To Face the Ugly Deed
Eashae came to me repeating the words that she would keep her promise. She was the same lady, but not. There was laughter with her. When my hands did go places none other could touch, there was a smile that I had not ever seen before. Eashae just told me to keep saying the words that I loved her.
I left the house as my wife started speaking about what she saw of it. The words disturbed me, as she was the one that put everything as it was. Moving through the community I heard talk of everything from us needing to relocate, prepare for war, to building a church. People called to me asking about Eashae as I stopped to make my own sense of things. Not being able to answer, I saw a strange man with some elder ladies carrying food and headed to them.
Elder Thamoss had a barn, and seeing them head in that direction I ran ahead to open the door. The lady with the red and yellow hair was inside moving with her sword, but stopped seeing me. I pushed open the door for the others to pass while speaking to the one already present.
“I want to know what you did.”
“You’re not the only one,” Jelnaya replied. “I’ve already told the story a few times, any reason you want your own rendition?”
“I got her. She’s mine. I choose her. SHE’S THE ONE I WANT! What happened?”
“You’re not happy with her now?”
I heard the others setting down their items. The sounds did have me think to stop what I was saying. I however thought of Eashae, and whatever the others were doing was forgotten.
“I never had a wife before, but she was perfect. She’s – she’s still perfect, but different. Is it a good difference, or a bad one?”
Jelnaya sheathed her blade while saying, “Ah, well, that is actually a good question. I would say a good difference. Just, as in most things in life, the good is going to cost you. Now, tell me, are you willing to fight for it?”
“Is she my wife?”
“That is between you and her. Let me however say that she is who she is. If the two of you commit to each other, stay true to each other.”
I heard support from the others, but kept my focus on the young lady with the colored hair. “There is a child.”
“It is still between you and her.”
“What did you do?”
It was my mother that answered, “Eashae has regained her soul, Nebard. What you had was a shell. Now you have a complete woman. Now, you truly have a wife.”
Jelnaya said, “I hope that is what you wanted. I know many men that just want the shell.”
I turned to my mother to say, “Yes, she still spoke of loving me, and I told her that I still loved her. She is different however.”
My mother replied, “I feel that I will continue to love Eashae as well, Nebard. I feel you somehow gained a good lady. There are some in town that are not finding their choices so good.”
Suddenly Priven rushed into the barn with his wife. They flung themselves upon Jelnaya thanking her for what she did. She told them to love each other, as they were now joined for life. They assured Jelnaya they would, then Priven turned to me.
“How about you and Eashae, Nebard? Are you here thanking Jelnaya as well?”
“No,” I answered. “Is Kairsy still the lady you had?”
“What? She’s great! I mean, even better than she was.”
The very young lady replied, “I would have never gained a husband like Priven. I will always love Priven.”
As they shared a kiss, I let the couple know about a fact. “Jelnaya is saying we are going to need to fight.”
Priven replied, “But she is still here. She can fight with us.”
“Jelnaya, is that true?”
She replied, “Listen, I’m not going to hold your hands down through the ages. Still, this is not your fight. I mean, it is, but I can easily see that you are not a group that can handle yourselves against this group. They surely picked on you because they felt you were as weak as the other communities they preyed upon. What every bad guy, or group of bad guys, has to learn is that there is something badder than them. Well, I am that something badder. This group of bad guys will be going down. As for the next group, you might find yourselves all alone with that one.”
Jelnaya still wore her dress of crystal. I supposed it could be called armor, but it looked as good upon her as did her red and yellow hair. Still not certain of recent events, I turned to the man I did not recognize, although accepted he had been the one that had worn polished metal.
I asked, “Do you agree with her?”
Makinor replied, “Agree with Jelnaya? Are you saying you don’t?”
“I’m saying that I was lied to. Whoever these Privileged were, they lied to us. What they said made sense, but it was lies. They however gave me, allowed me to choose, Eashae. I have had her, loved her, and accepted her into my life. Now, she is different. I don’t want my life to be lies.”
My mother said, “Nebard, you –“
Jelnaya interrupted to say, “No, the boy’s right. The problem is that he does not understand the fight. This isn’t my fight. I am here due to a goddesses of love. Still, I see the reason for seeking me. I am going to wipe the Privileged out. I do that. My god does that. That has nothing to do with your heart.” She looked to Priven and Kairsy to say, “Or your hearts. That is a battle I cannot fight.” She then stood to direct her hand at the other visitor. “Makinor, that is your job.”
