A familiar rush of excitement coursed through me as I raced down the crowded street, a group of guards hot on my trail. No matter how many times it happened, and I’d been stealing for over seven years, I still got a thrill from the chase.
“Someone stop that boy!” one of the guards angrily shouted.
Clearly, the guardsman was not familiar with this part of the city. Merchants and artisans mostly lived in this quarter of the city, and they couldn’t care less about a thief. Not unless they were the one being stolen from. Around here, thieves were common as dirt, especially the petty thieves like me. I mostly stole stuff worth no more than a few silver coins, but this time, I’d unintentionally kicked the hornet’s nest.
Imagine, there I was, minding my own business as I walked along the rooftops, enjoying the late evening sun on a warm spring day, when I spied an open window. Curious, I poked my head inside and saw bookshelves full of papers and scrolls, along with a desk made of carved ebony. A pair of scales rested on one corner of the desk, a jeweler’s loop beside it. Fine brass candlesticks were placed strategically around the room and the chairs were all upholstered with fine brown leather. And sitting there on the ebony desk, pretty as you please, was a rich red velvet bag with blue embroidery and gold tassels. Drawn to something that so obviously screamed wealth, I picked it up to examine it further.
I’d just been about to peek inside the bag, when the door opened and two men dressed in fancy clothes and gold jewelry strolled in. They froze when they caught sight of me, and we stared at one another for about three seconds before everyone reacted all at once.
One of the men drew his sword and lunged at me, the other man ran for the door and called for his personal guards, and I was already out the window and climbing down the side of the building before the first man could finish drawing his blade. The red velvet pouch tucked safely away inside my shirt.
Which brought me back to my current crisis, running through the streets of Navar with a group of five highly trained guards breathing down my neck. City guards would have given up three blocks ago, cursed at me, then left to go have a pint of ale at the nearest tavern. These men, on the other hand, were incredibly persistent.
They’d demonstrated they could keep up with me on the streets, how about the rooftops? I easily scaled the side of a building, using a stack of crates piled nearby and the shop’s hanging wooden sign to help me reach the second story rooftop of the building. No doubt the guards would have followed after me, if it weren’t for the fact my foot “accidentally” slipped and caused the pile of crates to topple over, much to the shop keeper’s horror. The portly man shook his fist at me and cursed me in a foreign language, but I was already on his neighbor’s roof and picking up speed.
I was surprised when, four rooftops away, I happened to glance behind me and saw five familiar figures still chasing after me. Whatever I stole must be worth a fortune.
Professional soldiers these men may be, but they were not used to running on rooftops like I was. Up here, above the city, I was in my element. After all, I’d been scaling buildings and running rooftops since I was ten. The familiar reddish-brown tiles and gently sloping rooftops of Navar were my domain, and I could confidently proclaim I was one of the best rooftop-runners in the city.
Before long, the guards started to fall behind. When I made a series of jumps between adjacent buildings, each jump at least five feet, my lead increased even more. The next time I looked back, the rooftops were empty.