To Face the Ugly Deed
We were not in Hell. I accepted that the building might have once been a church. I knew the term, but had never really seen such a structure. Listening to Jelnaya and Makinor make associations with certain defaced symbols and pieces of broken furniture provided me with references that helped me identify the location. I however found it strange to hear the words from the lady considering we were in what they called the main sanctuary.
“I’m going after the horses.”
Makinor replied, “I won’t stop you, Jelnaya, but I doubt we’ll need them.”
“Horses, no, but they’re people. Clops of the hooves, shakes of the head, we could get answers from them.”
As she left to go back through the building, I simply commented, “She’s something.”
Makinor looked at me and asked, “Is Quafrey telling you the same thing Onathia is telling me?” I simply looked at him, so he went ahead and supplied the information. “Jelnaya is going to go the distance, and do all she can to be ready for whatever might be faced. Onathia is telling me that is what is going to be required of me.”
I looked around at this strange building to some strange deity that allowed its hallow ground to be desecrated and thought of all the odd things I had seen while asking, “Why haven’t you been doing that?”
“I didn’t feel that I had to. With Onathia matters are not this serious. I mean, they are, as matters of the heart are important, but at the worst two people separate. Here, people are being corrupted. This is something I relegated to stories.”
Not even having tales to help me relate to what I had been experiencing, I asked, “What type of god once was worshipped here?”
“Let’s see if we can find out.”
He went to an altar to pick up a scratched up item. He pulled out a cloth then worked at cleaning and polishing what I assumed was an object promoting a deity while speaking of having the gold to pay to again gild it, but not knowing if any offering by him would be accepted. He however spoke of why he was here, and what he hoped to do. When he set the item back on the altar asking for information about the one who had more than the souls of those that worshipped here corrupted, I found the entire room to turn bright.
The being was rather lean with soft brown hair that fell to his shoulders. About his body were leafy strands from which dropped colored sections of cloth. I did not feel he was a good representation of masculinity, but I accepted he was divine.
“Feel free to rest here. You will not gain my welcome, but I will prefer your presence more than those who had ravaged what had once been my home.”
“We will not gain your welcome?”
“I’m not going to tell you my history or that of this place. You have a history of your own, and its cause I trust will not stop you from doing what must be done. I don’t consider you as helping me, but helping yourself. However, I will acknowledge that you are not ones that I should be angry with.”
Through a broken window, I heard the voice of Jelnaya say, “Keeping soldiers in ignorance does not aid the generals in holding their loyalty.”
The divine entity continued to look to Makinor as it said, “It is obvious that things happened here. Those things however should not have happened, but the people were seeking other answers than mine. There was a point where they were no longer worth fighting for. Things were done here because the people sought their own control, their own answers, and used their own souls hoping to gain them.”
Makinor bowed while saying, “Well, thank you.”
“It was a nice gesture what you did with my icon. I did appreciate it. Thank you.”
As I heard the clop of hooves on the scattered tiles, Makinor asked, “Do you recognize the god?”
Jelnaya replied, “No. Nothing about him or the pantheon.”
I had to ask, “How many worlds are there?”
“If you ever meet my Grandfather Terish, ask him. He’ll tell you.”
Makinor said, “Onathia is telling me to go with you and meet your family.”
“Not my family, Makinor, but the immortal couples. My Great-uncle Ferrigote and Great-Aunt Dirchein. My Grandfather Terish and Grandmother Straekin. Aunt Neselle and Uncle Althery. There are others, and they are all my standards. When I told Fergush I wanted it all, I made it clear that I wanted a marriage like those.”
“Yes, that’s what she meant.”
“I visit them often, Makinor, and you know they will visit with me. You met my great-uncle.”
Instead of making an exclamation of having certain memories suddenly gaining importance, I found myself surprised hearing him ask, “Oh, yes, and how was your birthday party?”
“We ended up having almost the entire town of Nerkeggon celebrating with us. It was great.”
I moved to aid Jelnaya with the horses just to help me hear what she spoke of. I did not know the people, but understood she was not simply talking about elders. I looked at the set of buildings around me accepting that there were communities much larger than my own or those I knew about. Hearing of Lebranaut, I also understood she and Makinor were part of a history with much more depth than the simple stories the elders would tell us. Suddenly, it struck me what type of life I was entering. The range of characters, the level of difficulty, and the styles of behaviors that I would face were beyond my comprehension. I moved from the horses suddenly worried about my own life.
I found myself facing Quafrey, and almost with anger I asked, “Does Eashae know about any of this?”
The goddess replied with her own question. “Why does it matter?”
“Because she will have to love me. I am going to come home from these missions with all these memories of things no one else in the village could comprehend wanting, needing her compassion and care. Yes, I will love her, but not as some simple female who serves me as a slave.”
