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Mehrdadstan. Open to Scheherazade.
Hunter hadn't exactly taken his time coming back to Mehrdadstan, but he'd definitely taken longer than he'd liked. Another trip up north - this time he hadn't gotten to report to Goodfellow; the little fey was nowhere to be found - and then he turned a headed straight back to the southern kingdom. But he had met someone else in the Sleeping Woods, a very strange woman indeed. He'd left her and her strange dark-smelling mirror behind, unaware of where she'd be going next and continued south, through the jungles and back into the desert.

He didn't waste time. The moment he entered Mehrdadstan, he went straight for the palace, straight for Queen Scheherazade. The guards knew him now, recognized him. That didn't mean they liked him. He was a foreigner who didn't hold to their customs. And their queen seemed a bit fond of him. It made them uneasy, Hunter could smell that. That and the promise of the queen's company, her scent, her charm had him smiling just a little as he waited to see her.

Tags: scheherazade, hunter

From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/08/2007 10:24:23  

When one of the guards announced the newest arrival seeking her audience, Scheherazade could scarcely believe her ears. She sat up straighter on her throne, but she kept herself composed despite the sudden rush of her heart. No one but the returning hunter would be able to tell just how truly excited she was.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/08/2007 10:32:19  

He could tell, most definitely. The spike in her scent was noticeable as soon as he got close enough to catch it. She would see the small smile that curved his lips at that. He had been relieved of his visible weapons, obviously, but there was a bundle in his arms he'd steadfastly refused to give up, going so far as to growl at one insistent guard who insisted any one of the guards be the ones to present it to the queen. That, of course, was out of the question.

Protocol, proper procedures stated he should bow, formally introduce and present this gift to the queen, but Hunter was far from proper. Instead, with a quirk of his lips, he boldly moved as close to the throne as he could and said almost offhandedly, "I've brought you something."
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/08/2007 13:16:29  

"Welcome back, my Hunter." It was all she could do to keep from grinning at the sight of him, but when he approached, with that small smile and an unexpected gift, Scheherazade couldn't help the way her dark eyes brightened or the way she leaned forward in her throne. "A gift?" Despite the looks she received from her guards, her viziers and other nobles present, she waved him closer. "Show me what surprises you've returned with."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/09/2007 00:45:36  

Hunter brushed past the guards with nary a glance, though he could already tell how much they disliked their familiarity. He unwrapped the bundle from an ordinary-looking piece of cloth used to protect the fancier cloth it was actually wrapped in. A smaller bundle fell from the larger, and he held that as he steeped right up to her. Green eyes locked with warm brown as he handed her the larger package first. It was wrapped in silver cloth, tied with blue ribbon.

Within was a large bolt of cloth, sapphire blue patterned generously with silver designs. In Camlann and Estervale, the pattern would be thought too busy, used only as trim or embroidery, but it would lend well to the style in Mehrdadstan; the queen of Mehrdadstan would look stunning in drapes of the clothes, the reason he'd bought so much.

The smile on his face only broadened as he watched her open it; her second gift was still wrapped similarly and held in his hands.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/12/2007 02:16:32  

Her hands ran over the soft fabric lightly, delight obvious on her face. "It's beautiful, Garrett," she breathed softly as she tore her eyes away from the sumptuous fabric to meet his gaze. Her lips curved slightly. "The queen in me graciously accepts your gift. The woman in me is curious where you found something so lovely." She leaned closer, lowering her voice for his ears only. "She is also very much flattered and...warmed by your regard." As if he couldn't tell already.

Scheherazade sat back, hands absently petting the eye-catching cloth as she nodded to the smaller package the hunter still held. "And what is that?"
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/12/2007 10:01:35  

"It is," he responded, "and yet, it will always pale in comparison to you." Had the words come from another man, they might have been a line, smooth-talking to charm a beautiful woman. But Hunter wasn't a flatterer in that respect. He merely spoke the truth. It was beautiful fabric, but the queen would far outshine it.

He smiled again at her response. He could tell just how 'warmed' she was by his regard and he said as much to her with a simple inhalation of her scent. Aloud he answered her idle question with, "In Estervale, they sell pieces of fabric like this to be used as detail. Embroidery. Seems a shame not to be worn in its entirety. Though I only sought it out after I'd already bought this."

