New Year's Eve, 6105 RTR (17 Apr 2002) Anisa regains consciousness, and goes to find Aaron.
(Aaron) (Amazonia) (Anisa)

There's a certain numbness that Anisa notices as she begins to wake up. She finds herself floating in an oversized bathtub – or whatever the Amazonian equivalent is – and can feel the tightness of bandages wrapping her chest and shoulder. Daylight comes through the open wall of the room she's in, which looks out on the central garden of the villa. The smell of ointments and alcohol saturates her sense of smell as well.

As the doe slowly comes to complete awareness, she winces, her head still throbbing. Curiously, she gives her surroundings a look over, and out to the garden. "Where the heck … ow… "

"Please don't try to move," comes a masculine voice from behind her. It's followed by the sensation of something being peeled off the numb side of her head. "You woke up sooner than I expected. I'm Nemo, your healer."

Anisa blinks, heeding the Healer's words and staying as still as she can. "My … healer? Oh yeah … the fight." The doe gives a sigh, and can't help but shake her head. "I guess this means I lost. It's like my hits didn't do anything to him! I mean, what the heck was that all about? They probably all think I'm a wimp now, you know? I mean – " The rabbit cuts herself off. "Er, sorry, I was rambling. Where am I?"

"One of the recovery rooms," the healer says, chuckling. "I'm used to babbling patients," he adds, and walks around the tub to check on Anisa's bandages. She can see he must be ancient – his posture is stooped and his fur is almost entirely gray, so that it's impossible to tell what his original colors might have been. One of his eyes is a blind, solid white, and he wears a sort of leather apron festooned with pockets and is carrying a jar full of … well-fed leeches.

The doe's ears shoot up at the sight of the leaches. "My name's Anisa, by the way. Uh … you're not gonna use those on me, are you?"

Nemo looks from the doe's expression to the jar of blood-suckers. "I'm afraid I already have, Anysia. I just removed the last one from your face."

The white Lapi blinks, and can't help but shiver in spite of herself, her ears splaying. "Ewww, gross." She sticks out her tongue, and gives one last shiver before regaining her composure. "At least I wasn't awake for it, I guess. How bad am I hurt?" The doe looks down at herself. "I can't really feel anything."

"You have some bruised ribs, and your shoulder is inflamed, but will likely only give you a few days of stiffness," the healer says. "You have some bruising to your abdominals, but nothing to indicate trauma to your organs."

"Lovely," Anisa mutters to herself. "So how long do I have to stay here like this? Not exactly much to do, and it's a bit … revealing." Without the bath house potion, the doe's modesty is in full effect, and lying like this isn't exactly appealing to her.

"I suppose you can leave anytime you wish," Nemo says, sitting down at the foot of the tub-bed and rummaging through his pockets. "I heard about your fight. Not many Warriors would try to challenge a Guardian in unarmed combat, you know."

"What Guardian? It was only Aaron." Anisa raises herself up in the tub a bit, giving a wince as she moves. "I taught him after all, although I guess he's better than I am. And I'm no warrior, just a barmaid."

"Ahh," Nemo says, and stands up to fetch Anisa a towel and robe. "Still, Xavier has the same blood as most of our Guardians. They are bred to take a lot of damage before falling, where Warriors need only be strong and agile, since they have the option of retreating."

The doe hefts herself out of the tub, and shakes her fur out in a mimic of Lucia's drying off method. "Well, he does have that, that's for sure. I must not be as strong as I used to be. I'm getting soft." Stepping out of the tub, Anisa reflexively crosses her arms. "I thought the women here were stronger than the men, or that's what I was led to believe."

Nemo hands the doe the towel, and nods. "They are. The men are simply … harder."

Anisa gives a nod of thanks, and ruffles her fur out with the towel – albeit painfully. "That's for certain." She frowns. "I dunno that I can go out there now. I didn't do a very good job, although he beat me fair and square." The doe sighs. "The student passes the master, I guess you could say."

"You have never been beaten before, then?" Nemo asks curiously, and holds the robe ready.

