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Re: THE ZENA SCROLLS: CHAPTER III



---------------------------------------------

EvergreenLM
(5/12/03 12:10 am)

Things That Go Bump in the Daylight

Walking over to the spread of food, Evergreen nodded at the Tavern maid, picked up a knife and stabbed a large roasted potato. Slicing the thick outer skin poking chunks of the tuber into her mouth, the cautious Amazon took care not to cut her lips. As she did so, thoughts of Zena, the practicality of scoops, and perhaps small wooden tridents to pierce her food, came to mind.

[sign in to see URL] is [sign in to see URL] good..."

As she pivoted returning to her table, she never saw the man enter the tavern with a raised timber in hand…

The last sound Evergreen recalled was the screaming of an agonizing “noooooo!” Beyond that, everything was a just a blur…an absolute blur…then blackness.

They say the sound of it could be heard back in the kitchen. The sickening thud of the human head meeting inanimate lumber… “whooomph!”

Dark eyes tried to focus on a face through a red haze. Cool fingers stopped Evergreen’s hand from touching the place that pulsated like a legions cadence. A damp cloth was gently laid upon the source of pain.

“Wha-at happened?”...Evergreen was pushed back down as she tried to rise… “by the gods it hurts.” Again, she tried to move from the spot where she lay flat on her back.

“Its okay…stay down…please…you are safe now. He hit you…hard. You crumpled like your bones had melted from your frame…but not before you…” and the soft voice trailed off.

“Not… before… I… what?” Just to speak sent thunderbolts of renewed pain to Evergreen’s head.

“Not to worry you now…here let me change the cloth.” Cool fingers and a soft voice went about their soothing mission.

“Who are you…what’s your name?” Evergreen’s eyes more clearly focused on the woman…tall, lithe, hair the color of ripe wheat, and face that had seen many summers…tanned with small wrinkles about gray eyes as she smiled.

“I am called Vassaly. My brother owns this Inn. He helped me get you here…to my room.”

Evergreen now recalled her…yes, the Tavern maid who smiled at me… of course.

“Thank you…Vassaly. I will be going and of no more trouble for you…or your brother. I will wait until dark and leave as so not to bring the man back…to cause you, or this place any further harm from him. I should have not baited him so…I…”

“You will not be about worrying of him anymore…no one will…a good deed you did us all.” She sat next to Evergreen on the narrow bed with her hands folded as she nervously twirled the cloth of her blue dress.

Evergreen placed a bloodied hand over the woman’s hand stilling them from their motion.

“What do you mean ‘a good deed’ I did you all?” Evergreen tried to recall the moment, but all memory was irretrievably lost in the pounding pain marching through her head. “Tell me…please… tell me.”

The gray eyes met brown looking deeply, conveying a message of sadness…of bitter truth.

“Do you remember what you were doing…the last thing?”

“No…I don’t.”

“You were eating…the roasted potato…with your knife.”

“I don’t remember…any of [sign in to see URL] [sign in to see URL] [sign in to see URL] brought me the water.”

And the exchange of looks continued.

“I was pouring wine after you nodded at me…you walked away as he came in…fast…up behind you… raised his hand as I screamed…you…you turned seeing it, but were not able to move away from the blow.”

The soft voice quivered as the woman spoke. A solitary tear rolled off her cheek and it was as though Evergreen heard a crashing waterfall.

“Before you fell…before I ran to catch you…the knife…the one you used for your meal…the knife made straight away to his throat. He bled out like the swine he was. Afterwards, my brother, Cassias, and I brought you here…to this room…two nights you have been here.” The woman’s eyes never left their posted gaze on the injured warrior’s face.

Evergreen had killed before, but somehow, hearing it, this time, was different. It was though she had heard just for the first time…the first kill. Something was different.

An inaudible “Oh…by the gods…oh” floated from the bed.

For the first time Evergreen felt empty…alone…except for the woman with the soft gray eyes.

“I took your clothes…the blood…when I heard you calling out… saw that you were awakening, I drew you a bath.

My brother brought that up the room”…nodding towards a large, oval wooden tub with iron staves… “we’ve filled it with hot water…if you will permit me to help you…I will…”

Why not…why not…but how can I ever wash away what I did? Evergreen pushed up on one elbow. “Yes…help me…”

The room began to spin as Evergreen sat upright. The sheet covering her dropped away. I indeed have nothing more to hide… she thought as she swung her legs to the side of the bed.

Vassaly placed a hold around Evergreen’s waist as she draped an arm over her left shoulder and braced it there. Slowly…they walked to the tub where the woman deftly helped her charge over the side.

Feeling the comforting warmth of the water, Evergreen slid fully beneath the surface. As her head rose above the steaming liquid with her body wanting for breath, Vassaly began to gently wash the matted and bloodied hair with sweetly scented soap.

“Lavender…my brother brings me things…from his travels”…she said as she slowly lathered the dark hair... "I have not asked you yet…but what do they call you…your name?”

The pain lessened with the woman’s every touch. My name? What’s my name?

“Your name…what shall I call you…?” She softly whispered.

Evergreen turned looking back into the gray eyes above her. “Leara…my name is Leara of Rome.”

-----
"Xena Is the Hero We Hope Is Inside Us"-LL

Edited by: EvergreenLM at: 5/12/03 9:36:39 am

---------------------------------------------

1 Xwpfan
(5/18/03 10:26 am)

Nice to meet you Boudicca

Silence filled the woods,both the howling and the shreiking had come to an end, yet the stranger had not yet emerged so Xendra decided to check on her

.Xendra had laughed heartedly at the stranger's obvious fright but now she felt it only fair to make sure the stranger was ok.

The stranger was all too easy to locate, even the dumbest Roman could of found her for she had left a trail of broken twigs,trampled foliage,scuffed trees and deep boot prints.

Xendra bent down and peered through a few bent branches there stood the stranger looking quite angry and perturbed. Xendra unconciously chuckled to herself in great amusement,as she thought about the frightful shreik the stranger had let out.

The sound of Xendra's laughing caused the stranger to spin around towards Xendra. By the look on the stranger's face Xendra could tell that her laughter had only further infuriated the stranger.

Xendra was not quite sure what to say, should she apologize,should she introduce herself or should she just walk away?

Finally Xendra simply asked," Are you ok?"There aren't really any wolves about right now."

After a few moments of silence the realization hit the stranger, she had been tricked. The stranger looked at Xendra and proceeded to let out a series of explextives.

Xendra empathetically nodded, just by watching the stranger's demeanor, Xendra could tell that in the stranger's opinon to have shown such weakness and fright in front of a group of strangers was next to unforgivable.

Xendra knew in her own heart how mad and embarassed she would have been if she had been tricked into showing even a modicum fear let alone a full fledged shriek like the stranger had let out .

Finally,to relieve some of the tension Xendra said "Are you done cursing yet ? Maybe after you calm down I'll to introduce myself to you and invite you to join us for some food... you do eat don't you?"

At first the stranger looked at Xendra with blazing anger still in her eyes, until she heard the word FOOD, then her eyes softened and her tone changed.

The stranger then stuck out her hand and replied, "My name is Boudicca and I would love to join you for some grub."

Xendra returned the gesture and stuck out her own hand and said, "Nice to meet you Boudicca, my name is [sign in to see URL] on ... I'll introduce you to the rest of the group, I believe you've already met Zena ."

-----
..there is only one success... to be able to spend your life your own way.



