Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
A band of sneak thieves for a Damsel
I had been watching the market place for a week now. The guard had several reports of sneak thieves stealing purses or items from merchants counter. I had already marked four young men and was watching two more. Currently I was laying unseen on a merchant’s roof peering down into the square. I finally sighed and moved back and down.
I used a drain to climb back to the alley and slipped up behind the lookout. I cracked him behind the ear and pulled him back into the alley. I fished the three stolen purses out of his shirt and the two silver candle sticks. I tied his hands and feet with a noose to his neck before moving back by where he had been standing.
When one of the other thieves returned to look for him I moved forward. I cracked him on the back of his skull and quickly pulled him into the alley with his friend. I stripped him of his stolen goods and tied him up. One after another I took the thieves. After I had the last man I got them up and had them carry the stolen purses and property.
They were a sullen lot that pushed into the guard building. As soon as the guards came to take them the oldest looking one blurted, “We have something to trade! We want the king’s pardon.”
The on duty commander sneered, “Your sneak thieves, what could you have?”
The other men looked at their apparent leader and he swallowed, “We know where the Countess MacTav was taken.”
I looked at them and absently waved one of the guards back, “Prove it.”
He shook his head, “After we are free.”
I laughed and walked to stand in front of him, “Prove it or I will break every bone in your body.”
I ignored the commander who would probable start breaking bones if he still refused to talk. The thief finally nodded, “There’s an old tannery called Lion’s Hide. They dumped her belongings in the refuse pit.”
I looked at commander, “Do you want me to go look?”
He shook his head and gestured to one of the guards, “Take a messenger horse.”
He glanced around and gestured to some of the other guards, “Lock them up and one of you go get a minister.”
I pulled all the purses and property away from the men as they were led away. I sat and pulled a blank parchment close before starting to write the report. I was doing it almost absently as I thought of where the Countess’s belonging had been left. I sanded the parchment and slid it across to the commander who nodded absently, “Thanks.”
I sat back as he read it and a black robed minister followed a guard into the building. He glanced at me but sat beside the commander with a sigh, “So we have something on the Countess.”
The commander nodded, “Maybe.”
The commander handed my report to the minister and stood to talk to the guard that had been sent to look into the refuse pit. The guard handed him an arm full of clothes and the commander returned to the table. The minister looked them over, “Very well.”
I watched as the men were brought in and the leader cleared his throat, “After you let us go…”
I brought a stick down on the wrist of one man reaching for the stolen property. I looked at the leader, “Understand this thief, you are my catch. If the Minister wants to trade your freedom for the Countess MacTav it will be through me as the king’s law requires and not through the guards. Now, if you don’t give me the information you don’t go free and an extra charge of treason will be added since you know about this kidnaping. After you provide the information you will be escorted to the city gate. If you ever return you will be thrown into prison.”
The commander and the Minister were looking at me as the leader frowned, “After we are freed.”
I stood with my stick in hand, “Are you refusing to tell me where she is?”
He licked his lips, “After we are free.”
I nodded and gestured to a stone faced guard, “Take them back to their cells and prepare the gallows.”
Even as the guard grinned and reached for him he blurted, “WAIT!”
I gestured and he looked at the Minister and pleaded, “I’ll tell sir, after we…”
The guards grabbed the men and he screamed, “OKAY!”
The guards waited and he looked from the minister to the solemn face commander and finally to me, “Behind the Lion’s Hide is what looks like a ruin of a shack. She is being kept there.”
I nodded to the commander as I turned to head towards the door. He cleared his throat, “My guards…”
I smiled, “The king’s law allows the trading of information for a life but since they were captured by me, that information is mine to act on first. If your guards just happen to wander by…”
He grinned, “I’m sure several are in that area.”
I nodded to the minister before leaving and heading towards the old tannery. I was moving fast and the people on the street seemed to know something was happening. I slowed and walked the last hundred paces and pulled the two night sticks. That cleared the people from around me as I turned in and started around the old tannery. The two men that stepped out in front of me took one look and pulled daggers.
