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 Into the Land of Immortals - Chpt 20

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PostSubject: Into the Land of Immortals - Chpt 20   May 5th 2009, 8:01 am

Into the Land of Immortals
Chapter Twenty

Part 1

Giluchex watched as Celatia and Terish shared a moment of affection. Vemishill had led them on a path around the lake to a cave. The centaur had managed the narrow route rather well, but once in the passage into a surrounding mountain her size became a disadvantage. She had to contort her body at places, but did not complain about what was necessary for her to move with the others. Coming to a waterfall dropping far beneath them, Vemishill had gone around wrapping an end to a golden thread around the waist of each. Giluchex wondered about how much safety could be provided by the thread, although its presence around the womanly waist of Celatia only seemed to mark the place the torso of the lady would be torn from the body of the mare. She seemed worried about having to trust in the thread, and turned to Terish for solace.

Feeling slightly improper in watching the moment, Giluchex turned to look at Straekin who said, "No, I don't feel slighted. There was some jealousy way back when Raedell first entered Terish's life, but I found the relationship between him and the centaurs to be in a manner and at a level that I could not match. I however also learned that I could have a similar relationship with Terish. What I provide to him is not what the centaurs provide, and they perform a service that I am completely unable to match. He deals with the centaur different than he deals with me, and I have found that I like the centaurs."

Just to pass the time, Giluchex asked a question, "Why did they choose a female?"

"The men were expected to be in the battle, and those best able to carry Terish were also considered the best to have in the fight. Raedell was strong, but also rather young still too young for the centaurs to want in the main battle. She also knew basic first-aid, so everyone considered her capable of providing a benefit to Terish should he get hurt."

He felt the answer to be sufficient, but just to keep the lady talking he said differently. "No, I mean, for the second centaur. They could have chosen a man instead of another woman."

"They could have. They didn't even need to choose another centaur. Anyway, the decision for Celatia had been that Raedell had done such a good job that they would simply choose another female centaur while considering who could be chosen. On the adventure where I gained the ability to have children, a satyr traveled with us to determine if one of his kind could work with Terish. The satyr saw what Celatia did for Terish, and agreed that one of his race could not match her capabilities. Now the non-humans of Celatia's world have ruled that the message needs to continue without change, and that includes the race and gender of the one that delivers the message."

As if certifying the statement, the voice of Celatia now rang out, "We jump!"

Giluchex expected to leap, but saw the centaur stay in place as she looked down the row of people. As others exchanged signals on when to make their move, Giluchex moved his head to try and view down the shaft through which the water fell. He again reviewed his path they had followed, and again came to the conclusion that the opening went down far below the level of the lake. A hand went and touched the golden thread, then he looked to the centaur wondering how she could decide to trust in the light line when he put no hope in it. His eyes went to his empress, and seeing her crouch to jump with her husband Giluchex nodded as he mentally agreed that he would also leap.

The voice of the deity continued to speak clearly even in the odd acoustics of the cave, so Giluchex heard a restatement of a certain condition, "You need to jump together."

While one of Terish's hands stayed held by Celatia, the other reached to take a hand of Straekin. Giluchex felt honored when the other hand of his empress reached out for him. Taking her hand, he turned to see who was on the other side of him. Seeing Kethal, he offered his hand while making a comment.

"Come on. If we are holding hands then the deities cannot say that we didn't go together."

Dathol looked around from his position on the other side of Kethal, then repeated what Giluchex had said. Even though the words sounded exactly the same, Kethal nodded with understanding then said something in return while reaching out his hands to those on both side of him. Dathol again spoke, although Giluchex understood that again he only repeated what had already been said.

"Although we all have different levels of honor, it is best that we all show our willingness to be part of something grand."

Giluchex did not feel like having his reply translated, so spoke in a low voice, "There is nothing grand in death, as even fools can manage it."

He was glad to hear a call to jump instead of some retort. His empress held one of his hands, and always seemed able to hear his remarks. Giluchex thus expected some comment from her. All that happened was her movement towards the edge of the path, and he obediently leaped over the edge with her.

