It Only a Dream Can Be
Those at the border did not act surprised to see us. They read off a list of our names, and had us tell some things about ourselves. Everything was going without a problem. While I was not surprised at the questions, I had hoped certain ones would not get asked.
“Ma’am, Honored Duchess Jelnaya, what is that wrapped in pink on the side of your horse?”
I answered, “That is my drahaberd. Would you like to see it?”
“Yes. I’m sorry, but there is something about it that troubles me. If you don’t mind.”
“I am a divine champion, and this is my divine weapon. Of course I do not mind, as I will promote my god.”
What most failed to understand was that the pink cloth was as holy as the weapon. When I flicked at the place where one end was tucked into a section of the wrap, the length of ribbon fell away without any effort from me. I would take time to wrap the drahaberd back up simply as an act of letting my god know that I would care for what I had been given. What most however saw when I released the pink cloth was the quality of the weapon.
Even those who had been traveling with me oohed and aahed as I revealed what had been covered. The handle between two silvery blades was of some light-colored wood that almost blended with pink details of flowering briars. As polished as the blades were, gold filigree could be easily seen of the talons of animals coming around an anvil before a shining sun. I could explain the designs, but those traveling with me and the border officials simply admired what they saw.
One agent did ask, “Honored Duchess Jelnaya, are those blades sharp?”
I admitted, “I could slice you in half.”
“When would you use something like that?”
“When you have run away and are cowering hoping for the dawn to come, I will be using this. It really is not good against a single skilled opponent. Against groups, there really is not a better weapon.”
“Please, Honored Duchess Jelnaya, wrap it back up, and I ask that you don’t use it.”
I did set an end of the pink cloth on a blade while admitting, “You can check with Decogrend. I never unwrapped it there.”
“Yes, Honored Duchess Jelnaya. I appreciate your willingness to show it off.” He showed a reluctance to have his eyes break from the weapon before saying, “Okay, all of you may pass. We hope you enjoy your stay.”
As we walked away, Inchell came to me to say, “That is not what they had in the movie – nothing like it.”
I replied, “The latest movie was of my journey with some Navy men. Back then I was still using the drahaberd I gained from what I did with my Aunt Neselle. I gained this one from Fergush when I took my castle.”
Lossurp stepped up as if to say something, but when Inchell and I looked at him he simply said, “The language I need to learn is that of Davelda. I want to see these movies.”
Inchell said, “Tell you what, Master Lossurp, I’ll have Princess Jelnaya work with me in teaching you on our trip home.”
I had to say, “Assuming the two of you aren’t doing something else, over and over again.”
“You’re supposed to save us from that.”
“I might be laughing too hard.”
The conversation stayed congenial as we moved into this new country. The change in language was immediate, but of course the only one it really bothered was Lossurp. I admired him for stepping up to listen as we spoke to the natives, and even chancing saying something. He however turned with interest as Krachern moved next to me to speak about our travels in this country.
“Jelnaya, I saw you cash in some gold and jewels. Are you intending to finance this mission?”
Actually Inchell and Makinor did exchange some precious items as well, but I had forced a bank transfer with the amount I presented. My reason was to assure a certain level of privilege. Lossurp’s country had a strong indication of social standing determining how one was treated, and I saw signs of it in this land as well. As the one carrying a title of nobility, I felt a need to maintain a certain appearance. Feeling that I could afford a little luxury, I went ahead and dedicated an amount toward assuring no one assumed I was inferior to them.
What I told Krachen however was, “Simply intending to see this thing through.”
“Well, if we weren’t with you, how would you manage?”
“Rest somewhere else.”
“Actually, I would do the same. What would you say to me proposing that?”
I let him know I had already considered that question. “Negredell is here, and it isn’t some ancient burial chamber for us to loot. It’s a place. I believe context will be important to finding it.”
“Well, I hope you are not intending to bill my college.”
“It’s not your mission, Krachern. If I bill anyone, it will be Inchell, although with her being from Davelda I’m not going to bother. If I need or want anything from that world, they would just give it to me.”
He made some clicking sounds with his mouth, then said, “Jelnaya, Inchell is a nice lady and what you say of Davelda actually has it sounding nice as well.”
“I’m not going to argue with you, Krachern. I am not saying it is an evil, nasty place. It however is a place where a bunch of people have been doing basically the same thing for centuries. They will complain about it, and some committed suicide because of it, but they still get mad at you if you don’t fit into their mold. It is not the place for me.”
“Okay, Jelnaya, I can see that.”
He then had one of his large hands take one of mine. I felt him give me a small pouch filled with things I accepted were valuable. Instead of checking on what it was he placed in my hand, I put my focus on his motive.
“What is this for?”
Krachern said, “This is me playing the old man card. What I am does not have me really showing my age, but I am feeling it. As much as I might want to deny it, I am finding myself able to play the old man card rather skillfully. After you get the item that is having us make this detour, purchase a conference room where we can lay all our cards out on the table.”
“I thought we were already intending to do that.”
“I am not talking about gathering to discuss things, but taking the time to chew the fat on things and go into history.”
I did not feel that anyone was hiding any information, or would refuse to speak, but feeling the weight of the pouch I suspected Krachern’s motivation. “You know something?”
