Barefoot Poetry

SS Matthews

Gate of Demons

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Kuie-men-kaun
Part 1

Her feet were bare and soiled from walking, but the prideful aloofness in her posture projected the self-possessed demeanor of an empress. Oblivious to decorum and wearing a scowl of utter distaste: on a face that might be otherwise pretty if not so openly distraught Rowan thought, a girl of extraordinary appearance strode boldly past the protesting Wan Lo. Continuing past the visibly irritated monk, she did not so much as acknowledge him.

In Rowan’s experience the situation was absolutely unique. Lo’s imperturbable aplomb was nothing short of legendary, but inexplicably he followed along behind this baffling woman, mimicking her petulant stride. It was a sight so utterly bazaar that it compelled the outlander to clamp a hand over his mouth to arrest an outburst of laughter.

Whatever the reason for the intrusion, clearly the woman’s act was calculated to incite, but that didn’t alter the fact that Rowan found it impossible to turn away. Whoever she was, she seemed determined to flaunt not just her contempt, but her sexuality as well, wielding them both as weapons to be brandished before battle. The scene resembled the challenge of the mongoose, just before engaging the cobra. Then, as if suddenly sighting a target against which she might direct her scorn, with a sudden swish and swirl, Rowan watched bewildered as she turned in his direction.

“Thinking herself above such things, she would mock us for our ways.”

Though the words were unspoken, Rowan heard them as clearly as if uttered in his ear. Having acquired the habit of heeding Tam’s advice, even without the master being present, the caution was something he considered with earnest deliberation. The girl was obviously going to be trouble, but from the look of her, handling that trouble might well amount to something pleasurable.

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Author: SSMatthews

Author of The Moon and Rowan Wolfe and Wolfe's Banes.

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