by Samuel Wolfe
An assassin is hired to kill an important man...and falls in love with his wife.
Shopping for Death
At first glance, the city was a beautiful place. Cobbled streets with stone storefronts and beautifully crafted signs. Everybody here walked in glorious and colorful attire. Hounds only permitted to nobility pranced aside thoroughbred hunting horses.
There was a flip side to every city; even this one. All Oki had to do was find it. Down shops that were made of brick instead of stone, with signs more simply crafted, she found the right path. Though the people were still nice, their clothes weren’t quite as fashionable.
As Oki twisted through the streets, following the decreasing wealth until she came to houses that were made of aging brick and wood. The people here were in simple clothes; most seemed hand-stitched and homemade. There were more taverns and brothels on this side of town.
At last Oki found the alchemy shop. Tying her mare, she whispered “Be on your guard, my friend.” Tying her coin purse to her belt next to her dagger, Oki went inside with the air of a man with a purpose.
“Hello good sir.” The shop keeper was an aging man with wisdom in his eyes. He moved with more ease than most. “What can I do for you?”
“I’ve a wolf pack killing my cattle.”
“This time of year? Oh my. Live new the woods, do you?” He shook his head, clicking his tongue. He took in my clothes. “Not a hunter, then? Yes, I have poison that will kill the pack.”
He looked over his shelves before muttering to himself and taking one off. He set it on the counter. “I’m afraid it isn’t the cheapest. This poison is very powerful. Takes months to make.”
Oki made a long face. “How much, old man?”
“For one bottle of poison?” Oki demanded heatedly. “Are you insane?”
“I’m sorry, sir. I really wish I could lower it. This isn’t purchased very much, and it’s very expensive to make.”
“How about five gold and a pup?”
“I don’t have a need for a dog.” There was honest apology in his voice.
“Need any work?”
He shook his head. “My son helps me enough with what I can’t git done myself. How about…eleven gold?”
Grumbling, Oki took out her coin purse to grab eleven gold. “Here.” She tossed it onto the counter.
“Sorry, lad. Truly. Now, listen close. There’s only one way to make sure those wolves git this poison. When they kill the next cow, put it in the left-over meat. I know loosin’ a cow won’t help git by, but they’ll not come back to somethin’ dead too long. They’ll come back to that fresh kill for their next feed. Git rid of the old flesh, and whatever you do, don’t let yer dogs out. Chain ‘um up if ya have to.”
“Can I poison their water source?”
“No. It’s designed to break down in water. Had to make it safe fer the rest of the wildlife. Can’t have everythin’ dying ‘cause it rains.”
Damn it. I’ll have to poison his food.
“Thanks.” Oki said it honestly.
This would be a lot harder without any poison at all, even if I have to adjust my plans.
Taking her leave, she came out to her mare kicking a man off her back. He went flying into a trough. “Maybe that’ll cool ya off, eh? She’s got a fire.” Untying her and mounting her with ease, Oki followed the wealth back to the good side of town. She bought a beautiful ring, chocolate and flowers for Sofia before heading back to the estate.
Stopping a servant, she instructed her to take it straight to the Mistress’s bed chamber and arrange it all nicely. With a rouge smile, she curtsied and hurried off. Oki ducked into her own room. After changing into something more suitable for her company, she hid the poison beneath the wardrobe.
Then she did what everybody expected a bard to be doing; she read a book on the local history. That was how the servant found her to summon her to supper. Setting down her book, she followed him there.
“There you are!” Sofia said with a beaming smile.
Be still, heart. She isn’t that good of a lay.
Sitting next to her, Oki stole a kiss. Sofia blushed, but nobody even blinked. Alexander was already halfway through his first drink while he animatedly talked to the man next to him.
“Enjoy your day in the city?”
“Very much, until the heat hit.”
“If you don’t like the heat, what are you doing here?”
“Traveling the world. It just so happens this is part of it. I have spent longer here than I thought I would, but how could I not? I keep finding the best of company.”
Sofia blushed. “Well I rather enjoy yours myself.” The honesty in her voice took the bard aback.
Alexander turned from his conversation with his company. “I need to see you after supper, Sofia.”
Sofia’s head snapped toward him. All the color drained from her face and her eyes grew wide. Oki glared at the man. From his wife’s reaction, she knew exactly what that was about.
How can I help her? He is her husband, and things are expected. It has been ten years since they had a child.
