already know. Tell Straekin, Terish. Now, Hallith, you have another lock to open."

Terish reached across his table, then threw a metal object to Hallith. He spoke a thanks. I listened, and indeed heard a simple set of sounds of metal objects being worked before the process on the next lady and not the crashing of a large blade on a much smaller lock.

Just wanting something to do, I saw a naked lady moving about as if wanting to find clothes. I found crates filled with moss and other soft substances to protect glass and other fragile items during shipping, but no cloth. Asking Terish, I saw him point. I did not remember him going in that direction, so was suspicious of his response. The lady however ran ahead as if she also recognized a chest as the place where her clothes had been disposed. Allowing that lady and the others would desire some privacy, I again looked around for something to do.

Thinking it to be a good idea, I asked, "Terish, do you think I could escort the ladies back through the sphere?"

"They're not of your world, Dalinth."

Wondering how Terish knew, I looked at the ladies. Most were not yet clothed, but what they were putting on did not seem any different than what other ladies wore. One however clenched an icon in a hand before kneeling and speaking a prayer of thanks to a god that I did not know. Accepting that Terish was looking over the notes, so had possibly read of the abduction of the ladies, I considered other options for what I might do.

I asked, "So, we take them with us?"

Terish replied, "You have been moving behind us, so you could help assuring that the ladies do not rush ahead and get themselves in serious trouble. We have not ended this threat."

There was no reason the ladies could not hear what was said, but I guess one was listening rather closely, as I heard a female voice ask, "Who are you?"

I answered, "I am Dalinth, divine champion of black. The man that rescued you is Hallith, a divine champion of a water deity. The lady is Ayither, divine champion of an air deity. That man over there is Terish Dozzrine."

"Terish Dozzrine? The Deadre?"

Actually, that was the way I tended to hear him identified in the stories. "Uh, yeah."

The lady that spoke showed no concern that her garments were not yet proper on her body, but strode to Terish while stating, "Good. Lachill needs to be killed."

He reached for a text and flipped some pages before asking, "Chancellor of the Waterways, Lachill Ophenner of the Regulus District of East Climmingphor?"

Some of the other ladies voiced their agreement when the lady said, "I am Dame Wanersh of the Sirius District of North Climmingphor. My husband is in charge of the morning guard. Lachill abducted me saying that my husband would have to think twice before sending any troops. What he however did with me will have me telling my husband to call for the execution of Lachill. If you will do it, it will save us the bother and expense of a trial."

"I believe you heard Dalinth say that he and my other two companions are divine champions. What will be done will be proper, so I believe will save you the bother and expense. It however might not be the end you want."

It was Hallith that asked, "Why wouldn't it be, Terish?"

"Because Lachill is working with a god as well. Just as I do not want Zetrullid, Typhorsh, or Frowick mad at me, I would rather not have a god of this world mad at me either."

_________________
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-Eight   To Know Black and White - Part 6 (26-31) Icon_minitimeSeptember 22nd 2019, 6:59 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Twenty-Eight

(Straekin)

As I saw things begin to settle with the military, I looked to where Terish had sent his centaur. Looking between worlds took skill, but in traveling with my husband I had learned a number of tricks in dealing with the omniverse. As expected, Menasha was quietly reading in a pleasant meadow. Wanting to protect the lady, he had sent her to a place where she could not be threatened by whatever we were challenging or any action of the military.

The centaur came as soon as I sent her a message asking if she wanted company. She did not have the knowledge to work inter-world magic, but could move between realities easily. Menasha had received the same training Terish would provide to horses, and having a much more developed mind the centaur had more control of her movements between worlds. Seeing me surrounded by the military, she laughed at the knowledge she would have a lot of company.

She however whispered to me, "If you need some privacy, we can go back to that world."

I replied, "It did look lovely, but I believe we need to be here. Whatever my husband and the others find, it will affect this world."

Retarund rushed up, then stopped to say while panting, "You called the centaur. Did you receive instructions to prepare for something?"

"No. I called her because I did not want her to be alone. If there is one thing I treasure, it is having the friendship of all the centaurs my husband has ridden and the tribes they come from."

"Well, let me know if you receive any instructions."

Wondering if his god had told him something other than what I had concluded, I said, "Why should I receive a warning? This is a matter of your world. A god of your world instigated this mission. If it was of a lesser importance, you, a divine champion of this world, would not be so concerned with it."

"I don't know. I get called for some really minor reasons. It is actually the presence of you – well, your husband – that gives this some importance."

"I would turn that around and say that it was the importance of this cause that had at least one of your gods orchestrate things to get me and my husband here." Suddenly wondering about the conversation, I asked, "Just how often do you speak to your gods?"

"Why would I need speak to them? Their laws are clear, although I still regularly read their books."

