"Dark Stag" - Chapter 17


            Devari was fuming, unable to sit. He paced around his office as I sat there. It was hard seeing him this way. After he saw my deep cracks, I was finally seeing his.
“I don’t have anyone who’s been working here as long as he has… Yet he’s so...AGH!” Devari roared out, frustrated.
“I don’t trust him. He’s a kiss-ass to anyone with power.” I said.
“I want to fire him but no one knows his job.” Devari paced.
“Don’t. I’ll tell my sources to put him under investigation and dig up as much dirt on him as possible… I got a gut feeling he may be in debt as well. Check your finances, be sure you’re not bleeding somewhere.” I advised.
“Most definitely.” Devari said, rushing to the row of binders on the bookshelves before pausing and turning to me, “You know what? You know how to keep me level headed…”
            There was no response I could conjure up apart from a displeased stare. He continued forth, reaching into his coat for the most adorable reading glasses. They added so much charm to him as he flipped through the binder.
“Okay… so I took out all my money from the banks due to the private turnover to Sir Socoshian. My money is in a warehouse a few blocks from here! You’re the only one who knows that. I paid the fees for turning over the brothel to myself and I needed a cosigner due to my age and lack of experience and that was my brother! They still made me pay the street value price for the brothel, expecting me to take out a loan but I didn’t need to do it. I used the vast majority of my savings! Right now we’re teetering upon the hole… In about a week and a half, more high profile escorts will be coming back with hopefully a lot of money. With my father gone, we can’t do auctions for the time being which was another huge source of income… I can’t even afford to pay my employees right now. When the money comes in, my brother and I will still be broke because our money will be shelled out for utilities of the warehouse and to pay off those who work here.” Devari sighed.
“If you paid, then why did the debtor come?” I responded.
“Maybe because we’re still scrambling to fix the drug debt. It has such a high interest rate…” Devari shrugged, “I think we’re done paying it and it keeps creeping back up… And with debt, there are deadlines!”
“Is High Pansum in debt as well?” I asked.
“High Pansum and Felker Distribution haven’t had the best of relations in the past. They are our biggest competitor.” Devari said, finally easing into his chair, “But it’d be nice to see if you can get information on them.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” I smiled.
“It’s hard. I’ve been trying to save this brothel for months but I think it’s going to slip out of my hands.” Devari sighed, clenching his head.
“Don’t say that.” I responded.
“And my father probably abandoned us. After those sanctions earlier this year, he just wasn’t the same. He started throwing more responsibility on me and when more shit hit the fan, he just ditched…” Devari persisted.
“There’s still a chance he may return.” I countered, trying to stay optimistic.
“He won’t. He’s either dead or found somewhere else to start over. He took quite a bit of shit before he left. That man abandoned us…” Devari sighed, shaking his worried head.
“Can you stop thinking like this?” I begged of him.
“I can’t stop! It’s true! He left all his problems on his two sons and now we might be without anything…” I shrugged.
“How much are you… How much do you need?” I asked, feeling so bad for him. Devari looked at me with those radiant eyes piercing straight through me.
“NO!” He said plainly.
“I can help…” I said to him.
“I don’t want your stinkin’ prince money! If I can’t help myself, I don’t need it.” He said firmly.
“How much do you need, Devari?” I asked once again. He just stared at me, his temper teetering over the edge, “You either can tell me or I’ll find out… Just like you plundered through what was mine, I’ll do the same to you. And just like you tried to help me… I’ll do the same for you…”
“There’s only one way you can help me… And that’s for you to bend over when I ask you to!” He said, staring at me menacingly.
            His words hit me like a running bull! They made me me hot for him, wanting to just let him take me at his will. I leaned back in the chair, trying to hide these growing desires.
“Fair…” I responded, Devari not knowing what his words were doing to me.
“Don’t you dare try anything…” Devari hissed.
“If you say you don’t want my help then I won’t give it to you.” I sighed, so many thoughts running through my mind. If only he knew the things I’d do to help him! I didn’t want his brothel to collapse. There was a new appreciation for this industry, watching all what went into it.
“Why are you so willing to help me? I fucking ruined your life? Why don’t you hate me?” He asked.
“It’s the way I was raised. I was never taught hate. I was taught to adopt, adapt and to become adept.” I shrugged.
            He stared at me for a long time with that signature void look of expression. I didn’t know what to make of it, it making me so uncomfortable. My eyes just slumped to the floor. His gaze eventually diverted as he went back to the more prominent issues.
“What am I gonna do about Mardee?” He asked.
“Act normal… Don’t show him you’re disappointed or upset or anything! I’m going to dig up all the dirt I can on him…” I responded.
“I wish…” Devari said, his eyes glistening with longing as he stared at me, “Nevermind, let’s just get this underway…”
            I nodded, getting up. We headed to my room to compose the lengthy letter. After sealing it, we made our way to the rooftop. Bazahra came after the whistles, taking the letter on the wing. It was a long, long wait but Gou returned with a response:

I must say that your leads are quite spot on and we will happily investigate those of interest to you. One thing I must say though is that this letter writing system is cumbersome and I will be sending you a range talker soon. I do have informants near your location who will get the information you need. That is all for now.


            There were quite a few key code words in here that Gou and I had been exchanging. He was well aware of my current status, that Devari was present for this. Several letters back he introduced me to a code system that allowed us to have secret communications with strategically placed words every four words. He essentially told me he understood and to carry on.
“What the hell is a range talker?” Devari asked.
“It’s a private communication device… Very secure. He would have gave me one sooner if he would have known I was going into this place.” I laughed.
“Private communication? It sounds like it’d massive! Where’d you keep it?” Devari responded.
“It’s small. It’s this tiny bud that wraps around your ear.” I explained.
“What’s wrong with writing letters? It gets the job done…” Devari said, not seeing the issue.
“It’s not secure. Anyone ambitious enough can get those letters from Bazahra or Silver… And since things are getting more serious, I’m tired of putting my birds in harms way. We need a far more secure form of communication than just pen and paper.” I responded.
“How would it even work?” Devari asked.
“I’m not sure. Those Free Agents have insanely advanced technology. I learned not to ponder upon questioning it and just let it do its job.” I advised.
“I see… Devari.” Said, tapping his chin. He seemed minutely suspicious but said nothing.
“Will there be any training today?” I asked.
“It’s a new week so it’s time we move on to something new. I wanted to train you on toys and more extreme conditions. I personally won’t be able to do it to you since I’ve gotten so attached. Not to mention I have someone signed to the payroll…” Devari sighed. I looked at him mistified, hearing clearly the words he tried to dance around.
“Okay…” I responded, not willing to address it.
“It’s generally known as hell week.” Devari said, seeming quite disappointed to have to bestow it upon me.
“I’m ready for it.” I shrugged.
“Just don’t hurt anyone. The conditions will not be kind!” Devari said, showing his concern.
“No promises…” I smiled, heading towards my bed. He watched with such longing before sighing and heading to the door.
“I’ll send someone up here when it’s time to commence.” He said.
“Alright.” I responded.
            Devari was right. The next week was incredibly taxing, draining even. Devari nor his brother were there, only Mardee who wasn’t too thrilled to be supervising. What made this training worse was the fact that a woman was doing. She was a fiery red head with an accent so far western, it was almost comical. However, she was fierce and demanded respect.
            The week was filled with being toyed with giant false penises among other things,
shocked with a strange device, pricked by needles, choked to the point of bruising, whipped to the point of welts and binded to the point of deep marks on my hands and feet. It was awful and painful, the hardest thing about it was being not able to hit the woman. She knew she was a living demon in the flesh and relished in that security!
            The last day of the training week came, Devari and Mukir coming to spectate. Hopefully I hid how awful this was during the duration of the session. It came to an end, Devari clapping like it was a show.
“You did well…” He smiled, “Considering it looked like you want to kill her.”
“You have no idea…” I said, staring menacingly at the tall red headed woman.
“Hey, I had a job to do and I did it so…” She responded, shrugging nonchalantly. I rolled my eyes, standing there.
“You’re good for the day, Elle.” Devari chuckled.
“Whatever…” She said, heading out. She looked at me threateningly. I gave her the middle finger on her way out. She laughed to my dismay.
“So,” Devari began, looking happier than he had in awhile, “Recup for next week. It won’t be too tough of a week…”
“Thank you.” I smiled, “Also, I haven’t checked Bazahra all week so it’s that time.”
“Want to go now?” He asked, springing to his feet.
“Yes.” I said, leading the way to the roof.
            I whistled upon arriving, the bird coming in for a swift landing. She ran over to me, ready for a rub down. Her pouch was stuffed with quite a few letters as well as a small box. The first letter I pulled out was from Roi:

I don’t know what my brother sent you to make you coin such a response but please bear with him! He’s taking the losses the hardest of the three of us and he hasn’t stopped crying. I’m not leaving his side because I don’t know what would happen if I might. His letter might have been him lashing out at you because he’s been through more than he’s ever faced before. In his defense, you kind of are the easiest person to blame…
I also can say this. Mercury is the one who got Richard to think like this! Richard cried to me saying he felt betrayed by you for sleeping with Mercury and the only way he’d ever know you slept with Mercury is if Mercury told him! And if Mercury told him, I’m more than certain Mercury planted those seeds of doubt in his mind! The reason I say this is because Mercury tried to do the same with Brija and I.
