Gremlaw watched closely as the large merchant wandered through the market square, the fat purse dangling seductively from a belt at his round waist. Although small in stature, Gremlaw was by no means a weak young man; wiry and lithe, acrobatic, would have better described. Creeping through the market in open view of all who chatted, pushed and jostled, he insinuated his form unseen even into large gaps between groups and individuals. As always he wondered how it was nobody else seemed to see these spaces in which one could hide in plain view spaces as apparent to him as these structures and people: the wares on the stalls around him, the mob of shouting hawkers and screaming children.
Greenlaw refocused on the regally dressed merchant who had been his target since he had spotted him over two hours ago. A wily one this merchant, for sure, he had been wending his way through the market comparing prices from different stalls, returning to the cheapest to purchase. He had no guards, nor porters, nobody who could act as witness or alert the Watch. The youth decided to make his move, ice cold fingers catching hold of his stomach.
Walked casually through wide gaps towards the rotund trader, Gremlaw positioned correctly the sliver of the blade ring on his middle finger. Whipping his hand out at that moment that the merchant’s own hand pushed towards his side the ever emptying purse, Gremlaw slit the velvet and felt coins hit his palm, the cacophony from the market covering the coins clinking musically against one another. Elation swept through Gremlaw as he completed the theft, to be replaced by cold fright as his wrist was clenched in a hot, sweating, chubby hand. The merchant had caught him!
“Thief!” Cried the trader as Gremlaw struggled vainly to free himself. He could see the Watch bulling their way through the crowd. Several of the Watchmen ‘accidentally’ punched or kicked the boy as they dragged him towards a wheeled cage, hitched to a bored looking donkey.
“Name?” A burly, black haired Watchman growled as they arrived at the local goal.
“Elspeth.” Gremlaw received a hard slap as he gave them a woman’s name.
Stunned, the space around him shrunk to a descending tunnel of wet walls and hulking bodies, he finally heard the squeal of rusty metal and hurled upon the grimy rocks of an underground cell. Darkness slowly closed upon him.
“Get up!” An aristocratic voice commanded. Gremlaw’s eyes opened as he was dragged to his feet, “You have two options,” The finely dressed man growled, “Work for me or stay here and take your punishment.”
Gremlaw smiled grimly and spat on the man’s shoes. Someone shoved him roughly into the cell.