Most Ziir’s had several children within ten years. Oki narrowed her eyes.
Though I have a feeling this is less about procreation and more about punishment.
Frustration boiled up in Oki as nothing she did seemed to draw Sofia’s smile back. She told a story about her homeland, but Sofia hardly seemed to hear her. Instead it drew others into conversation about her home.
Their laws are different here. It isn’t considered rape because they’re married, and as her husband he has a right to punish her however he sees fit. As her lover, anything I do could cause more harm than good.
Oki was tempted – very tempted – to use the poison now; before he could hurt her again. She had to check her temper. That was when Ethan’s giggling with another child drew her attention.
There is one way I could disrupt this.
“Sofia, who is watching Ethan?”
She blinked at Oki, finally coming out of herself to answer the question. “The nanny is on maternity leave. I have been doing my best to keep an eye on him between my duties.”
“Being as you will busy with Alexander tonight, I could keep him busy. I have plenty of stories to tell the lad.”
“That would be wonderful.” Sofia looked instantly relieved. “I really do not like having the servants keep after him. It interrupts their duties and is unsuitable for a boy of his standing.”
Alexander didn’t protest, to Oki’s relief. She couldn’t press his father. Though, in this case, Oki had yet to see him take much interest in his son. Unlike kings, Ziir were usually heavily involved in their son’s raising. Yes, the mother and staff did his basic care – that wasn’t a man’s place – but he was expected to do the raising. It was his job to teach him how to be a man.
Once Oki was finished with her supper, she gave Sofia a kiss goodbye. “Call for me if you happen to need me, Lady Sofia.”
Approaching Ethan, she got down on her knees. “Want to hear some stories, Ethan?”
The boy sitting next to him perked up. He looked about seven. “Can I listen too?”
They followed Oki to the drawing room. While she told her story, she molded her plan. It was a story about dragons and knights; something boys would be rapt in, especially since she was very interactive in telling it. When the story was over, Oki stood.
“Why don’t we play dragons and knights?”
“Yeah!” They cheered.
“Go get your wooden swords and shields. I shall be the dragon.”
Cheering excitedly, they ran off to get their toys. When they returned, Oki exaggeratedly played the role of a fire-breathing dragon. Instead of attacking them, she tickled them. It quickly became a game of keep-away. She drove them toward Alexander’s chamber.
Just as she’d hoped, Ethan slipped the guards and burst inside in his attempt to escape Oki’s tickling hands.
Alexander looked up from where he stood over Sofia. His pants were down, causing Ethan to stop dead. Oki froze as if in shock. She looked down at Sofia, who was crying. Her lip was broken. Oki saw the blood on Alexander’s tool and paled.
“Ethan, what the hell are you doing?” Alexander shouted. “Get out!”
“Ethan, come on honey.” Oki went to grab his little hand.
“MOMMY!” Ethan cried out, slipping Oki’s hand to race toward his crying mother. He turned to his father. “YOU’RE HURTING MOMMY!”
“Ethan, come on now.” Oki tried to pull him away, honestly not wanting him to see Sofia like this.
Or for Alexander to hurt him.
“But he’s hurting mommy!”
“This isn’t for a boy to see, Ethan.” Oki said quietly, taking his hand and leading him out.
Ethan began to cry as she shut the door. Oki leaned down to meet his eyes, grabbing his shoulders gently. “Do not cry, Ethan. You are too old to cry. Your daddy is being a very bad husband right now, but you cannot cry.”
He dried his tears with difficulty. “Why is he hurting mommy?”
“I do not know, but what he is doing is wrong. I did not mean for you to see that, but promise me something.”
“What?” He brushed away his tears, sniffling.
“Never, ever take a woman unwillingly. What they were doing is supposed to be a very special thing. I was under the impression they were trying to give you a baby brother. It seems he does it the wrong way.”
“If I do it the right way, it is a good thing?”
“Yes. The Gods give men babies. Men do that to put the babies in women’s tummies. That is how babies are made. But if you take a woman willingly, she will not bleed or cry. She will be very happy. Never, ever do that to somebody’s mommy, okay?”
“I swear I won’t! I won’t ever hurt anybody like that!”
“Very good, Ethan. Now, how about you go ask for a treat from the kitchens? Go play outside, and never, ever forget what you saw.”
“Call me Oki-ven.” Oki said softly, brushing his long hair out of his eyes. “Tomorrow I will tell you more stories.”
