It Only a Dream Can Be
Princess Jelnaya simply chuckled, then said, “I guess you like a challenge.”
I had to ask, “What do you mean?”
“Think of all the police, all the military, all the people who have had nothing to do for centuries, suddenly having the joy of getting to actually do their jobs.”
“But I will be a success.”
“Success is not all celebrations and having people glad to snuggle up with you when you finally decide to get some sleep. I can further assure you that won’t be the action that you are performing when you come into Negredell. You could enter proud of yourself for reaching it, feeling the energy of having overcome some struggle, or even happy to have reached your goal, but sneaking away with the knowledge of loving admirers will not be what gets repeated.”
Having to agree with what Princess Jelnaya was saying, I admitted, “Well, I also know that there is no way to enter Negredell with me collecting any wealth. I doubt there is a dragon to defeat who is sitting on a mass of gold right on the edge of Negredell so I can go forward repeating that.”
“Why are you so focused on the money? Let me again say that you of Davelda do not need money.”
Attempting to make sense of my goals for myself and not just for Princess Jelnaya, I said, “I see money becoming important again. I do not have a high rank in the military. My pay rate did not allow me to live in any luxury.”
“Are you living in luxury now?”
“I have a nice apartment, nice clothes, and can do the things I want. I am talking about a life I could not have on what was my salary.”
Krachern said, “I don’t believe Negredell is what you think it is, Inchell. Still, I can make your journey worth your while. I represent a group of people who would love to have information on the place. Let me go with you, and I will assure you an amount of funds to make up for any lack of reward in finding this place.”
Princess Jelnaya said, “She sent for me to give her some sense of attitude for when she came upon this place of repetition.”
“I have joy in the discovery, Jelnaya. I doubt my attitude will be a problem.”
I saw the lady look to me as she said, “Krachern is by-the-book, so you might get along with him. He however does not take undo risks, which is where he and I have crossed paths. I went against challenges he was not willing to go against.”
“I am out here for research purposes only. In fact, the group that funds my travels will actually chide me for what combat I do face. That is why I am doing my paperwork here. I can recuperate without the ridicule of being hurt for what was actually a necessary risk.”
I had to say, “But you won your battle.”
“I have learned things. I am cautious, but sometimes I can see success in facing a challenge. I can however make mistakes, and I must point out that I did get hurt rather seriously.”
Princess Jelnaya had the horse-person describe his battle and the damage he suffered. I listened, although my mind was seeking to adjust my goals. I had to accept that my actual ultimate plan for my life might have been irrational, but that did not mean Negredell could not give me what I wanted. Just having the courage of knowing a positive result would be repeated could prove beneficial in my future. It was however hearing Krachern offering to fund Princess Jelnaya that brought me out of my own thoughts.
I said, “Hold it, Princess Jelnaya, I did not ask Makinor to send for you so you could baby-sit me.”
She replied, “No, but I have to consider what Grandmother Straekin would say. She considers all you immortals as part of her family. You have gone through centuries together. Maybe not as personal friends, but as a member of her military you can be certain she knows something about you. I have to consider you family as well. The very fact you call me princess speaks of what you consider my relationship is with you.”
“But you are –“
“Second generation. My father might be gentry, but that does not give me the rank of princess. No, but you call me princess to let me know that I am special to you. Well, it goes both ways. If I don’t take care of you, I will have to face Grandmother Straekin and the rest of you of Davelda.”
Krachern said, “Good, so I will have the companionship of Jelnaya. Honestly, Jelnaya, my sponsors would be glad to personally meet you.”
“I do have responsibilities, Krachern. We will see about that.”
Master Lossurp asked, “So, we’re going?”
I replied, “That was never in doubt for me. Everything is in doubt with you. I’m surprised you are even here. I have no idea what Sheik Brelask will say when we return.”
“He will let me go. You need me, Sha Inchell.”
“We will see about that. Princess Jelnaya, what are your plans?”
She replied, “We were supposed to be spending this day building up your motivation. As the champion of He-Who-Fights, I did expect to be spending the day in such a manner. After listening to you, I am not certain that is what you need.”
“We can still do that. However, I would like for you, and Master Lossurp, to speak to me of politics. I assume those are battles you have won as well.”
“I don’t know if what I do can actually be called politics, but I will tell you what I can.”
Krachern suggested, “How about you, Inchell, speaking of your research into Negredell.”
“I will do that after leaving Sheik Brelask.”
“Then I will presently consider the matter settled.”
I spoke for a time with the others about how much sleep they had gained. None spoke of gaining pleasure in being unconscious, but feeling their time was better spent in other manners. I did enjoy spending time in peaceful slumber, but I also remember leaving my bunk and finding other members of the military active when they did not need to be. Realizing that sleep was an unwanted necessity with some people, I spoke with them on other topics.
