Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
I sat up and grumped and the old scribe snickered, “Stay in one night and you might get some rest.”
I looked at her and she just stood and began dressing. I striped and changed into soft grey clothing before heading out. Someone had already started the two stoves and I grabbed two men. I pulled out a single gold piece, “We need some hams and fresh eggs for breakfast. Also try to get a half side of beef for tonight.”
They grinned and the one with a freshly scraped face nodded. I turned to watch as people woke and started moving around. I caught the old man that had started on the walls around the top of the office, “After you finish with the girls loft come see me. I think we are going to build a second floor with walls where everyone can sleep.”
He turned to look around thoughtfully, “That’s a big job.”
I grinned, “We can do it together.”
He looked at me and grinned before nodding. I caught an older boy and fished out a silver piece, “As much tea as this will buy.”
He nodded and ran out as I went outside. I stretched and headed to help water and feed the animals. By the time I got back to the warehouse there were a few guards there and everyone was talking about the robbery of Countess Tresliss. Breakfast was a feast with not just ham and eggs but someone had found porridge. One of the women had asked the guards if they were safe from this thief and the guard had snorted.
The day was spent sending runners out looking for work, talking to farmers coming into the city and men leaving with carts or wagons. By the end of the day we were showing a healthy profit. We had also brought in beams and thick posts bought from farmers quietly to start building another floor. I listened to every rumor and one bothered me.
It hinted at the homeless doing all the robbing. A lot more guards came by than normal and I stopped one of the guards that was warming his hands beside the fire pit, “Has anyone gone through the gates at night?”
He looked at me, “I wouldn’t know.”
I looked around, “Well, if the thief lives outside the city walls he has to go through the gates doesn’t he?”
The guard seemed surprised but nodded, “Yeah.”
He seemed to think about it and finally left. I went to bed early and woke to a guard poking his head in the door, I looked at him and he closed the door. I dressed and went out to find a couple of men awake and talking to two guards. It seems the guards and army had been doubled again and they had been walking around. I went back to bed and woke to a young boy prodding me awake. I looked at him and he smiled, “Momma said to wake you.”
When I came out it was to the smell of tea. The women were toasting bread and cheese with left over ham from yesterday. I spilled most of the gold from my purse into the small box being used for the warehouse funds. We worked on the second floor as runners came and went. When someone yelled for a cart or wagon a man always jumped to go.
The rumors going around were about a Baron caught in the streets last night. The guards and militia were so angry they had beaten him. Several more homeless families appeared and were accepted into our group. The second floor seemed to fly together. We had it half done before it was dinner time. This time a farmer had come to us to sell a couple of butchered sheep.
As the sheep was being cooked several guards came by and the talked turned to another wealthy merchant that was starting to point fingers at us. The guards shook their heads, “That stupid ass just wants the king to seize everything you have so he can move in and take over.”
Everyone was angry but the guards snorted, “The guard commander pointed out to the king that everyone here stays outside the walls so it couldn’t be your group.”
I moved away to think and decided to pay the merchant a visit. It was late when I lifted my head and looked across the dark office. I slipped out of the bedroll and turned to fix it so anyone looking in would think I was still there. I had prepared for this, the office window had been oiled earlier and opened quietly. I slipped out and moved to the wall before heading towards the gate in the shadows.
I found a spot I could use and started climbing the rough stones of the wall. I hesitated at the top and listened before slipping over. I crossed the guard walk on top of the wall and went over the side. The climb down was much slower as I felt for foot holds in the dark. I moved away from the dark shadows of the wall and silently made my way through the city.
When I entered the gatehouse I could tell no one had been in it since I left. I went up to the archers perch and filled my purse with silver before leaving. I knew the merchant was probably planning something so instead of his home, I went to his shop. Merchant Dillon was a silver smith and had a huge shop. I used an alley and climbed the shop wall next to his.
I knew he had apprentices that normally slept above the shop. I went over the roof of his neighbor and down through the attic vent into his shop. I moved slowly and quietly to the ceiling hatch and opened it. A careful glance showed no one around and I silently dropped to the second floor hall. I moved to the stairs and crept down. There was a bell over the door that would ring if anyone opened the door but that was it.
