DIVA: The DYAL Goes To Eleven #1

deucexm deucexm at gmail.com
Wed Jan 13 06:16:34 PST 2016

Since someone mentioned it in the review, I thought I'd put in some time and 
effort, and continue working onnnnn...!

The DYAL Goes to Eleven: A DiVerse Alpha Chronicle
by Colin Stokes

Chapter 1: Jack and Queen


Solyra Minx stared listlessly at the wall opposite the reception desk, a quiet sigh 
escaping her lips.  It would have seemed unprofessional, had there been anyone 
around to witness it.
   Cherry had sent in a message early this morning about being sick, something 
about a potion experiment gone wrong, but it didn't matter all that much with the 
current dearth of clients.  No one was in the tailoring queue at the moment, so Sol 
had nothing better to do than run the desk for the day.  Besides, it wasn't as if 
some insane caster would suddenly blow the doors off their hinges and /demand/ 
their wardrobe be upgraded with all sorts of magical style and panache...
   Minutes passed as Sol watched the door with a wry smile, imagining just such a 
scene, and finally shook her head.  No, no, that would never happen here.  Even on 
its most interesting days, Salon DYAL was tame, calm, and fairly - she hated to 
think - unremarkable, all told.
   The door swung open with a startling suddenness, and Sol snapped back to 
complete attentiveness in the space of a single heartbeat.
   "Oh, now this place is just /lovely/!" a melodious voice sounded, its owner 
sliding inside with a bright smile upon his features and curly dark brown locks 
framing a fair-skinned face set with sparkling wine-red eyes.  Well did the Dark 
Kingdom of Fire know its gemstones, for it was blessed with a multitude of them, 
but even Solyra herself had never seen any jewel glitter with the sheer... 
vivacity, really, that this man's eyes held in their depths.
   His clothing could use some work, though, she mused once she was finally able to 
tear her attention from his face.  Such a dreadfully ragged little traveling cloak 
of charcoal gray with - were those burnt edges at the bottom?  And underneath, a 
dull brown leather tunic, white tights, brown leather boots, all very much in 
disrepair.  Solyra knew she had an opportunity on her hands to satisfy and be 
satisfied, and she stood up a little more proudly as she opened her mouth to 
address her latest client.
   "Darling," the man called over his shoulder suddenly, "/do/ come in.  This is 
the place we've been wanting, I think."  And as he stepped aside, Solyra simply 
stared and said nothing as the most regal woman she had ever seen entered the 
   Perhaps 'regal' wasn't quite the term - but then again, she mused, perhaps it 
was.  The woman reminded her of tales she had read before about ancient warrior-
kings, those who led from the front instead of the rear.  She had the steely gaze 
and the relaxed but alert posture of a warrior, yet combined with the sheer 
presence of a monarch used to being obeyed without question.  The woman's short and 
spiky red hair somehow enhanced the image, rather than diminishing it, and her 
attire matched her companion's in both color and wear.
   "I certainly hope so," the woman returned, Solyra's back straightening 
reflexively at the rich, deep, and just slightly rough-edged voice.  Definitely a 
warrior, this one.
   Sol cleared her throat quietly, trying to moisten it a little as the woman's 
gaze snapped instantly to her at the sound.  "Welcome to Salon DYAL," she began, 
and let out a breath as she relaxed and spread here arms expansively.  This was 
/her/ turf, after all.  "Solyra Minx be my name, and fashion be my trade.  Now 
then, who /you/ be, hmm?  And what can this Sol do for you?"
   The man tittered - there was no other word suitable for that tiny little giggle 
- and inclined his head to the woman.  "Ladies first, darling."
   The woman let out a quiet sigh, as if to say 'yes, he does this all the time', 
and strode forward, closing the distance to the reception desk in three strides.  
"You may call me... 'Archer'," she began, pointedly ignoring the man's silent 
applause and overly interested expression.  "My companion, ah... 'Dazzler'," this 
with just a touch of irritation as the man mock-swooned, "and I, are here to 
request the commission of some... fancy?  Yes, fancy clothing.  There is a party we 
must attend, and we must be... simply stunning."
   Solyra just stared for a moment, then smiled warmly.  "Be no problem at all!" 
she returned cheerily, already imagining the profits she could rake in from this 
little venture.  "Lucky for you two, there be no one else in line, so work be 
startin' soon as it can.  That is, if you be payin'.  The DYAL cost money t' turn, 
   "Well," Dazzler piped up, rubbing his hands together greedily - or pretending 
to, it was hard to tell - "we /could/ just-"
   "No," Archer quickly interjected, with slightly unseemly haste but a definite 
finality.  "No tricks.  We have no money of your kind, I fear," she continued, 
turning back to Sol, "but perhaps we can come to an agreement of equitable trade.  
If there are some materials you lack, perhaps, or would desire to stock - 
especially if the matter involves hunting," and here her eyes almost seemed to glow 
with excitement, "we could most certainly be of service."
   Solyra didn't doubt it for a moment.  This could work out even better, she 
mused, if they- if she's half as good on the battlefield as she appears. "Since you 
mention it," she began, a little slowly, "there be a few things the DYAL be needin' 
that a good hunter could provide.  Be dangerous, though.  No stroll through the 
   Dazzler sashayed up and leaned against Archer's side, prompting a quiet sigh 
from her.  "We're not exactly from /around/ here, Miz Minx," he returned with that sparkling smile, drawing out the 'Miz' a little, "but if you provide a map and 
perhaps some guidance, whatever you need is as good as yours, danger or no."
   "Well then, if you be able t' prove yourselves with one job, maybe I let you see 
the big list, yah?" Solyra offered, quickly filling a sheet of paper with contours 
and red and blue lines - red for the molten rock, blue for the water - and adding a 
pair of Xs to mark the salon and the hunting grounds.  "Can't be havin' just 
/anyone/ see where t' get the best materials."
   Archer nodded firmly.  "That is acceptable."  She glanced down at the sheet, 
committing it to memory in the space of a few moments.  "Not far at all.  And what 
shall we bring back as a token of our victory?"
   Sol simply smiled.  "There be fire-breathing lizards," she began, "with teeth 
like the most /beautiful/ gems.  Hard as metal, good for cuttin' and markin' and 
things besides.  The older the beast, the better the teeth, yah?  So show me what 
you be capable of, and /then/ we be talkin' 'bout other things."
   The woman smiled back, a sharp gleam in her eyes.  "We shall show you a /part/ 
of our... capabilities, to be sure.  Dazzler!  Let us be off."
   Dazzler laughed that melodious laugh of his, twirling on the toe of one boot and 
following after Archer as she headed off to the front door.  "You're enjoying 
yourself, aren't you, darling?" Sol heard him murmur, as he slipped his arm into 
hers with the grace of a professional escort.  "I haven't seen you smile /that/ 
smile in /far/ too long."
   The door closed after them, and Solyra watched it for a moment longer, smiling a 
bemused little smile at the curious pair before grabbing her notepad and furiously 
scribbling and sketching as the creative juices flowed.  This was truly a day for 
art /and/ profit!

