A Bit of Desert Magic

A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby CherryStatic » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:41 pm

The sun was high overhead above the marketplace when Vixen slipped through the flaps of the colorful tent's entrance wearing the outfit she'd put together for the day's performance. Sunlight glinted off the jewelry that adorned her body: the series of gleaming disks that fell across her collarbone, the bangles of thinly hammered gold encircling her wrists and ankles, the sapphire-studded headpiece that featured an ornate desert flower on one side, with dainty gold chains hung from points to cradle the glittering ruby that rested against her forehead.

The costume was of the traditional design, a simple top of ebony silk and a skirt of the same material that just barely touched the ground, slit at the thighs so that her shapely legs came into view whenever she moved. A thin green veil covered the lower half of her face, accenting the depths of her sky-blue eyes.

As she went to stand before the small crowd of people gathered in front of the tent, she began to unfold a gauzy scarf the same color of her outfit. She took an end in each hand and let it hang behind her from the elbows, so that it brushed against the back of her knees.

"Good afternoon!" she addressed the crowd cheerfully. A few returned the greeting, most of them silently waiting for her to get on with it. She briefly scanned the faces of those present. None of them looked like they would give her any trouble. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Bern leaning against the side of a wagon, giving the crowd more studious scrutiny.

"I recognize a few of you from yesterday, but for those of you that haven't seen me before, welcome." She dipped gracefully into a sweeping bow, then straightened. "The dance I'll be performing today is called the Oasis Flower. It's a traditional Jernichian dance that was, once upon a time, performed to gain favor with the gods and grant travelers safe passage through the desert. Or so they say."

She indicated a box beside the tent, chained to a peg. A narrow slot for coins to pass through was cut into the top. "If you're feeling generous after the show, feel free to donate. Every little bit helps."

Closing her eyes for a moment, she grounded herself, finding the spark that always came to her just before a dance. She made a discreet gesture at the two men seated behind her with their instruments, and they started to play.

She began by rolling her hips in sync with the drum, the disks of gold hanging from her waist in strands clinking as they swayed. She extended her arms to each side, rotating her wrists and gradually bringing them together overhead, where they twisted and wove around one another in a hypnotic motion.

She swept a leg smoothly out in front of her, twirling and spinning, her skirts lifting at the hem as they fanned out and wrapped around her lower body, her thighs flashing in and out of sight. Her arms worked their magic, moving in unison, stretching towards the crowd to beckon invitingly with slender fingers. She drifted on the notes of the music in a trance, losing herself to the movement and rhythms of the dance as she always did. She was at ease doing so, because it meant that she was dancing from within herself, not simply imitating the steps of those she had watched and learned from.

She wondered if those gathered were enjoying this as much as she was.
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby Rance » Sun Aug 24, 2014 1:24 pm

...traditional Jernichian dance that was, once upon a time--

A gaggle of commoners, peddlers, and Marketplace denizens gathered around, their arms crossed in front of their chests. Women in loose summer dresses corralled curious children wearing smocks and street-gowns as their smudged and sticky faces stuck out from around the hips and thighs of their guardians.

--performed to gain favor with the gods and--

It was time, wasn't it? Noon. Midsun. With the Glass Sun at its zenith, the crowd was a hot and throbbing mass of sweat and glistening skin, for even this late in the season, the heat nestled in the stones and reflected itself back up at the dirt-farmers and commoners that littered the tightly-packed streets of Myrkentown.

--grant travelers safe passage through the desert.

Gloria managed to pry her way through a few broad-shouldered coopers who had put aside their demonstration in the Bazaar to see what this dancing was about. She kept her arms clutched around swollen stomach as if it were a fragile gem. As she passed through to find the front, the seamstress ignored a whisper that carried itself on the breath of a passer-by: "You think that bastard in her belly will be as fuck-ugly as she is?" A snorting burst of laughter dissolved and vanished.

Instead of turning, looking, trying to find who might have said it, Gloria demanded that her own eyes remain forward, admiring, and attentive to the dance she was about to observe. Jig was there; Jig was all rattling coins and sapphire-gleams; Jig bent and moved, flowed and slithered like she'd turned the bones of her body into a keen liquid. Jig seemed lost somewhere in that artistic void, heels sliding across the earth and skirts snapping like banners as hips and spine rolled, ebbed, contorted, spoke language through motion. The instrumentalists plucked their strings to coax rhythm and melody into the air. A few onlookers clapped with the cadence of the song.

