Kendril cautiously looked around the alley corner, leaning against a brown building. He had many enemies on the streets, and never knew when they would attack. But as he looked around the corner, he saw something that made a smile slowly spread across his face. It would draw attention to himself, but it was much too good to pass up.
Around the corner about twenty yards away was a group of people in cloaks, carrying a load of bags. Bags meant travelers. Travelers meant money. Money meant trade. He also saw the gold embroidery on the edges of some of the cloaks, and he knew he had struck rich. No one in these parts could ever in their lifetime save up enough money to buy gold embroidery on their clothing, much less the thread to do it themselves.
Kendril had to be more careful than usual though; two of the men looked to be part of an army. He waited until they were close enough so that they couldn’t move away, then turned the corner, running. He crashed into the traveling group, grabbing as many bags as possible. Then he ran. He looked behind him, and saw one of the army men running after him, yelling for him to stop. He smiled, and kept on going. He wasn’t going to give up that easily.
He leaped over an overturned crate, and ducked into an alley. He was one of the few that knew its twists and turns. He looked behind himself again, and the man was still after him. Whatever he had grabbed must’ve been either really important, or really expensive, or possibly both, in order for him to go into this part of the city. Or maybe both. Once he was out of sight, Kendril took a sharp turn into a hidden alleyway. He got low, doing his best to look like a pile of rubble. The man’s pounding feet gradually got louder, then he passed the entrance with a large whoosh.
Kendril waited until he couldn’t hear any footsteps anymore, then stood up. He turned away from the entrance, and walked over to the side of an abandoned building. He moved back a loose panel in the side, and walked through the large hole in the wall behind it. In some of the other abandoned buildings, homeless people crammed into each building, hoping to find at least a small space in which to live. He was lucky. He had a whole building to himself. It was a small one, so it was never noticed. If he had had to go in one of the other ones, he would never be able to do what he just did, otherwise he’d be entirely drained of his findings, from everyone fighting over it, and then he would probably get killed.
He walked into a room, and lit a lantern. He set down his things, and opened up the bags. He started sifting through the expensive clothes, glistening jewelry, and many other things that one shouldn’t bring on a trip. These would bring him a lot of money. Honestly, everyone knew that you don’t bring these kinds of things while traveling to another country. At least that’s what he assumed about them. There were plenty of bandits on the roads.
Then he reached in farther, and found the largest sum of money he had ever come across. It was a bag bulging with golden thrones. Over 600 of them! You had to be crazy to carry that kind of money with you.
He set the purse aside and opened another, rather long, bag. Actually, it was just large pieces of leather wrapped around a wooden staff. It had a crystal orb at the top, surrounded by small branches of the staff twisting around it, coming to a point at the top. He picked it up. Something felt different about this staff than any of the others he had seen. He chose not to sell it, even though it was probably worth the most. He stood up with it and spun it around. He immediately regretted it, because there was a blinding flash, and he passed out.
He woke up on the dirty floor of the room. As he got up, he decided that he would sell it. Let it knock someone else out, as long as it wasn’t him. He only knew of one person that would take it. She was his friend, and one of the few people he could trust.
He peeked out from behind the panel, and saw that it was nighttime. He wrapped the staff back up, and left the building. It was an uncomfortable bulk, carrying the staff in an unnatural way, but he wanted to get rid of it.
There were a few others running along the dirt streets. They acknowledged one another as they passed each other, because they were all thieves and criminals, and all had one thing that they all lived by: don’t get caught. Sometimes you’d be helped by a complete stranger, because everybody there has been caught before, and they’ve all gotten away before their punishment was due. But sometimes you’d be abandoned by another person that was trying to save their own skin.
Kendril was leaving at this time, because he didn’t want to get found by the people that he had stolen the staff from. He didn’t know if they had seen his face, and he didn’t want their obvious power against him. He also didn’t want the Guard to find him. How would he be able to explain why he was out in the middle of the day with a strangely formed staff that he’d never have been able to afford? They’d arrest him, no question, no explanation, no way out. And he didn’t even want to think about the punishments he’d go through.
