It Only a Dream Can Be
It did alarm me to have soldiers appear at my door. They were not abusive, but did have a coldness to their authority that brought me concern. It helped that they did not arrest me or put me in chains. They simply told me to close up my library and follow them. While alarmed, I knew better than to stall so moved to obey.
Finding myself being led to another building increased my concern for what was going to happen. It helped not being given commands the way I was when first captured. The soldiers kept a rhythm to their steps, but other than the sound of their feet they stayed silent. People looked with wonder at us, but did not huddle together as if wanting to discuss the possibilities of what was to happen to me. Seeing the building I was being led to was one I knew, I went through the facts I had learned of this society to hopefully have the answers to deal with whatever concern had arisen that they felt involved me.
I recognized the room as being one of the receiving chambers of Sheik Brelask. If I was being accused of a crime, or some other matter of public concern like a change of status, I would have been brought to another room in the building. The soldiers moved to the side of the door with them simply telling me to go inside. Recognizing that I was being allowed the dignity to enter on my own, I did as ordered.
Seeing Sheik Brelask kneeling on a dais at the front of the room, I moved to do the same on a pillow set on the floor before him. While he had a special position, I gained some comfort seeing that we were to be all the same. He knelt, and we knelt. Sheik Brelask might have authority, but I was glad to know that for this meeting he would not set himself above me.
The bright red and yellow hair however kept me from moving as I should. I had never actually met Princess Jelnaya. When the news came of Empress Straekin becoming pregnant, I became interested in what she had been doing with Terish Dozzrine. Hearing her speak of there being answers intrigued me. She had not said that all of us women of Davelda could now become pregnant, but that we could find our answers. While we had become a world of varnish pieces of wood, we had not become similar pieces of unchanging material. By the time Prince Venicht came to Davelda, I had started my own soul searching to discover what question I wanted answered. The children did one thing for me and others that we had not felt for centuries. Suddenly there was again the feeling of time passing. Prince Venicht grew up, left to go to college on Emigaila, and there found a wife and began his own family. Realizing that the first child to come to Davelda in centuries was producing children let us immortals know that life was still rushing along, which had me focus on actually specifying the question I wanted answered. Princess Jelnaya had not sought the life that most young ladies are taught to seek, and I saw her hair as evidence my own life could advance in a manner that I desired.
When I spoke my recognition of the lady, Sheik Brelask said, “Princess Jelnaya, I thought she was a duchess.”
Princess Jelnaya replied, “Inchell is from Davelda, Sheik Brelask. Her empress is my grandmother, so to her I am a princess.”
“I am sheik to all in my land.”
“Then I am sorry your life is so constrained. I can go to Davelda and be a princess. I can travel about and be a hero. When I return home I have the responsibility to see that my realm thrives. Things put in a container however do not grow as they should.”
“I do not believe those that grow wild grow as lovely.”
“I don’t see my opinion of another person as having any value. In fact, if you are infringing on the ability of another to live their life as they see fit then I see you as being a problem.”
I had taken my place during the exchange. It actually brought me joy to hear Princess Jelnaya speak as she did. The words helped support my decision to have her come for me. I guess Sheik Brelask realized that the exchange with Princess Jelnaya would not go his way, as he turned his attention on me.
“Inchell, why did you request this one to come?”
I quoted, “There is no hope for kindness / It only a dream can be
I sought from others a cure / For internal torture
There is no hope for kindness / Because it will not help me
There is no hope for salvation / It only a dream can be
I sought a path with tears / To ease my soul through years
There is no hope for salvation / Because it is denied me
There is no hope for dreams / It is not a life to be
I sought a future great / To gain pride my fate
There is no hope for dreams / Because only despair I see
There is no hope for life / It only a shadow should be
I sought to find a purpose / Only to find pain in surplus
There is no hope for life / As from doom I will not be free”
Princess Jelnaya said, “You would pick one of the dismal poems in that book to focus upon.”
“I took it as a challenge. Your grandmother took it as a challenge. I believe it was that poem that inspired her. She is who she is because she lost her first love. That is the name they gave your father. Venicht was the first man she gave her heart to, and the start of our war killed him. She rose from obscurity to become our empress, then took on the challenge of Terish Dozzrine to propel her to the place she is now. It is not an easy path I seek, but neither was it for Empress Straekin. I see the potential results. You have done the same, Princess Jelnaya, and here you are as someone a god sought for his own and is rewarding in ways most could not hope to achieve. I don’t want your help, Princess Jelnaya. Help me, yes, but only to get me back on my feet. I will take on this challenge to conquer or fail on my own.”
“Makinor is that what she told you.”
I spoke before the other divine champion could. “He could not read the book. I spoke to him of wondrous things. He spoke to me of wondrous things. I however could not really tell him the truth, because he would not be able to comprehend the depth of my conviction.”
“Wondrous things, Makinor?”
The male divine champion replied, “We shared stories, Jelnaya. I felt she was speaking of her dreams, and I shared with her tales that spoke of some of mine.”
Sheik Brelask interrupted to say, “He calls you by your name, Honored Duchess Jelnaya. What is his rank?”
She replied, “That of my friend.”
“I feel my place of authority denies me the benefit of friends.”
“Then you condemned yourself. Maybe you need for someone to write down that poem in your language to inspire you.”
