It Only a Dream Can Be
There were not things like roads or easily understood routes through the omniverse. One of the first lessons I wanted to learn, but had to come to understand was not possible, was leaving to move through one universe then come back into the first universe on the other side of some barrier. The coordinate systems of realities did not match up, but each twisted and contorted in ways only my Grandfather Terish could actually understand. There was a method of working out paths, but coming up with exact distances or locations was next to impossible. Knowing to wait for what those I trusted would say about what route to take, I went back to my routine.
My realm had adjusted to my style of handling matters. I usually only sat at my throne when directly involved with certain types of business with my advisors. Those who brought problems to me often found themselves to gain my presence somewhere in my home or territory. I handled most regular concerns while at the sparring field or running through my town. The inns had learned that I would drop in asking about the visitors that had sought a room or simply asked a lot of questions. It did not surprise me to turn a corner heading to the outer gate of my town that I saw soldiers pointing in my direction before a group of mounted men. I slowed down seeing the men dismount, and figured I needed to handle this matter.
One man with what I would say had the scrub on his face of not caring about his appearance while traveling held up a hand while saying, “Honored Duchess, matters prevented me from getting here early enough to see you on the sparring field.”
His hair was actually brown, but dark enough that it appeared black when wet from a showing of sweat. His eyes however gleamed a light blue like could be found in my family. He had a good build, and drew a broadsword while speaking to assure that he did not appear to be a real threat.
“Honored Jelnaya, I see you have a sword, but if you would rather take me on at another time I will wait.”
I did not draw NeverRose, but signaled for the man to advance while asking, “What is your intention?”
“Matrimony.” He advanced a couple of steps, then stopped to say, “Honored Jelnaya, you are not drawing your weapon.”
Feeling I could end his plans right now, I replied, “I don’t think I need to. Broadswords are actually easy to defend against.”
From the way he turned, and what I saw of those with him, I assumed the man was in his early twenties. That was an acceptable age, although my problem was that I did not want one that would age. As a Champion of He-Who-Fights, I however needed someone that did not fear a situation with me. When he turned back, he went through some motions to assure he would not be taken wrong before attacking.
I did a flip that had me send a foot upon his sword hand. While he did keep a hold on the weapon, he displayed no skill in other tactics. I rolled around his torso grabbing him in a way to throw him. He hit the road on his back, then rose actually looking at his blade as if to question even using the weapon.
He took a stance with his sword that would give him better footing than he had earlier. I pulled a dagger, had it flip, then took off at him. He flowed into an attack, but was quickly back-peddling when I used the dagger to catch and redirect his thrust while my other hand punched him on the nose. He tried to regain his stance, but one of the other men in his group dismounted to make a statement of how the battle had gone.
“You lost, Shenorn. Let me have your sword.” When the weapon was tossed to him, he brandished it then did some tricks with it before saying, “Honored Duchess, Baron Nuchirg sends you his love.”
I replied, “I believe my cousin and I are glad our lands are so far from each other. How do you know him?”
“My grandfather is one of those that came with Ferrigote to this world from Gaeskow. What do I gain if I make you gain your sword?”
Actually having to consider those I had met about Nehallum, I answered, “You get to go against me with my sword.”
“NeverRose, or some minor thing you keep on you?”
“If I have to draw my sword, it is not a minor thing.” I then recalled a youth, and spoke my recognition of the man. “You are Payorl.”
The man bowed, then said, “I have been a while from Nehallum, so my message from Baron Nuchirg is rather dated. Still, I did leave with the intent of seeking you. My grandfather and father have seen success around Nehallum, but I decided to move to another family member.”
“I’m from the other side of the family.”
“I have heard nothing bad about serving under Terish Dozzrine. In fact, the stories from this side of the family were more entertaining. What are my chances of gaining a position in your private protectors?”
When I attacked he avoided any simple error. He then planted the point of the broadsword and used the metal as something to protect his immediate front while using daggers to defend a number of attacks from the side. When he then pulled the broadsword, I drew NeverRose. We went against each other with a series of exchanges. Since he did not have an enchanted weapon, I only did enough with my blade to prove the man’s skill, and felt he had not made any error when he backed off.