"Because this is something different. Because this is something outside their books."

"There is nothing outside their books. Their ways are absolute and all-encompassing. All I need to know is the proper way of doing things, and from there all that needs to be done is to assure the people get the proper guidance."

It was Menasha that asked, "So, how are you guiding them now?"

"Well, uh, we are support. We need to be ready. That is why I rushed here, because I thought your arrival was a sign that we would soon need to take action."

For once I felt the words from Menasha might be wrong, so spoke before she could while providing explanation for my reasoning. "Listen, Retarund, your world has operated for a long time. Your ways have proven themselves. This however is something not of your world that has been allowed to fester and cause a disruption of your world. The oddities of this mission should have you, I would think, turn to your gods for guidance. This is not of their world, so should require some actions to deal with this situation and restore their world to the way they designed it to be."

"There are priests. If they received instructions for me, they could tell me."

Another voice now spoke loudly to allow it to be heard from a distance. "You are white. If I told you something odd, something different, you would not listen. You would even deny that a god actually said it."

Retarund waited for the priest to move forward, then spoke about what he saw of the person. "And what sane words would you claim Nachash has told you?"

The priest pointed to the opening of the cave as he replied, "The call to action will not come from there." The holy man now pointed up as he declared, "The call to action will come from there."

"What?” I had no doubt Retarund was quoting some scripture as he said, “'I say to you, be not deceived by those who claim the gods will take action themselves. You are our instruments. Our ways are made clear. Obey them. Follow them. Love them. We will take action by judging your hearts, not by acting on your deeds.'"

"And so this mission was given to black."

"YOU ARE –!" Retarund stopped himself from saying anything else, but after controlling his emotions he tersely said, "Considering who Dalinth has helping him, I am assuming that what you are referring to is something other than divine action."

"I am saying that Nachash told me that this is a matter of the gods. What call comes will be directly from them concerning matters particular to them."

Pointing his finger at the priest, Retarund declared, "You remind Nachash that she represents sanity. I thus want it clear. I do not want to feel that my thoughts are cloudy or that I am putting my trust in confusion."

"When the call comes, you will hear it like everyone else. The question being put to you, champion of white, is whether you will obey it like everyone else. That is what you are supposedly representing, champion of white. You are a symbol for complete devotion to the gods. So the question comes to you, are you going to obey the gods?"

"I will not trust the call you are saying will come. That is not the way of the gods. I will however go with these men, as they will need my guidance. They will need to know what is right and what is wrong. I will speak to assure these men that they know what Nachash has said about the proper ways of behavior. However strange, however odd, events might prove them to be, the gods are not strange. They are our gods, and their ways will be assured."

I felt that was about as good as things could get, so was surprised when Retarund then asked, "Is Dalinth proving himself?"

The priest answered, "He is actually finding his situation as perplexing as you are. Nachash feels that the friendship between the two of you will only grow after this."

"I still will not approve of his ways. Still, I believe that I will continue to see some good in him."

Hoping to support the good spirits, I asked, "Is there anything I could do?"

The priest answered, "No, but I want to thank you for calling the centaur back to us. She is a symbol of the unusualness of this situation. Centaurs are not truly a part of our world, but only creatures of our fantasy. Her presence is a clear statement to the men about the oddity of this mission. While I want to support the words of Retarund, I feel the presence of the centaur helps us see that some uniqueness to our actions will be required of us to assure a proper future for our world."

Menasha asked, "So, what are your divine realms like?"

"They are a place of comfort. All the heartaches are soothed. All the questions are answered. One is able to face eternity with a serenity that is unimaginable."

Retarund said, "Yes, that is what all the gods promise, not that we should be putting our thoughts on that realm."

"I felt it to be a good question."

"Wait. Wait. What?" Retarund looked into the eyes of each of us, as if he needed further verification of what we were thinking. "You cannot be serious? Most of these men around us do not have their hearts and minds in the right place. Going into that realm would be death for them."

"No, Retarund. There are stories of people, some in a very corrupt frame of mind, being allowed to glimpse the eternity the gods have made available. In all such stories the sight forces them to make a decision."

"None of those stories have any weight of authenticity."

"A few are about known historic figures, and the history does show them to have made a sudden change in their behavior."

"I cannot allow that is going to happen!" Retarund declared before marching off.

The priest turned toward Menasha while saying, "And so the question toward Retarund remains." He then bowed to the centaur. "Thank you, dear lady, for being among us. I take it that you have been in a divine realm."

She answered, "No, but I have read the journal of the one before me who had."

"Well, I agree with Retarund that the idea of going there while living my life is a scary proposition. I however will prove myself. Should the gods direct me in such a direction, I will go."

