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Sep 29, 2022 5:09 AM
culture clash in the bell kingdom when Lily runs into Kamryn
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Lily accepts with a nod. "Thank you."

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"And don't think of sneaking out to see Kamryn during the day. It's dangerous to both of us. Please be careful."

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"Alright." 

She takes the slim volume, sets it down on her lap desk, and gets to work.

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Amira lets herself out. 

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Lily is finding it a little difficult to focus on the dry transactions. Memories from last night keep wandering through her mind. 

It's not even just the sex, it's the - freedom. And the companionship. She's never really had someone she could properly talk to before. And she just... poured her heart out to this beautiful wild woman... 

She thinks - no, she knows - she doesn't want the faithfulness tattoo anymore. 

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... she is maybe going to take a small break from these transactions to... clear her head.

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Masturbation turns out not to really help, not with the memory of the real satisfaction she found last night still fresh in her mind. But it's something. 

She sets herself back to her figures with grim determination.

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And eventually, Amira returns. 

"My patron says he can get me tattoo ink if I want it, but... I wanted to check with you whether you still want the faithfulness tattoo, given what happened last night."

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"I don't want it. I... thought I had to leave this behind, but I don't have to, and... that's wonderful."

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"It's a good thing I didn't buy tattoo ink, then. There are still some hours before it gets dark enough for people to stop going about outside the town; would you like to use them to talk with me a little?"

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Amira's tone is... not exactly a request, Lily thinks. 

"Of course."

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"So, Lily... I'd like to hear from you a little more about last night. What happened? Leaving out the salacious details. Broadly. You seem to have changed your mind very quickly."

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"I..." She looks Amira in the eye. "I met people who saw me as an equal, who didn't judge me by my body or my tattoos, who coaxed me to... be more than Maxwell ever would have wanted me to be. And... We had sex, and for the first time I felt satisfied. In a way that never happened with Maxwell."

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"Do you love Kamryn?"

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"I... it wasn't like that -"

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"Answer the question, please."

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"... I don't know. It was... freeing. And she seemed to care about me. And she's beautiful. But, love..."

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"Some advice for you, then, as someone who knows something about tentacleds and their Lovers... It might have seemed wonderful, it might have been freeing, but overall... They don't treat sex and sexuality as seriously as we do. Love doesn't come into it, so much, compared to... companionship and mutual joy. You aren't special, to them; they'd do the same for anyone. And so long as you can keep that separation, it will be fine, but if you fall in love... well, you could leave for the Pink, but I don't think you'd actually be happy there. You care too much about learning and growing to dedicate your life to simple pleasure."

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Lily looks down at her account book. 

"... but am I happy here in the first place?"

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"Perhaps not yet. But with time you'll grow and blossom. You have the potential to be an alchemist, a scholar, a witch. You have a good head on your shoulders, a strong will, and a quick mind. In a few years, perhaps less, you could be a journeywoman like me. Run your own business, keep your own company. And with a proper patron and enough money, you'll be able to buy away your past as a slave, no matter what Maxwell wants."

"And then you'll be free."

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"I thought I was supposed to be free already."

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"It's more complicated than that, and you know it."

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Lily sighs. "I know."

Kamryn has never heard of nobles before. I saw the disbelief on her face; she thinks that can't be how it works. 

Maybe she's right and we're wrong. 

She doesn't say it.

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"There is an alternative. You could leave. Go somewhere far away enough that Bell can't reach you. Settle down in Relvos, or with the Tyrepts, or somewhere like that. But... you'd be all alone, out there. I couldn't come with you, I have responsibilities here in Bell. And the road is dangerous."

"But if you traveled with this Kamryn, you might be safe. From monsters, at least; nobles are the same wherever you go."

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"I hadn't thought that far ahead."

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