The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Twenty-One – Part Two
Neselle: And We Return to the Coliseum
The predators around me set themselves to protect me. Some grabbed my arms telling me to leave the arena. I however resisted. When that did not work I drew Jelnaya’s sword. That had the predators pause, and seizing my moment I returned to the microphone.
“GO HOME! Don’t assemble for someone to tell you what is best for you. Go home and allow the Goddess to direct you. Trust Her. Trust Her.”
That was all I could say before the rush of creatures was upon us. Jelnaya was easily to identify with her blaze of red and yellow. The heavy steps of Lebranaut could also be recognized over the steps of the other creatures. As I stepped around a tiger to take a swing at a scorpion creature, I heard Hanell better state some advice being yelled by other predators.
“Neselle, it is not your place to fight.”
“No, but it is my place to direct the fight. I worked with Althery and Nuchirg. I directed things against Minotaur and Drekommell. It is thus my place to direct things here, against whatever that entity is called.”
Hearing a name for the creature surprised me. It also confused me that I could not remember the name. We had so many, but most we felt were actual historic figures and not divine personalities. To hear a name for the creature I did not recognize bothered me. I however had studied enough documents to recognize certain ancient terms, and from there I made the connection.
“Ah, yes, star that speaks. I don’t think we expected it to refer to something like this.”
“No, but with Reclash identified as an ancient term, we had been relooking at others.”
Hanell did put in more time than me in reading the ancient documents. Being more focused on certain issues, I felt my time was better spent in application of the knowledge. Hanell however sought for wisdom among the words, and not just in the message they were presenting. Our different perspectives made our debates sometimes rather obscure in how what I was saying related to what she was saying, but I believe we both enjoyed them. A lion however spoke of an issue more immediate than interpreting ancient texts.
“What should we do, Lady Neselle?”
“Just protect the people. Honestly, we are going to have to trust them to do what is right.”
The smile that I put on my face to tell the lion that the words also included him disappeared as I heard another voice say, “Honestly, Neselle, that is the worst thing that you could do.”
I spun upon Berbishet with Jelnaya’s sword pointed at him as I said, “You are so very wrong.”
“They are going to decide wrong.”
“How would you know? I do know that with your guidance that they decided wrong. I believe that I can say with the guidance of others they decided wrong. Our history is filled with wrong decisions. At least this time it can be said that they made their own minds.”
Berbishet tried to confidently move the point of my blade aside, but I thrust. Jelnaya’s blade might not have been enchanted, but it pleased me to see the metal sink into the form of the tall gangly creature. I felt the suffering on his face was real as Berbishet spoke.
“They will be worse off than they are now.”
“Yes, well I have been given the years to see them through. I will have plenty of time to instruct them in things. Right now I have had to focus on simply learning. Give me time, and I hopefully will feel able to actually speak with authority. In any case, the final authority is the Goddess. She wants Her people to put their faith in Her. Well, that is what I am trying to give them the chance to do.”
“They want to be led, Neselle.”
He was trying get off the sword, but I put more power behind it and I believe had the tip come out the other side of his body as I said, “If they want to be led by you, Horkabelt, or any of you, it is to their shame, as they know your advice is wrong.”
Over the coliseum speakers came the words of Elbery, “Keep speaking, Neselle. We have you on our ground audio even if you get away from the microphone.”
I looked to see deer huddled in places holding large oddly shaped cones. I knew them as they were how a number of comments between contestants in the game were picked up. Having them present did please me in knowing that I could move away from the microphone, although seeing the deer risking their lives did not bring me comfort. I however glanced and saw that there were plenty of predators to help resist the minor creatures. Jelnaya and Lebranaut were taking care of a major opponent, and probably removing a lot of other opponents as well. I thus looked to Berbishet to let him know that I would put my focus on removing him.
Instead of speaking to him however, I spoke my words to another. “Goddess, I have come to love and respect you greatly. However, if you sent Berbishet to me to direct my guidance of your people, you made a serious mistake, because I will not follow anything he says.”
Suddenly, the blade of Jelnaya’s sword was free, as the form of Berbishet was no longer present. I thanked the Goddess, then began swatting at creatures until I could get to a scorpion creature that had wounded a lion. I killed the divine pest, then took a stance before him to block further opponents and give him a space to get himself to some medical attention. As I worked Jelnaya’s sword, I saw predators rush to surround me with Hanell speaking some advice.