And Gloria, with but one hand, chose to snap her palm against her thigh to keep the beat -- and if Jig saw her, she would find the girl in the sweat-stained bonnet grinning back at her.
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby CherryStatic » Sun Aug 24, 2014 9:15 pm

Oblivious to everything but the notes of the song and the rhythm of the dance, Vixen put her heart into the performance. She spun, one leg exposed, a dainty ankle tilted so that toes pointed at the crowd. The skirts flapping about her legs and the diaphanous scarf trailing behind her on the breeze like a shadow reminded her of a warm desert wind, gently caressing the scorching sands of towering dunes. The imagery always came to her in this state, although it grew stronger each time she performed the dance. She reached towards the group before her and crooked a finger, inviting them, leading them, taking them somewhere. She imagined that she was the wind, guiding these lost souls to some unknown destination.

The twirling stopped. Her arms spread to each side, wrists rolling and hips moving rhythmically, as though asking the crowd to look around them. She imagined that she had successfully led them to...what? The music slowed, less wild now that they had arrived. She knelt smoothly and leaned forward so that the tip of her veil nearly brushed the ground. She gestured broadly to the earth before her, sweeping her arms over it as though to suggest that there was something there. Her hands joined one another and made a scooping motion, then rose high above her head separated as she looked up at them, squinting against the sun. And it struck her.

Water. The oasis. She had led them to the oasis. Safe passage through the desert.

Her sudden realization nearly broke the trance, but she felt the ever present desire to complete the dance, so she rose fluidly from her knees and twirled one last time before gathering the scarf between her hands and casting it over the crowd. She felt suddenly tired when the silk left her fingers, as though abruptly drained of energy. The scarf coiled through the air on a breeze as the music cut off, landing within the crowd and draping itself over a young, somewhat rotund woman.

Scarlet, she realized, seeing her for the first time. When had she gotten there?

Despite her unusual exhaustion, she grinned broadly behind the veil, and bowed deeply. There was a polite smattering of applause before most of the crowd joined in, realizing that she was finished. As always, there were the leers from some of the men, and the reproving glares from some of the women who were already walking away to do business elsewhere in the marketplace, but quite a few of those gathered actually looked a bit mesmerized by the performance.

"Thank you!" She said, straightening. "I'm performing every day this week at the same time, so come back and see me. Bring a friend, too, one with lots of money. These outfits aren't cheap, you know!"

There was laughter as the crowd dispersed, either moving to slip a few coins into the box or going to see what else the marketplace had to offer. She sagged slightly. She was always a bit tired after a show, but this was unusual. She felt as though she hadn't eaten or slept in a day, her energy abandoning her the moment she had released the scarf. It was so strange.

She remembered Scarlet and turned, intending to talk to her before heading back to the tent to slip into some regular clothes, when her knees buckled. The marketplace tilted away at a sickening pace, the sky filling her vision. She collapsed with a clink as her metallic accessories struck the ground. The sun glared harshly down at her.

Bern was instantly beside her, kneeling down with her inherent elven grace and cradling her head. She pressed cool fingertips to the side of Vixen's forehead and grimaced slightly.

"I told you to drink more water." she said quietly, helping the woman back to her feet. Vixen stood, still slightly disoriented, and nodded, smiling despite her embarrassment.

"Sorry. I'll remember next time."
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby Rance » Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:07 pm

It didn't matter what they said because there was dancing. Poetry with fabric and flesh, little coins singing and sapphires catching droplets of the Glass Sun and turning them back at the world in flashes of brilliant white. And then it was done. Jig was done and there was clapping. Most of them clapped. Gloria's tongue felt gummy and swollen, her mouth as parched as crumpled paper.

A little snap of fabric arched into the air, released from Jig's fingertips; she followed its arc as it twisted and snapped in the hot wind like a banner. A scarf. The cloth hung in the air, so slow and laborious in its descent, blocking out the Sun in a slash of color--

("Jah'zoon hold it in them for weeks, even months at a time, Glour'eya. So we take this thin glass tube -- do you see how sharp it is? -- and come to them in their sleep. Position it right between the ribs. Press with your fingers first, see if the skin permits. Can you feel it? All the fluid they hold after weeks roving in the desert. That's their water, but we're to make it our water." She watched as her mother slid the tiny hair of glass into the beast's rising, falling hide. She wanted to say no, no, don't hurt it, but she was so desperate for a drink, to quench her thirst, so--)

--thirsty.

