A Wish for Hope
I returned from assuring the comfort of those that came with me to hear some singing. The tune was a round, although those of the alternate part sounded as if coming from a distance. I went up the stairs, then through a corridor to find a number of those of Davelda in the hallway. With the singing in one of the rooms, I worked my way through to find other immortals in the chamber with Jelnaya leading the singing out on a balcony.
She turned when I stepped out into the fresh air, and I took advantage of her attention to ask, “What are you doing?”
My niece replied, “I can’t have people singing under my balcony. It’s not only that my rooms have no balcony, but they are even higher in the building.”
I remembered when Jelnaya was being courted by a couple of men while Althery and I were finishing our courtship. We were on opposite sides of the hall, so there was a whole building between the two of us. Althery and I however just stopped and listened to what Jelnaya was doing.
Stepping back to look at the parlor through the people, I had to ask, “What type of room is this?”
She answered, “I am thinking of changing it into a library. I can be checking policies and stuff while men get up the courage to come and make their attempt.”
“You won’t do that, Jelnaya. I mean you will, but not as a nightly ritual. You don’t do anything as a ritual, except maybe get up early and spend time practicing.” There were various sounds of agreement, so I suggested, “Make it a private drawing room, Jelnaya. You don’t do that either, but it will give you the freedom to work on whatever has your interest. That should make it more dependable that you will be in here.”
I guess just to check on other considerations of my suggestion, she asked, “Is there already a private drawing room?”
Someone replied, “There are no rooms specifically marked, Princess. It is Empress Straekin and Lord Terish that are helping us determine certain rooms that are part of the corridors from their knowledge of how the culture tends to do things.”
“Aunt Neselle worked with my Great-uncle Ferrigote and Great-aunt Dirchein to construct their castle. She can also provide advice on the rooms.”
I had to say, “That is true, but Uncle Ferrigote determined a lot of things when he drew up the plans Althery and I were going by.”
One of the ladies said, “Princess Jelnaya, the reason we chose this corridor was that it was for family. Surely this corridor will not be used until you have found a husband. Once your need for courtship is finished, surely you will be doing private activities in your own rooms.”
There were some laughter and comments to that statement. As a married lady, I fully understood all the innuendoes. While Jelnaya did acknowledge what was said, I appreciated her not showing any depth to the meaning of certain phrases. As a divine champion myself, I knew the requirements, and was glad for the evidence that Jelnaya was maintaining her status. As the statements died down, there was an acceptance that for the time being this would be the private parlor for the lady of the castle.
With the decision made, those from Davelda began speaking of needing to end the day. I heard some speak to the lady of assuring her that they would be on watch through the night. Considering I had just left assuring my own people would be comfortable for a period of rest, I turned to where I had been assigned a room. I found it humorous that I was already in the proper hallway. While I was not a child of the family, I went to my room to end my day wondering when these rooms would be used.
Looking about the chamber, I picked up what appeared to be a gilded phallic symbol. There was some ornamentation to it, but I did recognize certain features. Wondering about its presence, I left the chamber to find someone to explain the object.
There were some groups still present holding their own conversations, although when I appeared they turned their attention to me. Just as I told Jelnaya, I was a princess of Davelda. I married into the family, but I had my own experiences on Davelda that had those of that world accept me. Those of the closest group moved to me with a man taking the object from me while explaining.
“We found a number of these, Princess Neselle. Considered it something particular to the family or place.”
“Don’t you recognize it?” I asked with a stern tone to my voice. “We have a serious problem that involved this place. A problem so serious that Jelnaya had to slaughter people and military. Something wrong, like this, should have been reported.”
The man’s eyes went wide as if he suddenly realized what he was holding in his hand. A lady turned it as if needing to see it from the same angle to understand what was wrong with the object. Instead of apologies, I heard soft exclamations as if they found the visual resemblance to a certain masculine body part humorous. All of their eyes went wide however when I yelled out the name of my niece.
I did not expect her to be undressed. Jelnaya was not one to rush to bed. I however should have known that she would have quickly removed the fancy dress. She however appeared just as lovely with an elegant robe covering her form, and, as I should have expected, her sword belt securing the gown around her.
She looked at the object stating some understanding of my problem with it, but then admitted, “It really does not help me, Aunt Neselle. I mean, their prevalence might help me understand why I needed to kill so many people, but I would like some answer to help me understand why the situation became so serious.”
From the other side of the walkway where it had circled around to access the halls on the other side of the building, I heard a man say, “Honored Duchess, if I may?”
