Without a Light I See

Chapter Thirty-One
(Potorly)

I stopped to look at some plants, but instead of putting my focus on them I had to think of Jelnaya.  She was not being a problem.  She was not ordering me around.  I was present with her fully in her persona as a Champion of Fergush and as someone in command of this mission.  She however would smile, nod when I mentioned a direction to travel, and speak her appreciation when I picked a fruit and handed it to her.  After accepting that the plants indicated some recent concern by fairies, I turned feeling a need to assure myself of things with Jelnaya.

“Do you fear getting married?”

“No,” she answered.  “You should have heard me say that I asked for it, and will probably hear it said often.  I don’t fear getting married, but I fear not getting married to the right person.”

“I look at you and fear gaining a dominating wife.”

“I won’t be.  What you should fear is the life I am going to present you with.  Phanigist is mine.  My relationship with Fergush will not change.  You do not just fall in love with me, Potorly, but everything about me.  I am not going to dominate you, but this is my life.  If you’re not happy with it, you won’t be happy with me.”

I had to admit, “I am enjoying this.  I however am wondering just how far things can go with us.”

She stepped up to me, and I felt her breath on my lips as she said, “You will be allowed to go as far as you want.  If you fear me, don’t marry me.”

Without moving, I said, “I don’t fear you, but I recognize what you represent.  It awes me.”

“Well, it is your decision to make.”  She backed away, then asked, “What did you find?”

I could make out her eyes, but the red and yellow hair had her dark orbs not appear as lovely.  To put my focus on them I would have had to move my head.  Actually wondering about her mouth being so close to mine, I held my position.  Now able to get a complete view of her face again had me again realize how lovely she was, but now I felt able to better appreciate having her so close to notice details I had not thought to focus upon.

Not wanting to waste her attention upon me, I replied, “As you said, with me being fey and you being a divine champion, the fey should not hide from us.  They have been recently active in this area, so they should be around for us to find.”

“And why are the two of you around for us to find?”

I turned seeing a man, and in amazement I gasped, “Father?”

The man seemed shocked to have heard that, so I was glad Jelnaya quickly felt a need to explain, “We are from another world.  My companion however is fey, and I am claimed by a deity.  We have been brought here to help, and finding a fey realm here that is in trouble has us very much desiring to help.”

It was strange to look at this man and notice how little he looked at me.  With the previous meeting I felt a resemblance, but now that I saw him fully in his place as lord of this territory was a complete duplication.  All my life my father was my father.  Somehow I now understood how little I resembled him.  He was smaller than me.  I did not have a muscular build, but his physique almost seemed frail.  I knew from direct confrontations with him that he had a lot more strength than his body indicated, and I hoped the same could be said for me.  Having now spent time with my mother, I had to say that I reflected more from her side of the family.  I waited for the man to speak thinking it strange how little I had considered myself a product of my father.

The one before us said, “The grove is being cut down.  Horses are working to remove the trees.  How much more are you willing to do?”

Jelnaya replied, “If it needs to be done, why shouldn’t we do it?”

“Because it should be done by others.”

“We have others in our group.  There should be others in the land outside this realm helping to remove the wood.  I however assume you are talking about others still.”

I actually recognized the look of the man as him taking a moment to think, then as if striving to gain more time for him to make a decision he looked to me and asked, “Are you planning to marry her?”

“There is that desire,” I replied.  “My mother is now working to let me know things of myself.  My father raised me.  He did not teach me of my history, but it seems I became the person he and mother wanted me to be.”

“Of course, as you are fey.  If she was intended to be your wife…”

He shrugged, but I had to inform him, “She fits the need, but they could not have known about her when they conceived me.”

“She might not have been named, but there was a desire fixed within you.  If she fits the desire, you should want her very badly.”

Actually desiring for what advice this man could provide, I said, “She is the champion of a fighting spirit.  She is the ruler of a human land.  What she represents is so much more than what I am.”

“But it is who you are.”

There was not even a desire to deny that statement.  I was a hero.  I had sought that for my life.  Jelnaya was so much more than a hero, but a life with her would keep me as I was.  She would not take me from my life, but broaden it in a way I previously could not imagine.  Not wanting to deny the statement, I felt a need to secure the desire.

“So tell us what you need done.”

I was glad to hear the man accept my return to the previous topic.  “He went to his home in the Deloset.”

Jelnaya asked, “The where?”

I replied, “I am from the Corvee of the Nevaire.  Mother claimed her home is in the Stolon.  The Nevaire is larger than a simple glade, but not.  The Corvee is the more inhabited part.  The Stolon is the more marshy.  The Deloset is the high ground.”

The man said, “He has control of the Tergostone.  Be careful with it.  Bring it back to me, and we can do a much better job of healing the land.”

