Raven's Crossing: The Washer Woman
Raven’s Crossing: The Washer Woman
The town of Raven's Crossing was not a large one, yet at the moment, it seemed absolutely enormous. Mirian slowly made her way across down with a large basket that was absolutely filled with dirty laundry. One would normally think that some clothes and sheets wouldn't be very heavy, but the weight added up, especially when she had to carry it all the way across town.
Mirian was a laundress...a washer woman. People would pay her to clean their clothes and sheets for them, and some, like the man whose house she was returning from, would pay her extra to come and pick up their laundry so they wouldn't have to bring it to her home themselves.
"I should charge Carzen more," Mirian muttered to herself as she set the basket down to rest for a moment.
Of course, Carzen couldn't afford to pay her more for this service and she couldn't get away with asking for more. That meant she had to just keep working harder and longer in order to put food on the table. It hadn't been easy since her husband Nyles had been killed two years earlier but she was used to that.
Mirian looked around as she rested, her eyes settling on the statue that rested in the center of town. In fact, it was the only statue in town. It was a shaped in the image of a plain looking man who stood there with a coin bag held in his hand and a look of smug satisfaction on his face. This was Estebar Raven, the man who founded Raven's crossing and whom it was named after.
Several centuries ago, Estebar Raven was an adventurer and scoundrel who traveled to distant lands in search of fortune. After years with no luck, he realized that there was another way to gain wealth that was both easier and safer. Raven created a trading post where two ancient roads met, roads which nearly every trader or adventurer used when traveling between the civilized lands and the far lands of danger and opportunity. Instead of searching for adventure himself, Raven sold supplies and services to these travelers...at greatly inflated prices. Before long, others had joined him and a whole town grew up.
Mirian had always thought it was a little strange that someone would erect a statue in honor of a man who was most famous for being a greedy opportunist. Of course, town legend said that this wasn't really a statue of Estebar Raven but was actually Raven himself, having been cursed by a wizard whom he'd scammed.
After a minute, Mirian picked up her basket and continued on her way. However, Mirian hadn't gone far when she noticed a very distinctive looking woman walking towards her. The other woman was very tall, taller even than most men Mirian had ever seen and very muscular. Her confident stride and her garb clearly marked her as a warrior of some sort, a fact that was confirmed by the large two handed sword that she had strapped to her back. At the same time, she had enough #f curves to make Mirian envious.
"Are you the washer woman?" the large warrior woman asked, looking at the basket that Mirian carried.
"Yes," Mirian responded meekly, not wanting to anger this intimidating woman. You never knew what kind of temperament these adventurers might have.
"I have clothes that need cleaned," the woman stated simply. "Where is your shop?"
"Two streets down," Mirian pointed in the direction. She wasn't at all surprised by the question since travelers who came through Raven's Crossing frequently needed their clothes cleaned. Some could even be generous with their coin. "I have the green sign above my door."
The woman nodded pleasantly but then paused to look off to the side with a scowl. Mirian followed her gaze and saw three men walking straight towards them. These men were travelers who were passing through Raven's Crossing as well, and unfortunately, Mirian could see that these particular ones were looking for trouble. The ones who were looking for trouble always had a particular air about them.
"You're a big one," one of the men said to the warrior woman. "Won't matter much in bed though..."
The second of the men was watching the exchange with a smirk while the third was actually giving Mirian a thoughtful look. Mirian wasn't bad looking but she was well aware of the fact that she wasn't particularly attractive either. Still, men like these ones were often not very discriminatory, a fact that she rather liked at times though now wasn't one of them.
The warrior woman looked at the man who'd just spoken to her with a thoughtful expression, almost as if she was actually considering him as a possible bed partner. Then she snorted dismissively, "You couldn't handle me."
"I can handle anything you've got," the man responded, grabbing the woman's arm when she began to turn away.
She suddenly snapped around and grabbed him by his shirt, lifting him off the ground with one hand. Her arm muscles bulged, suddenly seeming even larger. "Don't touch me," the woman said coldly. "No go away... I have no interest in you..." And with that, she casually tossed him back.
"No one does that to me," he exclaimed, drawing his sword as he got back to his feet.
The man took on swing at the warrior woman but she responded almost faster than Mirian had thought possible. With a swift ease that spoke of long practice, she drew her own sword from the sheath on her back and swung it, slicing right through her attacker's wrist. His hand fell to the ground with his own sword still clenched firmly in its grip.
