Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence.
Chapter 2: The Encounter
‘Now, remember what I taught you, and you won’t get caught. Understood?’
‘Good. Now be off and bring back anything that can be sold at a decent price.’
The father lightly pushed his child into the bustling crowd before disappearing into a nearby alley where the snow still lay undisturbed.
The child briefly looked confused before joining the continuous flow of people in the market. Seeming like a normal peasant buying food for supper, this teenager was looking for something else: a target.
The thief stole petty things from various individuals. Necklaces, rings, a loaf of bread, all of these were easy targets.
The clock in the town hall sounded midday when the thief spotted a prime target. A teenage noble carrying a large money purse, to be precise. The pickpocket inspected every detail of this potential target; from the way he walked to his auburn hair, as well as his silver coloured eyes which were filled with curiosity.
The pickpocket stalked this target for some time, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. There were many guards patrolling the markets at this time of day, and the thief was wary of being noticed.
Calm yourself, you’ve done this many times before.
Then, as the town criers came out to recite the latest news, the thief saw an opportunity. The noble had stopped to drink water from the fountain at the centre of the market, leaving the purse hanging loosely beside his hip. The cutpurse didn’t hesitate to move in and snatch the purse.
However, just as the felon made to escape, the noble turned around and grabbed the thief’s arm.
‘I belie...’ the noble started before staring in disbelief, ‘You’re a girl?!’
The girl broke free from the noble’s grip and ran into the crowd, easily dodging crate carriers and market stalls, knocking over fruit carts to create obstacles for any pursuers.
But instead of calling the guards, the noble started in pursuit. He too was light-footed and could manoeuvre his way easily through the market, only shoving a few drunkards out of the way.
How could I have been so reckless? The girl reprimanded herself, What’s Father going to say when he finds out about this?
As she reached the edge of the marketplace, she allowed herself a brief glance back to see if the noble was still pursuing her. Not seeing him, she slipped into the shadows of an alley between a florist shop and an abandoned storehouse to catch her breath.
At least I wasn’t caught, she thought as she looked at the finely decorated purse still clutched in her left hand.
Having caught her breath, she started walking down the alley. But as she turned her back on the market she was pulled into the side doorway of the abandoned storehouse. When she looked up, she saw it was the teenage noble. She struggled against his grasp, but he held her pinned firmly against the door.
‘Did you think you get away that easily?’ the noble said, ‘I couldn’t let you run free with my fifty francs just like that.’
Then the girl had a brilliant idea. She brought her leg up into the noble’s groin, making him stagger backwards, giving her a chance to try to escape. The noble however grabbed her right heel and tripped her, and almost instantaneously restrained her, this time on the ground.
‘You’re one tough girl, aren't you?’ he said, smiling, ‘You almost bested me too.’
At that moment the thief spun the both of them around, making him lay on the ground.
‘Not “almost”, but “did”,’ she said, her emerald green eyes revealing a inner grin.
‘That, I am obliged to say, is true,’ the noble said, ‘but can you please get off of me and remove your blade from my throat.'
The girl got up and helped the noble up before straightening her long, dark brown hair and putting away her pocket knife. The noble dusted the dirt off his clothes before holding out his hand.
‘Viscount Abelard von Duren, my lady,’ he said as they shook hands, ‘It’s a pleasure to make your acuaintance.’
‘The pleasure is mine,’ the thief said, eyeing Abelard suspiciously.
‘You can keep the money,’ Abelard said, pointing to the purse on the ground, ‘I was just curious to see who stole from me.’
He bent down and picked up the purse. When he came upright, their faces were merely inches from each other's.
‘Here you go,’ he said as they both stepped back uncomfortably.
'What are you playing at?' the girl said.
'Nothing. But I can see that you need the money more than I do.'
'No one's ever been this kind to me before.'
'Well, I shall say to them that they are fools, because kindness is something you should show to everyone, no matter how rich they are.'
'You are one strange noble, Abelard von Duren, but I thank you,' the girl said as she hesitantly took the purse, 'I must get going. My father will start getting worried.'
As she walked away, Abelard called after her. ‘Wait! You didn’t tell me your name.’
She turned around, smiling. ‘It’s Sarah,’ she said before disappearing into the shadow of the alleys.