Prudence StolzThe Red Sail — Dawn
Last night was just another tally mark on the ever growing list of Prudence’s crimes. Since her arrival in Gullian two years ago, she had committed a number of crimes acting in Fontaine’s name as well as in her own poor conduct. These crimes included some petty theft, a handful of burglaries, many vandalisms, uncountable acts of coercion, several assaults, some murders, and an embarrassing incident of public nudity following a night Prudence can’t recall. That’s not to mention the crimes she committed before arriving in town, but it’s a big world and who can say that this Prudence Stolz is that Prudence Stolz? Regardless, she should’ve been arrested, tried, sentenced, and hung some time ago, and she would’ve been if it had not been for Fontaine.
Rather, it would’ve been if not for Fontaine’s money. A few bits and a free night with a girl of their choosing was enough to make most lawmen turn a blind eye to a roughed-up trader or a beaten up crook. Sure, not all constables would trade in their honor for a free poke and some loose change, but enough of them would and the good ones were kept in check. What all of this means is that whenever a band of constables came to the Red Sail Brothel it was normally to cash in on one of these handshake deals and Prudence need not worry. She was under Fontaine’s protection, and the constables were always hungry for a certain kind of proposition. So when Selena told her there was a group of them at the door, she didn’t even think for a second that she was going to be in a lick of trouble.“Morning, lads,”
said Prudence as she opened the door. Her green scarf was styled around her head to cover Selena’s patch job, and she squinted her eyes as light hit them. For a moment she thought she was still seeing double. Usually it was just some crooked guard and a couple of his buddies. Never six. Today it was six. “You lot lost? Don’t think your captain would want you in a brothel before the sun’s fully up.”“It’s the captain who sent us,”
said the man in front. Usually the only thing that separated a constable from a back alley thug who bathed only in booze and filth was the uniform, but their leader clearly put in effort in his appearance with his shined boots, slicked hair, and manicured mustache. He was handsome, arguably, but Prudence liked her men a little bit tougher. “The girls are hardly up. Go back and tell your captain that we don’t open until their legs do, and their legs don’t open ‘til their faces are on,”
said Prudence as she started to close the front door. “Wait.”
A shined boot jammed it from shutting. “We aren’t here for that. We have a warrant to let us enter.” “What’s that?”
said Prudence. The constable took it as her asking to see it, and Prudence stared at the jumble of words on a piece of paper ordained with an official looking stamp. “Look, Madame Fontaine normally deals with these things, and she’s out. Come back tonight and she’ll handle this nonsense.” “Afraid that’s not possible, Miss Stolz,”
said the constable with a smirk. Prudence’s eyes narrowed. She had never met this man before. It was rarely a good thing when a stranger knew your name, especially when that stranger was the law. “And why is that?”
she asked, her voice turning dark. “If you come with us I can explain it all. Slowly, too, so you can understand,”
he said. The guards behind him chuckled. “Sorry,”
growled Prudence. She didn’t quite grasp what was happening, but she knew she didn’t like it. “We’re closed.”
Prudence slammed the door with all of her might. A howl of pain erupted from the mustached officer as his boot was smashed between door and jamb, a sickening crunch sounding out as tendons snapped and bones shattered. It had been a nicely shined boot; he shouldn’t have used it as a stop. However, it did manage to do the job of keeping the door from closing, and as it bounced back open Prudence was greeted with the sight of one screaming officer on his back and five angry constables stepping over him with their clubs drawn. She could hear Selena screaming from behind the bar, and a smarter person would’ve tried to run. But when Prudence looked at the five constables bearing down on her she didn’t see a good reason to turn tail and flee. “Good.”
She whipped out her blackjack. Six was unreasonable. Five? Five wasn't so bad. “Now it’s a fair fight.”
