Gates

Interlude: Taking Measure

In Which Chendrea Calls on Nasti

posted by Darth Krzysztof

6 Gozran (IV), 4720 AR

Nasti gives her goblin employees today’s assignments, and chooses some work for herself, but the delicate embroidery on this dress is too much for her attention span. Her yellow eyes keep moving from the workers hunched over their tiny desks to the front door, until Chendrea finally saunters into the Loose Thread just before lunchtime, wearing a dazzling white gown and a smile to match.

“Darling!” Chendrea exclaims, the honey of her voice seeping down into Nasti’s core. “So sorry to keep you waiting, but you know how hard it can be to get one’s lunch hour underway.” Nasti’s certain that Chendrea also took time to change into this outfit and finds herself appreciating the effort.

The wizard closes the door with one hip, as her hands are cradling a basket. “You haven’t eaten already, have you?”

Nasti shakes her head. Waiting for Chendrea has so preoccupied her that she hasn’t realized how hungry she’s become. Famished, even. She gets up and leads Chendrea through the workshop, keenly aware that work has stopped as every eye follows them to the back door. Goblin gossip is the worst, she thinks, but let ‘em. Maybe I’ve finally found a form of attention that I enjoy…

The back room might make a good office, or a somewhat cramped bedroom, but it’s terrible at being both at the same time. Nasti scoops a partially unrolled length of purple velvet off the floor and leans it against a wall, clearing her way to the desk so she can pull out the chair, collect the loose papers from the desk, and shove them under her pillow. Canter stirs at the foot of the bed with a mrrow sound, stretching limbs in every direction and yawning ’til all his fangs show.

Satisfied with her minimal straightening effort, Nasti takes the basket and places it on the desk. “Do you want the chair? Or the bed?”

“I can move,” Canter says, “if y’all wanna shaaare the bed.”

“Stop that,” says Nasti, with no small amount of growl. But Chendrea has already squeezed past her to sit on the bed so she can pet Canter vigorously with both hands, coaxing out a robust purr, until he rolls to expose his rounded tummy.

That gives Chendrea pause. “Are you the sort of cat who likes a belly skritch? Or is this a trap?” When Canter simply regards the wizard with one long, slow blink of his green eyes, Chendrea looks to Nasti, who simply shrugs. “All right, then.”

Chendrea finds the fur there sleek and impossibly soft, but Canter soon belches out a scintillating little cloud of gas that catches her right in the face. Chendrea bursts into hysterical laughter for six full seconds; once the wizard regains her composure, Canter simply says: “I’m not any sort of cat.”

“I’m going to pet you anyway,” Chendrea says, wiping tears from her eyes.

“As well you should, lest you incur my displeasure and wrath, mortal!”

“He’s not not a cat, either,” Nasti adds, removing meat pies from the basket. “Are these from the vendor next door to you?”

Chendrea nods as, with seemingly great effort, Canter heaves himself up, crosses the bed to the wizard, and plops down alongside her, spent. “I know you’re fond of them. I want the chicken pie, though.”

“Of course.”

They eat in relative silence; Chendrea must be starving, too. Nasti keeps stealing glances at Chendrea, at the way her hair looks like snow in the open window’s sunlight. How, Nasti wonders, have I drawn the attention of someone so beautiful? Perhaps she’s mad? Maybe she’s secretly evil?

Maybe she’s seeing whatever it is that Amaya and Nova say they see in you. Stranger things have happened, and not only at sea.

Finishing the last bite of her meat pie, Chendrea says, “I would love to stay and play, darling, but we should probably conclude our business before we get sidetracked?”

She reaches down and pulls off one boot. As she reaches for the other, Canter says, “_Now_ do I need to get out of here?”

“No,” Nasti says. “I’m measuring her for a new pair of boots. Grow up, Canter. That’s the whole reason she came; I know you read the note she left me.”

