The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Twenty-Four – Part One
Jelnaya: Work Continues

It was when I went to the rest room that I recognized the extent of the change that came over me. I felt that my hair from my head was even longer by a few inches than it had been earlier. It was not messy, but settled around my shoulders and flowed down my back. Others spoke of my hair blazing, and I lifted strands to see if I could detect any play in the lights. I did not see anything special, except for the bright red and yellow colors. Wishing that I had time to consider changing my makeup and other things about my appearance, I accepted what I saw in the mirror telling Fergush that if such was how he wanted to be proclaimed it was fine with me.

I came out the door only to face my Uncle Althery as he asked, “Do you have orders that you need to go fulfill?”

Speaking loudly enough to assure that Fergush could hear, I answered, “No, as that was not the deal. I asked for it all, but you, Great-uncle Ferrigote, and the others that worship Fergush that I know of do not go rushing around from fight to fight. Even Great-uncle Ferrigote did not do that when Grandfather Terish was rushing around due to his insanity. I thus expect times of relaxation.”

As if not believing what he heard, Uncle Althery said, “That’s not a wig.”

“No, but I can take my armor off and set my weapons down. I can find myself with the time to allow someone the chance to warm my cold, cold heart.” Hoping to change the subject, I asked, “How do I look?”

“You were quite the looker before, Jelnaya. The hair does nothing but make people look.” As if understanding that his words were not good enough, he commanded, “Come here.”

I followed him into a room. There did not seem anything special about the apartment. Uncle Althery however said nothing about the simple décor, but simply went to a computer terminal. I watched as he ran a video of me fighting in the stadium. I had been told by others about my blazing hair, but it was nice to actually see what they were talking about. Feeling that I had been supplied with an answer, I spoke to provide my uncle with an answer of my own.

“I am not going to limit Fergush. As far as it goes, I consider things to work both ways. If he wants me to be a blazing spectacle when I fight for him, fine, but I expect to be just as magnificent when not fighting for him. The money, the property, the glamour, all of it.”

“If I was Fergush, I would be damn scared of what I had done. But I’m not. I have the luxury of being your uncle. I love you, Jelnaya. If you need anything, even if it is a place to rest, you come to me. I however also want the ability to come to you. I might need some excitement in my life, or I might simply be concerned for my oldest niece.”

I hugged the man while saying, “I love you, Uncle Althery.”

“Listen, Jelnaya, all comments about the bad things of Fergush aside, you have been a positive help in this situation. If you don’t have a mission, I would like for you to go on patrol. I don’t trust the situation at all. The minor divinities of this universe are rather sneaky bastards. We are giving them a fight that they have never, and from what I have read I do mean never, had to face before. They are still there however. Move about staying alert. Talk to people, whatever you feel led to do, but it would be nice if we can face any trouble again before it gets too serious.”

“Well, sitting around here does not sound like any fun.”

He smiled, then I could tell looked at me before commenting, “That hair. I don’t know if it is going to help you, Jelnaya. You might find it to entice more men than it scares away, but don't you go accept those that blame things on your looks. Take the credit.”

I hugged the man again while admitting, “I definitely will. I was not tricked into this life, but faced Fergush without fear. I told him that he would be proud of me, and I accept that it means the hair he gave me as well.”

Leaving the room, I saw Lebranaut and Genory advancing. Uncle Althery moved to shake their hands, then told us he was returning to Neselle. None of us could fault him for that, so wished him well. I simply advanced to see what these other men wanted to speak to me about.

Genory said, “Jelnaya, I must say that I never had the chance at you or Neselle. Still, I feel that this adventure was indeed enlightening. I thus shall go back to Onathia letting her know of my satisfaction with her guidance.”

Lebranaut was not as direct with his statement. “Lady Jelnaya, I… well, I… I just… Well, I believe that I have fought enough. I wish you well with your service to Fergush, but I have decided that I do not want to fight anymore.”

I went up and hugged the large solid form of Lebranaut as I said, “You however fought well, Lebranaut. I cannot complain about your companionship. Keep the sword, as life will just give you reasons to need it. As for the armor, what will you do with it?”

“Maybe Baron Ferrigote will have a use for it.”

“I really have never seen him wear that great of a covering. Honestly, I don’t know anyone that wears that type of armor. Plus, the way you move in it could not be matched by another.”

