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30 July 2015 @ 12:42 am
_God of Thieves_ part 6  
I really ought to name this _Beauty and the Thief_


Early Summer 1401

Luckily Tyrone had only found the jug of stuff that was making Nabelle go bald. Even Tyrone had resisted drinking any more after her hair started falling out by the handful. Pity he then had to prove his virility by fucking everything in sight. Ericka was looking forward to his hair falling out.

Auction night had been fun, and the day after too. Pity Nabelle missed it all. And Neille had stopped working. She and Dare were just tight, now. Pretty funny, really, a pair of over-the-hill whores falling in love with each other. Even if the elixirs did have them looking younger.

Lizard, Crow, Mouse and Skunk were up to something, she didn't know what. But they'd gotten a bunch of money somehow and actually bought two calves at the auction. It would be nice to see some of the kids settle down to farming.

In the mean time, she supposed she ought to go see Nabelle. Maybe offer her a different potion.

As she turned to go, Vonne grabbed her arm. "Whatever you are doing to your complexion, I want some."

Ericka nodded. "Find me when you get up in the morning." She'd pick another potion, put just a bit in a glass and fill it with water or something. It would be a good way to find out what it did before she sold the rest.

Halfway down the block, Filli, Tyrone's wife, stopped her. "Ericka, whatever you are taking to get so much energy, I want some."

"Oh, sure. I'll bring some tomorrow." That would get two more elixirs tested, maybe three if Kathi was handy.

She went back home and sorted through the little bottles for pretty ones. And then she had a brilliant idea. Lacking the bottles for it, she went down to the creek beyond the hay meadow and dug clay out of the bank. It didn't matter that the results would be ugly. In fact, ugly was good. She formed up a couple dozen lumpy little bottles and set them in the sun to dry.

Hexes. Make your rival's hair fall out. I could get rich selling these.

Marylu wandered by for a gossip, and Ericka put a couple of drops of 'Lady Rena' in a cup and made tea.

"I'm thinking about opening a shop." Ericka fidgeted. "Closer to town. The Hassoon farm's been abandoned for years. Do you think I could fix it up?"

"Of course you could." Marylu yawned. "I doubt you could fix it up enough. And if you did, someone would notice that you don't own it."

"Hmm. Yeah. And then they'd what? Put a claim in at the court house? Or do they call it a bid? I could do that. They say they'll take anything."

"They forget to say that that's because then you have to pay the taxes." Marylu waved as she headed out the door.

"Oh. Drat." It'd take a lot of hexes to pay the taxes. Mom made a tremendous fuss every year about coming up with three hundred royals. And that was just for her quarter. A full farm, two miles square, would cost . . . Ericka fumbled briefly with large numbers. Over a thousand. And since she'd never had a whole thousand royals in her thirty-seven years of life, there wasn't much chance of it ever happening. Let alone happening every year. Year after year.

But she could take a closer look at the buildings.

She fetched her dried clay jars and stuck them in the stove's fire box, then carefully started adding wood to the coals. She could always hawk the Hex potions on the street.

She walked across to Uncle Willi's to check on Nabelle.

To her shock, Marylu and Nabelle were fooling around in Nabelle's bed.

Well, the things you never knew about your own family!

In the morning she swished a mix of water and fine powdery sand around the inside of her ugly jars and fired them again. Then the she walked into town, taking time to look over the Hassoon place. The house had fallen in altogether, the big barn looked dangerous, but a sturdy shed on the other side of the track was sound. She bit her lip and chatted up the clerk at the Courthouse. He was happy to check that yes, the original farm had been split to try and sell at least the fertile half. The taxes on the dry ridge half would be two hundred a year. "Until you put a house up on it, then they'll go up. If you put a bid in, you have to pay the first year tax, and the ownership will officially change at the next quarter."

She thank him and walked back thoughtfully. Looked at the shed. Ten feet deep, twenty feet long. Dirt floor, roof six feet high at the front and dropping lower at the back. But it could be _hers_. She went home and emptied all her hidey holes and to her astonishment came up with a bit over four hundred Royals.

Her family would grab it in a second, if they knew she had it. Mortimer always made Uncle Jek put his orchard money in the bank. She tucked the money in her sash and walked back to town. She spotted Tyrone coming and dodged into the bank. The well dressed gentlemen raised eyebrows at her.

"May I help you?" One of them asked, all polite and snooty.

"Is two hundred royals enough to put in the bank?"

"To open a new account, I assume?" The man looked a bit more human.

