A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 7

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Seven

(Jelnaya)

I really had never stayed long in Castle Davelda, but I knew the joke that my grandfather never did as well. It seemed that early in the relationship between him and grandmother there were rumors that the two were having amorous activities in her bedroom. Those words of gossip however came to an end one snowy night when they found my grandfather sleeping among some artwork high on a tower of the castle. It was then revealed his paranoid nature not to like confined spaces, which included those with beds. The propaganda almost immediately returned to proclaiming other odd natures of my grandfather, but I had grown up not able to find him in Castle Davelda like I could in his home of Castle Thiminy.

There were however rooms in the castle that he had found useful. When he sought time to study an issue, he would relax in a large conference room that had a balcony whose doors could be set open. The original intent of the room was to allow the empress to make public statements to the people, but she never did make herself out to be a pompous dictator. Grandmother used her office off the foyer from her own apartment to set her personal appeals in front of a camera. Those of a more legal nature she stated in the council chamber. While my grandmother never used the room for its intended purpose, grandfather found it to satisfy his own needs.

Stepping into the room, grandfather motioned for me join him and Marekel at the great table while saying, “It seems that the maid of the baroness is not a problem, Fruit. The baron himself has brought you the problem.”

As I moved to join the men who sat in nice chairs facing each other along one side of the table, the baron turned in his seat to confirm those words. “Namill will not be a problem as long as my wife is safe. I am under certain obligations, but I am pleased that Lord Terish is able to work around those.”

I grabbed a chair and rolled it to sit where I could face both of the men while asking, “Okay, so what is the problem?”

My grandfather answered, “The very problem you once desired, Fruit. The baron is going for immortality.”

“For my wife,” Baron Marekel explained. “I am immortal. Though I gained my wife as but a baby, she has not grown up to love an old man. If things proceed along their present course, I will however find myself married to an old lady.”

Wanting to pull out as much information as possible, I said something that I would usually just think to myself. “I know better than to praise good tidings too soon.”

“That is a lesson usually hard taught.” I believe such was a compliment, as the baron began supplying some facts. “I am hoping for information concerning the Spring of Cormorphin.”

“Immortality is not something freely given. Not only from the lessons of my own grandparents, but others I have met as well, all speak of the trials and uniqueness of the blessing. This very land does promise immortality to those that can claim the heritage, but it is not without its cost. I am not the only child denying the gift. The Spring of Cormorphin would surely be a wonderful thing to find on a map, but even my grandfather must claim not to know where it is.”

“Well, then I am more knowledgeable than your grandfather, dear Jelnaya. I do know where it is.”

No, that was not a lure that I would bite at too quickly. Maps containing the names of legendary places were common. People created them all the time. One however had to ignore the fact of what they saw and focus on the overwhelming evidence of no one speaking of gaining the gift for themselves. Checking the quality of the dangling morsel that I once longed to taste, I asked a fact of the one before me that no one else, even my grandfather, could claim.

“Did you become immortal from that spring?”

“I am unsure. I cannot say more, but I can say that I fought the battle that gave me the right to claim my nobility around that pool. My very wife was a baby placed in a magical flower set to grow in those waters. The magic of the spring would keep her alive and unchanging until some fool could come and claim her. I was no fool, but the price I paid to gain Ulemai still haunts me. I wish to return to that spring and claim immortality for my wife. Doing so will however possibly again put my eternal life in peril, so I have come seeking advice.”

The men allowed me to think for a period, but what bothered me was that I was not troubled by the words. “Grandfather, I know of no task from Fergush that was so clear.”

“He is a warrior god, Fruit, not a trickster. Still, yes, for him to consider the challenge of worth, it is usually something above the norm.”

Baron Marekel said, “I am not here saying that the journey will be easy or safe. In fact, I am claiming the opposite. Even I, who has been to the place once before, seeks advice before going there again.”

I kept my focus on the one that I trusted to be able to actually provide advice. “Grandfather, should we have the baron travel to Thiminy? Your library could prove useful.”

“I can access my books here, Fruit. I built my library to have its contents ever available. Plans are to move it here, but that will take a lot of work to duplicate the effects I have beneath Castle Thiminy.”

“Will you be looking into the matter?”

“I will.”

As a lady, I had been forced to endure certain lessons. Certain duties were considered those of females even on the much more advanced world of my parents. Of course, my father worked with those who did sinister deeds, which was almost exclusively a male activity. While I had done enough to go home and have men give deference to me, I was still a lady and expected to conform to certain traits. On most other worlds, the duties of my gender were even more constrained. While I could rebel against most rules of society, biology was something that could not be denied. It helped me at times however to realize that as a lady I could come up with solutions men might overlook.

“While the baron is surely at ease knowing that his destination has been reached, the journey surely stressed him. He should be given time to relax. In the meantime, we can all consider our own sources of wisdom to make our next meeting even more productive.”