He bowed, then said, “I know our little session could go on for minutes, if not hours.”
I let him and his companions know, “It was hours with me eradicating armies in the situation that had me gain this duchy.”
“Let me say it was an extended battle that gained my place with this company. This however was just a meeting, and not me intending to gain any concessions from you except a later chance to prove myself.”
I pointed at the other man, and asked, “What about him, or the others?”
“Shenorn was speaking of gaining your hand. I know the gift of immortality is a rare blessing. However, I also know the blessing of a life in the service of one blessed. Nothing against Ferrigote, or the family he allows to rule his land, but I was more enchanted by the stories from this side of the family.”
“His name is Vulge. When you enter the castle grounds, ask for him. Tell him what you told me, and he will see about assigning you rooms while letting you know things.”
An elder still sitting on a horse asked, “Where are you running to, Honored Duchess?”
I was about to answer, but I noticed a signal from an enchanted gem on my person and pulled it out to hear the voice of Grandfather Terish say, “Jelnaya, go where the meeting of Inchell occurred. I am not saying you are not correct about the poem you mentioned, but the one you really want to study is ‘The Unappreciated Gift.’ From what I have read, I would say if you read that one then a number of other poems seem to have other meanings. Almost want to join you on this one, but Straek and I have been planning to go in another direction.”
The words bothered me, so I replied, “Thank you, Grandfather Terish, but I feel that if Makinor knew where she was, he would not have said what he did.”
“Your grandmother and I are on Davelda right now, Jelnaya, and we have been speaking with Giluchex and his family along with the family of Inchell. If there is someplace Munulva is free to speak, it is here. The fact that She did something on Sennapre should be taken seriously. Stay alert, Jelnaya, because this seems to be more than a simple concern for a lost citizen.”
I assured my grandfather that I understood the weight of some missions, thanked him for what he did, then looked to the one that asked the question to answer, “It seems that I will be heading to the castle.”
Payorl said, “I want to go with you, Jelnaya. This is the start of this mission.”
“One, that is not my rule, although being from Nehallum I will forgive you for thinking it is. The one that started that rule was Great-uncle Ferrigote, but I do not have his past or his type of missions. Two, you don’t have the weapons for a journey of this type. Great-uncle Ferrigote has an armory of special weapons and armor pieces, but I am not nearly as old as he is. I also do not go around picking up things, so I doubt I will ever have what he or Grandfather Terish has.”
“What if I get a better weapon?”
“That is only one of a number of what-ifs that will need to happen. I’m not going to speculate, as I have my problems. I however am not someone hard to notice or who puts up barriers to keep people from approaching me. If things fall into place for you, not being able to find me will not gain me any compassion for you.”
I took off running back to my castle. I heard the sounds of horses attempting to follow, but I knew my town while they did not. There was a main thoroughfare, but it actually circled around to show off a number of merchants and features of the community. Those of us that wanted to move quickly, learned other routes from the castle.
Soldiers responded to me, and began doing certain things as I moved across my grounds to enter a garden where I saw the person I needed to speak to. “Makinor, Inchell is where you met her.”
He looked up from where he was reading to say, “Well, it was a rather formal parlor. It wasn’t like I could just go meet her, Jelnaya.”
“Well, we start there. How many of those poems did you read?”
“I couldn’t read them, Jelnaya. I could only guess she assumed I could get them interpreted. Yes, since we spoke of you, I assumed you would be able to read them or know where to get them interpreted. I did listen as you read them to your nieces.”
“Okay, well, I’m at your command. We can leave now, later in the day, or tomorrow morning.”
He pulled at a sleeve of his shirt indicating that he was not dressed for trouble while saying, “Not right away, Jelnaya. It’s four days away.”
“Four days from when we leave. When we leave could affect when we arrive. You know the way, so when would be the best time to start?”
“Yes, there were a lot of formal rules about when I could see her. Okay, ah, about an hour after lunch. There is a lovely lake a few hours away.”
“I believe I know where you are talking about. Okay, Makinor, I will be setting things in motion. Still, this is your mission.
From his expressions as he rose I believe he was going to challenge my words, but he then instead said, “Definitely something different than the other mission with you, Jelnaya. Look forward to your company.”
Inchell is having her encounters as well.