He replied, “Actually, it is Quafrey’s job. We are here to resolve this, but our commitment is to our own gods of our own world. Yes, I have a goddess of love as my sponsor, but you were the one actually sent for.”
I had to ask, “Your own world? How often do you leave your world?”
“Actually, Jelnaya does it rather often. This is a first for me, but glad I came.”
Thinking of the changing landscape, I asked, “The Privileged were taking us to other worlds?”
Jelnaya replied, “Yes. They were actually having you attack, punish, the communities that had resisted them. I cannot presently tell you the whole story, but let me simply say that meeting those bad guys was not going to work out well. However good you thought your association with the Privileged might have been, it would not have lasted.”
“Eashae told me that were going to eat her soul, my soul, and the soul of our baby.”
Priven said, “Kairsy told me the same thing.”
There was some motion outside the barn, then Lord Avell came into the doorway to declare, “THAT’S NOT TRUE! They are lying to you!”
I believe Jelnaya was going to respond, but Makinor moved to put a hand on one of her shoulders before making a statement to me. “Nebard, go back home to your wife, then come back telling us that we are lying to you.”
I looked to those gathered outside the barn to say, “I know they’re not lying. However, I don’t know what we are facing. I love Eashae. I love all of you, but we need to decide what we are going to do about this. If leaving with Eashae is necessary, I will.”
Vorling pushed his way to the front of the crowd, then asked a question I had not considered, “What about our horses?”
We suddenly all moved after the man as he took us to his property. I could see where he was constructing a shed to keep the animal over the winter. I remembered him coming to me for advice about the horse. It was on a leash, because the fence was not enough to hold a horse. I however saw the grass around the animal showing no signs of being eaten. That had me suddenly move up wanting a better look at the horse.
It was my mother that first went to the animal to stare into its eyes, then a number moved back to the edge of the property as she called on me, the visiting champions, and certain elders to look at the animal. No one else seemed to want to, although our visiting champions spoke to encourage them, but after only a pause I took the initiative. When I stared into the eyes of the horse, I could tell that there was an intelligence to the creature. I grabbed its head, then let go feeling something strange about the hair of its coat. Looking at its hooves, I saw a polished black that was not normal at all. I found myself having to agree with my mother about this not being a normal animal, and called to Jelnaya to look at it.
She came up making a comment about our community having her look into the eyes of ladies and horses. While there were some chuckles, I believe most of us stayed silent while wondering what she would see. She did first look over the animal, and I gained the feeling she recognized some of the very details I had observed. She then moved to look into an eye, turned to Makinor, although took another look into the eye of the animal before saying anything.
“Makinor, I want your goddess to tell me that I was not wrong in killing the wolves.”
He bowed while saying, “Of course, Jelnaya,” then moved up to look at the animal. He stared at the eye for a time, then asked, “Why aren’t you killing these horses, Jelnaya?”
“One, it really is not my job. Two, I think we can use them.”
“Well, let me say that my goddess says that you were definitely correct in killing the wolves.”
I had to ask, “You talk to your gods?”
Jelnaya replied, “We are their champions. To give us authority and not hold us accountable is rather foolish. To have us represent them, then not give us guidance is foolish as well.”
“We do not talk to our gods.”
“Well, then somebody is at fault, either you or your gods. Being a divine champion, I won’t put the fault on the gods.”
Makinor said, “Yes, I have to agree with that.”
I had to return, “But you asked for help from Quafrey.”
“No, but she asked for our help, specifically Jelnaya’s. Yes, she called to us, so I will seek her own guidance in working with her own people.”
Jelnaya looked to me, and I saw a pleasant face surrounded by red and yellow hair as I believe she looked into my eyes and recognized my quandary, for she said, “I believe your mother contacted Quafrey.”
I replied, “I believe she just did the usual prayer.”
“If that is all you need then that is all you need.”
I fell to my knees and said, “Quafrey, I am here trying to resolve the problem before us. You have provided two wonderful champions, but they are not of our world and do not promote you or our other gods. They have politely asked for your guidance. How can we know to respond to the troubles we face if none of you speak to us as it seems these gods of another world speak.”
Hands came around me. With the sound of the flapping of enormous wings I felt myself lifted. Clouds seemed to move past my eyes, then I saw two lovely ladies with great dove wings carrying me. Even with one on my left and another on my right I felt their wings should disturb each other, but that did not happen. I found myself lifted through the sky to see on one cloud a building of gleaming marble. There a most gorgeous lady waited for me. She wore a red outfit that barely covered the front of her torso. Over it was a robe of very sheer yellow material that did not really hide her form at all. Her black hair fell to completely cover her back. The hands of those that carried me did not release their hold until my feet touched the surface of the building.
