Soldiers love to tell stories and always they embellish. While serving in the infantry of the North District, Wu Yang told Rowan a provocative tale of the women native to a group of mystical islands to the east. According to Yang, they were a sect of finely featured and slender bodied women who dove naked into the sea. Leaping fearlessly from small skiffs, woven nets filled with rocks carried them into the depths. Combing the ocean floor, they sought to retrieve pearl-bearing clams and other shelled ambrosia.
Such fanciful tales were common among soldiers in the field, but perhaps this once it’d been something more than a fantasy. For in his imagination, Rowan could see the girl standing before him in just such a place, diving from a bamboo raft into aquatic blue waters in just such a way.
Pushing the daydream aside for the moment, obviously she was not from the village. But neither did her apparel resemble that of the courtesans he recalled from the cities. The women of his home in the Indus Valley were likewise flamboyant in adorning themselves, but their strong, dark structures were but shadowy reflections of the witch-girl’s delicately featured face.
Although girlishly slender, her body was none the less eminently feminine. Contrary to convention, her breasts were not bound and trembled freely against the flowing fabric of her lilac flowered blouse. Hung in loose pleats, the fine spun silk of her skirt moved whimsically about and between her athletic legs, ruffling under the caress of the morning breeze.
Interwoven with bits of colored yarn, dyed bird feathers and the violet petals, braids of long dark hair trailed down her back. One intricately twisted braid rising from the center of her crown ran to the rear of her head. Wagging free of the others, it writhed independently of them, like a serpent on a quest to mesmerize a sparrow. In the bright light of morning, her eyes were not pure China, but rather an exotic shade of some far away land. Steeped in veiled emotions, they sparkled like green gemstones adrift in pools of cream.