Book of the Fathers 8

From: Bill Thompson (interlit@pacificcoast.net)
Date: Thu 14 May 1998 - 02:13:06 EEST


It is dark out now and in the beds next to this desk my brothers are
asleep. The cloth tied around my waist is soaked through with blood and
begs to be changed. Every breath sends new pain rioting through my body
and thought is difficult with this razor pain in my belly. I take a slow
shallow breath and listen for the tell tale sound of blood in my lungs.
Fortunately the knife seems to have missed those organs though others may
not have been so fortunate.

        I had been sitting on a stone bench by the once great tree. As time
passed I came to realize that I was not the only one who watched this man
with the mark on his arm. Casually I let my eyes stray around the square,
touching and examining the people around me. On the far side , hidden by
the bustle of a small diner , I saw him. I continued my scan of the
square, looking for others who, like him, sat too still. I saw no others
and returned my gaze to the remnants of the great tree before me, all the
while thanking my yellow robe and genuine interest in this relic of a
by-gone age.

        I remember a time when I was twelve. I had been wandering the
floors of the citadel and I came across a man trapped in one of Father's
Wards. It was not often that I saw outsiders so I stopped to speak with him
for in truth I was lonely and looked to hear the sound of a human voice.
We talked for a long while and over the course of our discussion we came to
an agreement and I freed him.

         His name was Walegrin, he was a thief, a lier, and the most fun
that I had experienced in all of my young life. I wonder sometimes that he
didn't kill me but I suppose that I was useful to him and I think that he
came to look on me as, if not a son, then a student. He taught me much over
the next few years, including the way to see the lies of words through the
truth of the body.

        The man on the other side of the square would have any who watched
believe that he was there for a pastry and drink but his body told me
otherwise. Every move that was made by the man with the mark was mirrored
in some way by the man in the diner. Be it a shift of weight or turn of the
head. I was thankful that I had been daydreaming about this now empty
tinder trap. To any who watched in the fashion that I do , looking past
appearances at intent, I would have seemed a typical yellow robe.

        I had allowed my own curiosity to lead me into a situation where
any move I made could be seen. So I allowed the sun and heat and dust to
fill my senses. Beneath me the bench was stone hard and heated by the sun.
I sank into it. Around me the air was filled with scents and sounds and I
welcomed them into my very center, losing my self in their myriad else.
Then I stood and walked slowly to the Bazaar in the corner of the square.

        Never had I felt such a belonging. I had become a part of all that
was around me and was loath to let it go. Yet let it go I did for time was
runing short and I had been alone for so long that there was a certain
familiar comfort in it.

        I now had two birds to watch and what better to watch birds than
hawks. I looked within the Bazaar and soon found that which I sought. He
was working the crowd with professional aplomb. His talent was undeniable,
seldom have I seen a better cutter. His partner was harder to spot because
she was smaller and always seemed to be in the thickest part of the crowd.
She was the marker but I noticed that she also had talent as a cropper.

        Normally I would have watched them for a day or two until I could
spot there patterns and hand signals but today events were piling up too
quickly. Instead I slid through the crowd and cropped his catcher bag and I
made sure that she saw me do it.

        I waited between two stalls and within moments they rounded the
corner. I was waiting there for them with his bag dangling from my fingers.
Her eyes went wide and she grabbed at his arm. He was young though and his
anger had overwhelmed his intellect. He stormed towards me and reached
inside his jerkin. While his hand was trapped there for a moment I threw
his catch bag into his face. He jerked back to avoid it and I reaped his
legs from under him. I expected her to go for me then so I moved away from
him. She helped him to his feet instead and then turned to me and spoke.

"You want something mister or you wouldn't have waited. What is it?"

        Now that I was closer to her I saw that she was older than I had
thought, sixteen maybe seventeen years.

"I have a predicament and I need help. Your help."

        She looked at me thoughtfully for a moment and said, "You want
charity, see a priest."

"I'm willing to pay"

        Now the lad spoke for the first time. "How much?"

"Whatever you have in that bag," I said. "I'll triple it."

        His face fell for he had no idea what the value was of the purses
he had cut. Her eyes on the other hand seemed to light up, but her voice
was steady as the prophet's keel. "Tell me more," she said.

"There is a man in the diner on the other side of the square. I
need to know where he goes and whom he speaks to tonight. Most importantly
I need to know where he is staying that I might find him later."

"Show him to me," she said

        Me, show him to me. she said. I was definately speaking with person
in charge. I pictured the face of the man in the diner and cast my prayers
to the creator. Quickly my face changed and shaped itself into the man I
had seen. The boy let out a squeek and rabbited. I let him go. So did she.

"Idiot," she murmered under her breath. Then she looked at me and
said," You stay here mister and I'll be right back."

        True to her words she was back in mere moments. "Allright," she
said. "But the price is five times what's in that bag."

"Five!" I said. "Do I look like a trader or merchant with a belly
made fat by a moneybelt?"

"No mister, but I've seen that sort before and today the price is
five times the bag. Take it or not."

"Take it I will then, and please call me Tomas."

        She gave me another of those thoughtful looks and then spit in her
hand and held it out..

"Interesting to meet you Tomas. You can call me Marie."

More later... Caffeine just wore out

Bill Thompson

"Ask me a riddle and I reply:
"Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.""

------------------------------

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