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Legends of Taltos:Crusaders

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Janara follows behind Aridwyn entering the house, bowing toward the hearth and making certain Bhogmur remembers to do the same. She tries to take in as much as she can about the house without going so far as to gawk or appear nosey. She wants to remember as much as she can about the home of the reptus so she can write about it in her journal later

 

The house is smallish but is filled with the aroma of incense. The walls are decorated with pictures made of bits of glass and tile that form intricate geometric designs. In the floor she notices vents which allow steam to rise up from the floor much like the steaming rocks she had seen by the roadside the day prior. The furnishings are mainly various sized slabs of polished stone, most of which are located near the steam vents in the floor. Even after only one glance around, Janara notices that one side of the room is a mirror image of the other.

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From the next room appears a small reptus servent, in simple silk robes. He consults briefly with Khowloon, then races away. Khowloon turns to the group. "Khiang Chou has gone to prepare your baths. Clean garments will be prepared for you as well. Yuor travel apparrel will be laundered while you attend the dinner tonight."

 

Soon the small house is filled with steam and the scent of exotic oils.....

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Rune is silent and respectful Khowloon's mother as he is instructed. He sits, and when the steam wafts through the room, carrying the strange odors, his eyes begin to water and turn red. He immediately jumps up, runs to the window, and throws it open, breathing deeply of the clean air.

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Soon the robed servant returns and speaks to Khowloon in his native tongue. Khowloon then announces that the baths are ready. He then indicates to his houseguests that two bath-chambers have been prepared, one for the men, and another for the ladies.

 

Janara feels relieved to know that the reptus understand the need for two seperate bathing areas for the two different genders. Though she had been trying not to stare, she kept stealing glances at Khowloon's mother. She could not help but to wonder what Ernesto meant when he said one must take a very close look when trying to tell whether a reptus is male or female. Though she was old, Khowloon's mother spoke and moved differently enough to distiinquish her from the males of her species.

 

The bathing room that the ladies are directed to is very similar to the first chamber they had entered, only the windows are much smaller so as to keep most of the steam in the room but still allow fresh air to enter too. The bath itself is the largest she has has ever seen. Back home, taking a bath involved either standing or sitting in a wooden washtub full of lukewarm water with a cake of soap and a bath-brush. The reptus bath, however, is a large rectangular pool lined with colourful ornately arranged tiles, and is filled with steaming warm water. Upon a polished stone pedastal near one side of the bath are several jars and bowls of sweet-smelling liquid which Janara suspects are to be used for the same purpose a soap cake would be used. On the opposite side of the room is another larger flat polished stone bench which she suspects is meant for one ti sit on while removing or putting on ones clothes.

 

Though there appears to be plenty of room in the bath for all of them, Janara looks at the other ladies nervously, once again feeling very out of place and self-conscious.

 

"One of you can try the water first an' see how hot it is. Anyway, I wouldd'n wanna dirty up the water b'fore you got your baths."

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"Don't worry, Janara, there's plenty enough water for all of us. Though I do fear I should have thought to ask Khowloon of Reptus bathing customs. Do we rub ourselves down with these soaps first?" Aridwyn investigates the jars, sniffing each one and finally selecting the one she thinks smells the best. "Or can we simply jump in and soak? I'm sure Khowloon is busy with other things now, so we'll have to figure it out for ourselves as best we can." Apparently untroubled by questions of modesty, Aridwyn quickly disrobes and slides into the warm water. "Oh, it's heavenly. You must come in," she breathes to the others. "So delightful and so fragrant. I give you fair warning, I may never come out."

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After weighing in her mind the embarassment of being seen naked by two friends against the embarassment she would bring upon the Crusaders and Denelspire by smelling like a workhorse, she decides to join Aridwyn in the bath.

 

She disrobes quickly, and then quickly steps into the water in an attempt to maintain some modesty. At first she finds it difficult to relax, though eventually the warmth of the water coaxes her out of her fetal position.

