The Shadow Wolf Sagas: The Whores’s War 3.42

This is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise.

You can find the first post in the series here.

Last week’s post is here.

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After the cheering died down. Vethri and Eiskra remained in speaking position. Diamond Silvermane frowned.

“Normally we would call for a vote now,” said Vethri. “As is custom for a leadership challenge. But, given the unusual circumstances, we would like to suggest that a full election be held. The Union is only recently recovered from a fractious end to Madame Glorianna’s leadership and Diamond Silvermane entered the race too late to be given fair consideration. It will also give the rest of you a chance to put forth your vision for The Union, should you wish to throw your name into the contest.”

A ripple went through the crowd. Diamond Silvermane’s exquisite face betrayed some surprise.

“As always, we will put this suggestion to a vote. All those in favour of running a full election, at no cost to the Union, in order to be as fair as possible to Diamond Silvermane and others, raise your hands.”

With a sea of hands thrust into the air, the suggestion carried easily. I could see Diamond’s jaw clench in anger. Her supporters seemed to think they were doing her a favour by supporting the motion, but I could tell that she did not want it this way.

After business was concluded, Diamond Silvermane sauntered off into the crowd without another word. Many of the Doxies fell in behind her.

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“Why is Diamond so angry about another election?” asked Carmen while The Twins wound their way through the Union Hall, greeting people and gathering support. It was a thankless task, and one I was not eager to repeat my part in.

“I don’t rightfully know, Carmen. It did make her angry though.”

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Later on the carriage ride back to our home, I broached the subject.

“We knew that Diamond was fairly confident that she had strong support for a single vote,” said Vethri. “That is based on a read of her personality, and the depths of her backer’s purse. A leadership challenge only gives those present a vote, and allows a secondary vote for the rest of a membership if it carries. Winning the challenge would give her a strong case to the membership at large though. Even if she was unable to carry a leadership vote she would be seen as the main opposition by default. Having her run an open election against, not just us, but all of the other factions. It will cost Lily Gemarkand more money and will force Diamond to navigate the difficult areas of Union politics.”

“What she is trying to say,” Eiskra mock-whispered to Carmen. “Is that we want Diamond to suffer through the same bickering and infighting that we have for the last eighteen months.”

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A few days later, as I was researching the last morsel of information that I needed to return to the North, a letter from Lily Gemarkand arrived. It was addressed not to The Twins, but to me, asking me to attend upon the lady of the Emerald Tower in her private box at the Kaemoul’s Playhouse.

I was intrigued.

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The Shadow Wolf Sagas: The Whores’s War 3.41

This is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise. Today has been especially crazy, glued to my computer watching the Comey testimony.

You can find the first post in the series here.

Last week’s post is here.

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There was loud applause as Diamond Silvermane yielded the floor to Eiskra and Vethri. Her confident delivery and sheer force of beauty had won over many in the hall. I hoped it was a temporary enchantment. She winked at me as she sat down. I did not swoon,

“You all know us,” began Eiskra. “We’ve told our story so many times in the last year, that I am sure that many of ya’ll can recite it by heart.”

There was some muted laughter.

“You all know about Gentleman Jim, and the horrors he inflicted on our sisters before Madame Glorianna and others came together to challenge him. As I’ve said, we have told our part in this story many times. After he left his mark on our faces and then left us to burn with our sisters, we crawled from the ashes, gathered allies, and put Gentleman Jim where he belonged…”

“WITH THE FISHES.” yelled someone.

“Quite so,” said Vethri, taking up where Eiskra left off. “You all know that we went on to prosper, in spite of the ugly scars that Gentleman Jim left us. We are wealthy and powerful now, respected throughout the city. One might even say that we have risen to the level of our ambitions. And yet, we are happy to pay our full dues to The Doxies’s Union, even if we do not see benefit for ourselves. That may seem like a paradox to some, but to anyone who has seen what we have it is not.”

