Bancroft watched Jessy’s bungalow as if at any moment it would suddenly turn into a cream filled pastry.
It had been a few days since she had seen the blue haired boy last, and that occasion had not ended too well for Bancroft. True, she had asked for her money in advanced and she hadn’t need to sleep with Jessy, but it had put an awkward strain on the pair’s relationship.
Bancroft had been all too willing to give Jessy an exclusive contract on her services provided that he give her shelter and food.
It wasn’t that she felt attracted to Jessy, far from it. He was far too young, skinny, and he wasn’t even a Silth, but with winter months away and the rain growing increasingly annoying, Bancroft’s choices included being a camp whore or being the private whore.
Getting sick of tents everywhere Techscope, through Jessy, had commissioned ten large houses and a library within Bellymore. They had also commissioned two large cage like structures made of steel and a trading.
Bancroft had been told that the soldiers nearly died of a heart attack when Jessy had dropped two large ingots of pure gold at their feet along with blueprints.
If that wasn’t startling enough, five more Silth Techs had appeared with carts filled with supplies that was already processed. That brought something called concrete with them.
From what Bancroft could gather from the excited soldiers, it was some sort of liquid rock used to set foundations and roads.
Jessy, for all his physical defects at least acted like he gave a shite about her, partially because he didn’t know how to act around a lady of the night. He was naïve, bored, and getting to that age where he wanted a relationship with someone pretty.
And there was no way in the Void he was going to have that with a soldier. From what Bancroft had heard, that stuck up bitch Kollkie had nearly broke his arm and the mages had burnt down that bridge when Vanasher extorted funds from them.
That left Bancroft and the other camp whores.
A grumbling roar came from Bancroft’s mean tempered stomach. It had been a day since she had eaten anything.
It was a classic case of many admirers, too few paying clients.
The other whores at the inn were conscripting any girls who had had a thought about being independent. Any single mother, any desperate soul, was given a choice. Join up, give us our cut, and we don’t have to break your kneecaps.
For the most part things turned out well for the guild whores. They get free medical, free food, and protection.
Having grown up in a family of pimps and whore, Bancroft had no plans to join up, she also had no plans to be run out of town.
That left Bancroft grabbing a shovel and trying to dig for gold in a land that was pure evil, somehow stumbling onto a bag of gold, or becoming the consort to an officer.
The first option was out, the second made Bancroft laugh, so it came down to Bancroft settling down. After explaining this to one of her contacts, Jessy, seemed to be the optimum target.
Bancroft thought about Jessy. At least the child had the decency to share his hot food and clean water with her, a sign that he was far from home.
Even Enya girls knew better than to give or accept free food from another Enya. Just like a stray cat they had this thing about adopting the charitable fool into the family.
At this stage Bancroft didn’t care if she was munching lopkilu weed, she was hungry, hungry and soaked enough that she was willing to give Jessy a freebie to cure it.
At least he was clean and his bed was warm.
To over see the development Jessy had moved his house to Bellymore, meaning Bancroft had to walk all the way to the town to seduce the little shite.
Over the sounds of soldiers going through training regiments there was the deafening sound of construction work.
Things were moving fast out here in what should have been the desolate countryside.
It was as if the Techs were mindlessly lashing out with a whip made of gold and every fool, including Bancroft was eager to get the taste.
“Good morrow cousin?” Came a familiar voice from behind.
Bancroft spun around and got a fist to her empty stomach. Doubled over, and sputtering for air Bancroft got a good look at several pairs of new shiny boots surrounding her.
She seemed and fought through the pain but her attacker merciless.
A strong hand wrapped around Bancroft’s tangled hair and yanked hard.
Bancroft opened her mouth to curse and her hand went to her hidden knife, but a second hand viciously twisted her wrist and brought her hand behind her back.
Bancroft, still in pain, looked up to see her dear estranged cousin standing over her, with four larger Silth male’s taking up position to obstruct the view of any curious onlookers.
“We keep missing each other cousin.” Kiss’en Kate said. “And ‘er I find you stalking my boss’s private home. I do hope you aren’t getting ideas of ruining my day. I might not be happy.”
