A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 11

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Eleven

(Jelnaya)

Grandmother invited Dumourl and me to breakfast the next day, so it was easy to make the request to see the immortal animals. Those of Davelda did not gain immortality from a magical pool or divine gift. A set of scientist figured out a process that altered the reproductive organs to restore cells in the body. When the corporation they worked for learned of the technique, an immediate lock on the research was implemented. One of scientists had already suspected such would happen, so had released the information. From that little act the steps started that resulted in the world going to war and my grandmother gaining the respect to become the ultimate leader.

Since she knew Dumourl’s family, there was not the usual probing questions that would come to others. My grandmother did mention hearing of Chering, and said that it was a hot topic on the news shows about whether it was proper for the ancients of Davelda to proposition those of the younger generation. She made it known that her opinion was that it was wrong. She admitted that her own history slightly put some complications into the topic. Of course, while I knew that there were many years in difference between grandmother and grandfather, I still considered them as an equal pair. As if to assure that Dumourl was familiar with the situation in which I was involved, she presented another factor in the argument of age.

“It seems that Baron Marekel gained his wife when she was just a baby.”

Dumourl said, “Empress Straekin, love is love. You cannot fight it. I did not fight Chering, but simply supplied Jelnaya with another option. If she was determined to show affection to Chering, I would have left it like that.”

Grandmother looked to me, but I stayed silent. I had given Chering a hard time, but only after he began coming on strong. At the moment I really did not to speak against him. As luck would have it, Grandmother focused on our guest and not on me.

“Dumourl, do you have something that you would rather speak about?”

“Yes, this pool or spring Jelnaya is supposedly attempting to reach. Will it actually bestow eternal life?”

I replied, “It does seem to have magical properties. Whether it actually bestows eternal life or magical healing is unsure. Baron Marekel does not actually claim that he gained immortality from the pool. The poem however speaks of someone dying on the edge of the pool, so its power cannot be that great.”

Dumourl just looked at me for a moment, but when I stayed silent he went ahead and asked, “So, we really don’t know?”

“Grandfather says that he does not trust the situation at all. He however told me to trust Fergush, and return to the deity either to thank him or gain further advice.”

“Then, I’m in. Unlike your family, Jelnaya, no one in my family has ever gained immortality. This actually sounds like the best opportunity ever presented to a member of my family, so I’m in.” His eyes fully locked on mine as he added, “Not only are you a friend, but Irgamy is as well. That gives this adventure another flavor that my usual travels lack.”

I reached out to take his hand as I said, “I usually travel alone as well. While I accepted going with Baron Marekel and his group, it would be nice having a friend with me.”

He replied, “And you will like Irgamy. Maybe not as a husband, but he is a good man.”

Grandmother displayed her skills at polite talk by having Dumourl speak of Irgamy in a manner that provided more information without all the bragging. The man sounded more roguish than I thought I would admire, but some of his accomplishments were more clever than risky. In the end I had to agree with grandmother that he was someone that I wanted to at least meet.

She then asked me about reading the book. I mentioned that I had read sections, and even called Professor Tiothin about some references. Just as with my grandmother, Chering, and others of Davelda, Professor Tiothin did not appear old at all, and – a fact that I considered strange – did not really think of himself as old. I thus chatted with him in a manner that I would not have with other elders. He made me promise to show up for his show after the adventure, but that was about as much business, besides the poem, that came up in our conversation. I had a smile on my face as I discussed what I had gained from the tome, and with that my grandmother felt that she had bothered us young people enough.

Dumourl and I each gathered a small satchel and rode to the airport in one of the official government vehicles. The style of the ride was due to me having the main ruler of the world as my grandmother. The fact that we did not have to pay was due to me simply being able to claim this world as part of my ancestry. No one faulted me for giving Dumourl a pass, although many did come to the lizard and had him spend time speaking to them on a number of personal, odd, and simply entertaining topics.

I did enjoy zoos. Many would comment to me about how the animals I saw could not be as unusual as those I would see on my travels. I would always try to remind those people that certain species were as common as people. While the cultures were often vastly different, people still needed to eat. There were thus forms of domesticated cattle for meat and milk, domesticated predator species for protection, and other species filling various needs. It helped having Dumourl with me, as he could speak of animals on his own reptilian world that matched the various niches of those exotic creatures kept in the zoo.