“I’m betting on you, Jelnaya. We have spoken before, but this is the first time for me to actually see you in action. I believe you will end up thanking me for having you prepared to do what I am asking.”
“What are you suspecting?”
“The very thing I believe you are hoping for, but I am wanting you to give it the respect it deserves. This mission is something potentially much more rewarding than I ever dreamed of taking on. I have my ways of doing things, Jelnaya. Let an old man have some fun.”
As he moved away, I had to ask, “Fergush, do you know what he is talking about?”
The voice of my deity as usual sounded as if it was coming behind me as it said, “Actually, I am surprised that he does. Nothing to worry about, Jelnaya. At least, nothing for you to worry about. Keep your usual charm, and I guess we can allow an old man to have his fun.”
One fact of working for a deity, you learn to trust your employer. If they wanted to do you wrong, there was nothing you could do about it. Fergush actually had a good reputation with my family, which is why I originally sought him out. Since taking on the status of his champion, I have had the life I wanted. I would not say it had been easy, but it was the life I sought to gain. Fergush told me that the matter with Krachern was not something for me to worry about, and I trusted him enough that I put my mind on other things.
The reason for our detour was to get Lossurp an item or few representing the local deity or deities. Seeing a church, I felt the task could be accomplished. Approaching the building however we saw chains around the door. I actually approached to get attention, but found no one to challenge me as I went to rattle the portals. It was only Makinor who bothered me as I looked around hoping for someone to look my way. Wondering about the worship of those divine in this country, I wondered if we would have any success with our detour.
The Champion of Onathia asked, “Are you going to break in, Jelnaya?”
“No,” I answered. “We’re not here to pray. If someone would direct me where to go, it would be nice.”
“So, you’re just hoping to get someone to notice?”
“Everywhere else I go someone tends to notice me.”
Krachern said, “Everywhere else you tend to be doing something to catch their attention, although I have to say you are doing the same here.” He looked around, then admitted, “It is rather strange.”
Lossurp commented, “We could break in and get some items.”
I replied, “We want the God or Gods to look favorably on you, Lossurp. None of us are disrespectful of our deities, and you should not be either. No, we will do what we can to gain you items properly.”
“Well, the city is further on.”
“Probably cannot reach the stores in time, so will have to wait and shop tomorrow.”
The young man went to a window, then turned back to say, “I thought they believed in the Gods here.”
“It doesn’t matter if they do or not, as long as they sell the items associated with the Gods. What is important is that you profess those Gods.”
I raised my voice to again hopefully gain attention as well as get Lossurp to listen. “Who am I? Who is Makinor? What have you heard about Davelda?”
As if the tone of my voice was improper, the young man replied, “I know you are associated with gods.”
“And they are real, Lossurp. Your Gods are real as well. When you enter Negredell, a place others are saying is not real, you better be hoping some god, God, or Gods is watching out for you.”
“Well, I guess we need to get back to walking. Maybe we could mount our horses and ride ahead?”
“If I thought finding a religious store would be easy, I would allow it. Something however tells me that it won’t be.”
Makinor said, “Onathia is telling me the same, Jelnaya. She is telling me to purchase our accommodations, so I will direct us.”
My little scene might not have gained us any notice, but it did set us to looking about. I heard others mumble about hopefully finding another church in the distance. A few times I was asked to read a sign as if it would have directions to a religious site. When we finally reached the place Makinor said his goddess approved for our comfort, I felt we would have noticed a proper place if it had existed along our path.
Again Inchell and I were to share a room, but I was glad for her company when we stepped in to be in the presence of a large man sitting in a throne of clear material. Having experiences of being in the presence of deities, I genuflected accepting that the theophony should be recognized. I believe Inchell did so simply following my lead, as she whispered things to me.
“This should be Yenostron, the good deity. The clear throne signifies honesty. The large size is to magnify his benevolence in that he could harm us if he desired.”
I kept my focus on the one before me as I said, “I thank you for the theophany, although a simple message of the location of a place to purchase some items would have been enough.”
The being replied, “Ask directions to Yenorzy Street. You will find the store closed in the same manner as you found the church. It will not be sacrilegious to break into it. Take what you will, and I will honor it.”
Inchell asked, “Have the people denied you? All those centuries we of Davelda did not deny Munulva, although we did not believe She existed, or cared for us if She did.”
“There is a fire, but it has been covered. It is not your problem as to why. However, you will be used to provide fuel for the fire. It was not supposed to be you, but you will not be dishonored because others did not step up.”
“Lossurp…” I was amazed to see Inchell stand as she asked, “Yenostron, what about Lossurp? It is for him that we are acquiring the items.”
“You are doing the lad right. Again honor should be yours. What he does is up to him, so do not hold yourself at fault.”
“But he is a good lad.”
The deity leaned forward as he sternly said, “And you are doing the lad right. I will not dishonor you for what you are doing, but like you he will only be honored for doing the right thing.”
Inchell turned to me to ask, “Jelnaya, any advice?”
Only the room was presently before us. While Inchell looked around, I simply rose assuring things were back to normal. When the lady looked to me, I moved into the room to set down my luggage.
“The God said we would be doing the right thing, Inchell, so my advice would be to do it.”
And they set themselves to doing just that.