“I doubt it’s the whole reason. You don’t usually bring people back here to take their measurements.” He has more to say, but Chendrea scratches him under his chin in a way that renders him cross-eyed.

Nasti can’t mask her disdain for Chendrea’s current boots as she examines them. Their style is evergreen, but their support for the wearer probably faded around the time Ravounel won independence. No wonder she’s been so footsore. She sets them aside, gathering ink, quill, and paper, as well as her knotted measuring string. “Come, then,” she says. “Let us begin.”

She has Chendrea stand on the paper and draws an outline around each foot. “I simply can’t wait to see what you come up with,” the wizard says. “I’m sure you’ll knock my socks off – though I’ll have to put some on, first.”

“I’ll make you some of those, as well. It’s warmer for the winter and drier in the summer.” She quickly adds: “Not that you seem to have any issues.”

“Certainly not. Elfblooded ladies don’t sweat.” Chendrea’s joking (Nasti thinks), but it sounds like something she’s been saying all her life. Her mother’s expression, perhaps? Or was her father the elven parent?

I know so little about her. And I don’t know how long I’ll have to work on that before I’m called away again! I have to take my time with her. That is to say, I want to take my time. But it’s so damn difficult… I mean, look at this woman. Look at her. Even her feet are beautiful. Nasti feels her own sweat gathering, despite her own elven ancestry.

Nasti wraps the string around each of Chendrea’s calves to measure them, then measures each foot around the heel, arch, and ball, and writes her findings on the edge of the page. She’s done this before, of course, but something about the way Chendrea responds to her gentle nudges to move, the warmth of her skin beneath her fingertips… it’s sensuous, like a dance. She lets herself get lost in the moment, but only briefly.

“That’s all I need for now.” Before she knows what she’s doing, Nasti’s putting Chendrea’s boots back on her. She glances up at Chendrea’s face, sure for a split second that she can see an aura of desire coruscating around the wizard. It could be adoration… or mere amusement… or maybe she just makes that face when someone’s kneeling before her. Nasti doubts that she’s the first to find herself in this position. “I have some lovely calfskin I’ve been saving for just such an occasion.”

“Glorious!” Chendrea leans forward to place a tender, lingering kiss on Nasti’s forehead, just above her sigil, then rises to leave. It’s too quick and too glancing for Nasti to form a response, but the gesture’s still laden with significance. “I really must run, darling; so much to do. Will I see you tonight?”

“Is it Moonday?”

“All day!” Canter volunteers.

Nasti shakes her head. “I can’t, tonight. Calamity’s playing the Sly Wink. Do you wanna see them with me?" She’s pretty sure that’s too loud a scene for Chendrea, but doesn’t want to be rude.

As Nasti expected, Chendrea politely declines.

“But I’m free on Toilday night,” offers Nasti.

“Then it’s a date,” Chendrea says. “Meet me at the shop after closing?”

“Okay. If the skies stay clear, I have something in mind.”

“Interesting. Canter, are you coming this time?”

“Nah. I plan on having some sleeping to do.” He stretches out again. “You kids have fun, though. Don’t do anything that’d get you thrown out of Rahadoum!”

Side-eyeing her familiar, Nasti gets up and walks Chendrea through the workshop; this time, the goblins’ whispers follow them as well as their eyes. “Does Canter need to sleep?” Chendrea asks as they reach the door.

“I’m not sure. I just know that he loves to. He’s the same way about food. Oh!” she exclaims. “We left your basket in the back.”

“Hold onto it. You never know when I’ll need an excuse to come running back here.” Chendrea’s wink is playful and wicked all at once.

“You don’t need an excuse to come see me, Chen.” She decides to try this nickname on for size.

If Chendrea dislikes it, she gives no sign: “It can still be useful to have one, darling. Until tomorrow.”

Chendrea lingers for a kiss; when she doesn’t get one, she offers a little curtsey/salute and saunters off down Cooper Street, making a big show of not looking back.

“Until tomorrow,” Nasti sighs before closing the door to return to work.


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