Tales From
Arlanon
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Chapter Three

The moans of pleasure could be heard throughout the brothel. It was well known that Flo was the loudest prostitute that money could buy in Madame Olivia’s establishment.

Brandon Piper grunted and thrust into her, wishing she could stop being so loud. Her moans and howls were beginning to hurt his head, and as he had already drunk several pints of ale that evening, additional pain was not welcome.

He gently tapped the young woman’s naked back. “Hey, would you, err… would you mind, you know, keeping it down a bit?”

Flo turned her head and licked her lips. She took Brandon’s hand in hers and forcibly made him stroke her lower back. “But I’m enjoying it!”

“And you can cut that crap out too,” yawned Brandon. “I paid for your company. You don’t need to pretend to like me.”

She dropped his hand, and crawled out from underneath him. Sitting up on the bed, she regarded him with a curious look. “Wow, you’re a cheerful one.”

“Eh, I’m just honest. And a little drunk,” explained Brandon. He looked down at his penis, which has become flaccid since exiting Flo. “This doesn’t seem to be working.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t come here when you’re too drunk to hump a horse,” she said flatly.

“I never said you were a horse,” slurred Brandon, missing her point. He stretched and climbed out of the bed. “Ah, fuck it. It’s clearly a no-go. Maybe I’ll come back when I’m more in the mood.”

“Perhaps I’ll give you a bad review to Madame Olivia so she won’t let you back in,” she said. “Now please – get out.”

Brandon regarded her with an annoyed look. Flo was the most expensive young lady available in Madame Olivia’s brothel (and with her long golden hair and large breasts, he guessed perhaps she was one of the most expensive in the whole of the West Sector). If she said bad things about him, there was a strong chance he would be barred from the establishment. Which would mean he would have to return to the poorer quality brothels in the East Sector, a scenario that made him shudder. He quickly dressed himself and staggered out the door, muttering his apologies and a quick “Bye now,” to Flo. She smirked, glancing at his crotch, and he felt hot with embarrassment as he left.

Making his way back to the entrance hall, he briefly wondered why some of the young men and women he passed gave him startled looks. Holding on to the banister as he descended the stairs, he wondered if he would be walking back to the Black Hawk headquarters alone, or whether his friend was finished. As he reached the entrance hall, he saw his friend, who looked to be leaving.

“Lenna!” he called.

The young woman turned around. Lenna Stone was the newest recruit at the Black Hawks, a bounty hunter clan that Brandon was a member of. She was nineteen years old, and had moved down to the capital from the sleepy town of Corsand, in Mid-Cantaria. She had long blonde hair tied up in a tight ponytail, and sharp green eyes. Her dark green tunic fell to her knees, and was tied loosely by a belt around her belly. It hid the light leather armour underneath her very well indeed.

“Hullo, Brandon,” she said, and narrowed her eyes in disgust. “You know your dick is hanging out, right?”

Brandon looked down at his breeches, and sure enough, there it was, poking through. “Ah shit.” He fumbled with it and hurriedly stowed it away.

Refocusing his attention on Lenna, he grinned. “So, what was it this time? A man or lady whore?”

“I went for a boy this time round,” said Lenna. “Peter, I think his name was. Pretty nice. We leaving, or just going to stand here passing the time with small talk?”

Brandon stumbled after her out of the brothel into the streets of Goldoak, capital city of Cantaria, and they began the long walk back to the South Sector where their headquarters lay. The summer night air was hot and sticky. Brandon could still smell the sweat of the day in the streets, though some of it could undoubtedly have been attributed to him. They passed several taverns on their way, and he was tempted to go inside for another drink, but every time he made a move, Lenna pulled on his arm.

“No,” she would say. “You’ve had enough, and Joan Lynch would kill you.”

“Hey, you’ve been here, what, two months? You can’t tell me what to do!” he would protest faintly, but he knew she was right.

“As a friend, I’m telling you to stop drinking. I’m sure Ira would hate to see you become a drunkard.”

Brandon laughed. “Probably a little too late for that. Speaking of Ira, doesn’t she mind that you go, err… have a pully hawly with the men and women of the night down here in Goldoak?”

Lenna shrugged. “Does it matter? Me and Ira are just good friends, that’s all. We’re not exactly married.”

“Now there’s a wedding I would happily come to,” grinned Brandon. He almost tripped over some bumpy cobblestones. “Okay, I am definitely drunk.”

“That’s one of my biggest peeves,” said Lenna casually as they turned a street corner, watching a bar brawl with mild curiosity that was commencing inside the nearest tavern.

“Marriage?”

“No, people announcing they’re drunk,” she said. “Everyone can tell, Captain Obvious. Stop being an attention-seeker.”

