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I returned to the Clerk's Ward next day. My path had take me to a large, circular building. Seeing no name, I entered. A tiny room was just inside the outer doors. I pushed open the inner doors, moving into a foyer.
Before me was a stunning golden-haired woman, dressed in an azure and violet dress, with two long, elegant wings draped across her shoulders. She was surveying the room with a slight smile... she was easily the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
I greeted her. The woman turned as I addressed her. She took my measure, then nodded slightly... I noticed her eyes were azure, the exact same color as her dress.
"Well met, traveler." She reached up to brush back a stray lock of golden hair. "How may I help you?"
"Who are you?"
"I am called Fall-From-Grace." She studied me for a moment. "You are new to Sigil, are you not?" I could answer that two ways, both true. I opted for the literal truth.
"No, I suspect I have been here for quite some time, actually."
Fall-From-Grace raised an eyebrow. "Indeed?"
"Yes... but that is a long tale, perhaps longer than I know. I'm more interested in what this place is."
"This is the *Brothel of Slating Intellectual Lusts.*" She studied me for a moment. "I take it by your question that you did not intend to partake of this establishment?"
"'Brothel of Slating Intellectual Lusts?' What kind of brothel is this?"
"I established this brothel to give those lustful fevers that strike the mind more avenues of expression rather than the simply carnal. Much pleasure can be had in conversation and engaging in the verbal arts with others."
Morte commented, "Sounds dull."
She replied, "I assure you, it is not. Tour the brothel, see for yourselves."
My curiosity, always easily aroused, prompted me, "I have to ask: Why did you establish such a place?"
Fall-From-Grace raised an eyebrow. "That is an odd question." She frowned. "I don't think anyone has ever asked me that. At least, directly." I became more formal, matching her tone.
"My apologies, Lady Grace. I didn't mean to be so direct. I was merely curious."
"Oh, no apologies are necessary. I am more than happy to discuss the reasons with you, if you wish."
"I would like to hear them, yes."
"Part of the answer to your question requires that you know that I am a member of the Society of Sensation. Our faction believes that one should experience as much of the multiverse as possible."
"And that is why you established this place?"
"This brothel is intended to slake the lusts of even the hardened intellectual. It is designed to stimulate the mind, to heighten one's awareness of themselves and others, to create new ways of *experiencing* another person. It is for those who seek something more than the shallow physical pleasures that fill the Hive and Lower Wards."
"I see. So this establishment just encourages intellectual fencing rather than, uh, well the *other* kind of fencing. The women here must be special, indeed." I doubted the customers forbore from taking shallow physical pleasures elsewhere, however.
"The women here are aspiring Sensates. They have come to me in search of instruction, to prepare themselves to enter the faction. Also, many of them have a natural grasp of language that can shatter the crust of the most hardened individual."
"I see. So the ladies here are ladies-in-training, so to speak?"
"Yes. I hope that by learning the art of language and its subtleties that the patrons and the students here may learn more about themselves. One is only as limited as their command of the language. To be able to employ language to evoke emotions in others is a tremendous skill." I also wondered what manner of being I faced.
"If I may ask, Lady Grace, the wings on your back... you are not human, I take it?"
Annah interjected, "She's one o' the fiends, one o' the succubi, she is. She'll take yer measure, then she'll take yer soul to the Lower Planes, so's she will."
Fall-From-Grace replied, "Your companion is correct. I am a lesser tanar'ri, more specifically, a succubus." She gave a soft sigh. "I'm afraid we're a little too common in the Lower Planes and elsewhere for our own good. Most of my race spend their time seducing mortals with various pleasures of the flesh."
"I'd like to think that I have distanced myself from that... it is ultimately a trivial and non-productive way for one to spend one's time here in the multiverse. There is much more to life, wouldn't you agree?" Rather than commenting, I broached another topic, one I hoped she could help me with.
"Perhaps you can help me. I seem to have lost my memories... in so doing, I've lost myself."
"You have been stricken with amnesia?" Fall-From-Grace looked pained. "How terrible! Do you have any idea how it happened?"
"Not really... at least not that I can remember. I woke up on a slab on the Mortuary, and everything before that is black."
"You awoke in the Mortuary?"
"I think the Dustmen mistook me for being dead... or I was dead... or something. All I know is that I regenerate wounds quickly. I could be immortal, but I don't even know that for sure." Fall-From-Grace seemed to be appraising me with renewed interest.
"Those scars on your body." She reached out a hand, as if to touch me. "May I?"
Fall-From-Grace dragged her finger across my chest lightly, tracing the edges of my scars and following the curves where they blended into some of my tattoos. She seemed fascinated.
"These scars do look as if they would have taken several lifetimes to accumulate."
"They certainly do... though some are more recent."
Fall-From-Grace stepped back. "Some of those wounds would have been fatal. To a normal man." She tapped her chin, thinking. "What do you intend to do now?"
"I need to get my memories back, and my life back. I intend to scour the Planes and search inside myself until I can piece together who I am and what brought me to this state."
Fall-From-Grace was still thinking, her finger tapping on her chin. "I must say, I've never met a man who had lost himself in the literal sense." She raised an eyebrow. "Forgive me, but your condition is intriguing."
"'Intriguing?' Frightening is more like it. I don't like not knowing who I am, what I may have done, who my enemies are, and who are my friends."
"I have offended you with my words." Fall-From-Grace bowed her head. "I give my apology, if you will have it."
"Apology accepted." Fall-From-Grace nodded.
"If it will help, you are welcome to tour the Brothel. Several of our students are well-versed in the verbal arts. Perhaps some of them will be able to re-kindle your memories."
I had felt a growing attraction as she spoke, and I blurted out another question, "Would you like to join me on my travels?" I thought I was done with spilling the contents of my mind like that.
Annah stiffened, then started muttering under her breath. "Who's ta say she'll be comin' with us? We donnae need the likes o' her, so's we don't."
"Bar that, fiendling!" Morte clicked his teeth together. "I'm ALL for the succubus coming with us... the Powers know *you're* about as fun as passing a caltrop through your bowels."
Annah predictably rose to the baiting. "Ye'd best latch yer bone-box, skull, or I'll rattle yeh so hard they'll be pickin' yer teeth off the spire --!"
"Travel with you?" Fall-From-Grace smiled slightly. She seemed to be ignoring my companions. "That's rather forward of you."
I quickly thought of some reason, any reason, for her to accompany us. "I'd rather be honest with my intentions. You seem extremely pleasant and well-versed in the ways of the Planes. A companion with that kind of knowledge would be welcome."
Now I had offended Morte. "Hey, wait just a minute! *I'm* the one well-versed in the Planes! That's my job, chief!"
"Having two people knowledgeable about the Planes in our band seems pretty smart to me. Besides, I said, 'pleasant,' too, Morte."
"Pleasant on the eyes, maybe! Looks to ME like all some chit has to do is show a little skin, and you'll sign her right up!" Morte fell silent. "Not that I mind that really, I just thought I'd mention it."
"Noted, Morte. Look... Lady Grace, excuse me if I'm being too forward, but would you care to travel with us?"
"I appreciate your candor. I shall counter with some of my own: Why should I travel with you?"
"You mean you wouldn't be interested in traveling with an immortal amnesiac who is searching the Planes for himself?"
"Oh, I *would* be extremely interested." She smiled slightly. "Such a suggestion is intriguing, make no mistake about that."
"Then you *would* like to travel with me, then?"
"If you wish me to, then there is something you must do
for me. There are ten students in this establishment. I would
like you to speak to all of them, then return to me with your
thoughts. Then we shall see if we shall travel together or not."
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