The thing is though, Brija and I aren’t as gullible as Richard. Richard, to put kindly, is a dumbass! Don’t get me wrong, he’s incredibly smart when it comes to running a nation and kingship. You wouldn’t believe some of the things he had done to stave off Sir Socoshian. But he doesn’t have common sense and is too passionate a thinker when situations are too close to his heart. 
I don’t know what was stated on his side of the letter, but just know this is my baby brother’s darkest time and he’s never faced such hurt before. Give him some time to heal. I’m still trying to talk sense into him but for now, he’s not budging. He’s just like father, stubborn…
Brija and I miss you dearly and wish to see you again. Just know that we still support you and will update you as often as we can. What you’ve done for us can’t be forgotten and we still owe you tenfold. Gou has been keeping us updated on your progress and we are proud of your accomplishments! Keep winning the battle…


“So, is all this about winning back the palace? I thought you said you left well before this even happened.” Devari asked, confused.
“No, it isn’t just about the palace… I left because I couldn’t take it anymore… My leaving, in a way prompted all of the discoveries that unveiled what was really going on.” I clarified.
“And you still feel the need to help them? Forget these people! You don’t owe them their nation back…” Devari said.
            I sighed, not wanting to argue with him. It seemed he was blind to the fact that if the Bourgion family was back in power, the state of his business wouldn’t even be a question.
“I got more letters to read….” I said, Devari seeing I decided to dodge his point. The next two letters were from Gou:

From what I found, High Pansum has been getting loitered by Sir Socoshian’s debtors and scammers. They haven’t been game to any of his tactics and he’s prying for control. There are very, very, very few businesses left in the wall of the city that have no debt to Sir Socoshian at this point. High Pansum is one. However, Sir Socoshian is trying everything in his power to monetize them.
With Felker Distribution, he thinks he can solicit money from them, take the brothel over all together and blacklist High Pansum into cooperation. I’m not certain if it would work. Sir Socoshian is one resourceful man and his reach is proving to be ever extending. I don’t know how much debt Felker Distribution is in, but they better work fast or the sanctity of the mission is doomed and I’ll be forced to get you out of there.
As for this Mardee person, he does indeed have debt to Sir Socoshian! It stems not from drugs but from predatory lending after his home mysteriously burned down a few months ago. It feels as though Sir Socoshian may be behind that as well. From what my sources have been telling me about this Mardee person, the sharks have been hitting him up harder and harder for money that he just doesn’t have.
I’m afraid he could possibly be a danger to Felker Distribution and could cause possibly be more debt for the chain. With this being said, I think we’re running on little time so it is time to get as much information as possible out so we can piece everything together to take Sir Socoshian down.


“So, he’s a possible danger to us…” Devari thought, “And he never told us his house burned down… I should kill him for this!”
“No, you kill him and his debt still stands. Chances are they’d look to you for it since Sir Socoshian wants this place damned to hell anyway.” I clarified. Devari looked at me as though my tongue was a living revelation. He slowly nodded, not having thought of it in that way.
“So what shall we do?” Devari asked, wanting answers.
“You confront him for his lack of honesty and instead of throwing him to the wolves, you assure that he won’t do that to you. You put in his mind that you will find a solution to his problems! Even if you don’t… you want him to hold off on possibly backstabbing you as long as possible.” I advised.
“You think he’d double cross us?”
“I honestly don’t know. It’s a gamble. I think our safest bet is to keep him alive. His debt could easily become ours…” I responded.
“Ours?” Mukir asked. I rolled my eyes, hating the little slip of the tongue.
            Golden skinned Devari blushed hard, thinking about what I said. A smile spread across Mukir’s face, seeing the energy between his brother and I. I could have slapped him for this.
“Anyways,” I said with an eyeroll, “You don’t want the added debt.”
            I took out the last letter as well as the box. Devari and Mukir leaned into read it. It was some explicit directions on the range talker and how to go about tuning it. I followed the procedures, Devari and Mukir looking at me in confusion.
“It’s so tiny.” Devari noted, picking it up delicately.
“I’m confused… how does it… where does it go?” Mukir asked, cocking his head like a confused hound.
“My ear…” I said, taking the range talker from Devari. I put the base in my ear piercing, it looking like a black shiny earring. I then wrapped the tiny wire dangling from the bottom of base around me ear, tucking the inconspicuous earpiece in one of my ear folds.
            Mukir looked at it in amazement.
“It literally looks like an earring.” He said.
“Testing on channel,” I said holding up the letter, “Bravo, nine, nine, nine zero. I have the oracle.”
“Roger…” The earpiece buzzed, “Connected channel bravo, nine, nine, nine, zero to channel six, six, one two… Asset, you are connected to arc-leader.”
“This is Arc-Leader, Asset nice to hear you are online.” The voice said, clearly Gou.
“Sorry it took so long. This week was not…” I sighed, shaking my head.
“It’s fine, glad you’re connected. I wanted to talk about things here for a moment. Richard is currently a mess and his brother has been taking care of him. Mercury is proving to be quite a thorn to us all. I’m not certain about what we should do with him…” Gou said.
“Kill him…” I shrugged, Devari and Mukir looking at me intently.
“We can’t exactly do that. The most I’ve thought of doing was removing him. I’ve talked to my chain of command and they say I have full administrative power to do what I need to do to him.” Gou said back.
“It sounds to me as though he’d steadily be an issue regardless of what happened. It can only get worse from here. Remove him as swiftly as possible.” I suggested, “Including him in this was a mistake… He wasn’t beneficial to this at all. I was fooled.”
“It’s fine. He was the closest thing you had to home and you let yourself get close to him. We all need to learn from mistakes.” Gou said, understanding, “But that’s it for now. Stay safe…”
“Will do.” I responded. The line went cold as the communication channel ended.
“Who were you talking to and about?” Devari asked, concerned.
“I was talking to Gou about the guy we saved from being tortured. He’s pretty much causing a shit storm of problems.” I said shaking my head.
“And you wanted to kill him?” Devari asked, shocked.
“I’m too the point now that anything that causes an issue or interference with the end goal must be eliminated.” I responded.
“I still don’t get why you’re doing this.”
“Because one day, I’ll get to go home. I can’t make it on my own and the more people I help, the more help I can get in return. The Free Agents for sure can get me home.” I sighed.
“So you wanna leave me?” Devari said, a semi-serious grin. I looked at him for a good length of time.
“Don you want the honest truth?” I smiled back.
“No don’t tell me. I don’t think I’d be ready.” Devari responded.
“You wouldn’t…” I continued to smile, getting up and heading towards the stairs. His eyes tracked me as he wondered what I meant. He wanted to pursue this further but he didn’t bother.
            The remainder of the day was relaxation and taking care of myself. Not once did I leave my room. It was such a perfect day! The morning rolled in and it was time for my work out. I hit everything hard, going to shower then to breakfast. The awkward glances started to fade away as people realized I was here to stay.
            The Wolf and the Mammoth sat at a table, inviting me over. I came, seeing there were quite a few people already there.
“Guys, this is Summer…” They didn’t know my real name, “He’s a high profile trainee, one making waves…” 
“Nice to meet you Summer…” A caucasian man with a darker complexion said, extending out his hand for me to shake, “Call me, Gin.” I shook his hand, giving him a nod.
“I’m Roberto, Summer…” A Spaniard across from me said.
“And I’m Drinia.” A short but curvaceous Syu Semitic woman said.
“Nice to meet you all.” I smiled.
“How’s your training going?” The Wolf asked.
“I’m on week eight so next week is the last week.” I sighed.
“You got through it, a bit longer than some, but you got through it nonetheless. Quite a few people can’t make it.” Drinia said.
“Not going to lie,” Roberto began, “I thought Devari was going to kill you. Everyone could see you were his most difficult trainee ever! That day when you beat the entire brothel guard… We thought you were done for!”
“What was that about?” Gin asked.
“Um… I’ve been writing my family. Mardee found out and stole my letter so I got pissed off and wrecked him. I try to hide it, but there’s no getting around it. I was an Illisian warrior-hunter before this and, need be, it will come out again.” I said with a little smirk.
“It’s so unassuming.” Gin smiled.
“I was thinking the same shit!” The Wolf added.
“I agree, he doesn’t look half as capable as he is when it comes to whooping some ass!” The Mammoth teased, causing me to roll my eyes.
“Didn’t you kill the Giant of Nok?” Roberto asked.
“I didn’t really try to. He just was kind of scaring me…” I shrugged, nonchalantly.
“How’d you do it?” Gin persisted. I paused with a conspicuous sigh, these questions getting old, fast. The Wolf and Mammoth could see I was getting quite annoyed.
