The Road of a Highwaywoman

Re: The Road of a Highwaywoman

Postby Rance » Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:53 am

Fine, Ailova exclaimed. Fine; she was just fine. The young seamstress' attention lingered on her unsteady friend before she distracted herself with feeding Caliir. The blind beast -- perhaps not even a horse, but something altogether less graceful, somewhere between livestock and lode-creature -- eagerly sought out Ailova's hand, the black tongue a probing coil as it licked the pre-chewed apples from her palm. The blast of breath Caliir issued forth was almost grateful.

"I don't know how old he is," Gloria said. "A friend gave him to me. He might not seem like much to anyone else -- He's neither proud or proper -- but he's mine, and I think he's beautiful. We're complicit in our ugliness. Peas in a pod, as they say," she said, gazing fondly upon the ragged creature. "He saved my life once; I'll chew up a thousand fruits for him if I have to."

With apple-stickied fingers, the girl softly clapped her hand against Caliir's mountainous neck.

"I ride him only when I must. Otherwise, I aim to keep him comfortable."

The brigand's final two statements, however, were met with silence. Gloria busied her fingers like the teeth of a comb, scraping them through the beast's bristling fur. She dislodged balls of mud and fearlessly disengaged clumps of lesser repute; she lost her eyes in the tangles of his hair and visibly stiffened at the final question. Ailova looked at her. The seamstress, however, did not look back. "She's -- she's going to stay with me. I'm her mother, and as such, I'm the most fit to care for her." A pause. The words had sharp edges, chiseled perfectly out of recitation and experience, a practiced diatribe. "I might not be the smartest or most clever person ever born, but I wouldn't hurt my own daughter. I'm a maggot, I'm a cow, but -- but I'm not a monster."

A long stretch of silence. She slashed her sleeve underneath her nose. It wasn't her place to inquire; it wasn't her place to know. But...

"Have you ever been responsible for someone's death?"
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Re: The Road of a Highwaywoman

Postby highawaywoman » Sat Jan 24, 2015 6:18 am

The horsewoman nodded, obviously accepting Gloria's adoration for the horrid beast. It was hard to imagine how anything so ungainly could be a life-saver, but in a world made up of tall-tales - this one was mayhap mild in comparison. Who was she to judge the beast.

"Nonsense. Ye be to hard on yerself, gel." Ailova pushed the brim of her hat upwards, leveling Gloria with a very considering look. Green eyes assessed her thick build and short height. "What ye need are a pair of britches. That'll help. No woman is a maggot or cow when she dons breeks. They lose their control - their hold on us - once we stop putting up with the foolish hampering of skirts." She didn't bother explaining who they were. It wasn't men, but society in general that she'd dubbed they.

"Of course yer a fit mother! Ye don't seem to be as monstrous as me own mam, she was a right cunt that one." Without meaning to a vivid image of a red-haired woman with a face of an ox and the temper of an adder flooded Ailova's subconscious. "I'm sure ye do well together - just keep her gap shut when I be sleepin'!" A wink took any sting out of her words, amusement tilting her chin a bit before the foreigner's next question hit her.

"Have you ever been responsible for someone's death?" Gloria asked and Ailova instantly regretted going into the livery and neglecting her drink. What was it about guilt that made her parched like a camel returning from a fortnight in the desert?

"Some more than others, I gander. Some have been accident, some not." While the highwaywoman had never been an assassin or a murder-for-hire thug - she'd been forced to kill a few times. It was all a necessary part of business.

"Why do ye ask such a thing, Gloria? Lookin' to have someone fit for their wooden surcoat?" The brigand jested, but her face belied a more serious note to her words.
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Re: The Road of a Highwaywoman

Postby Rance » Sun Jan 25, 2015 3:45 pm

Wooden surcoat? A moment passed. A pallor struck her cheeks like a storm. "Oh. No," Gloria replied, incredulous. "No. If I felt strongly enough that -- that someone needed to perish, it'd be by my hand alone it would be done. But I'm not a killer--"

Yes, you are, Glour'eya, prattled a a voice in her mind.

"--nor a contractor of killers."

Yes, you are, Glour'eya, it said again.

"Nor are you a killer."

How are you to know?

She deftly avoided topics of increasing displeasure: the baby. her baby; mothers; what made maggots and cows. A few more moments of attendance to Caliir. Brushing. Patting. Soft whispers in another language rattled into his leathery ear -- "A'armok dos der derra, r'lomod'sh, dos der at'ferra." When the blind beast settled obediently back into his stall, Gloria brushed her palms off on her filthy skirts and trotted back into the center aisle of the stables. Underneath her bonnet her visage was a patch of dark shadows.

"How do you do it," the seamstress finally asked, leveling her gaze upon her brigand compatriot. "How do you, if you feel responsibility for the death of another human being? If, even when you wash the blood from your hands, you still see the stains on your skin even if nobody else can?

"How do you acclimate yourself to that balance, Menna Ailova, that someone else should die so that you can live?"
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Re: The Road of a Highwaywoman

Postby highawaywoman » Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:30 am

The highwaywoman watched the shadows flash across Gloria's face, changing the pallor of her complexion. As the young lass haltingly refused her offer to off someone, Ailova could only grin. The bemused expression on Gloria's face as she thought over the conversation, lessened a bit as the women walked back to the center aisle of the livery.

"Some don't deserve to live, lass. They squand'r their gift and don't live to appreciate or attempt to enjoy. Those that live to maim - to oppress - they don't rightly deserve life." Ailova spoke easily, though her voice had dropped to an audible whisper, "Not that I be a miller, ye know? A killer."

"I've no lust for blood. But, it's had to be done a few times. Some were more satisfyin' then others." A trembling hand adjusted her wide-brimmed hat, before going further. The last questions from Gloria did make her innards twist a bit, a rusty blade of memory that hurt worse then the lack of drink.

"Drink helps, aye? Work helps even more." The older woman gestured to the direction of her horses, "And if I work and drink hard enough - it makes it all worthwhile. Guilt is an emotion best saved for the wealthy or aristocratic, aye? Sorts like us are to base to grasp such convoluted emotions."

"Now! I say we get a drink and feck all this guilt talk."
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Re: The Road of a Highwaywoman

Postby Rance » Mon Jan 26, 2015 11:23 am

Some part of the words struck, not like fists or lightning, but with the smooth, sensible velvet of sense and understanding. Gloria listened with focus and patience to her older counterpart. Regardless of Ailova's low-born accent, there was value engraved in her words. The seamstress devoured them with attentiveness; that she had heard reflected itself in the repetition she uttered--

"Those that live to maim -- to oppress -- they don't rightly deserve life."

Like Rhaena.

Giuseppe.

The Storyteller.

Like Gle--

Where had this woman come from, she wondered? This Ailova, this commoner in breeks with a hat whose rim hung low like a lazy dog's earflap. Where had she come from, with her love for horses, her gilded teeth, her right and wrong that seemed so simple and clear? Gloria yearned, in that moment, for a similar sense of confidence. Work it away. Drink it away. The debris of the past was but that: flotsam, dirt, detritus to be swept across the threshold of life and out into the street. Attention flitted toward the ever-trembling curve of Ailova's hand, but lingered only so long before her round face refreshed itself with a smile.

"A drink," Gloria agreed. "Something hard. Yes? To distill all this talk. Or put it aside for another day. Come on, then."

A broken-toothed grin. Then, with the tent of her skirts hissing across the filthy hay, she took toward the door of the stables and stepped out into the gray day.
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