Vethri paused and cast her gaze around the hall.

“You have heard our tale. But what of all of our sisters that died in the flames that day, and did not live to ‘meet their ambitions’? Some of those whores and joyboys had children or family that depended on the money that they brought in. Under Madame Glorianna The Union made sure that they received a stipend. We take care of our own. It took a long time to organize The Union and a much longer time to turn it into the compassionate place it is now. When a doorman gets busted up on the job, The Union makes sure his wages are met and his medical care is paid for. Sometimes, despite our screening, someone gets a disease from one of the clients; we make sure they are cared for. And when a Doxie gets cut bad, as sometimes happens even now, we make sure she can still find dignified employment after she recovers…”

Eiskra stepped forward and added “and sometimes The Union pays the Mercs or the Nightblades to make certain it don’t happen again…”

The room erupted into savage cheers at that. Every Doxie, save perhaps the luckiest, knew someone who had suffered under a cruel client. It was not an easy profession, even in Myrrhn.

“Some people are lucky enough that the world will stay out of their way while they toil and work hard and reach the zenith of their talents,” continued Vethri. “They deserve praise and the riches that they earn. But in the Doxies’s Union we know that some of the best of us get unlucky. A child loses a mother. The pox comes knocking. A trick goes bad. A good man gets a bad wound. The Union dues go to making certain that the unlucky ones are taken care of. They go to making certain that we all have a comfortable retirement when we are too old. No one who hasn’t seen what we have seen likes paying the extra money when they don’t need it, but when you do and you have the price seems more that worthwhile.”

She paused for effect, and then left it there. After a moment, the room erupted into cheers.

 

 

The Shadow Wolf Sagas: The Whores’s War 3.14

Hello! this is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise.

You can find the first post in the series here.

Last week’s post is here.

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Kenneth escorted us from the Gemarkand estate. The letter that Lily Gemarkand had sealed in green wax and given to me to deliver to The Twins was safe in Murith’s satchel.

“Are you certain you don’t need more men to escort us, Kenneth?”

Hi ignored my jibe.

“Are you going to walk us all the way home?”

Kenneth’s square jaw flexed as he ground his teeth together. I could tell he wanted to fight me; I thought it best to get under his skin early, just in case Lily decided to send him against me. In the North, this kind of jesting is settled quickly with fist or insult, but here in Myrrhn, among more civilized people who frowned upon such ‘barbaric displays of dominance’ it often festered, becoming a gateway to true hatred.

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Our trip across Myrrhn was uneventful. Murith and I bought lunch, spiced crab cakes and Kaemoulian lizard kababs and ate them as we walked. Myrrhn has an endless variety of foods from Archaean haute cuisine that costs more per dish than most men make in a year to the wonderful esterman eel stew served dockside to poor sailors.

“By Garm, I hope these kababs don’t become too popular. Do you remember when Lobster was cheap?”

“I’d pray to Nordan gods too, if they could control trends in Myrrhn. You know Lobster hasn’t been cheap in fifteen years, right Ragnar?”

“I can remember fifteen years ago, Murith.”

“Besides your girlfriends are rich, get them to buy you some.”

“You know I hate it when you call them my girlfriends, Murith.”

“I do. Don’t worry I won’t tell Git. Why does it bother you so much, what are they if not your girlfriends?”

I had no answer to that. My relationship with Eiskra and Vethri entwined comradery, pleasure, and shared history. “It’s complicated.”

I often wondered if, for my part, I did not want to commit to defining our relationship because they were creatures of Myrrhn and I hoped one day to overcome my exile.

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“Fucking cunt!”

Eiskra threw the letter on the dark wooden desk in the study where The Twins attended their bookkeeping, looking at it as if it might grow fangs and bite her.

“Easy, dear,” said Vethri.

“No, no, no,” said Eiskra, flushing crimson. “Fuck that rancid highborn cunt. Her offer is an insult. She thinks we are traitors.”

