It Only a Dream Can Be
Lossurp received another phone call from Cherine that evening. The earlier call did help the lad feel some confidence in how the interview had gone. I could sense that he expected the encouraging words from us, but was really surprised at what the young lady said. Lossurp put up the phone, then let us know what he felt we needed to hear from the call.
“Cherine says that it was military forces that were firing on us. Benorra does consider our search for Negredell to be a ploy by Uvillorsh to expand their border. Decogrend however is working to support Uvillorsh, so we should not have problems with the military.”
Princess Jelnaya asked, “She being sweet on you, Lossurp?”
He seemed embarrassed, but replied, “Her younger sister is being presented to my father for me. I’m a second son, but it seems this mission is giving me status.”
I had to ask, “You have not heard from your father?”
“I won’t until it’s final. That is why I am talking to Cherine. She’s a classmate, and a friend. She is making sure that I am not against it.”
Princess Jelnaya then said, “You see, Makinor. You make plans ahead of time.”
The other divine champion replied, “I never intended to argue, Jelnaya, and I will not now. Trust me. I will love her.”
“Inchell, just how close is Negredell to the border?”
I was surprised at the question, but answered, “A few miles from it. Never really thought Benorra to be a problem. Tomorrow we will take another road. The next day we should come to the valley. I cannot get anything definite about the valley, but it seems that it is not recommended for hiking or hunting.”
“Lossurp, you want to go hunting with me? There should be stuff for a stew or something, but some fresh meat would be nice. This time we hopefully won’t have to share it.”
The lad quickly replied, “Sure, Honored Duchess Jelnaya.”
I went ahead and said, “I’ll cook. I want more of a meal than what we have been eating.”
Makinor went to care for the animals, but I found Krachern to set himself to helping me cook. He said nothing of a romantic nature, but I still felt something in his presence. When Krachern however put a little graciousness in handing me some items, I did feel the need to mention the fact that I noticed.
“You are being a little persistent in getting me used to your presence.”
In a very soft manner, he replied, “I have stated my intentions, Inchell. I felt being too romantic would be a little much, but if you desire obvious statements of my desire to court you I can do that.”
“No. You’re right. Take it slow. The fact you are doing it at all however is strange for me. I however do feel that I need to let you know that I am noticing.”
“Yes. I do appreciate that. I mean, I appreciate that you recognize my intentions and are not resisting them.” After exchanging smiles, he asked, “May I redirect our conversation to others in our party? There seems to be something between Makinor and Jelnaya.”
“Trust me, if Princess Jelnaya has an issue with someone, she will handle it. Whatever is going on between our two divine champions, I would like to know just because Negredell should have divine status as well. I’m not asking however, because I trust Princess Jelnaya to come to me should it involve this mission. The fact she has not tells me it has to do with something else, possibly the military, and I really trust her to handle that.”
“Ah, and you believe that might be the reason she took Lossurp with her?”
Now that Krachern mentioned it, I had to allow that he was possibly correct. “She and Master Lossurp do tend to get along. Doing reconnaissance and advising the lad I feel would be good way for her to pass the time.”
I found myself exchanging comments and opinions with Krachern on a number of topics. As I did so, I tried to compare him to others that had sought to gain my hand. None however had sought such a comfortable relationship with me. Romance had been strong with a few, but none really tried to simply form a friendship. A couple probably assumed it existed due to our relationship at work, but I found the exchanges with Krachern to actually help see him in a light as something more than just a partner for sex or someone to commit to coming home to.
Seeing an explosion in the distance concerned me. Makinor did move as if also troubled by the occurrence, but did not say anything. The food was ready to be served by the time our missing people came back. Seeing a military vehicle also arrived however concerned me.
An officer, a different one than we met before, came out of the vehicle to ask, “Honored Duchess Jelnaya, what type of arrows do you use?”
She removed a small leather tube from her back while saying, “Not a one is missing.”
“How did you kill those rabbits?”
I did not see any rabbits, but she did have a number of small furry hides. “Shurikens.”
“Doesn’t take much to kill a rabbit.”
The officer did take out a couple of arrows. I could tell in his face that he was impressed with the quality of the projectiles. The shafts did not appear to be made of any wood I knew. While I doubted it, I actually suspected she gained the lengths from her father’s company. The heads were of some white substance, possibly bone, that had been laminated with some exotic varnish. The officer asked if he could keep one, and when Princess Jelnaya agreed his demeanor became less official.
“Sorry, Honored Duchess Jelnaya, but those of Benorra were claiming you were at fault for their ammo to suddenly ignite.”
She replied, “That makes me feel bad for not officially accusing them of sending missiles at my party.”
“I can sympathize with you. Thank you for your tolerance, Honored Duchess Jelnaya.”
After the military drove off, Lossurp said, “You were right, Honored Duchess Jelnaya.”
I had to ask, “Right about what?”
“They did not ask if she knew anything about the explosion.”
Krachern asked, “Does she?”
“She made an arrow. They were with the missiles possibly preparing to send more in our direction. Honored Duchess Jelnaya said that she knew how to cause them to activate. She however spoke of not getting us in trouble, so showed me how to make an arrow.”
Princess Jelnaya then said, “What the military also did not do was admit the explosion happened on this side of the border.”
“I was told next time I speak to those back home to mention that Benorra and Uvillorsh are already not recognizing the border between their countries.”
I had to admit, “I told Krachern that I trusted you, Princess Jelnaya, to handle any issues you might have.”