Sofia came out only moments after he had left. “What in the world was he doing?”
“We were playing knights and dragons. I was not paying attention to where he was running. I am very sorry.”
Sofia gave a small smile. “Thank you. For keeping him busy.”
There was more behind her words than what could be said.
“Will you sing for me, Oki?” She asked tiredly.
“It would be my pleasure.” She replied honestly. Waving down a servant, she had her fetch hot water, a rag and ointment for the cut on Sofia’s lip.
As soon as they were delivered to Sofia’s room, Oki treated them. Afterwards, she sang the same song she’d sung in the gardens. Sofia began to cry; Oki gently took her in her lap and held her as she did so. She stroked her softly until the tears stopped.
“That’s better, isn’t it?” Oki dried her tears with her hands. “Why don’t I lay with you while you get some sleep?”
“I…I am not in the mood.” She sniffled.
“I know.” Oki replied softly, giving her forehead a kiss. “But I figured you would sleep better if I held you. You always seem to sleep better when I do.”
“You would do that for me, Oki?”
Oki pulled her away quietly. “Yes, Sofia.”
Sofia gave her a soft kiss. “Thank you, Oki. I appreciate this.”
Oki led her to the bed, laid her down and joined her. She covered them both up, wrapping her arms around Sofia. It wasn’t long before the lady was asleep. While Sofia slept, Oki lay awake, trying to sort out her thoughts.
This is going beyond just good sex with a customer. Even if her husband is abusing her, it isn’t my job to calm her down and help her sleep. Why did I offer? I’ve never just cuddled a woman before. Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever spent a night in a woman’s bed afterwards. I don’t even let them sleep in the inn bed with me most of the time.
So why am I doing it for Sofia?
Even as Oki finally drifted off, she still didn’t have an answer.
Date with Death
Oki ambled into the kitchen, looking around with little interest.
“What cin we do for ya milady?” The cook asked as she worked.
Oki shrugged. “Ethan’s nanny is back, and Sofia is busy with her duties. I guess I was just wondering around.”
“Well, how about you help out here? Can ya cook?”
“Does cooking fish over a campfire count?”
She tutted. “My, that won’t do at all. Come right over here and let me show ya a thing er two about pleasin’ a man.” Then she laughed. “Or a lady, if that pleases you more. They will still appreciate well-cooked food.”
“Well, not sure how much help I will be, but I am always open to trying anything once.”
Oki put on a good show of being rather clumsy and ignorant in the kitchen. She hadn’t been taught by her parents, but she had long learned how to cook. Otherwise her taste buds would have leapt from her tongue and abandoned ship.
The cook talked while she taught Oki. “Our ingredients ain’t what they used ta be, what with the state of the estate these days. But they’re still better than what yer used ta cooking, eh?”
“Your food is always much appreciated.” Oki gave a charming wink, making her laugh.
“Now no flirting wit’ the staff. Wouldn’t want the Mistress ta get jealous, now would we?”
“I most certainly would not like that. Sofia has an elegance to her I missed on the road. And her sister was happy with her man.”
“That she is. Symphony got the better man out of the two, I dare say. Ethan came running in here begging for a treat, sayin’ that his da was hurtin’ his ma in a way that supposed ta be special. I felt for the lad. He’s always showin’ up with bruises that don’t line up with their reasons.”
“It is a shame. We were playing a game; I really should have been watching where we were going. But it has been a long time since I rolled around with little boys, and I did not think he would go bursting in on his parents.”
“Kids do the strangest things at the worst times. Have you watched him since?”
“No, Sofia got a different nanny while his was nursing her own. I believe Alexander did not approve of me watching him again.”
She tutted, smacked Oki’s hands away from the flour and showed her how. “No, no, you ain’t beatin’ into submission, milady. Yer kneadin’ it inta bread. Ya see? Like this.”
Oki smiled gratefully at her. “Right.”
“Did yer ma not teach ya ta cook?”
“No, she taught me strategy, finances, horsemanship and swordplay. My father taught me history, mythology and Ze, the language of scholars. As well as to read and write, of course. I learned more on science from my uncle – my father’s brother. My mother’s sister schooled me in picking up the ladies.”
Laughing at Oki’s colorful history, she changed the subject. “We are making bread with bits of meat in it. They are for Ziir Alexander; he eats these in the morn. Can’t eat anything else; his stomach is too ill from drink.”
“Why are we making them now?”
