Kira made her apologies and took her leave quite quickly. Time was of the essence. War was at hand. There were things to do. Judging by the speed at which she mounted her waiting steed and rode away, the first of those things was to get as far away from the two she had left at Ayla’s cottage as possible.
Sighing to herself, Ayla did the bound woman the honor of untying her. “What is your name?”
“I am Moondust Stargaze,” the naked woman declared, stretching her limbs. “I dance with the trees and I float on the breeze and I partake of herbs of all kinds.”
Ayla nodded, absorbing the information as she lifted her eyes to her other guest. “And you? What is your name?”
“They call me Vix,” the other woman replied. “Because I vix things.”
There was something curious about Vix, a certain seriousness which was uncommon in those who came to Ayla’s door. Together, the women made a strange pairing. One clearly objected to wearing clothes, the other wore clothing but paid less attention to it than the one who would not wear it. The dress Vix wore was made for a woman at least twice her size and hung loosely over her breasts. Her hips were in there somewhere, probably. It was hard to tell, for the sweeping hem of the dress obscured her body all the way to her toes.
“What did you do before you were recruited, Vex?”
“I was a hengineer,” Vix said proudly. “I made mechanical chickens. I was studying to become a civil hengineer.”
“To make mechanical chickens for cities?
“No,” Vix frowned. “To make the mechanical chickens more polite.”
Ayla gave Vix a questioningly dour look. Vix looked back at her, her expression unchanging and serious. Mechanical chickens were no joking matter, so it seemed.
“I was a herbalist,” Moondust said, stretching her arms out so that her breasts were pressed high to the sky. She arched her back and stretched one leg out, pointing her toes as she gracefully performed a slow backwards handstand which displayed every part of her body. It was quite an enchanting sight, for her womanhood was bounded by soft golden down and moved ever so prettily as she rolled herself back up and around to a standing position
“So I have a herbalist and a hengineer at my home,” Ayla murmured, recovering some of her composure. “Won’t you come inside?”
“I do not care for inside,” Moondust replied. “I like outside. Outside where the sky is wide.”
“I will not come inside either,” Vix said. “I will return home and tend my flock.”
“You are still soldiers in Kira’s armlette,” Ayla reminded them. “And she has left you here, under my command.”
Vix and Moondust exchanged glances. “You are technically correct,” Vix conceded, “which is the best kind of correct.”
“I like your aura,” Moondust said. “It shimmers. How did you get it to do that?”
“I can’t imagine,” Ayla said, opening the door and ushering her guests inside.
Once indoors, the women took seats at Ayla’s table. They looked at one another with a certain amount of significance, seeming to share some similar thought.
“I’m afraid I wasn’t prepared for guests,” Ayla apologized. “But there are beds in the other room, and I can prepare some soup if you are hungry.”
The offer of soup was met with a positive response. Whilst Ayla prepared the meal, Vix sat at the table and began whittling a little wheel resplendent with triangular cogs from materials carried in the pockets of her voluminous dress.
“What are you making?”
“The soul of a mechanical chicken,” Vix said, “the inner cogs and wheels, the clockwork of creation.”
“Mhm,” Ayla said. “And what role did your clockwork chickens play in Kira’s little army?”
“I did not make chickens for Kira,” Vix said, raising dark ominous eyes up to Ayla. “Kira wanted something bigger.”