A Wish for Hope
So many of my world spoke of my immortal niece that I did have resistance to name a daughter after her, but others were giving their daughters the name and Jelnaya was my relative by marriage. She was still a Dozzrine, as she had not married. I was a Dozzrine because I had. I had come to not only love, but have great respect for Jelnaya, and felt I had more right than any other to name a daughter after her. My husband allowed the name because he thought it funny that his niece gained the name because other girls gained a certain name, so a new name had to be chosen for her, and our daughter would gained the name Jelnaya because others had already claimed the name for themselves.
She was named after a fruit. A great lady in the history of the Dozzrines grew the jelna fruit. Others were given the name of Desiree, so when Venicht, my husband’s older brother, thought to give his daughter that name his wife refused saying that there were enough in the family with that name. As a compromise he mentioned giving the girl a feminized version of the name of the fruit, and Jelnaya sounded like a lovely name.
The one who originally gained the name indeed gained beauty as a gift, but also a wild nature that took a number of the experienced members of the Dozzrine family to grow properly. I should have thought on that before pushing to give my first child, a daughter, the name of Jelnaya. My husband did not argue with me, but laughed. He still laughed every time our youngest child got into trouble, as she had gained beauty and a wild nature as well.
They both told the same story of their meeting. Others were also present to verify the tale. I will start this story there.
My oldest daughter was not yet six, although attempting to keep her within the city was a troubling matter. My world did not have the monsters of other realities. There were things that could appear as monsters, and would trouble a person, but they would focus on disturbing those mature or communities as a group. There were concerns for any child going out on their own, but my world had prospered enough that one was seldom truly alone. Jelnaya had grown up feeling the freedom to move about as she would, and I had come to not be troubled by not finding her within the sound of my voice.
Those around me also knew my immortal niece. Most of them had done more than simply heard the story of the girl that had helped me restore my world. Images of her fighting great mythical beasts would be shown every time she came to visit, and I knew many who sought to watch them for other reasons. Jelnaya earned her place as an immortal helping me overcome the stagnancy that had overcome the generations before me. I had not yet married Althery then, and had only begun to know certain personalities in the Dozzrine family. Jelnaya was one, but I found myself enjoying her company and became glad to call her my niece in her aid to help me restore my world.
This was not the land of her birth or the home of others in her family. The god that called her was of the other side of the family, which claimed an entirely different world. Two men had joined as brothers to create the great family I married into. There were the Dozzrines, but also those of Nehallum would be treated as no less a part of my life. Jelnaya had assured the connection by accepting her place as a champion of a god of the world of the other side of the family.
My daughter simply saw a lady in an outfit of crystals leading a laden horse while speaking with a fox person. While the sight was not unknown, it was still exotic enough that Jelnaya rushed out to meet the person. The unusualness of the presence of an armored lady was made even stranger when the female made a statement.
“Ah, a human child. That can only mean we are cousins. Go tell your parents that their immortal niece has come to visit.”
My Jelnaya stood defiant as she asked, “You know my parents?”
“Didn’t you hear me say we are related? Your mother and I are good friends, even though I admit she is my aunt. As for your father, I believe we are still proud of each other for gaining the lives we have, although you won’t hear it in our words.”
“Who are you?”
Hearing the lady state her name as her own, my daughter rushed back to the city and her home. On my world only my family were human. We once all were. Our shame however was that in a time of desperation we did not turn to the Goddess that created us, but sought our own science. I had grown up in a world where only those transformed into animals could reproduce. When I was condemned to stay human, my fate would be one of helping my world continue even as I would never grow up to have children of my own. My husband and a member of the other side of the family showed up on my world, and our Goddess used me to advance the relationship with this grand family in order to restore my world. We however had made the decision to become animals, so as animals we stayed. Centaurs and other half-human races saw my youngest daughter run, then moved up to speak to my niece as she traveled through the city to my home.
My husband was out in the yard, so I was not the one that spoke to the girl coming, although I heard her say, “Daddy, there is a lady in crystal armor coming that claims to have my name.”
