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Faela stood across a strange, small, and discreet building. The place had only one red door on the front and no windows. It had a few slits here and there on the grey and dingy wall, but they were so tall it was impossible to see inside.

Though the swordswoman had been standing across that building for a few moments, many people had come in and out already. Most were men, but some women did enter the place.

Faela didn’t seem to be paying attention to the people coming and going. All she did was stared at the red door with an unreadable expression.

It wasn’t hard for Tetsuko to figure out what kind of place it was. I’m not surprised there’s a brothel in this world as well. The soul inside the sword also knew why they were there, even though she hadn’t asked her wielder. Her master’s daughter is working here… When that boy Leonel couldn’t say, she understood.

After taking a deep breath, Faela walked headed to the entrance. The inside was just as simple as the outside. The main room had two pairs of curtains on the back wall on each side. Halfway to them was a door. In the middle, surrounding a table with strange incenses, there were a few couches, which were occupied with men donned armor kissing women with little clothes.

“Ah, look here, it’s Faela!” One of the soldiers stopped kissing a woman and turned to the swordswoman. It was Sergio, flashing a mean smile. “If you’re thinking of changing profession, forget about it. You need to be nice to please the customers. But if you need any help, I’ll be your first!”

Sergio laughed and smashed his hand on the table, startling the woman on his lap. He was the only one though. The other soldiers ignored and focused on the women with them.

That’s a surprise. For a spineless man, he’s much bolder than a few hours ago, Tetsuko thought. An instant later, she found out why; there were many empty bottles reeking of alcohol around them.

“Even if I did change profession, there’s not enough money in the Halboor to make me sleep with you.”

“As always, a sharp tongue. You never liked, hic, me, did ya? Always made fun of me just because you’re a bit stronger! But stop that tonight, okay! I don’t want that. After a day like today, me and the boys need to rest.”

“Yeah, sure. At least you did your job of helping people.”

“That’s right! Hey, why don’t you join us? Before you flip and pull your sword, I don’t mean that way. I’ll pay a guy for!” he shouted, turning another bottle and kissing the woman again, most of the alcohol spilling.

“If you’re treating, then I take it,” Faela said, glancing at the curtains on the left.

Sergio stopped kissing the woman to look in the same direction. Then his eyes shone and he flashed a big and stupid smile. “Ah, now I get it! Now I know why you’re here! That’s why you always rejected me! You’re a butch woman to the soul!” he said, laughing by himself again. “The girl you want is in the flower room! I’ll warn ya, she’s great, but sometimes it’s like fucking a dead person! She just stays there while you do all the work!”

Faela’s rage was so palpable even inebriated, Sergio sensed. He gulped, stopped laughing and turned back to the woman, though he still kept watching the swordswoman.

Breathing through her nose, Faela headed the curtains. Behind it, there were two flights of stairs and she took the one on the left. There were many doors along the steps that went downwards. Then she stopped before a door with a flower on top.

I only sense one person, Tetsuko told her wielder before she asked.

Faela closed her eyes and took a deep breath before knocking. When she heard a soft yes, she entered.

The room was small. It was barely big enough for the large bed for two people and the cupboard next to it. The girl who inside had a short and dirty blond hair and wore wearing nothing but a thin, almost transparent nightclothes. She looked at Faela, but her eyes were pale and empty. It was clear she wasn’t truly looking at the swordswoman.

“Please forgive my appearance. A client just left and I didn’t have time to clean myself,” she said in a voice that matched her eyes. She stood up and walked to Faela with her head down. “My name is Estela. I haven’t had many women visiting me, but I’ll do my best to please you.”

She stood on her toe tips and kissed the swordswoman, who simply stood there. When the girl realized there was no reaction, she stopped the kiss. “I-is there anything wrong? You prefer to kiss me? Or me to kiss you between the legs right away? P-please, tell me and I’ll do what you want. I’m here to please.”

She was about to get on her knees to pull Faela’s pants down, but before she could, the swordswoman pulled her up and gave her a tight hug.

“You don’t even see who I am,” she said in a voice holding back her tears. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner…”

“C-client? P-please, if I did something wrong—”

“It’s me, Anna.” Faela broke the hug and held the girl’s cheeks, forcing her to look into her eyes. “Me!”

The girl blinked a couple times. Then a light shone in her pupils. “Faela?”

She was shocked for a while. Then she began crying, hugging the woman again.

“It’s okay… Everything will be fine now,” Faela whispered, patting Anna on the back and making her sit on the bed.

She cried even more, her tears flowing non-stop.

It took a while until Anna recollected herself. After she cleaned her face, she turned to Faela but then looked away. She couldn’t look the swordswoman in the eye anymore.

“There’s no need to be ashamed. Leo told me everything. Can’t believe things went so wrong in just a month…”

“It wasn’t just this month… This town… isn’t what it used to be…”

Faela rubbed the girl’s back, glancing at her. “I need to ask. Why do this? You’re too skilled with a sword for this… I know you were helping master with the bodyguard and escort jobs…”

“Yeah… but after he… got sick, no one wanted to hire just me… I mean, after the first attacks, things got even more dangerous inside the walls… People only wanted to hire mercenaries groups instead of one girl… I tried joining other groups, but with the attacks, everyone became paranoid and didn’t trust others so easily…”

“And you had to do this to pay for the medicine,” Faela finished the sentence. Then her face became bright. “What’s done is done. This ends today. I won’t allow you to keep working here.”

“B-but we need the money…”

“I’ll pay for master’s treatment. After everything he did for me, this won’t even be enough to pay the debt I owe him.”

“D-dad would never—”

“I received a huge reward for the worshipers’ extermination expedition. And… I don’t have anywhere else to spend that money,” she said, her face saddening for a moment. “Please, let me help master…”

There was a moment of silence.

“Besides, this is no place for you. You’re not a whore. You’re a swordswoman. You were born to hold a sword in your hand,” Faela went on. “Master was always proud to say you’d one day be stronger than him.”

Anna’s eyes watered and she couldn’t contain her tears again, hugging Faela, who patted her on the head.

“It’s okay… We’ll get out of here soon,” the swordswoman whispered in a soothing voice until Anna stopped crying again. Then she headed to the door. “Let’s go.”

“I-I can’t…”

“Why not?” Faela narrowed her eyes. “If it’s about the payment…”

“I-It’s not. The owner here helped me a lot. She took care of me and everything. The clients know I’m working today. If I leave, some might get mad and cause trouble to the owner…”

Faela thought about it for a moment, then closed the door. “Then I’ll stay here with you all night.”

Anna blushed. “It’s too expensive…”

“Don’t worry about it. Sergio will pay.”

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phmmoura

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