---

Whoosh-ChelSierra-Muse - Twi-Saga
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Re: THE ZENA SCROLLS: CHAPTER III



---------------------------------------------

phalon1
(5/21/03 1:19 am)

The Root of the Problem

Drip, drip, drip. Phalon was brought from her memories of the past and into the present by the feel of cool droplets of water on her forehead. Rain? No, the sky was clear. She lifted her chin from its resting place on her knees and looked up.

“Uhm. Excuse me. I don’t mean to interrupt your thoughts, but I wanted to return this.” The young girl had returned with Gabbyfan after bathing in the stream and held out the scarf she’d borrowed from Phalon. It was quite wet and was the source of the dripping on Phalon’s face. “Thank you.”

“You are quite welcome”, Phalon said, taking the scarf in her hands. As she did, she noticed a tiny black insect land on her hand. Then another leaped on her forearm. And another. Ugh. The scarf was crawling with the tiny vermin. “I think though”, she said holding out the scarf at arms length, “that more than a quick dip in the stream is in order.”

“Huh?” the girl asked, scratching her head, the cause more from the infestation than from puzzlement.

“It’s going to take more than soap and water to defeat that army of fleas that has entrenched itself on your scalp”, Phalon responded. “It’s time to bring out the heavy weaponry. It won’t hurt, I promise.” The girl looked a bit embarrassed and Phalon quickly added, “Don’t be ashamed. It happens to even to the best of us.”

To Gabbyfan she asked, “Do me a favor? Run down to the stream again. Across the path is a small field. I believe I saw some Meadow Rue growing there when we passed. Do you know what that is?” Gabbyfan shook her head. “It’s a tallish plant, about waist high”, Phalon continued, “with scalloped leaves and a cloud of tiny lavender colored flowers. Dig up a couple of them and bring me the roots. One of Zena’s scoops should work well for the job.” Rummaging through Aronia’s saddlebag, she handed the other young girl a very beat up old pot and said, “Go with her and bring me some water while I make a fire. We’ll rid you of these little buggers in no time.”

By the time Phalon had the fire going, the girls had returned with what she requested. She set the pot in the flames and, while water was heating, laid the roots on a rock and pulverized them by banging another rock against the first. This done, she threw them into the pot. After it came to a boil, she filled a bowl with the brew and set it beside the fire to cool a bit. The girl peered into the bowl at the oily mixture and asked, “You want me to drink that?”

“Not unless you want to be running behind the bushes quite often for the rest of the day”, Phalon said. “No, we are going to wash your hair with it. It’ll kill the fleas.”

The girl bent her head down and Phalon slowly poured the warm liquid onto her hair, massaging it in as she did. Upon the contact, she caught glimpses of the hard life this young girl had endured, and, despite everything she had lived through, there was also an overwhelming sense of hope and pride residing in her. Phalon remembered her own happy childhood memories that she had been reliving earlier, and thought how different hers were from this girl’s. Why, the girl never had a childhood at all. Finishing with her hair, she said, “There, all done. Now you two go run off and talk about whatever it is young girls talk about these days”, thinking the poor girl most likely never had a chance to talk about anything with someone close to her own age. Gabbyfan would be good for her, and she, for Gabbyfan.

After the girls left, Phalon walked over to the tree where she had been sitting earlier to retrieve the infested scarf she had dropped, meaning to throw it into the pot of boiling roots. When she returned to the fire with the scarf, Zena was bent down over the pot. “Hey Phalon”, she said. “See, my scoops work perfect for soup. What’s in here anyway? It’s kind of bitter.”

---------------------------------------------

Zena 1
(5/21/03 6:20 pm)

Re: The Problem of the Root

Phalon’s open mouthed stare puzzled Zena and she dropped the scoop back into the bubbling pot. “What?”
“Zena,” Phalon began hestitantly, “how are you feeling?”
“Feeling? Great!” She licked her fingers. “The sun is warm, my friends are [sign in to see URL] is, well, passible. Why?” She looked around, into the trees and the sky as if she had missed the obvious evidence of some awful event and could now discover it by careful scrutiny of the camp. When nothing seemed to be amiss she laid her hand on Phalon’s arm and grinned. “Phalon, you are always so thoughtful. It’s been at least an hour since we ate and you’re worried that I might be hungry. Well, don’t be concerned. I had a little bowl of this soup and that will hold me for a bit.”
Phalon winced and said, “Um. That’s not exactly what I’m thinking. How much ‘soup’ did you say you ate?”
Zena bent down and picked up another scoopful and Phalon reached out to grab her wrist before she could bring it to her mouth. “What? It’s a little bitter but it isn’t terrible. Evergreen’s soup is way worse. Last winter she made this gods awful concoction from turnips.....”
“Poison!” Phalon finally shrieked to stop Zena’s babbling.
“Nah, it was bad but it wasn’t poison. I just don’t like turnips..”
“ZENA!”
“Huh?”
“The pot. It’s flea poison. Meadow Rue. You’ll feel it any minute now!”
Zena sat down abruptly on a log they had placed earlier at the campfire as a bench. She tossed the scoop into the fire as Phalon sat beside her and they waited. After a time Phalon couldn’t help chiding Zena.
“I can’t believe you would just eat anything you find simmering over a campfire.”
“Well usually my friends don’t cook poisonous things.”
“I didn’t think I had to Zenaproof everything!”
Zena put her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands. “How long do I have?”
“You won’t die, you’ll just need to use the [sign in to see URL] lot!”
They waited a bit longer, and Zena poked at the fire with a stick stirring up the flames.
“You know I saw a play like this once by Euripides. Some lady wanted to do away with her husband and she poisoned his stew.”
“I saw that. It was rated 4 scrolls out of five but I thought the characterization was a little weak,” Phalon mused.
After an hour had passed and Zena showed no signs of becoming ill Phalon began to study her closely, hoping to understand what was happening. The fleas that had settled in the rags the slave girl had deposited by the fire for burning, jumped to Zena’s arms and legs but after one bite fell dead to the earth. Zena followed Phalon’s incredulous gaze and saw a little pest meet it’s reward.
“That’s an advantage,” Zena commented.
“I’ll say.”
“Maybe I’m protected from it.”
“Well you should have a stomach ache that would lay you out flat by now.”
“Nope.”
“Nothing?”
“Nope. Well, there IS something.”
Phalon who had begun to relax, thinking that the worst was over, stiffened in her seat on the log. “What is it Zena?”
“I have an awful headache. It feels like somebody hit me in the back of the head with a timber!”

-----
Zena
"Agere Sequitur Esse"



---

Whoosh-ChelSierra-Muse - Twi-Saga
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Re: THE ZENA SCROLLS: CHAPTER III



---------------------------------------------

EvergreenLM
(5/21/03 6:36 pm)

Night and Day Dreams

She smelled the scent of it long before it came into sight. The room was now a mix of sweet lavender, clean linens, and pine mixed with the air from morning fires. Something new, though, melded in the mix.

From the kitchen below, the aroma of fresh bread and slices of an unfortunate boar, floated up through the floorboards in the room in which Evergreen now found herself as the light of the rising sun peeked in and out of tea stained curtains softly blowing inward.

What is drumming inside my head…I had no wine.

Touching up near her brow, Evergreen found a loosely bound cloth. Thoughts came in and out of her fuzzy consciousness. Incomplete and disjointed pictures actually…nothing that explained her current circumstances.

Did I dream the woman…the bath? Looking down at her clean night shirt laced at the top with a precise bow, Evergreen knew this was not her doing. Hades, I can’t tie a bow when I do have all my senses about me…and the tub…it appears to be not the stuff of dreams.

