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Fantasy/PG 
21st-Oct-2006 04:00 pm
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The thunder of the drums and the cracking wood in the fire filled Maeve’s ears. The soft dirt beneath her feet rose in a mist around her ankles as she danced. Her anklets and bracelets chimed gaily with each move and turn. Someone in the crowd gathering around her pulled out a flute to play in time with the drums. She harmonized her movements with the music and the flames, a macabre ballet of tragedy that fuels the blood.



She teased the fire with her hands as she danced, feeling the warm hug over her skin. She moved until she was so close to the flames they were almost one. The short sapphire skirt that clung to her hips and the matching tube top were flame retardant and had been doused with water for good measure prior. The flames wouldn’t hurt her body she could leave her dark blue hair down and let it float about her with out fear, but she would just soon not have the flames consume her clothing. Images manifested in the flames along with her. The fire was big enough that she could create a dance partner made of flames and together they glided gracefully around the fire. It looked like a shadow, if shadows could be made of light, malformed and intangible.
When Maeve was done there were applause, there were always applause. She picked up the small bag that had collected her night’s earnings and the long grey cloak beside it. After brushing the dirt off she put it on without the hood and wrapped it around herself. She headed into the bar and away from the bonfire. She ordered a pint of what she assumed was something with alcohol that would hopefully not kill her or blind her. She had been fully prepared to pay for the drink herself but and wrinkle man with about three teeth and the same number of hair on his head offered to pay for her after proposing marriage. With a companionable laugh she declined the ring but took the drink and made her way to a table in the corner of the room.
From here Maeve could see the front entrance all the windows and was close enough to the back entrance to make a quick getaway if need be. No one knew her here, she was safe, but still she watched the people in the bar, spotted and memorized weapons, strengths, weaknesses, loyalties. She saw people watching like her, drifters with haunted and cold eyes. She was always leaving, a nomad through and through. She never stopped to wonder if there was no one to chase her if she would stay in one place. No reason to question it when she did in fact have people looking to find her. Unconsciously she rubbed at her wrists and the scars that were kept hidden by her bracelets. A man at the bar caught her eye. He was enthralling a half drunk woman with his ability to turn water into ice. Her hand instinctively clutched around the hilt of the knife she hid in her cloak when someone bumped into her. He muttered an apology and staggered off. She made her face calm and hoped the momentary jolt had gone unnoticed. After checking to make sure he hadn’t stolen anything from her she leaned back in her chair to enjoy the drink, which wasn’t half bad and hadn’t made her go blind.


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All characters are free for use, have fun
Comments 
31st-Oct-2006 07:03 am (UTC)
Shihanna had watched the girl dance with the flames and had to admit she was impressed. Not only by her easy grace and courage to display so much of her shapely thighs in such bad company, but also by her quick reflexes. She would have made a warrior, this one. A better one than even herself, perhaps. Shihanna had followed the dancer into the bar and watched how she looked around, careful but not afraid, prepaired for emergencies, but not paranoid. A little tense perhaps, but she had reasons for that, after all.
She probably knows it, Shihanna thought, but she'll surely not mind some extra information.
And she could imagine worse things than spending her evening with an impressive girl like that.
When the dancer had scanned the barroom, her eyes had passed over the other woman without further notice. Shihanna knew she didn't stick out from this crowd of cutthroats, tinkers and soldiers and she was proud of her ability not to be seen if she didn't want it.
She guessed the girl did notice her now, when she walked up and took the seat beside her as if by accident.
"Care for another drink m'dear?" Shihanna asked, smiling, alhtough she knew it would let the girl see her razor-sharp teeth. In a casual tone she added: "You know they're out to get you, don't you?"
1st-Nov-2006 12:33 am (UTC)
Maeve tensed when then stranger sat down but allowed herself to relax slightly even with the stranger's words. She hadn't noticed this woman before or at least she couldn't remember her. The sharp teeth intrigued her rather than scared her. Maeve let it go and smiled easily at the woman but kept a careful hand on the hilt of the knife in her cloak. The solidness of it kept her hands from worrying over her wrists and the memories of the man she had to kill to gain her freedom. That was years ago and the probability that this woman was connected to that time was slim. She could be talking about a dozen different people. Times were not peaceful and she wouldn't delude herself into thinking she only had to be worried about one group of people from years ago.