The cold mist from the waterfall rushed against him with him feeling stings from some large floating drops of water. The sensation of falling bothered Giluchex, but he tried to smile as he looked at his empress. Her face looked down with his first thought being that she sought to see where they might be heading, although the sight of her long tresses trailing behind her he considered could have forced the position of her head. He looked down still not seeing the cold pool of liquid into which he felt certain would be the end of their journey, although he closed his eyes in preparation for the shock of being immersed in chilly water.

Feeling a pleasant breeze and a strange tantalizing aroma had him open his eyes. A sensation to let go of those holding his hands filled him as Giluchex saw a bright farm community below. People were carrying baskets filled with various fruits and vegetables. The feeling of being in bright sunlight continued even when he closed his eyes. He kept a grip on those who fell with him determined to face the death of landing on hard ground with honor. A need to face his fear had him again open his eyes, and they stayed open as he watched all in his group slow down and softly touch down on a path between the fields.

The native people turned to look at those that had landed in their midst. None appeared aggressive, but Giluchex looked to them wondering how they would react. Worried about his companions, he however found Terish ignoring a possible threat to focus on Celatia and Straekin. Kethal knelt on the ground. Giluchex saw Dathol looking back at him, and gained the impression that the holy man was also not interested in the spectators. Giluchex understood that those watching were the natives, and decided that some sign of acknowledgement needed to be given. Not expecting them to understand his words, he showed open hands while doing a partial bow. He shot erect when he understood the words in return.

"It has been so long since we had visitors. Welcome."

It had been a woman that spoke. Giluchex thought it strange that she appeared as a lady. The human form did seem to be a standard. Terish, Ferrigote, Dathol, and Kethal were all humans, but he had seen other races of creatures. The deities of this world appeared as humans, so Giluchex did rationally accept that the people of this world would be human, although something about those before him had him thinking of them as very alien.

He almost said something, then realized that nobody looking at him showed any sign of age. Giluchex looked around for indications of advanced technology that could have discovered their own process of immortality. The gardens and groves appeared healthy and green. The distant houses showed bright color. No machinery could however be heard. No electronics were in use. Wondering where he was, Giluchex focused on the people not wanting them to consider him as being rude.

"Yes, we are here on a mission. We mean no harm."

"No, no, of course. You came in a manner that we speak of others coming before. They had to gain permission of the gods to do so however."

"Yes, your gods know members of my group." Giluchex felt a desire to introduce his companions, but instead simply related basic information. "They also knew of our mission."

"Well, please stay with us a while. We get so few visitors."

The fruits in the baskets appeared very good to eat. Giluchex felt thirsty considering that those working to harvest the produce would want to refresh themselves after the labor. He however looked to Straekin with the desire that she handle the particulars with the lady, so stepped back while making statement of caution.

"We are under certain instructions."

A man in the group said, "Yes, Chiana, they are not to stay."

The eyes of the lady did turn to the speaker, but broke to return to looking to Giluchex as she asked, "Well, could you at least tell us your names?"

Movement suddenly occurred in the back of the group as a voice yelled out, "KEITHAYIELL!"

Giluchex noticed that the natives showed signs of distress as they were jostled by a lady pushing her way forward while yelling out the name of the one who knelt. Kethal did not look to the crowd, but from his position on the ground he continued to kneel while looking to the soil and loudly wailing out tortured words of hearing his wife's voice accuse him. Sobs began to join the yells of the man's name as the lady broke through the throng. She then knelt to wrap her arms around the kneeling man as she spoke.

"Keithayiell, it is not your fault. I told you to stay hidden. You did not do it on your own. I was already dead when you returned from the lake and our son was killed as he ran to our home. In seeing the soul of our son join me, I vowed that you would live. I thus disobeyed the call of the gods in order to move to you. I told you to stay hidden. It is not your fault. Even though I was dead, you recognized my voice and obeyed. Your love for me declared itself as you then reacted to my command to run."

