Chapter 23: a taste of luxury (1)

Living in the sewers was something Lenia couldn’t bring herself to understand. Why would her majestic and awesome master wish to live in such a disgusting place? She wracked her brains but couldn’t find a suitable answer to the question instead just settling on a lack of money as a potential reason.

And so, with the money they obtained from looting the vault Lenia was ecstatic.

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Now we can find a proper place to live! We don’t have to return to that disgusting place! It must be a grand hotel suitable for my master…

Her thoughts were rampant and she was feeling excited at the thought of spending some time with her master in a more luxurious setting. Even though it didn’t seem that Aleks had felt any shame at residing in that dingy room, she felt enough shame for the both of them.

It was still late at night when they stepped out of the headquarters of the former Don Jesef. Aleks watched the night from eyes beneath a mask and ushered Lenia on with haste. There was still an entire day until the play and they would need to be presentable for the occasion.

The theatre where the play would take place was in another part of the city and even late at night, the theatre would never close because many denizens of the city had only just begun their sordid pleasures. In the dark of night, many desires were fulfilled within the sleepless city. Those desires ranged from pleasure to pain, and almost everything in between.

Lenia kept pace with her master without saying a word. There were still patrols to be evaded after all, at least until they arrived at their destination. Aleks was leading her to what was affectionately called, ‘The Red Light District’. That wasn’t its official title but those who frequented the area had named it that way. It originally gained its namesake because of the red paper lanterns which had lit up the night in a red hue. As time progressed, many other colors were added to the growing atmosphere of the place.

It was a considered a ‘charming’ place by many where one might be seduced by their darkest of pleasures.

The ‘Red Light District’ was technically a part of the Commercial District but many considered it to be its own area. It had developed into such a place over time and through being heavily influenced by the underground organizations. Without a doubt, it was certainly an area of the city with its own distinct personality and charm.

While the rest of the city slept, this district of pleasure was only just awakening. The district rested on the eastern side of the Verr River which ran through the center of the city and branched off in various directions throughout. At night, it was lit by a thousand lanterns of a variety of shades of color and many walked the district streets moving from one establishment to another.

Many even walked the streets in masks, although none wore made of solid gold as the mask on Aleks. In this city, masks were quite common so Aleks didn’t feel out of place wearing his. His previous accessory of simple cloth which he wrapped around his face was far more out of place.

“Master! Master! Uh… Aleks..”

Aleks glared at Lenia through the mask causing her to remember what he had told her about how to address him.

“Um…. We found a lot of gold in the vault..”

“Yes, several thousand gold and silver Ducats from my initial estimates. What about it?”

“Well…. I was hoping that um….”

“There is no need to hesitate. Tell me.”

“Can we stay somewhere nice? You know.. something better than a sewer?”

Lenia was somewhat hesitant to ask but she finally got the words out through much inner turmoil. 
Her tone was almost that of a beggar and her eyes were filled with pleading.

Aleks looked at her and almost laughed but he controlled himself. He didn’t want to ruin the persona he had been cultivating for some time now. He felt it was necessary to keep up appearances for this new life who looked up to him with both worship and awe.

Thankfully, the mask helped keep his emotions hidden.

I almost swore I had gone back to the days when my sister was still alive. How she nagged me, constantly trying to drag me to one place or another. I often hid away in some corner with a book. Those days will never return.

Aleks took a good long look at the both of them before answering. Their appearance could be considered ragged and Lenia’s clothing was covered in splotches of blood. A metallic irony stench mingled with the stink of filth and grime was carried on the wind causing Aleks to wrinkle his nose beneath the mask.

“I suppose it would be unwise to walk the streets of the city covered in blood and filth and we do need to prepare for tomorrow night. We should be able to find a suitable hotel along the river road at the entrance of the Red Light district.”

Lenia could barely contain her excitement at his words and felt like jumping for joy.

Finally! We can spend some alone time together… I have so many things I want to ask my master! Oh and maybe some new clothes and a bath, I can show them off! Would he be impressed? Would he look at me and only me!?

