Saturday, April 04, 2009

Portrait of a dancing queen

Aliviana was a shy, meek child…until she was about four. After that she was a headstrong terror and the apple of her parents’ eyes. She grew up looking after the horses, lame gryphon, and tame owlbear alongside the animal handlers, mimicking her cousins’ acrobatics, learning how to flatter and fleece the marks from her father’s bogus fortune-telling, and standing statue-still before gasping audiences as her mother outlined her shape on a target with expertly thrown daggers—then making them cry out in alarm as the knives continued to fly while she danced through their path.

Her great aunt—and the caravan’s Matriarch—Aliviana, was exceptionally proud of her namesake, and nurtured the girl’s talents. A current of magic was known to run through the family, and the elder Aliviana suspected that some of the crackling energy that seemed to emanate from the young Livy was more than sheer force of personality. The suspicion bore fruit when, in the course of an energetic dance, Livy’s snapping fingers sparked, sending a waft of ozone through the tent and raising the hair of the enraptured crowd.

It was less than a month later when, puffed up with false confidence, Livy went wandering alone through the seedier parts of the backwater town of Litran. Varisians were not looked on with fondness there, and things could have ended badly, but Livy managed to pick up a drowned rat of a protector. After dragging young Drebin back to her family and begging to keep him, promising to look after him, the bedraggled boy was informally adopted into the Zershinka clan. While the encounter did manage to teach Livy about her limits, regrettably it did nothing to deter her wanderlust and independent spirit, much to Drebin’s dismay.

Some few years later, when the gawky young girl was on the verge of vivacious womanhood, the caravan encountered an injured serpent on the road from Tymon. While the others either overlooked the creature, or advocated killing it out of mercy, Livy felt an odd pull from it and decided to nurse it back to health. Shazuul, as she named him, flourished under her care and developed a bond with her. Audiences were consistently thrilled by Livy’s dances when she was joined by a snake longer than she was tall and the coins rolled in for the caravan. It was hard to resist the striking, exotic young woman with the flashing eyes and lightning feet, after all.

At the tender age of twenty-two, Livy, longing to see even more of the world than she saw with her family, and wanting to experience life on her own terms, tearfully told her great aunt that she’d had a vision instructing her to leave her family for a time, but that she would return safely and with knowledge of use to her clan. Drebin was the only one to meet the pronouncement with skepticism and, as such, he was the only one who accompanied her—apart from Shazuul, that is. She feels a little guilty about deceiving the caravan, so she hopes to be able to make good on her promise.

7 comments:

Degolar said...

Hmmmm . . . independent, vivacious woman with a big snake and a little slave boy. Too bad there's no Degolar involved . . .

Aerin said...

Soo, is she a human? Halfing?

I like the overall makeup of the characters posted. They would, depending on Pavo's stance on things, seem to be more morally flexible to allow in things like a bit of coercion and thievery as opposed to a paladinistic lines of right and wrong. You know, a unified attempt to drive Scott insane.

Degolar said...

I guess that depends on whether he's genuinely the good guy he wants to be, working to free people from their oppression to the gods, or if he's a deluded cult leader unknowingly trying to start a new religion with himself as the savior figure. Either way, I think he'll need to attempt to follow a moral code of doing the right thing. I'm afraid he's going to have to be your conscience and try to reform your unscrupulous ways.

Aerin said...

Unscrupulous? Nay, just trying to convince people that they want what you want, even if it isn't necessarily what they thought they wanted to begin with!

Hadrian said...

Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?

Lummox said...

Slave boy? I don't think so. Drebin is more like the only thing standing between a "vivacious" young dancer and a hoard of ravenous men who would take advantage of her "virtues," whatever they are.

Aerin said...

I think you're forgetting that 'vivacious' is the elvish word for 'slut'