Purposely placed near the edge the bed was a rough hewn chair with a colorful blanket tossed over the knotted planks. A small pillow sat in the seat. Obviously someone had slept there…but why?

Trying to sit upright brought a wave pounding to bandaged temples. Is the room truly rocking like a ship?

Pushing up, and through the pain, Evergreen sat upright pondering on where she might find her clothing…boots…weapon.

What is a Roman centurion without a weapon? The answer…a dead Roman centurion.

The laughter at her own riddle brought another washing of pain as she attempted to stand on wobbly legs.

“Where are you going…sit back down!”

The woman spoke with an unquestionably displeased, but subdued…command. Her words rolled out with an authority of familiarity.

Evergreen never heard the door open. Now, standing before her, was this woman…those gray eyes. At her words, the standing warrior retreated back to a seated position.

“I’m sorry. I did not mean to shout at you…I was afraid you’d fall…the bleeding has finally stopped, and I did not want…”

The woman sat down the tray she carried. Steam rose from the hot food. She stood for a moment looking at the Evergreen gripping onto the side slats of the bed.

“You are a mulish one aren’t you? Not a wonder you scrap with people and get your head near beat off your neck. Here…let me see that…”

The woman took a step forward as she reached out and removed the cloth binding. “Ahhh…you head heals as fast as your mouth gets you in trouble.”

“Vassaly…your name…that is it, is it not? Did you sleep there last night?” Evergreen pointed to the blanketed chair.

“Yes it is…and yes, I did. I was afraid you would die on me…or sneak away and die on the steps of the Inn. Bad for business. You even fight in your sleep…did you know that? You shouted out names…you cursed…and… you cried.”

The woman with the gentle touch picked up the meal tray and sat it down on Evergreen’s lap. The bowl of gruel, while not visually appealing, at least contained substance, and would fill an empty stomach.

Picking up a carved narrow wooden handle with a larger flat end, Evergreen’s hand shook. “Scoups…”

“What did you say…here, let me help you.” The woman with smiling gray eyes turned the chair taking the tray on her knees. She removed the crude utensil from a shaky hand.

“How did you get that scar on your back?” Vassaly stirred the gruel taking a small bit on the flat end offering it to a waiting mouth. “The scar…how did you get it?”

Swallowing the surprisingly good tasting hot texture, Evergreen looked into the eyes of the woman. “I don’t know…there is so much…these thoughts… none of which make any sense to me.”

“Were you on your way to Rome? You weren’t dressed like a Roman. There is so much I would like to know about you.” A small cup of hot liquid broth was placed at Evergreen’s lips for her to drink.

“Thank you, Vassaly…[sign in to see URL]…everything. I do not know if I can ever repay your kindness. Just name it, and if it is in my power, it is yours.”

Swirling the gruel, the woman remained quiet before speaking again without looking up. “There is one thing I would ask…”

“Tell me and it will be done.” Evergreen reached out tipping the woman’s face so their eyes met. “Name it.”

Softly, and with great passion, Vassaly whispered…“Take me with you.”

"People can do what they [sign in to see URL] long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses..."

Edited by: EvergreenLM at: 5/21/03 6:43:46 pm



---

Whoosh-ChelSierra-Muse - Twi-Saga
10/31/2011, 11:14 pm Link to this post Send Email to Joxcenia   Send PM to Joxcenia Blog
 
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Re: THE ZENA SCROLLS: CHAPTER III



---------------------------------------------

Zena 1
(5/23/03 7:14 pm)

Soup's On!

The afternoon hours had slipped away and the day was nearly entering night. When the girls had returned clean and rosy from their bath in the stream everyone suddenly realized that all the white dust of Greece had somehow settled on her own person. A general longing for a good long soak entered their minds. There were still enough hours of sun left to accomplish the task before the evening chill and since Evergreen had not yet returned, they were not in a hurry to leave the area. There was enough of the Roman soap left to give them all a good lather and they went in pairs to the refreshing water. As the sun settled behind the olive grove where they had first stopped to eat and encounter Boudicca and the slave girl, they bound their hair in Phalon’s colored cloths and wrapped themselves in blankets to soak up the final rivulets of water that ran down their bodies. They giggled and danced about the fire in the golden afternoon, laughing at the sight of themselves and each other. Only Red stood apart, perhaps feeling foolish in this unusual garb and certainly not given to light hearted play. Zena saw her holding back and took her hand to tug her into the circle around the fire. The priestess had just managed a small smile when Zena, who was looking at the ground beneath them felt the tension in Red’s hand. When she quickly looked up, Red was staring over Zena’s right shoulder and Zena was sure that she knew what had alarmed Red. Over Red’s shoulder Zena saw armed men emerging from the woods beyond the grove and she heard a rustling as they formed a ring around them all. Simultaneously the others became aware of the danger and froze where they stood, well aware that their weapons lay tucked beneath the bedrolls they had prepared earlier, just out of their present reach. Both groups stood silently, and the men were rough in appearance: unshaven, heavily armed, and leering at the women. The leader pushed past them and stood with a confidence born of absolute power before them. He was taller than the rest and carried his helmet in his hand, his sword drawn. They were not an army of any Greek city-state but local thugs with their warlord. Anakreon gave the signal to hold their positions and his second slithered up beside him whispering a question. “What be these strangely dressed ones M’Lord?”
Anakreon delved into his own small intellect and pulled out an answer that he gave with arrogance as if Pelion were stupid. (Which he was) “Fool. These be from Arabia. See their headresses and robes? They’ll fetch a pretty dinar at the slave market.”
Zena still held Red’s hand and felt her fingers clench with the anger running through her. Gently Zena squeezed her fingers and when she caught her attention cautioned her with a glance to control herself. Gabby and the slave girl were close to the edge of the group and more than one of the men drooled with the anticipation of handling their young bodies. Fighting them now was not possible and could leave them all vulnerable to the whims of brutal minds. Dropping Red’s hand, Zena bowed deeply to her and threw herself at Anakreon’s feet. He reached down and tore the scarf from her head, grasping a handful of her short black curls and pulling her head back. Smirking he said, “Don’t suppose you understand Greek do you? Stupid woman. Why did you bow to that one?” He jerked his head toward Red.
Tears came to Zena’s eyes as he pulled her hair and she made full use of the ruse. “[sign in to see URL] sir. Only I speak of your sound. [sign in to see URL], your language. I fear you! Do not [sign in to see URL]!! We are court of most high lady of King of Arabia. Come to see your famous one who talks of future at Delphi. This is she who is queen.” Zena gestured as well as she could toward Red. “Others not know to speak. Only I. We meet King in two day at Delphi.”
Anakreon tossed her backward and she sprawled on her back thinking, “By the gods I’ll teach you manners yet.” He studied her and then turned to Pelion and barked his orders. “Tie them. No one touches them. If we ransom the lot they bring more than if we sell them but they will have to be untouched. This King will pay for his wife in Greek coin.” The thugs moved in and tied the wrists of each of the sisters, shoving them into a seated position on the logs they had set for benches. Zena scrambled to a crouching position again before they could bind her and pleaded with Anakreon.
“Great sir. I am, how you say, maker of foods.”
He looked down at first with disdain and then interest. “A cook?”
“Cook. Yes, cook. We gather food before you come. I wish to give food for my queen.”
“Never mind your queen. My men are hungry. You will cook for us.” Anakreon could hardly believe his good fortune. “But mind you, whatever you cook, you will taste first.”
“I good cook. This woman helps me. Many to feed. Let her help?”
“Pelion, untie that one. Don’t forget, I will watch you!!”
Zena bowed humbly before Anakreon and handed Phalon her battered pot to fill with ‘soup’ as the men settled themselves down for what they believed would be an excellent feast.



