It Only a Dream Can Be
Balerk wanted the tails of the two he killed to be given to his girls. I did not concern myself with the quality of such a present, but with the health of such a gift. I went through each length not doubting the fluffy nature once the water was removed, but worried about a stinger, abrasive texture, or other problems that I knew could be true of those things not born of a benevolent design. While the tails passed my inspection, I turned them over to certain skilled people with the warnings to look for problems before giving the items to children or others who wanted the trophies.
Stepping away from the furriers to head back to the castle, the ruler of this domain made himself known and joined me while saying, “Those girls love you, and it is evident that you love them in return.”
I could not help myself from replying, “You telling me that you think it is abnormal for someone to love those of their family?”
“This is not a realm to Onathia, but Samayer, and you are a Champion of Fergush.”
“You want me to call Makinor? You put him and me together and we can have you feel really small.”
“That’s not –“
“I SLAUGHTERED EVERYONE!” I did not care if anyone heard, but was worried that some might not understand what I was saying. “There was something wrong with this land. It was something so horribly wrong that I was told to slaughter. We have six gods: He-Who-Fight, She-Who-Survives, He-Who-Assigns, She-Who-Loves, She-Who-Serves, and He-Who-Teaches. Right now, I feel a need to let you know how I go about proclaiming the aspect of Cloript.”
He bowed, then said, “You’re a good ruler, Honored Duchess. A lot better than I expected a Champion of Fergush to be.”
“He promised me everything! That was my demand. That means a land as its ruler. This is it. Sorry, Baron, but you are my vassal. The next thing is a husband, which means a family. I will not have a man or children who do not love me, nor will I set such an example. You better love your wife and children, Baron, and I better find your people loving each other. You better do all you can to have me of the opinion that I would rather be condemned by Fergush than slaughter any portion of your domain.”
“I will let Samayer know that I really believe we will survive with someone like you in charge. My point was to compliment you, Honored Duchess. That is still my intent.”
I probably would have said something nice, but I did not want a certain busy-body to think he was not recognized, “Well, speaking of Cloript.”
The lady dressed in a manner of a priestess of He-Who-Teaches stepped on up to say, “I did not mean to intrude, but when you, Honored Duchess, spoke the name of my god he informed me that he really did not have much of an encounter with you.”
“My Great-aunt Dirchein is a devotee of Remidda, so I always assumed Cloript got his lessons about dealing with me from his wife.”
“As you said, Honored Duchess, your entry into our lives was in a rather drastic fashion. We feared what our lives would be under you. Actually, we have been rather amazed at how good things have been. If I can help, I want you to know I can be called upon.”
“I hope that is Cloript speaking and not you.”
She seemed disturbed by my words, although said, “Well, yes.”
“Good. Listen, your god is opposed to the goddess of this realm. I am dealing with a Champion of Onathia, who is opposed to my god. Admit it, something really bad is coming.”
The priestess paused in a manner I actually wanted to see, so I waited for her response. “Actually, no, but my god only looks at intent. He however points out that you are here with your family, and Makinor has his history with you. You should know the way your problems come, and what it takes to deal with them. All that concerns Cloript is that you continue to learn from them.”
“I hope this meeting has you accepting that I won’t bite your head off if you come to me.”
“Yes. Thank you, Honored Duchess. Baron, your presence was appreciated.”
The local monarch said after the priestess moved away, “I was glad to hear that. Honored Duchess, my home will ever be welcoming to you. The flag pole in your castle be damned, we will stay strong in our support of you.”
“You better, because it is also evident that I will be called away. When I come home, I better never need to do what I had to do the first time I came here.”
“I assure you that my domain will stand before Cloript as having learned a lesson. See you at supper, Honored Duchess.”
I had been willing to walk back to the castle with the man. Feeling dismissed by my own baron, I decided not to get angry. Accepting that his action gave me permission to move about the properties, I started walking.
“Princess Jelnaya, just how serious is your relationship with Makinor?”
It did not surprise me that Vulge came with me. He did not act as a bodyguard, and really had not joined me on other missions, but had made himself a constant presence in my life in this land. As someone from my Grandmother Straekin’s world, I would not deny him. What had me look around was seeing if any others were moving with me. Noticing the evidence of soldiers keeping a watch at a distance, I allowed myself to respond to Vulge.