"My predecessor, Celatia, wrote of hoping to meet her predecessor, the first centaur to carry Terish. It did not happen, and sometimes I feel that it was a wasted opportunity."

"No. Once on the other side you can clearly see eternity. You also can clearly see the value of this life. I believe those you wished to speak to understood that it would better for you to continue in your struggles. The reward for such trials comes in the next life, and those already there understand the value of all suffering." He then smiled while saying, "I do not see our journey into the other realm as something giving us time to visit, but merely to fight the battle that will rage there."

I said, "Well, when we were allowed into a divine realm previously, there were clear rules for us to follow. They were not extreme, but we clearly understood not to break them. I feel you might have your work cut out for you to keep such a large group in line."

"What? Oh, yes, you're right. I was enjoying the thoughts of what I might experience. You are correct. I have work to do. Thank you, ladies. Hope to speak with you further."

As the priest walked off, Menasha said, "We meet all types." She then looked down to her feet before saying, "Menasha wrote of forcing Terish to have everyone prepared for meeting with the sleeping gods. She made him remove her shoes, then had the rest with him remove their shoes. I however cannot say that I am anywhere near presently prepared for entering a divine realm."

I replied, "Well, I cannot say that I know about shoeing a horse, or unshoeing a horse. Still, I feel that I could go get someone that could do it for you."

She looked down toward my feet, and said, "Yes, if you feel a need to take off your own shoes."

"I don't feel this journey will be anything like the previous one. This will be us going to a battle, so it will be best for us to have our shoes on. Still, I guess that I should spend time in prayer."

"Sounds like a good use of our time. Considering what we are possibly facing, I will also pray for Terish."

"Yes, the better prayers are always for others."

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Twenty-Nine   To Know Black and White - Part 6 (26-31) Icon_minitimeSeptember 27th 2019, 7:06 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Twenty-Nine

(Hallith)

Terish had always been paranoid. His successes from gaining awareness of threats and preparing for them before they could gain an advantage made his reputation, but at times working with him could be frustrating. Considering Ayither’s nature, it did not surprise me that she became annoyed at his commands and actions resulting from his paranoia.

“What are you scared of, Terish? Being attacked by bird people?”

He answered, “There is always a reason, Ayither. Look for the reason, and it is possible to actually gain a reasonable resolution.”

Hoping to help Ayither, I said, “You were the one reading the journals, Terish. What was his reason?”

“He didn’t like the air god. He blamed his failure with air on the one that ruled that element. He was attempting to find the method of going into the divine realm and confronting him, defeating him if necessary.”

Ayither asked, “Storm or calm?”

“Just air, Ayither.”

Again hoping to help the lady, I asked, “Did he feel that he was that powerful?”

“He felt that he had reason. He felt that he could make a case for the air god being at fault. While I did not get into his own justification, I did read a rant where he states that it had happened before. It seems that this reality has an ultimate deity with the elemental gods only being agents, not really gods but close enough in power. Confront the divine authority with a strong case for one of the elemental deities to be at fault, and a change in the persona of elemental power could occur. Whether he was stating fact or fiction I have no way of knowing.”

Lady Wanersh said, “It is there in the holy records. How he treated us however I would say would keep him from being viewed positively.”

“He claims that the holy records are at fault for not giving a method of confronting the deities. He justified what he did to you simply in having to learn the necessary facts to do what he felt was necessary to do. He also claimed, which was proven, that you could easily be restored.”

“What was done to us includes how it is was done to us. We were not treated honorably.” Hearing the other ladies voice their agreement was probably the reason for Lady Wanersh to speak even louder. “I want the gods, especially Kiathall, to know that Lachill has no honor!”

I had to ask, “Did Lachill go away to rest, Terish, so you are expecting to have him return?”

He answered, “No. I sense something, so am simply worried.”

Dalinth said, “I sense it too, Terish. Lachill must have learned something, because I believe what I sense is a rite to connect to the divine realm. In being black, I have confronted the gods. What I felt at those times is similar to what I feel now. Come, Lady Wanersh, and let us go make our cases.”

“Wait!” Terish returned. “We cannot be certain.”

“I know my own thoughts, and I trust Lady Wanersh to know hers. Yes, there are concerns in facing the gods, but if one has a strong conviction with a number of facts to support their argument, it is not the gods one needs to be worried about.” I saw Dalinth go to take the hands of the lady as he said, “It is their decision you must set your heart to accept. You cannot face the gods with the determination that only your conclusion is valid. While it might hurt you, you must accept their decision.”

She replied, “You saw how he treated us, and what he did to us.”

“Trust the gods to take that into account. They are gods, so saw even more. Their conclusions are binding.”

I believe she wanted to speak against those words, but I saw the tension in her body relax as another lady said, “Lady Wanersh, that is what the holy books say.”