I didn’t even slow as I slammed one stick down on a wrist and moved sideways. The other man tried to strike but his partner was in the way. I struck sideways as the first man bent to grab his broken wrist and hit the second man in the temple. I brought my other stick down on the back of the first man’s head and continued around the building.
A glance back showed several guards following with their weighted night sticks in hand. When I reached the door to the shack I snapped my foot into it and it splintered as it crashed open. I walked in and swung one stick sideways to strike a man in the face that had been beside the door. I continued straight across the room where a man was hastily rising from the naked body of a woman.
I thrust the end of one stick into a rushing man’s stomach and slammed the other stick into the side of his head. The guards came through the door as I reached the man that had been raping the Countess. I snapped kicked into his groin as he sliced with a dagger and then started beating him with my sticks. I spun to hit a man slipping up behind me and then looked around before putting my sticks away and reaching out for a dirty blanket.
I knelt and covered the Countess before lifting her in my arms. I turned and kicked a man backing into us and started for the door. The guard commander was outside and hurried to my side with an older noble. I didn’t stop walking as they fell in beside me, “She needs a doctor.”
The commander looked at me as the noble frowned, “Why?”
I didn’t look at them, “I ask formally that the criminals your men assisted in capturing be held for the kidnaping and rape of Countess MacTav.”
The noble sucked in his breath but they both remained quiet. The commander spun and started back but the noble stayed with me until I kicked on a door to a small narrow house. The woman that answered was a large woman. She looked from the Countess to me and backed up, “Take her to the back room on the left.”
I nodded and turned to move past her before going down to the room. I put her in a bed and touched her hand, “You are safe now.”
I glanced at the noble and stepped out with Mother Kerine, “Help her if you can. Several men raped her so use something to prevent or stop her from having a child.”
She nodded and moved into the room. The noble stepped out and looked at me, “thank you.”
I shook my head and headed for the door, “don’t thank me. It will be a long time if ever that she comes back from what they did.”
Walking through walls
The reports and gossip working its way through the city was about another theft. It was like all the other recent ones, the thief had entered a locked room and then left. There were no signs he had used doors, windows or other means to enter the rooms. All the thefts were in old noble manors or what had been old noble manors. Since it was noble manors I had no way to examine the sites.
It was a nice day and I was enjoying watching the women walk by. I was sitting at a small outside table on the edge of that part of the market that was mostly for women. I had a mug of warmed cider the waitress kept refilling. The richly dressed minister sat across from me and I glanced away from a pretty young maid. He smiled, “She is pretty.”
I grinned, “They are all pretty.”
He grinned and glanced into the marketplace before looking at me, “The king has asked that you look into the matter of these recent thefts.”
I sat back, “I would need to look at the rooms he broke into.”
He shook his head, “He didn’t break into them. It’s like he walked through the walls.”
I smiled, “Still, I would need to see them.”
The minister nodded, “Done.”
I looked into the market place, “The items stolen have not been sold at any of the fences in the city.”
He looked at me and I grinned, “I’ve checked.”
He nodded, “Mostly it has been gold but also valuable family relics.”
I sipped my cider and then sighed and stood. I turned as the waitress approached and handed her a silver coin, “thank you.”
She grinned and kissed me before clutching the coin and rushing back into the small shop. I glanced at the minister who was smiling, “I’ll start with Duke Weist.”
He stood and gestured to a young page standing by a shop, “This is Samuel, my page. I would like it if he accompanied you.”
I glanced at him, “As long as he doesn’t get in the way.”
I watched the minister walk away and glanced at the page, “Come along youngster.”
When I reached the large manor of the duke it took an hour before I was let in to see him. He barely glanced at me, “The king wants the thief found but I doubt we could hold him if he can walk through walls.”
I smiled, “May I see the room he took everything from?”
