There once was a lady from Phi
Who thought she had found the right guy
Though try as she might
Her love he did fight
Sometimes she just wanted to cry
The 14th of Majestic
Aleyne "Eyes" Hawkspur slowly twisted the wine glass in her hand as she stood there silently, out of the way. This party she was at had been thrown for CrIsis by the city of New Crests here in the Eastern Territories. Their hosts had little use for her or the rest of the crew. The residents of this needlessly posh, luxurious city all flocked around the chosen of the Gods, clucking and tittering at them like spent hens. She only really paid attention to one person. That Man, The Man With No Name, whom they simply called "No Name," was talking passionately with his own small gathering of the clucking hens. They were enraptured by whatever he was saying to them, though whether that was in entertainment or fear she couldn’t tell despite being able to see them clearly. She felt another pang of regret and jealousy over the fact that she wasn’t anywhere near as close to him as she wished to be.
She had tried so many things to get him to pay attention to her and reciprocate her feelings. No matter what she tried she couldn’t seem to make any headway with him. If anything she suspected she had pushed him even further away – as impossible as that was to believe! All this time she she had been competing against a dead woman. But now his wife was alive again and he was further from her than ever before. Why would he still hold affection for that woman from so long ago, when Eyes was right here?
Eyes was so caught up in her thoughts and so focused on The Man With No Name that she failed to notice when the Minotaur Demigod Xerx’ses extracted himself from his own throng of worshipers to come talk with her. He said something to her but she didn’t hear what it was. It did however make her aware of his presence next to her. She gave him a sidelong glance of acknowledgement and he repeated what he said.
“I would like to ask you for a favor,” he said to her. "Tomorrow is the Festival of Bast. Would you be my ‘girlfriend’ for the day, to keep my marital vows safe?"
She thought on his words for a minute. Maybe this was the chance she needed – maybe this would show That Man what he was missing? Wistfully she asked Xerx’ses, “Do you think it will bother No Name?”
Xerx’ses replied, “It might, I am not sure. If you’re okay I promise you a kiss during the festival.”
“Only if No name is watching,” she said to him. “You have a deal.” She winked at him then returned to sullenly watching The Man With No Name while Xerx’ses took his leave. No Name was definitely frightening his hangers-on. She could tell that now. She smiled and sipped her wine. None of them could handle him. She could be different, if he’d only let her. She wouldn’t be frightened at all.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The 15th of Majestic
The day of the Festival of Bast finally approached sundown. Most of CrIsis gathered together to make their way to Temple of Bast for the evening celebration. Only Ursus and Silent Dream stayed behind, for reasons of their own choosing. A group consisting of No Name, Grignak, Indaris, Xerx’ses, and Eyes made their way through the city. As they did so Eyes hung on Xerx’ses’ arm and really played up the ‘date’ aspect of their deal. Xerx’ses seemed to charmingly play along and was every bit the gentlemen he was taught to be towards a woman.
Everything Eyes did was a badly masked attempt to draw No Name’s attention to the two of them. She tried really hard to make him feel jealous that she was with someone else but the fact that he had no reaction whatsoever infuriated her. He had to have noticed. Couldn’t he at least give some indication? Eyes refused to let that deter her. As they passed by some of the shops she talked loudly to Xerx’ses about what she liked that she saw on display, all the while looking constantly toward No Name for some reaction.
Eyes was so focused on getting No Name to try and notice and react to her ‘date’ that she failed to notice Xerx’ses pay serious attention to several of the items she had remarked on from the displays they passed. She also failed to notice when he conspired with Indaris to have one of those items purchased – a nice, expensive pair of shoes. What she did notice was when Xerx’ses suddenly and very sincerely presented them to her as a gift.
This took her aback! A gift? She didn’t know what to say. What was the Minotaur doing? She knew they had been very expensive – why would he do that for her? She hadn’t done anything that required such an expensive apology. She tried not to accept them. She certainly couldn’t wear them in this outfit! But this was where Xerx’ses surprised her a second time.
He began to cast a spell over her. Unlike the other times he did magic this time seemed to involve strenuous concentration. Eyes didn’t understand at all that Xerx’ses was pulling together all his knowledge and experience in magic to create a new spell which he’d never attempted before. But she could see that he was putting a lot of effort into what he was doing. Before she could utter another word Xerx’ses finished the spell with a look of successful triumph! Eyes felt the energy of magic wash over her, suffusing her and her clothing. Unbelievably the clothes she was wearing changed into something much more elegant, which matched the gift perfectly. The final aspect of the magic changed her hair as well, straightening it out and completing the transformation.
