The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Twenty-Five – Complete
Neselle: The Hard Decisions

As the feed from a couple of cameras in town was directly fed into the main news channel, Althery opened the door to the room I was in to say, “Leave it to Jelnaya. Give her a simple assignment, and she figures out a way to make it into something more.”

Bulorth replied, “I don’t consider a debate in the middle of the city to be the best forum for deciding our fate.”

He had said as much to me, but I had overruled him to put the discussion of regular people at an intersection in the city before the public at large. “No, as it should be a decision of the people. It has been among the regular people that the worship of the Goddess continued, so they should have the connection to Her. In any event, the general public has heard us debate enough. It was time for a different perspective.”

“Well, should we provide commentary on top?”

Suddenly both of our heads turned as the view of a monitor switched. We were being given the feeds of other debates around the world. Some were in a more organized setting, but all where the people could gather. I saw public parks, the arenas of coliseums, and many locations where those having the discussions had to move it outside just to handle the growing number of speakers and listeners. I gasped in amazement, then made a decision.

“Open up all the channels, except the religious channels.”

Bulorth looked at me as if I was stupid as he exclaimed, “What?”

“This is more important than whatever else is being shown. Open it up. Let the people have access to each other. NOW!”

I quickly learned that what I said was not so easily done. There were a multitude of local channels each with their own authorities, corporate mandate, and personal beliefs. A number of us however began making calls and doing what we could. Once the main government learned of what we were attempting, they put their support behind our effects. Considering that it was simply a regulating agency, it had the resources to assure compliance and uniform handling of situations. It took a few hours, but eventually the people had access to numerous discussions in a variety of manners, some even with the usual figureheads speaking their typical words of wisdom, to decide between. While I felt drained from the constant activity of speaking to others about what to show, it was good to learn that the public response was very appreciative with the communication network being loaded with messages for the various channels not to switch back to regular programming.

As I set down a phone, I saw a bottle of wine set before me. I looked to see Elbery smiling at me. I recognized the vintage as one he had given me before. I thus poured us both some into our glasses as I spoke to him.

“I have not gone with Althery yet as his wife. I can thus still spend time with you, Elbery.”

“It would still be play.”

“But it won’t be pretend. I will know, at least have good evidence for, what I do with you.”

He drained his glass, then spoke as he poured himself some more. “No, I guess you’re right. I however have pretended so long that I might not appreciate the truth. No, Lady Neselle, I just wanted you to understand that I never worked against you. I gave you the bottle before to assure a proper rite to the god Fergush. This one is to state my assurance that you are indeed a proper voice for our Goddess. She had to have known.”

“I don’t know. I believe that like Althery sending out Jelnaya that there was just a feeling that something needed to happen. It was time to have us rethink our situation. What was just a simple act to kill a threat to the people however became a cause for us to realize that there was a deeper threat to our souls. We had gone on with our lives for so long that it took something as grand as two other-worldly heroes actually possessing the powers to tackle a legendary monster to shake us out of our stupor. Maybe the deities did have some grand knowledge of what was to happen, but I like to think that some of our successes came from us stepping up to perform at a higher level than what was expected of us.”

“Well, I am glad to be living in this time, in this city, and being able to work with you. Drink up, Lady Neselle,”

I grabbed Elbery and kissed him full on the lips. He at first reacted as any boy, and tried to fight me off. His mature mind however quickly had him accept my sign of affection with him actually reaching out to hold me close as well. As our lips parted, I said the words that I felt was needed.

“You can now go through eternity without there being any doubt in your mind that we did indeed share some moments.”

“Ah, yes, Lady Neselle. You can be certain that I will never forget.”

Althery then approached and kissed me before saying, “That is one of my problems – I keep forgetting. I thus need to be reminded.” After some chuckles from those around us, including Elbery, Althery asked, “What should we do, or what are we waiting for?”

It was Hanell that replied, “We don’t know. If you have any other ideas, like that which had you send Jelnaya out on a patrol, feel free to put them into action.”

