The third Neselle story -
Of Men and Love in General
Chapter Seven – Complete

Jelnaya: Meeting Family

Coming to the castle, I saw the great doors open and a gold lady rush out to me. Great-aunt Dirchein was always a most positive person. I never knew my Great-uncle Ferrigote’s previous wives, but believed most of the stories because there was nothing about them that matched his present wife. My great-uncle was not someone that repeated mistakes, and the one that rushed out to me was completely different than most other ladies.

“I am most glad to have you here, Jelnaya. You should know to treat this land as your home, and it is so nice when a member of our family comes back home.”

I did my best not to have the lady think bad of me. “I do need rest, Great-aunt Dirchein. Also, I need to speak to Uncle Althery, and I was told that he was here.”

“Oh, yes. He and Neselle are planning something.”

I had heard of Neselle. Visited my grandmother’s world once and heard a lot about the young lady. Wondering about the truth of Neselle, and her relationship with my Uncle Althery, I took the words in a positive manner.

“Let me get a bath, Great-aunt Dirchein, then I will see if I can find them.”

She had me turn toward the castle while saying, “It should not be hard, Jelnaya. You should know my home.”

My eyes lifted toward the doors, and I smiled seeing my Uncle Althery. He had an anxious expression that changed into one of extreme puzzlement as he looked at me. The man was not that much older than me. He must have been twenty, while I was almost seventeen. Most said that I looked a lot like my mother, as my appearance did not reflect my father’s side of the family. Uncle Althery however had an almost perfect blend of my father’s parents. He and I did share certain goals however, and what few encounters we had was almost filled with us exchanging notes. I thus returned the smile to the man while waiting for his words.

“We cannot be waiting for you.”

I did not ask, but expected to be informed. “No. Fergush however told me to go to you, as you sought the same blessing that I did.”

“How did you manage that? I had to get my words of support from Terdeskollit.”

I had once personally met the all-powerful divinity that ruled the universe that my grandfather, and Great-aunt Dirchein, called home. I thus knew first-hand just how true the words of his maliciousness were. My response to my uncle was thus stated with solid experience.

“Sucks to be you.”

A wide grin came to his face before he said, “Want me to fill you in on what is going on?”

“Yes, but I would like to bathe first. If this thing includes your sweetie, Neselle, might as well join the both of you.”

Great-aunt Dirchein continued to stay close, but when Uncle Althery held out an arm to me I took it. He did not immediately begin walking, but looked me over. Not being in a mood to discuss business, I was glad for the topic he chose.

“How recently did you have that armor made?”

“Found it. Enchanted crystal has its charm, and it looks very nice when clean. I however don’t know who to bring it to for adjustment.”

“Have you brought it to Thiminy? The dwarves in the mountains can do some wonderful work with crystals.”

“No. Have not been to Thiminy since the rescue of the space-travelers. I did bring it to some elves on the centaur world, but they could not work with it.”

We discussed armor as we moved through the castle. Not what I would consider a compatible conversation with most men, but Uncle Althery and I had enough in common that we could entertain each other even with such a mundane topic. It was not a topic for Great-aunt Dirchein, so she stated some pleasant words then moved off with her own business. Uncle Althery and I also tended to have the same style of combat, so what one of us said about movements being affected by our armor could apply to the other, which meant that we took each other’s comments seriously.

At the door to my room, Uncle Althery paused to say, “Really, Jelnaya, you should meet Neselle. There are things about her you might appreciate.”

“Fergush told me to go to you, Uncle Althery. If you are spending time with this Neselle then I will as well. I promised Fergush that I would accept his advice.”

“I don’t worship Fergush, Jelnaya.”

“I went to him claiming him as a family friend, Uncle Althery. Fergush did not deny the association, and as a family friend he advised me to go to you.”

The man laughed. I took that as a good sign, as he would have grown up closer to the deity than I did. I grew up on another world that only had a connection to our family due to my grandfather attending college there. Uncle Althery was however my grandfather’s son, so knew his personality better along with that of Great-uncle Ferrigote. Since both elders had association with Fergush, I suspected that Uncle Althery had learned more about the deity than I. His laughter thus put me at ease.

While still snickering, he asked me, “Did you use the shrine outside?”

“I did.”

“I am then going to go there.”