Everyone loathed the Guard. Kendril, because of his everyday life, and because they killed his parents. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they were executed for that.
The Guard stood out a mile in their royal blue uniforms against the brown and blacks that everyone else wore. Sometimes one or two members of the Guard would be cornered by a street gang, and no one would help the trapped men that were being beat up. Sometimes another gang even helped the other, which showed the pure hatred of them.
Kendril turned a corner and entered a building. As soon as he walked in, an arm wrapped around his neck. He felt the cold blade of a knife against his throat.
“Gaynor, it’s me,” he said, a little amused that she couldn’t tell by his footfall. She’d done it many times before. She released him, and lit a lantern, revealing her long black hair and smooth, pale skin.
“What are you doing here?” Gaynor asked, facing him.
“I have something,” Kendril replied.
“So important you brought it in the night?” she said, “Well, let me see it.”
He handed it to her, and she observed it carefully. He watched her curiously. He had never seen her act like this. Usually she just looked it once over, and she knew exactly what it was. Except this time, she kept on double checking it, going over it again and again, unbelief written all over her face.
“What is it?” Kendril asked. He was starting to worry.
“This is a sorcerer’s staff,” she said turning it in her hands.
“How can you tell?” Kendril asked.
“It has a feeling about it,” she answered shortly. “Where did you get this?”
“I stole it,” he said casually. Gaynor was used to him bringing stolen goods to her. “How much will you give?”
“I cannot take this,” she said, shaking her head, “It is not mine to take.”
“Why not?” he asked
“It has a new master now.”
“You,” she said, handing it back to him.
He gave a big stout laugh. “Me?” That could never happen to him. It was only in tales and stories that the poor people with no hope in their life got what the rich and powerful got. It would ― could never happen to mere commoners like him. It was an impossibility.
“Yes, you,” Gaynor said, “It has left its old master and bonded with you.”
“Bonded with me?” he said, chuckling, “You make it sound like a pet. Real nice of a bonded staff to throw me unconscious.”
She glared at him. “It is not a pet,” she said sternly. “And it hadn’t bonded with you yet. It was reacting to the great amount of power in you. It was a stranger to that power, so it attacked. And then it bonded.”
“So, I’m suddenly a sorcerer with great power,” Kendril said, “And no way of getting rid of it.”
Gaynor shook her head. “You can’t go back to your normal life.”
Kendril paused.“Then where do I go from here?” he said, “If I can’t have my normal life, I’d at least want one that I’d like.”
“I know a place where you can go,” she replied.
Kendril stepped out into the bleak sunlight, slinging a few bags over his shoulders. He had sold everything else, and had made good money on them. He had promised Gaynor not to use any of his money, except for supplies for traveling. She was sending him to a place that he didn’t know about, and had never heard of. He didn’t know what was where he was going, but he had also promised to go there. Gaynor had given him confusing directions, and explained a few more points to him that night, most of which he understood. He saw Gaynor walking towards him.
“Hello,” she said to him, “Are you ready?”
“I guess,” Kendril said, “I’d still like to know where I’m going to.”
“You’ll find out when you get there,” Gaynor answered mischievously.
They started walking together out of the city. “How is it that you know so much about these things?” Kendril asked.
She smiled. “Where you are going, you need only mention my name, and you will be told all about me. I left quite an impression there.”
Kendril nodded. It hadn’t occurred to him that she might’ve had a whole life before living in Carfvell. He had no other choice. Even though he was an excellent liar, he never broke a promise. “Bye then,” he said.
“Goodbye, Kendril,” Gaynor responded.
Kendril walked away from the town, until it was just a speck on the horizon. By then it was twilight. Then he set up camp. Wherever he was going, it had to hold some secret in order for Gaynor to be so vague.