Neleh could feel herself returning to consciousness. Before she opened her eyes and alerted anyone monitoring her that she was awake, she ran a little magical check of her body. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong. Even the little trap she had left in case of anyone trying to take advantage of her in her sleep was still left untouched. Not that she really expected celestials to take advantage of her sexually in her sleep. No, she put the trap in place years ago, because she seemed to fall unconscious too often in this new life. She had also made the trap so needlessly complicated, so that there wasn’t a person alive capable of dispelling the trap, and then replacing it afterwards. The first person, who tried raping her, would be in for a nasty surprise, and so would be her surroundings.
Neleh’s magic had still not completely recovered, but by the rate of recovery, she estimated having been unconscious for a little under three weeks. If she had been conscious and able to meditate, she would have recovered the spent mana in a day or two, but she was almost up to full strength now anyway. Her senses told her that the celestials had even been polite enough to leave her weapon to her, possibly as a sign of good faith.
When Neleh opened her eyes, she could see the room had a different architecture when compared to elven buildings. Everything was larger, especially the doorway that was currently closed. The celestials had those large wings after all. She seemed to be in a room with a single narrow window, which didn’t really lend itself for escape but did brighten up the room nicely. There didn’t seem to be anything stopping her from using magic, so if need be she could easily get out. She seemed to be dressed in a sort of light toga, pure white in color, that didn’t’ cover her arms or shoulders, and only came down to her knees. It seemed like someone had changed her clothes. Well her old ones had probably burnt pretty badly by the wings of fire when she flew to battle and one would at least hope the celestials didn’t leave her in the same clothes for several weeks. The yuck factor from that was a larger worry than the thought of someone seeing her naked.
Just in case, she started running both fire magic and water magic along her body and clothes to remove all impurities. While she was doing that, she noticed the door open, and a female celestial with four white wings entered the room. She gave Neleh a look-over that spoke of someone working in the medical field, which hinted that the woman was a healer of sorts. Most likely a priestess, judging by the power emanating from her body.
“So you are awake finally. I was starting to get a bit worried, since you stayed asleep without any real reason.” The celestial said with a hint of relief.
“I’m pretty sure you can thank Elune for that. She kept me unconscious for the duration of the civil war among the elves.” Neleh told the woman with slight amusement.
“Elune, eh? Judging by your words, the civil war should be over. Last I heard, it was still going.” The woman replied with a small smile.
“According to her, it is effectively over. There will be some small groups still fighting until the word spreads.” Neleh said with a level of certainty in her voice, which brought a raised eyebrow from the celestial.
“Well be that as it may, I should probably get the Chosen in here. She wanted to be notified immediately when you woke up.” The woman said and started leaving the room.
“I’ll be waiting. I could use some solid food and drink though, if I may?” Neleh called after her with a smile.
Neleh was having a nice dinner made up mostly of fruit and some juice, when Anauel entered the room. The celestial looked a bit grumpy. She tried to send her senses to probe at Neleh’s condition, which Neleh blocked gently but firmly. She was ok now, so no need for additional probing.
“Well you seem to have recovered. I believe introductions are in order. I am Anauel the Chosen of Alarae. I’m guessing I’m speaking to the one known as Neleh the Chosen of Satai?” Anauel had gotten some of her humor back after noticing Neleh’s block.
“Indeed, I am Neleh Khalidor the Chosen of Satai, and as of today also the Chosen of Elune.” Neleh answered with a small smile.
“Elune? When did this happen?” To Anauel’s knowledge, the previous Chosen of Elune had been alive a couple of days ago.
“The previous Chosen, Shalheira went knowingly against the wishes of Elune, and lost her position for it. She even knew the consequences her actions would have, so she gave up her position willingly. According to Elune, the other races might find it worrisome if the elves had more than one Chosen, hence I was the logical choice to take up the position.” Neleh explained calmly. Normally she would not volunteer this much information, but the celestials were already aware of her connection to Satai, so it was better to tell them about the changed situation immediately. It might also speed up the process of getting her home, if she was forthcoming with information as much as was prudent.
“Well that seems logical, even if you seem a little young. Did you get a more precise explanation on what happened?” Anauel asked, glad that the girl seemed calm and forthcoming.
