The Knights of the Saber

An alternate tale of the Knight Sabers.

Character templates are the design of Kenichi Sonada. No disrespect is intended in this work.

Said the Knight Green to the White:

"Thou art a brilliant leader, skilled in a fight.

But thou art so distant, so serious, so staid.

Verily, methinks ye truly need to get laid."

- Fifth stanza of the infamous 'The Bawdy Adventures of the Knights of the Saber', by the itinerant drunkard bard, Koe of Okata.

The bloated moon shone its soothing light over the city, bathing all of the cobbled streets in an almost pure white glow. Except in one street; there, the glow contended with a red stream on the ground, trying to give a clean glow to the wet path. But blood was blood - in magic's time it was a power in and of itself. So the red did not yield at all to the white. Still, the moon's glow gave the sticky stream an almost pink glow. A small victory, perhaps.

He ate his fill. His muzzle, flecked with the life-liquid of his food, rooted a little deeper into the carcass, pulling and worrying until another chunk of flesh reluctantly tore free. One crunch, two, and then a gulp, before the muzzle returned to its kill for another stomach-filling bite. Not the most flavoursome of meats - too tough, and almost bitter to the taste - but it was all that could be easily taken in this place, and it would stop the hunger pangs at the least.

Screams disturbed his repast. How could he eat with such wailing hurting his sensitive ears? More screams, and then he felt pain, burning pain as a sputtering torch hit his flank. He yelped, and then growled, turning on his tormentor as the small flames that had lit in his fur slowly burnt out.

The two soldiers of the City Guard gulped. The soldier on the left held a slightly unsteady sword in one hand and a sparking torch in the other, while the second soldier held his own sword in a trembling, white-knuckled two-handed grip.

The werewolf growled, abandoning the corpse of his prey - a thirty-five year old candlemaker from the east of the city, name of Jamar, survived by a wife and three children - as he stood. And stretched. And howled when he reached his full eight foot standing height.

"We're dead, aren't we?" the soldier on the right, younger by five years, whispered to his companion, never taking his eyes off the beast. "He's going to kill us and eat us."

"'Lest ye got some silver in that sword of yours, aye," the other replied grimly. "Or'n that toothpick you keep in your pocket is actually a magical weapon handed down to the firstborn of your family from generations past. Right now kid, I'm sort of praying things happen in that order ye mentioned, if'n ye know what I mean. The killing bit 'fore the eating bit, like."

"Should have kept walking. Should have just ignored the screams," the first hissed, as his sword's shaking got worse.

The werewolf sniffed the air, smiling so that the moonlight reflected off his blooded fangs.

"'Tis our job," the second soldier replied, squaring his shoulders as he relaxed his hands for a better grip. "Simple as that. 'Our lives to protect our city' and all that guff. 'Sides, could ye have held your head high if ye did? I think not. G'bye kid, ye could carry a tune when ye were drunk, that's better than most of me partners."

"Usually had to carry you home too, you drunken sot," the first soldier grinned, his swordarm steady again.

The werewolf hunched slightly, his leg muscles rippling as his intelligence-filled eyes looked at his new prey. His tail twitched, and he leaned forward, ready to leap.

Light burst overhead, bathing the street in the glow of day. The werewolf shielded his eyes with his right forearm, squinting against the harsh magical light as the two soldiers backed against the wall of a housefront, in case of a two-pronged assault. The werewolf, his eyes almost closed from keeping the light out of his sensitive eyes, spotted two fully armoured figures standing on the roof of one of the two storey buildings. The first, a female if the design of the armour was to be believed, had her suit somehow coloured in mainly white - perhaps she had used paint, perhaps it was the natural colour of the metal. The second figure, a red-suited woman, still had her black-gauntleted hands raised in a spell-casting gesture, as a ball of hovering light spun above her helmeted head.

The beast growled, not at all worried. Meat in a can; it didn't matter to him whether his food came prepackaged or not.

