Without a Light I See

Chapter Ten
(Jelnaya)

I had met a number of men, but none of them came to me as Potorly did.  He was not someone speaking of experience with women before saying that I was the one actually for him.  While he claimed some combat experience, which did show when he entered battle, he was not one extoling his own previous victories.  Potorly was simply coming to me as he was hoping I would accept him, although I was finding myself enchanted in having his attention.

A part of me wanted to blame my feelings on Onathia, but I also had to admit that Potorly was proving himself deserving of the status of my suitor.  I actually found him to be a pleasant companion.  Instead of having to ignore certain faults, I found myself seeking to learn things of his life.  Finding myself continuing to have Potorly in my presence, I had to admit that I really did not mind.

My people also took a liking to him.  I did get word of them seeking some verification of his history.  That actually had me pleased, as I wanted more information on Potorly than what his mother provided.  While it did please me to have my people mention their acceptance of him, I knew that it would take some official steps for the man to advance in the courtship.

Vulge came to me as I returned to my room to freshen up after time with my military, and said, “We need to send people to the Nevaire, Princess.”

I replied, “I’m a high noble.  I am actually waiting for some people from King Relecky to take over matters of the courtship.”

“Are you certain of that?”

“No, but I have my Great-aunt Dirchein coming.  She went through the marriage process with Nuchirg, so I expect she can help advise both of us.”  I then felt a need to say, “No rushing things, Vulge.”

“You’re not eager to get married?”

“My standard is Grandfather Terish and Grandmother Straekin, your empress.  They did not get married for decades.”

“Decades?  I don’t know about that, Princess.  Empress Straekin committed herself to Terish rather quickly.  They had other problems that prevented any official marriage, but everyone knew of them as a couple.”

Actually having to accept what Vulge said, I simply replied, “Well, no rush.  Fergush did say that Potorly was being presented by Onathia, but there is also supposed to be a complication.  Being opposed, I suspect she has another idea about the right man for me.  Let us enjoy a courtship, then time as a couple.  No rush, Vulge.”  Hoping to change the subject, I asked, “How about you and Yenorma?”

“She is talking about going with us, Princess.  She right now wants to dress up and accompany me, but I just do not present myself in any official capacity.”

Vulge was correct that he did not go about as a dandy of the court.  He usually held a position near a wall.  While my people knew who he was, only when some suitor showed up did he really get recognized.  I did hear people talking about Vulge having the attention of a lady, but if she had been dressed with any elegance it would have made his presence in court a little more obvious.

I said, “If you and Yenorma make a show, I won’t speak against it, Vulge.  Have your fun.”

“She wants to stay with me until another adventure happens where her body can be restored.”

“Then things will change with you.”

“Yes, Princess, that is a concern.”

We were coming to my apartment, so I turned to face him as I said, “Then I guess we both get to see how things develop in our lives.”

He understood that he was being dismissed.  Vulge bowed, then left.  I entered my apartment only to see Merilay with Yenorma.  Wanting the ladies know that I did not desire to dismiss them, I simply made a comment.

“I cannot believe Vulge did not know you were in here.”

Yenorma replied, “He has been kept busy by Queen Nichanay.  It seems the lady is wanting to get her son married.”

“Vulge says that you are wanting to get him tied up.  I believe you need to hear my lecture about leaving one rut to simply jump into another.”

“Marriage isn’t a rut, Princess Jelnaya.  I can’t believe you are implying it will be.”

“Okay, so tell me that you aren’t planning what your life with Vulge will be.  My standard is my Grandfather Terish and Grandmother Straekin.  Their life has been a fantastic one.  What is your standard, Yenorma?”

She just glared at me for a time, then said, “I will be traveling with you, Princess.  Whether with Vulge or some other man, I want a family.”

“The family will come.  Assuming you and the man are not both prudes, things will happen.  You’re an immortal, Yenorma.  The children will grow up.  What are you planning to do then?  Have more children?”

“I see that I have things to discuss with you and Vulge.”  She appeared as if she was going to leave, but then said, “I do like Vulge.”

