The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Twelve – Part One
Neselle: Learning More About Genory
Coming back to my room after the midday meal had me laughing with Hanell again about the antics that transpired. It seemed that Jelnaya had a much more interactive method of handling her periods of courtship than me. She also had a quick mind enabling her to take advantage of situations. While Lebranaut seemed to have had a rather nice time with the lady, it came out at the meal that Genory had been chastised rather heavily for making certain mistakes. Strangely, during the meal it was not Jelnaya that brought out the events, but the minstrel Reclash. She actually tried to take up for Genory, but ended up playing up the humor to have us all laughing.
Turning down a hallway, I stopped upon hearing Genory call out the name of Jelnaya, then saying, “Thank you for your support, dear lady.”
“It was not support, Genory, but just not cruelty. What I did in the privacy of our meeting was not meant for everyone’s entertainment. Your honor with other ladies is still your own, although I hope that you handle yourself better.”
It surprised me to hear the voice of Althery say, “I told you Jelnaya would not hate you, Genory.”
The other lad said, “I did not fear that, Sweet Jelnaya. What troubled me to have Althery manage this meeting was just an apology, and a hope that you would not speak against me in traveling with you.”
The lady replied, “I will not speak for you, Genory. Not that it matters, as this is really Neselle’s adventure. Considering that you failed with her as well, I do not know what hope you have.”
“My hope is to prove myself by Onathia. I will not deny the things you told me, Sweet Jelnaya, and only ask for the graciousness of attempting to prove myself as being able to improve.”
“Onathia curse you if you don’t.”
I thought the words slightly cruel, but the reply from Genory continued to have very polite tones. “I accept that. I also accept that the humor you brought out at the meal put me in the light of a bumbling suitor, and not as someone deserving of chastisement. I am grateful, Sweet Jelnaya, and I wanted you to know that.”
“It’s a start. I however had gone to the meal intending to test the quality of another. Reclash however did not tell the story I had requested.”
Feeling that it was time that I joined the conversation, I advanced to stand near the others while Genory replied, “Oh, yes, and I would suspect it to be rather good. I have not heard Reclash perform it, but I really have not known him that long either. He does seem to enjoy love stories however, which is one of the reasons he claimed to want to travel with me.”
They saw me approach, and pleasantly acknowledged Hanell and me. Althery moved up to gain a slightly more intimate greeting. Considering that I also felt bad for Genory, I made the hug with Althery short before making my own suggestion.
“Maybe Reclash felt the story deserved a more fitting meal. While another formal interview can certainly occur in the afternoon, relating a strong love story would help set the tone for the following time in the evening.”
Althery replied, “The tale of Dorajae and Dorajell should not be that special.”
Jelnaya said, “I do like it, but mostly for some clever parts in the version I know of the tale. I am getting the feeling that Reclash is going to come up with his own method of telling the story.”
Genory again supported the minstrel. “What I have heard from Reclash has been quite good. I thus suspect that he would do it justice.” He then made a small waving motion with his hand while saying, “Well, I guess that I should not say more, as my standing is presently quite low. Hopefully by supper my wounds would have healed enough that I can chance another indignity to my ego. I thank you, Sweet Jelnaya for your time. Dear Neselle, Lady Hanell, and even Althery, I hope to see you later.”
When the man turned a corner, Jelnaya said, “I do not want to reduce the man’s standing even further, but I get the impression he came here out of desperation.”
Althery asked, “How bad was he?”
“He is polite enough, but I found him rather shallow. Get him off whatever script he is following, and he is quite unable to handle himself. That was what I found interesting about Lebranaut. There is something solid in the man, deep inside, that had me seeing the same man in whatever setting he was placed.”
“In other words, you could not trip him up.”
The glance from Jelnaya to Althery was rather cute. “No, Uncle, I couldn’t. I find myself wondering who he was.”
“He was a soldier that refused a direct order. That is who the thousand are, Jelnaya.”
“We grew up here and in Thiminy, Uncle Althery. We have also spent time traveling through the omniverse. We have both known a number of soldiers, and heard stories of multitudes more. There is nothing special about a soldier, or even one balking at a command. Something about Lebranaut however caught the attention of the gods, and drives him now. I think it would help him to learn what, and I feel it might make him even more appealing as a man.”
Hanell commented, “Maybe that was the reason he was sent here.”
“If he was a soldier who supported Fergush, that could well be the case. Baron Cheyash was told to bring him here, and he commented about the difference in this domain and others being the devotion to Fergush. There is still something about Lebranaut that puzzles me.”
Althery chided his niece by saying, “Could that be love thumping in your cold, cold heart?”
She displayed no emotional reaction to the words while saying, “If this mission fails, I must consider certain things. Lebranaut is also at the point of considering certain things. I thus might decide to see if our paths can join. Still, this mission is first.”
