Without a Light I See
I never really gloried in the fight. While I did get into them to help people, my objective was always to make things better with me not believing the conflict was a good thing. I could not say that Jelnaya thought the battle to be a desired state of existence, but only felt joy in being a part of the combat. She did want it resolved just as I did, but she would brag about the fight while I would simply be glad things were no longer stressful.
Even after having battled the eel-like monsters for some time, she still spoke of her pleasure in the constant combat. I simply found comfort in seeing that we did stay advancing toward the stated destination. While Jelnaya did speak of her pleasure in being in a fight, it satisfied me that she did nothing to prolong the experience.
Stepping into the building did not bring any relief. The amount of threats did not increase or decrease. I expected some indication that we were approaching a goal, but continued to strike wondering what we would need to do now. Hearing Baron Ferrigote speak however did bring me some hope of relief.
“Okay, Jelnaya, I see it, but explain it to me.”
She replied, “They, those that sent Lerdiyo, knew what information they had given him. They thus worked to follow him. You and I know methods of finding people through all these realities. Well, it then should not surprise you that they built a method of tracking Lerdiyo. When he made contact with the eel-monsters, he was not the only one who made the assumption they were creatures from my grandfather’s home world.”
“Still, Jelnaya, why would they seal the connection?”
“You make contact with Grandfather Terish’s world, and that could give you bargaining power with Grandfather Terish. Politicians are not that intelligent. Their objectives are power and money, everything else are momentary annoyances or bargaining chips.”
“I can see that your years of being a high-noble have made you more appreciative to the machinations of those in power.”
There was some laughter and humorous comments. I really did not feel it was the place for it, although I appreciated that we kept moving. The combat did not reduce in intensity. Also being glad that the number of monsters did not increase, I did allow myself to chuckle at some of the comments.
The stairs we moved up were wide and grand. That had me accept we were in a building designed more for show. I did not feel we were in the wrong place, but as I moved up the stairs I wondered what we would do once in the proper place.
I then saw something shimmering, and I guess I was not the only one as Baron Ferrigote said, “I see what you were suggesting, Jelnaya. Now, how do we stop this?”
She replied, “This is not natural. What I mean is that this is not a portal you or I could activate. It also is not a portal managed by a deity who can affect their reality to create a connection. The problem is that it is not being maintained on this side, so we need to go through.”
“And how do we get back?”
“Not worried about that. Fergush says he will maintain the connection, but we could just leave another way.”
While I wondered about the problems of returning another way, Baron Ferrigote stressed what I allowed was an important point. “My wife is here, Jelnaya.”
Jelnaya replied, “Fergush assures me that he will maintain the connection.”
“Then we go through.”
I heard what was said, although wondering how the steps would be managed. I had moved through a number of portals in traveling with Jelnaya, but having battled for a length of time I felt the weariness of facing more opponents and possibly greater perils She actually stood to the side of the portal continuing to fight the monsters even as she directed me and Oprillot forward. Not seeing Baron Ferrigote, I assumed he had already passed through. Hearing Jelnaya yell at me to go on, I took the steps to transfer to another world.
Finding myself not surrounded by threats took me by surprise. Having Baron Ferrigote still having his weapon out had me suspect we were still in trouble. Seeing a few grand eel-like creatures had me suspect the source of what troubled us. Knowing we had killed a major monster of this type to end the trouble following Lerdiyo, I fully expected to fight some more. Seeing Jelnaya step through the portal then show no surprise in seeing those watching us, I readied myself to fight.
I again saw a gaze I wanted to stay in my life as she said, “You can relax. I got this.”
Baron Ferrigote asked, “Are you sure, Jelnaya?”
“Have they attacked?”
“Yes. I got this.” She then began advancing while asking, “You are aware we killed the guy you put in charge of the other marker?”
It caught me by surprise to find my mind almost feel enveloped with a presence as the words formed, “We are aware.”
“I assume you do not want that to be your fate.”
“We definitely assume that Chetabetarract made a mistake.”
“What I would like to present to you is that his mistake was not his own. I would boldly propose that you made the mistake. I am listening for any counter.”
Things did not go quiet for me. I heard the creatures speaking to each other, although they strangely thought we would not know what they were saying. Unsure of things I turned to Baron Ferrigote and saw him drinking some wine. Oprillot waited to accept the skin. Jelnaya had her hands move about her person as if worried about her appearance. Wondering if I was the only one able to eavesdrop on their debate, I stepped up to the lady to whisper the thing I wanted to assure she was aware of.
