Author's note: Chapter 11 done.
I'm fairly bad when it comes to explainign body shapes, so I decided to show an example of what Neleh will roughly look like when she gets to the age around 14-16. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
So this except with black hair and elf ears:
It only took a few days until Gabriel got a word of what happened at the party Neleh had attended. Unfortunately the celestial representative at the party was, in short, a dummy. Their official representative, a celestial named Sariel was a sharp woman, but she had been visiting her family at the celestial capital. That was the official story anyway, but Gabriel knew she had been there to report to the Chosen of Alarae the protector goddess of the celestials. The ambassador was a personal friend of the Chosen, and didn’t like sharing her reports with the other factions.
Celestials didn’t have internal struggle in the form of civil wars, unlike the other races. In return the celestials were divided into factions that vied for position in the political arena. Gabriel had gained the help of a couple of factions, but the faction led by the Chosen wasn’t too enthusiastic about her presence on this world. Thus she had no access to the information provided by Sariel, and now that information would’ve come really handy. On the other hand, it might have been good that Sariel wasn’t in the elven lands, or Gabriel might not have gotten any word of what had happened in the royal palace.
There were two useful things that she did learn from the reports though. The first thing was that there had been a young girl that had wowed the whole crowd in the party, which made Gabriel realize that she had completely ignored the possibility of HIM being reincarnated as a girl. That in itself would have been only a curiosity, since the idea seemed very unlikely, except the second thing she learned was that Michael had been very excited and tried to find the girl. Gabriel was never sure what Michael was thinking, but he wouldn’t be that excited without reason. Clearly he knew something she didn’t. And that strange girl was involved.
She wasn’t in too much of a hurry though. She knew all she really had to do was to wait for HIS awakening ceremony, and it would become obvious where HE was. That would only take a few more years. In the meantime though…
“I think it’s time I paid a visit to the elven lands.”
Neleh and Asheara were on the carriage traveling away from Rhi’a’non. They had planned to stay a few more days in the capital, but Neleh had thundered back into Alduin’s manor and they had made a hasty exit from the city. It was obvious to everyone that Neleh was worried. Alduin and Maylin clearly wanted to ask questions, but Neleh simply informed them that she wasn’t allowed to tell them what had happened, and just to let them leave as quickly as possible. She apologized heartily for the trouble she caused, and said that she’d be happy to visit again. Alduin was oozing curiosity, but Maylin was just sad to see them go and made them swear to come back someday.
On the carriage Asheara was worried, but knew better than to break her daughter’s concentration, while she was working things out. She would tell her what was going on when she was ready. They had traveled for almost a day, and they were getting closer to their first layover town when Neleh finally started talking. The bond radiated calmness and a slight bit of worry. There was also a little bit of something Asheara almost didn’t recognize, because it was an emotion she had felt from Neleh only once or twice before. She was feeling remorse.
“I have to talk to you about something serious. There are things I can’t tell you about, and I shouldn’t be telling you most of this anyway. Nevertheless, this affects you too, especially because of the bond we share. Before I start though, I want you to understand that I love you, and you will always be my darling mother.”(Neleh)
Asheara was getting worried. The last time they had a discussion this serious, was when Neleh had told her about her dreams. This seemed even more important. “I know honey. And whatever you have to say I will love you.”
“This might seem like an odd question, but have you considered what happens to you after death?” Neleh asked after a moment of thinking.
“Well the temples teach us that Elune will take care of our souls. From your question though, I get the impression you have other information.” (Asheara)
“Indeed. I can tell you with complete certainty that the temples are wrong. The dreams I talked about are in fact my own memories from my previous life. The souls of the dead are reincarnated into a new life according to the karma they have gathered during their life.” Neleh stated this so matter-of-factly that Asheara didn’t doubt her words for a second. She did however have a few questions.
“If a big portion of people born are reincarnated, then why don’t people have memories of their previous lives like you?” (Asheara)
“Because everyone loses their memories as a part of the process. I can’t go into detail on the reason why, but there is a good reason why I still have mine, and there won’t be others like me too often.” Neleh paused here, clearly allowing her to ask more questions.