“Of course,” Lady Wanersh replied, “that is true. You…, you say that you have confronted gods?”

“I am Dalinth. I am black, so often need to challenge the rulings of my gods. They make grand decisions that affects groups or communities, and it is my job to face them and assure that those who should not suffer do not.”

“I have not heard of anyone like you.”

The other lady that spoke said, “Our world needs people like you.”

Dalinth replied, “I believe one such as me has come to your world, but he is abusing his status. Terish might be right to be cautious, but it is my experience that when facing the gods one must be bold. I am going on.”

I took off with Dalinth and the ladies while saying, “You can pull the rear, Terish!”

It took my strength to open a portal of thick stone. There was a mechanism, but the door did not move. Before doing something that would be destructive, I decided to just see if could force it to open. I heard the cracking of a wooden beam after setting a foot to help me put my weight and strength into forcing the portal to move.

Lady Wanersh pointed out the shelves holding bottles of wine while identifying our location as being an underground chamber of a mansion. She then raced ahead with the other ladies following. I noticed Dalinth with me, but turned with surprise at not seeing Ayither. Seeing her with Terish surprised me, although I obeyed when she pointed and made a command.

“Keep going, Hallith! You are doing right. I will be there.”

After going up a flight of stairs, I found the ladies in a hallway of a house attempting to confront some servants, a few in armor. I stepped up pulling free my sword. Instead of hearing words to stand down, the ladies directed me to remove the opposition.

One armored figure made a show of preparing for the attack, then asked, “How did you get in here?”

I replied, “We are not unwilling to answer, but just fear being without the time to answer.”

Lady Wanersh declared, “That is what I was trying to tell you!”

I hesitated in seeing a quiver in the stance of the man. He looked at me appraising not simply my size, but probably the confidence in my bearing and how I held my large blade. Seeing the man then drop back had me feel good about hesitating.

“Okay, go ahead,” he said.

I guess Lady Wanersh recognized that I did not know the way, as she moved ahead of me while pointing and giving directions. Following her instructions, we turned down another hallway that opened into a large room. She then directed us out some doors that opened into an expansive yard with various gardens separated by hedges acting as fences. I saw a distant glow, and I guess Ayither recognized it as she came over my head while giving directions.

“I will do what I can to stall, Hallith, but will probably need you.”

A voice I barely recognized as the guard that confronted me earlier asked, “She flies?”

Dalinth answered, “She’s air.” He then pointed at me while saying, “He’s water. You were right not to challenge us. Now let us go see if we’re right.”

That was enough for me. Seeing the direction Ayither moved, I took off. Most of the hedges were small enough that I could cross without hurting them. Sections of the gardens were however destroyed as my large feet made tracks through the loose ground or my body wiped out plants as it rolled after a poor jump. When I did meet a line of large hedges, I stepped up to allow my large blade to make a slice near the ground with me often pushing down the bush as I powered my rush forward. While I might have done a lot of damage to the grounds, I felt enough justification seeing what Ayither was facing.

I had not looked around for statuary, but suspected the reason I had not noticed any was that they had all been moved to this location. A number of stone figures had been placed to form a circle around stone blocks with one being used as an altar with another as a sacrificial block upon which a young girl had been tied. I did not look for obstacles while rushing toward the man Ayither confronted, but suspected I would simply add to the carnage should anyone or anything further oppose me.

Ayither was not acting, and as I rushed up I understood the situation. The one that had been doing a rite at the altar had knelt in her direction. There was another standing behind him, but he seemed awed by the presence of the lady as well. Stopping my rush, I realized that they were worshipping Ayither.

I heard the sound of someone coming behind me. I suspected one of the ladies or Terish. Lady Wanersh had been rather assertive, and I trusted Terish to see to protecting my flank. It thus surprised me to hear the voice of Dalinth.

“Go ahead! Make your case. Ayither does represent air. While not an agent of the god of air of this world, her presence will assure that your words will be heard.”

“MY WORDS?” The man kneeling rose while he declared, “I have long said my words! I do not need them heard, AGAIN!” He grabbed an ornate knife while saying, “It is time for a confrontation. If you are correct that the gods are taking notice then it is time for me to act!”

The other man spoke softly, so I did not hear the words. The one with the knife however made no indication of acknowledging what had been said. The one in the back did step up to watch, and as he did so his dark-skinned face caught the light to have me notice the same tone to his skin as Dalinth. While black clothes were not abnormal, I had become accustomed to noticing something odd about the skin of one who claimed black or white. Since we knew that an agent of black had instigated this situation, I easily recognized the other man as the one we sought. There was a hope that he was responsible for corrupting the man with the knife, but he approached the one bound without needing any words to convince him to perform a horrible act.

Wondering why Ayither had not taken action, I held my place even as I heard Lady Wanersh scream, “Lachill, that is your own daughter!”

