It Only a Dream Can Be
I could not help but look around as we entered the world where Makinor said he had met Inchell There were sections of the city that appeared with recently cleaned light-colored stone, statues with fine details, and bright artwork. The rest of the structures around me had a plain, drab appearance. I did not see the filth of some societies, but there was still a feeling of this world having a caste system where some were considered special while others were not.
As Makinor mentioned some things about his earlier visit with him pointing out certain details, I saw a young man run up to us to ask, “Are you here for Inchell?”
The Champion of Onathia whispered, “I do not know him.”
I saw no reason not to respond, “Yes. Who might you be?”
The lad bowed in an odd manner, twisted his body to the right while lifting a hand, then said, “I am Master Lossurp of the House of Sevalla. When some nobles from Allever came to purchase Inchell, it was my father who brought out the improper nature of her servitude and forced House Krodemar to work to restore her status.”
“And what status should she have? She was a traveler just as I am.”
“What? Well, that was a good question.” I saw other young people approaching, so appreciated the lad coming close to whisper, “Is Inchell truly over seven hundred years old?”
“I doubt she would lie to you.”
Another lad asked, “Lossurp, who are these?” It surprised me to hear him add, “They are riding fine horses.”
My companion replied, “I am Makinor, divine champion of the goddess Onathia.”
“There are no gods.”
I felt a need to say, “I am Jelnaya, divine champion of Fergush. We are here to find out about a friend.”
A young girl in the group said, “I’ve never heard of Onathia or Fergush, and I read a lot of folklore.”
“Well, there are always things out there to be discovered.” Hoping to prevent the conversation from breaking down, I asked, “Master Lossurp, how much trouble will we have attempting to speak to Inchell?”
The young man replied, “If you allow me to escort you, none at all.”
Makinor said, “That is very gracious of you.”
“I want to learn the truth.”
“I do as well. Inchell told me to get Jelnaya, so maybe certain things will be revealed.”
I watched with fascination as the youths went through certain actions with each other. What further intrigued me was the way others watched their performance. All stopped. Some tried to hide the fact they were watching, others turned to face a wall, with only a few actually gazing on the exchange. Wondering about the world that had fascinated Inchell, I asked a question when Lossurp finished the actions with the others.
“Should we dismount to walk with you, Master Lossurp?”
He pointed while saying, “No need, fair lady, as I have a horse being brought.”
I looked and saw a man running with a tall, light mount. The horses of Davelda had a very noble posture, but in build were slightly substantial. Considering the odd terrains they might be forced to carry us over, the better physique was a requirement. The mount brought for Lossurp I felt might be a lovely animal for some delicate lady, but was not a practical horse for riding out in the wilderness.
Of course, I said nothing. If Makinor had made a comment, I cannot say if I would have stayed quiet. Lossurp simply took the horse from the one who brought it to him, climbed in the saddle, then told us to follow him. I saw the fancy gait of the young man’s mount, and brought my head near that of my horse and said something I did not know whether it would be understood or obeyed.
“Rubber, you see what that horse is doing?” When the head went up and down, I commanded, “You do it.”
It was a question just how much the horses from Davelda could understand. Grandfather Terish did mention looking for intelligence in the animals to be his mounts, but equating animal thought processes to those of humans was not really possible. It however was a fact that people moving through realities gained a manner of speaking to others that was rather outstanding, so it could be assumed a similar advantage would be gained by the animals. Most creatures did not manage moving between realities, but it was accepted that the horses from Davelda acted as if they could understand what people told them.
Seeing my horse begin a similar prancing step as Lossurp’s horse, Makinor had to ask, “Jelnaya, you train your horse in such a manner?”
I told his mount to also perform such a set of steps, and it began prancing. Makinor actually jumped off at the change in his ride. Seeing that had me start rolling with laughter, so I dropped out of my saddle. As Lossurp turned around to check on us, the Champion of Onathia had to vent some of his embarrassment.
“Jelnaya, do they actually train these mounts to do that?”
I controlled my laughter, then asked, “What does everyone tell you about working with one of those mounts?”
He looked at me, his horse, mine, then asked, “They really understand us?”
“All I did was ask my horse if he could match the gait. He nodded, so I told Rubber to do it. He did, then you had to get all nosey.” Just to make a point, I said, “You should know I would do something like that.”
“Honestly, no. Fancy steps like that are usually stuff to impress people. I have at times wanted my horse to do something like that. I cannot imagine you in such a mood however.”
“I spend time with Rubber. How much time you spend with your horse?”
