It Only a Dream Can Be
I grew up being challenged by those much better than me, but I was now so much greater in ability that I felt it right to put Lossurp against Inchell. They both did seem to be rather inexperienced, although with a skill set they felt comfortable with. Each however needed to realize that to gain the stated objective required that they improve and I hoped by testing themselves against each other they would realize some faults I could then help them overcome. Lossurp was young, although I felt would do a better job of proving himself against a real challenge even as I expected Inchell would come to understand her military training could be advanced.
Those from Davelda had proven themselves able to deal with the oddities of the universe. Where they failed was having the equipment or skills to handle the challenges. While it was true that one only needed special weapons for certain threats, if one truly wanted to make a reputation for themselves then the extraordinary opponents needed to be faced. Further, those from Davelda had the books and movies of those that had survived extremely dangerous situations, so assumed that was the standard for themselves.
Inchell did not speak of considering her desire to find Negredell as being strange. In fact, her story mentioned the belief that she wanted to be the first to seek this legendary place, because if she waited then someone else would claim the glory. While I appreciated her attitude about actually finding Negredell, I felt only someone from Davelda would have even the desire to seek such a strange locale.
Realizing that I had a day of simply watching the two spar, I found myself bored. That did not happen around my castle. Everything about Phanigist was still new to me. The people were not all familiar faces. The intricacies in the politics still took study. Fighting I however knew well, and while I did spend time with my military I expected my leaders and officers to assure the regular soldiers stayed prepared in my absence. Realizing that I had two people who needed to prove themselves committed to their own challenges, I sought for something to make my time productive.
Passing Krachern, I said, “I am going to see about getting some fresh meat.”
He replied, “The humans are similar to those found on the world of Terish’s centaurs. That has had me hope to find some non-humans, like centaurs, but so far I have only encountered humans.”
I had to admit, “I like that world.”
“So do I. Anyway, I have not had a problem dealing with the humans, but I did feel a need to warn you. Of course, since you knew about this cricket house, you probably already knew.”
“If you had not told me, the fault would have been on you. If I don’t listen, the fault is on me. Let’s see what story I tell when I get back.”
He wished me well, and I left to saddle Rubber. I really had not learned about this world, but only located the cricket house to assure I knew of a place to relax. After riding out for a short time, I heard a commotion and came upon a group of humans waving their hands as they spoke of a great hunt. They showed no fashion in their rough animal-skin clothing, in their shaggy hair, or stone weapons. The men however were not threatening, but allowed me to listen as they spoke of attacking a type of elephant. I lifted myself in my saddle, determined where the animal would be found, then spoke a conclusion.
“I get a back leg section.”
One of the men asked, “How you kill it?”
“Oh, I’ll kill it, but I would prefer not chasing it. If you men can make it turn,” I made hand motions to indicate for them to prevent a straight path, “I will bring it down.”
“Hordergy with you?”
I heard the voice of Fergush tell me, “Stress that they should pray to Hordergy, then attack when you get it stopped.”
Knowing that my deity did interact with others, I accepted the command. The men showed pleasure in what I told them. I then listened as they spoke of recognizing the quality of my mount, my attire, and the weapons showing. I spent some time interacting with them just to assure some familiarity with each other, then I climbed back in the saddle to do something I felt would be fun.
I guess the large ears and long floppy nose made it an elephant. The way I saw it looking for food, how it turned when it recognized my presence, and things about its mouth had me consider it a huge swine. I dismounted letting Rubber know that it needed to stay close as I did not know how the fight would go. It did require my experience in dealing with other great threats to manage without getting killed. Finding itself hurt, the creature did run. It had some speed, and I called Rubber to help me with the chase. Seeing the humans then make a show that caused the animal to stop while making a trumpeting call like an elephant, I knew that the fight would be to the finish.
Having me arrive back at the cricket house with Rubber pulling a large leg section while carrying a number of skins of wine let all know that I had a good time. I cheerfully spoke as I unloaded things, then worked with Krachern to process the meat. Inchell also showed up to help. She however did not squirt some wine into her mouth, but spoke of getting a mug before turning and saying something I considered important.
“I’m not going to become like you.”
I calmly replied, “I know. You are only looking for a better rut than the one you have been living in. I don’t live in a rut.”
“Maybe, but I am hoping to make my life better. At present I see it as getting worse.”
“Well, how long did you stay practicing?” Seeing her simply look at me I felt answered my question, so I said, “Maybe the rut you want is not one you will be happy with.”
“I do not have the drive you do. That does not mean I am wanting a rut, Princess Jelnaya. I just have a different desire for how I live my life.”
I let her know my own philosophy. “It’s easy to fall into a rut. If you are not putting out the effort to rise above the normal demands of life, you are heading into a rut.”
“Well, after living the same life for centuries, you have to forgive me if I am not so willing to commit to another life without some assurance of it being worth my time.”
“But you are not going somewhere you can test the waters. If this place is what you say it is, you have to go in ready for it. I cannot go against an opponent with the attitude of just learning about them. I have to go in expecting to be at my best, because I will only get one chance.”
She just stared at me, then asked, “Doesn’t it scare you, Princess Jelnaya?”