---

Whoosh-ChelSierra-Muse - Twi-Saga
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Re: THE ZENA SCROLLS: CHAPTER III


---------------------------------------------

the chaotrix
(5/27/03 1:28 am)

The Rising Sun

Monochrome night revealed distant white stars that mirrored the lights behind her eyes when she was struck. It showed faintly the greys of the bodies pressing closer and the wild whites of their eyes as they circled in. It glinted the silver of a flashing sword. It meant black mud, black blood and black water.

After long hours Sumire opened her eyes. If night meant death, then with the light also came colors, [sign in to see URL] life. The morning's sun touched her cheek. The once murky creek water now glistened, giving a whimsical play of light to the gentle sounds she had been meditating on.

Sitting immersed up to her shoulders in a pool, she had let the chill of the creek numb her cuts and bruises. The nick over her eye stopped bleeding long ago. Though her fingertips were wrinkled prunes and a shiver would filter through her body now and then, she felt alive again. The crisp water and light served to invigorate her and she finally began to appreciate the spirit of the morning.

Looking up she saw the trees past the bank opposite her. A breeze gently rustled the leaves and she smiled, now able to see the sounds. Loud greens and quiet greens. A single chirping frog countered the soft gurgle of the stream perfectly. His song was yellow and the stream's was silver. Glancing up along the same bank a bit she sought out the two birds that she had heard bickering. She had imagined their argument had been over which was bluer, the ocean or the sky. There they were. Apparently it had been settled with the warming of the sun.

She watched as a moth, backlit in golden light, fluttered a lazy pattern over the bank. It looped and jagged and dipped with resolute randomness. Sumire imagined that if she could keep it's path traced in her mind it would resemble a child's shaky but oh-so-carefully crafted kana in a letter to a grandparent. In mid-flourish, the moth was plucked out of the air as one of the now-reconciled sparrows zipped home.

With a sigh, Sumire realized that her morning reverie must eventually give way to the grim reality that waited for her back in the copse of trees beyond the creek. But first she needed to alow a moment to share this glorious morning with those who could no longer appreciate it. She rose to her knees, ignoring the hurts that nagged her body through the cold. Plucking a few pale flowers from the grassy bank, she offered thanks to the spirit that was responsible for their beauty. For as terrible as the people of this place had proven themselves to be, she could still be taken every now and then by the actual beauty of the land itself.

The flower looked like it might be similar to the 'moth-ginger' from her homeland yet not nearly as delicate. The petals of the bloom were broad and waxy and colored a translucent white with a touch of mercurial bluish color at it's edges. She sank down into the pool again and looked at the flowers. Gently, she lowered her cupped hands into the water, barely submerged fingers kept the floating flowers circling within the eddy of her hands while she whispered over them. The first bloom she named 'Lord Falkan' just as it slipped passed her fingers and meandered to the edges of her pool until it moored itself in the overgrown grass of the bank. The next one she nodded a bow to and whispered 'Daisuke-sama, gomenazai...' as it circled one last time and drifted to where the current summoned it.

The last one had its edges tinged with a blurry lavender. 'Sumire'
This one was hers. Perhaps it would tell her what to do next. She lowered her hands to her lap as she simply watched the last flower wander within the pool until finally it caught the current. It's path seemed to quicken and in a furious little dance it overtook and passed the slowly swirling 'Daisuke-sama'. She watched only a little longer before her flower went beyond the bend in the creek. She muttered quietly to herself 'Sou desuka... '

She turned to look at her kimono, that was hung to dry on the closest branches over the verdant bank. It dripped water copiously. It was torn in places but now washed free of the mud and blood. With luck, it would not stain. The sun had now crept up the opposite back to bathe the kimono in it's light, as she hoped it would. In perhaps a couple of hours it would be dry enough for her to begin to mend. It was one of the few things she hoped to salvage from last night's attack.

Daisuke had protected her as a true warrior of the House of Kageyama. He fought so fiercly, it almost appeared as if he would single handedly defeat their attackers. But even a warlord's son is only one man.

It had still been dark when she stole into the icy water to wash blood, filth and their stench from her body and mourn the death of her kinsman.

But now the sun had risen and so must she.


----------------

:: pronunciation of Sumire: SUE-me-deh ::
:: pronunciation of Daisuke: DIE-s'keh ::
:: "Daisuke-sama, gomenazai.." = "Lord Daisuke, I am sorry..." ::
:: "Sou desuka..." = "I see..." ::

Edited by: the chaotrix at: 5/27/03 1:31:50 am



---

Whoosh-ChelSierra-Muse - Twi-Saga
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Re: THE ZENA SCROLLS: CHAPTER III



---------------------------------------------

BhenRudha
(5/27/03 3:15 am)

Not So Very Different

With a sigh, Bhen Rudha knelt, rolled back on her heels, then sat in the grass. It had felt good to stretch her legs, to pound the good earth with her steps, but it was apparent that she had farther to go before she regained her former endurance. Rubbing her thighs to help ease the ache, she watched Zena move to talk with the two strangers.

They were an odd pair, and part of her wanted to jump up and demand the release of the young girl. But another part warned her of treachery. She shook her head and looked at the others. They seemed ready to welcome the strangers, and she wondered at their easiness. Once upon a time, she would have given them food and a place to stay before even asking their names. Now, she had lost such trust, and it hurt deeply her sense of hospitality.

She felt so out of balance. Nothing was right. She closed her eyes against the sun’s blaze, and tried to find that quiet place within where the Goddess resided. Tears stung her eyes when all she found was a cold silence. The same silence she had found upon waking beneath Phalon’s robe. Determined to not wallow in her grief, Bhen Rudha gained her feet, looking for the slave girl.

Gabby pointed in the direction of the river they had just crossed and ushered the girl away. A bath would do them booth good, she thought, and moved to follow, leaving her boots in the grass.

As she passed by, Phalon’s continued grumbling caught her attention. The mystic crumpled the map and tossed it behind her before venting some of her frustration out on Blackwolf. Bhen Rudha felt a strange, frantic hysteria rise within her again, and she had to stifle laughter. Her reaction to the situation puzzled her. How could she find such a thing funny? Even now, some part of her knew in which direction lay the island of her mothers. It was barred from her forever, but she still knew, and the pain of that knowing was a constant grief. So how could she have laughed at Phalon?

Maybe she laughed to keep herself from weeping.

Sucking in a breath and shaking her head, she lengthened her stride to reach the river. Her feet, still pink and tender winced at the roughness of the ground, but she liked feeling the connection, flesh to earth. Soon she could hear sounds of Gabby talking and turned her steps to follow more closely.

When she got close enough, Bhen Rudha saw Gabby motioning with her hand at the river, the girl clutching at her clothes and eyeing the water dubiously. Gabby saw the tall woman first and moved to hold her staff in a defensive posture before relaxing. “Oh, it’s you Red. Why’re you here?”

“Be thinkin’ ta be after a wash meself, aye?” she asked, slewing her eyes to the slave girl and back to the young Amazon. “Can ye be protectin’ tha both o’ us, dae ye be thinkin’?”

Gabby bit her lip a moment, then shrugged and grinned, exclaiming, “Aye!”

Bhen Rudha chuckled softly, then turned to look at the girl. Hard green eyes met her gaze, and she recognized the anger that simmered just below the surface. Holding her hands out from her sides, she said, “I be Bhen Rudha. Dinnae be afeared o’ me.” A hand rose to touch the copper torc that rested over a ring of white scars at her throat. “I be a slave once meself.”