Giluchex stood in awe as he recognized that he could understand the words of Kethal who kept his eyes close even has he felt the hands and heard the words of his wife. "I did not help my people. I ran as a coward. When I went to ask forgiveness, the gods would not speak to me. I know that they were angry with me."

"The gods were mad at me as well as you, but they saw your commitment to repent. They refused to allow me to speak to you anymore stating that you were acting properly. It is not you that needs to be forgiven, but me."

Kethal opened his eyes, and wailed even louder as he saw the form of his wife. He did not hold her, but simply stayed on the ground. She however held him, kissed him, and spoke comforting words to him. Finally, he stopped to only sob as he spoke a simple sentence.

"I love you."

"I know, Keithayiell. Your life is not over however. The gods are going to use you, but once your life is done then we can again be together. You need to obey these people. They are all great people, and they also are trying to do the right thing."

Kethal now moved his hands to touch his wife. The two shared kisses. Only after the lady again told him to travel with his companions did he again speak.

"I have spent many days with them and seen fantastic things. I know that they are great people."

"You have seen so much, Keithayiell. Go home and tell others of what you have seen."

The man rose as he said, "I want to stay with you."

"I am bonded to you, Keithayiell. In condemning your soul I condemned my own. I don't mind however, because I love you and I know you love me. I will spend eternity with you. Your life however goes on. Find another and share your love. Find another home and sire children that can carry your message. See that centaur? She carries a message. You have gained a message as well. What you have seen and learned needs to be told. You thus stay with these people, as they will get you back to your world. That is when your work begins, and where I will be waiting for you."

The crowd gasped as the lady suddenly floated through the man's arms. Giluchex found himself not considering it strange, as he had begun to recognize that everyone around him was a ghost. Everything around him did seem substantial however, so he wondered if he was dead or simply dreaming. Hoping to discover an answer, Giluchex watched as Kethal's vision rose while attempting to directly deal with the loss of what he had gained.

"Stay with me!"

"I cannot, Keithayiell. The gods only granted me this one meeting. You earned an explanation, and you needed to hear so you could tell others. I am waiting for you, Keithayiell. I love you."

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PostSubject: Part 2   May 10th 2009, 8:10 am

Into the Land of Immortals
Chapter Twenty

Part 2

As the form of his wife faded, Kethal began to wail louder than Giluchex had ever heard a man cry. The meeting had him search the crowd for a face that he might recognize from his past. Seeing only strangers had him turn back to the group and move to his empress.

"I have heard people ask if those who had died think those of us immortal to be stupid or wise."

"You forget, Giluchex, that I dabbled in everything that my people dabbled in. I thus tried spiritualism. What answers I believed I gained never answered anything important, and truthfully their advice was rather poor. I thus always considered myself wiser for continuing to live."

Giluchex dropped his voice not wanting the natives to hear him. "I believe that was my conclusion as well."

"So, you were going to deny immortality to those you considered stupid?"

Giluchex felt a rising anger at the lady bringing up a point that was centuries old. He felt that they had settled their differences long ago, so hearing the ancient topic brought back into his presence had buried resentments again stir within him. Only the fact that he had faced this lady for so long that deep ruts forced his mind to follow certain lines of thought caused him respond in a reasoned manner.

"It was the trust of the people that had me accept again the position as general, Empress. I was already in government. Those people put their safety in my hands, as I had spent my youth rising to the rank of general doing my service to them. I then taught their children. I finally went into government. I never betrayed my people, Empress. It was because of their trust that I was one of the first to gain immortality before returning to combat."

"I told you, Giluchex, that I have spoken to your people. I have heard their respect for you. It is just in over six hundred years I have never seen you step outside your boundaries in looking for answers. I have always thought that if you were emperor, that you would never have spoken to my people."

