At last at last, we return to the city of Myrrhn and our friend Ragnar, twiceborn exile of the Shadow Wolf Clan. <Awesome Wolf Howl>
“Sweet holy fuck, Ragnar,” Madame Glorianna’s face was ashen and her eyes were wide and bright. There was blood on her dress, an expensive cream coloured silk affair. I could smell smoke and sweat and fear emanating from her. Four big men and a woman with two swords walked behind her and all of them were wounded. She seemed on the verge of saying more, but trailed off.
Crossing the foyer of the Autumn Blossom in two strides, I looked my patron in the eye, drawing her attention to the present.
“What is it?”
“Gentleman Jim,” said Glorianna. “He’s retaliated — The Twilight Pearl; the bastard burned it to the ground.”
The Twilight Pearl and the Autumn Blossom were like homes to me. I divided my time between them, earning a living as a doorman for the Doxies’s Guild. I had found acceptance and purpose there, for the first time since my exile began.
“Its bad Ragnar,” said Madame Glorianna, covering her eyes. “He wanted to teach us a lesson.”
Gentleman Jim was the current leader of the Doxies’s guild; a pimp with a notorious reputation who put the interests of the clients above the welfare of his guild members. He was unpopular, but ruthless, and backed by powerful interests. Madame Glorianna had been quietly gathering support to unseat him at a guild meeting, but it seemed that Gentleman Jim had discovered her plans.
“By Furis’s bloody axe, I will end him myself!”
I strode past them, grabbing my sword. The night air did little to cool my fury as I marched to the Twilight Pearl. Madame Glorianna and her bodyguards followed in my wake, and by the time we reached the pearl we had a sizable mob trailing us.
Jim was there with his men, presiding over the embers of the once proud building like some infernal captain. He turned as he approached and his thugs formed up. He looked past me to Madame Glorianna, and smiled.
“Keep your dog on his leesh, Glory. I would like to give you time to think on this lesson before I dole out another.”
I stepped toward him. Jim’s men were hard hands, but so was I.
He looked at me, and motioned toward a sobbing group of women that I had overlooked. I saw torn clothes and bruises on their faces. There were far too few of them, only a dozen out of scores that worked at the Twilight Pearl.
“What have you done?”
“Insubordination has a price. We are not savages here and order must be maintained. These whores defied me. They killed some of my men, who were only here to take their due.”
“You mean rape?” said Madame Glorianna, standing beside me, angry now.
“You can’t rape a whore, Glory.”
“We have the right to refuse service.”
“Is that so? My men came here, on my orders, looking for a token of respect. I heard that you might be seeking to challenge me, and wanted to know where these ones stood. They answered with violence, and we answered in kind, as is our right!”
“You cut them!” shouted a woman behind us.
“I did. I tried to let them off easy,” said Gentleman Jim, twirling his knife. “A few scars, lowers their earning power, nothing more. Sadly they did not see reason and tried to resist. They brought it on themselves.”
I took another step toward Jim.
“Careful Nordan. You would not want these poor girls to get hurt in the Chaos, would you?”
I stopped. It occurred to me that there was no watch here, and no bucket brigade. Jim was no fool, he had planned this as a demonstration of his power. If I attacked more would die.
“That’s right, cur. I hold all of the cards. You’re little rebellion is over, Glory–“
There was a disturbance at the back of Gentleman Jim’s brigade. Several men let loose shouts of alarm. He turned toward the burning wreckage of the Twilight Pearl.
And there, framed by burning timbers, risen from the ashes were the women that would become known as The Twins.
Gentleman Jim ran, but he did not last long after that.