“Because he wasn’t there for the morning meal. Still asleep, the lug.”
“After it’s baked, I could take it to him.”
“That would be kind. We’re so behind.” She set chopped meat down next to the kneaded bread. “Put these in there and wrap them up.” She showed Oki how once before whisking away.
When nobody was looking, Oki grabbed the poison from her pocket. As the meat was placed on the doe, she added poison as well. Then she put it in the oven. A couple hours later, the cook complained of a nasty smell.
“Sorry! The bread!”
Oki pulled it from the oven, protesting that it was burnt.
“He won’t care. Take it to him anyway. It’s about time the drunk got outta bed.”
“Very well. Lunch is soon, so I shall hurry back.”
“No, no, that’s alright. Sofia is taking her meal in the gardens. I’m sure she’d like you to join her.”
Oki took the poisoned meal into the room herself. Alexander was just sitting up in bed, sipping water. “Good, breakfast.”
Oki didn’t say a word; she simply set it down and hurried out. She didn’t want to give him time to question why she had brought him the food. Oki met Sofia in the garden. Sofia animatedly talked about her day, while Oki watched the gardens warily and made enough conversation to keep Sofia talking.
“Whatever is the matter, Oki?”
“I am just getting restless, Lady Sofia. Forgive me.”
Sofia’s happy mood fled her. “Already? I thought we were getting along well.”
“We are indeed. I enjoy your company. Perhaps a ride through the countryside would do me good. Would you like to come?”
“Most definitely. Let me get Ethan.”
“It may be best if he remained here, Lady Sofia.” Oki stopped the idea dead. She didn’t want the boy to hate her for taking him away the same hours his father passed.
“Oh, very well.” Sofia gave a predatory grin. “Some time alone would be nice.”
Oki did her best to appear casual as they headed for the stables. Her mare knew better; the moment she was in the saddle the mare was fighting the bit for more reign. She sensed Oki’s need for speed, prancing and attempting a canter before Oki reigned her in.
“My, she’s a restless one. Much like her rider.” Sofia observed. “We are out of prying ears, Oki. What is wrong?”
“I poisoned his food. I do not understand why they have not raised the alarm. It has been long enough to kill a pack of wolves, let alone a single man.”
Sofia’s eyes widened. “He has taste testers! I thought you were going to poison his drink!”
“The poison dissolves in liquid.”
“So why did you not get a different poison?”
“Because that was the poison used to kill wolves. That was my reason for getting the poison.”
“I thought you were going to get poison from the black market, not the alchemist.”
“I did not want to be traced. It is easier to be traced through shadier vendors; pay them enough and you will get answers.”
Sofia shook her head. “I have tried poisoning his food several times, so he got taste testers. He did not know it was me, of course, but all you have done was kill a boy.”
Oki’s heart squeezed. “Did I not say I needed to know this Sofia?”
She paled. “Oh gods. You did say you needed to know everything. Oki, I am so sorry.”
“Will I be suspected? I cooked the food.”
“No.” Sofia shook her head. “He has never suspected my lovers, not even ones he did not like. He will fire the kitchen staff and several servants, hire in new ones and that will be done with. Alexander has many enemies. He will suspect a political enemy first.”
“If this keeps happening, why has he not suspected those closest to him?”
“He is too busy drinking to think clearly.” Sofia shook her head. “The poor boy he has taste his food…”
“I am sorry, Sofia. Before we go back, I need to know anything else you haven’t told me. I do not want anybody but him to get hurt.”
“Very well.” Sofia took a deep breath. “He will hire a new taste tester, and the security will go up. As we prepare for the solstice, he will hire more servants than usual as well.
During the event, he will drink a little less, but not much. We try to stay out of his way because he becomes quite ill, in temper as well as physically. He does not sleep as much, either.
Once a month he takes me to his bed. We try to have another child, but either I cannot bear another child or he has lost the gods’ favor. He becomes angry because he cannot…perform with women. No more than I can enjoy myself when he finally is prepared. Usually it is by being rough with me.”
“So you have to endure that every month?”
“Yes. Right after I bleed.”
“I noticed you were on your bleeding time when we first met. That is why he did it then.”
“Yes. I had told him I had just finished it.”
“Because he asked.” Sofia snapped. “He knows about when I begin and stop bleeding. He – keeps track.” Oki could see her shiver from her horse.
“He says women are most fertile afterwards. He says that we are like bitches in heat.”
