Chapter 2

“Avril will need help with the younger ones.” She said in a low voice.  Zephyr opened his mouth to say something but Joulan threw him a look that said he would regret it.  “See you two at home.” Mitzy said as she turned around briefly to wave them off and was on her way.  “Come on then. I’ll help.” Joulan said and began down the road towards Shanty.  The duo made their way towards the center of town in relative silence. Hut’s and lean to’s made up most of the structures on the outskirts. As they drew inward the residents became shacks and even some real buildings. Labourers left their homes with little other than soup in their bellies to find their nearest watering hole. Most were simple lodgings that brew mushroom-shine. There were only a few real taverns in Shanty town and those cost a full day’s earnings. Yet rumour was, up above they drank liquor from all over the known kingdoms. Back down here youth roamed the streets. The lucky ones who had families tended to stay together. There were those like Zephyr and Joulan who had communities they could go to. And then there were those that had plain run out of luck, you avoided those ones.  Zephyr pulled Joulan to the side as they approached the only road in Shanty that could really be called a street. Most of the town’s nighttime activities took place in this thoroughfare. The boys kept to the shadowed alleys that ran parallel to the main strip until they reached their destination. Madame Boswells, the only Cathouse in town. They leaned against a couple of crates as they waited. Joulan glanced back and forth to the building, his cheeks grew flush as he did. He was the one to break the silence. “You know you’re a real bastard for what you did to Mitzy”. He said to Zephyr.
“How?” Zephyr replied.
“You know why she does what she does. Why she hides who she is” Joulan replied nodding towards the Cathouse. “It ain’t easy being a girl.” Joulan continued.
“It ain’t easy for any of us” Zephyr retorted. “Having her would have made this a lot easier.” said Zephyr as he crouched down and looked away from his friend.  “Easier for you, this is the one place she wants to avoid. You think I want my sister even seeing a whore house let alone setting foot in one?” Joulan continued.
“Fine, fine, you’re right.” Zephyr said, trying to end the conversation. He wasn’t good at this stuff.  “I’ll work my arse off until we’re out of this pit.” Joulan said.
“Yeah until the mines get you, they get everyone eventually.” Zephyr said his eyes focused on his friend. “Yeah well you’re not the only one with a plan, I’ve been working with….” Joulan began but was cut off by Zephyr’s hand wave. “Get down, he’s here.” Said Zephyr as he pushed his friend to a crouch. A carriage pulled up outside Madame Boswells. It wasn’t especially fancy, wooden with a few brass ornaments. Carriages and wagons were used often to shift material. What was unusual was the horse. The creatures hated it down here in the dank. Normally they just used mules. A horse would have cost down here in the slums as there was very little wealth to spread around. That was intentional. A way to keep people working the mines. There were only a few that took on administrative tasks for those above that could afford them. It was a literal hierarchy of wealth. Shanty was the rock bottom so to say. A driver hopped off the carriage and opened the door. Out stepped Jayr. His Overseer uniform was still crisp despite his ‘work’. A look of disgust swept over the man’s face for a brief second as he stepped onto the mud. Then the doors to Madame Boswell swept open and a heavy set woman appeared to welcome the Overseer inside. She took his arm and Zephyr noticed the same look again as the woman touched him. A moment later and they were inside and the affair was over. 

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