The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Eleven – Part Two
Jelnaya: Decisions are Set
I did speak to my great-uncle about the minstrel. Having spent a few years under Great-uncle Ferrigote’s tutorage, I knew most of his moods. I thus listened to him speak knowing not to challenge what he said.
“Jelnaya, you will need to stay alert. Not just because you know gods are involved, but because you won’t be dealing with gods. Althery and Nuchirg would have been killed on their first mission to Neselle’s world, but Terish was watching over them. Fergush commanded that I be sent instead, which had me initially believing that she would fall for my boy and not Terish’s. Anyway, stay alert, as I can say that the threats on Neselle’s world can well be devious and deadly.”
I thanked my great-uncle for his time, then turned to see Lebranaut at a distance. The dress I had on was again assessed, and I concluded that for riding it was a good choice. I thus decided not to keep the man waiting on me.
He stood as was proper, so I came beside him without any complaint. What I felt when I placed my hand upon his arm had me look at the man. I had been with strong men. What I felt when I touched Lebranaut was power. Seeing the cuts from the lack of material between the cords of his muscles, I sought words to state my knowledge of what I saw in a manner that would not have him complain.
“I had heard that one eats well in the divine realm.”
“There was food, but no reason to eat except to fill one’s belly. I do not remember a victory. I do not remember an explanation of who or what we were fighting and why. Also, my memories are almost all of battle, and very little is of having time to rest or eat.”
I signaled for Lebranaut to start walking, then said, “Well, I hope that you feel better about your life now.”
“I am just amazed to have life. Still, the eating is forcing changes again to my body, and some of them hurt.”
“Well, let me say that I am not a cook. I know how to clean and dress animals, but taking it further than just putting slabs over a fire is not something I do. I will usually wander into some settlement, then hand over the dressed carcasses as payment for a good meal and safe place to sleep.”
He chuckled, then said, “For all that is said about you, even by you, you do seem to be able to handle yourself among others.”
“Yes, my mother did that. Being a part of a family that did business with important people made certain lessons important.”
“Now, some of what you do surely is just your natural personality showing itself.”
I appreciated a man that had enough intelligence to turn a statement. Men usually tried to say complimentary phrases to me, but blandly spouting words obviously intended to feed my ego just did not please me. I however had to accept that Lebranaut had properly turned one of my phrases against me, so wondered about the intelligence of the man.
I asked, “Are you remembering things about your original life?”
“No, but I am somehow remembering things about women. I believe my song helped me there. While I cannot remember anything specific, the traits that I gave to the lady somehow retained some connection within me about females.”
“Something like – were you married?”
“No.” His face displayed confusion for a moment before he added, “I believe if I were married that my song would have been different.”
I had to agree with him, although sought other connections that might be present. “Well, do you like to fish, or simply go out on a boat?”
“I do not know. You are not the first to mention it, but I have yet had a chance to get out on a boat.”
“I did ask about fishing. Surely you had a chance to fish.”
From behind us, I heard the voice of my great-aunt. “That does sound like a suggestion for your time together.”
I saw the lady curtsey to Duke Cheyash, and sensed not to challenge her place also as my chaperone. “Where would you suggest, Great-aunt Dirchein?”
“The initial suggestion was horses, and your time is limited.”
She looked about, then I saw her hands move in an odd manner. One thing about living with immortals was the wide range of duplication possible. I had learned certain lessons about moving through the omniverse from the same people that taught my great-aunt. I thus knew very clearly where she intended to take us even as she pointed while giving an answer.
“We are going to be traveling through the omniverse, so I believe Lebranaut and Duke Cheyash need to realize certain facts. I will get the men appropriate mounts, then ask that you follow me.”
I felt my companion needed some warning. “Trust the mount you are given. This ride might seem complicated, but it really isn’t.”
Lebranaut bowed, then said, “Then I won’t be trusting the mount as much as trusting you.”
Since my suggestion for our time together was concerning horses, I led my horse near the one brought out for Lebranaut. I had a horse from Davelda. It was a rather graceful animal, although the real quality of the mounts was their training. The horse handlers of Davelda had paid very good attention to the lessons from my grandfather, and had developed his techniques further into a series of instructions that produced very gifted animals for taking their riders through places where the contact between worlds was possible. Lebranaut had been brought a horse from Parodma. I did not think that Lebranaut was too big for a horse from Davelda, but considering the density of his muscles it was probably a safe choice. I appreciated the man taking time to speak of the differences in our mounts. Since this was an actual period of courting, Lebranaut did need to focus more on conversation than whatever we actually might be doing.
