A haze encircled the table. Arsemia’s magic hung over Shardae and in her lungs–smoke with the scent of hot desert rock thick on the air. The woman herself hung over empty space.
“I’m not a real noble,” Arsemia said. “And you aren’t a slave, either. Which leaves both of us unemployed.”
Shardae eyed the woman’s fine coat and elegant boots. “It does?”
“It does. I…do a little bit of everything, you see.” Arsemia smiled, more smoke spilling out between her teeth. “But you were trained to be a priestess, weren’t you?”
Shardae fanned the Cili woman’s magic away from her face and shoved her chair back. “I’m not a priestess.”
But the woman only drifted closer. “Obviously not. You could still pass for one, though, couldn’t you? To an, ah, untrained audience?”
“I told you, I’m not a priestess.” Shardae shot up, every bone in her fist pronounced black and rattling with dark magic. Arsemia dissipated lazily into ashes, eddying outwards.
“You don’t need to be one. All you need to do is wear it well.” An impression of hands landed on Shardae’s shoulders.
“I couldn’t do it myself, and frankly, neither could you. The stars themselves would hide from that scowl of yours. But together, we could put on a marvelous show. My stage, and your costume. What do you say, pretty one?”
Arsemia’s character has come a long way. First concept Ema was a badass rebel leader who slew men. Now she’s an extravagant conwoman with bizarre powers who gets away with everything (until she doesn’t, but that’s for later). Shardae got arrested for a reason, you know…
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