The scarf had fallen across her broad shoulders like a stole.

Jig was done; Jig was coming toward her--

And hit the ground.

Gloria strode forward toward the collapsed woman, but by the time she'd neared, an attendant, a friend -- Bern -- was helping the dancer back to her feet. The seamstress' eyes opened like wide, gray pits as she approached. A jittering hand surrendered itself into her hip-side satchel and withdrew from it a simple water-bladder: a tanned lump of leather with a half-rotten cork stuffed into its spout. She'd forgotten entirely about the loose scarf that had taken up residence over her neck. As she skittered to a halt at the side of the dancer and the other woman, her skirts lashed against her knees, bringing the odor of sweat, sand, and Sun with them.

"Water," she said. "I've -- I've got some. Have some. You ought to drink."

Underneath her bonnet, her frown was scarcely more than a smear of shadow.

"Are -- are you well?" she asked of Jig, and then of Bern: "Is this normal?"
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby CherryStatic » Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:56 pm

Bern's hackles rose instantly the way they always did when someone approached her client. Her green eyes narrowed, flashing as she scanned the filthy urchin who had detached themselves from the crowd and stepped forth to offer Vixen a grubby water skin. The girl was dressed in commoner's clothing, stained with dirt and grease and looking like it hadn't been washed since the day it had been sewn together. The half-elf would have considered her plain and unassuming if it weren't for her left arm, which ended in a stump, modestly hidden under a sock of sorts to spare others the gruesome details of her missing hand.

Bern knew that plain and unassuming in a town like this, in any large town, was often intentional. One could do a less than wholesome deed and simply slip into the surrounding throng of similarly dressed people. After all, if you want to hide a tree, you place it in a forest. The lack of a hand on this one made her no less of a threat.

"Scarlet." Vixen said, smiling a bit weakly. She extended a hand to receive the water skin. Bern reached past her, plucking the pouch from the pregnant girl.

"Thanks." she said gruffly, deciding on four different places she could stick the girl with a knife if she tasted poison. She clamped her teeth onto the rotting cork and pulled it loose, spitting it into her palm, and took the tiniest sip. The water was warm and slightly off, but not so much that she suspected foul play, just dirty origins such as a communal well. Her claws retracted a bit, and she grudgingly pressed the skin into Vixen's hand. The woman turned to her, speaking low.

"Don't be rude. Please."

Bern's lip curled, revealing a sharp canine. "I'm working, sweetheart. You paid me to keep you alive." She glanced at the girl named Scarlet with a nonplussed expression. "Something that's easier said than done. She's already been robbed twice."

Vixen glanced away, ignoring her body guard and drinking from the skin. The water was gratefully received by her dry throat. She didn't understand why she was so parched; she had drunk deeply from her own skin just before slipping out of her tent to perform, just minutes ago. She lowered the pouch and handed it back to the girl, wiping her mouth with the back of her free hand.

"Thank you, Scarlet." She smiled gratefully. "That's twice now that you've given me something. I really owe you a favor, now."

She glanced at the girl's shoulders, around which the ebony silk hung patiently. She moved to retrieve it, then paused, fingers hovering. She let her hand fall to her side and smiled pleasantly.

"Why don't you keep that? I have others." She winked. "Maybe it landed on you for a reason. Too strange to be a coincidence, huh?"
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby Rance » Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:34 am

Bern intercepted the waterskin. The girl's eyes danced toward those odd fingernails, those claws, but she remained stalwart. Her voice drew a flat line between them. In the right company, however heavy with child as she was, Gloria Wynsee could have been an imposing figure: however ragged, patched, and stained her dress, the girl's shoulders and spine were as solid as as pile of old stones. If the agreement between Bern and Jig was one of business, then the commoner-girl would not chisel her select words into soft reassurances.

"What money I have has been solely earned through the toil of hard work and steadfast industry, sera. I came to see my friend perform, not rob her blind."

Her attention lingered overlong on Bern's fingers. And when she was satisfied that they'd grow no longer -- what trick, what illusion was that? -- she let her breath free and accepted the waterskin back from Jig. The dancer's gentler presence slowly peeled away the hard set of the girl's face, leaving her with a smile that, even in the sun, refused to gleam or shine.