Before Makinor could answer, Lossurp asked, “You named your horse Rubber?”
The Champion of She-Who-Loves replied, “They have legal names. Jelnaya’s horse is legally Regal Under Bare Trees the Fourth. She just calls it Rubber. Mine is Valued Star in Darkness the Eighth. I call it Vista.”
Lossurp said, “Well, if they have legal names, are they purebreds?”
I did not feel Makinor knew the answer to that one, so replied, “They are a particular breed. It is an ancient breed, so does have some variation from a complex past. They are bred for intelligence, not physical traits, which is really hard to track genetically. Still, they do keep records.”
“I will see that they are stabled with our better horses.”
I did see mechanical conveyances, but only for moving freight or groups of people. I did not see the flood of single-user vehicles as would be common on most technologically advanced worlds. Most people walked, although I did see other horses carrying riders. While I wanted to ask, I decided to save any questions for after speaking with Inchell. I thus curtsied to the lad hoping a little grace would have us back to moving to Inchell.
“Master Lossurd, I apologize for interrupting you graciousness. We may continue.” As I climbed into the saddle I however looked to Makinor to admit, “Although it was funny.”
He softly replied, “And harmless, and I learned something. I do not hold you at fault, Jelnaya.”
We rode along a lovely route through some rather plain looking apartment buildings. I had to admit they were not slums. The residential buildings appeared clean, and there were no signs of suffering from extended periods of neglect. The people appeared to be healthy with most showing some signs of being about some occupation. It brought me some relief that the lad indicated Inchell was with his community, although wondered how much she knew of the social structure outside the buildings she had been kept.
Riding up to an ornate gate of metal painted white, I saw Lossurp almost have his mount throw him due to a sudden stop in reaction to a man that stepped out from a security booth and said, “I will take over matters, Lossurp.”
The lad settled his horse, then said, “Sheik Brelask, I – I want to be a part of this matter.”
“What do you know of this matter?”
“It deals with Sha Inchell. These are the people she sought.”
“One is the person she spoke to previously, Lossurp.”
The lad obviously knew something, as he looked to Makinor and not me, but focused his eyes back on the elder to say, “Sha Inchell has a purpose. She sent for someone to help her. Well, I want to seek that purpose as well.”
As if not wanting to bother with the lad at the moment, the elder said, “Well, can you introduce them, particularly the lady?”
“He is Makinor, champion of a goddess named Onathia. She is Jelnaya, champion of a god named Fergush.”
In a very weary voice the elder complained, “Surely the two of you have some other status to claim other than as priests.”
Makinor quickly replied, “Jelnaya is the Duchess of Phanigist.”
“Duchess? One so young?”
I dismounted to approach the man saying, “I will not have my age or real status slandered by either of you.” I pointed at Makinor when I said that. “I am the divine champion of He-Who-Fights, although I also was given authority over a realm devoted to his wife, She-Who-Survives. While we can certainly discuss other topics than religion, thinking either of us are simple priests will not look good on you.”
“What is your intention with Inchell?”
“My intention is to get her to tell me what exactly she found so enchanting in that book of poetry. I have some beliefs, as I did read it and even sang some of the poems with my nieces. What I considered important however probably does not match what Inchell considered important.”
In the pause from me wondering why he focused on that piece of information, Lossurp reminded the elder, “Sha Inchell claims to be over seven hundred.”
“How old are you, Duchess Jelnaya.”
“That is Honored Duchess Jelnaya. I am a divine champion first. Also, you do not ask a woman her age.” I then decided to stay on the man’s good side and provide some information. “I consider Inchell to be a member of my father’s mother generation. I will treat her with respect.”
“Are you immortal?”
“Yes, because I will go where mortals should not. I am worried that is why Inchell sent Makinor for me. Going where you should not go is often not a wise thing to do.”
The lad said, “But if where she wants to go is considered a wise place to travel to, I want to be part of that, Sheik Brelask.”
“Actually, Lossurp, I will allow it. I don’t want anyone else present, so you can attend the door. Note that the position can work for or against you.”
I looked to the lad to say, “Come to me. If you went to Inchell, come to me.” I now pointed at him as I said, “If you cannot get to me, or just too scared to come, then your chance will be lost.”
The eyes of Lossurp went to Makinor who admitted, “She is my friend. Although our deities are opposed, she has not turned me down or done me wrong. I went to her, and she is here.”
As if worried for the lad, the elder asked, “Just how serious is this matter?”
“We are going to have to talk to Inchell.”
“Then come. Lossurp, I told you your place.”
And Inchell is brought to discuss the matter.