“The Red Flux & the Wunderkind Thief” | Chapter Three | Written by McConnaughay - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The Red Flux & the Wunderkind Thief” | Chapter Three | Written by McConnaughay

Chapter Three

Copé drank ale from his flask. Formed from a strain of brewers’ yeast and an oh-so decadent amount of malted barley, the stuff was amazing. It didn’t sound so nice when explained in-depth, but the taste and aftereffects were heavenly. Life could and certainly would always be a cruel mistress, but alcohol was an easy-going whore.

He brought the bottle away from his lips, nonchalantly looking to see if anybody was watching. After that, he started to fidget around with the bottle, wrapped in brown-leather, until he pushed the little cork in there at the neck. He hid the flask away, between his knees, readjusting himself in his chair. In the Whispey Deserts, trading was common. In-fact, minus the hot-air and dreary décor, it was the only thing the Deserts offered. The thief liked it well enough. He only stole in small increments. One or two things here and there, The Trade Network was much too populated for traditional heists. Not only that, but a few miles deeper into the Deserts was the Thief’s Network, where troupes like the Red Flux as well as petty thieves came to associate and trade.
It was impossible for Copé to know for sure who was a master thief in the

Deserts and who wasn’t.

He was able to get on just fine without stealing everyone blind. The Deserts had hundreds of homes, and not one of them was exactly distinguishable. By design, Copé assumed. Little box-shaped homes, each only with one room, and that one room could barely fit a twin-sized bed. Visitors only stayed for a couple of days and then went on their way, pockets lined with coin.

The thief leaned back against his chair. Behind him, he overheard the whispering of some merchants haggling not too far off. Copé found himself a proficient salesman, “Bullshit with a smile” is what he called it. A profound art that was unappreciated. Likely because everyone was too busy being duped to notice. He listened in at what the merchants were saying, hearing only every third word. It took his mind off everything for a while. Made him forget why he was drinking so early in the morning. It wouldn’t last though.

“Find your way,” Toucan told Copé before heading back to the Red Flux. Father always hung onto sentiments like a blanket at night. And while he hated the Aeonians, he considered himself a man for a higher power.

A month removed from ‘what happened’, Copé couldn’t help but still wince at the thought from time to time. After thirteen heists, one little mistake was all it took to unwind everything Copé had done for them. The thief squirmed a little in his chair, having trouble trying to relax.

“Do you want me to sit here quietly while you drink with that nifty flask you think nobody sees, or would you like some food to go with it?”

“The first one where you are quiet sounds like as good a choice as any.” Copé didn’t even make eye-contact before answering. He knew the voice belonged to a female though. Secrat brought his flask to the table and looked at, already almost empty. He didn’t consider himself an alcoholic by any definition of the phrase. His pride didn’t allow him to think so badly about himself. He felt ashamed about drinking from the flask, but this was one of his

‘bad’ days.

It was a bad day where all of his frustrations and grievances spilled out and made a big collage of self-pity.

“Let me rephrase that, order something or the future reads I’ll be kicking your ass!” Her words were playful, not angry or of cruel intent. Copé smiled for a second and looked up at her. His hair unkempt and his haggard face paled in-comparison to her looks. “I didn’t know I was talking to a fortune-teller.”

Her hair was dark-red and her skin was tan. That’s usually about how it went in Maharris. One-side had Acera, Urgway, and Jalint, while the other had Hardan and Italina. Like the first three, the Whispey Deserts experienced the heat. The Whispey Deserts felt like Hell upraised, if Copé wanted to be nice about it.

“Now you know, and I’m predicting that if you don’t order something, I will have my friends over there throw you out.” She smiled at him. Copé looked down at his flask and felt bad. He felt ashamed, almost wanting to kill all of her friends with his knives to impress her. He chuckled quietly at the thought. “Ham and wheat will do handsomely.”

“Want it plain?”

“Course not.”

She nodded knowingly and turned away. Copé took his flask back off of the counter and threw it down in the sand beneath his seat. Not for good, as the diamonds encrusted on the sides of it were about the most expensive things he owned. Copé leaned his body forward against the counter. The back of her looked almost as pleasant as her front. “Where do you come from?” Copé spoke out, trying to strike up a conversation. Never much of a conversationalist, a man of action, but maybe his gentler side was on the outskirts pushing up and waiting to poke through? Or maybe there was something else pushing up against the front of his pants.

Secrat looked down at his flask.

The damsel broke his concentration swift, dropping a glass-plate on the counter before him. He flinched but shrugged it off and looked up at her. She offered up a sly and sinister grin.

“Well, aren’t you lovely?” Copé acknowledged.

“I try my best.”

“You know, usually restaurants try not to give their customers a heartattack, I could tell your boss, you know,” Copé mimed writing something down on parchment.

