Without a Light I See

Chapter Twenty-Eight

I asked Jelnaya about the ‘going back for the treasure’ comment, and gained a story from almost all the others.  While I knew she considered Baron Ferrigote her great-uncle, for some reason it never sunk in just how ancient the relationship between him and Jelnaya’s grandfather was.  The reason Baron Ferrigote could be so crude to the two from Davelda was that he was caught up in the resistance many leaders of that world had enacted against Lord Terish for courting their empress.  Baron Ferrigote felt they were wrong at the time, and that the way things had developed declared just how wrong they were.  While he admitted those of Davelda were attempting to make amends, he spoke of how they had treated Jelnaya even when the girl had done nothing wrong.

The man said, “There is a difference in a child just being rebellious, or defiantly stating his own mind, and a child simply doing something she liked.  Venicht, Jelnaya’s father, went to Davelda and got his education there.  The girls did too.  While they might not speak positively about their time, they came away with a good education.  Jelnaya’s father attended Bellesdun University without any problems with the curriculum.  Althery, well, he was a little rambunctious, and it was good that I had a job to get the lad to constructively expend his energy.  Jelnaya just stayed up late working in the gym, and they gave her a hard time for it.  I didn’t take her and put her to some occupation, but simply provided some instruction.  She was a good kid, and proved it when she took off on her own.  Davelda did her wrong.”

Yenorma added, “And she stayed a good kid.  Every time she returned to Davelda, we were glad to see her.”

I went quiet realizing that Jelnaya had all these stories of her.  She had family, a large family, and worlds who could tell me things about her.  I did not have any of that.  My mother was now telling me things, but the tales were not revelations of my personal philosophies or attitudes.  Further, I was going to be effectively cut off from my history.  My children would not find themselves being told events of my childhood by others.  While what I heard of Jelnaya stated that I could claim an identity rich in personalities and stories, I wondered what I could offer her in return.

It strangely brought me comfort when Jelnaya spoke of noticing my silence.  “We talk, Potorly, but not right now.  I believe that is our work up ahead.”

I looked ahead to see a building I felt was a church.  The architecture was definitely different than the other buildings with a number of elaborate details.  I saw symbols that might have been letters or have meaning in other ways, but I could not identify them.  All I could say was that the building would have attracted my curiosity if we were not going to learn about it.

We walked in to see a number of wooden cylinders with padded tops neatly set in rows stacked mostly three high.  Tables had also been moved along the wall.  The intent had obviously been to make room for removing a section of floor with the stone pavements and wooden runners, which I saw elsewhere were placed between the earthen squares.  Lerdiyo walked in and directed us down a flight of steps worked in the rock to ease movement beneath the building.

As I went down, I could hear the man say, “We are not certain if this was excavated first then the church built on top, or if this was somehow worked out in secret while the church was here.”

Baron Ferrigote said, “The church is to Nekalell, Beauty and Grace.”

“The prize, or at least the prize for us men.  Your marriages, Emperor, were to bestow the blessing upon you.”

“Yes, well, another reason I never felt at home on this world.  Before you ladies ask, gaining a man is supposed to be a prize for them as well.”

I did expect Jelnaya to make a quip, but before she could Lerdiyo replied, “Honestly, the women are to turn to Zokull, Handsome and Strong.  He however is actually not worshipped, but as Emperor Ferrigote said the ladies look to us as having grace and beauty as well.  One of their disappointments however is that most simply have to take us men as we are.”

Baron Ferrigote said, “But you had to go looking for Zokull.  That’s what this is, isn’t it?  You were looking for something you should not have been.”

“You did promote the gods.  You admitted having one of your own, but since we did not know Fergush we suspected he was actually Zokull who revealed himself to you by the other name.  Attempting to duplicate your success to continue the peace you brought to this world, we did go searching.”

“There is nothing wrong with searching.  What was wrong was looking where you should not have.”

Suddenly the light Lerdiyo was using somehow illuminated an entire chamber.  I also felt a strong force preventing me from moving forward.  The strong visual radiation revealed things much better than the light from the lantern, although I worried that what was being shown was a lie.  The rock faces appeared to be polished to the point where I could not read the symbols and artwork carved due to the glare.  A brilliance could be seen in fractures or where stones had been set with a mortar I believe of silver that had also been polished.  All I could do was stand and shield my eyes from the illumination.

Hearing Jelnaya ask me what I was doing, I simply replied with the truth.  “The room is bright.”

I could tell she moved in front of me, then I heard her say, “I cannot read anything, but this is to no god, at least no real deity.”

Baron Ferrigote said, “Well, I can read what there is to read.  I’m not Terish, but I did learn the language of this world.  Languages, as they have a few.  This is Majourney.”

Isaprom added, “Ancient Majourney, although what is here is not that different than the modern language.  The texts however took us some time to fully translate.”

“Did they speak of Zokull?”

“No, but a male aspect of Nekalell that we entirely did not recognize.  Many spoke of recognizing the heresy in the writings with most of those involved in the project backing out.  That had us wonder who you actually worshipped, Emperor.  We then found what we called the guiding stone.”

I heard Lerdiyo call for Baron Ferrigote to help him.  The two moved forward to a high dais, a stone block, or maybe an altar.  The brightness of the room kept me from easily making out what they went to work on.  I heard the sound of a stone seal being lifted from its seat then placed on the floor.  The light then lost all of its brilliance.  I stepped forward to see a shimmering purple circle, and I asked a question for those who should know to help me understand what had been revealed.

“Is that what a portal looks like?”

Baron Ferrigote asked, “What are you seeing, Potorly?”

“A black, purplish swirl like a funnel going down.”

“No.  That is not a portal.  I mean, it might be, but those usually detected are just a glistening shimmer.  You have to learn to see them, as they can be easily confused with other play of lights.”