He wanted to make a retort, but simply breathed out instead of using the air for saying anything. Once again he had to give the lady credit for making a rational decision. He looked to Terish no longer seeing some traveling hero whose exotic stories and actions won a lady, but realizing that he was another clearly sane decision. Giluchex considered his own life, and had to admit that his empress spoke true.

"My being here is slightly out of character for me, isn't it?"

The lady hugged him as she said, "I am glad that you are here."

"Thank you, Empress. I might get myself kicked out of office, but I promise to not be a constant sight around the castle. I do need to get out more."

"Get your wife and visit Thiminy. You don't have to stay, but there is a lot to see."

Ferrigote blurted out, "Those words are sweet and all, but I am bored." He stepped out to the crowd that had been listening, then declared, "We apologize for interrupting your lives. While we understand that you might consider our presence as novel, we have business that prevents us from sharing our stories and your hospitality. I am Ferrigote, Emperor of a world called Gaeskow, although general traveler and hero to most. This golden lady is my present, and hopefully constant, wife, Dirchein. You heard Kethal's wife mention the centaur, Celatia, although you should know that she supports my friend, Terish. It is because of Terish that we are here, as his God wants us to get some water from some spring. The lady with Terish is his wife, Straekin. She rules with Terish in his land of Thiminy, although is also empress of a world called Davelda. That guy she has been speaking to, Giluchex, is a member of the council of Davelda. The other one is a holy man named Dathol. Again, thank you for your graciousness, but we need to go."

One man watching spoke up, "If you are here for water from a spring of life, the goal could not be easier or harder. It all depends on the exact requirements."

Another man began speaking to clarify, "All waterways begin at a spring of life. You thus only need find a brook, one is over there, and follow it upstream."

Ferrigote replied, "All right, thanks." He then turned to ask, "Kid, do you know of any reason to hang around?"

"I was sent from my world to learn, Gote. While we are here " Terish spun to another in his group to ask, "Dathol, is this like your afterlife?"

"No, well, there are communities like this. I usually hang out in a large structure where there is a library, a large pool, and many people to discuss all sorts of topics. There is just little room for speculation when you live in a place where all questions can be divinely answered. I thus get bored with the conversations."

"Well, I breeched the barrier between reality and divine reality on our journey through my dead world. I remember Terdeskollit's plane of existence being rather bare."

"I heard you speak of what you saw, or did not see, Terish. I told you then that what you described was not normal. Most will have some version of improved life. Come on. I believe on our travels that we will see more."

The crowd around them did not allow them to leave without saying some words. Some time was thus spent speaking to the group. Directions were given, basic versions of some stories were told, and just simple conversation occurred. Finally, the group began walking towards the nearby stream, although as members of crowd moved back to gather their baskets the voice of Celatia rang out.

"Terish, it is my duty to carry you." The man moved his hand in a manner to indicate that nobody else was riding, but the centaur stated her obstinacy. "There will be a time when I will return to a place like this, and at that time my service to you will be complete. I will not however meet Raedell again with any less honor than she."

The man walked up to the centaur as he said, "Celatia, I should be able to walk with my friends."

"They are my friends too, Terish. However, there is a difference in walking and traveling. We are about to start traveling."

Terish kissed his wife, then said as he climbed into the saddle, "We will be traveling along the edge of a stream, Celatia. The growth at the water edge will not make it easy for you to move carrying a rider."

A lady in the crowd chirped, "Oh, no, you can walk along the water's edge with no problem. It is a peaceful way to spend one's time."

The centaur smiled as she began walking. After only a short distance Terish pulled on her reins. She turned to glare at him, although her expression softened even though Giluchex thought he heard a common signal to a regular mount. Using the reins, his legs, and some verbal commands Terish directed the centaur to perform some steps. Giluchex saw Celatia grin with pleasure as she followed the signals that had her perform a dance routine. From somewhere music drifted through the air to make the movements of the lady into a ballet number. At the end of the performance, she bowed to the applause of the watching crowd before moving off with Terish along the stream.

