I'm losing all inspiration to write. My days are so busy. Anyway, sorry about this chapter. It isn't my best. I've been having a hard time writing without it feeling like I'm getting my teeth pulled out. Summer just drags me down. Well, this summer is, at least.

And this is extremely short. Again, I'm sorry.

Sunday April 5, 246

I was a little eager to go to breakfast but I lingered in my room until I heard Kora go upstairs. When I got home, Aniki told me the details of what happened at Barrel's Bottom and how Dawull wouldn't let anyone help the other rushers. Aniki had been secretly glad at that. She didn't want to have to bring any harm to our Puppy, not like she would attack her anyway. She knew better than that.

When I arrived with more food, I saw her feeding them damn pigeons. Filthy little birds, they were but Beka treated them like pets. It was when she turned to face me, I saw her bruises. They were nasty yet very impressive. She didn't seem to be complaining about them.

"I'll kiss them and make them better," I said, fully intending on making her uncomfortable.

She moved fluidly into a defensive position as she glared at me. I don't know if she realized she glared but I felt a slight chill to it. "Try and I'll bruise you," she said to me. "Then Aniki and Kora could kiss you all better." Feisty gixie, isn't she? I held back my grin.

Kora just smiled and said, "Aniki can do the kisses." She waved me off with words. She was through with me, I knew that. With Ersken around, Kora wasn't my mot anymore. I still had yet to get used to it. "Rosto, don't pull Beka's tail. She doesn't like it."

Suddenly Pounce weaved between my legs, reaching up with his paws and meowing at me to get my attention. I sighed. "I was just being friendly," I said. "Modern times are cruel when a cove can't be friendly." I stepped around the cat and found a spot on the floor cloth. "See if I bring you a treat tomorrow, Master Cat." Pounce's whiskers twitched as though he were going to smile. I looked up at Beka. "Is there a tomorrow? I think this little breakfast idea is quite nice, even with threats and the nasty birds coming and going."

I don't dislike the birds as much as I say I do. They are just everywhere all of the time. They leave their droppings and feathers about the place. Of course, they were just stupid animals; they didn't know not to do that in someone's lodgings.

"Not tomorrow, Tuesday's my day off. I leave early to visit my family. And tomorrow is our day in Magistrate's Court. It starts the hour after sunrise," she explained.

"Ugh," I think I may have grimaced at the though of the early beginning and sitting in the Magistrate's Court until Mithro's knows. "They don't pay you enough, sweetheart." She scowled at me but it wasn't a real one. That chill wasn't there like before.

Verene and Ersken came in with sausage rolls and a mouthful of talk. Some moneybag was sleeping with a cove that wasn't her husband and was caught. Another mot had twins in the Flash District and there would be a celebration. It would be rather crowded in the Flash District to consider stealing from anyone.

"Remember Alacia?" Verene asked Beka. She turned to us right after and explained, "She's another Puppy named in tribute to His Majesty's first Queen. Well, till yesterday she was on Day Watch in Unicorn. Then my lord of Olau got word that his youngest and only son has been flirtin' with a pretty Puppy."

"Fast work," Aniki said with respect. "You lot have only been on duty, what, five days?"

"Four, not counting today," Ersken corrected.

Verene continued, obviously displeased with the interruption. "Anyway, the lad's Noble father pitched a fit at the Unicorn Kennel and they switched Alacia with Clarke. He was on Night Watch at Prettybone. So now she's on Night Watch."

I rubbed my chin. This gixie must be a pretty thing. "So this Alacia is a sweet armful? I'll look out for her, Dog or not." If she is as pretty as said, then it wouldn't do any harm would it?

Aniki thrust her elbow into me. "Don't you have enough women in your life, Rosto?" Does she not realize that I lost one mot? Probably not yet.

I looked over at Beka, just to ruffle her a bit. "Not without Cooper, I don't."

