‘Nessa and ‘Lily

A short little fantasy-adventuring fiction sketch.  Not a complete story.

Scribbles and bits, so to speak.

‘Nessa and ‘Lily

                Vanessa’s life measured poorly by standard of purse strings and estates, but she liked her life.  Many would not respect her occupation by calling it as such, but meandering through the world, taking on quests, collecting bounties, plundering ruins, and foraging through hard times when others could only pray… pumped a joyous cancer through her heart and blood that could no longer be boiled beside soup pots or tempered by the work of an anvil.

                She was a mercenary in league with herself: an Adventurer.

                It was not a better life or even a wholly different life so much as a trade: offering up stability and consistency to gain a capricious mind.  Money still dictated her strategy; sex lured her fancy; vanity became her impetus.  She just exercised her coins on the move: earned them city to city, helping one woebegone city-bound civilian after the other.

                When fortunes blessed her with loot and gold, she stayed at inns beneath cotton or silk sheets.

                For now, she slept by the guard of bark and leaf; rain swept, rain soaked and awaiting the sight of game.

                Vanessa had spent two gold coins on a peck of blueberries and a peck of almonds, but her favorites tasted tame and familiar after the thirtieth snack.  She sought the luxuries found in predation: the superior health of venison cooked fireside and the empowered elegance promised by muscle.  She was scrawny and bony, especially for her height.  Constant traveling toned something lithe and pretty out of her, but unless she stripped down to her physique, others adventurers scoffed at her request for partnerships.

                Meat allured her idealized self, but a deer or rabbit would not simply walk into her shelter.  She’d rather flop about the mud; let her mind root itself and share thoughts with Mother Nature; but every moment lazed only reinforced that brittle image; and so she rose from her soggy perch to trod into the fog.

                While she searched for prey, she dittied a rhyme for her bored mind:

                Gray, gray, everywhere gray;

                White wash water flushes the day,

                Precipitous, monotonous nimbus ahead,

                From this rising mist they fled:

                My meat, my prey, my reason for fire,

                A meal for wet bones, for soaking silks.

                Somewhere I cannot see

                Someone is watching me

                Boot prints stood by a tree not far from her place of rest.  Said boots could not fit a bigger man, and she fancied the idea of a cute admirer: someone small enough of body and ego to push down and tame.  His reason for hiding, watching, was his shy courage; clinging to a flower he savored for her.

                Just the thought burst a laugh from her.  “Some luck that would be!” and she unbuckled the strap that secured her sword to its sheath.

                Boots and gloves; leathered and steeled; protected her movements to the elbows and knees.  Her leather cuirass mounted shoulder plates to keep her sword-arm safe, and her belt draped chainmail over her skirt to the sides and rear.  A misguided arrow would not easily take her skin, but a competent intent could slip a knife through to her heart or slit her sleep.

                She kept three lunging strides between herself and every tree thick enough to hide a body; honed sights on shrubbery and keened herself for a crossbow bolt; but the ambush came on the heels of a frail and inexperienced woman, who sprung from a tree directly ahead of Vanessa’s sight, and she watched the gal trip and fall face-first into the mud.

                Defeat permeated this lady of rags, who dirtied the mud by her presence, and brandished a stick too rotted to break skin.  She rose and stared; two ruby irises dulled by death’s door; and tried to make a threat.

                “Give me a coin… or something to eat…” and a habitual mannerism followed with an automated “please”, enticing Vanessa to snicker and giggle as her would-be-assailant amended her threat with, “or else…”

                “I don’t have any money”, Vanessa said, “spent it.”

                The haggard soul tilted and peered round Vanessa’s belt for a container of food.  The pouch on Vanessa’s right side allured her eyes; moved her lips; but her debts finally caught up to her and forfeited her struggle.  She sunk to her knees, fell onto her back.  Her eyes gazed skyward but there were no sights or sounds in this world left for her; the characteristics of her physical shell were just a happenstance of her final moments.

                In so many cities Vanessa witnessed this suicide: a mental fatigue for the constant crediting of pride; asking, begging, pleading for a morsel to sustain upon.  She offered hope and resources to those she could, and sometimes they accepted.

                Vanessa’s stores did not swell any longer, but she approached the girl and asked her to stand.

                “Why?”

                “I give charity to help others; not indulge myself with false heroism.  If you have any dignity then we’re equals, regardless of what our clothes might say about us.”

                The girl stood, and held out her hands.  Vanessa clasped bony fingers, touched skins too stained for this monsoon to cleanse.  She willed the airs to whirl round, to violently brush water against mud and blood till everything particulate had been raised into her levitating stream; and a flick of her wrist sent the wash water to the side, back into gravity’s care.

                Vanessa put her palm over palm, and deposited a handful of nuts and berries.  She ate, but the bafflement on her face questioned the substance cracking between her teeth.  “Where did you get those?  You didn’t reach into a pocket.”

                Vanessa opened her empty hand and another mouthful of trail snacks stole onto her grasp through the cover of black wisps.  “You can conjure food?” she asked, and she grabbed and swallowed this phenomenon as quickly as she questioned it.

                “I can phase things out of existence; recall them when I choose.”

                “You could steal a lot of stuff that way.”

                “I could, but I don’t.”

                Vanessa did not have to explain honor, for this girl kept it within her silence; allowed it to forfeit her life in lieu of begging, and then refuse a fourth handful of nuts and berries.  “I have more”, Vanessa said, but she did not care.

                Through staining filths, a few hairs hued true to their pink pigmentation.  It was a lightly, joyous chromatism that shimmered in adulation, and marked her in hatred.  There was no town where a pink haired girl could hide from gossip and spittle, and her sharp incisors ensured an enemy within in every populace to rile up the crowd.

                An accident, a crime, or just a season of bad weather; one scared fool would correlate trouble to her pink hair, and then the world’s fortunes became her responsibility.

                Vanessa was less human than this girl, but her clothes did not split to the whim of glass shanks and steeled edges.  How would she have fared if her long black hairs and violet sights swapped colors?

                “What’s your name?”

                “Lylette.”

                “I’m searching for deer, fish, berries… anything to eat, really… would you like to come with me, Lylette?”

                Whether Vanessa staked her invitation upon sagacity or pity, she could not discern; but she suspected a selfish motive within the act; for Lylette’s quiet consent realized the image she always desired for herself: not a stronger, more beautiful person, but someone who traveled in company.

End

I welcome all critique; even negative.

Just be polite :).

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