The man who'd just lost his hand screamed in pain while clutching his bloody stump. His friends looked as though they were trying to decide if they should avenge his injury or not, but after one long look of the woman's sword they turned and ran.
"You skelling whore," the man screamed at her furiously as he tried to stop the spurting blood. He gave her a look of pure hatred before turning and running after his friends.
After a moment, the warrior woman pulled out a piece of cloth which she used to wipe the blood from her blade. Once she was satisfied, she slipped it back into its sheath. Only then did she turn her attention back to Mirian.
"I will be at your shop in two hours with my clothing," the warrior woman told Mirian before she walked away.
Mirian watched the large woman leave, feeling quite impressed by what she'd seen. Numerous female warriors had passed through town at one time or another but she didn't think she'd ever actually seen one fight before with her own eyes. Of course, it hadn't been much of a fight but it had been enough to impress Mirian.
After a moment, Mirian picked up her basket again and muttered, "I suppose it’s too much trouble to just help me get there with this. Put those muscles of hers to good use..." Of course, she knew that she probably would have been a little offended if the woman had offered to help since it would have suggested that she wasn't capable of doing it herself.
Mirian reached her shop a short time later and set the basket on the floor. She looked around the small room, the floor of which was covered with numerous piles of laundry. In the back corner there was the large wash tub where she cleaned the laundry, and twice a week, herself. Then up the old wooden stairs was the room which Mirian kept as her living quarters.
"No time for a break now," Mirian told herself with a sigh. "These sheets won't wash themselves." Then she shook her head and turned to her work with another sign at the monotony of her life.
It was more than two hours later when the warrior woman finally arrived, this time with her saddle bags slung over her shoulder. She dropped the saddle bags to the floor and pulled out all the clothes.
"How soon can these be clean?" the woman asked Mirian.
Mirian looked up at the imposing woman, remembering the way she'd easily handled the men who'd attacked her earlier. Normally, Mirian would have told her two days or would have asked for some extra coin in order to speed up the process, but this time she decided to change things.
"I can have them ready for you by tomorrow morning," Mirian told the woman.
"That will be fine," the woman responded, pulling out some coins and handing them to Mirian. Mirian stared at them in surprise since this was nearly ten times what she normally asked for her services.
"May I ask your name?" Mirian asked curiously.
"Siedra," the other woman responded with a faint smile. "Siedra of Forge Valley...sometimes called Siedra Strongarm."
Mirian nodded and smiled at her customer, "Your clothes will be ready on time Siedra."
"I will see you tomorrow," Siedra told Mirian before she turned to leave.
Mirian quickly went to her record book to make a quick note of Siedra's clothing. Mirian wasn't great with her letters but she knew more than most in the village and more than enough to note which clothes belonged to which costumer and when she'd promised them to be ready.
Suddenly, Mirian heard a loud thud from outside her shop. She quickly looked out the door and gasped to see Siedra had fallen back with a crossbow bolt sticking out of her chest. There was a second crossbow bolt embedded in the wall right next to Mirian's door.
Siedra staggered and struggled to remain her feet as she drew her sword and looked around with a furious look on her face. Then Mirian saw them, the three men who'd harassed them earlier. All three were standing in the street with crossbows held in their hands. However, the one man with the stump wrapped in bloody bandages was having a hard time keeping his steady. Since his looked empty, Mirian suspected the bolt next to her door had been the one he'd fired. Then the third one fired his bolt and hit Siedra again, this time in the neck.
"Ambush," Siedra gasped with an expression of cold anger and pain. "Skelling cowards..."
"You big stupid 2wh," the man with the missing hand exclaimed. "You really thought I'd let you get away with doing this to me?" He looked at his stump and then glared at her with an expression of hatred. He and his friends came closer, seeming much more confident now that they'd shot two crossbow bolts into Siedra first. "You must be part oger..."
It was obvious that Siedra was badly injured and could barely even stand, but she still charged forward and ran her sword through the now one armed man. He gurgled and dropped to his knees, obviously surprised that she could still move at all much less that fast. However, she was slowed down enough that one of the other attackers was able to slice her side with his own sword.
Siedra staggered back and dropped to her knees, gasping as blood came from her mouth. "You...," she said, looking at Mirian. "Come here..." Mirian hesitated but then went to Siedra, scared that she was going to be attacked next. Siedra grimaced in pain then held her sword out to Mirian. "Take it..."
Mirian blinked on confusion and protested, "But I'm no warrior... I'm just a laundress..."
