I just love Mondays.
"Out we go."
There is something so damned about Mondays; Mondays mean that I will most likely cut my foot on a round object; Mondays will predict me falling from another rooftop in the middle of a chase; Mondays are simply preposterous in the way it presents my throwing knives as Bartolommeo's shaving razors. Mondays: Why were they ever created?
"Straighten your backs; roll your hips. This kill will be ours, ladies."
In fact, I do not even recall ever registering Monday as an official day. The only days of the week should be Friday and Saturday; good God, if it was so, I would not be lamenting every marking on the calendar, nor would I be cursed in every little clumsy thing I do. I could just bury myself in a good book by the fire—
"We are here."
You know, maybe grab a cup of milk from the kitchenette and nab a tart from Maestro's desk, not that he ever really eats those sweets. All right, so I probably want my canine buddy Tortuga to join me, as well. I shall add that onto the list. Wait, did I even make a list?
"May all be well."
And, hellfire, this outfit is very itchy and hot. What was it about silk being so … I do not know, "exquisite"? Ah, yes, because today is Monday, how could I forget? Today is Monday; great. So exciting. I am just bursting with—
Oh, my God, I am alone. Where did everyone go? Where's Aurelia? Signora Carlita? I am alone … well, not technically alone, but I am simply alone. Alone, as in, me awkwardly standing here without the entourage. Where the hell did they go? Oh, Jesus Christ, I do not feel so well. I think this skimpy thing that is deemed as an actual attire just gave me the chills. My tummy is dying from the cold, the courtesans started mingling, and I am at a meeting where fornication is like breathing.
Someone just bumped into me; someone just talked to me. Well, the man's gone now, disappeared into this throng of people who are not so discreet in … how should I say this without throwing my guts up? Carnal pleasures? Call me a prude, or whatever else one already names me, but I just want to get out of here; the air is thick with the smell of incense, smoke, and sex, and dirty deeds are shown right in front of everyone without the slightest inclination towards shame. If I hadn't bolted before, I would now.
But, I cannot; I will not. This is my mission; my specific target is here, and Signora Carlita was kind enough to shield me amongst her girls to get my into this restricted area. I cannot let my discomfort and fear take over me.
"Aye, you are most kind, Sir."
That. That voice. Aurelia. I found her. There in the corner with—
"Bloody hell," I muttered, widening my eyes as I witnessed the man in front of my friend touching her chest. "Bloody damned hell."
And she was laughing and batting her eyelashes! For the love of my mother, the guy looked like a major serial killer on the loose! She was … doing the whole "oh, you flatter me" pattern!
This. I am scarred for life. Maybe tagging along with a friend was not such a good idea. I think I shall just go to the other side and find a chair, or something. Yes, a chair, preferably hidden in the shadows so that I will not have to jam my elbows into every passing male and female—I cannot believe the latter—who try to grab any expanse of flesh I have. In the corner. Safe. Just use Eagle Vision. Nibble on a treat. Try to loosen this strange belly dancer's attire that I have on, with fifty jingly coins and ties.
Walking, keep walking; push, push, squeeze into that little gap … Damn it, why was this castle so big? Who even owned this place? If I was not in this situation, I would daresay that it is one of the most charming places I have ever seen: with high ceilings, furnished walls with various tapestries, wide windows, the entire lot enhances by the large stones that formed the landmark; even the room this spectacle is in must go on forever. Perhaps, simply using Eagle Vision will not do.
Climb the rafters? But where? Aside from me being noticed, there really is not place to climb. Escaping may be difficult. I will have to think of something else.
"Oh, what little gem is this?"
Squeeze through the grate? Ha, like I will ever do that. I enjoy food too much; and this outfit is simply dragging down my self-esteem, if I did not know that from the beginning. Run amok? No, I am not too quick on my feet. And I cannot really even see much; the host of this party apparently loves dimmed lights tainted with crimson, because that is all I see, with black being the people. My eyes are burning—
"And what is your name?"
Ugh, another lascivious fellow grabbing my wrist? Not again. I shall just have to turn around; my elbows are too tired.
"She is all right; too plain for my tastes."
"You will not be saying that when she is under you."
Oh, wait, what?
"Different; I like different."
Gritting my teeth, I whipped around and stared at the little group that gathered around the corpulent man who was holding onto my wrist. I let the plain and fat jokes roll off, but all this … Damn, I do not know how to explain it. I am not used to such words of degradation; I am not used to being ridiculed in such a way. And, least of all, I am not used to getting the itch to kick men in the balls, but right now, my right leg is very ready for some action.
