To say Helena disagreed with Artie’s choice in agents for this particular retrieval was an understatement.
Again, why was Pete allowed to choose the costume theme this year?
For Three. I took some liberties….
With Halloween already creeping into shops, Pete decided to get a head start on their group costumes this year before H.G. “disappeared” again.
*H.G.’s opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the artist.
Clearly, I’m out of practice, so anyone who would like to, should drop me a note or ask or whatever if they have some Warehouse ideas!
She’s been pestering me for months for a cowboy Myka. Now I know why. Look at what I found….
Untitled Western By Redlance
The Wild West was home to many but friend to none. Survival was the aim and ain’t many folks that managed it. They stumbled through a handful of years only to be caught up in a shoot out or landed with one too many summers without a drop of rain. Is was a miserable place where only the strong survived, but it wasn’t all bad. Sometimes a ray of sunshine broke through the gloom….
Chaucer was old. As old as hills baking under the midday sun on the dusty horizon. Bay in colour and broad as a blacksmith, he’d been her constant over the years. Her companion and often the key to her very survival. He may have been past his prime but she’d still bet every last coin in her purse on him outrunning anything that dared try take them on.
His steps were slow now, kicking up plumes of dust as he brought her over the threshold of the town and down the dirt road that ran through the centre of it. It looked no different than all the others she’d passed through; general store, apothecary, a small tailor store. There was a building that brandished a large painted wooden sign that read “Guns and Ammo, always stocked!” above the doorway and it sat across from what could only be the saloon. Arched swinging doors provided little in the way of noise control and piano music drifted out into the evening air as she approached. All the raucous and rowdy sounds she’d expected met her ears as Chaucer trotted parallel to the doors, the distinct sound of glass smashing and a table being overturned causing her to shake her head.
"Nothing but damn fools, huh boy?" She reached down and patted the horse’s neck. He whickered softly and plodded on, but the sound of the saloon doors being thrown open and something being tossed out into the street was enough to give her pause. She clicked her tongue and Chaucer’s steps immediately halted, then she slowly turned him around.
She was met with broken howling laughter and two drunken idiots lying in the dirt. The barkeep was already dusting off his hands and making his way back into the saloon, calling out a gruff “sleep it off, boys!” over his shoulder. She watched them as they struggled to their feet, eventually rolling onto their knees and using one another for leverage. They stumbled and laughed, and she pitied them.
"Well now," one of them slurred and she blinked to clear her mind. They’d turned and were looking at her now, and she stared back from beneath the brim of her hat. Both were larger men, one taller than the other, with scruffy stubble and almost matching handlebar mustaches. The shorter of the two had lost his hat in the scuffle and it lay forgotten a few feet from where they had been so unceremoniously dumped. It was the taller one that spoke now. "Ain’t you a sight for sore eyes." He risked a few steps closer, gait unsteady. "You sees this Enos? Ain’t she a purdy thing?"
"Sure is, boss." They approached with all the confidence of drunken boys and Chaucer stamped a hoof into the ground impatiently. She only patted his neck again.
"You cut a fine swell up there. Don’t see many of your kind riding ‘round these parts, do we?" Enos shook his head and the motion was so loose she thought that he might lose it altogether. "How’s about you let me up there behind you? Then I can show you how to really ride? Be a real hog-killin’ time." He was close enough now that, if he reach out, he’d be able to touch her horse’s muzzle. But he didn’t and she stayed silent as she waited. "Ain’t much of a talker, are you girl? Well, that’s alright, that’s alright. Save your voice for later." And then he did reach up, towards her leg, and she could tell by the way he dropped that he never in a million years considered the possibility of that boot hitting him square between the eyes.
But it did.
He flew backwards and landed on his backside, sliding a foot and a bit across the ground until his upper body dropped bonelessly, out cold. Her dark green eyes darted to Emos and, to the man’s credit, he had enough sense to look surprised. Even more so when he registered the pistol being pointed at him.
"Don’t see many of your kind running," she said, gesturing towards his rotund midsection with the barrel, "how’s about I help you out with that?" And she cocked the hammer and fired a single shot into the ground at his feet, missing the toes of his boot by a hair. He let out a shriek, turned tail, and took off down the road. She rolled her eyes and holstered her gun.
"Damned fools." She muttered and Chaucer whickered again.
They moved together down the street, her eyes scanning the buildings and his trained ahead, waiting for a signal to stop. It came at the foot of a two storey establishment that brandished the name “The Warehouse” in bold gold lettering between the upper and lower floor windows. She spent a moment looking up at it and then swung herself down off the horse. A young girl with bright red hair that had been hovering on the porch ran over as her boots hit the ground and she stopped a few paces in front of the rider, blinking up at her with wide eyes.
"Evening." The girl said, giving a small curtsey that didn’t quite fit the pants and shirt she wore. "Name’s Claudia and I’m charged with taking care of the horses here." She gathered up Chaucer’s reins and glanced over at the girl for a long, silent moment. So much so that the redhead began to shift uneasily.
