The Dinner The Dinner
Lady PalagoatAt the arranged time, Lady Paladin went to Bacca's chamber. She had changed into the fanciest robes her wardrobe had to offer, and had pulled her blonde hair back. The healer shyly knocked on Bacca's door.
"Come in!" a voice called, and she opened the door and stepped inside.
Lady Paladin's jaw dropped open in pleasant surprise. On the table before her was a complete dinner, the likes of which she had not seen in months. Bacca had prepared roast pork, tossed salad, steamed and cooked vegetables, pasta, and French bread. A bottle of red wine stood to the side.
"Bacca, where did you get all of this?" she exclaimed, her face beaming.
The warrior stepped out of the shadows and grinned. "You were the one who arranged the food shipment earlier, don't forget." Bacca looked even more handsome than usual, and the healer turned her gaze from him bashfully.
"This is wonderful, thank you," Lady Paladin said, sitting down. Bacca pushed her chair in for her, then sat down himself. "This looks delicious, you've really outdone yourself."
Bacca grinned again. "Well, I am glad you think so." He silently poured Lady Paladin a glass of wine, and the two began eating.
After a short while of awkward silence, the healer abruptly spoke. "I've been thinking back often to how this war started, and how we've met. We've come a long way since you rescued me from the Northern Paladin's dungeon." She paused and took a delicate sip from her glass. "I also recalled how you told me of your past and how you got your name, but I have said nothing of my origins."
"You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to, my Lady," he said, reaching across the table and lightly touching her hand.
"I know that, but I want to tell you." She smiled, and didn't mentioned how the Light in her recurring dreams continuously urged her to open up to Bacca.
"Well then, I have a question for you. Who was this Caliph you mentioned earlier, and why did you became so pale and jittery at the mention of him?"
Lady Paladin blushed. "Did my reaction come across that strongly? I'm sorry." Bacca refilled his wine glass. "Well, the explanation for that goes back a few years. I had to make an emergency teleport and ended up on the bad side of town. I was weakened, and a few thugs managed to knock me out. I was lucky that I wasn't raped." Her hand trembled at the thought, but Bacca's voice reassured her.
"But you weren't raped, so don't let the thought get to you. Go on." He squeezed her hand.
"Well, the thugs sold me on the slave market in Tavan'dirith. I was still unconscious. When I woke up, I found myself in the harem of Caliph Armisia. He had seen me on sale and purchased me to be his 70th-something wife. There aren't too many blondes in that part of the world, so he felt he had something rare.
"I was still groggy, and I suddenly had a 60 years old caliph start chasing me around the room wanting to consummate the marriage. I put up quite a fight, and we were finally interrupted by a servant who announced his headwife had fallen ill. I used that opportunity to announce that I was a healer, and if I could try to save her. The caliph agreed, and I spent the next three days trying to heal his beloved first wife. I failed." Her face saddened and she looked very tired. "Still, Armisia knew I had done by best, and he said we could make a compromise. He agreed to annul the marriage -- which was easy to do since it hadn't been consummated -- but only on one condition. The next time I saw him, I would have to dance."
Bacca looked at her in surprise. "All that worry over a simple dance?"
The healer looked at him, blushing. "It's not that simple a dance. The best way to describe it is...provocative. It is the dance his people use to encourage fertility. Most of his wives dance naked, but I would rather have my throat slit than do that." Her mouth was a hard, grim line. "So, I already have my costume together and I know the dance...if you call on Armisia and tell him I'm here, he'll come in a week, I assure you."
The warrior thought for a second. "What sort of man is he? A good ally?"
She sighed. "Oh, what's the best way to describe Armisia....oh, there's no lady-like way to put it. He's a horny old man. He's also a shrewd military commander and tactician, and a valuable ally. He'll join up with you, I assure you. I've received messages for years stating he'd do anything for that dance, and he's one to take seriously."
"Good, I'll send a message to him tomorrow, then." Bacca swished a small amount of wine around in his glass, and then drank. "And go on talking, it seems you have a lot to get out tonight, my dear." Bacca gave her a brilliant smile.
