The next morning, he and I dressed and left the inn. For the most part, I remained silent about the whole ordeal, I had my own plans. Once Toeryn and I had enough, I was going to break free and learn to survive on my own without stealing. For now I would just have to ride the wave and do as he said.
“There,” he said, pointing a woman who was walking a small dog. “ She should be an easy enough target.”
Toeryn’s eyes darted around the streets, making sure there were no Patrollers nearby. Once we were in the clear, he nodded. I ran down an alley way and met up with the woman a few streets away. I leaned against the wall and sniffled a few times as she got closer. Most of the townsfolk just walked past me. As the woman approached, I seen her face was over done with make-up, her blond hair was bound up on the top of her head in a pile of loose curls. The burgundy dress she wore was buttoned to her throat with a bit of lace around the neckline, her sleeves only came to her elbows, and on her hands were a small pair of white gloves. The lower part of the dress was a flat skirt of the same fabric that made up the bodice. Around her waist was a small bundle of fabric, that wrapped around and formed the bump of a bustle behind her. I didn’t care much for her clothing, as it made her look as though she had a large backside.
As she approached closer, I began to sniffle more, eventually turning my sniffles into sobs and then full blown crying. It was the easiest deception that I could manage for my first time as a distraction. The lady proved Toeryn right. She finally reached me and paused. The small white dog she had with her, sat obediently at her feet.
“Is everything all right, dear,?” she said to me a high thrill. Her voice sounded as fake as her appearance.
“N-no,” I wailed. “I’m l-lost.”
“Oh dear,” she said softly. “You poor thing.”
“I got separated from my brother, he told me the directions to the inn we’re staying in, but I can’t read to know if I’m going the right way or not,” I cried as she pulled me close to hold and comfort me. I saw Toeryn moving stealthily behind us, he was quick as a blur when he snipped a small brown pouch from the folds of her skirt.
I kept my charade up a little while longer, crying into this woman’s dress like a little lost waif. It was rather embarrassing. Then I heard his voice.
“Lyssa!” Toeryn cried out from across the cobbled street. “There ya are!”
The woman looked up and scanned Toeryn for a moment before releasing me. Her expression showed disgust.
“Sir,” she started. “You are this child’s guardian?”
“Yes ma’am I am,” he said almost proudly. “She were lookin’ at a stall of jewelery and gems when we was separated. Ya bein’ a woman of fine taste, would surely pause a moment to gander upon the wares of beautiful craftsmanship, would you not? My niece has a habit of doin’ such thin’s herself. I thought she were right behind me. I walked along babblin’ like a brook ‘fore I realized she were missing. Thank ya kindly ma’am, ‘ppreciate ya hangin’ on to my niece fer me.”
The woman seemed to buy the explanation and nodded curtly.
“Well then sir,” she said. “Since that is all in order than, I will bid you both good day. And please Miss Lyssa, don’t wander away from your uncle.”
“I won’t ma’am,” I replied. “Thank you for your help.”
“Here you both are,” she said, opening her small purse and removing four perfectly polished silver coins. She handed two coins to the both of us. “Buy yourselves some new clothing, and a dip in the bathhouse on me.”
As the woman walked off with her dog in tow, I looked at Toeryn and glared hatefully.
“Thanks to you,” I growled as I stormed off. “she said I stink. Find another partner.”
“Ana,” He called after me, running to keep up with me. “She gave us four more coins to add the pile of money she had sitting in that pouch. Really, I think you can handle a snob calling you stinky once in a while. Besides, you need me and I need you.”
I trilled a bit throwing my hands up and proceeded to berate Toeryn under my breath. Damning him for use our bloodlines against me.
“Fine,” I said ending the argument. “But I’m using my two coins to actually do what she said.”
“Don’t be in there too long, you’ll prune,” he said, laughing at me. “You know how to get back to the inn right?”
“Of course I do,” I replied tartly. “I only pretend I’m lost, unlike you who doesn’t need to pretend to be stupid. And where did you get that ridiculous accent?”
This only made him laugh harder.
“I heard it from some girl who was in the square,” He told me, still laughing. “She sounded like no one I’ve ever heard before. She was pale as a ghost too, with poker straight black hair. If that wasn’t enough to make her stand out, the second she spoke, made it obvious.”
Rolling my eyes I stalked away from him. I took main roads to the bathhouse, and looked forward to sinking into a hot tub to relaxed my sore body.
I entered the bathhouse, several men and women were milling about with bath towels swathed loosely around their waists or firmly tucked under their shoulders. None of them paid much attention to me other than a slight glance. A woman behind me let out a high-pitched laugh that rang out through the entryway, it was followed by several baritone laughs. I walked passed two men who were standing close to the entrance of the women’s bath.
