A Wish for Hope
I spoke of what had happened as soon as I passed through the door. Neither Aunt Neselle nor Vulge interrupted, as they surely could tell that I was not bragging. Both allowed me to move as I went through the steps I made that night. I had been fatigued from stressing my body for a number of hours, but to me that made my actions in this room even more vivid in my mind. Still feeling that I had missed something, I spoke to assure that my wearied brain had not skipped a detail that now would be found to have been an error.
It was my Aunt Neselle that ordered me to repeat certain steps. That told me she was paying attention, and was also working to understand what the angel of Samayer felt needed to be protected from the view of others. Vulge only made sounds of the disgusting nature of the remains. I did not bother to explain to him how soothing it had been to fight creatures of such horrid essences, as it really troubled me to slaughter people. I repeated every step Aunt Neselle asked, as I really wanted the solace of putting this experience behind me.
Vulge however had his own questions. “Princess Jelnaya, you killed all these creatures in here?”
“No one else did, Vulge,” I replied. “Honestly, I moved in the direction of the room to gain a moment of freedom where I could change out my sword for the drahaberd. If you were listening, I was using NeverRose in the hall. I stepped in this room, switched to my drahaberd, then as they attempted to swarm upon me I just proved the benefit of that weapon.”
“Yes, I’ve seen you use it. Still, there are a lot of bodies in there.”
I moved to pat the man on a cheek while saying, “That’s a compliment, Vulge. Now, back to what we are here to do.”
Aunt Neselle however stopped me to ask, “Didn’t you find it strange to encounter so many of these monsters?”
“I was looking for something to justify the death I caused. Honestly, Aunt Neselle, I was glad to see so many.”
“I can understand. Okay, Jelnaya, see if you can pick back up at these steps.”
As I went down I found myself surprised at how many side passages I had gone through. Of course, I did not know this place. Checking my memory, I found my frazzled mind just focused on killing all the monsters. I was not looking for the source of the evil, but simply removing everything that was evil. Aunt Neselle let me speak, although as I began to take a step down she stopped me.
“Do you feel it, Jelnaya? It’s evil, but not like you left something living.”
I replied, “That’s why we’re here.”
“No, Jelnaya, but that is why you came to get me. Fergush gave you the new drahaberd because he knew you would return the one you had. Fergush knows about me. He was the one that originally sent Althery and Nuchirg to my world. He was with you when you came, and it was when you were with me that he claimed you.”
Feeling a need to correct her, I said, “When I accepted. He tried to claim me back in Nehallum.”
“My point, Jelnaya, is that Fergush wanted me here with you. Of course I am here for you, but it was intended.” She then hugged me while saying, “I don’t want to stop you, or rush you. You need to keep doing what you are doing. I’m sorry, Jelnaya.”
“It’s okay, Aunt Neselle. I guess that is why Vulge is with us. He is letting us know just how horrid this is.”
The big man said, “I already knew you were something special, Princess Jelnaya. The number of bodies almost fills this place. I cannot imagine how cramped this place was when you fought your way through.”
“Well, they started reducing in number at this point, but some of the more powerful creatures now made their appearance.”
Only bones remained of the creature I remembered having some type of ghostly essence around the skeleton. Speaking of some attacks, Aunt Neselle questioned some of the things I said. Working through the events, it seemed that I was being attacked by the larger monster long before I actually reached it to fight. Arcane attacks I attributed to some of the more powerful creatures were actually from the most powerful creature. As I looked at a pool of some essence attempting to recall what attacks it actually used against me, Aunt Neselle asked another question.
“Jelnaya, what I hear you saying is that you don’t know that monster.”
“Uh, no,” I replied.
“Are they of this world, Jelnaya?”
“There are six gods, each with their own divine existence,” I mumbled before asking for information. “Fergush?”
The voice of my god replied, “There will be a time for answers, Jelnaya, but keep doing what you are doing.”
I passed along the information. “Aunt Neselle, Fergush says for me to keep doing what I am doing.”
Being a divine champion herself, it did not surprise me to hear, “Then we stay at our task. I apologize for stopping you, Jelnaya.”
It was very slippery around the sludge that remained of the final monster. I spoke of the battle being careful as I went back through certain steps. Hearing me mention having my drahaberd, my then new drahaberd, get sent deep inside the fat of the monster gained comments from both Aunt Neselle and Vulge. I however stressed how my attacks with NeverRose started being effective, and what I did to finally bring an end to my battles.
Aunt Neselle asked, “It did not move, Jelnaya?”
“What?” I replied. “Of course it did.”