"Yes. My Uncle Jek has an account but I never have."

He got a bunch of papers and started writing. Her name. And suddenly she was Ericka Northerly. It sounded so . . . sophisticated. She even remembered enough of her lessons to be able to write it.

She marched across the square and into the Courthouse, and bid five royals for the northeast half of the Hassoon farm. And plopped down two hundred royals as proof of ability to pay taxes.

That pretty much took care of her money, but being broke was nothing new to her. As she left the Courthouse, she scanned the square for opportunities. She scowled. She'd told Lizard to stay away from that vicious brute of Mortimer's, and there he was, leading the damned horse across the square, all harnessed up. Trotting to keep up with the animal's long legs. Skunk, Mouse and Crow were running along with them, and she stalked that direction.

She lost sight of them when they turned back toward the river. The only thing out there were the flats where Tyrone and his buddies raced horses and bet on them. Beastly was definitely not a race horse. And when she got out there, she found that there were no races. Instead they were having pulling contests. Horses were hitched together and trying to pull the other over the center line. Equine tug-of-war. There were a bunch of young farmers and plenty of large horses.

Ericka found a nice shady tree, not too far from all those men, and proceeded to cheer indiscriminately as the early rounds eliminated all but the strongest horses. She batted her eye lashes at one of the losers and got him to explain the rules to her.

They drew numbers and each horse had two pulls against two other horses. Any horse that lost twice was eliminated. Then the remaining horses did it again.

"Once they get it down to the last four horses, then each horse does three pulls against each one of the others." The youngster looked at her curiously. "Not many women come watch."

"That big bay they are hitching up now belongs to my cousin. I guess he's made it to the second round."

"Good looking horse." The farmer patted his big blonde gelding apologetically. "Doesn't look like he's all draft to me, kind of long legged. May not do very well."

Ericka nodded thoughtfully. "Mortimer rides his dam." Beastly did look pretty long legged compared to the others. Actually he looked good, with a prettier head than any of the other beasts.

On the signal he leaned into the harness as the other horse was popped with a whip and leaped forward. The gray stopped like he'd hit a brick wall and Beastly dragged him step by step across the line.

Ericka cheered for him. As the spectators started outnumbering the contestants the betting started. She put a crown on Beastly every time he returned to the middle, and bet a royal on the final round, jumping up and down happily as he dragged a huge animal across the line.

Some of the farmers were counting their winnings and heading toward the kids. She followed discreetly, in case they needed an extra hand if things got rough, but found she'd misjudged the situation considerably. The farmers owned mares and wanted to breed them to Beastly.

Ericka frowned. Surely the horse had been gelded as a colt? But her memory must be faulty, because five mares were being led that direction. Five? Crow was giving the horse something in a bucket, and then giving some to the mares. Surely not wine! But something in a wine bottle.

They must have tried one of those potions! Found one that enabled the stallion to cover five mares in a short time. She scowled. She'd better secure those potions before everybody used them all up.

However, with all the grunting and squealing and all, the men watching got pretty randy, so it turned into a good evening for her, too.

When she finally walked home in the warm night, she had more than enough money to buy all the jars. Her mother's expression was delightful as she'd actually ponied up money for the bottles. Now all she needed was some idea about what each one changed.

It was slow work. Testing tiny amounts. She started a bit of work on her shed, getting it set up as a store, chatting about it in town, and selling elixirs based on what people who knew the family could see of the various cousins' changes.

She ran her hand through her thick blonde hair. She'd gotten a hundred royals each for the three with her own 'Lady Golden' elixir.

She'd given a sample of Lord Leo to Uncle Jek. He _might_ be looking a bit younger, but she really didn't think it had done much. Maybe she was splitting her potions too much? But others still seemed to be working. Aunt Salti was all confused and shocked, what with her suddenly younger looks and red hair. Fifty royals each, Ericka figured. In fact all she needed was enough people to give samples to, to figure out about hair color, and she'd be sitting pretty.

As it was, she was bringing in more money than she ever had as a whore, and it was mostly going into the bank account. She figured she could enclose part of the shed for storage and a bedroom, and she'd started digging out the center of what would be left open. The slope it sat on was steep enough that people could still walk into the dug out part. She could leave a couple of feet alone at each wall, to support the wall and be shelves to display her elixirs, potions and hexes. She didn't want to do much more than dig though, until the Fall Equinox, when it would all be officially hers.

Tyrone looked really funny with half his hair fallen out. He was staying in a lot. She wasn't having to dodge him very much to keep her money.

