The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Twenty – Complete
Jelnaya: Common Truths between War Gods
I found myself feeling proud of my Uncle Althery for finding and choosing a lady like Neselle. Considering that he was the relative I considered most like myself, I felt a need to rate his accomplishments and decisions in order to set goals or learn lessons. Being told that I was now immortal made it not so important for me to find a spouse, but the fact that the blessing had come due to Neselle caused me to want to know more about her. She was such a truly different person than Uncle Althery or me, and I had to give him credit for recognizing the qualities she presented to his life.
She did not walk with me matching my steps. She did not mention an interest in what I hoped to be discussing. Neselle simply stayed with me saying that she needed to hear just as I had paid attention to her topics.
Saying the same thing was the man who claimed to be an uncle of Kachevet. He spoke to Hanarla concerning what she had to present to me. I had already gained the impression that the worship of the war god was not a major activity of the community. In polytheistic societies it however was usually considered unwise to ignore any deity. Hanarla had already proven some knowledge of the war god in that she knew the story of his major son, even to possess a replica of a special item of his. Hearing the uncle of Kachevet speak of other things about the war god thus had me believe that the visit to Hanarla’s hut would be profitable.
As we entered a rather nice home, the man asked, “How do you worship your war god?”
“I will approach an altar and set an item marking a great accomplishment. In the case of my being here with Neselle, I set the hides of many monsters, a whole family of them, that had been terrorizing a land. I then make my statement of pride in my accomplishment and my reason for bringing it to the war god. He is free to make his own appraisal of my gift, but I do not brag about minor challenges.”
“Well, that is not how we worship our war god.”
He stepped aside and used his hand to direct my attention to the old lady even as he said her name. She returned with a book. It was about the size of her two hands spread out both in width and height. I was worried that she would want me to read it, as that was once trick I had yet to learn. My Grandfather Terish could read anything. He had originally gained his recognition from the Dozzrine family by learning to read the large tome set in the foyer of their home. He then claimed to have advanced his skills as he was forced to follow the logic of the Prophetess Desiree. While the learning of the language ability to understand others was easily enough accomplished, the only other one in our family that could come close to reading unfamiliar texts was my Uncle Althery. Luckily, the old lady simply ran her finger along the columns of symbols while reading the words.
She showed me the scars on her arms and upper chest beneath the shoulders where she had cut herself. I listened to the manners one was to address the war god. I finally stopped her while admitting my problem with what I was reading.
“When do you talk to him?”
It was not the word, but the expression on her face that made me redirect the question. “What deity do your people usually worship? From which deity do you consider yourself abundantly blessed?”
The man said, “Our life is hard, so I cannot say that we are abundantly blessed by any. We however make the most of the rituals to the harvest god, although I do make it a point to pay my respect to the wild game god.”
I heard what was said not believing it to be an answer at all. Neselle looked back at me as if expecting me to say something to her, although I had set my eyes upon her not really to speak to her. The intent had been simply to use the sight of her as a vision of what discussions I had heard her exchange with Hanell and others. I then thought of other societies and their religions. Finally, no other option came to mind except to move to the book as if I might read it while asking a question.
“Is that all you have in there – instructions for your rites to the gods? Don’t you have any comments about their personalities?”
All Hanarla could reply was, “Their personalities?”
The man tried to be more substantial with his words. “Other than the rites, what could be worth knowing? We have some stories.”
“No, no,” I said as my mind tried to form my reply. “I am here because I did make a good kill. A community had asked for help in that they were being plagued by a rather nasty predator. I learned it was fast and agile, so had to push myself to keep up the chase while learning how to actually hurt it. I did, but my family has a story about going back for the treasure. I thus stopped and considered the situation to realize that I had not really removed the threat. I went looking for the monster’s mate, and found it and their offspring. When I had killed them, I knew that I had done something that Fergush, a war god that I knew, would respect. I did not go to an altar of his to simply perform a rite, but to confront the deity with my situation and desires. I knew from books and from others who dealt with Fergush what he would respect and what manner of gifts he could bestow. I thus gained a direct response from him, and that is why I am here with Neselle. Don’t you have anything that will provide such guidance to you?”
Both the man and Hanarla answered with a, “No.”
I turned to Neselle and said, “Let’s go. There are no answers here.”
A deep but comforting male voice asked, “And what type of answer are you looking for? I have wagered that you do not know, but are simply grasping at sticks.”
Without any pause I straightened my posture while presenting my response. “I need a way to blow a discussion wide open. I believe that Neselle’s people are being forced to make a decision before they are prepared. They do not know all their options. They have not yet confronted all their potential difficulties due to certain choices. However, with their mass communication I accept that they do know enough to feel comfortable with making certain choices, but I want a way to have them realize the error of making any choice right now and forcing certain divine parties to actually reveal certain motivations behind their actions.”
