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Radilo

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Nutty's better half
Badua, la Serenissima Repubblica di Radila
8:00 pm on a Thursday

Ms. Kipa's restraunt closed at 6 when the market did. So by 7:00, the sisters were able to head home. Aria was out by the Juilet balcony clacking away on her phone; Emilia was in the kitchen, cutting up carrots, onions, and celery for soffritto.

There was a loud knock at the door. Aria answered it, though only because she beat her sister to it.

"Hello," she said to the younger woman in a black robe standing in the hall, "why are you wearing a robe?"

"I'm a magistrate, I'm kind of a judge."

"Why are you here?" Emilia asked, finally arriving at the door.

"I understand that you are refugees, and might be less inclined to trust figures of authority. But please be assured that I am not here to hurt either of you."

"I asked you why you were here."

The young robed woman sighed, but quickly regained her composure.

"Young lady, are you Aria Colombo?"

"That depends."

"She's not in any trouble, we just need to clarify something with her."

"Yes."

"I'm going to have to invite myself in. I don't want to discuss private matters in public."

"Do we have a choice?" Emilia asked.

"Not really."

"Fine, come in."

Shutting the door behind her, the young magistrate opened the small briefcase she was carrying.

"We have to do this for three years after law school, be magistrates I mean. We have some power, but it's not much; we don't get paid a lot of money--we do the judicial grunt-work. They have us visit the houses of minors, instead of us having them brought in--wise I think. They say it's to build empathy, doing this kind of job. It works. I spend my days helping people who are and feel like they live precariously. I grew up in a upper-middle class family. It's been eye opening."

"We grew up comfortably, too," Emilia said, "we lost everything during the war. It's been eye opening."

"I'm sorry. But my visit, while mandatory, is to help you."

"What do you need with me?" asked Aria.

"There was a discrepancy in your records. Your citizenship papers say you were born in 2010, but your tax form says you were born in 2008."

At that point Emilia was giving Aria a heavy dose of side-eye.

"Mistakes get made," Aria said, smugly.

The young magistrate rolled her eyes so hard you could hear her eye cords straining.

"This is the reported net Income," the magistrate said, pointing to a bolded set of numbers. "Are you being paid that?"

Aria was silent for a few moments.

"Listen, kid, we don't really care that you're working underage, we just want to make sure you're getting fair wages," the magistrate said, somewhat exasperated.

Aria took the paper and flipped through it. "Yea, that's what Ms. Kipa pays me."

""Good, we don't want employers taking advantage of kids."

"I thought the Camorra handled that?" Aria asked.

"Aria don't!" shouted Emilia.

"It's fine," the young magistrate started, "the mafia can only enforce rules that exist."

She paused, and sighed a bit, before a smile appeared on her face.

"Welcome to Radilo, la Serenìsima is glad to have you. The judiciary serves the people."

"Do you want to eat with us, magistrate? We're making soffritto. And we're making plenty," said Emila, her expression softening.

"It's not usually acceptable for..." she paused and smiled, "fuck it--yes. That sounds lovely."

Aria and Emilia smiled.
 
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Radilo

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Nutty's better half
Repùblega Radèla, Sestiere Cannaregio, Ghèto Ebrei, Pałaso Casteli
Anno domini 1466

Most days Moses leaves around 9:00 in the morning. He has an office not far from the Realto market. I'm not entirely sure what he does. He says he's an actuary... I didn't press him for whose money he's working with, but I have a feeling I'm going to find out soon eneough.

Around 11:00 in the morning (Moses has a large Astrarium in the main hall, he purchased it in Badua). I had a pot of stew simmering on the stove for my lunch. I had inherited my mother's habit of making too much, but I could always reheat it tomarrow, or later in the evening... Moses might even want some if he drinks too much wine tonight.

As the stew was finishing up, I was sweeping near the front door, when I heard a knock. I was taken back abit bit. Most of Moses friends use the back entrance. Cautiously, I opened the door.

"Don Casteli isn't home," I said before the door was fully open.

A young woman, not much older than me was standing there. She had long, straight black hair, and a very fair complexion. She wore a black silk robe, with a gold cord slung around her shoulders. She had a matching black toque resting on her head.

