The fire crackled and roared in tune with the dancer’s movements, devouring oxygen with an ecstasy that very few could decipher. The dancer knew exactly how the flames felt as they danced around her body--always this close to grazing her skin. Many in the audience watched on the edges of their seats, eagerly drinking in her erotic movements. Her hair moved gently through the dance, somehow impervious to the heat of the flames. Her hips swayed with an odd mix of professional and natural skills. Many in the audience seemed ready to leap from their seats and attack her, thirsty as though something had been set aflame within them.

As the fire twirled around her head, as though heralding a divine presence within her, it took on falsified forms and her true work of art began--the illusions. There seemed for a time to be more than one of her, dancing her way through the village square and orange snow falling from the sky. The children immediately ran around, giggling in delight as they tried to catch the warm flakes.

She danced for what felt to her audience like hours until finally, she came to an earth-shattering halt and the fires died to a glower. As they took in her final pose, applause exploded throughout the audience. The dancer’s chest heaved in and out; she had given herself tonight.

As soon as she was given her commission and the audience had cleared, she headed to the dressing room given to dancers. It was hers alone tonight--a privilege only given to those with a hard-earned reputation. Once she’d closed the door, it was safe to remove the skirt encircling her waist and hips. Underneath lie only a meager undergarment which bore some minor resemblance to a bikini.

Without making any kind of noise to draw attention to his entry, a man slipped in behind her and closed the door softly, “Ai... you were so lovely tonight.”

The dancer, Ai Lyrica, turned around to face the intruder. Her blue-green eyes glimmered as she watched him edge closer to her, “Please leave... now,” she intoned, her usually delicate, lilting voice replaced by a firm, cold one. Her stage smile had disappeared completely and her features had taken on a stoic appearance.

He began to turn, making as to leave per her request; but, as soon as her back was turned and she’d picked up her hairbrush, he walked quickly up to her and linked his hands around her waist, resting them at the crest of her pelvis. Growling softly as his hands unlinked and began to move across her scantily clad body, she clenched her fists. “If you do not want to die tonight, leave now,” the words came through clenched teeth and would have been enough to give any sane man more than a few seconds of doubt... but it only seemed to encourage this one. His lips brushed her neck and he whispered with whiskey breath in her ear, “I like my women feisty and strong like you... they can be taught how to obey men.”

Without warning, he grabbed her wrists and swung her to the ground, leering over her with his red, sweaty face. This was the part of her job she despised. As she took in his position and weaknesses, she steeled at the bulge in his pants and the dilation of his pupils. He began to comment on how she might look without even the meager coverings she had now but she interrupted, “You were warned.”

Even as she finished speaking, her knee sent a jolt of intense pain shooting from his crotch into his entire abdomen. As he collapsed and convulsed from the shock, she rolled and tucked herself away so that she wouldn’t be caught under the weight of his body. Before he had time to recover, she slipped a concealed knife from her brush and grabbed a fistful of hair. With the sharp edge of the knife just pressing into the skin of his neck, she ordered, “Stand slowly.” In response he whimpered and tried to pull away from her knife. With a swift twist of the knife, she made a small nick in his neck and whispered, “I know ways to kill you right here without a mess. Stand.”

All he needed was the proper impetus. Immediately, he got to his feet and she led him to a deserted room down the hall a little. Closing the door behind them, she slit his throat in one clean sweep--not even giving him time to cry out in pain before his vocal chords were damaged. Calmly, she cleaned the blood off the knife and ensured there would be nothing left at the scene authorities could trace back to her. Every bit of her lingering DNA burned in an instant.

Leaving the door open just enough to cause a curious housekeeper to peek inside, she headed back to her room and placed the knife in a special homemade concoction which eliminated all traces of blood from the knife.

Just as she slipped the knife back into the brush and began grooming once more, a stomach-twisting scream pierced the air. She pondered a moment whether or not she should lock her door before a maid burst unceremoniously into the room. Quickly taking in the maid’s disheveled appearance, Ai masked her features with false concern and confusion, “May I he--why, what’s the matter? You look as though you’re about to faint.”

Almost as though afraid of her own voice, the maid whispered with just a bit of a squeak, “Th-ther-there’s a de-a man who’s--he... a corpse... in the next room and,” Ai moved forward to give the woman some form of comforting touch. For some reason, the movement only made the young woman more terrified and her next words came out in a bit of a jumble, “Did you hear anything? I only ask because it happened right by you... but it could have happened before you finished your dance and oh my heavens I think I knew him.”

Ai shook her head and pulled the shocked maid closer, still feigning concern, “I wish I could help but I heard nothing before your scream. Perhaps you should notify so--” the owner of the inn stopped in the doorway before Ai could finish her sentence.
The stocky innkeep crossed her arms, “What is going on here? Who’s been screaming?” The maid pulled herself together just enough to explain what she had discovered. Ai gave her statements--the same every time--and was sent on her way with much apology.

They helped her pack and gave her some gifts to make up for her early exit, ensuring her all the time they were sure she was safer away from the town. This seemed to do with the man who’d died--no one they realized was important. For the night she took to prepare for departure, she’d been given a new room. There, she’d changed into comfortable traveling clothes which hid her stature and she’d stashed her jewelry and coin in various compartments about her person so that none who did not already know her face would guess who she was. One drunken, horny man she could handle--an ambush of bandits she would appear that she could not.

The End

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