Prologue: part 5

Nica had been searching for an empty practice room when she’d found Kis instead. She was deep in the heart of one of the kishkan’ramn, a seductive dance. Nica smiled and leaned against the doorway while she watched Kisma dance.

Her stomach rippled, the movement carrying up her spine and into her chest to flow out of her arms. Her hips circled, dipping slowly to the right, then the left. Her hands came back to her center, fingers trailing down her stomach. Everywhere her fingers touched left a shimmer of color, a trail of crimson scales in its wake, only to vanish back into her tanned skin again when her hands had passed.

Kis was nude, save for the scales and a belt of golden chains glittering low on her hips, hung here and there with onyx and garnets. As she continued moving, the dance built upon itself, the urgency of passion filling her. Her pace increased, and so did her flashes of red and black scales, highlighting the golden strands as they passed over her hips and trailed down her thighs.

Her black hair flowed along her tawny shoulders, strips of red flashing in the bottom layer. As she approached the end of the dance, her body slid to the floor. She ended in a kneeling position with her head tilted back, eyes closed, hips still rising and falling. Scales rippled to completely cover her thighs, stomach, up between her breasts to her throat.

Suddenly her body arched, trembling at the climax of the piece, then she fell back to the stage, completely still.

After a few respectful moments of silence, Nica stepped forward. “Yvena, beautiful.”

Kis’s head turned, eyes still closed as she smiled. “a’Parn’o .”

As she drew closer, she could see dark scales of her serpent form still decorating the skin above Kis’s eyes. They caught the light as she moved, twisting her body onto her side so she could stretch her legs back out.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you perform a kishkan’ramn before.”

Kis chuckled and scales ran down her upper arms. “True – No one to perform for.”

Nica raised her eyebrows at the comment, but didn’t ask. She didn’t have to. Kis opened dark eyes and smiled up at her. “Sometimes I need to dance them to simply remind myself I still can.”

She slipped over onto her belly, flexing her heels back up to her thighs. “I’ve never seen you perform one either.”

Nica accepted her silent invitation and folded her legs to sit beside her. She admired the way her friend’s scales appeared to dance on their own in the firelight. Not for the first time she wondered how it would feel to call scales of her own, for her skin to be stiff, but supple, to see that glimmer on her own skin when she danced in the firelight.

Nica smiled somewhat wistfully. “Yes, well, I haven’t anyone to dance them for either.”

Some of the ease went out of Kis’ stretches and she turned her head to watch Nica. “Not even Bastian?”

Kis should have known better than to say it. Nica’s relaxed posture stiffened and she gave her a warning look. “Don’t.”

At her feigned innocence, Nica frowned harder. “Just don’t, Kis. We’ve been over this before.”

“Yes, we have.” Suddenly her friend was sitting, loose hands on her knees belying her intensity. “And he wouldn’t know passion if it bit him in the face.”

“Kis…”

“I know, I know. I won’t argue with you again for it. We both know you deserve better.” The other woman sighed and twisted her hair up on top of her head, slipping a pin off her belt to hold it in place. The movement was loose, lacking her previous intensity. “I look forward to the day that I can see you dance full of ki’n again. Your passion is the fire of a serpents heart. You may wear feathers, but this chill doesn’t sit well on you.”

She knelt, a finger crooking under Nica’s chin to bring their gazes even. “Shall we dance, ahn’sha? See if we can’t bring the smile back that I’ve so carelessly chased away?”

Nica sighed and pulled away, but she let herself smile at Kis’s attempt at peace. She had enough demons to battle without creating confrontations with a well-meaning friend. She stood in a single movement, stretching out her back and extending a hand down to Kis.

“Yes, let us dance.”

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