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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.

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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 Sweet and Sour - Part Two (6-10)

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TerishD

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PostSubject: To Know Sweet and Sour - Part Two (6-10)   To Know Sweet and Sour - Part Two (6-10) Icon_minitimeDecember 6th 2019, 6:57 am

To Know Sweet and Sour
Chapter Six

(Hallith)

Ayither and I spun upon touching down on my home world.  We both had to fight the reins of our mounts as the animals were bothered by the sudden appearance of a storm.  Seeing the dark presence of clouds thick with moisture suddenly disperse surely disturbed Ayither as much as me, and we both spun hearing hoof beats rushing toward us.

I saw enough not to worry about the riders, so continued to look for the source of whatever happened even as a voice I remembered said, “Damn it, Hallith!  Did you go and bring us trouble?”

“Good to see you too, Cornispe,” I returned, but then pointed as I spoke to another.  “Ayither, could that be it, over there?”

She moved, dismounted while still holding the reins of her horse, but released them as she identified something on the ground.  “It’s just a pixie, Hallith.”

“A pixie?” both Cornispe and I replied.

“There’s something strange about it.”

“Of course there is something strange about it,” Cornispe said while dismounting and moving to Ayither.  “This world does not have pixies.  What we do have… are… That looks like a pretty thing.”

I rode my horse over to see a very small lady, maybe a foot in height.  The hair was blue, but the expansive butterfly-like wings were shades of yellow.  The dress was a combination of colors, but I would say was mostly orange.  I saw Ayither hold her hand over the tiny body, then she asked a basic question.

“Do we have a means of carrying her?”

Cornispe answered, “Actually, we do.”

He moved back to his mount, then pulled out a thick, padded blue pillow behind his saddle.  From a saddle bag he gained a couple of linen scarves.  He spoke something about girls using the horses to travel for a picnic, and upon their return not properly unloading the animals or caring for them.  Bringing them to Ayither, she used her connection to wind to lift the pixie without handling the frail body.  Cornispe used the scarves to secure the pixie to the pillow, then handed it to Ayither.  He then pointed to her mount while giving instructions.

“Listen, go on to the house.  Hallith, that includes you, as Pesloe will want to see you.”

I said, “Cornispe, that is Ayither, Champion of Typhorsh, a god of strong air.  She’s the reason I came.”

I watched as Ayither studied the man while he did a bow to her.  Cornispe was not the best looking of men, but I knew he had won Pesloe’s heart.  The guy had a personality that made one think he had a rather roguish past, but truthfully was just an active person so tended to act a little loose.  He honestly had a good heart, and I never found fault with him.  He had allowed his brown hair to grow in a stylish manner on his face, but I saw Ayither smile as she looked into his blue eyes.

Before she could speak, Cornispe said, “Hallith came because he owed us a visit, a number actually so you better plan on visiting again.  Still, he would have gotten Pesloe mad at him if he gained you and did not inform her.”

Ayither curtsied as she replied, “I have heard a lot about Pesloe.”

“Oh, come on, surely you heard a lot about me.  I get the bad things said about me.”

The soldiers that had come with Cornispe laughed even as Ayither said, “Honestly, Hallith speaks of Pesloe.”

“Yeah, he would.  All right, both of you go on to the house.  I’ll be there soon enough.”

Ayither handed the pillow to me whispering that I was calmer than she was.  She then mounted her horse and began to follow in the direction I headed.  No sooner did I see the line of a levee of dirt around a small community of houses, a couple rather sizeable, than I saw a lady rushing toward us.  Pesloe had allowed her dark-brown hair to grow long, although I recognized that my estimation was from having gone centuries with it rather short.  Stopping in front of me, I handed her the pillow before dismounting.

She said, “A rather strange gift, Hallith.”

I replied, “Hopefully, when it wakes up it can provide an explanation.  How are you doing, Pesloe?”

She turned to begin walking back to her home while saying, “You better be prepared to spend a lot of time talking about how you are doing, how I am doing, and a multitude of other topics.”

“Her name is Ayither, Pesloe.  She is a champion of strong air.”

Pesloe turned to the other lady, then said, “I’m not ignoring you, but Hallith is the one I missed.”

Ayither replied, “I understand, as you and him traveled together for over four hundred years.”

I said, “Kierle is dead, Pesloe.”

The one who was once my princess replied, “I know, Hallith.  I spoke to Forthy, and he said that you left under the direction of Aslerrida.  You said strong air, but I really expected fire.”

“Honestly, I didn’t expect anyone.  Aslerrida said that if I knew what something was that I should also recognize what it was not.  I expected a number of lessons in what it was not.”

“That sounds like how Aslerrida would treat us of water, but Kierle was a wonderful lady.  I expect to learn the same of Ayither.  However, Hallith, you and me have our own far older relationship.”

Stepping through a break in the levee, I looked around and saw what had me ask, “You have children, Pesloe?”

“You know I have had children, Hallith.  None at the moment.  I mean, no children.  My youngest is fifteen.  He doesn’t want to be considered a child.  Anyway, Hallith, wherever you go, I’m going with you.”

“I don’t go to Chertish unless you tell me that I can.”

Pesloe handed the pillow to a lady, and directed her to carefully find it a place in her house before turning to Ayither.  “I will learn everything about you.  Hallith is a good man.  Don’t you fear him, but I will fear you.  Kierle was a good lady, but I was there when our goddess of fire gave her to him.  She was mortal however, and I sense you are not.  I thus feel that I can take my time with you.”  She then spun to face her people while pointing with a hand to me.  “Hallith!”  Everyone knelt.  “He has brought with him a lady by the name of Ayither to stand with him.  Get to know her.  If she is to become family, we will need to know her and have her know of us.”  At a slightly lower volume, Pesloe said, “Hallith said that you were air?”

Ayither declared, “I am a Champion of Typhorsh, god of strong air.  I AM STORM!”

Pesloe looked to me and asked, “You got a lively one?”

I replied, “Someone that can go where I go and take part in the things I do.”

“That’s what you need to truly be a mate.  Cornispe and I rush in different directions a lot of times, but we rush to find each other as well.  Kierle kept a good home, but a husband and wife should support each other’s lives.”

“So, first test passed?”

“Come on!  Both of you!  Let me get the two of you settled enough that you can start treating this place as your home.”

Everyone rose and began to greet us.  While they had stopped at a distance, then knelt with my introduction, they rose to come and welcome me into their community.  This was not a protected settlement, but they spoke of the actual town being a few miles away.  They however pointed in another direction to tell me of a church to Zetrullid and let me know the small river that flowed nearby flowed beneath it.  I looked to see Ayither surrounded by a number of people with her, and the way she was interacting with some youths told me that they had done more with her than a greeting.

She stayed with me as I spoke to Pesloe.  I wanted to comment to Ayither about our surroundings being calm, but the setting was not normal for either of us.  Pesloe brought me into a large room obviously used for dining and had me sit on a bench in front of a common wooden table.  While I sat and chatted with her, people moved around doing various things and occasionally joining us for periods.  Children were brought in to sit on the floor in front of us.  I looked around to see even more standing or sitting nearby simply listening.  As I spoke with Pesloe, I found myself more than able to recognize that the setting could make Ayither feel comfortable as well.

I knew that I had done wrong when it was pointed out that those we contacted were familiar to the people.  I found some comfort however in realizing that I was the only Quartermaster to come.  Anerth, of course, continued the struggle of fight after fight after fight.  Chertish had stayed on Mount Lorigard.  I however felt a sense of doing another wrong when I mentioned actually visiting him.