I thought to tell him it was armor for someone that worshipped Debogda. I just could not tell him to take it to a temple to the god. Taking a moment to think, allowing the man to look at me during that time, I found myself coming to a conclusion.

“You keep that armor, Lebranaut. Along with your name, it should help you to never forget who you are. You are the one in a thousand. There is something special about you. Don’t you ever forget it. However dull and mundane life gets, remember that you, yourself, are special. Be proud of yourself.”

“I will, Jelnaya. I will ever treasure my memories of you. However, I will also recognize that your life is not my life.”

Genory said, “I will treasure your memory as well. Well, we will both need guidance to go back home. If you do not mind. I mean, once all this is over.”

Lebranaut added, “Although if you do need us, we are willing.”

I replied, “I cannot say that I am going to be needed. Uncle Althery asked me to make a patrol, but that was all. He suspects that there might be other divine agents prowling about, but I believe the people face a large enough problem on their own. No, both you men should be free to consider your own future. I wish you both the best, and will check up on each of you if I ever get the opportunity.”

This time I hugged both of the young men. They hugged me in return. I noticed that neither mentioned my hair, but both simply asked if I was certain about being all right. I assured them that I would have someone use the computer network to call them in their rooms if I found myself needing help. Both young men accepted my words, and after wishing me well they left.

“I saw you using the Drahabard.”

The voice came behind me. I recognized it, so was not surprised to see Kachevet. She was carrying her copy of the weapon. Not really certain her reason for approaching, I tried to be friendly.

“It is a good weapon against multiple opponents. I am still going to carry a sword, as what I did to you I have to allow that others might do it to me.”

She just smiled, then asked, “Could we spar for a while?”

“I promised my Uncle Althery that I would perform a patrol.”

“A patrol?”

“Yes. Nothing special. Just move about the town seeing if there is any reason for being worried. You already have the regular security forces, the predators, but one more set of eyes should help everyone feel at peace. Of course, there is also the hope that my divine recognition will cause the things I am to be looking for to either be noticed by me, or react to my presence.”

Kachevet walked up to me holding her weapon out. Making an assumption, I presented my drahabard. She did indeed compare her facsimile to my real thing. Hers had more detail work, but mine could easily be assessed to be made of better material. Her side attacks would pierce the opponents, but actually not go very deep. While the curved edge of mine made more of a slice, with a little elbow action I found that it could sink into the body inflicting a serious injury. While we did not actually spar with each other, we traded weapons and spoke about combat theory.

Handing the Drahabard back to me, Kachevet asked, “If the actual weapon was going to be presented, why did I need to come with my weapon?”

“Maybe just to let everyone know that the real thing actually existed. Legends are not exactly history. I also cannot say that this world actually needed the return of the Drahabard. As far as the prophecy, your coming met the conditions that I know about. What I did with Neselle was to hopefully get a more fulfilling response to the events presently happening. However, I would not have thought of looking for something of the drahabard, or even your reason for being here, if you had not come.”

“Do you know why I had to be changed into a fox?”

“No.” To hopefully lighten the conversation, I added, “I don’t even know why I had to gain this red and yellow hair.” Seeing her smile, I related what facts I could. “It was a fox that brought the Drahabard to your world. Why a fox, I do not know. None of Neselle’s people are foxes.”

“Will I stay a fox?”

I really did not like supplying the information I knew about that question. “Your grandmother was sorrowful about what she did to you. She admitted that she sealed the transformation, but she stressed how unusual it was for the rite she put you through to work. What she did at the end was to hopefully protect you by preventing the change from not being recognized due to being temporary.” Attempting to keep things positive, I added, “But we are dealing with deities who have tremendous power. Once things are resolved, we can surely petition to change you back.”

“I don’t know if I want to go back.”

“Listen, Kachevet, just because you were not wronged by others does not mean that you cannot wrong others. There is a lot going on here, and you have been brought into this just like I was. You need to do what you can to keep your own motives and actions pure. If you don’t, what could happen to you might be worse than your present state.”

She became quiet for a moment, then asked, “Could I go out on patrol with you?”

“Sure. Come on.”

As is usual for Jelnaya, what should be a simple patrol becomes something else.