What Davelda lacked were monsters. Unique creatures somehow having evolved due to magic, whether natural or by design, that worked to upset the natural balance. On some worlds they managed to dominate the ecology, but on most the local people did what they could to maintain some degree of normalcy. For Davelda, and most worlds with advanced technology, the existence of monsters had become only matters of folklore, but on the worlds that I, Dumourl, and my grandparents frequented monsters were still active.

Both my reptilian companion and I spoke of how some of the monsters we had fought would not be so easily penned. Each of us spoke of our weapons, and how they had to be specially enchanted just to break through the auras surrounding some creatures. The magic on our weapons not only allowed them to hurt certain opponents, but not be hurt in return. Dumourl and I spoke of being allowed to advance upon some threats only after those with the responsibility of protecting the populace fled with weapons and armor broken. We spoke of how the fences and other barriers would not hinder certain creatures.

While the conversations with the other visitors to the zoo were entertaining, Dumourl spoke of finding them not moving with us as I took him to a certain building. I always considered it strange how the building sat in the middle of the zoo without any sign, but was never disturbed by the people. Nothing warned about needing special permission to enter the building, although I remembered even my grandmother giving advanced notice that she would be bringing someone to enter.

The door was locked, but someone inside moved to open the portal without really showing any care for who was knocking. I introduced Dumourl to the man checking on the animals. While he did take a moment to shake the reptile’s hand, he seemed more concerned with his work.

I decided to give my companion the lecture. “There is really nothing to see, Dumourl. These are normal animals. After over seven hundred years, the animals have not become overly intelligent, strong, dexterous, or anything that would actually set them apart. They are the same animals they were when the early experiments for immortality were performed upon them.”

The man working in the room added his own words. “They are not in pain. We see to their needs, but basically it is as Jelnaya said.”

Dumourl replied, “I am good friends with Jelnaya’s father. I first met him when Venicht was spending his time schooling here on Davelda. Venicht had come to see these animals, and I heard him mention them to me one evening. I had ever since simply wanted to see them for myself.”

“Well, there they are.”

I saw the reptilian man look to the worker with an expression of annoyance, which was supported by his tone of voice. “That is what Venicht said. He said that here there was a strong perspective on the whole concept of immortality, and it tended to be locked away and ignored.”

The man working in the room turned his eyes to look at Dumourl, then said, “Yes, but some say the same thing about Davelda itself. We however are trying to come out of our stagnation. It might come as a surprise to you, but the immortals that we have met, including King Terish – Jelnaya’s grandfather, let us know just how caged we had been. Still, if we let these animals out of their cages, it would not be for their best. Using them then as an example for us would say that we of Davelda would thus also be better off if left alone.”

“That those of Davelda are nothing greater than the animals.”

I guess to put the conversation in some type of perspective, the worker identified himself. “I am Dr. Kreppill. I am one of those that put these animals in this condition. Just for note,” he turned to look at me, “I am the person that operated on Empress Straekin.”

Just to assure that the doctor understood something, I said, “I have already gained immortality on my own. Dumourl is with me to hopefully gain immortality for himself. Not through an operation, but earn it.”

“Do you think that will make you better?”

Dumourl replied, “Yes, as I agree that Davelda only became something of note when those that had taken on the challenges beyond the norm, and succeeded, came to put your own immortality in perspective. While the risk in what Jelnaya and I are attempting is great, I believe it will make us better and not simply immortal.”

“We both have lessons to learn, and things we can teach. You asked to see our animals. I hope that the experience has made you a better person.”

Dumourl held out his hand while saying, “Thank you, yes – yes, I believe it has. It was a pleasure also to meet you, Dr. Kreppill.”

The man did shake hands as he returned, “It was an experience meeting you, Dumourl. Let me say that you should not be afraid to challenge authorities, but you should only do so to truly learn from the experience. Simply believing that your words carry the most weight only reflects your own stubbornness, and not your real intelligence.”

“I can agree to that.” Dumourl turned to me to ask, “Anything you particularly want to see, Jelnaya, or point out for me to see?”

I answered, “Nope, as far as I am concerned, you’ve seen it. Thank you for your time, Dr. Kreppill.”

Irgamy arrives in the next installment.