Without a Light I See
I would not have handled the situation with the military in the manner of Jelnaya, but I recognized that I would not have gotten the results she did. She had listened to the stories of Gaeskow. I could tell that to her they were not just tales of past successes in the family, but information about how things could be achieved even in bad situations. She had taken her knowledge of this world and used it with lessons from her own history to gain the results that enabled us to continue on our mission.
Sitting with my historic romance novel I could not help but believe my parents had made a mistake. They had not told me their stories. Further, I lived among fairies, and they were not the most informative creatures to have ever existed. Most lived in an eternal present with their only sense of past or present being a strange understanding of how things within their scope of influence should work. Basically, I felt my parents raised me without my history, and that was the mistake that was going to doom my future.
Jelnaya sat beside me and asked, “How is your book coming, Potorly?”
Putting together the things I had learned of this lady, I honestly replied, “I haven’t been reading it. I have been thinking of you, me, things.”
“Well, that’s good I guess.”
Looking around the campfire, I felt a need to ask, “Can we talk?”
“Of course. Vulge will trail us.”
“That’s okay. I actually trust him. Just asking, but what will be his job once you get married?”
“I’m not in control of his life. He is here on his own. He will put some of the blame on Munulva, but I know he spoke of taking on this duty while on a rather deadly mission with me. He was a man that lived for centuries on a stagnant world, and finally realizing just how deadly actual life could be, but made a commitment to assure how my life would go. That’s the relationship I have with those of Davelda. I’m a grandchild who has a world of elders worried about me after realizing their mistake in sending me away. I actually will be interested in what he does next.”
Vulge said rising from where he had taken a seat, “I believe I will be interested as well. My first act however will be to return to Davelda and let Munulva know that I did stay with Princess Jelnaya until she married. It would not bother me at all if the Goddess then sends me on another extended mission.”
Yenorma added, “Although I will assure you that he will not be alone.”
Jelnaya rose, then extended a hand as if to help me up. I looked up at her face and could not help but smile seeing the pleasant expression. While I saw her beauty, I also saw the energy in her that I presently was not feeling in myself. Wondering if I could really help her live her life, I accepted her hand.
Moving along the shore of the lake, I finally gained the courage to say, “I am not in the same place that you are, Jelnaya. You have this rich tapestry of family and history that I do not. What is bothering me is that I believe my parents want me to get immersed in your history and forget about mine. They are going to seal away the Nevaire so it again becomes a haven for the fey. I will be its prince, but it will be a land I cannot truly claim without spoiling the seal that protects it. I don’t know if I am satisfied with that being my history.”
She replied, “I believe Sennapre needs the fey, Potorly. Honestly, it is about the only magical influence on the world. Take them away, and I believe Sennapre could become as boring as Davelda. However, the fey were there even when the Nevaire was just a whispered word in the folklore. I cannot say they have been suffering since the Nevaire was opened, but that is a fairy issue. Maybe you would be doing a good thing, Potorly, maybe not.”
I stopped and stared at her, probably with my mouth open. It astounded me that she knew enough to respond as she did. I grew up in the Nevaire, and really had no information on the place. I continued to stare at her even as I put my mouth to use.
“How did you know that?”
“How did I know that? Potorly, I am a divine champion and a duchess. Don’t think my marriage is just a simple matter of love. No offense to Onathia, but there are other influences on my life. As soon as I began taking you seriously there were a number looking at your past. I believe I warned you about that.”
My mouth had to again fall open. Suddenly I saw the value in Jelnaya. She would not just bring her own history into my life, but would be accepting my own history. The only fault in me was that she would be more knowledgeable of my past than I was. I would not only have a lifetime, an eternity, of getting to know about her, but about myself. Not afraid of how improper I would sound, I again put my mouth to work.
“I got to have you.”
Feeling a need to assure things, I quickly spoke. “No. Excuse me, Jelnaya. I did not mean that for you, although I am glad you heard. I meant that for me. You’re right. I was seeing your energy, the way you went through your days, as the problem. I now see what you can offer me, and I have to have that. I however accept what you said. You are a divine champion and a high noble. While I might be the prince of the Nevaire, I need to see if I truly can stand beside you as an equal. No. I need to assure that I can stand beside you as an equal. I am not just going to marry you, but step beside you in your life. I cannot do that as just a man obtaining a goal. I need to do that as someone deserving of a lady like you. I don’t need my mother telling me that I have to marry you, but I need Vulge, Baron Ferrigote, and even the great Terish Dozzrine telling you to marry me.”
“That’s a tall order.”
“I have to do that.”
She curtsied, then said, “I have never had a man understand that much. As a Champion of Fergush, I have to respect your taking on the challenge. If you need help, Potorly, you can come to me.”
“Oh, that was a senseless thing to say, as I will be coming to you, although not for help. I will stay a suitor seeking your hand in marriage.”