The one before me said, “You should be scared.”
I looked to her feeling pleased to have simply gazed upon such a lovely lady as I said, “I’m not.”
She directed a hand toward the inside of the building. There I saw a circle filled with the cloud that supported the building. I looked about the inside of the building and saw carved into it symbols I recognized as that of Quafrey along with phrases I felt recorded her words.
She asked, “Then, will you bathe in the pool?”
I looked at the mist and thought of the cloud as I asked, “Bathe?”
“You will need to wash yourself.”
Thinking to remove my clothes, I found myself very dirty. I began undoing things about my attire wanting to improve my appearance for this lady. I however looked again to the mist I was to bathe in, and thinking of the clouds I had to ask a question.
“Am I to die?”
“Does it matter?”
I found my eyes to fix themselves upon one of the symbols carved into the marble. It was not the sight of the lady, but the very grandeur of the place I was in that had me recognize the divine presence. Understanding the awe of my situation, I found myself able to answer the question.
“No. If you brought me here to kill me then I have no choice but to die.”
“I am constantly surprised by how many cannot understand that. Step into the pool and bathe, Nebard. Let’s get you clean.”
I did have to swim, as I felt no bottom to the pool. To get the filth from me, I however did sink down to assure I was thoroughly washed. Coming up, I felt soap handed to me. After using a substance that smelled like the sweet flowers of spring, I felt hands help me get clean. It was the goddess herself that helped me rise from the pool, although I saw one of the winged ladies hand me a set of clothes.
Finding the garments to be similar to the clothes I had been wearing, I asked, “No suit of armor? Both Jelnaya and Makinor are wearing armor.”
“They have training that you do not. We will see what the future has in store for you.”
I suddenly found myself back on my knees. I rose hearing a cacophony of voices mentioning my change of attire and appearance. Instead of looking to them or myself, I however looked up suddenly finding myself hearing the voice of Quafrey.
“Can you hear me, Nebard?”
I almost felt like kneeling again as I replied, “Yes, Quafrey.”
“Tell Jelnaya that she is going to die.”
I looked to the lady with the bright hair, and feeling sorry I said, “Jelnaya, Quafrey says that you are going to die.”
She replied, “Well, I guess Quafrey does not know me very well.”
The voice of the goddess said, “See, Nebard, she is not afraid. That is how you are going to need to be.”
I could only say, “As long as I can hear your voice.”
“You will need to stay strong even when you cannot hear my voice. In that, Jelnaya has experience. Trust her. Makinor will give you the better advice, as the ways of his goddess are closer to mine, but he is learning as well. You could end up being the stronger.”
“What would you have me to do?”
“Tell them to rest. You need it, as this experience has drained you. I am presently uncertain that slaughtering the Privileged is the best thing to do. Let me determine your path while you rest.”
I said in a loud voice, “Quafrey has instructed me, and all of you, to get some rest.” I looked at Jelnaya to add, “I was told that slaughtering the Privilege might not be the best thing to do.”
She replied, “Goddesses of love. Put them in charge and nothing happens.”
Makinor said, “All right, Jelnaya, I believe it is now two-to-one. You’re just going to have to deal with it.”
“Oh, I’ll get some rest, but only because I know a fight is coming.”
I looked to Jelnaya to say, “Quafrey said that you are not afraid.”
“Of what? Dying? I know there’s a place at a table reserved for me with a multitude waiting to hear me tell my stories. Well, I plan on doing all I can to fill eternity making others sit and listen to what I have done.”
I looked to Makinor and asked, “What is waiting for you?”
“Eternity with She-Who-Loves. Should be something similar with you.”
“Quafrey did not talk about that.”
“Yes, as we don’t go around putting our lives on the line the way those committed to the fighting gods do.”
I looked back to Jelnaya as I said, “Quafrey told me not to be afraid.”
She replied, “I don’t know what to tell you. He-Who-Fights simply tells me to make the others afraid. That is what my red and yellow hair is to do. It is a warning that this lovely girl is dangerous.”
Jelnaya was attractive, although thinking of her my mind turned to another. “What should I tell Eashae?”
“The same thing I am going to have to be told one day: keep your promise.”
I found my thoughts turn to all the things I had done with my wife, and smiled while admitting, “That was good advice.”
And Jelnaya now has another champion of a love goddess to deal with.