“I only heard that she used her powers to kill the Emperor and his family. Elune did not explain more specifically. Apparently the civil war should also be winding down, for obvious reasons.” Neleh decided against revealing all the details she had heard from Elune.
“So the emperor is dead at the hands of the previous Chosen. That should change things considerably. Moving on, how much do you remember about what happened to you?” Anauel asked, moving to the more important topic. She would do her best to discover the origin of the girl’s power.
“I remember seeing my sister die on the battlefield, and then rage and sorrow overtook me. There was fire, and then nothing. I think I managed to recover my sister’s body during the event.” Neleh said with a sad voice, and indicated at the storage ring on her finger.
The celestials had tried to remove the rings, but they immediately returned to Neleh’s finger when removed. That was the main reason they had allowed Neleh to keep her weapon, since there wasn’t much point in taking it away, when there was goddess only knows what inside the rings.
“Can you tell me about the power you exhibited? We had to expend quite a bit of effort to prevent a disaster, and I believe we have earned the right to know.” Anauel tried to guilt Neleh.
“Your guess is as good as mine. I believe the celestial known as Rachiel informed you of the results of my early Awakening ceremony. I have an extraordinary talent in fire magic, and as my powers grew I’ve discovered some new abilities. That said, I’m still not even sixteen-years old, and my knowledge on that front is limited.” Neleh lied spinning a tale of an innocent girl caught up in the events of the world. “The goddess however did tell me a way to prevent the same thing from happening again.”
“Oh? Do tell. I’m curious to know too.” Anauel asked, not having any idea about what could prevent a conflagration like the one before.
Neleh feigned a cough and a blush. “Well the method is a bit private. Suffice to say that a part of the reason why it happened was because I’m still young and growing. Apparently kids my age don’t exactly have the best control over our emotions. The problem will fix itself when I get older, but for now the best fix is something private.” Neleh was really getting into her young girl persona.
She most certainly wasn’t going to reveal the real solution, or the celestial might demand that one of them would work as her partner. She didn’t really mind the idea of seducing some pretty celestial for the next thirty years, but she also doubted things would work out that easily. With her current luck, the partner would end up being some old man, or even worse, some high ranking celestial who would try and control Neleh’s activities. The excuse would be something like the celestial not wanting to but their life on hold for decades, and that Neleh should accommodate her instead, since Neleh was the problem really. Neleh could suffer a sanctimonious prick like that for ten minutes, and would then hang the celestial with her own wings. Patience was not one of her virtues.
Luckily Anauel made some assumptions of her own, blushing while thinking about Neleh’s words. Apparently she was having some delusions of her own, and of the perverted kind. Neleh found it interesting that the celestial’s mind went straight for something perverted, even though Neleh had hinted at it pretty heavily. Apparently Anauel had a dirty mind.
“That’s alright. I don’t’ need to know details. A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do. There’s nothing to be ashamed of there.” The celestial said, blushing even more. There was definitely some mistake being made, but Neleh preferred the mistake to the truth so she let it stand.
“It just occurred to me, that you should probably ask any questions you want to as soon as possible. Apparently the Chosen of Elune is supposed to be present when the next emperor is decided, in the case where the old emperor didn’t leave an heir.” Neleh said trying to hurry the celestial along, and testing to see how free she was to leave. It was doubtful they’d just let her go as is.
Anauel had a problem. They couldn’t really detain the Chosen of another race. If the girl had remained only as the Chosen of Satai, then that option would have been somewhat viable. She wasn’t even sure if they were even able to detain the girl for long, considering her powers both as a fire mage and a Chosen. Normally she would have at least considered the possibility of having Neleh killed to prevent her from becoming their enemy in the future, especially if the girl ever found out the celestials had known about the plot that caused the civil war and led to the death of her sister. Alarae had been fairly adamant on keeping the girl safe though, and Anauel would not go against the will of her goddess.
“Right. Luckily we aren’t too far from the elven capitol. You are currently in Avant Heim and we are above the elven lands. You understand though, why we would be reluctant to just let you leave as is? At the very least we would like to have one of us monitor you, and a little closer than Rachiel did before your Awakening. That monitor could also work as an advisor of sorts. It is not uncommon for people of other races in high positions to have a celestial as an advisor. And you might find such an advisor useful.” Anauel tried to suggest, referring to Neleh’s youth. If they kept an eye on the girl, then they could at least limit the havoc, and cushion the blow if the truth about the plot came out.
