Without a Light I See

Chapter Thirty-Three
(Potorly)

I was amazed that Jelnaya did not kill the man.  She allowed me to give the man my own wine skin.  She then actually let him speak.  Jelnaya was everything I could want in a lady, and I watched as the man was taken care of while wondering what all I would have to go through to get the lady for my own.

Listening to her and Baron Ferrigote speak, I accepted that she would present to me far more than what another lady could offer.  A lover and mother of my children would surely be there, but a life with experiences possibly more fantastic was also very possible.  I looked to Oprillot wondering if he also saw the grand possibilities for a life with Jelnaya.  If he truly did, then he would be major competitor for her hand.  If not, I could easily win her.  Wanting to prove to her my commitment, I sat myself to where I could listen to the conversation with her great-uncle.

He finally declared, “That has to be it, Jelnaya.  All other possibilities have been ruled out.”

She replied, “I had concluded that some time ago.  I however allowed that this is your world, so was not going to act without your verification.  I might not be paranoid like Grandfather Terish, but I am just as committed to doing the right thing.”

“Well, I’m glad to call that demonic maggot a friend, and I am sure you are glad you spent time training under him.”

“I’m ready.  Let’s go.”

I found us moving with the understanding that travel through the omniverse was not relative.  Just as in any other situation, being close to a place was not the same as being at the place.  We were going to have to go to where a desired contact with the desired world could be gained.  I felt it good that the demands would have us return to the others, as it would give us an opportunity to refresh ourselves and give proper care to the general.  We did get him conscious enough to not have to be carried, although moving with him did give us some trouble.

Speaking to those clearing the grove, I could not fault them for considering the castle to be more than they could do alone.  However, they felt once the situation was resolved there would be plenty from the various militaries that could deal with removing the construction.  Accepting that things did not need to be rushed, Baron Ferrigote simply told them to continue the work with the grove.

We set up preparing to again face the eel creatures in order to reach the place where we could get to the necessary world.  While Jelnaya considered our efforts to get here to have been a good fight, I appreciated that part of her assessment was in there being a reason for the challenge.  Simply going against monsters was not enough to have her eager to face combat.  While again we would be facing the eel creatures in order to reach a destination, she felt the fight to get there to simply be a tedious endeavor.

I found myself having to agree that we had already proven ourselves against these monsters.  Saying that the fights were getting repetitive, I found Jelnaya to begin giving lessons on handling the large fights.  She spoke of the armies she had fought and how to prepare for such a mass of opponents.  While I did not gain the feeling to actually fight such a battle for myself, I could not help but accept that if I stayed in her life I could well end up needing her instructions.

While some other options had been considered, I had to accept that the castle was now our objective.  What we were fighting were not the fey, so the structure would need to be removed.  Before sending in others to do the labor, we needed to assure no threats were inside.  With the hope that we could deal with any stationed in the structure without killing them, we headed to the castle.

Reaching the courtyard of a grand building, we all made an exclamation seeing various machinations.  The castle had appeared very plain on the outside, so it was surprising to see the exotic constructions inside.  While I could make out certain major weapons of war, a number of devices I could not recognize.  I saw Jelnaya and Baron Ferrigote move around making a quick examination of each machination, then start looking for signs of other passages or doors being important as if not satisfied about having seen anything of value in the large front gallery.

It was Oprillot that asked, “What are the two of you looking for?”

Jelnaya replied with the question, “Are the monsters in here?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

I had to say, “But they did not appear in your castle either, Jelnaya.”

“My castle is consecrated.  Not only does it represent a realm to Samayer, but a divine champion lives inside it.  Can you say either thing about this place?”

“You’re right.”  Thinking about what she said, and what I saw, I looked around then said, “We need to go up.”

Baron Ferrigote looked to his great-niece as he admitted, “I don’t see anything around here.”

She replied, “No.  Potorly’s correct, but I’m not taking the elevator.”

“Ah, Jelnaya, but the elevator is about the only item of technology those in charge of Gaeskow would allow to be developed.  The physics here allows for a good bit of advancement, but the authorities were not going to give up the control to the military or industry.  Keeping things simple meant maintaining some control. I actually thought I would break up that mindset, but the bureaucracies that rose behind me were just as idiotic as those I removed from power.”

“I’m still not taking the elevator.  This is a fairy realm, so all machinations are not to considered proper.”

Going inside the central structure, we all spoke of what we did not see.  Jelnaya's castle having a multi-purpose grand front room was a little exotic for Sennapre, but still fit certain functions.  Simply coming into a room set with stone desks did not present any real authority or welcoming atmosphere.  Wondering if we had chosen the proper building to enter, although wondering what other choice we had, I allowed the others to made some decision from what we saw.

“Well.”  Baron Ferrigote took some steps to a set of flat doors set into a stone wall, then spun to ask, “Was that you talking, or Fergush?”

“Don’t worry, Great-uncle, as I will protect you.”

“Okay.  I’m not as paranoid as the man I consider my brother, but I still know what a warning is.  Lead the way, Jelnaya.”

Oprillot stepped near me, then softly said, “Wow!  That is something to consider.  That lady might be speaking the words from her god.”

“No,” I replied.  “Everything about her says that she stays in good standing with Fergush.  Even if it is just her talking, I doubt Fergush would deny anything said.  I accept that I will have to fight for her.”

“Hey!” the lad exclaimed as I rushed forward to gain a place behind Jelnaya next to her great-uncle.