A slight sound - a soft whinny - drifted through the still air to his twitching ears. He turned his head, to see a green-armoured woman sitting atop what was probably some type of warhorse - it was hard to tell, since the riding beast was covered head to tail in green armour. A normal horse would never have been able to move with that much metal restricting it, so perhaps it was not a horse at all. The woman held not a sword or mace as a weapon - the most common choices for a mounted and armoured warrior, but instead she wielded a long and thin whip.

The werewolf smiled. A ground target. And that... that rope of hers couldn't be silver, and surely couldn't be enchanted. She'd make for some fast food then. He started to lope towards the horsed fighter, when he felt a sting in his back.

He whirled around, more in anger than pain. Another warrior - this one suited in blue armour - was blocking the street, effectively boxing him in. This knight - another to sit astride a horse - held a large crossbow with her right hand as she supported the weapon on her left forearm.

The werewolf was in no mood to be treated like some... some sort of prey. He was being hunted by these arrogant, silent, suited things. And if there was one thing he didn't like, it was being hunted. He charged at this newest annoyance, his arms slightly akimbo, ready to slash this blue fool - and show her just how little use armour truly had against a creature such as himself.

The air hissed before something licked and tightened around his right arm, dragging him to a stop. Had he been any less then he was, he would have surely overbalanced and fell. The beast blinked as he looked at the whip-end that was snaked around his forearm. The whip burned; it burned far worse than the torch had. He growled, flexing his tied arm, ready to pull this rash human straight from her saddle.

With a slightly muted thunk, and then another, and then a third, three crossbow bolts - noticeably longer than normal crossbow shafts - plunged into his torso. The creature looked stupidly at his chest for a moment before reflexes overtook whatever sense the beast had, and he leaped at his most visible tormentor - the one in blue.

The green armoured woman leaned back slightly on her horse as she set her feet in the stirrups, before she tugged at her whip - which started to hum, almost as if the leathery weapon was trying to keen. And the still air echoed with the slight hum, and with the howl of a wounded animal, as her weapon shore through the beast's arm that it had been holding, severing it like cheap wet clay.

The werewolf cried out in a pained, guttural howl. The crossbow bolts had been nothing - like light taps - but the whip... having your arm cut off tended to hurt.

A light clank was the only indication that a third player had entered the battle, as the white-suited woman landed lightly from her two-storey jump. From a small metal-reenforced leather scabbard that was tied to her right forearm, she drew a short sword, before jumping at the howling beast, the tip of her weapon ready for the right opening. The werewolf had less than a second to admire the outline of the silvery rune-covered blade against the light, before the sword snaked forward to skewer his neck - and sever his life.

The four suited warriors looked at the werewolf's corpse as it slid to the ground. Then, the white fighter jumped, swirls of air supporting her, before she landed on the roof she had first stood on. The red-armoured mage joined her, before they both jumped out of the line-of-sight of the two soldiers, who had taken everything in with slackjawed silence. A moment later, as the two mounted warriors turned their horses and spurred them, the magical light sputtered, flared, and then fizzled away, returning the street to the natural light of the moon.

The two soldiers blinked as the horses charged down the street. They turned back to the twisted body of the werewolf, before they looked at each other.

"Soon as the shift is over, I am going to get so drunk," the first one vowed. "And then tomorrow, I'm going to go up to Marie, and I'm going to ask for her hand in marriage."

"Aye. Aye. I think I'll join ye in that drink, after we deal with this mess." The second soldier grinned, and slapped the first on the back. "Ha! Maybe I should propose to this Marie girl too, eh? It be me duty to protect pretty lasses, and there could be no worse fate than marrying ye, right lad?"

"Damn it! That fight would have been over in half the fucking time if those crossbow bolts had been enchanted!"

"You were told the extent and limits of your weapons before we set out. Next time use your gauntlet when you are beset by a creature with immunities such as the lycanthrope. I did tell you that enchanting all of your bolts would be too expensive at this time. Most of the battles we will fight won't allow us the luxury of missile retrieval. Reagents cost a large deal, and my budget cannot, despite appearances, stretch forever. That is why we shall have to let our services be hireable."

