Today’s snippet, titled “Kelp-Mouth Morning”, is a piece I wrote about my current character, Mim, to sort of demonstrate her experiences with a major in-game event.
Be forewarned, there are mature themes and naughty language below.
…and intimations of a possible, but not confirmed, liaison with a dwarf.
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Her mouth tasted like a pile of kelp, which having rotted on the sun-baked beach for a week, had been drenched with fermented cabbage and then shoveled inside a fresh-dug grave to cure. Wretched.
The throbbing behind her eyes was insistent; she needed to drown the foul taste with Dragon’s Breath and then dunk her head into a basin to still the hammers beating cadence on her brain. Mim reached for the flask she kept on the table beside her bed and hit a brick wall.
A hairy, snoring, disconcertingly naked, brick wall.
Oh sweet merciful mother… she groaned inwardly, slowly retreating to the edge of her bed. Please tell me this is just another horrible nightmare.
But the clouds shifted, morning crept through the shutters to prick her eyelids and a full bladder forced her hand. With exquisite care, she pressed herself against the wall and winkled out of bed. In the dim light, she saw more than she wished of the broad backside, artfully displayed by the drape of her sheets.
Mim bent double over the basin, gripping the sides of the table so hard her knuckles went white. The hazy mirror reflected back an image she did not recognize. Her black hair, normally drawn back into a severe, wrapped style, hung loose and disheveled around her face. Sunken, dull eyes shot through with alcohol-over-indulgence-and-sleep-deprived streaks of crimson set above cheeks ruddy with what appeared to a contact rash.
You look like hell, she thought, closing her eyes. Mim dipped her hand into the basin and scooped some lukewarm water into her mouth. Swishing it for a moment, she cast a glance over to the lump in her bed and cringed. A rapid succession of images assaulted her mind. Tankard after tankard of ale. The noisome barmaid with the screeching laugh that was enough to make your ears bleed. Raucous crowds and bawdy bard songs. She spat into a hand towel and wiped her lips upon her forearm. Feel like Hell, too. Fuck me, I need a bath. A long one.
She strode to the door and opened it as quietly as possible. With bleach.
Molly was, as always, perky and polite. The cushy position she had scored as handmaiden to the least ladylike sister in the Brotherhood of the Broken Chain gave her more coin than she had ever seen and allowed her plenty of time for wooing her childhood sweetheart, Kendran, whose service she had manipulated Mim into securing as Houndsman. Thus, when Mim called, Molly hopped to it.
“A bath, sweet girl, draw me a bath and make it as hot as you can.”
Molly cooed, patting her shoulder. “Right away, ma’am. Quick as you can spit! I will have Greta bring up something hot and hearty to break your fast in the meantime and I will fetch the lavender oil. You look like you could use something soothing.”
“You cannot even begin to imagine how much, love.” Mim sat heavily on the bench beside the big copper tub and hunched over with a sigh. Their staff, for all that it was a newly assembled team, was quite efficient thanks to Brett, the Steward. Before Mim had even had time to figure out how she had gotten out of her trousers without removing her boots, a parade of people streamed in and out of the bathing room.
“Oi! Watch it, boys,” Kendran said, having been splashed by the careless pouring of a stable boy. He knelt on the floor beside the broad, copper tub set into a tiled stone bed with space beneath for hot coals to heat the water. “You don’t wanna waste a drop.”
“Don’t wanna waste a drop”, a gruff voice had whispered in her ear; the lips which spoke fell upon her throat, slurping wayward dribbles. A thick, bristly beard had scratched her face.
It was all blurry after that. Waking to the sound of Anajalihn’s voice in the middle of the night, Durgan’s grumpy retort. Waving her blade at some huge reptile with the strangest weapon she had ever seen – or was that all just a part of the nightmare? By Waukeen’s Golden Cunt, let is all just be a dream…
She blinked. Molly tapped her lightly on the bicep, bobbing a respectful curtsy. “Tub’s ready for you, but the food will be a bit. I guess it was a trifle earlier than I thought – they’ve barely started scrubbing potatoes for the hash. No worries though, we’ll get you clean and dressed and ready to take on the day.”
“Thank you, Molly,” she said, and stood to pull her blouse off over her head. Her handmaiden let a tiny gasp escape her lips and Mim shuddered to think what marks her escapades last night had left upon her flesh.
