Yvonne - 1999-3-18
iana sighed and cast one last longing look down the road before trudging after her brother, her head down and reddish hair shrouding her face. Nothing would be better than undergoing vishava right now, to feel the earth under her paws, to feel the cool wind run it's fingers through her fur ... but no. Some rich wruria or another needed led into Torrigan, and therefore she was obliged to be on her best behavior. Most humans didn't like their guards showing up as ... not human. Foolish. I am the same no matter what form I wear.
"Fifty eagles ..." Deran sighed, his yellow eyes lost in thought. "Just think what we coul--urg!" "Shut up." Diana said sharply, withdrawing her elbow from his midsection. "We've gone over this already. Yes, it will supply our Wreshalal for months. Yes, the Daminei will fawn over you. Yes, you'll have the pick of the dami. Yes, you'll be sung of by the Gherui for the next hundred years, you incompetant oaf. How close are we?"
"Not telling." Deran glowered at her from under dark brows, his shoulders hunched warningly under his pack.
Diana rolled her eyes and muttered something derogatory about too many nights with paid wruria that was too faint for Deran to hear, and therefore not worth a challenge. They plodded along the road for a while in silence, Diana watching the trees go by avidly and Deran lost in thoughts, a small half-smile flitting around the corners of his mouth.
"Do you think that they'll be as bad as the last job?" Diana asked suddenly.
"Fifty eagles is a lot of money to give to Llowra. Usually we're cheated."
Deran snorted. "Maybe they're scared of us. That toadish hiring hall man was."
"That was because you kept stalking him." Diana sniggered. "Didn't you have enough money left over to hire someone better looking?" Her jest earned her a sharp cuff across the head that sent her staggering half ways across the road, still laughing.
"Shut up, idiot." Diana's twin said threateningly. Diana managed to stop most of her laughter, but the occasional chuckle still crept up her throat and escaped into the open air.
"No. They won't be as bad. I've heard some good things about this House when I was drinking."
"That's a first. Hearing something useful while drunk. Did you also see little pink rabbits?"
"Do you want to hear or no?"
"Then shut up. Apparently the brother is very protective of his little sister, who may not be his sister at all." Deran said smugly. It wasn't often that he got to give his sister information.
"Why isn't she?"
"Different parentage. Wruria are funny about who their ancestors were."
"Mmm." They walked in silence for a while, each enjoying the open air and birdsong and smell of the forest. Soon a small road appeared to their left, leading off into the trees. It was well rutted with wagon wheels and smelled strongly of horses and many people. There was also a very faint, musky scent that tickled at Diana's memory, but she couldn't figure out what sort of beast it came from, no matter how hard she tried. Eventually she gave up, instead following Deran's broad back as he strode off down the road, humming one of the hunting songs of her people. It seemed oddly appropriate for some reason. Faintly the breezes carried the smell of men and iron, and wine. She registered it and discarded it, deciding instead to trust her brother and let herself drift into a half-asleep sort of dream.
"Hold! State your name and purpose."
Diana jolted awake and peered around Deran, coming face to face with a swarthy man in dark clothing banded with white and silver standing before a small guard house. His companions were lounging in the shade nearby, ready should there be trouble. She licked her lips and smiled in a blatantly sensual way, making him shift uneasily and adjust his grip on his sword. "We're expected." she said, somehow managing to convey promise into two bland little words.
Deran looked annoyed. "We've been hired by the R'Talenis House." he stepped towards the guard, effectively blocking Diana's view and forcing her to move more around him to see the other men.
"House Talenis hasn't hired anyone recently," the guard said tightly. "You'll have to leave unless you have papers proving your authenticity."
"Here. It's all there," Diana had dug out the papers that the man from the hiring hall had given them and handed them to the guard under Deran's disapproving stare.
I wanted to play.