“He’s getting old, Pesloe.”

She replied, “It’s only been thirty years, Hallith.  Yes, he is showing signs of age, but we were rather young when we became Quartermasters.  He still should have some decades ahead of him.”  She then gave me a piece of information I did not know.  “He’s married, Hallith.  Unlike you, he did not show her around.  I simply showed up and learned that he had a lady, a pregnant lady, living with him.  I believe the church had him take her as a wife.  She acted around us as a slave, but Chertish introduced her in a very honorable fashion only to have her go back to cleaning and cooking and caring for us.”  Pesloe went quiet for a moment, then said, “She doesn’t have his years.  I left feeling the lady, Lenith, really could not relate to him.  Cooking, cleaning, and bearing his children was about all she could truly manage in her life with him.  Cornispe does have a long history behind him, so I find that I can relate to him.  How old is Ayither?”

Before she could speak for herself, I answered the question.  “Older than she should be, Pesloe.  Those of storm seldom last a decade, and Ayither has survived over two.”

Pesloe replied, “She’s pretty, Hallith.  Are you sure that is not all you see?”

“She really does not stay still long enough for me to get a good look at her.  That is one disadvantage of her being storm.”

Ayither laughed at those words.  Considering that she had been basically sitting still, I had to laugh as well since the joke should have been apparent to all.  Pesloe only continued to smile, then slightly turned in her seat to begin a basic interrogation of Ayither.  Mostly the talk was of religion.  Pesloe was like me in retaining the honor of being a Champion of Zetrullid.  She and Cornispe did travel, and she matched some of my stories with tales of her own.  Still, our status was one due to a close connection with a god, so the words to Ayither were mostly to have her speak of her own status.

Pesloe then asked me, “So, Hallith, you have spoken to Typhorsh?”

I proudly answered, “And he has spoken to me.  Never have I heard a word against my having Ayither.”

Ayither supported that claim.  “No, Typhorsh worries about me, but admits that Hallith is a good man.”

Pesloe said, “He is a good man.  Cornispe and Chertish speak of having become good men, but Hallith was good to begin with.  I don’t care how exasperating living with him might become, you stay true to him.  He’s a good man, and you better do all you can to keep him that way.”

“Typhorsh agrees with you.  I have to say that I have enjoyed being with Hallith, and his friends.”

“Well, I spent over four hundred years fighting with Hallith.  He was my bodyguard before we became Quartermasters.  My father had to approve of him, but of all those who watched after their princess he was the one that became my friend and followed me with Anerth and Chertish into that life of constant battles.  Hallith is still my friend, and you better not ever speak against us spending time together.”

“I hope to become your friend as well, and having you want to spend time with me.”

Pesloe rose while saying, “Right answer.  Now, I can hear from a change in the sounds from the kitchen that it is getting close to time for supper.  Let me show the two of you to your rooms and give you time to freshen up.”

_________________
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 December 28th 2019, 6:46 am; edited 4 times in total
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PostSubject: Chapter Seven   To Know Sweet and Sour - Part Two (6-10) Icon_minitimeDecember 11th 2019, 6:37 am

To Know Sweet and Sour
Chapter Seven

(Phesdorra)

I felt shocked awake as if a bucket of water had been splashed upon me. Not just the manner of being awakened, but realizing that I was physically restrained scared me. Hearing the voice of Atagandes told me that I was in danger, although also caused me to prepare to resist him.

“Ah, I found you, Phesdorra. I don’t know what plan you were hoping to put into action, but let me assure you that you will fail.”

“You do not want to come after me, Atagandes,” I replied.

“And why not?”

“Because of what I told you. This battle between us is going to last. It is not going to end here. The time, energy, and just the cost of having to live will be a burden you will regret taking on.”

“I doubt that highly. I will win this soon enough.”

Hoping to speak to the man in a manner even his arrogant mentality would understand, I said, “You had me in the most defeated state I had ever experienced. You however then demanded that I touch a mind that gave me confidence and strength to overcome you. That tells me right there you do not know what you are fighting. Honestly, I did not either, but I am following the path you showed me. If it gave me the abilities to rise from my most weakened state, you should fear where I am going.”

“Yes, well, let me face this source of your arrogance. With it defeated, your subjugation will be so sweet.”

I found my confidence returning as I replied, “Cannot prevent that, Atagandes, as I am sweet. Come on. Bye.”

Ending the subjugation of having my mind exposed, I focused on the problem of having my body restrained. Attempting to move, I could not help but realize the bonds were not causing me pain. My body had not been shackled. I pushed back to feel the comfort of soft fabric come around me. What was holding my form were lengths of good cloth. Somebody who did not know my condition or how to treat me had simply sought to keep me from further harm. With only the minimum of difficulty I freed my body from its restraint.

My belief in those tying me to the pillow not knowing what to do with me gained support as I looked about the room. Everything was large – human sized. What I saw however had quality in its construction with the gift of artistry. Colors were bright and the wood showed signs of being recently polished. Symbols of various types were clearly present carved into the wood, worked into plaques, and woven into cloth. The humans I knew did what they could to live with some dignity, but the splendor in what I saw of the room said that I had been found by those who lived in a manner much better than anyone I knew.

The door was not locked. I felt some resistance, but that was due to a wooden sign having been hung from the handle on the other side. My size did not need me to open the door enough to have the panel move from its place, and I felt good entering the next room without making an inappropriate sound.

This room was obviously used by ladies. I saw bolts of cloth with sections of material set in various manners showing them to be intended for various garments. A desk, vanity, and other items of furniture showed that the ladies did more than simply sew in this room. In one corner were weapons. If everything did not reflect a quality of living I felt to be much more wonderful than what I knew, I would have been worried about meeting the ladies who worked here.

Exiting the door from this room I heard the sound of many people enjoying themselves. The sound of dishes being met with utensils along with the chatter of voices brought me joy. They were not speaking of war, but talking about things in their day, telling jokes, and mentioning plans they had for the future. Advancing to the room I however found myself worried hearing sounds of a disturbance with the people reacting.

The voice of Atagandes rang out, “All of you, bow down before the –“

That was all he got to say. I rushed forward hearing the sounds of people reacting. Flying into the room, it took me rising to the ceiling to see over the people surrounding Atagandes. Feeling that should he suffer more punishment he might end up in worse condition than he had done to me, I spoke loudly hoping all in the room would hear my small voice.

“Please, he does not know where he is!” I felt relief seeing a few heads turn toward me, so I hoped to direct them. “Please, you should not treat him as nicely as you treated me, but don’t kill him.”

I recognized Hallith as he said, “You are the one from my dream.”

“Yes. I am Phesdorra, Champion of Sweet. Please, we need to talk.”

Another man asked, “Little pixie, are you hurt?”

The question surprised me, but I answered feeling it was a sweet thing for him to have worried about me. “No, but overwhelmed from the method of whatever transported me here. Your treatment did not harm me, and I thank you.”

“You heard the lady. Secure him, lock him away, and put a guard over him. We’ll talk to the pixie –“

“Phesdorra, please.”

“We’ll talk to Phesdorra, then probably see if this man is willing to tell his side of the story. No rest for the weary.”

Atagandes appeared soaked as he was led from the room. I looked around to see that water was what filled most of the glasses. A lady shouted a name to another lady then spoke of getting a chair for me. I then saw other orders given for a place to be made for me in the center of the room.

