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Type: Science Fiction , Fantasy, Humor
Author: Raymond Coulombe, Michael Gallant, Timothy O. Goyette
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15 short stories from the editors of Quantum Muse.Rating: 5.00 Reviews: 2
"Look at her," said Sasha
Katrina, the blond Amazon, glanced over her shoulder. "What, the bar maid?"
Sasha lifted the helm off her head and slammed it on the table. Their dishes rattled with the force. "Half the men in the place are falling over each other trying to get next to her."
"Men are like that, always chasing after some fluff."
“Haven’t you ever wanted a man?"
Katrina looked at her companion with a smirk and raised her eyebrows.
"That's not what I mean? You know, settle down on a farm, or something, and raise children. A life with a good, hard working, loving, man."
"Of course not! I was born with a brain."
A voice came from behind Sasha. "And how are you girls tonight."
It was the slurred speech of a drunken man.
Katrina scrunched her face in disgust and shook her head. Sasha didn't have to look to tell it was an old, one-toothed, dirty, fat, jerk; who had one two few drinks. He was still standing. A hand came to rest on her bare shoulder.
"Maybe I can show you girls around?"
Sasha leaned forward pulling her chair onto the front two legs. She scooted back, just a bit, and slammed a chair leg down on the lout's foot. He opened his mouth to shout, but she stifled it with an elbow to the head. He fell to the ground unconscious.
Sasha leaned in to her companion. "Why don't men find me attractive?"
Katrina rested her chin on her fist and looked with her head cocked to the left. After a moment, she leaned back with a smile. "It's your hair."
Sasha ran a hand down the tight braid at the back of her head. "Do you really think so?"
"Of course, look at the maid. Men are drawn to women who look wild, untamed."
"But, I am wild and untamed."
"Yes, but you don't look it. You keep your hair tied back all the time."
"I have to; it keeps it out of the way during battle."
"You're not in a battle now," Katrina said with a wink.
"You never know when one's going to spring up."
"Go ahead, let it down."
Sasha scanned the room. No one was watching, although she was certain everyone was. They just looked down when she glanced their way.
"Come on Sasha, you'd eat with your hands, belch, or cut someone open right in front of anyone here, without a care. Why should your hair matter?"
"I haven't warn it down since I was a child. What if Recter, or Baffet were to come in?"
"They haven't noticed we're women in the past three years, they're not going to start now."
Sasha pulled her braid around her neck. It was long enough to reach past her collarbone. She fidgeted with the cord binding the braid. The strong leather cord was lashed about the trunk of hair and tied in a double knot. "Darn this knot," she said picking at the edges.
"So, now you want long nails too? You are turning into a girl."
"Shut up," Sasha hissed. The venom in her voice would have chased a wolverine from its dinner.
Katrina stood up, shoving her seat back. The scraping sound exploded in Sasha's ears. "Do you have to make such a fuss. Now everyone's looking." Although, no one look away from their drinking, laughing, or talking. Sasha lowered her head and surveyed the room from the coroners of her eyes.
"Let me have that," Katrina said taking the knot.
"No, I've changed my mind."
"Don't be a baby about it. You'll be beautiful in no time."
Sasha heard the slicing sound of a knife leaving its scabbard. She groped behind her, grasping for the hair.
The dull sound of cutting came while she felt a tug on her hair. "Stop it," she shouted, jumping to her feet. She turned on Katrina who stood smiling with the remnant of leather cord in her hand.
"Quiet," Katrina shushed as she headed back to her chair. "You'll make a jester of yourself."
Looking around, all the near by table had grown silent, and faces turned to her. She rushed back into her chair and lowered her head. "Katrina, one time in your future, you will regret this."
"Ha, it's not like the time Felven sat on that ant hill."
Sasha smiled despite herself.
"Never seen a man take his pants off so fast."
Sasha's smile grew. "Right in front of his holiness and the prince."
"It was the best job we ever lost."
"But it was worth it!" The two broke into raucous laughter. The people around them returned their attention back to their own business.
Sasha reached up to brush aside a hair that had fallen lose during her revelry. Her hand stopped at the ear. It felt vaguely familiar. She looked up to Katrina.
"Come on woman, shake it out."
The corner of Sasha's mouth twisted up into her most mischievous grin. "The devils be drowned," she called hoisting her mug aloft. Katrina's came crashing into it as she echoed the toast.
