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

Denebry: A New Suitor

Denebry looked up as the gates to the estate opened. She was presently entertaining three young men, but hoped for a fourth. She did not know exactly what was special about the night, but it had been one favorable for the presence of suitors. It caught her by surprise that the man walked through the gate. The other suitors had ridden fine steeds, but this one walked in massive armor whose thick shell was covered in ornate scales and long spikes. While Denebry had recognized the other men as soon as they moved through the gate, she had no idea who the walking suit of metal could be.

After getting directions from those at the gate, he strode toward her balcony without stopping to recognize an officer of her father’s own militia or the butler moving to check on the identity of suitors. The trod of the metal could clearly be heard as he approached. Denebry however noticed that he stopped short of joining the other suitors. They however stared at him, and with an understanding that all waited for him to announce himself a voice was heard.

"I will wait for my turn."

A clear metallic reverberation accompanied the strong words. Denebry had a fear that the metal covered person was not human, but the sound of the words did have deep rich tones that had her curious about the man inside the armor. She however was grateful for the butler of the estate, Kelstroll, to force some basic revelation.

"Let the princess see you first."

The man stood there for a time unmoving, then turned in a strange direction to say, "I forgot."

Denebry leaned over the railing of the balcony to watch with the suitors on the ground as the man knelt. She studied the ground around the man for movement, as something seemed to be happening. While nothing could be discerned, he eventually lifted his hands to his helmet and removed it as he again stood.

Cascades of a dull yellowish-brown hair fell from the helmet. Denebry could not feel certain due to the night sky, but felt the hair to be almost gray in color. There was a power in the face that had Denebry consider the man to be attractive with a strong jaw and green eyes that darted around giving no impression of focusing on anything.

Kelstroll said, "Okay, man, tell us your name."

"I am Bresnaw eight-fourteen." The man's head jerked in a direction that nobody stood, and again he voiced the words, "I forgot." His bottom lip quivered and his eyes looked as if they were about to cry, then he turned back to say, "Bresnaw will do, for now."

Denebry did not need her governess to mumble that bresnaw was the word for horse in an ancient language. The same lady would lecture her about not picking on a man because of his name, but to focus on his actions and reputation. Denebry thus sought to gain control over the situation by asking a question of the new suitor.

"Okay, Bresnaw, why are you here?"

The head jerked toward her, then his eyes locked on her features. He trudged forward looking at her with his features again showing that he was close to crying. He moved directly beneath the edge of the balcony with his head completely cocked back to continue to stare at her, then he fell to his knees before speaking.

"I am supposed to sing."

The young lady had her gaze travel to the other men wondering if they were laughing. She thought the situation very unusual, and wanted to chuckle thinking some joke was being enacted. They however stared at the kneeling figure showing a full understanding that whatever was being acted out was not a joke. Denebry thus said the only thing she could think of.

"Okay, Bresnaw, I will listen to you sing."

The song poured from the man. While he had done nothing to prepare himself or his voice for the performance, the music that came forth had a depth that was rather impressive. The song told of a sailing vessel doomed to move through the skies until its curse could be dispelled. Denebry considered it to be an unusual song to sing to a prospective bride, but had to admit that the tale of one crew member finding love by waving to a girl he often saw on the ground of a particular land and challenging fates to win the love and remove the curse touched her like none other. The song ended with the young lady noticing that her mother had joined the maids to stand behind her and listen.

The man had stared at her completely through his song. As moving as the words had been, his focus never wavered. Denebry could not even say that he had blinked. He seemed to understand what he had done, because he excused himself at the end before turning to stand and move back to gain his helmet.

Denebry was surprised at Bresnaw's action, and it seemed that Mekynt, another suitor that had a good voice, also considered it improper. "You don't just sing and leave, my good man. We were talking to the princess."

Bresnaw held his helmet as if to put it on as he replied, "What could I say to one such as her? To sing the song was an honor. It would have been an honor to sing it to you, but I have seen a lady and sung the song to her. I can die now. I am ready."

The helmet went over the man's head. While he had trouble taking it off, the piece of armor set itself back as a part of the suit as if by magic. Denebry quickly spoke before the man could walk away.

"Wait, Bresnaw, I have not given you leave to go."

The young men whispered amongst themselves as the armored man stood unmoving. Denebry turned back to her mother, and the elder lady moved up to look at Bresnaw. He turned to look back to the balcony, then fell to his knees as if recognizing that the presence of the elder lady meant something positive. Denebry tried looking around her mother to determine some additional facts of the strange man, but she could not even detect any movement of the chest or other sign of the man being alive. Denebry heard her mother whisper to the maids to go fetch the lord of the castle.