He bowed, then turned to gain my hand while saying, “Thank you, Jelnaya, for putting the focus in the proper place. In a way, I am in the same place. I am thus here for you, Niece.”
She turned to me to say, “I accept that I will be unfamiliar with the culture, Neselle. I thus must state that I will be there for you. I am not going with you to disrupt, but to prove myself. Please, do not let me prove myself wrong.”
I replied, “I will be glad to have your company, Jelnaya.”
She did a quick, simple curtsey, then glided to her room. I allowed Althery to take me to mine. As I moved through the door, he made a simple statement.
“I told Aunt Dirchein to schedule an interview with you, Neselle, simply because I wanted to keep it official that I was still courting you. Just saying that I would spend some time with you would be rather bold.”
I almost stepped back through the doorway to touch him as I admitted, “I doubt that I will consider another, Althery.”
“Yes, but at the moment we cannot allow our relationship to advance. I thus have to allow that our fates might not be. If someone does come who has gained certain blessings, it will break my heart, but I will be happy for you.”
I believe both of us were glad to hear Hanell say, “Don’t talk that way, Althery. Just because difficulties keeps the two of you apart does not mean that you will not eventually join.”
He thanked her, said a parting word to me, then closed the door. I spoke with Hanell about what we could do in our own time. Preparing for our own activities and what might be scheduled for us, we fell back upon discussing sections of the holy texts. We really did that a lot, so found ourselves mumbling about hoping they had some new information on Gemord that might add some new spice to our conversations. Soon enough Baroness Dirchein arrived to speak about how the afternoon should go. After trading words with her, I saw her to the door better knowing for what to prepare.
Having only Althery desiring time with me, I did not feel a need to dress well. Hanell however stressed that I would be seen moving about, so advised me to go ahead and put on an elaborate gown. She was correct about people seeing me as I went about the castle. While the ruling family did accept me, most of my status was as the person in charge of overseeing the internal construction of the fortress. Still, both gave the respect causing none to challenge me as I went through the edifice. Of course, Althery just made it a point to compliment my attire during my time with him.
Being polite in return, I asked, “Is it any trouble having to sit with the other suitors?”
“Actually, no. I believe that I am closer to you, and definitely have a better view of you. I am thus not complaining.”
“Why doesn’t Reclash sit with you?”
“Why would he?”
That dry and quick response had me wondering why I asked. The answer however came quickly that I considered Reclash as another suitor. The minstrel however had not made any such claim. Althery had also treated Genory with respect during the day without making any association between him and Reclash. Any fault in the requested story would surely be reflected only on the minstrel. Why I would consider a different attitude toward him had me wonder about my own mind.
Since everyone was treating the evening as a major celebration, I went back to my room and dressed even more elegantly as a lady of high status in this world would dress. I actually found the wide skirts and tight bodices rather uncomfortable, but accepted the traditions of my herd. With both families that I associated with being considered very high in the social status, I did have a couple of dresses that were quite ornate with rather expansive amounts of cloths around my legs.
Answering a knock at the door, I cheerfully greeted my suitors, although was pleasantly surprised to hear Genory not speak to me. “Lady Hanell, you do not have any quality attire?”
“I believe that I look quite good as I am. Also, on my world and this one, wolves in clothes look silly.”
“But, you’re… not a wolf.”
“In form I am most certainly a wolf. Clothes thus look silly upon me.”
“Oh, okay.” Genory’s face expression being perplexed for a moment, but I saw him put a regular smile upon his face before saying, “Then, let me apologize for asking.”
“You would have to apologize if you had not asked, Genory, then spoke in error from your ignorance.” She lifted herself upon her back legs, then walked up to the man to rest one front paw on his chest for stability while the other pointed to his face. “Just for the record, I like Althery. I however understand the honor that has been bestowed upon Lady Neselle. Althery has not only found himself not yet worthy to claim her, but it is very much a possibility that none might presently have any rights to anything but her friendship. Althery however has been there with Lady Neselle, and has my honor and support because of it. Still, Genory, I respect your presence, and feel that you should respect Althery’s lack of success as declaring the greatness of the challenge and not his personal unworthiness. Only by asking questions, Genory, can you have any hope of standing with Althery as an equal.”
As the wolf lady dropped back down, Genory said, “Thank you for the honor, Lady Hanell.”
She nodded to him, but spoke to the other young man. “It seems that this young man can learn, so he might be a challenge to you.”
Althery replied, “I said that I could only lose to the Goddess. Honestly, I feel that I am at the disadvantage, in that I have aided Neselle all this time and not gained any recognition. I feel that I have already been dismissed by the Goddess.”
“The holy book says never to give up on Her, and most stories in the text present those who are awarded only after extended effort.”
“I know, as I have read it. I am thus committed to this next mission. However, let me say that I have never been treated harshly by those of your world. I have enjoyed my visits.”
Some final points with Reclash and Lebranaut before the story moves on.