Steam wafted from the scented water and she closed her eyes, savoring the sensation as she stepped into the bath. It was blissfully hot and her skin reddened upon contact. For a long moment, she luxuriated in Molly’s skilled ministrations. The girl combed out her thick, snarled hair and massaged her scalp; scrubbed her from shoulder to toe, and kept up a constant stream of pleasant chatter designed to distract her mistress from the woes of the world.
“…and Kendran said the dogs were going batty last night. He said he saw some crazy lights and shouting from inside the barn, but I told him, ‘Come back to bed, you silly git. Whatever they get up to out there is none of our business unless someone tells us it is’. He said-”
“Wait,” Mim said, twisting around in the tub to meet the girl’s gaze. “You weren’t in my room last night? When I came back from the tavern?”
The six progressively deeper shades of red that colored her cheeks gave Mim more information than the stammered answer that followed. “I was ma’am, when you came back, but the cleric… he woke me and told me to find another bed for the night.”
“I didn’t mind, of course,” Molly continued, hastily busying herself by refolding clean, folded towels and straightening the clutter on the shelves. “Kendran is going to propose soon, I just know it, and once we’re betrothed there can’t be a scandal. Besides, ma’am, you’ve been awful prone to calling out and making a racket at night, ever since you came back. I- Um… Did I ever tell you about my brother? He wet his bed until he was ten because…”
Mim closed her eyes and feigned sleep. She suspected Molly was not fooled by the abrupt nap, but the girl was well-trained enough not to question it. Leaving a fresh towel within easy reach and a change of clothes on the bench, Molly took her leave.
Behind her closed lids, Mim saw only ruddy darkness and was grateful. The horrors she saw when she slept– they did not fade readily and unlike last night, there were no gaps. That axe coming down at her. The cackling laughter (worse even than the barmaid at the Whistling Weasel) The wild black rush of oblivion as her lifesblood flowed from the grievous wound in torrents.
Ale and whiskey, liberally applied, had granted her some rest these past nights, but had they sent her spiraling into some fresh Hell?
Did I really bed the cleric?
The most rigid and traditional of the Dwarves she had ever met, Durgan seemed the least likely to tickle her (or anyone’s) fancy. Yet, he was also the one most likely to piss off her parents so perhaps… subconsciously… No! Mim shook her head, sinking deeper into the large copper tub. She held her breath beneath the surface. I wasn’t flirting with him. I don’t even think of him that way. None of them. Well…
She begrudgingly admitted to herself that she had flirted with Aiden – but everyone did – and she had joked with Kenzi and Naj just as much. Surely a little bawdy banter with the Dwarf hadn’t been misconstrued? Had it? And just because we ended up in bed together, that doesn’t necessarily follow that we bedded one another.
Mim surfaced with a gasp and wiped the oiled water from her eyes.
“So what if we did?” she muttered, reaching for the towel. “Durgan’s not the type to get all clingy and expect a relationship. And the Gods all know I don’t have a romantic bone in all my body. Whether we fucked or not, our friendship – or whatever this is – it won’t be affected.”
Unfolding her long, powerful limbs, Mim climbed from the tub. The embers had died without constant attention and the water had gone stone cold. Elsewhere in the manor she could hear the sounds of people stirring and going about their business.
“Fuck…” she sighed. “Gonna have to face ’em eventually.”
Her flesh pebbled as an errant breeze caressed her body. Unbidden, the image of calloused cleric hands upon her skin drifted across her mind and Mim found herself wondering if it were remembered moment or a slice from her nightmares.
The nightmares. They had begun after the light of Tempus woke her from the darkness. Mim did not pretend to understand why; she was just grateful to the Brotherhood of seeking that blessing. She had heard many tales of people who had turned mounds of coin and diamond dust into passage back from the dead – her own father amongst them – but Mim had never considered that she may one day join the ranks of the reborn.
“If the nightmares are the price I pay to complete my journey,” she said, pulling on fresh trousers. Mim caught sight of herself in the mirror – this one much finer than the one in her room. “I gladly accept. But you – Miriam Staciana Vermiere-Cressen – must stop the drinking. The Brotherhood needs you sober and there are worse people to end up a-bed with…”
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Note: Featured Image, “Kelp”, by Grunow from SXC.hu