The man that had spoke before made some introduction, “Dear Phesdorra, I am Cornispe. No title, but just Cornispe. I’m not going to say that I rule this place, but most know better than to argue with me. One exception is that dark-haired lady.” He pointed at the lady who was giving orders. “She is my wife, Pesloe, Champion of Zetrullid who is our god of water. Hallith is also a champion of that god. Around you are people who have the luxury of living here or those who want the honor of having spent time with us. That guy that showed up had horrible odds going against him, but I will give him some honor just for making the attempt. Now, what is your story?”

The chair presented for me I could tell had been built for a doll. I still noticed a high degree of skill in its construction. The padding was actually soft. Wondering about the people, I sat in the chair and thanked them for a tiny cup of water.

I began, “We have humans on my world. Atagandes is human, so that should be obvious. He does not live like you however. The elves will build homes like this, but they are a distant, ancient race who have never been many in number. What I am trying to say is that Atagandes could not have imagined that he would arrive in a situation like this.”

Cornispe replied, “He sounded to me like someone that needed to arrive in a situation like this. Sounded like he was used to ordering people around.”

“Uh, yes, as he is sour. He just doesn’t know what he is doing.”

The lady I had been told was Pesloe asked, “Are you apologizing for him?”

“He doesn’t know. I don’t know, but something happened when I spoke to Hallith. I suddenly found myself gain a drive, a fire, a strength. I then began hearing of things I had never fully understood. That is why I came. I found myself offered a chance to face our supreme God directly, and in the rite my thoughts turned to Hallith. Instead of entering his mind this time, I found myself rushed here in a manner I know not how.”

“Cornispe, you heard enough. Go see what the man will tell you.”

He paused to kiss the lady, but otherwise immediately obeyed. I had been told she was his wife, but I gained the impression that their relationship was very close. I watched as he left, and nobody made any comment about him being less than Pesloe. Cornispe in fact directed some people to go off and perform some duty without any challenge. What I saw told me there was no sour in the couple. That had me feel that I was among those who could be friends. I thus looked to the lady in charge with the attitude of doing what I could to help her.

Pesloe said, “I want to apologize, Phesdorra, but I need to ask some basic questions. I have seen too much to trust in what I see. Are you truly a pixie?”

I replied with a long recitation of my family and our service to the world. While I felt I was providing good information, I also sought to find if there were any sour in those around me. Atagandes would have cut my words short. Those in the room however listened, although I had to smile at what was said when I stopped speaking of my family.

An elder man said, “Honored Pesloe, I simply wrote down a ‘Yes.’”

She replied, “Sounded like it to me, Kerpin.” After some pleasant comments, she then asked, “Phesdorra, you said that you were a champion of sweet with Atagandes being a champion of sour? What are the categories, and are the two of you opposed?”

I had to admit, “We don’t know. That is part of our problem in getting others to follow us. It is not the way it was, so many do believe it is not how it should be. That is part of the problem of Atagandes and me. While we want to advance our causes, the majority of those around us do not want anything to do with us. Atagandes sees that as an obstacle he needs to overcome, while I see my life and what I do as evidence enough to eventually win over disciples. His advantage is that he is human, so others recognize his power as something special and join him because of that. As a pixie, and even as a lady, what I do does not seem so special, so I am treated well but usually not listened to.”

Hoping to provide more information, I said, “There was what we call the Great Acclimation. Some say the humans failed while others say they succeeded. What all say is that an age passed. It is true that the contention between elves and humans passed with both now accepting that their time had gone. Animals gained intelligence, and as I heard my parents speak in wonder of holding more than basic conversations with the wildlife I found myself presented with this new awareness. Some say Atagandes is doing nothing more than attempting to assert the dominance humans once had, but I know it is something else. I believe in it being a human that represents the other power that it is old, stale, and evil. Atagandes is not really evil however, but just more power hungry. Whether that is truly a part of sour, or just a dark part of Atagandes’ soul, I cannot say.”

Kerpin lifted his head from where he was writing what I said to ask his own question, “Lady Phesdorra, no bitter, salty, fruity?”

After listening to other suggestions, I replied, “I find myself speaking of bitter, so it might be part of whatever distinctions are now showing themselves. I cannot say.”

Pesloe asked, “And how long have you been a champion of sweet?”

“I feel that I felt the change a number of decade ago, but my realization of some things took time. It was not until Atagandes began his rise that I truly understood that something definite was being established in this age.”

Somehow recognizing certain distant sounds of movement, Pesloe lifted her head to ask, “What did you learn, Cornispe?”

I could not see through the humans around me, but I heard the reply, “The guy’s an ass, but speaking as an ass myself I could not hold that against him.”

Some laughed, but Pesloe only smiled as she said, “You’re my ass, and I love you. Anything important?”

Cornispe came through the crowd enough to hand his wife a sheet of paper. “Atagandes spoke this as if it was important. You know me, Pesloe. I thought it was bunk, but I knew to bring it to you.”

She looked over the sheet, then surprised me by showing it to me. I could not read the script. My kind had always been able to make sense of speech. That is how we managed to communicate with wildlife before their rise in intelligence. Learning to read the documents left behind by humans and elves however took training, so I appreciated when Pesloe began to read the words on the sheet.

“The ship is on fire / I fear the end is near
Not from the inferno / The cure will our souls sear

I hate the answers given / No peace will time assure
There must be other options / That will not our souls torture

We must stand for our beliefs / And die with dignity
The only other fate left / Will horrors our souls see

One way must be found / That will allow all to cope
If that day does not arrive / Our souls will not have hope”

I had to say, “That does sound like Atagandes. He is driven to make his way dominant. Still, he followed me to this other world just because of this poem?”

Cornispe replied, “You know, I did ask him that. He said that he certainly did. He then asked me if I would do the same, but did not like it when I told him that I was known to be an idiot.” After some friendly statements, he spoke in recognition of his wife not being one of those talking. “What bothers you, Pesloe?”

She answered, “We do not know enough of their abilities to assure Atagandes will stay bound. I believe both Phesdorra and Atagandes are speaking the truth, but not certain about why they are here. If what Phesdorra told me is true, this is not a struggle that should have been allowed to pass beyond their world.” Pesloe rose while saying, “Let me go speak to Atagandes. Phesdorra, you’re our guest, but I say that with a lot of reservation. You might find Atagandes being made a guest as well. I will however expect both of you to be on your best behavior. Note that I am a divine champion, and I now have the companionship of a fellow Champion of Zetrullid along with another divine champion. If your reason for being here is divine, you should expect us to be given some guidance. Please wait for it.”

I asked, “Before you release Atagandes, may I speak with him?”

“That will probably be wise, although I or someone I trust will attend that meeting.”

As Pesloe moved off, Cornispe took her seat to say to me, “Listen, we don’t have pixies on this world, but we have a type of spirit-beings that come close to being your kind. What we would offer you might be completely unacceptable to you, but please humor us as having good intentions. Let me show you around, and once you have found a place of comfort we can hopefully move forward without any unnecessary stresses.”

I had to ask, “How long have you and Pesloe been married?”

His eyes went to Hallith, then they focused back on me as Cornispe said, “I am the one responsible for breaking up the Quartermasters. It was my determination to marry Pesloe that had Anerth break from his leading friends from great battle to great battle. That was roughly thirty years ago. I hear mostly positive things about what I did, and I have loved every minute of having Pesloe in my life. What I want you to take from that is that while I might not be any great divine champion, I am not someone afraid of challenging gods – and I won. I want to be your friend, and you better not do anything to have me change my mind.”

