Without a Light I See

Chapter Twenty-Six

I hardly heard a thing told to Jelnaya, but I did keep a position near her.  Oprillot also stayed close to the lady, and I believe listened to the discussion.  I must confess that I did understand what I was looking at without needing any explanation.  I also remembered the stressful period of trying to get Lerdiyo to Jelnaya.  The whole time things were being told to her, I held my icon of Samayer swearing that I would stay with her duchess and assure she would survive.

If the goddess had said something in return, I might have rushed off to hide.  One might say that I kept talking just to keep her quiet.  Telling me that I was trying to drown my own disbelief in what I was saying might have gained an agreement from me.  I however let the goddess know that Jelnaya was so pretty, so wonderful, and I would be such a grand fool to leave her for another.

Sensing a female voice tell me to listen, I switched my focus back to the discussion and heard Baron Ferrigote ask, “Jelnaya, you said it was your smoke dagger that actually hurt the creatures.”

She answered, “Yes.  If it is not divine, you try elemental.  Fire is rather obvious, and Potorly mentioned following the rivers in getting to Phanigist.  I thus ruled out fire and water.  One reason I keep the smoke dagger is that it represents earth and air, the two that most do not try.”

“So, do you believe you need the combination, or just one of the two?”

“Earth.  If it was air, regular weapons would work by removing the slimy layer protecting them.  They do move through the air.”

“Enchanted weapons work on the inside.”

That was just stated, although Jelnaya replied as if it had been a question.  “They do dispel the creature.  Blessed weapons kill it.”

“Okay.  How about what we did outside your castle?  Move through the mass and kill the major creature?”

“That would assume the creatures are the problem.  I definitely enjoy a good fight, but having fun when we should be facing the real problem is not something to brag about.”

“What if I said we could take them?”

I tried to smile at Jelnaya, but could see in her expression that she was thinking over what her great-uncle said before making the reply, “You said the church was to Delchor?  Honesty and nobility?”

Squire Isaprom said, “He is the deity we associate with the emperor, but the historic artifacts of the emperor are in the churches to Lamixa.”

The eyes of Jelnaya turned to her great-uncle who explained, “Conflict and Healing.  Actually she is represented as a female warrior deity, which is one of the reasons I was interested in this world.  She however is not a fighting spirit, but just talks strong.  Also one of the reasons I believe the people have the attitudes they do.”

Jelnaya replied, “And a male god of love?”

“Are you impressed with me for surviving this world?”

I saw the local people look at Baron Ferrigote strangely, although I saw Jelnaya tense her facial muscles as she spoke, which had me realize the two were talking solely in the language of Sennapre and not in the universal language.  I found it interesting that they could do that.  Of course I understood they did not want the local people to understand certain things, although thought certain facts about Baron Ferrigote had already been recognized.

Jelnaya said, “We did not come here to fight those things.  What Lerdiyo told me, he did not encounter them until traveling a ways.”

Baron Ferrigote replied, “He found them seeking where he was sent.  No, we did not come here to fight those things, but we need to find the evidence of where Lerdiyo was sent.  We need to find and study the evidence, Jelnaya.  Just getting into the place and looking around will not be enough.  We fight and remove them so we can study.”

The lady looked around, and probably spoke to me because I was the only one who could actually understand what had been said.  “What is your opinion, Potorly?  You traveled with Lerdiyo.”

I replied, “One, I agree with Baron Ferrigote.  Two, Jelnaya, I am committed to you.  You enter that fight, and I will enter the fight as well.”

“There are quite a number there.”

“Lerdiyo was fighting them with sticks.  Before I have to rise to your level, I have to rise to his.  Still, you are Fergush.  You are the one who has to prove herself by fighting.  I am actually Samayer.  All I have to do is survive.  What I am telling you, Jelnaya, is that I will be there when the fight is over still committed to you.”

Oprillot had a device to understand and speak, so it did not surprise me when he said, “I want to say the same, but I cannot say I have any divine recognition.  Still, Jelnaya, I was in the fight to remove the threat to Lerdiyo.  I will join you on this fight as well, although I believe we will have more fighting with us.”

Jelnaya sternly said in what I felt was again the universal language, “No.  Squire Isaprom’s men are not fighters.  Those six escorting us are not going to be required to fight.  I have taken on armies.  My great-uncle has taken on armies.  He and I are enough.  You two suitors do need to prove yourselves, which does mean being able to take on a fight.  If you are going to be worthy of me, you need to prove yourself capable of handling my life.  This I believe will be a little extreme however.  I will not require it of either of you.”

I replied, “Your realm is to Samayer, Jelnaya.  I do not want to belittle Onathia, but I have claimed Samayer and want her to claim me.”

“Phanigist is my realm.  You are not attempting to become its ruler, but only my husband.”

“It’s going to be my home.  That temple in Chetorly is where I will bring my sacrifices.  I want everyone to feel I belong there and glad to see me when I show up.  If we, you and me, have marriage problems, that is where I am going to go to seek resolution, assuming you and me aren’t speaking.”

“That will never happen.”

While she tried to say that in a stern manner, I did not feel any anger in her voice.  “Glad to hear it.  Still, Jelnaya, I will have you and Samayer welcoming me as the one who has the right to enter your chambers and stay there.”

In a strong voice, Jelnaya asked, “Can we get cannons?”

While the soldiers and those with Squire Isaprom did turn to look at her, it was Baron Ferrigote who asked, “You are going to fire on the city?”