Eyes looked down at herself in awe. He prompted her to put the shoes on now, which she did in mute shock. She was still stunned that Xerx’ses had done something like this for her. Fully dressed she looked up at him now – really looked at him, for the first time perhaps all day. He explained that he wanted to do something nice for her, and she numbly said thank-you and gave him a kiss on the cheek. They continued on to the temple in silence. She still walked holding onto Xerx’ses’ arm as she had before, but she walked more calmly now. She didn’t know what to make of this. People didn’t act this way. At least, they didn’t act this way to her. It made her feel a way she hadn’t feel before, and as they walked she silently tried to figure out what this was.
If No Name noticed any of this he never reacted.
They reached the Temple of Bast and after a short wait, one by one they each managed to get let in. The guards didn’t give Eyes a second glance before allowing her in. She dimly registered that the members of CrIsis had a slightly more difficult time getting in but once Xerx’ses made it in she stopped paying attention. Xerx’ses escorted her into the main area. Once inside he thanked her again for for coming with him and making sure no-one else will get near him. Even though he could have other wives and his marriage could potentially be a plural marriage, he didn’t want to break his vows to Laval’liere.
Eyes told him, “You don’t need to keep thanking me. Don’t worry – I won’t let anyone else get to you.” She smiled at him as she said that. Meanwhile, the festival unfolded around them. There was music, dancing, food, drink, and more. Some of the participants were already diving right into their worship of Bast with raucous, racy displays of sexual acts. There were parishioners going around offering various concoctions of food, alcohol, and drugs. This was a temple fully engrossed, embracing debauchery during their annual celebration to the goddess of sex and lust in a way not normally afforded to them. At least, not so blatantly or publicly.
As the two of them experienced the festival, Xerx’ses treated her as if she was the only person there which he knew. He didn’t even try to associate with the other members of CrIsis whom he had arrived with. Where they were Eyes had no clue. Not even No Name, who she just realized she hadn’t thought of in hours. Hours? Xerx’ses was talking again and she turned her attention quickly back to him with a smile. He told her how happy he was that he would be a dad soon. Eyes just nodded while he continued to hold her hand gently, despite his massive strength. Xerx’ses seemed at ease with her, here. There was no guilt, no shame, no contempt for her. He made her feel… there it was again. She didn’t know what this was that she felt when he looked at her like that.
She looked away, and scanned the dance floor. Xerx’ses made her feel like she was the only one here around him but the temple had a lot of people in it now. The festival was going into full swing. She thought she spied Grignak off in a darker part of the room; the acts he was involved in shrouded from sight by the shadow but the screams and cries of pleasure from there still carried across the room, mixing with the other sounds. Xerx’ses misinterpreted her look around the dance floor and apologized to her for not being a very good dancer. He then tried to offer that he could read her some Elvish poetry he knew which dated from before the Elf-Dwarf War, during the golden age of the Elves. Turning to face him she reached up to place her finger to his lips. “Shhh… Don’t apologize again,” she laughed.
Another woman suddenly cut between them and tried to pull Xerx’ses away. Just then Eyes felt a very familiar feeling overtake her – jealousy. Xerx’ses was already trying to explain to the woman that he was with Eyes, and was trying to give her a good time in order to honor Bast in the way that he knows. Eyes however possessively yelled “I said he’s with me!” and prepared to lunge at the woman. Wordlessly the woman danced away, giving the situation no more thought as she flitted to another potential partner. Xerx’ses gently reached out to stop Eyes from lunging after the woman. She turned to look at him and got misty-eyed as what he said finally registered to her.
“I hope I am honoring Bast and you, tonight. I am winging a lot of this,” Xerx’ses said to her as she drew in close to him again.
“You’re doing just fine so far,” she replied as she leaned into his powerful arms. The two of them stayed there like that for a while as Xerx’ses began to softly recite poetry which honored Bast. He worded his recitals in order to make Eyes out to be Bast in the poems. Eyes stayed like that relaxed and content. She closed her eyes to just enjoy the moment, but when she opened them some time later she caught sight of No Name. He was out on the dance floor dancing provocatively with a beautiful, Human woman. This made Eyes incredibly angry all of a sudden.
