golden boy.

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Spared a Coin

Sour citrus captivated her tongue. Chestnut eyes shifted around the crowded room - another party, another gaggle of nobles to make business with. Her drink was fruity, bitter and slightly sweet. Caleigh cradled it in a careful hand, the flute ornately crafted with ornate designs dragging up and down the glass frame. Drifting gaze wanders toward the dining area. Though across the grand ballroom, dancing couples and groups careening between the Breton and her 'prey', her attentive gaze jumped from rich breton to rich breton. To her surprise, there were even a select few redguard representatives, as well. The party was very close to Hammerfell. Serving parties ranged from common breton folk to 'common' redguard folk. Frankly, the structure of redguard society baffled Caleigh (primarily due to her relative seclusion in High Rock, despite her exposure to foriegn businesspeople).

The woman skirted the dance floor. Her outfit was simple - varied far and beyond her usual wear. She wore a honey-colored tunic instead of bronze armor, it's neckline opening across her entire clavicle and exposing her shoulders. Long sleeves, lined beautifully in silky red thread, came down to the middle of the back of her palm to a point. Trading out bronze leggings for a muted, pale gold sarong, the breton highlighted the outfit by coupling the long skirt with a loose red-brown belt. Finally, a pair of soft sandals clung to her ankles and padded her steps. Gold jewelry - subtle and clearly well-worn - sat at her throat (the typical ornate 'A' of her family crest) and her fingers (a matching pair of rings). Woody hair was left down, a gold clip pulling it away from her face. It snaked toward her chest, only slightly frizzy from Wayrest's moist climate.

Eventually, she ended up where she wanted to be. Observing the nobles from afar, at one of the tables at the corner of the room, Caleigh took another sip of her drink -- and nearly spat it right out. Immediately after the liquid hit her tongue, a deep voice reverberated from the pillar behind her.

"Pretty horrible, are they not?"

Brunette hair twirled as she spun around. Leaning up against the sandy-colored pillar was a man - probably a year or two older than she was. He was quite noticeably redguard; dark, wiry hair curled close to his head - a ebony in color - and his skin was nearly black, harboring the slightest red tint. Caleigh's eyes drifted over his face slowly, taking in chocolate-brown eyes, a smooth jaw, and full lips. Broad shoulders supported a broad chest, a clearly muscular trunk, and long, toned, arms. Overall, his figure was boxy, but lean. His body screamed fast, strong, lethal.

It didn't surprise her. Assassins regularly crept in to events like this. This one, clearly, was no different - he even wore the clothes of one of the servants. The woman rocked back on her heels, fingers wrapping carefully over the bottom of her drink. If she broke the flute, she could use it as a weapon. Now, the actuality of her hitting him with said 'weapon' was an entirely different story. But, she'd try. She'd never gotten in to an altercation with a redguard man before (sure, she'd run away from the occasional bandit, abandoning a poorly-guarded shipment and essentially cursing her father's poor planning, but she'd never actually fought them), and the prospect scared her a little.

"Woah, you need not worry," he assured, lifting his hands in a clear 'calm down' motion. "I thought you had noticed me. Evidently, you had not."

"Evidently," the breton shot back venomously. "Why are you even back here?"

As always, her reaction to fear was anger. Caleigh's heart thrummed wildly in her chest. This guy was clearly some kind of maniac.

"I was tired of working," the man replied simply. "I know you are probably very aware of this, but those people do not treat us very well."

He was smiling like it was some sort of joke - flashing a set of very white teeth.

"Those people?" she motioned out toward the party. "I am one of those people! That was very rude of you to say!"

She was shaking, nearly, enraged that this stranger had nearly gotten the best of her. But, he just shook his head, chuckling in his low tones.

"Clearly, you are not one of 'those people'," he replied smugly. "Or you would be out with them, drinking expensive drinks and eating expensive foods and dancing in expensive dresses."

Before she could really even process what he was up to, the redguard was right in front of her. His large fingers found the fabric of her tunic, rubbing it between his index and his thumb. Caleigh opened her mouth to protest, even more agitated that her cheeks had flushed.

"We both know that this is not all that expensive," he mumbled. "What did this cost? Ten ... maybe twelve gold?"

Well, that was awfully patronizing.

"If you are implying in any way that I am of some kind of lower class than the rest of these guests, you are sorely mistaken!" Her voice had risen considerably, arm pulling the fabric away from his gentle hand roughly, and she tripped over a few of her words. He made her nervous - and it didn't help that he was a great deal taller than she was. "W-Who are you, anyway, to judge me?! What is your name?"

"Shh," he hushed, murmuring his next words. "Perhaps you should relax. I understand that I have frightened you, but that time has passed."

Caleigh sucked in an infuriated breath.

"What is your name?" She pressed angrily.

"Khazir," he replied simply, appearing baffled by her anger.

"Khazir what?"

"... Khazir," he repeated.

This frustrated her even further.

"What is your second name?"

"I do not have a second name," he replied, confusion lifting from his face - replaced quickly by amusement. "What do you think I am, a breton?"

Her jaw slacked. Clearly, she was gearing up to chew him out again, mouth opening only to be cut off by his deep question.

"What is your name?"

"My name is Caleigh Ashhart, for your information," she replied sharply. "From the north."

"I've never been to the north. Is it cold?"