The large man reacted to my fast advance, then looked at me to say, “You have been warned as well.”

I replied, “I see the prize, and I want it.”

“Yes.  I understand that.  I have a lady of gold, and I sometimes wish I had found someone like Jelnaya.  All right, we have a fight.  You have been good so far, but know there are periods when the fights do not seem to stop.  If you really want what I believe we are talking about, accept that.”

“What about your wife?”

“I claim to be retired.  Jelnaya is not ever going to make that claim.”

The lady said, “You know I can hear the two of you.”

“Which means this threat can as well.”

Baron Ferrigote suddenly dashed forward.  He did sidestep upon gaining the upper risers.  His action proved wise in that a couple of large bolts flew to miss him.  Someone then called for any attacks to cease, although I saw Baron Ferrigote ready his great blade as he finished moving up the stairs.

A voice I did not recognize said, “I see the symbol of the emperor on you.  I have learned that much, so you should learn that I am the emperor now.”

“You have a problem there,” Baron Ferrigote replied, “because I am the previous emperor.”

“Really?”

I moved up with Jelnaya.  I gained the impression that a number of walls had been removed to make the large expanse.  What I could not accept as being people moved among some machinations.  Most appeared as large types of weapons, but one really bizarre clockwork continued to expel a glittering smoke.  I put my focus on the targets Jelnaya identified as mine while listening to her great-uncle.

“Actually, you could have had this world.  From what I have learned, it is not your fault that you failed.  That almost makes me want to give it to you.  Problem is, this world is not really mine to give, and I am not a giving person.  You are going to have to fight for it.”

As if dismissing Baron Ferrigote, the man in the throne leaned over to point to the lady in our party and ask, “You, Darling, did I hear right?  Are you unmarried with at least one present seeking to win your hand?”

I did not believe the person was human or fey.  While his hair appeared gray, there was a shimmer as if really silver.  The growth on the upper lip appeared as one piece and not a collection of hairs.  I could not tell if the cloth covered a suit or armor or a strange upper layer of skin.

Jelnaya replied, “It does not matter to you.  I accept –“

“Wait, Darling!  Why can’t I claim to be one of your suitors?”

“Because you had to ask.”  She stepped up to move a hand indicating the machinations around us while asking, “You do not know what is going on, do you?”

“I believe I have it under control.”

“No.  You don’t.  And while you were attempting to do whatever you have done, another did even more serious harm.  Go away.  Admit your failure, and go away.”

“I won’t do that.”

“Hold it,” I said stepping forward.  “I don’t understand.  You do understand what we had to go through to get here?  You do understand that once here we did not come here?  We went and handled something else.  We considered something else more important than you.  While you sat here and did nothing, we were not letting whatever you were doing bother us while working on things that did.  You do not bother us.  You had the graciousness of being allowed to go away, yet you were foolish enough to stay.”

“I guess you made a mistake.  Ki –“

That was all he got out.  Jelnaya and Baron Ferrigote moved to take out the weapons.  By the time I reacted, I saw Jelnaya on top of a second one using the high ground to position her sword for beheading those attempting to get something to attack her.  Baron Ferrigote had turned one of the constructs over and was pushing it into another one.  Actually feeling I was safe, I stepped forward to the one who still had not gotten out of his chair.

Coming close, I saw that he was a machination as well.  From a distance the appearance was that I was dealing with a real person.  What bothered me was that I had not sensed him as being nothing more than another clockwork.  I found myself wondering why when Jelnaya came close.

“You did not kill him either.”

“I did think this to be someone I could kill, but I was wrong.”

“Him leaning over to look at me gave it away.  It was a natural move, but it stretched the body in a way that made certain joints apparent.  I however also was already wondering why he built a machine to protect the entire building, so I expected there to be more than just this room.”  She moved around the chair to have her eyes follow some cords as she said, “It does help to have your mind thinking in a certain way.”

Oprillot moved up to ask, “So, we now go kill him?”

“I do not get the sense that he is running.  Potorly made the case rather well.  If he is not running he is really stupid, or thinks he still has the upper hand.”

“I vote for really stupid.”

Wanting to impress Jelnaya again, I said, “No.  There is a third option.  It is something that will have me agreeing to kill him.”

From behind me came the voice of Baron Ferrigote asking, “Really?  And what is that?”

“He just likes the mayhem.  What went on outside did not bother him.  He was more than willing to sit here and watch.  What was done to the fairy realm did not bother him.  He probably wanted to watch that as well.  Us coming did not bother him.  While he surely expected to watch us die, I would say he is now enjoying watching us destroy his own people and clockworks.  He doesn’t mind dying, but with every breath will take pleasure in whatever agony he can put us through.”

Jelnaya said, “And those type of people are not good fights.  It is best if you go ahead and end them.”

Her dark blue eyes focused on me.  I gained the impression she was waiting for me to say something.  Not knowing what would impress her, I simply stated a truth.

“I agree.”

She replied, “Fergush is not He-Who-Kills.  I do not have to kill.  I do not go into most fights with the attitude of ending the life of my opponent.  A good fight has a resolution, and sometimes death does not provide that.”

“And sometimes only death will provide a resolution.”

“I think you might become someone who can live with me.”

“That’s my goal, Jelnaya.  Really, I have set that as my goal.”

Baron Ferrigote interrupted us to say, “All right, we have problems.  Matters of courtship have to wait.  Come on.”

And the fight goes on.