The girl’s mouth worked for a moment, then she replied, “I’m not afraid.”

Nodding, Bhen Rudha said, “Good,” and unbuckled her belt. She set it, and the makeshift baldric on the ground.

“Were you really a slave?” the girl asked.

She flicked a glance to Gabby, who was finding it hard to be vigilant when there appeared to be a story in the telling. Shrugging out of her shirt, she said, “Aye. Be held fer four years in tha house o’ . . .” she could not say his name. Not now, maybe never. She hesitated in folding her shirt and finally said, “Be a man o’ tha Romans who be keepin’ me.”

Both the younger girls stared at her, taking in the fading bruises and faint scar lines on her whipcord thin body. She stayed still a moment, then set her tunic down and stepped out of her trews, folding them neatly as well. Finally she stepped toward the river, and heard Gabby gasp.

“Wha’ be?” she asked, searching the surroundings for threat.

“Your back . . . what’s that on your back?” the young Amazon asked, eyes round with amazement.

She turned to let both the girls see and said, “Be tha mark o’ me Goddess. Be showin’ me a . . . Bandroi an Cogadh . . . a priestess o’ war.” She hesitated on the words, almost feeling as if she had told a lie. She could not remember what happened while she had lay in darkness, but knew that it was those events, and not her death itself that lay to blame for how she felt now.

Her hesitation went ignored. “Is that why you fought so well Red?” Gabby asked, leaning on her staff, curiosity avid in her blue eyes.

While Bhen Rudha pondered the question, the girl murmured,
“For you know how destructive the deeds of Ares, source of many tears,
And you have learned well the temper of harsh war,
and you have been among both the pursued and the pursuers,
young men, and have had more than your fill of both.”

Frowning a moment in contemplation, the tall woman finally said, to them both, “Aye.” Shaking her head a bit, as if to clear it, she made certain that her clothes were piled neatly where everyone could see them. Once satisfied with this arrangement, she crossed to Gabby obtaining the soap. “Be after helpin’ tha lass with her wash,” she commented before turning back to the girl.

Seeing her standing by the stream, short and stocky with matted dark brown hair and tattered rags for clothes, it was not hard for her to imagine there was girl underneath the knew the virtue of hatred. It was strange, Bhen Rudha thought to herself, she knew hatred so personally, so intimately. It had saved her and nearly destroyed her. It gave the pair a common language between them.

“Ye cannae be ha’in’ a wash in ye clothes,” Bhen Rudha said gently, making no move to touch the girl.

“I know,” came the soft, if somewhat belligerent answer. The pair watched each other for a long moment, and then the girl slowly began to strip off the rags that had barely covered her body. Bruises covered her form, and scrapes too, but for all that the Celt was taller and had a warrior’s frame, they were not so very different.



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Whoosh-ChelSierra-Muse - Twi-Saga
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Re: THE ZENA SCROLLS: CHAPTER III



---------------------------------------------

blackwolf
(5/27/03 3:53 pm)

Lots of fun

I watched as Bhen Rudha followed Gabby and the new girl to the stream to wash. I could tell that she was sore from her walking. I was going to offer to let her ride Lukos for a while, but I figured she would have refused. I knew all about pride, and that woman had plenty of it. I would just have to find her her own mount somehow. She still wasn't quite up to par yet, even with the strength that I'd given her. Even I was still feeling the effects of the exchange. My senses were a little out of whack, and I was more tired than usual. I didn't let it worry me though. I figured I'd be right as rain soon enough.

I also had a feeling that Bhen Rudha was struggling with something internally. I could feel sadness and pain emanating from her, and wished there was something that I could do to help. However, it was up to the preistess to talk about it, which I prayed she would do.

I listened to Phalon as she complained about how old and useless the map was. I couldn't believe she didn't know how to get to her own home. I hadn't been to my village in years, yet I'd still be able to find it blindfolded.

“You know, don’t you”, Phalon asked, eyes narrowed.

“Who? Me?” I mouthed, pointing my finger at myself, an exaggerated surprised look on my face. “What is it that I’m suppose to know, Phalon?”

“The way. Where we are and where we are headed. You know and you’re having way too much fun watching me stumble through this.”

“And why do you think that?” I asked, even though I was nodding my head silently. Montara berated me for giving her a bad time, making fun of someone with lesser abilities than me. I could tell though he was having just as much fun as me. However, it was true. I did know the way to Phalon's house, had known for some time and didn't need the map to show me. However, me leading the way wouldn't nearly be as much fun as watching Phalon struggle to get to her own home.

“Ah…those wolf instincts of yours. You were there….or Montara was. He led me to the seaport, remember? Have him take me home, Blackwolf. Just for a day.” She fingered the bangles around her wrist. “Oh, to see my mother again!” Phalon breathed in deeply through her nose and continued, “She always smells of flowers, you know? Oh, how I’d like to spend a day with her, let her know how much she means to me, how much she’s taught me, how much she makes me laugh. Tell her again that I love her. Maybe even cook dinner for her.” She laughed at this last thought, “Ok, so maybe that’s not the best idea, but she’d take over in the kitchen anyway. She always does.”

Phalon got a faraway wistful look in her eye. Sadness crept into my being. To know the love of a mother, that is something I had forgotten. The last time I had seen my mother alive was when I had officially become a Protector. I remembered her crying as she gave me away to what I was to become. She had been so proud of me. No matter what I was doing in my life, she had always been proud of me.

I was grateful when Zena interupted my memories. She motioned to me and said “How about we have a little fun with the bigger one?”

“Right behind you Zena!” We followed the sound of a tree being abused and some shouted curses and stopped a few yards away. Zena motioned to me to sneak around the area and come up from behind. I nodded my head and started off.

“Oh, Boudicca? That’s your name right? Where are you??,” Zena called into the wood. “You might as well come out. The woods can be a dangerous place. Why I hear that there are some wolves about this area. There’s a story going around I heard from my friend Aesop about a boy who was recently attacked here.”

Reaching my destination and taking my cue, I lifted my head and gave a long howl. The sound of shrieking and a crashing though the woods turned my howling into uncontrollable laughter. I felt somewhat bad about scaring her so bad, but I had a feeling this newcomer needed to be brought down a rung or two. Something that I had learned early on in my days, if you thought you were the best, you were easier to beat.

Sensing Xendra following the stranger to help her, I made my way back to camp. Figuring that we would be spending the rest of the day here, I unloaded Lukos and gave him a good brushing down. I once again tried to make contact with him, and though I heard a little mumbling, I was still not able to talk to him. I shrugged my shoulders. I eventually would be able to speak to him, of this I was sure. It would just take time. After I finished brushing him, I gave him a pat and sent him on his way. He wouldn't wander far, and I figured he wanted some time to himself. He was a lot like me in that liked to be alone when he could. Right now, I was content with the group, but I knew eventually there would come a time when I would leave.

I decided not to dwell on that though, and went through my packs to see exactly what I had. I came across the shirt that I had bought back in the village to barter with Evergreen. That seemed like such a long time ago. I refolded it and placed it back in the bag. When we found Evergreen, I swore to give it to her. I also realized I still had Red's axe in my possession. Seeing as how she now had Evergreen's sword with her, I decided to hang on to the axe, seeing as how I no longer had my sword. That sword had been my friend for a long time and had gotten me out of a lot of scrapes. Though it was just a sword, there was nothing else that could replace it. Other than those items, there were herbs and spices, bandages, a little dried food, and my small knife. I never had the need for it, so I kept it in the bag instead of on my person. I never knew when it might come in handy.

