Gannayev, Gann-of-Dreams, spirit shaman and dreamwalker, handsomest hagspawn in Rashemen – not that he'd yet seen one of his kind who was even remotely likely to challenge the self-proclaimed latter title – lay back in his jail cell and stretched luxuriously. Easy, here, to forget about the angry farmers and their tempting daughters, forget about the prejudices of the locals and their utter lack of a sense of humour, easy to forget about... whatever that particularly forgettable thing had been.
Not so easy to ignore the furious spirit army outside the city gates, but Gann was doing his not-inconsiderable best. Drifting into sleep, beginning to shape himself a dream... In short, life was pretty good. Hearing that thought cross his mind should have been his first clue, if he wasn't counting the angry spirit horde, or the voices outside his cell. The Rashemi simply didn't go jail-visiting.
The door to his cell swung open. He didn't even bother to look up. "Ah, more jailors come to rattle my cage?" His voice faltered a little as a huge presence, seemingly made of emptiness, dissolution, and hunger rolled into the cell, almost cloaking one of the two women who came in with it. Since it didn't seem as it was about to attack him, though, he recovered. " Here I was, settling into a relaxing dream, now you've gone and spoiled it. "
"Your cell doesn't have bars to rattle," replied a soft female voice. Not alluring, Gann decided regretfully; just tired. " It has stone walls with wards inscribed on them." Now, was that sarcasm, or a distressingly literal frame of mind?
"Not very well." Another woman. "And someone's altered them... from the inside, and with considerable skill." Huh. This pair might be actually worth talking to. He sat up and looked at them. One was examining the wards – the second speaker, he assumed – her skin slightly golden, her eyes large and dark. That was all he could see, her dark robes hiding most of her figure, and its hood hiding most of her head, but she was definitely a beauty, which made a nice change from the warden, the only other woman he'd seen with his waking eyes in weeks. The dreaming eye, of course, being another matter entirely.
The other woman – the one he could scarcely feel behind the emptiness - was looking straight at him, her face entirely neutral. Interesting... and an interesting face, too. All angles, sharp and intense. In fact, Gann decided, that wasn't a bad description of the woman as a whole. Inky blue-black hair, tucked behind slightly-pointed ears, very pale skin, dark shadows under her eyes, very nearly the same dark blue colour. Been under a lot of tension for a very long time, if Gann was any judge of women – which he was - which looked a little odd, considering how young she appeared. Not the only odd thing, either; angular worried tired girl in heavy plate armour with a – and just how had it not been one of the first things he'd noted? – great big scythe. All in all... intriguing. There was something else, too...
"What crime have you been jailed for?" she asked then. Gann nearly smirked, then decided there was no real reason to restrain himself and smirked away.
"My crime? It is a serious one – you see, I am too handsome to look upon."
"Really." She looked him up and down, studying him thoroughly. The hooded woman put her hand over her mouth, suppressing her amusement, as Gann continued smirking, waiting for the inevitable reaction as her dark eyes finally returned to his face.
He didn't get it.
"Handsome, yes, but I didn't have any problem looking at you. Was I supposed to be struck blind or something?"
"Huh," Gann said. Surely he could have come up with something better than that? Nevertheless, the blank little monosyllable had fallen from his usually eloquent tongue. Her cool appraisal had rather rattled him. It just didn't make sense. Even the oldest and most withered of women, such as his dearly beloved warden, reacted when Gann looked at them that way, and once they'd taken a good look at him, his way to their bed was usually all but clear.
Ah, yes, that was the third of the oddities. Either the woman possessed self-control a paladin would murder for, was genuinely uninterested in him (and his pride insisted that was impossible) or else she simply preferred women. He'd made that mistake before – a pleasant dream-dalliance with a busty blonde, who'd spent minutes playing with his hair, then fled with a shriek when it had become all too clear that her dream-lover wasn't a woman.
That would make sense. One classically beautiful, one with the muscles, spell and sword , and he relaxed slightly. Still had some ground to make up; he'd be damned if he couldn't charm these women, even if neither of them would appreciate the fullest extent of his charms. So to speak.
"This banter is delightful, but something must have brought you here – other than the chance to converse with me."
The women exchanged glances. Not lovers' glances, though; they were deciding how much to tell him. "There's an army of spirits outside the city gates. We're looking for recruits to help us deal with them," the dark haired woman said. Definitely the leader, Gann decided.
"They've arrived, then. With all that pent-up bloodthirst, I would have expected them to take longer." His eyes narrowed. "And I find myself with the suspicion that the blood they seek is yours. Grave robber, are you? Tsk, tsk. One should leave barrows of the ancient bear god alone, lest he come for you in his garishly-coloured furry rage."
A corner of the woman's mouth quirked. As it was the most expressive gesture he'd yet seen her make, Gann felt pretty sure he was back on track. "At least he wasn't afraid to experiment with colour a little. A uniform shade of blue-grey –" she looked him up and down again –"suggests unoriginality more than deliberate aesthetic choice."
The wizard grinned at both of them. "Charming as this is, it's not helping with the furious spirits. Remember them?" Wait a moment. No mistaking a slight warming of her interest as her gaze fell on him. Well, it wasn't impossible, but... he recalculated the body language and expressions between the two women. Not lovers. But then, that meant the other woman...
"Not the sort of thing I'm likely to forget," she said.
... really? Surely not. He shifted forward a little, lowered his voice a little. Turned up the charm a little. "So, entertain me, brave one. Why should one such as I follow you into such a hopeless battle?"
She didn't move away from him, but the strongest reaction she displayed were raised eyebrows and a slight narrowing of her eyes. "Hopeless? I think you must calculate odds differently than I would. My companion, Safiya –" the hooded woman nodded politely- "is a very powerful wizard. I admit I'm a stranger here, but a weapon master – Tarva El-Auri, should you be interested – can do a great deal of damage in almost any circumstance. We defeated Okku within his barrow. And we... I... have already destroyed a powerful telthor utterly." Her face grew even more stony for a moment. Clearly there was something about that incident that she was not entirely happy with. "To be honest with you, I have no idea if it will happen again-" curious, Gann thought, already it's not something she did, but something that happened. Food for thought- "and my guess is that's what enraged Okku enough to come after me." She shrugged.
"So that's what I'm offering. Amnesty for the crime of being too handsome to look upon-" her eyes swept him again, and this time Gann was almost sure they were amused-" in exchange for your aid against your garish bear god. Think of it as a chance for some destructive aesthetic criticism, if you like."
A woman with a sharp wit, apparently entirely uninterested in him, offering him the chance to fight against an army of furious telthors. For a moment, his unselfish instinct towards the preservation of his hide rose to the fore. He owed it to the world – and the farmers' daughters, of course – to keep Gann alive. He was simply too handsome to be allowed to die.
On the other hand, there was one thing Gann-the-Irresistible could not resist, and that was a challenge.
"Very well, you have a willing soldier at your side- shall we be off?"
Just one dream, Tarva El-Auri, weapon master.
That's all it takes.