“You should have thought of that before you took her.”
I knelt before Quafrey as I admitted, “Yes, I should have. There is much more than that I should have thought of. Still, Quafrey, you are having me realize, accept, understand much more than I ever even considered. I am not going to take Eashae into the life I thought I would bring her. If she is my wife, she will however need to stand by me.”
“She is not from your world, Nebard. My attachment to her is only through you. She could end up just being your first through your life. Still, yes, she could better relate to Jelnaya’s and Makinor’s words. Where she would fail is where I hope you are truly seeing the dreariness of your life. Eashae also grew up in a society that did not respect the gods. That is what really needs to change with your community, Nebard. More than that, our world has a multitude of deities. I will need to see about them becoming more active, and as I awaken certain entities I will need you working to awaken the people. Your life will not be as Jelnaya and Makinor, but you need to see things they are talking about to help you understand the immensity of the changes that could come.”
“Is all this new to you as well?”
“In a way. Because of your prayers, those of your mother, and some from other ladies I actually was aware of the Privileged. It caused me to make decisions. What is happening is new to me, but it is according to my hopes and dreams for my world and the people of my world.”
I rose while saying, “Thank you for your time, Quafrey.”
“You are my champion, Nebard. I have accepted you into my life, so it is only proper that we spend time with each other. If you don’t come to me, or I don’t come to you, there is a fault in our lives that we should seek to immediately address.”
“I still appreciate this.”
“Life is going to be rough on you, Nebard. You will need my presence. I made the decision, and will live by it. I expect the same from you.”
I turned to look again at the desecrated temple around me. Makinor was working with Jelnaya to do something with the horses. I returned to the lady apologizing for my absence, and saw her turn as if not bothered by having to do the work without me.
“Makinor and I are divine champions as well, Nebard. We fully understand. Also, we understand that the gods do have precedence. Time with them is first.”
I tried to explain. “I was listening to you speak, and realized your background was nothing like mine. It has been apparent from the start, but it is really starting to sink in that I will be relating to people like you, and situations like this, and I worried about my wife.”
Makinor commented, “I hope to one day have my thoughts go off in such a direction.”
“Yes, but Quafrey said that Eashae is not from her world, so might not gain any blessing. My goddess said that Eashae might just become my first.”
“You should still love her.”
“No. Yes. What I mean is that I do, I will, love her. The problem is that she is going to have to live with me, listen to me, and deal with me. Other than being a simple obedient lady, how can she truly be someone to stand at my side as an equal?”
Jelnaya replied, “You might be surprised at what that lady can do. Look at you, Nebard. Look at all you are managing to do.”
Makinor said, “You however might need to find comfort in the fact you will not be the first immortal to cry over the grave of a dear loved one.”
I had to confess, “I believe I was wrong in taking Eashae.”
Jelnaya replied, “It was the way of your people, Nebard, so you were not wrong. You are also very correct that now you have taken her it is your obligation to accept her as your equal. She is not your obedient lady or servant, but your wife. Now, I assume your society has its rules for how a lady should behave. She should conform to them, as well as help you in this strange life. That is her obligation, and if she simply becomes an obedient lady who cooks your food, raises your children, and comforts you that is her fault.”
I simply nodded as I heard the voice of my goddess tell me to listen to what Jelnaya was saying. The action had me remember movements I saw my companions make. Accepting that they were also hearing other voices, I found myself allowing that I was with those who could advise me on this new life. Wondering if Quafrey was also receiving guidance from the deities who directed Jelnaya and Makinor, I decided to ask another question.
“Do you believe the gods understand us?”
Makinor replied, “It does not matter. You explain things to them, because it is how you relate to them. If you do not explain yourself to them, there is no way you can expect them to bother telling you things.”
Jelnaya chuckled, then said when Makinor finished, “I often wonder the same thing, Nebard. I tend to believe Fergush does not understand me at all. I tell everyone, and he even tells me, that he just enjoys watching me in action. I sometimes do not believe he has a clue what I am up to or how I plan to accomplish whatever I am setting myself to do. He always sounds pleased with me, and that is really enough.”
“You are like me, Jelnaya, and dealing with a deity of the opposite gender. Do you think that is part of their not understanding?”
“I believe that is part of the reason he likes watching me. While as a god he surely can watch at liberty a multitude of ladies, as a man I believe he gains more pleasure in watching my fine body than that of one of his male champions.”
Makinor did not fully laugh, but he did spend a period simply chuckling. I could not help but believe he heard some comments from his goddess. While Quafrey was silent, I kept a smile on my face with the simple pleasure of being able to understand the humor.
And the fate of Eashae again becomes under discussion.