“You don’t sound as sweet, but I wish Atagandes sounded like you.”

“Hallith, that was a compliment, right?”

The voice of the large man answered, “Sounded it to me, Cornispe.”

“I keep telling my boys that I do have a way with women.” After some laughter, Cornispe said, “Well, let me show you around, Phesdorra. I’ll do what I can to have you feel at home.”

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Eight - Part One   To Know Sweet and Sour - Part Two (6-10) Icon_minitimeDecember 13th 2019, 6:42 am

To Know Sweet and Sour
Chapter Eight – Part One

(Hallith)

I did not leave with the others. While they moved down to a lower level inside the mansion, I had to step outside. I had helped Kierle settle into the house provided for me by King Dellarkin, then did things over the years to keep it in good condition and a pleasant home for the growing children. Over the decades I came to know the house, the neighbors, and a lot of things about the city itself. Wondering about Pesloe, I moved away from the others to step outside and get a good look at her surroundings.

There were things I had learned about her over the years. She and Cornispe had settled in a kingdom devoted to Zetrullid. There were fountains in my vision letting me know that water was abundant. The houses had ornately slanted rooves for directing rainwater. The ground had bricks that I could tell helped to manage the flow of any liquid to channels worked into the soil. I was looking at some children playing when I saw a man walk up to me that I could tell had Pesloe’s face.

He stuck out a hand while saying, “Honored Hallith, I have heard so much of you. Mother and Father said that you would come one day, and I promised that I would shake your hand.”

I grabbed it while asking, “Are you the eldest?”

“I am.”

It was hard not to cry as I hugged the man with me asking as I released him, “How much has your mother spoken of her days as a Quartermaster?”

“Not much. She speaks of her life long ago. I know who you were. Most of the stories of the Quartermasters are actually told by father.”

“He can remember.” Wondering just what Pesloe had told her children, I said, “I was shown a picture in Nehallum, that is the home of a man named Ferrigote.”

“He actually visited with his gold wife, Dirchein.”

“Yes.” I heard the couple mention that they had visited, but hearing the lad speak of it caused me to feel sorrow for not showing up until now. “There is a picture of us, the Quartermasters, fighting. Your mother is in a dress. I cannot recall the event.”

“I heard mother speak of that picture as well. She said that she wondered if between the four of you if you could reconstruct those centuries.”

“I have a hope, but it was fight after fight after fight. It’s just a blur.”

The eyes of the young man focused away from me as I heard him stammer, “Sir… I… Maybe later.”

I heard the voice of Ayither demand, “Go ahead and say it.”

There was no doubt that the young man was bothered by Ayither, but he went ahead and took an icon of Aslerrida from behind his wide lapel and handed it to me while saying, “Mother had me wear this, even though she always grumbled that Zetrullid did you wrong. She said you were the one deserving, not her.”

I replied, “Don’t you ever speak bad of the goddess. Pesloe was the lady, and Zetrullid somehow knew Cornispe would be right for her. Aslerrida was a lady, and somehow knew what to do for me. Zetrullid has always been there for me. He had my honor, and still has it. As for matters of the heart, sometimes a little opposition can be a good thing.”

The young man laughed, then said, “That is what father says as well. How long will you be staying, Honored Hallith?”

“Aslerrida be damned. It is your mother that must approve Ayither.” In saying those words I reached back to pull her close to me. “I will stay long enough for your mother to make a decision.”

The young man again stuck out his hand while asking, “So I can speak with you some more?”

“Unless you are the one to start staying away.”

As he moved off after shaking my hand, Ayither moved to peck me on the cheek while saying, “This does feel like a good place. Again I can tell that this place is not calm, but not storm either. Again I watched as those associated with you handled things, and I believe I can do things in that manner as well.”

After trading a kiss with Ayither, I heard another lady call my name. I turned to see Pesloe. I gained the impression that she had come for me, but stopped at a distance not wanting to interrupt whatever Ayither and I were doing.

Pesloe approached while saying, “Let me spend time with Ayither. Phesdorra wants to talk with Atagandes, and I would like you to go with her.”

I replied, “In case you forgot, Pesloe, I am not the puzzle solver.”

“In case you became demented, none of us were. This is not a puzzle, Hallith, but a show of force. If anyone can threaten someone into not chancing combat, it is you. Also, you are stable enough not to be swayed by arguments. I completely trust you there, Hallith. Also, Phesdorra should trust you.”

Not being able to challenge those words except to bring up my own non-understanding, I turned to the other lady. “Ayither, you do need to spend time with Pesloe.”

The Champion of Typhorsh replied, “I understand, Hallith. If something happens with you, start up a storm and you know I will be there.”

Pesloe quickly said, “A storm? A storm would be tame compared to some of the things we Quartermasters would get involved in.”

I could not help but ask, “So your home can manage?”

“I married Cornispe and raised four children. It has survived so far.”

“Well, don’t be calm around Ayither. She’s storm.”

Both ladies told me to go to Phesdorra. Seeing them unite for that, I figured they would do all right together. I thus left the ladies to find my way to the pixie.

People inside directed me up some stairs. I walked down a hall to see a couple of guards at station across from a door. The directions were proper, but I suddenly realized something about what I was seeing.

I asked, “This is not a fortified holding, but just the land of a gentry. What are you doing here?”

One soldier pointed at things on his person as he answered, “We are not with the military, but with the church. The family holding this property has always supported Zetrullid, but with Honored Pesloe being here the church felt obligated to station men here.”

“I am to take the pixie to see the man held below.”

“Honored Hallith, you can do whatever you like. If you and Honored Pesloe get into a fight, that might give us problems.”

“That won’t happen. This is her home and she is still my princess. If she speaks, I will listen.”

A voice came from behind me to say, “He however might argue with me.” I just turned to smile at Cornispe, who approached to say, “Just letting you know that I will have your back. I’m going to try and not be obvious, but if you find a need to cause a commotion I will be there to help you end any trouble.”

“Just how well did you build this place?”

“Look again at the supports. They’re single courses of dense stone. Called in Redinnick for that. This place handled me and the kids running the halls, so it is pretty strong.”

I nodded, then turned to the door. With only a light set of taps it opened. Seeing the pixie appearing to float in the middle of the room, I had to assume that she was feeling well. I shut the door behind me hoping to get our situation handled in private.

I said, “It is not like Pesloe to shut a guest in a room.”

Phesdorra replied, “I am a little person in the midst of larger persons. It is just safer if I am doing things in a proper way. Also, I really do not want to feel free until I am certain with things about Atagandes.”

“Makes sense, so are you ready to see Atagandes?”

“Are you mad at me, Hallith?”

That questions confused me, which had me reply, “I don’t know any reason for being mad at you.”

“I was in your mind.”

“As I told you then, I could use some help getting it sorted out.”

She smiled, then asked, “So, why are they sending you?”

“Because they felt neither you nor Atagandes would be stupid enough to challenge someone like me. You know, that size thing you mentioned earlier.”

“It was Atagandes that had me enter your mind, Hallith. You could be working for him.”

I was not going to respond to that accusation, as it could be directed at my friends as well. “You asked if I was mad at you for entering my mind. Well, what did you find about me and Atagandes being pals?”