“What do you all do here?” I asked, changing the subject all together.
“I’m a street performer.” Roberto sighed.
“I’m just a midrange escort.” Drinia said, wishing she was upper echelon.
“I’m also a street performer.” Gin said, his tone a bit dryer.
“That’s cool. What’s it like being a street performer?” I asked.
“It’s long hot days, butt ass naked in the sun, standing on a pedistal just to advertise for the brothel. It’s pretty awful but the pay is amazing!” Roberto said.
“What were you before you came here?” Gin asked, seeming to forget the question was already addressed.
“I was a hunter about ninety percent of the time but well trained to be a warrior. I know the Illisian form of kickboxing as well as ring wrestling. Every now and again, I’d compete with other families for title of tribe chief. My uncle trained the living shit out of me! And when my father was around, he taught me a style of fighting from the Tanzanian coast. My mother was also an elite swordsman and she trained me as well. I mix the four to form a style of my own.” I explained.
“What did you hunt?” Gin persisted.
“Anything to be honest. We were in one of our worst droughts so most big game headed south through the Rift Lands and hadn’t returned.” I smiled.
“That sounds tough.” Roberto nodded.
“It’s tough, truly. But I wouldn’t trade it for the word.” I said, missing my home, “Well, anyways it’s time to for me to go. Nice talking with you all!”
            The Wolf seemed as though he wanted me to stay, as though my departure was premature but I didn’t like the entire social interaction thing. I spent most of my youth alone… Having friends now, despite it being beneficial for my needs, was too taxing to pursuit. The only thing on my mind was sleep!
            That was precisely what I did. I slept and slept on and off all day. As the evening rolled in, Devari came to my room.
“Has your sources contacted you again?” He asked, seeming to be quite concerned.
“No.” I shrugged.
“I kind of don’t know how to feel about that,” He said, his uncertainty showing it’s head, “I don’t know what you all are saying when I’m not around. I don’t know what your true motives are, still.”
“Do you not trust me?” I asked.
“Well…” He said, making it clear.
“Have I not given you information you needed?” I continued, turning to face him.
“You have…” He sighed. I just stared at him, not sure what more could he want. Devari was rather controlling, loving things to be his way. It was kind of annoying.
“I’m going back to bed.” I said, rolling my eyes.
“I didn’t mean to make you upset.” He said, edging over, “It’s just this is a pretty tough time for me. I’m busting my ass every which way to keep my brothel and you’ve helped for sure, but you’re not giving me a platform steady enough to stand on. Everything with you is a gamble on trust and with all the tedious things I have going on now, I don’t need the uncertainty of your promises…” I continued to stare at him, the boy having to rethink his words.
“Fine,” I shrugged, “I’ll help you no longer…”
“Wait, that didn’t come out right! Shit!” He clenched his head, “Kijus… I want to trust you! I do, I really do! I just don’t like uncertainty!”
“What do you want me to do about it then?” I shrugged, realizing there was no middle ground, “There’s nothing I can do to assure you that I’m not double-crossing you…” 
“I should go…” He said, “I’m an idiot. This is not what I meant…” He sprung to his feet, heading to the door, “Goodnight…”
“Goodnight.” I smiled back, finding Devari to be extremely adorable when he was in a frantic state. As time went on, he was the prevailing thought in my mind. It was something about his walk, his mannerisms, the way he stared at people, the way he could make something so objective feel subjective… The way he pulled his hair from his face, the way he’d squint and tap his chin when he was thinking, and those reading glasses of his! I loved those glasses.
            Devari was just a charming man, one I almost admired. The way he cared so deeply about everyone around him, had such a passion for this brothel and fought so hard for it’s survival was amazing. I wish I had his level compassion! He was nothing but a big heart, seemingly tough but actually just raw and emotional.
            These thoughts eventually put me to sleep, Sunday rolling in, passing nearly identically to Saturday. I spent the whole day lounging away in my bed until Devari came in to visit.
“Okay…” He began, shocked to see me laying there, “You okay?”
“I’m fine… Just taking in the weekend.” I said, sitting up to face him, “Yes?”
“Yeah, um, I won’t be here Monday. This will be the first day Mukir will be running the show so try to go easy on him. In other words, Mardee might be the one in charge considering Mukir really has little experience.” He explained.
“As for my training?”
“It’s gonna be a surprise…” Devari smiled deviously. I rolled my eyes, not excited, “How I knew you’d do that.”
“Am I getting that predictable?” I laughed.
“Kind of.” Devari noted, “But anyway… just be ready to take a lot of erection pills…”
“Why?” I asked plainly.
“Fuck, you forgot… This is gonna be good!” Devari laughed, almost evilly, “I’ll see you Tuesday…” He got up and left.   
            It left me desperately trying to remember what my training would be tomorrow! There was no use. I couldn’t remember anymore. The only thing left to do was wait for the eminent day. It rolled in too swiftly for my liking, Mardee summoning me from my room, as short and ill-patient as ever.
            I put on some shorts and a robe, making my way down to the training studio. Sitting on the bed was a naked, dark skinned woman, quite thin but curvy. Her eyes were grey, her thick curly hair so black it looked blue. It was pinned up as she lay in the bed sizing me up. This was the defining moment of turning into the Brothel! My heart began to swelter and thump, tears welling up in my eyes.
“Is he Illisian?” She asked.
“Samara?” I said out. The woman leaned up, looking at me.
“Que duci buteg que lorqat?” She demanded.
“Istoy am Kijus Malik dionde ino Lacri suede Illisia. Istoy am taqui jonjo!” I said.
“Kijus?” She said, getting to her feet. So much shock was on her face!
“Hey,” A Gaurd said, “Speak in the native tongue?”
“Pior Quedon taqo aqui?!” She asked, her shock turning into anger.
“Istoy, Istoy… van capturio chan slavarisitos nan cuartros atet. Istoy taqo performancio a la destri y tenoy esmoso taqo!” I responded.
            Her eyes welled up, unable to make sense of this. Slowly she shook her head.
“Nios nada muchan hora… Nios is prioritidad que nios departante dionde aqui!” I told her, “Nios in mortemde lecre fin nios ati! Per favore, compire! Nios nada muchan, mui jonja!”
“I said the Native tongue!” The guard said, rushing forward with his stun staff. I was jabbed in the back with it, forced to my knees as jolts of electricity filled me.
“Stop! STOP!” Samara demanded, “That’s my brother!” She wrapped herself in a robe, hesitant to rush over.
            The guard persisted to shock me. This was the worst pain I had ever felt! The searing, fiery muscle contracting pain, had me fighting for control. The sheer amount of pain was unbearable but the guard was unrelenting! Every muscle was tense! There was no escaping this! This could be my end doing.
“STOP! YOU’RE GOING TO KILL HIM!” My sister screamed, rushing forth. The guard held up the staff, jabbing her with it as she came forth. The bright pulse, repelled my sister back. It made me so angry!
            That guard had fucked up! It only took a split second of relief for me to pick him up by his shins and fling him backwards. He landed on his head, rolling on the ground in pain. More guards rushed forward with their staves, jabbing me. These quick stabs were hard to dodge, the electrodes making contact with me several times as jolts of electricity filled my body.
            I grew angrier and angrier, picking up the fallen guard’s staff from the ground. Another guard jabbed at me once again. I narrowly side stepped it, spinning towards him to build up centriptal force. The staff in my hand extended out, battering him in the side of the skull. Another guard jabbed at me from behind. I managed to block it with the staff, getting in close and fast with the staff, and shocking his face. He fell; the only thing I wanted to feel was his throat collapsing under the pressure of my feet.
            However, the first man I took down was back on his feet. I turned to him, huffing and puffing. His challenging stance became weary as he could see his comrades all down on the ground. I wanted to kill him! Without hesitation, I sped towards him, sweeping my leg under his. He fell to the floor with a hard thud.
            Just like he electrocuted me, I did the same to him, jabbing the electrode in his face. Bright light and crackling filled the room. The man screamed out, the smell of seared flesh beginning to stagnate the air. More guards rushed in, one coming in to strike me with the staff. I side stepped the over the head strike, sending the electrode of the staff in my hand into his belly.
            I rushed forth to the next guard, spinning with the staff before striking him in the head. I wanted more and more of them dead but they were hesitant to fight me, backing themselves into the rear of the room.
“COME FORTH!” I demanded, “ALL OF YOU! NOW!”
“We don’t want to fight you…” A guard said, pleading on behalf of everyone in the studio.
            These men straight up refused to continue. This bloodlust of mine was starting to dissipate. The damage of what I had done set in. A man lay dead on the floor, his face unrecognizable while a number of others were either unconscious or incapacitated. There was no guilt, no shame. I just hadn’t realized this many men had been taken down so swiftly.
            Mukir rushed in after hearing the screaming and the loud crackles of the electrode staves. He and his entourage rushed in, shocked by the sight. Mukir clenched his head, not sure what to do. Mardee looked up at me, beyond angered. He looked to the guards.
“Kill him…” He demanded. I slowly turned to face them, wanting them to try their best. The men were so apprehensive.