“And I accept the two of you have a long history with each other.  Whatever you are trying to do, you probably have every right and expectation to do it with Vulge.  All I am saying is that I have put him through Hell, and he has come through it.  He came through still being a good man.  Yes, Yenorma, stay with him, talk with him, and come to some understanding of what he has been through.  Hell, Yenorma, come to some understanding of what your empress went through.  Being a mother and raising a family is not a rut, because it is not permanent.  Being a wife however will be permanent for the two of you, and making it into a rut is not something good.”

“May I ask your impression of Potorly?”

As she was an immortal from Davelda, I considered her an elder, so supplied an answer.  “I like the guy, but I am not done with him.  As a high noble, I am expecting a number of considerations to be presented.  I am telling Vulge that I have no plans to rush anything.”

“Will Potorly be coming with us?”

“If he expects to get me.”

“Then I expect my life at the moment to not be a rut.  I was here asking Merilay about any socials you might have.”

I looked to my handmaid and nodded even as I said, “If I have a social, make certain Yenorma is invited.”

Yenorma asked, “You don’t have socials, Princess Jelnaya?”

It was Merilay that replied, “That was what I tried to tell you.  There are some ladies that have socials, and Princess Jelnaya will occasionally attend them.  Normally, she just moves about and talks with whoever is about.”

There was a moment of silence, then Yenorma said, “No rut, Princess Jelnaya.”

“No rut,” I replied.

“I guess I will be around to speak to you.”

Seeing her out the door, I turned back to Merilay to say, “This is just day three.  I really need my great-uncle and great-aunt to show up.”

She replied, “Enjoy the courtship and other things, Princess.  You cannot say that they are anything normal.”

I just smiled while heading to my bedroom where I could spend time bathing.  I usually did not relax in the tub, but thinking over recent events I stayed in the water longer than usual.  As I dressed, Merilay came into my bedroom moving to an armoire where available outfits were stored.

“Queen Nichanay has made the request to have you for a social, Princess Jelnaya.  You might want to rethink your outfit.  Oh, and I would recommend that you have Yenorma join you.  The queen’s son is your suitor, Princess, so some oversight should be considered.”

I had to reply, “Oh, come on, Merilay.  I should be able to spend time with royalty and prospective mother-in-laws.”

“She is your prospective mother-in-law, Princess.  I believe the presence of Yenorma will help you stay civil.”

“Why wouldn’t I be civil?”

“Because she is fairy, and will probably focus on matters dealing with your life with her son.”

I did respect Merilay, although had to admit, “I really don’t know Yenorma.  While Vulge has admitted he had a set of ladies, he really does not talk about them.  He also has not spoken about them being only one.”

“Okay, Princess.  I will simply tell Queen Nichanay that you will attend.  Don’t go out.”

I simply left actually expecting one of the fey in my home to present matters of the social to me as I left the room.  Stepping out to the railing I looked about the front chamber of my castle.  Nothing appeared improper, although as I turned to head down the stairs I saw a fey huddled next to one of the posts lift itself up.

“Honored Duchess Jelnaya, it is my humble duty to invite you to a social with Queen Nichany of the Nevaire.”

I calmly asked, “When?”

“Well, at your convenience, of course.”

“Right now?  An hour from now?  Am I supposed to wait around for a summons?”

“I was supposed to escort you there.”

Not wanting to appear rude, I accepted that I could go ahead and get the social out of the way.  “You’re a little small to take your arm.”

“Oh!”  The fey appeared to have some cat-like features as he lifted himself erect before performing a bow while saying, “If you will follow me.”

I saw fairies dart down the hallway where I knew Potorly had been assigned a room with the others from the Nevaire, so I assumed things would be ready when I arrived.  Actually, as a lady I was not supposed to have a hurried pace.  While I tended to move in a manner of getting where I was going, I acted according to my training and gracefully followed the fey.  I was glad to see myself directed to a door in the hallway that I knew went to a parlor, as I allowed Potorly might be present in his apartment.

Stepping into the room, I saw a sprite pouring tea as Queen Nichanay directed me to a seat while saying, “I am grateful you came.”

“Don’t be that way,” I replied.  “The fey you sent was proper, although he should have had the confidence to knock at my door.  I will get caught up in things, and everyone else knows to bother me.  I however have no desire to be rude to my guests, especially those that I feel might have some value to me, so you should have some confidence I will do what I can to spend time with you.”

“My son speaks well of you.”