The one with the knife raised it while replying, “What that was more precious could I sacrifice?”

From another direction I heard a man’s voice answer, “Your son!”

Both Lady Wanersh and Lachill identified the speaker, “Krameth.”

Now I heard the opposing man of black speak, “Do it, Lachill!”

The one with the knife however froze seeing the other man advance. While dressed in a respectable suit, the face of Krameth declared his youth. He however advanced confidently. While I suspected he had just been watching, seeing others confront his father I believe is what had the youth gain the confidence to declare his presence. The opposing man of black however screamed to the man before the altar attempting to get him commit his foul deed.

“Lachill, this is the moment!”

I did step forward. There however were problems with using a large weapon. One of them was singling out a target in a group. If Lachill had stayed alone at the altar, my response would have been easily performed. As I stepped forward however, Krameth rushed to confront the one with the knife.

“Father, you cannot do this!”

“AND WHY NOT?” the elder asked. “You,” He used the dagger to point to those around him as he said, “have allowed the corruption go on and on. It’s not right. I have declared before the gods that it is not right. They have not acted, so now I will.” The dagger pointed at the young man as Lachill declared, “You do not understand the ways of greatness. Well, son, let me show you! You do not obtain greatness by doing nothing.”

The opposing man of black attempted to grab Krameth as Lachill moved to plunge his knife into his daughter. I however stepped and reached with my large sword to put the blade over the girl’s body and protect her. Lachill however acted with determination, and moved to direct his attack around my weapon. Just as Dalinth really showed no skills in combat, the other champion of black also did not perform so well. When Lachill struck this time, his son pushed the champion of black away to rush forward and protect the lass by having the knife plunge into his body.

“I will not have you destroy your family,” the young man declared. “I sacrifice myself to also stand before the gods. I will either see you obtain greatness, or assure that you meet your doom alone.”

As his blood trickled down, I saw a portal open. Ayither moved to me. She indicated the dissolving form of the girl, then pointed to where she was by some hedges. I did not know how she and Terish performed the switch, or if I had known if I would have acted differently. Accepting that while saving an innocent life the fates had seen to allow the rite to finish, I prepared for what might come. I suspected Ayither would speak of having me follow her. As I felt a great breeze, I however knew that she was simply assuring that my movement through the portal would happen with some control over my form.

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Thirty   To Know Black and White - Part 6 (26-31) Icon_minitimeOctober 2nd 2019, 6:32 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Thirty

(Dalinth)

I had watched as Terish worked with Ayither to rescue the girl. The range of their skillsets amazed me. I prided myself on simply being able to move into difficult situations with the luxury of being able to take moments to look around in order to perceive the actual problems. Their abilities to do more than simply move into danger had me feeling inferior. The fact that something tragic still happened did not have me think that there was still justice, only that life was truly as cruel as I sometimes believed it to be.

Seeing the young man sucked through the developing portal bothered me, as I wanted to help him. Moving to the breech in the reality, I found Terish next to me. Ayither rushed to Hallith. I moved through the portal while letting Terish know my objective.

“The young man should not die.”

Terish replied, “We are dealing with gods. I usually tend to think of whatever they allow to be proper.”

“No, I don’t think like that, especially not on a specific level. There are always those who are undeserving.”

“Well, I have not always acted to save people, but I find the rescues to be the better stories to tell. Still, this is dealing with your world with one of your counters as an antagonist. That makes it your story. Do what you feel you should.”

I looked finding myself walking on the floor of what appeared to either be a long room or a large hallway. The surface shimmered with a movement of substances that I recognized as being separate veins of each of the elements. I saw flares of flame around the feet of Hallith. Seeing Ayither float near him I looked to see bubbles of rock come from the floor beneath her. I looked at the couple wondering about how the floor was reacting to them and not to the others.

Hallith noticed my glances, then said, “Elementals are not divine, and are excluded from the divine realms. Since I am just blessed by a water god, and not a true elemental, I am not really being hurt.”

Ayither supported his words by saying, “Earth is opposed to me, but I am not sensing a desire to hurt me either. I suspect if I was truly an elemental, I would be attacked or there would be some method to pull me to the path.”

“If you get tired of floating, you can settle on me.”

“I am told to look to you for support.”

“Always.”

She giggled, then said, “Well, I can float.” Ayither turned to look behind her, and asked, “Just you two?”

I replied, “She spoke with conviction, so I suspected Lady Wanersh to come. She however said that she would assure the health of the girl and any others in the house.”

“It’s all right,” Terish replied. “She might regret not taking the chance, but let us prove ourselves.” I did appreciate him asking, “Hallith, where are the others?”

My eyes quickly darted back to Ayither, when she was the one that answered, “They were brought on ahead. Should not be far.”