"You were breathtaking," Gloria told her, and took a drink from the skin, a punctuation to Bern's unspoken concerns. "To see the dance was recompense enough for twenty potatoes, you realize. You -- you moved like dreams move. It nearly crossed my eyes right across one another to try to know what parts were you, and which were the fabric. And the men thought you were fetching!"

Jig reached out to toward the ribbon-like scarf of silk. Gloria began to tug it away from her shoulders to return it, but stopped as the woman bestowed it upon her.

Why don't you keep that? I have others.

"Coincidence?" the girl said, her voice ringing with a playful jaunt of conspiracy. "You threw it toward me, I wager. A part of the performance."

A glance toward the box; a glance back toward the meandering crowds. Her volume lowered.

"I know what it's like to fall that way. Do -- do you need to sit?"
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby CherryStatic » Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:09 pm

"I came to see my friend perform, not rob her blind." Scarlet said, ignoring the acidic undercurrent of Bern's words. The half-elf sneered at her, unimpressed by the girl's size, much sturdier than her own. She'd dealt with orcs larger and uglier than the one-handed cow who was standing up to her now.

"A bit of friendly advice, Stump: be careful who you pick fights with around here. I got the little fox's money back both times without batting a lash." She tapped a nail against the hilt of a simple dagger at her hip, suggesting her preferred method of handling thieves. Her fierce eyes slipped down the front of Scarlet's form, coming to rest on her belly, bulging with child. The woman regarded it with a strange expression for several moments, her face unreadable. When she spoke again, it was barely above a whisper.

"I don't waste my knives on pregnant bitches such as yourself. I don't know how you managed to get knocked up with a face like that, but consider yourself lucky."

There was a crack as Vixen's palm made solid contact with the half-elf's cheek. Bern's eyes widened, her nostrils flared, her fingers instinctively closing around the hilt of a knife, before realizing exactly what had happened. A few passerby had slowed to observe the sudden commotion, but they hurried on when the woman made eye contact with them. The bodyguard inhaled deeply, slowly, visibly cooling before letting out a slightly shaky laugh. Her fingers drifted from the knife.

"Gotta be careful with that hand, Vix. You might end up like her." She jerked a thumb at Scarlet.

Vixen lowered the hand in question, and said simply, calmly: "If you say anything else about her, you're fired."

Bern cocked an eyebrow, appraising her for a moment, then shrugged. She glanced at Scarlet, who stood nearly forgotten to one side.

"Cheers, Stump."

Vixen watched her return to her post against the side of the wagon, obviously holding her anger in check. She whirled on Scarlet, exhaustion momentarily forgotten, gathering the girl's one hand into her own.

"I am so sorry." she breathed. "She came recommended as one of the best bodyguards for hire in Myrken Wood. I never thought she would say something like that." Her soft, slender fingers tightened their grip, tears of mortification pricking her eyes. "Please forgive me."
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby Rance » Wed Aug 27, 2014 4:38 pm

...don't know how you managed to get knocked up with a face like that--

So often, she could meet reproach with anger, mirror fury and threats with as many returned. It was all too often the stocky girl's talent to encounter ire with her own. But something kept her from it: perhaps the dance of Bern's dangerous fingers toward that knife, or the swollen weight of a living thing growing and nudging and twisting inside the pocket it had made beneath her intestines. But the words struck like swift, invisible blades. In the crowd, amid those who assumed the child had been conceived out of an irresponsible need for coin, she could ignore it, deflect it, parry the emotions.

But Bern, this woman she didn't know, spoke scythes because Gloria Wynsee knew the statements to be--

(deserved, aren't they, those things; you're a maggot, aren't you, a stupid, afraid girl)

--true.

Jig slid forward like a wind, lashed out her hand, and struck. The palm hovered in the air like a bird of prey for a long, mute moment. Flesh struck flesh. And Gloria wanted to say something, but clinging to black silk, she was dumb and stiff. Bern skulked away. Vixen turned, all slender limbs and grace. How can someone be born that way, her brain chattered behind her blank face. How can they born to move like cloth and water, to have so many talents, will I create something like that, will I, or will it just be a blister, will it just be a pustule, a wart, a--

"She can say of me whatever she chooses, Jig. I got to -- to see you dance. I did."

The hand touched hers. Her conscience tumbled back toward sense and composure. Jig's eyes were damp, heavy, wide, apologetic.