I replaced everything into my bags, and then lay down to rest in the shade of the trees. It was sunset when I finally woke up feeling much refreshed. The girls and Red had returned from the stream, and I decided that I needed a bath also. I might not have smelled as bad as the slave girl had, but I knew I wasn't too far off. I went with Phalon to wash. We scrubbed each other's back, and afterwards washed our clothes. She pleaded with me once again to ask Montara to show the way to her house, and I answered that I would ask him. We returned to the camp and, like the others, I wrapped myself in a blanket. I turned down the offer though to wrap my hair in one of Phalon's cloths. My hair was short and dried quickly. Besides, I wouldn't be caught dead in one of those bright things. I did laugh with the others though about our foolish garb. We really did look a sight.

The appearance of armed men coming from the wood startled me, and made me angry at myself. Out of everyone here, I would've been the most likely to sense their approach, and I hadn't. I had been caught up in the fun of it all, and had forgotten that though we had beaten the Evil, it was still alive in the world.

I felt the need for battle rising in me. I glared at the men closest to me and gave a low growl in my throat. Though I was unarmed, I knew I could kill these men easily, and I wanted to so badly. Looking towards Red, I saw the same look in her eyes. However, I saw Zena squeeze her hand, and figured she had some plan. I switched my appearance to one of alarm and fright, but I kept my senses on alert. I glanced around at all the men, and in seconds I knew which ones were more experienced. You could tell in the way they held there weapons and in their stance. Even though we were women, they still kept a wary eye on us. In contrast, the younger, less experienced ones were more confident in their attitude and weren't as on guard. I smiled inwardly, knowing that if given the chance, these would be the easiest to kill and therefore the first to die.

I almost lost my control though when Zena was thrown to the ground by the leader. I took a slight step foward and was immediately stopped by a sword at my throat. Normally if this had happened, the person would have died immediately. However, I concentrated on controlling myself, and allowed myself to be bound and set on a log next to the others. Thinking we were no longer a threat, all the men flocked to where the 'soup' was being served. They didn't even leave someone to guard us. I quickly started to work at loosening my ropes. It took me some time, but I eventually got the rope loose enough to almost slip my hand through. Gritting my teeth, I dislocated one of my thumbs and slipped my hand out of the rope. Grabbing my thumb in my other hand, I popped it back into place and then released the other hand. I kept the rope around my hands though, just to make it seem like I was still tied up. By this time, both Phalon and Zena were tied up also and all of the men were enjoying their feast. If I had my way, this would be their last.


-----
"To fight for what you believe in and to never give up is to have the heart of a wolf."

Edited by: blackwolf at: 6/2/03 1:41:40 pm



---

Whoosh-ChelSierra-Muse - Twi-Saga
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Re: THE ZENA SCROLLS: CHAPTER III



---------------------------------------------

blackwolf
(5/27/03 3:53 pm)

Lots of fun (continued)


Night finally came over the land. The men sat around the fire and talked about their good fortune. Some glanced our way, and I could see from their looks that if their leader ever fell asleep, they would ignore his command to not touch us. Those thoughts quickly died though as the men started to feel the effects of the soup. At first it was only noticeable in the way they moved and sat. Eventually though, they all started to visit the bushes, some walking and some running. Finally, our guard too needed to get away, and I saw my chance. Sliding off of the log, I crept in the darkness behind the other women and moved towards the packs which the idiot men had left alone. They were so interested in the food they had forgotten to look through them. I found my belongings and got out the knife. I knew there was a reason I kept the stupid thing around. I quickly moved back to the women and started to cut their bindings. By the time I reached them though, most of the other's had already worked themselves loose. In the end, I would only have to cut the slave girl's and Phalon's bindings. I sat back and waited for Zena's signal.

-----
"To fight for what you believe in and to never give up is to have the heart of a wolf."

Edited by: blackwolf at: 6/2/03 1:41:40 pm

---------------------------------------------

1 Xwpfan
(5/27/03 6:51 pm)

Nice to meet you [sign in to see URL] you need a bath.

As Boudicca and Xendra began to walk back to the camp, Xendra was sizing up this newest stranger.

Admitedly Boudicca preplexed Xendra a bit. On one hand Boudicca was this tall women well armed wearing a full length chain mail tunic,full of moxie and bravado and then on the other hand she was shrieking like a scared child.

Which was the true Boudicca? Xendra wondered.

As they walked , Xendra got downwind of Boudicca, Xendra stopped smelled the air and then turned to Boudicca and said,"By the gods what is that stench?

Xendra took a step closer towards Boudicca and said "My stars! It's coming from YOU! You stink and I think there are some fleas in your chain mail!"

Boudicca stared incrediously at Xendra and stammered,"Your kidding right? It can't be me!"

Xendra slowly backed away and said," It can be and it is."

Boudicca began to curse again, "I bet it's from that damn slave girl! I'd leave her right here if she didn't owe me 5 dinars for her freedom."

Xendra stared and asked "You really own that girl? "

Boudicca nodded.

Xendra said ,"I know it's not really my place to say anything but It's not right to own somebody , you should set her [sign in to see URL] you two could stay with us for [sign in to see URL] you clean up of course."

Boudicca gave a slight smirk and said," Well I guess I could stay awhile, maybe even train with you Amazons and then return back up north in the British isles and kick some Roman ass as leader of the Celts.

Xendra burst out laughing,"You don't pull any punches do you?! You just say what you mean don't you. Come on we'll get you cleaned up and we'll tell the others about your gradiose ideas over dinner."

Boudicca snapped back "It's not an idea, it's a plan theres a big difference."

The two walked in silence til they reached the water's edge then Xendra motioned for Boudicca to get undressed.

At first it was more like a disarment exercise then a disrobement. Xendra watched with great amusement as Boudicca pulled knives from each arm, then she pulled one from her back before removing her chainmail,from her black leather boots she withdrew two lethal looking daggers and as she got ready to slip out of her brown leather pants she carefully removed from each hip a small knife.

Xendra all but laughed at the small aresenal of knives that laid on the ground.

Xendra kiddingly said,"Its a shame you're all armed up and no one to fight."

Boudicca failed to hear the jest in Xendra's voice and answered seriously, Oh this? This is just 7 lil knives, you should see my cross bows and my whip!"

Xendra just shook her head and began removing her own boots as to bathe.

Boudicca looked at Xendra funny and said," Your bathing too?

Xendra hadn't really thought about it, it was just an instinctual thing to do so she responded "No, not if you dont want me to "

"No, no that's fine." Boudicca replied, but seemed highly uncomfortable as she removed her scarlet underclothing .
Boudicca turned slightly askew in an attempt to hide her body from Xendra.

Before Xendra could politely shield her eyes, Xendra couldn't help but notice that Boudicca was a much fuller built woman than Xendra had imagined, not to say she didnt have muscles, because they were clearly present as well, but the removal of the underclothing had revealed a firmer heavier build then [sign in to see URL] chain mail had deftly hidden Boudicca's true build beautifully.

Xendra wanting to ease the moment of discomfort removed her own tunic exposing her own body and the tattoos which were still present and visble.

Boudicca stared but spoke not a word.

It was obvious to Xendra that they both had so many questions they could ask of the other, but neither seemed very comfortable with the idea of asking so instead Xendra began to wade into the water and Boudicca followed.

-----
..there is only one success... to be able to spend your life your own way.

