The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Twelve – Part Two
Neselle: Learning More About Genory
I was ready, so told the young men to lead the way. The evening was enjoyable as everyone was allowed to socialize. Baron Ferrigote did not make any speeches, but simply moved about speaking to all. When I spoke to him, he mentioned not wanting to establish any precedence, but simply wanting his people to understand that he was not unwilling to let them have a break from the daily toil on occasions. The young men tried to dominate my time, but I knew everyone and would not let myself be kept from their company. Finally, I let the young men lead me to a seat between them to listen to Reclash.
It was really a simple story of two lovers separated by a vile sorcerer. A flower was set as the method of resolving their fates. I had to laugh as Reclash worked in the words of the sorcerer choosing the type of flower simply because it fit the rhyme, and not because it had any special meaning to him. He then realized that his curse could be undone, so went on a mission to eradicate the plant. Only by the grace of the goddess Onathia, she who loves, was one flower saved. A number of verses set out the trials that the lovers had to endure before being directed to the flower and reunited. The sorcerer was then undone, and we applauded the well-told story.
When Reclash came close, I hugged him to assure that he understood that I enjoyed his tale. He pushed the situation by pecking me on the cheek, but I really did not mind. I however had been taught not to let things develop too quickly, so spoke some words to assure an understanding of our relationship.
“Watch it, Reclash. You might make one of my suitors’ jealous.”
“You are a very lovely and intelligent lady, Neselle. Since I will be traveling with you, I might want to make my claim as one of your suitors.”
Althery said, “Then you do that again, and I will have to punch you.”
I replied, “Now, now, keep the rivalry friendly. That was a good song, Reclash, so I will hope to hear more.”
Whether or not Reclash was serious about becoming a suitor really did not concern me. I allowed that Althery and Genory would have the final say, not to mention my Goddess. I simply thanked the minstrel again, told him that I looked forward to further entertainment from him on the journey, then moved to speak to others.
After a few friendly conversations, I found myself hugged by Baron Ferrigote. I hugged him back considering him one of the leaders of my herd, the husband of a lady that was a friend, and the uncle of the young man I desired as a husband. It pleased me to gain a sign of affection from him, and I listened as he spoke to me.
“Neselle, I know that you study what you can of your Goddess, and that is good. You however have been living here. I thus want to know if you have learned anything about the gods of this world.”
Considering how important I felt this man was in my life, I tried my best to answer. “I know that there are six, and that they somehow form three associations between them.”
“Right, and one of those associations are the counters. Fergush and Onathia are considered opposed. He Who Fights has no association with She Who Loves. I am not telling you to be wary, but to watch the lads. Both claim to have worked with Fergush, but this mission comes from Onathia. They might not be prepared.”
Not wanting to state a fault, but just where my own thoughts were based, I said, “But we are returning to my world where my Goddess rules.”
“Still, something about your world has caught the attention of the gods of this world. Terish cannot explain it, so I am not even going to try. I will just say that the evidence is obvious that the gods do talk to each other. Fergush sent Althery and Nuchirg to your world. Your Goddess then allowed the incursion of doctors from Davelda. Whatever is coming is planned, but this might be from a source that none of you are familiar with. Be wary.”
One lesson that all of my elders taught to those of us still young was not to deny any advice. All of the workers about the castle were brought in from other places. They came here with their own methods and stories, then had to adapt to the weather, local materials, and our expectations. I however found them to have applicable wisdom, and usually had to accept their advice about how to achieve certain designs. Along with the knowledge of their craft came some general lessons of life. As strange as the surroundings were to me and those who labored under my authority, I often discovered their advice from elsewhere to provide better guidance than my own limited experience.
Knowing that Baron Ferrigote was well into his third century of life, I could not speak against him. “Of course, but – I do trust Althery.”
“I am not speaking against my nephew, Neselle. I am just telling you that he is young and foolish like you are. Listen, the two of you have done a lot together. Yes, trust him, but make certain that he is trusting you as well. As you said, you are going to your world where your Goddess has dominion. Thus, trust yourself first. Hell, trust Hanell first. Both of you have been studying the teachings of your Goddess. Althery hasn’t, at least not the extent of you and Hanell. You thus should think to have him trust you, and not you trust him.”
“Yes, Baron, but Althery generally does listen to me.”
He had a finger tap me on the nose as he said, “So you should recognize it when he doesn’t. Be wary, Neselle.”
“Good. Now my castle is not finished, so you need to come back – with or without a choice of suitors.”
As I was turning to leave the room, I saw Jelnaya with Lebranaut. I cannot say what they were talking about, but I saw them pointing to a display of a shield over crossed swords. While I was responsible for the interior decorations, the associations of Fergush were primarily the influence of Baron Ferrigote. I thus found myself agreeing with what Jelnaya said as she moved to the display.
“Yes, Lebranaut, the weapons are real. Probably not as sharp as we maintain our personal weapons, but still effective.”
