It Only a Dream Can Be

Chapter Five
(Jelnaya)

Prince Dagrouch did sing to me under my balcony.  I did not take over the rooms of his parents, as happened in most noble abodes when a superior came for an extended visit, but spoke of wanting to treat the homes of my vassals as my own, so wanted a room of my own in each.  Understanding that my active life could have me show up unannounced, every one of my domains had designated an apartment to me.  My place in Castle Vytech did have a small balcony, and as I enjoyed the night air the young noble found the courage to come and perform.

To cover his cracking voice, I sang the song with him.  It was usual for me to do things like that, especially if it was a song I liked, although most men became embarrassed when I did.  Dagrouch however seemed pleased with the attention from me, and we finished the song together.

He then asked, “Exactly how much chance do I have to gain you, Honored Duchess?”

“I would say none at all,” I replied.  “Vytech needs to stay strong, so I won’t take you from here.”

He did not mention that it was his older brother that would claim the domain, but said, “You are saying that the man you marry will need to come here?  I mean to Phanigist.”

“Yes.  Fergush, well Samayer, gave me this realm.  I will not leave it.”

“Well, uh, so you are going to marry some second son, or… who?”

I laughed while saying, “Well, I am interested in that as well.  Still, I will not be a stranger, Dagrouch.  You keep checking on me, and I assure you that I will bring the man around to get your approval.”

“Me?”

“It might be your brother that will become my vassal, Dagrouch, but I expect you to gain a place of honor as well.  My policies, including my marriage, will affect you.  Let me add that the same applies to you.  We keep an open line of communication going.”

He bowed while saying, “Yes, Your Honored Grace.”  He then rose with a confused expression, and said, “But you are not always around.”

“I am a Champion of Fergush.  This realm is dedicated to his wife, Samayer.  If you cannot find me, you can turn to the gods.  The message, especially one of a need, will get to me.”

After the usual pleasantries of parting, I turned back to my room where I saw Vulge sitting in a chair while Makinor stood against a wall near the balcony and said, “I am as impressed by you as I was on the first mission with you, Jelnaya.  I guess Onathia is as well, as she said you had a question for me.”

“What about the gods of this world you met Inchell on?”

“The gods?  Why should I care –“

I did not give him time to fully ask the question, but quickly started my answer.  “Because you are a divine champion.  Because you are a divine champion, your presence in another reality is an incursion of another authority upon the grand design of the deities of that reality.  Now, most deities are very wonderful entities.  They emulate what they want their people to be.  There are a few who very protective of their realities however, and some that are not nice at all, and I know that there are times I can go places where Fergush is not welcome.”

Makinor bowed, showed me to a seat, then served me a glass of wine while admitting, “I had not realized the full status of my travels, Jelnaya.  I am still amazed at the fact I can travel to other worlds.”

“Okay, well, there is another reason to learn about the gods.  Those from Davelda are not immortal like I am.  They used science to bless them with immortality.  While their bodies regenerate, they cannot have children.  They have figured out another scientific method to enable them to reproduce, but I am told it is painful with a low rate of success.  Inchell is possibly interested in that world because it has a God or gods who she feels might bless her with a fully functioning immortal body.”

I could not tell whether Onathia was also lecturing Makinor as he stated an understanding of my words.  “And the same deity that could do that for her could also make me immortal.”

Vulge asked, “Why couldn’t Onathia just make Makinor immortal?”

I replied, “She definitely could.  There however is usually a need associated with the blessing.  Fergush had to grant me immortality.  To go where necessary in confronting the problems of Aunt Neselle’s world I could not have a mortal form.  To fight some of the battles I get involved in I need the recuperative properties of an ever youthful physiology.  Makinor is not there, yet, but I believe Onathia is preparing him.”

The Champion of She-Who-Loves said, “Thank you, Jelnaya.”

“You have to get the mentality that you will fight those battles and go to those places.”

“I followed you once before Jelnaya, and I am back seeking your guidance again.  I am committed.”

“Well, it probably won’t be me you have to commit to.  It could be Inchell.  I don’t know what she is up to, but as someone from Davelda it could be really misconstrued or hopelessly without merit.”  I pointed to Vulge as I said, “Those of Davelda are coming to us children instead of being guides and examples for us.  Inchell being off on her own could very possibly be following a false trail.”

Makinor admitted, “Especially if her source of inspiration was from one of those poems.”

“Now you know what you are up against.”

“You told me to commit, Jelnaya.”  As if it had any value, he added, “She was very lovely.”

“Honestly, Makinor, I find all men to attract my eyes.  That’s why I focus on personality.”

“Well, she’s not like you.  You are very attractive, but that hair just reinforces the bold nature of your personality.  While I am overwhelmed by your beauty and how you treat me with respect, I really have to confess the way I imagine our lives together I doubt would fit reality at all.  Inchell, she… well, there was a strength but also a demure nature.  There was something pleasing in spending time with her.  I believe we could actually get along.”

“You speak to Onathia about that, Makinor.  As a fellow divine champion and as a friend, I will go with you.  The fact Inchell is probably from Davelda also gives the mission some importance to me.  Three, four days and I should be back in Phanigist with my brother and his family back on the road home.  I will be free to leave then.”

He rose to thank me.  I did allow some affection to pass between us.  Makinor was a champion of She-Who-Loves, and I did want the goddess to know that I did desire a man in my life.  After I closed the door on Makinor, Vulge rose to state his own plans.