 

"Which of them jars smells the best ya think?", she asks Aridwyn. "Does any of 'em smell like that rose water of yours?"

 

She then realizes that nowhere in the room does she see the fresh change of clothes that was promised. More than once back at the abbey she had found herself sitting in the wash-barrel in the laundering room wishing she had not forgotten to bring her nightclothes with her, and more than once she had sat in the wash-barrel until her skin looked like a raisin while she waited for one sister or other to mercifully bring her nightclothes to her because she did not want to race upstairs to get them wearing nothing but what she was born wearing.

 

"D'ya think they'll be this good to us when we get t'Aizen-Krahl?", she asks in a general sort of way, trying to take her mind off of the present plight she has found herself in.

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Erik follows Khow-loon's instructions about the rituals of entering a Reptus house. Though the act of bowing and the gestures were foreign to him, he understood the respect for the sanctity of the house the gestures evoked.

 

I don't need another bath, I just...... By pretending to look in his belt pouch, he surreptiously tries to smell any unsavory body odor. Hmm. Well, if cleanliness is so important to them, maybe I better take another one.

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Rai frowns slightly at having to bathe in front of others, friends or not. She is indeed the last to disrobe but before she does so, she uses her abilities to form a steam fog to cover her from her shoulders to her knees. She reframes from making eye contact with the others until she is comfortably enjoying the warmth of the water.

 

"I agree with you, Aridwyn. I may not want to leave either." She leans her back, resting it on the ledge of the pool and closes her eyes.

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Soon servants bring the promised clothing for both groups, fine silks of the Reptus style. The common room begins to fill with clean, well-dressed members of the party. Bhogmur happily notices his boots have been scrubbed and oiled, as have those of the others. A basket with carrying poles is waiting for their other belongings, and two bearers stand outside waiting for orders. Khowloon addresses Erik and Rai, "I have guards to escort those going to the Legation, and soldiers to escort those attending the dinner. Who will be attending, as I need to send confirmation by runner?"

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Ben is still on edge after the earlier trouble and remains on guard and unrelaxed during the entire encounter. He bathes quickly once the others are finished and accepts the offered garments begrudginly, not too happy to be separated from his armor in these uncertain surroundings. He manages to hide a fairly wide array of weapons upon his person though and takes up his cautious position in the background when he joins the others again in the common room.

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As soon as clean clothes had been brought to her and the servant left the bathing room, Janara dressed herself and collected a few essential items from her dirty clothes before they were laundered. She never went anywhere without her holy symbol, nor would she willingly part with the gift given her by Joe. Though it made her feel like she was being sneaky, she decided to wear her belt with pouches and her better small dagger underneath the silken native attire she had been given. She knew it was better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, and those locals throwing things at Bhogmur did not set well with her.

 

She joins the others in the common room, feeling clean and elegantly dressed by her own standards. Seeing everybody else in similar attire takes some getting used to, especially Bhogmur and Joe.

 

Somewhat light-headed from the hot bath, she boldly walks straight up to Joe, grins stupidly and says with a chuckle, "You clean up pretty good for a hafforc, Just-Plain-Joe. You smell good too."

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Having successfully bargained for some unscented soap, Rune seems to be breathing much better as he steps out of the bath in his clean clothes. He braids his beard without the help of a mirror, and tucks it into his belt. He gives his travelling clothes to the basket bearers, but will not let any of them touch his weapons or armor.

 

The dwarf stands there among the others, breastplate, bow, quiver, and both axes cradled in his arms, waiting for Erik and Rai to finish talking with Khowloon.

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Aridwyn's eyes light up at the beautiful silks brought to her, and she gazes at them in wonder for a few moments before donning them. She had of course worn beautiful things in Almirithil, but the past few years of solitary roaming had left little opportunity to dress up.

 

After dressing and arranging her hair, Aridwyn rejoins the others in the common room. The sight of Bhogmur dressed like a young Reptus prince brings a grin to her face. "Bhogmur, you look so handsome!"

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