"See? Plain, I told you. Not bad on the eyes, but still," Skinny-as-Hell Number One shrilly stated, narrowing his eyes as he swept them over my form like I was cattle. "Bigger than what we normally go for."
Again with me being fat?
"Nonsense, Santa; look at that bewildered face. She is one who plays coy."
This is so messed up. I am not saying anything right now because I most likely will commit murder several times tonight, but hell will reign before I will let myself be in this state forever. Snapping my wrist towards me, I regained my hand and glared wordlessly at the startled men, more irked than ever when the crowd closed around a small open space I saw to the left. So much for the corner tactic. Now, there are five swine who are throwing remarks like slop buckets.
"Huh, she is a feisty one."
Your mom, Baldy Face.
"I like feisty."
I think I am going to vomit.
Me vs. Baldy Face, Skinny-as-Hell Number One, Skinny-as-Hell Number Two, The Hefty, and Fish Eyes. Staring at me as if I am Jesus, or whatever. Wait, that's a bad example. How about a piece of meat? That, unfortunately, is much better.
"He is the one."
What? Signora Carlita? Behind me?
I froze. The name of my target.
And nearly tore my eyes off.
The Hefty: He is my target; gold amongst black and red. Funny thing is, since he's so round, he looks like a golden apple. A very big apple. I could not help but to release a chuckle.
"See? She is a sweet one; hear that little laugh."
"She will not necessarily be laughing later on, if you know what it is that I am referring to."
My face fell. Oh, wait, I nearly forgot that I am currently being verbally molested. How inattentive of me.
"I must have her."
Yes, and I must have you.
Dead, that is, after I get what I must.
"She does not seem seductive, at all, Mario."
"Aye, one needs some honesty, sometimes, if one can afford it from a whore."
Laughter. More laughter. Ha, ha, ha. Very funny.
But now, it is my turn to laugh. My target must have a tiny smidgeon of intelligence, because soon, he dismissed his companions and gestured over for me with a pudgy finger. As much as I wanted to bite off that giant sausage and stick it up his hairy arse, I clamped down on my impulse and followed him past the hordes of debaucheries that stung my eyes.
Good. I have shamed myself enough. Time to get this over with.
"Oh, the music. The dance: My favorite." Oh, great, what was this idiot blabbering about now? "The floor is clearing. My little kitten, you must go out there and give me a show."
What show? The seductive tones of Oriental tunes flittered past me as I chomped on my lip; the change in ambience was now one of the Serpent coiling around Eve.
And, me? Dance? In front of … all this?
"Come, now. You are even dressed for this," he insisted, raking his gaze over the attire I sincerely wished would stop being so damn scratchy. "Your figure is quite full, also. More for the eyes."
I glowered. Why could a girl not be anything but skinny?
Her whisper breezed past as she melted into the parting crowd once more. "We are nearly done."
Hell, finally. Almost there. I just have to secure him.
Even if it means that I must shame myself much more ridiculously.
I nodded grudgingly, taking deliberately slow steps into the center of the room that laid vacant for any "talented" seductresses to flaunt their "skills". I am going to fail miserably, for I am the least seductive creature on this Earth, and I have this awful case of short breath when I speak or do things in front of a large amount of people. I do not like being the center of attention, and I have always lived according to that principle. Celestino is going to be one disappointed—dead—man.
As soon as I turned, I saw Aurelia, and an inkling of relief soothed my troubled self. Once more, I can melt into the shadows and be unnoticed. Aurelia, one of the most famous courtesans with hair that shone like gold, with eyes bluer than the deepest of seas, with skin the color of fine cream, already captivated most of the room, even my now basically drooling target. Her hips rose and fell like a perfectly cresting wave, and the fashion in which she sauntered about the open expanse seemed godly. Everyone paled in comparison to her beauty and poise.
The plan might go differently, then, if my target was to incessantly go for Aurelia, but it would not fall short; I could simply trail them and come in through the ruins in the back into his quarters. Everything would work out in the end. The more I am overlooked, the better.
Yes, it was definitely better. The song was unfamiliar and much too slow for my tastes, and I probably looked dumber than a drunkard with two left feet; all I did was mimic the movements of the girls in front of me, as I stayed ever so observant in the back. I thought about slipping away, but much to my chagrin, I caught Celestino giving me an encouraging wink, and I was forced to go back into the uncomfortable routine.
Hellfire and damnation, this mission to dress up like a courtesan and go into an … an orgy. I never should have accepted it—
This … this next song, this dance.
I know it.
I know this by heart.