The doe steps into the robe, putting her arms through the sleeves, then ties it shut. "Well, yes, but it's been a long time. I haven't actually been in a fight for a while." Massaging her arms, the Lapi steps towards the garden, looking it over. "And I didn't expect him to get this good this fast." The doe grins, and turns back to the healer. "Although I guess this means I taught him right, plus maybe now he'll get a little bit more respect."

The old buck nods. "And of course you now have a goal for your own training," he adds with a twinkle in his good eye.

"Yeah, a rematch." Anisa stretches, then quickly doubles over again. "Ow ow… guess I won't be doing much for a while." She takes a seat on the edge of the tub. "So, where is everyone? Off having a good time without me?" She blinks. "How long was I out, for that matter?"

"You weren't out for all that long," Nemo says. "I just released Xavier a little while ago, and I think he went off into the garden. It is a favorite spot to sit and meditate until the painkillers wear off."

"So he's out there?" the doe asks, turning to look into the garden. "I guess I should go congratulate him." She smiles to the old buck. "Thank you for looking after me."

Nemo bows to the doe, then straightens up and says, "If your ribs still hurt tonight, come back and I'll give you fresh wrappings and something to help you sleep."

"I will, thank you!" Giving the old healer a wave, Anisa makes her way into the garden, her ears perked up and eyes peeled for her recent opponent.

The garden is in bloom, and the sheer variety of flowers and their fragrances soon washes the medicine residue from Anisa's nose. Overgrown statues and burbling fountains seem to be scattered around at random, connected by meandering paths.

A bit of wandering, and the doe comes across Aaron sitting at the edge of a mineral-colored pool of steaming blue water, soaking his feet. He also sports some bandages, most notably on his hands and fingers. He doesn't seem to have heard Anisa yet, preoccupied with staring into the pool.

The doe plucks one of the flowers from the bed, and takes a sniff. Twirling the bloom in her paw, she spies the buck, and walks up behind him. "Hail the conquering hero," she says, wearing a big grin. "And none the worse for wear I see."

Aaron's ears jerk upright and he twists his head around with a slight wince. "Oh! You're up already!" he says in surprise, and gets to his feet. "Are you okay?"

Laughing, Anisa takes a seat by the pool edge, putting her own feet into the water. "As well as a few bruised ribs can feel, I guess, but I'll live. How about you?" She looks up at the buck's hands. "I don't remember ever hitting you there."

The buck sits back down to dip his toes into the hot spring. "Oh … well I never fought without gloves before, and I hurt a few of my knuckles," he explains, making an attempt to wiggle his fingers. "You aren't going to kill me, are you?"

The doe laughs, wincing a bit. "Why? You won fair and square. That's how the game is played." She tears off one of the flowers petals, and pops it into her mouth. She then puts the flower behind her ear, chewing on the petal. "Besides, I doubt I could if I wanted to. You did a good job out there. Doesn't look like you need my help anymore."

"I'm still not as quick as you are," Aaron points out, folding his ears back. "You probably would have beaten me easily if I wasn't so used to you pounding on me by now."

"Yeah, but my punches didn't even do any good." The doe thumps Aaron's chest lightly with a knuckle. "I think you've been drinking cement when I wasn't looking!" She grins. "So, what'd they think of our little exhibition? I didn't exactly hear that part."

"Well, it isn't something Epimetheus is likely to teach Warriors," Aaron admits, "but he did comment that it might be good for Guardians, to help toughen them up. Mom and Roland thought it was … errr … romantic."

Anisa blinks at the buck. "Ro … mantic? How is beating the snot out of each other romantic?" The doe chuckles. "Then again, I guess to them it would be. At least now they know you're a fighter."

Aaron nods. "Well, it used to be an old tradition. To marry a doe, the buck first had to prove he could equal her in combat. Since Amazonians fight with swords, though, it sort of went out of favor once they became more domesticated."

"So does that mean you marry me now?" The doe grins, fighting a giggle.

Blushing, Aaron quickly says, "Like I said, it fell out of favor … and you aren't an Amazonian Warrior, anyway."

