Background: Blade Dancers

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  • Blade Dancers

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    In Equitaine dance is a glorious frippery – we dance to feel the thrill
    of movement, to excel at an art, to seduce one another. For the
    Trewi it is a different matter entirely. Where bards like myself might
    pluck a lute, their performers use sharpened blades. They dance both
    in court and on the battlefield – although while I am, for the most part,
    a respected guest in noble halls, these Blade Dancers were an alien
    presence. They carried a sacred blessing from one of the elven gods –
    perhaps all of them. Their dances did not merely communicate information,
    but somehow made it real and true in a way even the sweetest
    song cannot. There was fey magic in their movement.
    They spun all manner of dances – swift and slow, joyful and tragic. They
    rarely communicated in words, though they were capable of it. Their
    speech was quiet and their looks pensive. All treated them with respect,
    honour, and even fear, though I never witnessed a scene that would justify
    it. The several occasions I saw a Blade Dancer in the flesh, they were
    nothing but gentle in their limited personal interactions – as if they understood
    everything they saw to be fragile and passing.
    Though I never beheld them on the battlefield, I did witness their
    dance one night in the forest court. No explanation of the occasion was
    given to me, yet the very air that eve felt portentous. Silence reigned
    through the hall as the dance began. For a time I was lost in the grace
    of their movements, the tangle of supple limbs which seemed to
    etch a story upon my eyes. The depth of winter was marked by sombre
    patterns, only to be replaced by the joy of spring’s light steps and
    high leaps. When the sensual heat of summer filled bodies as they
    entwined, my faced burned crimson with voyeuristic pleasure.
    Finally Autumn, and the dance turned. Gestures which had moments before
    raised the pulse now felt sinister. As the dance reached its climax, one
    of the children, my constant companions in captivity, was led out. Shepherded
    this way and that, her face was a picture of terror as she came to
    an altar of elven flesh. As the motion of drawing a knife across her throat
    was performed, I all but screamed, utterly immersed in the ritual. Long
    moments passed before I saw the child was unharmed, the dancer’s hand
    empty. Yet the dread of that moment lingered with me, and I resolved
    once more to find a way to depart these troubling woods.

    They danced in the open spaces, silk flowing
    round them like water. The trees were filled
    with watching elves, faces visible in every
    bough.

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