Without a Light I See

Chapter Twenty-Five
(Jelnaya)

While we had been working not to reveal certain things about us, the fact was that Lerdiyo was sent through the omniverse for a reason.  Considering that Squire Isaprom was one of those who authorized the travel, a fact had been revealed to him.  It came out that it was not necessary, as in knowing why Lerdiyo left the identity of my great-uncle had been made.  What brought me in the conversation was the revelation of who I was, and those who came to join us felt they had a reason to hope.

The fact that the men had not started proclaiming their knowledge I felt kept our mission under control.  Having the two men courting me not develop any feud also helped maintain some dignity in our group.  The fact that my Great-uncle Ferrigote woke me for the next watch I believe was only due to him wanting to speak to me in private and not because it was truly my time to stay alert.

“The men escorting us have not been a problem, Jelnaya.  I know Isaprom had us come out here next to the lake, but I still expected to find movement along the road.  I however believe we would have things just as private out where people would generally be common.  While stupid regulations and bothersome rules are common on this world, I doubt that is the reason for the restriction on travel.  I believe we are actually going to be riding into a problem.”

I asked, “Can we reach it tomorrow?”

“No, but if we can make it through the pass we should be able to see things.  I am not getting any clear information from anyone, so we are just going to have to see for ourselves.  Is Fergush telling you anything?”

“No, but you should know that he wants us to prove ourselves.  There is also the matter with Potorly and Oprillot.  He does not want to influence my decision concerning them.  Fergush is not being rude or evasive, but just watching me as he usually does.”

“Well, if you become concerned then let me know.  There were a few occasions in taking over Gaeskow that the gods of this world got a little bothersome.  If you believe that is the case, we will need to get concerned.”

I started rising from my blankets as I said, “Well, if there is some behavior that you know will offend the gods, let me know.”

“The gods are as odd as the people, Jelnaya, but I found them to make sense.  I mean that if they were getting annoyed at me, I actually came to understand why.  That does not mean that I started changing my behavior, but only that I felt a clear reason for my apology.  Like I said, let me know if Fergush has any advice or warning.”

My great-uncle did not imply that Fergush would not speak to him, but only that I had a closer relationship with the god than he did.  It had been the influence of Great-Uncle Ferrigote that caused me to know about Fergush.  The deity had been the one to grant immortality to both of the founders of my grand family.  I fully accepted that Fergush would speak to my great-uncle, but that my status as a divine champion would put me in the frame of mind to stay attentive to any message from the god.

When I began some katas, one of the soldiers on duty came before me brandishing a weapon.  He was one I had put down in the barracks, so I felt he should have been more cautious.  Finding himself on the ground, the soldier picked up his weapon while saying something he should not have.

“I was intending to go easy on you.”

Finding the point of a dagger at his throat did not have him show any alarm.  He smiled as if he thought he still had the upper hand.  I had to accept that the soldier showed the attitude that had come to be identified with this world.  What started as confidence however began to turn into frustration as the soldier kept finding himself either on the ground or with the point of a weapon directed at a vital area.

He appeared even more annoyed hearing a boy say, “Let me show you how to handle her.”

I had to ask, “When did you learn how to handle me?”

“I have been with you and sparring against you for a number of days now, Jelnaya.”  Looking to the soldier, Oprillot said, “Yes, she will talk, but nothing new about a girl talking.  She has a wonderful sense of body control, but that is not unusual for a lady either.  She has speed, and that means you have to plan ahead.  Don’t believe you can simply respond to her.  You have to think through your moves to the next move, or she will get you almost immediately.”  The lad advanced and actually managed a few exchanges before his weapon left his hands and I had a sword point at his heart, only to hear him say, “Yes, she got me, but at least I had some moments to possibly learn more.”  When I stepped back and indicated for Oprillot to gain his weapon, he said, “Her fault however is that she will continue to give you opportunities at her.  That gives one the hope that one day luck will shine in your favor.”

I had to ask, “Is that what you are hoping for?  Luck?”

“I am going for a lifetime with you, Jelnaya.  Moments now providing the experience to possibly have a turn of luck that I can take advantage of to expand even further my time with you.”

The soldier said, “You’re just a boy.”

