It Only a Dream Can Be
We did have trouble moving, but none of us spoke of a need to try a different route. The foliage was thick, but nothing that actually prevented movement. The grass and vines did not have stickers, although most of us wore thick clothing, if not armor, so I doubted they would have bothered us. What bushes we encountered were easily dealt with using our weapons. The route was definitely more trouble than the other paths we had traveled, but nothing that we were unable to handle.
Master Lossurp got a phone call that I felt troubled him. I could tell that he was speaking to a young lady, but I gained the impression he did not want to talk to her. I had to move closer to listen to the other side of the phone call when I heard him make a statement.
“I have not heard from my father yet.”
“Lossurp,” what I could tell was a rather young lady, possibly still a girl, said, “I want you to know that I am willing. I would like to hear that you are willing.”
“No, Nemerra. I have heard too much, seen too much. I am hoping my father understands. Wait for me to finish, Nemerra, then we can make plans.”
I believe the girl began crying, although was relieved to hear an older lady say, “I believe I can understand your caution, Master Lossurp.”
“Thank you, Sheikha Deshim. Do not fear that I will work against your plans. What I fear is what I am going through forcing me to take a different path.”
“I will continue to watch reports of you, Master Lossurp. What you are doing is good.”
“I told Father that, and was honored that he allowed me to go. This is something strange however.”
There was a moment of silence, then the lady said, “I saw you with Honored Duchess Jelnaya. She seems rather friendly.”
“She’s nice, once you get over certain things about her. She wants to be a mother one day. I think she will be a good one.”
“Well, uh, she’s rather relaxed around you.”
I watched as Master Lossurp worked at trying to find the right words, and was glad to hear him say, “She’s teaching me to fight, but she is so much better than me. Still, I like being around her. What she teaches me I find that I am able to use. I think I understand why Sha Inchell sent for her.”
“Your father mounted that head you brought back. It is a rather ugly thing, but he’s proud of you, Master Lossurp.”
“I don’t know whether I want to go after other creatures or not. Honored Duchess Jelnaya has taken a path I don’t think I want to go down, but I like having her as a friend. Like Sha Inchell, I believe I want to be able to call Honored Duchess Jelnaya should I ever have a need.”
“She should definitely be an ally you should ever honor. Nemerra will make you a good wife, Master Lossurp.”
“I’m trying to do better than good, Sheikha Deshim. Tell Nemerra that. Tell her that I am trying to do better than good.”
I strode up while the lady told Master Lossurp that she would pass along the word, and after he ended the call I said, “I can tell you how to gain the honor of Jelnaya.”
When he looked at me, I was about to say something. Realizing that a step was missing, I yelled out the name of my princess. When she came, I asked for something I knew she would grant.
“Princess Jelnaya, please give Master Lossurp one of your icons.”
She replied, “He has one.”
“Is it blessed?”
“Why wouldn’t you? At the end of this, assuming we succeed, why wouldn’t you?”
Princess Jelnaya pointed at Master Lossurp to assure she had his attention, then said, “After this is over, when we are speaking about returning home proud of what we accomplished, bring the icon to me. Don’t toss it down in front of me however, as if you do I will beat the crap out of you.”
To support those words, I said, “I heard those that went with Princess Jelnaya to the Spring of Cormorphin speak of their icons. Those were big, mature military men, and they could not beat Princess Jelnaya in combat. They did however gain her honor in another way, and that was by staying with her until the end. That’s all you have to do, Master Lossurp. Stay with her until the end.”
The lad replied, “Well, I planned on doing that.”
“Well, you want her friendship, that is what you do. The blessed icon is a bonus, but it is an important bonus. You get that, and you can call her if you need her.”
He pulled it out of a pocket, and while looking at it said, “The first one she handed me was silver.”
Princess Jelnaya replied, “If the fact that one is gold is all it is to you then we are not friends.”
“The symbol is of Fergush, Honored Duchess Jelnaya. I recognize that.”
“Then there is still hope for you, Lossurp.”
I again worked with Krachern to prepare our supper. Makinor did what was necessary with the animals. I had seen Princess Jelnaya over there as well, but I guess she had simply cared for Rubber. I looked up with concern when the Champion of Onathia came over to ask Krachern where Princess Jelnaya was.
He replied, “She said she had to check on something, Makinor.”
Master Lossurp looked up from where he set out the bedrolls to say, “She said we were looking in the wrong place, but would look at the rift again.”
I had finished cutting up some vegetables, so said, “I will go with you, Makinor.”
The Champion of Onathia replied, “Yes, as you are probably the one that needs to talk to her. If she believes she figured something out, she will appreciate someone that can challenge her conclusions.”
We moved off together toward the rift. The roar of the rushing water could easily be heard, although I felt the sound traveled through the granite helping to make the danger of the drop very apparent. As we moved through the foliage, the sound of Princess Jelnaya could be heard over the constant rumble.
“It’s over there, Makinor. I’ll protect you, if you need it.”
He said, “What?” even as I called out the name of the lady.
She replied to me, “This isn’t it. You should have been telling us that, Inchell.”
I had to admit, “I was going off of other clues, Princess Jelnaya. I agree this rift does not match things, but the location is right.”
“Well, yes, the location is right. It is over there.” She pointed. “Makinor, do not doubt that I will care for you.”
This time I was the one to say, “What?” although I heard Makinor ask, “What is this, Jelnaya?”
She ignored me to stand and advance on the other divine champion saying, “What does it look like, Makinor?”
Hearing, “She is lovely,” had me move over to Makinor.
