Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
I woke to the morning traffic and got up. I refilled my pouch with silver before looking around. I emptied the shelves on one side of the room and used them to climb to the ceiling. I pushed open a trapdoor and climbed up into the archer perch. I turned and pulled the heaviest chest up before sliding it into a corner. I did the same for the smaller chest and then the merchant’s chest. I closed the trapdoor as I climbed down and put everything back onto the shelves.
I grabbed a few small spice pouches and slipped out to make my way towards the marketplace. Like the morning before I gathered the homeless lingering around the market place and fed them. The city was alive with guards and everyone was talking about another robbery, this time in the retreat. At noon I bought a huge cauldron and a sack of vegetables before heading towards the city commons.
It almost seemed like they were waiting for me. A few of the older boys held the cleaned and skinned bodies of snakes. I got a young girl to start bringing water to fill the cauldron while setting it down and dumping the vegetables. Two women got a fire going for me while a couple of men made a tripod to hang it. One at a time I cut the snakes up and tossed them into the water.
The women gathered and started cutting the vegetables while I brought out the pouches of spice and set them out. It wasn’t long before the aroma of the cooking filled the commons. I handed a young man a few silvers, “Take a couple of boys with you and buy a sack of rolls and another sack of vegetables.”
He hesitated and then nodded before slipping away with two younger versions of himself. The few guards that came through looked but ignored us. As the day wore on even more people appeared to be fed. An older woman and her husband stayed nearby and I spoke with them and found out they were turned out because they couldn’t pay the king’s taxes.
That was the theme as I talked to others. When the cauldron emptied we refilled it and several young men were always hunting snakes as they lay out sunning. As evening slowly approached the large crowd slowly began to slip away. I had one young man hide the cauldron before leaving. I slipped into the gatehouse silently and lay back on my bed to relax.
I woke at the tolling of the midnight bell. I slipped out the catwalk and quietly crossed the bridge. The guards seemed more awake tonight as I slipped out the door and moved down the shadowy wall. I was back fifteen minutes later with the heavy water logged chest. After closing and locking the door I moved up the stairs and out the catwalk door. I carried the chest down to the first floor and set it on its side to drain.
I slipped out the door and used the small dark lantern to move away from the river. I stayed in the shadows and used alleys to move across the city. The large manor I was heading for stood against the outer wall. I entered using the side entrance and crossed the yard and tried the side door, it was locked. I moved to the trestle covered with ivy and slowly climbed up.
I climbed onto a second floor balcony and moved to the door. It opened smoothly and I crossed the room as the occupant continued to sleep. I moved through the house quietly until I came to the large door into the attached warehouse. I pulled a thin bladed knife and went to work on the ancient lock. A moment later it was unlocked and I opened it and slipped in.
I stood still and listened a long time before turning and heading towards the back. The office had a large oak drop bar with locks on both ends securing the door. The merchant had a bad habit of using old ancient locks. I pulled the small steel cheater bar I had taken from a fighter right after I had returned to the city. I slipped it inside the locking bar and twisted.
I dropped the lock and moved to the other one, a moment later I lifted the bar and carefully set it aside. I entered the large office and crossed to the other door. Inside the inner office I found the heavy money chest with its lock open. I set the lock on the desk before lifting the lid on the chest, I closed it and picked it up. I went back through the warehouse but left out the side door that had been locked.
I moved back across the city using the alleys. Inside the gatehouse I climbed up and moved everything off the shelves and lifted the chest up to the archers perch. I pushed the chest into a corner and went to bed. I woke early and climbed out of bed stretching. Today was laundry day and I stuffed my dirty clothes into a sack.
Downstairs I righted the chest of Copper and Brass coins before filling a large purse with them. I fed a small crowd at the sausage stand again and then headed to the cleaning lady that did my wash. After I dropped the dirty clothes off, I went back to the marketplace.
I bought tubers and other green vegetables as well as a large sack of bread. When I arrived at the commons they already had the cauldron over a small fire. During the day I listened to gossip that said the king was sending his militia into the street to patrol at night. The two merchants were practically begging their patrons for funds to continue their business. I heard about Baron Gregory offering to finance both merchants for sixty percent of their businesses.
It was a relaxed jovial commons with women and children moving around and men talking in small groups. I spoke with a few of the men about a carting business now that Merchant Harris was out of business. I gestured around at everyone, “We would have plenty of people willing to work.”
They looked at each other and finally nodded. I looked around, “Does anyone know of a large empty warehouse?”
A short grey breaded man grinned, “Yes.”
I smiled as I stood, “We need to find some carts and wagons.”