Althery replied, “Now, Jelnaya, we have told you who you were named after. We have even shown you videos of her.”
“She has red and yellow hair!”
“That is in the videos as well.”
I stepped outside to say, “It has been a while since she has visited. I hope she can stay a while.”
My Jelnaya asked, “Is she nice?”
Althery replied, “There is a difference in being nice and acting nice. Jelnaya can definitely have you wondering about her.”
I had to admit, “That is true, but I have always liked having her around. That is one reason I named you after her, Jelnaya. I wanted you to be someone people would be glad to have around.”
Looking down the street, a crowd could be seen coming toward us. My niece could be entertaining. While a champion of a fighting spirit, she was not a mean or cruel person. I liked being around her, and stood holding my place resisting a desire to rush down the street and join the others.
The crowd parted to allow my niece to come forward, although it was my husband who stepped up. “You look rather rough, Jelnaya.”
“I won, Uncle Althery, but it was not a battle that I want to brag about. Fergush says that I will, one day, but I am presently not happy about it at all. Still, yes, it was a hard fought victory. Had a couple of other fights along the way, but those were of the usual kind. Lots of meat. Brought what I could. Should be enough on the horse to satisfy your predators for a meal.”
“Well, it is still early enough that we have not made any serious plans about cooking. I could start up the grill if you would like a serving.”
“You know me, Uncle Althery, I will trade my meat for things others have already cooked. Still, if you feel like cooking.”
I had to step up to say, “I want you to stay and visit, Jelnaya. You can –“ I looked at her mount, then said, “That is not Petty.”
“No, Aunt Neselle. Petty was getting old. Brullusk took her from me. I almost named this one Petty as well, but I did not want to start that tradition. This is Rubber. Regal Under Bare Trees the Fourth. Tried a number of names for him, but he kept shaking his head until I said Rubber. Cannot say it is the best of names, but as someone named after a fruit I guess he will prove himself as being worthy of me. I promised him that I kept Petty alive and would do the same with him.”
I knew horses. My family had been horses. Now those I clamed as relatives were centaurs. I stepped up to take the reins of Rubber while assuring my niece that her mount would be restored.
I said, “I will care for Rubber. You go into the house and freshen up. Althery will take care of the meat.”
She replied, “Whatever you want to do with it, Uncle Althery. You know I won’t complain.”
My husband said, “No, but Neselle and I will fuss at you if you start speaking of needing to travel anytime soon. You helped save this world, Jelnaya. The people need to meet you, and you need to accept that this is a place for you. Relax for a while.” Probably hoping to make the lady feel at home, he added, “I guess you haven’t found a man yet.”
“Finding men is not the problem, Uncle Althery. Finding one that will match my life is the problem. Grandfather Terish found Grandmother Straekin, but I have yet to find anyone that will join me.”
“Yes, Jelnaya, that should be what you are trying for. Father and Mother still love each other. Neselle and I still love each other. You find a man that you will always love.”
“Great-uncle Ferrigote still loves Great-aunt Dirchein. I mostly hung around Nehallum, although this new battle had me gain a home of my own. While it is also on the world of Fergush, the great couples of our family, including you and Aunt Neselle, are from different worlds. I however have not found anyone in my travels either.”
I had to turn from leading Rubber to look at my niece when my husband said, “Your hair is rather long, Jelnaya. Not trying to grow it as long as my mother are you?”
“Oh, Uncle Althery, even I can see my hair!” I saw the wonderful control of my niece over her form as she made certain maneuvers while speaking to my husband. “Yes, I have worn it not very long. I have been out where cutting it would simply be slicing it with my sword, and for some reason I didn’t. I then went into battle and could see the shine from my locks. The red and yellow glow that others speak of, I found I could see it when I would turn for a cut or move to gain a position. It has grown a little too long, but I am not certain whether I want to cut it back to my shoulders or keep it about the small of my back.”
“Well, go into the house and freshen up. Take a bath, and wash your hair. Relax. Jelnaya, you want to show the one you were named after to her room?”
I was proud when my daughter did remember one fact. “There is a room for you. There is a shield painted red and yellow with that symbol you have on your clothes.”
