The Short Stories
The short stories of Judah Lamey,
as well as the Stories of Quillville.
as well as the Stories of Quillville.
Fire With Fire Part 2: The Thief
Fire with Fire is a Serialized story by Judah Lamey, set in his world of Aleta.
It is not part of Quillville.
You can find Fire with Fire Part:1 Here
Fire With Fire Part 2:
Daniel Rickman had been very careful in laying out his plans to catch his thief. It was like trapping a sparrow with your bare hands, it took time and patience, and it was impossible unless you found a way to lure them to you. Stopping in front of a small window that displayed a chaotic pile of fabrics, Daniel did one last mental check and ran over his pitch. He doubted that there could be two thieves in Midura that would fit his need, he had to make this work.
Stepping into the shop, Daniel made small adjustments to his bearing to make himself more intimidating. A trick he had perfected over years. Winding his way around tables piled high with rolls of fabric he made his way to the back where an older, but far from frail man stood behind a wooden table smoothed and polished from years of use. A chip of chalk stuck out from behind the man’s ear, and he fingered a pair of long sheers. This was not the best part of town, and more than likely he would have had more than one chance to use those sheers to scare off street vultures looking for an easy coin.
“What can I do for you good sir?”
Daniel dropped his voice as he answered, “I pulled you aside the other night and asked you a few questions. Asked you to keep your eye out for a friend of mine. Just wanted to see if you had any luck with that.”
The shopkeep’s eyes flashed in recognition, but his tone was calm, “Didn’t recognize you in the light of day without your hood up.”
Daniel resisted the urge to smile, he liked people who had the guts to mock a threat. Instead he glared and waited.
Seeing he was not going to get any reaction from that, the old man leaned forward across the table and smiled, “Haven’t seen or heard a whisper from ‘em.” That smile did not touch his defiant eyes.
Cracking his knuckles Daniel leaned forward as well, “I suggest for your health, that you keep a sharper eye, old man.” A bland and vague threat would be expected. Now to throw him off a little. “This, is so you remember me next time.” Daniel laid down a pair of coins on the table that would match what this shop could make in a week. Then he turned on his heels and left behind a very confused shop keeper.
Daniel hated threatening people. If he ever caught any of his guards pulling what he had just done they would never set foot in the city again. They would be lucky to get out of the city unscathed. However, today it was his only choice. He had been asking after his thief around the city and they had to know he was looking for them. Until now however, no one he had asked could have recognized him. He had just plucked a strand of a spiders web, it wouldn’t be long now.
Walking slowly down the street, he made no effort in the least to hide. To that end the store was barely out of sight when he noticed that he was being followed. A pair of gutter children, doing a surprisingly good job of it too. Maybe he should make room on his Shadow Hunters for a few of those. They went everywhere, and were overlooked by most. There was, of course, the glaring down side of them being able to be bought off with a few hot meals. Two more blocks, and he heard the sound of small feet pattering across the street, now abandoning all stealth.
Had he mis-judged his thief? Where one of those children sent to stab him in the back? Suddenly a swarm of thoughts sprang into his head, filling him with doubts. What if instead of sending word to the thief that the man looking for him was about, the shopkeeper had given the coins to a pair of gutter snipes if they knifed him in the street. Spinning, he put his hands out, he would not draw his blades on a child. It was a young girl that ran at him, her hair tied back with a scarf and wearing rolled up pants. She held no weapon, but her face was intent. What was she doing? Daniel stepped up snapping his hands out to catch her arms. The girl slid around his grasp like smoke, leaping to the side she kicked off the wheel of a cart and launched herself back at him, Daniel tried to spin, but she was already in the air behind him her elbow connecting with his ear.
Curses and profanities did their best to escape his lips as Daniel spun around again, one eye squinting as he fought back the pain. She disappeared down an ally, and Daniel gave chase ignoring both the pain, and laughter of the few that had seen his embarrassment. The homes and buildings in this part of town had been built and expanded in erratic styles and fashion, and the alleyway twisted and turned twice in twenty running paces. However the second turn showed him a dead end. There had been no off shoots, where had he missed the girl? Some bolt hole to slide into? It wouldn’t have been hard he hadn’t seen her again after she disappeared into the alley. If he caught that little wisp of a thing, he would…Well he wasn’t sure what he would do, shake her till her teeth rattled, or offer her a job, it really could go ether way.
