To: lira-kin@flick.com
Subject: Mermaid Hair (1 of 2)
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 97 11:36:20 -0700

I now have, as Trip called it in a particularly poetic vein, "Mermaid hair."

It was supposed to be blue, but I guess I just wasn't quite depressed enough to have it work out. Instead it's this rich, lovely, multi-hued green to bright teal that fades gradually to more muted greens mixed with seaweed browns with occassional shots of pure blue and red-gold from where either the dye hit a white hair or the dye just barely missed several strands. That is, in the sunlight, it's like that. In the shade or inside a dark room, it mostly looks black, but for the top, which is this muted, dark blue green, like deep, deep water.

The process was pretty intensive, about two hours of bleaching, where Angie painted on a bleaching paste, that, as it took the color away, thinned and ran, so that I easily used half a roll of paper towels to mop up the gritty whiteness that turned drips and drabs of my jeans white. The t-shirt that John lent me, a Microsoft t-shirt, was completely white along the back of the neck, with trippy drips and drabs all white out of it. We did it all in the Angie-lair, which is very, very Angie like, with a Barbie with wings and rainbow colored hair hanging amid butterflies by a wall of myths across from a wall completely papered in Anime characters and posters, and all kinds of happy plants hung from the ceiling in their colorful pots. There were bead curtains and a futon all dressed in the colors of the rainbow. A tiny gorgeously bright place.

I rinsed the stuff out after two hours and my hair was red gold. Deep burning copper gold, that shone in the sun. The top was strawberry blonde, the tips and ends were more of a mahogany brown with small runnels of red thorugh it. Tawny, was the word Carl, Trip, Crisber, and Bryant came up with. They wanted me to play a member of the Lion clan just because of the hair. It was very startling hair. I'm so used to my hair always being dark that whenever a bit of it swung to the fore, I was fascinated by it, by how it shone. Some folks ask me if I regret not just keeping the copper gold and I shake my head. Nope. I like what more it's become.

We played a game of Legend of the Five Rings, then. Carl and I had made me a character during the bleaching, a unicorn bushi girl, with naginata-foo and an ugly looking, big, brown horse with a huge head and the instincts of a warrior. She was, in the terms of the Horde, 'sick' in that she was extraordinarily capable quickly.

The game was really keen, and somewhat based on Okatu Harumi's background. One of her disadvantages was that she had a 'Lost Love', and any reminder of her lost love made her that much less effective until she made a centered effort to get out of her funk. Her lost love was the Lord's son, who was already contracted to another for marriage. It was good that I took 'Lost Love' instead of 'True Love' because the 'True Love' disad would have had her doing things against her honor to get her love back. This way, he was already lost, and while she could moon about him, she wasn't going to disgrace herself and him. Good thing, too, as her job, for this mission, was to escort the young Prince's bride , a lovely Crane Princess, back to the Unicorn Court safely.

With her was a Unicorn archer(played by Fire), and they were to meet an advance party that consisted of a tender hearted Scorpion (Gretchen), a small Crab (Chrisber), and a Crane Gallant (Bryant). I sadly, didn't write down all the names of all the characters, but it, somehow, seems appropriate, that she'd not remember much other than their affiliation, and that her horse would have a name when no one else did. The players you can find on the Horde list (www.flick.com). The advanced party also had the Scorpion's mother along, who was to prepare each hostel for the Princess, not only to make sure that the security was utterly tight, but also to make sure the linens were up to Her Highness' standards, that the food was edible and the service sure.

A little bit about the Clans as somewhat implied by the players I was playing with... The two main clans seem to the the Lions and the Cranes, which are rather at odds with each other. The Cranes are the more subtle of the two, artistic, the Cranes might say. The Lions are just raw power in search of a fight they can run into. The Scorpions are the dark side of magic. There is another clan that does it on the light side. The Crab clan is the southern most clan and directly defends the Empire from the Shadowlands; so they're very practical, less involved in the finer points of honor, more involved with survival and a sure defense against untold horrors. The Unicorn clan is a relatively young clan, in some ways. They were a clan that sailed off and came back with horses and new sword techniques. Kinda like 'Japanese clan meets the Mongul Horde and becomes like brothers.' Since they're relatively new, they don't have quite the grasp of the millenium of politics that have gone on before. The Cranes, however, welcomed the Unicorns into the Lands, and have been friendly to them. The Lions, on the other hand, decided to despise the new ones for their foreign ways. So the Crane get the benefit of Unicorn calvary.

This was one of the signs of the cooperation between the Clans, the sending of the princess to the prince to be married.

So the archer and I met the other four a little beyond the border between the two lands. None of the four really were one with their horses, and the Crane lordling's horse was a beautiful white beast which looked much as if it could be ridden in a parade all day, but had never rested anywhere but it's own stables. The Crab didn't even pretend to know how to ride, which was a refreshing difference from all the other Court folk. We setup camp and a fire and everyone else told stories. The Scorpion's mother's stories about the princess both gladdened me and saddened me, as it seemed that she was as beautiful as she was honorable, as just as she was sure. Surely a good match for my love. Finally, reminded of him, the rest proded me into telling a story as well, eventhough I was reluctant to speak in such well-spoken company. When I was done, though, the eyes of both the Scorpion ladies seemed to indicate that they felt my lord was also worth of their Princess as well, and I was content.