"So we're going to be mercenaries?" a third voice piped up.

"Problem solvers for hire. Especially for those who happen to want us to solve problems that involve our enemy."

"Pay and payback rolled into one? Hell, I'd almost do it for free, but being payed to hurt those bastards... makes it sound so much better."

"Speaking of pay..." the third voice drawled, "...when do we reach that part of the deal?"

"When we all start earning it."

"Don't look at me!" a fourth voice protested. "I was maintaining a confusion spell the entire fight, along with that lightball. I was contributing!"

"I didn't mean you, I meant all of us. We need to practice fighting together for a while longer. Then we can start our quest, occasionally supplementing it with payed jobs. It will be then that we can afford to complete our armorment, and gain all that we seek. Alright?"

"Yes!" three voices rang out in slightly discordant agreement.

The captain of the night shift crossed his fingers under his chin, and looked at the two soldiers who sat uncomfortably on the other side of his desk.

"So then, after someone cast a spell in full platemail, another tore off a WEREWOLF'S arm with a whip of ALL things. After that, a third 'knight', as you say, fires four bolts into the beast - wonderful, considering it should take twice as long to reload a missile weapon as big as you described just once. And finally, the white one first survived a two-storey jump in full armour without ANY broken bones or EVEN falling over, and then jumped BACK UP again after despatching the beast? Magic may account for many incredible things, men, but this? You're drunk!"

"I sure will be soon Cap'n. Just as soon as you dismiss us so as we can go to a tavern and reach that glorious state. Be a lot easier to deal with this if we weren't sober, like."

The redhead stared at the four sets of armour - each of which was set on racks to form a semi-circle. She stood in the centre of the semi-circle, so that it almost seemed as if they were staring at her. "So amazing..." she sighed, running her hands along the runic designs set on each side of her helmet.

"Yes, they are," the black-haired merchant agreed as she stepped up next to the mage-thief.

"The magical spirits that you've bound to the armour... they're quiet. They're not angry at being imprisoned in metal, they're not railing against their servitude. That's why armour like this was always a thing of bard's tales, the magic wouldn't stand to be contained like this for long. How...?"

"A gift from a brilliant man. The legacy, the trust I hold dear."

"Oh." The redhead looked at her companion for a moment, before turning back to the armour. Not that the metallic shells meant much to her; she was no weaponsmith. It was the magic within that impressed her. Just the underlying theories behind it blew her mind, and it made her wonder... what use was there for an untrained mage like her on this team?

"Oh, by the way," the redhead perked up after a minute's silence, "your brother seems to have taken a real interest in magic."

"Oh?" The woman's voice seemed slightly surprised, with perhaps some delight at her sibling taking an interest in something.

"Yes, he wanted to learn how to scry. You know, see things from afar, spy on our enemies, that sort of thing."

"Oh." The voice had changed to suspicion, in a resigned sort of way.

"So I thought maybe I could show him how, you know?"



"Yes. Unless you want to spend a few weeks creating cloaking spells for the bathrooms and changing rooms both here and at all our homes before you do."

"Oh. Oh! Why that little..."

There comes a time in every soldier's life when he or she wishes to have a better weapon. A sharper sword, or a bow with more draw, a halberd with slightly more reach, or perhaps twenty catapults and a coven of battle-sorcerers; those sorts of small upgrades.

For one man, that time came the first market day of every month. He stepped into the display-front of the weaponsmith, a half-smile warring with the tired cast of his face. The man was tall, pretty well-built, with brown hair slicked back so that it wouldn't fall in front of his eyes at a critical moment. His clothes were typical enough - boots, breeches, a faded tunic and a slightly worn light leather jacket. His eyes, with the practice of knowledge and experience, ignored the gaudy showcase weapons designed for merchants and novice fighters and others who knew no better. Instead, they focussed on the store's owner, who stood behind the wooden serving counter.

