She came to the steaming springs and found a man already there.

Sky-clad, sitting at the pool’s edge with his legs in the water, he was breathing heavily when she arrived. Any doubt she might have had over what he’d been doing vanished within the space of a few more steps.

She felt her cheeks heat. Whatever had possessed the man, to indulge his lusts like that, out here open to the wild? Her breath caught in her throat from the shock of it.

The man actually had the temerity to smile up at her – no, to grin. “Oh, hello there,” he said, as though what he’d just done was perfectly natural. “I thought I was out of the way here, but apparently not quite.”

He was the sort of man who could be all too tempting. He was young, with something around twenty years to his name, clean-shaven, wet black hair hanging down to his shoulders. His tanned skin was marked by a few paler scars, but none that disrupted the smoothness of his trim, muscular form. The sort of man who could be quite dangerous to a woman’s virtue, even without…

“Do you like what you see, then?” he asked, his grin growing somewhat wider. “Give me a few minutes, and I’m sure I can – ”

“You presume far too much!” she chided, managing to say it before he said… whatever it was he was going to offer. “How dare you even suggest such a thing?”

“All right, all right, I apologize.” The man slid into the water, where at least the steam and the ripples hid his indiscretion from easy sight. “The way you were looking at me… well, obviously I read it wrong. My apologies.”

She crossed her arms. “The very notion is completely absurd,” she said coldly, struggling to put aside a momentary thrill of base, unwholesome desire for another glimpse. “How dare you even consider that such as I…”

“Hey, now.” The smile on his face hardened. “The last woman to look at me that intently had no objections to me offering.”

“That’s her damnation, then,” she snapped.

“Damnation, is it?” Suddenly the levity was gone from his voice. “By Shior…”

“Shior?” she cut in. “That certainly explains your degeneracy.”

“You call me degenerate?” His voice was suddenly soft, but there was steel under it. Somehow, with only the water covering him, he had as much dignity as a lord. “Shior teaches me to be generous with myself and with all good things I have. You, on the other hand, haven’t given me much indication of being generous with anything but harsh words and scorn.”

Shifting a couple feet over, he pulled himself out of the water, heedless of her protests, and started gathering his possessions. “You don’t need to like me, you don’t need to want me,” he said. “But to take that as a given, to hold yourself as something above your fellows, somehow better than them…”

With his feet slipped into sandals and a patterned kilt around his waist, he fixed her with a stern look. “Which of us is the ‘degenerate’ one here, hmm?”

And with that he turned away, making his way back toward the village.