Chapter 7

Jyp insisted on carrying Kore all the way from the Pit to the gate because of all the mud in the place. He reckoned that any lady, and especially his Little Lady should never get their pretty red slippers muddy. Kore made sure they took the narrow back streets after that as she really didn't want people to see her on her way to Governor Toller's Villa dressed up like a wedding cake, complete with red ribbons that Jyp had 'found'. Kore didn't ask where, and could think of no place at all in the Pit where red ribbons could be obtained.

The Villa was so brightly lit on the outside that it hurt Kore's eyes. The Pit was never this bright, even during the day. The entire well-kept and tidy grounds were surrounded by a high, barbed fence. Fresh green lawns were edged with beautiful, flowering bushes and dotted with fish-filled pools and clean white statuettes. The Villa itself was a huge, square, three story building with pillars at its doorways and balconies at it's sparkling, brightly lit windows. Kore found the whole thing rather obscene given the levels of poverty in some areas of Azoria, and there were more of those than the Pit. Jyp found a bush to sit under and no amount of persuasion and reassurance of it's non-necessity could make him change his mind and return to the Pit for a few hours. He fully intended to stay exactly where he was until Kore came back out of the Villa.

Two guards stood either side of the massive black painted Villa doors and they looked very surprised to see a young girl wandering up the path alone, dressed for the party.

“Back door.” One of the guards said, thinking she was there as some sort of personal entertainment.

“Your sexual preferences are of no interest to me.” Kore said casually. “I have an invitation from Governor Toller, as delivered by one of his Captains. Thank you.” The other guard guffawed a laugh when he caught on to Kore's crude comment, something which the first guard had no chance of doing. “So can I go in? My name's Kore if you'd like to check up on me.” Guard two nodded at guard one to go and verify Kore's invitation with someone.

“He'll be at least ten minutes, it's chaos in there. I'm Manning.”

“I bet you are.” Kore muttered and sat herself on a low, ornamental wall to wait for her verification.

“So what's the going rate? I just got a raise.” Manning jingled his belt-purse. Kore just looked at him. His comments were all but begging for witticisms but his stupidity meant wit would be wasted.

“Sorry, not for sale.” Kore smiled and wished she had her short-sword handy.

“Oh come on. You girls all have your price.” Manning coaxed.

“What was your mother's?” Kore said nastily. She'd heard enough out of this oaf.

“A few silver pieces but that a while ago.” Manning said seriously and Kore didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

“I really am an invited guest, Manning.” Kore tried. “For some reason the Governor saw fit to ask me here.”

“For some reason?” Manning laughed. “Now I wonder what that could be?” Kore was about to start swearing at Manning when the doors opened, unleashing a path of bright yellow light over the wall where Kore was sitting.

“Who passed on this invitation?” Yet another soldier asked her. Kore couldn't see his face clearly as the house lamps were dazzling her eyes.

“One of your Captains.” Kore cursed herself for an idiot for not knowing the soldier's name and not having the sense to even ask it of him at the time. “He was at the arena this afternoon with Governor Toller.”

“By hell.” Soldier muttered. “And your name is Kore?”

“Yes.” Kore snapped. “Look, I was invited here and I only accepted with the utmost reluctance. Governor Toller requested my presence but to tell you the truth, I couldn't give a rat's arse. Maybe you want to tell him you wouldn't let me in.” Kore spun round to march off down the path to find Jyp.

“Hang on!” The soldier in the doorway shouted and ran after her. “Excuse my caution. I'm sure you understand the security measures we have to employ.” Kore stopped marching and glared at the soldier. “My name is General Louis Marx.” He said carefully, watching Kore's face very closely indeed.

“I understand.” Kore nodded. “Partly my fault too, I didn't ask the Captain his name and that was stupid of me.”

“Understandable. You must have been quite excited at the invitation.” Marx opened the door for Kore.

“Ecstatic.” Kore said sarcastically.

“You said the Captain was at the arena. Were you there too?” Marx fished to confirm his suspicions. Kore started to laugh.

“Possibly, yes. I'm sure the Captain could confirm my invitation.” Kore said more politely than she actually felt. The irritation was setting in rapidly.

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