“Earth.  Dirt.  I want the air filled with dust.”

Corporal Wommull said, “There are cannons in position, Duchess.  While there was no evidence of them being effective, no reason not to have them on hand.  The people expect to see us taking this situation seriously.”

She took the soldiers and had them point out positions while discussing other particulars.  Oprillot stayed with her, but I held back and just admired her capabilities.  She was correct.  I would not rule Phanigist.  While I would come to her as an equal in the relationship, I could not match her in certain ways.  She had a knowledge of things I actually did not want to learn.  Finding Baron Ferrigote standing with me and watching Jelnaya give orders to the soldiers, I saw him grin before reminding me of a fact.

“I did not really train her.  She went to Terish.  That man was always the one who solved the puzzles.  Even when he did not need to, he sought answers just to learn.  Her aunts also married into nobility, so I do not doubt she learned things from them.  Jelnaya never challenged me in how I managed Nehallum, although I did find her listening some times when I lectured my oldest boy.”

Just to be conversational, I asked, “You can’t think that she will equal you?”

“She already has.  I used to count kills against Terish, but found he was having too much fun to bother.  While he would seldom claim to have a higher count than me, when I bothered to count he usually had at least twice the number of me.  I am wondering how this is going to go.  Honestly, I feel once that hair of hers begins to shine, I might find myself having fun as well.”

Squire Isaprom came over to say, “Baron, you cannot be serious.”

“I don’t care what you believe.  You will see when we go into battle.  This man here however says he wants to marry her.  He is the one that needs to believe.”

Doing my best not to put any fear in my voice, I said, “I will be with you and Jelnaya, Baron.”

“Hold to your promise, Boy, and survive.  You do that, then tell Jelnaya you want to meet her Aunt Neselle.”

“Aunt Neselle?  I heard Jelnaya mention her.”

“She survived.  Neselle is from somewhere else, but survived things to be who she is.  Listen to the stories of that lady.  As a devotee of Samayer, the stories of Neselle should inspire you.  Oh, and if you doubt that, let me tell you that it was Neselle who was allowed to rule Phanigist while Jelnaya was away.”

While I appreciated what was said, I felt a need to state a certain fact.  “I believe there will be time to learn about family.  Right now I however need to learn about Jelnaya, and get her to learn about me.”

“Then come on, we have work to do.”

While Baron Ferrigote had said that Jelnaya was the equal of him, I found her glad to have the man enter the conversation.  She went over what she was told, and what she was going to have the soldiers do.  Baron Ferrigote then had her speak on the plans that would involve him, and the soldiers were not dismissed until they completely understood what strategy they would be helping put into motion.

As Baroness Dirchein was calling everyone to get something to eat, Oprillot came to me and asked, “Just how important are the gods to Sennapre?”

My first response was to curtly tell the lad that he was seeking a divine champion, so the gods were going to be important in Jelnaya’s life, although I simply replied, “I guess the same as any other world.  You can decide how important they are.”

“I guess, but I have not fully understood your religion.  Some are opposed, but, like love, still what you want in your life.”

“Tell you what.  Go ask Jelnaya which one of the six she could do without.”

He looked at me, then said, “I asked her which one of the gods she had met, personally.  She mentioned all six.”

Seeing the lad still have a look of not fully understanding, I lost any desire to be curt with him.  “Well, about the religion, you acknowledge the god when you feel they or their aspect played a part in your life.  Should you find yourself involved with those worshipping a particular deity, go ahead and participate.”

“Okay, but Jelnaya is a champion of Fergush and rules a realm devoted to Samayer.  Anything special about that?  You should know, since you do claim Samayer and Remidda.”

“I was doing good deeds, and Remidda is She-Who-Serves.  I was just acknowledging her aspect in my life.  Samayer, well, I really did not think I would survive.  I mean, in the human world.  I feared I would find myself back in the Nevaire with the usual focus of a fairy and so would spend my days in such a manner.  I really wanted Samayer to bless me.”

“But you did fight.  You fought with Lerdiyo.  What about Fergush?”

That was a good question, although I was not happy about my answer.  “Honestly, I figured as long as I survived a fight, that was good.  I mean, if I could protect someone long enough for them to run away then that would be good enough.  Jelnaya scares me, but I suspected that would be true attempting to court any lady.  Again, if I survived, maybe with Samayer’s blessing that would be good enough.”

“So, since I am trying to learn, I would claim Cloript.  Since I am enjoying fighting with Jelnaya I would also claim Fergush.”

“Okay, Cloript is married to Remidda and works with Onathia.  Those are two wonderful associations for your present state in life.  Fergush is married to Samayer and works with Remidda.  Considering that we are helping others and wanting love to blossom, if I were you I would claim Cloript, especially since you feel learning is important.  Samayer is married to Fergush and works with Debogda.  Since I am seeking a champion of Fergush and wanting to be assigned as the lady’s husband, I find Samayer to be someone I really want to support me.”

“Oh.  I think I am seeing how things work.  Thanks.”

Glad to have helped, I added, “Don’t overthink it.  Come to a decision and stick with it.  While you can always switch allegiances, it helps your prayers when you can claim to have stayed with a deity through some struggles.”

We both turned hearing Baroness Dirchein telling us to come and get a plate of food.  While the prayers were to the gods of this world, I looked about thinking how those of Sennapre were present as well.  Realizing that a life with Jelnaya, even with her traveling to all sorts of worlds and situation, would still feel like home I found myself looking forward to what might happen.

And they do what they must to reach the city.