I thought I'd share the story with you. I'll break up the story into short bits rather than post the whole thing at once. On my webpage the story takes 13 pages of varying length. I'll probably break each page into two, sometimes three, parts. I may also include other stuff of interest along with the story, either in the same post or a separate one. I think it would be kind of cheating if all I did each day was repost something I wrote some time ago.
So here's the first part:
She came to Sunrise Harbor with the sunset, sailing a small white boat. Even as she eased the boat up to the town dock she attracted the attention of those nearby. I had come out to the top of the broad steps that led from the dock to my tavern, and she got my attention as well. A dahroonae sailing alone is unusual. Even more unusual, she was a redpelt. And for attracting attention, it didn't hurt that she was unclothed, even though that's common in these warm latitudes. She was small and had a very pleasing figure. I've never been off Dahroona, but wherever one travels in the United Planets or beyond, a pleasing female figure is bound to attract the male. The dahroonans converging on the sailboat proved our species was no exception to the rule.
I'd heard of redpelts, but she was the first one to visit Sunrise Harbor in my memory, and I've been running the tavern for more than forty cycles. I don't recall my father, who ran it for over fifty cycles before me, ever speaking of a redpelt visiting this southeastern part of Quastrana. Redpelts come from the Candara Isles, clear on the other side of Dahroona near the Orbital Tower on Arralta, but outside the limited area where off-worlders are allowed. Even there, redpelts are a minority. Our people usually have pelts ranging from dark brown to pale blonde, with a smattering of silver and white, and the rare blackpelt.
Willing hands caught the ropes and made her sailboat secure. She thanked those dahroonans who helped with a smile that even at this distance I could tell was warm and cheerful. She went below into the cabin and emerged with a duffel and a small case which she set beside a bollard as she stepped on to the dock. And then this already unusual dahroonae became of even greater interest.
She stepped away from the small group, gesturing for them to give her some space. Then she turned to face the sun and raised her arms straight over her head. Slowly she went down onto her knees, her long single braid of hair nearly reaching the ground behind her. She bowed forward until her arms, still above her head, were on the dock. Her tail, with its dark red tuft, extended straight back. For a moment, she resembled a Rashniran in prayer, except they are never unclad and always face Jarna, which is off to our northeast, as they pray. After only a brief pause in that position, she rose just as the sun touched the western horizon.
Then she danced.
There was no music for that first dance, of course. None that we could hear, at any rate. But with her fluid grace, she made it obvious that she was hearing the music inside her, and it was music of incomparable beauty. All conversation and activity stopped as all eyes followed her. She danced during the several mirns it took for the sun to sink, and as it disappeared below the horizon, her dance slowed and she briefly resumed the prostrate posture she'd started from.
She rose, and as the assembled dahroonaes and dahroonans came out of the spell she'd cast, they applauded. Meanwhile, she skipped over to her duffel, brought out a bowl and held it out toward her admirers. They were quick to bring out coins and drop them in the bowl. She smiled brightly and I suppose she said a few words of gratitude. She accepted what was given and made no attempt to wheedle more. In all the time I knew her, she never begged; she only accepted with quiet gratitude.
"I hope she'll come to the tavern," my silvery blonde mate Weaver said from her place at my side where she'd come without my realizing it. "That looks like a fiddle case beside that duffel, and if her playing's even a quarter as good as her dancing, she'll earn food and drink and a bed for the night if she wants one."
"I couldn't agree more," I replied.
"I noticed the little redpelt dahry's put a twitch in your tail," Weaver teased as she moved closer to put an arm behind my back. "Seventy cycles and you've still got an eye for beauty."
"It hasn't had to wander very far, that's for certain," I said as my arm went around my mate. Our tails touched and twined briefly.
We watched the dancer as she shouldered her duffel and picked up the fiddle case, cheerfully declining several offers of assistance, and headed toward the steps and us.
"Would that be Brewer's tavern there?" she asked as she stopped beside us at the top of the steps and motioned with her chin. "I've heard there's no finer ale to be found in all of Quastrana than his. Sailing works up an appetite and a thirst, and my own poor cooking makes me truly appreciate food and drink done right." Her voice was bright, cheerful, and had a very pleasing lilt to it.