Jelnaya added, “And you have to be thinking right, or somehow able to focus to even make them out – much less use them.”

Baron Ferrigote asked, “Jelnaya, you said this was not divine.  What are you seeing?”

“I can’t read anything.  What I feel is that the people were attempting to purify some essence.  I would say something like someone attempting to just worship fighting.  Those people don’t really care about Fergush, but just want to become great fighters.  What you have said about Nekalell, I would say these people were attempting to only worship… grace.  They were seeking solely grace, and somehow tapped that essence.”

Lerdiyo said, “Yes, Duchess, that could be one interpretation of what the texts said.”

Vulge asked, “Princess, this is not demonic?”

Jelnaya answered, “No, but there is something primal here.”  I saw the lady look to me as she added, “I would say fey, and it is active.”

Lerdiyo said, “Yes, Duchess, it is active.  The fact that I went on the journey I did is evidence of that.  The fact that I survived is amazing, as I experienced some terrible things.”

“Survival is an aspect of one of our gods of Sennapre.  If that was the case, I would have gained a warning of your coming.  Fergush has revealed himself as a rather congenial deity, but he does not treat influences beyond his universe as anything minor.  I did not know of your coming, so your arrival was not connected with anything divine.  Let me also say that the monsters you were fighting were not divine.”

Baron Ferrigote said, “Well, this world does have a belief in the fey, but I saw no evidence of it.  Terish did not mention anything of it either.”

“But you were not here with any purpose that would involve the fey, or involved in things that would gain their attention.”

“No, but Terish even back then could see a lot of the minor stuff.  Still, yes, Jelnaya, being involved in conquering this world would not have me doing anything that would get the fey involved.”

Lerdiyo added, “Definitely not in a positive manner.”

Jelnaya said, “And you and Grandfather Terish could and would fight fey, so it would have been in their own interest to simply stay away.”

Baron Ferrigote asked, “Lerdiyo, how long has this place been closed off, or was it?”

The man replied, “It was definitely closed off, Emperor.  Not just the flooring, but we had to go through a layer of mortared stone.  In our research we determined that it had been closed for at least a century.  I mean a century before you came.”

“Well, I came over a century ago, so you are saying at least two centuries.”

As they discussed things to determine exactly how long this chamber had been sealed away, I felt a need to inspect the shimmering circle.  Hearing things about fey being discussed, I felt the matter could have importance.  The dark misty swirl had not gone away.  Feeling that its presence was something we needed to take seriously, I stepped forward.  It did not bother me to have Jelnaya advance with me, although I felt a need to discuss what she could perceive compared to what I was witnessing.

I felt she understood something when she said, “Don’t get sucked in, Potorly, but I will follow if you do.”

Hoping she could supply an answer, I asked, “If it is fey, this should just be an expansion, a haven, of what others perceive as reality.  We really should not go anywhere, although we will.”

“This is definitely not something like I am used to perceiving.  Grandfather Terish could tell us things.  It will not hurt me to learn, but I will then want to go visit him and talk about it.”

“I guess I should meet the family.”

“Hey!” Oprillot exclaimed.  “Include me in this.”

It was Baroness Dirchein who commanded, “All right, children, don’t go anywhere right now.”

Still hoping to exchange data that I felt was important, I said, “This room was brilliant until this seal was opened.  I mean extremely bright.”

Jelnaya replied, “Well, I cannot say I saw the same.  It would help if you could compare what you are seeing with your experiences with other havens of the fey.”

“I only know the Nevaire, and it was open throughout my lifetime.  Maybe going there will be something like this once my father and mother seal it away again.”

“Could that be what this was?  I mean once an active entrance to some fairy realm that was then closed back off?”

Baron Ferrigote said, “Lerdiyo, you went through.”

The man replied, “Well, yes, Emperor.  It was a strange experience for me.  It appeared as a forest path, except everything was blurred.”

I had to admit, “Yes, some speak of their passage into the Nevaire in such a manner.”

“Still, there should be no way for us to go.  I don’t have the passage stone.  It was taken from me even as I was supplied with the guide to reach you, Emperor.”

“I can see the portal.  It is active, and I can feel its pull.”

Jelnaya said, “I can sense something.  Great-uncle, you said that we really did not need to wait.”

Baron Ferrigote grunted, then looked about as he gave some instructions.  “The fey can be dangerous, but usually are not deadly if you can keep your wits about you.  Dirchein, I want you with me.”

She replied, “As if I would stay behind.”

“Vulge, you can trust me to chaperone my niece.  I doubt where we are going will allow any hanky-panky between the youngsters.”

The man replied, “If we stay behind, we can’t come after you or pull you back.”

“Trust me.  I have been traveling through other worlds for so long I know a number of tricks.  I might not be Terish, but I did learn some things along with him.  I also have people who I can reach out to should things get desperate.”

“I am going to stay here, Princess.  I know the horses are outside, and they can be used.  I’ll be with them.”

Jelnaya replied, “Sounds good, Vulge.”

Baron Ferrigote said, “Lerdiyo, sorry, but you are going with us.  Your experience will be needed.  Squire Isaprom, anyone else, like yourself, that you would recommend coming with us?”

One man stepped up saying, “Emperor, I am Glopersh.  I am a doctor in folklore with a specialty in manifestations of the fey.  I did not make the association of this place with the fey, so am wondering about the facts that have been stated.  Direct experience can help me, and I might be able to supply some information to help you.”

“Come on.  Feel free to make commentary.  I cannot promise you time to make notes, and talking helps you remember.  Anyone else?”  Not hearing anyone, Baron Ferrigote then said, “Okay, Potorly, let’s see what you can do.”

And they begin to determine the problem.