Kriminal Assault: Chapter 7

Read all previous installments here.

The door knocker was in the shape of an erect phallus. Matilda banged on the door with her fist. “I’m from the Mercenary Guild,” she said when it opened. She held up a tiny strip of paper she’d ripped off the help wanted flyer. “They said you needed urgent help tonight?”

“That was quick,” said the woman who’d answered the door. “Hold on, did you say Mercenary Guild? Not Armforge?”

Matilda nodded and held up the two-inch strip with the words “House of the Writhing Fun, Marylebone Place, Zephora Harte, Proprietor” written on it in tiny script.

“Oh, that was the old ad,” said the woman. “The position’s been filled.”

“Ah, well…”

“But it’s been vacated again,” the woman continued. “Please come in.” She held the door wide open. “I’m Zephora Harte. I’m the…”

“The proprietor?”

“I was going to say, the madam. But you can call me the proprietor.” Zephora was more than a head shorter than Matilda, with fluffy blonde curls and a pink dress festooned with lace and flowers. She led Matilda through a small anteroom, past the entrance to a cloakroom, and into a garish salon.

There was a handful of women, and two young men, clustered in a corner. Judging by their costumes, mostly silks and frills, they were the wenches. A buffet table occupied the far side of the room, but all the dishes were empty.

“I. Want. More. Food.” A giant of a man in studded leather armor slammed a serving dish down. It broke and he picked up another empty platter.

“Oh no, he’s going for the soup tureen next,” Zephora whispered.

“You want me to kill him?” Matilda whispered back.

“No, he’s with the Armforge Guid. Just get him out of here.”

“Have you tried luring him out with a trail of food?”

“We did. He won’t leave the room.”

The giant slammed two fists down and the buffet table cracked.

“Mr. Timothy Bradshawe!” Zephora said.

The giant backed up and turned around. “More food?”

“No, as I keep telling you, the refreshments are for paying customers only.” Zephora motioned with her hand at the wenches and they began edging out of the room.

“Tiny Timmy is not a customer,” the giant said and took one heavy step away from the buffet table towards the middle of the room. “Tiny Timmy is an honored guest.”

“If you do have to kill him, try not to make a mess,” Zephora whispered. “The chintz, damask, jacquard and brocade cost a fortune. Not to mention the silk.”

The center of the room was occupied by a group of couches and loveseats covered in flowery printed fabric, bedecked with lacy pillows. It didn’t seem like a place Tiny Timmy would want to spend a lot of time in.

Nonetheless, the man dropped down onto one of the couches, his knees spread apart, draped his arms across the back of the sofa, and grinned up at them. “I like it here,” he said. Then he noticed Matilda. “Did she bring more food?”

“No,” said Zephora. “She’s here to escort you out.”

“Now why would she do that?” said Tiny Timmy. “I’ve been the perfect guest.”

“You ate all the food,” said Zephora. “You broke the dishes. You scared away the musicians — and all our paying customers.”

Tiny Timmy pouted. “You’re mean. And I’m hungry. I want more food.” He looked around and his gaze fell on an blue and white pear-shaped porcelain vase.

The madam gasped and nudged Matilda. “Stop him!” She darted forward, grabbed the vase and held it tight to her body like a child as she followed her wenches out of the room through a door that led into the interior of the house. Then she stopped, turned, and peered back through the open doorway. A couple of wenches crept back and joined her. “Is there going to be a fight?” said one. “My book of love poems is still in there.”

Tiny Timmy’s head swiveled around like a radar array and zeroed in on a slim silk-covered volume on the love seat across from him. He levered himself up.

He was slow. In fact, he looked a little sleepy, possibly from stuffing himself all night. His studded leather shoulder armor flashy, but useless. There were already places it was starting to crack. And he wore no other armor. Armor was good for battle, but not much fun to lounge around in while eating bonbons in a whorehouse.

Matilda stepped in front of him, blocking his view of the book of poems.

He roared and grabbed for her.

She ducked under his arms, a knife already in her hand. Then stabbed him behind the knee as she rolled across the rug and was back up on her feet behind him between two couches before he turned around.

“Oooh, did you see her move?” one of the wenches said from the doorway.

Tiny Timmy twisted around and looked down at the knife in the back of his leg.

“Don’t pull it out!” another wench called out. “You’ll bleed out if you do.”

Tiny Timmy pulled his hand back. “What did you do that for?” he said. He turned around slowly, looking for Matilda. “It hurts.”

“The next knife goes through your eyeball,” she said. “Which one do you want to lose?”

He threw his arms up to shield his face and she darted forward. His belt was unbuckled and she sliced towards his belly, but stopped short of disemboweling him. That would make a big mess on what was currently a very nice rug. Instead, she sliced through the fabric waistband of his breeches.

Tiny Timmy’s pants slid down around his legs and he staggered back, screaming as he put his weight on his wounded leg. He collapsed onto a small side table, which broke under him.

“Not the Pembroke!”

“Sorry,” Matilda told the madam.

“It wasn’t right for the period anyway.” One of wenches patted Zephora on her shoulder.

Tiny Timmy rolled over, and, with a groan, tried to reach for Matilda’s feet.

She danced out of the way and looked around for something heavy, like a big rock, or maybe an anvil.

The sturdiest thing in the room was the buffet table. Everything else would easily break, or, at least, dent.

“Do you have anything heavy?” Matilda asked the madam. “Like a sledgehammer?”

“Why?”

One of wenches said, “I’ve got an idea,” and disappeared down the hallway.

“She’s going to hit his head with it until he’s unconscious,” said another. “Normally, I’d suggest trying to choke him out, but look at his neck.”

Tiny Timmy had an impressively thick neck. But Matilda enjoyed a challenge.

The man was on his side, trying to rock up, and managed to get up onto his knees. Well, knee. He held the leg with the knife it in straight out behind him.

She tried to pull his belt out of its belt loops but he picked one arm up and tried to grab for her hands and fell back over on his side, where the belt was out of her reach again.

A wench ran up holding a long-handled cast iron frying pan.

Matilda took it and immediately slammed the pan into Tiny Timmy’s skull, then had to jump back when he rolled over grabbed at her feet.

“Thick skull,” she said.

Stepped back a pace, swung the pan up behind her. Then she swung it down at the same time as she stepped forward. Just as Tiny Timmy’s hands clasped around her ankles, the pan crashed into his head. His eyes rolled up and his hands unclasped.

“That was a close call,” said the wench. “He ripped the legs and arms off of our last guard.”

Matilda passed the pan back when she heard a banging.

“Who’s manning the front door?” said Zephora, making a wide circle around Tiny Timmy’s body as she walked through the salon.

“Derek.”

A young man popped out of the doorway that led back to the front entrance. “Mr. Bradshawe’s friends are here,” he said. “They don’t look happy. And they’re even bigger than he is.”

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