Erksen smirked at me. "Cooper will never go with anyone crooked," he said. For a moment, I thought it was a challenge but he continued. "A rusher was mean to her mother. She's never forgiven them.

I wanted to catch her eye to see if it were true. She ignored me for her pigeons. She ignored me for birds. My pride as a man was wounded because she decided to pay attention to her pigeons while I was trying to pull her tail a little more and maybe flirt a little.

Beka leaned a little toward the dirty bird. Now this time I'm not trying to knock her birds, this bird was dirty. Covered in muck. She leaned toward it, her head tilted to one side a little as though it were whispering into her ear. Her eyes fell out of focus. She was no longer listening to us.

Verene was talking again. It was like she never stopped, honestly. I really wonder if she had time to eat between each piece of information she shared. Though, I admit, she did carry good gossip from time to time. After she finished with her latest bit she turned to Beka, who was still listening to her bird. "Beka," she called. Beka snapped to attention. Verene and her started talking about a Dog who had been doused. He taught them about weighted dice and apparently died with weighted dice in his mouth.

As the sun rose higher, we talked of other things, many other things until the room got warm and Beka could no longer keep herself upright. She had lost a lot of blood from what I heard. Kora ordered her to nap and make a few coins by offering to wash their clothes. Of course, she was cheap on them, being friends and all. Me and Aniki cleaned up the remains of breakfast from her floor and put whatever was left in her cabinets. Beka wouldn't have been able to do it, not with her being so lightheaded. I know what it's like to lose a lot of blood.

"Don't forget your wash, Rosto," Kora said to me. I went to my room and gathered all of the things I needed washed, setting it a basket by her door. I knew better than to walk in her room. She's a mage and had traps set around her room before I left for a stroll in the market.

When I went to see Ulsa at the Court of Rogue, she quickly rushed everyone out to go back to her district in Prettybone. She told us that we all had jobs to do. James and Paul were waiting for me. We had become fairly good comrades, if I do say so myself but I knew better than to trust anyone after a day of knowing them. We did a few thefts and a robbery, just petty jobs until we came back and Ulsa called me forward.

"One of my guards had to disappear," she told me with a wicked gleam in her eyes. I nearly groaned aloud but I kept my dismay at bay. I knew my fun with Paul and James wasn't going to last long. Ulsa seemed to want to keep an eye on me for awhile. By the way she kept checking to see if I was standing next to her was a good hint enough. It paid well at the very end at least. I never asked why her guard had to disappear, unlucky cove. I had a feeling the answer wouldn't settle the squirm I felt just being around her.

Many years in this line of work, I knew that feeling well and I tried to heed it as much as possible.

I stayed by Ulsa's side all night until she warmed up to me a bit. Whether she trusted me or not was hard to decide. Her eyes were blank and but her expression was neutral. It would probably be best for me to keep an eye on her.

When I was finally about to leave, I went to James and Paul who were having a bit to drink. Knowing the time, it was barley water. Even we rushers have to draw the line at some point. We couldn't do our jobs while drunk and half on our toes. We might as well hobble ourselves and walk to the kennel in a single file line.

"Headed out?" Paul asked.

"I'll give it one more time around," I told them. "Just to end the night well, at least."

The coves laughed and stood from their spot. We made our way around Prettybone, being careful of the Dogs. I didn't manage to see that gixie Alacia but I wasn't so broken up about that. We managed to steal a heavy coin purse from an even heavier man. He probably couldn't even see the purse if he looked down, his gut stuck out way past his belt.

"I think that man was well feed enough for the whole Cesspool," James said. "Mayhap we'll be doing some good to him." I laughed and nodded before I took my share and ran back home. Aniki wasn't home yet. She was probably drinking with Reed Kate and Bold Brian. They had become friends, in a way. Aniki wasn't so sure of them. Trusting wasn't our best trait. We learned the hard way in Scanra. Yet we liked our Puppies well enough, that's for sure.