The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Eleven – Part One
Jelnaya: Decisions are Set
I found myself surprised not to have Genory show up at my door the next morning, as the conversation with Neselle the night before clearly indicated her fixation on my uncle. Only having Lebranaut however allowed me to spend more time with the man. He admitted to being embarrassed the night before. I however warned him that the turmoil of embarrassment could be as detrimental as any other emotion in battle, so he needed to learn how to deal with it. I found myself surprised to have the words turned back on me.
“And how would you suggest that, Dearest Jelnaya?”
Yes, I had been given instructions on that topic. “By doing things that would have you embarrass others. When you realize how easy the emotion can flare in others, you come to understand how something so minor should not be a dominating force in your life. You should not shut down having any feelings, but need to accept your emotions as being a part of you, and just as you learn how to command your body to instinctively react and respond to pain, you learn how to face the trials of life, even the embarrassing ones.”
Duke Cheyash continued to chaperone Lebranaut, and it was from him that I heard, “That is an interesting philosophy, young lady.”
“Heard it from my Grandmother Straekin and Great-aunt Dirchein. They said it was necessary in dealing with the men they married. Of course, they are the ones that will chatter in combat, especially Great-aunt Dirchein. Grandfather Terish and Great-uncle Ferrigote will have me feeling bad by showing my weaknesses in battle. Great-aunt Dirchein is the one that usually has me laughing, getting embarrassed, or otherwise needing to control myself in combat even through my emotions.”
Lebranaut said, “Duke Cheyash and I were talking last night about the difference in this domain and others, which we both believe is solely due to the strength of Fergush – he who fights.”
“That might be. I definitely will not deny the devotion of Great-uncle Ferrigote to Fergush, but I honestly just think of Nehallum as being the home of my great-uncle.”
“Well, uh –“ Lebranaut looked at Duke Cheyash for a moment, then he turned back to me. “Yes, well, uh, how about allowing me to do something with you besides sparring?”
I thought of Neselle while asking, “Do you have a horse?”
“Duke Cheyash and I came here on horseback.”
“After breakfast, meet me out at the stables.”
“Could I not escort you out to the stables?”
I had to look at what I was wearing. It was a nice orange dress, but not in the fashion of anyone of importance. I thus felt that I would not need to change clothes after the meal.
“It’s possible,” I answered, “but being family I might get held up.”
“Thank you, Jelnaya.”
He properly had me sit in my designated chair. Seeing Lebranaut directed to a side table, I looked across the front to see Uncle Althery. While Neselle was next to me, I decided to make a rather loud comment about proper designation.
“Uncle Althery, I believe your status as family should be set aside, as you are truly no more of a suitor than the others.”
“Hold it, Jelnaya. I AM family. Neselle is just hired help.”
Great-uncle Ferrigote turned from where he was speaking to one of his military officers to say, “Neselle is a member of my herd.”
“Oh, come on, Uncle Ferrigote. You give in to Jelnaya, and – WHAT THE HELL!” I could not help but smile as Uncle Althery went ahead and stood signaling to the steward to redirect his plate of food to a seat next to the other suitors, and my expression did not fade as he spoke while passing me, “I will remember this, Jelnaya.”
“Talk to Lebranaut, Uncle Althery. He might let you know why I did this.”
“Then I will make certain to do something to clue him in before I pull a stunt on you.”
Genory rose to bow to me before saying, “Dearest Jelnaya, maybe you are the one that I should set my heart on after all.”
“I kept telling Neselle to send you to me.”
“If I may, I would like to have some time with you today.” He did adjust his position, so I could tell that he bowed to another. “If you do not mind, Neselle.”
It was Uncle Althery that replied, “You better hope she turns you down. Jelnaya will eat you alive.”
I did not give Genory a chance to respond. “What my uncle means is that I have fought dragons as well as other creatures that have sent fear into the hearts of many. It was such a family – let me stress the word ‘family’ – of such creatures that gained me the revelation from Fergush. I might be a pretty thing, Genory, but as with most things in nature, beauty is a warning and not a lure.”
Now the man spoke. “You don’t understand, Dearest Jelnaya. I did not come all this way to get a wife, but to see if I was up to the challenge. I lost my family. It was treachery. No monster. No vile gang of bandits. Just a person who felt he had been wronged and that killing my father would correct his sorry state. I was down in the cellar attempting to sneak a bottle of whiskey while choosing a proper wine to finish our meal. I returned to see my family dead. When I stood before my king, his wife, my queen, suggested that I try to reach this domain and spend time courting Neselle before I thought I was good enough to go after any revenge.”
Honestly, that story did not get any sympathy from me. “Okay, so now I am insulted. What am I? Another chance to bolster your ego? How does losing to Neselle qualify you to take up my time?”
“Losing to Neselle? I never had a chance at her. Your Uncle Althery has her heart. Nothing I hear about you says that you have any chosen man. I might have a chance at you.”
I looked to Great-aunt Dirchein and signaled to her that Genory could gain a meeting with me today before speaking again to the suitor. “You will have a chance. Be prepared for anything.”
He was now the one signaling to someone. I saw the bright colors and style of clothes, but felt the man to look odd. He had a dullness to him that did not appear proper. He stood taller than the other men, including Uncle Althery, with a lean muscular physique. His hair was about my color, although I felt that I should see more red instead of a plain brown. His eyes were a dark green that appeared unusual. For all the warning flags, I found myself sensing no trouble from him. Grandfather Terish had spoken of people like this, and I felt it wise to follow his advice and be respectful to those who did not want to trouble you with their affairs. I thus signaled to Genory to introduce the person.
“I have already presented Reclash to your great-uncle and great-aunt, Dearest Jelnaya. He is a rather talented balladeer. I met him as I found the ladies that I sought to spend time with more interested in him. Seeking to learn such skills, I sought him for advice. In hearing of Neselle, he mentioned his own desire to accompany me and learn of the lady firsthand. Since I have troubled this room enough, allow me to heal any wounds by presenting to all a very good minstrel.”
Reclash moved to the center of the room, bowed, then said, “I was expecting to ask Lady Neselle what she would you like for me to perform. It however seems that the focus of my sponsor has changed.”
I looked to Neselle and said, “You did not send Genory to me last night, so I believe he is presently still yours.”
She whispered in response, “I really do not know the songs or stories of this world. I almost completely read material from my world, and for entertainment, thanks to your grandfather, I watch shows from my own world, or from a world of reptilian people.”
“Fine. Let me think of something.” I did not concentrate on the topic, but went for something obvious. “Since Genory claims that his task was set by Onathia, how about the story of Dorajae and Dorajell?”
Reclash appeared mystified as he stammered, “O-o-okay, well. Ah… let me – ah, yeah. Haven’t done that one in a while. Let me go brush up on it, but I believe that it is a good choice. Allow me to sing a morning ballad, and I will assure a quality performance of the required story later.”
“Sure,” I said. “I had not intended to catch you off guard.”
“You just asked for a classic love story, and I have been used to performing the tragedies. Most consider Dorajae and Dorajell to be rather sweet.”
He might have been trying to get me to smile, but I did politely reply in that what he was said was correct. “I don’t like to cry, especially not first thing in the morning.”
He smiled and said, “I will keep things uplifting for you, Lady Jelnaya.”
The tale was of a duck. I had spent time on a number of worlds, but had not heard this story. It was a good tale, but I kept listening feeling that like the minstrel himself the lay being sung was not intended to be fully recognized for what it was. I made a note to mention my perception of Reclash to my great-uncle as I listened to the love story centered around the duck.
As the minstrel moved off, Neselle moved her head near me to ask, “I did not know this world had such a story. That one is common on my world.”
I replied, “I assume a children’s story.” Her expression as she nodded was as if I had insulted her, so I spoke to let her know such was not my intent. “It was a simple tale with a moral. If it was placed in a palace or other esteemed place with people, it would have been for adults. Making it a story of a duck makes it entertaining for children.”
“Oh, on our world we will use birds or fish so as not to make the story particular of any human animal. We are interested in the situations of the other species, but if it is a general moral lesson then an animal we do not become is used.”
I accepted her words, but did not let them bother me. The story was entertaining, and I had nothing against a morning moral lesson. The food was good, the overall mood was positive, so I finished the meal without being seriously bothered by anything.
And Jelnaya spends more time being courted by Lebranaut.