Royal Complex/Stronghold Keep — Day
It wasn’t. One against five never was, and perhaps one day she would learn that. Prudence had gotten a couple of good hits in before the blows from their clubs had overpowered her, but she was lucky to even be walking. Well, walking was a stretch; she was doing more of a shuffling as two guards dragged her by the shoulders deep into the pits of the Royal Complex. It hurt where they grabbed her, it hurt where her wrists were bound, it hurt where her ankles were bound, and it hurt just about everywhere else. She had come to in the carriage. Waking up with new wounds and in an awful situation was quickly becoming a tiring habit. Her two new friends had met her outside of the carriage, and since then they had been engaging in pleasant conversation.“Didn’t realize the King was hiring chickens these days,”
barked Prudence, her voice echoing down the hall. “Bunch of yellow-bellied lowlifes, coming after me with a whole bloody battalion. Got me in chains. What’s the matter? Scared of a girl? Closest you been to one, I bet, you ugly, boot licking piece of trash. Wait until I get outta these chains. Pluck everyone one of your feathers off, I will, and cook you up real nice and slow. Real nice and slow.”“Why do I get stuck with all the assholes?”
muttered the guard on her left while the one on her right gave her a smack on the back of the head. The hall ended and they entered the dimly lit dungeon. Prudence’s voice echoed off the walls; she wasn’t making a good prisoner. “Oh a real big man, aren’t you? Hitting an unarmed prisoner. Real big. Why don’t you undo my hands and I’ll show you how to really hit someone, huh? C’mon, I’ll even give you the first punch. You hit me, then I hit you, then you hit the ground. C’mon. C’mon, let’s go.”
The sound of a backhand rang through the cells. “Ha ha, there you go! Ha ha, there it is. Okay, now me. My turn. C’mon you coward. You coward, that was the game! Undo these, you coward!”“Please, you’re only making this harder on yourself,”
muttered the guard on her left as the one on the right opened a cell and began to work the chains through Prudence’s restraints. “You know, you ain’t that bad actually,”
said Prudence to the left guard with a sly wink of suggestion. “You take that club of yours, give that jerkoff over there a couple of lumps, and undo these chains. I can make it worth your while. C’mon, it’ll be fun. Gimme your club and I’ll do it. You won’t even have to let me go. I just wanna see if that coward’s gots any brains. Nobody’ll know, right? Nobody’ll know. C’mon.”“Ugh, no way,”
muttered the left guard. “Oh you scared, huh? You a chicken too, huh? Cluck cluck, that you? That’s what you sound like? Like to peck things? Or is that what you like? A pecker? Hoping he'll give you his, is it?”
She smashed her body against the left guard who yelped, but held his ground. “I could kill you—”
In an instant she was on the ground wheezing as the right guard reared around on her and hit her full-force in the gut. He had been holding back.
Prudence continued to cough as the cell slammed shut behind her. The ground was cold and wet and actually felt rather good on her throbbing head that she figured she’d lay their for awhile, until the thought of what the stone was wet with made her sit up. She let out a pained groan as she righted herself and took a glance around the dungeon. Humanoid blobs of broken, beaten losers were in the other cells around her, and she didn’t like that she was being associated with such a sad company. Yeah, there was no way she was spending her day in her with these jerks. Prudence had an idea.
First, she stood up. Not quickly, and with a lot of grumbling and blurring of the vision, but she managed to get on her own two feet. Second, she backed herself up against the wall that the shackles on her ankles and hands were chained to so that they all hung as slack as possible. Third, she...took...a...moment, because her body really didn’t want to be moving right now, and so she shook her head and breathed. Then it was time for the fourth step and she took off running. Within a third of a second she was where she had first started—in a heap of defeat on the floor. Amazingly, her plan to break the chains with her speed and strength didn’t work. Not even a stone was loose.
So she did it again.
And then she couldn’t get up. From that heap of defeat, Prudence growled an empty threat to the floor below. “When Fontaine finds out what happens…”
Of course, Fontaine already knew.