“Neselle, it is not your place to fight.”
“No, but it is my place to lead. The people need to get home. They need to put their trust in the Goddess. Horkabelt, Berbishet, all these monsters, they all are simply intent to get the people to focus on other things. I have made my decision, and actually been rewarded for it. I can fight. The rest of you, which possibly means you as well, Hanell, need to pray to the Goddess for aid and direction.”
“No, Neselle, as I am at peace. Each day I get to spend time with you and the holy texts is a joy, but not enough to make me want it to continue eternally.”
I turned to look at others as I said, “The rest of you, if you have families, go to them. If you are not at peace with your life, go home and seek it.”
A tiger replied, “It is our job to protect those who cannot protect themselves, Lady Neselle. At the moment, that means you.”
I was about to reply, but Hanell cut me short. “Don’t say it, Neselle. You are not a fighter. Yes, you have been taught things, and the elders of you herd are very good fighters, so you have learned some very good techniques. Still, it is not your place to fight.”
For some reason, those words sounded wrong. The thought came to my mind that her very words spoke against her conclusion. I was of the herd of Jelnaya, and she was performing fantastic combat moves with a weapon she had no familiarity with. Lebranaut was not of my herd, but had been brought as a possible extended family member, and he fought very well. I thought about what I had been doing, and a rebellious part of my mind told me that I could indeed fight. I however thought about what I was really doing, and I found the words of my mind to be as wrong as those of Berbishet.
“This isn’t right,” I mumbled.
My confusion had me lose the rhythm of the combat. The predators working to protect me took their opportunity to surround me and remove me from battle. I did not consider that right either. I saw the mass of creatures around me, and wondered what more could I do. The people needed protection, and at the moment I had no other option but to fight to give them the safety to perform what they needed to do. Jelnaya and I had gone to get the drahabard, which was a weapon. Combat thus seemed to be the right thing to do for the moment.
I looked up to the stands and felt relief that almost of the people were now gone. The lights were still on in the announcer’s booth, and I felt that I saw the small head of Elbery. Looking at the deer huddled near their special microphones, I saw Alaner there with a regular mike speaking some commentary to the audience or maybe just some information to those operating the cameras or transmissions. I thought to yell to them to leave, but noticed that the monsters did not go about as if looking for easy victims. They all stayed in the center of the field as if to assure they gained some time on the TV screens of those watching. Suddenly I felt that I was again playing a game. I looked up to the sky, and nodded with an understanding of my place.
After sheathing Jelnaya’s blade, I moved to a lion and demanded, “Let me by.”
Lady Neselle,” he growled back.
“No. Don’t you understand? We are wrong. All of us are wrong. I know what I have to do.”
Hanell screamed out my name. Of all those around me I felt that she should understand. Her words did not cause me to cry because she did not understand, but an acknowledgement that if she did not understand, then all those watching on their TV screens did not understand. They however needed the guidance I, and even Hanell, was supposed to provide. I thus screamed back her to hopefully get my words to sink in.
“I AM IMMORTAL! THE THINGS WE ARE FIGHTING ARE ETERNAL! Don’t you understand, they cannot kill me! They cannot kill Jelnaya! Maybe Lebranaut, but in that armor I doubt anything is going to hurt him. More than that, we cannot kill these creatures. This fight is pointless. GO HOME! PRAY! PUT YOUR TRUST IN THE GODDESS!”
“NESELLE, IT IS MY JOB, THESE PREDATORS JOB, TO PROTECT YOU.”
“You stupid, stupid, wolf.”
She glared at me. I did not care at about her thoughts or emotions. I pushed myself past the wall of protectors, then rushed out in the midst of the enemy. Holding my hands out, I turned to the announcer’s booth on top of which I knew they had a camera. I then spoke hoping that all at home were watching me.
“PUT YOUR FAITH IN THE GODDESS!”
At that moment I felt the sting of a scorpion’s tail. My body jerked from the strike of something’s appendage hitting me. Teeth sunk into a leg. I collapsed knowing that I did the right thing, but hoping those watching understood.
Back to Jelnaya and her antics, although strangely they do seem to work.