The Tavern with the Thief

Don’t authors always want to meet those whose lives they write about? Well, what if I told you that by magic I did? I stepped into another world and into the Kingdom of Emrilion. I’ve written the stories of this people across the pages of The Edict and meeting them has been eye-opening…

I saw him first on the highway between the north east Reluwyn fort and the port town of Grûl. There’s a lot of moorland between those two and a lonely road where you’d be fortunate to pass more than one person in a day. As a result, when I came across the highwayman, riding his black horse, dark eyes quick and suspicious, I suddenly felt a shiver of fear. I know he wouldn’t hurt me, not mortally anyway, but he probably isn’t averse to tying and binding me if he found out I know who he is, that he robs royal Reluywn carriages, and that he has darker secrets than that.

But being a tale teller has it’s advantages, and when I left the baleful wind of the heather-robed moor, I took on the disguise of a man. The highwayman, or thief, would definitely not appreciate seeing the pedlar woman he passed on the Northern Moors in this tavern tonight.

Now I appear as one of the fishermen of the Northern coast just in for a hearty amber ale before a bed in one of the shacks by the water.

he assesses me

That being said, the thief’s eyes still catch me, assess me, and then move on to everyone else in this humble establishment. It’s built below one of the huge toors, the stone providing a roof, earth most of the walls with only the need to build a floor and wall facing the sea. You can still smell the earth, despite the obviously ancient origins of the place. That and the brine of the wild seas outside who’s breakers are showering the windows with sugar-like spray.

He’s tall, the thief, and broad-shouldered, but his body is sinewy beneath that battered leather overcoat. his boots thud on the creaking plans and he folds himself into an alcove home to two barrel chairs and a lone oil lamp.

He accepts a tankard brought to him and I notice that even though his hat brim casts his face in darkness, his eyes, sharp and acute, can still be seen flashing from the shadow. They look to the door every few moments. He’s waiting for someone. The grim line of his mouth means he isn’t happy.

the gaudy man

Then they catch me looking again. I curse inwardly, I’ve only come to observe, to meet the thief I’ve written about in the flesh. But when I say ‘meet’ I mean from a distance. I know better than to be involved in his illicit activities.

A mean looking man enters, his gaudy clothes a sign of wealth; his dirty fingernails a sign of his origins. I knew he would need to sell on that silver box he stole, sooner rather than later, that’s why I followed him here, to see him at work.

They grasp arms, a traditional greeting with a cynical purpose. One didn’t want to be caught out by a dagger concealed on the forearm, a regular risk in this business.

The thief says little, letting the object in the bag he has just thrown down on the table do the taking. The gaudy man looks inside and offers a face of disappointment in the lamp light. He’s obviously just seen the royal seal on the box. There were downsides to robbing royal carriages.

I’ve been made

The thief says a few words, the lines of his face harsher in the dull light, his eyes more ominous. I don’t know whether he offered a better deal or threatened the man but the gaudy fence nods, smiles with brown teeth and then snatches up the thief’s untouched tankard and downs it. I catch eyes with the thief again and this time he keeps staring. I’ve been made.

I rise non-chalantly and make for the door. I don’t breath easy until I make it to my Laowyn pony in the stable outside. I’m about to mount and leave this world when vicious hands throw me back against the stable wall and pin me there.

death in my fictional world

“You seem over interested in my dealings,” hisses the thief, pulling a dagger from his boot and holding it at my throat. Death in my fictional world. How apt.

“No, master, no. I’ve got no interest. I apologise for any offence.”

“Offence.” He snarls, half laughing after. I’m shocked that someone could be so handsome and so fierce at the same time. Then again, if I’ve been through what he had I might be the same. And just think what he would go through only too soon. His carefully constructed life as a thief was going to be turned upside down.

Perhaps it is the sudden look of compassion in my eyes but he releases me. I drop to the straw covered floor, my pony fidgeting nervously next to me.

“Don’t let me see you again.”

“Yes, master.”

no further chit-chat

He won’t see me again, but I’ll still be there, recording the tales of his life, because his actions are going to affect thousands.

I don’t wait for further chit-chat. I take my pony and get out of there…

 

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