Ch. 114. The Thief’s New Clothes

Clothes, lots and lots of clothes. The fitter entered without really waiting for her response to the knock at the door, hung a long gown next to the door, placed a few britches and skirts on the stools upholstered with velvet and then left the room before Lotye was even able to fully turn around and greet him. Only a few seconds later he was back again, one arm full of shirts and bodices, the other one balancing boxes for hats and shoes. After everything was complete and to his pleasure, the elf, clothed after the latest fashion, took position next to the door and for the first time seemed to even realise that Lotye was there as well. He made a low, courtly bow, his fancy silver braid bobbing up and down, and addressed her in the most polite and courteous way possible:

“At you service milady. I’m here to help you find the perfect garments to fulfil your wishes.”

Lotye didn’t know where to look, much less what to say. Her eyes were overflowing of all the different clothes to look at. Never before had she been able to chose from so many different parts. There simply wasn’t that much choice when one was stealing from the clothesline. Most of her own clothes had been old, worn out, often by many different people, and patched multiple times. These clothes on the other hand, while relatively simple in comparison to what she had seen some women sport in Sesus, were brandnew and of good quality. I’d have to sell a lot of fake potions to be able to afford clothes like that, Lotye thought, if there wasn’t that much to worry about right now, this whole thing wouldn’t have been all that bad of a deal.

The absence of a response to his formal greeting clearly showed the tailor that this girl was far less refined than his usual customers. The way she looked at his products with his eyes far open probably made him think of some ordinary country miss, here on a whim of a wealthy nobleman. He actually wasn’t too far off with his assumption. The elf didn’t even try to hide his discontent, the corners of his mouth jerking down, nobly wrinkling his nose.

His mood wasn’t brightened up when Lotye began to take a closer look at the clothes. She picked up every single item he had brought, held it in front of her and turned it around. That won’t be an easy decision, that much she already knew. Then she began to ask questions. The fitter probably wouldn’t have had any problem to tell her which styles were in vogue in the ballrooms of Sesus at the time, but her questions about pockets and how visible certain items would be under this or that skirt seemed to stump him a little bit. But the man still tried to answer all of her questions to the best of his knowledge while staying polite, even it was a politeness achieved through clenched teeth.

Lotye found herself in a difficult position. If there wasn’t much choice, most decisions were easy. Now she felt flooded with many different options. Even the most basic decision, whether to chose a skirt or britches, took her a long time to make. She always had liked the feeling of freedom that britches in general gave her. She could run and jump with them, far better than she ever would have been able to in any skirt. But she had found that wearing gowns was more profitable to her business, especially in the bigger cities. In fact, it was for both of her businesses. People seemed to think that a woman wearing gowns was more trustworthy as a seller of enchanted items and stolen items were easier to hide in the deep pockets of her dress. Then again, how good were her chances of having any more business in Sesus? After a lot of back and forth, she settled for the britches, but not without telling the fitter to also put one of the skirts on the bill for the State Magus. One of many decisions was made.

In the end, after a lot of struggle and with the help of an increasingly annoyed elf, she was completely clothed in new linen and cotton. She chose tight-fitting, sand-coloured britches, although the fitter by then was stressed out enough to comment that she “could use a little bit more bottom” for them. The upper body was draped in a white linen blouse and a light blue bodice with beautiful lace details at the sleeves. The lacing in front nicely accentuated her waist and did a good attempt to lift her bosom, but there really wasn’t much to lift. Her small feet were covered in simple flat leather shoes and white silk hose up to her britches. Her hair still fell freely over hers shoulders and back, no hat crowning her head. In fact, the fitter was finally piqued when she did not even want to take a look at all the bandboxes he had carried with him.

She didn’t ask for the price, knowing that Lord Nightwise would pay. Having seen how the State Magus clothed himself earlier, she doubted that he would care much for how much of his money she had spent. After she thanked the fitter, who looked like he was more than happy to be able to leave, the man gathered his goods, hastily bowed a last time and then disappeared never to be seen again. Lotye stayed in the roomy bathroom a little longer, looking at her reflection in the mirror. Pleased with what she saw, she returned to the main room of the apartment, where Aeto Arrowwise was still sitting on the couch. Wordlessly, she took place next to her, enjoying both the soft cushions and the feeling of being clean and well clothed.

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