Oki clenched her jaw. “You are honest with him about it, though?”
“It is better than being caught lying.” Sofia whispered, keeping her eyes on the road. “The best way is to get a different kind of poison. One you can use the way we originally planned. Do you know how to make it?”
“Yes. I just was trying to avoid getting what I will need. They raise suspicion; even in the black market.” Oki sighed. “To do things right, you must do it yourself. It seems I am backed into a corner. Very well; I will escort you home before going back into town.”
Sofia gave a small smile. “By the way, I enjoyed the gifts. I just saw them this morning.”
“After last night, I am hardly surprised.” Oki gave her a reassuring smile. “I am glad you liked them.”
“They are the first gifts I have ever received from a lover.”
“I suggest you find more romantic lovers.”
“I have.” She met Oki’s eyes. For the first time since she was a teenager, Oki blushed. Sofia chuckled. “I did not think I would see the day when the suave Oki-ven would blush!”
“You will not be seeing it again, either, Sofia.”
“Mark my words, I will not stop until you have blushed again.”
“Aren’t you cocky?”
“If I have done it once, I can do it again.” She teased.
Oki turned their horses around. Sure enough, the kitchen was clearing out. Half the staff was gone. The rest of them were in overtime, trying to complete their tasks with half the staff and nobody in the kitchen. Already the domo was interviewing new people.
“He gets word out very quickly.”
“As I said, it is a very frequent occurrence. The moment these doors open, there is a line for a job. Especially those from the dark side of the city. They can do more than simply survive on this paycheck; they can rest assured they will eat every night and wear decent clothing in the winter months. They may even be able to move up a little on the estate.”
I doubt that will continue from the rumors around the staff. The quality around the estate is slowly diminishing. Pretty soon, if he doesn’t change how he spends his coin, the estate won’t be much better off than the peasants he hires. Nobility will either leave or buy his estate. That doesn’t bode well for Sofia or Ethan.
Oki checked herself when she realized it might not bode well for her payment, either.
When did this stop being about the money entirely, and become only about Sofia and her son?
When she couldn’t answer the question, she decided not to worry about it. She had a job to do, even if it had somehow become entirely personal and not at all about business.
A few nights went by. The estate had settled down. Oki was scoping the garden for a view of nighttime activity when Sofia came walking across the garden. Despite herself, Oki crossed to greet her with a kiss. One Sofia embraced happily.
Sofia took the lead to a quiet spot out of sight of the guards. Leaning Oki against the wall, she slid her hand up her vest, beneath her brazier and straight to a nipple. Oki let out a low moan as she pulled and pinched it. The two fell into a passionate kiss.
That was when Oki saw a dot of light. She looked up, tensing. Sofia dropped her arm to turn around. “What is the matter? I do not see anybody.”
“I saw a light.”
Sofia was tense until Oki exclaimed “There!” and pointed. “It is higher…are there more?”
Sofia burst out in laughter. “They are fireflies, Oki! Little bugs who light up at night to find a mate!”
“What? Bugs with fire on their asses?”
“Yes!” She laughed harder. “Oh my, I forgot it would be too cold in Zenith for fireflies. Is this your first time in Torro?”
“Fireflies do not like cold weather. They are not found any further north than here.”
They watched the fireflies, both in fascination. After a while, Sofia turned back to Oki, leaned her back against the wall to resume where she left off. Relaxing more and more as they shared their embrace, Oki began to explore Sofia’s body gently.
Oki gave her butt a smack reflexively. Sofia surprised her with a stifled moan. “Shhh. Be a good girl.” Oki whispered, smacking her butt again. “Or someone will get a spanking?”
“Don’t promise me a good time for a punishment.”
“I would never punish you.” Oki promised, pulling her closer before doing it a third time.
Sofia purred out happily as she slid Oki’s vest onto her elbows and lifting her shirt. Scooting her brazier up, Sofia began to lick and suck at her tits. It earned her a soft whimper; Oki grabbed a handful of her hair, pushing her head closer.
“Bite me.” She commanded firmly, hunger in her voice.
Sofia smiled around a tit. When she didn’t bite, Oki tugged her hair. “Sofia, be a good girl.”
“Spank me and I might behave.”
Chuckling at the girl’s returned spunk, Oki obliged. She gave her a nice spanking. Even through her dress, Sofia was squirming. She lightly bit Oki’s nipple; whispering out a ‘good girl’, Oki stopped her punishment.