“Then who were you previously? Did you leave family behind you want to see again?” She was surprised to find that she wasn’t really shocked about anything Neleh had said. She had always known her daughter was special, now she simply knew why. Only thing that really worried her was whether or not her current family mattered to her or was it just something in passing.
“I can’t tell you exactly. That’s part of what I can’t talk about. Souls are supposed to leave their old lives behind, and I don’t miss my old life. I was a decent enough person in case you were worried about that, and my life is here and now. You and my sisters are the only family I have. Well father too I suppose.” Her words allayed Asheara’s worries. After thinking for a bit, she finally remembered something.
“You said your old life might affect me now. Something happened at the party didn’t it?” (Asheara)
“You’re right. There was a person from my old life at the party. A very powerful celestial named Michael. I have a reason to believe he and another celestial named Gabriel are here on this world to find me.” (Neleh)
“How could they be able to find you here? Wait, on this world? So you lived on another world?” Asheara hadn’t really thought about other worlds existing, but having them confirmed so casually like this was a bit of a surreal experience. “And what do they want?”
“In order, they have access to more information than you could think, which lead them here. Yes there are other worlds, and I haven’t been on this one before I was born as your daughter. As for their motivation, it’s a bit complicated.” Neleh thought for a bit before explaining. “The motivations of Gabriel are less complex, although I’m not certain of her goal in trying to find me. We used to be best friends, and neither of us had too many friends.” There was a lot of melancholy in her voice. “She holds such a powerful position that she had trouble making real friends. Think of her like she was the emperor of Rhi’a’non. Then something happened that made her feel betrayed. It was a complete misunderstanding but her position made her pre-disposed to assuming betrayal. I honestly think we might patch things up if we just got to talk properly, but I doubt she’s in the mood. She has a bit of a temper.” Asheara could feel there was much more to that story, but also knew Neleh wouldn’t be telling more. The bond told clearly that this Gabriel had been important to her daughter.
“As for Michael, it’s hard to say. We always were a weird combination of friends and enemies. Even after all the time we spent together, I still don’t know what motivates that person aside from his own entertainment. I’m in fact more worried about him than Gabriel. They will find me sooner or later, and the only reason I won’t let them find me on purpose, is that I quite enjoy my fairly normal life, and want to enjoy it for as long as possible. Michael might cause trouble just to see what would happen. He’s not a bad person, but he does enjoy chaos and has no trouble shaking things up just to see what falls out.” (Neleh)
“Well…I thank you for trusting me with all this. I know it couldn’t have been easy to tell me. We have a lot to talk about for the rest of the trip. If you think I won’t fish out more details of your old life from you, you’re sorely mistaken.” Asheara ended with a smile.
Regardless of their tumultuous visit to the elven capital, and their hasty exit, the next two years in the life of the Khalidor family were peaceful and loving. Selene’s awakening ceremony was decidedly standard fare. She had a normal blessing from Elune often found in elven girls destined for a life as a priestess of Elune and she also had great potential with the holy element required to channel the power of one’s chosen god or goddess. Unsurprisingly she was quickly drafted to go to the academy in Rhi’a’non, and Asheara reached out to Nimue. The old high priestess promised to take Selene under her wing. She was quite happy to become a priestess; her personality had always been one full of empathy and the desire to help others. While at the academy she was adopted by the friends her older sister Delia had made, and quickly slipped into her life as a student and an acolyte.
Interestingly Neleh succeeded in making friends with Rachiel, the celestial that was assigned to observe her. Might as well be friendly, since they were going to be seeing each other anyway. She might even be successful in influencing the information the celestial sent back, and the red-headed celestial was an interesting and fun person anyway. Neleh even gave her an advance warning that she might end up moving to the elven capital later on, aimed to allow the celestial to get the wheels turning for getting herself moved there too.
Neleh had the basic idea that she would let Michael and Gabriel do their search of the capital, and then slip into the city and get lost in the throng of people. If either Michael or Gabriel were to search for her at her home town, and she was still there, she would be found very quickly. But hiding among all the talent in the capitol? That should work until her own Awakening ceremony. She had gotten used to wearing the clothes she had used on her trip, and it was not uncommon to see people hiding their face or hair at the capital. Even many of the students in the academy hid their faces, some as a fashion statement, some because it was needed due to an injury and some as a cultural thing. For example, certain beastmen and elven tribes masked themselves as a habit while not among their own kind.