IS IT COLD? Caleigh's eyes grew large, brows arching. Momentarily, her anger dissipated. Clearly, this man -- Khazir -- was not very worldly. What was he doing in Wayrest, of all places? Why was he here? Serving people? Surely not. Looking for work? Perhaps. Well ... Come to think of it, she really needed some kind of guard to keep her safe during caravans ... -- But! She had just met this man, and he was already on her bad side.

"Yes, it is," she responded, straightening up. "It is very cold."

"I would like to feel the cold," he stated simply.

Wait, wait, wait. Was that some kind of implication? Did he want to come with her? This was a hoax. He wanted to murder her in the night! How maddening. Her free hand rested on her hip.

"Fine," she replied. "I assume you came here looking for work? Well, my father should be hiring some kind of bodyguard or something. You can come back with me and talk to him about it - but let me warn you, my brother is with me, in Wayrest, and he is a very powerful sorcerer."

Khazir perked up considerably.

"When do we leave?"

"My brother and I are here for another fourteen days," she replied. "Until then, I suppose you can show me around the city, hmm? Or, better yet, you could get me another drink to start off this business relationship."

Caleigh offered him her sour beverage. He had absorbed her words and was smiling down at her widely. With gentle hands, he took her glass.

"Of course."

Golden dawn crept through the slits between the wooden planks of the walls, poured through the clear glass window, filtered through honey-colored curtains, and cast a shaft of sunlight down on Khazir's red-black chest, where Caleigh rest her head. She sucked in a sleepy sigh as she stirred, brown eyes drifting over her companion's profile. Carefully, as to not disturb him, she shifted to rest her chin on his clavicle.

Dark eyes blinked open slowly, settling first on the room. They drifted to meet the breton's gaze soon after, however.

"Good morning," he rumbled groggily.

"Good morning," Caleigh replied with a wide smile. "How did you sleep?"

"Well," he managed, stretching. She picked up her head so that he could move about freely. "And you?"


Caleigh watched him carefully from among the expensive, plush pillows and blankets - all white, all crafted immaculately. Khazir rose, dressed in a deep red tunic and a pair of creamy colored leggings. From a table across the room, he made to wash his face.

Over the course of the last fourteen days, he had shown her all of Wayrest, including the nooks and crannies that the average tourist wouldn't have the privilege of knowing. Khazir had also told his story - how he was essentially a blade for hire doing rag-tag jobs and how he had made his way to Wayrest to look for reputable work, since Sentinel (his home city) had a bit of a pirate problem. In his earthy tones, he explained how he did not really agree with his past career choices and that he wanted to make a living doing something memorable.

She admired him. He had lived an exciting life and felt that his time to settle had come. Khazir was a man who wanted change, and Caleigh was happy to be the change he needed. Caleigh was happy to have company she could trust. Her brother was keen on joining a military band, and her father was busy with finances. Although she traveled, made 'friends' through business, she was almost always alone. Now, there was an opportunity for her life to change from dull and predictable to spontaneous and exciting.

Khazir turned his eyes over to Caleigh, having washed and dried his features satisfactorily. "Are you ready for today?"

Chestnut eyes widened, and lashes fluttered as she blinked wildly.

"I forgot!" the Breton hopped from the bed quickly, scrambling to pull a coal tunic over her head, followed by a bronze chestplate, a pair of soft cloth leggings, and a pair of bronze plate pants. This whole ordeal took a while. Khazir sharpened a pair of thin, curved blades as he watched, amused. Coal boots, leather in texture, were tugged over her feet and shins. "Where's my cloak?"

Caleigh's eyes darted around until she found the heavy cloth garment. Tugging the chocolate brown garment around her shoulders, the breton clasped it together at her throat with an ornate pin adorning her family's crest.

"Alright, I am ready to go!"

She straightened herself, beaming proudly. That hadn't taken much time at all! Koltair would be waiting downstairs, but there was no real hurry. It would take them days to get back home, and the only one who had plans was her father - he always had plans. Of course, Elistair would understand why his daughter and son were late the moment he'd meet Khazir. The redguard had a charming impression (despite his first conversation with Caleigh) and was easy to like.

As those thoughts crossed her mind, as if to prove her right, Khazir stood and moved toward her with long, even paces, stopping just in front of her.

"You are the most beautiful woman I have met," he murmured. "I am very appreciative. You have given me a great opportunity."

Caleigh's cheeks had flushed red. No one had ever said that about her. At best, she was average in appearance. Especially for a breton. And he, well. He was gorgeous. Especially for a redguard. It was difficult for her to keep eye contact, as he had a very penetrating stare. It was funny, people usually said that about her.

"I'm glad you wanted to come with me," she replied. "We have a lot of work to do when we get back."

"Whatever you like," he answered. "As long as I am with you."

The breton sighed contently. At the time, she was totally unprepared for what would unfold in the coming future. Unprepared for what would nearly take her entire family down with her. Unprepared for the destruction of everything she had worked to build. And totally unaware. But, she was happy.

[word count: 2078]
Posted Jan 21, 14 · OP
Spared a Coin
You can also view this here.
Posted Jan 21, 14 · OP
Spared a Coin
Just a small disclaimer:
I am actually really disappointed in this story. I feel like this came across incredibly cliche and long-winded, but Khazir's character is integral to further events and Caleigh's backstory. That being said, I actually do like Khazir's character and Caleigh's reactions to him - I just feel like this came off as overly mushy and lovey dovey and predictable. More or less, this will be a transitional story toward the next few installments.
Posted Jan 21, 14 · OP