“You nobleman are both too kind to help me move my Statue!” The woman cried out as Brutus and Secrat tried their hand at the task. The statue wasn't quite as substantial as it looked, but still took a lot of effort from both of them to lift. Six foot tall, it being hollow was imperative.
“Not a problem,” Copé said, before his jaw went back to its clenched state.
Brutus was lugging a lot more of the weight than his fair-share.
“And if you guys are lucky, there might be a little coin in it for you!” She hollered out, rubbing her fingers together.
“Oh, boy, oh, boy,” Brutus said in a high-pitch voice as soon as she walked out of earshot. Between that and seeing him splash half-naked into a creek on the outskirts of Italina, Secrat was fairly certain Brutus should never be around children.
“Be civilized,” Copé instructed. “And everything will work out.”
“Oh, yeah,” Brutus said. “What's your big idea for how to do this?”
“Well, … she won't be calling us nobleman afterward.”
Secrat could hear Brutus wheezing some and did his best to carry a more hefty amount of the weight. Soon after, they arrived out the doors of Marlou and met the outside of her carriage; a small two-person chariot with two wooden slats and a single horse at the front. The slats acted as separators, at the front, two individuals could stand at the reins, and behind that, a small section that acted as a trunk of sorts.
“Didn't expect coming here I'd be sharing my buggy with Livius Reid!” The woman said, offering a laugh and a snort as restitution for her obnoxious sense of humor. “They say even in the time of war, Livius' elegance never waned and his clothing was always without blemish!”
Copé and Brutus said nothing in-response. Secrat did offer a polite smile to her but was certain Ess wasn't as courteous. Lifting the statue into the carriage did little to increase Copé's self-esteem. Brutus, gassed and all, was able to lift it higher up without issue, but Copé damn-near fell and dropped it.
Luckily, The Thief loved himself and didn't need an ego boost.
They finished loading up the statue into the back of the chariot, situating it at an angle to keep it from hopping out from the wagon. The Woman looked more than thrilled, standing to the side of Copé. “Will you need help getting the statue into your house?”
It was a pointless question to ask, and Secrat realized it after it was said, but as Brutus poked the woman with a knife from behind, it ceased to matter.
“I am afraid we have a small favor to ask.” Brutus began.
The Woman jerked back, startled, but not yet aware of her predicament. She turned her torso and caught sight of the blade. As she jumped again, the coins in her hand fell from her clutches and slapped against the marble floor of the city. Copé anticipated her scream and cupped her mouth with his hand. “Be quiet and live, scream and die,” Brutus said, the tone of his voice sounded more focused and with vile intent.
Secrat's hand left her mouth. She didn't scream, but in a shouting whisper asked: “What do you want?”
“The statue, obviously,” Brutus said.
“If you kill me, you'll never make it out of the city with it.” She said.
“Yes, but we're taking a large gamble you don't want to die.” Brutus said.
The Woman's face looked flushed. Pale. The sight was almost heartbreaking. A joyous woman now petrified. Secrat would live, however. And as Ess led her into the chariot, the knife remained pressed up against her back. She stood in the middle, to the left of Brutus, the knife uncomfortably thrusting her spine forward to make room for itself.
Secrat joined them in the chariot, a cramped space, the carriage was really only two-person. Copé took the reins. Standing to the right of the woman, Secrat shielded the knife from outside vision. This steal would be a day's work by itself. It seemed almost too easy, although knew the hard part was coming.
The woman could call their bluff in an instant and raise the alarm on them. Neither Copé and Brutus could actually kill her as that went against Father
Toucan Veras' instructions.
Navigating through Italina's overtly flooded city would be a bitch as well.
But, it also let for a better view of the Aer Festival.
The commotion died down a lot. It wasn't as much everyone leaving as it was everyone arriving where they wanted to be.
Musicians and street-performers littered Italina almost as much as regular townspeople. All of the strummed instruments and vocals in unison made a conglomerated collage of incomprehensible nothingness.
The smell of the city had the thick scent of fresh bread and smoke. Copé looked to the sky, and sure enough, a black cloud of smog floated overhead.
“So, you guys are in cahoots or something, what are you, assassins?” The woman's voice stammered with an ignorant tone making Copé feel in-control.
“How dare you!” Brutus said, trying his best to fake being offended. “We are thieves, ma'am.”
“And I assume you have intent to kill me once this is all done?”
“If you do as you are told, you will live.” Secrat answered.
The woman let out an aggravated moan that expressed she was none too convinced with the thief's assurances, but Secrat opted not to give a rebuttal. Copé continued navigating through the crowd; inching ever-so slowly to where they began. The activity proved tasking, the townspeople showed no fear of being run over by the horse and buggy.
“You're a bunch of wanderers, aren't you? Bunch of no-goods from the Wilderness? How do you sleep at night scalping children's heads and burning knights alive!?”
