It Only a Dream Can Be

Chapter Four

Even little Sterrin, barely two years old, liked the poetry.  Adria claimed a position in my saddle to read along as I proclaimed the verses out loud.  While the men listened to the poetry calmly, I believe Punollin was amazed that others did not react as her girls.

She asked, “Honored Makinor, surely you like poetry.”

I interjected, “He might be a Champion of She-Who-Loves, but he is still a man.”

Makinor said, again, “What she is reading is not love poetry.”

Punollin replied, “But several of the poems have lovely imagery with the actions having meaning.  It’s deep.”

I had to say, “Don’t lower your standards, Makinor.  I will support your not liking poetry.”

The Champion of Onathia replied, “You like poetry, Jelnaya.”

“Yes, but I’m a girl.  Stay a man, Makinor.”

From her place in front of me, Adria said, “Read the next one, Aunt Jelnaya.”

With Sterrin sounding out her agreement, I flipped the page to begin the next one.  Suddenly, I had both girls speaking the poem along with me.  There were some differences in what they said and what I saw on the page, so had to ask about it.

Adria could read, so said, “You’re right, Aunt Jelnaya.  It’s not ‘The Speckled Bunny,’ but it does sound like it.”

Balerk asked, “Did you read it properly, Jelnaya?”

I had Adria read the poem.  While it was obvious she wanted to again quote her children’s verses, she stayed true to what was on the page.  Hearing Makinor then ask what lines were similar and which ones were altered, I suspected he wanted to treat the alterations as a puzzle that could answer his own questions.  Adria was only five, and Sterrin only two, so while they were eager to discuss the poem they really could not speak at the depth the Champion of Onathia desired.

I however felt I did catch a connection, so asked, “Makinor, you said this Inchell was from Davelda?”

He answered, “Yes, Jelnaya.  Your grandmother verified it.”

“Did she, Inchell, speak of having immortality?”

“Well, yes, but only because I did mention something about it.”  He paused, then admitted, “I really don’t know how the topic came up.”

“I do.  You spoke to her of Onathia.  You were on another world, speaking to a lady from a different world, yet speaking of your goddess.”

“Uh, yes, that is… yes, I believe that is how it happened.”

“We’re staying up again tonight.  The answer is not in the poetry.  It might be for her, but I can tell you what is going on right now.  You need to talk to me of her.”  Just because I knew another would make himself present, I added, “Vulge, search your memory for any knowledge of the lady.”

He had to ask, “Why would I know her, Princess Jelnaya?”

“Because you spent seven hundred years on Davelda.  You had time to meet everyone.  That should be especially true for Inchell, because I know Grandmother Straekin holds regular banquets for the military.”

My brother said, “She has you there, Vulge.”

The large man replied, “Well, I will think over my memories and let you know tonight if I do recall anything about her.”

I did read the rest of the poems.  A few did catch my interest, but I mostly enjoyed the time with my two nieces.  When we arrived at Vytech, I accepted that I had certain political duties.  I however did some things to assure those of the castle knew who I had brought with me.  As the others started moving to the grand residence, Adria however stayed with me to thank my horse for allowing her to ride with me and assure me that I would bring the book of poems to read when we again traveled.

We turned as a young man asked, “That is your eldest niece, Honored Duchess?”

I answered, “Yes, Prince Dagrouch, at least the eldest of those with me.  My younger sister has a son and daughter slightly older.”  I then directed the girl with me to curtsey as I introduced the pair.  “Adria Belaist Dozzrine, this is Prince Dagrouch of Vytech.  The young man is actually rather good with falcons, although has been too lazy to climb and get him another set of eggs.  Prince Dagrouch, Adria is only five but is showing some spunk and determination.”

The lad, his voice was cracking and he was showing other signs of maturity, so I reckoned twelve or thirteen, bowed as he said, “Mother said it was my place to meet the children, but the others were being carried by their parents.”

“I will let your parents know that you did what you could.”

“Yes, well, Honored Duchess Jelnaya, Sir Vidoyer challenged me to sing under your balcony tonight.  Said I had as good a chance to win your hand as anyone else.  I believe he meant none at all.”

“Now, Dagrouch, I did make Fergush promise me that I would have it all.  That does mean a husband.  There will be certain requirements, but you are far too young to dash your hopes.  You said sing.  Are you good?”

By the time I made it to the castle, I had heard both youths do a few stanzas from their favorite songs.  While there was a large age difference in the two, I appreciated Prince Dagrouch accepting the duty of escorting Adria to the apartment for her family.  Seeing his father with some other men let me know that I might not have as good a time as the youths.

Baron Neglest said, “I welcome you to my home, Honored Duchess.  Word came that this was to be a friendly visit, but it should not surprise you that I have concerns waiting for you.”