He gestured to a guard and I followed him through the old house. The room he unlocked had a guard beside the door. I walked into the room and stood in the center before slowly turning. I ignored the guards and the page and went to tap on the walls. I found what I was looking for beside the small fireplace. I began checking old fixtures and decorations.
A few minutes later I found the catch. There was a slight click and I used my fingers to open the hidden door. I glanced in and turned to pull a small lantern down. The duke appeared beside me as I started to enter, “I never knew this was here.”
I smiled as I moved into the passageway, “This is an old manor my lord and back then times were hard.”
He snorted and fell in behind me, the passageway turned and descended in steep stairs. We came to another wall and I reached for a small lever on the right. There was another click and I pushed the door open. We walked into the duke’s large kitchen where his servants backed away wide eyed.
I nodded and looked at the cook, “You had a helper that hasn’t returned. What was his name and what did he look like?”
She looked at the duke, “Jessup lord.”
The duke snorted, “Figures. He is the bastard of Baron Tan.”
I shook my head, “I very much doubt that my lord. Baron Tan enjoys other... sport.”
The duke looked at me for a minute and then laughed, “I should have known.”
I looked at the cook, “describe this Jessup?”
She thought a moment, “medium height lord. Long brown hair and eyes with scars on his hands.”
I nodded and turned to the duke, “Well my lord I will take my leave.”
He nodded, “If you find him let me know.”
I bowed and gestured to the page, it was the same at the other manors. By that evening I had a good idea of what my thief looked like. I also knew there were only three other old manors. I made an inquiry at each and smiled when I found my target. I fed the young page and sat him down in the shadows of an alley. I watched the servants gate into the Earl Richards manor.
The page was sleeping soundly when the gate opened silently. I watched a young man slip out carrying a large heavy sack and started towards him. He looked around when I was a few steps away and his darkened face blanched as his eyes widened. I was ready for his actions when he pulled a dagger and slammed a night stick down on his wrist. My other stick swept across to slam into his face.
He dropped to the street and lay unmoving as I knelt and tied his hands. I grabbed his sack and lifted it as I yanked him to his feet. He was dead weight as I pinned him against the wall, “Keep playing and I’ll cut the tendons in your legs.”
He stood and glared at me and I nodded, “Take me to where you put everything you stole.”
He shook his head and I put away my sticks and pulled out a thin wire, “I will ask once more. If you refuse I will put this around your manhood and tighten it until it falls off.”
His face whitened and he nodded before turning to lead me. I glanced back at the page who had awakened, “Go tell the minister.”
He nodded and turned to run into the night. I wasn’t surprised when the thief led me into the darkened alleys of the city. When the two men came out of the shadows and attacked, I kicked the thief’s feet out from under him. I slid sideways as I brought a night stick down on one man’s head. I kicked the thief over as he tried to get to his feet and slammed a stick down on the wrist of the other man still on his feet.
He screamed as the bones broke and then I hit him in the forehead. I grabbed the thief’s hair as he was again trying to get to his feet. I put my sticks away and pulled out a thin cord with a slip knot on a loop. I put in over his head and around his neck as he cursed. I pulled it tight and bent to search the two other men before getting them to their feet. I looked into the surly thief’s face, “try something else and it will be the last thing you do.”
I pushed the two other men along as the thief led me another couple of blocks to an old abandoned manor. It took a candle mark to put all the loot back into sacks. I made the three men carry everything and pushed them through the streets. A guard held the door as I pushed them through. The minister was talking to the guard commander as I grabbed bags of stolen property and set them down.
I pushed the sullen men towards a guard and sat at the table before reaching for the ink and parchment. I glanced at the minister before starting to write my report. By the time I finished every noble that had been robbed was there. I received a small pouch of gold from the king the next morning and a private note thanking me. I also received rewards from each of the nobles.
The life of a maid
I watched the two men as they slipped into the money lenders shop before walking across the street. I moved to stand beside the door and heard them threatening him and the sound of someone being hit. They were trying to start a protection racked and the money lender was just their fourth stop and the first I had been able to confirm. I pulled my night sticks and stepped into the shop to see the money lender opening his lock box.