Too bad. Diana signalled back, highly amused that the wruria guards were too dense to pick up on the fact that they were communicating and that they couldn't read the complex body language of the Llowra even if they had known. It had been confusing the first few months away from their wreshalal as the humans sent crude signals and yet were completely unable to read the Llowra's replies.
The guard had taken the papers and was reading through them slowly and carefully, every so often grunting or nodding.
"Hurry up. I'm hungry." she told him.
"You're the guards that Lord Lucian hired, eh? Two days early. Huh," he shook his head wonderingly and handed the papers back to Deran, who handed them back to Diana. She stuffed them into her pack. "You'll have to wait here while I notify the Household."
"But I'm hungry." Diana said plaintively.
"You're just going to have to wait." The guard made a (very) shallow bow before striding down off the road, leaving Diana and Deran with nothing better to do than take off their packs and lounge in the shade on the opposite side of the road from the rest of the guards. Deran stared them down. Diana went looking for fieldmice.
Sorana - 1999-3-18
mber hummed cheerfully to herself as she gathered up her jewellery cases and the pouch containing her annual Guild dues. Threading her way through the piles of boxes containing beads, jewels, wires, and various other items integral to her business, she pushed open her door and stepped out into the street.
The section of town that Amber lived in was relatively quiet at this hour of the morning. A few early rising women were hanging out wet laundry to dry, and merchants were heading down to the market to set up their stalls. Amber would be joining the other merchants soon, but first she had to drop her dues off at the Guild Hall.
As she hurried through the rapidly lightening streets, she called out cheerful greetings to the people she passed. Amber reached the Hall exactly ten minutes after it opened, just like she did every Due Day.
"Good morning Rassin! Isn't it a wonderful day?" she asked the clerk cheerfully.
"Morning Amber! On time as usual I see. A wonderful day? Only while you're around lass. When you leave, the sun darkens out of mourning."
"You flatter me Rassin. I'm sure it does no such thing!"
"Ah, but it does, lass, it does. Now, I assume you've come to drop off your dues?"
"Well, it is Due Day after all." Amber put two of her cases on the floor and pulled the money pouch out of its hiding place in her wide belt. Handing it to the clerk she said, "Here it is. You can count it if you like."
"Now why would I need to do that? I'm sure you've got got every last penny in there."
"I'll see you next Due Day then. Have a lovely day, Rassin!"
Amber picked up her cases, left the room, and ran smack into someone while turning a corner.
"Oof," the smackee grunted.
"Oh dear. I'm terribly sorry. Are you all right?" Amber asked worriedly.
"I'm fine. No harm done here. Amber." The smackee smiled cheerfully, his blue eyes twinkling.
"Got it in one! How've you been? I haven't seen you in ages!"
"Tarlin!" Amber rushed forward to hug him, cases and all. "It's so good to see you again! I've been just great! My business is going great too! Everything is just wonderful! How have you been?"
"Is anything ever less than wonderful with you? No, don't answer that. The answer might scare me. I have been off selling my wares in Melanos for the past several months."
"Really? How did you do?"
"Quite well actually. Not as good as you would if you ever decided to join one of our caravans, but quite well. I'm going to be heading out with another one soon. We'll be going to Torrigan. Do you want to come?"
"You know I prefer to stay home, Tarlin. I'm quite happy here."
"You've spent enough time at home. You should see at least some of the world before you die. If you join the caravan to Torrigan you could see the famous Circle of Stone. I know you've always wanted to go there."
"Well.....I'll think about it."
"That's the best I'm going to get out of you, isn't it?"
"Well then, if you decide to come we'll be leaving in a sevenday. You'll have to show up just before dawn and bring your own equipment. That includes pack animals, wagons, horses... well, you get the idea."
"I do. I'm really sorry, but I have to run. The market will have opened by now and I don't have my stall up. It was really nice to see you again and I'll think about the caravan. Goodbye!" Amber dashed off to the market before Tarlin could reply.
Copyright (c) 1999-2000 Abigail Laughlin and the members of the Circle of Stone.