Her only problem was being pregnant again. Ugg, must be about three months along, the way she felt.

She heard feet stomping up the stairs, and peeked out of her room.

Nabelle stalked in and stood glaring. "Look at me!" her voice squeeked and slid.

"Your hair's growing back in! Oh, that's so good!" Ericka felt faint with relief.

"Yeah? How about this?" Nabelle tried to jiggle her breasts. There wasn't much to jiggle.

"Umm, maybe they'll grow back too?"

"At first I thought I'd been turned into a lesbo." She peeled off her shift. "Look at that! It's a prick. Two fucking balls. You're stupid potion has turned me into a man."

Ericka stared at the evidence. "I suppose it's too much to hope for – that Tyrone is turning into a woman?"

Nabelle laughed at that, her voice jumping like a teenage boy's.

"Err, do you like being a man?"

"Do I like! Are you kidding . . . well the sex is fun as hell. But how am I supposed to earn a living? And my eyes aren't working right, they're way too sensitive to light."

"Umm, maybe some of the potions turn a man into a woman. I could test them on someone. How about Lew?"

"And Erald, and Haro. They're just waking up." They looked through the box and found three bottles with 'Lord' on them. They heated up some milk with honey and spices, filled three cups and dripped a bit from a bottle into each of them. Nabelle walked home with two, and Ericka walked over to Uncle Frank's house with the other.

"Hi Uncle Frank, is Lew here?" She glanced toward the back of the ramshackle building.

"Is that for him?"

"I wanted his opinion on the taste."

"Ha! You getting sweet on him? Noticed you were looking mighty fine lately. Let me take a taste." He drank it all. "Not enough liquor in it." He thunked down the cup and walked toward the back of the house.

Ericka winced, and picked up the cup and took it home. There was some warm milk left, so she filled the cup and added some drops from another 'Lord' bottle.

She heard yelling from the back of Uncle Frank's house and just left the cup on the table. She didn't need to be in the middle of anything.

Some time later she heard the sound of wood chopping and figured that Uncle Frank must have put Lew to work.

The tint of purple in Aunt Elma's hair was quite attractive. And while her skin improved, she still looked middle aged or a bit more.

Aunt Norma, on the other hand, looked twenty, with a huge bosom and strawberry blonde hair. Uncle Willi went around looking exhausted, until she slipped him a couple drops of Lord Keffer.

Aunt Salti was in between, middle aged and attractive. With red hair. But Uncle Frank had turned his attentions to his sons. Three more bottles hadn't managed to change that back yet. Lew and Eddi weren't seen much. Skunk had moved in with Mouse and Crow.

Ericka frowned, trying to keep track. Neille had turned into a sexy young blonde, Dare was all masculine and had a job. They were still talking about marriage and gold mining. Marylu was a young brunette, and her husband was looking pretty happy, even if he did still live off her earnings. Which were considerable. She practically mugged men and dragging them into alleys. A couple had complained of being robbed, but admitted to having sex with her so the judge had tossed their complaints.

Kathi. Old Gods! She'd grown three inches, got tits that had to be seen to be believed and her hair was growing in jet black. The Duchess Fanci bottle.

Melodi's hair was getting really pale, and she was looking quite young. Not much bosom though. She was starting to attract a different sort of clientele.

Vonne's eyes had gone a funny gold color and her hair a golden blonde. That bottle would be bringing in a bunch of money. Lady Grace.

Rache had changed the least, just getting younger. Her eyes were still blue and her hair still a light brown. Lady Devi.

And most of them were pregnant and really irritated.

You just couldn't count on herbs, these days.

Bretbretw on July 30th, 2015 05:34 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised the goddess of health doesn't get called forward by the collective subconscious to investigate these shenanigans.
hollybambolo on July 30th, 2015 08:49 pm (UTC)
Surely this lot is too suspicious of authority to want help. Kind of surprising no one's beat up Ericka yet, but then, would she tell us if they did, or is that kind of like saying the sun rose to her?
matapampamuphoff on July 30th, 2015 09:55 pm (UTC)
Just part of the job. Her main worry is keeping the money from her larcenous cousins. But odd things are happening . . .
matapampamuphoff on July 30th, 2015 09:54 pm (UTC)
Balanced out by the God of Just Deserts?
Bretbretw on July 30th, 2015 10:05 pm (UTC)
I was just contemplating a scene with Gisele, Michael, the hell hounds, this lot, Easterly, the random horses (including Beasterly) and maybe even Romeau.

I was laughing hysterically.