Dead plants can become fertilizer.
It wasn’t quite relief that Solange felt as she watched Skarsat, Maréngo, and Y’Vanna scramble onboard, the lifeless body of Neh’miah hanging from the Tork’s arms. Solange had experienced her fair share of death while shadowing her mother, but this was different—violent, sudden, unexpected. Did the foolish thief even have a moment to realize the end was nigh as the bolt punctured his skull or had he left the world in the same ignorant bliss that’d gotten him in trouble in the first place? A slow drip of blood fell from the crossbow bolt and splashed onto the freshly swabbed deck. A man that rivaled Skarsat in stature lifted the body from his arms and gave it to the crew to take care of, mentioning a ceremony. It was only at that did Solange finally feel any sense of relief.
She followed Ba’ku below deck with the others, the pilfered bag still tight to her chest. A familiar scent hit her nose as they made their way to their rooms. At first it was hard to recognize with it being separated from more floral perfumes, but Solange eventually recognized the smell of the sage oil or, as the girls in her line of work often called it, the smell of gold. The memory drew a thin smile to her face that wavered ever so slightly as she saw the two closets they had been given as quarters. Her eyebrow arched ever so slightly as she stared at the large hempen nets hanging from the walls and tried to figure out where their beds were.
As Ba’ku explained everything and parted, a dumbfounded Solange sat down on their generously provided crate. That cheap bastard Vargas was such a bit biter that he couldn’t even get her a private cabin with a real bed? As Skarsat struck out to find his own space, Solange watched as Y’vanna cracked open a bottle of rum despite it not even being noon. To Solange’s surprise, Maréngo stopped himself from taking a swig of the drink.
As Y’vanna turned the bottle to her, Solange stared at it with some strong consideration. Everything had fallen apart so fast. It was funny. The thought of never going back to Gullian always had been part of her personal plan, yet now that the option had been removed from the table it suddenly was the only one Solange wanted to pick. The city had proved her with so many opportunities, yet now she only had this one chance. Her knuckles lightly rapped on the wood of the crate, knowing that like their fight with the law the chance of her future being as bright as she’d hoped for it also had shit odds—and having a drunk around only diminished her chances.
“Thank you, love,” said Solange, standing to take the bottle from Y’Vanna. She swirled the contents, lifted the bottle to her lips, paused, and chuckled softly before lowering the drink with a shake of her head.“Sorry, darling, this just reminds me of a story my sister once told me. It’s about Fontaine’s longest working whore. Her name was Sarey, but behind her back the girls called her Soresy Sarey—you can imagine why, love. Although she was well-experienced, she no longer could entertain the guests behind closed doors, so Fontaine had her work the floor.”
“Soresy would entice men into buying themselves and her drinks, which she put away better than any sailor. The story goes that the bar would run dry most nights Soresy Sarey worked, netting Fontaine quite a pretty profit. Yet Soresy stopped limiting her drinking to when she was on the clock, imbibing whenever she could and buying herself bottles from the bar on a daily basis. She couldn’t leave her bed without a drink in the morning, and soon she was so taken by the booze that she couldn’t leave her bed if she tried. She became a fiscal problem for Fontaine. Soresy couldn’t pay for her room, she couldn’t pay for her tab, and she couldn’t bring in customers. She was Fontaine’s longest working girl, but she was a detriment.”
Solange ran her hand across the bottle of rum as she recounted the tale, her eyes down as she continued on, a playful smile on her face.
“Now Fontaine wanted Soresy gone but she couldn’t bring herself to do anything to someone she considered to be her friend. Fortunately for her, she’d just hired a new enforcer from a spice island who’d survived an attack from some privateers. Her name was Prudence. A young woman then, probably about your age now,” said Solange, her eyes flicking up to cut Y’Vanna like a razor. “But she was mean. Nasty. Practically a wild animal. Prudence didn’t like seeing her new master so upset, so she took matters into her own hand. Soresy was dragged from her bed by her hair to the alley out back, screaming the whole time and so covered in bedsores that she’d truly earned her nickname.”
“The girls, of course, followed. Once on the stone ground outside, Prudence produced a bottle of alcohol and asked Soresy if she wanted a drink. Soresy at this point couldn’t even really speak, but she nodded. Without a word, Prudence uncorked the bottle and held it high,” said Solange, taking the bottle of spiced rum and holding it out. Then, she turned it, pouring the liquid onto the planks below. “She emptied out the entire bottle on Soresy and then, as Fontaine and the other girls watched, she struck a match. Prudence then turned to Fontaine, and when Fontaine did nothing she dropped it.” Solange righted the bottle, empty all but for one single sip. “They say Soresy had drank so much alcohol the night before that she burned for hours. The scorch marks are still in the alley behind the Red Sail.”
“I’ve seen them myself,” said Solange, tossing the nearly empty bottle back to Y’Vanna. “Anyway, enjoy your drink, love. If either of you need me, I’ll be above deck. It smells like someone is trying to cover up a drunken orgy down here, and I for one don’t want to risk getting any more stains on my dress.”