Under the thrall of the Goddess of Love, she is unmatched in her combat prowess.
My name is Jovalene Bellator, but you can call me Jo. I’m an eladrin. I was born with physical aspects of both male and female. My mother said I was clearly female, and named me Jovalene. My father said I was clearly male and called me Jo.
As I grew up, my mother encouraged me to learn about magic. She said it was the most universally useful skill; I could use it for creation or destruction, to hurt or to heal. Meanwhile my father taught me everything he knew about swordsmanship. He said I would have a hard life, people wouldn’t accept me, and I would need to know how to defend myself.
I excelled at both skills, and as a young adult, I was studying magic when I met Bryony Cantus, a fellow student. She was beautiful, with white hair, white skin, white eyelashes, and bright blue eyes, like tiny flowers in snow. Her singing voice was as beautiful as her face, and with it, she could cause plants to grow, heal wounds, and make my heart skip a beat.
More importantly, she accepted me completely and immediately, without question or judgement. We spent all our time together, supported each other, and over the next few years, we fell deeply in love. When our studies were over, we became engaged to marry, and set out on a journey to find a place to call home.
We enjoyed our travels, meeting new people, seeing new lands, and even the battles we engaged in with strangers who intended to steal from us, or worse. We worked well together, and for a time we were unstoppable.
But we wandered too far, and our enemies became stronger. One night we were set upon by a pair of strange, skeleton-like soldiers, (Githyanki, I learned later), who fought us viciously and eventually overpowered us. One slit Bryony’s throat, and the other took me by the hair and cracked my head against a stone. I stopped breathing and pretended to be dead until they left. The moment we were alone I rushed to Bryony’s side. I tried whatever I could to heal her, whatever medicines I had on me, every skill I had, but it was useless. Her wounds were too great and her throat was filling with blood.
I cried out to the gods “Help me! Save my love! Please!” I cried and prayed for hours, all night, until the sun came up. Then Semireth, the most beautiful and compassionate of the gods, came down and stood before me.
I said “Please. I can’t live without her.” Semireth said “Would you give your life as payment, and live in servitude to save her?” And I said “Yes, anything. I love her.” Semireth smiled, and held her hands over Bryony’s neck, closed her wounds, removed the blood from where it had spilled, and flowed life into her. Bryony gasped and opened her eyes. Semireth disappeared. I cried and laughed and held Bryony in my arms.
That day we decided to turn back and go to the last safe village we had been to. Bryony was sullen, sad, and she simply stayed that way. We went on no more journeys; she had seen the darkness and wouldn’t risk going there again. Our village had no eladrin and we were outsiders there, so she was the one person I was counting on to be with me, really with me, but she wasn’t. Life was no longer hard, but nor was it worth living either.
That was when I learned that Bryony’s beauty had come not from her hair, or eyes, or skin, but from her smile. I hadn’t seen it in so long. I begged her to be passionate about anything, even if it isn’t me. She wouldn’t sing. She said it hurt too much.
This life of petty day-to-day routine, of a quiet house with no laughter, it was slowly killing me. So I left. I packed a bag, took my sword, and set off toward the wilderness. The moment I stepped outside the town, Semireth appeared in my path. She was furious. “You have broken our contract.”
I said “What contract?”
She said “You promised you would live in servitude in exchange for her life. You are no longer serving her, and yet she lives. But the contract hasn’t ended. You will serve me until payment is complete.”
I said “Why? I thought you saved her out of pity.”
She said “I saved her out of gratitude for the love you showed her. What do I have now to be grateful for? I saved her because you said you couldn’t live without her. And now you walk away from her. You should drop dead from the effort. You callously disregard the work I have done for you, the work you could not do yourself. No, I have no pity. You swore your life for her, so your life is mine.”
She put her hand on my shoulder and teleported me away to her home. I have served at her side ever since, in invisible shackles. Any effort to escape causes a pull on my life force, like all the nerves and tendons of my flesh are bending to leave my body and stay behind. It causes a weakness in me that makes me fall to my knees and weep. Still I keep trying.
I do battle, I kill countless strangers, I bring messages, I gather gifts for my master, I train, and I don’t age. And this is how it will be until my release.
My name is Jovalene Bellator, but you can call me Jo.