Copé ventured off and out from Acera with a feeling of certain refreshment. The act and way for which he stole the sword was comical, but at the same time, he had the Sword of Tertius to show for it. Azlak Temps would likely continue trying to auction off the sword, likely needing a decent chunk of time to do so, and once that finally happened, he'd open the sword case for closer inspection, and find out the truth. That was all well and good, and Copé had time to make certain he was far away from the city before that time came.
Not that there was anything that Azlak could really have done against him.
Secrat Copé was a master thief that was heavily trained in combat, whereas Azlak was some no-good merchant trying to sell some stolen goods. It had to take him at least some skill to steal the sword in the first place though. But Copé wasn't very worried about it.
After this, Copé would be welcomed back to the warm sanctity of The Red Flux. Nobody from Acera would help Azlak either. None of the knights and most certainly not the Aeonian. The Aeonian could technically venture off the reservations of Acera. But seldom has that ever happened. The veil would be removed, and it would leave all of the town susceptible to attack. King Harries wouldn't risk such a thing for some merchant in the first place, but he wouldn't send any knights after Copé either.
The fact is, both were in the wrong from the moral standpoint, and the knights would simply laugh in his face and tell him he got what he deserved. Trying to sell a stolen sword in the dead-center of town and not face at least some repercussions. Even if they aren't particularly the ones one might expect.
Secrat walked off into the Unprotected Wilderness. No gate separating the two. A large gate surrounded Hardan from the Wilderness. Looked like one that would be expected to be seen holding criminals in. Italina had a fancier one.
They were always very scenic and embroidered when it came to things in Italina. Neither of them was locked or even closed for most hours of the day. They were a precaution more than anything else. If there were ever a reason, they wanted to keep others out from their city, they had it. They locked them at night to keep wildlife from finding their way in.
This meant if you were a thief and wished to steal things at night, you could expect also having to stay there for the rest of the night. This was one of the main-reasons that The Red Flux mostly stole from Acera and Urgway, even though Italina had much more expensive items. Because, while Hardan and Italina had stronger ties on security and had certain things that further discouraged stealing, Acera didn't have a gate. Acera had a sign though. A sign that couldn't even be read well from far away.
A sign that read: "Unprotected Wilderness – Children Beware!" in bright red lettering. From there, the dark-green cobblestone path, riddled with dirt and grime, ended, and the path leading to the wilderness began.
The Unprotected Wilderness induced a lot of fear over the years, decades and centuries when the term was first coined. Most of the civilians inside Acera hadn't ever even stepped far into it, let alone travel far enough to make it to Italina or Urgway. There were a lot of stories and a lot of folk about it all.
Some of it wasn't too far off, but most of it was blown completely overboard. Fact is, there was a lot to be afraid of in the wilderness.
The Carvers were a bunch of murderers that would slice your teeth from yours gums while you were still alive, and make a necklace, if only for the satisfaction they'd get from the look on your face. This was an honest reality, and something that worried Copé at times. He had never met one of them, and very much wished to keep it that way. However, that was basically the worst of it, and everything else wasn't nearly as bad. The Red Flux stole, but most of them weren't murderers. Satin was as friendly as they come. And while there were other thieves, and other murderous troupes, none of it was worth living in fear over.
Wildlife was a terrifying subject as well for them. A lot of tales about enormous creatures, elephants with brown fur and sharp tusks. Mermaids with sharp-teeth swimming around in the ponds. Copé didn't really know how all of those stories happened, but none of them were true. He assumed most of it was simply a way to scare the children. To make them too afraid to venture out into the unknown. But the fact that everyone was too afraid to travel more than a few feet into the wilderness was telling of the amount of paranoia and obliviousness a lot of them had.
Knights were well respected in Acera. Everybody loved them and thought they were modern-day heroes. The actual knights didn't have the heart to tell them the truth. either that, or they simply appreciated the attention. Copé assumed the latter was true. The knights only had a couple of jobs to deal with. They were the front-man for the king. They represented a certain "image," and were required to fit that image. This was to make everybody feel safe and to make everyone think it took a hero to travel to Italina, or something. It didn't, of course. But their other job was to live a normal and everyday life among the civilians.
