A Wish for Hope

Chapter Twenty-Seven
(Jelnaya)

The world of my birth had a mixture of science and magic.  The university where my Grandfather Terish had matriculated had a department of magic.  My father, mother, and a good number of her side of the family had gone to Bellesdun University with a few taking minors in magic.  None however had really made a name for themselves in using arcane power, as it just did not operate as reliably or practically as science.

What gained my Grandfather Terish notoriety on my home world of Emigaila was not that he used magic, but that he had a confidence in it.  Of course, he did not use the spells or devices of the normal magic-users.  He would pull his arcane energies from other worlds where the powers were more dependable.  It took a lot more study and focus to work that type of magic with most of Emigaila not able to comprehend how to manipulate realities in such a manner.  It was however that type of magic my father had grown up seeing used, so had the mentality to incorporate a different type of arcane design into the weapons of Kallotech.  What truly gained my father control over the Kallespry family business was not marrying the oldest daughter, but being able to create a completely different branch of weapon technology that gave Kallotech a unique edge over its competitors.

Grandfather Terish told me that Sennapre could have some high science if it only had more iron.  The metal was rare with most being claimed from the rare meteorite that would fall.  As much as most considered my crystal armor as being unique, actually it was something tried by those who had access to certain mines.  What had me claim my suit of protection was that it was made for a woman, and it was enchanted in a manner I found beneficial.  Methods of imbuing magic into special metals to make them able to withstand the rigors of combat and working stone to have it functional in various capacities gave Sennapre its special flavor that I enjoyed.

There were however dangers in mixing science and magic.  The world of my birth knew it well, and my father constantly faced opposition from those who felt he was coming too close to a certain line, if not crossing it.  I had considered seeing the danger others feared when I saw the instrument outside a community of those that called themselves the Privileged.  In being made aware of further abuse in matters similar to them, I had no problem feeling that a malevolent result of mixing science and magic had indeed been worked.

I found myself grateful to have Vulge with me.  Davelda actually had little magic.  Grandmother Straekin had supported those attempting to work magic simply because the interest kept them from considering suicide.  None however had shown any dependable ability with the arcane, so it was noticed when Grandfather Terish showed up able to perform certain tricks.  Grandmother Straekin had originally requested an audience with the man who was to become her husband merely as another act of supporting those toying with ideas of the arcane.  Vulge knew the history, but simply his background from a world of science made him my focus as I went through the town looking for evidence of things of magic.

We both turned however when Esgalia said, “But, the gods do magic.”

“No,” I replied.  “The gods established their reality, so know how it works.  Also, since they enacted the rules on how their reality works, they can bend, tweak, or momentarily suspend certain rules to do things.  Magic requires those who work the power to perform certain manipulations.  If I ask for a miracle, I am not the one who performs the necessary steps.”

Abreyon said, “But, Honored Duchess, you work magic.”

“I call it being versatile, as I know some real users of magic.  What I can do really is not much.”

Nerbink got our mind back on the matter at hand when he said, “Honored Duchess, I do not see any indication of those we are up against.”

I had to turn to lecture him.  “Nerbink, aren’t you listening to me?  I am not discussing our opposition, but what they are possibly doing.  Honestly, I am not here to kill these people.  Fergush sent me to the realm I now possess to kill people.  Here I am doing what I usually do, and that is perform a service.  I have not been against killing those here, because I believe they deserve it, but I am not under any command to slaughter those here.  I however want this threat removed, because it affected the lands I now possess, and that is what I am attempting to figure out to do.”

Vulge asked, “I know what we were discussing, but how would that help us?”

“One, where are the bad guys at?  Two, what looks out of place, I mean magic?”

It was Abreyon that said, “I thought we were going in the sewer.”

“Esgalia, were you transformed down in some sewers?”

I expected him to again show the turmoil of working his mind, but he quickly replied, “No.  Out in a field where they had a bunch of foxes caged.”

“They still are not traveling on the roads.”

Vulge asked, “Does this world have some method of mass communication?”

I turned around looking for transmitters and receivers on the buildings, then not seeing them I had to admit, “That sentry device really did not have any sophisticated controls, and used sonar instead of electromagnetic.”

“I know you better than that, Princess.  Where are we going?”

Really not in a mood to be direct, I replied, “Since you know me so well, Vulge, where am I going?”

“If I had been playing sniper with the lads, I probably could tell you.”

“I wonder about that, Vulge.  You from Davelda I am finding to have a degree of maturity, which should be expected for people over seven hundred years old.  Still, there is a level of comprehension that I see in Grandmother Straekin that I cannot say is in her people.”

“Level of comprehension.”  Vulge stopped, and I did as well wondering where his mind would go.  “That means you knew what to look for before you went sniping.  I did not go with you on the mission with the Privileged, and really had not heard about that one.  What you said however implied that I should know things anyway.  Really, the only mission I went with you was the Spring of Cormorphin.  Chering however did seek your hand, and as his friend I heard a lot about you from him.  I then looked up more considering the decision that has me here.”  I saw him look around, then he turned back to me to say, “There’s another church.”

Could not prevent the smile from showing on my face as I replied, “And we came up from underground chambers in a church.  I am therefore trying to stay aware of possible underground passages as we approach the other church.”

