It Only a Dream Can Be

Chapter Thirteen
(Jelnaya)

The lad was not my concern.  His offers to help were appreciated, but my mind focused on Inchell.  As someone from Davelda I felt obligated to give her the same honor she would give to me.  The fact that she spoke some concern for the lad only had me feel that he would not be forgotten.

As we left the building and I spoke of Makinor and me coming on horseback, Inchell asked, “Where are you taking us, Princess Jelnaya?”

I answered, “Just to a cricket house.  We need a safe private place to discuss things.”

“I have heard of cricket houses, but never been to one.”

“Yes, as knowing about them and knowing where to look for them are two different things.  Luckily, Grandfather Terish built a number, so taught me about them.”

Lossurp asked, “What’s a cricket house?”

I sternly replied, “You listen to what we say.  I said a cricket house is a safe private place to discuss things.  Well, guess what the answer to your question is.”

“Yes, I’m sorry, Honored Duchess Jelnaya.”

“Just Honored Jelnaya.  I’m not your duchess.  My duchy also is not on this world.”

“But you are a duchess.”

I could not deny the statement, so allowed, “Okay, I guess you can call me that if you want.  Fine.”

Makinor said, “You just won a battle against her, lad.  Feel happy.”

Lossurp asked, “Does it happen only rarely?”

“Tell you what, on the way back I will ask you to answer that.”

As we entered the building Inchell said she lived in, a servant came up to let Makinor and me know the saddlebags were delivered to the library.  Having heard the reference to her residence, I accepted the words as being proper.  Inchell also did not speak against what was said, but instead mentioned something else.

“I know you don’t cook, Princess Jelnaya, so I will prepare something for us.”

I replied, “As long as you keep talking, Inchell.  You dropped a bundle on me.  In a way I expected it, but this mission actually sounds like something for Grandfather Terish and not me.”

“He can fight, Princess Jelnaya, but I would say he could not give me what you could.”

“He however would know something about what you are attempting.”

“Let me worry about that, Princess Jelnaya.  I know the path I took to get here, so I can go back to Davelda.  My foolishness was in thinking my training with the Marines would be enough for out here.  I can already admit that it won’t be.  I however believe what training I have to be enough to see what you are teaching, and from there I can just work on the drills.”

Considering the lady was an immortal from Davelda, I allowed my voice to get a little rough as I said, “Drills?  Get out of your rut.  What you want from me is not a rut.  You want the thrill of running along the edge of a cliff without the concern of what is ahead of you or to either side of you, including the fall from the cliff.”

“Yes, Princess Jelnaya, I do.”

“Then you need to speak to me of something other than a rut.”

“Teach me, Princess Jelnaya, what cannot be potentially a rut.”

I looked to the lad, smiled at him and with him returning the expression I felt he was listening as I said, “Then tomorrow I will have you go against the lad.  Beat him to a pulp.”

“But, Princess Jelnaya, you promised Sheik Brelask that you would not have him hurt.”

I again showed Lossurp a smile before turning back on the lady.  “I don’t believe you could.  I don’t believe you have it in you.  Honestly, I will be looking at how he manages the match as well.”

“He’s just a boy, Princess Jelnaya.”

“Don’t go there, Inchell, or I will tell you about that duchy I have.  You take to the challenge.  You go into combat willing to see it through.  If you are not, then you don’t.  There is no going soft.  Seeing each battle as a way to prove yourself is where you want me to take you Inchell.”

“You wouldn’t hurt him, Princess Jelnaya.”

Willing to concede the point, I admitted, “I wouldn’t go into battle against him.  Let me restate that.  My battle with him would be to get him to learn something.  In your case you need to prove yourself as willing to go where you claim you want me to take you.  I would push you possibly past your tolerance, and I would not go so hard against the lad.”

“I would rather prove myself by going against you.”

“Okay.”

Seeing the expression of shock crossed her face I felt was cute along with reflecting a moment of wisdom, although I still was smiling when she countered, “What about going against Makinor?”

“Do you have armor?”

“Battle armor.  It served me well in the war and what little has happened since then.”

It troubled me to ask, “You don’t have special weapons either?”

“I was not planning on going against special monsters, Princess Jelnaya.”

“Makinor, you want to take her on?”

The man replied, “I am concerned about the level of her ability, so I would take her on.”

I had to admit, “The reason I did not suggest you first, is that you would go soft on her.  I actually felt the lad would rise to the challenge.”

“Trust that I would want to also determine if she had what it takes to succeed.  Remember, Jelnaya, that Onathia has had me out here learning things.”

Inchell opened a door then invited us into her home, although instead of the lad moving through with the other man he stopped to ask, “Honored Duchess Jelnaya, is Makinor a good fighter?”

I had to smile as I replied, “He’s a champion of a goddess of love.  The fighting he’s good at is not something you want to get involved in with him.”