“No...just restrain him.” Mukir said, Mardee looking at him in disapproval.
“That monster needs to go!” Mardee said, pointing at me.
“We’ll let Devari decide what to do with him.” Mukir countered.
“Don’t you realize you’re in an administrative position? You have authority! You should lead by example! A slave killed a guard and mained an number of others! You should deal with him accordingly!” Mardee said, sounding like a snake in Mukir’s ear. Mukir slowly looked up at me, my heart beginning to pound. He had that same indiscernible expression I haved from Devari.
“Drop the staff…” Mukuir said. I did so, holding up both hands in surrender, “Restrain him…” The reluctant men, wearily did as was told, taking me to those holding cells in the center of the warehouse.
            They placed me in, locking the door, happy to get far away from me. Mukir, paced back and forth outside the cell.
“Devari is going to flip shit…” He said, nervous.
“I’m so sorry…” I said, resenting every moment of putting the boy through this.
“I… I… Can I just wait for Devari?” I responded.
“NO, you better tell me now so I can butter him up before he meets with you! You don’t know the significance of what you’ve done and you haven’t seen Devari angry!” Mukir responded.
“He’s my brother…” A feminine voice said from an adjacent hall. It was Samara appearing from the hall, looking quite concerned. Mukir, turned to look at her then to me.
“You two… are siblings?” Mukir asked, trying to make sense of this.
“I joined this brothel because months ago, I saw her performing on a street venue. She didn’t recognize me because last time she saw me, I was seven and she was thirteen. I...I…”
“So you thought you could come in and save her?” Mukir asked, thinking the ideology wasn’t too bright.
“She was the only piece of home I had left in this city. I was going to take her from this place and head back home so we can be reunited with our family again.” I said, unable to bare Mukir’s irate glare. Samara seemed to grow upset but remained silent.
“So this was your plan all along, to fucking join the brothel to steal your sister back and get out?” Mukir asked.
“Essentially… At first, I was going to kill everyone, burn everything down, leave my mark… But I learned that there are greater evils and right now, the mission of getting my sister out of here is of gravest importance.” I responded.
“My sister is a heiress and title holder just like I am. As a person with noble blood, she is a political player whether she knows it or not. Any person who’s a political player has to be accounted for by the Free Agents and taken out of harm’s way.” I explained.
“So you’re a prince?” Mukir asked, it all making sense to him now.
“I am… view it more so as a tribal chief and the nephew of several War Kings… It’s a lot more to it than that but that’s the important part.” I explained.
“Devari warned me that this might happen, told me that you’re a bit of a misnomer. I didn’t really believe him but he surely was right… He’ll be back early tomorrow morning to address this. I wish you luck…” Mukir said, leaving.
            Samara made her way over to me. She didn’t look pleased one bit.
“You were coming to save me?” She asked. The question made me apprehensive to respond.
“You don’t want to be saved?”
“Save me from what? You don’t know anything! The life Illisians live is a lie! You can’t save me from this brothel! That whole purity bullshit is all it is… bullshit! There is no god! There is no, heaven! This brothel is the closest we’ll ever get to heaven! That is all I know! I’ve been an escort here since I was thirteen! This is the only world I know and ever care to know!” She said, truly upset.
            This was heartbreaking to hear. The only thing I could do was cry.
“I know,” I began, “I found this out the hard way… I would pray, and pray and pray. But it seemed the gods would just make things worse to see me struggle, as if they needed something entertaining to laugh at. After a while, I stopped praying and just started doing my own will. Some ideals are hard to let go of still but it’s whatever… I’ve learned a lot about brothels. This is a family, not just a house for whores. But I’m not trying to save you from the brothel! I’m trying to save you from war…”
“War?” She asked.
“There’s been a lot of political and economic issues arising… since I’ve arrived.” I chuckled, “And a corrupt regime has surfaced and taken over… A battle for this Ziggurat will be eminent.” I explained.
“Who… what? Who took over from the Bourgions?” She asked, surprising me that she knew who they were.
“Sir Socoshian… You know him?” I said back. She rolled her eyes.
“We know him… He used to bring King Bourgion here all the time. He was a creepy little man. I’m not at all surprised someone that looks like him could take over. That man had a lot of power! Not just in the Ziggurat…” She noted.
“Yeah, we’re still finding out just how far his power reaches out. He needs to be killed…” I sighed.
“Killing him would be a mistake. This man’s hands are all over the Caucasus. If he’s killed, his assets that support the bank might not remain. Knowing him, he’d have a plan to get rid of all the money to cause economic collapse. Afterall, he has wriggled his way into placing the entire city into debt. And if this Ziggurat collapses, every other Ziggurat falls…” She explained.
“Damn… you know more than I do!” I said, astounded.
“My last client was a twelve Ziggurat councilman who knew of Sir Socoshian’s endeavors. Chances are, Sir Socoshian is probably plotting a way to put these men in his debt. I think he wants the Twelve Ziggurats!” She continued.
“But why?” I asked.
“Do you really want to get into that psycho’s mind?” She retorted.
“No, not really. I just want to know his motives.” I shrugged.
“We’ll see…” She slowly nodded, “We’ll all see.”
“You say that as if this place is doomed?” I noted.
“It’s doomed. Is it doomed today? No… Tomorrow… I don’t know. In the future… certainly. Last night when I came in, Devari had a long talk with me, about you in particular and his appreciation for the money me and my girls brought in. He’s working hard now to save this brothel… With all things going on, I feel like we’re holding off the inevitable for now.” She said with a smirk.
“That’s… There’s a chance we can win this. The Free Agents are piecing together every bit of information they can to combat this! All we have to do is get out of here!” I responded.
“No… I’m not leaving… This is my home… It might not be yours but it’s mine.” She refused.
“This is not our home!” I disputed.
“I was thirteen when I was taken away… A child. You were, seven? I grew up here, forgot the Illisian way of living and now, thirteen years later, I’m twenty six! It’s too late for me to adopt that way of living again. I like this! I like to be pampered, spoiled...exploited… I know it’s not the Illisian way but fuck it! Fuck them… This is me now!” She made clear. I slowly nodded.
“I understand.” I said back, smiling thinly.
            She looked at me intently.
“My god, you are my little brother.” She said, her eyes glistening with tears ready to fall, “How’s gram, father, our little sister, uncle Sammi?”
“Father died trying to save you. He’s been dead for as long as you’ve been gone. Gram and our little sister are doing well. They had to move to the city where they are doing fine. I sent them a huge heap of money so they won’t ever have to worry about a thing. I have a question for you though… is mother…?”
“Mother? Mother’s gone… She killed herself when we went through processing. She told me she couldn’t take this life of exploitation and just… She killed herself.” My sister shrugged, it seeming not to bother her.
            It devastated me.
“Oh… I...oh.” I said back.
“You thought that since, you saw me there’d be a chance that mother was still somewhere. She was too set in her ways to adapt… I was still a child, malleable, breakable… I wasn’t always with Felker Distribution. These are not our original captors. However, Felker Distribution is the fairest whorehouse to all its slaves and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else…” Samara said, full of this distinct pride.
            It made me smile.
“How long are you going to be here before you get shipped out again?” I asked.
“Since I brought in a shit ton of cash, Devari gave me two months off… I won’t know what to do with myself.” Samara chuckled.
“Damn, that’s a long time. Just gym… I love it. It gives me peace.” I smiled.
“No, see I have to maintain a certain body type for my occupation. I have to be extremely slim.” Samara said, not sounding too proud.
“That sounds miserable.” I said, shaking my head.
“It used to be but you get used to it… ain’t that’s right Mr. Illisian?” She teased.
“Hey, I grew up miserable so I didn’t know what real misery was until I got here.” I countered.
“Okay, fair.” She smiled, “And I see you’re quite the warrior! You fight like a ring wrestler!”
“Oh my god… You have no idea how much training I’d do… Uncle Sammi was evil… But he made sure I was a good swordsman and combatant.” I said, reminiscing. 
“I always wanted to learn. Right now I’m so dainty I can’t even lift an urn of water.” Samara said, shaking her head.
“I can teach you but we’ll have to both start eating meat…” I sighed.
“You don’t eat meat? Such an Illisian…” My sister teased.
“No, I eat meat… just not regularly.” I said, knowing I barely ate it.
“I’ll try it… I just hope Devari goes easy on you. He’s intense…” Samara said, nervous.
“I hope so too. I might have fucked up too much, today… I’ve been a handful for him and I could tell his patience is wearing thin with me… I just…” I sighed.
“Right now would be the time to pray…” Samara continued to tease.
“No fuck it.” I shrugged, chuckling a bit. She laughed as well.
            Somehow, we ended up spending the entire night talking with one another. Hours and hours just flew by. Suddenly the sound of steel doors being flung open caught both our attentions. Coming from down the hall was a very happy looking Mardee followed by a very upset looking Devari. A number of other workers followed.
            My heart sank to my stomach as Devari closed in. Samara got to her feet, nervous to see Devari approaching. He arrived at the cell standing there as expressionless as he always did.