Bresnaw stayed as a statue. While the other men tried to ask him questions, his eyes stayed directed toward the balcony and he did not speak. Heads turned as Duke Cheyash moved forward with a squad of soldiers, and even the head of Bresnaw turned when the lord of the castle asked a question.

"All right, who are you and where are you from?"

An arm lifted to point skyward. It seemed to waver for a moment as if being directed in which direction it pointed. While the helmet looked at the duke, his eyes were not visible to assure what was his focus. Once the arm became stable, he finally spoke.

"I was pushed ahead of the light. Hafrentasha however says that your question was well timed. Look."

There were stars in the direction the man pointed, but all looked up to see another pinpoint of brilliance suddenly spark. More than a new speck of radiance, but colors suddenly blazed from the section of the night sky. As if marking the armored man with a sign of divine approval, a spotlight of multi-hued radiance glimmered around him. As it faded, the man spoke.

"I cannot tell the whole story, because I have forgotten so much. I won though, and for my reward I asked to sing my song to a lady. I did that. I had forgotten what a lady looked like. I can die now."

Duke Cheyash moved to put a hand on the armor, but held himself back from making contact. Denebry thought her father was worried about the touching a spike or spoiling some of the detail work. She however was pleased that her father kept his voice strong in his reply.

"No, my man, it seems that you have more than a song to relate. Come inside, as my guest. You can relax in the company of men and women. As you remember what life is, hopefully you can tell us other things about yourself."

Denebry chanced asking a question, "Bresnaw, were you a member of that ship you sang about?"

His head jerked to look at her as soon as she spoke, and she was glad that he answered her question without having to fight the need to cry. "No, but it is slightly my story. I altered my experiences to fit the original song. What I sang were all my verses. It is all I remember, but I held the song in my heart. It is all the life I can recall."

The duke replied, "Well, it is a place where you can restart your life."

The young lady found herself intrigued by the man, so sought to get him to speak some more. "What was the curse?"

The helmet stayed on the body as Bresnaw answered, "I cannot remember. There were a thousand of us. I remember however being welcomed into the halls of Debogda and being told that we that survived were no longer cursed. I lied down and slept in the hall of the god Debogda and was at peace until again told to go out and fight. To go from horrors to calm, time after time, for what length of time I cannot say, first forced me to partition off memories, but then I found myself unable to walk the passages of my mind. I am afraid that what I once knew was lost."

The elder man said, "I am Duke Cheyash. I rule a realm devoted to the god Debogda. He seeks to have all things know their place, but takes pride in reading people’s hearts and not simply assigning from some ‘higher’ source. I don't know what your story is, but I know that you should be set on a road that will return you to a normal life."

"Yes, thank you." Denebry noticed that his head again moved to look to where nobody stood as his voice asked, "What? Oh." He then turned to the lord of the castle to say, "Duke Cheyash, I will need a blanket. I am naked inside this armor."

"No undergarment to prevent chaffing?"

"No, it is well made armor. When in the halls of Debogda, huaca came and took our measurements. I know not the making of the armor, but it is surely unique."

"There, you see, you do have memories that you can share. Let us not go talking about dying. Start talking about living."

The armored man turned to look back at the lady to ask, "Will I see you again?"

Denebry returned, "I live here, Bresnaw. I will show up at the meals, so will see you then if nowhere else."

He then turned to the other suitors to say, "I am sorry to have spoiled your time. I would have waited."

Trenallin softly returned, "You slightly out performed us, Bresnaw. I am not going to say that you are the better man, but you won the night."

A man that all but Bresnaw recognized as the duke's valet moved up with a blanket. Seeing the length of cloth unfurled, the armored man moved an arm behind him to pull at some latch. The armor had appeared as solid plates of metal with fine ornate pieces set on top of the thick layers, but suddenly revealed itself to be a multitude of interconnecting pieces. Parts of the armor spun, others twirled, and other devices seemed to fly around. At the end of a dizzying spectacle Bresnaw stood naked while before him was a cube of metal with a handle on top. The valet covered the man with a blanket, then attempted to lift the armor.

Denebry gasped with the others as she saw the form of Bresnaw. Only the head showed any sign of being a normal man. The body did not have the appearance of being composed of normal flesh. It was only bone covered by cords of muscle then by a layer of skin. While a normal body appeared smooth, no unnecessary fibers filled in the spaces. She saw his torso before being covered by the blanket, so noticed that he had no belly. While his ribs were layered with muscles, where there were no bones the cords of the abdomen fell back as if to protect the spine. The princess heard the words of her father ask the question she wanted to ask herself.

"Are you hungry?"

"Hungry? I am tired. I want to die."

"I told you, no more talk of dying. Come on. I will find you a place to rest."

Yes, I agree that more needs to be said about Bresnaw.