Darkhound paced the length of the room scanning it meticulously for signs of dirt. As far as he was concerned it was spotless, and Egwene2 was bound to be pleased. Where was she? Meet me here Tuesday, she'd said. It was a womans perogative to be late, and when the woman concerned was a sister of the dark, you just kept your mouth shut, yours eyes downcast, and hoped for the best. For a fleeting moment, he toyed with leaving the room, but decided against it. Knowing his luck, she'd dome through the door at that exact moment. No, better to just sit here in the corner and wait. His head nodded against his chest, his eyes slowly closed, and Darkhound began to dream.....
(An image, fleeting, of a dentist, half man, half moth, in a room of cheese) Sweat rolled down his face, and he moaned slightly...
Egwene2 yawned and stretched luxuriously. What a lovely nap! But what odd dreams she'd had. Funny boxes with moving pictures, machines that spoke over long distances, things from the Age of Legends maybe? Oh well, she was awake now. Glancing idly at the waterclock atop the mantle, she suddenly remember her meeting with Darkhound, the naughty puppy. Already she was very late. She smiled as she walked to the ancient wardrobe in the corner of her room. As usual, the door was stuck. Someday she'd just get tired of it and smash it to smithereens.
Hmmm... her regular black leathers just would not be appropriate today. The green outfit? No, it just didn't have the authority she wanted to convey. After all, Darkhound had been ignoring her recently. The red? Perfect! At the very least, he would immediately know just how much trouble he was in.
She dressed carefully, and snugged her matching gloves over her long elegant fingers. Her stiletto heels clocked a measured beat against the stone floor as she strode to the locked cabinet beside the shuttered window. She chose her most ornate whip, the one with the red tassels to compliment her outfit and slipped it into the loop at her waist. Egwene2 took one final look in the mirror and pleased with the results, she left the room.
In a good mood for the first time in a few days, she briskly walked down the corridors, humming tunelessly. She grinned at everyone she saw in the halls, not even minding when the frightened servants scuttled away. Come to think of it, it wasn't only the servants disappearing rapidly at her approach. But nothing could spoil her good mood. Not even the vague presence of Narishma in the back of her head. What on earth was he so upset about anyway? She was the one who had been bonded against her will.
Soon she arrived at the little used corridor that lead to the chamber Ariella had allowed her to use. Darkhound should have finished cleaning and readying the room by now.
Flinging open the door with a thin thread of power, she stepped into the now clean room. Darkhound, wary of her anger, had done a very thorough job cleaning up. Even the tools of her trade were now cleaned of the years of accumulated grime. Very good, she thought in wry amusement. The door struck the stone wall with a loud clatter, causing the recumbent figure within to leap to his feet. He had obviously been napping, judging by the startled look on is handsome face.
With her hands fisted on her hips, Egwene2 knew she was a commanding sight. Darkhound risked raising his eyes from the floor. A flick of her whip remedied that. Abruptly, assuming his canine form, he slunk to her feet and whined abjectly. Egwene2 lightly touched the whip to his head and softly asked, "Did you ask my permission?"
But before he could answer or even change his form back, a hesitant knock came at the door. A muffled voice called out, "Darkhound? Are you still in there?"
Egwene stepped back. "I see you're still to busy to ... play. I hope I'm not too busy when you're ... ready."
With a languid wave of her hand, she created a Gateway and stepped through.
Egwene2 (dissolving into giggles again)
The hound sat on his haunches, head cocked as the incredible vision in leather that was Egwene2 stepped through a gateway which abruptly winked out. His sleek form shimmered and shifted into that of a man, and he crossed the room and opened the door. There was no one there. Shutting the door, he leant against it and pondered the developments. He had a feeling that Egwene2 had been cruelly toying with him. Clearly, beneath the happy-go-lucky exterior, there lurked the heart of a true sister of the dark. Only the Great Mistress herself could have equalled such deviousness. Then again, he was pretty certain that she would have been involved anyway.
With a shake of his head, he left the room, muttering a curse at the amount of time he had spent needlessly cleaning it. For the twelve-thousandth time, he reminded himself that woman were indeed very strange creatures. Interesting, exciting, and dangerously exciting, but strange none the less. Was all this because of his dalliance with Ulrike? Or just a whim spurned of boredom? He would likely never know. He toyed with finding Ulrike, and taking that walk he had promised her. She had a recipe for haggis that he wanted to see. But, under the circumstances, he decided against it. Likely the next time he would see Egwene2 would be at Sundara's party, and he didn't want to give her reason to do humiliate him further. Best to put it down to experience.
By the time he had neared his room, he had made a decision. Darkhound liked to take people by surprise, and no doubt the dark sisters conspiring against him were waiting to see what he would do next. A servant entered the corridor, and with a broad grin, Darkhound accosted him. Money was exchanged, and Darkhound entered his room as the servant scurried off on his new task.
Several hours later, the servant bought the items Darkhound had sent him to get. The five bouquets of rare black orchids looked delightful. Clapping the fellow with genuine gratitude on the shoulder, he slipped the servant a generous tip and ushered him out of the door, with an oath of secrecy sworn, and a promise to wait. Darkhound located four pieces of writing parchment, and began to write:
"To Sundara, In honour of your seventeenth naming day. May it be a great and memorable occasion.. ~Darkhound."
"To Ariella, the Great Mistress of the Dark. A humble token of my infinite regard and affection for you. ~Darkhound."
"To Egwene2, Though these poor blooms may pale beside thine beauty, mayhap they will bring a moment of joy to you this day. ~Darkhound."
"To Ulrike, A small offering of my esteem. I hope you can smell their delicate scent after the chilli. ~Darkhound."
