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    Volume 7, Issue 1 February 29, 2012
    Message from the Editors
 Seasonal Fruit by Kathryn Board
 Love in a Time of Bio-Mal by Colum Paget
 The Pageant, A Battle Maiden's Cunning Stunt by Krista Wallace
 Stiltskin by Samantha Boyette
 Slieau Whallian by Simon Kewin
 Special Feature: Author Interview with j.a. kazimer
 Editors Corner: Archive of Fire by Betsy Dornbusch


The Pageant - A Battle Maiden's Cunning Stunt

Krista Wallace

         Joss eyed herself critically in the mirror. Her vambraces shone, her leather shorts were nice and tight-she turned to admire the curves of her bum. The firm leather bra made her boobs full and round. She squeezed them on either side, pushing them together, accentuating their globular fullness. It was a chilly morning; she could feel her erect nipples pressing against the inside of the leather unit and wished there were some way to let that show. Distract my opponents to death!
         She let her bosoms bounce back to their regular position and picked up a hairbrush. With final adjustments made to her long, thick red curls she placed the gold circlet on her head, its heart-shaped jewel in the centre of her forehead.
         Joss was the winner of the Most Scantily Clad Warrior pageant three years running. She couldn't wait to see what Xena was wearing. The two women had been slightly-less-than-friendly rivals since their earliest days of warrior training, but Xena had never won the title. Joss knew her challenger's desire to win was increasing with each and every passing year, and Joss wasn't willing to give up the fight. She'll only win when I back out of the competition. She twirled to make the leather straps of her overskirt flare out. Smiling with approval at her sexy self, she touched up her lipstick and strapped her longsword onto her back.
         Joss stepped out into the foggy chill, locked the door of her little cabin and headed up the hill to the battlefield, tucking her key down the back of her leather underpants. Her high-heeled boots at the end of her legs had excellent grip on the dew-dampened grass tufts of the dirt hill.
         When she arrived at the top of the hill, the muddy battlefield laid out before her, she was just in time to hear the shouted order for battle to begin. Amid the hearty clash and clang of swords, Joss approached her battle supervisor. He cast an appraising glance over her.
         "You're late," Gowan said.
         "Can't take too much care with my appearance on battle day, Sir." Joss displayed shining white teeth in her flirtatious smile.
         He grunted. "Well, you're looking damn good, I'll give you that. Thank the mages for the Anti-Awe spell. Well, get your pretty little tush in there." Gowan pointed her in the direction she was needed. She drew her sword and added it to her Ready Weapons; her Near Armour that left lots of skin showing was her primary weapon, naturally.
         Even in mud Joss never slipped and was able to twist her lithe body to strike up dramatic poses in the heat of battle; exaggerated thrusts presenting them her boobs and her bum at the same time. With "legs for days" she towered her Amazonian frame over her enemies, at first distracting them with her sex appeal, then making them cower in fear as it dawned on them that they were about to meet their doom. Their mages just didn't have the know-how to come up with a defense spell. As she downed her third opponent she saw Xena's blonde locks over in the next battle quadrant. That bright red half-bra is cute, but she'll have to do better than that if she thinks she's going to beat me this year.
         Joss had killed twelve men by lunchtime, and had nary a splash of blood on her smooth, unblemished thighs or on her taught, yet curvaceous torso. Sword resheathed in its scabbard on her back, she carried her tray of liver-and-onions, peas, and mashed potatoes with a glass of milk and joined Scarab at his table. The movement of setting down her tray allowed her to bend and thrust her chest forward, purposely filling his view with her cleavage. He ogled it and whistled. She smiled cutely. Seated, she cut into the liver and scooped up a mouthful with lots of onion and gravy.
         "So," she said, with mouth full, "you got anything for me?"
         Scarab chuckled. "Have I got anything for you?" He pointed his fork at her. "You could be in trouble, Jossie, my darling. Xena has got something going for her this year."