Edited by: 1 Xwpfan at: 5/27/03 8:16:04 pm



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Whoosh-ChelSierra-Muse - Twi-Saga
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Re: THE ZENA SCROLLS: CHAPTER III



---------------------------------------------

shamrock xwp
(5/27/03 7:41 pm)

You call THAT bathing???

My reference for this post is the SDA Soap History Page

"Boy these Greek women sure are friendly." Boudicca thought to herself as she worked up the courage to immerse her breasts in the cold water. "Either that or . . . ahem . . . Gee, I don't see any men around here. Oh Boy."

She smiled kindly at her bathing mate and wondered how it was she was always getting herself into uncomfortable situations like this. She wanted so badly to say, "Look honey. I don't want any. I'm not looking. Got me a girl back in Britain waiting for me to get back." But decided against it. She could use all the friends she could get.

Xendra pulled out a clay block and some sand and went to work on her ample body. Boudicca's eyes widened, "Wow, these Amazon women really are tough," she thought. "Rubbing their skin with rocks instead of soap. I can learn a lot from them." She grinned broadly at Xendra and fished around on the bottom of the river until she found a fist sized lava rock. She rubbed it all over her body with vigor not wanting to be outdone; and when she finally left the stream she was scratched all over and even a little bloody.

Xendra finished her bath on shore in the usual Greek way by rubbing oil on her skin and then using her strigil to scrap it away. She offered some oil to Boudicca and couldn't help but admire the toughness this Celt had shown by using a lava rock to bath with. Xendra decided that all the tales she had heard about the deeds of the Celts couldn't have told the half of it.

Boudicca having watched Xendra with the strigil thought she had this part of the bath routine under control and after rubbing herself with oil she used one of her sharpest knives to scrap it away, taking with it all her body hair. "My but Amazons are tough bathing with rocks and knives," she thought. Boudicca knew that the tales she had heard of the deeds of the Amazon women couldn't possibly have told the half of it.

She donned a too tight dress she saved for just such occasions and took some soap out of her bag. After washing her clothes in the river and soaping down her leather, she started to feel hungry and hoped that someone might offer her a hot meal. She loved trying native cuisine. And where had that slave of hers gotten too . . .

Edited by: shamrock xwp at: 5/27/03 7:48:31 pm

---------------------------------------------

the chaotrix
(5/28/03 3:12 am)

...another man's treasure

Anakreon brandished the empty bowl in the face of the Arabian Queen, who had stepped between him and handmaid that he had just struck down. The Queen of Arabia had not said a word, merely locked hard amber-green eyes with the Lord of Brigands.

"Get down, your Arabianess, or I will break your teeth with this bowl when I am done with her. Your cook lies. My men and I have heartier bellies than to be cowed by your exotic foods. She poisoned us and she will die. For you to stand in the way of her punishment must mean you intended it as well.. If this is the case my, Arab bitc--"

"M'Lord!"

A lone brigand staggered into the amazon's clearing. He was muddied and held both hands to the blood-soaked rags at his hip. He gave a gurgly cough and limped on towards the center of the camp where other thugs shifted where they sat or paced uneasily. Some had edged closer to the bushes as they tried to remain menacing.

Until the injured man had entered, it seemed all eyes had been on Anakreon and the 'Arabian Queen'. The beaten thug stumbled onward, so intent on reaching his Lord he did not notice the tableu that seem to hold almost everyone's attention. The handmaid cowered on the ground inching away from her Queen and The Brigand-Lord. Her eyes were not on either, but on the other 'handmaids' trussed up nearby.

"M'lord... gods! I've found you.. !" before the man careened into Anakreon, the second in command caught him and held him up.

"What is it, dog? Can't you see our Lord is busy with the Arab shrew?" Anakreon looked over his shoulder, and recognized the thug. With a quick flick if his dark eyes he estimated the brigand's condition. He dropped the hand that held the bowl, turned and jerked his head up at the man and growled. This was enough for the thug to know he could continue.

"Sir... 'ts Dekeon... Dekeon--"

"What about my idiot cousin?" spat Anakreon.

"Dek-" he gave up a couple of gurgly coughs before continuing " Dekeon an' de otherz.. dead... all dead..."

Throwing the bowl aside he smacked the aside the underling that was holding up the refugee. He then snarled at the closest of the 'menacing' men and with a sweeping gesture indicated the Queen and her cook. "Keep your blades on them, till I come back to finish this" The wounded man whimpered as the Brigand Lord dragged him away from the circle of women toward the trees.

Anakreon gritted through his teeth and he roughly shoved the thug outside the circle of light.
"What's this? How? We knew the exact numbers, the place and path of that caravan. I left him with a perfect ambush! "

The man yelped a little when he hit the ground. "Th-Th-They had a D-D-emon warrior sssir. One from another land. H-H-His armor was- I- I'd never seen it before. There were so many of us and only one of him... The merchant lords guards didn't last too long but he-.. He was a demon.. " The man began to whimper and weep until Anakeron kicked him. It looked like he as about to kick him again but instead ran a few paces off.

The thug looked about, sniveling, thinking this part of his nightmare had ended since Anakreon was just.. gone. He began to crawl and suddenly Anakreon was back on him, kicking him back down.

"That Demon was a Jappa body guard, you idiot. I warned Dekeon about him.." Anakreon continued through clenched teeth, his fury tightening by degrees as he continued his interrogation.

"What happened to the others, Merrik.."

"Th-Th- others, Lord?" squeaked Merrik.

"Falkan, The merchant Lord...?" Anakreon coached in a deadly soft voice.

"He.. he was killed.. And.. And we thought at some point we had killed that demon wa-" Merrik caught Anakreon's dark look and stammered, "Uh.. bodyguard.. " He rushed on ahead with the story while he could still speak "...so we thought that Jappa madman had been killed and we went after Falkhar's cart with the gold .... Yeah, and, and that's where we found his little exotic beauty hinding." Merrik gave a vile chuckle that degenerated into a coughing fit, "and, since the treasure was secured, a few of us were helping ourselves to a little Taste of the Orient, y'know.. ? when--"

Anakreon clouted the thug on the head so hard he blacked out for a few seconds. "IDIOT DOG! SHE WAS THE TREASURE! We agreed that Dekeon would keep the Merchant Lord's gold, but THE GIRL WAS MINE!"

Merrik gagged as the Brigand Lord gripped his throat and growled dangerously low and soft "What happened to the girl..."

"I.. I don't know... I- the demon warrior--"

Most of the amazons were too busy with their plans to care or for that matter hear most of the interrogation, but there was no ignoring it's end...

"I " thwack
"HAVE HAD" crunch
"ENOUGH" kramm
"OF THIS" thrakk
"DEMO--"


Edited by: the chaotrix at: 5/28/03 3:20:13 am



---

Whoosh-ChelSierra-Muse - Twi-Saga
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Re: THE ZENA SCROLLS: CHAPTER III



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BhenRudha
(5/28/03 4:47 am)

...But Not Cleansed

Wading into the stream, the tall woman hissed a little at its chill, then quickly dunked herself. With a gasp she stood and lathered with the soft Roman soap. And while she enjoyed the act of washing, she could not help the snarl that curled her lip at the memories the fragrance rose within her.

The chill was less when she dunked a second time, rinsing the soap away. She felt clean, and while that was very good, it was not quite enough. She did not feel . . . cleansed. A certain amount of pragmatism asserted itself, and she realized that it would have to be enough for now . . . to be clean, if not cleansed. She had decided to have a future, despite the emptiness that carved itself within her, and would seek answers later.

