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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kira's Story - Chapters 1+2

This story is now available as a Kindle book on Amazon. Only chapters 1+2 and 3+4 will remain on my blog as a preview. Please buy my book if you have Kindle :-) For the Love of Kira

Chapter 01


The group of men, all wearing the standard winter gear, entered the warm common room of the inn.
“Which one is the woman we are looking for?” A lordly looking man asked. Every person in the room pointed to a lone woman eating by the fire.
“So nice of you to visit me… Something I can do for you?” The woman asked as she pushed her now empty bowl away.
The lordly looking man looked to one of his men for confirmation.
“Yes, it’s her,” the man grunted, and slipped a compass into his pocket.
“May we speak in private?” The lordly one asked.
“Private time with me is very valuable. I do not give it freely,” the woman replied dismissively.
The lordly man sighed, and looked to a different man, who took a purse out of his pocket, and tossed it at the woman.
She peaked inside, saw that the coins were gold, bit one, and weighed the rest of the purse in her hand. “This will pay for about fifteen minutes of my time. Follow me.” She led them up to a third floor bedroom; the inn’s best one, pausing only long enough for the men to shed their outer gear to dry by the fire.
The moment the bedroom door was closed to give the group privacy, the woman pushed the lordly looking man into a chair, and straddled his lap. “So, shall I do you all together, or one at a time?” She kissed him.
He pushed her away. “I think there is some mistake, we have not come to-“
“Oh relax! I know that, you are all far too serious for that, so… Who do you want me to kill? I warn you, the higher the title, the higher my prices go.” She kissed along his jaw line to his neck. “And are you sure you don’t want a little fun first?”
Damn, it’s been a while since I’ve had a good lay! She thought.
The lordly one stammered, and pushed her away again. “You are still mistaken; we don’t want you to kill anyone.”
She speedily stood from his lap, and jumped to a defensive crouch on the bed, two short swords nearly magically appearing in her hands. “You will not take me into custody! I have done nothing wrong that you can prove!”
“Oh, for the love of the Gods! We just need a guide!” One of the other men burst out. All eyes in the room landed on him.
“A guide?” The woman asked in disbelief.
“Yes, we want to travel far to the southeast, and we heard that you were one of the best people to get us there at this time of year. Obviously, we were misinformed,” the man elaborated.
She regarded them all intently for a few moments, and then resheathed her blades. “You heard right. It’s just that I don’t often get hired for my skills as a guide. Mayhap it’s my exorbitant price…” She shrugged. “Are you sure you can afford me? It would be vastly less expensive to hire someone else.”
“We can afford you,” the lordly man assured her.
“How far? Just until we get to the bottom of the mountain? You said something about far to the southeast; where I am willing to guide to ends at the border,” she informed them.
“That’ll be far enough,” the lordly one agreed.
She narrowed her eyes, something didn’t seem right, and she gave it some thought. “Oh… I see… You are running from someone, and you want me to make sure they don’t catch you. Fair enough, I can do that. Your fifteen minutes are up; I’ll meet you back here tomorrow morning. I expect you all to be ready to go, with enough supplies to last the entire trip for all of us, including me. Feel free to stay in this room tonight.” She flipped open the window, and ran out, disappearing within a fraction of a second.
“How did she do that? We are on the third floor!” One of the men wondered, leaning out the window to see where she went.
The man who was consulting his compass came over to examine the window, all he found that could possibly explain her disappearance was a thin wire that was attached to a tree about twelve feet away.