~^~^~ ^~^~^ ~^~^~

Annalia was in her room watching cartoons while reading a book when her phone activated and an official voice she knew as one of the officers of the empirial guard asked, "Attendant Annalia, what is Prince Venicht presently doing?"

"He should be finishing math."

"How much longer will he be in class?"

Annalia considered that a very strange question, but accepting that even those of the military had some interest in the lad she went ahead and answered, "He is good at math, but he and the math teacher talk about fishing. It should be on a public monitor."

"I am watching, and they are talking about fishing. I believe that Prince Venicht should be allowed to go outside and play. I am putting a video signal from one of our security cameras to channel three hundred twelve."

Annalia did not know if the officer heard the cartoons or simply assumed that she was near a television, but switched the channel. The view was of the playground. Two reptilian creatures stood looking at the assortment of ramps leading to slides, horizontal bars, and a couple of swings. Both were dressed in garments of cloth and leather, but one stood much taller than the other. The two creatures were armed, but their appearance presented the impression that they had the weapons as assurances of their own health and not to threaten the lives of others. Annalia felt that she understood why the officer made the suggestion, so simply replied that she would check on Venicht before ending the call.

The math class had broken down into a discussion of a fishing trip. Venicht was interested, although his expression appeared bored as if he considered all the important details to have already been decided even as Nuverd continued to talk with the instructor. All of the men looked up when the lady entered, although the lad's expression quickly turned hopeful as she spoke.

"Nuverd, excuse me, but if Venicht is done then it is hoped that he would be allowed to play outside."

It was an unusual request, but luckily a television monitor was in the room for the purpose of watching informational videos. When Annalia showed the image of what was at the playground, the adult men decided that they could continue their conversation while Venicht played. That pleased the lad, and he rushed from the room eager to be on his way.

Annalia returned to watch the event on television. The quality of the image improved as the scene switched to a different camera placed at a closer location. She could only guess that the officer had felt that a wider view would enable her and Nuverd to make a better decision about the other-worldly visitors, although now a need to use a camera with a microphone close enough to catch conversations was necessary.

Venicht ran out of the castle, stopped when the two beings looked at him, then asked, "Can he play with me?"

The smaller reptilian creature looked up to say something. The larger one barely made any movement, although it was obvious that he studied the situation. While the speech of the smaller had not been understood, Venicht wisely stayed still and waited for the larger to make a sound. When he did, his words did not need translating.

"Who, young man, are you?"

"I am Prince Venicht, the son of Terish Dozzrine and Empress Straekin."

Neither reptilian made a grand movement. The smaller did slowly tilt his head to gain a view of the face of the lad and that of the larger companion. Nuverd and the math teacher had stopped a few yards from Venicht, although Annalia felt that they were studied along with any distant sentries. The larger reptilian finally moved his mouth to again speak.

"I know this planet. It is not the first time I had to weave a path through the omniverse to again purchase one of the animals that those of this world train. The people here are immortal, but traded their own ability to reproduce to gain that status. No children have ever been seen here. Are you the only child on this whole planet?"

"Yes. I have two sisters, but they are still at Thiminy."

"Prince Venicht, I a Slagell. I have met your father, and I once dreamed of following his path. My chance at immortality failed, although I found a lady that has made my life worth living. I still travel however, and hopefully my son will be better prepared than me. This journey has been rough, but my son has managed well. He deserves time to play."

Venicht smiled as he told the man thanks. The young reptile smiled as well, although the cheerful expression dropped as Venicht's expression turned serious. The question however caused Slagell to smile.

"I am sorry, Prince. His name is Dumourl."

The two young men could not understand each other, but after a basic exchange of names they moved to the equipment and began acting together with each making joyful sounds. Annalia watched as Slagell seemed to stare at the lads, and she wondered what he might be thinking. The movement of the camera tracking the reptilian man as he moved over to Nuverd and the math instructor gave her the impression that others were also seeking more information about the visitor.