Jelnaya thanked me, then looked to the man to say, “There is what is desired, then there is wisdom.  Should it be just me and him, or would it be wise to gain the aid of others?”

“The aid would be wise, but the fear is in them with the Tergostone.  It can be used upon them, and it can be used by them.”

“I believe I have those who can be trusted to limit themselves.”

“It only takes one who proves you wrong to make you wrong.  That is our error.”

Jenalya curtsied as she thanked the man, then asked me if I had anything to ask or say to the man.  I simply turned to also speak my thanks.  Turning to leave, I realized what just happened.  Jelnaya had obeyed the rules of this magical place and came away with the needed information.  That was almost unheard of.  It had been a source of amusement while growing up to watch those who came into the Nevaire, as their bumbling adherence to their own ways prevented them from gaining even their most basic objectives.  Moving back with Jelnaya, I had to ask her about her techniques.

She replied, “I told you that I have an island with a strong population of fey.  I also will visit a world where the non-humans are the dominant civilization.  Those of Logramming Isle taught me, because they recognized me as a part of their lives.  Those of the centaur world will teach anyone, because their history had them recognize just how horrible those with other motives could manipulate those who did not know.”  Jelnaya then added, “You gain all that if you marry me.”

“Wait.”  I really had not meant to have her stop, but as I stumbled to a halt I went ahead and asked my question.  “Was that encouragement?”

She smiled while saying, “As a Champion of Fergush, I will support those engaged in a fight.”

Trying to understand, I asked, ”A fight?  If that is how you see it, why haven’t you already gained a husband?”

“Because courtship is not a fight to win, but a fight not to lose.  There are bad fights.  Up to now those that came before me realized it would be a fight, and fearing that gaining my hand would not be a good thing they bowed out.”

“I’m seeing the exact opposite.  I really am coming to the conclusion that you would be the best thing to have happen.  Still, you’re right.  I don’t fear losing the fight, but winning it.  I am not yet to the point where I feel worthy of you.”

“Well, the warning has been given.”

“What?”  I thought on what had been said, although still found myself needing to ask the question, “What warning?”

“That I will allow you to bow out.”

“No.”  Knowing my mother would not be pleased if I did, I found myself able to speak my own conviction.  “That is not my intention.  I have simply let you know where the fight is for me.  It is not in the courting you.  Actually, I have enjoyed my time with you, and the fact I am with you now I believe states that I am doing well in developing a relationship with you.”  She nodded, which pleased me and gave the encouragement to continue speaking.  “What I need to come to terms with is simply the change in my life.  You are not just a lady, Jelnaya.  You are a high noble and a divine champion.  I will need to prove myself able to step up worthy to stand by your side.  Others?  No, to Hell with them.  To myself.  I am not fighting my fear of you, but simply the possibility I can come before you, command you, and have you eager to please me.”

“This is an extended battle.”

“Good.”

She curtsied, then turned saying, “Well, come on.  We have work to do.”

Returning to our group, I listened as Jelnaya proudly spoke of what they had been doing.  She let them all know that the fey of this land had recognized their actions.  After encouraging them to continue the work, she then called over her relatives.  As the baron and baroness moved to privately speak with her, I felt good seeing her signal that I could listen to the conversation.

She also recognized Oprillot, but gave him a warning.  “Potorly is fey, but you would have worked against us having the meeting we had.”

The lad replied, “I understand that, Jelnaya, but having him go off alone with you did bother me.”

“I understand.  Now, understand this.  The fey fear the evil this man has done to be promoted by another as well.  You act improperly here, and not only will you spoil your chance with me, but will probably have me end your life as well.”

“I fully believe you, and I believe you would.  What I need for you to believe is that you don’t have to give me a lecture like that.”

“Glad we understand each other.  Great-uncle, it’s called the Tergostone.  Let me handle it.  Might need to have Potorly handle it.  I’ll make that decision when necessary.  Our destination is called the Deloset, which Potorly said was the high ground.  What we know is that this opponent will run, so we need to simply engage while being prepared for evasive actions.”

The baron asked, “So, we leave now?”

“How much time do you need?”

“Just a few minutes, Jelnaya.  I need to assure everyone understands what they need to be doing.  Check with my wife and make certain you’re good.”

The lady of gold was right there, so in simply looking at her she knew to talk.  “I’ll have a good camp for you to return to.  I am not going to say the fey won’t be grateful, but from the look of things they might not be able to do more than thank you.  Be gracious, then come to me and I will assure any problems with the battle will be taken care of.”

Jelnaya replied, “This is Gaeskow.  You will probably need to be gracious as well.”

“I can do that, Jelnaya.  It is something I am good at.  Now, go do what you are good at.”

And they go to face one opponent.