It Only a Dream Can Be
It helped that I found religious texts in the library. While those of this society claimed there was no God, that was not true for the world. I had found others who did profess a belief, especially among those who had been improperly placed into slavery like me. I gained the impression that I had arrived in the one decadent country in the whole world, although considered such words as limited by the true range of awareness of the speakers. Actually finding some religious texts gave me what I respected as an informed source on what I truly wanted to know.
What had intrigued me about this world was that it professed to have a God from another world. The actual deity responsible for everything in this reality was professed to be a very evil entity. The one that everyone worshipped was Yenostron, a deity that came upon the large cry of the people for relief. Nothing in what I knew of the complex fabric of realities that made up the omniverse allowed that to be possible. The travels of Terish Dozzrine, and with him coming to our world we gained access to tales of others that moved between worlds, spoke of deities being able to move and interact with others of their kind, but they were still tied to the place where they truly existed. In seeking answers to some of my own questions, it intrigued me that this one reality had a belief in a supreme God that was as much an alien as I was.
In a society as regimented as the one I was presently a part, there was no real way of hiding anything. They kept everything too clean, so any attempt to hide something was usually apparent from the mess or odd arrangement made by the contraband. I had said that I would start at one place in the library and just read it through, and I felt it was enough of a cover to hide my real intentions when certain books were set out.
Lord Dekelnor commented as I wrote down the works he intended to borrow, “There is no God.”
“He’s still there,” I replied.
“While you can deny Him, the fact is that the belief in Him is far older than your society. There are policies, traditions, and even behaviors that permeate your life from a time when the belief in the God was strong.”
I could tell the man, one who managed the movement of fabrics, thought for a moment before saying, “You are not saying He exists.”
“I am saying that He does not need to exist to be present. Belief in Him is a religious issue. Simply acknowledging the historic presence of the deity is a cultural one.”
“Sounds like an interesting philosophy. Some might want to disagree with you, and I wish I could be there to listen to the debate. Still, I have work to do.”
It was satisfying not to hear the man complain about my reading selection. One problem with this society was its strict adherence to its own rules. Even my own situation of being placed into slavery without just cause resulted in them having to admit their error. I never doubted that I could cause problems for those that enslaved me, although I could have failed from a lack of understanding the actual laws of this society. I was learning however, and felt some satisfaction that those around me were giving me respect due to my perseverance.
Thinking on the reason I came here, I put up the books I had been reading and sought one on poetry. One thing I could not fault about my own world was a recognition of our own problems. We never doubted the corruption that was possible in our government, so kept a watch on those that represented us. Empress Straekin held our faith in her by constantly working to relate her beliefs and visions for our future publicly. When Terish Dozzrine came, those attempting to overcome her influence worked to try and bring out what privacy our empress desired. She was still our ruler because what was revealed was something that could not be denied as proving her own statements, and everything that happened since supported her reasons for doing what she did.
My fault was not having a foundation for my plans. Terish Dozzrine had given Empress Straekin that. What he said, and the future he offered, he could show her evidence to support his dream. I had nothing but some extrapolated conclusions as the foundations for my own hopes, although went through each day satisfied that at least my plans had not turned me in a direction leading me to despair.
The door opened and I looked up to recognize the lad. “Master Lossurp. I hope you gained some wisdom from the only technical book I could offer you.”
He sat a text on the counter, then said, “Well, it helped me convince my father to purchase some better texts on the topic. When I finish, I will see about placing them in the library.”
“That would be so kind.”
“You’re over seven hundred years old?”
Not wanting my age to become public knowledge, I simply replied, “Well, I’m older than you.”
The lad was probably fifteen. He had some honor for pushing his education along practical occupational paths. I did not consider him especially smart, but he had a focus that would carry him far into a career before his limits might be reached. The lad however was young enough to lose his focus and consider other topics. While I was more than willing to help the youth, I did not want to be the object of his attention.
“You wouldn’t happen to know something of distortion metallurgy?”
