"Light as a Feather"
by Rich (aka dragoman)

Ch. 1 Introductions

My name is Thomas. I am....no, was is the better term....was an acrobat, in a land far from here. How I came to this place, well, that is another story, and not really relevant. Far more interesting is what happened to me once I arrived here. Of course, it wasn't very interesting at the time....

I walked along the road into town, lost in my own thoughts. Most riders and carriage occupants that passed me hardly spared me a second look, and I hardly blamed them. I was slight, bone-thin, and wearing clothes that hardly held together. My boots, leather that had once held a fine sheen, were ragged and full of holes, and their main function was to keep my feet mostly free of the water that covered the road. It was raining, and the wind whistled cruelly through my clothes.

I shivered, wondering if my welcome at this place would be any warmer than the last place I visited. Probably not, I ruefully admitted. However, my own temperament prevented me from being depressed: I seem cursed with good humor. I was just wondering idly what it would feel like to be depressed (hey, when you have nothing to do and no one to talk to, what do you think about?) when a carriage emerged from the fog ahead of me, coming my direction. The carriage did not slow, even though I was sure the driver saw me. I leaped in the air sideways, twisting my body around so that I landed on my feet on the other side of the low fence, facing the road. A simple maneuver, but one that looks harder than it is. The occupant of the coach, which was emblazoned with an ornate letter "B", gaped back at me as it sped off without stopping.

"Flarking nobles," I muttered as I climbed back over the fence onto the road and tried unsuccessfully to scrape the mud from my boots. Once again my only real skill had saved me from injury. For I am an acrobat, or was, before I had to leave the place in which I lived. I had even risen to the level of performing for lesser nobles, and had aspirations for more. However, an unscrupulous competitor had framed me for a crime I did not commit, and I had to leave in a hurry.

Often since then my skills had earned me money, or a place to sleep in an innkeeper's stables. This town, though, judging by the inhabitants, is a place that wouldn't appreciate my talents.

On my way into town, I passed the city wall, which was guarded by a sullen looking man in an official uniform of some sort. "Good day" I greeted him, and was answered by a glare and a sniff. Obviously not a friendly sort, so I made to walk past him without saying anything more. He stepped in front of me and asked in an imperious tone, "What's your business in this town?" I answered "Just passing through." "See that you do" was his reply, and with that he resumed looking dourly at the road that plainly needed no guard. Obviously, this was not the choicest of duties. "Thank you," I said, and left, heading on into town.

Almost immediately, I was accosted by a group of large men, dressed in red and silver, and carrying large sledgehammers. They were wearing large red tunics, with white surcoats over them. Their silver, flat-topped helmets had chain-mail neck protectors hanging from them. They had knee high boots, with heavy soles that clumped as they walked. The hammers they carried were real pieces of art, with heavy decoration on the handles. The bruised metal of the heads, though, advertised that the hammers were not just decoration.

"What business dost thou have here?" demanded the leader. "What's with this question on everyone's mind today?" I thought. "I am just passing through," I replied, figuring that the same reply would suffice. Wrong. "Thou lookest like the disreputable sort to me," boomed the leader. What was this? I had done nothing wrong here, and had no plans to. I was just about to say this when I heard a whistle, followed by a thunk. The hammer (for lack of anything else to call them) in the rear let out a cry and fell over, exposing the arrow buried in his kidney area. My eyes shifted rapidly as I looked for the archer. I spotted him...no, her, down the street leaning out of an alley. As I watched, she put away the bow and took off away from us down the street.

The hammer leader, his face red with outrage, charged off down the street, waving his hammer in the air and bawling at his comrades to follow the archer. The rest of his group followed, save the one who lay on the ground. I turned to go, but something made me check the man laying prostate. He was dead, but his purse at his belt was full, and after a brief look around, I grabbed it. It was a risky move, as a group like this was sure to have other members around, and I didn't want anyone telling them about me.

I walked quickly away from the scene and into a side street figuring that I might as well get away from there and maybe get something to eat. I passed a street vendor and bought a section of meat wrapped in some kind of vegetable. As the first food in 2 days, it tasted great. I was about half finished, eating as I walked, when I heard a whistle. I looked around, but saw nothing. "Up here," a voice said. I looked up, and there on the rooftop was the woman who had fired the arrow at the hammers. She beckoned me up to her, and instead of climbing, I held the food in my mouth, leaped up, caught the gutter in my hand and swung myself up and over, landing on the roof on my knees. She looked amazed, and said, "Ya must be light as a feather, don't you know?"

"Who are you?" I asked. She smiled, and said, "I'm Willow."

If you have any feedback on this story e-mail it to Rich aka dragoman

Chapter 2

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