“While I’m not completely averse to the idea, you are aware that I work as an Inquisitor right? I would draw quite a bit of attention with a celestial by my side.” Neleh tried to counter. She knew she would have to accept the monitoring, for now at least, but tried to limit concessions to only that.
“I do believe your days living beneath notice are over anyway. I’m certain that your position as the Chosen of Elune will be spread far and wide. The normal civilians might not be aware of what their rulers and nobility look like, but they will know their Chosen on sight. Especially a Chosen that looks like you. You represent the power of their goddess after all. A celestial advisor would not make much of a difference at this point anymore.” Anauel countered.
The celestial was more right than she knew. Even before this, Neleh’s looks would have drawn too much attention wherever she went, which is why she had masked herself. It was one thing to mask herself as the Chosen of Satai when nobody was aware of that title, but it would be dishonorable to hide herself amongst elves as the Chosen of Elune, especially after everyone found out about her identity. There was also another problem. Perhaps as a response to the powers of the Goddess of the Moon, the Ignasia on her forehead was trying to follow in the footsteps of the Ignasia in her hair, and was starting to glow all the time.
The only reason it wasn’t glowing right now, was because Neleh was consciously suppressing it, but the old method of masking herself would no longer work, with the Ignasia on her forehead announcing her presence like a beacon. At least she could hide the Ignasia of a Phoenix on her left hand with the half glove she had been using so far. That one might be glowing as a response to her transformation, or the presence of the power of the goddess, who also happened to represent life, as did the phoenix. Elune really was flush with titles. The goddess damn, Goddess of Life, Nature and apparently the Moon and the Stars. It was a good thing the Ignasia of the tree of life on her calves hadn’t reacted.
There really was no way of hiding her identity now. At least the forehead Ignasia would only give a soft glow, more like just showing its presence, and luckily the Ignasia was small. Neleh suspected Aphrodite had her hand on that fact too. The small Ignasia would only make her looks more unique and interesting, instead of detracting from them.
She tried to stall for time in an attempt to come up with something to refuse the monitoring of the celestials.
“The advisor would most likely be terribly bored though. I’m going to have to spend the next few years studying in the academy of Rhi’a’non, once I get through the first couple of weeks of ceremonies and meetings.” A feeble excuse, but it was something at least. Not her finest moment.
Anauel countered immediately though. “That works fine. The academy has requested a celestial teacher to attend the academy in order to improve the teaching on light magic. I understand that’s also one of your elements? You will even get private tutoring. We will make sure that whoever will be advising you will be able to fend for herself, so she might be able to teach you a lot.”
Neleh grimaced. Anauel knew damn well that every element was her element. “At least make her female. It would be awkward to have a male celestial following me everywhere, and that would cause rumors.” Neleh said giving up. Now she would have to have two people following her around. The celestial advisor and whoever she chose as her partner to limit her powers. Well, the Chosen of Elune was expected to have some followers as befit her position. If she managed to keep that number down to two, then she’d be happy.
“One final question. What’s your relationship with the one known as Gabriel? It seemed like she knew you somehow. She also appeared in your Awakening ceremony, and from what I hear, in a fairly spectacular fashion.” Finally Anauel approached a subject that Neleh knew would come up someday, and she had an answer prepared.
“I’m not entirely sure. She mentioned something about knowing me in my previous life, whatever that means. Somehow she did feel familiar. Whether she was correct, I can’t say for certain. What I do know though, is that these changes started happening to me after I met her.” Neleh shamelessly tried to pin things on Gabriel.
Anauel frowned. “So you’re saying that she might have given you these powers?”
“Well, the ceremony had started before she showed up, and the results were weird even then. But who’s to say she didn’t cause that too, only appearing afterwards to hide her activities? I mean she did spend a fair amount of years here, from what I hear. Who can say what she was doing all that time? She certainly seemed to have the power to cause such changes in me. Or maybe there is some truth to her claims about previous lives, and she simply awakened something in me? These things are beyond my knowledge.” Neleh replied, trying to reinforce her little girl persona.
