Without a Light I See

Chapter Six
(Jelnaya)

It surprised me to hear the words, “Sit down, Jelnaya.”

Having the form of Fergush present bothered me.  I rose from where I knelt actually having my god help me to my feet.  The first many years of my service to him was done without any sight of him.  In having a statue supposedly of him placed in my castle, Fergush had appeared so I could make a comparison with the artistic representation of him.  Having him actually present for a direct conversation bothered me.

I did not go to the chair, but stood as I asked, “Are you telling me that is the man for me?”

The deity did sit in a chair I did not recognize before saying, “Onathia will not claim to know your heart, Jelnaya.  You however asked for it all.  When you did so, you clearly indicated your Great-uncle Ferrigote and Grandfather Terish as being your standards.  You have even stated that fact on a number of occasions.”

Continuing to stand, I went over my thoughts and finally admitted, “Grandmother Straekin has often said that Munulva told her to go to Grandfather Terish.”

“And Ferrigote did actual research to learn of his lady of gold, and really gave her little choice about having a life with him when he found her.  Dirchein however was much more than anyone suspected, and has grown to be a most amazing lady.  Remidda is more than glad to have her devotion.”

“Potorly did not come seeking me, so you are putting me in the category of Grandmother Straekin.”

“No, Jelnaya, but you are going to be put in the place of having him told to be your husband.”  He indicated for me to sit, and I did this time in a chair I knew to be part of my apartment.  “Now, listen to me.  Go with him.  See what he needs to see.  If love blossoms then I will accept things.  However, you should know that matters with you will never be simple.”

My mind was racing with certain thoughts, and I felt only able to say, “This might put this mission at a different level.”

“Jelnaya, you have given a hard time to a number of men.  Surely you are looking for something.  Give Potorly no less of yourself.  All I am saying is to accept it if you see it.  I am not saying that you are going to be given a hard time in return, but Onathia is interested in whether you will admit finding a man to actually meet your approval.”

Trying to think things through, I said, “It was almost a century before Grandfather Terish found Grandmother Straekin.”

“Jelnaya, Terish was your physical age when I granted him immortality.  It was just his path that had him take his time in finding a wife.  Ferrigote was having ladies all along his path.  He has lectured you often about how special Dirchein is, and how different his marriage to her is.  Potorly is a special man.  You could very well like him, but I am not going to force you.  Remember that, Jelnaya, I did not force him upon you.”

“But you said he was going to be forced on me.”

“Right, so I am here warning you to feel him out.  Don’t accept unless you are certain.  At the same time, don’t simply deny him because you are scared of what marriage might require of you.”

Feeling I had another source of guidance, I asked, “What does your wife say about Potorly?”

“It’s not Samayer that is behind this, but Onathia, which is how it should be.  Still, she is opposed to me.  She however accepts that you have helped her, so wants to do you right.  Complications are not to give you troubles, Jelnaya, but to assure things with you.”

Thinking back over a couple of previous missions, I had to admit, “I really should trust her.”

“She definitely does not mean you wrong, Jelnaya, but her aspect and mine are opposed.  Yes, she will want a reason should you refuse Potorly, but it won’t be the first time she had to reconsider things.”

“Okay, Fergush, I –“

It felt good that he let me hug him.  Rushing from my chair, an arm came out to accept my presence.  Being immortal, I felt it would be an extremely long time before I had any personal contact with my deity.  It felt good to find him willing to let me share his presence if only for a moment.

I then had to say, “I assume you do approve of him.”

“He is actually a lot better man that I expected to be presented to you.  Compared to Ferrigote or Terish, he is not as qualified, although actually a much better man.  Let me stress there is the potential in him.  I believe you could end up being as pleased with Potorly as Straekin is with Terish.  I however am trusting Onathia, and interested in how you treat this situation.”

“Comparing him to my Grandfather Terish and Grandmother Straekin is a high standard.”

“It is your standard, Jelnaya.  Put the man to the test.  Oh, and he does not know yet.  I am giving you this heads up before things really start.  I however am also letting you know that there is another complication coming, although the matter you already know about is worthy of your involvement.  Enjoy the show, but remember that the events are actually serious.”

