“The Silverware”

Roderic sprinted down the cobblestone street in the heart of Mares-borough, the sound of a glammership’s engine roaring high above him in the sparkling skies over Tyrne, as he dodged poshly dressed residents while the two members of the Watch chasing him blew on their whistles. The shabbily-dressed, shaggy-haired man silently cursed Martin for the thousandth time since the idiot had blown their scheme, pushing his way around a woman in a brightly colored dress of reds and oranges that shimmered as it were made of fire. Roderic ducked to his right into an alley off of the main thoroughfare, hurtling several stacks of pallets and boxes and trash bins, before he dived into a cracked-open doorway and gently shut it.

He felt his heart thudding in his chest and tried to slow his breathing from the laborious huffing that his flight had precipitated, casting a glance over his shoulder to see where he was. It was a dark and shadowed hallway, down which he saw several doors leading off, which from the far end he could hear the muffled sounds of a kitchen. He prayed to all the gods that he have just enough luck today to not have a servant come wandering through and force his exit before the Watchmen chasing him passed on. He pressed his ear to the door and listened with bated breath, only relaxing when he heard the whistles of the Watchmen go passed down the alley. Roderic waited a few moments for the sound of the whistles to grow dim, before he opened the door the door a crack and stuck his head out.

The alley was empty.

Heaving a sigh of relief, Roderic cast another glance over his shoulder to make sure that the hallway was empty, before he emerged back into the alley. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his patched and worn and holey coat, keeping his head down, as he traveled a ways down the alley and turned left, away from the echoing shrill whistles of the Watch, and tried to look inconspicuous.

Damn that thick-headed Martin.

The job had been easy enough: pick out a posh target here in Mares, Martin would come to the door and distract the target with a sob-story about charity and poverty and whatnot, all the while Roderic would sneak in the back and loot the silverware. But, Martin – that daft, idiot of a man – had mixed up his role. After Roderic had made his ingress to the Mares-borough home, Martin had tried to enter via the backdoor, as well. While Roderic had been a few steps away from the cabinets with his prize, Martin had run afoul of the kitchen servants and raised a ruckus loud enough that brought the rest of the household running. Roderic had almost been pinched by a footman who had come through the dining room, but had had enough sense to slip out another door and make his way to the front of the townhouse.

It had been Roderic’s even more terrible luck that two men of the Watch had been passing by on their rounds when he’d come running out of the house like a bat out of one of the thirteen hells. From there, the chase had been on.

Roderic slowly made his way back toward Eversham, where he’d maintained a squat ever since he’d lost his professorship at the University. That had been due to a brief, but intense, use of cane-root that had caused him to sink into a wild, delusional madness. But, being that he was now a pauper without the funds to get his hand on the cane – along with some aid and care from a fellow gutter-dweller, Elizabeth – his addiction had waned enough that Roderic had regained his faculties. Ever since he’d been pickpocketing and running small capers like the one he’d attempted that afternoon, though most had been much more successful.

The sun was setting in the west when Roderic returned to the dank and dirty streets of Eversham-borough. He made his way to the tenement that had been abandoned several years earlier after a woman and boy had been brutally slaughtered by some murderer that most of the local residents referred to as “the Badger”, finding the place empty aside from a handful of the other squatters who lived alongside Roderic. He scraped together a meager meal of old bread and a broth that was little more than hot water with rat meat steeped in it, and tried to put the day’s events out of his mind.

That attempted failed when Martin knocked on his door with a bottle of port in hand.

“Boy, that was a tremendous flop, wasn’t it?!” The heavily bearded man said with a toothy grin that instantly grated on Roderic’s nerves. He swaggered over and held out the bottle to Roderic, which the shabbily-dressed man took. After taking a long draw, Roderic stood and clapped Martin about his ear, eliciting a cry of shock and pain from the man.

“Next time: get your part right,” Roderic said curtly, before sitting back down and taking another drink.

Red-faced, Martin sat down opposite Roderic, his eyes on the bottle. “Can I–?”

Roderic leveled a serious look at the other man, cutting off the question in an instant. He took a few more draws on the bottle of port, before letting it roll empty across the floor to the bearded man.

Let that be his lesson.


Nicole Egelhoff © 2014