a Seventh Circle Dancer from Calimport
Ananshael stands just under 5’6" with a lithe frame; shoulder length red hair frames a sculpted face highlighted by ice blue eyes. She’s somewhat soft-spoken but carries herself with a sure confidence and awareness. Simple black leather braids hang from her red hair and she
wears soft doe-skin leathers and a scarlet cloak.
Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.
I am told that my mother did everything she could to prevent my being born into this world. She denied her pregnancy any of the comforts one might expect from an excited mother-to-be. There were no foot rubs, or back massages. No hot steeped teas or baby showers flooded with gifts and excitement for the coming newborn.
I am told that she plied her body with toxins and drink, indulging well into the wee hours of the morning. No, indeed, my mother did all she could to prevent my being born. Hell, she might have clutched her thighs together the day of her labor, screaming her fury to stop the natural order of things.
This may sound harsh, crude even. But I do not believe she did these things out of any ill will towards me. In fact, I think she did these things out of love to protect me from what a cruel world this is. I believe to this day that she wanted to protect me from experiencing the rigors of this life. The cutthroat ways that drive men and civilization to conquer, pillage and take at all costs. What are we, human beings that is, but parasites on the land that prey on our kindred?
I am told that my mother was a very attractive woman, that she was liquid grace entering a room. Her eyes smoldered, her lips betrayed. She fell for a suitor (or perhaps he fell for her) but the problem came about when she learned who she had fallen so deeply in love with: Amyn Ran Del’Shedym of the Fourth House of Calimport.
Amyn Ran was a noble. He was kind and charming and positively wealthy. He was handsome and had long ago disabused himself of any notion that love had to remain within certain castes. He so adored my mother.
This man, my father, did little to disguise his affections. He sent my mother gifts, flowers and jewelry. On her nineteenth birthday, he gave her a horse. Not just any horse – one of those fine thoroughbred stallions from the southern isles. When my mother professed that she had not the resources or place to house such a magnificent creature, my father bought her a ranch with staff and attendants. He was sweet that way. He was gentle and giving.
His family, however, was not. When the Fourth House learned of his dalliances with a maiden from “unfortunate upbringing”, they tolerated such activity at first. The foolish whims of a young boy. He will learn, he will learn. Well, he didn’t’ learn. When my mother was begotten with child – yours truly – then the real problems began. The members of the Fourth House locked my father up, forbidding him to ever see my mother again.
And they did horrible things to my mother. They branded her a whore and temptress. They beat her and left her face riddled with scars and bruises. They removed her teeth one by one, cursing her remaining days to eating sludge meals and liquids. They cut her hair, burned her clothes and home. They slaughtered that magnificent horse, drenching her in its blood and entrails. And they promised to do far worse to me – the unwanted mongrel child and illegitimate heir to their vast holdings.
And so my mother would have protected me from this wonderful world.
But she failed. And lo! what a miraculous thing my birth – to be deposited from her loins into a stack of trash in a back alley of [insert city name here]. I suppose that is not fair – she lost everything. She was nearly blind in one eye from the ravages of those beatings. She had no coin and her love was violently wrenched from her. Who am I to judge?
She, at least, had the will and way to find a home for me. She left me draped in a ripped curtain at the front steps of a Brothel, a less than quaint little boutique known as The Sultry Scullion. And this was to become my home for the better part of my youth. I never heard from my mother again, beyond the rumours she had drowned herself somewhere off the coast of [insert harbor town name here].
There is progress in my story though, a kind of closure. The Mistress of the Pleasure House – Lady Jezzabelle – was quite enamored by me, feeling rather sorry for me I wager. She raised me as her own. She taught me how to dance and sew, recite poetry, read and write. Well that’s not quite right – she didn’t merely teach me to dance. She taught me to dance. You see, my gift as I grew up was in the skills of physical prowess and beauty that had so got my mother into her tales of trouble. I was lithe and acrobatic. I was strong, even as a young girl. And I played the part well.
I am grateful that Jezzabelle kept me from the whoring arts and gave me the skills of a half-dozen exotic dance styles from the Far East. It is said that a good dancer can swoon the weak-willed. A great dancer can rupture an entire Empire. This is rumour and myth. Nonetheless, I became very good at my craft and I performed for nobles, soldiers and common-folk alike. Many would come from far and wide to see my dance routines, each time allowing myself to stretch and challenge my repertoire and skills, excelling every time. It was a fine enough life. I sold my body but only for show. No one touched me. No one harmed me and, aside from earning the jealousy and envy of the other girls in the Scullion, I lived well enough.
Until it was taken from me.
I was sixteen; he was forty-one. I said no and he didn’t agree. I suppose I should have been smarter, trusted to the authorities to handle the matter but what case would I have? Who would believe me? I was not a whore but I merely worked at a whorehouse? I sold my body but men didn’t cross the line? Rubbish. Lies.
No one trusts a whore.
And so I killed him. I opened him up with one of my performing sabres one fine autumn morning in the main common area of the Sultry Scullion. I didn’t just open him; I mutilated him.
I learned two things that day: one being that I bear my mother no ill will for she sought to protect me from this awful place, this life. She may have compromised our pregnancy in some way but whatever she took from me, she gave back in other ways, a little something extra added to the mixture.
When all was done, Lady Jezzabelle helped me wash up and sent me on my way. I can never return there. Ever. And I think I am okay with that. I have been able to gather information here and there on my mother and father.I am starting to meet some interesting people. If I can just keep moving, the past can never catch up to me, right?
Oh sorry. You probably want to know the second thing I learned that day. Well, that’s an interesting one. That fat bastard taught me that you can cut seven shades from a man: scarlet arterial blood, purple from the veins, bile like fresh cut grass, yellows and browns from the gut, and it all dries to a shade somewhere between rust and tar.
But of those seven shades, the one I most prefer is red.
Deep, dark, scarlet red.
And if I look a little closer at the world around me, this place that my mother wanted to shield me from, all I can see is red. And I wonder if that will ever change.