She returned the smile. "I know, it's strange for me to talk so much. But it seems I spend the whole day in mindless chatter from soldier to soldier...I never really get to just talk!" The healer gave a light laugh.
Bacca refilled his wine glass and slowly raised it to his lips. "I can understand that. I've spent the past several days supervising and training several armies; I never get to just sit and relax with a beautiful woman."
Lady Paladin blushed and grinned. "And I've never had a dinner like this. I can't thank you enough, Bacca."
"Oh, stop it. You deserve it. Now go on and tell me more about your past, it seems quite interesting."
She stared down at her hands and said nothing for a few seconds. "Well, I suppose I should start with my childhood. This all has an impact on my abilities and magic, so it is only right you should know.
"I was raised as a princess for the first 9 years of my life. You might notice that sometimes that royal attitude comes across." She grinned sheepishly. "There were many changes at the time, though, and I sort of fell between the cracks. I had abilities I wasn't supposed to have, and people like me were being killed by the masses throughout the galaxy." The grin faded from her lips. "My mother died as she gave birth to my younger sister. Actually, she wasn't my blood-sister, but I knew I wasn't supposed to know that. Even though I lived a luxurious life, I was scared and I thought my family would be killed because of me. I suppose that fear and need to protect is what makes me a good healer." She shrugged.
Bacca drummed his fingers along the table edge. "Who was your father? A king? An emperor? It may have been someone I have heard of."
"I doubt it," Lady Paladin noted sadly. "I've been searching for my homeworld for the past ten years, and I have yet to find someone who has even heard of it. It has always been my dream to return, walk through the garden I loved, see my family even from a distance." She suddenly remembered she hadn't answered Bacca's question. "My father's name was Bail Organa. He was viceroy of Alderaan."
The warrior almost gagged on his mouthful of wine. He grimaced inwardly and managed to swallow the liquid without making his reaction obvious. Lady Paladin was a princess of Alderaan?! And she had always hoped to go home -- she didn't know the planet had been blown to smithereens by the first Death Star. His heart ached for her. Bacca desperately wanted to take her in his arms and tell her the truth, but he knew tonight was not the time. It would break her heart to know she could never go home.
He managed to stabilize his voice to ask another question. "How did you leave Alderaan?"
Lady Paladin's clasped her hands together, as though in prayer. "In all honesty, I'm not sure. I dreamed for years that I could escape so my family would not be endangered. When I was 9, I kept feeling this intense urge to leave. A teleport was summoning me. It wasn't like a typical pentagram or transport beam -- it was blue light, and called to me to leave when I had the chance. After I avoided it for a few months, I packed my belongings and went to the stable, where the teleport was. It was in the stall of my young colt, Golden Melody, and it somehow changed him...I can still summon him to my side from my cottage, and by all appearances he is now immortal." She shook her head, by accident loosening her plaits that held her hair back.
"I went through the teleport and landed in Mysidia. That is why I know the elder so well. He thought I was very gifted, and tutored me personally to learn white magic. But when I was 12, the teleport swept me away again to the planet Minbar. It teleported me three more times, and then when I was 15 I finally mastered the teleport and sealed it. That was 4 years ago."
Bacca leaned back in his chair. He nodded slowly. "So that explains it. I had wondered before why you didn't become a Master White Wizard, but your training was continuously interrupted. That also explains why you know some black magic, swordsmanship, and became close to a master herbalist. You had to adapt to survive."
She nodded in return. "Quite true. But healing -- both in magic and with my herbs -- is my true calling. And speaking of healing," she suddenly said, sitting straight in her chair, "Aren't you having a bit too much of that red wine?"
Bacca grinned and waved his hand at her in a dismissing manner. "Oh, I'm fine. This is helping me to relax. I'm just sitting back, enjoying the fine sights." He looked at her and grinned again. Lady Paladin wondered how it was possible a man could grin so much and make her grin in return every time. "And I've heard that red wine is good for the heart, so it's for my health."
The healer gave him an incredulous glance. "That's in doses of one glass per day. You've had 5-7 glasses, I've kept track."
