Of Men and Love in General: Cp16B

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The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Sixteen – Part Two
Neselle: Recognition and Response

There was a flash before the almost invisible form of Reclash became completely unseen. I cannot say exactly what Jelnaya did, but the glow did not fade. Upon her urging, Lebranaut took off as she indicated. Althery acted as if he would as well, although he did first turn to me. Seeing me hesitate, he pointed toward the light while saying the only conclusion that my own mind was forming.

“It’s the only real way to learn.”

Having to agree with him, I took off. Althery ran with me. Jelnaya called for us to hurry saying that she was having trouble keeping the portal open. Althery and I did not argue with her, but ran where indicated and I heard Jelnaya’s feet take off as we passed her.

We entered a strange colored realm that appeared endless in all directions. The land was basically flat, although the odd hues seemed to shift as if nothing stayed constant. Of what it was comprised, dirt or rock, I could not say. It was however filled with all sorts of nasty creatures stretching off to the horizon in all directions.

Lebranaut was turned as if waiting for us. I stopped not just in having his armored bulk in front of me, but also due to recognizing one of the scorpion creatures that I fought long ago after the death of the pond beast. As I prepared to fight, Lebranaut spoke in what almost sounded like joy in being able to identify something in the unusual landscape.

“Jelnaya! That over there is like a Skalbit!”

Jelnaya rushed by me as she replied, “We are going in that direction, Lebranaut. Don’t you see him?”

“Right!”

It surprised me that I could see Reclash. He was no longer large, but appeared as substantial as he had been while traveling with us. The colors of his clothing also seemed easily visible among the strange textures of the land and creatures. The monsters did not seem to bother him, except as obstacles in his path. Understanding our objective, I took off after the minstrel preparing myself along with my companions to fight my way after Reclash if necessary.

Lebranaut cleared the way for our advance. He moved forward almost as fast as we did with his large sword slicing through whatever was before him. Althery would step up to also swing at the larger creatures in order to assure their quick death and keep us moving after Reclash. Jelnaya would also attack creatures, but mostly worked to assure the men of the proper direction. I followed behind the advance only stabbing at bodies that I felt might still survive to attack our rear.

It was strange to hear the two with me speak with Lebranaut. He was naming creatures while mentioning things about them. Althery or Jelnaya would then usually speak of a similar creature they had fought with them also talking of the places they had the battle. A few times the two would speak of stories they heard from their elders and not from their own experiences. I however found it strange to be in this unusual reality and hearing my companions speak of things as being familiar.

The first time I had fought an extended engagement, I heard Baron Ferrigote sing in order to keep his mind off the stresses of the battle. Hearing the commentary, I felt my three companions were doing the same thing. Still, I found myself interested in what they knew. I certainly never considered them ignorant in the matters that concerned me, but not yet accepting that their knowledge of other worlds would apply to my own. As I listened to them speak of the creatures they were battling, I found myself seeing more to the engagement than just surviving.

I had no idea where we were, where we were going, but I did what I could to look around. Getting a clear vision of things was rough as we kept up a fast forward progression. Lebranaut continued to make swipes with his weapon as he took steps forward. Althery and Jelnaya kept to his side to provide their service, although often had to do things to finish a fight or just avoid a body before rushing back into position. I often had to dodge around the detritus of their battles or finish off a creature before doing what I could to continue to hear their commentary and look around to assure that I understood what they were talking about.

The men suddenly exclaimed their disappointment, but Jelnaya quickly spoke in a positive tone, “I got it. Keep moving!”

“NO!”

The voice was deep, although very feminine. Suddenly cloth appeared around us. Jelnaya however pushed Lebranaut forward as she spoke her own decision.

“YES!”

“No, Jelnaya!”

“YES!” She turned to hopefully look at where to direct her words, although quickly decided to just keep speaking as she sought to move through the cloth. “This is for immortality! I will not be prevented from achieving that! I AM GOING!”

More cloth presented itself around us while I heard the voice of my Goddess say, “Jelnaya, immortality has been granted to you and Althery. You would not be alive otherwise. Lebranaut has not been blessed, but his armor protects him. Neselle was already immortal. You need not fight anymore, Jelnaya.”

