Part One: The Thief
The dappled rays of golden light flowed through the gaps 'twixt the green leaves, the rest creating an eerie green glow in the thick woodland. Oak, ash, beech and maple trees, framed against a beautiful hue of light blue, their gnarled root systems heavily twisted and knotted, like old men from a bygone day and age long past. Their trunks were great and scarred, mirrors of their age-old neighbours. The brown, soft loam that covered the forest floor was soft, even welcoming to a tired eye.
Occasionally, as one went along, a sprawling fern bed could be seen, the ribbed, green, leafy stalks sometimes reaching six feet tall.
Wildlife was commonly seen, but particularly skittish. Every now and then one could see through the ancient trees a majestic stag, a small doe, a cautious rabbit, or a lone wolf.
This was a very human woodland, to say the least. Most forests in that day and age were said to be inhabited by the beautiful yet reclusive race called Elves, but this was obviously not one of them. It was inhabited by humans, if inhabited by anything but the wildlife.
A balmy summer breeze whisked through the air, laughing its merry laugh as it rolled and tumbled along its way. Patches of wildflowers could be seen sprouting in random areas. The smell of summer was in the air, and with it, rich pilgrims traversing the land from their winter homes in the south, to the far north where their residences lay for the summer.
The sun was warm, the streams were clean, the deer were maturing, and, upon occasion, a wealthy baron, lord or some man of the higher classes would travel along the well-trod forest road.
This, my friends, was precisely the reason that The Thief was out.
His eyes quick, his boots worn, his fingers skilful, his gait merry and his spirits high. It was a season for thieving, and this was where to do it.
He wore an average sized forest-brown cloak on top of his dark green tunic and homespun dark red shirt. His tight brown trousers could be seen over tall, large-cuffed leather boots and under a thick leather belt with a broad brass buckle.
Over his head he wore a long, ridged leather hood, long and pointed at the forehead to cover his eyes and nose. However, his muscular, well-whiskered jaw and slyly grinning mouth could be seen below.
On his wrists were long leather bracers, and on his back a full leather quiver of scarlet-flighted arrows and a sturdy recurve bow common among Elves and Centaurs.
All in all, you could tell he was a roguish type character, but from his merry gait and bright smile, even the way he carried himself, showed that he was at least an uncannily charming fellow.
Here he sat, in the bowl of one of the gnarled root systems, his legs gathered under him indian-style, his hood cast back over his quiver revealing longish, wavy red-brown hair, a cocky cock of his eyebrows belying a thorough knowledge of flirtatiousness and light-brown eyes so uncannily shallow, they seemed to be lying the whole time. However, his face altogether was what a girl would call attractive, even charismatic.
The jingle of a bridle.
The musical sound of coins, clinking in a moneybag.
The whinny of a horse.
The smell of a hot turkey leg.
The Thief put his hood over his head, and reached behind his back under his cloak with his right hand, retrieving a long, curved knife with a ruby pommelstone. It appeared to be of Elvish make.
A few more moments, and, without a sound, he had slid off the root system and was standing in the middle of the road, deftly tossing and twirling the longknife in his hand.
The source of the sounds and smell presented it in the form of a fat man on a black-and-brown-spotted horse. He was dressed in the regal finery of a baron, with the crest and colours of a province to the west. His tunic was of fine silk, coloured purple and yellow. His stockings were the same colours, as well as his feathered hat.
Indeed, he was chomping on a fair sized turkey leg dripping with grease. It appeared to have been freshly purchased, The Thief judging from the location of a small milltown about five miles down the road.
His horse seemed to have no fear, and the man did not appear to be paying much attention to the fact that The Thief was standing in the path.
Soon enough, the man and horse were directly in front of The Thief, and the young man decided that now was an opportune time to speak.
His hood was drawn low over his face, giving the nobleman the displeasure of not being able to look into The Thief's eyes, but giving the advantage to The Thief, for he could.
"Halt." he said. The nobleman obeyed, and drew the reigns attached to the horse's bridle to his chest. He looked down his nose at The Thief with disdain, still munching on a chunk of turkey.
"Afternoon m'lord." The Thief said with a northerner accent. The nobleman swallowed with no sparing of all manner of disgusting mouth noises, then spoke.
"What do you want, thief? You shall not have it, whatever it is."
"Ah." The Thief replied. He cocked his head to the side, still looking up at the fat man. He took a kindly tone. "I just thought, consid'rin' y've go' a fair bit o' trav'lin' ahead of yeh, I might relieve y'of that big ol' purse y'got on yer saddle. It looks awful heavy, I wouldn't want no undue strain t'be put on yer, uh, already substantial weight, sir."
The nobleman looked skyward, as if any help would come from it. "If you dare make a move toward my saddlebags, I shall have to gouge out your eye. I have no tolerance for thieves and blaggahds." he said with a droning, nasally voice.
The Thief paused, still deftly flicking the longknife 'twixt his fingers, 'round his hand and finally sheathing it behind his back. "Well," he said with a lighthearted grin, "I'll just have ta take all yer stuff then."
Twenty-six minutes hence
The nobleman sat by the road, frowning and glowering with what appeared to be a deep sense of hatred for something that had happened to him. Indeed, he had good reason.
He was completely naked, save for his underpants and his brightly coloured hat on his head. The feather was gone. His hands were bound behind him, and his feet likewise, the bottoms of which were touching each other, thus causing a painful stretch of his thighs.
Aye, The Thief had left, and taken with him everything the nobleman had. Money, clothing, belt, horse, supplies, feather and even his turkey leg. The nobleman was in no danger. He could either hop back to the village, or a search party would be sent out from his home.
However, by then, of course, The Thief would be long gone. It was obvious who got the better end of the deal, as was the way things usually went for him.
After all, he had been doing this for years. Not only that, but he was a sucker for making a good show while robbing even the smallest of things, and getting away with it (which he always did).
Aye, The Thief had been at his job for a long time now, and what was more, he didn't plan to stop.
I'll post another part along these lines within the next few days, possibly.
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