“My intent was to keep my niece out of trouble. Although, if she had heard me say that, she would just laugh at me.” After some more chuckles sounded, he asked, “Seriously, though, is anyone noticing anything suspicious about what is going on?”

“No, Althery. The people are indeed debating the issues. Even if one of the divine personalities were present, their voice would only be one among the group.”

I added, “And those I hear are basing their arguments on the facts we had learned. That means that the people have been paying attention to what has been done. They thus should be able to reason clearly. All we can do now is wait.”

Elbery asked, “So, what should we be preparing for?”

Encouraging them. They will surely tire. Some will come to their own conclusions, and consider the matter settled. What we must do is let them know that they did well, and to continue in such a spirit once they have rested or otherwise settled what business is necessary. We must have them keep the faith in the Goddess. When they tire, our work starts again. We cannot allow the moment to die.”

That was a substantial response to the people around me. I was with the humans that directed the media. They were trained in handling emergencies and providing entertainment. In effect I had told them to combine their two disciplines. Those around me considered that a doable, although slightly challenging, order. The people set to work to have themselves ready when the signal to regain control of the broadcasts was given.

I called the religious stations to let them know our plans. The voices that spoke to me sounded surprised that I would consider them. Even in the present situation, we had basically told them to just keep doing what they were doing. I however let them know that we, the entire media community, needed to work to support the people. If a person wanted a serious religious discussion, they should find it. If they wanted more of a normal church service, they should find it. If they wanted a more practical discussion, they should find it. The religious stations found it strange to think that the public at large might desire more religious broadcasting, but provided the information I desired willing to help.

Bulorth helped me by basically handling the other end of my conversation. As I was finding out what the religious stations were planning, he set up programs to provide the other types of presentations. Writers were given the duties to come up with topics and manners of handling the issues associated with the subject. Personalities were given schedules with some told to get some rest while others rushed to have themselves looking at their best. Bulorth also spoke to those handling the media in other towns and delegating the workload so that fresh people with new material could keep the people focusing on the issue facing the world.

The crowds did indeed begin to disperse. As predicted, each broke up in their own manners. As soon as a channel was found to no longer have a forum, a media production was given the signal to begin. Some people who had realized that they were on camera, and had found themselves coming to some strong conclusions, demanded a chance to formally present their views. They were given their time. Some authorities wanted to stress the competence in our present system, so asked that we present the documentaries on the facets of our government along with the information on the games and what happened to the children. They were also allowed channels to have their facts presented. I found Bulorth working with me to coordinate all the channels over the world to not ostracize any, but assure that when they went home that they could have access to the type of thoughts that they desired.

Special commercials were made to strengthen the message that we were in an important moment in time. While products could still be presented, the message to speak to the Goddess became the primary focus. After I approved another commercial, the company representative asked the question I expected to become common.

“How long are we going to continue this?”

“We don’t know. Even I have no idea. We know the basic facts of the earlier incident. Then the crisis was real, in that only children remained alive. They found themselves forced to deal with their situation, and they choose the system that we have been living under for the last four centuries. Honestly, they did well. That is part of our present system. We are not truly in a crisis. We can continue. Since at that time mankind worked their own solution, they set their own timetable. Now, we must trust the Goddess. Exactly how long we must wait, or those from that earlier period should have waited, we have no way of knowing.”

I saw the eyes of the man dart around, then he whispered, “Honestly, I don’t think we have the will to wait too long.”

“I fear that myself. I was given immortality, and told by the Goddess to stay strong. I thus fear that I will be forced to survive through more years, decades, centuries of the game before another chance comes.”

The head of the man this time acted as if he was listening to another, which was verified when he spoke. “I have just been informed that we will work on a couple more commercials. We will do what we can to survive the moment. Maybe we aren’t strong enough, but we cannot give up too quickly either. Do what you can to keep the people motivated and informed, and we will support you with a diversity of material in the breaks to keep them watching.”

“If we fail, I will make it point to tell the Goddess about those that tried.”

“Thank you.”

And the Goddess finally makes her decision.