"Don't be upset," the seamstress said. "You're not accountable for -- for what she says. Her thoughts aren't yours to choose, Jig. They're hers. You've nothing to be forgiven for. I like my scarf. I like it a great deal. I got to see you dance," she added again, a repetitive afterthought. "But I don't want you to fall over, nor do I want you to lose your hand. You need to keep your hands. For dancing, for potatoes. You see?"

Gloria wore a mask that tried its best to smile.

"Can I give it to her? The scarf. Can I give it to my baby?"
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby CherryStatic » Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:06 pm

Vixen nodded, pulling the ends of the broad scarf down so that they laid flat over Scarlet's protruding stomach. She looked up into the girl's eyes with a smile, glad that she wasn't outwardly upset. There was no excuse for what had just happened, but Bern wouldn't be popping off comments like that again any time soon if she wanted to keep her job.

"That's a wonderful idea. Maybe the dance really was magical." She said, jokingly. "That scarf might protect her if she ever needs to travel. Or you."

She still had no way of explaining the way her energy had fled her body the moment the scarf had taken to the air. Nor how said scarf had ended up on Scarlet's broad shoulders. She had still been in the throes of the dance when she tossed it, so it wasn't like she had been aiming for anyone.

"Listen," she said. "I need take the tent down and take my things back to the Floating Dragon, but it should only take about twenty minutes. Have you eaten today? Because I'm starving, and judging by the number of people who donated after the show, I'd say lunch is on me."
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby Rance » Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:09 am

Her smile was hollow and honest all at once.

"Maybe we won't ever need to -- to find out if it can protect her, or me. Maybe we shall be fortunate enough to go both our lives without ever discovering."

Beyond the hillock of Jig's slender shoulder, Gloria Wynsee leveled her stare upon the half-elf woman near the wagon.

"And something to eat," she said, "sounds splendid."

* * * *

"I cannot dance. I am not built for it how you are. You're all smooth lines and flexible joints. But me?" Gloria had a sliver of mutton between her fingers as she motioned across the table, the meat dangling like elastic from the bone. "I'm a rock with two left feed and too much sand in her guts. I can't dance, but -- but I can sing."

The aforementioned lunch was scattered on a number of pewter plates between the seamstress and the dancer: boiled potatoes with little black eye-roots; gummy meats carefully chopped into small pieces that brittle teeth could shred without worry; mugs of sassy-fras with heads like seafoam. Gloria had earlier asked for help rolling up the sleeve of her dress to the elbow, that she wouldn't drag her cuff in her food. Her remaining arm was a bulky, muscular column that hinged at the elbow to bring victuals from plate to mouth. Even with her ring-finger missing, she had no issues navigating the various foods.

"Eat," she told Jig. "You ought to refresh some of your strength."

She slid the plate of comma-shaped chops toward her friend, then lowered her volume to ask a forward but not unfriendly question:

"If it was for a want of water, you -- you would have felt the signs of the episode before you started dancing. So why did you fall?"
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby CherryStatic » Sun Aug 31, 2014 6:13 am

Gloria had chosen the place, leading them to a small restaurant in the heart of the city. The girl had insisted that they get out from under the sun, but Vixen didn't want to relinquish the warmth of the day quite yet despite what had happened, so they had come to an agreement to eat on the shaded veranda. Now, amid the chatter of the lunch crowd, mostly travelers or merchants who had closed up shop long enough to eat, Vixen felt the familiar relief of having attention drawn away from her, of being another face in the crowd. It was nice after being in the spotlight.

"Sing? What sort of songs?" She was genuinely curious. At a glance, Gloria seemed more used to work in the fields than the arts. She thought back to the poem in the Broken Dagger the previous night, the one that the girl had seemed so passionate about, so invested in. She wondered what other interests lay beneath the girl's battered exterior.

Vixen wore a simple low-cut white blouse and black breeches that hugged her shapely legs. Her hair was pulled back in a long ponytail that was dangerously close to touching the ground behind the chair in which she sat. She wore no jewelry, no makeup, nothing extravagant. She was just a woman having lunch with a friend, nothing fancy. It was oddly comforting. With her business in the marketplace concluded, Bern had left for the day. It was just the two of them.

"So why did you fall?" Gloria asked

"I really don't know." She said, plucking a tiny cut of meat from the proffered plate. She popped it into her mouth and chewed thoughtfully. "I'm always careful to drink before a show. It get's hot in the plaza, so it can be dangerous if you don't. I see a lot of merchants who carry extra water skins just in case."

