Zum'shi cursed under her breath in a language she didn't realize the petite elf, who was sunk deeply into the hairdresser's chair and glowering up with arms folded over her chest, could easily understand. Ambika's scowl darkened.
"I have the gold, so let's go. I'll give you double, just move your scrawny green ass, chuta'lo."
The lean trolless narrowed her eyes at the dark-haired woman. For a long moment, it looked as though she'd just kick the wench out of her hut. Then she tipped her head back and burst into caws of harsh, uncontrolled laughter. "Yu got a mout' on yu, zufli. Fine, we braid yu, but double 'gain--two 'undred, ya, das right--nuh be complainin' fi yu nuh lahk neitha, nuh refund."
Some six hours later, the last braid slipped out of a worn green palm, its blunt silver cap clicking softly against the others that lay in the hollow of Ambika's shoulder. The rough but not unpleasant voice that hummed and sang to fill the time (Ambika was not as sociable as the older woman would have hoped) finally stopped in the middle of an old Gurubashi hymn.
"Nuh bad, nuh bad. Yu mos' pretteh fi yu stop dat frownin' face, ya."
A smudged piece of mirror reflected the elf and attendant scowl. Narrow, shining black braids fell in loose, yet tidy profusion from the crown of her head down to her collarbone. It gave the tiny elf an exotic look that she could almost begin to approve of, except that it wasn't enough, never would be. Not by itself.