It Only a Dream Can Be
Master Lossurp actually went with Princess Jelnaya. That did not surprise me, as he was at the age where anything with long hair and a skirt gained his attention. The fact she appeared as closer to his age and encouraged him to stay active definitely made her more appealing than me. It did not surprise me that the young man went with Princess Jelnaya, even though I would have preferred him showing more caution for his own life.
Makinor followed the instructions from Princess Jelnaya and we both spoke our pleasure in finding ourselves stepping through a portal to a much more pleasant world. I felt it was more than the warm air that pleased us, as I believed even without the discomfort of winter weather the previous world would not have been so lovely. We were still in a forest, but different types of trees. I felt no chill, although color in the leaves had me feel that things would turn cold if we stayed. How Princess Jelnaya knew the way, I could not say. I however accepted she had learned things about moving through worlds I was not yet able to even comprehend. After trading some comments about the change in our surroundings, Makinor said there was a river up ahead where we should find a comfortable place to camp.
Seeing him bring over some more wood for the fire, carrying some in his arms while dragging a recently fallen limb, I asked him, “How long have you known Princess Jelnaya?”
“Not that long. A few years. Actually only been on one serious mission with her. Did not think I would like her, as our gods are opposed.” He went to his horse to retrieve a hatchet, then went to work on the limb while saying, “It is strange how she grows on you. There is something sweet in her.”
“She never was rebellious. Just got angry at us for all our rules. Said we were making them up just to control her. After she left with Ferrigote, actually had people admit that they were making up rules trying to get her to do things the way they thought they should be done. We missed her, and have always tried to say that when she returned to Davelda. Thank you for getting her.”
“Well, like I told you, I consider her a friend.” He then turned from his work to ask, “You have watched over her?”
“Oh, it’s about all we do on Davelda. We watch the news for what is happening around the world, what goes on in the council chamber, and the camera that is constantly on in the front room of the empress’ apartment. The children? By the Goddess we went for centuries without children. Yes, we watch them and do all we can to learn about them.”
“I find it strange. She doesn’t know you, but speaks as if she does, and I get the impression that she does.”
“I believe Munulva fully knew what She was doing when She enticed Terish to come to us. If we would have discovered the process for having children before his time, we would have done them wrong. Princess Jelnaya is proof of that. We tried to do her wrong, but luckily she had a family that could take her away from us.”
I had to admit, “She’s right. Davelda is changing, and I have to say for the better. Again it is due to Empress Straekin. She won the war and gave us a good world. She then saw the hope Terish presented, and took on the challenge he presented. The ruts were killing us. Our world was dying from us committing suicide. We might not all be coming out here, but I believe we are coming out of our ruts.” I moved to collect the wood pieces as I said, “I’m glad to be out here.”
We both looked up hearing a call. After Makinor returned a yell, things got quiet. I then heard the sound of our missing people returning. Master Lossurp rushed forward, looked over the camp, then let us know what he probably felt we wanted to hear.
“It’s fish, and some other stuff. I’m taking a bath.”
He looked at the river and sighed. Hearing Princess Jelnaya call to him, he barely turned in time to catch his satchel. As Master Lossurp trudged to the water, Princess Jelnaya brought over a large basket with seashells worked into the weave of some dried grass.
“As Lossurp said, it is fish. Came upon a group of people that were slightly odd. A little taller and thinner than what we would consider normal. They lived near the ocean, and I guess ate fish pretty regularly. Were more than glad to get our bear for a change of diet. They thought Lossurp was cute. The food must be good, as he kept grabbing things to fill his bowl, and I guess ate his fill while over there.”
What impressed me was that the meat did not taste fishy. I really could not tell if the flavor was natural, due to the method of cooking, or a result of certain spices. The other items had some tastes I found familiar, but with each prepared in a separate method I could not really come to any conclusion about the meat.
When she asked a question of Makinor, I had to say, “I am a soldier, Princess Jelnaya. I can take a watch.”
She replied, “It is not what you are that bothers me, Inchell, but what you want to be. If you don’t want to be a soldier then you are not going to want to keep a watch. We are out here in the unknown, so I want someone who will stay alert on watch.”
“I’m not running away, Princess Jelnaya. I am trying to find an answer. I think I have found one, but I know that I am not ready for it. That’s what I want. I will stay awake, because I know my duty and I know this mission is actually my own.”
“Okay, so what watch do you want?”
I told them to give me the middle watch. Both divine champions shrugged and went back to eating. Our attention then became focused on Master Lossurp as he returned from the river. When told to get some blankets and lie down, I found myself interested in his strong response.
“You don’t think I can do this.”
Princess Jelnaya replied, “This has nothing to do with ability, but with attitude.”
“Oh.” He looked around, then declared, “Well, I will do this.”
“Uh, well, I don’t know.”
Instead of laughing at him or lecturing him, Princess Jelnaya simply replied, “You might want to think on that. Should you find an answer, then you might want to speak to Inchell and not me.”
Seeing Master Lossurp move to where some spare blankets were set, I softly asked, “Princess Jelnaya, why did you tell him to speak to me?”