They nodded and turned to other men while I headed out of the commons. I used the back alleys and was careful when I slipped around by the river and into the gatehouse. I used a large pouch and filled it with a few gold pieces and a lot of silver. When I met the other men in the commons it seemed as if the air was alive with hope.
There were ten of us that walked through the streets to see the large warehouse. The moment I saw it I knew it was what we needed. It was outside the city gate against the wall, it had a huge dirt corral on the far side for horses and wagons and a tannery beside it I knew all about. We went back through the city to Magistrate’s Square. Since the warehouse had been abandoned I paid the city clerk one gold piece and two silver and it was ours.
Next were a few stops where I let different men bargain for carts or wagons. I gave the only two gold pieces left in the pouch to an old man that had once been a farmer. He left to find a few horses while we moved carts and wagons by hand through the city and out to the warehouse. We placed the carts inside leaving room between them and the wagons in a separate part of the corral.
We returned to the commons and everyone was talking. I made another stop on the way and set the full sack of hard bread down while one of the men that had been with me set a huge wheel of cheese beside it. There were a lot of chunks of snake being roasted over fires. We talked about sending someone out to different places to talk to people.
I knew that if Baron Gregory managed to back both the merchants it would be harder for these people to get started. I mentioned letting anyone that needed a place to sleep go to the warehouse. I left early and slipped through the streets and alleys. There were a lot more guards and Militia out as the afternoon slipped by. I slipped into the gatehouse unseen and went upstairs to lay back and rest.
I woke to the guards arguing below me about some of them sleeping while others watched. I moved to my clothes press and changed to darker clothing. I went through the catwalk door and silently crossed to the other side. The guards below were plain to see as they played dice together. I slipped out the door quietly and moved away into darkness. There were more patrols but it was easy to avoid them as I moved across to the area around by the other bridge.
Baron Gregory’s manor was larger than it should have been for his rank. I climbed the ten foot wall and carefully moved the glass on top before lying down. I watched as a single guard walked around the manor itself. I dropped to the ground after he turned the far corner and quickly moved to the manor. I used a wooden trellis to climb up to the second floor.
I vaulted over the rail onto a small balcony and knelt, waiting for the guard to come and go. Several minutes later I turned to the window doors and used a thin bladed dagger to pry the latch up. The door opened quietly and I silently entered. I could see the fat Baron snoring in his bed and moved across the room to the other door. I put my ear against the door and listened before opening it quietly.
I heard voices from downstairs as I moved down the hall to the servants stairs. I used the edge of each stair as I moved down to avoid making any noise. On the ground floor I slipped out and into the shadows in the hallway. I waited and several minutes later a guard walked in from the great room to check the study room door. He returned to the great room and I swiftly moved to the door.
The slim bladed dagger went between the door and the jam before I pushed it down and wiggled it. The door popped open and I pulled it open even more. I stepped into the darkness and closed it quietly behind me, making sure it locked. I pulled the dark lantern out and glanced around and moved to the strong room door.
The baron had taken a few precautions and there were two new locks on the door. I set the lantern beside me on a bookshelf and pulled out the two thick wires I carried. A traveler had shown me how to do this a couple of years before. I pushed the stiff wires I carried into the first lock and moved it around until I heard a click. The second piece of wire went in and I turned both.
The lock dropped open and I moved to the other lock. It took a little longer but it to finally opened. This wasn’t a room so much as a thick walled closet. Inside were four chests, each one held a different type coin. I was able to put all the silver and gold together before moving the chest to the study window. I went back and poured as much of the copper coins into the chest with the bronze as I could. What was left was only a handful and those I put in my own pouch.
I carried the chest over beside the other one and closed the dark lantern. I pulled back the curtain slightly and looked out the window. I watched and waited until the guard went past and opened the window. I moved the two chests out onto the narrow stone patio and then closed the door. I hid the second chest between two bushes and picked the other chest up.
I moved out onto the lawn and stopped next to a bush by the wall. I set the chest down and waited for the guard. After he had come and gone I picked up the chest and moved to the wall. I knelt to tie a cord around the chest and then quickly climbed up the wall. I pulled the chest up and lowered it down the other side before the guard came back.
I untied the cord and went back over the wall for the other chest. That was the way I moved the chests, one at a time. When I closed the gatehouse door after carrying in the second chest, I set it down and lay down on the cool floor. When I was rested I moved the chest to the second floor and then across to my room. I carried the second chest in and used the cord to lift it to the archers perch. I filled two large pouches with copper and bronze coins before lifting that chest up as well.
I slept lightly and woke to shouting from below. I moved out of bed and went down to listen as guards and soldiers argued about someone sneaking across the bridge during the night. I went back up for my two pouches of coppers and bronze and then finished dressing before slipping out of the gatehouse. I had been thinking and knew I wouldn’t be able to stay at the bridge much longer.
