A Wish for Hope

Chapter Thirty-Four

I looked at those before me, then calmly said, “All I can do is authorize the marriage.  There is no doubt in my mind that Jelnaya would approve.  However, I cannot bless it.  She could, because as a divine champion of a god of this world she has that power.  Look to one of your priests for any blessing.  I will however set it down that your marriage is recognized.”

From the back of the room I heard a female scream out, “SHE’S ALREADY PREGNANT!”

“They are making it right,” I spoke only a little louder than I had been speaking.  “People can make mistakes.  What is demanded is that they take responsibility for their actions.  These two youngsters have come speaking of doing just that, and it would be wrong for me to not allow them to set their path along a proper course.”

“But… but…”

I recognized Keleaf.  Finding the one that spoke to be her did not surprise me.  I really felt it to be an improper time for her to make a scene, but recognized that it needed to happen at some time.

She fell to the floor to confess, “I killed my baby.  Being pregnant spoiled my social time.  I also did not feel my best, and in speaking about it heard others telling me to end the discomfort of pregnancy.”

A couple of other fox ladies fell to their knees.  While I felt they had entered with Keleaf to provide comfort, I suddenly realized their importance.  Keleaf looked around her when she heard a couple of voices admitting to providing her with the horrible advice.

Instead of them huddling to share in their misery, Keleaf rose to approach while asking, “What can we do to restore our lives?”

It was Kertoll who asked, “Have you even tried to plead to Unnorry?”

“She’s comfort.  Esgalia told me to go to her to gain comfort.  While I knew he actually supported that goddess, I did not feel he understood pregnancy at all.”

Having gone through the time of giving birth a few times, I could speak with some understanding.  “No, but it was his option.  I suspect it worked with him.  I would say he told you that because he honestly thought it would help.”

Kertoll asked, “Do you have any other option, Keleaf?”

With an expression of anguish, she replied, “No.”  There was a pause, then she screamed, “UNNORRY, I’M SORRY!  Esgalia, my husband, he trusted in you.  Protect him.  I promise that the next child will not be killed, but will be loved.”

Another voice, one that I noticed was feminine in tone, now could be heard in the room.  “I can provide him with comfort, but you can give him something I cannot.  More than children, you need to be his wife.”

“All that we had…”

“Your world, your people, went in the wrong direction, Keleaf.  A lot will change.  Esgalia is crying for you.  He is seeing what will confront your world, but he cries for you.  He knows that what you have gone through is worse than what he is facing.  He loves you, Keleaf.”

Kertoll said, “Unnorry, we have forgotten so much.”

“No.  You are going to find everything you knew to be not worth remembering.  What you are experiencing, what you are learning, is what you need to know.”

One of other ladies asked, “Unnorry, are we to become fox people like these others?”

“No.  What you are is not according to your design or mine.  There will be punishment, but hopefully the future will be a better one with everything restored to how it should be.”

Keleaf rose to say, “Thank you, Unnorry.”

“Do what you can.  Since you only know of me, I promise to listen.  It is my way to provide comfort, and I will do what I can for you.  Learn from these people.  When Esgalia returns, he will have answers.”

Keleaf approached the couple to say, “Young people, learn from my mistake.  Love each other and that child.  You don’t want to go through what I am having to face.”

From the back of the room the voice of a man declared, “This whole realm should not want to repeat what it just had to face.  Young couple, I can bless your union.  This is a realm unto Samayer, and as one of her priests I am glad to see you making this step.  However, there is more than surviving to have a full life, but to survive without love is not something anyone should want to experience.”

It actually brought me joy to hear a chorus of various exclamations of approval, and I cheerfully curtsied while saying, “I am pleased to finally see a priest of Samayer.”

“Yes, well, just as with a number of ladies in this room, my goddess actually doubted the advice of her husband.  She however has been pleased with all that has happened.  Neselle, you have done a splendid job of assuring the quality of the reputation that is hoped to be restored to this realm.  Samayer does thank you.”

“Trust Jelnaya.  She’s not foolish.  While she might not be someone one would wish to have in charge of a land, she will work to make everyone proud of her.”

“She however is not one to simply seek to survive, but to overcome.”