The front of Jelnaya’s home was a large basically oval chamber. What surprised me was that there was no fireplace. They had found braziers that could be moved to bring warmth to places couches or other seats were put together. The private apartments had fireplaces, but the large central room somehow had historically managed without. A wide stairway gave access to a higher level with other set of risers set back in corridors giving a way to two other floors that also had walkways around the front chamber. With such a high ceiling to the front room, I expected a large chandelier, but there were stain glass panels high above with the large chamber being dark unless the sun was out. As the baron and a few of his personnel came around the walkway, I remembered a need for light boxes to be used even through the day, so I moved to the railing to look up at what could be seen over the chamber.
I listened as the minor noble said, “Those items are to Chechepor. He is a figure from folklore that supported a situation between a childless family with the man desperate for an heir.”
Jelnaya said, “I cannot say that I know the story. Fergush however reminded me that there is a priest to Cloript here.”
“I believe he went on to bed.”
Before anything could be said of us retiring for the night and saving the problem for the morning, I asked, “Does anyone know what the ceiling is supposed to show?”
The baron replied, “I believe it is an image of Baron Kellinst and Baroness Usorke showing respect to Samayer. They are the historic couple that raised the status of this land from a barony to the duchy, and the image is to represent the occasion.”
“Does the glass just need to be cleaned?”
Sennapre was not a world that had developed the science of Davelda or even my world. I heard a few mention the desire for a flashlight to get a good view of above, although was not surprised that no one had one. I however watched as one with the baron cast a spell that had light shine up above, which was something that could not be easily done on my world or Davelda.
I believe the one that cast the spell said, “That substance is on the inside, Honored Duchess Jelnaya.”
One of those from Davelda said, “That’s not soot. Is it paint?”
Jelnaya stated her own recognition of what was above. “It’s blood and ichor. I want that cleaned first thing, not that I know how to tell you to do that.” As some spoke of getting my father-in-law to work some magic, she said, “That however could have been done by the monsters. I need something that would have the people turn against our gods and allow the presence of those corrupted. This isn’t just against Samayer, but this is something horrible. What is worse, the fox people had others promising things, and I will admit that the Privilege could do things that had them able to appear to keep promises. I haven’t seen anything at that level here. In fact, what I saw is only the results of what dealing with demons will cause. I am coming to the opinion that Samayer was correct. There was no other cure for this place except wholesale slaughter.”
I had to reply, “Jelnaya, for it to reach this level, something drastic did happen. Still, you need to stay positive about it.”
Almost all of us turned when my mother-in-law, Jelnaya’s paternal grandmother, and the empress of most of the others said, “No, Jelnaya. You need to track this down and eliminate it. That is your place as the ruler. This is your territory, and not to treat any threats to this realm, even a threat you inherited, serious will not look well on you. However, to rush around looking for something you know is going to be hiding from you can hurt your reputation. Keep doing what you are doing. Delegate the cleaning. Pay attention to what is revealed. Keep speaking to Fergush. Honestly, if what was wrong goes away in recognition of your power to eradicate it, I doubt anyone will complain. If you do find something however, to then think that the problem is over by simply containing it will work against you. Being a figure of authority is a constant duty. I know it is something you told Fergush you wanted, but there will be times you will wish that you did not have the responsibility.”
While my mother-in-law could speak with her words having weight, everyone laughed when Jelnaya replied, “Grandmother, what you said was for me to go to bed.”
“I’ll get Terish to supply the magic to either clean the window or get people up there to do it. Yes, Jelnaya, go to bed.”
Everyone made statements of their support of my niece. She again spoke her appreciation for the work that had been done to clean her rooms. As she moved back up to her bed, I heard a number make a point to remove the objects as well as to check on some others. Everyone then spoke of finally retiring themselves.
Of course those from Davelda showed deference to my mother-in-law, which caused the visiting noble to ask, “I was told that Jelnaya had noble blood. With people like you behind her, I have hope for the realm.”
Instead of speaking to him, my mother-in-law turned to me to ask, “Neselle, your people have not noticed anything? Terish believes the fox people are important, but he really is not certain.”
I had to say, “I spent time on this world, but Nehallum is rather isolated. Also, Uncle Ferrigote is so protective of Aunt Dirchein that I really did not feel I was on another world when we did travel.”
“But in making all those purchases you surely learned things of this culture.”
“I haven’t seen those objects before, and I did not read any of the local books. Althery and I read and reread the religious and history books from my world.”
The baron said, “Surely this place had a library, in fact I know it did.”
One of those from Davelda replied, “It suffered heavily from the treatment by those here. We really have not begun to clean that room, much less determine which texts are worth keeping.”
I had to suggest, “I want to advise Jelnaya to travel back to the church, but I would assume those of Samayer would want to do that themselves.”
From below came the voice of the angel saying, “No. Those of the church were corrupted by this as well. Maybe the evidence isn’t there, but advice on what might be the source should.”
I looked to the baron to say, “Then I will tell Jelnaya to prepare to head to her county.”
He replied, “And I will have my suggestions to make to her in the morning as well. Good night.”
And another piece is put in place to resolve the problem.