Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wicked Wednesday: A Gift of Bread and Bells

The Kuu'maa, the great tent in the center of city of tents, seemed to contain the whole of the tribe beneath its canvase roof. Women with their golden skin and shining hair passed by in a flurry of brightly colored silks and glittering chain. Men sat laughing, their srinns gone from their torsos and replaced with great wide necklaces set with jewels draped over their shoulders. Slaves with their exquisitely crafted collars and delicate body chains danced in sparse silks bedecked with coins to the wild sounds of the bone flutes and hand drums.

The smell of lamb and spiced cream sauces filled my nose. I watched from my place on a cushion near the edge of the tent while people around me dipped their chunks of roasted goat into those sauces, or wrapped them in a bit of the flat raani bread made from the grains of the ra'an plants that grew near the waters of the nearby oasis. I closed my eyes, trying to shut out the delectable scents and the sights of the sweet round v'ii fruits filling bowls in the center of the low tables. The Kuu'maa was a place of food and dance, but I had not a single coin nor smallest bit of metal to buy even a pat of raani or a small bowl of that savory sauce.

So I sat in my corner, or as much of a corner as may be had in a round tent, and listened to the strangely deep tones of the bone flute as my heart leapt with the drum. I had danced to similar music in the city, but it was a pale imitation of what I heard now. The flutes in the city were not the bone flutes of metal men. The drummers in the city had neither the spirit nor the skill of those born to the caste of musicians that only existed among the desert-dwelling Y'Khla. I felt my hips involuntarily moving slightly to the trills of the flute. I gave my belly a luxurious roll beneath the loose fabric of my sriina.

"A coin to your master, girl, for a dance."

Slowly I opened my eyes to look up at the man who'd made the offer. I met his bronze eyes with more than a little annoyance.

"I am not a slave."

He smiled. It was not an unappealing expression. "That could be remedied. Your sikir then?"

"I have no sikir either."

The man frowned. "No sikir? Yet not a slave. How have you managed that?"

I looked away. "The gods are overly generous these days."

"Fine then, a coin for you. I would still like a dance."

"What makes you think I can dance, anyway?"

"I see how the music fills your belly and leads your hips like a leash."

At that moment, my belly decided to growl loudly. The bronze man lifted his eyebrows.

"I suppose music is of little substance when compared to meat." He held out a pat of raani wrapped around a bit of lamb. "For your good will. The coin will still cost you a dance."

I took the bread from his hand and lifted the veil covering the lower half of my face slightly to nibble at the edge of the bread beneath the cloth. It had been baked with some fragrant herb that gave it a richer taste. "I thank you for your generous gift, but I have no dancing silks, no bells, no chains. Only these rags I wear and the veil on my face."

"I like the veil. It adds intrigue. Keep it for the dance, if you wish. I'm sure the slaves or the Dancers would gladly lend a silk or two." He held out a small horse hide pouch. "A gift of metal for my previous insult."

Gingerly, I took the pouch and drew open the mouth of it. A set of silver dancing bells spilled into my hand. They were polished to a high sheen that glimmered in the firelight and their sound was light and pure. The metal was smooth against my palm. They were well made. I frowned at him.

"I make them," he said simply.

After I had finished my small meal, I stood and followed him to a group of dancers sitting on a pile of cushions watching their sisters perform. In short order, I had been stripped of my borrowed rags and wrapped in the luxuriant silks of a dancer. The fabric clung to my chest, hiding its secrets yet revealing the promise of each curve. A swathe of cerulean caressed my hips, leaving strips in front and back to tickle my calves. A belt of coins had been slung about me, hanging as if they might fall away at any second, yet felt securely in place. The bells jingled about my ankles with every step. I freed my silver hair but kept the veil where it had been.

"Well, I have paid for a dance!" The bronze-haired bell maker announced to the musicians. "Play me a rich man's tune."

The dance of the metal men is one of abandon. One must lose oneself in the music and follow it to whatever ends it leads. The dancer must not engage the audience, for acknowledging them means you are not truly lost in your moment. The exception is losing yourself in a single person, pulling them into the moment with you, the seduction of the soul.

I stepped onto the soft dancing rug, slowly deliberately, the light song of the bell the only sound. The first few notes of the bone flute fell into the air. Slow and deep and soft, they caressed me like the soft hands of a new lover, hesitant in his explorations. I pulled them into me, rolling my body slightly to the trill, slowing the roll of my belly when the note drew long. I swept my head forward, feeling my hair fall over my shoulders much as the silk kissed my calves. A sway of the hips forward and back, toward the bell-maker and back again with a smaller sway, as if resisting the leash.

The first dums of the drum erupted into the air, creeping along after the swirls of the flute, punctuating the meandering lines. I caught the dums with lift and drop of my hips, circled them with the flute and dropped again with the sharp accents of the drum.

The dums and the teks grew faster then, not much, but fell in a steadier rhythm. I moved with them. Drawing my belly in and forcing it out again in little bursts. I danced toward him and back again, almost unconsciously, never really looking at him. I simply reveled in the lush, fluid movement of my body as it mated with the music.

The drums and the flute gained in speed, filling the room with urgency. My hips shook as I stepped forward, then back, and forward again before spinning away once more. I could feel the swell of the flute and the drums as they rose gradually into a panic . I spun with them faster and faster, lifting my arms until it crashed to a halt.

I found myself standing before the bell-maker, who had stood somewhere in the midst of my dance, breathing heavily. He caught my raised wrists in one large hand pulled me into his chest. His bare chest. My own chest heaved, and perhaps not only with the effort of the dance. Slowly, he reached up and pulled the veil from my face, sliding his calloused fingers gently around my throat.

"I find I am yet hungry for another kind of dance," he said in a deep whisper. "One I would not insult with a mere coin."

I laughed a bit. "You may, however, insult it with more lamb first, if you wish it to have any duration."

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked


  1. Great story, and I would like to know more about the new dance ;)

    Welcome to Wicked Wednesday :)

    Rebel xox

    1. Thank you. :) I panicked a little bit when I got home from work and saw I only had a handful of hours to come up with something due to the time difference. Glad to be a part of it.

  2. Oh my goodness! this is so-- so beautiful, and so flavourful!