“It is Honored Makinor, as he is a Champion of Onathia. As far as you are concerned, it is possible that he might be seeking my hand in marriage. I doubt it, but She-Who-Loves did originally send him to me to have him as more than the usual companion. I suspect he has something to again have us work together, and what happens with our relationship I guess we might both be interested to learn.”
“But Onathia and Fergush are opposed.”
“Right, so it is safe to say that we really will not get along. Still, Makinor is the representative of the She-Who-Loves, and I will have love in my life. At the same time, Makinor is a divine champion, and does need to face challenges.”
I expected Vulge to mention the battle in the pond, but he instead said, “I will be listening to determine if I need to go with you, Princess.”
“Vulge, I promise you that I will be there for you. Any lady that comes speaking of an interest in you, I will investigate them as strongly as you consider what men come to me.”
“Me? You think someone would actually be interested in this ancient immortal?”
Those lines were spoken a little too calmly for me, so I put some stress in my reply, “I’m just as immortal as you are, Vulge. I might not be seven hundred years old yet, but I will still be there with you seven hundred years from now. If I haven’t found a man by then, I might consider you.”
“Your Grandmother Straekin would not like it.”
“Yes, well, we can worry about that seven hundred years from now.” I however had to add, “Of course, Grandmother Straekin can be someone to worry about.”
That admission broke the ice with Vulge. He was over seven hundred years old from a completely different history than mine. He was also a man. I did not want to say that we did not get along, but the fact was that we really did not have similar interests. Sometimes it was hard to find something Vulge and I could talk about.
Where his companionship paid off was in dealing with others. Usually, if I could not understand someone, he could. As we encountered local people, it helped having Vulge make comments, and I believe he was glad I said some things. Between the two of us, we had a good time dealing with various people we met on our walk.
Of course, being a divine champion I had the duty of promoting my god. My relationship with Fergush was however a positive one, so I tended to do things in a manner that had people feel good. When it was time to end the day, I had more than my two nieces speaking of having a wonderful time. I however left the main chamber accepting that my day was not over, as I had a meeting with another divine champion.
I entered the parlor and set myself to pour some drinks. Makinor rose, and accepted his glass graciously. Vulge was present as well, coming in behind me, but he went to stand against a wall as I was directed to take a seat in a chair near a fireplace. As I set myself to deal with a divine champion to an opposed deity, I however found the opening to be something I did not suspect.
Makinor handed me a book as he asked, “Jelnaya, do you know a lady by the name of Inchell? She claims to be immortal.”
Seeing the writing to be in a script I recognized, I had to say, “Vulge, this book is from Davelda. Do you know an Inchell?”
He replied, “I know a few Inchells, Princess. It is a common name on Davelda.”
I turned some pages as he said that, although had to direct my next words at Makinor. “Just like a Champion of Onathia to be interested in poetry.”
My fellow divine champion replied, “I cannot read it, Jelnaya. I met Inchell. She is very lovely, and said that she was looking for an older man. Things got serious, so I asked Onathia about developing the relationship further. She had me speak to Inchell of plans, and the lady gave me this book saying that it would explain things. It confused me, which was not helped by learning that she would not be present for another meeting. Onathia waited for me to mention coming to you for advice, but then she let me know that was exactly what I needed to do.”
Flipping pages while he spoke, I had to say, “This is not love poetry, Makinor. The title is ‘Things I Believe In,’ and most are rather bizarre presentations of people, creatures, and scenes.”
“Could you read some to me?”
“Yes, and they should work, as they are mostly in free verse. Rhymes usually do not transmit, but I have spoken the strange language that enables me to speak to all long enough that I can get the meter to work.”
“My goddess grants me that ability, but it does not extend to the written word.”
Hoping to help Makinor, I provided some background. “With the family I have, I learned how to speak before committing to Fergush. I however found myself understood even better afterward. As for the written languages, that is not an easily learned technique. My Uncle Althery has done a better job of helping me than even my Grandfather Terish, but I am still not the best at it.”