Nodding, I then remembered, “Lerdiyo is from Gaeskow, and Great-uncle Ferrigote is coming.”

“He and Dirchein love you as well, Jelnaya.”

“And their lives did not stop after they got married.”

“If you feel your life is getting boring Jelnaya, you have plenty of options to allow you to climb out of your rut.”

I hugged my god again, then said, “Thank you.”

“You are a most amazing lady, Jelnaya.  Glad to have you.”

When I turned back to my room, honestly to return to my chair, Fergush was gone.  I considered how much time I had until the evening meal, then decided I could use the period to test the quality of the troops.  With this being one of my domains, and this actually my apartment, I did have some garments in the wardrobe.  I changed out of my armor into one of my more active outfits and not a fancy dress, then went out a window of my room to find someone not watching out for trouble like they should.

Potorly had a troubled expression on his face at the evening meal.  He appeared glad to have an opportunity to speak to me.  When he however spoke of Samayer telling him not to trust in her aspect, I spoke of the five other gods asking if he had any indications of possibly falling under their aspects.  Potorly had an expression of considering my question, and I found his response rather interesting.

“That monster we fought, the one you helped with, was not affected by your divine weapon, Your Honored Grace.  Could it be that what we faced is something so basic to the natural realms, like fairies?”

While he was avoiding my question, I could not help but accept his conjecture even as I kept my query in the discussion.  “I assume you were not ignored in the church, Potorly.”

“No, Your Honored Grace.”

Trying to get him to answer my question, I admitted, “I have not killed fairies.  No reason than pure malignancy to kill a fairy.  I however use my drahaberd on any mass of opponents, and it is a fine weapon in all cases.  I have used my drahaberd on threats to fairies, and killed those monsters without problems.  That has me believing that I could kill fairies with my drahaberd as well.”

“Evil?”

It actually enchanted me that he was concerned with our combat, although I had to playfully counter that query.  “I assure you that my drahaberd does not ignore evil things either.  In fact, I usually use it on evil things.  The actual reason it works on them is that what powers most evil presences is something against the natural order, which the gods established, so my divine weapon completely disrupts the corrupted flow.”

“Do you have a conjecture, Your Honored Grace?”

“Yes, but I am not going to say it right now.  The reason is that I am not going to plan on conjecture when I am not desperate for any plan.  My Great-uncle Ferrigote is coming.  He knows Gaeskow, and is the side of my family that claims this world.  There is my side of the family that has another history, but I won’t speak of that until I can hear what my Great-uncle Ferrigote says.”

Lerdiyo grumbled barely loud enough for me to hear him, “If your drahaberd did not affect the creature then your gods won’t either.”

“I am the Champion of He-Who-Fights.  That was a fun fight.  Bring on another.”

At that point the discussion broke up due to me needing to handle a description of the battle to all listening.  While a good number were just nosey, my military leaders and political officials needed to know some facts of my activities in the other kingdom.  I had Potorly and Lerdiyo speak of events that had them come to me.  Hearing of an eruption of a type of glowing plasma that attacked as spreading tentacles sounded like something that would have others seeking interdimensional heroes, but what I heard had me needing to assure some facts I heard stated.

“Lerdiyo, how do you know about Terdeskollit?”

The man replied, “We have the stories that both Emperor Ferrigote and Terish Dozzrine told us.  They spoke of the creatures of that evil deity.  I was not seeking gaunts, but I at first felt that was what these creatures were.”

“Gaunts are creatures of complete darkness.  Any light keeps them from existing, and we were fighting during the day.”

“I was seeking Emperor Ferrigote, Honored Duchess, so just made assumptions from the stories he told of other worlds.”

Considering I had made a wrong decision in the combat with the creatures as well, I went ahead and allowed the conversation to move along.  “And how were you able to come here?”

“The emperor left some items saying they could be used to come to him.  Almost all were confiscated and placed in secure vaults.  One was actually held by the nobles of my homeland, and it was entrusted to me.”

“Well, speak of that with him when he comes, Lerdiyo.  If you gain his support, you will have mine as well.”