*******

“Hey boys, look alive!” The newly hired guide dropped out of a tree.
“Are you sure it’s her?” One of the men asked another one, who was playing with a compass.
“Yes,” he confirmed grumpily.
Meanwhile, the woman bellowed for one of the inn’s workers to bring her her horse, and something hot to eat.
“Here you go, Miss Kira.” A boy appeared with her horse, a massive mountain horse.
“I made this just for you, Kira.” A man emerged from the inn with a steaming basket.
“Oh, you gorgeous sweetheart!” Kira accepted the basket with a kiss.
“I am going to miss having you around the inn. Your presence naturally keeps the peace. Promise you’ll return soon,” the innkeeper bade.
“You know I never make a promise I can’t keep,” Kira replied with a kiss.
“Hey Kira! Stop kissing my husband, and kiss me!” A pretty woman appeared.
Kira laughed, and hugged the woman. They shared a brief kiss.
“Now, go on, get out of here before it gets crowded.”
Kira nodded, and mounted her horse.
“Good bye, Miss Kira! Fare thee well!” Several people called from a small crowd that was gathering.
The men exchanged puzzled looks, and mounted their own sturdy horses.
“Is it true?” A man called out from an approaching group of men. “Is Kira Strongarm finally leaving us in peace?”
“Yes, my lord. You are finally rid of me,” Kira replied.
“Good. I’m warning you Miss Strongarm, I may not be able to prove it, but I know it was you that stole our family heirloom. If I ever see you in these parts again, I will have you flogged. Possibly drawn and quartered.”
“Oh, you flirt! You know me, I’ll only return if someone pays me to, and honestly, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to pay me to come back here,” Kira smirked.
The local lord abruptly advanced on her, his horse seemed almost as angry as its master. His hand was on his sword hilt. “I’m serious! Where did you hide our heirloom?”
“I never touched your heirloom.” Kira withdrew both of her short swords, positioning one in a defensive position, and the other in an offensive position.
The local lord stopped short. “Peace! I have no wish to tangle with you, Kira Strongarm.” He returned to his men, and gestured for them to give her room to leave.
Kira put her swords away, and laughed. “You’re just mad that I wouldn’t grace your bed for free!” She kicked her horse into a walk, her clients following her in silence.
Some time passed in awkward silence, but Kira didn’t mind as it gave her time to relive the night when she had used a small pouch to quietly scoop up the lord’s heirloom necklace, hence not touching it, and promptly hide it in a priceless vase. As far as she knew, a servant waited until after the general searches of the servants proved them innocent, and then smuggled the necklace out to a neighboring lord, who claimed it was his heirloom. He paid the servant handsomely, which was evenly distributed among all of the vassals, and Kira. This is why the local people loved her so much.
Some people approached on their way to the village Kira and her clients had just left. “Have a good day, Miss Kira.”
“Have a good day yourselves,” Kira bade.
A few minutes later, Kira announced, “We’re making good time, if we keep up this pace, we’ll make it to the next town by evening meal.” Which reminded Kira that she still had food in a basket to eat.