My niece said, “Fergush. The symbol represents Fergush, He-Who-Fights.”
“A lot. Why don’t we talk some more as you show me to my room?” She then looked up and to my husband to say, “Uncle Althery, that fox person is named Kertoll. Listen to him. I will tell you my side of the story later, then we can discuss why I am here.”
I left things to be handled by others. I did not worry about Kertoll, as I had fox people and rabbit people working in the house. I however noticed wolves gather behind me as I went to the stables. Surprised they were not waiting on the meat, I looked to the centaurs at the stables only to notice that they did not come out to take Rubber from me. As I led the horse to a stall, I however saw what was on the animal that the others honored and would not handle themselves.
The weapons were wrapped, and as I removed one of the covered drahaberds I released the length of white silk to look the special double-bladed halberd over before saying, “She has not mistreated it.”
The voice of the Goddess could be heard to say, “No, although she is one who considers not using it to be mistreating it. Still, she does not abuse it. Take it to her along with the other one. She came for a reason, Neselle, and not just to visit.”
I had heard stories of Jelnaya using the drahaberd. All were of fantastic battles against some really terrifying monsters. While the weapon was from my world and my Goddess, it had been placed in the care of those of another world. I had been with Jelnaya when the weapon was regained for my world, but after using it to restore us she was granted permission to take it with her as otherwise it would simply become an item for display.
It was my daughter that answered the knock on the door, although seeing me she let me enter. My niece was not fully undressed, although getting ready to take a shower. She had probably been discussing her hair with her cousin. She however moved to me as I entered understanding what I had in my hands.
I gave my niece the drahaberd I knew while saying, “Only you or I can handle this, but I am not a fighter.”
She replied, “It is of this world. Those here should be allowed to recognize it.”
“They did recognize it. They stayed away from Rubber. I left your horse in their care after I removed the drahaberds from it. Where did you get the other one?”
My niece exchanged drahaberds with me, then undid the pink cloth. What I saw was a much more elegant weapon than the one I knew. My daughter made sounds of delight in seeing the gold filigree sparkle as the silver blades flashed. The handle was of a cream wood with what I felt were details of pink. My niece turned it in her hands to proudly show it off as she told me about it.
“Fergush surely understood the limitations on the drahaberd, but also saw my success when I did use it. He made me one of my own.”
It was my daughter that exclaimed, “It’s pretty!”
“I believe he made it for a girl. The one for this world was not made for a girl.”
I said, “No, but I also feel that your god wanted you to know how precious you were to him. Still, I assume you are returning the one from this world.”
“Yes, but Aunt Neselle that is not the only reason I came. I would have come even if it was my only reason, but there is another.”
“Jelnaya, of all my relatives you are one that I feel can understand some of the things I go through. Do not worry. I can return the drahaberd you have been using. From what I can see, you have taken care of it.”
“I believe your Goddess would have the smiling form of Berbishet come and claim it if I did not.”
I had to joke, “You would probably kill him.”
“For old times sake, although we both know he would be back.”
I chuckled, then admitted, “I do not miss those times, Jelnaya. I am glad I went through them. I like this life. I love Althery. Having children is indeed a blessing. I am glad where I am at however, and do not want to go through the same again.”
“The monsters of this world however are not killed. They just return to the Goddess. They will return.”
“As long as we keep our trust in the Goddess, they will not lead us again to our doom.”
“But that does not mean they won’t try.”
I caught the inflection in how she spoke, and found myself having to ask, “You already admitted you did not come to simply return the drahaberd.”
“Aunt Neselle, those words of yours about going through it but not wanting to go through it again, that just happened with me. The only problem is that I do not believe that was all. I am scared that I might need to go through it again, and I would like your advice.”
“As I said, Jelnaya, you are one person that I believe can understand my situation. It is also true that I am probably the only person who can understand you. Yes, refresh yourself then come down to visit. We both represent deities, and for both of us we are to be seen. While most around us will not understand, we can enjoy company, family, and pleasant surroundings while we discuss our troubles.”
And the real work on the castle begins with Esgalia facing a decision.