The proprietor, a very short and tightly muscled woman in her forties, grinned as the man leaned on the counter so that he could meet her eye-to-eye. "Leon, I didn't expect to see you today," she joked.

Leon grinned. "Your beauty always draws me back, Kuro. Things just keep getting worse out there, I need something really effective. What do you have for me?"

The woman cupped her hand under her chin, resting her other hand on her hip. "I picked up a silver mace blessed by the Order of Anticles...?"

He shook his head. "I need something that I can use from a distance - by the time you're close enough to use a mace, they're close enough to rip your stomach out and show you what you had for dinner."

"I've got a halberd I just finished. Bathed for two months in the holy oil of Giomnes, etched with five of the minor Runes of Battle...?"

"Does any of that make it lighter than a normal halberd? Because I've sometimes got to chase the beasts across rooftops and through narrow alleys. That wouldn't be easy with an eight-foot polearm."

"You're a hard man to please Leon," the weaponsmith sighed. "Alright, alright. Wait a moment." She walked through a backdoor, muttering to herself. Five minutes later she was back with a mid-sized box in one hand, and a smaller box in the other. She lay them down on the counter, and opened the larger box.

"So what is it?" he asked after a short pause.

"It's a small crossbow."

"I know that! I meant, what's the wondrous tale behind it? Sealed with the blood of the Berserker god? Constructed from wood brought from the Elven homeland? Kissed by the goddess of luck?"

"Allow me to put it this way, friend. Which do you value more, answers to your questions, or stopping the beasts?"

The silence between them stretched like a heavy net, before he reached out hesitantly and grasped the weapon's stock. "It'll work?" Leon asked, his eyes meeting the smith's, his tone completely void of the light banter it had held before.

"It'll work. To a point, don't expect this to blow apart an ogre or anything with one bolt. And whatever you do, don't let anyone from the mage's guilds get a close look at it. Or the priest sects, for that matter. Let's just say that they would view it as slightly questionable."

"How slightly?"

"Leon, you're the law; I'm not going to answer that. If I didn't think you wanted the thing, I wouldn't have shown it to you, because of your employ. So...?"

Leon didn't answer, glancing at the other case instead. "What's in the smaller box? Bolts for the crossbow?"

"Not quite." She opened the smaller box, to reveal a strange object.

"What are they?" Leon got to the point.

"The mage-artificer who sold them to me called them 'solar spectacles'. I'm thinking of calling them sunglasses for marketing purposes. He claimed that they would be a sought-after artifact one day. I think he was a little bit insane, to tell the truth."

"Aren't all mage-artificers, though?" Leon returned. With a moment of hesitation, he reached over and took the shades, before he tentatively raised them above his head. Sunlight glinted off the reflective surface of the glasses as an angelic choir sang in the background. Leon walked over to the front window and looked out, trying to find the source of the sunlight in the pre-dawn sky. His hand strayed to the hilt of his sword, in case he saw the choir. Damn angels, every time he looked at a new magical item, they'd sing their heads off. It stopped being awe-inspiring after the twentieth or so gloriana, but the little winged buggers just wouldn't shut up.

With a final glance, he returned to the counter. "So what do these things do?"

"Do? I'll be damned if I know," the weaponsmith admitted. "All I know is that you wear them over your eyes. At least, that's what the mage-artificer told me. About all he told me about them, to tell the truth. They were part of a package deal, I didn't think I'd find anyone who'd want them. But when you came in... well, it just seemed right, you know?"

"...I'll take them," Leon decided after a minute or two of thinking. Kuro was correct, they did seem... right. "I'll take the crossbow too, of course."

A few semi-polite minutes of haggling later, the deal was struck, and he put the shades on as the angelic choir cranked up for a second verse. He nodded to the weaponsmith, tucking the closed crossbow case under his arm as the heavenly hosanna reaching a crescendo in the background. He turned, and walked manfully into the wall next to the door. The holy singing died out with an embarrassed whimper.

"The artificer said they might take a short time to get used to, now that I think about it," Kuro noted, leaning over the counter to look at Leon, who was sprawled on the floor.