I walked through the shop and into the back work area where several forges were. I turned to walk to the single office and looked around before pulling a thin bladed knife. I wedged it between the door and the jam and slid it down to the locking latch. I wiggled the blade and shifted it down more as the latch moved into the door. Finally there was a click and I slowly pulled on the door.
It opened silently and I put the knife away as I moved into the office. Along the back wall were bars of silver and what looked like a lock box. I didn’t think the lock box had been here long since it blocked anyone from getting at the silver easily. It wasn’t hard to force the lock on the box. I opened it and grinned at the gold coins inside.
I looked around and grabbed a large bag lined with velvet. It was probably used to carry new silver items to their owners. I filled it with all the gold and then took my pack off. I carefully put the silver bars and the gold filled bag in the pack and left. I closed and locked the office behind me and went back through the front. Upstairs I glanced up at the open hatch and sighed before stripping off my pack and setting it down.
I unwound a cord from my waist and tied one end to the pack and gasped the other end. I jumped and caught the edge of the hatch before pulling myself up and in. I turned and braced myself before pulling the pack up. I untied and rewound the rope before closing the ceiling hatch and carrying the pack to the vent.
It was slower going as I retraced my steps over the roofs. Back in the alley I headed to a section of the wall I only dimly remembered. This was the real reason I had come tonight. I had to wait some time before crossing a street. When I reached the large inn I was looking for, my childhood memories returned. I was very careful moving into the inn stable yard.
I slipped into the stable and silently walked down the wide isle between horse stalls. At the very end was the old grain room. I checked the hinges and pulled out a small bulb of oil. I squirted the oil on the hinges and put it away before slowly opening the door. It opened quietly and I closed it after I went in. I crossed the dark room feeling along one wall.
Along the back wall I found the old thick door that blended into the wall. It was only because of the rusty lock that I found it. I fumbled in my shirt for the small skeleton key I had carried for the last ten years. The lock clicked open and I smiled before pushing against the door. This had been an old postern gate, long ago this inn had been built here and the stable built against the city wall. They had never even thought to brick up the small door.
I had to stop to oil the old hinges a couple of times before I got the door open enough to squeeze through. I turned and closed the door before feeling my way across the other pitch dark room. I stumble several times before I found the door and opened it. The building built against the wall on this side was an old tannery that had gone out of business.
It took a little while to make my way out a side door. I silently moved along in the shadows of the wall, several times guards walked by just paces away. When it was clear I moved to the open office window. I lowered the pack through the window before climbing in. I tucked the pack in the corner and stripped before relaxing under my blanket.
I woke at just the hint of movement, I rolled and sprang for the window and the man halfway through it. He was just stepping down to the floor when I slammed into him. He yelled and tried to turn as I stepped back and kicked into the back of his knee. It buckled and I spun him as he fell, the scribe was screaming as I moved towards the man. He came to his feet with a dagger in his hand and I shifted back.
The office door burst open and two guards and a small crowd of men started to enter. The man turned and I kicked him between the legs. As he folded and dropped to the floor the two guards came forward to grab him. I looked around at all the people, “QUIET!”
Everyone shut up and I nodded to the man struggling in the guard’s hands, “He was climbing in my window.”
I turned and moved to my bedroll and some clothes, “Let me get dressed.”
The guards pulled him out of the room and the crowd followed them. I dressed quickly and followed to find everyone out front crowded around several guards. A lantern was brought as I moved to the guards and one yanked the man’s head up. I shook my head, “I don’t believe it.”
The man tried to stand, “I was just trying to…”
A guard slammed a short night stick against his head, “We don’t care what you were trying scum.”
Two of them bent to grab his feet and they started dragging him away. I turned around, “alright it’s over, everyone back to bed.”
I pushed my way through and headed towards the fire pit. A little later a few men walked up dressed and sat beside me as I coaxed the dead fire back to life. I shook my head and sighed, “I knew Merchant Dillon was trouble but…”
The men snorted, “He was rich and trying to steal from us.”