I moved to the butcher shop and bought a hundred weight of sausage. Next was a visit to the baker for a huge sack of hard crusted bread rolls. I found all the homeless waiting in the market square and had help carrying everything to the commons. I sent three older boys to the edge of the city to buy wood and had a man bring a cart around to bring the wood to the commons.
I set everything down as people began gathering and prepared a fire. When I turned around for the sausage several women were already there. It wasn’t long before the rumors started about Baron Gregory. Almost all the people had gone to my warehouse to sleep the night before and had been outside the city gates. I moved around talking and after breakfast a few men that had left returned saying this merchant or that farmer needed wagons or something moved.
I pulled an older woman away from a fire. She had been a scribe when she was younger, “You are going to be our bookkeeper.”
She looked at me and then grinned as life seemed to come back to her face. I gestured around us, “This is our company. When someone gets a contract they bring it to you.”
I looked at the men, “The old office in the warehouse needs cleaning. The whole warehouse needs cleaning for that matter. You know what it cost to do things in the city, if the merchants or noble won’t pay it, than we don’t move it.”
They looked at each other and then grinned and nodded. I gestured around us, “No more hanging around the commons, everyone goes to the warehouse. I want some of you to find me two large stoves. We need large rocks to make a fire pit and wood to build benches. Everyone else can go through the city announcing our business.”
They looked at each other and then moved away. It wasn’t long before everyone was moving around excitedly and leaving. I caught a few older boys and fished a half dozen silver pieces out of my belt pouch, (turning it upside down to do it), “Go buy a hog and some potatoes and greens and bring it to the warehouse.”
They grinned and nodded before disappearing. I slipped away and went back to the gatehouse. I had to be very quiet as I climbed up and filled my pouch with silver. I packed everything I owned and slipped out. When I walked into the warehouse it was busy as women swept the floor and men brushed down the cobwebs from the walls. I set my things down inside the office and grabbed three older girls. I led them to the ladder that went to the top of the office, “Go up the ladder and clean the top. You girls are going to be sleeping up there after I get someone to put up walls.”
They grinned and gave me quick bows before scrambling up the ladder. I found an old man that looked lost. I put my hand on his shoulder, “Do you know how to build walls?”
He nodded, “I do my lord.”
I shook my head, “Not lord, my name is William.”
I dropped a bunch of silver in his hand, “Grab some of these strong young lads and get some wood.”
I gestured to where the girls were cleaning, “I want walls around the edge so the young ladies can sleep up there safely.”
He looked and then nodded. I grinned, “I want you to teach these young boys how to do it so don’t try it by yourself.”
The old man grinned, “I’ll make it happen.”
He turned and his arm reached out to grab a boy’s shoulder. It was a busy day but I still managed to listen to the gossip about the thefts that were plaguing the city. I don’t know where they found the two large iron stoves. They were both dirty and had some rust so I knew no one had been using them. I set them up outside the office and got a few men to start on chimneys.
The stones for the fire pit were from fields and I had several girls and boys wash them. I had four men working to build the pit and another four building benches around it. The fire pit was beside the warehouse and almost against the city wall, making it a perfect heat reflector. All the time this was going on, men came and went hauling carts or wagons.
The fire pit was finished quickly and two women took it over as a new fire was built. They started to cook the waiting hog and other food appeared. The boy I had given money to grinned and dropped two silver pieces into my hand. It was as if everyone had come alive again and hope was in the air. Several men actually stopped farmers on the way home that afternoon. The dinner that night seemed like a feast. Even the horses came to the fence to be close.
Several guards came around before heading back to the gate. After dinner I talked a few men into emptying the water trough and carrying it inside the warehouse for the women to bathe in. You would think I was their new saint when the women found out. When it was finally bed time I slipped into the office and grinned at the old scribe when she lifted her head to look at me. I spread out my bedroll and lay down with a sigh.
I rested for several hours and finally slipped out of bed and dressed in dark clothing. The old scribe slept on soundly as I slipped out of the office. A few people were restless in the warehouse but no one saw me slip out. I headed away from the gate and silently headed for the distant river. At the riverbank I stripped and put all my clothes in a large leather bag I knew was water tight.
I walked into the river and swam to the middle before heading towards the wall. I had to stay away from the bank where snake mostly stayed. I tied the bag to the metal bars that went from the wall down into the river. I dove and swam down to the bottom before grabbing the bottom of the bars and slipping under where the river had washed away.
