“We're,” Secrat started, then stopped, “Not really coachmans, the woman was willing to pay us handsomely and needed some men-folk as escort.”
“Right,” The Knight looked over to the woman. “Are you a collector?”
“What?” She responded, at first, then, readjusted herself, “Yes, of sorts, I think the statues really add something to my home. I mean, if Livius Reid was able to do something so courageous in a time of all-out destruction, whatever situation I am in can't be too bad, can it?”
“That's a very unique way of looking at things,” The Knight commended. “And, you're from…?”
“Acera,” She said at once.
The Woman looked down at her hands, nervously shaking and tapping
against the front of the carriage.
“You're skin's very pale for Acera.”
“I've been away a long time,” her voice cracked midway, but the Knight didn't react to it. She added: “Be nice to see my family again.”
Behind his silver-helm, the Knight's face scrunched and squinted in a way of skepticism, but it soon swayed and transitioned into a friendly smile. “I wish the three of you safe passage through the Wilderness.”
Secrat felt relief, but voiced nothing, simply grinned and bowed his head. He fumbled loosely with the reins in his hands, but tensed up once another knight hollered out: “You're the same men that I spoke to earlier, aren't you?
Tell me, commoners, how is it you expect to be right back from Acera here to Italina? An impossibility entirely,” the Knight said. The Knight was familiar, the very same one they had spoken to earlier.
“We'll only be taking her some of the ways to Acera, she has friends that will be meeting us,” Copé said. The lie was weak, and he knew it. The whole of it was riddled with flaws, but it wouldn't matter once they had some distance. They'd have to wait until these knights were off-duty before trying to enter the city again, however.
The knight with a smiling smirk maintained himself, however, the Knight with the long, thick mustache seemed unconvinced. Nevertheless, Secrat Copé, alongside his Red Flux brethren, and their hostage, were allowed passage out from Italina. Copé was unable to keep the relief from showing on himself.
“You have your Statue and you're out of the City, can I be on my way?” The woman stammered. “I swear I will make no mention of your actions and you will have safe leave to Hardan.”
The horse galloped briskly into the Unprotected Wilderness, and in that moment, Secrat could do nothing except take in the open-range. No crowds or carriages, or Knights, or anything else, and it was the way Copé preferred it.
“You'll be on your way,” Brutus said. “But, not until we're deeper out.”
Copé looked over at Brutus, whose face looked stone cold and plain, even his voice didn't sound as high-pitched or as reckless. Secrat saw a meticulous being that savored control in the situation. And it made him uncomfortable.
A switch between guards would surely happen by evening. The same knights had been there since they arrived, and likely many hours earlier than that. When they were replaced is when Copé and Brutus would be able to reenter back into Italina.
“This will be about right,” Brutus Ess advised, and as advised, Secrat Copé slowed down the horse, its hooves almost inaudible in their steps over the yellowed grass.
Secrat released the reins from his hands. “Let's stick to the basics from now on,” he said, not even caring about The Woman standing with them. He only felt relief to have had nothing at all go wrong with the ordeal.
Copé brought himself out from the wagon, if for no other reason than to stretch his legs, and because he doubted Brutus would be the one to move so the Italinian lady could leave the carriage. But, in unison with the sound of Copé's boots slapping down against the hard-ground, he heard a yelp from the woman behind him and the rustling and rocking sound of the carriage.
The Thief flinched, turning fast, his hand at his leggings in search for his knife, he didn't search long enough to find it. He looked back in time to see The Woman thrown off the chariot to the outside by Ess. She fell hard and a yelp followed. Copé looked in the eyes of Ess and saw the unflinching coldness he'd seen since they'd taken the woman hostage. He eased his hands and watched as Brutus left the chariot. “We have all we need from her,” Secrat Copé said, hoping to remind Ess about the rules established by Father Toucan Veras before they left.
Brutus said nothing in-response, and only walked closer toward The Woman. Like a man sleepwalking, or in a trance, Brutus crept ever-so slowly toward her. The Woman sat up, irritated at first by Brutus' rudeness, but as she realized the situation, her face became petrified with fear. She crawled away backward; her eyes stuck on Ess. Brutus returned the look, though, his look wasn't that of fear.
The knife was held tight in his hands. Everything looked different about him, even his physique looked more composed and formidable. His back straightened.
“You can't kill her, Brutus,” Secrat started, walking beside Brutus and grabbing the wrist holding the knife.
“Don't tell me you've gone soft,” Brutus replied, looking over to Copé with a smirk, jerking his wrist free and walking forward.
“Dammit, I don't want kicked out again!” Secrat said, walking in-front of Brutus. Copé reached a second time for his knife. This time he knew for certain it was gone.
Brutus shoved Copé out of the way, which turned out to be a much easier feat than Secrat would've hoped. However, as he did, The Woman sprung to her feet, plunging Secrat's knife to the stomach of Ess, who reacted with a large release of air and a wordless grunt.
Copé climbed to his feet and grabbed for Brutus, catching him before he could fall back. Gently, The Thief lowered his Red Flux mate to the grass, worried as he lifted Ess' shirt to expose the wound. Behind him, The Thief could hear The Woman running off deeper into the Unprotected Wilderness, running the opposite way of Italina. A small relief. He didn't pursue her, he was more focused on stopping the blood-flow from Brutus, all while mumbling things like “You can't die” and “What will everyone think!?”
The blood dressed Secrat's hand with its thickness. He adjusted himself to keep it off from his clothing, if worse came to worse, he'd leave Brutus Ess' body and claim to have lost him in the crowds.
“Fucking idiot,” Brutus yelled out, returning now to his crackly and raspy, yet high-pitched state of being.
“I didn't know you intended to kill her,” Secrat said, not making eye contact with Brutus as he tried to keep any more blood from flowing out of him.
Ess finally slapped his hands away, “It isn't bad.” Brutus fought to his feet, removing his shirt and using it to plug the wound on his stomach. “Better hope our ass isn't compromised by that BITCH!” Ess had emphasis on the final word, screaming it at the sky like he expected The Woman to still be in earshot.
“The wound still bleeding?” Secrat inquired, while watching Brutus Ess' walk about aimlessly. “If you get back into the carriage, we can go find Taison. Samuel Syi had supplies for these kinds of things. Medical supplies and,” Brutus waved his hands, silencing him.
“Enough talking,” Brutus said as he forced himself up into the chariot, leaning against the back of it as support. “I want to unload our get, and then, I want to drink myself into a coma at a pub.” He smiled largely but winced during, his teeth black with plague and yellowed with age. The ones Toucan left intact, that is.
Copé grinned back. And he meant it. A sincere smirk. Throughout the whole heist, nothing bad happened. Or, at the very least, The Thief was no worse for wear.
The Red Flux & the Wunderkind THief
Chapter One (1 - 2 - 3)