         Joss cocked her head doubtfully. "Yeah, right. What is it? Does she think she is going to out-sex me?" The liver was cooked to perfection. She mashed her peas with her fork and mixed them with the potato.
         Scarab swallowed his forkful of Salisbury Steak as he checked all round for undesirable listeners. He leaned toward her. "Pasties," he whispered.
         Joss stopped chewing mid-mouthful. Pasties? Pasties were very sexy. "With or without tassels?"
         "With. Three very delicate little braids ending with a gold bead. On each nipple."
         Joss couldn't believe it. This could be bad for her. Xena had never gone with anything so bold as this. Surely it wouldn't spell the end of Joss's Most Scantily Clad streak?
         The contest was in three days. I'll just have to come up with something even more scanty. Joss twisted her bare shoulders from side to side as she pushed her tray away.
         "Thanks Scarab. I owe you." Joss hurried back for the afternoon battle, her mind full of Xena's blonde tresses and massive blue eyes. And pasties.
         Joss was completely preoccupied all afternoon, and though she took not the tiniest scratch of injury, she killed without her usual gusto, and only managed to down six enemies.
         Joss didn't sleep well that night. She tossed and turned, dreaming of red half-bras, leather underpants and pasties with soft and delicate silken tassels. And bouncing. Lots of plump bouncing with smooth skin in a myriad of tones. She heard music swelling and saw men, lots and lots of men with varying sizes of protrusions in the fronts of their trousers. Joss struck a pose and smiled lasciviously, readying herself for the onslaught of admirers... but they ran right past her. The mass of drooling, lustful swains parted before her like a certain sea, and swarmed by her on either side, crying, "Xena! My queen! Be my one and only love!"
         Joss awoke in a cold sweat and lit the candle by her bed. That wanton witch! Joss gave her pillow a vicious slap and snatched up her candle. Heart pounding, she carried it over to the mirror. Even in her distraught condition, what she saw there took her breath away. Her pink chiffon nighty, soaked with her sweat, clung to her skin, exhibiting her assets to their very fullest. The guttering candlelight cast flickering shadows that danced like the bouncing in her dream.
         And at that moment, Joss knew what she had to do.
         The next morning Joss arose extra early to pay a visit to Charland, the mage who dwelt in the seedier part of town. His house was decorated with swathes of brightly coloured cloth draped dreamily all around the furniture and walls. He was sensuality personified. If anyone would understand her desire, it was he. In a hushed voice, Joss told Charland what she needed.
         "Can you do it?" she asked him. The mage stared at her ample, round breasts and frowned. He framed them with his hands. The frown deepened. Finally, the creases smoothed out and Charland smiled a clever smile.
         "For you, my voluptuous enchantress, it shall be done."


         Two days later, the dawn of Pageant Day brought clouds and chilly winds. So much the better. Joss understood the power-and the effect-of frigid temperatures. There would be no battles today-it was Saturday-yet Joss took even more care than usual in her dressing and primping. Make-up was applied subtly and tastefully, drawing out her high cheekbones and framing her dark eyes to add to their depth and mystery. Her thick red locks shone, even in this diffuse light, and nary a tangle was snagged by her fine-toothed comb. Her outfit... well, her outfit was exactly what she'd hoped for. The newest addition to her raiment was the red-jewelled pendant that clung to her breastbone.
         Joss wrapped herself in the pageant-sanctioned robe which covered her from chin to toe and headed off toward the pageant grounds. Her sword hilt protruded from the back, but Joss didn't mind because it didn't expose her concealed costume. Her heart fluttered. Would it be enough?
         Overnight the battlegrounds had undergone remarkable change. Pavilions, tents, seating, judges' tables had been erected where only yesterday warriors had spilled blood. Music, talking and laughing filled the air that was normally a tumult of clashing steel and cries of fierce outrage, pain and triumph. Smells of roasting meats and grilling vegetables, popcorn and candy floss assailed the nostrils, replacing the smell of mud, blood and death. The air crackled electrically with Anti-Awe spells flung by mages on all four sides of the parade grounds. The area must be saturated before the unveilings could take place, or the audience, not to mention the judges, would be sprawled on the ground, blinded by all the beauty and sex to which they would soon bear witness. The pageant had been described by many as a religious experience: the loveliness more powerful, more overwhelming than a holy vision. No deity had ever sent so many to supine positions with its appearance.