Chapter 02


“As I live and breathe! It’s Kira Strongarm!” The innkeeper of this village’s inn gasped. “Please, come in and warm yourselves. You’ll be wanting something warm to drink, and a bite to eat I expect.”
“Thank you.” Kira smiled warmly.
“What about your companions?” The innkeeper asked.
“They are my clients; I am guiding them on their way. Naturally, my room and board will be paid for by them,” Kira replied.
“Naturally!” The innkeeper smiled, and turned his attention to the lordly looking man. “So, what can I get for you?”
“For the moment, food and drink, and later on, we’ll need three rooms and hot baths for us all.” This statement was greeted with chuckles all around.
“Food, drink, and rooms I can help you with, for a bath, you’ll need to go to the bathhouse,” the innkeeper replied helpfully.
“Of course.”
Kira paused to think. Until now, she had thought them to be travelers from the southeast border of the country, which would explain their accents, but now she realized that they couldn’t be from this country if they were unaware of the bathing customs. No wonder they wanted her guidance; likely they wanted her skill and reputation to keep them safe on their journey. She had only hired on as a guide, if she had to do any fighting on their behalf, she would have to remember to charge them extra.
“In that case, boys, we should probably have our baths before we eat. Innkeeper, prepare our rooms, and have our food waiting for us on our return,” Kira ordered, and led her clients back out of the inn.
She walked them down the street to the bathhouse, asking questions as she went. “Have you been inside a bathhouse before?”
“If by bathhouse you mean a public facility devoted solely to the purpose of getting clean, then no. We last took baths in an inn just outside this country,” the lordly one replied.
Kira didn’t care one bit what their names were, or she would have asked for them, and she knew they knew her name, but she did consider it a little rude that they didn’t offer her something to call them by, even if they were fake names. “I see. Well, lordly one, you and your henchmen, especially hotheaded henchman number one had better understand something, and quickly. In this country, bathing is done in public bathhouses, and there aren’t any private rooms, so don’t ask. Wishing to bath in private is considered extremely rude, and will earn you the enmity of the locals. Also, before you enter the tub, you must wash all of the dirt from your body at one of the water troughs. Stepping into a tub while dirty is considered to be the gravest of insult. Your bad manners would reflect badly on me, and I would have to teach you a lesson you won’t forget.”
Kira reached out a hand, and opened the door.
“Kira Strongarm! We are honored!” The bathhouse owner nearly groveled.
“Kira Strongarm, really?” A group of men stood to get a look at her. “We warn you now, you had better not steal anything or kill anyone while you are in our village!”
“Good evening boys, you have the look of the village guard about you,” Kira said as she removed her clothing. “Fear not, I am not here for any such nefarious purpose. These gentlemen have hired me on as their guide.”
“Guide huh? Good, just you remember.”
“Sweetheart, if you want me to spend the night in jail with you so badly, all you need do is ask, but you had better be prepared to spend every coin you have, and then some!” Kira teased.
The head guard blushed, but returned the banter easily. “Why pay for something I can have for free if I but catch you in the act?”
Kira laughed heartily. “If you could catch me, I’d be so impressed, I would give it to you for free!” By this time, Kira was naked, and she sat to wash herself at a trough.
Her clients quickly recovered from their astonishment over the mixed bathing, and stripped as well. They were careful to copy Kira’s actions so that they wouldn’t offend anybody.
Soon, everyone was playfully bantering back and forth, except for the strangers to the town. They were highly uncomfortable, and hoped to end this bath quickly.
“Tell me, Kira Strongarm, just how much does a night with you cost?” A good-looking man asked.
“That depends,” Kira answered. “A whole night probably costs more than you would willingly part with.”
“My lord, your wife might hear you!” A younger man whispered loudly.
“Might! Try again!” A woman from across the tub exclaimed good-naturedly. “If you want him Kira Strongarm, take him! I would relish the excuse to find a better bed partner anyway!”
“Is that so? How badly do you wish to be rid of him?” Kira scooted closer to the lord’s wife.
“Hey now! I just warned you not to kill anyone while in this village!” The head guard yelled.
Kira ignored him, and leaned in to whisper in the woman’s ear.
The lord’s wife laughed richly. “Oooooh… I think that can be arranged.”
“It was nice knowing you, my lord,” a man commiserated.
“Hold on a moment, will there at least be some bedsport before I die?”
Kira looked at him gravely. “If there were?”
“If there were, I’d say it was a fitting end to a well lived life. I’ll make sure to leave orders not to have you incarcerated, tried, or convicted or my murder,” the lord smiled at his wife.