From a short distance away, I heard Vulge say, “So I will continue to watch you.”
I did not allow the man to distract me, but kept my gaze on Jelnaya. “Do you really like history books?”
“I need to bring you to Thiminy and show you the library my Grandfather Terish has there. Those history books are not of Sennapre, although I will read those. What I read might as well be regular story books, except in relating actual history there is a substance to them I usually do not find in a story book.”
“So, a historic romance might not be right.”
“If you enjoy it, Potorly, then it is right. We are supposed to be learning about each other. I need to learn what you find enjoyable.”
Feeling a need to set a matter to rest, I said, “I drank as my reward for what I did. In coming to you, I realize that it will no longer be a reward. The desire to drink is gone. I want to say that it was never there, but simply all that I had available. At the moment I do not know what more I want from life other than you, Jelnaya. If you find me distracted in my thoughts, that will be what is on my mind.”
“I’m just glad to live the life I do.”
“So would I be wrong to simply set my goal as living my life with you?”
She paused, and watching her face I felt she actually considered my question. “No. Keep your personality. Develop it. I need to feel you have a life should I be called away.”
Coming up with an idea, I said, “I am the prince of the Nevaire. I am going to see what value that has in my life. I will also read that historic romance book, just to see if I like that. I will keep you informed, Jelnaya.”
“Sounds like I can have hope in you.”
When I presented my arm, she gracefully took it. Actually feeling as if was deserving of escorting this wonderful lady, I walked her back to the camp. Seeing her arrive coming back around the campfire, I saw Squire Isaprom rise asking if he could have time with Jelnaya. I noticed that Vulge and Yenorma moved to take a seat by the fire as Baron Ferrigote rose to shadow her. Feeling that things were going properly, I accepted a mug of beer from Baroness Dirchein before taking a seat around the fire.
Oprillot said, “Don’t you worry. I’ll have my time with her.”
I had actually been intending to start reading the book, but looked to the lad to say, “It’s not like she would deny either of us. If you don’t take the initiative to spend time with her, it’s your loss.”
“Ooh. Sounds like someone struck out.”
Hearing that response I wondered if the boy was really fifty-seven years old, and tried to imply that as I said, “I still have hope. I’ll have more time with her. Let’s see if she comes back holding your arm.”
“Let me see if I can get her to kiss me.”
I thought for a moment, then asked, “Vulge, any rule on kissing with Jelnaya?”
He replied, “Saying ‘rules’ and ‘Jelnaya’ in the same sentence is a little odd. Still, I guess it is a valid question for you and Oprillot. Honestly, you could have her do it. She has kissed me. I guess that means that if Oprillot gets her to kiss him, she thinks he’s an old man.”
There was no way I could prevent a smile showing on my face, but Oprillot acted as if he took offense at the words. “It will still be a step in our relationship.”
“Listen, I was near death on the ground when she kissed me the first time. She got my attention, then told me to live. Well, I did, even as I suffered through the steps to help me recover from my wounds. After that, well, I was already enamored with the lady. I committed to her. Part of the reason I am with her right now is due to what happened between us then. You Oprillot, and Potorly, should already be setting your minds to commit to her. Neither one of you should need a kiss. Might want it. Hell, even I would want to share another kiss with Princess Jelnaya. Still, it says nothing about your relationship.”
“Sorry, Chaperone, but it means something when a lady kisses you.”
“Bull. I bet there is not a lady out there that would refuse to kiss your young lips. Potorly might have a problem, but I doubt you would have one.”
Oprillot might have said something, but I turned seeing his head jump in a direction and noticed Jelnaya returning to the campfire. She accepted a mug from Baroness Dirchein, then looked around. I guess Jelnaya noticed the silence, as she asked a question as if knowing we had been talking about her.
“What were you men talking about?”
Vulge replied, “Oh, I was having to do my job, Princess. I was keeping these two young bucks from going at each other.”
Oprillot said, “Our chaperone said that it would not be any indication of an advancement in our relationship to have you kiss us.”
Jelnaya replied, “Well, Vulge was on the ground with everyone expecting him to die when I kissed him. I did not kiss him to state anything about our relationship.”
Vulge let the lady know something of our conversation. “I told them that, Princess. Oprillot however is saying that he does not feel that is actually an answer for him.”
“Oh, well, if you just want a kiss, I should be willing. If you want romance, that will require an advancement in our relationship.”
I had to say, “And I will accept that. I failed there, Oprillot. May you do better than me.” Seeing Jelnaya look at me, I smiled and said, “I’ll be reading on the topic of romance. Maybe I’ll learn something to help me improve things between us next time.”
“I will not speak against the value of a good book. Okay, Oprillot, let me finish my drink then I will spend time with you before getting some rest. Should have another hard day of travel tomorrow, so it would be best if I get some sleep.”
The story advances as the group moves on their way.