Madam Gabrielle Dolour room had a certain style and taste that was totally at odds with her position as the brothel Madam and owner of the ‘El Pariso’ club. On the walls hung exquisite silk hangings and fine paintings while on beautifully carved low tables were statues and vases and bowls of fruit. In one corner was a desk where Gabrielle normally sat to do the ledgers, correspondences, and the myriad different tasks that made the brothel and club function. It was made of some black lightweight type of wood and had a built in writing slope and inkwells as well as the ability to be folded up, it had been polished till it shone. A red sealing wax candle sat in its holder ready for use beside a vase of sweet smelling flowers and incongruously three marble phalluses so well sculptured that every vein and sinew stood out in perfection. The three lifelike male appendances had ribbons around their bases and stood, side by side in a special frame from largest to smallest beside her hand bowl of scented water and a cotton cloth.
Gabrielle herself was a stunning woman, tall, athletic with a gorgeous classical face and almost violet eyes. Her fine fair hair was piled up and looped through a jewelled headpiece in the classic fashion which blended perfectly with the red silk dress that hung diaphanously to her feminine form, revealing tempting shadowy glimpses of the naked body beneath. From her exposed right naked breast that was caged in by a framework of gold was a chain running down to the silver chaste belt at her slim waist.
Hanging from the belt were two vicious looking wavy bladed long knives.
She crossed to a painting and carefully lifted it aside to reveal a small metal door set into the wall. Taking a key from the region of her left breast she unlocked it opened it and put the days takings inside. She then shut it and relocked it before replacing the painting and the key.
There was a knock at her door but she didn’t hurry herself to get there and open it, in fact she paused to examine her reflection in the mirror teasing a stray hair back into place.
She opened the door to reveal a short wiry young man holding a sealed letter.
“Message from the General for you my Lady.” He passed it over hastily, eager to be away.
“Thank you.” She said as she smelt the letter in hope of catching his scent still lingering on it.
She walked over to her desk and after checking to see if the seal had been tampered with open it and read the contents.
“My darling love to long have we been apart but soon we will be together my dove. We will begin our campaign to coincide with the spring equinox have your assassins start their work an eight day before right up to the date to maximise the confusion. I am afraid this will have to be our last message to each other for fear of detection but be assured you are forever in my heart and dreams.
I can’t wait for the day that you’ll be in my arms.
Karl Von Bullow Knight Commander of the Holy Army of Trans Gaul”
She sighed and sat down at the desk to read it once more.
“He’s a bit of a sloppy writer isn’t he?” Gabrielle looked up to see Dannia lounging on one of the low settles. “You really must get out of the habit of reading out loud Madam Du Pont; silent reading is all the rage now since that monk proved it can be done.”
“Dannia you nearly gave me a heart attack!” She admonished with a smile. “What can I do for you my friend or is this merely a social call?”
“A bit of both really.” Dannia stretched with a groan. “Someone has targeted yours truly for death and I wondered if you’d heard anything from the groundswell?”
“Nothing particular only that ‘Nocturne’ is active again. But nothing about you but that’s not surprising since you seem to lead a blessed life.” Madam Du Pont got up from the desk and circled around to its front and lounged against it with studied indifference. “Why would they want you dead, I assume that’s what you meant, you have always made sure your presence goes undetected?”
“Can you get hold of child prostitutes?” Dannia asked with an abrupt change of direction.
“No, you know I won’t have any connections with such a trade.” She was obviously shocked but Dannia suspected it was nothing to do with the question. “Why do you ask?”
“Children have disappeared from the slums only to reappear at some, elite shall we say, parties. I need to find out who is supplying them and quickly before the high council cracks down on everything and I mean everything and that won’t be good for either of our businesses.” Dannia paused.
“No I agree. Have you definite news to that effect?” Dannia nodded. “The trouble is that anyone of a dozen small Madams could be the suppliers but I’d try Madam Selina if I was you.”
“I’ve tried her but she isn’t the one, she’s dead by the way, she tried to lie to me but you’ll be surprised what people say when you hold a knife to their neck.” Dannia Paused to pluck a grape from the bowl in front of her. “Why has Carder been working here Madam after all he’s not the type of person I’d expect you to consort with at least not on a business level?”
“Sometimes you can’t choose your bed fellows and I mean that quite literally. There is a new craze with the young blades with to much money in there purses for supposed demonic rituals and all the paraphernalia of the occult, I’d be foolish to not cater for it.” The brothel owner laughed. “I would be foolish to let that money slip through my fingers so I hired Carder to run my dungeon. You’d be surprised how much they pay for the pleasure of pretending to call up evil. It’s all smoke and mirrors of course.”
“Why did you kill my daughter ‘Nocturne’?” Dannia asked. “Oh yes I know you’re ‘Nocturne’ I guess I’ve always known just as I’ve always known you supplied the children, I just didn’t want to admit it? Carder was your mistake a mistake you thought you could keep quiet by giving him little girls to play with! They were no loss were they after all they came from the slums and no one would miss them!”
