Yes, I know. It’s Sunday. Late on Sunday! I’m at Miscon, the fabulous SFF convention in Missoula, Montana. I’ll be writing up a post soon about the things I’ve learned this year, and the super-cool and sweet people, so keep an eye out for it!
If you need to catch up, here’s the link to previous scenes.
Jackie couldn’t take to the rooftops after her forty foot drop. She’d done everything possible to mitigate gravity, but her wrist was rapidly turning purple. Punch would fix it, but that meant traveling the roads. Even sticking to the shadows, she cringed whenever a voice rang out or a carriage rumbled past. She was wearing the quintessential I’m-on-a-job outfit, but she was alone.
The Guild had arrangements with the Wave Guards. A thief traveling with their Jewel, the name given to a Journeyman’s team, was exempt from search and seizure. If you were caught out alone…well, unless you had goods that would bribe the guard – worth enough to keep the Guard from ratting you out to your own Jewel – then, you were as good as gone. Besides, if you had any talent, the Guards shouldn’t see you. It would be your own fault, and why would the Guild want a visible thief?
It was a system designed to eliminate rogues and slackers, and it worked. Jackie had never shattered her Jewel before. The five of them had done plenty of heists and odd jobs, and she’d always been well paid and appreciated. Until Marty came along. Marty replaced Journeyman Boda who had gone on to be a Master. She’d been a careful and conscientious sort, always making sure the team worked together rather than competitively. That had made everyone’s lives easier. Marty was no Boda.
Jackie had made the mistake of stating this last fact aloud. Too loud, as it turned out. Marty had knocked her flat while the others watched. She supposed she was lucky he hadn’t simply turned her out on the streets. She had spent the last few months trying to earn her way back into his good graces. It wasn’t working. He’d cut her pay and turned the others against her.
In desperation, she’d started lifting odds and ends for Lily Quee. Stage name, of course. When not singing and shaking for Rags and Rhymes down near the docks, he was Ty Loll. The Rags was a rough joint with smooth contraltos.
Lily was six feet of sleek, and she’d been keeping herself in finery through gossip. Stolen or shared, either way it was a commodity. The boys at the Rags loved to make her laugh, and they’d spice a story so salty her wigs curled. Lately, though, she’d grown weary of the chatter, and Jackie’s misfortune gave her the excuse to branch out.
“We’ll gather up a bit of dust and blow out of here.” Lily always talked like she was cast in the lead of a board-stomper even without her audience. It was part of her charm. “I’m tired of sand in my girdle. Let’s travel and see the rest of the world. You don’t need a Jewel. I can be your rock, baby.” He’d winked with his lace eyelashes still attached, and Jackie had dared to hope.
She’d thought of stealing from the Mansion two nights ago after a late romp with Ty. Surely they had small things she could swipe that no one would miss. The room she’d first entered tonight had been devoid of anything she could fit in a pocket, much less spin on the street. Someone else would have left the seeds, she knew, but her gut had sung when she saw them. Her gut was never wrong, although it was often premature.
A line of fire lit from her wrist to her elbow, and she picked up her pace. Punch worked for the Rags and Rhymes, too. He had been a dreamy ladybird until a fire ended his career. Smoke in the pipes. Now, he patched and pasted with powders and potions. Nothing a Green Mage would do, but good enough to get you through.
The theater rattled and hummed as she emerged from a shadow to slip in the back door.
(see you next Saturday! I promise to be on time next week.)