Her disappearing however was a moot point, because this dead end was a sprung trap. Thus it was also exactly where he wanted to be, but it still irked him that he had lost the girl so quickly. Walking to the dead end he turned to look back the way he had come.
Standing between him and the way out was a masked figure. Its clothes were black, and held tight to its skin with cloth wrappings. The tattered ends of which blew in the wind. The thief was so thin as to look like a corpse wrapped in a black shroud for its burial. Thin, yes, but Daniel had experience in sizing up opponents, and there was a lean muscular build under that skeletal appearance. Completing the disconcerting appertain was the mask. It was smooth and black, removing all form or detail from the face, all but a jagged white painted smile. Long black hair blew out around the mask in the wind.
Without a word the figured reached behind its back and brought out a black rod two handspans long with a wicked hook on one end and a large ring on the other. Then the figure started forward, Daniel had hoped this confrontation would not start with a fight, but he had figured it might. One did not ask questions and threaten people in the criminal underworld long without repercussions.
Reaching under his cloak he went for his two knives. Except, they were not there. A laugh burst from him. That little gutter rat.
“I guess that gives a new definition to a bump and lift.” Daniel rubbed at his ear. The masked figure hesitated, and Daniel continued, “I might still have it in me to beat you bare handed, but if it’s all the same to you I would rather not find out. I am truly sorry about threatening that friend of yours. I left him enough coin to compensate the fright. You see, I’ve been trying to find you, and this was the only way I could think of. This part of town is surprisingly loyal to you.”
The figure didn’t advance or relax. It stood as silent and steady as a statue, only it’s hair and the tattered ends of its wrappings rustled about it.
“My name is Daniel Rickman, I am the captain of the City Guard.”
With a whistle the figure jerked its head toward the mouth of the ally and the young girl darted into sight and then back down the ally, carrying Daniel’s knives.
“You’re Grin.” With a wry smile Daniel added, “I can’t imagine where that came from.”
Grin tilted their head slightly.
“I am here to recruit you. I have looked into you, going over every scrap of information that this city has. There were a lot of pieces to put together, and it took me quite awhile.” He lowered his voice, “I know who you are Jack.”
At that, Grin jerked back as if burned, his head whipping around to look and see if anyone had been close enough to hear.
Daniel continued, “More than that, I know why it is that you do what you do, and how you pick your targets.” Grin reached up with his free hand and pulled off his mask. His face was beaded with sweat, apparently that mask was not the coolest of attire. “This city needs you, I won’t threaten you I am not bribing or blackmailing you. This can only work if you come to it willingly. There are too many that think themselves gods in this city, that think of themselves as untouchable. You are among them, but not one of them, and for that I need you. The City Guard does nothing but walk the streets and put on a show, I am the first to admit it. We need the ability to look into crimes, to hunt those responsible. We need to bring justice, not just say we stand for it. We need to do what you wanted us to do all those years ago when you came to us. You asked us for help and we said no. For that I am sorry. I am putting together a new guard, one that will give the evil in this city no place to hide.”
Grin looked him in the eye for a long, silent moment. “You can do this?”
Daniel nodded, “With you and few others help I can.”
Then Grin flicked his hand forward and Daniel heard a clink by his boot, he looked down and saw a small black stone, reaching down and picking it up, he turned it to see that on the other side was painted into a likeness of Grin’s mask. Unsurprisingly the thief was gone when he looked back up.
Slowly a genuine, joy filled smile started to spread across his face. He had his thief, and his new guard was officially begun. Now for the hardest of the three, to recruit an honorable murderer.
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Here you will find a growing collection of my Short Stories. From pieces I wrote for competitions, to some of my world building stories. Some of the longer ones, will be broken down and released as Chapters.