It Only a Dream Can Be
I really did not have a staff. There were a couple of ladies assigned to clean my quarters, but I did not spend enough time in them to make the work a job requiring a full day of labor. My only staff was limited to Merilay, although with the door to my bedroom open I heard what she said to another I considered a part of my life.
“She is packing, Vulge. You can ask her yourself.”
I yelled out, “What do you need, Vulge?”
He stepped into my apartment enough to see me through the doorway, then replied, “Do I need to go with you? I guess Makinor requires the need of a chaperone, but as both of you are divine champions I have to assume that it is all right if anything happens between you.”
“I would not think you would go because of Makinor, but because of Inchell.”
“You mean go because someone from Davelda is involved.”
I continued to pack as I said, “If it does not matter to you, Vulge.”
“There are a lot of others who should go for that reason as well.”
“It is still your decision, Vulge.”
“No, it’s not. What is Fergush telling you, Princess Jelnaya?”
I paused to listen, then said, “He’s not too certain this matter actually deals with him. Still, he agrees that I should respond to another divine champion. If Makinor comes making a request, I need to help.”
He stepped up, then asked, “Can I speak to you, in private?”
I just stopped what I was doing and glared at him. As much as he and I interacted with each other, I felt Vulge should know that I trusted him completely. He at least did not force me to deal with the stupidity of him asking the question again. As if understanding my silent message to come on into my bedroom and close the door, he strode forward with an expression of gratitude to Merilay for not challenging him.
“Princess Jelnaya, I don’t know if I want to go to Inchell on a mission with Onathia.”
“Scared of falling in love, Vulge?”
“Yes. Think about it. I went with you to the Spring of Cormorphin, and I believe it helped me. Inchell is probably seeking a restoration of her reproductive organs. She’s a woman and I’m a man.”
Honestly, I understood. While there was nothing wrong with my body, there was the fact that my god was opposed to She-Who-Loves. I certainly allowed that I would find a man one day, but did not consider Makinor to be the one for me. Inchell however was also military, and basically had enough in common with Vulge that he could fear becoming attached. I thus understood if he felt a need to keep a distance, although I had to make a comment.
“If you don’t want to fall in love, I cannot say it is my place to speak against you.”
“I tried to get Chering to go. He’s the one who speaks about finding a lady and going out to sea on his own.”
I had to admit, “I would not refuse him, Vulge.”
“Yes, well, I would – damn, Princess Jelnaya! I’m over seven hundred years old. I… I… I feel too old to get married. You’re still young. Go ahead and get married, Princess Jelnaya. Don’t be like me.”
Not really wanting to accept those words, I replied, “Grandmother Straekin was over six hundred when she married Grandfather Terish.”
“He offered her something she really desired. I will be the first to say that she is happy. I don’t really want anything, Princess Jelnaya. I can go with you. I can not go with you. I can lay about the castle. I can travel.”
“We’re talking about female companionship, Vulge. If what you say about the Spring of Cormorphin is true then you could get into trouble if you get horny about my town. Having a wife would provide some security.”
“I like my freedom and the girls from Davelda I hang out with do as well, Princess Jelnaya. Trust me, if it was one of those, I would be pushing you to go.”
Just curious, I asked, “Was she, they, in the group that came to help me clean up this castle?”
“Yes, Princess Jelnaya.”
That confession actually troubled me, and I spoke one of the concerns I had upon hearing it. “I don’t remember you requesting leave to return to Davelda.”
“We’ve been managing periods of being together and apart for centuries, Princess Jelnaya. Don’t worry about us.”
“I will worry about you, Vulge. Still, we are both immortal, so I guess we can both wait.” Since he actually did have a duty, I said, “Having been here for almost two years, I really should be getting suitors. Handle them if they show up.”
“Will do, Princess Jelnaya.”
He turned to leave. I grabbed a few more items, set them in a saddlebag, then headed out my door. As I did so, I saw Vulge and Merilay speaking with Makinor. As I moved telling him that we could leave, I noticed his eyes look me over.
“You are very lovely, Jelnaya.”
While a compliment from Makinor was not unusual, I looked myself over in a mirror set in my front room then let him know something. “Aunt Debbish said I needed something for appearing before my people. Her land is troubled by dragons, so garments like this are rather common. I have a couple more.”
“I expected you in your armor.”
