by Frank Gori
Ballany paused in front of a conjured mirror for a moment. She was still adjusting to being a brunette. Men sometimes missed noticing her as a brunette which was never a problem as a blonde. Her normal high quality cosmetics wouldn’t do tonight so she simply applied a very inexpensive khol and some cheap red lipwax.
The shirt Bellany wore was a slightly too small men’s button up strategically buttoned and torn. The belt she wore above her wrinkled and somewhat worn skirt was about two weeks from being retired. If the brutes even bothered to consider things, she’d look the part of a pretty half elf girl out of work who was about to wash out of the Workman’s Guild because she hadn’t paid her dues in nearly a year. That kind of girl turned to tricks commonly enough.
The tavern she picked was close to the jailhouse and had a few rooms for rent upstairs. Today three of the dozen or so human guards came into some lucky money. Malleck proved to be talented at disguise work and shockingly adept at the sleight of hand needed to properly deck stack. A hummingbird would be hard pressed to catch the caravanner’s work!
It was roughly a five minute walk to the tavern from the jailhouse. B- Shift ended about five minutes ago. Meaning one of her three possible targets was extremely likely to walk into the bar soon with a pocket full of easy coin and hopefully a taste for brunettes.
Being half elf always added a little spice to this routine. Some men just wanted to hurt anyone with elf blood even if she was born long after the empire crumbled. For other men it was a turn on, they had a fascination with the idea of melting a heart made of ice, or they got turned on by pointed ears. Whatever it was she could always see a perverted gleam in the eyes of that sort.
Bellany was no stranger to the honeypot routine. Being with Jax earned her no special privileges when it came to using all her assets to complete an assignment. She was an excellent actress and she had a pretty enough face to bolster or tone down. Without any of her arts she was the type of girl next door pretty that men convinced themselves they had a chance with regardless of their looks.
Tonight Ballany’s sob story would put bad men in the mind of how they could take advantage of her and good men in the mind of how they could rescue her. Either way one of her targets would end up in her room and in a compromised position. Men were men inside no matter if they packaged themselves as kind or cruel.
Bellany was intimately aware of dozens of way to incapacitate or kill without arms or magic, not that she was ever without either. Unlike some of her peers, Bellany took no pleasure from taking lives. She enjoyed challenging assignments but not the act of killing in and of itself. Her mentor Pesh took pains to avoid killing the same way twice. He felt each death should be unique and to repeat the same circumstances would be disrespectful to the victim. She knew others that killed with a signature so that each death would add to their reputation.
When Bellany killed she did so in the fastest most effective way available. She chose detachment: a job called for dancing death or it did not. Her victims died quickly, and mostly without pain. Death was business.
It was Jax who decided to go and mix business with pleasure. The thought of what she had to do almost brought a tear to her eye but she shoved that thought deep down to her torn insides where it belonged. If she had any doubts about allowing Jax’s seed to take further root he quashed those doubts by setting her up to get killed. Such thoughts were… unprofessional at the moment.
Two of her three possible marks arrived together with a third guardsmen, a thickly muscled ogre. It took all of Bellany’s art to sway her hips as inexpertly a she did while she approached the trio. The humans smiled: the ogre didn’t. Her human marks had already ordered strong drinks the ogre just a light beer. Her assessment the ogre was on duty.
At the last moment Bellany changed course and fluttered her eyelashes at a half orc mason instead. From the corner of her eye she saw the two human’s body language shift. Playing hard to get was the right play since the boys apparently had a chaperone. For once the Workman’s Guild was being competent. Sending an extra guard to make sure the off duty guys didn’t lose their heads at a bar was a smart move.
“Well what can I do for you little lady” said the half orc with a gruff voice.
Well aware she was dressed like a cheap harlot, Bellany played at demure. She began to relay her story, knowing full well the humans were listening in.
The price on her belt renewal was of course out of the mason’s pay range as his belt identified him as a mere third year apprentice, and she knew the guards had it. The mason surprised her by politely offering her some coin but did not press the advantage, said he wished he could do more and carried on. Bellany didn’t expect such a reaction. She expected a fight and to the victor she would have gone, the odds being in favor of her targets three to one.
Bellany felt a brief moment of shame, some folk were simply good people. Her work had made her jaded and she’d return the mason’s money later if she could.
When the half orc walked away, another took his place dropping a goodly portion of the money she mentioned. “Let’s go upstairs whore,” even looking for it Bellany almost missed the subtle toss as Malleck sloppily lurched forward and cupped her breast. “Ya got some fine teats, let ME take you upstairs,” he slurred. Her brave brutes rose to their feet at last, the ogre downed the remains of his ale in one long pull.
“Unhand her at once you oaf,” the darker prettier one said as his hands reflexively slipped down to his baton. “Get out of here before we have to teach you a lesson in manners.”
The ogre then rose to his feet presumably to support his brothers-in-arms. Instead he lurched forward a bit and vomited. Were he not in such a revolting disguise Bellany would have been tempted to kiss Malleck in that moment, but as it were he was about to get “bounced” out of the bar.