Courtesan's Carriage Vehicle in Istralar | World Anvil

Courtesan's Carriage

Courtesan's carriage, whore's ride, prostitute's parade, madame's mobile... It's almost more fun to come up with other names for the bleedin' wagons!
— prostitute
  A courtesan's carriage, often referred to by many other names of varying vulgarity, is a false-bottomed wagon, coach, or carriage employed by nobles, merchants, and other well-off folk who might seek the products offered by a courtesan. These carriages are largely used to transport courtesans and their associates around, particularly in larger cities, and otherwise blend in with much of the street traffic. They draw little attention, and have no discerning external features to differentiate them from a passing carriage containing other well-off members of society or those who they employ.   It is the perfect cover for the carriage's true purpose.   Courtesan carriages are methods of transporting secret goods or messages surreptitiously between individuals when more open communication is too great a risk. The items and messages transported must be small, due to how the secret compartments are engineered, for the courtesans employed are also the ones to bring the goods both to and from the carriage. Most frequently, they deal in poisons, drugs, and secrets - all things that would have their lives cut short should they be found out by the watchful eyes of the law, or indeed, the lingering eyes of their employer's enemies.   They are used in many areas, but are most commonly found through Valathe, where carriage travel is most common. Nations on other continents typically adapt the traditional design to standards more in alignment with what their inhabitants use for transport, instead, but the fundamental principles remain the same.  

Appearance & Propulsion

Were we to come under attack, it would be the horses that fell first - but such is the risk we take to blend in!
— chipper courtesan
Courtesan by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Whilst courtesan carriages have been constructed in many fashions to blend into varying societies, the most common form to this day remains the horse-drawn coach.   A coach is an enclosed carriage drawn by two or more horses that is usually driven by a coachman or postilion. Unlike more standard carriages that are open to the elements, coaches have a roof above and doors either side for entry, and seats for the persons inside.   They are preferred by the employers of courtesans as, unlike non-enclosed carriages, they offer some measure of privacy to their inhabitants and are regularly used by the upper-class to ferry themselves around between cities on longer voyages.   Middle-class individuals may instead prefer wagon trips or stagecoaches, which are similarly enclosed; courtesan carriages can easily be created from any.
  For lower-class variants, or to masquerade more effectively as deliveries, wagons drawn by mules may be used instead. For more magical clients, the horses are occasionally replaced by magical constructs; this is rare, however, as courtesans typically do not want to draw attention to themselves on these missions.  


I do hope the ride isn't quite so rough this time, my prior client was quite enough of that. "Gentle lover", my arse.
— courtesan
  The crucial mechanism of a courtesan's carriage is the special compartment that the courtesan must use. It is a slim wooden box designed to be easily foldable, and reinforced internally with thin sheets of leather and metal. To protect from magical eyes, this metal is very frequently lead - the protection is not perfect due to how the compartmen must collapse, but it is certainly a fair defence against divination magic. Most commonly, the courtesan is hired with the compartment already in-hand, and their employer fills it during their time for more standard courtesan activities to prevent the courtesan themselves from being aware of the compartment's contents.  
When it is time for the delivery, the courtesan straps the compartment to their inner thigh. Depending on their chosen gender presentations, any signs of its presence are concealed underneath bulky skirts and layers of petticoat or with more fanciful pantaloons and trousers that give the impression of something more related to their career.   If at any point the courtesan must leave the carriage for inspection or to perform their duties, perhaps for another client, then they detach the compartment and slip it into a very small hidden slit within the carriage's boot space or underneath the seat. To an outside observer, this simply looks like the courtesan adjusted their lower garments; any sounds associated with the compartment's movement are easily masked with that of fabric, or by coughing or otherwise producing noise.   These hidden sections are unique to each carriage and are typically impossible to find without an understanding of how the carriage in question was constructed.
Courtesan by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
  Retrieving items from the hidden section is similarly easy, with sufficient skill, but requires a small needle and thread - things that all courtesans carry in case of repairs to their attire. By lowering the needle and thread, the compartment can be snagged and brought back up. This motion is somewhat less subtle, but may be masked with sufficient vulgar motions or by offering other distractions.
Courtesan's Carriage by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Complement / Crew
Usually 1 - 2
Cargo & Passenger Capacity
Usually up to 4

Famous and Infamous Incidents

One of the most well-known incidents caused by the deployment of a courtesan's carriage was the assassination of famed Ordanian violinist Jean-François Rousseau through poisoned violin strings.   A courtesan carriage had been used to transport a male courtesan and musician to the musician's house as a supposed gift from Jean-François's best friend.   Whilst Jean-François slept, the courtesan slipped from his bed, restrung his violin with the strings he'd smuggled in, and returned to bed with Jean-François none-the-wiser.   The truth came out after Jean-François collapsed the next day at an early morning recital. His wife, angered by an ongoing affair with his best friend, had hired the assassin-stroke-courtesan to deal with her husband. She confessed boldly over the body with no hint of remorse and was promptly arrested by Ordanian authorities.   The courtesan was never caught, and likely remains working to this day.
Phial of Smuggled Poison by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

Cover image: Carriage cover by Hanhula (via Midjourney)


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26 Jul, 2023 23:16

Congrats on earning Diamond!!

Autumn Riverwood
26 Jul, 2023 23:16

This is a really cool article!! I love the art as well as the entire concept of this vehicle. Also, the whole 'Assassination with poisoned violin strings" is so creative. Congrats on Diamond!! :D

27 Jul, 2023 08:51

Very cool, a great choice of vehicle for this prompt, interesting, fun and with a great story tied to it. And that event you outline, the poisoned violin strings is masterful, I agree with Autumn on that one. and Congratz on the shiny Diamond!!!!

Keon Croucher, Chronicler of the Age of Revitalization
27 Jul, 2023 16:01

Best horse ride :D

You are doing a great job! Keep creating; I believe in you!
Luridity: Where love is love and life is lived. Contains NSFW content.
Now with serialized fiction on Ream!!
27 Jul, 2023 22:27

'trousers that give the impression of something more related to their career.' Hehehehehe.   The poisoned violin string story was such a nice touch. I love this article so much. Such a clever way to smuggle things around. :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet