It Only a Dream Can Be

Chapter Sixteen
(Jelnaya)

I came to sensing it was close to dawn, but as I rushed from my blankets I heard the soft words from Makinor who was with the horses.  “It’s okay, Jelnaya.  No reason for you to have kept watch.  Every now and then you can get a full night of sleep.”  I heard him chuckle before saying, “I actually did what you would do.  I noticed some game and made a kill.  Inchell is cooking, but if you see a place where you can do your style of cooking it could help keep most of it from spoiling.”

Sitting while checking directions, I concluded, “If we can keep up this rate of travel, we can make it to the cricket house today.”

He did things with his hands intending to mimic my actions while admitting, “I really would like to know how you do that.”

“Let’s see how this ends.  I will need to bring you someplace before the lecture makes any sense.  Even Brullusk has to bring the horses to the Electorium before they understand things about finding their way through the omniverse.”

“Speaking of lectures.”  He came close and knelt beside me as he softly said, “I was glad to have Onathia tell me that I did not need to say the words to you that I had to say to Inchell.”

“I don’t take things lightly, Makinor.  You should know that.”

“Yes, but I also know the simplicity of most situations I face.  Those that complicate things, and you do not lead a simple life, often are those that miss the simple things.  Onathia says that it is going to be hard to find someone for you, Jelnaya, but that you are worth her effort.”

Actually feeling some hope in what my life might be, I said, “Tell her, thanks.”

“I don’t tell her that, Jelnaya.  I tell her that she ends up not helping those of us that would be worth her effort, but only those who are not deserving.”

“And she tells you that they are easy to help, while we take more thought.”

“Yes, but –“  I could tell he was pulling out words from a place he did not want to touch as he said, “We don’t have the time.  At least I don’t.”

“And you tell her that.  When you stride before her in her halls, you let her know how shallow, how lacking, your life was.”  To hopefully make my point, I added, “You are talking to the girl that asked for it all.  You better believe that Fergush will know about everything that he fell short in keeping his part of the bargain.”

“No, Jelnaya.  What Onathia tells me is that I am friends with someone who is proving herself worth it all.  You are my example, but I am not what you are.”

“Makinor, the only difference in you and me is our deities.  Yes, Onathia and Fergush are opposed, but they support the same reality.  In the same way we should support each other.  Well, I believe we are proving ourselves in that regard.  Stay strong.  I promise you that Onathia will not prove herself less than Fergush.”

He placed a hand on my head, then said, “Of course I gave Onathia credit for the kill.  Still, nothing you killed in the name of Fergush has troubled me.  Go eat, Jelnaya.”

Actually understanding the action, I kissed the man on the lips.  I could tell he did not expect the action, even though he did nothing to stop me.  I then turned to get what I needed to begin my day while letting the man know I did intend to catch him off guard.

“I believe I will enjoy the food as well.”

Up to now I had been wearing my lovely garments.  Today I however put on my crystal armor.  It was by no means nothing I considered holy, sacred, or a uniform of my place with Fergush.  I had gained it before I was claimed by the god.  No one would however confuse it with having any other purpose than clothes for combat.  The crystalline material might have had its own beauty, but it was still a protective garment for wearing into a serious fight.

I wondered what comments I would get about my choice of attire.  What however happened was Lossurp asking about when we would get to our destination.  I spoke of the answer depending on how fast we traveled.  He bragged that he could continue at the pace we set the day before.  Looking at Inchell, I saw her shrug.  Makinor did as well.  Wondering how the day would go, I pulled an item of silver like a coin from one of my pockets and threw it to the lad.

“What’s this?” he asked while picking it up from the ground after not catching it.

“Nothing special.  Just a token.  However, if you want to challenge me, toss it back to me.”

Makinor said, “Jelnaya, you said you would go easy on him.”

“I said it was nothing special.  Yes, it is one of my tokens, but I am not going to hold him to any standards that others might demand from it.  Of course, his youth could push the level of the conflict, but with me wanting to be a mother one day I might as well start learning how to deal with kids.”

Lossurp looked at the token while asking, “What could others demand with this?”

Makinor replied, “She is the Champion of He-Who-Fights.  Some will toss that before her with the intent of going against her.”

I added, “There is honor for anyone who can give me a good fight.”

Lossurp asked, “Do you kill those who fail?”

“No.  There is usually just humiliation in realizing they failed to beat a girl.  I am fast, which is a benefit of my heritage.  The benefits of being immortal just mean that no one should be able to kill me.”

“So, if you’re going to go easy on me, why can’t I take you on now?”

“Because we have almost a full day of moving.  Right now I would simply spank your butt with a stick while telling you to keep up the pace.  When we get to the cricket house, you will have a place to go and find some solace after I break your body.”

