Welcome to DeVia's "Happy Birthday" card to ol' Billy Shakespeare. (Hey, if Marilyn Monroe can sing it to the prez, DeVia can do it for the true king of the bards. Sorry Elvis.) And there's even more... You see, a whole heckuvalotta web cartoonists decided to give the birthday nod to him today as well. You can track them down through the central listing for this project at ws2001.keenspace.com
And now, bonuses found nowhere else (on this site)....
Limned with an amber halo seen only from the street, the door had been left ajar with gentle light creeping around its edge. Beating rain waxed furiously as he plodded through the archway and swung the door behind him to make it close. The oaken portal stopped just short of fastening shut with the wood near its bottom swollen from the torrential waters howling outside. Had it been left open in invitation, or was it merely that it would not close fast? He did not know, nor did he care. What mattered most to him was that he had entered one of the few dry pockets in this hamlet. Even as he muttered an inarticulate curse under his breath, he silently vowed to take advantage of this reprieve from the tempest for as long as possible.
As he adjusted his focus to the fire lit chamber, a movement from within startled him. A pair of softly expressive eyes met his from near the fireplace, the dancing flames reflected therein as if the devil's own handiwork were mirrored in each. Her face was familiar, yet not recognized in his befuddled, half drowned state. He might have known her by her outfit had she not been draped in thick blankets and furs near the fire in an obvious attempt to warm herself from her own battle with the elements outside. He feared that he should call her by name, yet it sprang not to his lips as he intoned a brief apology for his gruff behavior.
"I beg your pardon," he managed to gasp out. "I do not wish to disturb you in this, your place of sanctuary. I had only wished to make a safe haven from the storm, but I see that I am intruding. So, I will take my leave of you now." Bowing as politely as he could manage with rivulets running down his face and hair, he turned as if to leave. All the while he hoped for some stroke of providence that would allow him to remain safely within.
From inside her layered cocoon of warmth, his wish was granted. "Please, do not trouble yourself so," she said with a high throaty voice that spoke of a chill in her head or chest. "I would not see animals drenched such, and you certainly are at least a step or two above them. There is a warm place by the fire here for a gentleman."
"My tanks Lady...", he said. Oh, what was her name? Let him call her "Lady" then and be thought overly polite. "Is this then your abode?"
"I do rent this space, but the clear ownership falls to another. Still, do not worry. When I invite a gentleman in, it is my invitation to make." She played this game of words well, he realized. "It is I who should be begging your pardon," she continued, " for not asking you here to bide the evening. I fear that I thought that the time for one of your importance would be measured elsewhere, and not here in the chambers of a mere actress."
An actress then. That explained her familiar face. This whole concept of women on the stage was new to him after all. Through his travels, he came upon more curious customs in each place that he chose to visit. "Ah my lady... DeVia," he guessed at her identity beneath the blankets. Those might very well be her eyes, although from the stage it is hard to tell the details, at least the details of the eyes. "I believe that you are more charming now than by any words that I might write to place upon your lips. I would like to stay for a while if just to catch my breath before I again traverse the deeps of the waters outside."
"Be less of manners and more of urgency Sir William," she chided. "I dare say, you look a bit blue from the cold rains without. Come to the fire before you catch a chill in your bones that lingers to the edge of the Styx. I will not have it said that your death bed was made by my modesty." Her stare spoke of a maternal nature he had not imagined when she had pranced across the stage earlier this evening. Remarkably enough the rains had begun late into the final act, whipping up furiously and quickly. In the open air theater, he had been surprised that none of the patrons had run for cover from the plummeting waters. Rather, they stayed to see her performance conclude. He would not lie to himself that his words held them transfixed, nor had her acting for that matter. As he crossed to the fireplace, he noticed her tattered costume in the back of the chamber, soaked through and laying across a chair. Everything has its reason, he thought.
"Here is a fine place for you upon the bench then," she interrupted his thoughts. " ... And you will need to get out of those drenched clothes as well. Goodness, I seem to have hoarded all the blankets. I believe that I could spare a few to shield you from the draft while you linger in the warmth of the fire." Her voice, calm and soothing, seemed to echo for an instant in his head before he answered her.
"I thank you for your hospitality, Lady DeVia," he replied from a demure distance. "I will be but a brief time with these rags and keep a gentlemanly distance while I warm myself in your presence." He suddenly realized that he had been averting his gaze from her amorphous coverings, and even from her eyes, ever since he had realized her identity. Silly, his self consciousness now, especially since like so many of the patrons earlier, he had stood transfixed from the audience, unable to avert his gaze from her doused form on stage. Blood rushed to his cheeks as he understood the weight of his situation. Any of the men at the show earlier would envy his position, to even for a fleeting moment to be alone with this woman in such state. No doubt many of them were fantasizing about this very dream at this moment.
He leaned over and accepted one of her large outer blankets gratefully. Smiling politely, he retired to a generous distance and drew it about himself to serve his own modesty while removing his dripping outerwear. Fitful glances in her direction revealed to him that she had transfixed her gaze upon his form, however cloaked it might be in the large quilt he had girded about himself. During one of these glances, he was sure that he saw her lips move, forming words, but he could not hear her. Thunder from the storm outside had rolled in, past the stonework walls, and overspoke her words. His attention was so intent on the welcome movement of her delicately curved and moistened lips that the storm was but a dim shower in his mind. The thunderous blast had come and gone, and he would have been none the wiser of its passing had it not kept her voice still.