I nodded and looked around, “We need some wood slats on the windows and a few of us to start a night watch, maybe just two hours every night each.”
They nodded and then one grinned in the firelight, “All the rich people getting robbed and we catch the thief right here.”
The man next to him slapped his shoulder, “More like he was trying to take advantage of the other robberies.”
Everyone nodded and more men started coming out. I sighed as I glanced at the sliver of sun that was starting to rise, “I really hate getting up before the sun.”
Everyone laughed again and I shook myself, “Okay, first order of business.”
I looked around, “Once the sun is fully up we go back to soliciting. We also start checking with the farmers coming in. Some of the younger boys and girls can go around to houses, see if they want to buy fresh produce. We also need to finish the second floor so everyone will have a place to sleep safely. Once the second floor is finished we need movable dividers on the main floor to put excess items.”
I thought about it and grinned, “Have everyone put it out about merchant Dillon breaking in while we were sleeping. If they know we were here and someone was trying to rob us they will look elsewhere for the thief and stop pointing fingers at us.”
Everyone nodded at that and I looked around, “Have some of the younger men go back to the commons when it is nice and warm. They should walk the streets and cobblestones for vipers. Have them cut the heads off and use those coil tongs to throw the heads into a buckets to be burned. The snakes they bring back we clean and skin. We can broil the snakes but the skins we clean and stretch to make belts and belt pouches.”
The men all grinned at that and I glanced at a couple of women that were struggling with buckets of water. I sighed, “I think the women need some help bringing water in for bathes.”
I stood and went to help and the others began talking. It was a little while before breakfast was passed around and people began pulling carts and wagons out. Men and women started on the second floor as I headed into the city with an older lad. I bought several large barrels of flour and bolts of clothe to make new shirts or dresses. All the talk was about Dillon, his body was hanging from the central square for everyone to see. I think the guards knew he hadn’t been the real thief but the other merchants and nobles were worried.
I sent the lad back with my purchases and orders to fetch those he couldn’t take himself. I went to walk the streets in the noble section. They were no longer letting people through that didn’t have a reason to be there. I had been thinking about doing a few things and returned to the warehouse and found it in turmoil. The king had sent a tax collector even though he wasn’t due for another three weeks.
Needless to say our money was gone. I was angry but didn’t let it show, instead I went inside and closed the office door before going to my pack in the corner. I pulled out a couple of large handfuls of gold and moved to the tin we used for our money. I carried it to the middle of the gathered crowed and held up a hand. When it was quiet I handed the tin to the woman that was our scribe and opened it so several people saw.
There were gasps and whispers back through the crowd as the old woman looked into my face. I shrugged, “We don’t need to put this on the books since it is an anonymous donation.”
People laughed and the scribe grinned as she closed the tin, “I’ll put it in a private ledger.”
I nodded and gestured, “Let’s get the sleeping floor finished. Tomorrow the lads can start on partitions for privacy.”
The crowd broke up and the women moved outside and the next thing I knew they were busy making shirts and dresses. The large corral was busy as farmers arrived with their produce and men transferred it to our wagons or carts. They headed into the city and runners started coming and going. I was helping with the heavy beams or other chores around the warehouse.
I also started a private project, in one back corner I threw up walls for a large room. I had a few men help me bring in three new water troughs and set up a small copper boiler in one corner. I had the scribe give a runner a single gold piece and sent him to a pottery maker. I ordered several pieces of clay pipe that was normally used in the rich houses to get rid of waste.
I also sent the old trough back to the corral and placed a new one a few feet in the air just outside the warehouse room I was building. We had a few more people join us and they were welcomed and put to work. At the end of the day we sat around the fire eating a nice dinner. I smiled at a large group of women that were frowning at the trough in the corral, “Go look in the room I built downstairs.”
They looked at each other and left, when they didn’t return other women went to see what was wrong. Finally all the women and older girls were gone and the men chuckled. They were the ones to help build the room and knew it was a bathing room just for the women. That night I slept outside by the fire pit, I managed to slip away in the middle of the night.