   Archer reached the crest of the hill and looked down into the rocky valley where 
her guide had placed an X on the map.  Sure enough, there were dark scaly forms 
moving about in the dim light shed by the molten river nearby; no fire just yet, 
though.  She could feel her pulse quickening at the thought of battle, even a 
simple test of strength against these creatures.  How long had it been?
   "Too long, darling, too long," Dazzler trilled from behind her, a black mist 
starting to spread from underneath his cloak as he approached, having fallen behind 
the woman's strenuous pace on the climb.  "But I'm /sure/ you'll get your fill."
   "Am I so transparent?" she mused, drawing her arms from under her cloak and 
extending the left with its silver bracelet.  The metal shivered, and spiked upward 
and downward with a soft whispering sound, forming the limbs of a majestic longbow 
that glimmered beautifully in the light of the setting sun.
   Dazzler smiled gently, placing one hand on Archer's shoulder.  "To me, yes.  But 
that's only as it should be, no?  I /am/ your consort, darling, don't forget."
   Archer's lips quirked a little at that, her bronze cheeks gaining the tiniest of 
pink flushes.  "Even if I tried, I doubt I could."  A gentler voice, this, more of 
the silk and less of the steel.  The silvery bow expanded, growing four wings, and 
she strung it with a gesture, feeling the tension like it was a part of her body.
   "We should do this sort of thing more often," Dazzler murmured, his crimson eyes 
sparkling with delight as he watched.  "I love it when you're like this, darling.  
Longreach is a work of art this evening."
   "She'll be bloody before we're through here," Archer returned in a sedate half-
whisper as she drew a silvery arrow the length of her arm out of the bracelet, 
nocking and drawing back in one smooth motion.
   Dazzler smiled, his own voice dropping to a whisper as his hands rested on the 
woman's waist.  "That, too, is a kind of art."
   The bowstring sang a single, sweet note.  The arrow vanished like a tiny bolt of 
lightning, flying faster than sound itself, and pierced through one of the lizards.  
It dropped like a stone, and a cluster of scaly heads popped up and stared at the 
cloud of mist rolling down the hillside.
   It was going to be a good night.

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