It was Makinor that replied, “Because he’s here because of you.”
“Listen, if it was wrong for those in the Davelda Navy to seek Princess Jelnaya as a wife, then it should be wrong for me to consider this even younger boy.”
Princess Jelnaya asked, “Yes, but I did not see Chering or any man from Davelda in a romantic way. Physically, you are not that old. Lossurp should still see you as older than him. Maybe he sees you as a mother figure.”
When I made an expression of disgust, Princess Jelnaya shrugged in an indication of not really caring. I accepted that what she said was just a suggestion, and not an actual belief. To hopefully speak with her, I considered my own thoughts about men. What I found was a feeling I could allow my father to rest in peace. The world he feared had not come to pass. It however had also become a world that he would not have appreciated. I felt he would have been one of those to have committed suicide to end the boring life that dragged on for centuries. In the same manner I needed to leave the drudgery of what I had been doing. Becoming a wife and mother was not exactly what I had planned, although I had to admit it was probably what my father wanted for me. I shrugged my shoulders not really caring about my future as long as it would be one I could be proud of.
I asked, “You think the boy could make me a good husband, Princess Jelnaya?”
She replied, “I see myself having the same problem you do. Every year that goes by makes it possible for the man I finally find attractive to be much younger than me.”
“Well, tell me, how would you like to find your husband?”
“I don’t want him given to me. The first wives of Great-uncle Ferrigote were political prizes. He has lectured me, and the rest of us children, about how that was not the proper way to do it. However, he also admits it was just a fluke that he and Great-aunt Dirchein get along so well. That means that I won’t go looking for some legendary man. I suspect he will be someone that joins me on an adventure, then just continues to stay in my life until Makinor shows up and tells me that he is the one Onathia approves.”
Seeing the man smile, I had to ask, “Makinor, just how old are you?”
“Fifty-two,” he answered.
“I guess it is time for you to get married. What type of girl are you looking for?”
“I want to fall in love. With my eyes set upon Onathia, I have never looked to a lady and truly felt she was the one for me. If that does not happen, I will die expecting to finally find my happiness with Onathia.”
Actually wanting to speak to the man, I asked, “And what does she say about that?”
“She told me to come out here. Considering my first mission beyond Sennapre was with Jelnaya, I suspected it might be her. I don’t believe that anymore, but I do consider Jelnaya a friend. Actually, that is a start. Just that is something I will ever treasure.”
Yes, Princess Jelnaya was present, but I kept my focus on Makinor. “You mean you don’t have a girl that is your friend?”
“No. I actually feel closer to Jelnaya than to any of the female champions of Onathia.”
“Well, have they gotten married?”
“Yes. Those that I have somehow come to learn something about have gone on with their lives.”
I looked at Makinor, shrugged in finding him attractive, and said, “Well, if you want someone, you can come to me. We can have some fun and go on with some good memories of each other.”
“No, Inchell. You keep yourself pure.”
Thinking he might not know certain things, I replied, “I cannot get pregnant.”
“It is not about you getting pregnant, but having the right attitude. Should you find yourself actually wondering about a man, you need to understand the true weight of your decision. While men and women should be able to relate to each other, there is a step a man and a woman can take that puts their relationship on a much more intimate level. To treat the acts of that union as something for fun or for business is to belittle what should be something much more private and personal. You need to face that, Inchell.”
With the conviction of the man needing to learn things about what was just a part of our physiology, I said, “I guess I now know why you are still single.”
“I have known for some time. Now, ladies, go on to bed. I will keep the first watch.”
Not really wanting to drop the topic, I moved close to Princess Jelnaya and whispered, “Is the religion of She-Who-Loves really so strict?”
She replied, “How about the religion of Munulva?”
“Well, yes, but our situation has changed drastically.”
“But you are wanting to restore it, at least for yourself. I believe your own recent history has shown that Munulva has not changed. Only your perception of Her has altered, and I believe She has been working to correct that.”
“I can’t believe you are saying that, Princess Jelnaya. You are one of those that left feeling constrained by our rules.”
I had put some stress in my voice, but Princess Jelnaya had her voice sound cold as she said, “I left because you of Davelda would not let me do what I wanted to do. I was never against being a wife and mother, but I wanted to do more. I did not go to Fergush denying my place in the flow of life, but let him know I wanted more. Well, I have more, and I have nothing preventing me from becoming a wife and mother as well. I just understand that my situation forces me to be a little careful in what man I choose. Further, I have family that lets me know that the right choice can really be something special. What you, and possibly all the other ladies on Davelda, need to understand is that the same is true with you.”
“I enjoy having sex.”
“But you are doing it without the joy of being a wife and mother. If just the physical activity is what you want then there was no reason to come out here.”
I did not know whether to get angry at Princess Jelnaya, or simply go on to my blankets. What kept me silent was accepting that neither would enable me to gain control of the conversation. Actually, she was correct. That fact however did not please me, and wanting to assure my own path I felt a need to counter what Princess Jelnaya said. I however could not find any words that I could state with the conviction of truth, so just headed to my blankets.
And Jelnaya starts working Inchell on what she claims to desire.