Completed Horses of a Different Color

New customers means new techniques

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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Horses of a Different Color

Postby Baiya on February 3rd, 2021, 9:54 pm

Image
5th of Winter
520 AV

"Baiya, you have a customer."

Startled by even the singsong voice of her boss, Baiya dropped the aromatherapy materials she had been examining. Luckily, she caught the bottle with the top of her foot and let it roll gently to the floor, unharmed.

"Uh, yeah! I'm ready." She called back.

She could almost hear the disapproval in the silence that stretched between them. She was supposed to whisper in the building, or at least speak smoothly. Needless to say, it was a skill that was still in the works.

Baiya quickly picked the bottle up and placed it back in its spot. The scents were some of the most expensive treatments at the spa, and though she was not considered skilled enough to use them yet, her curiosity often got the better of her when her coworkers were absent and she found her hands wandering often enough.

As if she could brush off the evidence of her mischief, Baiya wiped her hands on her pants, cleared her throat, and scurried over to the doorway to invite her customer in.

"Welcome," She offered quietly, extending her hand with her head bowed. Her braids fell in front of her face, hiding the blush on her cheeks. The customer placed one hand gently into hers and handed her a tiny slip of paper with her other. Scalp massage, the slip read, along with a variety of other information for the rest of the treatment day.

Baiya smiled and her shoulders relaxed from their hunched position. She had done scalp massages before, and they were some of the easiest and most intimate at the spa - both factors which gave her a level of confidence. That confidence was shattered, however, when she finally raised her head to look at the customer.

She was met with beautiful eyes of a golden hue, gently curved lips, blond amber curls, and two great spiraling horns from the side of the Ethaefal's head.

How in Zintila's name...

Trying not to let it shake her, Baiya closed her hand around the Ethaefal's and led her to a reclined chair in the center of the glass room. "I'm Baiya," She began, "And I will be helping you this afternoon. If there is anything that I can do to improve your stay here at Starglow Spa, please, do not hesitate to ask."

She was hardly listening to her own words. Instead, she watched as the Ethaefal eased herself into the chair and tossed her curls behind her and over the back. Her horns stood out even more prominently without the curls, and Baiya could see exactly how much trouble she was in. She had been taught to start at the ears, working around to the back and then up to the part in the hair, eventually pushing down and to the forehead. But this time, her entire path had changed. How had she not encountered this problem yet, or at least thought to ask? Did Ethaefal have feeling in their horns? Should she incorporate them?

"Enchanted, Baiya. Call me Autumn." The Ethaefal groaned as she stretched herself out. "Let me tell you, I have had quite the day and I really just want to sit here and watch the trees. Is that okay with you?"

Great, no feedback. Baiya thought bitterly. Out loud, she said "Of course. Let us begin."

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Last edited by Baiya on February 11th, 2021, 2:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Horses of a Different Color

Postby Baiya on February 4th, 2021, 4:05 pm

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5th of Winter
520 AV

"Go ahead and lean into my hand." Baiya whispered, gently placing one hand on the backside of Autumn's head just behind her horn. With her other hand, she slowly began to work her fingertips through the curls down the center of her head.

It wasn't an uncommon technique, to use only one hand; it was considered a bit amateur in Baiya's mind, sure, but there was nothing wrong with it per say and it was a quick fix for the awkward symmetry of the head. Ultimately she wouldn't be able to use just one hand all the way through, though. Not only would it take too long and outrun her time, but it would also begin to feel imbalanced and awkward as she moved down the sides.

For the moment, Baiya tried her best not to worry. Part of why she enjoyed the massages, even when the customers wouldn't chat with her, was that they were just as calming for her as they were for the recipient. The tactile feedback on her fingers and palms was grounding and the soft sound of the trees outside allowed her to slow her breathing to a rhythmic pace. The fact that it was as much for her as it was for Autumn allowed her to follow not just a technique, but her instinct.

Baiya focused on the texture of the hair. It was coarse in the way that curly hair inevitably was- stiffer at its curves to hold the shape- but at the same time she could feel the oils that had been used earlier in the day taking hold in the roots and creating a softer texture underneath. This was not to mention the softness of her scalp itself. The Ethaefal's skin was just as smooth and radiant as it looked. Baiya took a moment to appreciate this during a sort of palette-cleanser, running both her palms flat against Autumn's head in sequence to smooth out the areas she had just pressured with her fingertips. Then she moved this technique to the sides of her head just above, and then just below her horns, performing the same ritual of fingertips to palms.