Her plan was to either enroll in the academy as a warrior student after Selvaria’s Awakening, or alternatively find another teacher in the city. She had the need to find a new teacher in any case, because it had become obvious lately that captain Gloridas could no longer teach her further. Apparently both the captain and her parents had similar ideas. They already knew that Neleh had to leave the safety of their home sooner than her sisters had done, especially Asheara who knew much more of the situation than the other two. Captain Gloridas had recommended for them to send her into training in the capital.
Despite Neleh holding back, the captain knew she was by far the most gifted student he had trained, and could even make it into the royal guard if she applied herself in training. Elluin planned to do his best work ever and provide his daughter with a weapon she could be proud of, before she went out into the world. But for him to able to do that, he had to see her fighting seriously at least once. Otherwise the weapon would not match her needs properly, and one of the few things Asheara had told her, was that Neleh was currently holding herself back.
That was why captain Gloridas was leading Neleh towards the training grounds, for what she didn’t know would be her final lesson. Her parents were already at the training grounds intending to watch them, with Asheara using her powers to hide them. Neleh and the captain stopped in the middle of the grounds that were unusually empty, with no one in sight.
“I think we are both aware that it’s about time for you to seek for a better teacher. Your talents would be wasted, if you were to stay here and pretend to be learning something from me. I think we both know you’ve learned everything I have to teach a long time ago.” (Captain Gloridas)
Neleh gave a smile. “You have been a good teacher. I was considering what you’re suggesting myself as well, though I was planning for it to happen a bit later.”
Captain Gloridas laughed. “You flatter me. Before you go though, I would like to have a serious fight in honor of our last lesson. I know you have been holding back in order to not embarrass me, and I appreciate it. Now there is no one else to see, and I’d like to see your real skills at least once. I want to know the level of the student I helped in training.”
Neleh grinned. “Well, I can promise to not lose on purpose, but if you want to see me get serious, you’ll just have to force me. You might as well use your primary weapon instead of a spear that isn’t your specialty.” That caused him to raise an eyebrow, but he didn’t argue back.
He walked to the rack of practice weapons, tossed a practice spear to her and pulled out a slightly curved hand-and-a-half sword from the rack. They got into the middle of the grounds. Neleh drew heavily on the power of the Ignasia, letting the power run through her body and the Ignasia were all glowing. Weirdly he couldn’t feel any power from her, despite the evidence to the contrary. He got a second shock when Neleh took hold of the spear squarely in the middle with a wide grip. The spear fighting techniques of the elves highlighted using the reach of the spear to the fighter’s advantage, and attacking mostly with lunges and stabs trying to pierce the enemy’s defense from out of reach of shorter weapons. Neleh was holding her weapon almost like a quarterstaff. Used like that the weapon would have no more reach than his sword.
He gave the signal to start. Suddenly there was a cracking sound with the ground breaking where Neleh had stood and the girl disappeared. On instinct he turned around while dodging full strength to his left. Her spear pierced the air at the place where his neck had just been, with Neleh giving a casual thrust, really meant more as a warning than a serious attempt to end the fight. He ran his full internal strength through his body, and strengthened his touki to full power trying to get a bit of distance from her. He had clearly underestimated her.
She didn’t allow him to retreat safely. She rained several blows towards him using both ends of the spear to attack, using the point to drive his sword out of position and harrying him with quick blows with the other end. He managed to block and dodge the attacks, but her relentless barrage kept him off balance, not allowing for time to recover. Importantly he was only defending, and you don’t’ win fights by defending.
When she drove his sword low, he tried to perform a desperate slash towards her feet only aimed to force her into dodging backwards. She instead jumped into the air twisting her body in the air for almost a full rotation, adding the force of the rotation into her powerful overhead slash down toward his head. She had used her weapon almost like an axe or a halberd, but the force of the blow caused the ground under his feet to crack and blew him away backwards.