“I see. Okay, you may continue.”
Not wanting to have the sheik feel that his time was being wasted, I said, “Listen, Princess Jelnaya, there is supposedly a place called Negredell. It is a place of repetition. The hope is for one to reach Negredell at the height of their power, then have that blessing repeat itself through one’s life. The problem is the trials one must go through to reach it has those of Negredell repeating the misery of those trials. Show me the glory in the battle, Princess Jelnaya. That is what you have, and what your god presents. Give me that, and I will go to Negredell.”
Allowing that what I said came as a shock to those in the room, I took a submissive position allowing for the others time to consider my words. I certainly wanted to watch the expressions on the face of Princess Jelnaya, although trusted her to state her feelings. There was however a male voice I did not expect to say some words.
“Sha Inchell, you know where Negredell is?”
I lifted my gaze, although as was proper I was positioned where it was Sheik Brelask that came into view. His eyes were clearly focused on the door. I had not paid attention to who else might be in the room, although I did recognize the voice. My eyes however turned to Princess Jelnaya, as did those of Sheik Brelask, when she spoke.
“If she doesn’t then what she said is rather foolish.”
Master Lossurp however chanced interrupting any further exchange by saying, “Sheik Brelask, I again plead to join with Sha Inchell.”
The elder said, “This is nothing but foolishness, Lossurp.”
“Then you will dismiss them, and I will leave with them. I state my intentions.”
Princess Jelnaya said, “Yes, but Inchell can do that. She has the blessing of having access to Grandfather Terish and Grandmother Straekin. She was in the military of Davelda, and they know of her. Considering that Grandmother Straekin does give recognition to her military, they probably even met.”
I had to confess, “Yes, Princess Jelnaya. I served on the wrong side of the war, but Empress Straekin has stayed true to her promise. I am a member of her military, and when I sought to meet her she did not refuse. I remember my father who refused the immortality process spitting at her, and her words in reply were gracious and true. I have had to go to my father’s grave many times to tell him he was wrong for what he did.”
Master Lossurp kept his voice strong as he said, “But, Sheik Brelask, if I join with Sha Inchell then I will have that blessing as well.”
The elder declared, “Lossurp, I will not have you going off to your doom.”
“It’s not foolishness she requested. She requested the gift of glory in battle. Why would it hurt me to learn that?”
“Because the intent is not to gain honor in the military. She is not seeking to advance her career, but go off on some foolish quest.”
“That foolish quest brought her here. They are not from here. They are speaking of people and places that have nothing to do with what we have here. Who knows where Sha Inchell will go next. It might be a foolish quest, but the reality of what she might find could have her gaining something you can only dream of.”
Sheik Brelask put strength in his voice as he declared, “Lossurp, I will not have you going with them.”
I heard the steps of the lad advancing as he replied, “But you can’t stop them. That’s true, Honored Duchess Jelnaya? He can’t stop you?”
She answered, “No. Not me. Probably not Makinor. Inchell?”
I admitted, “I can open portals. I however have no sense of where I might go. I have been cautious in changing realities, because I am well aware of the possibility of losing my way.”
The lad demanded, “So, Sha Inchell, you know where you are going? You intended to come here?”
“Yes. This is along the path to Negredell. In fact, the reason I am learning your culture is that I believe it is on this world.”
“You can’t stop me, Sheik Brelask!”
The elder spoke with strength to make his decision known. “Lossurp, I will not have you talking like this.”
“Honored Duchess Jelnaya, teach me the glory in battle as well.”
I smiled hearing the lady reply, “A fight does not need to be weapons, Lad. A verbal contest is a fight as well.”
“I can’t fight him.”
“The glory in battle is in knowing when you are assured a victory. If what you said is true then proving the words true should be a moment of glory for you.”
With the strength of the youth actually understanding what was said, Master Lossurp commanded, “Then just take me with you.”
“Sheik Brelask, I will not harm the lad. Let me see how much is bravado and how much is true inner strength. I promise to return and speak of what I find.”
I actually found myself surprised when the elder asked, “How long would that take?”
Princess Jelnaya looked around while doing something with her hands. I had yet to understand what the actions meant, although I knew what was going on. Accepting that I would also go with Princess Jelnaya, I waited for her answer.
“Five days, a week. It will take me at least two days to get where I want to go. I can certainly speak with Inchell and start some lessons along the way. Some days there can be spent on solid training. I can then spend time on the journey back giving certain lectures about my decisions.”
Sheik Brelask said, “And if Inchell believes Negredell is here, she will be returning whatever your decision.”
“Considering the weight of my decision concerning the lad, one way or the other, I would hope you would again provide an audience.”
“Considering that I will need to inform his parents, and spend time contemplating the weight of my decision, I ask that you stay the evening as my guest.”
“Considering what has been said, could I say that I will spend the evening as the guest of Inchell? It could help you have some distance in what decisions you must make.”
“Yes, thank you.” He then had me smile when he admitted, “I actually now believe that you are a duchess.”
“Just being gracious. Diplomacy really is not a fight I enjoy.”
“Lossurp, go with them. I will have your parents send things to you. Inchell has authority over an entire library. There is certainly room for you as well.”
And with that decision, the party prepares for what might come.