"Have you ever scrubbed down a horse?"
"No." Silah paused, "But I'm sure it's a lot like this."
"Yeah? The horse would likely enjoy it more." I grumbled looking at Silah with a furrowed brow, "A horse. That's what comes to mind? Heh."
Silah wore a scowl, her eyes shifted to and fro with the brush she was grinding across my forearm. The residue was a bit trickier than originally thought. After it had dried, it was nearly impossible to remove outside of rubbing my arms raw in the attempt. My teeth were clenched with her effort, but, even with the pain I felt, I knew she was restraining herself for my sake.
"I think that's it." She said, looking at my raw arms, blood had started trickling from a particularly nasty spot. "Sorry about that, there."
Even with the apology, she caught some of the blood on her finger and sucked it clean. I grimaced and shook my head at her. She looked at me, her face showing mock innocence with her finger in her mouth.
"Again, another item to know for next time. Rinse off nasty pink slime before it dries." I said, letting out a heavy sigh while I mentally put aside her fondness for my blood.
"You've got quite the list now. Are you sure you're going to be able to remember all of this next time around?"
"I doubt I'll forget. I expect I'll also be revisiting all of this in my dreams."
Silah slunk in close, "Ah, and, in there, we can kill them together."
A smile stole across my face. Unfortunately, my dreams weren't always fair in situations like that. Even if she might be able to keep them at bay for a time, countless waves of foes never ended well for me. I shuddered again.
"We have some clothes to pick up." I clapped my hands together, breaking free from my thoughts. "I can't believe I'm actually excited for clothes."
Her giddiness was apparent, she bobbed back and forth with a smile, her childlike essence coming through as it had so many weeks prior.
"Oh, I'm sure you'll look handsome." She oozed with a silk lined voice. "And I'm sure I will look fabulous. Although, I have taken a liking to this one, too."
She spun back and forth. The milky white dress responded by blossoming around her feet, folding around her elegant legs and hips, then blossoming again. I watched her with a smile while putting on the battered breastplate. It was now extra work to get in place with the leather strap that had nearly failed during the first acid bath.
"He did say he'd hold it for us if we wanted it?" I motioned to her dress while jimmying with the leather straps.
"Let's go and see!" She shot forward and grabbed my hand pulling me from my concentration.
We were down the alley in moments, heading out onto the street. Her anticipation dragged us both along at a wearying pace back up to the Crow's Nest and within sight of Mont Brooks.
"I expect, nay demand, that," I gasped, "That you acknowledge the limits of humanity."
I slumped to a wall, a couple strides from the front door of Mont Brooks, taking a moment to catch my breath while the tireless Silah looked at me impatiently. It took a few moments before I could hear anything else above my pounding heartbeat.
"This city lifestyle is making you soft." She said, arms folded, striking a pose accenting her impatience.
"Soft." I growled dangerously at her. Something snapped in me with the jab and my aggravation rose sharply. My body went rigid and I could feel my already flush face turn fiery.
Her eyebrows raised and she dropped her arms from their folded position as I glared her direction. I closed my eyes slowly, calming myself, feeling my heartbeat slow even further. My hands unclenched and I stood slowly. Being within an inch of my life just earlier today, apparently, had reminded me of my own frail condition; mortality. Silah, being immortal, calling out my weakness touched on the same point I had continually pushed aside. This reminder of our separate ways, especially today, was too much for me.
"Please. Don't say that." I breathed.
She nodded, eyes a bit wider than normal. She moved toward me and reached for my arm. I stepped back and held up my hands.
"No, not now." I said evenly, "Let's go inside."
It was such a simple thing to feel raw about. It had gone pent up for a while and wearing it on my sleeve now would do little more than put a cloud over my improving mood. I let if flow past me, knowing it would be topic for later. The time I allowed myself to cool off would give me a better perspective.
She looked concerned, perhaps even hurt, then turned slowly toward the door that was a few steps away. I moved forward quickly, pulling the door for her. She looked up, surprised, but nodded appreciatively.
There was a jingle and the perfect temperature of the room flowed around us as we moved from the warm evening. It looked like they were winding down and getting close to closing up shop. Denton had stood as soon as he had seen our shadows approach, he was directly in front of a cushioned chair which seemed to be making an effort to regain it's shape from where he had sat. The chair was near one of the alchemical temperature regulating devices.
"Are our clothes ready?" I asked Denton, doing my best to smooth out my voice, clearing my momentary aggravation.
Denton smiled and nodded. I wondered if this was a sincere gesture, but didn't think much further than that. He moved toward the back and brought out the uniform-like outfit I had selected, as well as the royal purple dress we had brought in for repair from the unfortunate incident at Kellas House.
A grin crossed my face as I watched Silah light up at the sight of her dress. She glanced up at me with her wide smile, which widened as she saw my grin. She nodded to me, a sort of unspoken understanding crossed between us, putting my outburst behind us.
"Sir?" Denton approached with his smooth intonation, with some caution, holding the tunic up to me. His eyes traced the lines and he nodded at the cut. "This should do nicely."