"Myka." She finally said. "You got water and feed?"
"Know how to undo a saddle?"
"You gonna brush him down for me?"
"That’ll cost you extra."
She smirked at the girl and walked Chaucer forward, offering her the reins. Claudia took them without hesitation and watched as the newcomer undid the leather straps of the purse she had tied to her belt. She loosened the opening and slipped her fingers inside, pulling out two coins and handing them to the girl. The redhead’s eyes widened, ever so slightly, then she snapped her hand back and shoved it deep into her pocket as though she were afraid the money might be taken back.
"You take good care of Chaucer, you hear? He’s very special to me." Claudia nodded and turned away. Myka watched as they disappeared around the side of the building and then made her way inside.
The interior was unlike anything she’d ever encountered. All dark wood and velvet curtains in a shade of red so deep it seemed lewd just to look at. She entered slowly, eyes roving over the room and its occupants. There were a few tables set in front of a small bar, barely half of what a saloon would offer, but the vast majority took up the plush seating that was scattered about. Men sat with a woman or two close by, though none were touching the girls quite yet. They were all well dressed, even the men, but the women all wore dresses that had to be of the highest quaility and Myka counted at least seven in this room alone. More than she could recall ever seeing in a place like this before.
Not that she’d been in many, just enough to know there was a difference, and none of them had ever looked quite like this. The place was ace-high and there had obviously been no expense spared during the construction. Whoever owned the joint must have had money to burn.
She hung in place for a moment, watching. The low hum of conversation was broken here and there with high laughter from the women and low chuckles from the men. The atmosphere was smoky from cigars and relaxed, and she felt a strange sense of comfort and calm wash over her like a wave. The longer she stood, the higher it seemed to crest.
"I don’t believe I’ve seen your face here before." When she came out of her reverie she was surprised to find a woman standing in front of her. Dressed to the nines and draped in dark purples and lighter blues, she too was unlike anything she’d seen before. Coal black hair and moonlight-pale features; she looked like no one else in the room or any town she’d ridden through. She didn’t speak like anyone else either.
"I’m new to these parts." Myka said, still a little dumbfounded. The woman gave a curt nod of her head and flashed Myka a brilliant smile, adjusting the fur she had looped over her arms and around her lower back.
"Indeed you are and especially new to my establishment." That too surprised her.
"Yours?" She asked before she could stop herself.
"Built with my own two hands." The women lifted her hands and Myka took a moment to run her eyes over them. They lacked any callouses and looked soft and smooth. The woman crinkled her nose and appeared sheepish. "I should rather say that it was built by others under my employ." And then she paused, giving Myka a thorough once over. "My, you’re an unusual sort aren’t you?" The rider’s brow furrowed beneath her hat.
"Madame." The woman corrected with a haughty sniff. "Madame Wells. And I only mean that I believe you’re the first female of your kind to walk through my doors and I suspect even this town. It isn’t proper for a lady." She smirked as she said it, teasing and playful, and Myka felt herself react to the sight without consent.
"I’ve never been much for proper ladylike behaviour." She said and the woman laughed, dark hair shifting over pale shoulders like silk.
"A thing I do not doubt." Myka returned the smile with a tentative one of her own.
"No disrespect intended ma’am. Madame." She corrected herself quickly and the woman’s dark eyes flashed with something that looked like mischief. "But I’m here for a reason." And they flashed again.
"And what might that be?" Myka cleared her throat, spurs jingling as she shifted her boots.
"Company. For the night, if I may." One of the girls behind them let out a loud burst of laughter, tearing Myka’s attention away for a heartbeat, but when it returned to its former place of resting, the woman was still staring at her. Curious and intrigued.
"You have the coin for such a request?" Myka thumbed the purse at her belt to make the money inside clink together. The Madame seemed satisfied. "You won’t find any men other than my barkeep under my employ Miss…"
"Myka, Madame. And that’s just fine, though I confess I only meant that I desire the kind of company involving conversation. For tonight, anyways." Madame Wells peered at her thoughtfully for a few heartbeats after Myka was done speaking and it wasn’t clear to her what the owner of The Warehouse was thinking. Still, she took the opportunity to look at the other woman. Properly.
She really was quite beautiful. Elegant and proper, but she gave off an air that led Myka to suspect that she could hold her own in any situation. Which she’d had to have proven ten times over to get to where she was now. The Madame of her own parlour house, with at least seven girls in her charge, Myka had never heard of such a thing.
Then, like the clouds parting to reveal the sun, Madame Wells was smiling at her again. And, to Myka’s surprise, she took one glovesd hand and rested it against Myka’s upper arm.
"I do believe there’s someone here who will be willing to… Tend to your needs."
FanArt for Illustrated Misdeeds by Felix_27.
This story has been creeping me out all week, but I love it.