Baioretto soshite Aoiro
Violet and Blue
Most noticeably there was soft chatter, people acting respectful because of just who was performing. Who the slave dancer belonged to, anyways. The King himself, Hvit, a powerful man, who spent his free time teaching his pretty slaves the Arte of the Dance. Presenting them to the Warlords in dazzling displays, always of only one color, that was who the slaves were known as after.
I was Blue, or Bauw, in their language. It was not my first language. No that I could not speak aloud for fear of immediate death. Still, though, Bauw was not so bad, there was even a word like it in my own language. Baiwu, meaning swift as rain. I guess it was something of a joke from the Gods. A payment for my father's transgressions. A kin murderer. He stabbed his own brother in the rain during Watch.
Enough, focus on the dance. Calm yourself and prepare like you had been taught.
For the ceremony, Master Hvit had dressed me in a simple cloth wrap, around my waist, with slits in the sides up all the way. It was a sign of his utmost pride, especially for a slave. Pride like one has pride in a shiny possession. Master Hvit was proud enough of me, that he did not fear me ruining everything on my first performance for the same Warlords that had killed my people.
A high honor, the others told me. Yellow, Green, Brown and Red. Gule, Grønn, Jord, and Blozend. Yet I could see in their eyes, clear as daylight, what this honor meant. What it would make me grow into. And I, once named Orädd the Fearless, was now just Blue, Bauw. The slave. Whose childhood was spent at the whims of a foreign dog of a King, over foreign bastard Warlords.
The light was white, for now, the candles and various lamps other slaves with not so pretty faces held. Suddenly, though, the predicted hush fell over the already awed crowd, the dense Warlords could tell a show when they were presented with one. And if not, they were at least to drunk to complain much.
Having their own woman to fondle; their own bitter harem. That was not what I was supposed to grow up to be. I was supposed to be our tribe's greatest hero, one to rival the great Lords of Olde in my culture. Bátor Ember the Brave, Voimakas the Strong, or Kitartóthe Loyal. Brave, strong, and loyal. That was me, Orädd the Fearless.
But that name is long forgotten, spoken only in the Hall of Dead by my mother, who would stand guard over her blood kin, me, with the rest of our ancestors inside. Ready to greet me at the gates when I finally came, so that she could at last move in to the Gates and rest, while I stood watch over my descendents. It was a cycle.
It was unheard of, that one should leave no blood-kin behind. But I was willing to risk my immortal self for the life of an unborn child. This was no world to grow up in, and it was not much better as a free tribesman of the North.
Thoughts for another time, perhaps, when it was dark outside and there was a warm body next to me that was not always Master Hvit.
The lights dimmed blue, as the servants with not so pretty faces spoke the words that would shade the white shields blue or the flames on candles themselves lavender, cerulean, or indigo blue.
I stepped onto a platform box, around two feet high, and maybe four by four feet, this was my stage. Guards the size of our mountains picked up the makeshift liter, and carried me to the center of thousands of people. Warlords and their retinue. Each packing in the maximum 100 people allowed into Master Hvits great hall.
My heart was beating rapidly, and I almost could not hear anything, before I realized there was nothing to hear. Where was my music? The platform was in the center of the room with so many eyes looking at me. Where was my music?
There. The soft opening strands, causing a slight rush of adrenaline, I focused my self, as Master Hvit had taught me. Saw the music in front of me in glowing golden strands from lyres and harps and other instruments. I drew those strands into me, and I could feel them filling me.
Slave I may have been called, but there was no denying the call of music, the old Arte of dance, now that I had learned of it. It was as much a part of me as my very smile, or voice, or soul.
The melody lilted in a high crescendo, still barely heard, until drums, small affairs imported from down South, they say. That was my cue. Slowly, the music invaded my consciousness, and I was no longer Bauw. Or Blue, or Orädd, or any name. There was no me, in the physical sense of the world.
I shifted slightly, in timing with the music, and the choreography laid down for weeks in advance. Though I knew as I had been taught the Styles, that what made a true dancer was when the music took such hold of you that you did not realize you were dancing. You did not have to follow a set of style moves taught to you through repetition.
With a loud bang from a metal instrument, hailing from the West, they tell me. I knew my role had really started. Music flew all about me in a whisper and caress, urging me. My eyes were closed when I released my fists; a load fell from them like fine grained sand, though in the lighting, it looked like dust straight from the hands of the gods.
When it reached the floor, it floated back up, and I was there to move in and through it, though I could not see my platform. Obscuring vaguely while not at the same time. The edges or the potential fall that could ruin all, could end up in my death. But there were no worries, no thoughts, at all, in my mind. It was just the music.
Hands lifted, fluttered, eyes closed. Legs a tentative step out, then a full swing to a firm stance, balance, small jump, balance, stretch. Reach, reach like you are being offered freedom. Fall back like you know you will as the cold hands of reality fall on you. There is no such thing as freedom.
Collapse in on yourself, as the music does this, don't move, show your sorrow, flutter of the hands, tilt of the head, open the eyes, that angle makes them shine. Indigo reflecting off deep blue depths. Flutter the hand, move arms out, stand still, balance, weave in the pattern of Relax in the old Arte.
Twist, twist, feet still, hands move, shift muscles, light slide across toned arms and chest, hide your scars. You cannot mark a god. That is what you are for the time you dance. A god. And they are perfect.
Spin slowly, burdened wings like feather-light weights on your back, new balance, wings are something you used to have, balance is what you have left of them, and ugly scars. Flutter hands. Close eyes.
Music comes to a soft fade, as the dust you kicked up around you slowly falls its last; you collapse in the ending style. Mind slowly joining body and soul once again, a last flutter of the hands. Reality, slowly, oh so slowly, leaking back in. The music ends in a way you almost don't realize it's gone.
Sit down in your final pose, still and silent, eyes closed, on your platform. You didn't fall off, and yet managed to seem like you were flying across the room. You, I, Bauw, Orädd, doesn't need to look up at Master Hvit to see he is proud, barely covering his own awe at my performance.
Something calls for me to open my eyes, though, and if only for a split second, I do, thought it might cost me dearly. There, right in front of me, are violet eyes. Pupils so large they appear almost black, though I have good eye sight. Violet, they are. Violet and beautiful. Off limits.
Sitting to the right of a Warlord, his son. I am Bauw, Master Zech's favorite dance slave. Slave.
In the end, it all comes down to slave. And violet eyes.
I look at Master Zech's, though he doesn't realize that I don't dance for my Master, anymore, I dance for his son. Violet eyes and I a slave.