“So you entered my brothel to find your sister…” He said, Mukir having filled him in, “Lied to me about it, spoke in another tongue in my brothel, killed one of my guards and threatened to kill the rest of them…”    
            There was nothing I could say. The only thing I could do was swallow this big lump in my throat.
“Yet…” Devari started up again, “From the get go, you offered help and support for this brothel to keep it afloat… why? Was it just until you found your sister so you can take her and ditch?”
“No… I found out some information and told Gou. Gou told me to find out as much information as I could on it and I did. Then you found out because of your shitnosed friend, Mardee and a vast majority of my intentions were thrown on the table. Helping you… not to take away the specialness of it, but I help people. It’s what gets me fucked in the end. I help people, they turn their back and backstab me and just throw me to the side, while I steadily get dragged through the filth. If you want to kill me, don’t prolong it. I know I’m hassle to you…” I sighed, unable to bare his gaze.
“I’m not going to kill you… I’m impressed. Not many people could be able to go through this much hell for someone else, even a relative! You didn’t have any type of concrete evidence your sister was here, only an assumption… And it paid off. You found her… This to me says a lot about the type of person you are. For you to be so very gorgeous, sometimes superficial and sometimes shallow, you are not afraid to go through hell for something you believe in. I don’t know anyone else like that. Killing you would be putting this world to a disadvantage… you were meant to do great things.” Devari said, coming forth to unlock the cell.
            The relief I felt was indescribable. I walked out, the boy opening my robes, seeing I was covered in bruises and burns from my fight with the guards. His indifferent face wadded up tightly as he looked to Mardee.
“I don’t understand how you can FUCK UP so much! Do you not understand me when I say don’t tarnish him?” He exploded.
“I’m sorry. He was speaking a different tongue. The guards warned him to stop. They were only following protocol...” Mardee said defensively.
“What protocol is there to shock my brother to death! He was going to be killed!” Samara said.
“Shut up, whore!” Mardee said through the grit of his teeth.
            Just as I was about grab Mardee, Devari wedged himself in between Mardee and I.
“We don’t want to do that…” Devari said, wrapping his dense arms around my waist. Samara took note of this, “I will be asking around for accounts of what happened… Then address it properly…”
“Boss, why do you always let this low life scum slide under ever rule this place has! Not once has he been treated judiciously…” Mardee said, obviously upset.
“We’ll, when you let someone temporarily leave your establishment and they come back with a bloodbath of a death toll in their wake, you kind of want to let them do what they want…  Especially when there are so many inconsistencies about who the fuck they are and why they are present in your establishment… And then when said person helps out in a way not expected, it relieves some of the doubt in the mind about their motives. And all said person does is prove time and time again that they are more of an asset rather than a liability. There will be some sparking inclination towards said person…” Devari explained, full of snide and sarcasm.
“Why is my end doing so important to you?” I asked, Mardee.
“SHHHH.” Devari said, placing a finger over my mouth before turning to face Mardee, “Get back to work…”
            Mardee gave me the most hatred blatant glare before returning to his desk. Devari took my hand, leading me down the hall to his office.
“Breeze, you’re coming too.” He said. Samara rushed after us, following as we entered the office. Devari locked the door, Mukir coming out of one of the rear rooms.
“So you two are siblings foreal?” Devari asked.
“Brother, the way Kijus fought… How upset he was, I believe him!” Mukir said.
“So, my two most resourceful prospects are blood relatives… Wow.” Devari laughed, finding this funny.
            Samara and I looked at each other then back to him unsure what should be said. The woman sighed, scratching her head before building up nerve to speak.
“We’re siblings…” Samara said.
“That is a twist to this plot I wasn’t expecting.” Devari said, steadily laughing, “Anyways… I paid off what I could of the debt to drug debtors without digging myself more into a financial hole. I still had to have money for you guys to get paid. The issue though is that the interest keeps compounding every day I don’t have the cash for it. So every week when I have prospects returning with cash, I’m only able to keep the debt down some. However with the large sum you brought in,” He looked at Samara, “I’ve knocked down the amount I need to pay to just a few hundred thousand rubles.”
“I’d personally recommend you pay off the entire debt while you can. Compound interest is no joke and it can catch up to you fast. In this business status, money isn’t guaranteed to make it in time… Right now, I wouldn’t gamble…” Samara advised.
“But that’s the thing. I still have slaves and escorts to pay, I still have employees to pay, and I still have utilities and notices to pay! Everything that was in my savings, is gone! I have no access to my father’s account and with the turnover in city power, that money is now Socoshian’s unless my father makes a miraculous return. If I had access to his funds, I could pay this debt off but since I don’t, we’re still fucked. The money you gave had to be split between the debt, the bills and employees. There’s nothing for me! However, the sharks said I don’t have anything to worry about since I’m in less than five percent debt to what we were in initially. The next mass sum of money coming in from escorts arriving in three weeks will pay off this debt finally… Then I can start to rebuild.” Devari said, sounding relieved.
“Or I can just spot you the rubles….” I shrugged.
“Like I said before… I don’t want your prince money…” Devari refused.
“By prince money, do you mean money from the royal court, or my actual money?” I asked.
“Your actual money… I assumed you were from wealth…” Devari said, uncertain.
“No, I’m not from wealth… I mean… yeah, I’m not from wealth.” I chuckled, “The money is the money I was rewarded from King Bourgion for my efforts when I worked for him…”
“You were working for the King and you gave that up for this rat hole?” Samara asked, shocked.
“You know this! We talked about it last night!” I said back.
“Hey! It’s not that ratty...” Devari chuckled, slightly offended.
“Sorry, not sorry…” Samara said with an eyeroll.
“Well, still,” Devari sighed, “I don’t want that either…”
“I have no need for the money and it would save this place… I can’t watch this place struggle like this. It’s a ton of money, several million rubles! It’s more than enough for debt and rainy days to come.” I responded.
“I’m confused… I thought you were using me to get what you need? I’ve been fucking doing the same of you…” Devari said, growing frustrated.
“No, I haven’t. I’m actually a really emotional soulmate seeker who falls for any and everything with a heartbeat… But if you want to use me for what you need, instead of fucking me when you get frustrated, why not take damn money…” I responded, full of snide. Devari closed his eyes, clenching his head.
“I didn’t mean it that way. God… I’m sorry, Kijus. I didn’t… My tongue is not my friend at the moment.” Devari responded, backtracking.
“I think he meant, he doesn’t get why you’re so concerned for this places wellbeing…” Mukir said, speaking on his brother’s behalf.
“I’ve kinda grown attached, I guess… I don’t know.” I shrugged.
            Devari looked at me for a long time, so much warmth in his eyes. It was starting to really bother me but I tried my best to hide it.
“I personally say it’s the best course of action…” Mukir said. Devari’s warm gaze turned into fiery wrath as he slowly turned to his brother.
“NO!” Devari said back.
“I signed those papers that forked over the same rights to me as you! If you won’t take the money, I will!” Mukir snarled.
            Devari rolled his eyes, breathing slowly. He seemed deeply upset.
“Okay…” He said, giving in. I tapped the transmit button on my range talker.
“Gou…” I said, hearing not even static. Something wasn’t right, “Gou!” I pulled off the range talker, realizing the wire connecting the earpiece to the base had been seared off. As my finger grazed the area, sharp pain shot through the area behind my ear, “Fuck the, communicator is fried… and it burned me behind my ear.”
“Shit, let me see.” Devari said, getting to his feet to inspect the side of my head. He seemed so concerned, “It’s… It’s kind of bad.”
“How bad?” I asked.
“Like third degree burn bad…” Devari sighed.
“You’re fucking with me?” I asked, knowing he was a jokester.
“I wish…” He said, “I’m so sorry they did this to you.”
“It was all a big messy misunderstanding… No need to be sorry.” I said, knowing that deep down this tarnish on my skin left me feeling permanently defaced.
“I’ll be sure the doctor sees this later today.” Devari said, steadily looking at it.
“Is it that bad?” I asked, growing more and more concerned. Samara got up, looking at it.
“It’s the whole back side of your ear and the area behind it.” She noted.
“Damn, I don’t feel it.” I sighed, not even knowing, “And this means I’ll have to write him to tell him to send the money…”
“That’s fine…” Devari said, still looking at it.
“I’m going to go and pen the letter. The listening on the range talker is always active so I’m certain Gou already knows something happened…” I shrugged.
“Wait, so what does this mean. You found what you’re looking for… are you leaving?” Devari asked.
“Not without her…” I responded, pointing to my sister.
“And I’m not leaving…” Samara said, stubbornly with a shrug.
“So we’re both just gonna sit here and look cute for you.” I teased.
“In all honesty, I might make you leave. Time is whittling down. The brothel’s position is safe for the time being, but that’s it… for the time being. You’ve been living within these walls, Kijus. You don’t know how Sir Socoshian has been implementing his rule… That man is tyrannical. For your safety, I might just end up getting both you and your sister out of the city.” Devari sighed.