"I'm afraid you will have to be more specific, so many people are interseted in me. But if you would like to chat more about how interesting I am, then I wouldn't mind another of these if you're buying."
She set down her empty glass
1st-Nov-2006 11:26 am (UTC)
Shihanna smiled. She noticed the girl's hand tense around her knife-hilt. It seemed they understood each other, for her own fingers had rested loosely-curled around the hilt of her sword all the time. She took them away with a slow, meaningful movement and signalled the barkeep to pour them two drinks.
After they had drunk in companionable silence for a few moments and the girl had relaxed a bit more, Shihanna started again. "I heard my boss talking about you... if indeed your name is Maeve?" She watched the girl's eyes widen and then draw into thin slits. Without losing her smile or her soothing tone of voice, she went on. "Before you do something stupid, hear me out! I'm not working for that man anymore. I was hired as an escort here and he didn't even pay me like we had agreed beforehand. If you're Maeve and have the hounds of one of those southern lords on your heels -and for what sounded to me like years, then you should watch out for a man named Kashan, who travels disguised as a merchant. He is one of the agents sent after you. In case you wonder why I tell you: he owes me money and warning his prey to sour his task is my revenge." She threw some coins onto the counter and wrapped her heavy soldier's cloak around her shoulder, pretending to be done and leave. Two steps later, she stopped, as if it had occurred to her only now -when in fact this had been the moment she had been waiting for, since she had first seen this woman dance. 'I better not mess this up', she thought and felt a sharp momentary pain, but was all smiles and casual movements, when she turned back around, glad to find the girl's eyes -though full of mistrust- still fixed on her.
"But then..." She spoke slowly, thoughtfully, "...if you like, I could help you. I could take you away from here without leaving a trace and you'd not have to worry about those people again. There must be quite a score to settle if they're still after you after all this time..." She waited for a reaction, but the dancer's beautiful face remained impassive. Safety was not her sole wish then. "Or if you want, I can help you to your revenge." The girl still hesitated. Shihanna forced herself to remain calm. "And you needn't worry about money. All I ask for payment, is a single dance -not for myself, but for my queen, who is kept under an evil spell that only a firedancer such as you can break." Was there a spark of interest in the girl's eyes? She knew she mustn't push her now. "I give you time to think this over. If you are interested, we can make the bargain; if not, I promise not to report you to Kashan or any of his overlord's men. You can find me in the old inn at the western gate, where I have a room. My name is Shihanna Wolfdaughter. If you don't come there within the next three days, I will resume my travels alone." She gave a slight bow and left without waiting for an answer.
19th-Nov-2006 02:13 am (UTC)
Maeve waited for an hour sipping her drink and considering. If this Shihanna knew who she was and found her so easily maybe Kashan could too. She didn't know anything about him but didn't see a reason for the woman to lie about him.
Though she knew within that hour that she would go to see Shihanna she waited until noon on the second day before going to her. In the meantime she did her favorite thing. Shopping. Something about earning her own money and spending it on what she wanted always made her feel centered. So she hounded over the local weaponsmith until she had three beautiful weighted throwing daggers and a leather belted sheath that fit well enough that she could run without them jangling.
She described Shihanna to the inn keeper and he told her what room she was staying in. She knocked on the door and keeping her ears sharp for any sign of trouble, put a disinterested look on her face.
21st-Nov-2006 07:58 pm (UTC)
Glad to see you're still here! I had given up hope!!!
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/I should have given her one day, not three!/ Shihanna thought angrily. The time she spent waiting, always seemd to pass especially slowly, just to spite her. She had little else to do but sleeping, eating and polishing her assorted weaponry till it gleamed dangerously. It was a miracle that the rough wooden floorboards were not yet worn thin from her incessant pacing.
When a short knock on the door announced her long-awaited visitor, the warrior was immensely relieved.