"Oh. Well, great," Leon muttered, rubbing his forehead. "At least the damned singing's stopped."

It was your typical tavern for an area of the city that just barely avoided being called a slum - a squat and dirty two storey affair, with the bar and kitchen on the first floor, and the bug-infested beds that passed as accommodation on the second.

The owner had looked at the prophetic success of other taverns names when he had chosen the one for his establishment. Taverns like 'The Drunken Fight', 'The Noble's Largesse', and 'Angry Green Dwarf' had all lived up to their name. Since 'Beautiful Women Having Sex With The Owner' couldn't quite fit on the entrance sign, the owner had eventually relented with an easier title: 'Hot Legs'.

"Talk on the street says you want a singer."

The bald, corpulent bartender sighed and looked up from the beer puddle he had been contemplating. He stared at the woman, eyes experienced from years of meeting all sorts of gutter dwellers allowed him a quick appraisal. Youngish, with brown hair that hung to her shoulder blades, eyes that seemed to burn like hot coals on a cold night. Nice enough looking, in a hard sort of way.

The barkeep leaned forward slightly and then smiled. It looked like the old tavern naming convention had worked its charm for once. Maybe he should have gone for 'The Naked Nympho' as a name instead of 'Hot Legs'? No, he decided as his eyes took one last flick over the more and more impatient woman, that would have been pushing his luck, and hoping for too much.

The woman's clothes were typical enough - a leather jerkin hanging over a dirty white shirt, dusty leather breeches tucked into a set of old scuffed boots. The leather was easy enough to come by; there was enough of it offcast from the leatherworks on the river, and the more resourceful of the streetrats had taken to making and selling clothes from the leather leavings.

"You done ogling? Or do I have to slit you a new--"

"I'm done." And that, his eyes told him, was what she was. A streetrat, all grown up. Trash. She'd fit right in here. "So, you got any training?"

"What, you mean at a bard's school"?

"Uh huh."

"Have you been sniffing the fumes from that swill you serve, that stuff you try to pass off as ale? What would a pansy bard want with singing in a fucking dump like this one?"

"So that's a no?"

"'Course it's a no! That doesn't mean I'm not good enough though."

"I don't know..."

"Look, even if you got a bard in here, the crowd would tear the stupid sap apart. 'With a fardy dar here and a hey niiny noo there'... what kind of moron wants to listen to that!?"


"If you're going to say no, then at least say it after you hear me sing, you big, ugly, fat fool! I can always go over to The Incontinent Squirrel, I've sung there before."

"So why don't you?"

"Their ale's so bad, it probably even makes the ratpiss you serve here seem like beer of the gods. Besides, I broke the owner's arm when he thought I could 'do more entertaining than just singing'."

The bartender laughed, his jowls shaking as he slapped the counter. "I like you, little girl! You might actually survive a night or two here. If you really can sing, that is. Got much experience besides the Squirrel?"

"That wasn't my first time singing in a bar, ugly."

"So let's hear it."

The woman walked out of the tavern with a smile that was just slightly smug. A smaller woman with red hair snuck out of a nearby alley, and started to walk next to the singer.

"I can't believe you did that!" the redhead muttered, waving her arms. "You insult the man's parentage to six generations back, you used five different words for ugly and eight for stupid to describe him, you do all but spit on him and he STILL gave you a job! Priss, I just can't believe he didn't throw you out!"

"Quiet down Nene!" Priss hissed, looking around at all the people who were staring at her and the ranting redhead. "Look," she whispered, "some people you need to butter, some you need to fry. I've done some singing before, I know how to get a job doing it. Now what are you doing here? Don't you remember all those little rules that Stoneface lectured us about? Like the one about not knowing each other outside of 'work'?"

"Oh," Nene waved her right hand dismissively, "she probably didn't mean anything like a harmless conversation. She would have been talking about other stuff. Besides, I've got us covered."


"I just swiped your money pouch." Nene replied helpfully, carefully showing Priss her own purse, shielding it from any onlookers. "Anyone looking will think I'm just trying to distract you from my appropriation."