He seemed hesitant to touch the display, but Jelnaya went ahead took one of the swords to which Lebranaut said, “My sword is much greater.”
“Mine is longer. I agree with grandfather that reach is important. Learning to work with such a sword took work, but I now find it comfortable. Uncle Ferrigote also prefers a much larger weapon.”
I saw a number of men look toward them as Lebranaut said, “The monsters I faced were big. I don’t believe a sword like that would be of any use. Skalbits would probably have their heads touch the ceiling, and they were common. We, I, learned to fight them by rushing in close to set the points of our weapons into the thigh. You then worked around to get them to fall. You then went to another. We were not fighting to kill, but just to survive. If you could remove a threat by making them ineffective, you lived.”
The man had stepped through his actions as he described them. Jelnaya had the sword in her hand, and even though the wrong type of weapon she duplicated his moves. He corrected her posture, then they stepped through the simulated attack together.
He bowed to her at the end, then said, “That is the way they taught us. Those that did not learn the method died.”
“Hold it,” Jelnaya replied in her usual confrontational manner, “they taught you that and you learned it? Aren’t you one of the thousand? Didn’t you earn your place by refusing the orders of your superior? Why didn’t you learn that move on your own completely ignoring whatever advice was given?” She saw the man shake his head in what appeared to be the start of his stating his ignorance, so had her voice ring out, “Great-uncle, what are the rules on the thousand?”
Duke Cheyash, who was doing his general duty of acting as the chaperone of Lebranaut said, “Dear lady, the thousand is the responsibility of Debogda, he who assigns. If I may, as someone with authority over a church of that deity, I would like to answer your question.”
The young lady was already curtseying as the voice of Baron Ferrigote commanded, “Listen to him, Jelnaya.”
“Early in the history of the world, as the number of mankind increased and the levels of status we now hold as dominant were just being conceived, war did erupt. Even then we men sought control over other men, and demanded things of others that should not have been ours to gain.
“None of the gods were for it. Even Fergush, He Who Fights, saw no honor in the carnage of war. Still, men were men, and it was allowed that they would need to settle their own problems and not be dependent upon the dictatorship of the gods. Strangely, however, the gods were pulled into the affairs of men. Fergush, He Who Fights, promoted honest methods of struggle. Remidda, She Who Serves, taught how to manage supply lines and keep every soldier in as best of health as possible. Cloript, He Who Teaches, watched and learned the lessons that others died to gain, then passed the wisdom along to those that asked him for advice. Samayer, She Who Survives, of course strengthened the physiques and somehow managed to assure that most who marched into battle returned in some manner. Onathia, She Who Loves, saw the desires of those fighting and at times found herself understanding the reasons for the conflicts. Debogda, He Who Assigns, found himself being petitioned to establish orders of ranks, and with the other gods he found himself feeling doomed.
“It is written that the first thousand were merely taken to assure the authority of the gods in establishing certain levels of respect among men. Debogda felt his action of taking the men to be drastic enough, although did not want to doom them to eternity simply for a fault on the battlefield. At that time the divine realms were also going under their own restructuring, and hoping to further ingrain certain lessons the thousand were set loose to teach the creatures not of mortality things that men had learned. The thousand were soldiers, and upon being released again followed their militaristic training. They were strong, but their opponents were without flesh and without lives that could be ended. Still, somehow, one man survived, and he was returned to our world to again have his place among men. The process that claimed the thousand has never been removed, and occasionally the one survives who gets sent back to declare the folly of the nine hundred ninety-nine who did not learn their place.”
Jelnaya felt a pause in the story, and asked, “How can Lebranaut do that if he does not remember.”
“The fact that the one stands before us I feel is declaration enough.”
I had seen the baron advance, although he smiled as if in making the call Jelnaya proved herself to have focused on the story. “Lebranaut has not refused any question you asked. He in fact has made himself available to all who sought him. Still, Jelnaya, his past is not important. As Duke Cheyash said, just the fact the man is before us and can say and do things to prove who he is I find to be a most amazing revelation.”
She turned to him to say, “The man is important. You, Grandfather, even my father teach that the person is more important than his occupation, status, or reputation.”
“You would not still be giving time to him if you did not see something in who Lebranaut is. His past: names, places, and events are not who he is. They probably helped shaped who he is, but he has been given a chance to make a new life for himself. Learn a lesson from your grandfather, Jelnaya, and accept that just because a deity erases one’s past does not erase who the person is or erase their potential for greatness.”
She stepped up to Lebranaut to say, “Okay, you are still considered someone who may seek my time. As for this coming challenge, I accept you as a comrade.” Her eyes then moved to another to say, “Thank you, Duke Cheyash.”
“You are more than welcome, Lady Jelnaya. I am glad to have been able to see Lebranaut presented to you. I will not travel with you tomorrow, but to my home. Still, I will want word of things.”
She curtsied while saying, “I will assign it my duty to send you a report.”
And the story finally has our group going to Gemord.