Anything you can do an elf can do better. That was Edward's opinion of Captain Jiranee. Calvin wasn't so sure about that. Well, okay she was stronger than anyone but Billy Jo, she was faster than Edward, and apparently knew every sword fighting trick in the book... but Calvin had looked at her 'map' of Virava, and even for a line drawing in road dust it was pretty crude. Then again, if Marcus's theory was correct, she was trying to describe a city built inside a wrecked vehicle of some kind, so perhaps he should cut her some slack.
"Master Calvin, what are you doing there?"
Calvin glanced up from his sketchbook (the 'clean one,' meaning it was the one with a distinct lack of female nudes) and looked over where the aforementioned Captain Jiranee, "the flower of Virava" was removing her arming jacket. He'd been trying to capture her likeness for some time; after all, how many elves did one meet in one's life? (Just the one, if Jiranee's story was correct.) Not to mention she was six foot six or so, and proportioned to match.
"Admiring the subject, and capturing a moment." he smirked.
"Hmmm..." Jiranee looked at him from under a fall of silvery-blue hair. It was long and straight and fell far down her back. He wondered what it would be like to run his hands through it. That and... "Uhm... pardon?"
Jiranee cocked an eyebrow, doing an amazing job of looking like a Star Trek Vulcan, and then repeated herself. "Admiring? Capturing a... moment?"
"I'm an artist by trade. I make a habit of drawing interesting and beautiful things." He smiled a little. "Much like yourself. I'd just like to make a few light sketches of you. That is, if you don't mind, of course?"
With a shrug, Jiranee removed her padded jacket, revealing the thin linen shirt she wore under it. Calvin tried not to stare, but really, how could you not? She made Cyan look flat-chested. "As you wish. I'm well-aware of my appearance and the affect it has on men." She glanced over at him, "After all I've had hands and hands of seasons to get used to it."
That's right, she was... what? 200? 225? 250 years old? Marcus had done the math and had come up with something like 600 seasons or so, which made her at least 200, but the impression everyone had was she was older than that. Yeah, well... Calvin worked his pencil across the sketchbook's paper, noting that her long (repeat: long!) legs looked pretty damn good for a woman old enough to be his great-great-great grandmother (at the very least.) Which brought up an interesting point—undressed Captain Jiranee was obviously not human. Granted, Vilgerther wasn't human either, but with her (and all Leaping People) it was obvious from the get-go. But with Jiranee it was more subtle. Her legs were too long, her waist too thin, her shoulders and hips wide, and she was heavily breasted. Then there were her oddly-shaped eyes and her long (repeat: long!) ears. On the other hand, after Hunting and Leaping People (and even Farming People), was she really that odd?
"Look. Please don't get the wrong idea about this. I'm not here to stare like some low-brow mouth-breather. I'm merely infatuated with your uniqueness." He tried to sound reassuring. Inwardly, he had to admit that that was more of a half-truth. "You do have artists in Virava, don't you?"
Jiranee looked puzzled as she slowly digested his sentence. She pulled her shirt off, revealing breasts of a size and shape that were sure to short-circuit Marcus's brain for a few hours at least... if not forever. Dipping her shirt in the stream, she wrung out, then used it to wipe down her face and arms. Calvin, for his part, decided now was a really good time to capture the moment. "Virava has scribes and calligraphers, illuminators and painters. She has artisans aplenty and I have sat for more than one in my time." Sitting up, she stretched and Calvin did his best not to gulp. She's playing with me. She has to be.
"My portrait hangs in the Hall of Heroes," she continued, "commissioned by King Malee after the Battle of Si Sunthon." She glanced over at Calvin and grinned. "I was dressed in armor for that one."
"A stunning piece, I'm sure. More than likely captures a proud warrior spirit in the shining regalia of her craft and trade. But does it do justice to the real you?" he countered. "I mean, martial prowess is one thing, but surely you have other aspirations?"
As Jiranee wiped down one of her long legs, there was a quiet snap and a short pause as the tip of Calvin's pencil broke. He pulled out his knife and deftly carved a new tip. "A philosopher?" he continued. "Poet, perhaps?"
"I have found martial service to be sufficient, for now." Jiranee gave a distracting shrug. "I have some skill at games of strategy, I know how to dance, I can write in a fine hand, I am fairly content." Resting her narrow chin in her hand, she sighed slightly. "I am not one for philosophy, not any more. I used to wonder where I'd originally come from and who my people were, but it accomplished nothing. I am the Flower of Virava, I am content with that. As for other aspirations, I have seen a dozen kings and queens come and go, so I do my best to advise the proper course of action to the current king—whomever he may be—reminding them of similar actions their predecessors may have taken, for good or ill."
It was Calvin's turn to raise an eyebrow. He stopped moving his pencil over the piece he was working on and turned the page. On the next sheet of paper, he did his best to inscribe what he saw before him. "I've heard of 'content'. Never sounded much like 'happy' to me, but that's my own opinion. I mean, you say you know how to dance, but do you really dance?"
"I know enough to not look like a fool at court."
Calvin tried in vain to stifle a giggle. "What I mean, my dear Captain, is do you really enjoy it? Or do you simply go through the motions?"
"Ah, I see." Jiranee pulled her shirt back on. As it was still wet, it clung to her in a most distracting manner. "It depends on the occasion and who I'm dancing with."
"Well m'lady, I would most certainly make a fool of myself, but given an opportunity, I'd be more than honored to dance with you, sometime." he said as politely as possible, finishing up a rather thoughtful portrait.
"Would you now." She glanced at him from under silvery bangs, then stood, buckling her swordbelt on. "Perhaps you'll get your wish, and we'll have a reason to dance." She drew her sword as she spoke, the blade a good four feet long, and held it out to look down its length. She was strong all right. Sure the weapon only weighed five or six pounds, but she was holding it one-handed, at arm's length, and the tip was rock steady. "Once we've seen to what troubles the village of Jayanama."
An epic image if ever there was one. Cal my boy, you are so going to get yourself killed. It'd be worth it, he told himself.
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