“Well, that is very generous of you, my lord. I promise to make your death an enjoyable one!”
“Wonderful, see you tonight, how does the eighth hour sound?” The lord asked.
“Perhaps,” Kira smiled mysteriously.
“In that case, I think this calls for a celebration! I invite everyone to dry off, and come back to my manor for a feast to honor my imminent death!” The lord stood and accepted a towel from an attendant. Kira stood on the opposite side of the large tub, and people formed lines behind them.
Attendants thoroughly toweled each person dry, concentrating on their hair, and then fanned each person with dry heat in a room that was reminiscent of a smoke room for preserving meat. The smoke was pleasantly scented, and would cling to them like a perfume.
After she was completely dry, Kira dressed, and waited for her clients to finish drying. Henchman number one, the hotheaded one who had yelled at her when they had come to hire her, got close enough to her to have a somewhat private conversation.
“You do not seriously plan to kill that man, do you?” He asked.
“Honestly…” Kira let her reply steep in dramatic pause, and then was interrupted before she could finish speaking.
“I’ll see you later, Kira Strongarm,” the lord called out as he left.
Kira waved, and then guided her clients back to the inn they had visited earlier.
“Good to see you’ve returned so quickly, Kira Strongarm, I have everything ready for you,” the innkeeper greeted.
“Wonderful!” Kira beamed. “Lead the way.”
The innkeeper led the way to his best suite, which consisted of two rooms off of a larger sitting room. Kira sensed that a maid had literally just brought their dinner into the room and left right before they entered.
Kira immediately sat at the table to eat. “MMM. This is delicious!” She complimented the innkeeper.
“Why thank you. You be sure to let me know if you want anything else, and I have given you the room across the hall as well.” The innkeeper took his leave.
“Have a seat boys, before I decide to eat all of this wonderful food myself.”
The men arranged themselves around the table.
The lordly one cleared his throat. “Uh… Miss Strongarm, do you seriously intend to kill the local lord?”
“That remains to be seen, all I have agreed to do so far is meet with his wife,” Kira answered between bites.
“I’m afraid we must insist that you do not leave the inn tonight.”
“No need to worry, I’ll be back before we leave in the morning,” Kira grinned.
“I’m afraid you misunderstand, but we require that you do not commit any crimes.”
Kira sighed. “Kill joy!”
She finished eating her meal, and stood. “In that case, I think I’ll go to bed. I’ll take the room across the hall.”
Henchman number one quickly positioned himself between Kira and the exit. “We think you should take one of these rooms. That way, we can talk with you some more before we retire.”
And you can attempt to prevent me from leaving the inn if I so choose. No thanks.”
Kira moved to step around him, and he grabbed her arm. “Lordly one, I suggest you tell hotheaded henchman number one here to remove his hand from my arm before I decide to severely injure him.”
“Miss Strongarm, if you will just allow us to talk to you for a bit longer, we have something to tell you,” the lordly looking man said.
Kira had no problem listening to them, but she had to teach them a lesson first. “Last warning, move your hand.”
Henchman number one tightened his grip, and prepared to hold her by force if necessary.
Kira was not one to let anyone to touch her without permission, so she rapidly delivered several blows with her free hand, and kicked in a variety of strategic spots, thereby breaking free of his grip, and forcing him to closely inspect the floor. “Let me make this abundantly clear! No one has permission to lay so much as a finger on me! If you wish to touch me, you had better be prepared to pay for it, one way or another! If it happens again…”
Kira withdrew a previously unseen weapon, a small bosom dagger, and pressed it to his throat, “I will show you what happens when you piss me off, and I guarantee, you will regret it!”
Every man not currently being held at dagger point withdrew his weapon, except for the rational lordly looking one, who merely leapt to his feet in concern.
“Are we fighting then, because I was under the impression you wanted to talk,” Kira taunted.
“I see that we have all let our tempers get the best of us. I suggest that we all retire for the evening. We can talk over breakfast when all of our heads have had a chance to cool down.”
“But my lord, she -!”
The lord held up his hand to indicate that his word was final. Kira responded by stowing her dagger, and exiting the room.
“Are you hurt, you’re -?”
“I’m fine, except for a few bruises. I cannot believe how strong she is. I keep checking the compass, and it keeps pointing to her. What happened to her? How did she get to be so strong?”
As the men contemplated those questions, Kira escaped the inn via the window in her room.

Go To Chapters 3+4 

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