“No. What you speak of, Jelnaya, is it pivoting. You moved, a lot more than I would right now, but it stayed in place.”
I had to go back through my steps, but I ended up seeing what my Aunt Neselle had realized. She could fight. While she really was not someone who sought combat, my family had given her weapons to assure she could survive some of the challenges that came upon her. She had then been presented with swords from divine sources, and set herself to learn what was necessary to have some skill with the gifts. It seemed that Vulge listened to my re-enactment of the events simply in awe of what I had done. Aunt Neselle however had the background to make sense of the steps I went through to visualize things of the battle that might be important.
She commanded, “Vulge, we need your help. We need to move this body.”
He replied, “A shovel might be the better way.”
“There is a lot of grease, but it should flow if we can get a grip on the skin and pull it away.”
Yes, those words did speak of how disgusting it was to move the carcass. Neither Aunt Neselle nor I were especially strong, but with divine bodies we could call upon reserves of strength that would be next to impossible for most people. Vulge was not only immortal, but also a large, strong man who proved his help to be an asset. We were all panting as we got the carcass to move. Once we cleared the area it had been keeping on top of, there was something more disgusting than the vile grease.
Vulge looked up the stairs surely thinking on the bodies in the rooms and corridors above as he asked, “Those demons have bones?”
Aunt Neselle said, “These are not demon bones.”
I watched as the grease seeped down into the pile, and realized, “This is deep. How many bones are there?”
“Think about it, Jelnaya. This is a realm to She-Who-Survives. How horrible would it be for her to admit that her own land could not protect the most innocent?”
Vulge was not a stupid man, and showed that he understood what was said as he asked, “Those are baby bones?”
I had to say, “A lot of baby bones.” Thinking about that day, I had to ask, “In her church?”
The room lit up as the presence of a divine man, a god, revealed itself. He was clean shaven with black hair cut close to his skull. The blue suit was of a fashionable cut, but worn loosely as if they were simply the garments he chose that day and not as if he expected to present himself before anyone of importance. As I worshipped one of the male gods, I only had two others to choose from, and knowing something of the deities I easily made a recognition.
“Cloript, what brings the presence of someone who is opposed to Samayer?”
He replied, “Honestly, Jelnaya, the very thing that was mentioned. What happened here is so horrible that Samayer could not deal with it. Fergush wanted to destroy the land, basically what you did. Samayer however wanted it resolved. She fought with her husband to have him use you. He would not. As your friend, he did not want you involved in this. Samayer however trusted you to do more than eradicate. She trusted you to resolve the situation, and with that trust she conceded to grant you authority over this realm. With that Fergush had to agree, because he had made a promise to you.”
Aunt Neselle asked, “I heard you call him Cloript, Jelnaya. That is –“
“He-Who-Teaches,” I went ahead and answered. “He is the husband of Remidda, who Great-aunt Dirchein worships.”
“But there is nothing to teach here.”
“Maybe there is. I did not start here, Aunt Neselle. I started…”
Thankfully, Cloript picked up what I really did not want to admit. “Yes, Jelnaya, in Samayer’s church. In the castle of the count. In a number of barracks.”
“The fox people have your answer, Jelnaya. You are surely thinking of them as victims of the Privileged. They were involved in that, but not in the way of the others. Each community had their own desires, and some from the first sought to exploit those that wanted to exploit them. If there is a lesson here, it is there, and as the one to gain a position as a high noble I feel that it is something you need to be aware of.”
Aunt Neselle replied, “So, you are saying this is not corruption.”
“No. This was intentional. This was not people being coerced to do evil, but them seeking to do evil. That is why I am here. Samayer does not want her influence involved in this. What you do, Jelnaya, will be permanent. There will be no survivors unless you just do not kill them.”
I had to ask, “What about cleaning this place up?”
“Your wealth is not just around you, but down here, Jelnaya. Get those you trust.”
“I trust those of Davelda. Further, their empress, my Grandmother Straekin, is up there.”
Vulge declared, “Jelnaya is our princess. We would give her money, not take it from her.”
Cloript said, “Well, she will learn one way or the other about you. Jelnaya, be careful on this one. The matter is not so simple, and there are a number of lessons that can be learned.”
When the divine presence left, Aunt Neselle said, “I now know why Uncle Ferrigote needed to be tricked into leaving this world. The deities seem so pleasant.”
Vulge lifted a boot as he replied, “But, this is gross.”
“Yes. It is to the shame of the people of most worlds that they do not reflect the ways of their gods.”
Esgalia begins to understand the situation he is in.