She braced herself before opening the door, carefully putting her nonchalantly smiling facade back up -and rightly so, because the dancer's beatiful face was as impassive as ever.
"I knew you'd come," she greeted her, feigning confidence. "To be honest, I had expected you earlier. We must hurry now. This way, if you don't mind." With that, she ushered the smaller, slighter woman into the room and towards the window.
Shihanna fastened her cloak in walking and picked up her already prepared backpack, adding her heavy shield and battered helmet in the shape of a stylised wolf's head.
Under the window, a straw-thatched roof provided an easy climb down to the back-alley below.
Sure-footed, looking like she did this sort of thing every day, Maeve followed her, obviously not caring how much thigh her short skirts revealed. She might follow her, Shihanna knew, but she didn't trust her yet, that much was clear from the way the dancer's eyes darted back and forth along the narrow, dirty street. /But she is good at not betraying herself,/ she thought. /To most people she would look careless and unguarded./
Shihanna led the way through the labyrinth of tiny streets, almost to the town's outer wall. They kept to the shadows and walked in silence. Maeve was tight-lipped and kept up with Shihanna's speed easily. Maybe she had adopted the warrior's sense of urgency; or maybe she had reasons of her own and was lost in her own thoughts.
"Not one for asking superfluous questions, are you?" Shihanna asked, when they had reached their destination and stopped under the low-hanging roof of an old stable. "It'll be a pleasure to travel with you." She gave the other woman a fanged grin. "By the way, I hope you can ride...? I already got a mount for you. Nice as it would be to have you sitting behind, all wrapped around me, two riders plus baggage on one horse would slow us down too much." She didn't wait for whatever angry reaction her easy little flirtation might produce, instead shoved the stable's half-rotten door open.
5th-Dec-2006 09:01 pm (UTC)
Ahm... it got too narrow, new thread!
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Shihanna clasped the other woman's much frailer wrist in her hand and held her gaze steadily. "To any extend, Maeve. Free my queen and I'll do anything you wish. I'll give you whatever you like, and will be anything you want me to be. To my death. This I swear."
She felt the touch sear her skin. The pain shot up her arm and pulsed through her vains like liquid flames. It felt like holding her hand into a forge-fire and gripping a piece of coal. They kept their eyes locked for what seemed like a long time. Shihanna thought she finally got used to the pain, but then she noticed it had subsided. Maeve let go of her wrist. The heat had left nothing but a strangely coloured, circular burn-mark. A magical seal? Shihanna had never seen such a thing before and it fascinated her.
However, time was pressing. They were, more likely than not, still followed. She brushed and saddled the horse while Maeve packed their few belongings and the rests of their meal for later.
She admitted to herself that the thought of sharing a horse again, was not at all unpleasant. Since Maeve's arm was better and she needn't feel guilty for enjoying the ride while her companion was in pain, Shihanna actually looked forward to it. A pity that the chain mail would pretty much prevent her from feeling those shapely curves pressed into her back!
She fastened the saddle bags, mounted and held out her hand for the dancer.
5th-Dec-2006 11:34 pm (UTC)
Maeve took the hand offered to her. Since she was feeling better she didn't hold on as tightly to Shihanna as she had before. She studied the way that Shihanna rode the horse, how she moved with it and she tried to mimic her. Whenever they got to another town she would probably be saddled with her own horse and she didn't want to fall off again.
"So, tell me more about this Queen of yours and the spell that's on her. I've never heard of such a spell before."
6th-Dec-2006 10:01 pm (UTC)
Shihanna fought hard to concentrate despite Maeve's hips moving so smoothly in time with her own.
The question dispelled her good mood somewhat, but she was glad for that. It helped her think.
"My lady, well... She is the Queen of the Frozen Kingdom, which was called Yrin-Sha, The Home of Spring, in happier days; a beautiful woman -though some say, a cruel one. As to the spell..." The knight thought back. "I was not there when it all started, but I was told that a mage, disguised as an old man, came to court with a case of law and asked for her justice. When she spoke in favour of his opponent, he cursed her with eternal winter, snow falling around her wherever she went, flowers withering at her touch and frost, as far as her realm stretched.
