- Report Post
- Posted: Mon, 24 Jun 2013 04:17:30 +0000
THE SADNESS contained within tears. A language of visible misery rolling down the cheeks. The emptiness of hunger. The gaunt, frail essence of struggling bones. The pain of separation. Looking up at the night sky only to see that your favorite star no longer shimmers.
All of it has a name. All of it has a meaning. All of it has an end. Yet all of it is everlasting. Endlessly crashing like waves against humanity. There is no shelter. There is no relief. There is only hope. Hope she carries in her pocket. Wishes she spreads like seeds over a barren land. A faith that glistens in those all-seeing eyes. She takes it in stride. Holds it close to her chest. Leaves the seeds to grow. Cleanses the weak of their exhaustion. Points to the destined path…and carves the way to a new future.
The very path that has taken her to this place. The same path that led that boy to her. And will now force her to make a choice. To take a step. To alter the course. Action and consequence. Good and bad. Death or life. To steal or not to steal?
There was no question.
For already the anticipation trembled like a spider’s web. Cold and sharp she kept her eyes. Warm and inviting she kept her smile. Steps skipping with the spring of innocence. Shoes scuffed with the thrill of experience. Slender hands ready to work. Lined with skin pale, smooth, and deceiving. Though she looked like a privileged daughter who had escaped with daddy’s pocket change, she was thief. Clever and tricky. Swift and observant. Ready to rob you blind at any moment.
She reached the town with an eager pace. Her hunting grounds were desolate and grey. Clouds quickly shifted through the sky. Even without her powers she could see that rain would very soon drench Nemis. Perfect. The rain was ever so distracting. People scurried to get away. When before they would protest at even a light bump on the shoulder in the presence of rain they quickly dismissed it to be on their way. Eris tightened her cloaks sash around her waist as she approached.
Stone walls welcomed her as the iron gate stood before her like a solemn watchdog. Right away she was greeted by two guards. While their faces were weary it was clear they would see through her in a minute if she were to try to enter under false pretenses. There was little choice but to be honest. Then she'd get in and out as quickly as she could. If she was caught stealing the punishment would not be pleasant. This was not a place she could quickly disappear into. At least, not easily. And the mark of any good thief was to have an exit lined up before you've even entered.
“Name and purpose?” called one of the guards to her.
“Eris Xycra. I am a traveling fortune teller; my tent is set up not far from here in the woods. But, as you would imagine, there is little business to be had. I need clients. So I hoped to find them here.” She could tell by the way the two of them glanced at each other that they were more than a little skeptical. And, really, she could not blame them. There were so many claiming to know the art of divination. Frauds that only wished to toy with emotions in order to fill their coin purses. They were the reason why decent, true tellers were often rejected by whole cities. Fortunately, Eris was well aware of this and had since devised an easy way to prove her abilities.
“If that is the case, why are you dressed in common clothing?” chimed the other man, pointing at her plain cloak.
Eris gave him a smooth smile, “Good sir. If I were to dress myself in full regalia, would I not be putting myself in danger? I only need my talents to acquire patrons.”
The first man huffed. “Talents? You mean the gift of lying and deceit?” Then he held up his hand as if to reject her entry.
Just then she let a pulse of light escape her pupils. In the growing shadow of the clouds it shone enough to make the guards gawk and look to her with wonder. “I,” her patient voice rose to match her confident stature, “am no liar.” As the glow in her eyes dissipated she could see clearly that the men were giving her their full attention. “Now. Please let me through. I promise, I will not stay long.”
Hesitantly they exchanged looks once more, this time fear and bewilderment lining their faces. The first man said, “Alright….but no more than 3 hours. That should be plenty of time for you to gather…clients.” He eyed her carefully as she entered, watching as she turned and stepped into the shadows of a building.
It was time to get to work. The sound of echoing footsteps quickly reached her ears. A man. Tall, thin, likely middle aged. A heavy coat lined with fur. Wealthy. She got herself ready. Eris gripped the collar of her cloak, making sure to give a tiny shiver as the man passed by. The sudden rattle of a coin purse hitting the ground alerted him. He stopped and turned. Eris continued on her way.
“Excuse me, miss?” said the lanky fellow.
She faced him, eyes large an unassuming, “Oh...y-yes?” With a simple smile the man held out the pouch and said a polite, “I believe you have dropped this.” A girlish gasp escaped her lips and she quickly reached for the purse.
The man withdrew his hand ever so slightly, “Are you….from here?” A pouty frown fell upon her face. “No, sir. I am here visiting—” suddenly she bit her lip, looking away sheepishly.
His curiosity was perked, “Visiting…?”
It was in these moments that her ability to look much younger than she really was came in handy. “I’m afraid,” she put her fingertips to her bottom lip, “that I am not allowed to talk to strangers…”
Eris could practically feel the hot steam that came shooting out of his nostrils. “I see…well. I would not want to force you to break any rule.” The moment he handed the pouch back Eris lifted her eyes to meet his. She locked onto his stare for only a few seconds before looking away shyly. After that she scampered away, holding her purse tightly. The man watched her go, clearing his throat and adjusting his collar before moving on.
Eris rounded the corner, clutching the golden ring from his finger against her pouch.
The first drops of the storm fell heavily onto the earth. Eris raised her nose to the sky and smiled.
The pickings were slim. There were many in this town due to a festival, but few with enough to lose. She had been lucky enough to chance upon the wealthy man at the beginning. From there she managed to pinch a pair of ruby earrings off a lady who tripped in a puddle. And swiped a jeweled necklace from a man who liked wine a little too much. Easy. But there was no thrill in easy. No exhilaration in the swift victory. Sure, now she had more than enough for that boy to buy the medicine for his mother. But it quickly stopped being about that. Soon her eager fingers were picking into somewhat questionably unrighteous dealings.