And, so, it began: one, two three, spin, step, arch the feet, clap, clap, end with a downwards fall to go into the next set. My mind worked furiously to click together the first few moves to the piece as I extended my limbs and moved. After the initial awkward startup, my body stirred of its own accord, and my mind coasted to a thoughtless haze that left the room a dull canvas of red and black undertones. The pipes, the tambourine, the spicy tenor of the Eastern World: They were all too captivating.
The familiar sound of enthusiastic cymbal clashes greeted my ears as I leapt and spun, shifting my hips upwards, snapping them downwards, while my hands lifted to the skies. I am not going to lie that I forgot about today being Monday; unfortunately, that thought still stuck with me, no matter how much I shook it off. I thought about the burnt bread I had for breakfast and the mice droppings on my favorite books; I thought about how I nearly cracked my head open after dumbly leaping into the open air from a haystack; I thought about how much the new recruits were being pompous bastards; I thought about the rain coming down like needles right after I stepped out of the door. All these weights, I found, merely made my movements much more acute and prompt. The music was in synch with me, and I was in synch with the music.
It seemed strange, somehow, when the end presented itself with the last bit of the tabla solo. My feet halted sharply before my conscious had caught up with the mystic conclusion, and breath rushed in and claimed the desperate reach in my lungs. It was done; it was over, I realized. The sound is stopped.
And I stood, mortification slapping me, out in the open, under the bright candelabra that seemed to make me burn and vivify the silver and green hues of my costume. I was exposed, no longer in the shadows, no longer hoping that my halfhearted mimics would shelter me. I was in the front, in front of the hordes of nameless faces that were motionless, under the scrutiny of the women behind me. I was speechless at my own reveries.
A noise. I heard a noise.
More and more.
And more like thunder.
And then, the sound of rain blasted through the room.
Overwhelming, completely overwhelming; like a ravenous tsunami, violent applauses and calls of approval ripped through my ears. Bags of florins, flowers, and other tokens were flung in my direction as I awkwardly stood in the middle the makeshift stage, dumbfounded and flustered. I caught Aurelia's face locked in shock, as well as the other courtesans and dancers, and I cringed before snapping back to attention. Everything darkened until I could only see the familiar red and bright white.
Until I saw the glimmer of gold.
Push, push, push: That is all I can do; I can only fight the greedy hands that latch onto me, the dirty promises, the crowd keeping me back, and rush through to my target. Everything was like a blur. It was all surreal.
"Kitten, you … that was … magnifico." What was really sad was that I was actually relieved to be next to this dire man than brave the crowd that previously gave me cover. "I must have you."
I shuddered, but managed to give a faint nod.
Great. Here we go. I fingered the hidden blade mechanism as I stepped out of the grand hall after Mario Celestino, biting my inner cheek. I admit: I was lost in that time, but now, I will not make that same mistake again. I must pay attention. I will.
My target seemed to be in a state of … fear? He turned around in the most nervous of states, and bid me to do the same. I did, and I nearly thought that I was looking at the lower end of a tapestry; however, one snap of my eyes upwards, and I knew that I was mistaken.
"Ah, my l-l-l-lord," Celestino stammered, his fat face emitting beads of sweat. "It is g-good to see you."
Who was this man? His rank was higher than that of Celestino's? Strange; I was pretty sure my target had the highest stance in this mission. I looked at that sharp, shadowed face, and his massive frame towered over me. He spoke nothing for a few seconds, until:
"My lord wishes to see the woman."
I frowned; he was quite rude, too. Not that I really care for this austere giant—
Hold on one damned second.
"He wants her at once."
Who wants to see me? I panicked, narrowing my eyes at my target. Whoever this lord was, he was thwarting my first and second plans; I would not be able to trail, nor would I be near the vicinity of Celestino. This mission would be completely ruined.
I glared at the pudgy man, hoping he would utter a complaint. I danced out there for nothing if he was to relent like the fool he was; Monday just beat the shit out of me, and I was not even at the start of how my costume made me itch and look like a confused whore who was mute, at the beginning of all my problems. I was going to finish this mission successfully, damn it, and no one was going to stand in my way.
"M-May the Master be satisfied."
Oh, for the love of a donkey's ass! I cannot believe this turd!
"You are dismissed."
I almost screeched—well, as best as I could; having a deep voice is such a pain—and tore off my wig when I witnessed Celestino scurry away on his fat legs. My mark! Gone! Just like that! All the cursed work that I carried out!
"You," I heard the tall figure say, "come with me."
Oh, yea, Monday, just laugh. Laugh all you want, because soon, you are going to wish Friday and Saturday kicked your arse back to Hades.
Because if they will not, I will.