The Dim and the Debt

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i am insane
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The Dim and the Debt

Post by i am insane » Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:55 am

"I don't have the money."

I sat back on my chair, folded my hands calmly on the table in front of me, and smirked at the man standing in front of my with all the force I could muster. It was going to be a beautiful day.

The royal family of Zamir was a large one: it had a long and storied history of indulging in the kind of vices that resulted in bastard children appearing on an almost regular basis, a tradition further escalated by the current emperor, his brother, and his uncle, and their collective love of courtesans, women of noble blood, women of not so noble blood, peasants that seemed particularly attractive, or peasants that just happened to be near a royal when alcohol was involved. The inevitable outcome of this, and the emperor's continued silence his heir, was vast and confusing web of theoretical inheritance, filled with those bitter fighting for position. Over the years the various children, those that bore the brightly hued eyes of the royal family, anyways, had formed a complex, labyrinthian sort of honor system known as the Tradition. It was bizarre, quite possibly inbred, and overly complicated, but still probably better than the sheer amount of violence that would occur if its, at times thin, veil of civility was ripped away and the more ambitious relatives were given free reign to settle their grudges.

One of the side effects of this process was unexpected weight given to unpaid debts. Money was, to many of the royal blood, more theoretical than real, and coin was often thrown away almost heedlessly, but the inability to pay money owed, especially to another of the blood, was considered a heavy wound in the eternal war of prestige and respect waged in the royal palace's halls. To those with little interest in inheriting, or a realistic view on their own chances of inheriting, such a blow was nothing more than a lack of social currency for a time, the possibility of not being invited to certain events and so on. For those like my brother, however, it was crippling.

I largely stayed out of the jockeying, keeping an eye on the ebb and flow of favor, content with my complete lack of responsibilities and the luxury that came with it, but dabbled on occasion to strike out against those that irked me. I knew that Claus had used up all his funds on several large purchases recently, and Triston was all to happy to lose his spar when he realized how catastrophically Claus's position (and thus the position those whose favor he held, like Triston's long time rival Susan)would suffer in the process, and poor Claus had ever had a weakness for gambling.

And now we were here, with my brother trying desperately to stop me from ruining years of work out of sheer pettiness, an ornate box held carefully under one arm, while I relished in his distress.

He pushed back his long and over styled golden hair away from his equally golden eyes in a nervous gesture, and started again. He was worried, yes, but not nearly as much as he should be. If I was correct, he had something up his sleeve. Was someone intervening on his behalf? Or...

"I don't have the money, Will. But I do have something else."

Ah. Well, that was interesting. Flaws aside, Claus wasn't stupid, and anything he thought would appease me was bound to be good. Probably not enough to stop me from wreaking him, of course, but I knew it would be tempting all the same. I let him stew in his worry for a moment before allowing a simple, "Oh?" to pass my lips.

He grinned slightly, some of the tension leaving his shoulders as he began his pitch.

"You know, obviously, that I spent most of my funds this month on a bidding war at the Market." He paused dramatically, and his grin grew as he continued, taking his box with two hands and displaying it with a flourish, "What you may not know is that I won. A high quality foreigner. She has breeding, she has looks, and she's new, guaranteed untouched. And if you let my debt slide, she's all yours."

I whistled once, lowly. For royalty, getting a good quality Dim was theoretically a simple process. The cream of the crop of the Market's wares was offered to to the Palace and it's inhabitants by the traders, an unspoken offering that had kept the trade safe and secure ever since its establishment. In practice, by the time those at the top of the pecking order got through with those available, nothing was left for a person of my status. For those unable to obtain an offering, the only path left was through the Market itself: I had always been interested, but for those lower in the food chain, obtaining a Dim like the one Claus was offering was an ordeal bordering on ruinous, more than I was willing to bother with, and I had no interest in low quality goods, so I had given up on that hope for more obtainable ambitions.

The bribes alone to get into the bidding outstripped the income of some of the nobility made in a year, and the competition from there was second only to that of the Tradition itself. I knew he had spent a good deal at the Market, though he was far from the only one, but I didn't know that he had won.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" I demanded. "Show her to me."