Siedra forced a smile and responded weakly, "And I was once just a bar maid..." Then she pressed the hilt into Mirian's hands and stared at her intently for a moment before she collapsed to the ground dead.
"It looks like the other one has a sword," one of the men exclaimed with a grin. "I am so afraid..."
Just then, Mirian felt a presence in the sword...reaching out to her...reaching into her mind. The sword...it was alive. It wanted to be wielded and used. At the same time, Mirian also knew that some part of the sword's first owner remained within and that it would share that part with any woman who owned it. And now, that woman was Mirian.
A moment later, Mirian felt something flowing into her body from the sword. She gasped as a burning sensation filled her and then she felt herself beginning to grow. Her entire body began to swell larger at once, straining against her clothes which now felt several sizes too small. Then her dress started to split open at the seams.
“What’s happening to her?” one of the men demanded of the other.
Mirian moaned in pleasure as she burst right out of her clothes. She was growing taller, her muscles were thickening, and even her breasts were growing. Mirian could feel herself growing stronger with every second and she absolutely loved it.
“Oh yes,” Miriam exclaimed, clutching the sword even more tightly. “MORE.”
When Mirian stopped changing, she took several deep breaths and then looked down at herself. She’d outgrown all of her clothes and was now standing there completely naked, though for some reason, she didn’t really mind much.
Mirian saw that she was much taller, taller even than either of the men who were standing there and staring with their mouths open. In fact, she guessed she was about the same height as Siedra. She was also muscular with her entire body ripped with solid muscle, also just like Siedra’s had been. And of course, her curves had increased as well. Her breasts which had never been anything special were now large, round, and firm.
“Look at these,” Mirian exclaimed, feeling her breasts and seeing that her entire figure had improved dramatically.
“By Scarn’s balls,” one of the men blurted out. “Magic…”
“I don’t care how big she got,” the other one snapped. “We took care of that other whore and we can get her…”
“The other one killed Zak,” he protested. Then he stared at Mirian, his eyes locking on her improved breasts while a nasty grin began to form that. “Let’s get her…”
The two men came at Mirian but she felt no fear. She noticed for the first time how slow and clumsy they were with their swords, obviously lacking much real skill. They were no threat to her and wouldn’t have been to Siedra either if they hadn’t ambushed her with the crossbows first.
Mirian jumped into motion with the sword…with her sword. She felt a confidence as she swung the blade, sure of her skills with it as she blocked one of her attackers attacks and then swung around to remove his head from his shoulders.
The last remaining attacker howled with rage and leapt at her but Mirian sidestepped and slashed down with her sword again, slicing through both of his hands at once and then stepping back. His hands both dropped to the ground along with his sword and then he howled in pain before doing the same.
“That was…easy,” Mirian said, a little surprised at it. She’d never used a sword before in her life but now she was using one as though she’d been training with it for years. She held up her sword to admire it and mused, “It looks like you gave me more than just muscles.”
Of course, it made perfect sense since the sword wanted a warrior to wield it. It had given her the body of a warrior as well as all of the knowledge and skills. She closed her eyes for a moment and realized that her mind was filled with all sorts of new knowledge and skills that would be appropriate for a warrior woman.
“Siedra said she used to be a bar maid,” Mirian whispered, realizing that the sword must have transformed Siedra the same way it had just transformed her.
Mirian turned and went back into her shop, grabbing a random piece of clothing from one of the piles to wipe the blade off. Then she looked down at herself and decided that as nice as her new body was, she would need to get dressed. Fortunately, there were plenty of clothes for her to choose from.
Siedra’s clothes would probably be the best fit, but she’d just brought them in because they were dirty. Miriam had already looked them over enough to know that they’d need cleaning before she’d want to wear them. Of course, there were other clothes available, even some that were clean.
Mirian went to the back of the room where she had a collection of clothes which had been left behind by customers who’d never returned for them. Occasionally, customers would rush out of town for one reason or another and other times they just decided not to pay. There were some clothes in here that would do for now, though they wouldn’t fit nearly as well as Siedra’s.
Once Mirian was reasonably dressed, she looked herself over and mused, “I wonder what Nyles would think of this.” She smiled, imagining how intimidated her husband would have been by her size. He’d been a good husband and provider but never a very brave man.
Mirian went back out to Siedra’s body, knowing that she’d have to take care of it. She hesitated only a moment before pulling it inside her shop and then stripping it. Mirian felt a little guilty for stealing everything Siedra owned, but she needed it a lot more than the other woman did now.
