Marlew walked hand in hand with Rossel into the temple. The young man was a few years younger than she and actually quite fetching. This was exactly the kind of man she needed to drive all thoughts of that red headed singer out of her mind. He looked like he would be able to pay well, but he wouldn't know she had price until after she had set the hook firmly in place.
Just as they approached the hall of the Qurystal, Marlew could see the shadows of people rising and collecting themselves to leave. They had missed the ceremony, but Marlew still wanted to pray at the Qurystal so they edged to the side to allow for the flow of people coming out of the hall.
It was then that she saw them. The young bards were near the back of the crowd leaving... taking their time and smiling. She gasped and stopped in her tracks.
"What's wrong, Marlew. What is it."
The memory came back all of the sudden. The tantalizing site exposed back as he bathed naked in the water. The knowing smirk of his smaller cousin, and then a fist arching out of the water too fast to avoid and a hand closing around her neck...
"Who? What did they do."
She reached up to the side of her head and felt the tender spot where she now remembered being punched. "... hit me..."
She was startled at the cloud that passed over his face. She shouldn't have said anything. This young one was going to do something foolish.
"They struck a lady!" His voice was sharp and turned some heads. The short one who had hit her whipped his head in her direction. His eyes widened in surprise as he recognized her.
"No... yes... listen it's complicated... just come." Each group of words was emphasized with a tug on his arm but already the headstrong fool was taking and aggressive stance... ready to confront them. This was not going to turn out for the good.
"Perhaps you have become accustomed to the brutish ways of the men of this country, but I will never let it be so with me." His eyes never left the two Bards coming their way. They had nowhere else to go but right by them and they were slowing their pace considerably.
"Rossel, please. Not here. This is not the place!" That last seemed to penetrate. He looked down at her and then around at his surroundings. Uncertainty showed on his young face. the sacrilege of violence within the temple was the worst type of abhorrent behavior. Rossel was prim and proper enough for this argument to carry weight. He gave a curt nod and turned with her toward the door... allowing himself to be removed from the premises.
Once outside he turned and faced the doorway, waiting. Marlew knew it was no use stopping the inevitable. I should just walk away. I don't want to become embroiled in this. If I turn and walk away maybe he will follow and this will all blow over.
Despite her thoughts she found her feet rooted to the spot. She found she was curious; she was anticipating. Why had the small bard hit her? She hadn't done anything to him. Was he jealous? Would they come to blows over her?
To answer the question, the two Bards slowly emerged from the temple. The small one looking worried, and the redheaded one looking more confused than anything. Doesn't he know? Oh this could be interesting. She stifled a grin.
"Explain yourselves!" Rossel demanded. "I want to know why you would hit this beautiful woman."
"What?" Johm replied.
"It was me." the small one shrugged. Johm turned and looked at him sharply. He shrugged again and spoke to Johm, "I did not want her to..."
"It does not matter what you wanted or did not want." Rossel cut him off angrily. His voice growing more menacing. "No man with any honor hits a woman."
"Well young sir, as you may not know, I am not truly a man."
The jest was wasted on Rossel, who's scowl only turned darker at the attempt . "Don't bandy words. You are polite and full of humor now that you face someone larger than you, but it seems you are a brute when their are fair ladies to pummel."
"But this saffron whore-" Rossel's fist slammed into his jaw so fast and hard that Marlew's enhanced eyesight caught the shimmer of blood droplets flying out before the small man crumpled to the ground in a heap.
A low growl escaped Johm's throat as he threw himself at Rossel. the momentum of his charge threw both of them to the ground. With a squawk Marlew jumped back, stepping quickly wide of the combatants as they exchanged punches and rolled around in the muddy street. They slipped around in the muck until they were almost indiscernible from one another, each landing many blows on until finally the musician reared up above the other and with a brutal savage motion drove his head into the other's face.
The loud crunch of that final blow stopped the fight, and the tall musician shakily got to his feet, using his hands to try and rub the muck from his face, but he only appeared to smear it around. He was an absolute mess. Rossel was motionless on the ground, blood mixing with the mud on his face as it bubbled with his breath.
He took a few unsteady steps back over to where the other Bard was recovering somewhat. Marlew looked down at Rossel, then up at the Bard who had bested him and made her decision. She took a few cautious steps and cleared her throat.
"I am terribly sorry about that. I did not expect him to do that." She put on her best innocent look and waited.
"Just leave us alo-"
"No Eliash." Johm interrupted. "This was your fault not hers."
With a grown Eliash got to his feet. He didn't seem to have a retort.
"Why did you hit me like that?" the words came unbidden to her mouth. She had intended to ignore the little man completely.
"Because my large cousin here is engaged and would be better off without your sexual influence."
"Engaged! Well, if he was well and truly happy with his choice he would not have ravaged me quite so completely or with such alacrity last night, don't you think?"
"Enough!" Johm said sternly.
"If you say so." Marlew knew she was pushing it, but she just couldn't help it. Everyone gathered to watch the fight had caught that verbal exchange, and she could tell Johm was embarrassed.
"Let's clean you up." she offered.
"What about him." Eliash pointed at the still unconscious Rossel.
"He'll wake up and realize that fighting over a woman can sometimes be a bad business." she chuckled.
Johm allowed himself to be led back toward the slough, with Eliash bringing up the rear. She was going to get to wash up this alluring man after all. She wondered if he would be as adventurous when he was sober as he was last night.