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Friday, 16 September 2005
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Chapter iii, Guest-holy
Page 2
As the sun began its flight into the west Jean-Marie could sense the land's pulse, its tides ebbing and easing as it did settle itself to greet the night. All about her she could hear the sound of countless birds as they fussed and disputed between themselves as they did seek their places of rest in the trees that lay like a rich cloak upon the edges of this hidden valley. And that in itself was a good thing for if the birds were about their accustomed habits this eventide, then no Orc-kind did lurk within the trees in ambush. To be riding Cloud across this wild landscape was still a thing that did amaze her; - for had she not been ever instructed by her tutors as a girl-child that the Borderlands were a an untamed place without either a king nor rule of law. A country where adventurers who did style themselves the Border Princes did only hold their rule by the strength of their arm and the sword in their fist. Yet here as their company rode out from among the trees she could see the patchwork of well ordered farms, and those who tilled this rich dark soil leading their beasts homeward at the day's end. The tools of their toil resting upon their shoulders as they did speak to one another, the snatches of conversation that she could overhear at this distance giving evidence of their ease of spirit. That most who worked the fields were women did not especially suprise her, for she had already sumised that the giantess Sebekneru would be a one who would seek to establish a society where women would be free to rule their lives as they did think fit. Which did now cause Jean-Marie to wonder if any among Sebekneru's band of warrior women were of the near mythical race of Amazons; - though if any were they would have made a long journey indeed to come to this place. In truth Jean-Marie did hold her doubts, for as much as she would wish to meet one of the Amazon race face to face in order to increase her knowledge of that far country, so far she had overheard no language save that of Norsca and Araby spoken among Sebekneru's women. And betimes an odd sounding argot composed of a blend of the words of both those languages as the warrior women had laughed and spoken together as the giantess had guided their company to this valley. As an example to further increase her sense of disappointment the two of Sebekneru's women who did walk at either side of Cloud were plain enough a one who did once call Araby home, and the other plain enough a one who was of Norsca blood. For where one was dark of hair and eye, lean and slight of build and quick, her skin of an olive cast. The other was a tall board shouldered woman, blonde of hair and blue of eye, her skin fair and light of colour. The muscle she did possess upon her bare arms giving evidence that she would employ her strength instead of her fellow's swiftness in a fight. And the weight and size of the mace in her hand that she did lightly swing with ease in her right hand as she did trot beside Cloud causing Jean-Marie a further sense of amazement in her covert observations of Sebekneru's women. Words exchanged then in their own tongue between the blonde shieldmaiden and another of her race who did follow close behind immediately caused Jean-Marie to crane her neck to the better see how the Lady Si'anelle did fare. And her heart did beat the more faster in her breast as she observed how the she-Elf had slumped over Finaith's neck and that now Bronwyn had taken up Finaith's reins in her hand in order to guide the Elven steed upon the trail as they followed after Sebekneru's long limbed stride. Though as she did sigh and give her attention back to guiding Cloud Jean-Marie sensed the dark eyes of the woman of Araby were now upon her. "You do speak our tongues Bretonnian," the woman did say to her then and the flash of her white teeth as she fiercely smiled did not entirely soothe the anxiety Jean-Marie did now feel at being discovered. "But a little Madame," was her reply as she did meet the woman's gaze. "My tutors were reluctant to teach me more for all my interest in the subject." And at that the woman did richly spit upon the ground as if offended by the thought of greybeards refusing to make a waste of their wisdom upon a mere woman. "You do follow a one who is ill," said the woman of Araby, her dark eyes now upon Si'anelle ahead of them. "Perhaps the daemon within her does grow tired; - though he is awake well enough within her lover. For she does still ride straight and fierce as if she does expect a hoard of Orcish shits to charge at us across the fields at any moment."

Jean-Marie did know then as a certainty that the earlier tender behaviour between the Lady Si'anelle and Ae'thenal had indeed not gone unobserved by Sebekneru's women. And more, for as the dark-eyed woman had said Ae'thenal did continue to maintain her place beside her childhood friend, the Banepearl's power upon her like as to a cloak. The Banepearl in its blue silken wrappings now clasped in Ae'thenal's left hand, for Bronwyn had taken charge of the fair green banner Ae'thenal had held till now to enable her to be its keeper. Jean-Marie did take quiet note that Ae'thenal's eyes were ever restless as she measured the landscape about them, her right hand straying constantly to her sword's hilts. Her aspect darkly fierce and not that of an ordinary mortal as she turned her head to meet her gaze and frown but briefly, before she did look away. "Ah," said the woman of Araby, speaking to her continued silence, "she is beautiful is she not?" And did laugh when she saw her cheeks take colour. "They are not lovers," Jean-Marie did say then goaded to make a defense. "My Lady Si'anelle and the Lady Ae'thenal are true friends and have been so since they were but Elf children of tender years. And also the Lady Ae'thenal has sworn an oath on Isha's name to ever defend her friend against all harm." Her anger rising when she did see the woman of Araby's eyes were still bright with laughter for all that she had told her true. Now greatly annoyed she did further say, "You do demean my Lady and her friend with your words Madame. Speak further in this fashion and I shall take offense." "The Bretonnian Lady does own a pretty sword T'amsine," the blonde shieldmaiden at her other hand did say then. Her Norsca accent evident as she did speak, then laugh aloud. "Do not risk her further anger sister, or I may have to be swift indeed to save you from death's jaws." And so it was that she did ride through the gate of Sebekneru's holdfast, with her anger bare held in check as Sebekneru's women did surround her with their mocking laughter. Though it took all the discipline of her scorceress's training to do no more than hold her staff in a grip that did well whiten her knuckles of her right hand, and not to call down her craft upon these women's heads.



 
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