Every woman that had a chance to instruct me had told me that if I would act like a woman then the men would act as men. Such words often produced giggles from the other young ladies. There was a time when I laughed with thoughts of certain behavior from men, but had learned that there was a wealth of experiences beyond certain acts. Proving that the advice had been more applicable than just to men of one world, the baron began to rise from his chair.

“Yes, thank you for your time. I should however relax and check on my charges. Hopefully a later time can be arranged.”

Grandfather took over the situation by assuring the baron that later conversations could definitely be arranged. He then turned over the man to one of grandmother’s attendants that was conveniently sitting nearby. Once the baron was gone, I turned to my grandfather to get him to say things to me.

“Why won’t he say certain things?”

“Because he is under certain obligations with the handmaid of his wife. He is in a very troubling situation, which he hopes to resolve by this mission.” Grandfather then looked to me with a rather apologetic gaze as he said, “I cannot tell you much more, Fruit. If this is a mission from Fergush then it is something that you need to see through on your own.”

“You taught me yourself that not to seek wisdom and guidance is an act of a fool. Tell me that Fergush will not approve, and I will go quote those words to the god himself.”

“Fruit, sometimes there is a fine line between advice and commands. Some things I could advise you one way, but your own desires and a complication of situations could make it a bad decision. Trust that if you ask a question, and I have a definite answer, I will tell you.”

Okay, I was used to such terms with him. “Then tell me why you were so concerned with Namill?”

“She is not human. I really do not know what she is. From the context of the baron’s words, I believe that she is part of the bargain he made with the evil thing that killed his home and the ruling family of his land. Whatever pact he made however prevents him from saying more, so you will only possibly learn those facts on the journey with him.”

“She, the baroness, is however human?”

“Much more human than Namill.”

Not really an answer to the question, so I took a moment to better phrase my next question. “Are you troubled by the baroness?”

“No, but I am staying here. Your grandmother and I just finished some travels, and have some plans for our future that we want to see started. If you go, Fruit, you might want to stay wary. Let me however warn you that the baron loves Ulemai dearly. She is his wife, and has been for many years. He has raised the girl from a baby, so has devoted more to her than most men have to their spouses. If you have cause to attack her, you better make certain that you can take him and Namill out first.”

I breathed out strongly silently admitting to myself that Fergush had indeed set a tough challenge upon me. “And the baron is immortal.”

“Probably Namill as well. You can probably kill the baroness easily, but the act would be a death sentence for you.”

Trying to find some reasonable alternative to death, I asked, “But the baron just wants to return to some place he has been and have his wife drink this water? They then just go home – to their own world.”

My grandfather smiled, reached out to pull my face close to his, then pecked me on a cheek. “That’s my Fruit. Stay positive. You can best this.”

I told my grandfather thanks, but dropped my smile after leaving the room. I found a castle guard to ask the location of my grandmother. He spoke into a mouthpiece, then told me that she was returning to her apartment. I thanked the man, then rushed to an elevator.

She was moving to the private section of her apartment when I called her name. She turned to me with the serious expression of having to face trouble. I did not consider the expression wrong, but seeing it I confidently moved to her.

“What do I do now, Grandmother? Grandfather told me what he could, but it is not enough. I know that it is not enough. What do I do now?”

“This mission was set for you, Jelnaya. You thus look to yourself. Check your equipment. Check your own sources. No one is leaving at the moment, so you have time. What you do now is use it.”

I knew that, but I wanted what wisdom my grandmother might have. “Grandfather said that he would be checking his books in his library. Don’t you have such a resource here that I can check?”

“Certainly. Come here, Jelnaya.”

She did not turn to the door to the private section of her apartment. I watched as she simply moved to a central location in the room. I just looked to her, but when she motioned for me to join her I did obey. She then had me realize the presence of a camera.

“Tell my people what you want to know about, Jelnaya. You have access to a whole world of immortals. Be proud of your heritage, and learn that they are proud of you.”

I looked to the camera and said, “The Spring of Cormorphin. It is said to be a source of eternal life. Baron Marekel, who has just arrived, claims to know where it is. I thus do not need any information about finding it, only about what is supposed to be guarding it, what about the surrounding land protects it, and things like that.” I then added, “Thank you.”

Grandmother then said, “I will have my staff route the replies to you. If you are with the horse handlers, call and you can be told how to access it. If you take off somewhere, come back.”

Accepting her words, I said, “Yes, thank you, Grandmother.”

"No problem, Jelnaya. This is something your father taught us. There is a blessing in helping the young. We now have children again on Davelda, and our world is better because of it. We who have grown old long ago are more than glad to help those who are just now following in our footsteps.”

And a bit of poetry in the next chapter.