In which Ayla gets up to her old tricks…
Reed opened her eyes. It was a small achievement, but she was proud of it. She looked at wooden beams above her head and she saw that they were good. As her mind became accustomed to the light, she slowly became aware of the noise of the world. She listened to the noise, and heard that it was good. Sounds of chatter and revelry were drifting up through floorboards below the bed she was very comfortably ensconced in. Deduction told her she was in an inn or tavern of some kind. Her body told her that she felt like hell. That was the problem with Blue Lady. The pure stuff was pretty good, but it was often cut with other substances to bulk it out. It was those substances that left her joints aching, her mouth dry, and her head pounding.
If the truth were to be told, and verily it would be told, Reed had no idea where she was. That did not overly concern her. These days it would have been stranger if she had woken up knowing where she was.
Her clothes were different. She noticed that when she pushed the coverlet back. Her clothes were different, and she saw that they were not good. The pale blue robe she was wearing was not at all her style. She couldn’t imagine her reason for having swapped her nice, neat leggings for the billowing dress thing that was tangling around her legs.
Just as Reed was about to seriously contemplate getting out of bed, the door opened. A tall blonde woman, the most striking example of femininity Reed had ever seen, entered the room. She cast a kindly smile in Reed’s direction. “Hello,” she said. It was good.
“Hello,” Reed replied. She sat on the bed, just staring at the lady. There was something very elfy about her. Something very magical and mysterious. Reed was quite transfixed. The woman was woman, but she was also something more than woman. Her presence was almost angelic – it was certainly ethereal. Pale strands of golden yellow hair ghosted about her face and shoulders, framing a face of wisdom and kinditude. Her body was curvaceous, bosom and buttock emphasized by the fall of silken violet robe. She dressed and comported herself with undeniable nobility, but not the sneering kind Reed was used to encountering in the High Lanes. It was more natural, more genteel, an organic sort of aristocratic bearing.
“You’re awake,” the woman said. “That’s fortunate.”
“It is,” Reed agreed. “I’m always pleased to wake up.”
“Are you?” The lady seemed to doubt her answer.
Censure came into the slanted gaze. “One would be forgiven for thinking you wanted to die, given that you smoked yourself into unconciousness next to a thousand foot drop.”
“One definitely would be forgiven,” Reed agreed, smiling. “I’m very forgiving.”
The woman smiled slightly in response. “My name is Ayla. I’m afraid I owe you an apology.”
“I don’t think you do,” Reed replied. “You seem to have been quite kind to me.” She pinched a bit of the robe and held it up. “Look at this lovely dress you’ve apparently given me to wear. Isn’t it… soft.”
“I should have come to you long ago.”
“Well I wouldn’t have complained about that. Feel free to come to me any time.” Reed tried to be polite, but she was increasingly being distracted by the pounding in her head and the dripping from her nose. She really did need a little something. Just a little something…
“I’m glad,” Ayla said. “Now I have found you, things will change.”
“Mhm.” Reed wasn’t really listening. She was looking around for her pouch. It didn’t seem to be in the room. “Where are my things… I had a pouch with, er, stuff in it.” She mimed a pouch with one hand and indicated having put things in it with two fingers.
“I’m afraid you won’t be able to indulge in that anymore.”
“You mean I physically can’t smoke anymore?” Reed clutched at her throat and probed her mouth for her tongue, making sure all the bits and pieces she was usually equipped with were still there. They certainly seemed to be.
“Physically you can,” Ayla clarified. “I mean I don’t intend on allowing it.”
“You don’t intend on allowing it…” Reed rubbed her face with her hands, then looked over the tops of her fingers at the woman who had seated herself next to the door. “Who are you, again?”
“Ayla,” Reed nodded. “Okay, Ayla. What… How… The idea… Hmm…. I don’t…”
It was difficult to express what was essentially a simple question, which boiled down to ‘who the hell do you think you are?’ That was rather confrontational though, and Reed wasn’t in the mood for confrontation. She stood up, unsteady on her feet and shuffled toward the door. She would have wagered her left foot that one of the carousing folk below would have some hair of the dog on hand.
“It has been lovely meeting you, Ayla,” Reed said with one of her charming smiles. “Thank you for the… dress. I’ll see you around.”
Ayla’s hand wrapped around her upper arm, arresting her progress.
“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.”
Reed looked down at Ayla, who was shorter by merit of the fact that she was sitting down. She also looked at the slim, but long and strong fingers wrapped around her arm. “Let me do what?”
A burst of laughter escaped Reed. “You cannot stop me.”
“I can.” The woman, this Ayla. She was very insistent.
“You don’t understand,” Reed tried to explain. “I am a goddess. I am the one who hung the stars in the sky. I am the one who fashioned each blade of grass. I am the creator of all you see. Nothing exists, but through… hey!”
Her little speech was interrupted by a sharp tug which sent her sprawling across Ayla’s broad and buxom lap. Reed did not know what to make of that turn of events, so she elected to ignore it. It was not difficult. Reed had managed to ignore all sorts of objectively much more important things in her life. Ignoring the fact that she’d become a human seesaw was easy as falling off a wall.
“You are not the one who hangs the stars in the sky,” Ayla spoke above her. “You have an enhanced understanding of the words that make up the world, that is all. You are the one who opens the book, not the one who writes it.”
Reed wiped her nose with the back of the robe’s sleeve, finding it to be pleasingly absorbent. “Are you quite sure?”
The response was dry and certain.