I heard what was said, but hoping to set the right tone I replied, “I am glad to have her in my family.”

“Samayer definitely feels the need to learn more of this friend of her husband’s.  Tell your Goddess, Honored Neselle, that you should not need to serve here for too much longer.”

“I have no problem with having this realm learn of me just as my world has learned of Jelnaya, and this entire family I married into.”

“Samayer also wishes to convey her thanks to all who came at Jelnaya’s call.  There is indeed something now in this realm that was not there before.”

With those words the situation moved on to other matters.  The fox people moved off I hoped to deal with their own issues.  The families that came to speak their support of the union left to prepare for their future.  I turned to a clerk to see about moving on to another matter.

I had seen the decorated military person, although felt he was present on a matter of retirement since he waited, but heard something else when he approached.  “Honored Neselle, I want to ask if I might work to re-establish the military of this realm.  I have documents of trust and recommendation from King Relecky.”

The man actually disappointed me by not mentioning a certain thing.  “I will check those, of course, but it is not the king that Jelnaya will be concerned with.”

“Of course, Honored Neselle.  That is my request from you.  This has been a realm devoted to Samayer.  The military here sought to protect the land along with assuring the safety of those who pilgrimaged to the temple.  Will Jelnaya prefer a different style of training for her troops?”

“She was told to slaughter the military here, General.  Whatever they were seeking to assure the survival of, was not something deserving of survival.”

He appeared to genuflect more than bow, but the act could have also been caused by a bad knee.  “With your permission, I will begin to go over the journals of those in charge as well as start seeking those who wish to serve.”

“I was just told that Jelnaya’s mission should be coming to a close.  When she returns, you better be able to gain her confidence.  Let me say once again that it is not your king, or really even Jelnaya, that you need to convince of your worthiness.”

He turned to indicate a number of other military figures as he said, “I did bring a staff with me.”

“If they are going to serve with you, I would advise the first instructions that you give them will be to stress the words that I am telling you.”

“Yes, Honored Neselle, I will.”

As he turned to leave, I again looked to the clerk only to have him point.  I turned as indicated to see the priest on the risers.  He saw me look to him, then bowed before speaking.

“I have nothing, Honored Neselle.  I was just being comforted by what I heard.  If Jelnaya rules as you do, I feel hope for this realm.”

“Jelnaya and I are nothing alike, except in our devotion to our deities.  When I have my niece with me, I know that she will encourage me on instead of holding me back.  I feel she finds the same in me.”  Wondering about the priest, I asked, “Were you active in this realm before?”

“No, Honored Neselle.  I am from the temple in Wamorgin, rather far from here.  I only heard things of this realm.  Before coming I was however given advice by one who had some experience with Count Neserket and Duke Lunorth.  What I heard of their style of management was nothing like what I see here.”

“I understand the nobility not being under the patronage of the gods.  In that Fergush set one of his champions in charge I am certain will bring a certain flavor to this realm.”

“Only time will tell us of his wisdom.  At the moment I am pleased with the difference.  I am sorry for my attention disturbing you.”

I had to smile as I indicated my clerk while saying, “The people do notice us.  It is our job to promote our deities, but sometimes I feel so alone.  It helps when they do things to let me know that they are watching.”  I now indicated the animal-people while saying, “I did not ask for their company, but they came to me.  I am sorry that you are here alone.”

He tapped the railing along the steps as he said, “There should be people here.  I was told to look for those who are noticing me being lonely.”

“You are, of course, welcome at our meals and socials.  Feel free to intrude on us should you want some company.”

“I hope the same words will be said by Jelnaya.”

I had my hand pass around to indicate not just the animal people, but those from Davelda as well.  “They are here for her!  My people know Jelnaya.  She is not a stranger to my world.  These others consider her one of their own.  Do not fear Jelnaya!  Listen to what Samayer is telling you.  Jelnaya and Fergush are friends.  If you have a problem with her, then I will fear for you.”

“Samayer and I are waiting for her return.  Again, Honored Neselle, thank you for what you are doing.”

Since he was a priest, I curtsied while saying, “You’re welcome,” then I turned back to the clerk to find out who was next on the docket.

And we return to reveal the fate of Esgalia.