“And I’m from a monotheistic world.  You boys should be ashamed, as you have multiple gods.”

“No, Vulge.  The gods of Sennapre are not antagonistic, and they are active around the people.  There are reasons for temples, but usually just seeking a priest is enough.  The fact that there is only one church in my realm, in fact in the whole kingdom, is more than enough to have Samayer’s presence felt and promote the reality of the other deities.”

Nerbink said, “We are well aware of the location of the closest churches to the other gods, Sir Vulge.”

The large man asked, “So, why didn’t you boys make the connection?”

“Just without your experience, although I would also like to claim a lack of knowledge of the symbols of the deities here.”

I had to say, “There are things to look for.  Just as all on Sennapre who are attempting a life associated with a deity wears a functional icon over their heart,” I pulled my gold one to momentarily show it, “I saw things about the church we came through and looked for something similar on the other buildings.”

“Sir Vulge learned from his one mission with you, Honored Duchess.  I hope that I prove myself just as capable of learning.”

The large man then said, “Okay.  Now, Princess, why would one church have tunnels under the city and another would not?”

I wished he would not have asked that question, and I answered in the way I felt best.  “I am not going to get into a religious debate on a pantheon I really know nothing about.”

“Okay.”

That was all he said, but the way he froze told me more.  Seeing him point a finger at me had me watch him.  Vulge then moved around looking at the buildings.  He clearly paused in noticing that at least two doors along the way had the same symbol, so I had to smile at the way he turned to me to ask a question.

“Are you leading us into an ambush?”

I pointed over the road a few blocks down before answering, “No, but a trap.”

“Is there something in the holy book about leading fools and old men to their death?”

Abreyon replied, “No, but there is something about the knowledge of the plans of the enemy being the instrument of their defeat.  Honored Duchess, any reason we don’t just rush into one of those passages?”

I answered, “Yes.  I don’t believe those passages would be that big.  It would be best to have our fight out in a place where we have ample room to move.”

Vulge asked, “So, Princess, what was your plan?”

“Have you guys trust me.  We step under that trap.  I cast a spell conjuring air that keeps the net up.  When the demons get mad and rush us, I yell at you to rush out.  As they come in, we go out and I release my air spell.”

“What if they use range?”

“That is another spell, or just a different style of attack.  I did look at the weapons, Vulge, and my family does make weapons.  I know what weaknesses to look for.  As for that net, I believe all of us have blades that will easily cut through the strands.”

Vulge again looked around, then asked, “What about taking another street?”

“Ignorance, Vulge.  I assumed there was a reason they assumed we would be coming down this street.”

“So why are we coming down this street?  Don’t tell me that you saw the net from where you were sniping.”

“No, but I did see the movement that I felt led to this net being set up.  Honestly, however, this avenue was the direct route from where we were to where I want to go.”

There was a moment of silence, then Vulge said, “Well, Princess, I still feel it would have been better if you would have told us.”

“I am dealing with potential problems of loyalty, Vulge.  I have two young men with me whose first introduction to me was me wiping out a mass of the population they grew up feeling was a part of them, if not knowing and loving some of them.  I am not going to deny who and what I am, but I need to know if they are going to truly trust me to do the right thing by them.”

Abreyon declared, “We’re with you, Honored Duchess.”

Vulge said, “You keep bringing them with you, Princess.  Don’t fight your battles alone.  You rule a land now, and those of your land need to see you in action.”

I had to state, “Grandfather Terish does all right, and he fights his battles alone.”

“I read the books and seen the movies, Princess.  Chering also went to Thiminy.  He came back speaking of Terish’s soldiers bragging of finally seeing battle with him.  Still, Terish fights his battles out in open desert.  His people can see what he is doing.  You’re now a public figure, so you have an obligation to be seen.”

“I should also be seen at my best, Vulge.  I am sorry, but what I did in gaining my duchy is not what I consider my best.  Fergush, maybe even Samayer, might think so, but I do not.  I did not like doing that, and I really hope Abreyon and Nerbink can see better in me, much less the rest of Phanigist.”

While both of the young men fell to their knees presenting their weapons, I was glad to hear Vulge say, “Empress Straekin has never denied the blood behind her rise to power.  She however has done a fabulous job of leading our world.  She never denied the blood behind Terish’s greatness, and he has proven himself to be worthy of her.  There is a difference in using the corpses of those falling before you as steps to greatness and having their blood represent the cost of bringing about a real change.  Davelda really changed when we elected Straekin as our empress.  Thiminy is nothing like the land it was before Terish took it over.  That’s your standard, Princess Jelnaya.  Phanigist needs you to show that you are something different, and I mean good different.”

I took my drahaberd, lifted it, then boldly asked, “Fergush, did you hear that?”

In my head came the reply, “I fully believe you can do it, Jelnaya.”

Seeing movement at certain doors, I kept the drahaberd in my hand while looking at the young men and saying, “Fergush said he believed in me.  Abreyon and Nerbink, I hope you come to believe in me as well.”  Hearing both tell me that they already did, I replied, “Well, I am still Fergush’s champion, and the fight has come.  I hope you have fun, because I am in the mood to again show my god my pleasure in serving him.”

Esgalia finally reaches the point where he can be part of the solution.