V. Spiritweaver’s Origins
The Things We Do.
There are things we do, in response to direct negative stimuli, which allow us to continue on when a situation looks dire.
At least, that is the logic of my trouble. I had done what I had to do, and in making an acquaintance with the worst part of myself I realized I felt no remorse in the outcome.
I slowly became aware of my surroundings, the sensation of sound emerging first. The small plop was almost startling to me. It was slow and methodical, almost hypnotizing. Drip.
Then the pain. My side burned with an intensity I had not felt before. My skin felt numb with cold, the icy pressure of my wounds a stark contrast to the heat of my cheeks, the wetness still pooled in my eyes. My sight returned last. My inner eye had taken all my senses and pointed them away from the world for a short time, if only to take stock of my current predicament. I could see the tops of my boots, muddy stockings ripped into tatters. The remains of cheery red and white striped fabric lay on the ground.
“How unfortunate…” I murmured aloud. The stage mother would be so unhappy to see the end of such a lovely showpiece. It would be garnished from my wages no doubt.
Upon further inspection, I noted the tangy smell of sweat, copper and refuse. The grimy cobbles were covered in a black substance, difficult to see in the almost complete darkness. My right toe was covered by it. My hand had begun to ache, the cold and shock freezing my fingers around something. With effort, I looked down. Surprise assisted me in peeling back each finger, until the hilt of the blade dangled from only two fingers. The tip had ceased to make that awful dripping noise, the black liquid losing viscosity as it cooled in the night air.
Then time decided to speed up. I could take in tactile sensations, smells, visual input, but through it all I felt nothing. That sense apparently had not returned as quickly as its cousins.
The body lay only a few feet from me, the look of surprise still etched upon roughly hewn features.To think, I believed him to be the pretty one of the group.
The group… he had been with at least three more men. Like roosters they had been clustered around the small table while my performance had run its course. They were good tippers at least, which had been quite a surprise. In my experience, the more finely dressed a man was, the more to which he felt entitled. I should have been aware of their intentions. I should have looked into their eyes and known.
Crouching down I quickly felt through his pockets knowing I must hide him or dispose of him. His friends had had their fun, and in doing so had returned to the playhouse, but they would come searching soon enough. I found the solid heft of a fold, the clink of coins. I removed them with the purpose of putting them in my pocket, only to recall that most of my skirts were left in rags on the ground. I could not walk the streets with little left to me but my boots and scraps of fabric. Hadn’t something been under me at one point?
There. The pretty one had thought to be a gentleman. His cloak still lay on top of a pile of rubbish, though it had certainly been more for his comfort than mine. I snatched it up, pocketing the money and the knife. The narrow walls and piled garbage made dragging him difficult, but I was nothing if not determined. A few doors down the alley lay my salvation.
He answered the door at my insistent banging, a look of distracted frustration quickly turning to alarm upon seeing my ripped clothing peeking from under the cloak.
“Whelan, can you help me to the burner?” I began to push past him, dragging the body. Whelan shook himself and roughly pushed me out of the way, grabbing my burden and hauling to towards the large black incinerator. He was quiet; eyes were old and knowing as they took in my appearance.
“Get out of here now lass…get your things from Mme. Margaret’s and get yourself home, neither one of us saw a thing. I will bring your trunks later.”
I moved to make a hasty exit, only to have a gleam catch my eye. A small pistol lay just inside the door, likely having slipped from the pretty one’s pocket. The pearl and silver shone in the flickering light of the burner. Picking it up, the small weapon settled into my palm with a warmth that surprised me. I looked behind me in time to see the heavy iron door shut on my attacker, flames devouring his clothing and causing an acrid smell to seep into the room. He was my burden no more; he belonged right where he was.
Twenty minutes later I was changed into a simple wool day dress, a bag clutched in my hands as I rode in the rented hackney. Heavy coin enticed the driver to make haste to other parts of town, it kept curious eyes from noticing the spots of blood on my boot and the darkening bruises on my cheek.
The men had not known. They had no idea I recognized them. Gratefully, they had not made out my identity in the dark of the show house, or in the blackness of the alley. They had no knowledge of the ice settled in my gut. I wrapped my untrained hand around the Derringer in my pocket. They, as well as myself, had yet to know what I was capable of.