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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 17th day of Sleeping, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 113 > Continuing Series > Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Two

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Two

by scriptfox

Seven o’clock found me jittering around the edge of the rainbow pool. I tried to pull my hat lower than the hole for my horn would allow, and found myself reciting a minor charm to make my golden coat appear less noticeable. I was rather spooked, in fact.

     Admittedly, telling Kallisari about what I was doing tonight hadn’t helped. She didn’t really say a whole lot, but the look she gave me told me that if I wanted to stay in her good graces I’d better talk about it in a lot more detail afterwards. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust me, but…

     Anyway, this whole assignment, playing bodyguard to a deaf belly dancer who had already had one knife thrown at her wasn’t exactly relaxing stuff. For a minute my paranoia wondered if I’d been set up. After all, Sadiyah had been muffled up in robes and veils. How did I know she was even a she? She hadn’t said a single word to me- just made motions at her petpet and let it do the talking.

     It took me about three seconds to reject that idea. For one thing, it would be virtually impossible for a male to duplicate the way she had walked and moved. And for another thing, any male seeking to trick me would find it hard to do so while belly dancing.

     A paw tapped me on the shoulder and I jumped. I turned around to find myself staring into the amused blue eyes of a rather slender Kyrii. A very feminine one, in fact. My jaw dropped a bit. The heavy robes and veils were gone, replaced by a costume of almost sheer fabric that just barely met the minimum requirements of maiden modesty. The veil was a designer thing that was more suggestion than concealment.

     Sadiyah grinned as she made signs at me. Mu’awin hovered above her as he translated. "I’m so glad to see you, MonoKeras. Are you ready for this evening. I know I am."

     "Oh! Sure, sure. Um… lead on, milady…" I bowed and motioned her to proceed. She nodded and took the lead before her Faerie Cadro had even translated for us.

     We made it to the bar without incident. My nervous gaze found nothing that was threatening, and if I’d had any doubts about Sadiyah’s femininity, they were totally shattered by watching her walk. Definitely not male.

     I followed Sadiyah into the Ankh-bar tavern and nonchalantly strolled behind her until she went into a back room. She never turned or acknowledged me, and I didn’t try it with her, either. I was there to watch, and she was content to let me without hassling me about how I should do it. I like that in a woman.

     I took a seat at the end of the bar closest to the small stage and ordered a fruit drink. Tchea isn’t exactly a favorite of mine, but I’ve had far worse while on duty. I sipped and waited. Eventually, a Skeith stepped out from behind the curtain. "And now," he said in profound bass tones, " the moment you have all been waiting for. Sadiyah, and the dance of the hundred ribbons."

     Wild applause, cheering, and whistling broke out as the announcer stepped aside along with the curtain. Three or four musicians began that type of Lost Desert wailing thing that they use for music, but there was no Sadiyah. Then she swayed onto the stage. My eyebrows went up. Her costume was still basically the same, but now her hair had been done up in a mass of purple and blue ribbons, along with some more that floated from her arms and wrists. The drummer pounded out his beat and she perambulated up the ramp that led from the stage to the long table that ran through the room. I noted that ramp and table were fastened firmly together, and that the drummer had been placed on the head of the ramp. I had to admit that they were good- no way would she miss feeling that beat.

     The brass (or string or whatever) section that had momentarily fallen silent while Sadiyah assumed her place on the table began again. All eyes (including mine) were riveted to her as she swayed to the music, ribbons flowing from her, dangling under the patrons’ noses.

     Before too long, they began grabbing as the ribbons went by. I held my breath, expecting Sadiyah to either stumble or lose her temper. She did neither. Although she managed to avoid many of the grabbing paws, a successful one was handled by simply pulling free and leaving the patron with a ribbon. After this happened a few times, I realized that she was playing with them, and that they were supposed to try for a prize. I snickered to myself and quit worrying about her.

     Now that the novelty had worn off, I remembered my job to be on the lookout for trouble. I eased away from the bar and around Sadiyah’s dancing table, gaze casually traveling over the crowd, looking for anyone that might be showing the type of interest that they shouldn’t.

     The wrong type of interest… it’s easy to say, but hard to really describe- and not much easier to spot. I finally wound up sitting next to a Lost Desert Kyrii that might have been Sadiyah’s mate in olden times- or perhaps a brother. As it was, his glare towards her seemed almost predatory.

     I was wondering how I might strike up a conversation when he looked over at me and gave a rasping chuckle. "Purty, ain’t she."

     "Oh… yeah, of course." Okay, so it wasn’t an eloquent reply.

     "Look at her. She’s dragging this audience into her own world. Lots of kartrah, that one."

     "Kartrah?"

     The oldster shot me a withering look. "Go look it up, foal. It’s only the most important thing in the universe." He looked at me and snickered a bit. "Not bad for it yourself, if you weren’t so easily moved."

     "Mmmm…" I had shifted from wanting to start the conversation to trying to end it. This guy was a little nuts, but I didn’t quite place him as sinister.

     He chuckled and leaned forward to wink at me. "Think you can try your luck? I can get you in any time you want, but you play for keeps."

     "Oh really."

     The other nodded with a look of profound wisdom. "Oh yes. Only for keeps. And it’s the corner of 18th and Buzz Avenue."

     "Generous of you," I murmured.

     He barked in laughter. "So you say! I’m warning you, boy, as much as anything."