Pockets filled with treasures belonging to the unworthy and guiltless alike, the gypsy rode on waves of delight. Already she had changed the course of destiny. A motherless future was avoided. Starvation eliminated from the path of the young boy who had come seeking her help. She had done the right thing. This, simply, was the reward. Not the treasures. No, those things she would most likely not keep. She would give them away to the needy. Keeping only what she thought too valuable to sell for her own personal collection. And that only comprised of a handful of pieces. Due to her constant traveling any more would be a burden. Things of that nature were commonly lost or stolen. It was best to keep greed at bay. Besides, her three hours were almost up and the rain pelted her to no end. It was time to call it a day.
So Eris walked back toward the exit. Toward her tent at the edge of town, busy fingers still swiping what they could hold onto.
A voice said, “Reports of a thief…” Suddenly she froze. Her eyes darted toward the passing guard. He was ordering the sentry next to him to keep a sharp look out. “The gate has begun random searches…”More bad news. Very bad news. There was a chance she could get through without being caught. Then again, they weren’t very good chances. She stood on the side of the street, biting her lip in thought.
A tug on the end of her coat jarred her from her thoughts. She glances down to see the bony hand of the very boy who only hours earlier had visited her. He seemed as surprised as she was.
“What….are you doing in the city?” shivered his dried lips. He was muddy and soaked to the bone. He would not last much longer like this.
“Gathering…,” she paused. Wait. This. This could be her chance. She knelt down quickly, taking the boy by the shoulders. “Listen. Is there a…secret way out if the city?” The child’s eyes widened. “Wh-What?”
Eris gave him a serious look. “They would not have let a little one like you get in and out of the city so easily. That means there must be another way. Please. I need to get back home quickly.”
Hearing the underlying tone in her voice, the boy quickly agreed to lead her to the secret path. Taking her hand he took her to an old abandoned building snuggled closely to the wall. There he squeezed into a small hole beneath the foundation. A few minutes later he opened the front door for her. “This place used to be used for smuggling.” Following some creaky stairs to a stuffy basement, he removed a plank from the floor. “They still don’t know about this tunnel.” She glanced at him curiously, “And how do you know about this tunnel?”
“Dad was a smuggler.” He said simply. He supplied her with a single candle and told her to go straight. There she’d find an exit just outside the wall. Who was saving who? With a warm smile she bent down, kissing the child’s forehead. His face was at once a bright shade of red. Eris giggled. “I’ll be sure to repay you someday.”
Hesitantly he took her hand before she headed into the tunnel. “You…already did….” They parted ways with a smile.The amazingly well dug tunnel exited out behind a great boulder. Carefully she made her way back to the road.
It was quite a ways back to her make-shift home. Even longer now that she had to cut through the woods to find the old oak she had seen in her vision. If she was not mistaken there was an entrance to the forest right in front of the gate. That option was out. The guards would no doubt see her and grow suspicious.
The city behind her, she glanced about. It was best to go around, passing by the cave’s entrance before taking a straight path into the woods. It would mean that she’d have to walk for quite some time. But that was no problem for her. Her legs had carried her through longer journeys. She’d be exhausted but it was well worth it. Pulling her hood lower to hide her face from the storm she headed to bury the treasure. She’d need to pop the jewels from their prongs before the boy could use them as a necklace or a pair of earrings was much more identifiable than an assortment of random gems. She had a few tools with her to help her with that. She thought for a few moments about the best method of extracting each of them safely. The gold could then be melted down or sold. Though she may need a goldsmith’s help for that. There was one in town. Perhaps she’d visit him before leaving. It would give her an excuse to see the boy again.
It was there, in the pouring rain amongst her contemplations, that she spotted a small group of three close to the cave’s entrance. They sat and stood there warily, their past travels written plainly in their clothes. Head low, pace easy, she approached them. Perhaps her fun wasn’t over just yet. Fatigued travelers were a enjoyable target. Oftentimes the weight of their journey dulled their senses as their primary focus quickly became food, shelter and rest. Even more so in the middle of a storm. She, being a traveler herself, knew this all too well.
Holding back the urge to smile, she quickly advanced. At first her target was a female. A soft, scholarly looking woman who’s frame and clothes held little wear. Her strangely excited eyes were not paying enough attention to her surroundings. Her mind was elsewhere. Eris, on the other hand, was perfectly within the moment. She felt every droplet. Saw every motion. She knew the steps to this dance and that woman, well she didn't even know there was music playing.
It was then that a curious sparkle caught her attention. A small vile, red as the rubies in her pocket, hung from the belt of one of the males of the group. He kept to the back, vision tired but alert. A challenge. She liked it.
He said something to his companions before moving closer to the road, though a sudden rush of wind blew his words away from Eris’s ears. The gypsy made her move. Making sure to seem as unnoticeable as anyone on the road she got close. A slight bump of the shoulder. A soft, “Excuse me.” And she was off. Her expert hands holding onto her new trinket with glee. A safe distance away she glanced down at the strange bottle. What was it filled with? A potion? She wondered how much it would sell for. She had seen similar things before, but nothing with quite the same sheen. She would have to analyze it more closely when she got back to the tent.
The woodland trail revealed itself to her. With a happy sigh she stepped onto it. It was then that the sound of ardent feet came from behind her. Feeling a strange tingle on her neck, she glanced back. It was that man. The owner of the vial. He was looking straight at her, advancing swiftly, his mouth a hard line. His tired eyes awake and flashing with anger. Suddenly panicked, she took off down the path.
One more glimpse behind got her blood rushing. The man was not letting up. In fact he was getting faster.
Eris broke into a sprint. No. She could not be caught. Not now.
This was her punishment. For her greed.
She had outrun fate before.