“Dare I ask?”

“She offered us a mithril trade bar each if we threw our support behind Diamond Silvermane,” said Vethri. “We also get ‘control’ of the Redsilks brothels when the Union is dissolved.”

“That is a decent amount of money.”

“She also threatened to ‘tarnish our reputations until they become as dust’ if we oppose her,” said Eiskra. “If she were here right now I’d tarnish her face with my boot-heel.”

“I think it would be the boots that would be tarnished, if even half of what we know about her dealings are true,” said Vethri. “But while I can see the offer making sense, the threat is odd. Lily Gemarkand is not someone who should need to make threats. She is head of one of the seven families…”

“She’ll be a head on a plate when I am done,” said Eiskra, though her colour was no longer that of a maid of Furis about to berserk.

“Do you think she means to goad us into rash action, Ragnar?”

I considered this. Lily was not the type that made threats, at least not in this manner. She was powerful and ruthless, and everyone in the city knew this. It did seem odd that she would threaten The Twins directly. Was she hoping to intimidate them? That seemed unlikely: The Twins were Twiceborn, like me, and considered fearless. Goading them into rash action was a better tactic, but she had to know that Vathri was not nearly as tempestuous as Eiskra.

“No… I think it is something else. I cannot fathom what she hoped to gain with that threat though.”

“Maybe something had her riled,” said Murith, looking up from where she was polishing her arbalest.

“Perhaps, but what?”

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The Shadow Wolf Sagas: The Whores’ War 3.3

Good evening friends, it is time for another installment of the Shadow Wolf Sagas. This is the third such tale and is written raw and unedited, every Thursday.

Here is the first post of this arc.

Here is last week’s post.

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The Twins stepped forward to address the assembled members of the Doxies’s Union, the doors to guild hall yawned open. Heads snapped back, and people stirred, memories of The Devout attack surfacing and setting them to murmur. My hands snapped to my weapons.

The woman stood in the open doorway, pausing at the edge of the shadows for effect. Even in a room full of people who made it their business to be beautiful, striking, or unique, she stood out. Eyes the colour of a clear winter sky swept the room, dismissive and commanding. Full lips, painted rose red, curled into a smirk as her gaze came to rest on The Twins. Her silver hair, a tangle of curls held in place by glittering ornaments, gave the impression that she was an untamed thing, come from the wild despite the expense and art behind such furious coiffure. As the shock of her entrance, so obviously intended for drama, strangled the room, she stepped forward into the light.

“Fucking bitch,” muttered Eiskra, though I doubt anyone other than me saw her lips move, let alone heard a sound.

A collective gasp went through the room as the light within the hall struck woman’s dress, seeming to set it alight. Diamonds, a King’s ransom worth, worn as a clothing. I was immediately reminded of Lily Gemarkand; who else but the woman who controlled the gem trade in the most important port in the North could fabricate such a garment?

The diamonds twinkled and glittered as she strode forward boldly, her eyes fixed on The Twins. Vethri met her gaze calmly, while Eiskra bristled.

Before she could reach her destination, the woman in the diamond dress was stopped.

“That is far enough,” said Rana, the head doorman of the guild. Tall and strong with a white skull tattooed over her ebony skin, Rana was well known for her ability to defuse violent situations with a snarl and a glare. “Who are you and why are you here?”

“You may call me Diamond Silvermane.”

The name was unfamiliar to me. She did not seem intimidated at all by Rana, or the sea of potentially hostile Doxies surrounding her, continuing “I am the new boss at the Pink Pearl.”

“Welcome to the Union Diamond,” said Vethri,making a valiant effort at congeniality. “We would love to show you around after we attend to tonight’s business.”

“That will not be necessary,” said Diamond. “I won’t be staying. The Pink Pearl will not be joining the Doxies’s Union. The City Council has granted us a permit of operation. Anyone who is beautiful and talented and tired of sharing their hard earned money with cut up old bitches is welcome to join me.”