“I guess he could have been present somewhere in that jumble of memories.”

“If he had been, he would be dead.”

“Cornispe’s not.”

I had to give the little lady credit for learning some things, although I could not credit her for being right. “My friends are not. You see how I treat my friends.”

“This could be an act.”

“Right. If you believe I am this great actor, your problem is not with Atagandes.”

She now flew up to me, I guess to see if I would attack, before saying, “I know nothing of the Quartermasters.”

“My advice to you is for you and Atagandes to resolve this matter quickly and politely so you don’t learn about the Quartermasters. Presently, you will just be dealing with Pesloe and me. However, she has Cornispe, who can be a good amount of trouble on his own. I have Ayither, and she is like Pesloe and me in that she has a god behind her.”

“And what if you cannot handle this?”

“I will call the present Quartermasters. Anerth is still a good friend, and the three who now travel with him have learned their obligation. Let me however warn you that Pesloe, Anerth, Chertish and I did not establish a reputation for being neat and tidy with our eradication of threats.”

I saw her move to the door, but then turn back to ask, “Have you spoken to Atagandes?”

“I haven’t.”

“Then I believe I will trust you.”

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Eight - Part Two   To Know Sweet and Sour - Part Two (6-10) Icon_minitimeDecember 18th 2019, 6:54 am

To Know Sweet and Sour
Chapter Eight – Part Two

(Hallith)

No conversation occurred between me and the pixie as we moved down beneath the house. I did not check on Cornispe, but with soldiers directing us I had no doubt that he would be directed as well. I let the pixie take the lead, although I did open the metal-banded door when a soldier simply stood at attention next to it.

The man inside did not look mistreated. He did not appear to have had a bath even though signs of water were still on him. I assumed that he had been fed, although finding him sitting at a table with his wrists bound by manacles whose chains went over the surface before going down to his feet had me feel that he did not enjoy the meal.

The pixie exclaimed, “Atagandes, what happened to you?”

I supplied an answer. “He did something. What surprises me is that he is still alive.”

“Is this how you treat guests?”

“No. I told you that you did not want to get on our bad side. I also said that I am surprised that he is still alive.”

Atagandes said, “Barbarians.”

“Divine barbarians. This house is a residence of one who is a Champion of Zetrullid, a water deity. However civilized, or non-civilized, you might think we are, a god is a god and should be respected.”

The man spat on the floor before saying, “That is what I think of your god.”

Phesdorra said, “Atagandes, don’t talk like that.”

I shrugged my shoulders before saying, “No crime for speaking like that. No respect either, and I can promise you, Phesdorra, that he was not put in that condition for simply mouthing off.”

Atagandes asked, “Phesdorra, what are you doing here?”

She answered, “Do you not know this man? This is the one whose mind you sent me into.”

“He is not Hupragordes.”

“Hupragordes? Oh, now I understand.” She then turned to look at me, then said, “No. I don’t know him, but he is the one I heard you tell me to contact.” The pixie then flew in front of the face of Atagandes to say, “You claimed to send the identity psychically, and somehow I found myself thinking on Hallith of the Quartermasters. I now do not think it was you who told me.”

The man was silent for a moment, then said, “So, this man had you defy me, then transport yourself from our world?”

She flew back as if to come before my face, but then turned back to ask, “And if I did?”

“You’re a fool, Phesdorra. You’re in way over your head. You have no understanding of what is at stake.”

“I’m sweet, Atagandes. I understand that. In trying to make sense of things I turned to our God.”

“Oh, bah!” Again he spat on the floor. “What God and why should He have anything to do with this? This is a moment in history that should not pass, Phesdorra. Already too much time has passed, but you have been too dense to see the facts before you. I’m a man, and one who was born too late. I however recognize the moment, and I will not let it pass.”

I said, “Well, I hope staying chained in this room is part of your grand plan.”

Atagandes tried to do something, but all I heard was the rattling of chains before he said, “Tell these barbarians to release me, Phesdorra. We can then go back to our world and do what we can to affect the new age that is upon us.”

“The new age?” the pixie replied. “But that is why I am here. It was a holy book from humans of the previous age that sent me here. A holy book, Atagandes. Our God sent me here. I am hoping to find what our God has planned for this new age.”

“Our God? You fool! We have lives! We can steer the direction of this age to provide us with lives unimaginable. That is what this is about.”

“Don’t do this, Atagandes. Don’t turn sour into the way of the ungodly. Yes, we have our differences, but we are friends. While I feel that my way is right, I don’t want you to be wrong. Let us find a common path.”

“NO! I will take command of this age. I will establish my dominance. WHEN HAVE I EVER BEEN NICE TO YOU, PHESDORRA?”

I believe the pixie was holding back tears as she moved to the door while saying, “I’m ready to go.”

Believing nothing beneficial would have been gained if we stayed, I replied, “Yes, as there is nothing to see here.”

The door opened with Cornispe there, although Phesdorra said, “I’m so sorry. You can do with him as you will,” before flying off I assumed to return to her room.

“Boy, did I ever lose that bet,” Cornispe said. “I can get responses like that, but, Hallith, you are generally able to get a better response from people.”

I asked, “Where’s Pesloe?”

“Wherever you want her to be, Hallith.”

I heard light footsteps come down some steps, then the voice of the lady said, “Whenever you are ready to leave, Hallith.”

I replied, “Let me make some plans with Phesdorra. Sorry this visit is so quick.”

“No, Hallith, as it helps explain why you have never visited. Still, you have been away too long. I need you in my life. I’m going with you.”

“Well, it might help having a lady with me.”

I did not say more, but moved up the stairs to Phesdorra’s room. Along the way I saw Ayither. Since I had left her to spend time with Pesloe, it did not surprise me to see my intended present. I shared a quick act of affection with her, then heard her footsteps join Pesloe’s in coming behind me up another flight of stairs.

Coming through the door into the pixie’s room, she declared, “He’s not that way!”

I asked, “Does it matter?” Seeing a mystified expression on her face, I voiced another question. “If he’s right, what is there to do about it?”

“I… I don’t know.”

“Listen, he can stay here for all I care. That keeps his threats far from your world. However, he might not be the only one. What can you do to take advantage of his absence?”

“That was not my reason for coming.”

That was not what I heard, and I let the pixie know it. “Maybe not yours, but how about your God’s?”

“Uh, well, I guess I could check with Chifar.”

Sounded like a destination to me, so I commanded, “Be ready to leave in the morning.”

“I… I’m ready now.”

“I’m not. Relax. We leave in the morning.” I then turned to ask, “Is that all right with you, Pesloe?”

She answered, “Sure, Hallith.”

“Now, where is that temple to Zetrullid?”

“Come with me. I’ll take you.”

Phesdorra asked, “You are going to speak to your god?”

I turned to answer, “Yes.”

“Can I come?”

“It would actually help my opinion of you if you did so, although I don’t want you to get in trouble with your deity.”

“From what Atagandes said, I have to assume my God sent me to you. Therefore, I want to learn about you. Since Atagandes spoke of not worshipping God, I am interested in who you worship.”

I shrugged, then turned back to the door saying, “Ladies.”

There was an assumption in my statement that Ayither would go with me. She might have worshipped another deity, but I had willingly spent time with the gods of her world. Actually had not faced Typhorsh directly, although Ayither spoke with him enough that I felt able to assume a relationship with her god. She knew that one of the purposes of coming to my world was to directly speak to Zetrullid, so I assumed she would have no reservation about going with me to a temple.