Gently, he took the box and walked towards me, placing it on my desk before falling back a step . Now that I was looking closer at it, I could recognize its design, gold and copper weaving elaborate patterns upon the dark wood, with the Market's symbol embossed in silver on top. I'd never seen one before, but I'd heard of the carrying cases for the Zamir's war-prizes, those nobles and elite who had made the idiotic mistake of challenging the empire's power, and had lived to regret it.

Ever so slowly, I pulled back the latch and opened it, filled with a rising sense of anticipation, revealing the prize within. Laying within the well cushioned interior was a single, perfectly formed woman, under a half foot in height. Her light brown skin boldly contrasting the crimson plush she laid upon, with black hair that fell almost to her waist, dressed in sheer, revealing clothes I doubted she would have ever worn by choice before her sudden fall in status, decked in a miniature display of wealth.

Purple earrings hung from her ears, matching the stone dangling from her belly button. On each of her middle fingers was a platinum ring, linked to platinum chains that, even on her body, seemed delicate as reached up to connect to solid bracelet clasped around her wrists. An anklet dangled above her right foot, studded with tiny gems like violet raindrops. And at her neck, the collar, proof of her status as a Diminished: a particularly elegant piece, a symbol of the worth she had been assigned by the Market, that seemed to be woven out threads of yet more platinum, all the threads coming to end at the largest stone of them all, brilliantly displayed against her skin. Each and every one of them, I knew, was once a normal piece of jewelry, chosen for and in some cases made for her, before they had been reduced with her to their current state, an extra level of opulence that was worth a small fortune all their own.

As she sat up nervously, I reached out with one finger and tilted her chin up a fraction of a inch, forcing her to look up, to stare at me in the face as I observed her. She shook at my touch, ever so slightly, her eyes wide in terror, and I felt myself harden at how helpless she was, at how easily she was moved by the slightest touch of a single finger. For a moment, I tranced the intricate, exotic looking tattoos that covered her body, black, fluid curves that tantalizingly caught the eye. My fingertip moving down her chin, to a shoulder, and then down an arm, stopping for a moment at the back of a hand smaller than my fingernail, before forcing myself to look up.

Looking at Claus's smug grin, I shook my head for a moment, before waving him to sit. I had underestimated him; a Dim like this was worth well more than the admittedly sizable debt I had on him, and we both knew it. A coup like this must have been the culmination of months of work, and while he was offering the true prize to me, undoubtably he had acquired several more in the process, more than enough to dull the sting of giving her up. Beyond that, my desire for a Dim like this was hardly a secret.

I cleared my throat as I refocused. We both knew he had won this round, but there were formalities to be played through before I could indulge. "Who is she?"

"A Seescean, the daughter of a Duke. Her name is Erica." Claus explained, settling back in the chair cheerfully. "Turns out, daddy dearest was willing to give up a quite a bit to save his own sorry hide when the empire came to visit."

Glancing down , I could see Erica freeze at his words, before falling back into a corner of the box. Dark hair covered her face as she hunched over, and I felt an urge to stroke it, and her, like I would a cat.

Neither of us held to ceremony, or had a victory to rub in the other's face, so Claus kept his offer simple: "The Dim for the debt?"

I looked back at Erica for a moment, and pictured her curled up in the palm of my hand, pictured taking off that oh so very thin outfit, so all I held was jewelry and soft warmth. I smiled.

"Deal."





It's been a long, long time since I've written anything for SW. A whole forum ago, geeze. This is a little short, I know, but I wanted to get this out before the inspiration passed me by, and I hope posting this will help prime the pump for more,. BTW, I'm pants at names; I looked at some royalty for the royals, but I have no idea what to call the girl, and Erica is more a placeholder than anything. If anyone has some suggestions, I'm open.
The best jokes hurt the ones that say them.

bask25456
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Re: The Dim and the Debt

Post by bask25456 » Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:41 am

Really love how this is starting, very evocative with just the few descriptions given

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