I used the river again to swim to the noble’s island. This time I used a couple of empty barrels to float the chests to the bars under the wall. I let the chests sink before letting the barrels fill with water. I swam down with them and under the bars before slowly surfacing. On the surface I drained the water from the barrels and corked the bung hole. I drove and pulled the two chests under the bars before surfacing.
I used a rope to slowly pull them up and tie them to the barrels before swimming to the bank. One by one I carried the chests to the back of the warehouse. I dried off and dressed before lying down. I woke to men coming out and threw the dark blanket off me. A guard had been sitting at the pit staring into the coals and jerk in surprise, “SHIT!”
I stood and stretched as he laughed, “I didn’t even see you there.”
I smiled, “Its better then a thief stepping on me as he climbs in the window.”
He grinned, “True.”
The day started off with reports of two thieves caught in the city. Both were caught in the act and were hung. The second floor was almost done as runners headed into the city. Carts rolled out with a few wagons as everyone became busy. I headed into the city to Magistrate’s Square. I paid the city clerk for the old tannery and left.
I stopped at the tannery on the way back to lock the door to the room that had the doorway through the wall. At the warehouse there was a huge crowd of new people, they had just arrived from other cities. I sighed and pulled the old man that was in charge of building the second floor aside, “Go to the old tannery next door and see what we will need to clean it up.”
He looked at me, “The tannery?”
I nodded, “We might be able to just add another floor and make it into a someplace people can sleep in.”
He grinned, “I’ll take a couple of boys and girls too.”
I pulled a couple of men aside that had experience with wagons and began drawing a wagon with different springs. When I finished I looked around and shook my head, “I sent old Jacob next door, go look and see if there is room to build wagons like the one I just showed you. Also go see the blacksmith and ask how much it will cost to make the new springs.”
They nodded and left as I turned back to a couple of women that were approaching me. The next thing I knew I was sending them to buy more fabric. I also sent lads to the market for fresh baked bread and a few other things we needed. I checked on Jacob later and found them cleaning everything. I made a point of removing the lock on the back room and replacing it. I grinned at Jacob, “No windows for some thief to step on me.”
He grinned, “spoil sport.”
The rest of the day was spent trying to organize people for Jacob and paying for material. I also moved a dozen large empty barrels into the city and down a alley beside the river. The women made a point of going to bathe together as the men stayed around the fire pit and talked. The upper floor in the warehouse was finished and as it began to get dark everyone went to bed. I moved my belongings and waited a little and then carefully moved the two chests to the room in the tannery and buried them in my room.
I locked the door and slipped through the wall. There were small patrols of guards in the streets. I silently moved to the bridge and slipped in. Upstairs I moved things around and climbed to the archers perch. I moved the chests down one at a time and then moved them down to the door. I opened the outer door and started moving the chest out and along the river bank.
After the last one I went back and closed the door and locked it. One by one I tied the chests to the empty barrels and slipped them quietly into the river. After the last one went in I stripped and put my clothes in another empty barrel and waded into the river. I tied the lead rope around my waist and started swimming towards the middle of the river, towing the floating barrels behind me.
I was exhausted when I finally reached the wall and then pulled each barrel to the bars and untied the chest. They sank to the bottom and I released the barrel to do the next one. After the last one was untied I tied the barrel with my clothes to the bars and dove. I swam down and under the bars before coming up on the other side. I pulled my clothes out of the barrel and untied it before swimming to the bank.
I dried off and dressed before slipping through the shadows to the fire pit. I was warming my hands after building the fire up a little when a guard appeared. He looked at me, “Up late?”
I nodded, “Trouble sleeping. I thought I heard something by the tannery but didn’t find anything.”
He turned to look into the darkness, “The king was talking to the commander about a curfew.”
I frowned, “Has the thief struck again?”
The guard shook his head as he warmed his hands, “We think he left.”
I sighed, “I should go try to sleep.”
He watched me walked out and down to the empty looking tannery. I thought about what he said and shook my head, ‘It isn’t over, to many of you bastards still run things.’
I left the door open and fell asleep quickly.
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