There were numbers particular to the deities of Sennapre. For Fergush it was six, so I turned to that poem to begin reading. Not finding any answers or the men to stop me, I counted out to the next one six poems away, then read it. I did the same a few times, and finally settled on some particulars to say to Makinor.
“I don’t have any answers, but I can say some things. If this Inchell is from Davelda then she is immortal. I can tell Onathia has not given you that blessing yet, Makinor. Inchell will also have problems with her reproductive system, as their method of regeneration is due to a reworking of their reproductive organs. What I am saying, is that not only will Onathia need to grant you immortality, but probably work a miracle on the lady as well.”
Makinor calmly replied, “I told you on the earlier mission that Onathia was speaking of having me rise to the level at which you serve Fergush. It was a good mission, but only a first for me. As you should expect, my missions have not been anything like that one, but I have found myself often challenged just by the setting as I was by the working of my actual duties among the people. I hope to call upon our friendship, Jelnaya, and not claim any obligation. Still, just as I went on a previous mission with you, I would ask that you take up this one with me.”
“Going with you is not a problem, Makinor. All you need to do is ask. The omniverse is extremely huge however with immortals finding themselves on lifetime quests to find things. I would not suggest that you go, much less with me, unless we have an idea where we are going.” I then turned to the other man in the room to ask, “You want to read this thing, Vulge?”
He replied, “I cannot say that I am as good as you in reading poetry, Princess Jelnaya.”
“You only say that because I am a lady. You would rather hear me read it than you read it.”
“This book is however from Davelda. The imagery and references should thus be those of Davelda. I would assume after seven hundred years of living on that world you would make connections that I would not.”
Makinor said, “Please, Vulge.”
My official chaperone said, “I’ll read it, but Princess Jelnaya I would recommend that you contact your grandmother. Empress Straekin might be able to give us an idea about this Inchell.”
I replied, “I don’t speak to her unless I am where she is. The one I contact is Grandfather Terish.”
Vulge pulled an item from his pocket, then came to exchange it for the book. He then did not move back to the wall, but stood while scanning the text. I accepted that he wanted to hear the conversation, so I worked with the item to make the connection.
Grandmother Straekin did not act surprised to hear from me, but asked for the reason I contacted her. I happily told her about the meeting with Makinor. She had heard about the man, as I did find time to visit and tell my stories. My reason for going was always to speak with Grandfather Terish, but I did love my Grandmother Straekin as well. She was obviously on Davelda near a connection to their network, as I heard some information almost as soon as I finished telling her why I contacted her.
“Inchell Nakamachu. Marine. Claimed that she could be the equal of you, Jelnaya. No report of her death, and – yes, just got a message from her superior officer. He says that she does make regular reports. He says that the last report does mention Makinor, and says that he might be what she needs, if only he could find her.”
I had to ask, “That’s it?”
From over the connection, I heard a live voice of a man saying, “That is it, Princess Jelnaya. She never has said much, but only enough to assure us that she is alive. I also cannot contact her. If I hear more, I will let Empress Straekin know.”
My grandmother asked, “You want me to get Terish on it, Jelnaya?”
“Not right now,” I replied. “Strangely, Makinor was given something. Let’s see if we can figure something out. If things get cold, you know I can contact Grandfather Terish.”
“Okay, Jelnaya. Still, you know that I will concern myself with my people. That means you stay in contact, as we might end up stepping on each other’s toes.”
I thanked her, told her I loved her, then closed the connection before asking, “Vulge, you have everyone on Davelda calling me princess?”
He could not help but smile as he replied, “It really did not take much, Princess Jelnaya, as you are one of our princesses and really the only one that bothers to visit.”
I looked to Makinor to say, “That is what happens when you deal with someone from Davelda.”
The Champion of Onathia replied, “They sound like a people who can truly love, Jelnaya. It only makes me want to find this lady more.”
“All right. Listen, I plan on moving on to my barony of Vytech tomorrow. A couple of days, then back to Phanigist. Once there I can send Balerk and his family back home. Hopefully, at that time we will be able to determine our own journey.”
In the next chapter you get to meet Inchell.