“Give him a well written complaint and such.”

“I’ll fetch you the ink, but I must warn you, he won’t be surprised, nor will he care.”

“It sounds to me like he knows a thing or two about business.”

“He gets by, pays like shit, but I don’t really care too well about money.”

“Have a small fortune already?” Copé felt interest in her answer.

“Something like that,” the woman replied. “I’m from Satin.”

“Oh?”

“You asked where I was from a little bit ago. It’s a small village off the reservations of Hardan.”

“I’m familiar, so, in other-words, you’re a no-good wanderer. I’ll see to it that they have your head on a pike for not being under the thumb of one of the Aeonians.” Copé tried his best to sound ferocious while playful. Not very skilled socially, she likely thought he was serious.

“You don’t exactly sound like a townsperson either. Where are you from?” “Acera,” he lied. If there was one place he’d never be caught living in, it was Acera. “I was born and raised in that God forsaken hellhole.”

“Oh, really, what was so bad about it?”

“Everybody in Acera is inner-woven. They breathe the same air as each other. And that’s fine, I mean, we all do, but they’re the kinds that acknowledge it over-and-over again.” Copé moved his hands in a circle for emphasis. “We’re this BIG family, but they’re not really that close. No, no, no, no,” Copé reiterated the last part more times than intended. “If you make one mistake, it isn’t a family. Families forgive each other. They care about one another. Acera doesn’t care about each other. Acera is buried in its old ways, and you know, they seem intent to stay that way forever.”

“Lovely.” The woman pulled out a bar-stool from beneath the counter and sat down. “And so, that’s it then, you left, and came here?”

“I tried other directions, they took me left, they took me right, but this one seemed like the only one that actually went forward.”

He looked down at his food, black forest ham slapped onto a slice of bread, mixed with some type of dressing. It tasted plain, with a small and indistinct bean-flavor from the dressing. Still, the food was one of the few things edible in the Whispey Deserts. Available at a shop for a reasonable price, that is. Delicious food was brought in from all across Maharris, and in ways, The Trade Network was the melting-pot for all different types of food. Such comes with a price, however, and that price exceeded what Copé was willing to spend. Alsabenya was one of many small shacks throughout the

Deserts that offered “filler” for a still expensive but more reasonable price. He took his knife and cut into the slabs of meat, raked at it with a fork until pulling it free, and brought it to his mouth. Good enough, he thought. “So, you left Acera to pursue getting drunk in the mornings and eating cheap food from a dumb shack?”

“Something like that,” Copé replied. “And what about you, you seem to like throwing down judgment, what made you decide to leave Satin?” “Me? I don’t judge.” She pushed her hair back behind her ears, exposing a dimple Copé hadn’t noticed before on her left cheek. Her eyes were a powerful blue. The kind so visually striking that somebody kinder might have pointed out.

“Hardly true, but by all means, indulge me, no matter.”

“I left because I tired of their mangled ways, cold and uncompassionate, selfish and vindictive. Once you realize something is wrong and that there is no way for you to change it. It makes leaving seem much easier.”
“Indeed, it does,” Copé said. “And so what does the future hold, you left

Satin to serve cheap food from a dumb shack?” He stared into her eyes, mesmerized but interested in her response.

“I don’t think it’s that bad here. I try to enjoy myself.” She speaks plainly and without inflection. “At the very least, it’s better than the life I left, so I’m just optimistic.”

“Biding your time until the wakes of something more?” Copé spoke understandingly. In the back of his mind, he was toying around with a different idea.

“No,” she responded calmly, warmly even. “No, I don’t really think about it like that. Life isn’t meant to be lived anticipating or looking for something better. If I feel so certain that its bad now, where will I be tomorrow? Still thinking it’s bad, but then does it not worsen? What if I feel so certain that its good, then does it become better? I don’t want to live my life searching for more. I want simply to live my life.” She had cooled off a lot from earlier. She spoke so rapid-fire that Secrat had trouble keeping up with her.

She went from being a smart-mouthed vixen to a cuddly little kitten. Copé couldn’t say for certain whether he liked that about her. Her warmth bothered him. “I suppose I bide my time. I wait for my next chance, my opportunity. And my time for something else, something better.”

“When it’s all said and done, where do you end up?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, does it not feel like it’s insatiable? Like, no matter what you get, you always want more?”

“I think it’s too early to tell.” Copé stopped. He needed some time to think of the right words to say. “Insatiable, implies I’ve been fed. I’ve only had one goal, and it’s not been reached.”

“Wealth,” she asked, “control or power?”

“Something like that. Who knows, maybe I’ll become rich, become bored and start over.” Copé joked with a smile then added, “It’s all yet to be seen.”

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