Bacca gave a mock bow from his seat, still grinning. "I am honored you care so much you count how many glasses I have had." He knew her count was quite inaccurate, but he was in no mood to argue.
"Of course I care." Her face softened. "Believe it or not, it's taken me months to be able to tell you what I have said tonight. This talk is very important to me...you are important to me." She cocked her head to the side and smiled at him. Her loose hair fell over her shoulders, golden and extra-wavy from being bound when it was still wet.
Bacca rose from his chair and walked around the table. Lady Paladin stood, and the warrior's arms encircled her. He had expected the healer to wait for him to kiss her; he was surprised when she eagerly reached to meet his lips. The healer's lips tasted of the red wine she had sipped conservatively throughout the evening, and Bacca decided he liked the flavor very much.
Sky H AinsworthBacca held on to Lady Paladin, embracing her with his kiss. His eyes were closed and Bacca enjoyed this. His mind was spinning a little from the alcohol, but there were no shadows rushing at him. The warmth in his stomach matched the warmth he felt from Lady.
Opening his eyes, Bacca took a step back from Lady. He smiled warmly at her and she returned it. Bacca looked down at the table and saw how the meal was pretty much finished.
"Would you care for dessert?" asked the High Lord of All That Kick Ass.
"Oh," said Lady. She thought a moment. "Yes. I would love that."
Lady took her seat and Bacca uncovered a pan covered by a towel. He revealed a pie.
"I hope you like apple," said Bacca. He took a knife and began cutting into it.
"Oh yes I do," replied Lady.
Bacca served her a slice and himself one.
Returning to his seat, Bacca felt a little dizziness.
"I had better stop drinking," thought Bacca. "I do not want a hangover tomorrow." Bacca filled his glass with water and began eating the pie.
"So, I have told you about my past, tell me about yours," said Lady. "I am interested in how the High Lord got his title." She smiled warmly at him.
"Well," said Bacca, putting aside his half eaten pie, "it's like this...."
Bacca sat back and sipped his water. Although he and Lady Paladin had spent all of the previous day unconscious, Bacca had a large breakfast that morning and a nice sized lunch. Now, with his stomach and blood sugar back up to regular, he felt good and content.
"I grew up in a hidden little kingdom off and away. Early on, my father taught me the ways of being a warrior. Before I could walk, I was already learning sword techniques with a dagger. By the time I was three, I had killed my first peeper. At five, a wolf.
"But enough of my fighting history. I lived in a wonderful valley where it hardly had any wind and was filled with fields and gardens. The people were happy and life was easy. But my father felt that it was always important to stay strong and prepared for dangerous situations."
Lady finished her pie and sat back with a look of satisfaction.
"Would you like a more comfortable seat, perhaps a look out the window?" asked Bacca.
Bacca pulled his chair out and arranged it with another chair.
Bacca's room was a studio apartment in the inner wall of the keep. From the door, the room extended out at twelve feet by sixteen feet. A large window was on the wall opposite the door and Bacca's queen sized bed. A few tables, dressers, and chests filled the room.
Bacca's possessions had come in a large pack that he had brought with him and these had barely filled one of the dressers.
The two chairs faced the window and Bacca and Lady sat down. Looking out to the stars, the couple held hands and enjoyed the sight.
Bacca took a deep breath and then continued his story.
"My mother was very beautiful," began Bacca. "I wonder how she is doing now." He paused. "She has long curly brown hair. And her eyes are emerald. Often she would sing me to sleep while I laid in bed." Bacca looked at Lady and she returned his gaze.
"Until I met you, I do not think I have met anyone more beautiful. I never thought that I would anyone who would make me feel the way you make me feel for you."
Bacca leaned forward and put Lady's hand on his chest.
"My heart beats for you now, my lady. I will never leave your side."
Lady Paladin felt the emotions well up inside of her. She leaned forward and moved her hand to Bacca's neck. Her other hand took his. Her lips met his and the two kissed passionately.
Outside the window, way up high in the heavens, a shooting star streaked by.