Not wanting the man to think me completely irrational, I gave him some words of advice in mentioning what I had done to gain the audience. “I had a couple of monster skins along with that of their offspring to offer.”

“I have done some deeds for the god. If he does not consider me worthy, then he is not as much of a family friend as he says.”

The voice of Fergush came from above us, “I told Jelnaya to go to you, Althery. You should not need to be told anything more.”

Althery sputtered, “Well, yes, but – but, damn, Fergush. I was going to escort Neselle back to her world. There could be serious problems there.” He hung his head, although I saw him lift his gaze to look at me as he added, “I guess that I could use Jelnaya, but she would just be one more intruder.”

“You will find Neselle telling you to wait. I did not consider you to challenge her.”

“I speak with Neselle, Fergush. I will ask the reason.”

“And she will tell you that her Goddess told her to wait. You are seeking immortality, Althery. Do not think that we deities consider that gift to be a minor blessing. There must be a reason, and you should fear its being offered.”

Those words actually had Uncle Althery lift his gaze, but instead of any words of defiance he said, “I hope that Samayer is not getting jealous of you hanging out with this foreign Goddess.”

“Oh, I am most entertained, in that I am surrounded by ladies. All three of the goddesses of this reality are involved with this foreign Goddess. I just happen to have the relationship with this family, but it is enough of a connection to require my presence. Even with the various ladies around me, Samayer still has my ultimate approval.”

I said, “Thank you for speaking, Fergush.”

The words were supported by those of my uncle. “Yes, Fergush, thanks. I want it said that I have not ever turned down any request of yours.”

“I accept your place of submission, Althery, and I am pleased to have your honor. It would please me more to have your devotion, but I understand the complexity of the decisions and challenges that face those of the Dozzrine family. You, Althery, would be as proper to support Neselle as your father is to support the Goddess of his wife. Jelnaya, I would hope to gain more support from you than just as a family friend.”

I had to admit, “If you keep your promise, Fergush, I would have to recognize my debt. Grandfather has never denied his association with you, and always speaks of you positively. I just do not want my life set right now, even though I know it is the time for me to make certain decisions. What I need right now is advice, Fergush, and not commands. I thank you for what you are doing, and can only hope that you understand.”

“I understand the potential for greatness in those of this family, so accept it is wise for me to be a friend. I wish both of you the best. While I might be ‘he who fights,’ let me advise both of you to take some time to relax, as the coming fight will be worth any boon to the victors.”

I thanked Fergush again, then turned to the door to my room while saying, “Let me get a bath and some rest, Uncle Althery. Have someone alert me about the next meal, assuming that it is more than an hour away.”

“Yes, as it is still light outside. It doesn’t matter if it is summer or winter, as the surrounding mountains tends to have it getting dark about the same time. I will inform Aunt Dirchein about assuring that you are summoned for supper.”

Wondering about the challenge set for us, I asked, “What have you fought, Uncle Althery? I have fought a dragon, and have faced some other serious monsters. I have sought out grandfather for advice, and will spar against him at every opportunity.”

“Oh, I have had my challenges, but most of my fights never occurred. With Neselle I am facing the minor divine creatures of her pantheon that those of her world forgot when they denied the worship of their Goddess. Most are nothing more than what most worlds would consider fey or local spirits. There are some powerful ones that work closely with the Goddess however, and it is those that we will possibly face. I have to face them, Jelnaya, as I will continue to support Neselle. Still, most are beings that the honor comes in simply gaining their notice. Fighting them is suicidal, even for father and Great-uncle Ferrigote. Still, having someone of your experience would be nice.”

As I said, I took the words of my Uncle Althery as applying to me, so I thought about my own capabilities. “I am using my own sword, Uncle Althery. Like my armor, I found it and claimed it. Both have some magic in their manufacture, but neither has yet been especially enchanted or improved.”

“You know what to do about that, Jelnaya – go talk to Uncle Ferrigote. He can see that you have something that will do the job. He might not have the mass of gold like father, but serving a deity like Fergush he keeps himself prepared for a fight.”

“If I don’t join you later today, it will be because I am spending time with him.”

“No problem, as you heard Fergush tell me to wait. Until you join my company, I have another lady to dominate my time.”

With most major characters introduced, we can now return to Neselle and get this story going.