“I’m not that stupid, Rina. Or Kate. Or whatever your call’en yourself these days.” Bancroft said honestly terrified of the crazy cur.
The eyes of a murder stared back at Bancroft, “Who knows I’m here?”
Bancroft pictures this to be her final moment, “Granny. Vanasher, would have figured it out by now. I don’t know who else.”
It was a mistake to lie to a witch of her cousin’s level. Deception was the she-elf’s trade, and Enya girls were taught at an early age that lying to one’s peers was a deadly gamble.
Kiss’en Kate spat a baker’s dozen profanities before returning her focus to Bancroft, “Tell me why I shouldn’t put a hole in you?”
By now Bancroft noticed that her cousin was wearing new finely tailored clothes. A green cotton dress, a black petticoat, leather gloves, and hat that looked more for decoration. The clothes were not as beautifully crafted as Mr Black’s attire, but they were new and clean.
The brutes wore labour clothes but they didn’t have a single patch or sign of repair, they were new and were probably wore more than they earned in a year.
Her cousin was moving up in the world.
Bancroft thought quickly, “C… cause Granny will be angry that her informant went miss’en. And she’ll just send another girl down, and she might not be as smart as me. Might even not know not to open her mouth.”
The moment hanged in the air, with the merest breeze deciding Bancroft’s fate.
Kate made a grudging expression, “Let the tart go.”
Relief passed through Bancroft as hair was given back to her, but she still did not dare stand or feel hope just yet, the more spiteful street girl loved to give you hope before they shoved the knife in your back.
“What will you tell them?” Kate said.
“The Tech’s? Nothin, I swear.” Bancroft promised.
“And the Union?” Kate hissed.
Bancroft looked down at the mud in defeat, as much as Kate could hurt her, there were those out there in the world that knew how to make you beg for death. “They probably know everything already. More than me out here.”
Kate nodded, the Witch Union had eyes in every alley, and noses in every bum. “I need you to get word back. The Techs are planning to send their first shipment of cleaned up gold to Talia. The shipment will be broken into four bits. The key, the box, treasurer, and the chip.”
Bancroft felt her stomach churn, “Why separate it?”
“Security measure. The four bits are puzzle pieces. Without all four parts the gold is lost, but all Techscope needs to do send another piece. I am told that the chip is the piece that must not be lost.”
This whole thing sounded wrong, no Enya would give up such a score. Was Kate desperate for help, or was she playing another angle?
“You have men, why don’t you steal it yourself?” Bancroft said.
Kate’s face turned sour, “My boss is sending my men out overseas tomorrow, before the gold is sent out. But I figure that the Union will find information valuable.”
And therefore Kate would be valuable to the Union exactly where she was.
“Where are you going? What do the items look like? what root will they take?” Bancroft knew that her cousin knew the game, the information was useless.
“You not mind where I’m going.” Kate warned. “The box is a bag of holding. The key is actually a password that opens the bag. The treasurer is me boss, Mr Black, but he does not know the password. The chip I do not know. It is something called a Yew.Es.Bee.”
“Yew.Es.Bee.” Bancroft parroted, savouring the words and finding them untasteful for some reason. “What is this Yew.Es.Bee?”
Kate shrugged and nodded to Jessy’s domicile, “Ask the boy.” A sinister smile peered at Bancroft, “That’s after yeh sucked him dry.”
Bancroft held back her retort.
Kate regarded Bancroft, “Yeh wanna say something child lover? Didn’t think so.”
With that Kate left Bancroft to her gossip, certain that the news would reach the ears of far more interested parties.
Bancroft stayed there for nearly two minutes, biting her lower lip in fury and thought.
The bandit known as Kiss’en Kate was never one to give information for free, especially if it were valuable.
Bancroft shook her head, conspiracies were beyond her, she was just the messenger.
Hours later there came a knock on Jessy’s door.
The door open and a very happy looking Jessy poked his head out to see a smiling Bancroft carrying a jug of warm wine.