Initially her eyes were closed, and she was looking down. Once the door was all the way open, she lifted her head and opened her eyes. She had narrow, dark eyes. She was rather pretty. I hope I meet girls like her in the convent one day, I thought. She resembled those foreign merchants from @Tianlong , like Mr. Won, who Moses had over for dinner a couple of times.

"Oh I was hoping for that," the young woman said in a calm, soft voice. "Are you Isabella from the Island of Cattaro?"

"Y-yes..." I answered pensively.

"Are currently under the employ of Don Moses Casteli?"

"Yes... can I ask you a question?"

"That is allowed."

"Who are you and why are you asking me these things? Don Casteli isn't home, I'm just his maid."

"Oh I know, I wanted to speak with you, Isabella, just you. My name is Xuan Maria, I am a Giustiziere. My job is to ensure the well being of minors, women, and vunerable people--and ensure moral order."

"What's-what's a minor?"

"A person under the age of 16."

"Oh, I'd never read the term."

"You can read?"

"Yes, I hope to become a nun one day."

"Good that'll make this a lot easier. So you are 14, is that correct?"

"I turned 15 a month ago. Moses got me so drunk... oh sorry... we're not usually so debauched..."

"It's alright, we don't really press too hard about the petty moralizing, we're more interested in assuring that people are not being taken advantage of. So, Isabella, is Don Casteli paying you this amount of money, monthly?" she said pointing to a number on a piece of paper she pulled out of her purse.

I looked at it for a moment, "that's what Moses gives my family monthly. He gives me a bit to go drinking and buy some other things... um I mean..."

"It's fine, Isabella. So he is paying you more than fair rate. That's good. How many hours do you work a day"

"My work is on and off. I normally wake a 6:00 in the morning, and I am done by 9:00 in the evening. But most afternoons I am off between lunch and dinner."

"How many days a week do you work?"

"Usally 4 or 5, I don't work Sundays and most Saint's days."

"So Don Casteli respects Christian holidays?"

"Absolutely, Miss Maria."

As she was writing something in a small codex, the young Giustiziere looked up and responded, "my family name is Xuan, Maria is my given name."

"Sorry, I dont get to have too many conversationswith Orientals. So, Maria, what brings you to Radila?"

Maria's expression softened, "I was born here, my parents were silk merchants. You see..." she sighed, "I like girls. There's no future for me marrying back in Tianlong. I also don't want to be a nun. When my father learned that girls could study to become Giustiziere... it seemed like the ideal option for me. Since we deal mostly with women and children, they train women to carry out most of the gruntwork. The pay isn't great, and it's a stressful job. You often see people at their lowest... but it does give you a sense of purpose... and it makes you much more empathetic..."

She lowered her head, I staired at her for several moments, before she raised her head up and met my eyes.

I smiled back at her, "I'm making some stew for lunch... and I made plenty. Would you like some?"

"We're not allowed to... ah fuck it. Thank you, stew sounds wonderful now."

I smiled and welcomed her in.



Nothing really changes.
 
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Radilo

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Cleveland
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Nutty's better half
Santa Maria Xavier Cemetery, Badua, Radilo
11:00 AM

Paula started bawling into her mother as the casket was lowered into the ground. Her mother was letting out a steady stream of tears, but seemed otherwise steady. Everyone who knew him knew who he was. They knew what he did, or at least could reasonably infer it. Still his death, even if not a surprise, felt weird. A heart attack? It was, in a perverse way, just too clean.

Lula, Chici, Aria, Lila, and Emma, and Tabitha all huddled around their little friend, offering her a coalition of support that, ideally, symbolized the republican resolve of their country. In a dark way, this sentiment was visible in the clearly awkward members of the Secret Service, who tried to discreetly attend the mafia Don's funeral.

As she stood distraught, alongside her father-in-law who looked as old as one could at the death of his son, M approached her. He tried to hand her an envelope.

"What are you doing here?" She hissed.


"It's a widow's pension, for your husband's service to his country."

"We don't want your blood money, not after what they did to him."

"With all do respect, ma'am, your husband had a history of high cholesterol and high blood pressure--our autopsy turned up no foul play. He died of a natural heart attack."

"You don't believe that at all, do you, M?"

M sighed, "take the damn envelope at least, it's not just monetary benefits that you and Paula will receive."

She nodded, "After this all, leave us alone, M, we want nothing more to do with any of you."
 
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