And he handed her the smaller package, wrapped delicately, obviously not by his own hand. Inside was a mithral necklace, the shining silvery metal set in a stunning deep blue sapphire. The colors matched the fabric almost perfectly.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/15/2007 12:41:00  

His words - and that distinct inhalation - left her blushing. The nigh unflappable queen of Mehrdadstan was blushing and the court was abuzz with whispers at the boldness of this common hunter. Not common at all, really, if he'd caught Scheherazade's attention in a way no nobleman had ever done.

And her attention was snared utterly as Hunter revealed his second surprise. She sucked in a breath of surprise. Never had she seen anything quite as beautiful, even among her own near endless supply of jewels. "Oh..oh my..." Her fingers drifted over the necklace, feeling the cool metal and gems, tracing every detail. "It's stunning, Garrett. I...I don't know what to say." Another feat the hunter had accomplished: leaving Scheherazade at a loss for words.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/15/2007 13:00:00  

Hunter was thrilled, inwardly. Thrilled at her response, because it was clear she loved it. Outwardly his lips curved barely a millimeter more. "I've often heard 'thank you' was a good start," he quipped. He heard the murmurs in the court, but did not divert his attention from the queen on the throne. "Mithril and sapphire from Camlann. I did not think you'd have seen its like here."
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/15/2007 15:13:01  

"You thought right," she breathed after a long moment of just admiring the necklace. And then smiled up at him. "Thank you, Garrett. You've brought me such exquisite gifts. And yet, I've done nothing to welcome you back." Her eyes lit up. "Well, I'm sure you must be hungry, so allow me to feed you."

Scheherazade turned to one of her viziers and declared. "Have the cooks prepare a feast for my hunter and I. The best of everything. And the quicker, the better."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/15/2007 15:26:12  

Hunter didn't need to look to see the stunned look on the vizier's face. Didn't need to turn to hear the whispers double and triple. His eyebrow quirked lightly at her statement - 'my hunter' - and he found he certainly didn't mind the phrasing. The way she'd captivated him, he was her hunter.

As if testing their patience, Hunter said loud enough for them to hear, "A feast, hmm? Meat would be nice. The rarer and redder the better." And his voice lowered again, for Scheherazade's ear only. "And how shall we spend the time while they prepare?"
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/15/2007 22:12:41  

"Walk with me," she said simply, gracing him with a small, private smile. She waved over one of her maids and handed over the fabric. "Tell the royal seamstress that I'll require her services tomorrow morning." The young woman nodded and hurried off with her precious bundle. The necklace, Scheherazade held on to.

She rose, then and offered her arm to Hunter as she addressed the court. "You are all dismissed for the day. Find your entertainment elsewhere." There were muttered comments of shock, dismay, and even anger, but Scheherazade was queen and what she said went.

To Hunter, she offered a warm smile. "I assume to remember the way to the gardens?"
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/15/2007 22:23:15  

Hunter's smile was more evident as he took her arm, gently escorting her out of the throne room. "I do, in fact." And he walked with her through the halls, out into the courtyard towards the gardens he'd sat with her in several times now. He led her to what had become their customary place to sit and waited until she did so before he did the same. His eyes searched hers for a long moment before he said, "I've been gone too long again."
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/15/2007 22:57:51  

"Indeed, you have," she agreed softly, holding his gaze. "I've missed you." It was an admission not lightly made as she started to lift her hand, hesitated, then let it rise to rest on his scruffy cheek. "I don't begrudge you your occupation, but I sometimes wish..." She smiled ruefully, shaking her slightly as she let her hand drop away slowly. "I'm being silly." She shifted, eyes bright with curiosity. "Tell me, what adventures did you have while away?"
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/15/2007 23:06:34  

Hunter caught her hand and pressed his lips to her palm before wrapping his larger one around it. "You are not. And so do I," he responded to her unfinished statement. If only he could find a faster way to travel or if he could make his trade in this part of the world alone...