“If you think I’m a boy and that she is just a girl, you have a lot to learn.”  While I was surprised at the maturity Oprillot was displaying, it really took me off guard to have him ask, “Oh, Jelnaya, do you lie?”

I replied, “Do I lie?”

“You are a pretty direct person, but in romance there is usually some deception.”

“Fergush is not He-Who-Lies, but sometimes deception is necessary to assure certain plans go as needed.”

“Okay.  For the record, Anotosset is a god of lies.  I don’t worship him, but the one who sought you did.  The fact that you worked against him is what had my agents feel that you could be good for me.  You see, it was because of my own antagonism to Anotosset that I am as I am.  Oh, and while on the subject, what about this world?”

The soldier said, “Lakadell.  He is the lord of deception, and the god of love if you must know.”

I had to say, “Fergush, I will not have that.”

My deity replied, “You should have already been warned, as Ferrigote did not have any good marriages on this world.  Honestly, the actual intent is to force couples to stay involved in the lives of each other, and the actual reason his relationships soured.  He just kept needing to be active elsewhere.”

“I will be active as well at times.”

“Yes, you will.  You should however trust Onathia and me, not to mention Samayer, to assure a constant watch over your spouse.”

Stating his awareness of there being another side to my statements, Oprillot asked, “What did your god say, Jelnaya?”

I replied, “Don’t even think about it.”

“I cannot imagine how anyone could even think it.  You’re going to change someone’s life, Jelnaya.  What you do to them will be even more permanent than any result of combat.  It should however be a wonderful change, so I cannot imagine whoever gets you wanting to spoil it.”

Oprillot again attacked.  He used a high/low style that worked to the advantage of his small size.  What he did not expect was me able to fight with my feet.  It was a strange dance where I blocked and attacked with my legs.  When he set himself to make a serious strike, I was ready to attack with my sword.

With the point of my blade at the back of his neck, he managed to look up at me while smiling.  “You cannot say that you are used to fighting small opponents.”

“No, but I am used to being one of the smaller opponents.  I might not be a small girl, but I am not a large one either.  I am usually facing men who are larger than me.  There is a reason I do not attack like that.  You at least did recognize that I had the height advantage, but having to guard your head kept you from possibly doing any harm.”

“Yes.  I saw that.  I however also see you being more aggressive, so I was hoping the low swipes would give me a quick advantage.”

Those words began a discussion of combat tactics.  The local soldier, who I learned was Private Bocher, actually became a part of the session.  For someone with such a low rank, he actually had a very disciplined style that could challenge most.  I just practiced enough that I had a number of routines for overcoming most regular manners of behavior in an armed fight.  The soldier however accepted my instructions and actually managed to give Oprillot a challenge in combat.

It seemed that my time with the local man had him feel better about his situation.  While he had been elected to gain this duty in a rather improper style, finding me to actually treat him with some respect improved his mood.  I found his attitude to be good as we prepared for travel.  I guess he spoke to his fellow soldiers, because they gave me more respect.  With the other local people feeling their plans were actually going better than they hoped I felt everyone started this day feeling their situation was a good one.

Moving up the road to the pass we came upon the company preventing unauthorized travel.  They tried to keep us from moving past, but I let them know I had an official escort.  Hearing some officer tell me that it did not matter how many men I had with me, but that I needed certain documents almost had me decide to take on the entire military.  Squire Isaprom however proved his legal expertise as he challenged the officer, presented his own evidence of what the colonel was doing in the city, and won the verbal contest enabling us to continue traveling on the road.

Reaching a rise we could see the land below.  Actually, we could see things before we advanced to where we could see to the bottom between other rises of the terrain.  The distortion in the air was very noticeable.  What bothered me was being able to tell I was not just looking at one great entity, but a multitude.  I had no doubt that the others had advanced to look to the land below with us, although the words from Potorly took me by surprise.

“I will do this with you, Jelnaya.  I swear, I will survive this.”

“Are you crazy?” my great-uncle asked.  “We can’t fight that.”

I had to say, “We need to.”  Just to assure understanding, I explained, “The problem, Potorly, is that to kill each one takes a certain combination of actions.  It was fights, good fights, just to take out a few.  No, we won’t survive that.”

Oprillot asked, “So, how do we fight it?”

“Wisely.  Lerdiyo, Isaprom, it is time I listened to your story.”

Plans with Jelnaya get made.