Had No Name just been lying this whole time? He had spurned Eyes and made it seem as if his wife were the reason. Even as she pursued him, a part of her had respected his faithfulness. She knew that faithfulness would make him faithful to her once she succeeded in winning his affections. Except… she hadn’t been able to win those affections. And now as No Name grinded all over this random woman Eyes came to the rationalization that it was never about his faithfulness to his wife. In an instant No Name became to her just another shit male who would cheat on a woman in order to score a night of pleasure. But not with Eyes. Never with Eyes. She tensed against the pain and anguish this display caused her, not realizing that what No Name was doing had more to do with the drugs swirling through his body and less to do with rational thought or intentional consent. A situation which, ironically, Eyes could have completely understood any other night. After all, she had once intentionally put him in a similar situation.
Xerx’ses felt her tense and stopped his poetry recital in concern. Before he could ask what was wrong Eyes whipped around and leapt upon him, kissing him with a fierce passion. In between kisses she muttered several things, “I can’t be-LIEVE him. Is it because I’m not Human? He was ALL OVER that bitch. But you… you know how to treat a woman. At least YOU won’t lie to me or turn me away for being an Elf.”
Though a little surprised, Xerx’ses reacted calmly. “Tonight is about Bast and love. If you wish to pursue this further you need to seek my wife’s approval. If you agree then we can move forward. But you must promise to never drug me ever. Sweetest Aleyne Hawkspur, embodiment of Bast this evening.”
“For Bast and love,” she said back to him softly. Then there was no more talking between them.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The 16th of Majestic
The next morning Ursus woke early while those who attended the festival still slumbered, recovering from the pleasures and experiences of the previous evening. More playfully than maliciously he went throughout the boat, bellowing loudly. "Good morning CrIsis! Did everyone have a good time last night?" Amidst that ruckus and the resulting grumbling from other CrIsis members Eyes was woken up as well. She smiled slyly to herself, remembering the night before. To no-one in particular she answered Ursus’ question. “Yes, I did.”
The morning stillness quickly faded away. Replacing it was the bustle of activity as CrIsis and the crew all awoke and began to prepare the Shield of Light to sail today. Last night’s activities were the topic of conversation amongst most members. It wasn’t long before Xerx’ses and Eye’s activities in the Temple of Bast were remarked upon as well. Reactions were mixed; only two people’s reactions were notable to Eyes. Honeysuckle, the ship’s first mate, seemed to take particular offense that Xerx’ses finally dated a member of the crew – and it wasn’t her. While she had words with Xerx’ses about that No Name simply looked at Eyes with his uncanny eyes. Did she really used to think they were dreamy? Their eeriness finally stood out to here as she looked back at him. He said to her simply, matter-of-factually, “Eyes, you are forever unclean.”
So many responses went through her mind as he said that to her. He dared to say something like that to her, after what he did last night!? Instead she turned away, deliberately not talking or even looking at him. She had nothing more to say to him – he had his chance, and truth be told she was glad he spurned her for so long. It seemed apparent now that a relationship between the two of them would have been doomed by his own actions. He was ultimately no better than her last boyfriend. Instead Eyes began to climb up to the Crow’s nest where, as lookout, she spent much of her time. Xerx’ses extracted himself from Honeysuckle and came up behind Eyes.
“Looking to get in the Crow’s nest?” He asked her.
“Yes,” she replied, but before she could say or do anything else he gently grabbed her and lifted them both up into the air, in full view of everyone. Together they ascended to the Crow’s nest, where he carefully dropped her off. Xerx’ses flew back down to the deck and fielded more conversation and questions about the two of them. Eyes just sat in the Crow’s nest and began to think seriously about last night. What was this she was feeling? Whatever it was, she decided she liked it. "What was it Xerx’ses said last night, about getting his current wife’s approval to be his next wife?", she thougt to herself. "I could do that. Mrs. Xerx’ses." She stared off in the distance. "That could be a good life…"
There once was a lady from Phi
Who wanted to find the right guy
But the last guy she found
Was an asshole so now
She’s chosen the one who can fly.
These events, as remembered and experienced by Aleyne "Eyes" Hawkspur, occured from the 14th through the 16th of Majestic in the 25thyear of Emperor Voelkian Itomas II of the Western Empire.
All images courtesy of AZ Rune.