The Book, the Dancer and the Assassin

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An  Aiella Adventure

Author's Note: extracts from the works of Sellick Woodrush are provided by arrangement with Screevey & Daughter, Publishers, Jobbing Printers and Broadsheet Purveyors, Wharf-lane, Eboria, who would like to make it clear they do not endorse anything written therein.

Whenever they came to a new town, Dartea always made a point of visiting the market. There were always supplies to buy, of course, but she particularly liked to browse the cloth stalls, looking for new patterns, interesting fabrics and useful thread for her latest making or mending task. The market in the small town of Breganta, up in the hills and quite a long way from any big cities, was predictably meagre in its offerings of cloth and thread, and Dartea was about to give it up and go and join Aiella in the tavern when she noticed a bookstall. She brightened up, and headed toward it purposefully. Aiella had an insatiable appetite for being read to at bedtime, and while there were a couple of old favourites that they always carried around with them, Dartea was hard pressed to keep up with the demand. She was always on the lookout for new reading material, which having been read would then be sold on or left behind in some inn. Fairy stories always went down well, but also histories, especially of the places they were in, and historical novels (although Aiella was apt to wax sarcastic when authors got the details wrong. One poor fellow had been excoriated for a week after Dartea had read out a passage that had severely mangled the principles of falconry. Dartea had come to give an inward cringe every time a character picked up a sword or, even worse, a bow).

This bookstall was small, but seemed well stocked. As she pored over the various volumes on offer her hand passed over a pile of penny dreadfuls, cheap, trashy romances and adventures that she had no interest in. She moved one aside, to look at another book beneath, and then something made her look again at the title.

The All True ADVENTURES of the Famous LADY EYELLA

As Related to the Author by HER SELF

She held it for moment, frozen in disbelief. Nervously, she opened the book. Inside was a badly done woodcut showing a very tall lady dressed in breeches and wielding an impossibly large bow. Beside this apparition was a short fat figure with an ugly face, wearing a smock.

"Oh, my soul," Dartea said. She turned a few pages at random.

'Take that,' Eyella said as she gave the Villain a backhanded stroke. 'You will not be up to your Dastardly Tricks againe'. Her flaming sword shone as brightly as her flaming hair in the sun as she slew him.

She turned to another chapter, fascinated and horrified at the same time.

'I am intirely youres, Captain,' Lady Eyella told him as she swooned in his armes. 'I have not met a man so handsome in all my Yeares of travelling.'

'Nor I a Lady so bewitching, my Lady,' the Captain told her Passionately, as he put his Lips to her sweet mouth and

Dartea closed the book hurriedly.

"How much is this?" she asked the bookseller.

The man looked over at the volume she held in a trembling hand.

"Oh, the Lady Eyella? Twopence, miss. It's proving very popular, that one. I did hear as how there might be a series of them, as this has gone so well. Very racy stuff."

Dartea handed over two pennies silently, too stunned to speak.

The room they had taken at the inn wasn't large, being mostly bed, so it was on the bed that Dartea lay while she read the book, her mouth open in amazement and horror at the lurid tale she found within.

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