         Joss's fans cheered and hooted as they saw her coming. She waved to Scarab, who darted through the crowd to whisper in her ear. "I did some scouting this morning. It's as I told you."
         Joss squeezed his arm in thanks. "I think we've outdone even that," she replied softly. "Come by my place tonight and I'll show you my thanks."
         Seeing Gowan in the throng she pushed her way through to him. "Any words of encouragement, boss?"
         "We're counting on you," the battle supervisor said. "I've got two hundred laid down on you over Xena, but the odds are in her favour this year. Don't let me down."
         Charland the mage gave her a thumbs-up sign. She joined the other candidates in the backstage tent to draw lots. There was Clarice, the nubile teen from division twelve, talking to a few of her girlie friends. Ooo, she might just be a threat this year. Tall, raven-haired Sophia, nicknamed the Tower of Power, glowered over the entire group. Oh, and there...surrounded by a bevy of admiring fellow contestants... was Xena. She tossed her blonde tresses over her shoulder and gave Joss an "I'll still let you kiss my hand when I've won" kind of smile. She can kiss my perky little ass.
         Just then the judge announced the lots, and held up his fistful of ribbons. Joss could never decide whether she preferred to reveal first or last, or somewhere in the middle. If first, then she would set the bar, and the other girls would be likely to simply fall short. If last, there was the possibility that the judges would have seen so much beauty already that their attitude would have grown lackadaisical, indifferent. "Oh look, another leather brassiere..." Sometimes right in the middle was best.
         Sophia had drawn number one. Xena's friends were squealing around her as she drew number twelve. Joss pulled a ribbon out of the judge's hand and slowly, slowly untied the knot at the bottom, revealing the number...thirteen. Joss would unveil dead last. She steeled herself, meeting her fiercest opponent's gaze with unruffled aplomb. The contestants lined up in order and the judge led them out amid shrieks and cheers to sit in the front row.
         After the speeches and the reading of the official rules, the band struck up the music, and the Master of Ceremonies called out, "Contestant number One!"
         The Tower of Power swaggered up onto the stage and strutted around a bit before doing her reveal. The crowd cheered their approval of the teal and black bustier with matching vambraces. Sophia performed a few body-building manoeuvres while the MC described her outfit, and then took her dramatic pose on stage left.
         "Contestant number Two!" cried the MC, and a redhead Joss didn't know went up. Her black leather mini skirt was darling, but did not impress the judges. The Tower of Power remained on stage while the redhead returned, disappointed, to her seat.
         Teenaged Clarice went up next. She took centre stage and flung off her robe with no foreplay. A tumultuous clamour arose at the sight of her hot pink half-bra with gold studs and armoured spandex shorts. She drew her bow and mimed firing arrows into the hearts of the judges. One judge keeled over and had to be revived by a physicker/mage team. The band played out of tune, and members of the audience started throwing money, threatening to damage Clarice's hair-do. Finally the crowd was subdued, mages cast more Anti-Awe spells-stronger ones-and the judges declared Sophia to have been ousted. The Tower of Power hid her face in her hands and retreated to her seat in shame.
         Geez, get over yourself. Joss shook her head at the older woman, but her heart pounded and her tight, flat tummy did some flips. What if she did her reveal and nobody reacted? What if they couldn't take their eyes off Xena? Joss eyed the blonde on her right, imagining those pasties beneath her robe, and began to wish she'd quit while she was ahead. She could be proud of three titles...couldn't she?
         Several more contestants went up and down again, and Joss didn't pay attention to any of them. She heard mutterings behind her from a couple of viewers who felt that the contestants were relying too heavily on sexy colours, without enough emphasis on the "Scanty" theme.
