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Old 04-11-2006, 04:20 AM   #310
Estelyn Telcontar
Princess of Skwerlz
 
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the Sea is eastwards (WtR: 6060 miles)
Posts: 7,529
Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Leninia sat at a corner table alone, morosely downing one glass of the excellent wine after another. She had only nipped at the delicious food and all in all, found little reason to rejoice despite the so festive occasion. Sure, a marriage was something wonderful, she supposed, but gazing at one newlywed couple, to say nothing of the other happy twosome (which acted even more the part, though there had been no official ceremony of any kind) only made her feel more lonely than ever – when she wasn’t feeling nauseous.

It was all good and well to have accomplished the Quest, and they were sitting in the most paradisiacal location she had ever seen, but what good was it to have romantic surroundings without someone to share them with her? A longing stirred within her heart, a feeling she had never before known. She wanted to feel a hand in hers, perhaps strong and calloused, perhaps small and grimy – or better yet, both, she thought. She wanted to knit a baby sweater, to cook a stew, to bake bread, to grow vegetables – and when she discovered what was going through her mind, she shrank back in horror.

What thoughts were these?! She wasn’t a housewife, she was a rock star! She couldn’t be tied down to a home, she had to go on tour! She needed the spotlights, the applause, the admiring groupies, the ...

Suddenly she realized the import of the Quest’s success – she no longer had her guitar! The Entish Guitar, that had been her constant companion, that had accompanied both her singing and her travels, was no longer. She had no one with whom she could carry on those endless, bickering conversations, no background music for her singing, and no inspiration for new lyrics and tunes.

Her head sank onto the table and for the first time in her self-determined life, she wept helpessly and hopelessly. Where should she go now? The Marrow-Bones studios would have no use for her anymore. Her fans had probably already forgotten all about her and voted for new idols and superstars. There was no one who cared whether she came back to Muddled-Mirth or not.

A gentle hand touched her on the shoulder. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose defiantly before donning a professional smile to face – Chanessa and Vairsacë. They smiled back, tactfully ignoring the blurred mascara and smeared lipstick.

“We don’t normally, like, do business talk at parties,” Chanessa said, “but it looks like some of your friends are heading home already, and we wanted to be sure we could talk to you before you decide to go.”

Leninia raised a finely-chiseled, questioning eyebrow.

The demi-goddess continued. “We have a groovy proposition for you; of course you can refuse it, but perhaps you will at least consider what we have to say.”

“You see,” Vairsacë explained, “our life isn’t just partying, surfing, tanning and all that; our husbands are often gone on their own business, so we wanted something to give our life purpose and meaning. I’m into fabrics, designing and weaving beautiful material, and then making gorgeous fashions of it. And Chanessa is a wonderful model; she does the catwalk presentation and choreography and selling part of it.”

“Yeah,” Chanessa added, “it’s just the two of us, ‘cause Prada’s so busy with her star promotion agency, and Yawanna with her landscaping business – and Estë-Lynn is way too restful for a competitive business like fashion. She does some therapeutic artsy-craftsy stuff, but there’s really no money in it, at least not the kind we want to make.”

“Anyway,” she went on, “we have some boutiques here in Valleyum, and they do pretty well, but we’ve been thinking about expanding to Muddled-Mirth. You see, there aren’t a lot of new customers here, except for those who go to Vair’s husband’s halls, and it takes awhile before they have a body and want some new clothes again.”

Vairsacë nodded. “We noticed that you have a good fashion sense and a great figure – bit short, perhaps, but definitely thin enough – and wondered if you’d stay here for a bit, learn the business, and then set up some chain stores in Muddled-Mirth for us. You see, we’re not allowed to go into business there ourselves, so we need a franchise taker. What do you think?”

Leninia’s sharp mind worked at top speed, and she realized what was offered her even before they spoke. Yet she was acute enough not to sell herself too easily, and so hesitated strategically.

“I don’t know,” she said slowly, “I’ve been thinking about the possibility of a more permanent relationship, maybe even a family sometime...” Her voice trailed off with a well-calculated touch of yearning.

Now Chanessa’s eyebrow raised. She looked around at the wedding guests and asked, “I don’t suppose you have someone specific in mind?”

Leninia was constrained to shake her head regretfully. As always, the only good ones, if there were any, were taken.

“That’s no problem,” Vairsacë contributed. “After all, we have husbands. The modern female can have both, her wedding cake and business too. How about letting us show you our boutiques and deciding then?”

Leninia’s spirits lifted. Perhaps her future did not look so bleak after all. Who knew what might come later? At any rate, she had something to do and someplace to go now. She waved a pale, languid hand in the direction of anyone who might take notice, and left the festivities.
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