“I am here on behalf of Fergush. He’s a fighting spirit. I will not deny his graciousness.”

“This is still my world, Jelnaya. You are here with my blessing. You cannot kill Reclash, but only return him to me. He has returned to me, so your need to fight no longer exists.”

Jelnaya reached for a section of fabric. While I remembered the cloth to be light and soft to the touch, I saw her grab something thick and her face show no pleasure in holding it. She then released it to look up as she defiantly asked a question.

"Then I am to leave?”

“Jelnaya, please, stay. You have already shown yourself to offer benefits to my world and Neselle. Plus, I believe that you do not really want the devotion of Fergush to drive your life. As I make decisions, how about you take the time to make decisions as well.”

Jelnaya sheathed her sword while saying, “I can agree with that. Make certain that Reclash knows that I was going to do everything possible to remove his threat.”

I actually felt my Goddess laugh, although I found a need to interrupt the conversation. “Goddess, please, was Reclash his actual name?”

“Yes, Neselle, as due to your ignorance of him he had no reason to deceive you. He really is not a deceptive entity, but not benevolent either. He has his purpose, but I am having to reassess certain things about those in my service.”

Hoping for some concession to claim as a victory, I said, “We don’t know of those, Goddess.”

“You are not to concern yourself with them, Neselle, but with me.”

“But they are the ones troubling our lives.”

“Not really. What troubles you is your lack of devotion to me. Their original purpose was to show the people that there were forces beyond them, things they could not battle on their own. They were however not to focus on those problems, but on my ability to protect, to guide, to be the dominate force for good. That however was not what your people did. They saw their own concerns as more important than my influence, and put their focus on dealing with these subjects of mine and not on the one that ruled over them.”

Althery said, “But you allowed Nuchirg and me to come and fight the pond beast.”

“That occurred due to a discussion with Fergush. He is a most social deity, and due to the influence of one of his own has grown in wisdom and strength. While I am far more superior to him, I found myself enjoying a discussion with him. It was due to his words that I allowed the incursion of you and Nuchirg. I cannot say that I have found his words true, but I believe a benefit has come all the same. I am not certain of things, Althery, but I recognize your worth.”

“I am not against claiming you, Goddess.”

“I will not refuse your claim, Althery, but I am not yet certain of allowing you to claim Neselle. Please continue your courtship of her, but let me consider things further.”

Althery genuflected, then rose commenting, “At least I should not have to worry about Genory.”

Again I heard my Goddess laugh before saying, “Yes, Althery, you should not have to worry about Genory. However, there are those of my world that Neselle has not met.”

Fearing that I might be at fault, I said, “I was told to leave, Goddess. The advice I was given said that it would be for the best.”

“My people had turned from me, Neselle. Yes, there was a strong core of belief, but even the most devoted of my followers declared their faith in seclusion. What you did however was inspire them to speak. Even when you left for other worlds, you did things to promote the public declaration of my existence. I respect that in you, Neselle, and even respect Althery for his support in that manner. Because the two of you were most vocal in your support of me, I feel obligated to be open in my dealings with you.”

“I have no plans on stopping, but I still feel a need to learn the knowledge of things beyond us, as I feel it also speaks of You.”

“That knowledge was once present, but the people turned to these lesser creations for guidance. It led your world to become what it is now.”

Those words triggered my own inner fire. While Jelnaya had an energy that spurred her to face certain challenges, I also had things that spurred me to action. I thus defiantly looked up while asking a question.

“And will you guide us back? We should not be animals!”

“I did not change you into animals. Still, yes, those times were desperate. The fault however was that the people at that time looked to their own science, Berbishet, and others instead of me. I felt to end my creation at that time, but instead heard prayers and decided to allow the time to pass. I now hear my worship being proclaimed in public around my world, and I am having second thoughts. However, I am wondering with your new knowledge what my people will decide to do.”

Now I genuflected before saying, “I will do my best to guide them, Goddess.”

“There will however be those that seek to pervert the will of the people, Neselle. You will not be able to battle them all. Having your words win could thus be a challenge.”

The people are not in a mood to accept events passively.