“I am amazed he has presented himself as he has.  Still, I know that there is a story behind him.  I am not talking about the reason he is here.  I am saying that there is a story behind him.  The only thing tempering my behavior is the fact Onathia is behind this.”

“Take a seat, Honored Duchess.”

That response got me angry, but I contained my ire while simply asking, “Can we visit?”

It pleased me to see a shocked expression on the lady’s face.  “What?”

“You left him.  He felt you abandoned him and his father.  Now you say it is your time.  Well, what happens when even your time passes?”

“His father and I are fairies.  We are not immortal, but we are.  Our lives are not as humans, but that is intentional and we expect to stay that way.  We are not planning to exist as mortals with that meaning we will be a part of Potorly’s life even if we are not.  We want, need, Potorly to be happy, and you are a pleasant option.”

I continued to stand as I replied, “Immortality is a strange topic in my family.  On my side of the family we actually have the option to become immortal, but not one of us children have claimed it.  I gained it in another fashion.  Neither my father nor mother is immortal.  Let me simply conclude the topic by saying that it is no blessing, but one needs to find the blessing in whatever life they are given.  I came here.  I love it here.  Luckily, I do have immortal relatives, but they stay busy just like I do.  If you are wondering about my importance other than my connection to Fergush, I have the connection to the family business.  I will own the stock, basically the business.  My brother and his lineage however have the management.  That connection actually will keep me with a sense of family.  My children will have others they will feel are relatives, even though the actual connection will get further and further removed as time passes.  How about on Potorly’s side of the family?”

She again directed me to a chair.  This time I sat, although I picked up the cup hoping to indicate that I was simply thirsty.  I saw Queen Nichanay sip from her cup, then lean back in her chair.

“If you marry Potorly, you will always have fey in your castle.  Not things that go bump in the night, scatter seeds, and other acts of mischievousness.  They will honor and protect your family and all others of your household.  While my husband and I will be immortal, that is not true to most who are fey.  Time will pass with any real connection lost to time.  However, we are fey and will stay true to our purpose.  Only you, your family, can lose sight of why the fey are here and turn things bad.”

“Permanently?  I am immortal.”

“No, Honored Duchess –“

She was present last night, so should have heard something, which had me feel a need to stress a simple point of how we related to each other.  “Jelnaya.  If things proceed with Potorly, I expect you to call me your daughter.”

It was actually good to see her smile as she said, “No, Jelnaya.  Not permanently.  You will still be family.  You will be able to settle any issues that arise.”  She sat up to pour us both some more tea, then said as she did so, “You are not asking the questions I expected.”

“I don’t care right now.  Right now I care about attitude.  Can I tolerate Potorly?  Is he someone who can relate to me?  As for the things I feel you expected to answer, I hate to tell you that you will probably need to answer them a multitude of times, but not to me.  You see, I’m a high noble.  I rule directly beneath the king.  He is going to want things answered before he gives his permission for me to marry.  I am also a divine champion.  Even with Onathia behind our union, I am sure Potorly and his family will be scrutinized a number of times.  I am also part of a rather powerful family.  They are going to check Potorly out.  I can stay blissfully ignorant of anything except how handsome and wonderful your son is, as I have extreme confidence that his past will be perfectly clean before any wedding occurs.”

“Confidence in place is a fairy trait.  We actually are interested in little beside our own little purpose in life.  That is one of the reasons I left Potorly to his father.  I believe you will fit in well.  That has me say that yes, Jelnaya, you will be able to visit.”

Actually having grilled the lady in the matter that really concerned me, I looked about.  She noticed me glancing around, and mentioned certain cookies and pastries that were available.  I smiled and let the lady know what I was doing.

“Gossip is certainly something that ladies do in their socials, but usually there is some other, safe, topic in case feelings get hurt or the conversation breaks down for other reasons.  Potorly had a poetry book last night, so I suspected you would want to talk fairy poetry.”

“I gained the impression that you do not like poetry.”

“I have the same problem with poetry that I have with a number of other things.  What I like is not what others feel I am supposed to like.  I can quote some stanzas to you, and will allow you to quote some verses to me.  Hopefully we can appreciate our reasons to like what the other bothered to set to memory even if we do not like the poem ourselves.”

The lady set down her tea cup, then said, “It does sound like a pleasant way to learn more about you, Jelnaya.”

And the other suitor arrives.