He shifted closer and smiled. "Oh is it my turn to tell a tale? I fear I'm not as fine a story-spinner as you, but I'll give it my best." He told her of his latest adventure, meeting the odd woman who controlled the snow, and of her mirror that seemed dangerous, even from a distance. He hesitated a moment before detailing, "It... smelled wrong. Dark. Evil, even. Like sulfur, but even more corrupted. It was like nothing I'd even seen before, I honestly I wouldn't like to see it again."

He shook his head. "Strange. The woman herself did not seem evil. She seemed... lost. Confused. She had little idea of her own sense of self, was unaware of the danger of her surroundings and was on a quest to make this mirror whole. I don't get the feeling it being whole would be a good thing."
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/15/2007 23:29:50  

It was an intriguing story, one that held Scheherazade's interest as she held Hunter's hand in her own, the rough callouses such an exciting contrast to her own smooth palms.

"Perhaps she has a duty to fulfill," she said finally when Hunter had finished his tale, her mind always spinning with thoughts and theories. "Or perhaps she's a slave of the evil mirror. Such a fantastic story..." She might add it to her collection for retelling at a later date.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/15/2007 23:36:17  

Hunter considered that with pursed lips, nodding in thought. "Perhaps. And perhaps it will help her regain the memories she's somehow lost. The experience was interesting to say the least." Hunter reached up with his other hand, gently trailing down Scheherazade's arm. He was a little closer now that he had been when he first started telling the story, and he was watching her intently. "And what have I missed here in my absence?" Besides her scent, which he took the opportunity to scent again.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/16/2007 00:11:19  

His touch left goosebumps in its wake and a definite spike in her scent. "Let's see," she began slowly. "Well, there hasn't really been anything worth mentioning. Boring courtly affairs, tedious royal duties...Oh!" she exclaimed as she remembered suddenly. "I did meet a kind fellow in the jungle. He was a piper, a very talented one. He made up a little song for me. it was really quite pretty." She grew more excited as she spoke. "And he had the most astonishing hair! Red, like flame! I'd never seen anything like it before."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/16/2007 00:19:38  

The spike in her scent had him smiling; her story did not. In fact, it had a familiar flare of jealousy flashing through him. Not. now, he savagely informed the wolf within, and he knew he was going to have a struggle to keep it at bay. She sounded so... excited to have met him. That red-haired Piper. Hunter remembered him, though they'd only met once, and spoken briefly, It has to have been the same man.

Hunter's voice came out a bit gruff in reply. "Did he now." He couldn't stop his nostrils from flaring; and his hand slowed in its pace. "Well I don't suppose one would find too many redheads here in Mehrdadstan. Must have been a sight." He needed to change the topic now. He still had no control over when the wolf took over when either his anger or jealousy was raised. "Any other unique visitors?"
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/16/2007 00:31:52  

There was something in Hunter's voice that had Scheherazade giving him a considering look. But she didn't remark on it, simply continued with their conversation. "He was indeed remarkable. As was the lady that sought an audience with me. She was very unusual, too. So pale she was nearly white like parchment, and violet eyes. So soft spoken and kind...Amalthea, I think her name was, the Lady Amalthea." she frowned slightly. "She was seeking friends of hers, but I couldn't help her in her search except to provide her with a map. I hope she found her companions. I wish I could have done more."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/16/2007 00:43:52  

Hunter's hand started to slip up and down her arm again, as if her were soothed by the topic shift. And he seemed very intrigued now. "Amalthea? Ah, well I thought she might present herself here. I escorted her into Mehrdadstan on my last trip, and she seemed interested in looking around." He didn't add how he thought she smelled of pure magic, or how the scent made him sneeze. "I hope she found them as well." His finger slipped into the crease of her inner elbow as he spoke.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/20/2007 23:06:43  

"My, you certainly seem to have...made a few acquaintances during your travels." She was shivering now from his touch, and yet she wasn't cold. Far from it. In fact, when his finger slid over the soft skin inside the bend of her elbow, her breath caught at the sudden flare of heat through her blood. A faint flush rose to her cheeks and it took Scheherazade a moment to find her voice again. "I...I'm sure she'll be fortunate. She, ah, she seemed the type to be favored by luck."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/20/2007 23:19:14  

"Mm, rarely are they ever more than mere acquaintances. Not unless there's something special about them." As Hunter spoke, his finger kept moving, lightly teasing the flesh of Scheherazade's inner elbow. Her scent was damn near intoxicating, and he couldn't help but lean forward a little to inhale again. "Something like stunning beauty, incredible wit, and the most intoxicating scent I've ever caught."