"What?! Give me that!" Priss swiped her coin pouch back, muttering "Little thief," as she retied it to her belt. "Why aren't you with our glorious leader, anyway? Wasn't she going to take you to your cover job?"

"Ah," Nene shrugged, a slightly nervous twinge entering her voice, "I told her I could find my own way, she was busy enough. Sadly, I couldn't find the building when I tried, so I guess we'll have to scrub the whole idea."

"That's okay," Priss grinned. Revenge, she had found while living on the streets, was something best served as quickly as possible - waiting for it to get cold meant you might miss your chance forever. "I'll be glad to show you the way. Just don't expect me to walk inside."

"But... but... argh! I don't want to join the Watch!"

"Aw come on," Priss drawled, laying a friendly arm on the shoulder of the other girl, and incidentally making sure the redhead couldn't run away. "It's the Watch! The few! The proud!" The terminally stupid, she finished the popular saying in her mind.

"And the ones who throw people like me in jail." Nene said despondently. "I'm too cute to be wearing prison smocks!"

"Poor baby. Those idiots at the Watch always judge on appearances anyway, they won't bat an eye when they see you - you just don't look like a criminal. Hell, I bet if I tried to join they'd believe I was a criminal within seconds, and arrest me, no matter what the truth was."

"I wonder why."

"Just don't swipe any of their pouches, klepto, and you'll be fine."

"Linna! I was worried something had happened to you, girl." The young man, a streetvendor who sold kebabed meats, smiled at the young woman. "You haven't performed for a while."

Linna smiled back. "I had an offer of some private performances for a merchant's party. Took me out of action for a few days, but it meant that I can afford to ease up for a while. How's it been for you?"

A little while later, her conversation finished, Linna walked towards her 'spot', the area where she danced. She waved politely to a priest, who was tutoring some children in the open square. He nodded to her, before he returned to his lecture.

"...the guilds gave the craftsmen the thing they needed most in a society that, centuries ago, viewed them as the lowest form of citizenry. It gave them unity, and through unity it gave them power. Why, to see the greatest example of this, you only have to look at what happens when the guilds work together. When the Guilds of Engineers, Neomancers, Occultists and Magi formed their alliance, the pathstones for our wondrous prosperity were..."

Linna moved out of earshot. She didn't have the problem with the four guild alliance, with Genom as they had become known, as Sylia and Priss did. But then, Sylia and Priss just had problems, end of the tale. Still, it depressed her to hear the way everyone seemed to sing the praises of the guilds all the time. Always going on about how great they'd made things...

Didn't they hear about the deaths? Didn't they wonder at the forces that Genom had harnessed to give their paradise? Didn't they see the poverty that still surrounded them?

At least that was one less worry for her; the gods of fortune had truly alighted in her lap with this new job. For once, she didn't have to worry about scraping together the protection money she payed the streetgangs to stop from being mugged, she didn't have to worry about missing her next meal so that she could afford new shoes for her act, she didn't have to worry about the future.

All she had to worry about was which dance to do.

"So why do you wish to become a member of the Watch?"

"Well.. um... I steal... STILL! STILL! I meant still! I still remember when I was a small child. I got lost near my home, and this man found me. He was so kind to me. He didn't know who I was, I could have just been some streetkid, but he was still so nice."

"And this man, he was from the Watch?"

"Well, no, actually. He was a mage. But if he hadn't been a mage, he might have come from the Watch!"

"Miss Romanova. Is this tale going to go somewhere?"

"My point... well, my point is, he was the first person to show me what it really meant to help others. That it's not always happy-ever-after, that there is a cost, even to helping others. But that it doesn't mean that we should stop."

She cleared her throat before continuing. "Why do I want to become a Watch member? Because there are ordinary people out there being terrified by gangs, poor people who couldn't afford a real meal being mugged, and even magical beasts terrorise the lanes at night! Because despite what many people think... er... what many, many people think, this city needs to have the Watch, and, well, I think the Watch certainly couldn't go wrong with having me."