She paused abruptly, glancing around the crowded enclosure. She had felt pinpricks for a fraction of a second, like she was being watched. She was accustomed to open stares from men and women, but this had felt different. She couldn't find the source of the feeling, and after a moment turned back to Gloria.

"Sorry." She took a sip of her drink, the spicy sweet taste dancing over her tongue. "It seemed like the dance was different this time, but I don't know why. I've performed the Oasis Flower in front of a crowd at least twenty times so far. I felt really tired when I threw the scarf." She peered at Gloria, at said scarf. "You don't...feel any different, do you?"

When the feeling came a second time, she found the culprit immediately. A woman in a black cloak lounged at a table near the back, watching her over Gloria's shoulder, her lips twitching into a smirk. She was dressed in tight red leather from head to toe, showing no skin but at the same time leaving nothing to the imagination. A thin black wand hung from a chain on her belt. The woman sat alone, with no food or drink, eyes the color of cobalt glittering. Teardrop rubies dangled from her ears.

She's probably just here to get out of the sun. Vixen thought to herself. The feeling of apprehension didn't lessen. The woman's smirk grew, revealing perfectly white teeth. She was beautiful in the same way as a viper: flashy and captivating, but with the promise of danger. She made no move to intimidate others the way Bern did, and seemed more frightening because of it. The most disturbing thing about her was that she seemed...

...familiar?

Vixen blinked, forcing herself to look back at Gloria. She was being ridiculous, and she knew it.
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby Rance » Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:37 pm

"Chapel songs. Prayer songs," she said. "I memorized them all from the hymnal. Words stick like molasses in my brain."

The Kamoreta, where now they ate, was one of the few businesses from the Red-and-Gold Summer that remained. Tucked between a tailor's storefront and a cobbler's, it was a place that all too often attracted women with grand bustles and men with crisp little cravats. The restaurant's survival had been predicated entirely on business offered by investors, bankers, and entrepreneurs who had earned enough coin during the Lady's reign to lawfully live at the expense of a comfortable income. To mask the foul odors of horseshit clumped in the mud on Callister Street, grand torches burning scented oil flickered at the corners of the verdana. Gloria had never eaten here before, with the tiny pastries and over-spiced food, but it was an opportunity to show a fancy angle of town to a fancy person like Jig.

And dine, for once, as though she herself was of importance.

Gloria wiped her fingers off on her skirt before plucking up a corner of the scarf in question. "I feel nothing different," she admitted. "But carrying this baby has -- has dulled my sensibilities, too. Exhaustion is constant, and to find my bed at Sunsleep is a welcome comfort if only she acts charitably and decides not to batter my insides with her knees." Her. As if, by some nature of sense, she knew the infant's gender.

Jig seemed distracted for a minute, tossing her gaze this way and that, toward the corners and the other nameless faces. Perhaps this was not the right place? Perhaps the dancer would have preferred a more common atmosphere to dine--

"Different how? I imagine dancing itself makes you tired, with all that movement and swaying back and forth. Fabric is but fabric, Jig. Perhaps you felt tired because -- because the scarf is such a part of the Oasis Flower. Like you were--" she flapped her hand to imitate wind-swept cloth, "--casting off a reliable dance-partner, or abandoning them to a fate you couldn't control. Objects are like that. You see? We personify them. We give them value."

But Jig was somewhere else. The dancer focused on a point somewhere past the mountain of Gloria's shoulder. The seamstress turned, squinted, and tried to see--

Dyed leather. A tiny stick and a length of rattling chain. All belonged to an unfamiliar figure lounging on a nearby chair, one whose presence seemed so intentionally bereft of purpose -- no victuals, no drink -- that Gloria couldn't help but wonder if she was one of those off-minded artists: a dreamer, a stargazer, someone with money enough to waste their days trapped on the islands of creations and fantasies in her mind.

The seamstress returned to her sassy-frass beer and glanced over its rim toward Jig, before saying under her breath, "There are some -- some very peculiar sorts along this street, Jig. They wouldn't know the world if it knocked itself right into their teeth."
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby CherryStatic » Sun Aug 31, 2014 7:01 pm

Vixen got the feeling that the woman watching her was fully aware of her surroundings. Aware of just how conspicuous she looked in such a high-end venue with her manner of dress and weapon visible. Not that she could talk, really; she stuck out like a sore thumb in a town such as this, but it was hardly intentional. The blue-eyed woman, on the other hand, seemed to present herself in this way on purpose.