Aleks found her excitement somewhat humorous but their thoughts were clearly not on the same page. She appeared to be absorbed in some fantasy only she could see in her mind while Aleks appeared much more stoic.

Hmm.. she is still developing her identity and persona. Perhaps a change of scenery will help her gain some necessary experience.

Aleks was no longer concerned about being found out by patrolling guards as they neared the hustle and bustle leading into the ‘Red Light’ district. This was the only place in the city that never seemed to sleep and the guards were much more lax. Aleks’s main concern was being found near the scene of the crime as they would be questioned and possibly found out. It wasn’t as if he were afraid of the local guards who he could easily kill with a wave of his hand but he was concerned about being found out by one of Tihr’s agents. A disruption to his plans at this moment just wouldn’t do.

Aleks found a suitable place for lodging which was not too fancy but also of a decent status. He felt they would stand out too much and might not be admitted into a top grade hotel. These middle of the road establishments were much more convenient for his needs. The location was on the fringe of the Red Light district and they wouldn’t ask too many questions or find them suspicious even with their current appearance. There were quite the diverse array of characters who patronized such establishments and the employees knew for their own safety to ignore any strange looking patrons.

The two filthy individuals entered and placed a heavy satchel filled with Ducats on the reception desk. The loud and clear sound of the coins clanging against the wooden reception desk quickly drew the attention of the receptionist. These staff members were smart enough and didn’t ask any questions about their strange and conspicuous appearance. Questions were dangerous and people covered in blood usually doubly so. The Ducats especially silenced their tongues.

Lenia jumped in front of Aleks before he could say anything and loudly announced, “Give us the best room in the Hotel! And we want hot water for a bath!”

Lenia paid the fee which she deftly negotiated to the satisfaction of Aleks who decided to remain quiet despite the fact that he had no desire or need for such a lavish room. He didn’t wish to dampen her enthusiasm and was satisfied with her negotiation of the price of the room. After the Ducats exchanged hands, they were ushered into one of the more luxurious rooms within the inn. 

Anything could be asked for and acquired by the hotel staff and Aleks requested that dresses and clean clothing be brought to their room so that they could change. Aleks only required new undergarments. His voice became gruff and somewhat irritable. Although he didn’t particularly hate people in general and in his own mind didn’t consider himself to be an evil man, the taint of the gods he despised so much was marked on the staff members soul. This taint often made him uncomfortable which caused him to act in an unsociable and ill-tempered manner. Usually this wouldn’t be of much concern to him as he could care less about consorting with the general populace but communication and dealings with various people were essential.

Although I usually have Brock deal with these types of matters so that I can avoid the unpleasantness.

“You are to bring the finest of dresses, suitable for her beauty, is that clear?”

The staff member didn’t seem to visibly mind his tone and answered enthusiastically, “Yess’r, I know just the place! Only the finest o’dresses for the lovely lady, ya have m’word!”

He too also ignored the bloodstained clothing Lenia wore but he did not leave immediately, instead he stood there, as if he were waiting for something from Aleks.

“Ah… right.. I suppose you want this.”

Aleks placed enough ducats in the staff member’s hand to cover the costs as well as tip. He was careful not to touch the man which caused the motion to look somewhat awkward.

The man smiled at Aleks and bowed, “Thank ya milord!” and then went on his way.

“Hmph, these Humans and their greed. It’s sickening. I suppose there’s not much difference between species though, they are all filled with greed.”

Aleks stared at the door after the porter had left and spoke to himself. Mostly to alleviate his feeling of awkwardness.

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Lenia was unaware of her master’s thoughts and excitedly explored the room. This was her first time seeing such luxury. Once the excitement faded she realized she was still standing there in her dirty blood stained clothes and began to feel uncomfortable.

To have my master see me in such a state… I hope he is not displeased.

Lenia sighed with displeasure. She wasn’t happy that he had to see such a disgusting side of her and she nervously began to squirm from side to side.

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