“What about you?” I asked.
“What about me?” Devari responded, “I’ll be fine. As long as you can fight another day, that’s all that matters… You’re resourceful. I think that in some way, you might be able to stop this… I’ll give you all the resources I can afford.”
            It shocked me.
“Thank you…” I said, getting up and heading to my room. I then began pinning the letter:

I have found my sister. There are quite a few problems though. For one, my communicator is broken so I can’t have instant communication with you. Secondly, my sister is refusing to leave here, and I can’t leave without her. If you can send me another communicator that would be nice. Sorry, but it happened when I found my sister… I was shocked several times and the power broke the communicator. I’ll be more careful in the future.
Secondly. I need all my assets that I have earned from King Bourgion sent here. As long as I’m here, this place needs to be debt free and fully functional. I will do my damnest to keep this place afloat for the time being. Thanks in advance…


I folded the letter, sealing it and heading out the room to the roof. As I did, Devari, Mukir and Samara joined me. 
“You already wrote the letter?” Devari asked, shocked by me expediency.
“Yeah, I want to get this done…” I sighed, rushing down the hall.
            We made it to the rear of the warehouse where the stairwell was. We walked up the winding stairs to the roof where I began whistling. There was no response. Minutes later, I continued to whistle.
“Is any one of them coming?” Devari asked.
“We’ll just wait and see.” I said, growing uncertain.
            We waited for hours, the sun going down before rising again. This was disheartening. As the morning hours added up, I whistled once more. There was no return.
“She’s not coming…” I sighed.
“That’s unfortunate…” Devari noted.
“You have nooooooo idea!” I said, growing worried.
“Rest be assured. We’ll sort this out.” Devari sighed, getting to his feet. He, Samara and Mukir left. For hours and hours, I continued to whistle out, trying to locate Bazahra or Silver.
            I ran from rooftop to rooftop, desperate to find the birds. The midday sun arrived and so did fatigue. I had to go rest. Those two birds were the only things on my mind. Without them, I was fighting blind, with no way out of the city, no way to tell Gou about what was going on. The uncertainty was now starting to get to me.
            Days elapsed and there were still no signs of the birds. I was extremely, extremely worried about them. Everything I did required tense forehead and leg tapping. Every little thing felt tedious, even the most mundane things such as eating and walking. Sitting with Devari in his conference room waiting for a number of other higher ups from the brothel to show up wasn’t easy.
“You need to relax…” Devari suggested.
“I wish.” I smiled, sitting on a table in the rear.
“Everything will be fine…” Devari said, coming over to reassure me.
“I just don’t know anymore. I feel like I overstayed my welcome… tried my luck too much… I don’t want to test it any further.” I said.
“Look,” Devari said, standing at the table, moving between my legs, “I won’t let shit happen to you! You’re good!” He caressed my face, looking deep into my eyes, “I promise…” 
            I needed this. I closed my eyes, gently rubbing his hands as he caressed my face. Before I knew it, I pulled him in for a tight hug. He wasn’t expecting this, his embrace coming in slowly after mine. His grip grew tighter and tighter as this moment became more and more intimate. I buried my face into his shoulder, not wanting him to let me go.
“Ah’em…” Someone said, “Boss…”
            Devari and our embrace came to an end. Mardee standing there looking disgusted.
“Yes?” Devari asked.
“We have all our upper echelon escorts ready for the meeting. They are standing by.” Mardee said, leaving.
“Well damn, won’t even give me a chance to respond.” Devari gasped, shocked.
“He’s not happy… I don’t know what’s going on with him but yeah, he’s not happy.” I sighed.
“I can see that. I don’t know what to do…” Devari responded, pacing around the room.
“I guess, make him feel appreciated.” I shrugged.
“I still haven’t talked to him about the information you dug up.” Devari said, watching as some of his escorts started coming into the room, “Hi guys…”
“Hey boss…” One said.
            The conference room began to fill up, my sister and her girls being the last ones to enter. Samara nodded at me as she sat. I nodded back, still sitting on the rear of the table.
“So…” Devari began, “Most of you have been gone for the past three months so you don’t know what has been going on. Well this entire town, has went to utter shit, I’m afraid… When you left, things in the brothel weren’t peachy and kosher. Things haven’t improved, in fact they’ve gotten worse… Debtors have been harassing us, the compounding interest is nearly impossible to make ends meet and I’m currently having to distribute pay without pay for myself. However, an asset of mine,” Devari pointed to me causing every head to turn, “Has been the most resourceful, hard working person on my roster and with his help, I have managed to turn some things around. I have managed to get the compounding interest down to a manageable size. Since you are back in the walls of the city, we’ll have to work hard to keep Felker Distribution afloat. I try my best to treat you right, pamper you, make sure you come before my clients! Have I not?”
“You have!” Samara said in the back, agreeing with every word he said.
            Mardee came into the room, leaning on the wall. He stared at me menacingly before I took note, the man’s gaze drifting to the floor.
“My slaves have been working hard to do the city’s dirty work, sleeping with the knights, the debtors, the Official Guard… They’ve been bringing in copious amounts of money that’s been going out to utilities and bills, to make sure there’s food, running water and electricity for you all. You, as my escorts, I know I promised my recent returnees a break, but I can’t allot that for now… What I can do is put everyone on a one day a week, four hour street vender schedule to bring in revenue for the brothel. We need more advertisement, more street performers… Anything to bring in cash. I can assure you, when we all pay off this horrid debt, you all will be rewarded for your hard work… I’m so sorry I’m having to do this to you, but I’m left with no choice. It’s a lot of you so I can evenly distribute the workload across seven days where you all aren’t out there for too long. That’s okay, right?” Devari continued.
“That’s more than fine…” The fiery redhead who trained me last week said.
“I’m down…” A giant had stated.
            The meeting came to an end, everyone leaving.
“Mardee… I need to talk to you.” Devari sighed. Mardee looked at his boss, unsure what this was about.
“Okay boss…” Mardee responded. Devar looked at the man with that infamous penetrating glare.
“Is there something you’ve been hiding from me?” Devari asked. Mardee’s eyes widened with shock.
“What do you mean?” Mardee responded, assessing how he should respond.
“I’ve learned your house burned down…” Devari said.
“I...I… it did… why is it important?” Mardee said back, getting defensive. His arms folded across his chest. 
“Because you took a loan out from the bank to cover your damages… That’s why it’s important!” Devari said, both giving intense glares.
“I had no other choice! My house was burned down and my family displaced! I’m having to make due with what I can considering how you pay me!” Mardee said, obviously upset.
“I understand the pay is tight right now and I’m not trying to make you angry. I just thought we were on better terms than this! You could have told me!” Devari said.
“I’m not so sure any more…” Mardee said, looking over to me.
“It’s been tough but, so many things have been happening and I’m having to play it extremely carefully! I’m sorry!” Devari pleaded.
“How’d you even find out? I did my best to hide this! You didn’t need to know, not with all of this going on in the brothel. My problems shouldn’t be yours…” Mardee asked.
“It doesn’t matter how I found out. Just know that your problems are mine, your debt is my debt!” Devari said.
“No I can’t ask you for this, not...now.” Mardee sighed, shaking his head.
“It’s not a question. It’s a matter of not having a choice. See, you don’t even know how your house burned down… it just did. This happened at a similar time the brothel was dodging debt! So, it sounds to me that it’s some twisted shit at play to put all assets of this brothel in debt so control can be pried out of our hands… If I pay off my debt, your debt will still stand and with things being so twisted, I need you here! You’re important, and losing you would be a great loss to this business. I can’t afford to train someone else, so let me help you any way I can. I feel like you’re being targeted.” Devari clarified.
“How can you help? We have no money between us!” Mardee asked.
“I’m not sure. We just got to stay positive for now…” Devari shrugged.
“It’s hard.” Mardee said, losing his composure.
“I know…” Devari hugged, him, “But I’m going to fight for you, for everyone here! This is our home. If you need a place to stay, this warehouse has plenty of room! My brother and I moved here weeks ago to cut costs! If you or any other employees need to do the same, we have all the space needed for it.”
“I’ll, I’ll do so…” Mardee said, whipping his tears.
“Nice talking with you… Let’s get back to saving the brothel…” Devari said, patting him on the shoulder.
            The two left, Devari waving me over to follow. I did, Devari having the desk shift today.
“You get to watch me do boring shit. This is the worst job here. You sit at a desk, stare at the city and wait for clients to come in. You have to put this fake smile on your face, and make sure they’re happy…” Devari chuckled.
“Doesn’t sound too bad.” I responded.
“It gets bad because half the people in this city can’t read… in fact, more than half! So you have to read off the terms and agreements for clients so they know what they can and can’t do… And if they can read, you know damn well they can’t write so how are they going to sign a consent agreement?” Devari sighed.
“Okay, I can see how this could be hassle now.” I smiled.
“My brother is back, in the office reading the fiscal reports. He’s surprisingly good with money, and right now, I don’t need to be looking at anything with dollar signs… I might cry.” Devari joked, making me laugh.
