Heat from flames made ends of golden hair streaked with lighter strands of gray turn up into tight little fizzing coils. The forest witch sat before the hearth as she had so very many times before and dropped chopped herbs into a potionous blend which bubbled and churned with pleasing vigor. The witch’s robes were in a similarly relaxed state to that of her hair, parting almost to the navel and revealing ample bosom as they did. The witch had lived more years than any other in Lesbia, but one would not have known it to look at her. She was as seductive as she was kind, and as dangerous to those who might cross her as she was skilled in the arts of magic.
A heavy handed knock at the door heralded the arrival of an old friend. A friend so old that once she had knocked, she wasted no time in coming in. The door creaked open, and the many hundreds of days which had passed between that moment and their last meeting seemed to fade in an instant.
“Ayla,” Kira said, stepping sideways through the door which was far too narrow to allow her armored shoulders to pass through squarely. “It is I.”
“It is you,” Ayla agreed, dusting her hands from the fire and rising with a warm smile. Her beautiful, wise face lit up with pleasure as she greeted her guest, a warrior of such consummate skill and fame that the great goddess Ariadne had blessed her with something close to eternal life. Though she was a hundred years old, Kira stood with the same strong stature she had seventy years prior, her long limbs retaining every bit of their power. Her face had likewise remained handsome, dark brown eyes set somewhat narrowly in tanned skin which crinkled at the corners as she smiled.
“I have something for you,” the warrior declared. “I warn you, it is most vexing.”
“I have been putting together a group of sorts,” Kira said vaguely, beginning the explanation of the vexing thing…
“You have been creating an army,” Ayla corrected her dryly. “It is the talk of Lesbia.”
“Just a small one,” Kira said, pinching thumb and forefinger together. “Just a little smidge of an army. An armlette, you might say.”
Ayla crossed her arms under her ample, barely clad bosom and lifted a brow in Kira’s direction. The expression on her witchly face strongly indicated that the warrior’s attempts to play down her role in what was starting to look like all out civil war were not flying with her.
“I have the goddess on my side,” Kira finally said. “I’m sure all will be well.”
“Having Ariadne on your side is like keeping an nest of adders in your undergarments,” Ayla said. “A formidable ally, yes, but far too close for comfort.”
“Ariadne would not like to hear you speak that way.”
Ayla’s shoulders moved in a very slight, almost imperceptible shrug, a motion which imparted a complete and utter lack of caring on her part.
“Anyway,” Kira said, scratching her nose though it did not itch, “I met a someone on my travels, a somebody, if you will…”
“It’s not like you to be coy,” Ayla interjected once more.
“She proved to be quite unsuitable for my purposes,” Kira said, “but I thought she might suit yours.” Extending an arm out the still open door, Kira invited Ayla to look.
A nearly naked woman was bound up by the bushes, hair the color of bracken falling to her shoulders and completely failing to obscure her neat round breasts which bounced and jigged with every annoyed motion she made. She was wearing a scrap of a loincloth which did nothing to cover the rounds of her bottom, which were very ample indeed. Other than that, she appeared to have been well fed. It was impossible to tell if she was pretty or not, for her face was contorted in an expression of extreme annoyance.
“Why does she not suit your purposes? She seems sturdy enough.”
“Every time she has the opportunity, she removes her clothing. It is distracting to the others.”
“Distracting,” Ayla murmured. “Yes, I imagine it would be.”
“There’s another one too,” Kira said. “Where did she go?”
The other one was standing by a tree, arms folded over her chest. She was a plain young woman wearing a very unflattering dress and an expression which strongly indicated that she was not impressed by Kira, nor Ayla, nor the naked bound woman. Her bad attitude was a palpable force which permeated the very air itself. Kira said nothing about the ‘other’ one. She did not need to.
“Is there a sign above my door which says “insubordinate brat storage?” Ayla made the inquiry gently.
“There is not,” Kira said. “But these two, have seen things they should not have seen. I cannot send them back to their families knowing what they know. They would be at risk. Lives would be at stake.”
“So you bring them to me in the hopes that I will babysit them until you’re done waging war with the queen?”
Kira’s expression brightened. “I knew you’d understand.”