Without a Light I See

Chapter Thirty-Four
(Jelnaya)

I did not want to speak against Oprillot.  To be in the situation he was in, there had to be a number of traits that I would find agreeable.  The mission however better fit the background and skills of Potorly.  Whether that was the reason he was able to come to terms with and learn from the situations, or the cause was something else, I could not say.  I however was finding myself having to admire Potorly while only accepting that Oprillot was still worthy of being a suitor.

I saw my great-uncle look at a machine.  Wondering just how much he understood, I went up to look at the dials and gauges.  Sennapre, the world Great-uncle Ferrigote had grown up on and we both now called home, could actually handle advanced science.  What kept the technology low was a lack of iron and other fundamental metals.  My crystal armor was not considered strange on Sennapre, as people would use bone, scales, and even rock to protect themselves.  I however had grown up on a world that had advanced science, and had a bloodline to another world where they had science able to bestow immortality, so felt I could tell more by looking at the machine than my great-uncle.

Reaching for a dial, I said, “Let’s do this.”

Indicating he did understand, he replied, “That will force us to kill him.”

“No, but for him to prove Potorly wrong.  At the moment I believe my fey suitor is correct, so our opponent needs to die.”

Oprillot also showed an understanding of what I was about to do as he said, “It will force us to fight our way further up the stairs.”

“Or ride the elevator.  I can fight better in the stairwell, so I’m going to take the stairs.”

Great-uncle Ferrigote said, “We could also simply destroy the machine.”

“That would be arrogant, or stupid.  Neither are traits one should want to be identified with, much less those Fergush represents.”

“There is that.”

I turned the dial with a little more care than I guess my great-uncle expected.  He put his focus on my face and not on my hand.  The windows in the room were covered, but I looked at a set of curtains while putting my focus on my other senses.  Hearing some sounds, the eyes of my great-uncle moved to the ceiling even as I smiled.

It however was Oprillot who said, “There he is.”

Great-uncle Ferrigote asked, “What do we now do with that information?”

Maybe he intended that question as a test of my suitors, but after a period of silence I said, “We’ve already made our decision, and I am gaining the impression he made his.  Let’s finish this.”

I turned back to the stairwell.  Eel monsters were present, but we all had now become rather skilled in combating them.  Also, as Potorly had learned traveling with Lerdiyo, one could simply get them to flee.  That is basically all I did to quickly move up the stairwell in order to face our real opponent.

Large projectiles appearing to be lengths of wrought iron shot out.  Actually suspecting them, I dove for the floor near the wall, rolled, then rose attempting to do what Great-uncle Ferrigote had managed with the weapons below.  I did not have his strength, but I had done all I could to make my female form have some power.  There was also a benefit in having an immortal body, because I could push myself past the safety limits most others recognized.  While I would hurt, my stressed bones and muscles would repair themselves.  Actually lifting the machine to turn it over, I stepped away wondering what would happen now.  Not having to react to more projectiles, I looked around to decide upon my next move.

Oprillot dashed forward to a door.  It was a reasonable decision considering the location of the machine providing protection from the eel-like monsters and the sound we heard.  While I suspected a trap would be triggered, I stayed still allowing Oprillot to face the threat and suspecting our opponent did not expect such a small figure rushing to face him.

No trap went off, although the door was locked.  I was about to move, but my great-uncle was already striding up.  I suspected he just intended to act as Oprillot’s second, but while up there he took advantage of his place.  Making the same actions I had learned to work a little spell, the lock mechanism released.  Great-uncle Ferrigote then motioned for Oprillot to go ahead and open the door.

There was a machine in front of the portal, but when instead of it going off I heard a man say, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that.”

Exactly how much Oprillot knew of technology, I had to accept he had made certain assumptions.  “Considering what I know of Jelnaya and what we would be facing, I came prepared with certain defenses.  I would have survived.  Now, I cannot say the same of you.  Sorry, but we have already concluded you were too stupid to be allowed to live.”

“Yes.  I heard.”

I could only assume the man was about to activate something.  From my position I simply saw Oprillot go low with Great-uncle Ferrigote showing himself to have taken one of the projectiles from a mechanism we broke.  The length of metal probably was sent flying with as much force as supplied by one of the machines.  I had to assume that Oprillot also made an effective strike, as soon both men stepped from the door with the look of having finished their business.

It helped to let me know what happened when the lad asked, “What now, Jelnaya?”

I replied, “I could give you an answer, but that is not really my call.”

Great-uncle Ferrigote declared, “Well, it’s not my call.”

Shrugging to show that I would not bother to state otherwise, I said, “We need to deal with those eel-things.  I mean shut them off.  After that I guess we can let those of Gaeskow decide on things.  I can agree with Great-uncle Ferrigote that we are not here to establish anything.  Still, you cannot brag about leaving things as you found them.”