“What’s Mardee doing?” I asked.
“He’s doing managerial inventory. Checking our products, our rooms, our slaves and escorts…” Devari shrugged.  
“Sounds hard…”
“Not hard… tedious. I’d prefer to do that than to do this…” Devari said, looking at the appointment log. His face went from misery to concern when he saw an appointment booked for the debtors today, “Man, what the fuck?”
“What?” I asked.
“Debtors are coming today for God knows why! The fuck man! This can’t be good! Who booked this shit?” Devari asked, growing upset. He  looked at the signature beside the booking, “Fucking, Mardee…” He began scrambling through the other logs, to see if he could find out why, “Shit man…”
            Devari sprung up, rushing down the hall. I followed as he found Mardee standing in the center of the warehouse with his clipboard.
“Did you book an appointment with the debtors?” Devari asked.
“No…” Mardee began, confusing Devari, “That’s when they said they’d be back…”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Devari said, clenching his head.
“It was logged!” Mardee said defensively.
“Fair…. Why are they coming back though? I was told I wouldn’t have to worry about any more debt as long as the compounding interest stays low…” Devari said, truly worried.
“I don’t know.” Mardee shrugged, continuing to work.
            Devari rolled his eyes, going to the office where his brother was.
“Hey, Mukir… Did you know that debtors are coming today?” Devari asked.
“WHAT?” Mukir asked, springing to his feet.
“Yeah… I don’t know what they’d want…” I responded.
“You know when they’re coming?” Mukir asked.
“Nah. I guess it’s a waiting game.” Devari sighed, heading back out the door.
            We began the walk back down the hall to the reception desk. Heavy knocking on the front door alarmed us both. We made it back seeing a number of Official Guards as well as clerks and debtors at the door. It was an intimidating sight. Devari and I looked back and forth between each other as he unlocked the door. I stood in the doorway behind the desk, watching the flood of men come in.
            It caught me by surprise to see the Official Guard wearing a strange seal, having sabers and light armor instead of trench coats and brim hats covering them. It then hit me. This was the King’s Guard. Why were they here? My heart began to pound as I realized what this could possibly mean.
“Yes?” Devari said to the debtor standing before him, the exact same debtor I tossed out. The debtor simply placed an envelope on the desk, continuing onward through brothel. Devari instantly recognized the envelope, despair spreading across his face. 
“What is that?” I asked.
“A court summons…” He said, without even having to open it, “We’re being sued…” He slowly broke the seal of the envelope, reading the letter. He threw it on the desk, “Yeah, we’re being sued for unlawful business practices for a sum of two hundred million rubles. That’s half a quarter's earnings…”
“That… fuck…” I said, watching as the onslaught of guards continued to pour in. A familiar face was slipping through the entourage of men, “Socoshian…”
“What?” Devari said, his eyes tuning in like a hawk.
            Indeed, Sir Socoshian had come to the brothel. The New King of the Southern Ziggurat had shown his face. This wasn’t good. He looked at Devari then to me before taking a double take.
“You’ve been having unlawful practices in my city walls…” Sir Socoshian said to him. Never had I seen Devari this nervous. He slowly turned to me, gulping, knowing what Sir Socoshian was capable of!
“Go fetch my brother and Mardee for me.” He said. I nodded, doing so. Sir Socoshian looked at me again, deep in thought. It seemed he didn’t recognize me but I was vaguely familiar.
            I was happy to leave the tense standoff. I rushed to Devari’s office where Mukir was. He could see the worry on my face, already getting to his feet.
“Devari needs you.” I said. He nodded, rushing off to the front desk. It was now time to find Mardee. He was in the upper levels of the warehouse, the catwalks checking fluid pressure on the coolant tanks, “Hey! Devari needs you now!”
            Mardee could hear the urgency in my tone, rushing down the stairs without question. The next few minutes were some of the most stressed of my life. I sat on a rear table in the lounge, it filled with dining escorts and slaves. All things fell silent as Devari, Mukir, Mardee, Sir Socoshian and his guard made their way through.
“We run a good, fair, well paying, just business! We feed our people, cloth our people, pay our people! We have the highest satisfaction rate of any slaves or escorts working in this city and everyone is chomping at the bit to jump ships! We’re the only brothel that puts our slaves and escorts first, clients second! Not only that, but what we have is fair rule of competition! We don’t steal, we don’t cheat, we don’t trespass into other’s stakes!” Devari said.
“It still doesn’t change the fact that you’ve been giving us the run around and one of my inspectors was physically assaulted.” Sir Socoshian said.
“With all do respect, your grace, we’ve been doing everything within the proper legal bindings! Everything we’ve done, we have proper documentation for!” Devari countered, “We’ve taken every step and procedure to make sure this process follows the law! I’m not at all sure how we’ve been giving you the run around.” Sir Socoshian turned to his clerks and inspectors.
“Have they been following legal procedures?” He asked.
            The very same debtor that we threw out flipped through his folder. He slowly looked up at Devari, a deadened stare making Devari’s golden skin turn pale. The air seemed to turn still as the Debtor pulled out the paperwork. Every heart in the lounge was tense, every breath bated as the power to ruin Devari’s life lay in the debtors hand.
“He has…” The debtor said. There was a collective sigh that filled the lounge. Everyone inside was watching tediously, knowing precisely how delicate this situation was.
“It’s hard. We weren’t expecting this vast amount of debt, and the almost… unreasonable compounding interest. Not only that but with our father abandoning us, the transition of power to us was painstaking and expensive.” Devari said, trying to get Sir Socoshian to sympathize with him.
“How much debt is left?” Sir Socoshian asked.
“A few hundred thousand rubles…” The debtor sighed.
“That’s payable within a week. What still stands is the lawsuit pending against this place…” Sir Socoshian responded. His gaze slowly drifted over to my direction.
            Again he stared at me for a long time, before looking back at Devari.
“Within reason, if there something you love and had been fighting for, wouldn’t you want to protect it? This is not just a business for me! This is my home!” Devari pleaded.
“You threatened to shoot me with a weapon and had one of your half naked escorts assault me.” The debtor said, pointing to me, causing Sir Socoshian to once again look my direction. Everytime his gaze fell upon me, this icy chill surged through my body. The evil king slowly turned back to Devari.
“Can we talk in private, please?” Sir Socoshian asked. Yet again, he looked back at me.
            I had to leave! I crept off to my room, my heart throbbing from nervousness. Something was telling me he finally recognized me! I sat down, beginning to pen a letter:

Sir Socoshian saw me in the brothel today! He just showed up unexpectedly! I can’t stay here anymore… He didn’t recognize me but he’s a treacherous man so I can’t quite be certain. I will literally drag my sister out of here kicking and screaming if I have to! I don’t know…


I folded the letter and sealed it, my heart steadily pounding. I felt doomed… There felt like no getting out of this. My head slowly turned when I saw the door creaking open. It was Devari.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
“Are you?” I responded.
“Sir Socoshian wanted to sleep with me to expunge my debt and the lawsuit.” Devari said.
“Interesting… You’re here so I’m guessing you didn’t do it?” I said back.
“I couldn’t sleep with that evil ass man. Seriously how are you doing?” Devari asked making his way over to me.
“I can’t stay here anymore, Devari.” I said losing it all, “He saw me! He fucking saw me!”
“I know, I could tell! He just kept looking at you. I don’t know if he recognized you considering you don’t look the same anymore, but I had to get you out of there.” Devari noted.
“I don’t know what to do…” I said, beginning to panic.
“Easy…” Devari said, grabbing my shoulders, looking me square in the eye, “I told you I won’t let shit happen to you! I will get you out of here in the morning…”
“What about my sister?” I asked.
“She’s one of my biggest earners but since she’s a political power player in this, I’ll send her too! I’m fucked right now, regardless. I’m gonna lose this place.” Devari said.
            It was heartbreaking to hear him say this.
“I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s not your fault…” Devari sighed, “Just know this much… Whatever happens, you’re my wild card and I’ll make my last play to get you out of this alive…”
“What’s next for you after this?” I asked.
“King’s Guard… My brother and are enlisting…” Devari shrugged.
“What about the other slaves?” I asked, worried for them.
“I don’t know… I seriously don’t. I can give them to another brothel such as High Pansum but they won’t be treated as well… Or, I can let Sir Socoshian get them... Either way, they’re fucked.” Devari said, rubbing his nose, “Just, whatever happens, remember me, okay?” 
“I will! I’ll stay fighting for you, okay?” I said to him, pulling him in for a hug.
            He squeezed me so tight, I couldn’t breathe.
“You’re too perfect to let anything happen to you… You mean the world to me.” Devari whispered to my ear.
“Thank you… And you’ve been so kind to me! I can’t appreciate that enough.” I said, our embrace coming to an end.
            Devari looked at me intently, his eyes smoldering in the dim candle light.
“Can I kiss you?” He asked. I shook my head.
“You don’t have to ask.” I said with a thin smile.