Anisa laughs, and nods. "Well, you're not a Guardian for that matter. Besides, I was only joking." She grins, nudging the buck playfully. "I was impressed, though. You really used some good techniques."

Grinning now, Aaron nudges back. "Well, I was just glad that I didn't panic. I always took some Cold Shower first whenever we sparred before. You scared me a few times."

"You better not have used it this time," the doe says. "I didn't want you to hold back, although I suppose you didn't or I wouldn't feel like this." She rubs her side with a grimace. "At least now they won't think Rephidimites are soft."

"I hope they don't!" Aaron agrees and gives a shudder. "I'd hate to have them tempted to invade – or worse, come and visit!"

"Oh, they'll come and visit. I'll make sure of that." Anisa grins. "They need to see your new place, after all." The doe pulls another petal from the flower, and tosses it into the pond. "So what else is scheduled for today? Besides healing, that is."

"Nothing much really," Aaron says, and swirls the water with a toe. "Tomorrow is the big day. There'll be the championships at the Coliseum, and the festival afterwards. Lots of 'friendly' inter-Clan games then. But tonight will mostly be used for individual prayer and the yearly slave awards." Turning to look Anisa in the eye, he asks, "You aren't really serious about getting them to visit Rephidim, are you? I mean … think of your brothers, if not me! They'd get eaten alive."

Anisa's ears flop. "Slave awards?" She turns to the buck, and smirks. "I just mean you, Mom or Lucia, not the entire clan of course. It'd be neat to show them around, and to show your mom how successful you are. Your dad too." She grins. "My brothers aren't as big of wimps as they look."

Rubbing his chin, Aaron considers it. "Well, maybe. I still don't know how Rephidim Lapis will react to big warrior does. And the slave awards are just … awards of recognition, sort of."

"They'd be a novelty, sure, but I doubt it'd be the downfall of Lapi culture or anything." The doe shrugs. "Do they reward the slaves themselves, or are the slaves the rewards?"

Aaron blinks, and says, "They reward the slaves, of course."

Anisa shrugs. "I wasn't sure. The concept of slavery is different here, remember?" She grins some more. "Anyway, it'd be nice for your mom at least to visit. She's used to traveling."

"I'll have to hide the armor, or else find someone to fit into it," Aaron grumbles, looking into the blue water. "Maybe it would fit Lucia?"

"But wouldn't that mean you'd have to marry her?" The doe grins. "You could just hide it at my place. Besides, we're just bantering. That doesn't mean it'll actually happen or not. Don't worry so much."

The buck takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "Well, yeah, no sense worrying about it." He then winks at Anisa and says, "And Lucia might make a good wife. She could carry my stuff for me."

Anisa laughs. "She could carry you, for that matter." The doe splashes Aaron's feet with hers. "I think she has her eyes on your cousin, anyways."

"Yeah, Roland is good at his job. Can't blame her there," Aaron admits. "He probably won't come to the Coliseum tomorrow, though. Champion Gladiators make his prices look like chump-change."

"So the women go for the Gladiators instead of the Guardians, eh?" The doe smoothes out her robe. "The whole thing seems weird to me."

"We don't have Gladiators in our clan, but the good ones carry a lot of status," the buck explains. "Even though they're slaves, they're rich slaves and proven fighters. Some clans get most of their income from their Gladiators."

"Rich slaves? Riiight… " Shaking her head, Anisa stands up, shaking off her feet. "I'm gonna take a look around the garden for a bit. My feet are turning into prunes."

"Okay, although you were looking a little prunish when you showed up, to be honest," Aaron teases. "I should go clean up a bit for the awards, but you don't have to come if you don't want to. They're pretty boring."

Anisa flicks some water off at the buck. "I'm no prune. Is Lucia going to the awards? I may see what she's up to."

"She's probably around here somewhere, getting ready for her prayer vigil," Aaron says, standing up and stretching. "Warriors don't show up to the awards, since they're mostly for the household staff and craftspeople."

"Then I'll leave it to you homemakers." The doe grins at Aaron. "I'll see you later – have fun!"


GMed by BoingDragon

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