“Yes, but how do you suggest we stop the eel-things?  They do not seem to have any real intelligence.  My impression is that Lerdiyo awakened them to other realities, so they just might become an interdimensional pest.”

I replied, “They are not acting as interdimensional pests.  They are attacking specific targets.  I had Lerdiyo in and around my home, but the attacks were focused on him.  My citizens and soldiers were not bothered by them.  They are only swarming here in this city.  We did not arrive to find Gaeskow in general being bothered.”

“Okay, so we talk to Lerdiyo?”

“It’s not like we have anyone else to talk to.  Yes, I will be seeing what answers I can get from Fergush.  He might be He-Who-Fights, but he is not He-Who-Battles.  We should have an objective, something to fight for.”

Oprillot asked, “Why hasn’t he already told you something?”

“Because he likes watching me in action.  He will give me opportunities to do things on my own.  I have no right to brag if I really did not gain the honor.”

Potorly said, “Destroy the machine, Jelnaya.”  I only had to turn to look at him to gain more from him.  “Yes, I know what that means.  Still, if it is protecting us from them then there must be some understanding of what they are.  Maybe if you take out that machine, something can be detected.”

Great-uncle Ferrigote said, “If we do that, the fight is on.”

“Glory to Fergush.  Our survival brings glory to his wife.  Apologies to the gods of Gaeskow, but we have others who we give honor and devotion.”

I did not rush back down the stairs.  The pace was intended to give the men time to debate things among themselves.  That did not happen.  I heard them battle with me back down to the room with the machine.  Once again free of the threats, I walked over and did not hear any objection when I shut the machine off.

Yes, the eel-like creatures again moved upon us, but as Potorly had proposed I did detect something.  “I know what that machine was doing!”

It was Great-uncle Ferrigote who replied, “Really?  Fergush did not tell you?”

“No.  My father sells his weapons to those of other worlds.  His people wanted methods of traveling, so worked on creating artificial portals.  Father brought me in to advise them.  Of course they ran into the usual problems of differing physics, but they had enough experience with getting various weapons to work that they felt they could get their portal technology to work as well.  They didn’t, at least not to the extent they desired.  I however did learn some things working with the team.”

“Then lead the way.”

While I had an understanding, that did not mean I had an answer.  Having fought the eel-like monsters for so long, I had done certain moves enough to trust my body to repeat them.  While I did think enough to direct us back outside, I concentrated to put most of my brainpower to work on coming up with an answer to our dilemma.

Lerdiyo had been sent to my great-uncle.  It was on that journey he encountered the monsters.  He thought they were from Grandfather Terish’s world.  That however really made no sense, which told me the key to understanding the problem was in how he connected the two worlds.  That had me consider what I knew of Lerdiyo, and from my interaction with him there was a clear understanding that Great-uncle Ferrigote and Grandfather Terish were two different people from two different universes.  The only reason for connecting the two would be something in how he was directed to travel.  My only answer to that was something my great-uncle always complained about when speaking of Gaeskow.

Allowing for others to work with me, I said, “Politics.  I have to deal with it.  Sometimes a solution is not favored because it does not include enough of the desires of others.  It gets really frustrating when those who have no involvement in the matter being discussed feel the need to insert themselves to get some personal benefit.”

Oprillot started to say something, but it was Great-uncle Ferrigote who clearly spoke some words.  “What does politics have to do with these monsters?”

I replied, “This is the world you conquered.  You tell me.”

“Okay, so you should take it to heart that I don’t – wait!  Why would they bother to come for me?  I would just conquer them again.  I mean, I would again gain power.  That man was trying to become emperor himself.”

“Politics.  If it’s not about power, it’s about money.”

I felt disappointed to hear, “Still not following you, Niece.”

“You’re not the wealthy one.  Grandfather Terish is the one with a cavern of gold.  While they sent Lerdiyo to you, they actually gave him instructions to direct him to Grandfather Terish.  Lerdiyo knew something about their thoughts, that is why he made the connection with these monsters and those from the world of Terdeskollit.”

“Okay, they get Terish.”

Feeling Great-uncle Ferrigote should definitely be making the connection now, I explained, “They get the one with the money.  They then can play politics with him.”

“He doesn’t like this world either, Jelnaya.”

“He still has money.  That is all some will care about.”

Oprillot now managed to find the words to ask, “So, how does that help us end this fight.”

I almost got mad at him for saying that, so with a stern voice replied, “Not end the fight, but win it.  We were not in the right building.  That was an administration building.  That was where they had the lab to design those machines.  We need the actual government building.”

Great-uncle Ferrigote said, “Well, for these idiots government would mean military.  That would be the one over there, Jelnaya.”

“Then that is where we need to go.”

And they begin to move to the final confrontation.