I swam up and untied my bag before swimming down river. A hundred paces away from the wall was a small stone pier on the royal side of the river. Just past it a dozen more paces was a small building half in the water, on the upriver side was a set of hedges.
I crawled out of the water and moved into the hedges. I opened the bag and quickly dressed before I moved into the nobles retreat moving carefully through the silent streets. The estate I was heading for was richly decorated and patrolled constantly. The walls were patrolled inside and outside but there was one point that was always in the dark.
It was a back corner and my shadow drifted from a dimly lit street after two guards walked past. I went up the wall quickly and lay along the top. Inside, a guard was just walking past and I waited before dropping off the wall. I moved quickly and quietly across to the large manor house. I went up using the large cracks in the building stones.
Just under the roof I paused until another guard walked past below me. I reached up to grab the roof and released the wall. My body swung out as my other hand reached up. I pulled myself up onto the roof and carefully moved sideways. I moved up to a roof vent and pulled a small thick bladed knife. I slipped the blade into the bottom crack and pulled it sideways.
A moment later I was lifting the vent before quietly crawling into the attic. I closed the vent and pulled the dark lantern out. I opened it a crack and moved down the attic until I reached the stairs leading down. At the door I listened for a couple of minutes and used my dagger again to spring the door lock. I knew the countess would have put at least one guard on her counting room but I knew something she didn’t.
I used the servants stairs down to the second floor. I crept down the empty hallway to the second from the last door. It was unlocked and empty, these were guestrooms and the countess never had guests. I crossed to the wide fireplace and crawled forward passed the fire grate looking down. I was surprised to see a light and then realized the countess probably locked some pour servant into the counting room for the night.
I turned and lowered my feet into the wide chimney, with my back to the wall I slowly moved down. When I reached the bottom, I knelt and looked out of the fireplace. I saw the guard lying with his head facing the other way next to the door. I silently crept forward pulling the tiny vial from inside my shirt. I took a deep breath and unstopped it before holding it down in front of the guards face.
I waited and waited and finally pulled the vial back and replaced the stopper. I shook the guard but he just kept snoring. I turned to the two large chests against the side wall and moved to look inside. I shook my head at all the gold coins, the countess had always been a miser, I moved both chests to the fireplace. I unwrapped the strong cord from around my waist. I tied one end to the first chest and pulled the chest closer before standing on it.
With my back to the wall I moved up the chimney to the next floor. Hauling the chest up was hard work. After I got it up and moved into the room I went down for the other chest. This time the chest seemed much heavier but I knew it was just my imagination. After I got the chest into the room and wrapped the cord back around my waist. I picked up the first chest and moved to the door.
I pulled the two cloth shoe covers out to hide the black suet and tied them on before leaving the room. I walked to the end of the hall and carefully opened the narrow door. I went down the steep dark steps quietly until I reached the bottom. This was a narrow hall that led all the way to the back of the stables. I set the chest down by the crack of faint light coming under the stone door.
I went back up to the room and carried the other chest down. I set it on top of the other chest and moved to the door. The locking lever clicked and I pressed on one side of the door. The whole door turned and I slipped through into a stone walled stall. The single lantern in the stable was dim and the horses shifted around. I peeked out of the stall and then went back through the door to bring the two chests out.
I closed the door and lifted one of the chests. I carried it down the center isle to the far end of the stable and set it beside the large pile of manure. I brought the second chest and set it beside the first. I listened beside the side door that opened down from the wide front gate. I lifted the locking bar and set it beside the door. After hearing the outside guard walk past I opened the door and turned to lift the top chest.
I set the chest down outside the door and then pulled the door closed before lifting it again and walking across the street. I moved as fast as I could and still stay quiet. I slipped around the wall and into a narrow alley before I set the chest down and turned to wait for the guard again. After the guard walked past I went back for the other chest. I carried the chest out and turned to the door. I set one end of the locking bar in the bracket before slipping my dagger under the other end and closing the door.
I lowered the dagger, feeling the bar drop into place before turning to lift the chest and moving towards the alley. I was barely in time and watched the guards walk past before heading towards the other end of the alley. It seemed to take forever to move the two chests all the way to the river. I sank both chests in the small building that was half in the water after filling my pouch.
This was an old abandoned boat house. I undressed and put my clothes back into the waterproof bag I had used on my swim before. I slipped into the water and moved to the center before swimming upriver towards the wall. By the time I staggered out of the water on the other side of the wall I was beat. I dried off and dressed quickly before heading towards the warehouse.
It was quiet when I slipped back into the warehouse. When I laid down in the office the scribe stirred but didn’t seem to wake. It seemed that I had just closed my eyes when I heard the commotion from the warehouse as everyone began waking up.
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