The room erupted into anger, but Diamond Silvermane walked past a roiling sea of sneering, angry Doxies as if she were taking a stroll on a pleasant beech. By the time the anger subsided she was gone.

I exchanged glances with The Twins. It appeared that The Whore’s War was not finished.

The Shadow Wolf Sagas: The Whores’ War 3.2

Tis Thursday once more and time for some Shadow Wolf!

For those of you who missed last week’s post here it is.

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The racket was simple enough. For whatever reason Lily Gemarkand, the ruthless head of one of Myrrhn’s Seven Families wanted control of the Doxies’s Union. Her motive was profit and influence, no doubt. Once upon a time she had been working with her ‘long lost’ sister, a prostitute who went by the name Sapphire, to undermine Madame Glorianna who was the leader of the Union at the time. That plan ended in bloodshed and a clash with The Devout, followers of a mad ideal that placed conquest above all. Sapphire and Madame Glorianna both died ugly deaths. That should have settled the matter.

In her last testament, Madame Glorianna endorsed the The Twins as her best replacements. It seemed reasonable, Eiskra and Vethri knew the Union better than anyone alive, and were greatly respected by their peers. It should have been easy, but this is Myrrhn and Lily Gemarkand was not a woman to give up easily.

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The Union Hall still bore the scars of The Devout attack more than a year later. Most were concealed, shattered tiles and broken doors having been replaced with near perfect replicas, but Madame Glorianna’s office had to be replaced entirely after Lord Torvul, the Devout leader, had used his magic to blast it apart. I thought I could still smell dark magic and old blood, but it might have been a trick of the memory. It was a bad time.

“Ragnar, are you ready?” Vethri’s voice broke my reverie.

“I am.”

“Relax, old wolf, you’re just here for decoration,” said Eiskra. “Just stand behind us and look handsome.”

I rolled my eyes. Tonight was a formality. After more than a year of wrangling The Twins had asserted their dominance over the various factions in the Union, enough that they could call quorum and bring the matter of leadership to a vote. I was there because I still had some clout within the Union from my days as a doorman and an agent for Madame Glorianna.

“As if I could do anything else.”

“This is serious, you two,” said Vethri.

“Is something wrong?” asked Eiskra.

“I don’t know,” returned Vethri. “My sources say we have the votes, but someone just bought the Pink Pearl, today.”

“Who?”

“Tell me its not Gemarkand,” snarled Eiskra.

“I can’t say for sure, but few others have that kind of capital, and the timing is very suspicious,” said Vethri.

“What can she do if you have the votes?”

“We’ll soon see, I’m afraid,” said Vethri.

“Relax, Rat-ears, we’ve been through worse,” said Eiskra. “Let’s see what she has in store for us together.”

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The Twins were not really twins. In fact they did not really look, or even dress alike most of the time. Vethri was a tall Dark Elf with long ears, which Eiskra swore reminded her of a rat.

They earned the name from the distinct scars that Gentleman Jim had left them with over twenty years ago. Most noticelable were the jagged cuts extending from the sides of their mouth toward each ear, like a monstrous smile. Their necks also bore scaring from a rope garrote, almost like they’d been hanged.

The Twins were Twiceborn, like me. Gentleman Jim had tortured them, raped them, and killed them along with dozens of others than night. The Twins, however, had risen from the ashes like vengeful furies.

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The Union hall was full to brimming when we made our appearance. The Twins swept in from the back of the crowd rather than just appear before them, a bit of symbolism that I appreciated. I could sense excitement and some resentment, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Vethri and Eiskra wore neither masks, nor makeup to hide their scars. It was a statement, especially to those who knew they trade. As they took the stage, applause and cheering broke out. It was time to heal old wounds and get back to business.

But then the lady in diamond dress walked in, and everything changed.