Sofia shocked her once again by undoing her belt to jerk down her trousers. Oki gasped. “Sofia, what are you doing?”
“Does this make you uncomfortable?”
“What if someone sees us? This is not appropriate!”
“Nobody but the guards are out this late, and they never come here.” Sofia still didn’t proceed. “If you are uncomfortable with this, we can take it to my room.”
Oki looked around. “You are sure they will not come this way?”
“Then…I do not want to wait. Someone has gotten me worked up.”
“Naughty little me.” Sofia giggled before delving her tongue inside with no other warning. Oki let out a moan a little too loud for her own comfort, grabbing her head.
This time she couldn’t do anything but let Sofia bring her upwards. For a moment, she couldn’t relax; Oki wanted nothing more than to take control back. As Sofia’s tongue and lips worked her clit, she slowly lost herself to her pleasure.
It wasn’t long after she gave in that Sofia brought her over the peak. Oki had to bite her lip to stop her screams. Her jelly legs finally collapsed; Sofia and the wall were the only reason she remained standing.
Sofia eased her down from her orgasm before guiding her to the ground. She redressed her, too. Then she straddled Oki and whispered “Good girl.”
Oki got a loopy chuckle out of that. “I thought that was my phrase.”
“I stole it.” Sofia replied proudly.
They lay together watching the fireflies. When Oki went to repay the favor, Sofia stopped her. “I am still healing. But thank you.”
Nodding, she held her lover until Oki began to nod off. Sofia woke her and suggested they sleep inside instead of on the ground. Agreeing whole-heartedly, she picked herself up, tried to make herself not look like they were just having sex in the garden, and followed Sofia to her room. She didn’t even hesitate to wrap around Sofia. She fell asleep feeling content.
Oki woke to Sofia getting up. She sat up with a yawn, rubbing her eyes. A servant was filling a tub of hot water; Sofia bathed every other day. She was almost obsessive about it. To prevent getting sick Oki only bathed twice a week, but Sofia swore up and down it was why she didn’t fall ill as often. It was as bad as her washing her hands all the time.
“Oki, you are starting to stink. Join me in the bath.”
“I do not stink.”
“You do too. Bathe with me, or you will sleep in your own bed.”
Normally Oki would just shrug it off. For some odd reason, the idea of sleeping alone tonight got under her skin. Reluctantly Oki got out of bed, stripped and joined Sofia in the tub. The woman skinned her raw practically raw. She didn’t stop until Oki cried red.
“Sorry.” Sofia dropped the sponge. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine. Next time don’t scrub off my skin.” Oki assured her with a kiss.
“If you bathed every other day I would not feel the need to do so.”
“I will fall ill.”
“Oki, it is hotter here.” Sofia retorted sternly. “You sweat. That causes those rashes you get, and makes you stink. I cannot take it anymore. You need to bathe when I do.”
“I have seen people get sick from bathing.”
“In cold weather it is not a good idea. In the winter here, I only do it after the estate is warm, and I immediately dry off with a clean cloth. They get sick because it is too cold, not because of soap and water.”
“…fine. You do not seem to fall ill, so I will try it your way. If I get sick from it, I will go back to my way.”
“That is fair.”
Oki washed her far more gently and far less than what she had received. They got out and dressed together, then went to the gardens for breakfast. Afterwards they had to go their separate ways. While Sofia went to her daily duties, Oki left for the dark side of the city.
This time she didn’t go to the alchemist. She chose backstreets, talking to less than decent people. With a lot of passing of coin and information, she gathered her ingredients one by one.
On her way back to the estate she picked up an alchemy kit from the better side of town. Seeing her attire, they were caught off guard when she not only presented the coin, but also by her speech. It wasn’t long before the couple who owned the shop were gladly discussing their trade with her. Finding her knowledgeable had them apologizing for their initial judgement; which Oki forgave them for.
Oki didn’t reach the estate until supper. She had just enough time to hide the ingredients, set down the alchemy kit and change before a servant fetched her. Alexander was deeper in his drink than he usually was. He made an ass out of himself to the point where Sofia dismissed herself and took Ethan and Oki with her half-way through the meal.
Though the staff had to tolerate his abuse, he was too drunk for Sofia and Ethan to get repercussion from it. The rest of the night, Oki told them stories and watched them interact with one another. It ended as almost every night had; singing to Sofia, intimacy and sleep.