From inside the room I heard Makinor say, “All right, Jelnaya.  I can be as versatile as you.”

The lad asked, “Did you fall in love with him?”

I replied, “Well, like, but if his goddess and my god were not opposed it might have ended differently.”  I then signaled for Lossurp to enter the room while saying, “Makinor is a good man.  He is someone I have enjoyed working with.”

Coming into the apartment I saw what I felt was an actual library originally designed with simple conveniences for those using the facility.  What Inchell was using as a private room appeared as nothing more than a manager’s office furnished with a single bed and chest of drawers.  What appeared as a kitchen was nothing but a break room, although it satisfied the requirement of giving the apartment a place to cook food.

Inchell did speak, but not on the topic I considered important.  “One nice thing about this society is that they only respect sexual relations if it deals with childbirth.  While there is prostitution, where pregnancy actually works against the business, a lady is not forced into that role if she cannot have children.  Marriage however is also denied.  Due to the process of gaining immortality, I am forced into the work force, but due to other things that happened with my arrival, and my unfamiliarity with the society, I had a rough time gaining this position.  Actually, I like being a librarian, although if I thought of giving up on my plan I would return to Davelda to seek such a position.”

Not wanting to spoil her attitude, I simply replied, “And give up on the Marines?”

“I feel more like a Marine out here.  As odd as this world is, my training has served me well.”

“You’re just used to dealing with rules.”

I saw her glare at me as a number of elders have done over the years, although appreciated that she admitted her fault.  “Yes.  I guess I am.  I don’t see you challenging what Fergush tells you.”

“I don’t have Fergush locking me into a repetitious life.  I also am not one seeking that.  If those of my duchy were demanding that I stay and handle their daily troubles, like your world did with Grandmother Straekin, I would be letting Fergush and Samayer know my displeasure with their choice for my home.”

She had me spend some time speaking about where I lived.  With a whole shipload of Navy personnel coming to help clean my castle after I had killed all the demons, monsters, and corrupted people inside, news of my residence had returned to Davelda.  That had me suspect that Inchell knew things, but she gave no indication of having heard those reports.  Since my home was actually still a little new to me, I cheerfully spoke about it while Inchell cooked and through the meal.

I found it strange to have a shower in the bathroom, but Inchell spoke of uses the library had served along with a desire to have a good source of water should a fire break out.  I still appreciated a chance to clean myself.  Coming out in a light garment covered by a robe, I actually smiled seeing the lad look at me.

I guess feeling embarrassed for being caught admiring me, he asked, “You’re not married, Honored Duchess Jelnaya?”

Moving to check out some books, and have the lad see me from the back, I answered, “No.”

“What type of man are you looking for?”

“I’m not looking.”  I pointed at the other man, also looking at me, and said, “Makinor is the divine champion for She-Who-Loves.  I help him not only out of friendship, but because I want his goddess looking for the right man for me.”

“Why not another fighter?”

“It could be, but that is not how my family has done it.  Almost all of us, and certainly those of us that have taken on a life of moving through the omniverse, marry someone almost completely different.  I expect to have the same thing happen with me.”

Makinor had to quip, “So it could be a devotee to Onathia.”

“Being different and being opposed are two different things.”  I smiled at him as I added, “But continue to have hope.”

“As long as you stay one lovely lady, Jelnaya.”

It surprised me to find a book on the topic I desired.  I flipped through it seeing some information I remembered noticing on Inchell’s desk.  Interested in what more I could learn, I moved to a table where there was a good light.  It however surprised me to hear Lossurp speak with an interested manner about the text.

“I enjoy that story as well.”

“Story?”

I did not want to admit that I really could not read it.  Grandfather Terish could read anything, and my Uncle Althery had developed a decent ability at reading what texts his wife or those of her world could not.  Because he had to work at it, I found him able to give me instructions that were much more understandable than what my Grandfather Terish could tell me.  I worked at comprehending sections of the text, and looked with curiosity at Inchell when she came over I assumed to help me read it.

She reminded me, “Those of this society do not believe in their Gods.  I copied out illustrations and maps from this text not because I suspect them of being true, but of the details pertaining to my search being true.”

I had to say, “So, the map is fake.”

“The map is fake, but the person who wrote the story did research into the legend of Negredell.  I thus used the text as a base for determining other clues about the place.”

“I have not gained the impression that this world has only one society.”

“No, but I have not found any evidence of any of them treating Negredell as being real.  My only source for solid evidence is in texts of fantasy and folklore.  Let me however say that I came here following clues from other worlds, so I do have an accumulated bulk of material that I feel gives me a foundation for deciphering what might be actual pieces of the puzzle.”  She then added, “And I am not requesting that you help me find it, Princess Jelnaya.  I just want the right attitude to make my finding it to be the right thing for me.”

“Well, I will see about doing that tomorrow.”

“Sleep well, Princess.”

And they start on their way.