“No. I have relatives living this life. My demand on Fergush was due to me having examples of people I knew, and that was what I wanted. Well, Negredell is something you claim to want. You faced me fully stating what you wanted, and what you needed to obtain it. If it is scaring you or you are finding yourself unwilling to step up the challenge, go back to Davelda.”
“Don’t you want it, Princess Jelnaya?”
“No. I’m not looking for a rut. When we see it ahead of us, you better charge ahead. If you are waiting for me, you won’t reach it.”
While I kept my focus on Inchell, I saw her eyes dart to another as we heard, “Jelnaya, is there a way I could pay you to take a chance on Negredell?”
I did recognize the voice of Krachern, although continued to keep watching Inchell as I replied, “I just said that I am not wanting to be part of any rut.”
“I mean to rescue us, Jelnaya. As someone who has had the luck I have, I know what fear is. I still go, but I also understand the risks.”
“If you are not at the point of victory, or feeling your best about something, don’t go.”
“My fear is not in my attitude, but in the place not being what it is hoped to be. That is my experience, Jelnaya.”
Now I turned, as I had to admit, “I will check with Fergush on that.”
I heard the sound of confidence in my relationship with my deity as Inchell asked, “What does he say, Princess Jelnaya?”
“You’re from Davelda, Inchell. I’m your princess. I’m here for you, and I will stay with you, but I’m not going to assure you of finding your gold-plated rut. If your path is leading you to Hell and you state your desire to follow it to the end, I will go back to Grandmother Straekin to tell her your story.”
“Can you contact her?”
“No. I have a gem that will let me contact Grandfather Terish.”
Krachern asked, “Jelnaya, do you know your way to my sponsors? I don’t believe Terish has been there either, as I have not dealt with him.”
“Grandfather Terish is good friends with Galabur, and I believe you mentioned in earlier conversations dealing with the grand librarian.”
“Indeed, Jelnaya. Please let those of my committee know.”
I said, “Inchell, talk to Krachern. Maybe you can find what you need talking to each other.”
No one spoke as I turned to leave. I was not angry at anyone, but I wanted it clear that I would not encourage this journey. What Inchell spoke of sounded like something someone from Davelda would desire, but it was far from anything I wanted for myself. I did intend to leave and spend some time speaking privately with my god, but stopped hearing the voice of another man.
“I’ll stay with them, Jelnaya.”
I turned to Makinor to ask, “Why are you interested in this?”
“Not for the rut. That’s the last thing I need. Marriage is however a type of rut, and it is something my goddess is interested in.”
A certain thought did come to my mind, but something in his face had me ask, “You talking about Krachern and Inchell?”
“And it is Krachern that has me want you to stay with us. This is more than Negredell, Jelnaya.”
“How much do you know of Krachern?”
“I know you brought back wine. Is it any good?”
Thinking about previous periods with Makinor, I said, “I enjoy a more fruity beverage at times. I never complained about your choices either.”
“Traveling I have enjoyed a variety of wines as well. Let’s both go share a skin while talking.”
Krachern was not born a horse person. Considering that I had relatives that dealt with centaurs, I found it interesting to learn about him. I had him tell me his story, and I believe he appreciated the fact that I did not laugh at him. Honestly, considering the job he had, it was surprising he had not faced other problems. I had to admit that he had done well, even being a horse person, and was glad to have a friendship with him.
Telling the story to Makinor, it did not surprise me to hear him ask, “So, Krachern can be restored?”
“He fears the curse to have set things so that any attempt at restoration would have him become the animal and not return to being a man.”
“He appears more man than animal.”
“He does not mind being an unusual appearing man. He does not want to become an animal.” Hoping to cut short the questions, I said, “He works for an institution, and really has no relationship with a deity. He does not deny them, but really has not made his life to fit the tenets of any god. If what happened to him had happened to you or me, we could plead to our gods to restore us. He is like those of Davelda who were seeking a scientific solution to their physiology, which they altered from their science. His problem is that he really does not trust any solution of the same type that caused his condition.”
I drank some wine while watching Makinor. His face indicated he wanted to say something, although was probably listening to another. Not hearing Fergush tell me anything, I simply drank some wine while waiting for the silence to be broken.
Makinor finally said, “Jelnaya, I know you said you would stay with us, but I fear we may all be glad you wasted the time.”
I had to ask, “That is all Onathia is telling you?”
“How much is Fergush telling you?”
“When he is silent, it is usually because he is being bothered by one of the goddesses.”
“What if I said that I was thinking of Inchell, but Onathia is speaking of me possibly losing her to Krachern. She is however insistent that I stay to see this through.”
Actually expecting a certain gift to be awarded to Makinor, I replied, “He isn’t immortal.”
“What Onathia was telling me was that Inchell was doing the right thing. The problem is that there is a reason it is sealed away, but the solution will not be what Inchell thinks it is. It will drive her to desperation, as the stories of the place state, but some good can come of it if you, Jelnaya, will work with me.”
“Sounds to me like I am just to keep you alive so you can work your calling.”
“Considering we are opposed, Jelnaya, that is about the extent of any plan where the two of us work together.”
Even though I was chuckling, I had to let Makinor know a fact. “Fergush is laughing.”
A few more details need to be considered before the group returns.