I caught hold of the fabric, feeling the heavy cloth. The black fabric around the seams had a slight give to them, allowing them to remain close without being too rigid. He smiled at me as I tested it.
"Try it on, you'll see what I've been telling you." He said, a bit lower than his usual timbre.
I attempted to move to a dressing room and found myself far too large. I emerged, removing the scabbards, beaten breastplate, and rough boots out on the open floor. I gathered them and leaned them against the wall. I saw Denton grimace at it as I moved back into the small dressing room.
Heh. I guess I'll give him more of a show. I thought.
I peeled the still damp undershirt off. It hadn't held up well against the bile and acid. I twiddled my fingers through the blood stained holes where the creature clamped onto my side. I shuddered, remembering that sickening feeling from the trauma. I tossed it out over the dressing room door so it landed in the center of the room.
I pulled the tunic over my head, the seams stretched appropriately as I pulled it in place. There was a standing collar that brought a more regal appearance. It hugged my shoulders and across my chest. I rotated, feeling it cling like a second skin without binding up around the arms. I removed my breeches and pulled the similarly designed coverings that seemed to be a cross between breeches and pantaloons. I then pushed through the dressing room to see Silah's smile and Denton's bemusement awaiting me.
Denton stepped forward, running his hand along the outer seam and over the black shoulder patches. These seemed to be both padded and reinforced to accommodate where the rucksack would rest.
"Arms up." He said with some force.
I raised my arms as he followed along the seam under the arm down the length of my body. He nodded. He pulled at the waist to make sure the tension seemed appropriate and patted up the inseam to the point where I was a little uncomfortable. They were more snug at the bottom allowing them to be worn inside my boots.
"Does it pinch or affect your mobility?" He pointed toward a tilted full length mirror at the edge of the shop.
I moved over to it and tipped it back until I could see my full frame. I moved through forms, pretending to hold a blade.
"Now. This is not meant for battle." He said with a grimace, glancing at the ruined undershirt, "I am not sure what you do in your off time, but if it doesn't including fighting, then, by all means, wear it."
"You say that believing that I always know when things are going that way. I'm a bodyguard, after all."
"Heh, a bodyguard," Denton was readily showing his true self, Silah seemed shocked until she saw the smile on my face, "How about this, if you're putting on that breastplate, you might as well put on one of those ratty things instead."
"What is the repair policy on this, then?" I asked as I turned away from the mirror.
He put his hand to cover his closed mouth in a gesture resembling my own response to aggravation.
"Normal wear? I'll fix as part of the arrangement. Damage from battle? There will be a fee." He said, after considering for a moment.
I offered my hand. He placed his smaller hand into it gingerly. I clasped it gently and did a single shake. He gave me an appreciative glance as he withdrew, grateful his hand still worked.
"Are you still planning on following through with our arrangement?" Denton asked.
"Now that I'm clothed, sir, I can demonstrate your fine work." I beamed, feeling positively royal.
I continued, "By the way, what should I call these?"
I gestured to the not breeches on my legs.
"Trousers." He rocked his head back and forth, "Of a fashion, but most closely resembling trousers."
I mouthed the word and shrugged.
"M'lady?" Denton turned toward her, his timbre rising appropriately with a gentleman's tone.
She seemed stunned by the whole exchange. It seemed similar to look that I wore when Atticus repeatedly reminded her of her inhuman quality, but more disconcerting, how unfazed she was by it. Her eyebrows were furrowed, glancing between the two of us seeming to wonder what game we were playing at.
"Go on." I smiled at her, "Let's see the repairs?"
Silah recovered and retrieved the dress from where Denton hung it on the wall. She moved into the dressing room. It was only a moment before she stepped out with a sparkling smile on her face.
The sight of her took my breath away. Now, she was undoubtedly royalty. She strode statefully out, moving toward the mirror, tilting it forward. She spun again, as she had done just earlier. This dress was heavier, more complex than the milky white one she had been wearing, but the effect was the same.
"You look beautiful in that dress." I felt my throat clamp up with the words, feeling the weight of my adoration for her come crashing in all at once.
She turned to me and smiled sweetly.
I looked to Denton, who was also taken by the display. He seemed completely disarmed by her shimmering quality. While he was focused on her, I slid my boots back on, making sure the trouser legs worked well within my boots. I slung my scabbards over my shoulders, then rucksack with the breastplate buckled to the back of my rucksack. I wanted to be presentable, for once, perhaps even stand out for the event tonight. I figured that this was one of those times I could get away with not wearing my breastplate.
Well, maybe until the party? I thought, still not sure what may transpire.
Denton moved into the dressing room and took the milky white dress from the wall. He moved to Silah and held it out to her, draped over both arms.
"This deserves to be with you." He said, with a stately bow.
Her smile widened further as she took the dress and responded with a deep curtsy.
"Will that be all for the lady?" He turned to me.
I shook my head, more than satisfied. If any more were laid at her feet, she'd likely burst.
We turned toward the door. I held it open for Silah and she slipped through.
"I have high expectations." He called after, still smiling, but with a slight edge to his voice. "Please. Make me proud."
I gave Denton a wry smile and moved out in the evening air.
(Get to know Akeron.)