Chapter 8: To the winner go the spoils

Sophia woke at the crack of dawn, with the first ray of sunlight touching her face. She moaned, protesting against herself that she didn't want to stand up yet. Her blanket was warm, the mattress was soft, and her muscles still ached. But, she knew that, if she didn't get up now, she wouldn't do so for another hour or five, and she needed to leave.

She forced herself out of her bed, quickly putting on a shirt, and made her way to the small make-up table.

Thinking of her mother, she had a short, private, chuckle. She'd always been disappointed that Sophia wasn't the type to spend hours making herself pretty, but recently, she'd found a better use for this type of equipment. The mirror, the table, and the plentiful light, meant that it was the perfect place to clean her guns.

She went through her equipment. Her pistol, her spare cylinders, her hold-out gun, even her crossbow, methodically cleaning every part, inspecting it for the damage of everyday wear and tear, then putting it back together again. It felt good, helped her center herself. Yesterday had been quite busy, and she could feel the ache in her muscles, as well as the cut on her cheek, and the low-level burns in her chest. The chieftain's medicines could be said to work miracles, but they were nothing compared to what the Panacea could do.

Luckily, the sound of partying in the saloon below her had died down, both tribesmen and townspeople having fallen asleep after a long night of drunken revelling. Instead, all she could hear was a softly playing piano, and the murmuring of a few people. Sound carried through the saloon, but not well enough that she could hear what they were saying, which suited her just fine.

Done with her equipment, she grabbed her clothes, putting on her duster, her boots and her cloak, and walked towards the balcony.

Looking out over the streets, she saw drunk men sleeping against the walls, people who had been fighting just yesterday sitting arm in arm.

She hadn't been able to take down the men responsible, but she had to admit that everything had been solved quite well. Walks with Trees's medicine had been a great boon to the townspeople, and most everyone was simply happy that the thugs were gone, and the conflict was over.

Directly below her, she could see the horses, still standing in front of the Saloon, drinking water and chewing on hay. Jumper was there, standing right next to Qaleta's mare, and the two of them looked happy together. She felt bad for him, that he'd have to leave her after a single day, but from now on, people here would start cheering her on. Try to talk to her, offer her drinks, look at her when she was walking through the streets. Not something she liked. People were bad at the best of times, and they were worse when they thought you were amazing.

She judged the distance down and checked that her pack was in place. She'd miss out on her payment for the delivery, but she could go without for a while, supplies weren't that hard to come by for someone with her skillset.

"Already leaving, superhero?" the voice of a nightingale called out. Sophia turned around, and saw Emma standing at the entrance, seductively leaning against the door-frame. She wore a white dress that, in a different context, Sophia would have labeled a nightgown, and her luxurious scarlet hair was down, long curls cascading down her back.

"I told you, I'm a drifter, I don't stay in one place for long," Sophia replied, trying to tear her eyes away from the young woman.

"I get that, I really do," she replied, slowly walking towards Sophia, her hips swaying with every step. "I just wanted to ask, are you sure your drifting can't wait another hour or so?"

Sophia stood still, staring at the approaching redhead, looking her in the eyes, and drowning in Emma's pale green orbs.

"I guess it can," she replied, a soft smile on her lips.