I struck the bully and strong arm man in the head as he turned and continued past him to the other man. He held a drawn dagger and turned to slice across at me. That was a mistake, I slammed a club down on the wrist and the other into his face. I struck him in the stomach and kicked into his groin. I snatched him by the hair and yanked him up before I spun him and slammed him into the wall, “He is already under the king’s protection asshole.”
I put my night sticks away and swiftly tied them as the money lender watched wide eyed. I smiled as I pushed them towards the door, “thanks for sending the runner.”
He nodded and I started pushing the two men. When I pushed them into the guard building The commander turned with a minister beside him. I shoved the two men towards a guard, “assault and extortion. I have three merchants statements and witnessed them trying it with a fourth.”
The commander nodded as I sat and started writing my report. He cleared his throat a minute later, “We had a maid killed.”
I glanced at him and he looked at the minister, “She was one of the queen’s maids.”
I straightened, “In his keep?”
The commander shook his head, “On her way home.”
I looked at the minister before nodding, “I’ll ask around.”
I went back to writing but kept thinking about the maid. After the commander paid me, I left and headed toward the slums. The small tavern I entered went quiet as I closed the door. I smiled and crossed to a nervous looking man with a scar on his cheek. I bent over the table, “Someone killed a queen’s maid in the streets.”
He looked around, “we don’t know...”
I slammed a stick down on the table, “It was after she left the king’s keep, which means it was night. I know you and your... people watch those streets. I want a name or I will turn you for the silver.”
He swallowed, “It wasn’t one of ours. It was a soldier wearing a black cloak.”
I straightened, “who and what lord does he serve?”
He looked around and sighed, “Earl Descart and the man is the earl’s captain.”
I nodded, “You should have known the king would look into this, which means the city guards and me.”
I looked around and then dropped a couple of gold coins on the table, “Next time just send a runner.”
I left and started for the richer side of the city as I thought. If a noble had killed a simple maid there was a reason. I stopped outside the huge estate walls of earl Descart. I was in the shadows across from the servants gate and finally just shook my head and started across the street. A guard at the gate straightened as I approached, “No solicitors...”
I grabbed him by the throat and spun before shoving him against the wall, “I am here for the man that killed the queen’s maid. You get in my way and I will take you along for conspiring against the king.”
The guard had been reaching for his dagger and froze. I nodded and turned to walk through the gate. I crossed the grounds and walked in the servants entrance before turning to follow a hallway. I stopped in the doorway leading into the great hall. There were several men at one table including the earl.
Standing to one side beside and behind him was his guard captain. I started for them and the captain’s eyes flicked to me before he straightened. The group quieted as I approached and the earl snarled, “And who do you think you are!”
I smiled as I stopped, “I am here to take your captain for the murder of the queen’s maid.”
He leaned forward as the group shifted, “And how are you going to do that?”
I pulled my night sticks, “By taking any that interfere for treason.”
The earl fingered his dagger, “And when you die?”
I had enough and my sticks swung both ways to slam into the heads of two men. They crumpled and I smiled, “You answered my question lord.”
Everyone had pulled daggers and I blocked a lunge before striking the man in the face. I grabbed his sagging body to shove him into two others. I slammed a stick down on a wrist, breaking it and then jabbed the other stick into the man’s throat. I spun and blocked a stab from the captain and kicked him in the groin before bringing a stick down on his head.
I moved sideways and knocked a dagger from the earl’s hand before slashing out the other way and hitting the other man in the side of his head. I faced the earl as he moved sideways and licked his lips, “It was for Duke Noss.”
I fainted and then brought the other stick around to strike him. As he crumpled to the floor I looked around. Several servants were watching wide eyed and I put my sticks away before tying all the men up. I searched them before I yanked them to their feet and pulled them after me. The main door and gate guards moved to stop me and I growled, “Interfere and I will have you hung for treason.”
