The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Fifteen – Part One
Jelnaya: Trying to Find Directions
By that evening my little comment about being here to cause trouble was being spread on all the news channels. They did at least follow that statement with words about me treating Kachevet correctly along with further quotes from both Uncle Althery and Neselle about the reason for our presence. People thus came up to meet me showing no fear of me, although also wanting to speak to me about what type of trouble I expected to cause.
As I was met by my uncle late that afternoon, he spoke of Neselle’s impression of Menasha. She thought the centaur form was marvelous, and that if their science could have transformed their bodies into such creatures that no one would have a reason to complain. Uncle Althery then mentioned how he now heard others speak of the body of Kachevet in such a manner. He thus spoke of his impression on the reason for her finding herself on this world.
“I think the Goddess is attempting to decide what She is going to do with the people of this world.”
I thought over the story that I heard, then asked, “Is Kachevet naturally in that form?”
He looked at me strangely while saying, “I did not hear otherwise. Still, we have to consider every minor detail in handling the problems of this world.” After a short pause, he concluded, “Let’s go ask her.”
My uncle did not change his direction. The coliseum had been pointed out to me earlier along with a statement that such would be where I would probably be supplied a room. I also had learned that the humans usually lived in the coliseum. I thus accepted that while our objective changed, our direction of travel had not.
The large building had the wide hallways and ramps for easily moving large groups of people. Uncle Althery mentioned the variety of purposes for which the structure was used, and I was impressed not to hear the mention of gladiatorial battles. While Great-uncle Ferrigote had not built such a structure near his castle, my uncle spoke of most cities promoting the worship of Fergush having a coliseum in the city. As Uncle Althery spoke of the local style of music that would usually be performed, he stopped seeing a human lady approach.
“Althery, please, is this young lady with you Jelnaya?”
I considered it strange to be referred to as young by a child. While I had come to accept that the adult humans of this world did not age, those I had met so far seemed to feel that my maturing body made me older. I did not press the issue, as my reason for being here was not to physically age as I advanced in years. I thus quietly allowed my uncle to speak to the adult child.
“Yes, Alaner, this is my niece, Jelnaya and her hopeful suitor, Lebranaut.” He then made a formal introduction before saying, “We have a question for Kachevet, so were hoping to find her in her room.”
“Well, I was hoping to interview Jelnaya, but it can wait.”
I said, “I had people speaking to me all day.”
“Yes, and I have listened to as much as possible. I thus have some questions that I hope will resolve some issues that I felt were not touched on satisfactorily.”
Uncle Althery said, “Jelnaya, Alaner has been a help on our previous adventures. I would request that you give time to her.”
I had just admitted that I had spoken to people all day, so Uncle Althery should have assumed such a personal request was unnecessary. I also had heard some of the reports of me, so accepted that a more formal presentation of my beliefs for being present would do good. I thus skipped any nice, polite reply and asked a question I considered possibly important.
“Has Kachevet been bothered all day?”
Alaner replied, “No. We were actually waiting for some connection to form between Lady Neselle and her. Something about her form just bothers us, and we have learned to trust Lady Neselle in her perception of things. In any event, we need a translator to speak to Kachevet.”
Uncle Althery replied, “Well, Jelnaya has presented a question that I feel does need answering, so if you want to join us, Alaner, feel free.”
Instead of again pressing us about recent events, the female reporter asked us about our family. She had been visited by my grandparents, Uncle Althery’s parents, and others of our family. Considering the questions that I had to endure all day, the change in topic I found refreshing. Lebranaut was also quizzed, and upon hearing a short discussion about the one-in-a-thousand she told me to save further conversation about him for the interview. Actually having something different being asked of me, I was in a good mood when Alaner mentioned that we were coming upon the door to Kachevet’s room.
She seemed relieved to see us at the door, and quickly said, “I was hoping for someone I could talk to. The people seem nice enough, but I cannot understand anyone.”
Uncle Althery said, “Well, we did come to talk. Most of us have our business, but we can seek to include you at meals and such.”
“Yes. Good. Why have you come?”
Alaner had the fox lady and us follow her to a room where another human female made a signal. Without the covering cloak, it was clear that Kachevet did have a tail. The bulk I had noticed earlier upon her form had completely been removed with the length of thick red fur easily making up for its disappearance. She did not walk in a manner that showed the tail to be familiar to her, and it took her concentration to have it move. I noticed that the top of her skirt had been ripped to allow the rear appendage to project from the body. Coming to the room for the interview, my gaze shifted to notice a cameraman along with a security camera mounted in a corner. Kachevet showed no discomfort at the recording instruments, although also made no comment or action of recognizing what they were. She simply followed the directions to take a seat, then pulled her fox tail around her when it hit the wall.
