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On The Outside...

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Tarkon, King Spartos' Castle
After the banquet in honor of the victory of the Battle of Tarkon

Maya smirked knowingly. "He's only a simple creature on the outside."
     "How did you notice?" Niko sipped at the deep red wine in her goblet, aware of the slight, still offending edge of double-meaning in her question. For this once she didn't want to oppose the princess, but still...
     Maya didn't seem to be bothered. "The warrior who'd helped me and Doc out of the General's arena wouldn't have fled from the table when I told him the main menu was mousse-au-chat. One of our world's oldest delicacies." She leaned back. "But he did." She sipped at her own wine. "You were rather good at calming my father and his seneschal down from the offense."
     "Practice," Niko smirked. "Diplomacy isn't his strong point."
     The princess put her goblet down and leaned forward. "Between the two of us: I don't believe a word of what you told my father. So why did he really run off green-faced?"
     "There are few things in his life that he loves. And one of them is his cat."
     "A cat? Goose?!"
     The Ranger shrugged. "As you said, the warrior's just the shell, the interior is much more complicated."
     "I could love the shell," Maya sighed. "But I'd never go along with the rest. What a pity."
     "I hope you aren't offended that I don't share your regret about that," Niko replied dryly.
     Maya laughed out. "No offense taken." She threw a thoughtful look at the ranger in the other well-upholstered arm chair in front of the tower's fire place. "But you didn't have trouble with the meal, did you?"
     "No." Niko put her goblet down next to Maya's on the table. "But then, I ate vegetarian today," she added with a faint smirk.
     Maya arched a golden brow. "He and you, you seem so very different at first sight, but I'm beginning to believe that it's only that way on the outside."
     Niko snorted. "Switched from man chaser to match maker, do you?"
     "Possibly." The princess of Tarkon snuggled back into the upholstery of her chair. "Or maybe I just want to make sure you don't get in my way to Doc, too."
     Now, a dark-red brow quirked briefly, before the Ranger gave her a gracious nod. "Our hunting grounds won't overlap in that case."

...and the tigress and the lioness
agreed on their grounds and
henceforth there was peace.

'The Great Huntresses,' ancient Tarkonian folk tale of unknown origin,
first written down by Walterius the Monk in the time of Spartanos I.