Busy enjoying the sensations, Baiya hardly noticed when her fingers roamed to feel the new texture at the base of Autumn's horns. The point where they met her skull was solid, and just slightly raised around the barrier as if it had been welded in place. She pressed against this with as light pressure as possible, trying her best not to be disruptive. Autumn's soft groan caused Baiya's fingers to freeze in place, terrified that she had hurt her.

"Gently, please." Autumn whispered. "It is nice, but sensitive."

Baiya's fingers slowly returned to work. She could see that when she pressed against the base of the horns the entire surrounding scalp moved, as if she were tugging on a ponytail or her ears. Baiya took only a second longer to touch the area before shying away and moving on, down to the neck and ears where she was familiar.

Finally they were done. Baiya dropped one hand down to Autumn's shoulder, then extended her other hand to help her from the chair. It took Autumn a moment to respond, as she had her eyes closed against the sun. She appeared enraptured by the sun and, within a moment Baiya realized, reverent.

Finally Autumn grabbed her hand and pulled herself up. She bowed her head in thanks and once Baiya returned the same, she departed, leaving behind her a wake which smelled of sunshine and oils.

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Last edited by Baiya on February 11th, 2021, 2:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Horses of a Different Color

Postby Baiya on February 7th, 2021, 5:00 am

Image
5th of Winter
520 AV

There was little time to clean up during the day. Despite how slowly everyone appeared to move inside the spa, business went on at quite the clip. By the time Baiya had washed her hands of the oil and reset her cushions, there was already another visitor at her door. Baiya moved to greet him with the same polite bowed head and extended hand, sneaking just a peek up at him from beneath her hair.

He was not the type of customer they typically saw. Though his clothes were replaced by white robes and the grime of the day long scrubbed from his body, Baiya could tell that the muscles in his arms were not merely for show. Perhaps she could tell him by the calloused palms as he placed his hand in hers, or perhaps it was the freshly-healed cuts on his ankles, or most likely it was the permeating smell of sweat despite the fragrances wafting around the room. No matter how he came into it, the man had the aura of a laborer.

It wasn't unusual- and certainly not discouraged- but it was of note for laborers to patronize the spa. The Starglow Spa was a luxury service, and it would be paid for as such. Laborers generally weren't of mind to spend their Kina on relaxation. But this man seemed right at home. He extended the note to Baiya and showed a sizeable grin.

"Heya. Call me Rhys."

"Welcome. My name is Baiya." She straightened up to guide him to his chair, taking a quick glance at the note. "A foot massage for you?"

"Yeah. I'm just kinda stiff. Tired of bein' out there in it, you know?"

She didn't really. She wasn't sure what 'it' was that he had been in, but she nodded understandingly nonetheless. "Of course. Have a seat and let me prepare a soak for you."

As quietly as she could, Baiya found her low, wide mouthed bucket and scooped an amount of warm water into it. Then she grabbed a wrap to keep his opposite foot warm while she worked. There was nothing worse than cold feet during a massage (or in general, she might argue).

Still in the mindset of peace and quiet, Baiya was surprised when Rhys' voice broke through her musings. "Do you work days or nights here? Or, like, just between rests? Are you almost off?"


Baiya took a deep breath to steady herself. She had dealt with customers before who fancied themselves Casanovas, but this line was new to her. She must not have hid her frustrated expression very well, though. When she rounded the corner and knelt at his feet, Rhys began to sputter.

"Oh, no. Oh, Laviku, I'm sorry. I meant, uh...I meant to make conversation. I don't- ah, how about this? Uh, how long have you worked here? A better question?"

Baiya's face went up in flames. Pretending to busy herself with her work, she focused on lifting each foot and placing it gently in the warm water. Had her feelings not been so obvious she might have tried to work her magic. Instead, she silently offered him the warm wrap to hold.

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Horses of a Different Color

Postby Baiya on February 9th, 2021, 8:21 pm

Image
5th of Winter,
520 AV

The silence between them was uncomfortable as Baiya twisted and pulled at his left foot, warming up the soles. Baiya knew she couldn't let the silence go on too long or it would become impassable. She struggled to find something to say, but there came a point where saying anything was better than saying nothing.