The outfit I had on did have sections of cloth, red since it was the color of Fergush, but what was covered by lacey material was not soft at all. Aunt Debbish spoke of needing to replace the light fabric, and having people think she had a whole new garment. The substantial material was a type of leather, but almost like a pliable carapace and not like the skin of some regular animal. While I did consider it a type of armor, it was not the crystal protective outfit I would wear to a known danger or the shiny metal covering Makinor would use.
I replied, “You weren’t giving me the impression it was that type of mission.”
Makinor said, “You have matured, Jelnaya, but I am the one growing old.”
“Then let us go see what treasure we might find on this mission.”
I really had not gone on any extended missions since gaining my duchy. Fergush admitted to making use of his other champions, as he felt his wife and I needed time to restore her realm and secure my authority. That meant I had been spending my time in the area, but it was a new part of the world for me and there was a lot of people and places for me to become familiar with. I had gone to visit some family members, but that had been really the only times I had left my duchy.
It surprised me to see Makinor also with a horse from Davelda. We rode from my castle discussing the problems with using regular animals when moving between realities. I spoke of the stories I heard about my Grandfather Terish recognizing the quality of certain animals, then teaching some people on Davelda how to train the horses. It was a pleasant conversation with Makinor, and we reached the site he mentioned in a good mood.
The two of us had really little in common. Not only did we have opposed deities, but enjoyed different things. The fact he was a man and I was a woman did have us wanting to share time with each other, but our own personalities prevented any association from developing into something intimate. Makinor was handsome, and really a nice person, so even though we had little in common I did nothing to spoil our friendship.
Since I usually kept an eye out for game as I traveled, I managed to kill an antelope traveling the next day. I did not necessarily hunt, but I would take advantage of what wildlife I saw. Speaking with Makinor about my usual method of cooking, which was to trade fresh meat for a serving of whatever someone had prepared, I heard a commotion from a nearby community. Since my deity was He-Who-Fights, I dropped from Rubber and prepared myself for whatever might be troubling the local people.
Running into town I found them having to deal with two monsters I took to be a local variation of trolls. These were much bigger than the humans, but what really made creatures of this type deadly were their ability to regenerate. My body did heal rather quickly, but you could actually watch the wounds on trolls knit back together during a fight.
I rushed in to attack quick and strong. There were men doing their best, but I could tell that they did not have the weapons or tactics to truly concern the monsters. The only way the people would win against trolls was due to their numbers, although members of their community would die. I came in to slide between two men, then rose delivering a blow to the thigh of one troll then having my sword slice up into the lower torso. Looking back over my shoulder I smiled at a man behind me, then sent a number of powerful cuts on the monster. It helped that the creature had no armor, so when it tried to attack me it met the edge of my blade inflicting further harm. I stayed on the monster until it dropped, then spoke to the men around me before rushing to the other one.
“That is how you beat these monsters. Use fire on the one I dropped.”
The men almost fell back to allow me to attack as I would. Enjoying a fight, I did not feel slighted, but only went into a lesson on dealing with monsters like trolls. The only problem with the action was that I needed to act so quick and strong against the creatures that I actually had little wind for talking. I however had enough experience in fighting that I could time my words where I also had breath for my attacks.
As I rose after making the killing stroke on the final monster, I heard a man say, “Your hair glows.”
Having had my red and yellow locks for a number of years, I calmly replied, “I’m Jelnaya, Champion of He-Who-Fights. Glad I could help.”
An older man asked, “You do this a lot?”
“I do enjoy doing things like this. Like I said, glad I could help.”
“You’re not a sell sword?”
“I’m not one to take advantage of those in need. I was however speaking with my friend of wanting something to eat.”
I did have wealth. Those evil or outside the law tended to acquire wealth, so when I defeated them there was often money and things of value I could claim. What I however had been taught, and learned for myself, was that the best way to gain wealth was not to spend it.
The people were more than happy to feed Makinor and me. While I gained the impression they would have probably fed any traveler, the fact we had helped them had them provide very generous portions. Of course the two of us spoke of our deities, but being on another world with its own gods we did only enough to have our names associated with the ones we championed. The people listened to us and spoke of their own beliefs in higher powers, and with them only having to supply us with food they cheerfully spent time with us.
Leaving the village, Makinor asked me, “Jelnaya, that is how you usually travel?”
I had to present my own question, “How often do you go around and find people falling in love?”
“Those are usually harder to recognize, but I have overheard people arguing and went to resolve the situation.”
“Maybe you’ll have your moments, and you can be providing the free meal.
Jelnaya and Makinor arrive in the town where Inchell is residing.