“Dalinth, any suggestions?”

I thought about what to say, then spoke the best answer I could conceive. “This is not the world of any of us, so not our gods. If my opposing black gets to speak, I can hope to be given my own opening.”

“I guess we all are hoping to know when to act and what to do when the moment comes. Come on.”

We rushed forward. The strange surface really did not have our feet make much sound. The loud voices from those ahead of us were clearly heard. I however continued to rush forward to assure that I could confront those speaking as well as the ones we were supposed to face.

The other champion of black was declaring, “COME ON! WHAT IS THIS? You allowed the portal to be opened, but don’t show up to make it worthwhile?”

Those words confused me, so I continued to take steps forward even as I replied, “How can you be black and not know the ways of the gods? They are not persons you have stand before you. While they might at times reveal themselves in such a manner, such is not how they truly are. As black you should know that.”

“Who are you?”

I was not here to debate with fools, so turned to the grand expanse. The surface remained, but a sense of walls could not be seen. Before me was a featureless expanse, but I felt that those that needed to hear me were present.

“I am Dalinth, Champion of Black! I usually have the drive to confront the gods in order to protect those that do not deserve wrath. For this cause however I stand for the gods of my world. No, I am wrong. I am here to admit to the fault of certain people of my world. I am here to admit to the fault of those of my world allowing the fault to remain. Maybe the reason for the problem existing so long does extend to the gods of my world. If that is your claim, I will apologize for them as well.”

The other champion of black asked, “What are you saying?”

“Go ahead, Black. State your case.”

“State my case? I am tired of stating my case. If the blind gods cannot realize the problems they create, well it is time for them to step down. If they are unable to properly wield the power they possess, they should allow another to gain that power for themselves.”

“I’ve felt that way at times. I however understand reality.” I then turned to again look to the great expanse while declaring, “My cause is not his cause. Please hear my words separately.”

I turned hearing steps toward me. The other champion of black turned as Hallith stepped up. I noticed that Lachill and his son simply watched. The other champion of black looked at the others, then as if unable to understand their silence he yelled out his anger to me.

“WHAT? To have such powerful figures with you surely you are here to do more than apologize.”

“They came to my world because of a threat that existed but never was dealt with. I am glad to have their aid. They have proven themselves to truly seek a resolution to our problem. Well, the problem needs to be resolved fully, and that includes assuring things with others who might also be concerned.”

“You’re a fool. You’re resolving nothing.”

I felt Retarund would be proud of me as I used scripture to reply to the champion of black. I quoted the verses speaking of the ways of our world. I found pride in speaking the words of our world having lasted for millennium, and of the assurance that the gods intended for it to last even longer.

“NO!” the other champion of black sounded out. “You are a traitor to black and our world! Once I have power –“

I interrupted him to say, “I’m not the one that needs to hear. Making your case to me is as foolish as my opinion of you.”

He actually turned from me to walk out into the expanse while holding out his hands and declaring, “There is nothing here!”

“When is there ever anything there? Do you think there is something there when a storm rages around you and you huddle with a family of good people? Do you think there is something there when you stand on parched ground and beg for some drops of rain to fall? Do you think there is something there when you see the coming of locusts and you seek for the crops to be spared? WHEN IS THERE EVER ANYTHING THERE?”

Lachill said, “Hapran, come on. We have our plan.”

The champion of black turned to him, I assumed his name was Hapran, then looked to me to say, “Go ahead and speak your words. See if anyone hears you.”

Just as we had come from some corridor that was now unseen, I saw Lachill and the agent of black disappear into some opening. I stood with a feeling of hopelessness. My inner turmoil had to be suppressed as I saw my companions rush to another who I was worried about.

I heard Hallith say, “We are in a divine realm of gods I do not know, but I am glad to have found you.”

Seeing the young man collapse to the ground, I turned to the great expanse to say, “Please, I ask that you heal this one who is of your world. I do not know him, but his actions that caused him to be present were honorable. Maybe he has faults that make him deserving of death, but the act that places him in jeopardy at this time was not of that nature.”

A glow could be seen near me as a feminine voice said, “You, water, you may act to save him.” After all of us spoke a thanks, she replied, “There was no reason for us to be present. They have been making their plans for some time. Coming to us now was rather audacious.”

Ayither came to my side before saying, “Goddess, Typhorsh says that you want us to challenge the other one of black and those with him.”

“And I am told that you are more than able. Not only are these beneath our dignity, but the opposition goes beyond our reality. You are heroes from other realities, so the better choice to oppose them.”

I heard Terish ask, “Any rules that you might have us abide by?”

“Any we would place upon you would not be honored by those you oppose, so it would be wrong to limit you. Dalinth, let me say that this time it will however be us gods who stand in opposition to you. When your threat comes upon any who are not deserving, we will speak to protect them.”