After exchanging names, Slagell said, "Displays of art used to be put here, so I was reluctant to allow my son to play. While he saw a playground, I saw some type of representation of childhood past."

The math instructor did more than chuckle, but laughed before saying, "I believe that we did once have such a display. I believe this was a special creation just for Prince Venicht, but it could come out that the castle carpenters stole from the piece placed in storage. Still, only someone that knows our land could have said those words."

"I have bought a number of horses from this world. They are good animals. Yes, I have come often enough to know certain things."

"Well, we give credit to Empress Straekin, but there is no denying that her accomplishments are the results of her involvement with King Terish. Venicht is as much his child as hers."

"Yes, Terish is a very strange man. I have traveled with him, and have seen his bravery. It bothered me at the time, because what he was afraid of, I was not, and what I feared he did not. Time has however proven that he had the proper perspective on threats."

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PostSubject: Part 3   May 15th 2009, 8:02 am

Into the Land of Immortals
Chapter Twenty

Part 3

Giluchex really had not ever studied the adventures of Terish. He considered himself to have gained enough data from what he had to listen to in the reports of others. Celatia began to compare this journey with the other major expeditions she had taken with Terish, and Giluchex found himself learning details that he knew would have been considered trivial unimportant factoids before having spent days traveling himself. That had him consider portions of reports presenting important pieces of data that might have been edited out due to ignorance.

He had seen the wildlife, but had never looked at them as sources of food. Giluchex had worked with Terish to dress kills, but considered such only necessary acts due to being away from civilization. There were people on Davelda that considered animals moving about naturally to be possible entrees, but Giluchex always rated himself above such barbarism in that he only bought his food after it had been processed. What made the present conversation noteworthy to him was having Celatia, a vegetarian, mentioning the wildlife as possible items of nourishment.

Giluchex understood the novelty of the conversation. They were supposedly in a divine realm, so everything around them had an eternal presence. The animals they saw did not quickly dart away. They would run, although only after a clear sign of being disturbed. All thus considered hunting to be an easy sport. What caused the conversation to be prolonged was whether the calm attitude being due to the animals knowing that they truly could not die, whether due to most of the people not being a threat, or if the local people did not desire the animals to be difficult to hunt. While Giluchex did not usually enjoy discussion of a religious nature, he listened curious about what conclusions of their surroundings might be determined.

The group stopped and looked at what appeared to be a pack of wolves. The conversation shifted to whether the predators actually hunted the animals seen earlier. Dathol mentioned that such natural actions should occur, but without a daily drive to feed they probably only rarely went on the prowl. None argued with the holy man, but the conversation shifted as all noticed that the predators clearly displayed recognition of being watched, although made no actions of attacking or being disturbed.

Turning from the predators, the group began looking to the plants. They spoke of the harvest being taken in upon their arrival, then wondered if such occurred daily. Giluchex noticed that he was not the only one that recognized the plants in the garden still being alive. He listened as the group wondered about the process of making the garden, as the plants removed were surely of the same eternal substance as everything else.

Suggestions were made to pick some flowers, or otherwise do something very minor that would still be a permanent destruction of life in the physical realm. Giluchex felt that such an action would help prove to him that he was in some strange paranormal reality. The fact that none committed the suggested acts caused him to consider that they did not actually believe certain assumptions.

Giluchex did notice that he did not feel tired. A feeling of hunger did trouble him, but his stomach did not churn in a demand to be filled. Although the air did feel warm, no sweat came from his body. He thus accepted that something about his surroundings was unusual, but nothing that forced him to consider this world as something more than just another odd universe.

While the conversation had been mildly entertaining, Giluchex heard a number of surprised sounds when Terish sent Celatia racing ahead to meet a group of people moving around. Giluchex noticed that all appeared in their early twenties. He thought it strange, as most ancient images of the afterlife showed old people looking as they did when they died. Only after those of Davelda became immortal did a more youthful population in the afterlife become commonly represented in the media. Giluchex thus watched the meeting of the youthful appearing man speaking with youthful people while considering the sight as some type of staged event.

