Without a Light I See

Chapter Fifteen

As soldiers started taking Lerdiyo away along with Jelnaya’s great-aunt allowing Abreyon to escort her to the castle, I saw Baron Ferrigote work some magic then say, “You should know what I did, Jelnaya.”

She replied, “Already did it, Great-uncle, but his connection to Gaeskow had me accept that there could be something more.”

“Figured that, since you did not argue with me sending Lerdiyo inside your castle.  Gaeskow however is like Davelda in just presenting an attitude.  That is why I could defeat it, but not.  Their damn attitude just would not go away.”

I had to ask, “Anything to that map?”

“We can discuss that later.  Right now, let’s stop the threat.”  Baron Ferrigote went through some motions, then said, “There’s the portal.  Any problem, Jelnaya?”

The lady replied, “Why should there be?”

“You’re the divine champion, Niece.  Dirchein said the gods are active, but I want to assure they are with us.”

“We will best this.”

“Now let’s prove it.”

Seeing the two take off with Oprillot rushing behind had me eager to join them.  The experience of having these two legendary figures fighting together had me feel even more privileged than just spending time with Jelnaya.  I however should have expected the level of activity.  The two did not step through and methodically choose their battles, but I worked to join them as they went into action.

Having never fought more than a couple of monsters, and Lerdiyo saying nothing of hordes of opponents, it surprised me to find the mass of odd creatures.  Accepting that we still needed to pierce the skin of those eel-like beings before able to make a deadly attack, I used a mace to ward off their presence.  As if understanding I could not really hurt them, I found myself rushed by more than a couple of the monsters.

I found Jelnaya next to me saying, “Be ready for when I open them up.  All I have is the one dagger, but I will do all I can to get them wounded.”

Switching weapons, I said, “It is my sword that you blessed.”

“And you know to get the blade through the opening I make.”

We had tried a tactic like she mentioned in our first combat together.  On that occasion we had a fight because we did not have the best weapons to handle what we were up against.  This time we had some understanding of our opponents, and had discovered a fatal method of using our weapons.  As I had come to understand, Jelnaya made her reputation on her skill and not equipment.  I watched as she worked with me to gain wounds in the monsters with her special dagger into which I could plunge my enchanted blade.  Remembering what her knight went through, I actually worried about myself when I made my strike.  Instead of needing to hold on however, the creature froze in place.  Having it explode had me worry about those of us in the fight.  There however was no heat and little force to the death of the creature, so none of us suffered other than being covered with internal substances.  My clothes would definitely need to be cleaned, I would need to take a bath, but having been the one to actually make the finishing strike I expected to suffer the worst.  Seeing the tactic work, we both spoke of continuing with the combat.

It did help that we could see the monsters without having to simply rely on distortions.  There was some concern seeing a number of the creatures.  Seeing Jelnaya move about doing what she could to cut through the skin of them all opened up the possibility of more of us men being able to make strikes.  Seeing more monsters explode gave me the belief we could overcome all those surrounding us.

What helped was the lack of anything to take away our concentration from our enemies.  The environment around us was not blackness, but a dark gray landscape of granules, pebbles, and rocks.  What we saw of the monsters were sleek flowing lengths of grand eels moving through the air.  Being able to keep our focus helped us concentrate on the needed tactics to assure our success.

What stressed me was the constant battle.  There was no quitting after the second one.  I found myself winded after the third.  By the fifth I could only wonder how Jelnaya kept going, especially in that clanking suit of armor.  I looked up hearing her sing.  From a short distance came the voice of Baron Ferrigote.  Somehow the sounds gave me the spirit to stay in the battle, and when the sixth exploded I had to find the air to speak to the lady.

“You sing, Jelnaya?”

I actually heard cheer in her voice as she replied, “I have actually driven suitors away by joining them in their songs.”

“Well, I don’t have a good voice.  I like to sing, but I’m not going to try and impress anyone.”  Seeing a seventh one explode, I had to admit, “I don’t know how you keep going.”

“Bad news, Potorly.  I’m having fun.”

“I’m having a good time, but –“  I had to break to gasp for air.  “I’ve never had to fight a long time.”

“Great-uncle, anything to drink?”

I wondered what Jelnaya was up to as I heard the man reply, “Skin of wine, flask of something potent.”

“How about giving Potorly some of that potent stuff?”

“Oprillot has it.  Lad bring it to your fellow suitor.”

It surprised me to find the lad next to me, as I felt he was further away.  The flask was of some metal covered in leather.  I took it, then found both Baron Ferrigote and Jelnaya to work in a manner I felt giving me time to take my drink.  Definitely needing a breather, I paused to open the flask.  Taking a swallow, I found myself jolted by something that seemed to refresh my breath.  It was only on the second swallow that I actually felt the taste and sensation of strong alcohol.  I looked at the lad, but moved next to the mature man to make a comment.

“I need to know where you bought that stuff.”

He replied, “Have a wife devoted to Remidda.  The blessing of the goddess can be a help.”

Going back to return the flask to the lad, I asked, “You knew that, Jelnaya?”

She replied, “What wouldn’t I?  She’s my great-aunt.”

“You don’t need any of that stuff?”

“I told you, I’m having fun.  I thought fairies would have stuff like that.”

I thought for a moment, then said, “If they do, Mother has not mentioned it.  There is some good stuff for after the battle that they will give me if I come back groaning after a session with you.  Wish I had known about it while active around Etrasky.  I guess not having even that stuff is responsible for my attitude on how to act after a good fight.”

Baron Ferrigote asked, “What does he mean, Jelnaya?”

She replied, “Potorly likes getting good and drunk after a fight.”

“Break him of that.”

“Obviously we have already been talking about it, Great-uncle.”

“Potorly, the war is never won when the last battle is.”

I had to say, “I never had anyone in my life like Jelnaya.  It has just been me.  I can definitely say that losing moments I could have spent with someone, especially someone like this lady, is a wrong thing to do.”

“Glad we got that settled.  Jelnaya, any thoughts about this battle?”

I had to look as the lady replied, “Up to your right, Great-uncle.  I believe that is our major bad guy.”

A statement like that had me think a lot of things.  There however was no fortress, and definitely no figure of authority giving orders.  I however had to stop realizing what Jelnaya had seen.  There was a peak of whatever dark gray material made up this world with some strange distortion up there.  Looking around attempting to realize just how many opponents we had, I could not help but assure myself of what the lady was thinking.

“Jelnaya, we got to get up there and fight that?”

She replied, “You’re not even fighting at the moment.”

“I’m here, Jelnaya.”  I did move to return to helping the lady as I asked, “How often do you do something like this?”

“Every fight is different.  If they were all the same, I might get bored.”

“Okay, Jelnaya.  Up to whatever that is.”  Just wondering, I asked, “Fergush is not telling you anything?”

“I plan on one day coming to his table and telling my stories.  Not my story if it is really Fergush who called the shots.”

Baron Ferrigote asked, “Ready to move?”

It was one thing gaining enough wind to perform certain maneuvers and talk, but adding running to the mix was hard.  Luckily, there were enough monsters to break our charge.  Finding the need to power my body up a slope and not just forward took even more wind, but I sought what energy I could find in myself to stay with the lady who seemed to have no problem advancing even as every step she took clanked..

Up to now I had simply enjoyed fighting with Jelnaya, but in the charge I saw Oprillot.  The lad’s size enabled him to work well with Baron Ferrigote.  The man used a grand sword requiring a more steady set of maneuvers than how Jelnaya danced.  Oprillot was able to time certain actions that provided a benefit to Baron Ferrigote as I hoped to help Jelnaya.

I have to admit my vision became blurry as things got intense.  Having to move, attack, and take a pounding was more than my body was used to having to suffer.  I found myself slowing down, although hearing the others keep encouraging me to keep going had me continue to push myself to perform.  Jelnaya showed no reduction in her speed and grace with the metal flashing along with her hair.  She did things to find openings, then darted in to strike with the dagger expecting me to come in and make the killing thrust.  When the monster went to attack her, usually because I was not able to power my body in time, she would direct her sword in a manner that had its point impale itself on the body part intended to hurt her.  Baron Ferrigote had a less active style of combat, but showed a knowledge of how to have his body set itself to receive any advance, counter the attack, and deliver his own damage in return even as he directed Oprillot to provide aid.  While I did what I could to perform the necessary actions, the stresses I was feeling had me admitting I was not in shape for such a prolonged intense period.

Feeling a bump, I looked to see the lad again offering the flask even as he said, “Baron Ferrigote says he has a plan.”

The jolt from the liquid had me think to study the teachings of Remidda a little closer, and after taking another mouthful I asked, “How can I help?”

He handed me a gold icon of Fergush, and seemed surprised when I traded the flask for it.  “Listen, cast your light spell on that, then put it in Jelnaya’s hair.”

“Her hair?”

“Think she will let you?”

I looked at her, then replied, “She does not slow down.”

“Yes, from what I have heard that has always been Jelnaya.  My family did a lot of research after she came to my world, and felt she was not just able to resolve my situation, but make a good wife for me as well.  She has that diadem on her head.  Stick the icon in the front of that headpiece and it should stay.”

The lad needed to get back to work.  After taking a moment to realize my own situation, I cast the spell on the icon.  I then moved to let the lady know I was back ready to work.

“Let me at your head, Jelnaya.  Baron Ferrigote had Oprillot relay a plan.”

“Kissing me is a plan?”

I almost wanted to say it was, but kept my mind on the serious nature of the battle.  “Your head, not your face.”

“Head coming to you.”

Almost before I was ready, I had the lady before me.  I actually saw her curtsey, then spin to ward off anything from attacking her before kneeling in front of me.  With my left hand I worked my sword to help protect us even as I did try to quickly insert the icon.  When I did get it in place, I recognized the plan of Baron Ferrigote as the head of the lady suddenly shown due to the nature of her hair.

Something in the radiation from her colored locks provided an advantage in attacking the monster before us.  I felt the attacks of my sword actually feel like I was directing the blade into a normal body instead of just hoping for a cut on a flowing surface of some slimy material.  Baron Ferrigote and Jelnaya became more aggressive in their strikes, and I felt reverberations of what I hoped were the screams of the great creature.  I guess we all sensed something in the flow of battle, as we all took advantage of an opening to make a group strike on the great monster we felt was our objective.

Feeling the ground beneath me shake, I actually was not comforted to hear Baron Ferrigote yell, “All right, back to the portal!”

There were still some monsters left, but they were not the problem.  What disturbed us was a shaking of the ground as if everything was about to collapse.  We however made the distance.  Baron Ferrigote opened the portal, then we all left with what I hoped was the problem solved.

I collapsed on my back, but had to lift my head as Jelnaya said, “It worked.  The connection is gone.”

Baron Ferrigote asked, “You think it was the big guy?”

“I believe it was the source of the magic.”

“Yes, me too.  How about we go see what my wife has prepared for us?”

As said, the war is not over just because the battle is.