As we waited for some local youths to saddle our mounts and bring them to us, the pixie asked, “Who should I ride with?”

Pesloe replied, “Take your pick.”

“Well, I would go with Hallith, but I don’t want to get either of you mad at me.”

“We retrieved you, took care of you, and allowed you to be a guest. We met Atagandes, manacled him, and secured him in a room. We are now saying that we are willing to take you back and help you resolve a situation. What makes you think that we are going to get mad at you? If anyone is getting mad at somebody, Hallith is getting mad at Ayither.”

I turned to ask, “What?”

The champion of storm answered, “I was the one that bet against you, Hallith. No offense, but I heard what Pesloe said about Atagandes. You’re a nice man, but I did not believe you would be able to get Atagandes to change his ways.”

“How much was the bet?”

Pesloe answered, “Two hundred gold.”

I said, “Whoa. Has he paid you yet?”

Ayither replied, “I had planned to see what he had of value. There are things I need.”

“He’s a friend, Ayither, so make him pay you, then tell him what you would like for him to give you.”

Pesloe laughed, then said, “And Cornispe is that type of friend. Still, I love him. Let me know what you need Ayither, and I will make certain you get the best.”

After mounting our horses, I waited for Phesdorra to find a place on my large body before signaling Pesloe to start our journey. With Ayither being a champion of storm riding with Pesloe and me who were once Quartermasters, the horses were kept moving at a rather fast pace. I took the rate of speed to indicate that we did not have that far to go, and sure enough as my mount indicated it was starting to tire I saw a large stone building with fountains of water around it.

Dismounting in front of the temple, a priest rushed up ahead of some acolytes to say, “Honored Pesloe.”

She simply walked by him while doing the same thing she did to her own people. “Hallith.”

“Hallith? Hallith! Honored Hallith, it is so good to have you come. Uh, what is that with you?”

I simply said, “Pixie,” as I walked into the holy place.

Pesloe stepped aside to look at me as I passed her, “What are we doing?”

“What we need to do,” I replied.

“Cause trouble?”

“Zetrullid knows who we are, Pesloe.”

I walked right up to the altar, slammed down my fist upon it, then said, “There is a man manacled to a table beneath the home of Pesloe and Cornispe. I am here with the lady I intend to ask you for marriage, but also with a pixie. Give me a direction, and I will go.”
A smile came to my face hearing the voice of Zetrullid, and I grinned at Pesloe who had also come to the altar as he said, “You are still making good decisions Hallith. Why would you challenge that?”

“Because I don’t want to get distracted.”

“I feel you and Ayither have already made a certain decision as well, Hallith. If all you want is my approval.”

Pesloe put a hand on an arm of mine before saying, “No, Hallith. Let’s do this mission. I want you. I want you back in my life. We, you and me, are going to party, party, party after you and Ayither are joined. I have a husband who I enjoy being with, and I believe you are choosing someone who will be a wonderful addition to our family. We thus are not going to rush this. However much you want Ayither, and she wants you, I am going to make the two of you wait until this problem is resolved.”

I said, “Zetrullid, tell Chertish we will be coming. We are going to party at his place.”

“After partying in Morlin.”

“We will be picking him up on the way there, hopefully with his wife.”

The voice of the god said, “I will try to even have Anerth there.”

We splashed high purified alcohol on the altar while praising Zetrullid. Everyone in the temple was then given some of the liquid. We finally filled a goblet, placed it on the altar, then finished what we had brought only to see the goblet emptied as well.

Leaving, Ayither asked, “Is that truly how you worship Zetrullid?”

Pesloe replied, “For over four hundred years we did not even have an altar. What we did was what we could with Anerth sometimes having to be creative to have any type of respectable rite. It was funny when we arrived on Lorigard and a priestess told Anerth he was doing everything wrong.”

I said, “Yes, we would just do what we could over some source of water. Anerth always wanted to use an altar for some other deity, but understood that it would not be appreciated.”

“By Zetrullid or that other deity.”

“Admittedly, Zetrullid never spoke or drank his serving. We left many goblets sitting by the water.”

Both Pesloe and I turned back to look at the altar. Our arms then went around each other. While my mind went to the jumble of memories that were those hundreds of years of fights, Pesloe sought information of my recent activities.

“Have you ever spoken with Zetrullid about that, Hallith?”

“No. Chertish has. It was actually an entertaining conversation with him. I actually heard him fall back into using his vulgar speech while letting me know just how different we were, and still are. We did something, Pesloe, that even Zetrullid did not expect. The fact that Anerth is now with three more people and getting them to perform is even more amazing. While Zetrullid has his honor, it seems that we deserve ours as well. Chertish said that we should not question things. If Zetrullid had not acted as he did or if we had not acted as we did, things surely would have come out different.”

“Yes, that is what Cornispe says as well.” She laughed, then admitted, “I once would never have thought that I would be quoting Cornispe. He’s a good man, Hallith. I know you’re a good man, and Ayither seems like a good lady. Still, I told her that I have set the standard.”

“You’re my princess, Pesloe.”

“Well, Bodyguard, I’m glad to have you back with me.”

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Nine   To Know Sweet and Sour - Part Two (6-10) Icon_minitimeDecember 23rd 2019, 6:56 am

To Know Sweet and Sour
Chapter Nine

(Phesdorra)

I returned to my room overwhelmed with the reality I had entered. All I could do was wonder about the world before the changing of the age. Wanting to know more about my situation, I left my room to ask about permission to speak to another.

It was Lord Cornispe who the servants had me speak with, and he brought me to Hallith. The large man had settled in the common area where he was speaking with others, but did not deny my request. With Lord Cornispe assuring Hallith that he would have support, we again descended to where Atagandes was held.

Seeing that he had not been released from his manacled position at the table, I tried to sound concerned for him as I asked my question. “Atagandes, how much do you know of the previous age?”

He just glared at me for a time, but finally replied, “Elves were the first age. They had all the graces, all the blessings, all the knowledge. While it was a glorious age, they passed without any accomplishments. That is why they separated themselves from men. They saw the accomplishments of men, and realized that men had something that they lacked. Not wanting men to lose their spirit, the elves shut themselves off. That is what happened in the second age, Phesdorra. Men accomplished so much that they found themselves reaching the limits of what was possible, and pressed on to challenge the impossible. Whether it was a moment of glory or failure I am not sure, but the time of men passed.

“The story of men however is a lesson to be learned, one I do not see in your kind. There is presently no urge for greatness. I plan on showing you that. It is my goal to become great, and set the standard for your age that you will also seek after making your age something to be proud of.”

What he said did not challenge my own knowledge, although I felt it left out some important details. “What about churches? Did the elves have churches?”

Atagandes spat on the floor, then replied, “No. That was something men thought up. Souls, Gods, that was something men claimed to have that the elves did not. They really do not exist, Phesdorra.”

“I’ve just been to a church, Atagandes. I heard a god speak. This man with me, the one in whose mind I went, is a champion of that god. The lady of this house we are in is also a champion of that god. They have fought for him for centuries. They have a relationship with that god, and speak of knowing other gods. The lady intending to marry Hallith is a champion of another god. There are gods, Atagandes, so I feel that you are wrong. Our world does have a God.”

“There is no way you are going to be able to prove that, Phesdorra.”

I flew up to land on his right hand, and rubbed a place worn by the metal shackles as I said, “Yes, there is. I am going to have these people return with me to our world. In the company of champions of gods of other worlds, I will find the God of our own.”