         Suddenly, number twelve was called. The crowd hushed. Everyone knew this was the fiercest contender to beat the Champion. Everyone knew the Champion herself was yet to come. Everyone knew that the contender would have to go to great scanty lengths to defeat Joss. The crowd held their collective breaths, Joss included.
         All poise, all sensuality, Xena took the stage. Clarice looked nervous. Xena cuddled herself and pursed her lips, Marilyn Monroe style. She tossed her blonde locks around her slightly shrugged shoulders. She slowly, slowly untied her robe. The crowd leaned forward with tense expectation. Xena slowly, slowly let her robe slip to the floor. She put both sets of fingertips to her lips and blew a kiss to the audience. The crowd erupted in cheers. Xena was splendid.
         All scarlet and gold, she was, having painted her bare skin with gold sparkles. Her wrists and calves were decked with shiny gold vambraces. Her red leather pants encircled a sweet, tight little bum which any enemy would have been honoured to be smothered with. And pasties indeed. She had practised a few moves to show off her outfit to its greatest advantage. Her blonde tresses cascaded down as she shimmied and shook, causing the tassels on the pasties to spin gloriously. Her boobs bounced and wiggled and the audience whistled and hollered their approval. Her undulations showed off the parts that would be most advantageous in any battle. Finally she struck a pose for the judges to truly observe her beauty, her sex appeal, and her scantiness.
         Joss was scared now. Xena's breasts drooped only slightly when she stopped moving, and the pasties made them look as perky as meerkats. At that moment Joss would not have bet her dessert that she had anything on Xena. The judges declared Clarice to have been out-scantied, and the teen returned to her seat amid cheers and hand-shakes, deservedly proud to have ranked so high in her first competition.
         Then the MC called number thirteen.
         Everything went silent. To Joss it sounded as though she were listening from under water. Head up, she focussed on her task. Putting one foot in front of the other she propelled herself up the steps and onto the stage. She sensed the differing vibes from the audience: some were pulling for her, some wished for her to go down in disgrace. Three titles, she kept telling herself. Three titles. Be proud of that. Then she realized she'd taken centre stage several moments ago, and all eyes were on her. Stock still she stood, allowing the tension to build. Some might think she was doing it on purpose, but in truth she was allowing her courage to mount. Staring out across the crowd, Joss finally saw Charland out there. This was it. Her moment. Even if it was her last pageant, this was her moment.
         Joss untied her robe and revealed herself. She was met with dead silence.
         Her worst nightmare. The audience was stunned. And then...
         Such a frenzy as the pageant had never known. Crowd control officers dashed into position as people crawled over each other in an attempt to reach the stage. Hands clawed at her, to touch her magnificence as Joss maintained her pose of aloofness. The air was a barrage of screams and hollers as Joss's scantiness crashed through all the Anti-Awe spells. Audience members, men in particular, cried, "I want to be your slave!" before passing out in droves. Women prostrated themselves, begging her to share her beauty tips. Xena and her pasties were forgotten.
         Apart from her knee-high boots with five-inch heels, Joss was stark naked. Body paint had created her G-string. And a red-jewelled pendant provided the magic that supported her shapely, bulbous breasts like the best of bras. With no cloth, no straps, the spell was called Magic Hands. It lifted her boobs and drew them gently together to create lip-smacking cleavage that made every judge drool like a teething baby. Joss's hair was piled up on her head, adding to her imposing height, and shouting out her scantiness.
         The MC managed to drag himself back to his knees after his face-plant long enough to breathlessly say, "The Champion remains undefeated. Joss retains her title of Most Scantily Clad Warrior." He slurped.
         Joss celebrated her win with Charland and Scarab. Even her boss Gowan asked to join them. She celebrated with them over and over that night, and for several nights after.
         A local sculptor erected a statue to Joss, with such a realistic likeness that people came there with their partners from all around to have their own celebrations.
         The Most Scantily Clad Warrior pageant became redundant, and-to Xena's dismay-was never held again.

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