A direct question, and with a desire to be helpful I answered, “No. I was in the military. We needed good metals, but there were always trade-offs. Some alloys were good for some things, but really did not fit other applications. Exactly how those in manufacturing chose what to use, or what new combination of materials to attempt, I did not bother to learn. I just waited for something new to be released, then see how it worked.”
“Hold it. You were in the military?”
Glad to have the conversation away from the topic of my age, I replied, “Marines.”
“Marines?” He looked me over, then asked, “You can fight?”
“I have stayed in shape. Practice regularly, or I did before coming here.”
“You ever kill a person?”
We of Davelda get picked on by those younger for reducing certain situations to adages, but it did help us keep a distance from topics that bothered us. “Those who seek to open wounds that have healed are at fault for keeping scars visible and pain intense.”
With the same gaze of non-appreciation that I saw in the youngsters now growing up on Davelda, the lad asked, “So you have?”
“I will call your father should you press this topic, Master Lossurp.”
I was glad to see him lower his head as a sign of doing more than simply saying words. “I mean nothing by it, Sha Inchell. I was just seeing what type of experience you could provide.”
“I do not promote myself. It is these books that can hopefully provide the knowledge you seek.”
I felt Master Lossurp was working to get back to speaking on my age as he said, “But I am trying to learn more than what these books provide. If there are things you can teach, I would not be against learning from you.”
“I would not learn from me. I am hoping to accomplish something, but at the moment I cannot say that I am clear on how my plans are going. What I have to teach might end up being proven wrong.”
“But you came from slavery to now hold this distinguished position.”
The lad was not going to score points with that recent history. “I was put into slavery illegally. As for this position, no one else was in the position, or had been for some time. However distinguished you might want to claim my present position is, it was not one others wanted.”
“But you’re being paid.”
“I took this position hoping not to be bothered. Now, Master Lossurp, can I help you gain another book that might help you?”
He reached to grab the book I was reading, then asked, “Poetry?”
“Inspiration. Good poetry pulls emotion from the limited use of words. I look to what the author is trying to accomplish, then seek the full meaning of the tools he used. I don’t know about its use in metallurgy, but I am hoping to prove the method in my own research.”
“What about in fighting?”
“Poetry limits words. Good fighting limits the tactics of the opponent and the stress to oneself.”
He looked at me as if trying hard to turn the conversation back to a matter of my age. He then mentioned a desire for a book on chemistry. I had actually found a rather advanced one stuck in the back of one shelf, and I presented it glad to have something to get the lad on his way. He however looked at me as if not really appreciating the efficient manner I was dealing with him.
He asked, “You ever been married, Sha Inchell?”
“I told you that I would contact your father, Master Lossurp.”
“Oh, come on. It’s a basic piece of information.”
“Dealing with my past.”
There was a moment of silence, but seeing the lad’s eyes fixed on me I knew he was going to make another attempt. “Listen, I really want to impress Cherine. I’ve heard advice from everyone else, but I was trying to see what type of advice I might get from you.”
“The children of Davelda really do not want advice from those of us who have lived so long. They will quote our adages along with us, then groan and walk away. Those that can go to other worlds.”
“And you came to our world.”
Hoping to keep the topic on something I felt willing to discuss, I replied, “There are answers. We have been shown that. I cannot say that my answer is here, but I will at least learn what I can.”
“So, how about you taking me when you go home? Maybe I can find answers on your world.”
“Tell you what, Master Lossurp, when someone comes for me, see how much luck you have in allowing your parents to have you accompany me.”
I felt some control in the conversation when he asked, “Someone is coming for you?”
“The one I hoped to contact will appear as a young lady. She really is not that old, but see what you think of her. If interested, let’s see how much luck you have following my path.”
“What is the name of this lady?”
“Let’s turn this into a learning situation, Master Lossurp. When she does come, let’s see how much you can learn about her. Her name should be a good start.”
He went through the actions necessary to check out the book, but before turning to leave he asked, “Was she a Marine?”
“No. She does not fight to bring about peace, but simply because she likes to fight. I’m not saying you will like her, Master Lossurp, but I can assure you that she will make you think about someone other than Cherine or me.”
Jelnaya with Makinor starts their journey to find Inchell.