"Light as a Feather"
by Rich (aka dragoman)
Ch. 7 - Re-Training
"Oh, hello Thomas."
Cutty's voice didn't sound surprised, although he had opened the door right into me, so he couldn't have been expecting me here yet.
"Garrett told my you'd be by." Cutty didn't sound pleased, and I didn't really blame him. A lot of his time and effort had gone into training me, and me losing my stake and equipment after my first job had to be an embarrassment. I started to extend an apology when he waved it away.
"Don't worry about it. Everyone makes mistakes, but I expect you not to make another one." With that, Cutty turned around and walked back inside. Hesitatingly, I followed, not sure if he wanted me to stay or go.
I followed him to his "business room," as he called it, and took a seat. Cutty sat down at his desk and immediately started looking through some papers, totally ignoring me. I sat there for a while, wondering when he was going to start talking to me.
An hour later, as I had just completed counting the number of boards in the ceiling and was about to start on the floor, Cutty spoke. "Well, I think I have another job for you." With that, I sat bolt upright, all of my attention focused on the fence.
"It's pretty mundane, not to exotic. One of my many clients is a book collector. He has heard that the local library, not the Hammer library, has acquired a book that he is interested in. He would like for me to acquire it, and is prepared to pay pretty well for it."
"What's the book?" I asked. Had to be something dangerous or exotic, I thought, warming to the thought of stealing a powerful, magic tome from a well-protected library.
"It's the census report for the country of Haldonia for this year."
I stared, incredulous. Then I began to feel mocked. As the blood rushed into my face and I opened my mouth to tell him where he could put his book, Cutty noticed my anger.
"I'm not making fun of you, if that's what you are thinking. This is a legitimate contract, albeit a rather silly one."
"Is that why you are giving it to me? Because it is so silly and easy?" The anger still showed in my voice.
"To be brutally honest, yes. I don't think that you are ready for anything harder yet, and Garrett agrees with me. You need more training and more practice."
In my mind, there was a voice telling me the same thing. I knew that I was unseasoned and apt to be a little reckless at times, but it hurt to admit it. But I knew that without Cutty's connections, a rookie thief in town would either end up in prison or dead, or both. Resignedly, I said, "What's the specifics?"
An hour later, I exited Cutty's with instructions to get some equipment and then meet Garrett back at the training room in a day or so. Before I got two steps out the door, I heard a voice, "Hey, Feather, where you headin'?" I turned, and of course, there was Willow.
"Are you keeping an eye on me because it's your job, or you like to?" I asked, a little bit of anger showing in my voice. "Can I say both?" she answered, with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her lips. Faced with such a combination, I found my anger bleeding away and being replaced with excitement.
"Come on." With that, she started off down the street. I followed.
Over the next few hours, Willow showed me where the best shops were to get equipment, various hiding places about the streets, where the best food was sold. I got some new equipment: a cloak, dark as a shadow with lots of pockets inside and out, and a deep hood. A bow, nice and compact, but with a system of pulleys that I had never seen before on the ends. A "compound bow" the merchant had called it. Various arrows, some broadheads, some water arrows, and a couple of noisemakers. I also got a sturdy knife and a blackjack.
Willow led me around the city, showing me the alleys and back streets that a person not willing to be scene should use to avoid the authorities. She also pointed out some prospects, wealthy merchants' houses. I didn't hear much, because I was so dazzled by her that I didn't pay much attention to what she said.
She was so pretty. When I complimented her, she laughed and dismissed it immediately. I saw a look in her eyes that I didn't expect to: the look of someone who hears something a lot but doesn't really believe it. I wondered why she truly thought she was unattractive.
We ended up at a private hiding place of Willow's, high above the city on a church steeple. Catching me glancing around, she asked laughingly, "Are you afraid of heights?"
I chuckled, reminding her I was an acrobat, used to performing high above a crowd. "Not at all. It is just so beautiful from up here. The city loses its stain; it's dirtiness in the moonlight. From this vantage point, the city looks like a beautiful creature, stretched out as far and the eye can see, glowing softly like a bed of jewels."
She looked at me with tears in her eyes. "You see it the same way I do. Every time I think that I can't stand to live here any more, I come up here at night, and all of a sudden there is no where else in the world I want to be than right here."
Because it seemed like the right thing to do, I leaned over and gave her a hug. She stiffened, and I thought she was going to push me away, but suddenly she hugged me back with a force that surprised me.
After a few minutes of silence, she jumped up, gave me a grin, and said, "Let's go." Without hesitation, I followed.
If you have any feedback on this story e-mail it to Rich aka dragoman
Chapter 6 / Chapter 8
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