That explanation was as good as any Anauel herself had come up with. Gabriel’s patient stay on this world and sudden departure would be explained if she was modifying the girl’s powers in some way. That would also explain the involvement of the gods. The otherworlder had come here to give a final gift to her old friend in a new life, and the gods had to curb those powers from getting out of hand. ‘That’s why the gods had blessed the girl! They wanted to monitor her!’ Anauel thought. It was certainly more logical than some elven girl suddenly developing absurd abilities and affinities. Perhaps more importantly, there was no chance of the elves replicating the process, and having more people like the girl disrupting the power balance.
Meanwhile, Alduin Yunalesca and Nimue were in the middle of questioning the previous Chosen Shalheira. What might have been an interrogation had turned into simple questioning since the woman was answering all questions quite willingly.
“…and so I came to the conclusion that I was the best choice to bring about the emperor’s death. His death was required in any case. None of us wanted him to remain on the throne, and if the victorious side would have left him or his family alive, that would have led to another civil war down the line. Sooner or later someone would have tried to raise a banner in his name. If the Sun Elves or the Moon Elves would have killed him after they had gained victory, then there would have been even more resentment from the Eldarinwe population. Besides, with this timing I managed to prevent the emperor’s last stand, which would have led to the death of millions of soldiers. It would’ve taken centuries for our armies to recover, and now it will only take a decade or two.” Shalheira explained her reasoning.
“Is this the plan you tried to suggest to one of my acolytes? You would’ve used her as a scapegoat?” Nimue asked angrily. She resented the Chosen for using the goddess’ power in this way, and even more than that, she resented the possible results to Neleh, if her assumption was correct.
“Yes and no. If she and a few other people, including lord Estelar, would’ve agreed, we could’ve managed to cause a careful coup even before the civil war started. Unfortunately that plan wouldn’t work without those two, and as such I had to change my plans into what happened. That first plan would’ve been preferable.” Shalheira replied calmly.
“And do you think it won’t set a terrible example with you using the goddess’ power in internal politics without repercussions? All the future Chosen will forever be under scrutiny!” Nimue vented her anger.
“Oh but it wasn’t without repercussions. I will most likely face the headsman’s axe as punishment in the mortal world, and the goddess has already handed out her punishment, as I knew she would. You see, I am no longer the Chosen.” Shalheira was still calm, if a bit sad. The other three were shocked though.
“Wait, you are no longer the Chosen?” Alduin asked to make sure.
“Indeed. The goddess took my powers away immediately after I surrendered to the Legion. I knew that would be the result of my actions. The goddess understood my reasoning and even considered my actions a good solution to the situation, but she nevertheless had to punish me for my transgression.” Shalheira explained. The goddess rarely spoke to her, but that was one of the times they had conversed, even if briefly. She also knew the goddess had already found another to take her place.
“Wait. When the title is vacant, the grand temple shows the light of goddess’ power as a warning to her priestesses. No such light appeared.” Nimue was a little confused. She had seen the light twice in her lifetime.
“That just means the position was passed along immediately. I believe the goddess had my replacement selected long before my transgression took place. I think you know whom I speak of Nimue. The goddess hasn’t exactly been secretive about her favor.” Shalheira said looking straight into Nimue’s eyes.
“Is that even possible? The girl was already a Chosen of one god.” Yunalesca asked Nimue.
“I don’t know.” Nimue admitted. “This is all new to me. For one, the girl is too young to even be the Chosen of one god. On the other hand, nothing about the girl is normal. Honestly, it would not surprise me in the slightest. Like you said, Elune has not been hiding her favor.”
“Ah-ha, this is news to me. I knew the girl was special, just not how special. Which other god has dared to lay a claim on a subject of Elune? I mean a blind person could see the girl is favored by Aphrodite, but I didn’t think lesser gods could have Chosen.” Shalheira asked suddenly curious.
“Satai if you must know.” Alduin answered the woman, bringing a gasp from the woman. “But isn’t Neleh currently unconscious in Avant Heim? I’m pretty sure I heard the Chosen has to consent to the position, even if I’ve never heard of anyone refusing.”
Nimue thought for a moment. “You know, I’ve for a long time thought the girl was conversing with someone in her mind. She sometimes gets this look, like she just heard something amusing. Maybe she is talking with the goddess, and Elune got her approval inside the girl’s dreams.”
“Well that’s a sobering thought. Someone having conversations with the goddess as if it was something normal.” Yunalesca shuddered.