Purple and Blue
Even the humblest of Annalow citezens find themselves with a small plenty of leisure time and a few gold bits in their purse. Many end up at one of the many pubs, but some may find a more refined pass time to help erode the nights. There are about 20 of them, that I know of, spotted across the city like stars in twilight. Half of them are public. I know not of a way to decribe these places, so I shall call them "Pleasure Houses" for now.
A pleasure house is a mix of many things. They offer drink and food, like a eatery, but also company of beautiful slaves, like a brothel, but there is also performances of plays, song, and poetry, half by the patrons themselves. All pleasure houses are run by a "mother" or "father" who own and run the business side of things. The owners are so described because the slaves are looked over like children, except in the seedier houses.
I tell you about these houses because one of the few vices of Anna Goldeyes is her addiction to the petal, a narcotic dried, ground, smoked in a pipe, and sorely looked down on by society. Her main suplier of this petal is Queenly Spires, Anna's favorite pleasure house, where she sat thinking and smoking one night.
Two beautiful boys looked after her as purple smoke spiraled from her lips. A lite drizzle of rain could be heard from other side of dark green curtains hung on light blue stone. Mother Brishah, handsome in her youth, spoke with Anna on the lazy night.
"Spring rain, a treat of demons. Lily will be skulking about on this dread night, mark my words."
Anna turned her half lidded eyes to her friend. A ribbon of coiled purple entered her chest and escaped with her words. "Eleanor would have me avoid the city's jurisdiction, else Lily would be exiled or worse by now." Mother Brishah cocked her head to the left. "She's is a Major in the Red Guard, Brishah. My direct superior." Another slow draw on the pipe before she spoke, "I've prooven my methods, but the Major would have none of it applied to..." Anna frowned, "...mundane issues."
"Surely you would search for the Ripper like the rest of us?"
Anna shrugged, "I am bound by duty. If disobedient, Eleanor would revoke my special pursuits and I would be a simple soilder again. She disaproves of my 'research' as it is, but..."
Brishah put her hand on Anna's and she fell silent, lost behind the effects of the petal. They talked over other subjects for a while before returning again. Anna put down the empty pipe into it's case and pushed it across a table to Brishah who bowed. "Rest, Goldeyes. You may sleep here, if you wish."
"No, I'll be off." Anna rose and slowly tumbled back into the cushions, the two boys helping her down.
"No, you'll rest, Anna. No one smokes like you do. Most only have one pipe in a night."
"What? How to they find faces in the sky?"
Brishah giggled in a honey deep voice moved to leave. At the doorway she paused and turned, "Lily, she's a Borc, surely?"
"What makes you think so?"
"We've served many a borc, here, and they're the only ones I would think that could be so...brutal." A cold shudder caressed Brishah's spine to think of the huge Bear-kin hovering over a broken child's body. "No Mume could do that, could they?"
Anna gave it some muddled thought and, long after Brishah had left, said "I don't see why not."
Rain misted on the empty sand cobble streets and the boots of a city guardsman. He didn't have his armor on, which meant he was off duty. That's what Anna thought when she saw him nod to her. A haze of hallucinations stood between her and the way to the inn she stayed. She would not return to the church barracks in this shape.
A whisper seemed to wave to her from the corner of her eye. A breath of something. Directions to the inn? She watched calmly as her finger tips pulled her into the back ally. A strange sense of fear mixed with discovery. Into the tween of buildings she was lead to find...
Empty of anything other than the discarded refuse of a dinner. Light washed gently downwards on Anna's face as she slumped to the wall. Five pipes was too much petal. She would have to cut back, but it was hard without the pursute of prey she was so used to. Since her last project 15 seasons back she found the lack of puzzles and mysteries...boring. With every Mume there was an insatiable drive to bring art into the world and Anna had realized her gift was an art of method and, as discussed with Master Drate, deduction.
The petal made shapes and stories out of mist and force her mind to work. It was still in her, even now, making shadows into plants and the sounds of footsteps behind her turning into brush strokes of drums.
"M'Lady, are you alright?" Anna tossed her hair back to see the guardsman that passed her before. It may have been suggested by the petal, but he was gorgeous. She turned away, blush and unconsciously messing with her blonds already ratted up with mist fall.
"Of course." She said, a small wisp of purple falling from her words. "I'm fine."
"Come on, then," He pulled her to her feet.
"I said I'm fine!" Anna jerked her arm away. She wasn't angry, just grumpy from embarrassment. Looking at him she softened. His face was young, but his eyes were orange and old, almost hidden behind dark yellow bangs. Lovely tan skin wrapped his thin but strong features. She thought, I could fall for him.
Then she fell.
The drop lasted merely years to Anna. Nothing new, but she had pressed the petal a little too hard that night and the guard caught her, so no damage done. Except to her pride. One thing at a time.
"M'Lady, you're not fine. Come now, I'll help you on your way." He force a shoulder under her own and lifted her up. "Where do you live?" The Church, she thought, but Mandra help me if you take me there. Anna let her left finger tips float and tug her further into the ally. "I'm sure there's a safer route than a dark Annalow ally, eh?"
Anna shook her head. "Fingers say go that way." The two stumbled onwards, into dark blue shades blanketing the buildings. He was warm and much too nice. Young, too. A pleasantry in the soft blanket of mist...
There was a soft blue blanket in the shadow of the ally. Something dancing on it. Anna screamed and threw herself and the guard into the opposite wall.
"What's wrong?" He said before he let out his own scream and obscenities.