Vytech had a number of particular situations that were both good and bad.  Further to the north was the royal castle of Grenare, so the baron had to deal with situations between my method of authority and that of the king.  Vytech had originally been established as a garrison for troops, but as people moved along the Lewarly River they found the military town as a safe resting spot.  Today it was a strong community with a variety of merchants specializing in exotic products.  I had saved Vytech for last to give my brother and his family a good place to shop before preparing to return to their home.

I had to say, “Once again I have to blame you for spoiling a good journey.  Still, Neglest, I guess we need something to talk about.”

He replied, “We are not yet looking at two years since you took over, Honored Duchess.  We are still getting used to you.  If not for the gods speaking in your favor, I doubt relations with you would be as good as they are.”

I waved to a priest of my deity as I said, “Neglest, I believe what you are being told is biased.”

The baron saw my actions, and replied, “The fact that they so freely come to spread the propaganda is what I find amazing.  All of us with any memory know that it was hard to find a priest to Samayer, and this is a realm dedicated to her.  Now it is common to see a priest, although those of Samayer are still rare.”

“The church is still rebuilding.  They have definite plans to have priests of the goddess commonly seen about all my domains.”  I moved to shake the hands of the priest to my god as I said, “It however is rare to see a priest to my god with me wondering if I am to be Fergush’s only representative.”

The priest replied, “With your active presence in the realm, Fergush is concerned that his authority might exceed that of his wife.  Still, Honored Duchess, I was told to encourage you to continue your journeys.  Your place as a Champion of Fergush does take precedence.”  In a softer voice, he added, “And he does like watching you in action.  He however said that the one you were planning right now mystifies him.”

“He doesn’t like poetry either, does he?”

I saw the gaze of the priest have him act as if he was listening to another before saying, “He believes you are correct about the connection with Davelda being the important factor, as he found nothing of importance in the poetry either.”

“Well, I’m a girl, so I will probably read the poems again a few times.  If there is a connection, I am hoping to find it.”

It was one of the local generals who said, “That dedication is what we need in our nobility.  Come, let us socialize in better surroundings.”

I am not going to say that the conversations with certain figures were becoming boring, but even after the short period of my authority over this realm I had become familiar with certain topics.  What really annoyed me were the regular solutions to the problems presented.  I almost gained the impression that the baron was afraid to make certain decisions, even those with a simple historic resolution, but preferred having me do it.  I had actually checked on the history of Vytech, and learned that the rulers were usually pestered by military and royal officials with one group often not happy when a decision was made in the favor of another.  I settled upon the decision to put up with the present figures of authority, but to continue to work on Prince Mesonch, the older lad and the one to be the heir to the throne, in order to have him finish growing with a backbone and some confidence in me concerning certain matters.

The minstrel gained for our entertainment I had to assume was also scared of presenting any offensive or mentally challenging pieces, so I bent to listen to my sister-in-law interested in any comments of being bored from her.  “Jelnaya, I was thinking over the poems you read today.  My girls recognized a few others.  They did not have the love for them the way they did ‘The Speckled Bunny,’ but they did tell me about recognizing some of the others.  I don’t read poetry from Davelda to them.  We live on Emigaila, so the books on poetry I get are from Emigaila as well.  The only stuff we get from Davelda are the stories of your and Balerk’s grandparents along with relatives like you.”

I definitely felt what she was talking about to have more value than what the minstrel was doing, so replied, “And Emigaila has more gods than Sennapre.”

“Yes.  You have six, but we have eight.  Of course, Davelda just has Munulva.”

“You know, it is strange that Makinor did not speak of the gods of this other world."

“There is a lot that seems strange about your life, Jelnaya, but I can tell it is a good one.  It works for you.  Thiminy worked for Grandfather Terish, and I believe this realm will work for you.  I believe my children are going to want to come back and visit often just as you and Balerk speak of enjoying the trips to Thiminy.”

I did appreciate the words, and preferred the conversation to what was passing as entertainment.  “I really cannot believe Grandfather Terish is allowing Grandmother Straekin to have him move to Davelda."

“Munulva has adjusted Her world to work with immortals.  Thiminy grew old.  That world was not one for immortals.  Grandfather Terish and Great-uncle Ferrigote gained their immortality from Fergush, your god, a god of this world.  There are other immortals here.  This world will support an immortal heroine a lot better than a place like Thiminy.  I can see you in a hundred years having as much enjoyment in this land as you do now, probably more since by then they should be used to you.”

Balerk joined our conversation, which did not surprise me.  Having grown up with me, he could understand my points while providing support for what his wife said.  I found others listening in to our conversation with me having to say some gracious words to the minstrel when he finished under the assumption that someone did enjoy the performance.

And Jelnaya does more to prepare for whatever is going to involve her.