“And how are you going to do that?”

“I will start with Chifar. It was with the holy devices stored in his tree that I was able to come here. In proving themselves with the power to do that, maybe they can help me find proof in other ways.”

“You will need to find the elves, Phesdorra. That is what I was hoping you would do.”

Actually hearing some advice, I found myself with some hope for Atagandes. “Are you certain they exist?”

“Of course. We existed in their age. In the first age there were men, pixies, animals, everything. It was not yet our time, but we were part of the original creation. In like manner, the elves continue to exist as well.”

“I will find them, and find the proof of our God. I will then come back for you, Atagandes. It would be wrong not to have you see.”

“So you can gloat?”

“So you can apologize. Not to me, but to God.”

He smiled, then said, “That’s the spirit. This is your age, Phesdorra. Make it a great one. I knew I could not win, but I would go down with your kind taking their first steps toward becoming great. I was going to give you Hell, but I hoped to lay the foundation for you soaring to a magnificent future.”

I turned to Hallith, but had to look back to say, “I’m sorry that I’m going to have to leave you here, Atagandes.”

“This really is not my fight. My age has gone. I was born into this one, but I am merely a remnant of what was once a flourishing people. Proving to me that God exists will not help me in any way, but it will possibly give you the blessing for your age.”

“I am with people who are champions of their gods, Atagandes. Why would you not want to become a champion of our God?”

“Because I would still be just a remnant of a past age. This is your age, Phesdorra. Make it great.”

I flew up to the face of Atagandes before saying, “You are a foolish, foolish man. These people put you here while offering me help. These are great people. Maybe if you start appreciating who it is that has you bound, you will start to appreciate the age you were born into.”

“That’s your challenge, Phesdorra, not mine.”

I flew to Hallith to ask, “Can you offer me any hope for him?”

He answered, “Well, the obvious answer is to pray for him.”

I heard Atagandes again spit on the floor before declaring, “Little good that will do.”

“You would be wrong not to do it, Phesdorra.”

I replied, “You’re right. I do not want to be wrong. Now, let us go.”

Stepping outside the chamber, Lord Cornispe stepped up to ask, “Did you learn anything?”

Hallith replied, “Actually, I believe we did. Phesdorra does have an objective with a couple of suggestions for us to try. It should be a start.”

“What about our guest?”

I answered, “He’s very misguided. Keep him alive if you can.”

“I heard ‘if I can.’”

Hallith replied, “You haven’t killed him yet, so you have done well up to now.”

“What if I decide to go with you?”

“You should well know that I would consider that to be Pesloe’s decision, and not yours. I will not argue with Pesloe.”

“Phesdorra, anything you have to add?”

I was surprised he asked, but I did politely reply, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. We will have breakfast in the morning. If you get hungry, there is usually someone in the kitchen who will help.”

Hallith walked with me back to my room. I really did not know the reason, but found myself grateful for his presence. Coming to my door, I told him thanks, but before he could make the standard reply I added a comment.

“Lord Cornispe handles himself very well.”

“He was once a king, a king of a land of elves. He claims his immortality was from the efforts of an elf lady to have him marry her. She died, but he acquired immortality. There is a lot more to his past than he lets people know. I assume part of Pesloe’s continued devotion to him is that she has learned most of the details. Her devotion to him does not just set the standard for Ayither, but me as well. Pesloe and I have basically the same past. I mean, yes, she was the princess and I was just her bodyguard, but after four hundred plus years that history really is not who either of us are. If she can find love, real love, I trust that I can as well.”

I thought those were positive words, although I had to mention that I doubted they applied to me. “I’m sure you can, but I am not here for that. Really, however, Chifar should be able to supply an answer, and you can go home.”

“No, Phesdorra. That is not how this works. You see, I have been involved in this for too long. Further, since leaving the Quartermasters I have seen a good bit of this divine champion thing. For you to gain my company, this is something a little more than the normal. It might be your world, and the start of your age, but for some reason it is felt that I am needed. If it means anything, it probably means that you are slated to become a divine champion.”

“Me? I’m not…” The words from Atagandes bothered me, but from somewhere I felt I knew the source of my difficulty. “I’m not human.” Softer, I added, “Or elf.”

“Do you know of any elf or human divine champions?”

“No. I mean, I now know you and the others, but no.”

“Well, we will do what we can to check this out for you.”

I felt sorry for the man, so had to say, “No. I mean, you and Ayither get married. I don’t want to stand in the way of that.”

“We’re divine champions. This is our life. I have traveled with married couples. They manage, because they have had time to grow used to each other. Ayither and I are nowhere near that. Get us married, and we will have a lot of adjustments to make. We however know our lives. We can do this, and the time will probably be for the best.”

“I’m sorry.”

Hallith went to the door and called the name of his fiancé. It surprised me when she almost immediately responded. Hallith brought her in, then holding her he let her know why he had called her.

“Phesdorra is telling me that we should go ahead and get married.”

Ayither looked at the man as she replied, “We are. There are formalities, but even after those there are considerations we must both make. She does not have time for us to do all that.”

“My words as well.”

I could not help but say, “But marriage is a beautiful thing.”

Ayither did not put the emphasis behind her words, but they came out with substance all the same. “I am storm. Hallith and I joining will not be a simple affair. His water with my air will need time to blend. I am now accepting that it will happen, but more time with him will not be wasted. Phesdorra, are you married?”

“What? I… I never have met anyone.”

Hallith said, “I was telling Phesdorra that she is probably being set up to become a divine champion.”

A smile came to Ayither’s face before she said, “Yes, sounds like that to me as well. What god does she worship?”

“She believes there is just one God of her world. If He has a name, she has not learned it.”

“Do you know of any other divine champions?”

I had to admit, “No.”

“Could we ask Atagandes?”

Hallith answered before I could speak, “Sure.”

We left my room and went back down to the chamber where Atagandes was secured. No one stopped us. I believe I heard calls to Cornispe or Pesloe, but no one told us to wait. Sooner than I expected I was again looking at Atagandes.

Ayither put her hands on the table in order to stare him in the eyes as she asked, “Do you know of any divine champions of your world?”

He did not spit this time before speaking. “Divine champion? How about divine anything? In either case the answer is, ‘No.’”

I had to say, “Atagandes, I hope that you stay here. We really do not need you in this age.”

“Do what you must, Phesdorra, then come and brag to me about it. If you can’t, I’m not going to apologize or feel sorry for you.”

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Ten   To Know Sweet and Sour - Part Two (6-10) Icon_minitimeDecember 28th 2019, 6:50 am

To Know Sweet and Sour
Chapter Ten

(Hallith)

Cornispe did decide to join his wife. He proclaimed when I again stepped outside that he married Pesloe to spend his eternity with her, and would not let my return spoil his commitment. The words in return from whom I felt was the actual lord of the estate was that the people had managed before he came, and during the periods they were gone since, so they wished him luck. Privately to me Cornispe simply said that I needed time with Ayither, so he would do what he could to keep his wife occupied.

I asked him about the people saying they could manage without him, and he replied, “Pesloe and I were sent to help establish the church, and not to provide security to any holding. Remember that I told you about speaking to Redinnick to gain the foundation and supports for my home?” When I nodded, he added, “It is actually due to Redinnick that we are here.”