She waited politely while he picked himself up from the ground, spinning her spear in the air testing for any damage from the full strength blow. He shuddered to think how much strength that blow would’ve had if she was using a heavier weapon or was holding the spear from its far end, increasing the momentum. Apparently satisfied that her spear was still in one piece, she one again took her stance, and made a ‘come hither ‘motion with the point.
Finally getting a chance to attack he immediately launched into his best offensive combination, which aimed at driving her spear too wide to one side opening a path for him to land a blow into her torso. She disrupted the attack slightly, using only the most minimal movements of the spear to guide his attacks off target. This forced him into larger swings than he wanted and wasted his strength, but he was still on track and decided to bet on his success. At the critical point, instead of deflecting normally, she let the strength of his blow slide her spear through her hand, forcing him off balance. She immediately switched her grip with the point of the spear being just in front of her right hand, and used her left to grab behind her back, and swung the other end of the spear in a wide arc around her, using her back as a fulcrum. The butt of the spear crashed into his open flank with her wide swing gathering a lot of strength. She had also twisted her whole body into the blow adding her own strength and weight into it. He was once again thrown off cleanly, after being lead into a trap.
She once again politely waited for him to get up. “More?” She asked grinning.
“One more time.” He said stubbornly, and charged at her. This time though she didn’t just politely wait for him to start his attack, but instead launched a veritable storm of attacks, now spinning the spear around throwing in a lot of standard thrusting attacks to vary her pattern, and often spinning the spear around her body using her body as a fulcrum. All he could do was to defend to the best of his ability. She suddenly pulled back a bit, and he felt her inner power running along the spear. He only had time for a quick panicked thought of ‘uh-oh’ before the air around him seemed to freeze. Her sudden attack had the tip of the spear making a circular motion, and suddenly there were six spear points making a slashing attack against him from all sides, not allowing escape or defense. He managed to deflect one strike and felt pain as five others struck onto his body in places that would’ve all been fatal, had she been using anything other than a practice weapon. Even now he knew he’d be spending the next few weeks in bed nursing bruises and broken bones.
“When the heck did someone teach you outer Ki attacks? And such a high level one no less…” He mumbled to himself, not really expecting an answer, while Neleh was frowning at the remains of her spear that was now in million splinters. Her sharp ears picked it up anyway.
“They didn’t.” She answered while grinning. “Do you need help getting up? I know I broke at least three bones.”
“Ah, leave some dignity to an old man. Send some of the guards to carry me away though. They should be around somewhere.” He waved her off, while she left laughing in a voice that clearly showed her enjoyment of his suffering.
After she was gone, her parents appeared beside the injured captain. “Well that was something else. What do you think of something more like a glaive while still retaining the spear point?” Elluin asked.
“Definitely. She used the spear more for slashing that thrusting. You should have extra weight at the ends the way she was twirling the spear around. Would give it some extra oomph.” Captain Gloridas answered while groaning.
“You might want to make especially sure the thing is made of the strongest materials you can get your hands on. Some enchantments to that effect too. Did you see how her power shattered that spear when she used that last attack? You made those practice weapons and they shouldn’t break that easily. Imagine the effect when she’s older.” Asheara added.
“True. And it would be a problem if it weighed too much with such heavy materials.” (Elluin)
“She’s still growing so it would be beneficial if she could adjust the weapons size to match her. Would be great, if you could make it one of those things that she could shrink down and use as a hair ornament or something while not in use.” The captain’s latest input caused Elluin to groan.
“You add those with the standard enchantments for not needing sharpening or repair, and increased sharpness and penetration. I have my work cut out for me. Well I did promise to make it my best work.” Elluin continued. “Do you imagine she really did get serious?”
“No.” Asheara and captain Gloridas said at the same time. The captain continued. “That last attack maybe. Aside from that, she seemed to be testing things out.”
Asheara just shook her head. She knew better. She had learned quite a few things about her daughter in the last two years. She may have shown a glimpse of her strength, but Neleh herself had said that she had a habit of pacing herself to her opponents, just to make things more fun. She wanted to win due to her skill, not because she was stronger or possessed knowledge beyond this world. That’s why she wanted to learn the limits considered normal in this world and study under the best teachers the world could offer.