With both of us agreeing that we were ready to ride, Great-aunt Dirchein told us to follow her. She started out slow, but I felt certain only to acclimate the two men to their animals and moving between worlds. They handled the first transition with only some commentary, so my golden great-aunt increased the pace. Since she rode a horse from Parodma due to the weight of the precious metal that made up her body, Lebranaut had no trouble having his mount move along with us. I saw however that he trusted the animal to manage the travel while he kept his focus on me. However much I might not have liked being stared at, I agreed that he had the right during this period of courtship.
String fishing was not something that I considered fun, but I accepted the decision from my great-aunt understanding that the time was for Lebranaut and me to share things about each other and not catch something for eating. It was a lovely setting with flowering trees whose colors reflected off the dark color of the lake water. It seemed that Lebranaut also had no love of string fishing, but tossing the lures out then watching our bobs had us both at a disadvantage with our eyes looking about that gave us plenty of opportunities for learning things about each other.
He caught a fish that put up a good fight. Since this was a period of courtship, and what he was doing was more fun than what I was doing, I moved close and helped him bring the fish in. I found him laughing with me as we worked to bring the aquatic animal to shore, although once we were turning the animal over to Duke Cheyash I found Lebranaut to make a conclusion without me having to ask him.
“I do not believe that I was a fisherman.”
“Maybe not, but you do seem to have a good spirit.”
Instead of the usual gracious reply, he only nodded before asking, “Is my past important?”
“You knew to set the hook, and you had some knowledge in how to play with the fish to get him to shore. There is thus something back there, Lebranaut, and it is best if you are aware of your own drives. You did something to get the gods mad at you, yet give you a chance. You then fought your own doom to retain something of yourself in that song. I am not going to let you in my life if you are unwilling of allowing yourself into your life.”
“Those are words that Duke Cheyash warned me a lady would say to me.” He turned to look over the lake while saying, “I think the song was just a favorite one of mine, but I don’t think I liked it because I was a fisherman.”
I glanced at Great-aunt Dirchein and saw an expression returned that told me what I wanted to know. “Well, Lebranaut, at least I do not see you resisting whatever facts might become apparent. Thus, you may continue to seek these times with me. I understand that we could be traveling together, and I will give you the grace of enjoying available moments that we might find ourselves together. I however will expect more knowledge of your past to determine whether or not our relationship truly grows.”
“Then I pray such knowledge comes.” He turned to smile at me while adding, “So expect to see me about the castle trying other things, and if you have the moment I will be elated to have your company.”
I definitely considered those words to be the proper response, so curtsied to the man before directing him back to our horses. He was more comfortable with the mount and the travel on the way back, so mentioned some things about the scenery. I did appreciate the topic, so freely replied. Lebranaut seemed pleased that I would respond, and with us exchanging words the journey back was quite enjoyable.
The stable master came out to get the horses, but I walked mine into the barn letting him know that I would take care of my mount. I knew the name of my animal was Petunia, but I really did not like the name. I tended to call the mare, Petty. While I did not consider the horse mine the way others would claim a mount, it had been serving me well and I would give it the honor of having me take care of it.
Uncle Althery came in on Jericho, and as he dismounted to care for his animal he asked, “What did you and Lebranaut do?”
“Great-aunt Dirchein had us string fish. The place she brought us really did not have any trees good for making poles.”
“Yes, so expect to see us served fish at lunch.”
He laughed. We then spoke for a time about fish. Having grown up knowing about each other, there was a lot we could share. I thus chatted with my uncle with both of us finding things to make the other laugh.
As I allowed Petty to go graze, Uncle Althery said, “Jelnaya, Neselle’s world is high-science, and it can get scary. Neselle studies everything she can just to have some knowledge of what we might be up against. Direct combat however is usually not the right thing, at least until some things are figured out.”
“I’m going after immortality, Uncle Althery. Don’t think I am going to back down.”
“I am the same way, Jelnaya, but pay attention if I don’t draw my sword, or if I sheathe it.”
I advanced on my uncle determined to let him know some things. “You got your promise from Terdeskollit. I got mine from Fergush. Why should I think this is going to be some diplomatic situation? Don’t you tell me to back off. Tell me how to fight, but don’t tell me to back off.”
“Listen, Jelnaya, trust my advice. Trust Neselle’s advice. We have been dealing with things of her world, so trust us to know something.”
“You have been to the church, Uncle Althery, so you know what grandfather and Great-uncle Ferrigote did to earn their immortality. That is the standard, and I accept it.”
“I have been to the church, Jelnaya, more than once. We have to pull it off, and Neselle’s world is different than this one. Trust me to be working at knowing how to pull it off.”
I had to concede to what my uncle was saying. “Okay. I don’t intend on working against you, Uncle Althery. I just don’t want to miss my chance.”
It is time to switch back to Neselle.