Sasha shook her head with the force of a cornered viper. The braids broke loose and waves of hair came crashing over her ear. The mass of hair encircled her face, framing it and softening.
Katrina stopped laughing. "You really do look different."
Sasha laughed louder. The deed was done and she'd slash the first to make jest of her.
"Katrina," a male voice boomed over the din. A beefy arm waved over the crowd. She waved back. Baffet made his way between the tables and stumbling patrons. He dragged a chair out from under some one who wouldn't notice it missing.
"Hey Katrina, who's your friend." His broad hand pushed back his greasy hair.
A gorilla goes mating, was all Sasha could think of. Pressing her lips into a smile, she held in the snickering. Across the table, Katrina placed a hand over her mouth.
Baffet even excused himself for burping. "And, what is your name, lovely lady."
Katrina broke first, her fist slamming the table amid her gasps for breath. Sasha followed immediately after. Baffet's expression of confusion only added to their mirth.
Only when Baffet got up to leave did Sasha squeeze out, "Baffet you fool, it's me."
He looked and looked again. He grabbed a handful of hair that covered part of her face and moved it aside. "Sasha, that really you? In the name of Eros, do you look different? I mean, I never,.." He coughed a couple of times.
Sasha kicked his seat. "Get over it, you great beast. Sit down and drink."
He sat down with a thud. "You’re not the Sasha that wipes gore from her blade on her opponents dead bodies. What’d you do? Been flirting with dark magic?"
"Here, have a drink." Sasha shoved her mug in front of the oaf. "Now then, what's the news with the others?"
He sat like a lump, rubbing his forehead and staring at Sasha.
"What is it?"
"You look different, really different. I've never thought about it before.."
"Well, don't know," Sasha said fiddling with her dagger. "We didn't invite you, but we can un-invite exceptionally well."
A new voice entered the conversation. "Is this peasant bothering you, m'lady?"
Sasha looked up into sea green eyes, chiseled features and flowing blond hair. Katrina whistled then winked at Sasha. Sasha opened her mouth to explain that Baffet was a well-meaning idiot, whom they were willing to put up with, but Baffet cut her off.
"She don't need any help from a pretty boy like you. Now, be gone."
The stranger moved fast. Before she could suck in her breath, he had drawn his rapier. The tip flashed across the table and stopped at Baffet's throat. "Let's hear from the lady, shall we?"
Baffet swallowed and nodded his head. The stranger turned to Sasha. "I am, Niles Townsend, at your service." He gave a slight bow, keeping his point under control. "What say you? Should I dispatch this braggart?"
Baffet's brow wrinkled. "Well, tell him...” The tip of the blade pressing against his throat ended his sentence.
Sasha decided to play this out for a while longer. Baffet deserved some humiliation. He considered those fancy lightweight weapons, and the whelps that wielded them, as fodder. It would give them many wonderful campfires reliving his time at the end of a frog stick.
Katrina kicked her under the table. Her eyes said: "Talk to the man, before I do."
She looked up at Niles. He was handsome and young. His clothes were not the tattered rags of the assembled multitude. A young adventurer, probably hiring his services as body guard to a local noble or something.
Sasha smiled. "Dear sir," she struggled for words. "This lout, as you so goodly called him, is..."
The blood drained from her face as she jumped up yelling, "No!"
It was too late; the pommel of a short sword came down on the back of the young man's head. Behind him was the smiling face of Recter.
"What do you think you are doing?" She glared, throwing poisoned darts from her eyes.
Recter's smile melted into confusion.
Katrina was up, looking down at Niles. "We lose the best ones that way."
A shout rose from behind Recter. "They're attacking the prince!"
Katrina mumbled out the word, "prince?"
"Katrina!" Sasha yelled just before the room fell into chaos. Tables were over turned, chairs were flying and the ringing of steel melded with shouting as a melee ensued.
Sasha clamped down on Katrina's wrist, holding her sword arm. "No you don't. We're getting out of here."
"But," Katrina said before being silenced by the viscous intensity of Sasha.They worked their way to the door, avoiding injury from the seething mass of mayhem. Finally, at the door Sasha let go of Katrina's hand. Sasha immediately entwined her fingers into her hair and began weaving. To Katrina's questioning glance her responded. "This is the last time you'll talk me into one of your hair brained ideas.
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