After a while, they arrived in the South Sector, and soon came upon the Black Hawk headquarters. The entrance and front hall was made to look like a tavern, though no-one ever went there for just a drink. People from all sorts of backgrounds would arrive at the Black Hawks and make a request to the man standing behind the bar, Kirk. He was known as ‘The Middle Hawk’; all requests for bounty hunters were made through him. As he knew every Black Hawk personally, he would recommend the right bounty hunter for the job based of skillsets and the customer’s budget, and clear it with the clan leader, Joan Lynch.

It was Kirk who greeted them as Brandon stumbled in.

“Ah, Piper. I see that you’re drunk again,” he said, with a hint of disapproval in his voice.

Brandon waved an unconcerned hand towards him. “Whatever, Kirk. I can afford to be.”

The Middle Hawk shook his head. “You know that money from the Royal Court commission won’t last forever.”

“Hey, I’ve had plenty of hunts since then,” said Brandon. He turned to Lenna. “Anyways, s’pose I should go to bed. Night, all.”

He felt the exasperated eyes of Lenna and Kirk on his back as he lurched upstairs and made his way to his private quarters to sleep off his frustration at the brothel.

The next morning, there was a loud knock at the door.

Brandon groaned and slowly opened his eyes, wincing as light flooded into his retinas. His head was pounding, and his mouth was as dry as sand. Sitting up in his bed, he realised he was still dressed in yesterday’s clothes.

“What?” he called out.

“Kirk wants to see you,” called the voice of Roland, a fellow, older bounty hunter that had been in the clan long before Brandon had joined. “Says some bloke from the palace is here.”

Brandon’s heat started beating a little faster. Did the Royal Court have a new commission for him? They had hired him in the past to complete a secret hunt, and he had forged a close friendship with Prince Gideon, the younger son of the now-dead King Harold Fyedragon. However, Brandon was not oft like to visit the palace, instead preferring to spend his time drinking in the West Sector. He was occasionally invited to dine in the palace, but those evenings were few and far between.

He quickly got out of bed and exited the room, attempting, and failing to flatten down his scruffy ginger hair to seem more presentable. Passing through the dining hall where many of the Black Hawks were breakfasting, he nodded his good mornings to a few of them. Lenna, who was sat in the corner conversing with Sachi, another young Black Hawk, smiled and waved at him, an action he returned. He then made his way downstairs, where Kirk was waiting.

He saw Joan Lynch, and his stomach fell. It was rumoured she was the daughter of a lord from a neighbouring kingdom, running away from her noble life to become a bounty hunter. Other rumours told different tales; of her young life spent with a gang of outlaws, and Brandon never knew what to believe. All he accepted of the Black Hawk Chief was that she was renowned for her mood swings, and that she was his boss. Not knowing what kind of mood she was in today, Brandon decided to go in lightly.

“Good morning, Chief! Morning, Kirk.”

Lynch looked at him with cold eyes. “Piper. I heard you returned in quite a state last night".

Brandon flashed an accusing look at Kirk, who did not seem perturbed in the slightest. “I wasn’t that bad…”

“I just hope you didn’t make our organisation look like a joke,” said Lynch, ignoring a disbelieving grunt from Kirk. “Anyway, that conversation is at an end. There has been a commission, asking specifically for you.”

“Ah yes, from the palace, right?” asked Brandon eagerly. He poked his head around the bar, and saw that his commissioner was not who he was expecting. “Hello there, Brandon,” said Jason Hartigan, the Minister for Justice. Hartigan was a member of the Royal Court of Cantaria, a group of the most powerful men and women in the kingdom. Hartigan oversaw many trials in the capital and often passed judgement over them, unless it was an important enough affair that merited the King’s involvement. Brandon had met Hartigan six months ago when the palace commissioned his secret hunt for them. He was perhaps the only other member of the Royal Court aside from Prince Gideon that Brandon actually liked; for Hartigan was always smiling and being jovial. The man was in his early thirties but his face looked much younger. He had a very light beard and wore robes of deep purple.

“Good morning, Lord Hartigan,” said Brandon slowly. “How are you on this fine day?”

“I feel a lot better than you look,” grinned Hartigan. “And Jason is just fine. I’m a Minister anyhow, not a lord.”

“I believe it was a rare courtesy from Piper,” said Lynch. “They seldom occur, so enjoy it.”

“A courtesy based on a lie,” answered Hartigan. “Anyway, might we take a walk, Brandon?”

“Would you not like to go up to my office so that you might discuss the commission with Piper in private?” asked Lynch.

“No, a walk will do fine, Joan. It’s a beautiful day,” said Hartigan. “Besides, I’m not the one making the commission.” He walked towards the door and held it open. “Brandon, if you will?”

“Sure, but I’m getting breakfast on the way,” said Brandon, feeling his stomach rumble.

He wondered who was wanting to take up his services, and why they employed the Minister for Justice as their messenger boy.