Without a Light I See

Chapter Twenty-Two

After a few days of being with Jelnaya I could not help but feel inferior.  She had the energy, the drive, and the training to be the successful lady she was.  There was no doubt in my mind that Fergush had indeed not blessed the lady, but did all he could to keep her.  What she had would have been acquired by other means.  While I had spent time courting her, these last few days had let me know what claims I felt I could make of my life were minor in comparison to hers.

Only the fact that Oprillot was in the body of a child gave me the advantage in courtship.  He could confidently quote poetry, while I would stumble while reading it.  My voice was good, but the lad had trained his youthful vocal chords to present his words in a much more controlled manner than me.  He had better designed clothes than me, although I had to admit the outfits my mother had made for me did give me a unique look.  Oprillot’s immature body gave him an energy in combat that I really could not equal, although I watched as he again failed in beating Jelnaya and understood just how inferior I was in comparison to her.

Glad to see Baron Ferrigote step before her, as it was an experience watching the two spar, I heard him ask, “Just how much did Terish tell you of Gaeskow?”

Jelnaya replied, “Not much.  For that matter Kernun does not say much about it either.  They both basically say that it is not a place to visit.”

I did not know who Kernun was, so listened as Baron Ferrigote said, “You know Kernun has no direct experience with the world.  I did bring him to the church and his grandmother’s grave, but other than seeing the sites he really did not spend time on Gaeskow.  His father was from there, but left to work with Terish, as he – yes, I can accept that Kernun tells you that it is not a place to visit.”

From the camp I heard Baroness Dirchein ask, “You visit my husband’s grandson, Jelnaya?”

The one I courted replied, “It is a common statement that the world of the centaurs is a good place to visit, and I agree.  As for Kernun and Avaxim, they have a nice house and I feel a need to be reminded that they have family.”

“We visit for basically the same reason, Jelnaya.”

Baron Ferrigote said, “Okay.  Jelnaya, no armor.  I have no desire to conquer that world again, so I want to appear as non-dangerous as possible.”

She asked, “Is it possible?”

“No armor.  We can try.”

Jelnaya swished her sword to let the man know she wanted to spar as she replied, “I will have weapons.”

“Actually, a sword might be worn by a number of people.  No bow, and no drahaberd.  Your daggers are pretty well hidden already.  You keep the shurikens on the backside of your belt like Terish does.”

“Well, how about that massive length of metal you call a sword?”

Baron Ferrigote turned to hand the grand blade to me, then pulled a shiny mace from his side.  I did not know what to do with the length of thick metal almost longer than I was tall, so was glad when his wife came to take it from me.  My attention was quickly put back on Jelnaya as Baron Ferrigote attacked her with the mace.  She did not move to gain positions that would have been killing strokes had she not stopped, but I was entertained finding her to place a hand on the one of the man working the weapon.  He however did not concede any victory, but I could tell tried other techniques until I heard a clang as the flat of her sword stopped the movement of the mace.

As they broke from the combat, Jelnaya asked, “Just what are the odds of you being recognized?”

Baron Ferrigote replied, “I am hoping none at all.  If you will take point with your red and yellow hair, I am hoping for our group to appear odd, but friendly.  My reputation is not one of being friendly.”

“You had wives on Gaeskow.”

“Being a good husband, which I really wasn’t, has nothing to do with being friendly.”

Lerdiyo asked, “Emperor, I assume you don’t want me calling you that.”

“Baron of Nehallum will work for all.  Jelnaya, just call me Uncle, Great-uncle if you must.  You can call my wife by whatever you have been calling her.  While I brought her a time or two, I did it to let her know about my past and not to introduce her.  We were incognito then, and no one recognized me.”  He then stopped to put a hand on his great-niece before saying, “Oh, and you are the Duchess of Phanigist.  I don’t mind anyone calling you Jelnaya.  That will be as strange and lovely of a name on Gaeskow as anywhere else.  What I don’t want is any reference to you being a Dozzrine.  They do know Terish.”

As if to support those words, Lerdiyo said, “Insane devil.”

Jelnaya quickly spoke a correction, “He has not been insane in a long time.  Definitely not in my lifetime, or my father’s.”

Baron Ferrigote added, “No, but he will kill you, and everyone else, fully aware of the carnage he is causing.  I will as well, but I would rather not.  Having a Champion of Fergush with me will probably be as bad as having Terish with me.  Everyone, let’s not go there.”

Simply to assure myself of a fact, I went after Jelnaya when she spoke of refreshing herself at the river.  “Jelnaya, you were trained by your grandfather.”

She turned to me and said, “Yes.  He has the leaner build, so I felt would have a fighting style that would better suit me.  He also knows magic, and with my father’s company using magic in their weapon technology I felt it could help me in my fighting.”  She looked at me for a moment, but finding me silent she added, “I learned a lot, but Fergush told me that he was the one person I would never defeat in combat.  For the record, I did beat Great-uncle Ferrigote.”

“I don’t see you using magic.”

“Yes.  I am that good.  I don’t tend to need it.  Definitely not in combat, although I have a few spells I will use on occasions.  About the only time I am spending time using magic is when I enchant something, and then I am with my Grandfather Terish or a priest of Fergush.”

Feeling that I found a benefit I could provide to the lady, I said, “I know some magic.  With my fairy blood, I might be good at it.  I didn’t… I was taught… Well, I could see what I might learn.”

“I haven’t found anyone who used magic to show me something I felt it worth my time to learn.  If you find yourself thinking you might provide a benefit using magic, so ahead and study it.”

Not feeling she really gave me anything substantial, I asked, “What are you expecting from a husband?”

“You see Great-aunt Dirchein?  She is there.  When you meet my Grandfather Terish, Grandmother Straekin will be there.  I am expecting a husband that enjoys being with me.”

“Of course.”  As I said that, I remembered one other thing about this mission.  “You go around helping people.  So I would expect you to stay with me as well, as that is what I have been doing.”

I saw her gaze fix on me, then she said, “And I will give you that blessing.  If I however am telling you to stay somewhere, trust that where I am going I do not want to be there either except to enjoy a fight.  I am immortal because I will go places and do things others should not even if they can.  You are not immortal for that reason.”

“I am falling in love with you.”

“I am not worried about the love, but the commitment.”

I meant to imply humor as I said, “Would it help your mind to know that if I lost my commitment, I would have my parents mad at me?”

“No.  If you lose your commitment, you will have me mad at you.  That is something I do not want on my mind.”

“Are you saying your Grandmother Straekin never gets angry at her dangerous husband?”

“No.”  She smiled as she said, “Grandmother Straekin can handle my Grandfather Terish.  That is what I am waiting for.  I am waiting for the sign that you, or Oprillot, or whoever, can handle me.”

“You would not kill me, Jelnaya.  I don’t know why I would get mad at you, or you with me, but I do not believe you would kill me.  Somewhere, through whatever haze is created between us, I believe our love will still be evident.”

“Get me to believe it, Potorly.”

As I thought over what she said, Jelnaya went on to the river.  I knew not to follow.  Accepting the challenge she spoke, I decided to go to another.

Baroness Dirchein seemed to know that I had something to ask her.  She however calmly told me something I could do to help her when I approached.  She was lovely.  The cosmetics on her face did help one see her and not just the gold of her body. I did not see an elderly lady, but a young, attractive woman.  While her husband did have some signs of age, I could agree that he had something more valuable than the substance of her body in the lady.  After cheerfully helping her clean up some things, I finally felt able to ask her my question.

“Is it a problem being married to someone devoted to Fergush?”

She softly replied, “You have to learn to appreciate the honesty.  Many want the lies, expect the lies.  My husband will talk sweet, will do sweet things, but mostly he is just honest.  If he is not in the mood to be sweet, I still appreciate having my husband.”

“I don’t see how a lady cannot be sweet.”

“Jelnaya can be sweet, but she takes no pride in it.  If you cannot find the satisfaction in simply knowing she belongs to you, and will accept you in her life, she probably is not the one for you.”

Feeling a need to press the topic, I asked, “Can you handle Baron Ferrigote?  She says her Grandmother Straekin can handle her Grandfather Terish.”

“The relationship between Straekin and Terish is a lot different than what I have with Ferrigote.  They are two very strong individuals.  What surprises you is that they both tend to enjoy challenging the other.  I would not say that Straekin can handle Terish, but that she enjoys putting the stress on him.  Terish will do the same with her.  They will then get sweet with each other.  One thing I did learn from Straekin was to never get angry at my husband.  However mad I want to be at him, I know that he treats me better than most men and does love me.  It also helps that it is in my base nature, my creation, to serve.  I believe it helps Straekin that she had all those centuries dealing with the council of Davelda, so is used to dealing with others with power.”

“I don’t know enough of myself to feel capable of standing up to Jelnaya.”

“Well, there was something in you that Samayer trusted.  Onathia might be behind your recognition, but I can assure you that she checked with Samayer.  I have complete faith in the gods of Sennapre.  I am willing to accept you, Potorly, simply on that.”

I had to admit, “I don’t want a marriage where I am surviving, but one where there is love.  It brings me hope hearing Onathia is involved with Jelnaya.  I still don’t really see the goddess in what is developing between Jelnaya and me.”

“She is being honest with you, Potorly.  Trust me that means a lot.  If you however want a lady that will be sweet and romantic all the time, look to someone else.”

“I was actually looking for someone who would welcome me home, get drunk with me, then smile when we finally woke up.  That however is not Jelnaya at all.”

“No.  It isn’t.”

I saw the gold eyes fix on me, and I knew not to leave the conversation at that point.  “I however am realizing just how wonderful Jelnaya is.  Samayer and my parents really are showing me a better path to my life.  It is however a level of activity, responsibility, and notability than I ever desired.  I am wondering if I would be wiser regretting never claiming her than regretting having made her my choice.”

“I believe you will ever smile even as you think of everything Jelnaya is putting you through.  What you gain in Jelnaya will always have you seeing the positive nature of your life.  Not having her I believe is where you will feel a sense of true loss.”

“I’m not there yet, Baroness Dirchein, but I am looking in that direction.  Thank you for your time.”

“I was made to serve, Potorly.  Serving family however always brings me joy, and that goes for those I see as potential family.  Feel free to come again.”

And they arrive on Gaeskow.