May 9, 2014

In Which Roddie Keeps to His Conscience

August 2, 1185

Contrary to the beliefs of his "generous" brother, it was not Roddie's first time in a brothel. It was, however, his first time in this particular brothel--and he'd already made up his mind that it would be his last.

This was a Tetranshire brothel, one that Jadin had frequented for some years. He'd said a while back that the place had gone downhill since the old madame had died, but he kept coming back out of obligation to his ladies, which was probably the closest Jadin had to a code of honor. Roddie had no such obligation. He was used to brothels that were warm and well-maintained, filled with smiling and well-fed women in reasonable health. This one was drafty and dirty, and the women were gaunt and unenthused, only Jadin able to summon sincere grins.

So, Roddie had thought it best for everyone that he wait at the table in the entrance, though he'd leave a tip when he left. He got the sense that the money was needed.

Word was that this had been a respected establishment once, or at least as respected as brothels could be. The old madame had been much like her counterparts in the Veldora brothels, maternal and egalitarian and a born peacekeeper. Roddie hadn't heard much about the new madame, if she was even around.

Surely, none of the women had appeared to be in charge...

"Lonely there, handsome?"

If the voice had gone for throaty and sexy, it met a roadblock in the form of phlegm.

And when he turned his head to get a better look, that wasn't a surprise. She couldn't have been any older than he was, if she was as old. She was naturally dark, but that didn't hide the black circles beneath her eyes, even in the dim light of the room. Her bone structure betrayed a small and slim frame to begin with, but the lack of much between skin and bone betrayed her size as more than nature. Her red hair was a mass of tangles, curly and thick and no doubt lovely with proper care, but it had matted in many patches and some chunks hung limp as if they'd halfway fallen out. Even her eyes were put out, more like a well-painted doll's than those of a living girl, not a trace of life behind them.

She didn't want him, nor did she want sex in general. He could not in good conscience take her up on that offer. "I'm just waiting for my brother."

"You're Jadin's brother?"

"Yes." Though... "Um... he and you didn't..."

"Oh, no. He said--" A coughing fit broke up her raspy sentence. "--I'm too young for him."

Roddie guessed that would be the only good news he heard here tonight. "How old are you?"

"Fourteen... almost."

Damn. "The madame lets you work here?"

"There's no mad--" Another cough. And another. Roddie half-expected a lung to ooze from her mouth. "I mean--my mother was the old madame. When she died, my father took ownership."

...what. "Your father has you working here?"

"Well... once I had a woman's body, he thought I had to earn my keep." But she didn't have a woman's body! And who expected a thirteen-year-old to have a woman's mind? "And he says that's doubly important now, since I had to take that--" A wheeze--and a tear? "--break."

He thought he knew what that meant. Thin as she was, there was a slight flab to her belly and her breasts were disproportionate to the rest of her. He had enough siblings and nieces and nephews to have seen that before. "You had a baby?"

"I guess you could call it that. It was... pretty deformed..."

Then it was probably dead. He'd spare her the agony of answering that question. "When was this?"

"Three weeks ago?" Shit. "The days just kind of blur--"

She doubled over, choking on her own tongue. A spurt of blood flew from her mouth to the old wooden floor, narrowly missing Roddie's boot.

Like everything else, that could not have been good. "Can I take you to a healer?"



Van said...

So continues the Week of Insomnia...

Winter said...

Ugh. Insomnia sucks. I hope it clears up :)

As much as I know Ilvina's father is the villain here, I have a strong urge to smack Jadin. Is there any doubt that the bulk of the money he's paid out since the madame died has passed right out of the women's hands? It's not his shire, but being a lord's son has some sway anywhere. Do something useful for these women.

On the upside, Roddie, the picture of sensible compassion! He showed himself to be a nice mixture of his father and mother here. Good for him.

Van said...

Yeah, Jadin hasn't given much thought to voting with his dollar. The women don't get to keep much of what they earn, unless they get tips on the sly. He is in a position to do more for them, but he hasn't been good about making use of it, unfortunately. :S

Roddie did get the best of both his parents, methinks. He can be as bratty as any Kemorin, but he knows when it's time to take action and be serious.