His eyes caught hers, and remained, intense, piercing, as he leaned closer. It was as though he were trying to fill all of his senses with her. Hearing her speak, watching her, clothed in stunning red, scenting her, that exotic blend of jasmine and honey and frankincense and her... and touching her, albeit so casually, but in a way that mimicked more intimate touches.

All that was left was tasting her.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/24/2007 23:19:00  

He was flattering her again, but she could hardly draw an even breath let alone protest the warm words. The teasing rejoinder got caught in her throat, tangled with another little gasp as she found herself crowded by Hunter, those exotic, moss-colored eyes holding her captive, a lure she couldn't and wouldn't resist.

Scheherazade's heart was racing as her own body swayed forward, dark eyes fluttering shut. A kiss. She knew what she wanted, what they both wanted, but as it was to be her first, she wasn't sure at all how to initiate such a thing.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/25/2007 09:33:21  

By now her scent had deepened so much it had nearly surrounded Hunter in an invisible could. His fingers pressed lightly into her skin and he watched for only a moment as she unconsciously swayed toward him before, lips curving, he moved to meet her.

The taste of her lips against his, he expected, would be soft, warm, and full of the same golden spice as her scent. And he would have found out too, if not mere millimeters from finally having that soft mouth against his, a clearly hesitant voice called out from about ten feet away, "Er... Your Majesty, dinner is ready?"

The servant who had the utter misfortune to be the one to interrupt them looked terrified when Hunter turned to look at them, nostrils flared, and eyes narrowed. He would have growled, "Can't you see we're busy?" But it was actually taking all his effort to keep at bay both the growl and the wolf who desperately wanted to rip out the servant's throat.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/26/2007 15:36:19  

"Oh!" The interruption had Scheherazade jerking away with a start, not in shame but with simple surprise. She blinked at the servant for a moment, the words slowly making sense. "We'll, ah, be there in a moment. Go and wait for us."

The servant looked relieved as he hurried off, and she couldn't blame him. As frustrated as she felt, it was nothing compared to the barely suppressed ire coming off of Hunter in waves. He was tense and looked all the world like he'd wanted to do the poor man harm. Scheherazade touched his arm lightly. "Come. We can have another walk after we eat."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/26/2007 15:55:29  

Her touch had an almost soothing effect. The lure of her scent and the promise in her words slowly brought the wolf back from the edge, at least enough for Hunter to seize full control again. That could have been a dangerous situation if he changed right then. His eyes were still off, almost oddly gold under the clear green, but it was slowly fading away. His voice was still gruff in reply when he finally managed a "Preferably where no one will interrupt us."

It took a moment longer to completely deny the wolf, to send it back to await another opportunity of anger or jealously to come boiling to the surface. Hunter hoped it wouldn't be in Scheherazade's presence.

But he stood and took her arm again, ready to escort her back inside. He'd gotten so close, so close, to tasting those lips beneath his... He could wait. He was patient when it came to the hunt. He could wait for her as long as necessary. "Shall we?"
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 06/26/2007 16:49:40  

"Rajani," Scheherazade said simply as she allowed Hunter to lead her back inside, gently steering him towards the banquet hall. They'd take a stroll in the jungle later, far away from prying eyes or interruptions. And she would have her first kiss.

As the smell of food reached them, something niggled at the back of her mind, a thought about the flicker of gold she thought she'd seen in Hunter's green eyes. But it was gone in an instant, not even fully formed. Merely a trick of the light.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 06/26/2007 21:42:03  

Good. The jungle. They'd be alone. No one to interrupt them. Hunter's curved smile returned and kept close by her as they headed back inside into the grand hall where the feast was set up. Dozens of different smells flooded Hunter's senses, the strongest of all, the scent of barely cooked meat.

Dinner was going to be wonderful. Dessert would be even better.
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