“I will be going with you, Princess, for almost every reason you said.  A friend of yours is a friend of mine, and if Inchell is a fellow soldier from Davelda there is a demand that I do what I can for her.”

I had to say, “If it does involve gods, your type of immortality might not be sufficient, Vulge.”

“I have not said anything, Princess, but I believe the Spring of Commorphin did have an effect on me.  Chering and Kandrid admit to feeling some of the things I do, but the ladies of Davelda are sterile even if we are not.  Anyway, I trust Munulva to bless me if I do follow you where most men should not travel.”

“Inchell should not be able to say even that, so your caution might help her.”

Vulge hugged me, then said, “I hope you never marry, Jelnaya.  This is fabulous.  I don’t want it to end.”

“Well, I would bet Onathia is considering you just as she is considering me.  If you should find someone ahead of me, it won’t be the first time something like that happened.”

“If it is a girl for me, she will be just as devoted to you as I am.  Trust me on that, Princess.  Now, good night.”

While I expected my brother and his family to spend the day in town, I had no such plans for myself.  I traveled enough that I saw enough exotic items.  I had bought some, but for the most part I just made certain my weapons stayed in wonderful condition and I had clothes to cover my body.  Gaining a society, I located the tailors and put them to work on assuring a fresh wardrobe for me.  Other artisans I put to the test to assure the quality of whatever else I might need or desire.  As far as spending a day in town, if I did it was not to shop.

There were men waiting for me in the practice field.  Seldom did I find a lady waiting to challenge me.  I could not actually say I had ever found a female who could give me a good fight.  It was seldom I found a man who really tested my skills, but I at least did enjoy spending time with them.

“Oh, you are a lithe one,” a rather handsome opponent said when I turned to put my practice sword over my shoulder and against his neck.  “Most who would move like you do have less up top.”

I moved to reset for another round as I allowed, “I will take that as a compliment.”

Instead of again preparing to spar, he said, “My father was a Champion of Fergush.  I really did not like what he taught me.  He tried though.  Should have paid better attention, as I had his holding taken from me by some young tough punk.  Came here to see if I could talk to him and gain some advice.”

“I only talk to Fergush.  Plan on talking to everyone else after I gain a seat at his table.”

“Even if I show you this?”

Yes, he had a blessed icon, but I easily let him know why I was not impressed.  “You said that your father was a Champion of Fergush.  I can’t say why or how you gained that, but it was not for gaining his honor in combat.”

“No, but he loved me all the same.  It took some time, but I reckon he still loves me.  What he says to me might be harsh, but I feel ready to accept what he says.”

Just to see how honest he was about what he said, I replied, “You attack in a formal fashion, as if you have only been practicing routines and not truly seeking battle.  You have no vision for what is occurring in the middle of the attacks.  I am going to beat you this time by taking your feet out from under you and planting the point of this wooden sword in the dirt to the left of your neck.”

“My father tell you that?  The first part.”

“Are you suggesting that I could not tell things about how you fight?”

With anger showing on his features, he declared, “You don’t know me at all!”

“I didn’t come out here to tell people their histories.  I came out to promote He-Who-Fights.  I hold my status because I know how to fight.  Having fought a number of opponents, I can tell things about you from how you fight.”

“How old are you?”

“First, you don’t ask a lady her age.  Second, older than you.  Probably not over twice as old as you, but older than you.”

He still did not set himself for another round of combat, but asked, “How do you know how old I am?”

“How stupid do you expect to still be when you get older?”

Hearing laughter from those around us, he knelt while asking, “What advice would you have for me?”

“Seems to me that Fergush is not for you.  This realm is actually committed to Samayer, and the evidence is clear that you have survived.  If you expect to do more than that, it will take more than simple practice routines to achieve it.”

As the man stepped out of the sparring circle, another presented himself with a pole.  Those that used staves and such could be tough opponents, but when I had a sword they usually quickly found themselves without a good weapon.  As for having a practice sword, just a wooden imitation of the real thing, an actual simulation of real combat could not happen.  I let him do a couple of moves, then dropped, rolled, grabbed the bottom of his pole and lifted to send the man to the ground.  As he picked himself up with the expression of recognizing I had not gone for the kill, I grabbed a pole and set myself to return to the battle.

He was good and I did not use a pole enough to be highly proficient with the weapon.  I however laughed after surviving a few of his moves, then switched to using my length of wood as if it were a representation of my two-handed weapon.  I really had not considered my techniques with the drahaberd to apply to a pole, but against this opponent the maneuvers were enough to give me the advantage.

He conceded by saying, “There was a moment I thought I would beat you.”

I replied, “There was a moment I felt you might, but I do have a variety of techniques.”

“If I had won, I would have asked you your age.”

“If you would have won, I would have told you.”  Willing to have some fun, I went on to say, “Not so that everyone could hear.  I would have come right up to you,” which I did before kissing him, then as everyone made exclamations I put my lips to the side of his head and softly said, “then whispered it in your ear.”

As I stepped back, he said, “Ah, Your Honored Grace, you should not have done that.  I believe I have now fallen in love with you.”

I saw officials heading to me, so quickly said before I was taken away, “You did show me a flaw in my repertoire, so I will attempt to find time to come out and practice later.  If you are around, I will work more with you.”

Things are happening in the life of Inchell.