Chloe D’Aushinger had been arrested quietly in the middle of the night, with no notice to her family or to her not-inconsiderable business interests. She had spent three nights in the Pietierre “Hospital’s” more uncomfortable basement rooms before being just as quietly released on the recognizance of three people she had never met before.
Rene, no-last-name-given, took the lead. He was a tall man, wearing a taller hat with a very wide brim, which shadowed his face rather effectively. “Mme. D’Aushinger, I would like to welcome you into the club.”
“I really must be getting back to my family…” Chloe had been saying that for days. She had met with opposition of every sort – rough, direct, soft, indirect, hinting, threatening. Rene simply bowed, so low it was amazing his hat stayed on.
“While your lodgings are lovely, for the next week, I’m afraid it will be necessary for you to enjoy our hospitality. We’ve moved your family already, one at a time. Your home is being watched.”
A second shadowy figure coughed. Nicholle. She, too, was missing a last name. “Rene…”
“This is the time and place when we can say things, Mlle. She will have to learn soon enough to hear those things not said. I believe her days under the Pietierre have begun to teach her what words you cannot utter. But I feel she needs to understand a bit more before we move her.” Rene said this all at once, as if hurrying before Nicholle could cut him off.
The third figure, Ane, had not spoken at all. But from the breadth of shoulders and the thick hand provided to Chloe to shake, she had no question why the good gentle was there.
Which was more than she could say for herself. “I’m afraid I really don’t understand.” Chloe drew herself up, straightening her shoulders. She looked where she thought Rene’s eyes likely were. “I annoyed some powerful people, yes. When those of-“
“The thing is,” Rene interrupted, “when you say ‘those of my ilk,’ as you were going to, you don’t yet know what your ilk is.”
“That,” Nicholle took over, “is what we are here to correct. As Rene said… welcome to the club.”
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