I had the men return to the tale of their travels, listening to how the battles with the monsters became more prevalent.  When they finally got to my arrival, I provided a good finish to the story.  The two men let me have my credit for figuring out how to gain a decisive victory, even after the failure of my drahaberd, and at the end of a dramatic finish to the battle I closed the meal.

I did spend time with my count and his family.  With me having killed the previous ruler of this domain, I had the power to install someone I felt was worthy.  I ended up choosing a respectable family that had somehow survived that night by being active at other things, and had to admit they were properly handling the duties of overseeing the locale.  I warned the eldest son of my count, not yet a young man, that he was not set to automatically claim the domain.  He would have to prove himself able to take over for his father, or I would again choose someone to act as my count.

The next day I left after having a good breakfast.  It was a nice morning.  There were signs in the air of a coming storm, but I felt I could easily get to my castle before it reached us.  I did have a military patrol with me, and it was one of the soldiers that sounded an alarm after we had lost sight of Castle Chetorly.

Seeing the guards ahead of me actually let the coming rider pass caused me not to be surprised when it was Vulge who rode up to me.  I noticed that he eyed the two men not in uniform.  Potorly and Lerdiyo had been assigned horses, so we were making reasonable time heading back to Phanigist.  Vulge simply turned his horse to ride along with Rubber with me allowing time to pass until he felt ready to speak.

“I’m glad to see that all is well, Princess.”

I tried not to sound curious as I replied, “It is not your job to be a messenger, especially of bad news.”

“No, Princess.  I am your chaperone.  They both appear to be fine gentlemen.”

While his statement did not satisfy my curiosity, I went ahead and played along with what Vulge said.  “You’re correct, so let me introduce you.  The one with light hair and fascinating light-green eyes is Potorly.  The one with brown hair and eyes is Lerdiyo.  I have Great-uncle Ferrigote coming, as I need advice concerning the two.  Lerdiyo claims to actually be from Gaeskow.”

“Potorly’s mother, and a whole mass of servants, attendants, and military are at your castle, Princess.  When she heard me introduced as your chaperone, I was given a lecture of the intended nature of her son and my need to come with concern for your chastity.”

Potorly said, “My mother?  I have no real memories of my mother.  I have the poem, but that has simply held in my mind without any real experiences of it being told to me."

“Yes, she, uh, well, I guess you are going to learn about her.  I would say she is a fairy, Princess, but more of Ice Queen fairy and not sprinkle magic dust to make flowers grow fairy.  Not cold however, but I guess more Swamp Queen fairy, although I haven’t read any story of a Swamp Queen fairy.”

I had to ask, “You did not leave my home to that lady.”

“Oh, trust me, your staff knows that they work for the champion of He-Who-Fights.  That fairy lady and her staff were put in their place.  Still, she is waiting.”  I saw him turn to look over Potorly again, then ask, “You’re not really thinking of him, Princess?”

“Well, I guess not if he has a bitch of a mother.  Still, I have spent time with worse men.  He has been entertaining to talk with.”

“Yes, you have been gracious to a number of undeserving men, Princess.  We’re not rushing, are we?”

I read into that statement, and responded making some assumptions.  “Maybe the last half mile or so.”

It was the soldiers around me that laughed at that, which had me believe that I had made the correct assumptions, but as the sounds died down I heard Potorly ask, “Honored Duchess, why does he call you princess?”

“Because she’s my princess,” Vulge shot back.  “Girls don’t come from nowhere.  They are not little flowers for us men to pick and set in our homes.  They have a past, a family, and things about them from the lives they live.  She happens to be the granddaughter of my empress, and the oldest child of the first child to return to Davelda in centuries.  She’s my princess.”

“I’m sorry I asked.”

“No, as you would be worse off if you had not asked.”

I looked to Potorly and said, “Don’t argue with Vulge, but I do find him to be a nice guy to have around.”

The man did not speak to me.  “Sir Vulge, I am already on edge in facing a mother I do not know.  Please, go easy on me.”

The large man replied, “Princess Jelnaya won’t, and if she is your objective then you better be at your best.  All I do is watch.  Honestly, if you get out of hand, you will probably find yourself dealing with the bad side of her.”

Potorly now turned to Lerdiyo and commented, “You are no longer the only one scared.”

And Potorly's mother is met.