            The boy wasted no time in caressing my face, bringing his lips to mine. We kissed and kissed and kissed, his lips eventually going to my neck, our hands undressing each other as we got our feet. He threw everything off the desk, as he picked me up to lay me across it. He then climbed on top of me, resuming those hot kisses!
            There was no place I’d rather be, nothing in this world mattering as much as what we were sharing. Devari’s kisses went from my lips back to my neck as he sucked at nibbled on my skin. His tongue had grace as it danced its way down to my throbbing cock. His lips, engulfed my manhood, the boy putting in vigors he had never before done.
“God, yes!” I said, rising and falling in ecstasy as the boy serviced me. His tongue then snaked it’s way down my shaft, sending goosebumps and chills down my spine. He caressed my balls with gentle kisses and agile tongue work. He was tapping into some deep, dark stuff, a level of euphoria that was near tear inducing.
            I was just happy to share this moment with him. Happy I could feel his electric touch, happy I could be his. He then crawled on the desk, climbing over me. He placed my manhood at his back door, sliding the tip in. There was an audible slush as it slid in further. Devari wreathed in ecstasy as he began rolling and rolling his hips.
            We went hard and full of raw passion! The desk began to scoot across the floor with the amount of intensity we were investing into one another. The climax was intense, a knee shaking, toe curling, abdominal clenching orgasm of raw fire! We weren’t finished though! This would have to be engraved into our memories forever!
            I flipped him onto his back, pinning his knees to his chest. It was like I never even orgasmed as I went right back to work. He was so tight and I could feel every inch of my manhood snaking through his duct. I pounded hard, causing him to moan out in belligerence. He dug his nails into my back, biting on my ear and neck.
            It made me want to go even harder! I plowed and plowed and plowed, half an hour later my second orgams coming. It was even more intense, almost debilitatingly so. I collapsed beside Devari, before the boy crawled back back down to my balls. He began licking them, creeping his way down to my hole. He pushed my leg forward as he dove in, sucking and teething on my ass, a sensation that made my toes curl and back arch.
            It wasn’t long before he had my right leg in hand, pushing it all the way forward. His magical tongue had my ass wet! He plunged his sizable manhood deep into my hole. He seized at first, having to let it settle before continuing.
“You have the tightest most cum-worthy hole ever… FUCK YES!!!” He said, getting to work. He thrusted me for a few strokes before his body tightened up. He orgamsed but kept going, going just as hard as I had went on him. It was fire, intensity, all burning for him! He kissed me tenderly as he pounded away. He jackhammered me so intensely, the desk was hopping. This would be our last time together! He had to leave his mark and I had to leave mine.
            He began to slow down, having climaxed for a second time. He climbed off of me, helping me to my feet. I guided him to the shower, not done with him yet! We ran the warm water, lathering up soaps to wash each other. We gently washed the cum and sweat off each other, inhaling the clean, fragrant scents.
            Our lips came close once again, the two of us teasing each other. Who would be the first one to kiss the other? Of course Devari was the one with the lack of patience! It made me smile as we kissed passionately. Slowly I went down on him, his cock still hard like a rock. I took his cock in my mouth, twisting and slurping it. Devari’s knees buckled with the euphoric sensation, his every twitch being caused by my control.
            I licked the underside of his head, causing the boy to moan out. He looked down at me, seeing I was looking him straight in the eye. A wicked smile spread across his face before he clenched his core tightly as I rammed his dick to the back of my throat. I wanted to see how much he could take, how much pressure I could place upon him.
            I began sucking with more and more pressure, the boy seeming to become more and more
twitchy. His eyes were clenched tightly, as he grinded with the motion of my head bobbing. It wasn’t long before he ended up spewing his spray into my throat. He seemed done at that point, having to rest his head on the shower wall.
“You’re too amazing.” Devari said, panting.
“You are too.” I smiled.
            We turned off the water, getting out of the shower. We dried each other off, lathering each other with oils and fragrances. We both stared into the vanity.
“I’ve never came close to loving someone before… But I don’t know why, I’d sacrifice it all for you.” Devari said. I slowly looked at him.
“I’d do the same for you. Your heart is so real. I admire that there’s no childish naivety about you! You’ve lived, you’ve endured, you’ve suffered!” I responded.
“Where would we be if things weren’t this way?” Devari asked, this being a question I’ve long pondered.
“Chances are we never would have met. The seasons brought us together… Now the seasons are tearing us apart. Truth be told, I’m starting to learn what my elders meant when they said seasons people are true soulmates and forever people are the ones that have to tune the soul…” I sighed.
“What does that mean?”
“It means that the people who strike your soul the most, the one’s who mana tune matches your tune never stay in your life long… It’s been an arduous journey for me to learn this… I’m not kidding! Some of the greatest people I’ve ever met have been the people that don’t stay in life long. And you by far are one of, if not the greatest person I’ve met in my life…” I said.
“This sucks… I want to be with you!” Devari said.
“I do too! I want to be with you but… I don’t know what life has in store for me. I don’t know what’s next!” I said, truly daunted.
“I understand… Your journey is one I can see now, and it’s pretty damn crazy… Just don’t ever forget me, okay?” Devari asked.
“I won’t!” I nodded. He kissed me before leaving.
            It was one of the hardest things to stand here and do, watch him leave the room. They rest of the day passed with only thoughts of him. As the evening rolled in, my sister burst into my room.
“Damn…” She said, so much worry written across her face.
“You know?”
“Yeah… Where are we heading?” She asked.
“Northern Iran. There’s a Free Agent outpost there in the canyons. Once there, we’re good! We won’t have to worry about shit else!” I sighed.
“This… Wow… Sir Socoshian is a monster. How can he damn this place to hell like this?” Samara said, her eyes welling up with heartfelt tears, “This is our home! Our way of living! What we do here supports this entire town and he just cannibalized us like we were nothing…”
“It’s awful… It truly is! If I could just save this place from collapse somehow…” I said.
“What am I going to do after this? I’m not wearing a hijab again…” Samara sighed.
“We’ll think of something.” I said.
            It was a long night. As the morning hours came, Samara and I made our way down to the warehouse with all our things. Devari had readied a carriage out of the bay doors. It would take Samara and I out of the city and to Iran.
“I’m gonna miss both of you so much.” He said. So much sadness was in his eyes. I didn’t want to leave him but I had to.
“I hate this…” I said.
“I do to.” Devari said, leaning in to kiss me. It was our last moment of intimacy together before the carriage was off.
“Devari…” Mukir said, our kiss coming to an abrupt end.
            King’s Guardsmen came through the bay doors, Sir Socoshian standing behind the wall of men. This was the last thing I was expecting to see, the last thing any of us standing here were expecting! Sir Socoshian looked at me with a slight smirk before, walking straight up to Devari.
“I’m going to give you one last chance to save your brothel… Here’s the proposition. You can sign all your rights over to me, your profit having to go through me, your slaves mine, everything you do having to go through me… You can pay me off right now… or trade me something you value as much as this brothel….” He said.
            Slowly Devari’s eyes drifted to me, so much worry in his eyes. Sir Socoshian slowly turned to me as well.
“My you are gorgeous… You were getting ready to ship these two escorts out? Which one do you want me to have?” Sir Socoshian asked.
“NEITHER!” Devari snapped. The Guardsmen grew tense with the boy’s explosion.
“You have to pick…” Sir Socoshian persisted, a sick smile on his face.  
“I pick,” Devari said, pulling a revolver out of his trench coat, “Your DOOM!”
“Devari, no!” I said, getting out of the carriage. I gently pushed the gun down, “Killing him, will cause economic collapse of grand magnitude and you know this!”
“I have nothing left to LOSE!” Devari cried, shaking his head. The boy was wrecked.
“Believe it or not, you do… Do you trust me?” I asked. Devari already knew what I was about to do.
“No… no, you’re not about to…”
“Look, you have hundreds of lives to look out for here! Mine isn’t that important… I’ll survive, you can count on it…” I said, before turning to my sister, “Jon quantoy ir a suede a il canyons de Iran. Once quira, polara este tute semout in lou gulley. Atun, taqo sabrene istan basta fe agetes layudica! Comprende?”
“Jes… pero.” She nodded.
“Nadan taqui sabe mi, atute? Istoyete in asin tutuen qan ashit!” I reassured before turning to Sir Socoshian, “You promise the well being of this brothel if I come with you, that this place will stand independent and free to it’s own economic and governing will?”    
“My word’s golden…” Sir Socoshian smiled sheepishly.
“Then I’ll go with you.” I said.
“You don’t have to do this…” Devari pleaded, “Please, don’t do this!”
“We don’t have too many poisons to pick from.” I sighed, the King’s Guard making a detail of guards around me. I was escorted out of the brothel, to Sir Socoshian’s carriage. The whole while, Sir Socoshian looked at me as though he had snagged the biggest tigerfish in the greatest lake.
“You were right under my nose and I couldn’t see you.” Sir Socoshian smiled, “Nice to see you’re alive and well… Kijus…” A thin smile spread across my face.
“I can’t say the same for you…” I responded.  


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