Then Mirian looked over her ship and wondered what she was going to do now. It seemed such a waste to just work as a laundress when she now had a body like this and these skills. In fact, she no longer had any desire to return to her daily boredom. Instead, her mind was filled with thoughts of adventure.
“Carzen can clean his own sheets,” Mirian said with a snort, deciding that she was done with washing clothes for a living.
However, what Mirian did want to do at the moment was get a good drink of ale and show off her new body. She strapped on Siedra’s sheath so she’d have a way to carry her new sword and then she put Siedra’s coin purse on her belt.
Mirian started for the town inn and arrived just a few minutes later. The Oger's Head Inn was not only the main social spot for all of Raven's Crossing but was also where all the traveler's who passed through found food and lodgings. Today, it was just a little busier than usual.
One look around the sitting room was all Mirian needed to see that there were more groups of traveler's here than normal, though that was no surprise since she'd already heard as much from the town gossip. Siedra hadn't been part of a group but had been traveling through town alone. There was a large band of traders, of which the three attackers had been a part of. Only a few members of that group were currently present, much to Mirian's relief because she didn't want to deal with the others when they found out she'd killed those three. And there was another small group of adventurers, huddled up in the back corner and apparently discussing their plans.
"Ale," Mirian told the innkeeper Durgin.
Durgin was a stocky man with a thick beard. He'd never been especially tall yet now he actually seemed short compared to Mirian. She felt somewhat amused by this as Durgin handed her a pint of ale, apparently not recognizing her. Then he paused, staring at her for a moment while a look of recognition finally came to his face.
"Mirian?" Durgin asked with a look of vague surprise. "You've changed."
"You have no idea how much," Mirian responded with a faint smirk.
Durgin just grunted at that then turned to go help another customer. He had been the innkeeper of the Oger's Head for a long time and had seen a great many strange things happen here, usually the result of an adventurer or some magic they brought with them from far lands. He didn't surprise easily or remain that way for long.
Mirian took a long drink of her ale then moved to find herself a seat where she could drink in peace. She was well aware of the way people were looking at her and amused by the fact that none of the locals who knew her seemed to recognize her.
While Mirian was drinking, she eavesdropped on the group of adventurers. One of them was a young woman who was dressed in robes which marked her as some sort of mage. One was a man with two swords strapped to his side and who looked as though he could use them quite well. The last member of the group was another man who also had a sword but who also carried a bow with a quiver of arrows. Something told Mirian that he could probably use the bow to greater effect than the sword.
Once Mirian was finished with her ale, she got up and went to the group of adventurer's and announced her presence by saying, "I couldn't help but hearing your conversation. It sounded like you're heading out to hunt some bandits..."
All three of them turned to watch her with wary expressions. "Yes," the man with two swords finally said. "There's a bounty on a particular band that's been attacking traders and by Scarn's tail we mean to claim it."
"Could you use an extra sword?" Mirian asked with a grin.
He stared at her for a moment with a look of speculation then shared a look with his companions. "Can you use that sword?" he asked, looking to the sword which was strapped her to her back.
"I can handle myself," Mirian responded with a smirk. She'd only gained her fighting skills a very short time ago but she felt a strange confidence in them, as though a part of her had already tested and used those skills a great many times.
The three travelers gave each other another shared look and this time it was the woman who spoke, "We leave in the morning."
"I'll be there," Mirian assured them. She shared introductions with the travelers and spoke with them for another few minutes before excusing herself, "I have some business to take care of before leaving."
Mirian left the Oger's Head and began walking back to her shop, just a little surprised at herself for what she'd just done, though at the same time, it felt perfectly natural. After all, she now felt an urge...a NEED to put her new body and skills to use. Of course, before she went she'd have to figure out everything that she'd need to take with her.
"Clothes for one," Mirian mused, knowing that none of her own clothes would fit or be appropriate anymore.
Of course, Mirian also knew that the clothes Siedra had left behind would be perfect. All she'd have to do was get them clean first. Mirian disliked the idea of cleaning clothes now that so much had changed, thinking that it somehow felt demeaning. However, she knew she could make an exception and clean clothes this one last time. After all, these ones were for her and her new life.
"Goodbye Raven's Crossing," Mirian said as she looked around, knowing that this was the last time she'd see the streets this way. After tomorrow, if she ever saw Raven's Crossing again it would just be in passing as one of the many travelers that pass through. She grinned at the thought, already looking forward to the adventures that awaited her.