Ever Quite as Clear IV

She woke up dry; the sun had lovingly wrung her clothes of the fierce downpour from last night. Mud was caked onto her side. She stared at it with sunken eyes, and then slapped at it, breaking it apart, abandoning it to gravity and the ground from whence it came. Clawing up the side of the embankment, she stumbled back into the town.

Stoke-on-Trent was a quiet port town; the sailors never got too rowdy, the mayor pleased most of the people most of the time, and everyone seemed content to live their lives out here. So when raggedy-old Beatrice dragged her feet through their main street, a few people looked her way. Oblivious or uncaring about their stares, she continued until she reached the fountain in the city square, where she let herself sit, and drink of the cool water.

While she was washing her face, a tall, imposing figure blocked out the sun, his huge shadow covering her as a proud oak tree would. He introduced himself as Lucius Felix, and extended his paw of a hand toward Beatrice. This olive branch seemed as though from God, and she took his hand quickly, without thought. Once he had her, he lead her in great haste to a single room apartment on the south side of the town, near the ships, away from the square.

He put her up here, caressing her cheek, calling her a beautiful sunset. She must not leave this place, he said, for she was a stranger and might be thrown out. But he would bring her food and other goods. Oh yes. He would bring her things.

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