Of course Jelnaya went out to do her katas. What attracted my attention was her making some bargain with Krachern. Understanding I had us come here for my own training, I put on some thick garments and went out to see what she might try and teach me.
When I approached, she picked up a large shield telling me to hit her. She mentioned tree limbs and rocks around us, but admitted she would not fuss against me using a weapon. Reminding myself that I was not a youth, and thinking upon other idiotic lessons that had actually paid off, I went to grab a stick. Of course she had my strikes hit her shield, but allowing that I needed to take the challenge seriously I set myself to achieving the objective.
It hurt finding myself unable to get a strike beyond the shield. Krachern was a large person, and had a protective device scaled to his frame. Still, it was just a regular barrier. While as a Marine I had been taught personal defense and combat techniques, in the war we did not fight in such a manner. We had released our fury at each other, and I remembered the scenes of devastation that were shown, and some I saw for myself, after peace had been obtained. Still, I had stayed in the military, so certain disciplines were regularly checked. It hurt finding my centuries of training being put to shame by this recent addition to our population.
I just took my hands and forced the shield to the side. Princess Jelnaya let it fly, and smiled at me. The objective however was to gain a hit on her. She rolled and soon had the shield back in her hands with me wondering what other tactic to use.
Frustration had worn on me to have me feel the physical exertion, so I paused glad to have a chance to catch my breath when Master Lossurp exclaimed, “Oh! With a shield that big I could keep Sha Inchell from hitting me.”
Princess Jelnaya went to hand the shield to the lad while saying, “Inchell, I told you that I would have you beating on Lossurp.”
“She won’t be able to.”
“Sounds like a challenge to me.”
I allowed the lad to set himself, then I quickly found myself poking him with my stick. He did not have the experience with the device, the reflexes, and I even wondered about Jelnaya’s strength. After hearing the lad gripe, I let him know a basic fact.
“Princess Jelnaya is a champion of He-Who-Fights. Do not treat that honor lightly.”
Master Lossurp replied, “You won’t hit me again.”
After hitting him a few more times, I worked at giving the youth pointers. He of course had me take the shield. I did find some pleasure in being able to ward off his strikes, but then I found him just bashing on the device. In chancing to look upon him I saw what appeared to be anger, although I could tell it was just youthful determination to accomplish something that was proving itself to be harder than the youth could accept as possible.
Seeing him tire, I said, “I am over seven hundred years old. You should not treat me as a simple opponent.”
The look of him not seeming to appreciate my words caught me by surprise. I then realized that he was showing me what I needed. It bothered me realizing that he would not succeed. He could bash and bash, but would not get past the shield. While I kept my gaze on the lad, I spoke intending my words to be heard by another.
“I won’t win with an attitude like that.”
Princess Jelnaya replied, “You need it. That is what you want. The only difference is that you need to keep your wits about you. You do that, and you can surprise yourself with the ideas you come up with along with the determination to make it work.”
“In other words, I could be bragging about doing something stupid.”
“Let others say you did something stupid. What you brag about is succeeding. Let me however warn you that bragging about committing a crime will have you end up before the authorities.”
“I can’t just stop at Negredell, Princess Jelnaya. It should be the start of something. No offense, but there are enough heroes. I am trying to be something different.”
It was not Princess Jelnaya, but Krachern that replied, “There are many who would say that there are not enough good people willing to stand up against those evil.”
Now I heard Princess Jelnaya as she said, “I am not like my Grandfather Terish, Great-uncle Ferrigote, Aunt Neselle, or others that I know.”
“And even if she was, their stories are not the same. It brings me joy to hear things of the great heroes or even a new one. I do not have any pleasure in hearing of those causing heartache for others.”
“You cannot tell me that those of Davelda will write books praising a criminal. The movies will be about those that brought them to justice.”
Master Lossurp broke from his thought process to ask, “There are movies?”
“You will need to learn the language of Davelda.”
“I can understand all of you.”
Krachern replied, “There are things about speaking to others that is advanced with travel between worlds. There are however benefits to actually learning languages. I assume Inchell is speaking the language of Davelda. What language do you speak, Jelnaya?”
She replied, “I grew up on Emigaila, but my parents taught us kids the language of Davelda and Germahut. Since leaving Davelda with Great-uncle Ferrigote, I learned the language of Sennapre, and that is the one I tend to use.”
“I would have thought you simply spoke to him in one of the other languages, as I know he speaks the universal language.”
“Those on his property speak that of Sennapre, so I learned it while also coming to comprehend the universal language. As you said, it helps learning the language. Being a girl, I have a lot of men trying to impress me by speaking poetry or singing it, and rhymes do not usually work in translation.”
“Ah, the problems with being a female.”
I had to admit, “There really are not many female heroes. I guess it would be for the best to set my goal there.”
Princess Jelnaya said, “Now with you making one good decision, let’s see if we can have you make others.”
While the training gets serious, Jelnaya gets bored.