"I must apologize for the audacity of Zeus to interrupt you so," he smiled, "but would you be kind enough to repeat what you were saying? I fear your words were lost in the storm."
"I had asked you..." she caught her breath. "Why?"
His heart skipped a beat before he managed to collect his thoughts. She had asked why, but he did not know wither her why was meant? "I fear you have me at a loss Lady," he stammered. "But to what may I attribute your why?"
Smiling, she replied, "why the gentlemanly distance? While you have regained some color since you entered, I fear that too great a distance from the fire might be ill advised."
"I would not presume..."
"You need not presume sir," she continued in a fiercely calm and modestly haughty tone. "All the city watch are as brothers to me, and you should not presume that your entry here was unobserved. I am quite safe from you and all intruders here whom I do not wish present. You may then assume then that your presence is welcome by the fire if I say it is so."
"Very well then, I will sit beside you here by the hearth," he sighed. "I would not presume to anger the mistress of this establishment by standing in shadowy corner and shivering in the cold."
"Much better then," she teased, making room for him next to her on the bear skin shrouded stone. Her blankets shifted as she moved, the soft sigh of wool on fur creating a sensual sound as she adjusted her coverings around. Even with no visible form, her movements seemed lyrical. "Sit here," she smiled, patting the now open space beside her with one sensuously manicured hand.
Shedding his wet garments beneath his blanket, he carefully girded it about him and sat where instructed. For the first time since he had noticed her here, he allowed his eyes to linger in her direction. All exposed were her head and shoulders, now uncovered by the removal of the blanket which he wore. As custom dictated in these parts, while on the stage, paint had covered her face. Some tell tail streaks were still present around her eyes, but over all, the rain had washed her clean. Her skin glowed fairly healthy with the freshness of a vigorous bath, and the rosy color of her cheeks shone through in as pleasant a manner as he could ever remember on woman before. Her delicately arched eyebrows, streamlined neck, and sensually pointed ears bespoke some hint of faerie in her blood, mayhaps long ago. But, he marveled in her hair, earlier piled high with ringlets framing her visage. The rain had seen to the undoing of her locks. With ringlet and combs set aside, her hair flowed as one mighty raven spider web over her shoulders, intertwining around her lovely neck and disappearing beneath her blankets into a paradise where he must not let his mind linger for fear of its loss.
Pulling himself together he cleared his throat, and then realized that he had no small talk to make. With a painful expression he chanced the question, "does it rain much here in your city?" He knew that it was a poor question, but he feared that if he did not make some effort at conversation, he might faint from the nearness of her.
"The rain comes often about this time of year, always from off the coast," she replied matter of factly, carefully letting him choose the subject as she nestled her coverings against his. She sensed his unease, and helped him feel better by playing along with his attempt at idle chatter. She could pretend as well as he that the two of them were not before a beautifully warm fireplace, nestled together in blankets wearing only the outfits with which they had entered this life. That the blankets separated them was merely a formality at this point anyway. "It tends to come from out over the Dragons Reach at this time of year. Tonight is a full moon, so it is to be expected that we would have a severe downpour. They call it the lover's moon."
He was feeling some apprehension as she pressed her blankets to his. Certainly they were not so cold as to require this degree of closeness. Nevertheless, her motions were arousing something fervent in his blood. "Luna has her tricks," he replied in an adolescent voice, cracking his words on the high notes. He turned away from her to hide the embarrassment crossing his face in flush.
"I think there is something of the lunatic in us all," she smirked. Deftly, she passed her hand between the coverings, leaving hers and entering his with one grasping appendage. "Oh dear, you are colder than I had imagined," she taunted. "Here I sought your warmth, but I have found but a single wand of frost."
"Perhaps," he choked, "you might wish to make your intentions known. Is this some trap for me that you have lain, or mere circumstance?" Her adroit ministrations were bringing sudden and intense results under his covering. A wand fast became a scepter under her tutelage, and though he tried, the process would not slow for his own efforts.
"I saw you there," she whispered, her breath intoxicatingly intermingling with his own. Her body pressing ever closer to his through the interposed furs. "You could not help but watch as the rains soaked my costume, making it cling tightly to me as gossamer strands. There were many there, and you were transfixed like the rest."
All he could do was nod and sigh, his mind filled with ungentlemanly thoughts to make a nymph blush.
"I also know a secret," she breathed. She pulled him closer to her through the blankets, judging his reaction by the pulse she held. "I was told it is your birthday today."
Glassy eyed, he cought his breath and nodded his silent yes.
"Then I believe," she smirked, "you have a gift to unwrap."
Still reading? You deserve a reward for your diligence:
DeVia's Shakespearean Insult Generator:
Shakespearean humor, and the fool? A wit so quick yet deeply set that thou canst hardly follow. Yet look here and let the words of the bard flow as running river to guide your glibness in steady course.
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