"Yeah. I work afternoons and evenings both." She answered quickly.

"Mhmm? That good?" Rhys still sounded thrown off but not unengaged, so Baiya pushed onwards, letting the words come before her thoughts could clog them up.

"Yeah. I like working these times, actually. I like to watch the sunset come through the big windows, and the birds that start singing in the evenings are beautiful too. I've been thinking about getting into gardening so that I could have a view like this out my own window, but what with the food shortages maybe I ought to do vegetables instead, huh?" Baiya took a deep breath, trying her best not to let the silence fall too long. Luckily, Rhys had the same idea and jumped in so she could focus on her work.

"It's the draught, innit?"

Baiya nodded encouragingly and hummed an affirmative in her throat. Her hands began working more fluidly as her heartrate calmed down. Her fingertips dug into the rough skin at the ball of his foot, probing for the hard rope-like structures that would lead her to the base of the muscles and the source of what she could only assume to be many aches and pains.

"I was thinkin' about that the other day. Like I said, I work at the port, and the water level just seems like it's getting real low some days. I think that's what's killing off all the plants and the animals and stuff. I just hope the okomo don't get hurt."

"Oh, the okomo! I didn't even think about that."

"No, yeah. Just the other day, in fact..." Rhys launched into a story the likes of which only a sailor could determine the truth from. Baiya was not necessarily concerned with listening, though. She only minded enough to ask questions that would keep him chattering away so that she could do her work and that they both might be relaxed.

She found that his feet were tough to massage. The skin was thick and dry, despite the warm water soak. So instead of working his feet with her fingertips, she switched to hold the ankle with one hand and used the knuckles of her other hand to dig deeper into the muscles. The soft grunts and furrowed expressions between his speaking told Baiya which spots were most tender and allowed her to grip them more tightly. He appeared to appreciate the rougher work against the callousness of his feet.

Baiya finally finished up the first foot, lowering it back to the resting place and covering it with another of the warm wraps just as he finished his story. Hoping to stir up another story, she raised an eyebrow at Rhys and asked "You see any of those spirits last season?".

"Oh, did I!"

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Horses of a Different Color

Postby Baiya on February 11th, 2021, 2:48 am

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5th of Winter,
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Rhys went on speaking. The longer he talked, the more relaxed he became. When he became more relaxed, the problem areas in his muscles became more obvious, and Baiya found her job becoming easier and easier.

Taking his feet in both hands, she first held them and twisted gently in opposite directions, beginning at the ankles and working all the way up to the toes. On her way back down, Baiya used both hands again. This time, she pulled his feet from the center, spreading them as wide as she could before moving on.

Once he was warmed back up, Baiya moved on to working on his toes. Although the majority of his strain was in the ball and heel of his foot (likely from working barefoot or lifting things too heavy for him), the pain could not be relieved until his toes were relaxed and out of the way.

Baiya held his foot firmly in one hand while she used the other to twist and tug on each toe in turn. Not everyone enjoyed this movement since it could feel a bit strange or invasive, but Rhys was distracted enough that the process was quick and easy. Finally she got ready to address the worst areas.

Lifting his foot slightly from where it rested, Baiya pressed her knuckles into the ball of his foot. Using her knuckle, she dragged it against the muscles firmly, pulling down and outwards. Running over particularly bad areas gave Rhys a sour expression, but this effect only lessened as she continued. Once she felt no greater resistance in any area, she set about what she thought of as the "cooldown" phase.

It wasn't really mean to cool anything, of course. It was simply a lighter, gentler version of what she had done for the warmup. She stroked his feet with her fingertips first, then returned to spreading his arches, then back to the original twists. She had worried for a long time that her customers would become ticklish here, but after the massage most seemed already desensitized to her touch, and this was certainly true of Rhys.

All earlier apprehension had evaporated. As he talked he smiled and laughed freely. A light blush had risen on his face but it was not the flame of embarrassment. Rather, it was a blush of a glass of wine or a sweater just too cozy to take off.

Baiya removed the wrap from his other foot and rose. "Well, Rhys?" She offered a hand to help him up from the chair. He took it.

"Baiya."

"Thank you for coming. I hope I didn't disturb your peace too badly. Please do come back again."

Rhys gave a goofy grin. "As soon as I've got the Kina, I'll ask for you." And with a wink, he was off, leaving Baiya to tidy the room with a self-satisfied glow.

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