The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Thirteen – Part One
Neselle: And Our Journey Begins
Reclash had also arrived by horse, but found himself provided with another for the journey. Baron Ferrigote had his attention on the minstrel giving him a lecture concerning particulars of the animal. While a larger breed was used to carry the gold body of Baroness Dirchein, Reclash had been given one of the lighter animals from Davelda. He tried to make jokes about why certain animals had been assigned to certain people, but he found us wondering about his comments and not laughing at them.
Baron Ferrigote stressed his words, “Well, the important difference in the horse you rode here and this one is that this horse can get you home. It should bring you back here, but it might take you to Davelda. Don’t worry if you get brought to the horse handlers. Explain your story, and you will find yourself set with a guide to bring you back here.”
The minstrel replied, “Thank you, Baron. I believe that I will manage.” He then looked to the animal and commanded, “Just follow the other horses.”
Seeing the steed bring its head up and down caused those around Reclash to laugh. He had to admit that the animal did seem rather intelligent. He then saw me, spoke a greeting, then said something that caught me slightly by surprise.
“No wonder you feel comfortable here.”
I replied, “My parents were people, and I can talk with them just like I am speaking to you. Yes, there are some intelligent horses here, but if all I had to speak to were the animals, I would not stay.”
Both Althery and Prince Genory smiled and bowed, even as Baron Ferrigote said, “She was speaking about my wife. You lads were included with the animals.”
Althery replied, “As much as she loves Nathan, I doubt she would pick him over me.” Before the elder could speak, the young man added, “Nathan is a poor singer and cannot quote poetry at all.”
Baron Ferrigote looked to me and said, “I would pick Nathan.”
I only smiled in return. I did try to think of a reply, but my eye caught sight of gold-hued hair inside a stall. I thus rushed to the door, and saw another young man that I did hold dear. With a smile on my face I approached while making a pleasant opening remark.
“Nuchirg, I did not know that you were around.”
He was not dressed nicely and stunk, so I did not approach. I did see a smile on his face. He blew me kiss before speaking a greeting.
“It might be ‘Good Morning’ to you, Neselle, but it is bedtime for me. I did it however. I tracked down some bandits using father’s mountains to hide in. I then took them on and wiped them out. I am now going to get a bath and some sleep, then head back to the town to return some belongings to the people and claim my honor.”
“It is nice seeing you, Nuchirg. I am going with Althery and a Prince Genory with his minstrel to Gemord. I will miss you.”
He had the golden hue to his skin and hair from his mother, but had developed his father’s physique. He also had signs of hair covering his face. He was not old enough to grow a full beard, but I suspected to see him with such in the future. Nuchirg might not have gained my favor, but I still considered him a good friend and not just as another member of my herd.
He spoke of his history with me as he said, “I told you that I would be there for you if Althery ever lost your favor. Well, he has not ever done that. Prince Genory might prove himself a better man than me, but I doubt he will come between you and Althery. Have a good time visiting your parents, Neselle.” His eyes moved from me, then he said, “I guess that I will spend time with mine.”
A gold lady rushed up, then stopped to exclaim, “You are filthy, Nuchirg!”
The lad blew his mother a kiss, then said, “Yes, the bandits were not living in the best of conditions.”
“You go wash your face so I can kiss you before I leave with Neselle and the lads.”
She turned to say, “Ferrigote, check Nuchirg and make certain that there was nothing in the mud that could be bothering him.”
He returned, “You heard him say that he was heading back out, Dirchein. Still, I will make certain our oldest son gets a good rest and some good food. If that don’t put him back in shape to head out, I will see why not.”
She looked to me and said, “That is the best I can get, so after I get a kiss from each I guess we can head out.”
I heard the young men agree, so nodded. It was rather silly seeing a bright fresh gold-hued face on a filthy body, but it enabled Baroness Dirchein to kiss her son. She then went to put her body against that of her husband and shared more than a simple act of affection. I checked Hanell, then looked over Nathan before nodding to each that we could start our journey.
Duke Cheyash was also preparing his horse, and seeing us mount up he exchanged a farewell with Lebranaut. Jelnaya assured the man that she would send him a report of the journey. As the duke headed in one direction, we headed in another.
