Night had just fallen on Stormpoint when she entered The Golden Web. She thought this place looked just as good as any other. As if she'd been a regular there all of her life, she swung open the door and walked right in. Heads turned as the 6-foot vixen entered the room. No one could recall having ever seen her before. She removed her black cloak and revealed her long straight hair, but was it blonde, silver, white or all three? The one thing that was definite about her was that she was trouble. With her long tapered arm she hung her cloak on an open peg by the door. Moving with confidence and grace, her black pants and boots seem to make her footfalls appear instantaneous. Although she was tall, her figure was most remarkable and her white blouse made sure you didn't question she was a woman.
A man at the bar unwisely asked, "How much honey?" She sauntered over, sat on his knee, caressed his face with one hand and quicker than anyone had time to react, she had a silver dagger aimed directly at his crotch. Poking him slightly with the tip and looking him in the face with the most fascinating green eyes, "I don't know honey, how much do you think they'll fetch?" The crowd in the bar erupted with laughter, "Now, would you like to ask a different question or shall I proceed?" Stammering and looking quite embarrassed and angry, "Can I buy you a drink?" Smiling she replied, "Now that's more like it." Glancing over her shoulder, never moving the dagger from its mark, "Keep! Give me a bottle of you strongest and finest and this upstanding gentleman will be settling up." The barkeep grinning, replied, "Right away." She got off the man's knee, gave him a peck on the cheek, "No hard feelings, chap." Struck by the events that had just transpired, he only nodded yes. "Now run along like a good boy." With her bottle and glass in one hand, she found a table in the corner and made herself comfortable.
Quaralyn had awoken that morning with an uneasy, nagging feeling--the kind that buzzed in the back of your head, perhaps trying to remind to you of something you'd forgotten, or perhaps trying to warn you of something to come. She didn't know which. It stayed with her all throughout the morning and into the afternoon, following her as a dogged companion that she couldn't shake free. It thus kept its steady place, humming sometimes louder and sometimes softer, as the sun beat its lonely path across the sky; but, rather than tiring with the fading light, the nagging grew stronger as the sun sank slowly below the icy, jagged mountains that stood to the west of the city.
She hadn't planned on working that evening. They'd brought in a tidy score a few days prior and needed to lay low for a bit. Striking too frequently had ill effects on profits, and it was well said that thievery requires a delicate hand. Still, the feeling was such that it almost drove her to seek a new score in an effort to eclipse and finally quiet it. She'd even gone so far as to "visit" a few establishments to assess their security before convincing herself that it was bad idea. Doubly vexed, she had thus begun her trip back to the guild, thinking perhaps that she could lose the pesky humming in the rigors of the training hall. The feeling, however, had other ideas and, quite against her better judgment, it steered her off her chosen path and into the Golden Web.
As a rule, Quaralyn made only limited appearances in the Web. Her rank in the guild made her presence there somewhat unnerving to many of the patrons and she didn't much care for being the center of attention. It was a thus a curious and somewhat startling event when she entered the tavern, strode to a table in the rear, and entered a card game, taking the seat of one already involved. The dealer, a lean and somewhat rakish figure, had a penchant for cheating that had led to several beatings and the loss of three fingers on his left hand. Despite the deficit, he remained adroit, adept, and thoroughly stubborn. He was wise enough, however, to know that chicanery would ill-suit him with his current companions and dealt a fair hand in order to keep his own.
They played for what seemed like hours, possibly because it was, and as cards, coins, and contes crossed back and forth across the table, Quaralyn quite failed to notice the point at which the nagging sensation that had plagued her all day faded off into obscurity in favor of the game. She was thus quite surprised when it started up again, rising slowly from a quiet nowhere as the tall blond newcomer entered the Web.
From her table by the hearth, Quaralyn watched the woman over the ragged tips of her cards, finding her antics ill-advisedly amusing. When the din of laughter faded, she returned her attention briefly to the game. She had a good hand, better than she'd had all evening, and she tossed two more coins into the center of the table before raising her glass to the woman in what might have a gesture of conspiratorial congratulations.
© 2002 Stormpoint Writers Guild
All rights reserved