“I can hear them. Can you?”
I saw that her hands were actually checking on what daggers she had on her person as she asked in return, “Are they saying anything that I should be aware of?”
“They could call in more to attack us. They however are calling them soldiers. I assume that means these might give you a fight.”
“Why wouldn’t those we fought to remove the curse on Lerdiyo not have been soldiers? They are responsible for him?”
“Uh, yes.” I tried to get a hint from her face that she could or could not hear the discussion that I did, but simply wanting to speak to this lady I said more. “This is their world, Jelnaya. No telling how many are here.”
“Then there is treasure here. More of reason to fight them here.”
Suddenly my mind was again flooded with a presence as I heard a voice ask, “So, are you going to attack no matter what we conclude?”
Jelnaya brought herself erect, then curtsied before saying, “I do not worship a god of lies. I can lie, as deception can play a part in a combat. Feints, where I pause to supposedly focus on striking somewhere else, and other actions can have an opponent give me an opening. Still, the people I represent, the god I represent, and the troops that support me need to trust in my orders. I know the challenge you represent. A lie would serve no purpose. The mass of those you could send upon me would make any action but a direct response meaningless. I have not lied to you. As for as what this man here is telling me, I don’t care. Make your decision. I am not lying when I say that you will need to live with it.”
“Or die with it.”
“I believe if you die due to your decision, your memory will live on as everyone else speaks of how really stupid that decision was.”
When things went completely quiet, I whispered to Jelnaya, “Just for my own satisfaction, could you hear them?”
“What was I doing, Potorly?”
Without any shame in stating that I had been watching her, I replied, “Checking your weapons. You are missing two daggers.”
“And I am down to only four shurikens. Still, I’m ready for a fight. That is all I am really concerned with. Those here can either work to gain a resolution, or they can fight. I am not going to say that I could not hear them. They are right there, and I know some tricks. Still, I did not care to listen.”
“Well, I could not ignore them. Their voices reverberated in my mind.”
“Talk to your mother about that. She might have advice.”
I had to turn to the ones I considered monsters as a voice filled my mind asking, “And what you heard, does it have you wanting to tell her to attack or wait for our decision?”
Pointing to one, I said, “He wants you to attack. However, I believe you are correct in attempting to get him to see how decisive that fight went in our favor. I was in that fight, and as scared as I was the fact we survived it has me assured we will survive again. Those wanting some type of concession I understand the logic, but I really have no idea what they were asking for. I however was expecting you to put him – Espadormidict? – in his place, then turn to them to discuss their proposals. That means I would tell Jelnaya to wait. As for her, I would trust her to work out a reasonable compromise. She is a ruler of her land, and her people are very pleased with her.” I then mumbled, “And we are not stupid.”
“I believe he did hear us. Espadormidict, they are graciously allowing us to consider their presence. They indeed have survived one battle among us. They have further survived what troops we sent to stand before us. Attacking them is not wise.”
The one I now was certain had the name Espadormidict replied, “Then let us see how good of a compromise we can gain.”
Having heard that, I looked to Jelnaya and asked, “Just how much are you willing to concede?”
“That’s Gaeskow they are bothering. I would not really care, except that another Lerdiyo after Lerdiyo could show up pleading for our help. The fights are fun, but I do have other concerns.”
Baron Ferrigote stepped up saying, “I once ruled Gaeskow. I know what can be allowed and what has no hope of being fulfilled. Let me handle this part.”
I never could tell whether Jelnaya could or could not hear the voices that seemed to pour into my brain. Baron Ferrigote did not show any ability to catch comments other than the boldly spoken phrases I took to be the creatures’ public voice. Jelnaya however made comments to her great-uncle that sometimes had more substance than just a remark about an offer. Both treated the words I said with respect, and soon the voices agreed that we had reached an agreeable compromise.
As we stepped back while all the surviving troops of the eel-like people flowed back to their world, Oprillot said, “Wow! I did not expect things to end so well. This was fantastic.”
Baron Ferrigote replied, “Yes, but that is how things should go between sensible people. Those of Gaeskow however can be really bizarre in thought. We’ve reached a compromise, but now I got to get those of Gaeskow to accept it.”
Final matters are dealt with along with more courtship.