It felt good to actually spend time speaking with Cornispe. As I had told Phesdorra, there was a depth to the man that he usually did not allow to be seen. He was perfectly fine having others believe he was a cocky, egotistical show-off. Actually working with the man, one found that he could make an accurate appraisal of the danger of a situation, would allow others to take the lead, and would politely help those who did take the lead. Most who associated with Cornispe somehow sensed that he was a lot better person than what at first appeared.

I asked him about what Jelnaya had me do while at Nehallum. He spoke of knowing the lady, and of her having suitors one time when Pesloe and him had visited the estate. She put the men through a number of trials. Most were in fun, but she quickly let them know claiming her would require more of a commitment than a normal lady. After the men left, Cornispe waited for Jelnaya to end her time in the small chapel to her god, then claimed time with her enjoying a conversation about divine commitment that helped him understand some things about his wife.

Speaking of our children, I mentioned what I had seen of my older offspring as they went through seeking a mate. Between the two of us we came up with something to do with Ayither. Seeing her coming to me, for her getting some fresh air before going to bed probably meant more than it did for me, I grabbed her to take her back into the house to steer her into the library.

As I sought the book Cornispe had mentioned, Ayither had to ask, “What are you doing, Hallith?”

I answered, “Looking for a poetry book.”

“You’re going to read poetry to me?”

“I haven’t read poetry to you.”

“No, but I also have not spoken of any love of poetry.”

I turned to her to say, “Ayither, we are going to have an eternity of being together. There is a lot we are going to learn about each other. There is also a lot we are simply going to have to do due to being a man and wife. One is our children, and we should read poetry to them.”

“How about I read poetry to you?”

That actually sounded like a good idea, except I mentioned the problem with it. “This is my world, Ayither. The books are in a script that I know.”

“I can open it and tell you that I do not like it just as easily as I can a poetry book from my own world.”

“No, Ayither.” I stepped up to her to say, “We go through this. Everything. We go through the fights, the travel, the meetings with important people, but we also go through the quiet times. You’re storm, so we find things to do. We can sing, and we can read poetry. Nothing that I know says poetry is calm.”

“Cornispe and Pesloe has a storm book of poetry?”

“Tell you what. Once I find the book Cornispe mentioned, we can see if any books in the section have anything we like.”

Neither one of us were quiet readers. I found the poem Cornispe had mentioned, and read it with all the gusto I could manage. It was strangely not of a historic battle, or even of some interlude between lovers, but of a thief coming upon the hoard of a dragon. I finished reading with neither of us speaking of liking or hating the poem.

Ayither asked, “Was Cornispe a thief?”

“No. I would say that he liked the attitude of the poem.”

“Yes, that does sound like my impression of him.” I actually expected her to ask for another poem, but Ayither instead softly asked, “Hallith, remember when I said that we were married?”

I really did not need to think back. “I do.”

“Typhorsh told me that I needed to start submitting to you.”

“I hope I am not making that hard for you.”

“No.”

Those words came too softly, so I said, “I am really trying not to have you lose the storm. I however am wanting you to see that there can be a lot to this life.”

“I can see that. You don’t however understand that I have been through periods like this before. However, you are giving me something I did not have them. Back then, I did not have anyone attempting to keep the storm. I just had myself. I really cannot say that I had Typhorsh either. He was used to those of us that claimed him to turn from the storm. I did not get destructive, but I would act rather silly just fighting to hold onto the storm. Here I am in a library having a man read poetry to me, and the storm is here. I’m comfortable, but not, as I have never been here before.”

“That’s a compliment, right?”

She smiled as she said, “I am scared that you will one day see me in one of those moods.”

“Of course. I just don’t want you to ever be in the mood where you hate me.”

She approached to kiss me. We had shared affection before, but there was a passion in her presence I had not yet felt. We did not remove our clothes, but I gained no sense that she would deny me. There was a trust in her presence with me, and I did not abuse it. While we let each other know the depth of our feelings for each other, we also kept a respect in our relationship that stated our honor in having the other present in our lives. I still felt an intensity in her kiss when I dropped her off at her room.

Turning, I saw Pesloe. “Cornispe said that he sent you to read her poetry.”

I replied, “And I did. Well, that poem he mentioned. You have to learn that Ayither is not afraid of marriage, but of losing herself. She is storm, but all the others who took on the status lost it. I am having to show her that I accept that if she loses the storm, I will not have her anymore.”

“She’s scared of dying?”

“No, Pesloe, but scared of no longer being who she is, who she wants to be.”

“And she let you read her poetry?”

There was some indication of disbelief in her question, which had me smile as I replied, “She did. She’s finding she can trust me. It’s like I said; I am showing her that I agree the lady I am marrying is a storm. I’m not trying to calm the storm, but show her that the storm can rage around me no matter what we are doing.”

“Sounds like a healthy relationship.”

“I was trusting you to recognize if that was not the case.”

“I heard her say earlier that the two of you were married. Those words troubled me. I like the lady, but was worried that the two of you were moving too quickly. I however am seeing that the two of you are not rushing anything. I was seeing this adventure as the one Cornispe and I had when we left our lives as Quartermasters to face Zetrullid, but after what I just saw I am not thinking that way at all.”

I felt Pesloe was about to turn away, so I said her name to assure she knew I had more to say. “Ayither and I are nowhere in the same place you and Cornispe were. He’s not a divine champion, while Ayither is. She also is in almost constant contact with her god. I am facing something a lot deeper with Ayither than I believe you faced with Cornispe. You and him have survived, but I feel my life with Ayither will demand even more of me.”

“I assume you are willing to pay it.”

“No. I feel that I should have been paying it. I was troubled long ago because we went over four hundred years claiming Zetrullid without ever hearing his voice. I am now occasionally hearing it, and occasionally I hear Typhorsh. This is really where I felt I should have been. Whatever I am paying, I actually feel that I am getting what I am paying for.”

“I have a church nearby, Hallith. While I cannot say to hear Zetrullid’s voice, I can usually get answers. He did speak to you when you went up to his altar however. I could tell when you went to it that you expected him to speak, and that told me you had gained something in your continued relationship with him. If it is Ayither who helped you gained that relationship, you need to work to assure that whatever it is between you and her stays.”

I wanted to thank Pesloe, but instead said, “I doubt that either of us will ever be poetry people, but it felt good that we could share poetry. We might not be acting like a couple, but we are learning that we can share all type of things.”

“I’m glad I will get to go with you, Hallith. It’s been far too long. Kierle was a good lady, but she did keep you away. I like Ayither if for no other reason than she lets you get around.”

“She’s a storm, Pesloe, but I think you will like her.”

“Love her, Hallith. That’s what this is about: loving her.” She stepped up close to softly ask, “Has she asked about you and me?”

I did not feel our moment counted for anything, and I tried to say that. “Why should she have?”

“Because she is nothing like me and you are nothing like Cornispe.”

“Ayither knows about Kierle, Pesloe. She also knows that whatever happened in my past, I came through it with my honor intact. Whatever we did as Quartermasters, we were not destructive with our lives. That is what I am offering her. I am letting her know that with me she can trust that our personal lives will stay strong.”

“That is so true. I am so glad to have you back in my life, Hallith. Now, go to bed, as we have a reputation for getting an early start.”

“We have a reputation for going from one battle to the next without stop.”

She stepped up to peck me on a check, then said, “You can call it a battle if you want, Hallith, but I hope your lady finds she enjoys it as much as I do. Now, go to bed.”

_________________
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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