She replied, “We have problems. We do not need these government agents causing us additional problems.”
“Well, I hope they are not determined to cause us problems.”
“While I take pleasure in a fight, I believe that is not one we should involve ourselves.”
Krachern said, “Glad we have an agreement. Jelnaya, I will take those rabbits off your hand. Thank you for going ahead and skinning them.”
“Is eight enough?”
“Fine. I will plan a stew for tomorrow.”
Princess Jelnaya went to take a bath. Master Lossurp stayed to speak to us about throwing shurikens. The way he talked had me believe that he was fascinated with the little metal stars. He however admitted that Princess Jelnaya had developed a technique for throwing them that he could not duplicate.
Makinor did have Princess Jelnaya go on to bed after we ate then did some chores, although when I thanked him he said, “Wake her up for a watch. If you don’t, I cannot promise that she will sleep tomorrow night.”
Both Krachern and I promised the man that we would get the lady up. I mentioned that we might however allow her to sleep tomorrow night, as I wanted her well rested before we made the final march to Negredell. Making a promise to each other to assure that we got our rest, we did what we needed before allowing things to settle for the night.
The slope definitely became more of an issue the next day. While the road kept a grade that the vehicles could manage, we followed steeper grades of paths. By the time we were looking for a place to camp, all of us were complaining of the stress on our legs from the constant upper slope.
Things did get better the next day, as the route had us descending at times although we kept facing a need to gain height in the terrain. Coming up a rise, we had a number of vehicles pass us then a few helicopters flew over. Looking down to where the route again descended, we saw something that actually had been bothering us with what appeared to be a number of people waiting to show us the hopelessness of our journey.
It was a curving section of road that was actually a bridge over a valley. I believe we all noticed the problem. Princess Jelnaya ran to the other side of the road even as I strode through the crowd to see what I felt I made out from a distance. What I saw was a rift more than a valley with a strong flow of water between two almost vertical sections. Wisps of smoke could be seen coming from the water in places giving evidence of volcanic forces. No plants of any kind on the slopes. As reporters began asking us how we were going to proceed, I heard Princess Jelnaya yell out instructions as she came back from across the road.
“Lossurp, answer their question!”
The lad stood on his tiptoes as if needing to see her over the mass of people, then came beside me to say, “We can gain a ridge and move along the valley until we see where we need to go.”
Princess Jelnaya was moving through the crowd as she asked, “And which side do we use?”
Lossurp turned to the rift, then pointed as he said, “That one. It appears more stable. There are trees up there we can use to secure ourselves if necessary. Only bushes on the other side. Visibility would be better, but the ground probably would not be.”
Coming to his side, she then asked, “And what if our possible entrance is on the other side?”
“I guess we come back then go along the other side.”
She put an arm around the lad’s shoulders, then turned him to the reporters to say, “Master Lossurp of House Sevalla, a part of House Krodemar in the country of Decogrend. A fine young man that I have been glad to come to know.”
I was amazed to hear the crowd grow quiet, but then a man behind the front row of people asked, “Master Lossurp, what are those talismans on your clothes?”
The lad replied, “Why are you asking me?”
He touched an icon on Princess Jelnaya identifying it as the symbol of Fergush, He-Who-Fights. He then pointed to something on my clothes identifying it as standing for my association with Munulva. As he pointed to an icon on Makinor’s outfit, the reporter interrupted him.
“The reason I asked, you, Master Lossurp, is that I recognized those.”
The lad replied, “Well, good, as the ones I wear are to our Gods. This one is to Jemaloran and this one is to Yenostron.”
“But Jemaloran is an evil deity.”
“Maybe, but he is our God. According to the popular myths, Yenostron is from some other world. Well, if these people from other worlds can show us that Negredell exists, maybe we can find other answers that have been lost or neglected for centuries.” He then seemed to understand what was going on, and said, “Attempting to stop us is what those worshipping Jemaloran would do. We are not breaking the law. We are not inciting others to cause trouble. We are on our mission paying our way, and you are trying to stop us, discourage us, and here you are attempting to show us how impossible our mission is. Tell me that you are not worshipping Jemaloran.”
Master Lossurp turned to Princess Jelnaya and I believe was about to say her name, but then he turned to me and said, “Sha Inchell, let’s go.”
I believe the man that spoke before asked, “How are you going to do that?”
The lad walked over where the eastern ridge of the rift passed beneath the road, then asked, “Honored Duchess Jelnaya, can your horse make it?”
She walked to him while saying, “I’m not worried about my horse, Lossurp, but yours.”
“My horse has been traveling with yours and Honored Makinor’s. If they can make it, my horse will follow.”
Princess Jelnaya took a moment to study the terrain, then whistled. Rubber immediately reacted to go to her. Makinor must have done something, as Vista went over to her as well. As Master Lossurp had said, his horse then followed. Princess Jelnaya then jumped from the road. I came over to see her stomping on the ground pointing out things to the horses. When she whistled, Rubber, Vista, then Master Lossurp’s horse jumped over safely.
Krachern came along beside me to softly mention it was time to leave. I heard basically the same from Makinor as he passed on the other side. I however had to stop and realize what was happening. At that moment I felt that we would reach the objective. Not with the purpose I intended, but with people I trusted, with my head held high, and with the knowledge that I had overcome challenges. Almost amazed at what was happening, I went to leave the road in order to claim the honor of achieving my goal.
Finding Negredell is not all there is to discover.