At first, nothing happened and the courtiers laughed it off and sent the mad old man away. After a month had passed, however, it started to get cold outside. Another one found the dishes on the queen's table stiff and the wine in the cups frozen over. Since then, it has become worse day by day. Inside the castle is the coldest place of all, even clad in thick furs, a man dies within the hour. Many have fled the kingdom, others, like me have ridden in search of a remedy." She set her teeth. This memory was painful. "When I left, my queen was little more than a living statue carved of ice, moving slowly, as though she might shatter. Only her eyes were still alive and desperate." She broke off. Those eyes, frozen blue, dripping with icycle tears, still haunted her dreams. Absently, she patted the horse's neck, to calm them both down, for the animal had sensed she was upset and started prancing. "Her counsellors tried every possible thing -magical or not- to stop this madness, but nothing would succeed. "I left without a clue to what exactly I was looking for, but by chance I heard a singer's tale of firedancers and decided it was as good a point as any to start. All I have heard since then, has confirmed my impression that magic of the kind you possess, is the only way to break the spell." She forced herself to smile. Maeve could not see her, but it would be audible in her voice. "I personally do not mind winters," she added, "as they are the time of wolves, but I mind my kingdom falling to ice-covered ruins." /And I mind my queen's suffering/, she thought, her smile vanishing, but there was no need to say it aloud.
7th-Dec-2006 05:21 am (UTC)
Maeve felt the woman's growing tension. The story made her sad and she laid her cheek against Shihanna's back. They rode in silence for a time. The horse's hoof beats played a steady rhythm as the sun rose ever higher in the sky. Wind rustled the trees around them and kept Maeve on her guard.
Finally she said, "I believe I know how to help your Queen, though I've never actually performed the dance necessary for it. I can figure it out, no worries." She hugged Shihanna's waist and laughed as the warrior tensed.
"You should relax more and smile more without the whole 'I could rip your throat out with my teeth thing.' We haven't seen Kashan since yesterday and we are both in generally good health, thanks to you. We should look into getting another horse as soon as we can, this pretty thing shouldn't be ridden so hard."
7th-Dec-2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
Shihanna relaxed a bit -which was not easy, with a beautiful woman so close. "You are probably right," she said. "For a while we are safe. But Kashan hasn't followed you this far to give up now. And I don't think his Lord is the forgiving sort, either."
/And you're right about getting an extra mount, as well,/ she thought. /A horse for you and a whore for me, so I can stop staring at your legs and breasts all the time./ But she knew that it wouldn't help, and whores had never really made her happy, anyway. Besides, they looked at you like you were some disgusting abomination, only because you were not a man and still asked their service. And there was still the problem of money. It would buy a horse and supplies for their journey, but wouldn't cover any extra fun.
By high noon, they reached a small market town by the side of the main road, they had short-cut the day before. It was dangerous to enter, because Kashan's men might look for them here, but they really needed the horse and the food was short as well. Without a bow and arrows, or at least a spear, she couldn't hunt herself, and Maeve's daggers depended on the carelessness of her prey too much. Putting out sling-traps would take them too long and if they got caught hunting, the penalties were awful.
3rd-Jan-2007 11:08 pm (UTC)
So, pt 2 here! Makes it broader again as well.
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Considering the state the room was in, Shihanna could imagine the events fairly well. /Always surprising, how one so frail can cause such destruction,/ she thought, but secetly, she was immensely relieved to find the girl alive -for her Queen's sake, of course.
But there was no time to lose. Their supplies were badly scorched and not even edible anymore. The blankets were not much better off, but at least the metal of her armor had resisted the flames, as had her oaken shield. A grimy layer of soot covered everything, but she could get rid of that later. Shihanna felt much better with the familiar weight of the armour on her skin and her sword at her hip, no matter that the chainmail chafed her skin where the undershirt had burnt holes. The best part, were the trousers and boots, though. The thick leather had hardly smoldered. The end of feeling naked and exposed. /And to think I actually enjoyed myself for a while/, she thought, while hastily sorting out what they would take along and throwing it out the window. From downstairs came a sudden high-pinched scream, followed by a confusion of many voices and the sounds of chairs and feet. /That's it/, Shihanna realised. Little chance that they would make it. She tied both their cloaks and the rests of the bedsheets together and knotted them around Maeve's waist. She carried the other woman to the window and carefully let her down inch by inch, hoping the makeshift rope wouldn't tear.