I had a hard time realizing what he was looking at. It appeared to be just the trunk of another tree. Actually, there was a part of a grand plant there. Somehow the amber preserving the form of a lovely lady had not troubled the growth of the tree, but it had grown as if accepting the strange material as part of its form. Looking at the sight, I wondered what the divine champions would conclude.
Makinor asked, “Am I supposed to free her, Jelnaya?”
As I was still attempting to make out the figure, Princess Jelnaya asked, “Do you really think she is pretty, Makinor? She appears to be my height, but she is wearing heels. Her hair is dark – well, about your color, although it is hard to tell exactly. There does seem to be a chest to her.”
“Damn it, Makinor! Look at her!”
I had to ask, “Princess Jelnaya, what is this?”
“Onathia put me in charge of Makinor’s heart.”
My first reaction was to question what was said, but I really did not doubt what I heard. I stepped up to take a better look at the one trapped. As I examined the form, I heard Makinor speak as if attempting to avoid the situation Princess Jelnaya was presenting to him.
“I thought we agreed on focusing on personality.”
Princess Jelnaya replied, “There is no shock on the face, Makinor. She was engaged in some activity. There is a pole, maybe the handle of a spear. I would say she was looking for Negredell, poked down, and actually broke through.”
I suddenly broke from looking at the lady to examine the terrain around me, but Princess Jelnaya kept talking. “That means she was not some simple darling moving about here. She was active, smart, and not afraid. She is going to have a personality, Makinor, but you need to free her to learn what it is.”
The Champion of Onathia said, “I should free her anyway, Jelnaya.”
“DAMN IT, MAKINOR!” I turned to see Princess Jelnaya step up to the form of the male divine champion, remove the item of gold he kept over his heart, then say, “Onathia, I swear I’m trying, but this man is so –“
“I swear, Makinor, that I will get Onathia fighting with me.”
I believe he was still attempting to stall when he turned to me to ask, “Are there no records of this lady?”
“MAKINOR!” Princess Jelnaya roared. “Look at the ground!”
I moved back to look where she indicated. There was bark at the base of the tree. The evidence was that the tree had completely grown around this lady with the thin layer over this artifact only recently being removed. I bent down to pick up a piece of bark, and could see that it appeared fresh. Finding myself again having to support Princess Jelnaya, I looked at Makinor and said what I felt was true.
“You can claim coincidence, but I would say she was revealed for you, Makinor. To answer your question, there is no record of this lady.”
Makinor moved to Princess Jelnaya and hugged her. I doubt the lady could have been caught like that by any other. After embracing the lady, he stepped back to look at the preserved lady.
“Yes, Jelnaya, she is pretty. I would have rescued her anyway, but… but thank you, Jelnaya. We will however see what this lady is really like.”
I cannot say what Makinor did. He stepped up to put both hands on the substance. I guess I expected him to take out a weapon and attack the material in some manner. Makinor however simply stood before it, then I saw the lady collapse into his arms as the protective shell crumbled.
“Thank you,” she said.
Makinor picked her up, then said, “Food is being prepared in camp.”
“It has been there for centuries, probably millennia. You can afford to spend a night recuperating.”
I had not noticed Master Lossurp follow, although it did not surprise me that he had. Makinor however called out his name as recognizing his presence. The Champion of Onathia had to make his voice sound rough, as the lad simply stared. Finally the command registered for him to move a blanket near the fire and before a boulder the lady could use as a back rest. As Master Lossurp took off, Makinor decided to make introductions.
“I am Makinor, a divine champion of Onathia, She-Who-Loves. That is Inchell, who is responsible for this mission. The lady with red and yellow hair is Jelnaya, the champion of Fergush, He-Who-Fights. The other man is Krachern, a doctor of archeology who took an interest in our mission. The lad is Master Lossurp, a native of the world.”
She lady stayed quiet, although allowed the man to carry her back to camp. While I was interested in who she was, I allowed that she probably needed time to recuperate from her period of suspended animation. Finally, as she settled where Master Lossurp directed her, she spoke.
“It is nice to meet all of you. I am Bechorei of the Graces. I would say that I am not from around here, but I would guess none of you are either.”
Makinor replied, “Well, I told you that Lossurp is. Inchell actually worked for the man’s father attempting to gather some more information on Negredell. She however is from Davelda.”
“Davelda? Where did I – excuse me, oh! Terish Dozzrine mentioned Davelda. Said he had a clue that some information he wanted to find would be there.”
I would have said it, but Princess Jelnaya said the name of her grandfather, then took out a gem and activated it with us quickly hearing, “Glad to have you contact us, Fruit. Straek and I were beginning to worry about you. Finishing up here, so were considering coming in your direction.”
Princess Jelnaya replied, “Actually feel we are close to finishing as well, Grandfather, but have a complication. Would you happen to know someone known as Bechorei of the Graces?”
“I… I – that was a long time ago, Fruit. That was before I met your grandmother.”
I had to look at the lady again wondering how long she had been trapped, although was glad Princess Jelnaya continued speaking to her grandfather. “She says she met you on the way to Davelda.”
“I met her a few times. I really did not feel safe on her world, but it was a good place to sell some items. Back then I was only hoping to gain enough gold to entice a dragon to guard my wealth.”
The two of them began exchanging basic data. Bechorei was asked some questions, which she graciously answered. In the end there was an acceptance by the two of them that the one rescued was who she said she was.
Krachern then started handing out bowls as he said, “All right, let’s get food, then some rest. Obviously we are the right locale. In the morning we can find the place, open it up, then find out what Negredell really is.”
The military again makes its appearance.