Is it worrying that both my webnovellas feature prostitutes?
What is often overlooked about conspiracy theories is that, eventually, one of them will actually be correct. Of all the theories going round at any given moment, perhaps one of them will be true. The one that was currently correct concerned a group of hostesses who were secretly undermining the neighbouring kingdoms. It was only broadly true, but close enough.
I like to pay a visit to these hostesses every now and then, usually when injured. Self surgery is hardly the easiest of professions, and with Bridge electing not to stitch me up any more I had been presented with little in the way of alternatives.
As I sat in the oppressively humid room, a hostess unpicking my own clumsy attempt at stitching, I had plenty of time to think. It really had been too long since my last visit to the place, almost three weeks. In that time my favourite hostess had up and left, leaving me with her understudy. I’d met her understudy before and, while just as talented, she was an odd thing.
Hostesses have the highest salaries in town, but the lowest life expectancies. They set up shop in Subtle Crescent, the rape capital of the town and a very stupid place to be if you are female. The reasoning behind the location was that if certain services were available locally and at a fair price the rape “industry” would die down. It was wholly wrong, but you can’t blame them for trying.
Unfortunately, those that survived the “local custom” were often found at the business end of a demanding guest. Guests were fully within their rights to off a hostess they didn’t approve of, and it was this reason the girls earned the big bucks. It was also why I started to frequent the place all those years ago. I’d been through seventeen hostesses before I settled on my favourite, but it seemed she had fallen out of favour with someone else.
I like to unwind before a big job anyway, so in a sense this injury had been fortuitous. Without a dog nearly tearing my throat out I’d have been stumped for at least ten minutes, ultimately settling on a pub. The wound had brought me back to the hostesses, and for that I would have thanked the dog, although not for the searing pain.
The understudy was actually rather good at her job so far, possibly even better than her predecessor. She had removed my stitching in record time, and without any noticeable pain, and had moved onto replacing it with her work, equally painlessly.
A lesser man would have been embarrassed not to know the girl’s name. I had, of course, been introduced to her a few times, but this was the first time I had met her properly, and I’m not a lesser man. Besides, the head hostess had given me a heads up before I went in, so I knew perfectly well that the girl was probably called Kitty. Or Katie. I was hoping for Kitty.
I tilted my head to scratch it and the girl instantly slapped at my hand. She tutted and looked at me in the sort of way certain women do, when their eyes are trying to shift position to above the eyebrow. She played the part very well.
‘Sit still, daddy,’ she muttered.
Ah yes, I forgot to mention, didn’t I? Kitty was a little bit odd in that respect. When I had been informed of the change there was a moment of awkwardness as the head hostess explained to me some of Kitty’s little foibles. She was, for instance, an incestuous little trollop who was more than a little deranged. Not dangerously so, as fun as that would have been, but a little lost.
What this meant in practice, was that she would probably address me as daddy, and that I would get a discount, not too big a problem really. She was an extremely attractive girl anyway, so having to deal with a slight amount of quasi-paternal confusion would be bearable.
I got a good view at her face as she stitched away and I was surprised to realise just how beautiful she was. When I had seen her before she was confined to the garb of the understudy, ludicrously hideous gowns and something I had termed make-down, anti-cosmetics designed to make a person look more plain. Now that she had been promoted to a full on hostess, the girl practically gleamed.
Her hair was a delicious red that fell down her face in cute little ringlets, ending just above her rather fetching arse. It framed her face perfectly, drawing attention away from any blemishes there may have been on her milky skin, sending it right to the arresting silver eyes and red lips. The girl was so attractive that the first thing I thought was not look at how attractive she is, but instead why is she a hostess? This girl could be a queen. Then the mention of insanity reared its head in the back of my mind, and all became clear.
The last stitch finished, Kitty sat back and smiled. She picked up a mirror from the floor and angled it so I could see her handiwork. ‘How’s that?’
It was outstanding work. I craned my neck a few times as a test, then returned her smile. ‘It’ll do.’
‘Yay!’ she was an excitable sort, very much like a child it seemed, but not in a creepy way. She took to the mirror to a nearby table and slotted it into a stand, then she returned to the small stool in front of my luxurious lounger. ‘Is there anything else you need stitching, daddy?’
‘No, just the neck, thank you.’
‘I must confess, I don’t understand why you came here. Surely a physician would be most people’s choice, not a humble hostess, even if she is your daughter,’ she frowned.
In all honesty, she was probably right. A dog attack was a semi-regular occurrence in the town and therefore probably wouldn’t set off any alarm bells amongst even the most observant doctor. Likewise, it would hardly be an easily identifiable injury in the way a crossbow bolt would be. Really, the only reason I hadn’t gone to an actual doctor was habit. I had gotten into the habit of avoiding anyone even loosely related to the guards. That and the fact it had been nearly three weeks since I had last had sex, which was a pretty persuasive reason in and of itself.
I did not, of course, tell the girl that reason. ‘Why wouldn’t I come here?’ I said. ‘Who else would I trust more than my own daughter?’
Her addled brain had no problem taking this as fact and she grinned. Then she threw herself into my arms and gave me a rib-cracking hug. I returned the favour, naturally, but her corset made it difficult to find anything to crush. After a brief moment she released her vice grip and sagged into my arms, head on my chest.
The silver eyes looked up at me. ‘How long can you stay?’
‘I’ve got a few hours. Got some business to attend to later tonight, but until then I’m all yours.’
This was why I liked the hostesses. With normal women you have to be charming and attractive, play the game at their pace, ultimately for little in the way of a reward. The hostesses play your game, require very little effort, and are much more generous with their rewards. It’s all a bit more streamlined.
My commitment of a few hours seemed to be all the charming she needed. Her body language changed minutely, but it was very noticeable to the trained eye. A lot of people in stressful jobs have been heard to proclaim that you need a good few hours to unwind after work if you want to avoid burning out. While my job may not be too stressful, moments like this have proved to me that the best way to avoid burnout is to get your stress relief before you undertake anything potentially stressful, then it will act like a barrier. Granted, it works equally as well after the fact, but you don’t get the unbridled sense of optimism that way, which every thief worth his salt requires.
‘What sort of business, daddy?’ Kitty purred. ‘Will it be stressful?’
The hostesses made it their business not to know yours, and if Kitty was asking it was only so she could tailor my experience. I hoped. You’ll find that you can tell a lot to a hostess without actually meaning to, and that’s a lot of power in the wrong hands. ‘Probably a little. There’s going to be a lot of manual labour, heavy lifting and climbing mostly. A few strong words might be uttered. Otherwise, it’s pretty much run of the mill.’
‘I like strong words,’ she shifted. ‘They make me tingle.’
See? Much more streamlined.
Hostesses don’t want to talk about their day, they won’t ask you awkward questions where every answer is a trap that allows them to storm off in a huff. They know what you want, what you’ve most likely paid for, and they’ll push you towards it quickly. I wasn’t paying for love. If I had been, there would probably be an argument happening about know, probably about something insignificant, like me polishing my sword in the larder.
‘I bet you do,’ was all I said as I lifted the insane girl who, in her head, was my daughter and dropped her onto the bed. She shifted herself up the bed a little so her legs hung off the end and her fiery hair fanned out around her like some peculiar halo.
I’m sure I don’t need to go into detail about what happened next. Needless to say, it was rather good. The tangy after-taste of immortality would come in handy as well.