All listened as Terish began quizzing the group of natives about the questions that he and his companions had been discussing. The natives did admit that they could hunt the animals, although normally only did so when some celebration was planned. They mentioned that hunger did not bother them, but they ate for the pleasure of enjoying the food. While it was said that predators did occasionally hunt the other animals, the natives spoke with pride about often seeing the various animals move about together without any aggression or fear being shown.

Terish did not allow any conclusions to simply end a dialogue, but probed for further information. Giluchex allowed that some religious conversation would occur. He however appreciated that Terish did not simply support their beliefs. His brought out points raised in the earlier discussion to attempt some reasoned discussion toward gaining substantial answers. The natives displayed no reluctance to speak. Their body language indicated that they were not used to level of questioning, but their voices stayed cheerful without any tones of being discomforted.

Giluchex knew the story that Terish had been sent from his home with the single instruction to learn, but never allowed his wandering life to actually be a valid response. Giluchex considered it to have been wiser to have placed the boy near an institution. He listened to the exchange realizing that even though these natives were simply convenient citizens, they did have worthwhile information. They said enough to certify some decisions, counter others, and actually filled a couple of holes in Giluchex's own supply of knowledge. He thus found himself accepting that learning could come from a number of sources.

Again walking with the others, Giluchex pondered what he had heard. He discounted most of the conversation, although focused on certain points that he considered to have some value. Attempting to organize the facts in a manner that would serve his own purpose, he found other odd facts surface. Seeking answers, he moved to Straekin to hear what evidence she could state.

"Empress, why have you never returned with medical knowledge? It was science that provided us with immortality. I thus expected answers to our problem to come from science."

"Giluchex, I never involved myself in the science of our immortality. I didn't even become immortal until after the war. I kept myself involved with the people. I worked to open up the process not just to myself, as you had done, but to all people. I then made certain that those that did not want immortality to live their lives in peace and comfort. After they were all dead, and all of us were accepting that we were really immortal, a number of problems confronted us that we had tabled thinking that we would never have to face. I then realized that we had a problem with suicides. That again was not a scientific issue, and it has kept me quite busy. Let me however say, Giluchex, that I cannot remember you ever tabling a concern about the rate of development of our scientific community."

The man turned to walk as he considered what the lady said. It was not a desire to argue with her, just the fact that she had brought up a topic that he considered of true importance to him. He glanced at her, and noticed that she turned her violet eyes to him indicating that she waited for his next statement. The surroundings put him at peace, and he calmly moved allowing his thoughts to form some conclusion. A fact however jerked him from settling into a quiet period of contemplation.

"Empress, I do not remember a medical concern ever being tabled by any of the council."

"I don't either, Giluchex, even after I and some others brought up the facts of a constant number of suicides."

Giluchex found himself losing interest in the conversation as he said, "That puts us not at fault."

"Oh, does it?" A clear tone of antagonism entered the voice of the lady as she said, "And the fact that I have found an answer, a non-medical answer, does not put me at fault?"

"Why would it, Empress?"

"Because I am a public official. I am also the one that fought for a unified status for all people of Davelda. I am now no better than you, Giluchex."

The man considered simply allowing the comment to slide. He however really did not appreciate his empress continuing to gain points from the fact that he had been part of the leadership that she had opposed in the war. In attempting to counter her statement, Giluchex had to consider the actions of his empress. Not believing that she truly had a desire to live in a place other than the luxury of her apartment in the Castle of Davelda, he tried to attach significance to her move to Thiminy.

"Empress, is the reason that you left that you felt yourself to have betrayed the people of Davelda?"

"No, and I have not had anyone accuse me of such. Even you have not done so, Giluchex."

He considered the political worth of such an accusation, but then voiced his own belief. "I don't want you removed from office, Empress. I don't believe anyone else would be as non-partisan and level headed."

"Okay, Giluchex, you are here. We are in the divine realms. What if you regain the ability to sire children?"