Hanarla and the man knelt, but I simply waited for the reply. “I will accept that my wager has been lost.”
Suddenly, the room lit up in brilliance as a winged female in a robe of white almost filled the room. Accepting that I was dealing with deities, but having won the challenge, I stayed standing. I however did genuflect as a strange two-handed ax was handed to me. I stayed down while stating a thanks, and did not rise as I heard the god’s voice speak.
“That is the drahabard brought to my legendary son. It can do what your weapon cannot. Have it with you when you go back to Neselle’s world, and those manipulating events there will have to deal with you in a different manner. I would ask for its return, but it really is not mine to claim.”
I once again stated my thanks, then added, “If this weapon is merely to be put in storage, or set in display, I see no reason why it cannot be returned.”
“My attitude as well. These people are but simple folk. They only desire for their lives to continue. In a strange way, the raids do that. There is a cycle that they accept. Do not disrupt their lives further, but return to those who could use the disruption.”
“I will do that with pleasure.”
Neselle genuflected as she said, “Yes, thank you.”
The winged lady left, but I still noticed an unusual brightness to the room, as if the colors were more intense although washed out by a strong light. I thus did not rise. The question from the old lady indicated that she must have also noticed the continuing presence, although her question surprised me.
“Are they to be changed into foxes?”
A different divine male voice said, “Something needs to be done, yes.”
“Hold it.” I said. “Fergush is that you?”
“Neselle has her place, Jelnaya. As much as certain entities might complain, she can stand among them. You however still have no place. Yes, Jelnaya, I have been watching you, and this similar deity has allowed my presence.”
The other young lady quickly spoke to support me. “She has been a good aid.”
“Jelnaya,” Fergush said, “the drahabard has been given to you. It is prophecy, but it is not sanction. I can give that to you.”
I understood the statement. My own feelings about my future however kept me from being pleased with the words. Luckily, what I knew of Fergush stated that he would not be pleased with calm acceptance. I thus turned to face he-who-fights letting him know that I understood what he was suggesting.
“Why must you demand this of me now?”
“Because it is the proper time. If you have a question, ask, but I don’t see how you cannot make the decision.”
“No. I just… I just – I just want it all, Fergush. I don’t want to just rush from one battle to the next. I don't want to be she-who-fights, but someone that shows forth the blessing and honor of taking on the fights.”
I felt that I had stated my position clearly, so really was not pleased to hear Fergush reply, “There will be times.”
I ignored that comment and kept speaking. “I want to have time to enjoy the rewards, the adoration.”
“Your family may be stressed at times.”
I felt he was attempting to deny me the life I wanted, so with a little anger in my voice I declared, “NOTHING LESS, FERGUSH! I want it all.”
“You will have to survive to gain that, Jelnaya.”
That was not the response I wanted. “Do you accept my terms, Fergush?”
“You know my ways, Jelnaya, so do you accept mine?”
That was still not what wanted, so I tried another tactic. “I know that you said that you would be glad to have me as a family friend. Will you continue to be my friend?”
“Your boasting elates me, Jelnaya. Your friendship actually honors me. Now, about my terms.”
That was almost exactly what I wanted to hear, but I still needed to stress certain things. “About your terms? I know your terms, Fergush. I took on your challenges, and claimed your friendship fully knowing your ways. What I want from you is a life, Fergush, in this life and the next. You give me the life, and I will proudly boast of my relation to you. Yes, I will accept your terms, but I also want to hear you say that you will accept me.”
I was dealing with a god, so I knelt. I however did not bow my head. I faced the god to let him know that I was not going to accept my fate calmly.
I felt a wind blow upon me as the deity said, “I don’t see you following the path of Ferrigote, Jelnaya. I need you for a different purpose. Rise, my friend.”
The fact that Fergush called me his friend, and not his champion, or soldier, or other such term pleased me immensely. I thus rose with pride at what occurred. I saw the others looking at me however with awe showing on their faces. Neselle also had her mouth strangely open, but I trusted her to give me an honest response.
Finding her not say anything as she stared at me, I looked to her and asked, “What?”
“Oh,” she said closing her mouth, although she did then answer the question. “Your hair.”
I moved to get the mirror, then looked into it. My hair was a little longer, but also a bright red and yellow in color. I felt that I could brush them together to get one effect, although the present streaked appearance I considered gave me a look that really did not displease me. I turned from the mirror to look at Neselle as I gave her my opinion of what had been done to me.
“If people do not now understand that I am a dangerous lady, they are really too stupid to continue living.”
And our two ladies rush back to make their presence known on Gemord.