Gabrielle turned away from Dannia and acted if she was reaching for a handkerchief of the table top but activated a switch that dropped a slim bladed knife into her other hidden hand.
“I won’t insult you by pretending. I like you Dannia, I really do, I even considered recruiting you but of course your race precluded that. I had to get you out of the way, you were too good to let roam at will so we arranged your daughters death. I’m really sorry about that but it had to be done. You were supposed to mourn and be unable to function. Oh but not you. You just threw yourself into your work and threatened to get in our way even more.” Gabrielle’s voice began climbing in pitch. “You should never have told me your secret, when we shared my bed; it gave me too much power over you.”
She whirled round to find Dannia had gone. Edgily she looked around for her enemy.
“I though you may have sold out for money or even power but never in my wildest dreams did I consider it was for love.” Dannia’s voice echoed around the room. “All your rivals are dead I’m afraid they didn’t survive my interrogations, shame that considering they were all innocent. Well of using children that is they were guilty of other things so I won’t shed a tear.”
“You think you’re so special don’t you Dannia. No one would consider that the little halfling helper at the temple was a cold blooded killer who’d use anyone to cover her crimes.” Gabriel had pulled out one of her belt knives and peered quickly into the roof beams before backing up slowly to the wall where a sash hung.
“Oh I shouldn’t bother with the bell rope I’ve already disconnected it and the guards attached to it come to think of it. Why did you do it, the girls offered you no harm?”
“Those girls are the children of the men who ordered my rape!” Silence fell. “Oh I thought that’ll shut you up. I was fourteen when the troopers came to my village to fight the Ogre but after they finished and were leaving they came across me in a field. They stripped me and tied me face down and open legged to a fence and the officer raped me then told his troops to follow on. Fifteen men had sex with me and I was helpless and if I yelled out I was struck. When they had finished with me I was taken to a Madam here and was taught how to pleasure men and women. That’s when I found out the city fathers had ordered the troops to find young girls for the brothels and clubs. Now I will have my revenge!”
“But why him?” There was just a hint of sympathy in Dannia’s voice.
“He brought his entourage here to relax when he was envoy here but he never indulged. He took me for drinks and moon lit walks. He was a gentleman and a visionary. He is going to purge this filth and build a nation without perversion and depravity. Where sub races like the Halfling and Dwarf are purged banishing war forever.” Her voice was totally self delusional in its dreamy cadences. “Why didn’t you kill me when you had the chance Dannia?”
“Because I hoped and prayed that I could still be wrong.” Dannia said from behind her. “I’m afraid I must kill you my friend.”
Dannia’s target whirled round to face her as she squatted on the desk top.
“Who have you lined up for my death Dannia someone good I hope?” Gabriel asked as she gave a tentative slash with her wavy knife.
“No don’t be silly I’ve set up Carder for all the whores deaths so why should you be any different.” Dannia rapidly moved out of the way before countering with a strike of her own.
The taunting was over as the fight began in earnest; each one circling the other waiting for a chance to strike and when that chance finally came it was violent and swift. At times it looked more like high speed fencing than a true fight as the knives clashed again and again. Dannia jumped on to or over the low couches as Gabriel pressed her height advantage causing several of the small tables to be knocked over and their contents strewn across the floor. The brothel madam’s dress was cut to ribbons testimony of how close Dannia had come while Dannia’s leathers had score marks from the wavy knife and blood dripped from a shallow cut to her hand as equal testimony of Gabriel’s skill.
Then a bizarre set of circumstances occurred which neither woman could have planned for. Gabriel’s foot got caught in a dangling ribbon of cloth from her now shredded dress which made her lurch forward dropping her knife and sweeping a glass vase from a side table straight at Dannia. Dannia jumped back to avoid it tripping herself up over a low stool straight into the desk which rocked violently. Dannia’s hand had impacted with a desk leg knocking the knife clean out of her hand while her head struck the desk edge giving her a stunning blow to the head. Dannia was jammed tight her legs on top of the stool, her bottom on the floor while the rest of her was slumped against the still rocking desk. Tearing off the rest of her torn dress Gabriel launched herself in a dive at Dannia with a scream, hands outstretched to throttle her. Dannia franticly tried to get herself out of her predicament when something dropped from the desks surface straight into her right hand. It was the larges phallus. Driving upward with all her might she plunged it deep into Gabriel’s throat, smashing the perfect teeth on the way. The brothel madam’s impetus sent it even deeper as Dannia drove her knees into the woman’s stomach knocking out the air from her body. In the struggle the stool was kicked away and the pair rolled over putting Dannia on top. Again and again she lifted herself up leaning on the Phallus only to drive her knees into the woman’s chest once more the twisting pressure of the marble dislocating the jaw with a crack. Gabriel clawed at Dannia to try and get the object out of her mouth but her struggles grew weaker and weaker until they stopped altogether. Dannia got up panting from the exertion and pulled out the object she had used to choke the woman and threw it away in disgust.