     For some reason, he nettled me. I gave him a smirk that was supposed to be knowing, and then edged to another part of the room. I looked back at Sadiyah, and had to admit that she definitely drew the eye. Her pace had picked up considerably. Her ribbons flung out wildly now, and her finger cymbals snapped in perfect beat. Through all this, she still maintained absolute silence, along with an expression of remoteness that was alluring, tempting, and aloof. I blinked and grinned. Of course she was ignoring the calls of the crowd. Wrapped in her own deafness, she was playing for the beat, the feel from her feet. The rapt gaze on her face was not pretence, it was an actual absorption between her and the music she could hear only in her head.

     I heard the clanging before I realized it was a pirate Eyrie seated at the table. He was banging his mug wildly on the table.

     "Arrrh! Dance, girl, dance yer heart out! C’mon Lassy, ye’ve got me own heart in yer paws! C’mere me busty and give it back!"

     Sadiyah’s dance trembled only slightly as the banging continued. I realize that her beat was being interrupted by it, and briefly worried that she would lose it. Then she slowly began to sway towards the inebriated Eyrie, making every move seem a natural part of the music. He stopped and stared up at her, tongue lolling out of his beak. For a couple of seconds her soft golden paws lightly tapped the table in front of him and then splish! It happened so fast that no one could have anticipated it, much less its victim. Sadiyah’s foot had plunked itself into his mug, splashing the drink onto his beak. By the time his head had jerked down towards the source of his unexpected wetness, her foot was long gone and she was dancing away, leaving only a few wet spots that were quickly absorbed into the table’s wood.

     The crowd roared its approval while the Eyrie simply sat there, befuddled wits still trying to figure out what had just happened to him. It was obvious that he knew he’d been had, but he didn’t know how. Everyone else did, though, and began grabbing for Sadiyah’s remaining ribbons with renewed enthusiasm. They were soon gone, and Sadiyah reached back into her mane of hair. The next thing I knew, she had thrown a loop of cloth through the air. As it sailed into a cloud of clutching paws, I realized it had been a ‘ponytail holder’. Her mane, now completely unbound, flew wildly around as the beat grew even faster. Up, to the sides, over her head, back around…

     Just when you became lost in those now blurred movements, sure that nothing more could happen, the music came to a halt in mid-beat. So did Sadiyah, in a perfect pose- head thrown back and slightly to one side, arms flung out, only slightly crooked, and one foot held a few inches off the table.

     After a second of silence, the place totally erupted. I found myself cheering and clapping my hooves, and I knew she couldn’t even hear it. But she was smiling, bowing, and even blowing kisses as she made her way offstage. With one last coy twist of her hair, she slid behind its curtains and disappeared.

     I made my way through the happily chattering throng and parked myself near the stage door again. Half a drink later, Sadiyah appeared. The beautifully sheer costume was gone, replaced by a very modestly cut dress of blue and purple. I fell in beside her as she left the tavern. For a minute, I wondered if she’d cast some sort of unglamour spell on herself, but then I realized it was a case of costume and makeup (or lack thereof). She was still breathing heavily, and I picked up the scent of her perspiration. She grinned at me over her shoulder and Mu’awin suddenly piped up.

     "It was a great evening, MonoKeras. Thank you so much for being here." I realized that she’d motioned her words to her petpet while looking at me.

     "I wouldn’t have missed it for all Neopia." She couldn’t hear my fervent tone, but the sparkle in her eyes told me she knew the compliment was coming before Mu’awin forwarded it to her.

     "Flatterer" was the single word reply. Sadiyah looked to one side and her paws suddenly began waving wildly. I looked as well, alarmed that there might be danger. A robot Kougra had just stepped out of the shadows in front of the tavern. I stared at it suspiciously. The eye panels were broken and dimmed, but the head still swung towards us as the mouth gaped open. A Christmas buzzer sat on top of it, and it promptly began living up to its name by emitting a series of varied buzzes.

     I relaxed when I saw the petpet. Truly dangerous characters usually don’t bother with them. I wondered, though, at the apparent blindness. This looked like it might be an early model robot, one that had developed unrepairable problems. I’d heard of them, but not seen any before.

     Mu’awin’s voice suddenly broke me from my mental analysis. "Sadiyah bids you fervent good greetings, MichiruKaioh, and hopes you are as well as possible."

     The Kougra began to cough out a reply. I couldn’t make out anything it said- was there something wrong with the vocal mechanisms? I never did find out for sure. The next thing I knew, Sadiyah had flung herself down on top of the Kougra, and the two were rolling on the ground. I opened my mouth to object (I think), but stopped as Sadiyah’s own voice joined the Kougra’s spitting growls.

     "Michi, Michi!"

     I blinked. It was high-pitched, breathy, and more than a little slurred, but I still understood it. I suddenly realized that Sadiyah really could talk if she tried- but being deaf, she couldn’t be sure what it sounded like, so she never took the chance… unless she was with good friends? The way she and the Kougra gladly abandoned themselves to their play tussle, it was obvious that they were very close. It ended with Sadiyah on top, legs braced to each side as she thumped her hands into the Kougra's paws. At first I thought that they were just play hits, but then I realized she was balling her fist into different shapes as she did so- she must actually be communicating in sign language for the blind!

     As amazing as that sort of revelation was, the fear that had begun in the back of my mind suddenly came to the fore. I realized that there had been a purplish flash around Sadiyah’s ankle as she dove to the ground. I knew what that flash meant. The only question remaining in my mind was this: was Sadiyah an unwilling pawn or an arrogant overlord?

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part One

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Three

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Four

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Five

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Six

Scene: Beautiful Music -- Part Seven

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