The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Twenty-Six – Complete
The crowd in the street eventually broke up into separate groups. Some went into drinking places to continue their topics while others went home. The predators that had been doing their job of maintaining security and order told me that I could go back to what I was doing as they felt the movement of people had returned to something they were used to handling.
Kachevet and I continued to have our movement through the city interrupted by people. What we both spoke about as we returned to the patrol was how diverse the questions were. Some asked us religious questions, while others spoke of the changes that had come to our forms as we matured. Not knowing what to expect when heard our names called, both Kachevet and I found ourselves almost eagerly waiting for the next interruption.
When we again reached the coliseum, both of us were told to get some sleep. By then I was tired, so did not challenge the order. After a bath, I found my body more than glad to have a soft horizontal surface to rest upon.
Upon asking the kitchen about something to eat, a number of humans came into my room. One presented a series of appearances that had been proposed by Aunt Neselle to have me speak on various topics or perform certain combat styles. Wanting to support those of this world and my aunt and uncle who would make their home here, I agreed to everything. More humans then came into my room to assure that I looked my best when before a camera.
It pleased me to know that my hair could be cut. While I felt something within me not willing to have it short, I also did not want it to be long enough to be a bother in combat. My Grandmother Straekin had hair that extended to her butt, and often allowed it to grow longer, but I found myself annoyed at the tresses coming from my head before they descended to just the small of my back. It had gained length and not just color, but I felt relief when no reprimand sounded for having a few inches removed.
I found myself amazed after a simple forum with Hanell, my Aunt Neselle, and some other religious figures, to be presented with my crystal armor. They had not just cleaned it, but worked on it to have it fit me. While the material of the garment, which did not match anything they knew, presented them with problems, they showed me pieces of what they had used to fill holes or broken scales. I put on the armor and found myself very much pleased with not just how I looked, but how it fit my form.
Of course the next program for me was a sparring session with Uncle Althery. While Kachevet had not agreed to go on camera, she had allowed him to use her drahabard. The two of us first used our regular weapons, then switched to the drahabards to compare changes in our techniques. As he was speaking a close, I roared while making an attack with my exotic weapon. Uncle Althery proved that he had not simply worked with Great-uncle Ferrigote in constructing his castle, but had also learned combat from him, in that Uncle Althery met my attack. We then went into a serious sparring session with each of us doing what we could to catch the other at a weak moment. He not only had strength to his advantage, but clearly displayed the speed that was a common trait to those of our family. It often took me having to maneuver my smaller and more flexible body to prevent him from gaining a victory. When we finally paused, we were told that the program had been allowed to continue and due to the period of us seriously challenging each other the show was already being heavily requested for other time slots.
Kachevet walked back to my room with me. I needed to clean up, but did not mind the company. She asked me about my uncle while mentioning the manner that he used her drahabard. As I spoke of the differing techniques used by my uncle, and how I had to compensate, I suddenly walked into a wall of cloth.
I recognized the deep feminine voice that said, “Jelnaya, once again I am pleased with what you are doing. You have my blessing, Jelnaya. Feel free to return to my world. Whether you seek to simply spend time with your aunt and uncle, or have other reasons, you are welcome.”
I replied, “You better allow them to visit as well,” although then had to admit, “not that I will be with a home anytime in the near future.”
“They will have their work, although I promise will not be confined.” The voice of the Goddess then spoke to another. “Kachevet, what is your decision about your fate?”
“I am clearly not a fighter. While I have tried to learn the weapon I was given, my heart is not there. Going back and simply being a wife and mother who could see her own children taken by raiders does not please me either. I would rather stay, but I don’t want to be alone either.”
“What if I promise you that you will not be the only fox person? Would you be willing to become a wife and mother to other fox people?”
The feeling of cloth around went away, but neither could I see. Everything around me was black, as if all the light had been removed. When I reached out, the wall I had been walking near could be felt. Calling to Kachevet, I heard her speak. In reaching to her she grabbed my hand. Reminding her that we had been going to my room, I had her follow me as I tried to lead the way to a place of safety.
Stepping into the room and finding the light switch not to work, I considered what to do. I did have some candles in my packs. I also knew a simple spell for creating a flame to start the wicks burning. Wondering if the Goddess however wanted all light gone, I paused wondering how long the darkness would last.
Again I heard the voice of the deity. She however did not sound nearby. The voice came from the speakers, as if not wanting to sound too close even as she spoke to all.
“People of my world, I accept that you have made certain past decisions and proven them to be good. For that reason, I would be wrong to return things as they were before the incident that doomed the humans. That however does not mean that I am pleased, only accepting. The games are however wrong. Families should be important. Each of you should produce young of your kind. Thus, you are going to have to prove certain beliefs of doom to be wrong, or suffer as you make them correct. If you allow any one specie to gain dominance, it will be an evil that you yourselves should have been prepared to prevent.”
I had heard Aunt Neselle mention how she could hear things through the walls of buildings. The words came as she spoke about her work about Great-uncle Ferrigote’s castle. Uncle Althery supported her by mentioning how she would react to something happening elsewhere in the edifice without needing to be specifically called. Set against the wall of my room to assure my place in the dark, I sensed what I felt was a multitude going to their knees.
