Copé opened his eyes to blackness. He couldn’t see anything, were his eyelids actually parted? It mattered not; the end was the same. He could see nothing. A large part of him desperately wanted to panic. Another part of him wanted to do nothing at all. That one seemed to be the deciding factor. On his back, he topped his fingers over the ground and squirmed a little. His body pivoted around like it would for a man trying to get comfortable. This definitely isn’t the bed I left myself on, thought the thief. Fingers caressing beneath at the floor for a time, he felt something damn-near splinter into his skin.
That was enough to know it was wood. Copé arched his back up, like a dead-man resurrected, and sat.. An aching feeling became heavily apparent. His hand cradled the back of his head. He felt a large egg-shaped bruise but knew that was only the least of it. This was the aftereffects of a far worse head-injury he was feeling. A lot of him wanted to drop back and slumber like he had never even awoken. He’d deal with the problems when his mind sobered.
All it took was a bump to render this thought too foolish to consider. Copé felt himself lift into the air for a second before falling back down. His head ached even more, but beside the pain was the feeling of fear. Not only was he moved out of the home of Azlak Temps, but he was still in the process of being moved. The winnie of a horse made everything else follow. He could hear every stamp it made. The sound of the man at the front slapping at it with the reigns to make it gallop faster, Copé heard that as well.
He felt it when the wheels hit rock. He, himself, was in the bed of the carriage. Copé felt more assured after this. If there was one thing, he knew better than most, it was how to paint the scenery. Copé felt around in the dead of night. A tarp is what shielded him from the night and gave him darkness. Secrat could’ve easily thrown it off, but that would have caught the attention of whoever it was that snatched him up from the merchant’s house. Or could it have been the merchant? Copé knew damn-well he threw enough knives in the bastard to kill three men, but could Azlak Temps amount to four?
It didn’t matter. If the merchant was still alive, Secrat would kill the last of him. Or better yet, put a knife to his throat with the combination code as the demand. Toucan Veras would never condone torture, but Toucan wasn’t there. Copé felt around his environment, the walls of the carriage were wooden planks. Large gaps were between each of them, and Copé could feel a draft of cold air from the outside. He knew what he had to do. The thief crawled slowly to the far-end of the carriage. Feeling around his waist, one of his many daggers remained strapped at his right side. Between his teeth, it went as he lifted up the left corner of the tarp. This act was done with care, so as not to attract the driver. Another big-bump happened and once more, Copé’s head felt like it was on fire. He lowered his head down for a second, but only a second. It was time for action, and at that thought, Copé climbed over to the outside of the carriage, hanging on with his feet between the wooden planks.
The wind slapped against him. It did very little to alleviate the pain he was feeling. The chilliness of the outside air caused by the carriage's rapid-pace felt refreshing. There was no time to cringe or take enjoyment in anything, however. Instead, Copé poked his head to see if he could have a look at the driver. It was almost as dark as it was beneath the tarp, but the stars and the moon lent just enough to distinguish the figures. There was nothing else he could see, only two heads and two average-framed bodies. This definitely meant that neither were the merchant.
Copé had one theory about who they could have been. The Red Flux wasn’t the only troupe in the unprotected wilderness. The tamest, they might have been, however. If what he thought was true, he was in-trouble, but he also had a chance at redemption. Maybe he would not leave his first outing with wealth, but he might leave with their heads on a pike. Toucan may not have liked murder, but even he would make an exception for the swine that riddled about the forests. Their deaths would mean more than coin.
Copé shimmied more and more toward the front of the carriage. The horses galloped at such a very fast pace that he struggled to keep his footing. In-fact, at one instance, he lost it and had to rely on his arms to keep himself from falling off from the carriage. Before long, Secrat Copé was in arm’s reach of the man holding the reigns. In earshot as well, but neither of them spoke a word. Copé took a look at the scenery around him. It was too dark for him to see, but something seemed familiar about the place. At the very least, he was certain they had long-since left Acera.
The blade sat, tightly clenched between the thief’s teeth. His eyes could vividly see the outline of the man’s neck. Everything felt clearer than ever. The adrenaline flowing through his veins. All the pain and anguish this night had given, in all ceased to matter. He plucked the knife out of his mouth and looked at it. A certain fascination with the knife, like he had never seen it before, but that left soon. In his hands, he drove the small dagger to the side of the man’s neck. It went into his skin like it was meant to be there. Two star-crossed lovers long-since separated, but now brought together; blade and flesh.
“Ah, fuck,” were the only words that the man could utter.
They would be his last words.
He flinched though, and that was enough to make all the difference. His forearm rudely struck Copé in the side of the skull. Never so weak and fragile was the skull. Copé fell off of the carriage and onto the hard ground. Down and down, and down and down, Copé landed into some bushes. The scrapes and bruises stung, but they weren’t fatal. His head had just about had it though. After all of this, Copé wanted to be home at the Flux.
It wasn’t over though, not yet. There was more to this night. Another man was in that carriage. And the element of surprise was gone.
Secrat fought back to a vertical stance. It was something that was becoming much too hard for him to do. He felt around for a blade.
There was none left on his person.
Hand-to-hand wasn’t his specialty, but if he could fend off the man long enough, he would be able to pluck the knife out from the other guy’s neck and end this.
The horse’s gallops silenced. They weren’t moving anymore.
Copé readied himself.
His stance was firm, and his fingers tightly clenched into a fist. With everything he had overcome in this night alone, there was no way that he’d let it end now.
“Secrat!?” the voice of the man in the carriage cried out. “Secrat!? What in the hell were you thinking? Do you realize what you have done?”
Those all sounded more like statements than they did questions.
Secrat Copé started to realize why this area seemed so familiar. The voice of the man belonged to Lukas Lewis, a fellow Red Flux. But, why was he in that carriage with that bad man he killed?
Lukas and Copé came face to face. Lewis seemed terrified and anguished with fear, but Secrat struggled even to keep his head up.
“Secrat!?” Lewis yelled for a second time.
All Copé did was smile at him.
After all, … he was home.
The Red Flux & the Wunderkind THief
Chapter One (1 - 2 - 3)