“I thought you were my friend, my shelter in a storm, how wrong can a person be.” She picked up a piece of Gabriel’s dress and dabbed at the long shallow cut the second knife had made in her hand. “Let’s look at this safe shall we? I won’t use your key if you don’t mind since I’m sure it is bonded to you. Anyone else using it would come to a very painful and sticky end I should imagine.”
Dannia needed to talk to somehow release the mixed feeling she had churning away inside her.
Dannia pulled up the stool that had so nearly had been her undoing and placed it beneath the painting that hid the safe and began her examination.
“Yes I was right a sticky flame trap. You lot are nothing but consistent.” She disarmed it along with another two vicious surprises and started on the now exposed safe with her lock picks. “I don’t know whether to be sorry for you for being taken in by that bustard or not. He used you as a tool to place all the assassins, I doubt if he ever loved you, but then again perhaps he did. I must ask him one day.”
The safe clicked open revealing what was inside. Even with the stool Dannia had to stand on tip toes to reach in and remove the contents. Bags of coinage, the brothels profits, flew over her shoulder with total indifference to burst open as they impacted with the floor scattering their contents everywhere.
“You’re doing alright aren’t you; you’ve enough money here to buy a palace in the country which makes me wonder why you didn’t. Perhaps I should take over the club I’d make a good Madam don’t you think?” She reached in and pulled two beautifully engraved wooden boxes forward enough for her to open them and peer in. Inside in a plush slotted lining were rows upon rows of Nocturne’s calling cards each with a girls name attached and there in the centre was a card with the name Rene Perdue, the harpist she had met at the beginning of all this horror.
“I was hoping not to find them here. How silly can you get I was still hoping that somehow you weren’t involved that deeply but this proves you were! Oh Gabriella Du Pont what have you done! And you’re standing right behind me aren’t you?”
Dannia turned slowly to see a horrific sight, Gabriel stood there swaying her dislocated chin resting on her chest obscenely blood dripping from the ruin of her mouth with incongruously a perfume bottle in her hand. “Why is it that the insane never die first time round? You take mad Duke Ferdinand I had to poison, shoot him with an arrow and eventually drown him before he stopped getting up again.”
Dannia felt hot and wiped the sweat out of her eye’s as she weighed up her options, but her assailant was determined not to give her that time. She lurched forward and sprayed Dannia straight in the face with the stinging liquid in the perfume bottle. Cursing her stupidity Dannia dropped down off the stool and tried to roll away from the now demented woman while trying to clear her vision, but it was to no avail as Gabriel’s hands linked around her throat and begun to squeeze. Dannia struggled hitting the woman’s hands and arms again and again as she was lifted off the ground and the hands tightened further. She tried to trigger the tiny slim blade that lived in the bracer on her left arm but her eyesight was dimming and her fingers had become tingly and woolly unable to grip anything at all, then suddenly the grip lessened allowing her to function once more. Gabriel’s stared at the knife tip protruding out of her chest with a perplexed expression before slumping to the floor to reveal the pasty looking face of Alison.
“That’s for hurting us girls and for hurting Miss Dannia.” She said before dashing into the little attached toilet room and violently throwing up.
“What kept you?” Dannia asked as the girl reappeared.
“You knew I was here?” The girl said incongruously.
“You’re not very good at following someone you’re too heavy footed. I realised you were behind me as soon as I re-entered the club.” Dannia coughed and a thin dribble of blood ran down her chin. As she wiped it away she go a clear view of her hand and saw the yellow puss squeezing out of the shallow wound, the black tracery of the veins and the blood from her spittle still on her fingers. Her eyes opened in horror in realisation as she spied the short wavy bladed knife with its greasy poisoned tip lying close by. Using a strip of Gabrielle dress to carefully pick it up she watched as she coughed a fine spray of blood over it.
“I would have been here sooner if you hadn’t lost me at the last series of corridors.” Alison stopped in her explanation and stared at Dannia with a horror of her own. “Oh my gods Lady Dannia your face it’s covered with green fungus spots.”
“The spray and the knife I should have realised. Alison, pick up those boxes we had to get back to the Temple. Well hurry girl.”
“I don’t understand. What’s wrong my lady?” The girl said in a panicky voice as she rushed to obey.
“I’ve been poisoned child and if I don’t get back to the Temple quickly I’ll be dead. You have got to get both me and the boxes back to the temple I’m relying on you girl.” Dannia coughed again and more blood sprayed out as she began a manic scramble to get out of the room praying franticly that she had enough time to get to safety.
She was dying and it petrified her!