I replied, “May my companions and I show the same graciousness that the gods have shown me, and turn aside to not harm those who you consider proper to protect.”

“I see why the gods you represent speak so highly of you. Terish, Munulva has spoken her blessing for you.”

He replied, “I believe it is my wife who is responsible for that. Still, I am grateful.”

“I will leave you here. As a group you are capable enough, and what is coming should be apparent enough.”

I turned, saw Terish and spoke more to him than the others. “They left, so I assume we need to go somewhere.”

The young man that had been hurt rose from the ground before saying, “This is the Plains of Shopramor. Father has been preparing an army to march here. We should not need to go anywhere”

Hallith asked, “Terish, do you sense anything?”

Ayither replied, “Typhorsh says to stay put. We will be contacted soon.”

“Contacted? By who?”

I found myself hearing a voice I recognized as that of Frowick, and I related what it told me. “By those who are in their place directing an army, White.”

Terish said, “Those we left outside the cave.”

“Yes, their time has come. Whether or not they are worthy, we will learn.”

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Thirty-One   To Know Black and White - Part 6 (26-31) Icon_minitimeOctober 7th 2019, 6:37 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Thirty-One

(Straekin)

I had heard enough about the deities of this world to recognize certain basic references. It did help that Retarund would come by occasionally, as what I did not understand I could ask. Menasha seemed pleased when I discussed some of Terish’s conversations concerning the divine realms. Between all the various topics, I believe both Menasha and I recognized the actions of the surrounding military.

As the call went up for the men to rise, I heard the voice of Retarund say, “Frowick, I expected the command from Nachash.” There was a pause, then he said, “Of course, I was not speaking against Dalinth. The priests here are however from Nachash.”

I heard the champion of white chuckle, then he began speaking to the troops to prepare themselves for a splendid, but dangerous assignment. Some of the things he said sounded strange, but I found myself accepting that he was quoting from the religious texts. That assumption was proven true when Retarund came to speak to Menasha and me.

“Ladies, I know that you have been praying to your gods. Let me however warn you that Frowick is about to move among us.”

I replied, “Frowick is disease.”

“Well, sometimes bodily effects can be positive. This is to purify us.”

“Of course, since it is to your divine realm we will be going.”

“Well, not really. It is to the divine realm of where Dalinth and those with your husband went. I am not certain, but my trust in Frowick is complete.”

Menasha said, “Whether Frowick grants us his blessing or assumes the blessing from our Gods is enough, we will know to be honored by his presence.”

“That is the proper response. Thank you both for not being a problem. Now, let me get back to the men.”

I saw the centaur drop to her knees as she said, “The men are standing, but I feel it is best to return to my prayers.” As I went to my knees, she added, “Not that either of us have deities that are known to respond.”

“Menasha,” I sternly replied, “your youth is due to a direct action from your God. I can speak to you of times Munulva has directly spoken to me. Our Gods have acted in our presence, and we must trust that they continue to be worthy of our worship.”

“Of course, Straekin. The men are going through their rites, so I will commit to mine.”

My prayers were disturbed by a caustic aroma of flowers. While there was something pleasant in the smell, I felt my form shiver and tighten with an itchy feeling as if my entire body was developing a rash. I immediately got up, although understood as the voice of Retarund had the men start to form into ranks to begin marching. Attempting to enjoy the aroma of flowers, I took deep breaths while quickly finishing my prayers.

It did not surprise me to see the sparkling effect as the men disappeared into another reality. The movies made by my people of the adventures of my husband would usually show such a display as we changed worlds. I often felt that we simply disappeared from one reality to appear in another, although the multitude of worlds and their different natural laws meant that some visual phenomena was possible at times. Knowing that the men were disappearing into a divine reality, and not another physical world, the sparkling effect did not surprise me.

Passing through the portal myself, I suddenly heard the commotion of a lot of men sounding frightened and confused. I had gained my status as empress of a world by gaining a position of leadership during a major war. My memories were mostly of creating political propaganda, but as the war raged I slowly found the men listening to my advice and not simply my slogans. By the end of the war I had been directing the generals in where to make their attacks and what to have as objectives. My status as a public figure however did have me go out and face the soldiers. With that experience, I moved through the men encouraging them while attempting to see what frightened them.

The creature was huge. It appeared as a great white smooth-skinned cat with a head more like a horse with teeth like a viper. I did not take too long of a look at the creature, but turned my attention to the men.

“If that’s what you are to fight, YOU FIGHT! You do not question your gods or your purpose. You are here in the divine realm, which should give you the conviction of the destination of your souls. What a more honorable way of facing your gods!”

