Kahleia ..

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Kahleia ..

Post  exkilter on Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:29 pm

'Auntie Maie, Auntie Maie! Ye wouldna believe it! Me gods, ye --'

'Now hold on there, young master!' The voice of an older woman, well past her middle years, spoke with great authority, and with a goodly dose of practicality poured into it too – so much so that it stopped the young boy (for that is who had just barrelled into the kitchen like an excited puppy, shouting all the while) dead in his tracks. 'Now ye just take a moment 'n' catch yer breath, afore ye swallow yer tongue 'n' I have ta take time away from me bakin' ta carry ye to the physic.'

The boy took but the briefest of moments before continuing breathlessly. 'There's a girl, mum! She's in the town square!'

The old woman laughed at the little boy's excitement, dismissing him with a wave of her hand. 'And? Is that such an extraordinary thing, a girl in the square?'

The little boy bounced back and forth impatiently from foot to foot. 'No, mum! But...' – and with this he leaned closer to the aged matriarch – '...she ain't got no clothes on!'

The old woman looked sceptically at the child, then broke out in a grin. 'Och, yer havin' me on now, aint'cha, ye little monster!'

'No, mum! She is! 'n' she's just undressin' like that, like it was nothin' at all! In the middle of the square!'

Hurriedly, the old woman wiped her hands on a dishtowel and took off her apron, tossing them aside as she made for the door, a disapproving frown etching deeper creases into her already well-lined face. Her mission was clear. 'Come, Jon. Show me!'

When the two arrived at the town square, they could see a sparse group of onlookers, men and women murmuring to one-another and watching... something. Some were milling about, some stopped for no apparent reason, and all, for the most part, were pretending not to be watching anything. One of these folk, his neck craned to watch... something... bumped into Maie as she headed toward the centre of the square, at which point she politely but quite firmly pushed the man out of her way.

As she grew closer, she was able to make out what all the excitement was about. There was a girl – quite an ordinary girl, really ; perhaps 16-17 years of age, slim, nubile and fine of form, with a pretty and ingenuous face surrounded by a mane of fine shoulder-length flaxen hair. All in all, a very lovely girl, in a whimsical sort of way, and completely normal – except for one detail : she was completely naked.

A few of the onlookers murmured something unintelligible as she bent down, a sponge in her hand, and scooped up some water from the fountain next to her, splashing it on her breasts. She then squeezed the sponge over her shoulder, causing a rivulet of water to run languorously down her back, trickling over the curve of her buttocks and falling with a splash upon the ground. 'Cor...' said one of the on-lookers, a man with a grizzled beard and dark stains on his teeth, doddering his head as if bemused. Her hair veritably glowed in the mid-morning sun as she tilted her head back to wash her neck – a strange trick of the light, perhaps, thought several of the voyeurs.

Pursing her lips, Maie moved decisively. 'Heavens to Betsy, girl, what on earth are ye doing?!'
The blond girl turned quickly to the old woman, her mane catching the sun and her eyes wide with surprise. 'Wh- what do you mean?'

'Are ye tetched in the head, lass?!'

The girl couldn't for the life of her imagine what this shrew was on about. She looked thoughtful for a moment before replying, 'No, I am Healthy Rested Dirty Stinky. And that is why I am washing.' Satisfied that she had replied adequately to the steel-haired matriarch's question, she resumed sponging off her golden skin, which evoked a number of shushed, wide-eyed and star-crossed exclamations from some of the surrounding men ('Cor, wouldja lookit...', 'Oh my... 'at's better than what I've got waitin' at home', and 'I'm just imaginin' meself as that sponge now...').

The small grey-haired woman, growing increasingly impatient, exclaimed 'But have ye no decency, lass?!'

Maie's words hit the young towhead like a slap in the face. She blushed red and set her jaw firm against the onslaught of the harridan's harsh judgment. 'Decency? Of course I do! Why, I am... one of the most decent creatures I know!' This aroused a round of laughter from the onlookers around her, which made her blush even more.

'Well then ye'd best be puttin' somethin' on, seein' as 'ow good-minded folk don't parade 'round in public with all o' their private parts exposed to the four winds like that!'

The girl was dumbfounded, as feelings of confusion and inexplicable loss overtook her. The first thought that occurred to her was that she was being treated unjustly. It took her only a moment, however, before her instincts told her that what the old woman had said must be true ; for if it weren't, she realised suddenly, she wouldn't be the centre of attention she was now.

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exkilter
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