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East Way Chronicles Part 4 - Thievery
My Favorite Fantasy Writer
by J.C. Delfino III
In the small hamlet of Sparksland, about half a day's ride south of Falcon's Breast, one of the rare caravans stopped on its trip south to Sliverton. The people of Sparksland quickly descended on the mismatched collection of wagons. Those who had money tried to buy whatever goods they could get before the winter set in. Those who did not planned to take whatever they could.
At one booth there stood a young man of only sixteen winters. He stood close to a corner pole that held the leather canopy off of a brightly clad merchant. The merchant was busy talking to an old couple at the other end of the booth. The merchant held a large piece of dried meat up in front of the old woman.
"...cut pieces off a little at a time and add them to boiling water with some dried carrots and potatoes and you will have yourself a REAL nice stew." He said as he smiled a large toothless grin. Andester wondered how the man could eat the meat without his teeth. Andester looked around to make sure nobody was watching him as he slipped closer to the booth.
"Yes but for five coins!" The old man replied angrily. He shook a fist at the merchant. "This is robbery!" The old man's wife grabbed the fist and tried vainly to pull it down.
"Yes, but just think about a real stew." She said half whispering to him. The merchant hearing the woman smiled another wide toothless grin, which Andester had found extremely humorous.
Andester glanced around one more time before he grabbed a small piece of dried meat off the cart before him. Then he placed the meat into his cloak pocket; at least he would eat that night. He quickly turned and started weaving his way through the crowd away from the booth.
He shook his head in disgust and wondered how he had fallen to thievery. This was not the reason he had run away from home. He wanted desperately to make his way in the world where so many others were failing. Man I even look like a thief. He thought to himself. He wore simple clothing, a pair of worn leather pants and a gray shirt covered with a heavy dark brown cloak. His only weapon was a dagger, his father's dagger. It was a nice dagger with a long blade and a silver inlaid handle. What he really wanted was a short sword or maybe even a scimitar. He particularly liked the way a scimitar's blade arced. He pictured himself fighting a goblin with one. The small green clumsy humanoid would never stand a chance against him then. He pulled his cloak close to fend off the cool breeze that had begun to blow down from the north. No he did not want to steal for his food. He wanted to hunt it, kill it. That was at least adventurous. He walked away a little quicker, knowing he would soon be completely out of sight of the booth. He figured it would be easy to disappear into the crowded street.
He glanced up at the sky, where gray clouds had started to gather. It looked and felt as if it was going to snow. It was cold enough. Andester blew on his hands and rubbed them together in an attempt to warm them. He glanced back over his shoulder to where he had been walking. He saw no sign of pursuit.
People were scurrying around the marketplace attempting to buy last minute items before the winter set in. After they had all of the items they would need, they would lock themselves into their little homes and let the winter rule over them, only venturing out when it was absolutely necessary. Andester was not like that. No, he was headed south to work in the Sliverton mines. He hoped it would give him enough gold in his pouch to buy some better weapons and possibly some armor with, and then would the world be his to explore.
Few people looked at him as he walked past them. They were trapped in their sad, self-centered little lives. If someone had noticed him they probably would have thought he worked with one of the merchants and would therefore pay him no heed. That was the key to getting further down the East Way. He had to join up with one of the merchants. He hoped to exchange his services for transportation down to Sliverton or at least Orason.
"Thief!" Someone called out from behind him. His hand instinctually found the hilt of his dagger. He glanced over his shoulder again hoping that they had not called at him. He saw a man running away from him, knocking a couple of people off balance as he went. He was clinging something close to his chest.
Two guardsmen rushed toward the man who unfortunately did not see the guards were coming and Andester could see that he was headed right toward them. Both guards carried clubs and on their belts they wore their long swords. They were dressed in a fine chain-link armor shirt with the Wayward seal skillfully braided into the front. Andester wanted to call out and warn the man, but knew that the guards would then turn on him also. He kept silent and watched as the events unfolded before him.
The man rushed toward the two guards and saw them at the last minute, a minute far too late. One guard swung his club at the man and barely missed. As the man dodged the blow from the first guard, the second guard kicked him squarely in the chest with his boot. This caused the man to sprawl backwards into a booth before falling on the ground; a loaf of bread fell from his grip and landed beside him. The two guards then descended on the man each grabbing an arm and marching him away from the large crowd that had gathered to watch the ordeal. Andester knew the man would at least loose his thumbs if not his whole hands.
Andester nervously ran his hand through his shoulder length blonde hair. The ordeal had startled him severely and he wanted to get away from this area as fast as he could. He glanced around one more time and managed to lose himself within the thinning crowd.
Who could he find to travel south with? He looked for someone who would need his help and finally spotted an older man loading a wagon by himself. The man looked very weathered as he lifted boxes and crates up into the wagon. The boxes seemed to be filled with various books and scrolls. The man looked to have passed sixty winters, maybe more, ancient to the young Andester. His clothing did not quite match the look of a merchant though. He wore a long, simple, grayish brown robe. It was not gallantly colored like the other merchant's robes and shirts. One look at him and you would think he was a normal man, if not for the mass of books, for most normal men could not read or write. That was left to the nobles and sages and those who suffered under them. Andester decided that he must be a merchant from a land far away. That had to be why he did not match the merchants of the locality. Andester walked up to the man. "Can I help you sir?" Before the man could answer Andester bent over and picked up a heavy looking wooden box and set it in the wagon.
"Thank you, young man," the older man replied. Andester helped him load the rest of the flat-bedded wagon. When they finished the man turned to Andester. "Thanks again …” His voice trailed off when the old man realized he did not know Andester's name.
"Andester,” replied the youth wiping the sweat that had started to accumulate on his forehead.
The old man chuckled to himself. "Ah, Andester, yes,” he said smiling broadly. Andester found himself smiling in return. “My name is Raydon; Raydon of Sliverton." The man said as he extended his hand to Andester. Andester took this greeting and was surprised at how firm Raydon's grip was.
"I am going to have dinner, would you care to join me?" Raydon asked, he must have noticed Andester's worried look for he quickly added, “My treat."
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