The clerk stared at the girl through narrowed eyes. She was certainly a nervous little thing, he thought, and yet... yet there was something in her, some steel to her spine, that little speech she'd just made had proved that to him.

Besides, it wasn't her courage or her martial abilities that he found interesting. To be honest, it was her ability to read and write fluently that had him intrigued. That was a rare skill among the common folk, except for a few from the merchants' class, and the mages, of course. While the Watch could always do with another able body, what it truly and sorely needed was a few able minds with an able education. What it needed was a few people who could write more than their own name. What it needed was people like this girl.

"Congratulations, you are now a member of one of this city's most respected institutions." He fought hard not to laugh out loud at that rote line. The Watch was a joke; a mundane force in a world of magic, outmatched because it simply didn't have the mana to back its official mandate. What it really needed was for a mage or two to join, and as if any magic-user would waste their time with the Watch. "Report for duty tomorrow at the main compound."

"Really? That's great!" Nene bubbled, shaking the clerk's hand before she bounced out of the small office. Once outside, she lost her happy expression and swore softly. "Oh well," she mumbled to herself, "nobody said that helping to save the country wouldn't require sacrifices. Still... the Watch!"

"Ah, Nene. I'd wondered where you had gone. Come on, we have to get over to the Watch headquarters. A great deal of the group's operations will rely on getting insider information on the city's dealings; we need to have one of us working there."

"I know, I know. I've already been there."


"Well, naturally I got the job." She frowned. "Actually, I think anyone who would apply there would get a job. It's not as if many people are thrilled at the thought of joining the Addicted-to-Death Squad."


"Well, you'd have to be to get a job at a place with such a high bodycount. It's safer working in a plague refuge!" Nene sighed and flopped back into the chair. After a minute or two of silence, she glanced around. "Hey, where's your brother?"

"I decided he needed to learn a little about how to control his baser urges."

After a small pause, Sylia whispered "Again."

"Hey, scrawny, I'll take the chainmail bikini."

Mackie nodded politely, before he looked at the apparel that the Amazon had placed on the store counter. He had headbands that would have covered more than this.

"Ah..." he choked out. "I hear... uh... that this is all the style among barbarian warrior-women."

"Yah," the Amazon grunted an affirmation. "Don't know how it started though, a link-metal bra is bloody uncomfortable to wear, and it doesn't exactly give ya much protection. Still, it's traditional. It just wouldn't feel right, lopping off people's heads with a waraxe if I wasn't wearing the right clothing."

Mackie closed his eyes. In an attempt to banish several images of the woman wearing the 'armour', he tried thinking about her breaking him in half - an act she could obviously do with great ease. With a mental curse, he realised that it wasn't working. In fact, it was making him hornier.

There was only one thing to do. Get rid of her as quickly as possible, before he got a bit too obvious in his thoughts. He opened his eyes, and said "Er... that's sex... er, I mean seven gold then." He screwed his eyes shut again, cursing the fates that had decreed that the chainmail bikini had not been priced at six gold, so that his slip wouldn't have been so obvious.

The woman dropped the gold onto the counter, before looking at him. "First day on the job, eh?"

"No," Mackie admitted, keeping his eyes shut.

"City dwellers," the Amazon sighed, before taking her purchase and leaving. Mackie watched her go, cursing his lapse in professionalism. It's just that... well, it had been a long day. And this job was such torture!

He sighed. How could one job hold so much pleasure and so much pain? If this job was supposed to be some sort of life lesson from his sister, then she was a lot kinkier then he thought.

Another female customer - tall, leggy, and, he noted perversely, another one who could obviously break him in two - walked up to him. "Excuse me, the female assistant was busy; I hope you can help me. Does this leather armour come in a style with more cleavage showing? I've got a gladiator match coming up, and I need something to really distract my opponent."

Mackie bit back a sob. He knew what his sister would do to him if he said

"Try it on so that I can tell," to the customer. This job really sucked.