"That would be Brewer's tavern," Weaver said, "and my mate here is Brewer himself. We were hoping you'd seek out our food and drink. I'm known as Weaver."
"Delighted," she replied with a slight curtsey. "I took the name Sundancer when I left the Candara Isles aboard Wind Dancer."
"You sailed halfway around Dahroona by yourself?" I asked, unable to avoid sounding amazed. She was small even for a dahroonae, and though Wind Dancer was a compact vessel, Sundancer had to have been both nimble and determined to accomplish such a voyage solo.
"I did just that," she replied with a smile that showed she wasn't offended by my amazement. "I've been sailing since I was knee-high to a leafjumper, and I'm older than I look, so I know my way around sailing craft. It was a long and lonely sail, but now I've made Sunrise Harbor, it's time to give Wind Dancer a rest."
"You'd heard of us all the way back in the Isles?" I asked.
"No," Sundancer answered, "I left Candara's shores with the intention of putting a lot of distance between them and me. But a little over halfway here I began hearing about this place, and everything I heard appealed to me."
She paused and looked out over the harbor with its scattering of sailboats and fishing craft. Brin the Tidebringer was high in the darkening sky, and Lil, Brin's smaller and more distant companion, was just above the harbor entrance. It was easy to see why artists often set up their easels where we were standing.
"My first impression is that I'll not be disappointed," Sundancer said softly.
We took the short walk to the tavern, followed by almost everyone who had been on the dock or nearby. Sundancer took a seat at the bar. Weaver served up a bowl of her famous stew, and I drew a mug of my latest pale ale, which had garnered me a number of compliments. Weaver gave me a look that questioned me about serving ale to one who appeared so young, but I had decided if she was old enough to sail halfway around our world, she was old enough, and no doubt thirsty enough, for my ale. Sundancer put her nose over the steaming bowl, inhaled, smiled, and took in a spoonful. She swallowed and smiled even more.
"By the stars that guided me," she exclaimed, "I believe I've truly come ashore in paradise!"
"Take a drink of that ale and you'll have no doubts about it," said Cooper, one of the many locals who'd followed Sundancer to the tavern.
"That was to be my next move," she said, raising her mug and downing a healthy portion of its contents. Sundancer's next smile was delivered full force and straight at me. "Not only is Sunrise Harbor paradise, but surely Brewer's the one who made it so! I hope you're in need of a fiddler to entertain your guests, because I can't see myself doing my eating or drinking anywhere but here."
"Well, young Sundancer," I answered, "it just so happens we could use the services of a fiddler. Food, drink, and a bed for the night are yours if you'll favor us with some entertainment. No doubt you'll have some tunes that haven't been heard this far from your home." There was a murmur of approval and anticipation from the locals.
"I'm sure I have something new for you," she said, "so we've got a deal." She raised her mug, looked at it, then me, and said, "If you were to be asking me, though, I'd say I'm getting the better of it." She downed another healthy swallow, and then turned to the task of making the stew disappear. It didn't take long. Meanwhile, most of the group who'd followed Sundancer to the tavern ordered food to go with their ale. She hadn't yet played a single note on her fiddle, and already she was proving to be good for business.
[Edit November 29, 2010] Originally I went on to post the rest of this story. I have removed those posts because I plan to publish the story in ebook form, probably on Amazon for the Kindle and Barnes & Noble for the Nook. The B&N version will be in the .epub format and will be suitable for other ebook readers that use that format, which I think is almost everything except the Kindle.
At this point, I'm not sure if I'll get the story published in a very short time or whether it'll take longer. I just know that leaving it out here on the Internet for free when I have plans to possibly make a little money makes no sense.
I'm leaving this first part up in hopes anyone reading it will be interested enough to spend a little money to get the rest of the story. I don't plan on charging very much.
I'm going to do the same with "Sundancer's Fairy Tale" which I posted in November 2009. Again, I'll leave the first post up.