In the morning, I woke to a snort from Raski, my horse, the one he usually used for the scent of fire... and sure enough, in the distance, in the direction of where the Princess had stayed the night, there was a column of dark smoke. The other of my clan and I rode hard and fast and got there first. There were six guardsmen slain, a pile of her dowry set to flame and horses dead and dying. I ended the suffering of the one, and was shaking when the rest appeared. As they gathered, I covered my shaking by gathering arrows from the slain and recovering the ones that could be reused. The Scorpion lady managed to save the wedding kimono from the fire. [The Crab bushi, at this time, realizes that the arrows have the fletching of the Lions. My char was rather... gullible, so believed, for the entire adventure, that the attackers were only bandits out for the ransom. It didn't seem to bother her that all the wealth, much of it easily transportable, was just destroyed. Well, other than the horse...]

The archer found the trail into the woods, of several dozen men and the Emperor's horse, which he'd send as part of the Crane bride's dowry. It seemed that he was in favor of the wedding, too, and the five of us followed the tracks carefully.

It was a ways before I started to hear the screaming of a horse. I charged forward and found a valley, at the bottom of which was a huge web spread across the valley, with a horse, clearly one of the Emperor's own trapped within the sticky strands, screaming. On the other side were two bandits with bows at ready. The screams of the horse angered me, and I wondered why the bandits were so cruel as to bind it as bait this way, so I charged the web and sliced through it, charging the other side, with hopes that my companion would use his skills with the bow and pick off at least one of my adversaries before I got there. Arrows did leap to either side, but then there was a shout from the Crab, "Look above you!"

I looked up and there was a giant spider leaping upon me, so quickly, I couldn't do anything, and the spider muttered unhappily about how I'd damaged her lovely web, and how long she was going to take eating me for that, and she flung me into her web and wrapped me and my naginata together into the web. On of the bandits took advantage of the fact that I was in the web and put and arrow deeply into my gut. [About here, the Crab also notices that the archers don't shoot like Lions... and a Lion wouldn't be shooting anyway, they'd be charging the group.]

The spider forgot about me, once she had me secure, and she spit poison at the Scorpion, paralyzing her. The Crab and my archer started pincushioning the spider with arrows, and the Crane lordling finally finished her off with a swordstroke as fast as an eyeflick. The other bandits were either shot or ran away, and then there was this rumbling...

During most of the fight, I used the blade of the Naginata to saw through the strands holding me. Without the force and speed of my horse behind my actions, the strands took a lot more to get through than I'd thought. But with an extra cut from the Crane lord's sword, I fell to the ground. A quick whistle and Raski was by my side, eventhough I'd looked up at the rumbling and it turned out to be the remaining bandits bringing down the side of the hills onto us.

The Lord threw the Scorpion woman at me, and I caught her and Raski ran for the ridge we'd ridden from. I heard the screams of the horse we left in the web as we ran and I only shuddered until the screaming stopped. I could only hope that the brave Lord's death was a quick one. Raski was uneasy, his eartips flicking back at me, in question for my uneasiness, but he settled again after I patted him on the neck and murmured the song I have only sung for him since he was a colt. The Scorpion woman, still paralized managed to murmur something about a specific herb in her bodice. So I reached in and found it for her and fed her what she needed. She thanked me politely and we joined the others on the ridge.

Once back up on the ridge we were able to track the mass of the bandits as they, cowards as they were, ran away from us again. We followed.

When we broke out of the woods again, it was to see an impasse. A bushi out on the bridge with an archer behind him with a woman next to him. The Scorpion lady said that it was their princess. Suddenly a man ran out onto the bridge and was instantly killed by the archer, but another ran out immediately on the heels of the first, and there was a showing of iajitsu that I, poor student of that art that I am, could not even see. The man on the bridge was cut, but only lightly. That was when I could see that the second man out was the Lord that I thought had been caught in the avelanche! The Lords of Hell must have sent him back to save his Princess!

[The Crane lord was saved by a boyhood friend and rival who was in love with the Princess. The Lord managed to cut the boyhood friend off and say that all he'd seen was a number of bandits making off with the Princess, and that the friend had happened on the situation and helped him save the Princess from the bandits. Although it was fairly obvious that the friend was part of the whole scheme to steal the Princess at this time so that she wouldn't have to wed the Unicorn. Sometimes it's nice having a simple character, doesn't get into these strange tangles of loyalties... or cuts through them.]

I could do no less, though it felt like the Lords of Hell were eating at my guts instead of a simple arrow, so I let the Scorpion woman down and urged Raski to flight. We leaped the two fighting men and charged the far archer, naginata at ready but so terribly heavy in my hand. Two arrows lept from behind me and pinned the bandit archer, but even as I watched he swung his wakazashi to cut the ties of the bridge. I swung my blade to prevent the cut and knocked the unfortunate man over the bridge into the ravine below. The Princess' eyes were only for the men on the bridge, not caring for her own safety, she cast about for a weapon, and I was about to hand her my own soul as my body was too weak to carry them, when the Crane Lord finished the fight and the bandit was sent to his death in the darkness.

We returned triumphant, with the Princess safe and happy for her wedding. [Only the Scorpion girl, who had been the long time friend of the Princess was able to detect the slightest of hesitations to her gladness at the recovery of the wedding kimono... and she held that fact close to her heart for later use.]

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