It didn't and only a few moments later, she was down as well, struggling to lift Maeve into the saddle of her own grey horse, because Maeve's young black stallion reared at the smells and the dead weight. Without much ado, she tied the dancer to the saddle and took the reins in hand. Only when they were both mounted and ready to go without having been discovered, the iron grip of fear lifted from Shihanna's heart. She spurned the horses into a sharp gallop. The faster and farther they were gone, the better. The money she had taken from the dead men would buy them food and provisions for a week or two. Afterwards, they would hopefully be safely away so that Maeve could earn their expenses with dancing -alone, from now on!
A miracle they had gotten away, Shihanna thought, as they hurried through the night, they couldn't afford such carelessness once more.
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Sorry for any overlooked typos, I'm currently half-asleep.
7th-Jan-2007 04:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah but she's cute, right?
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Maeve woke stiff and sore. The throbbing in her head made it difficult to think. She tried to open her eyes but everything was so bright it made her hurt more. She could feel dirt under her and because the air was still cold she assumed it had to be just after dawn. She couldn't remember what had happened. /There must have been a fight./ she thought and instantly her thoughts ran to Shihanna and if she was injured. She bolted upright and opened her eyes despite the harsh rays of the sun. She saw Shihanna sitting against a tree watching her. The warrior looked irritated and tired but unharmed. Maeve slowly lay back down. She couldn't help but feel somewhat useless as this was their second fight and once again she was the only one to be injured. She turned her head and saw one of their scorched packs and she remembered. She wanted to pat herself on the back for killing the two men and only being injured by her own panicked use of fire. Sure she had set the entire room and all their belongings on fire but come on; she had set the /entire/ room and all their belongings on fire. It was impressive for a fire dancer with no source of flame to pull from.
Meave's stomach growled at her and she stretched lazily. As she moved she felt less stiff though her head continued to throb. She rolled onto her side and propped herself up to look at Shihanna. "So did any of the food survive or should I go hunt up something?"
11th-Jan-2007 04:33 pm (UTC)
If by cute you mean 'making me want to kick her', then yes... *ggg*
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"You feel up to hunting?" Shihanna looked over at Maeve doubtfully. "Well, if you really want to... But you can also take the bread and bacon I bought on the way." She thought it better not to mention how weirdly people tended to look at you when you were black all over and had an unconscious girl strapped to a horse beside you and then asked them in the most normal tones and with a casual smile if they would mind selling you some food.
"A hundred metres down that dear trail," she pointed, "is a brook, in case you want to wash -which I'd strongly recommend." She had already washed herself very thoroughly there and also cleaned what was possible of their equipment. She felt much better, clean and rested and with those obnoxious girly braids out of her hair.
12th-Jan-2007 12:18 am (UTC)
LOL
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Maeve stood and stretched again before making the walk to the brook. The water was too cold but she washed off. She wished she had brought her cloak with her. By the time she was done and walking back her hair was wet and dripping and her clothes were soaked from where the water had splashed up at her. She hugged her arms around her chest and shivered wishing the trees weren't so thick and the sun could warm her. Her teeth were chattering so bad it made her head hurt even worse.
She picked up some wood for a fire on her way back and plopped down to make a quick fire. Even with the fire going she couldn't seem to get warm.
"What happened after I blacked out? Did you run into anyone else?"
16th-Jan-2007 07:16 am (UTC)
We should invent some sort of concept where we are going and what will happen. I have no idea. *g*
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"Only peasants," Shihanna said dismissively and passed Maeve one of the new blankets she had bought and some food. "I think we are followed, though. The forest is to quiet. I only wonder why they haven't attacked yet. They had every possible opportunity when you were unconscious and I had to sleep."
She wondered what they were waiting for and if maybe they were in running straight into a trap that was set up for them.
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