They'd help them with their troubles and would even at times stop thieves and certain crimes from taking place, but as said, a lot of crime either went unnoticed or was scarce. Their biggest activity was that of a donkey or a pigeon. They would head back in fourth and navigate the five major cities. This was usually because they carried some certain message, like from the king of one city for the king of the other, or because they had to deliver certain goods.
This was often. For each city's survival, they had to work together with each other in certain ways.
Knights also did a lot of hunting and scavenging up supplies like fruit and berries. Some of that could be done in the city-grounds. The agriculture in Acera wasn't bad. It wasn't nearly as efficient or as bodacious as Urgway's but it wasn't bad. The Amisoic Sea was also nearby enough to allow them to fish from within the comforts of the Aeonian.
Copé didn't really have it in him to migrate where he needed to be. The Red Flux troupe was most likely somewhere in-between Acera and Italina. That wasn't too bad, and it could've been as little as a few hour's journey or something longer than that. But he still felt fatigue and didn't really want to set out on another trip so soon after the last one. (The Trade Network was fairly deep into the Whispey Deserts and was closer to Urgway and Jalint than it was
Acera. A long trip.)
The Sidian Inn was out of the question. The chance of Azlak Temps stumbling in for any reason at all didn't feel worth the hassle. In a lot of ways, that was a laziness about Secrat Copé. He didn't like dealing with certain dilemmas unless he had to. Instead of that, he decided to take refuge outside of Acera. There were clouds in the sky, and it looked like it could very well end up raining before too late into the day. That made sleeping beneath a tree seem discouraging, but he didn't know much else. He decided for the time being to keep walking and try to find shelter along the way before things got damp. Acera had some down-to-earth folk in it. Italina could be the complete opposite. There wasn't a lot of difference in appearance from the wilderness and Acera's city. Less trees, and a cobblestone road. That, and there were a lot more running around in it, but they mostly kept the decor the same. But, even still, there was a difference that Copé felt. He walked along a dirt-trail for some time until coming to a small creek. The creek was shallow (about five-footdeep) and only about three-quarters of the way filled with water, but it expanded for miles and miles. Copé knew that by most chances, the creek connected to the enormous Amisoic Sea.
The wound in Copé's arm had since started throbbing, throwing a wheel barrel and himself at Azlak Temps must have aggravated it. Copé dropped to one knee beside the creek. A small ache came to his knee beneath the rocks, and so he instead fell onto his bottom. The water in his hands felt cold. It wasn't very clean. He could see the dirt and muck from the creek's underbellies reflected in its contaminates. The water felt soothing though, and that was enough to make him lower his own discretion. Unbandaging his wound, Copé took a look at the gash he received from Christique. It hadn't started to heal any, and it still looked fresh, but it felt nice to let it breathe.
Copé held a stone in his hands. Chilly to the touch and looked at it before tossing it into the creek, a small splash came afterward that brought water to the thief's face. The water on his face felt nice. He could hear a frog croak somewhere but couldn't pinpoint its whereabouts when he looked around. As if to say the sound was there for no other reason than to set the mood. He discarded of his clothing, throwing it off and onto the grassy ground beside the creek.
His sheath taken off and the sword resting down beside his leggings. Copé dipped into the water. Gradually. Without a splash. The water was filthy, but it didn't smell bad. It didn't smell much of anything, aside from the smell of mud and a swampy smell that was only faint and not abundant. The squishy mud beneath his feet and between his toes didn't bother him either. All of it felt like something he could deal with. He had dealt with worse unpleasantries. Some rocks were at the bottom too, but none of them sharp or scathing. He turned his body around and rested his back against one side of the creek, the side opposite of where his clothes were. The water was only up to about a foot beneath his neck. A sigh escaped him.
The Red Flux & the Wunderkind THief
Chapter One (1 - 2 - 3)