Sentinel never failed to amuse her.
The city was one of Hammerfell's jewels, the second largest stronghold of the country, sitting on the edge of the Iliac Bay like a gem on top of a crown, looking over the world. Beyond the city's walls, barren plains and rocky, inhospitable hills surrounded Sentinel, offering no fertile soil nor any comfort before the land stretched out into the even more harsh climate of the Alik'r Desert. But despite what unforgiving surroundings the city had, it was a merchant power, with a market unlike any other, overlooked by the oldest and largest palace in all of Hammerfell. The cosmopolitan inhabitants of Sentinel looked to their own, ever busy like ants building their own utopia through what they knew best – trade. Hammerfell's nobility loved residing here, to rest in their manors and exotic gardens at day's end before they'd go to the Theatre. A jewel, this city. A shining diamond locked by endless miles of nothing.
Sahar of Gilane could appreciate it.
She snapped out of her thoughts as her company for the evening – three Redguard men dressed in plain clothes – called her name. “Five, Sahar. Five. Do you take the bet?”
She narrowed her almond-shaped eyes, fixing the honeyed gaze on the leather cup one of the men was rattling in his tanned hand. Within, they could all hear the dice.
The hooting of the men made her curl her full lips in a grin. The rattling grew fierce, and a moment later the cup was slammed on top of the low table that stood between them. Sahar sat back in her cushions as the other three leaned forward anxiously. Then the man who had rolled against her threw his arms in the air. A bronze cuff slid over the skin of his lower arm.
Sahar's sly smile only widened as she held out a slender hand, covered in intricate patterns of henna, with her palm opened towards them.
“If you please.”
The losing party rolled his eyes and cursed as he pressed several coins in her hand. “Again! Let's go!”
“No, for the rest of the night it shall be my responsibility to protect you from your own misery, Hasif. The Divine like you little this eve.” She chuckled and reached for her goblet, which stood next to her cushion. Sentinel's vineyards grew a fine grape, one she very much appreciated.
The bard of the tavern played one of her favourite songs, a local tune made for the sultry, warm evenings that were natural in her country. She closed her eyes as she swallowed the wine. I have been in the desert for too long. Then again, my heart is ever torn. When I am within walls, the quiet calls. But when I'm out there...
“Sahar of Gilane.”
She froze, and a slow smile crept over her features before she even opened her eyes. She knew who had come to stand by their table. Then she looked up through a curtain of dark eyelashes, resting one cheekbone against her knuckles. “I love Tava so. Her winds are ever favourable and have never wronged me. I knew I had to be in Sentinel on this evening. And look what it brought me – hello, Karim.”
Her company exchanged looks before they glanced at the newcomer, a giant of a man with dark skin, a wild bushel of black dreadlocks hanging from his scalp, and a rather large scimitar on his adorned belt. The giant smiled and eyed Sahar, his nut-brown eyes trailing up and down her frame without even the slightest trace of shame.
“I love divine intervention if it means I can look at the greatest beauty of Hammerfell. You look good, slender songbird. A little too good. My heart might break.”
She chuckled under her breath and downed the dregs of her wine before she hopped up from her cushion. She tossed her puzzled company a few coins. “Excuse me, friends. I need a moment with my old acquaintance here, who talks too much when he has seen the inside of a cup of wine. Have a drink on me.”
Several moments later, the two stood at one of the city's walls, overlooking the deep blue of the bay, glinting with a silver topping under the light of a waxing moon. Sahar leaned her modest weight on her elbows and puffed out in frustration.
“You're not serious, Karim. Last time we spoke, you said it would be a deal.”
“Deals don't come easy these days, sweet star of Gilane. Captains don't trust outsiders, they prefer their own crews. I told him you were good, but me vouching did not help. He'll sail without either of us. Didn't even want me, the bastard.”
“I'd have been offended if he'd want you and not me.” She smirked at him. Karim laughed loudly and turned his back to the expansive bay, leaning his back against the bricks as he folded his arms and once again trailed his gaze up and down.
“You really look good.”
“Oh, cut it out.”
“It looks so sweet, yet speaks so cold! You're a hard one, Sahar. It's all that time in the desert, you forget what's important in life.”
She snickered under her breath and stood up straight again, breathing in deeply. The air smelled of peaches and scented oil.
“Most certainly not, friend. I never do. Which is why I need something. I've roamed and wandered for the past year, without clear purpose. It's making me restless.”
“You and your purpose. War is everywhere, my drop of honey. Learn to appreciate it whenever you're being kept out of it.”
She scowled. “I have half a mind to look it up.”
“It was nice to know you, Sahar. I will put flowers on your grave.”
She laughed again, punching his upper arm. “And since when do I allow Death an audience? You know me better than that.”
Karim grinned wolfishly, showing a row of white teeth in clear contrast with the dark stubble on his stubborn jaw.
“Perhaps I'm just another man of Hammerfell, sweet Sahar, not willing to share with the Covenant what should stay here, preferably under a very thin silk sheet...”
“You make me cringe sometimes.”
The enormous Redguard roared in another fit of laughing, and then crossed his arms, peering at her.
“I did hear a rumour.”
“Don't we all hear rumours?”
“The Order has set up camp near Sentinel's gates, on the plains. Haven't you seen the fires?”
Sahar glanced at her mutt of a friend, shapely eyebrows frowning slightly. “The Order? What Order?”
“My lovely peach of a woman, you really can't spend those endless amounts of time in the deserts anymore. You miss an awful lot. The Kynaran Order. This veteran leads the whole lot. A bunch of do-gooders if you ask me, but you asked...”
Sahar tilted her head, her liquid pupils fixing themselves on Karim. “And?”
“And I hear they always look for fresh recruits. That's all I know. I have never asked for more, since it's nothing for me. I stay out of the war and you know that.”
She nibbled on her lower lip for a moment, lost in thought. Then she smiled at him.
“Gratitude, as always. Next time you dock, I hope to see you again.”
“And where are you off to, my butterfly?”
She turned around with a knowing smile, walking away in her usual slow, confident strut.
“To see a veteran and his bunch of do-gooders. Let's see if me and him get along.”
She froze in her steps and looked over her shoulder. “Hm?”
Karim still leaned his back against the wall and smirked at her like a very sleazy predator.
“Just one night.”
She laughed and walked on.
((Fever and flu have been bugging me for days now, but I had this in my head and really, really wanted to write it. Feedback is always appreciated <3))
This post was last modified: June 28th 2013 07:41 AM by Triskele