"Could it happen?"

Giluchex heard a number of voices call out his name. He looked around to see one man with a golden lady as a wife, another riding a centaur, and his empress who had overcome his own resistance to become who she wanted to be. Dathol and Kethal had their own knowledge of how things could turn for the better. Giluchex thus understood that his question had not been asked wisely. Considering those around him, he worked to truly formulate an answer to the question of his empress.

"The problem is that soon enough we would have to again consider birth control." He knew that the statement did not really answer the question, but the silence helped him feel that his honest answer would be accepted. "I really do not want more children. It would be nice however to have grand-children."

Straekin sounded concerned as she said, "You lost them in the war."

"Yes. Incidental damage." A feeling of pain from the ancient memory did surface, but he displayed the fact he had long since accepted the loss as he coolly spoke. "It was thought at the time that we could use it as propaganda against you, but realized that your side could match the story."

"We would have, Giluchex. I wouldn't have like it, but we would have. I believe that I told you that."

"Yes, you have. Still, I would like to have grand-children."

Ferrigote said, "I have grand-children, and they are a blessing. If I could drink something in this place, I would toast the idea of having grand-children. As it is, just accept my agreement."

Giluchex turned to the man, and decided to go ahead and state a private belief, "I never had the impression, Ferrigote, that you kept track of your children."

"Well, I don't know what type of woman your wife is, but my past wives and their families let me know of those of my lineage. The politics of Gaeskow are much more involved and deadly than Davelda. It is actually fun when Straekin visits, as she seems to handle the antagonism well. Your name gets mentioned often."

When the eyes of Giluchex darted to his empress, she smiled then said, "He's right. I will bring out your good points, especially to win an argument."

He nodded as he replied, "The stories have you and Ferrigote arguing a lot, but I really have not heard it."

"Ferrigote is a peer, Giluchex. I knew him before he set himself to conquered Gaeskow, but I never doubted that he would. His philosophies were completely different than mine, and I believed my style had been proven, so I would launch into debates with him pretty easily. Ferrigote had traveled with and trained Terish however, so anyone that believes he is a simplistic swordsman is a fool. He handled my arguments rather well, and he did accomplish what he set out to do. We now talk, but really do not argue."

Ferrigote replied, "I never liked Straekin, but she and Terish always got along well." He chuckled, then said, "I ended up wanting a wife like her. Dirchein is different than Straekin, but the two ladies do get along. I believe that I will never need another wife."

Straekin said more to Giluchex than anyone else, "I like Dirchein. She is also the first woman that I know of Ferrigote fighting for."

The man admitted, "Yeah. I got some ladies because I won a fight, but she is the first one that I went out to find and claim."

Giluchex admitted, "Well, I have a secretary that I could take advantage of, but I do not want to risk my relationship with my wife. Will have our seventh hundredth wedding anniversary within the decade."

Straekin said in return, "You see her less than Ferrigote sees his wives on Gaeskow."

"Unlike Ferrigote's wives, my wife can come see me. She also can call me whenever she wants to speak to me. Don't you believe that there are any problems between my wife and me."

"Glad to hear it, Giluchex, because I don't want any hidden tension when Terish and I come to visit, or you and Lafanna spoiling the mood at the table when you visit us in Thiminy."

Giluchex felt that the conversation had gone on long enough, so said, "Well, my mood would presently be improved by us reaching our destination. How much further do you believe that we are to go?"

Terish replied, "I believe that I see another settlement ahead. That does not answer your question however. We just keep traveling."

Dathol spoke what he hoped would be more of an answer, "Your determination to keep the instructions of the gods will be tested. We should thus travel long enough for a feeling that each of us should be hungry and thirsty to come over us."

Ferrigote replied, "Well, they might as well skip that, because if there is anything the group of us is good at, it is being obstinate."

Giluchex was not going to say anything, but seeing the smile when he glanced at his empress had him go ahead and voice, "That is very true."

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Into the Land of Immortals - Chpt 20
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