Retarund and the priests were basically trying to say the same thing. Something about my presence however had the men listen to me. It did not surprise me, as my looks and manner of speaking had gained the attention of those of my world. I however allowed the leaders of the men to do their jobs as I worked at cocking and loading my crossbow.

When one of the men challenged their figures of authority by stating a desire to come home victorious and not dead, I replied, “That I can give you!”

Traveling with Terish had forced me to gain a whole new set of skills. While my appearance tended to be appreciated by most men of any world, it took learning a different type of language to again have my speech effective. While I had led my people through war, a different style of combat became necessary to fight exotic monsters. I had now been with Terish over a century, and the men saw the reaction of the creature as verification that I had the skills to win.

Suddenly, I was again in command of an army. The monster was huge, but I instructed the soldiers in how to make their attacks effective. Some advice I gave was merely to encourage audacious acts, but the men seemed pleased to hear the honesty. Seeing one of their number realize that he was going to be struck by a great claw, then set a spear to pierce the flesh of the appendage in a way that had the monster power the weapon into its body, had the soldiers cheer in realizing that even my casual pieces of advice could be useful. The army suddenly rallied, and with a sense of tactics along with some confidence in their leadership the men gained a victory.

As the form of the monster began to disperse back into the divine ether, a priest near me said, “I am so glad you stayed with us instead of going with your husband.”

I replied, “Just as with my husband, I am more than glad to help. Still, this is your situation. You need to take the lead.”

“Of course, but I do want you to hear my thanks.”

Hearing the words from the surrounding men, I and the other leaders went into a series of speeches. I found it strange, as those who usually traveled with my husband did not really appreciate formal presentations. They were loners or people who had found disfavor in the usual organized fighting groups. That history had me keep my words short. The priests and Retarund however went on lengthy discourses that including quoting sections of the holy texts. The men however stood with their faces showing pleasure in the speeches.

I found my own comfort returning to stand near Menasha. She was truthfully not a combatant, but I knew found pleasure in simply being in the action. She was responsible for taking Terish to a multitude of places, then having to sit things out as the really fantastic obstacles were confronted. I knew from spending time with her that she completely enjoyed actually being able to witness the events. I found my memories of being around troops who realized that victory could be achieved to make my time of listening to the speeches pleasant.

At the end of the talking, the soldiers lined up. While they marched, I heard some grumbling about not expecting to fight strange giant monsters. I put out the question why would they expect normal opponents, then added the question of whether they would really want to fight a divine army. The men hushed with one soldier probably hoping to change the topic by asking a different type of question.

“You don’t ride the centaur?”

Before Menasha could give her usual reply, I said, “It was too early in my relationship with Terish for me to have gone with him. I have always wished that I had, as I have found the non-humans of that world to be wonderful people. Still, because I was not there, I do not have the status to ride her.”

Hearing the centaur confirm my words, another soldier asked, “But we should be going to Terish?”

I replied, “We have no way of knowing our place in this adventure. We know that something divine was being affected. Our coming here is thus not unexpected. While I would say that my husband is part of the reason for us being here, exactly what they did, had to do, or are now about doing I cannot say. Set your mind to working with your comrades to overcome whatever obstacle confronts us.”

A priest that had heard the conversation barked a repeat of my last sentence. The soldiers went quiet. I expected the men to again start speaking after the priest moved off. but they kept their heads facing forward with their feet holding the rhythm of the others.

I found myself wondering about our purpose for being summoned to the divine realm. Other than the initial monster, no threat or challenge confronted us. I looked around wondering what more could expect.

Only mist could be seen around us. Any of the amazing sights that were spoken about in the holy texts was completely obscured from our vision. I thought about my own journey through a celestial realm, and remembered the simple scenes of nature. While things had been lovely, I still felt that our eyes only saw a small portion of the real wonders. Only seeing mist, I could only imagine what was being hidden from our view.

I really did not see the portal. There were only the sounds of the soldiers ahead alerting me to something. While I noticed the portal as I moved forward, what really amazed me was seeing the mist no longer present with us moving out on a vast flat, featureless plain.

In the distance, probably a mile, could be seen another army coming. They could have been coming through a portal, although I suspected just some opening that could not be truly discerned. While I was with a large force of men, those coming against us kept coming with it obvious we were going to face a much larger army.

I expected to hear certain words from the men, but it bothered me to have a priest ask, “How can we fight that?”

“You’re in a divine realm,” I loudly replied. “How can you not fight? You are here where the gods are obviously real and in charge. You would tell these men to fight in any other situation. Why not here where their actions will definitely receive notice? Is our cause just?”

I was glad to hear Retarund reply, “It is just!”

“So, can we lose?”

“NO!”

“Say your prayers, men, as you should not deny the gods around us their honor in the coming victory.”

_________________
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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