For now, she held out her hand to the girl, smiling a little, “Be cold, bu’be nae ta fas’ er deep.” The girl stood a long moment, arms crossed over her chest, a mistrustful eye on the water and the woman who stood within it. Finally she clasped the proffered hand and stepped into the stream.

Pebbles shifted under the girl’s feet and she started to slide. Before she could windmill her arms to try and keep balance, strong hands grabbed, keeping her upright. Bhen Rudha looked her in the eye, serious, and said, “Be trustin’ me, aye? Be nae lettin’ ye be fallin’, e’er.” As soon as the words left her mouth, the Red Woman stared at the girl, eyes wide with a fair bit of shock.

She wondered if the girl understood what she had said, truly had said. It was one thing to offer help in the moment. Quite another to give a promise such as she just had. She had sworn to keep another from falling . . . to help them through their days, protect them from harm. It was a kinship oath. And even if she had not said it in the traditional ceremony, with a more poetic rendering, still, a shiver passed through her frame as the words settled deep in her soul, as binding as her vows to the Goddess.

What had she done?

The girl watched the changes in her face and narrowed her eyes a bit in thought. She made as if to speak, then appeared to change her mind and said, “I do not think I will slip again, thank you.”

Bhen Rudha took a deep breath, nodded and replied, “Be welcome, most welcome.” She flicked her glance over to Gabby, who was watching them in the stream while bitting on her lower lip. When the young Amazon noticed the regard, she blinked, then made a show of looked about the area, as if truly on watch.

Chuckling softly, the tall woman handed the soap to the girl, to start her own ablutions, and called to Gabby, “Be throwin’ me clothes, aye? Be after changin’ me mind an’ now after wantin’ ta give tha cloth a dunkin’ ta.”

Blinking a few times, Gabby tried to puzzle out the words that were supposed to be Greek, but sometimes didn’t sound like it. “What? You want your clothes?”

“Aye.”

“Oh . . . okay.” The young Amazon moved to retrieve that tunic and trews, then crossed to the stream edge to hand them over.

“Go raibh maith, agat. Be thankin’ ye.” The translation followed quick enough to head off the coming question.

“Aye, you’re welcome, Red,” Gabby said with a sudden bright grin, resolutely taking up her guard post again.

Her expression cast with fondness, the Red Woman turned to watch the slave girl, kneeled and pushed her clothes into the water. Her hands kneeded the tough cloth while she waited to ask for the soap back. The girl was being thorough, making certain that each cut and scrape was clean, to guard against festering. Then she tried to wash her hair.

It was soon apparent that it would take someone else’s hands to work through the snarl that the long, dark hair had become. After tossing her sodden clothes over a shoreline bush, Bhen Rudha moved to where the girl struggled and gently took the soap away. “Dinnae. Be doin’ tha’ for ye, aye? Be sittin’ facin’ tha current.” She motioned to a small sandbar that was wide enough to sit on comfortably and moved to kneel behind the girl.

With a deep sigh the girl sat where instructed. “You’re not going to cut it are you?” she asked, wariness back in her voice.

“Dae ye be wantin’ me ta?”

“No,” she answered, shaking her sodden head only a little.

“Then nae. I will nae bu’ be workin’ ou’ tha tangles.”

“All right,” was all the girl said before letting herself be leaned back onto the woman’s knees, so that her hair streamered out in the water.

Bhen Rudha ran the soap through the girls hair, working up a good lather, then held out it out for the girl to hold. With surprising gentleness, the woman then started picking apart the knots, starting at the ends of the long hair and working up. She used the current to help pull some of the lesser knots out and constantly worked her fingers through the moving strands of hair.

Gabby, watching the proceedings with avid curiosity, asked, “Red, where did you learn to do that?”

“Yeah, where did you learn something like this? I can barely feel a thing, and I know my hair is very badly tangled,” the girl echoed, shifting a bit to get more comfortable.

Glancing up for only a moment, the Red Woman grinned a little and said, “I dinnae be born a priestess, aye? I be ha’in’ ta be trainin’ fer mana long years afore tha Goddess be markin’ me Her own.” Seeing that she had her audience, she took back the soap and worked up another lather before continuing. “There be a time when I be a maiden fer tha Máthair as an Tua, tha Mother o’ tha Axe. Be liken’ ta a High Priestess, aye?”

The young Amazon moved closer and sat cross legged in the grass, her staff across her knees, listening intently to what the Celt was saying. Bhen Rudha found herself smiling a little more, enjoying telling a story that did not involve death or pain. After concentrating on a particularly stubborn snarl, she continued, “I be servin’ tha Máthair as an Tua by bringin’ food, an’ helpin’ her dressin’ an’ bathin’. Among other thin’s.

“Betimes, when she be runnin’ with tha Wild Hunt, she be returnin’ lookin’ nae sae differn’ than ye, lass,” she nodded to the girl who was shivering a little in the chill water.

“Be me duty ta be straightenin’ tha mess o’ her hair, aye?” She retrieved the soap for a third lather at the scalp and continued, “Be sittin’ in tha washin’ spring. Nae sae different than this, an’ be pickin’ ou’ bits o’ wood an’ leaf. Betimes tha odd feather or tha bit o’ fur.” The memories rose, and she could not help but laugh softly. Part of her felt that it was very good to laugh, even just a little.

“What’s the Wild Hunt?” Gabby asked, breaking into her thoughts.

Hot on the Amazon’s question came one from the girl, “Why did you have to serve the . . . may-hair as an too-ah?”

Working out the last tangles, the woman ran her fingers freely through the length of the girl’s hair, thinking about her reply. After a moment she said, “Be tellin’ ye o’ tha Hunt when ye be a wee bit older I be thinkin’ Gabby.” When the Amazon made to protest, she held up a hand and, saying, “I dinnae be wantin’ yer máthair ta be thumpin’ me aye?”

“Oh . . . all right,” Gabby said with a sigh.

“Be thankin’ ye. Why I be servin’ tha Máthair as an Tua? Be tha test o’ service.” She nudged the girl to get up out of the water, slowly unfolding her tired legs as she followed. “Cen I be servin’ fer a trinity o’ moons, in silence? If’n I be able ta, I be learnin’ mana thin’s. Truest I be learnin’ be tha treasure o’ silence. Be findin’ tha song o’ tha Goddess there.”

Gabby scrambled to her feet, helping the girl step out of the stream with a smile, saying, “Don’t you feel better now? You sure smell better!” Looking over at the Red Woman, she said, “You went three months without speaking? Anything?”

With a chuckle, Bhen Rudha stepped out of the stream, rubbing her thighs to ease the continued strain from them. She ran a hand through her short hair, which was already drying, and watched as Gabby helped the girl wrap her hair up in Phalon’s scarf while answering, “Aye. Be nae sae hard. Be there a priestess o’ Brid, be keepin’ silence fer a turn o’ tha year fer her trainin’. Dinnae thin’ a slim bit o’ months be sae difficult, aye?”

The young Amazon whistled low and shook her head. “I don’t know if I could do that.”

“Be nae tha path o’ tha Goddess fer e’eryone. Dinnae feel bad, aye?” She smiled a bit, to prove she meant what she said, and looked at the girl. She stood, wrapped in a blanket, with a bright scarf coiled and piled atop her head. And despite her brighter appearance, dark green eyes stared at her out of a very solemn face. Puzzled, the Celt asked, “Be ye a’righ’?”

As if out of nowhere, the girls blurted out, “Everyone always asks by now. I don’t understand . . . why haven’t you asked my name?”

Edited by: BhenRudha at: 6/1/03 2:09:40 am



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