One of the men had vivid red hair, not much unlike my own. His tanned skin told me he spent a great deal outside, he was thin but well toned. There was something about him that led me to believe he was more than I what I saw before me. I wasn’t quite sure though. His companion, had hair that was white as snow. His face held an impish grin on it, his blue eyes smiled with amusement while he conversed. He was very attractive looking. I found myself staring at him as I passed a small smile forming on my lips. My head snapped forward as he turned his head in my direction. I heard the soft exhales from his silent chuckle before he returned his attention to his friend.
“I dunna know a thin’ ’bout the new guild,” the red hair one stated heatedly when I passed. “I jus’ know where it’s located.”
The white haired man replied in a low tone, looking in my direction. The red haired man looked at me and also said something back as I made my way to the ladies’ baths. I felt my ears turn a flaming red, and then a light laughter only confirmed they had said something about me. Making my way down the stairs, I tripped over my own two feet. Stumbling, I caught myself only to receive more snickers from the two men behind me. I whipped my head around and shot the white haired man a dirty look, to which he replied with a wink of his eye.
Once in the bathing room, I heard the idle chatter of other women who were there. Idle gossip to fill idle time. I changed in the dressing room and returned to the main bathing hall. Several groups of women sat in in-ground bathing pools. They looked up at me and smiled. I moved to an empty pool and slid into the water. The warm water wrapped around me like a blanket. Before long, I drifted to sleep. I don’t recall how long I was there, but one of the attendants shook me awake. Embarrassed, I left without a word, the two men from earlier were long gone.
Toeryn and I continued our distract and grab routine every day, using different locations each time. Some times we were near the free farmers market, other times were we around the church. Our days at the church were much simpler than any the other places since we could stand and wait for alms to passed out. Rich politicians and socialites would hand out several coppers to each person as they left the church. I guess it cleared their conscious of how much they would take in taxes later that year. Toeryn and I never took anything from anyone who couldn’t afford it. Anyone dressed as common as he and I were left alone, it was those who had the pompousness about them, or presented him or herself regally that were our targets.
One such target presented himself a few days later. His confidence was easily mistaken for arrogance as Toeryn pointed him out to me. The platinum haired man was making his way down the steps of the Gallery. A half smirk sat on his lips as his crystal blue eyes scanned the market crowd. He wore soft brown leather boots that were folded at the knee, light gray trousers tucked in at the boots, were trimmed with gold down the leg. A matching light gray overcoat with the same gold trim hung open, showing that he wore no waistcoat like most of the men of stature favored, just a white tunic that billowed slightly and was held in place with a brown leather belt.
Something small and silver peeked out from under his jacket. The pommel of a blade he kept concealed. A well crafted that I couldn’t fully see. The bottom of my stomach dropped. Toeryn’s plan wouldn’t work.
“Toeryn,” I started. “I can’t, not him. Pick someone else.”
“No,” he replied. “I bet that boy has a purse full.”
“I can’t do it,” I continued. Perhaps he didn’t recognize my voice and assumed it was the cold feet I usually got when I was about to do my job.
“You can and you will,” Toeryn told me firmly. “Or you won’t sit for a month.”
Sighing, I pushed myself off the wall I was leaning against and made my way to an empty part of the market. A few people looked at me as I put on the facade of being lost, they knew that I was up to. But I knew they wouldn’t do anything about it, it wasn’t their business or concern. As long as I didn’t affect them directly, they didn’t interfere with me.
“Are ye lost la-lad?” The pale haired man said to me, stumbling slightly over the last word. He eyed me for a moment then smirked again.
“I- um- maybe” I stumbled over the lines I had rehearsed over and over again.
“You. Could- Er” I continued. I didn’t know why I couldn’t remember what my task was. Perhaps it was because he was the most beautiful man I had ever laid eyes on. Long platinum colored hair and a face that would melt the ice around even the coldest heart. He looked at me with an amused expression as I tried to find the words to speak to him.
Around the corner, Toeryn was waiting for the cue. With each passing second, he grew more impatient and agitated. I felt him practically breathing down my neck as I hung my head in defeat.
“Never mind.” I muttered as I skulked off back into the crowd. My ears match my hair perfect, a bright vivid red to go along with my embarrassment. Behind me I heard a snicker coming from the man I had left standing there. I was sure he was more than curious about what I was trying to do.
Several weeks had passed since my failed attempt, I noticed that Toeryn was spending less and less time with me. Some times he just didn’t come back, at least not while I was awake. By the time I woke up the next morning, his bed looked as though he had slept in it, but he was not there. This concerned me, he was being secretive, more so than usual. I shook my head at the thoughts as I packed my things, I would be ready for him to tell me we were leaving any day.
I spent my days wondering around the city, learning the street and realizing that I didn’t need Toeryn to knick coin purses, I was quite capable to do it myself. I told myself it wasn’t stealing if I was using it to survive. Of course I was lying to myself, I was a thief, and soon I would end up getting caught. Several days had passed, Toeryn was nowhere to be found, I didn’t care to look for him.