So We’re Doing This

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Read Legends of Cobalt from the beginning:

So We’re Doing This

A flatbed wagon pulled by a pair of oxen sat out in front of the Atropa Belladonna. Two men in grey constable uniforms heaved a pinewood box onto the wagon under the eye of the chubby priest. The chubby priest paled at our approach and struggled on to the driver’s bench.

“Come along gentlemen,” The chubby priest collected the reigns. “There are heathens here making me ill.”

The constables looked at us, shrugged and climbed onto the wagon. The chubby priest snapped the reigns and the wagon lurched forward.

“How’d your mission go?” Bella called from behind the bar.

“About as well as building an igloo in the Nine.” Phebes flopped down at our table.

“How did you know we went out asking questions?” Wyanet sat down with Phebes.

“Your Minotaur friend,” Bella sauntered over to our table. “He mumbled about it all morning. He damned near drank all my liquor while he did it.”

“Where is he?” I pulled out my chair and joined the women.

“When that dreadful, fat priest got here he sprinted upstairs like his life depended on it. I like the metaphor ‘bull in a glassblower’s shop’ but it’s a little too on the nose. If you want, I can send Raisa to hunt him down.”

“That will not be necessary.” Wyanet stood up. “I can get him myself.” She vanished upstairs.

“If you don’t mind, Bella,” I leaned back in my chair. “Could you answer some questions about Jack when they get back? The town guards gave us next to nothing.”

“I expected they wouldn’t. They want to ignore Jack until they catch him” Bella started toward the kitchen. “I’ll get lunch going while we wait.”

Five minutes crept by in silence. Bucephalus staggered down the stairs ahead of Wyanet. Bella returned with a piping hot pot of tea and set it on the table. Wyanet forced the drunk Minotaur into a chair.

“You guys made it back! Howd’ id go?”

Bella sat beside Bucephalus and started pouring the tea.

“Oh, hey, can I get ale instead?”

Bella scowled and pulled a vile of clear liquid from her cleavage. “For the Heavens sakes, drink this.” She popped the cork off the vile and slapped it down in front of Bucephalus.

Bucephalus grabbed up the vile and shot it back. He coughed then turned toward Bella. “That wasn’t nice.”

“I hate drunks. Especially when they’re sloppy.” Bella took a sip from her tea.

“What do you know about Jack?”

“I don’t know much,” Bella leaned in. “And what I do know is hearsay.”

“That’s more than anyone else has said,” Phebes quipped.

Bella ignored her. “Jack showed up a couple of years ago. At first, they only targeted people in the temple district. Then they started killing all over the city. Jack’s killed dozens since they started. The entire city is terrified of them.”

“Has Jack only ever killed women?” I asked.

“They go after women who sell their bodies. Rumour has it though, they’ve killed some of the perverts who go for the little girls too.”

“Why haven’t they been able to catch Jack?” Phebes reached for her teacup. “It seems like it’d be pretty easy.”

“They’ve tried, many times, but Jack just appears and disappears like a cloud of smoke. Some from the old farms don’t even think Jack is mortal.”

Raisa brought a handful of baked potatoes over to us.

“I can think of an easy way to catch her.” Phebes continued.

“Please do enlighten us with your genius plan.” Bucephalus bit into his potato like an apple.

Phebes sat straight. “Wyanet or I pretend to be a prostitute. Percy pays one of us, then Ceph and the other one follow behind us. When Jack shows, we grab her.”

“Sounds like a good way to get killed.” Bucephalus took another bite.

“I think they tried that already.” Bella cut into her potato.

“It is not much, but it is a plan, and it is the only one we have for now,” Wyanet sighed. “I do not like being treated like an object though.”

“It won’t work,” Raisa sidled up to the table opposite Bella. “You two don’t look like you’re from here, and if Jack saw you last night, they’d know it’s a trap.”

“What are you suggesting Raisa?” Bella’s eyes narrowed.

“Use me.”

“No. Absolutely not. I refuse to allow it.” Bella crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair.

“Enough Bella!” Raisa’s hands balled into fists. “Women are dying. Not everyone is lucky enough to get taken in like I was. I’ve been powerless to help the girls I used to know, until now.  There’s a chance for me to do some good, and I’m going to take it.”

Wyanet forced her hand into Raisa’s fist. “You do not have to do this.”

“I do though. It’s what’s right and I always what to do what’s right.”

“One of us will be with her at all times,” Phebes offered.

“I’ll have an eye on her at all times. Because I guess I’m getting dragged into this.” Bucephalus slugged back a cup of tea. “Needs whisky.”

“See Bella, I won’t be in any danger. I won’t really be doin’ any whorin’. It will all be pretend.”

“Fine,” Bella slumped. “But if any harm comes to ‘er, you better hope The Ripper kills you first.”

“I have an idea for how to do it,” I sat up in my chair. “Raisa, grab a chair, I want your opinion on this as well.”

“She can take mine.” Bella pushed back from the table. “I don’t want any part of this idiocy.”

Raisa took Bella’s chair and leaned over the table.

“Do you have a spare dress Phebes could borrow?” I looked at Raisa.

“I’ve got a few, but they won’t be much good for fightin’ in.”

“That’s okay.” I shifted back to the rest of the table. “They’ll be the bait in our trap, but we need to figure out a way for them to leave here unseen.”

“They can take the carriage,” Bella called from the bar. “Grazer hasn’t left yet if you ask him, he could be the driver.”

“I thought you didn’t want to help?” Raisa snapped.

“I don’t, and that’s all I’m offering.” Bella went back to scrubbing the same spot on the bar.

“That’s transport covered,” I shifted to look at Bucephalus and Wyanet. “An hour after the girls leave, you two will shadow them on foot. I’ll wait for another half an hour, then follow. I’ll find and approach the girls like a prospective client. Phebes will break off and cover us from the rooftops. Then we will wander around and wait for Jack to attack us.”

“Why are you the one ‘hiring’ a prostitute?” Wyanet asked. “Out of all of us, you are the best at staying hidden.”

“It will look more realistic if I do it. Also, you’re better at saving me than the other way around.”

“Where am I supposed to carry my weapons? Won’t it be weird for a prostitute to be walking around with a sword.”

“Wyanet will have them.”

“What about when Raisa and I are together? Shouldn’t I have some sort of weapon on me then?”

“I can show you both how to hide a dagger,” Wyanet offered.

The story will continue, February 6th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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