When I pushed them into the guard building the commander stood frowning. I shoved the other men towards a guard but held onto the earl and the captain, “These are to be charged with conspiring against the king.”
I nodded to the captain, “This one killed the maid.”
I yanked on the earl, “This one ordered it.”
I looked at the commander as he licked his lips, “The king...”
I shook my head, “It was done for another noble. Put these two in separate cells and after I have finished my report I will go talk to the other noble.”
He hesitated and then nodded to a couple of guards. The earl took a breath and opened his mouth. I slapped the back of his head, “You talk before a minister and no one else.”
He glared but the guard slapped him hard, “You heard the thief taker scum! Keep your trap shut!”
They were led away and I sat to write a report. The commander read it over my shoulder and gasped when I got to the earl’s declaration that the killing was for duke Noss. I ignored him and finished the report before sanding it and handing it to him, “I’ll be back.”
I walked out thinking about the duke, it was going to be different than earl Descart. Duke Noss was one of the king’s advisors. I headed towards the king’s court, it was after lunch time so I knew he would be sitting in judgement and his advisors would be attending him. I nodded to the four men standing guard at the gates and walked through.
I ignored the line of merchants and applicants and walked into the great hall. Two very large king’s guards stepping in front of me. I smiled, “I am here on king’s business. I am a licensed thief taker and have the men that killed the queen’s maid. I need to see the queen.”
They looked at each other and one turned to wave to a well dressed man. He was short and balding and hurried across the great room. I saw the king watching and bowed slightly before facing the new man, “chamberlain, I am a thief taker and have the men that killed the queen’s maid. I need to speak to the queen.”
He frowned and turned to look at the two large chairs with the king and queen, “take him to the queen’s parlor.”
He turned to walk towards the king and the guards gestured to another guard who led me out of the room. I was looking out the tall windows and turned when the door opened. I bowed as the queen and king walked in. They were followed by the king’s advisors but I ignored them. They stopped in front of me and the king opened his mouth to speak.
I held up my hand as I looked at the queen, “Why would duke Noss want your maid killed?”
She gasped and turned as the king spun to the white faced duke. He snarled, “How dare you!”
I looked at him calmly, “be quiet or I will gag you.”
He puffed up and I pulled a stick, “One word.”
He froze and licked his lips as I looked at the queen, “Why?”
She looked at the king, “Because she heard him say he was going to have me taken and made pregnant by King Andrew’s son to start a war.”
The king glared and reached for his dagger. I cleared my throat, “Excuse me your majesty but this is my business.”
He glared at me but I looked at the duke as he looked around for a way out and the other advisors moved away, “What deal did you make with earl Descart?”
He sneered, “You can’t touch me peasant.”
I took two quick steps and swung my stick. The duke jerked back and then staggered as my other stick was suddenly slamming into the side of his head. I grabbed his shirt, “Listen well scum. I deal with your like every day. You will answer my questions or I will beat them out of you.”
I pulled his dagger and tossed it to a guard that was moving towards us. He was surprised and caught it and stopped. I shook the duke, “The deal!”
He stuttered, “He wanted Baron Pells patent!”
I nodded and spun him before putting my sticks away and tying his hands. I nodded to the queen, “Thank you majesty. I imagine he threatened to tell the king something he made up if you spoke.”
She hesitated and the duke turned his head and opened his mouth. I slugged him in the side of his head, “Shut the hell up traitor!”
I looked at the queen again and she smiled and nodded, “He made a story up that baron Pells and I had been lovers.”
I nodded and started for the door, “That’s dumb, baron Pells is impotent. That is why he adopted Stephen.”
I saw the king stiffen and then nod before the door was opened by a guard and I pushed the duke out. The trail for the duke and earl was quiet and then they were hung beside the guard captain that had killed the maid. A large pouch of gold was delivered to me with a elegant note from the queen and king.
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