“Minotaur has been met and defeated, but many spoke of being pleased with his form. Thus, cows, such will be how you and your offspring will appear. There will still be the strength to perform your jobs, but a more human form allowing you more freedom in how you dress and act. Pigs, you also faced the divine one of your nature, and spoke of rejecting it. You will thus gain bodies like the cows, except of course being pigs. The strength and humanity will be there, but your ovine nature will still be of your essence allowing your present gifts at certain jobs to continue.”
I pushed my senses to detect any disagreement with what was said. There could have just been not enough cows and pigs in the building to make a noticeable response. I however felt that none found a reason to challenge the Goddess.
“The centaur Menasha has visited our world a few times. I have heard many speak of her form favorably. Thus, horses, you will now have such bodies. The gazelles will have such a form as well. Each of you serve in a different manner, but both have proven the need for their forms along with a willingness to help. To thus deny your humanity would be wrong, but to reject the gifts of your form also improper. You thus will have bodies made up of both bodies.
“Deer, tigers, and wolves, you will basically continue as you are. There is enough grace in your forms to enable you some facsimile of humanity while still performing as your bodies give you the ability. There will be some slight changes, although I hope you find them acceptable.
“Lions, you are no longer considered necessary. The tigers and wolves are enough of a security to the common threats. No more claims of being king of the beasts as you work to place your kind in the most important places. From the greatest to the least. You will find yourselves now rabbits. Almost human in appearance, but rabbit all the same. There is a place for you, and I hope you show humility in learning it.
"Humans, my children, I must give you up. However, I will not simply allow you to pass. Kachevet has come, and you saw in her my decision for you. Just as she had her humanity changed, so will you. She agreed to stay a fox if she could associate with others of her kind. I hope that without humans, all my people will display their humanity. To the foxes I give the obligation to maintain that dignity.”
Kachevet dropped her hold on my hand. I could then hear the sound of her going to her knees. I was glad to know that she truly was accepting of her decision, although waited for other words that might trouble me.
“Only Neselle will retain her humanity. She will hold the place of representing my ways, my truths, to you. As for her life with Althery, their offspring has options where retaining their humanity will be proper. Should they however decide to stay, they will need to make the decision of which specie to join.”
From there the Goddess went to speak certain rules about the new forms. In that they would no longer be truly human, she forbid the mingling of species. She declared that for such to happen would result in the birth of true animals which would have the fate of their kind. Other rules were also stated about behaviors, although I heard none that contradicted what I knew of the present society.
When the lights came on, there was a commotion through the building that spoke of people moving. Kachevet turned on the television to see images of the various animal-people with them speaking of their new bodies including what they felt during the period of darkness as the changes came upon them. The only ones that complained were those now with small bodies having long ears and a soft, downy tail. Their dissatisfaction was however drowned by the others stating their pleasure in their new forms. Kachevet left to move among those that would now be her people even as I turned to a mirror believing my red and yellow hair to be a minor alteration in my form.
Althery came into my room, and smiled seeing me at work sharpening the drahabard. “Just checking on you, Jelnaya. You can stay as long as you want. The Goddess told me that she was pleased with you, but accepted that you had your own path.”
“Yes, she basically told me not to be a stranger as well. Sounded to me like she approved of our entire family.”
“I hope she never finds reason to regret that. I however want to hear when you find someone that can touch your hair without losing an arm.”
I glared at him wanting to claim that I had not been that protective of my locks, but then remembered that we had a running topic between us. “You mean when someone can warm my cold, cold heart.”
He smiled, then said, “I’m immortal. So I am trusting that the time will come eventually.”
“I did ask for it all, Uncle Althery, so I guess that it will – one day. I however reckon that I have a century, at least, before that will happen.”
“Let Uncle Ferrigote know that Neselle and I will no longer be around to help him with his castle.”
I did not leave right away. I spent enough time to perform a couple more patrols about town. There was a lot of construction as the people found their new bodies to demand some changes to their homes. It seemed that while they had each other, they also desired someone with an outside perspective to provide commentary. I freely spoke to all. I saw Kachevet as she associated with other fox people. I did not leave until I felt that I had done my mission to the satisfaction of where I could brag about it to Fergush.
Arriving back at Nehallum, I stopped before my Great-uncle Ferrigote. He said nothing as I dismounted, but in approaching him he only stuck out a hand. I took it and shook it once before speaking.
“We’re still family.”
“Yes, but there is now this further relationship between us.” He now approached to hug me as he said, “Yes, we’re family, but we will also have places at an eternal table. I want you know that I accept you as my niece, but also my comrade. If you ever need me, you call.”
I hugged him in return, and kissed him, then turned to indicate I would go into the shrine before entering his home. He released me only to smile. Accepting that I needed to face Fergush alone, I however did say something as I started moving.
“Althery and Neselle won’t be back, except to visit.”
“I’ll manage. Fergush knows an unfinished castle isn’t the worse challenge to face me.”
I spun to face him as I replied, “I told Fergush that I wanted everything you and Grandfather Terish has, so I guess that I will face that problem one day as well. If I need advice, I will come to you.”
“You do that, and if you see Althery before I do, you tell him the same.”
I nodded even as I said, “I have a lot to do, I am certain. No telling what Fergush will tell me, but I intend to make him proud.”
“I am sure that you will, Jelnaya. Let my wife feed you before you leave however.”
Assuring him that I would, I turned back to the one that was now my god. I looked to the building realizing that I did not actually understand some of the references in the artwork. Understanding that I had a lot before me, I entered the building pleased that I now had a life that I wanted.
And next a very different story titled: "Only Fools Complain."