Reclash displayed none of the surprise and wonder that Prince Genory had upon his first transition to another world. The minstrel did make some comments about his horse acting strangely, but upon crossing into a completely different reality he just looked to each side then focused on his mount. He looked to us, then expressed surprise about something other than finding himself on another world.
“The horses are trained to step between worlds?”
Althery said, “My father learned how to do it, then taught the horse handlers of Davelda. Not only did they have a breed of horse intelligent enough to handle the transitions, but the horse handlers found their own minds enjoying the process of moving between worlds. The horses from Davelda thus not only know the methods, but have a positive spirit about making the transitions. Those from Parodma, where Aunt Dirchein’s horses are from, are just taught drills by some lackey of Mage Cleorig. Father and Uncle Ferrigote claim that they need extra training before they are worth a damn as interdimensional mounts.”
The baroness patted the neck of her steed while chirping, “But they are good horses. Give them the extra training and they are damn good mounts.”
Along with words from Lebranaut and Genory, I had to support her, so said, “They are very good at moving through the really bizarre realities.”
Reclash asked, “And, Lady Neselle, what would you know about that?”
I saw heads expressing shock turn to the minstrel, but I just answered the question. “Training Nathan, Baron Ferrigote took me through some really strange realities. Dirchein came with us, and I found her horse to act better than even her husband’s mount. In other travels with her, I noticed the demeanor of her horse.”
“What do you think of your steed, Prince Genory?”
“It is a much sturdier animal than my own. A little sluggish on the turns, but I could sleep with the steadiness of its gait.”
“Huh, well, uh, we won’t be traveling through any unusual worlds? I mean, this is not like where we were, but it is not unusual.”
Baroness Dirchein replied, “No. The terrain is a little more varied than the journey from Davelda or Thiminy, but not anything without a sense of ground or extremely exotic terrain.”
“Well, I have traveled a bit, so seen a number of land types. It would have been exciting to see something I have not seen before.”
Althery said, “They are interesting for a few minutes, but then just get bothersome.”
I added, “Dame Straekin really does not like traveling through them at all, but accepts it as part of her life with Lord Terish.”
From there the conversation broke down into talk about exotic realities. I really did not consider myself a traveler of the omniverse. I did have my home on one world, and made my home on another, but my trips through realities were limited to known paths or escorts by others. I however had seen some odd realities. Althery, Baroness Dirchein, and Jelnaya however had seen numerous worlds. Most of the chatter did not come from them, but from Reclash who spoke the most by hypothesizing a number of universe possibilities. The usual answer to most ideas was to refer people to Althery’s father and Jelnaya’s grandfather, Lord Terish. The man appeared young and inexperienced, but one quickly learned that neither applied to him. I found myself pleased to hopefully have the man as my father-in-law, and gaining the full support of his wife. The conversation however did not mention the heads of my herd, but simply speculation on various possibilities.
I was hoping to learn more of Jelnaya. She was very active in the omniverse. In the family gossip, talk of what she might be doing tended to be constant. I knew Baron Ferrigote and Lord Terish would always ask each other if they had contact with the young lady. She however did not exchange any information, but simply directed her horse around the perimeter of our group with her eyes looking beyond as if worried about a threat. I thus could only hope that Jelnaya would join the conversation later in the day.
Reclash did not stop talking, and eventually targeted the silent lady. “Jelnaya, what do you consider so dangerous?”
She did not stop what she was doing, but I did hear her reply, “I don’t believe any of us are vegetarians. So it does not matter to me whether something attacks us or I decide to make the attack on something.”
I believe that I was not the only one wondering as Jelnaya quietly strung her bow. The minstrel made a sound as if about to say something, but went silent when the lady drew out a couple of arrows and notched one. I believe a lot of us wondered if she was just attempting to silence Reclash when Jelnaya suddenly sent both arrows flying.
“In this case I believe I attacked something before it decided to attack us. I have never eaten it either, so maybe we will both learn something.”
None of us could really determine what the creature was that she killed. Some wanted to call it a relative of a snake, as it had a long rear section without legs. The front however was very wide and flat with two short, stubby legs ending in thick claws. In the mouth were fangs like a viper. It really was not large enough to feed us all, although most of us spoke of wondering how it would taste. Baroness Dirchein told Jelnaya that she would help prepare the creature, although would save determining the name of it until she could speak to her husband or Lord Terish about what the young lady had killed.
And the journey continues.