She wanted me to see her.

The thought surprised her. She had no idea why she had come to that conclusion, but it nonetheless stuck. Her eyes dropped to the table in front of her, to her silverware. Her fingers had instinctively curled around the serrated knife. She hadn't even noticed. She wondered why--

an extension of your arm, your knowledge of what it means to suffer. Your right to their blood. The weak hold no claim to their lives, content to poison their own minds with their false ideologies and half-truths. They are the walking dead, as you once were, but you chose to live and now you are

The knife dropped with a loud clatter against her plate, a few heads turning discreetly to see what all the noise was about. She gripped the edge of the table, knuckles white, as she stared down at the utensil. Her head hurt, a dull ache that was beginning to flare up. Worse than the others she got on occasion, elicited by certain sounds, particular colors, familiar smells.

"Scarlet, I need to go." She said simply, quietly standing. She kept her eyes on the girl, refusing to acknowledge the oddly knowing smile on the blue-eyed woman's face. She fished too many silver pieces out of the pouch at her waist and placed them in the center of the table, not caring enough to count them out. She placed a hand on Gloria's own deformed one, managing a weak smile that felt anything but sincere. "I had fun today. Come see me perform again sometime."

She headed for the exit, her mind a mess of pain and mixed thoughts, but not so muddled that she didn't hear the two words uttered quietly as she strode past the woman in red:

"Found you."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The woman left a moment or two after she had gone. The companion wouldn't present a problem, if it came down to it. She hadn't even bothered to look at the one-handed girl on her way out. She was rabble, an unimportant afterthought who would be dealt with accordingly if she got in the way.

A man in a uniform identical to hers was waiting for her outside against the side of the building, watching the crowd that milled through the street. She came to stand next to him, observing the commoners that pressed against one another under the afternoon sun. Both of their hoods were drawn despite the heat, earning them a few curious looks that were ignored.

"Have you learned where she's staying?" The words were buried beneath the chatter of the townsfolk. There was no risk of being overheard.

The man nodded. "An inn, just a few minutes from here on foot. The Floating Dragon. Bale and Molleine are in the rooms adjacent to hers, in case she tries to leave."

"She won't." She said it without hesitation. "It's not in her nature to leave questions unanswered."

The man glanced at her doubtfully. "Not normally, but in her current state--"

"She may not remember, but that doesn't change who she is. She knows that we're here. That's what's important."

He looked as though he wanted to argue the point, but thought better of it. "As you say. What do we do now?"

"She'll come to us, trust me." She smiled, satisfied with the way things were falling into place. "For now, we wait."

Together, they disappeared into the crowd.
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Re: A Bit of Desert Magic

Postby Rance » Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:54 pm

Scarlet, I need to go.

"Jig?"

The knife fell and struck a song against the pewter plate. Silver marks spilled out of the pouch and scattered upon the table. The dancer was up; the dancer, too, was wild-eyed and looking elsewhere, even if Gloria had full sight of the other woman's face

A touch of the graceful palm against her knuckles. Sentiment. Apology. Composure.

Moments later, Vixen the dancer was gone, and Gloria was left with a gifted strip of black scarf slung her belly. Other patrons at the Kamoreta turned to her, peered at her, questioned the noise, the stains of grease and sweat on her skirts, the bulge of pregnancy in her belly as if now that her compatriot had fled, she was a pustule, a smear--

(This isn't a place for you, this isn't a place for common girls, Glour'eya.)

The flicker of blood-colored leather shaped like a woman was gone, too.

* * * *

Gloria Wynsee was often dull, but never stupid. As she scrambled off the verdana, she slipped into the sea of townsfolk that littered the streets. She swept her ragged bonnet off her head and stuffed it into her hip-side satchel. Coarse knots of black hair fell in front of her face as she strode through the surging crowds of commoners and Myrkentown natives. The lips of her skirts dragged in the filth, spattering mud and offal up across the breadth of her flared petticoats.

Dyed leather was not hard to follow. Cowls were not difficult to miss.

She floated amid the ocean of feet and shoulders only long enough to observe the two as they spoke. Even as she tried to blend in as another ragged slash of dirty fabric and hair in the street, the seamstress heard nothing; their words crashed against the waves of murmurs and conversations in the street. But she watched the two of them long enough to know they were speaking--

And then, like shadows, they disappeared in the morass of color.
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