With us all seated where both cameras could record our actions and words, I noticed my uncle indicating for me to speak. “Kachevet, I found myself wondering if your form was natural. Those of this world have to become animals, as you can see from those around us that those who remain human do not mature.”
“Well, ah.” She glanced at Alaner and the other children in the room, then said, “No, I was cursed by my grandmother to have this form. She claimed to want to hide me from the raiders.”
Of course I had her tell the story. Kachevet did a rather good job of relating the events of the raid, and I really did not enjoy interrupting her to translate for those listening. It seemed that she escaped through a window as the raiders stormed in the house. Not knowing what else to do, as she heard her own mother and siblings scream, Kachevet ran to her maternal grandmother who lived alone. It seemed that the raiders had stormed through the home, but had not lowered themselves to attacking an elderly lady. She spoke of feeling pain from some rough treatment, but upon seeing Kachevet began speaking of needing to assure that the girl got away. She thus went through a series of steps that was given as the reason for her transformation. Once it was mentioned that a strange panel was used to open the portal that sent her here, I found my Uncle Althery to interrupt the story.
“It is times like this that I wished I had father to call upon. He could break down the steps and give some explanation.”
I agreed with what he said about Grandfather Terish, but I would not deny the source of information that we did have. “Kachevet, do have the necklace?”
She nodded, although seemed reluctant to take it out and show it to me. It was definitely not an item of ostentatious wealth. I however had quizzed certain elders about things enough to identify features and components of the item of jewelry. Putting together other clues in what Kachevet related, I did my best to explain things to my uncle and others paying attention to our conversation.
“This necklace is one of trapping. It lowers the resistance of the wearer to certain enchantments. The concoction Kachevet’s grandmother had her drink probably caused the transformation. The enchantment spoken as she left her world –“
The fox lady interjected, “It was a curse, and it sealed me.”
I quickly retorted, “A curse is detrimental. What was done to you did change your appearance, but not in any terrible manner.”
“To have to live my life like –“
Now it was my uncle that interrupted. “There is no harm in your present form. Listen, we can take you to my father, and he probably can restore you.”
“My form was done as a dying curse. I cannot be restored.”
Wondering about her conclusion, I asked, “Dying curse? Your grandmother was not killed.”
“She killed herself. I fell back through the portal in shock from watching her send a knife into her chest, then withdrawing it and directing it at me.”
Alaner said, “That does seem rather extreme.”
I replied, “It depends on the actual perception of the raiders. I however have to agree with my Uncle Althery. Grandfather Terish could help us deal, or at least understand, what happened to Kachevet. At the moment, she just has to continue in her present form.”
He asked, “What you are wanting to say, Jelnaya, is that Kachevet should join us?”
“No.” That was not said with conviction, but suddenly I found myself able to understand why I felt that way. “What she needs is a reason. Those of this world allow themselves to become animals, but there is a reason. They thus accept their lives. I did not go around town today hearing complaints of people having to be animals. They know why they are what they are. That is however what Kachevet does not have. She sees her body as a curse placed upon her by her own grandmother. I however hear too much in the events that tell me it was not a normal curse. The elder knew what she was doing to her grandchild, and it did not sound like an act of hate. I cannot speak of the process used to change Kachevet into her present form, but I feel that I can say that there is a reason for her form.” I however looked at her while admitting, “I however cannot tell you what it is, but I hope that you do not hate your grandmother.”
Kachevet dropped her chin as she replied, “No. No, I do not hate her.”
Seeing her weapon set beside her chair, I asked, “Where did you get that double ax?”
She acted surprise by the question, but did answer. “My father had me practice with it. It is called a drahabard.”
Alaner interrupted to ask, “A what? A drahabard?”
Knowing that she did not understand the language of Kachevet, I nodded. Alaner however began a discussion of what a drahabard should look like. Kachevet ended up unwrapping her weapon and showing it to the reporter. Alaner gained permission to hold the object, then she began to speak to the camera with me having to whisper a translation for Kachevet.
“We don’t know our religion, but we know our history. The great warrior Achonor used a special two-headed ax the texts call a drahabard. It was said that the weapon was lost upon his death with all saying that when one wielding such a weapon would return that our people would return to greatness.”
I interjected, “It’s not that great of a weapon. A sword is a lot more versatile.”
“Most stories of Achonor have him practicing with his weapon regularly to assure that he would be able to take on any challenge. It is early in our history, about a millennia or so before the accident that forced us to become animals.”
Althery shrugged while saying, “I read with Neselle the historical documents as well as the mythical. Achonor is found in both. Considering that your Goddess is active in your world, it is not surprising that this prophecy of history connects to our study of religion. I will thus discuss this with Neselle and those of whom she consults.”
More information helps put things in context, but really does not help understand.