He pocketed the token while saying he would match us older folks.  None of us reminded him who ‘we’ older folks were.  I could handle hours of constant combat, so considered an all day run merely a good period of exercise.  I really did not know how much strenuous activity Inchell’s Marine life required of her, but she had handled the pace yesterday and I did not doubt she could manage today.  Makinor also did not slow us down, and I trusted him to speak if he had any problem with staying up with us.  We older folks made certain the camp was packed, then started the lad moving.

By midday he was complaining.  Actually, he had started at an earlier pause to allow the horses to drink at a stream.  When he began to complain as we gave the animals time to graze and for us to grab something to eat, I attacked.

I did not do anything harmful to him.  I actually attacked with a leafy stick, so he mostly became pummeled with delicate fronds.  In another situation he might have even enjoyed what I did.  While Lossurp did nothing but complain while attempting to back away, I saw Inchell come up.  I said nothing when her sword cut through my stick, as we did not bring any practice weapons.  I pulled a couple of daggers, and used them to prevent the lady from doing anything harmful to me.

“Oh, come on, Princess Jelnaya,” Inchell griped.  “At least pretend that I am giving you a good fight.”

“That’s not what you asked for,” I replied.

“What I asked for?”  She paused while saying, “I’m not going to hurt you, Jelnaya.”

“I believe you already admitted that.”

“Still, Jelnaya, you could hurt me.”

Trying to push the lady to where I felt she needed to be, I said, “Tell me where you are going there won’t be people.”

“What?”

“Tell me where you are going there won’t be people.”

There was a pause where I could tell Inchell was thinking things over, then she admitted, “I don’t want to hurt them either.”

“If you’re not committed, they will stop you.”

“Why?”

“Because you are going to change their lives.  You are going to do something they never saw happen, and see no reason why it should happen.  They won’t be evil, but they simply will not see a reason for what you are doing.”  I could not help but add, "And having someone come take you away to return you to that library will not help you gain your objective."

Showing the maturity that I actually expected from Inchell, she allowed herself to see an end result of her plans.  “But that means that I could be seen as evil.”

“Yes, Inchell, that is exactly what could happen.  One thing I have learned is that being evil and being perceived as evil are two different things.”

Makinor attempted to help by pointing out, “It is very common for us to have to deal with those evil who are appearing as good.”

Inchell sounded dejected as she said, “Princess Jelnaya, what you are saying is that I need to hurt you.”

I replied, “What I am saying, what you asked me to do, is to have you commit.  There might be people working hard to stop you.  There might not be anything other than the ancient barriers that have kept this place isolated.  You commit to doing what you need to do.”  Hoping to actually help her, I continued.  “With me it is actually easy.  I have a god telling me what to do.  I know what I am to do is the right thing.  I know I am not the evil one.  Grandfather Terish, Great-uncle Ferrigote, your empress, there are many who will admit they had no authority saying their actions were right or wrong.  They however are considered great because they succeeded at what they attempted.”

“There is a lot of blood in the past of your family.”

“How about you of Davelda?  You had your war.”

“Only a child of Davelda could throw that in my face.”

“I’m proud of my Grandfather Terish, and even proud of my Grandmother Straekin.  They do not deny the things they have done.  My father sells weapons of mass destruction, and holds his head high.  I cannot throw things in their faces without them lecturing me of the pride they have in those deeds.”  Hoping to set the right tone, I added, “Of course, you have the problem of serving on the losing side of the war.”

She took a stance with her weapon while saying, “That is where I need to go, Princess Jelnaya.  I need to accept that even in losing I can win.  I am not talking about my war, but the reason I am fighting the war.  Actually, Empress Straekin gave me the Davelda I was fighting for.  That is why I am out here.  I want Davelda to continue.  Right now my body won’t allow that to happen.”

I had to let her know, “It is different out here.  You have to win your war.”

A nod was the only warning I had of her coming attack.  That was enough.  I did not need to change out my daggers for my sword, but Inchell did work to have me on the defensive.  I could have turned the combat, but was interested in just how long she would continue the onslaught.  After a period, she ceased her attacks to let me know her thoughts.

“Okay, Princess Jelnaya, let’s get where we are going.  I believe I understand, but give me time for the lesson to sink in.”

As if expressing his own concern, Lossurp asked, “Are you tired?”

“That’s not an option.  The road we of Davelda now travel is due to the arrival of Princess Jelnaya’s grandfather.  I remember watching the news when the picture of Empress Straekin rushing out to that cobbled together wagon was shown.  I laughed at what Terish said, but the quote has become a part of our culture.”  I spoke the words proudly even as Inchell said, “I went back for the treasure.”  She then added, “I need to do that.  I need to commit to doing that.  No, I am not tired, and I will not be tired.”

Okay, now it is time for the last member of our cast to make his appearance.