He attached a message to each of the bouquets, but put one bouquet aside in his personal stasis box, to keep fresh for Smoke Ashalen on the day of her return. He hoped Eval and Demandred would understand that he was not encroaching on their territory, but just playing safe by making sure that no-one got missed out. Egwene2, and Ariella before had shown him that it was true "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned". Lets see what they made of this inpromptu gesture. Grabbing the bouquets, he opened the door, and gave them to the servant to deliver on his behalf...
The door opened and Ulrike put her head in. "Oh Darkhound, here you are!" She came in. " I thank you very much for the flowers. They are so exquisite. And look! This came in my hands today and I plan to wear it for Sundara's party. What do you think? You like it, yes?" Darkhound goggled. Soft leather dyed in various hues of blue covered her petite body in one piece from the ankles to the chin like a second skin. Ankle boots, ornamental slits, thorny metal fittings in gold and steal as well as a belt in the same design completed her look. He jerked when he saw that her boad bracelet actually was a wrist holster for half a dozen stilettos. "I'm very impressed.", he stammered finally. Yes, he was simply stunned. She had changed so much he hardly recognized her. She smiled and padded his arm. "Thank you, my friend."
"Oh, I hope I'm not disturbing you."
The surprised Darkhound whirled around. Egwene2 stood there with a cold smile on her face. The gateway faded behind her. The atmosphere tensed. She strolled nearer and purrte: "Hi, Ulrike." " Hello, Egwene2." came the silk-soft reply. Ulrike caressed Darkhound's shoulder now. "I wanted to thank Darkhound for his gift and to go with him to the party. But how fortunate to meet you here. You know, we have to discuss this certain matter - now." "Aye." Both women stared stonefaced in her opponent's eye. Darkhound tried to back away. "Stay!" Egwene2's hiss echoed Ulrike's snarl. He frozed. Catched between two seething women. Blue faced Red. Silent icestorm against hell heat. It seemed Tarmon Gai'don had begun exactly over poor Darkhound's head.
If he had dared to raise his eyes instead of trying to become invisible, maybe he had noticed that for one moment Egwene2's mouth twitched and Ulrike hard fighted to show a straight face.
(Poor Darkhound, what now?)
Many animals tried to make themselves bigger when confronted by danger, but he was one of those who thought it prudent to make himself smaller. His muscles contracted, he made his breaths shallow, and he pulled in his aura. He wished he was a grayman, so he might slip by un-noticed. But then, graymen couldn't escape a dark sister like Egwene2, and he doubted Ulrike would miss one either. So, here he was, trapped between two very different, but equally dangerous women. Was this a rock and a hard place? The irresistable force and the unmovable object? It was ironic indeed that his ego liked to be the centre of attention, especially where females where concerned. And yet here he was the centre of two attentions, and looking for an escape route! All it needed now was for the Great Mistress herself to arrive, and then the picture would be complete. It may prove the end of him, but what a way to go!
The silence in the room was palpable, and the air seemed to hum with potential threat. He thought about grovelling, and begging for their mercy, but he was unsure how much mercy such women might grant. Maybe he could just put his arms over his head, roll into a ball, and pray for a miracle. Perhaps he should try to explain. He raised his eyes from the floor.
"Lady Egwene, did you get my flowers? Ulrike here, was just thanking
me for hers, and...."
"Silence!" Egwene2 didn't even break her stare from Ulrike.
"Yes, be silent, for once." Ulrike's tone mimicked that of Egwene2.
"You sent her flowers?" Egwene2's tone was almost sweet. It was honey, but with the bees still involved.
A single bead of sweat rolled down his nose, and had a good look over the edge, before leaping to it's doom.
"Well, yes, I sent flowers to all the ladies hereabouts." Why did that sound so terrible?
"ALL of them, Darkhound?" If anything, her tone was even sweeter, even more threatening.
"ALL of them?" asked Ulrike. For the first time, they broke their eye contact and turned twin gazes on him. He prepared to burst into flame. A shame, really, when Sundara's party beckoned, and he was in the mood to party.
"Please try and understand, I beg you. Think of my position! Imagine if I sent flowers to just one lady? What would the others think? Any one of you ladies who I missed could make my life a misery for eternity! What could I do?" Darkhound felt like a puppet whose strings had been cut, and he slumped to the floor, assuming the emergency crash position. If he could have looked up, he would have seen the grins that Ulrike and Egwene2 now wore openly...
Silently, he sent out a prayer for help to the Great Mistress of the Dark. He concentrated, and found the ever present link to her in his mind, and attempted to draw the true power through it. It was there! He could feel it! He would have to be quick, but a gateway just big enough for a curled up Darkhound he could weave with no problems. He held the power, ready to escape, and waited to hear their response...
Darkhound, proving a little bit of what you fancy, doesn't do you any good at all.
"You know Darkhound, you are the worst lecher I have ever seen!" Ulrike
purred the words literally.
"You will be a very busied hound in the next time when you want to satisfy so many women at once. Me, Ulrike, the Great Mistress want her fair share of attentivness too, and who else? I'm afraid there will be little sleep. You wouldn't to neglect anyone, do you?"
And suddenly both women exploded with loud laughter.
Egwene2 kissed Darkhound's cheek. "Thank you for your gift. It's wonderful."
"Yes, it was very inspired, Darkhound. You could not know that we were together when it was delivered." Ulrike stroke his arm.
"We couldn't resist this joke. I'm sorry but your face was priceless. I'll see you at the party." Egwene2's grin was simply gigantic.
"I own you a haggis dinner, Darkhound." Ulrike whispered in his ear. "Bye."
They leaved the room, talking and still laughing. The last they heard was a furious grumble:"Women! WOMEN!"