“True,” Copé began. “The children murderin' is a little queasy on the stomach but setting knights and women like you on fire makes it all worthwhile.”
Brutus chuckled, but The Woman said nothing, and that's how Copé wanted it.
The carriage in-front of Secrat's stopped. He wondered why, but soon found the answer; he watched on while a group of Italinian Knights crossed the road. A gasp from The Woman told him Brutus was making silent threats.
“What's your intention for the Statue? To sell it?” She asked, her voice sounded erratic, like she could hardly fathom such a concept.
“Yes,” Secrat answered.
A loud banging noise happened next; it startled The Thief. However, the noise came not from below, but in the sky, a flash of light appeared. Faintly visible in the broad daylight. Several louder banging noises came, one after another, and an array of colors filled the sky until descending down like fallen stars. A shade of dark-purple, a shade of pink, and even one tint of blue.
“What the fuck is that!?” Secrat said aloud, unable to suppress is surprise.
The Thief tugged the reins and brought the horse to a standstill. He looked to Brutus, who gawked at the sky-destruction with the same dumbfounded expression.
“Buffoons,” The Woman stated. “Don't you dare tell me this is your firsttime seeing fireworks? They happen every year! It was one thing to be kidnapped, but to be kidnapped by uncultured swine is the icing on the cake!”
Copé and Brutus offered no retort, their eyes transfixed at the sky in disarray. The sky was clear now, but the lasting afterimage was engraved in their head.
“Look,” The Woman began again, snapping her fingers in-front of Secrat to make sure she had his attention. “If you want to have to have the Statue, you can, but those fireworks entail the jamboree near the Sanchi Tower is beginning, and it culminates at night's end with a speech from King Harries I'd very much like to hear!"
“You'll be set free the very second our asses are on the other-side of the Italina gates, but not a second sooner.” Brutus said.
“And I'm supposed to take your word for that?”
“You're supposed to sit-down, shut up, and understand your predicament, or do I have to sever off those eyelids before you start seeing the big picture?” The tone Brutus Ess carried was not his own at all. Secrat didn't recognize it, but damn-near believed it, and had he not seen reason to believe other-wise, he would have.
The Woman did as she was told. Copé appreciated it. The less confrontation in such a circumstance would be for the better. Though, less and less people traveled the roads, only horses with carriages carrying men and supplies, or the occasional wanderer on the marble streets. It'd seem the lot of them traveled toward Sanchi Tower for the dances and drinks and the King's eventual speech; likely a generic one, commemorating another year celebrated with the Aer Festival.
As they neared the gates leaving Italina, Copé had not an inkling of what to expect. The crowd was bare, with less and less entering the city, but guards remained at their designated areas. Secrat could see knights pacing back and forth on the castle-walls and cannons overlooking the outside wilderness. A lot of trouble must have occurred often during the Aer Festival. The Thief felt no fear about it, not after his last discussion with an Italinian Knight. They were nothing to be afraid of.
The once blemish-free marble streets were riddled with dirty footprints and other grime. They had been very clean towards the beginning of the Aer Festival, did King Harries employ individuals to mop the streets at night? How were they clean before?
Secrat Copé worried not about that, the only thing he worried about was making it outside Italina with the Statue, himself and it unscathed. He halted the horse a little way from the wooden gate and anticipated his leave out from the city.
Several knights from atop the castle-walls took notice of their arrival but made no quick action to open the gate.
The Thief rested his hands on the front-side of the chariot; he looked over to The Woman. “We'll let you leave us a little ways off, make certain we'll be all the way back to Hardan by the time you can inform the Guards.” Secrat knew not how effective his lies were to the woman. Boasting about killing children might have instilled fear and lying about their intent to stay at the Aer Festival might have helped keep the guards from looking for them, maybe.
The noise of crinkling chains preluded the opening gates leading back out of Italina, and as they did, a small crowd of people entered into the city. Secrat Copé waited for them to vacate the entrance prior to yanking at the reins and advising the horse venture forward. Three knights were beyond the doors, between the walls. The Knights were the very same ones who allowed them in
Secrat let out an audible gulp and glared at the woman. Her face looked facetious, though, it once more might have been his imagination.
One of the knights approached them as they were making their leave. Copé gave a weak half-smile. A small neigh came from the horse as Copé halted him again. “Leaving so soon?” The Knight asked.
“Nay, we're only providing transportation to our friend here, she bought this fine statue over at Marlou's, you been there?” Secrat asked, but didn't wait for an answer, “We'll be right back afterward.”
“Coachmans,” The Knight said, nodding his head, “We've seen a lot of them today already.” The Knight walked by them. Even at Secrat's elevated position, the man was tall enough to see eye-to-eye with him. “Although, it's uncommon for their conveyance to be done in such a small carriage.” Secrat and him made eye-contact, and in that moment, Secrat could sense the Knight's suspicions.
The Red Flux & the Wunderkind THief
Chapter One (1 - 2 - 3)