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Tethered Wings

By akizuki01 All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Fantasy

Chapter 1

Easy. That was my first thought when I studied this man. Slumped against the worn bakery wall he looked like he'd had a bit too much ale the night before. He kept gazing round the square. His brows furrowed and his clothes badly rumpled. He wore long beige trousers and a silk white shirt that was buttoned incorrectly in two-no three places. Over that he wore an unbuttoned fitted waistcoat. The clothes were definitely expensive. His families crest was sewn on to both his shirt and waistcoat. I was too far away to see it clearly but I knew the crest wasn't from a local family. Size-wise, he wasn't that big of a man. Sure he was tall but he didn't look too muscular. Between his endless scanning he took sips from an oilskin pouch. No doubt ingesting more alcohol. To sum him up; a foreign lanky noble that won't put up much of a fight. Perfect. This should be easy and hopefully rewarding.

Around us the upper-class square was bustling. Well if you can call it a square, it's more of a big circle. A grand fountain stands proudly in the centre with shops, stalls and carts surrounding it and four wide stone paths leading away to the connected districts. The fountains centre piece had been painstakingly sculptured after the district lords' horrendous face. Sharp angled and bulbous. My little sister could have moulded something with both eyes closed, made out of mud and worms and it would still have been a much more pleasing sight. At least the rest of the 'square' was aesthetically appealing. The scent of ginger wafted through the air from the bakery, entwined with rosemary, cinnamon and a thousand other smells that I couldn't name. I was getting hungrier by the second.

All the merchants had set up shop by now and those who can afford the outlandish prices just mill around and swap what they think of as important news, which to my ears is just scandalous gossip about other well off people. Have they nothing better to do with their time? Servants follow their masters; their arms loaded with velvety boxes and bags, which they will have to carry 'til their masters get sick of gossiping and go home. Slavery is sick. Such a barbaric system. What started out as punishing criminals and upstarts became a trend between the rich and powerful 'til it wormed its way up and corrupted the whole government. Now selling and buying slaves is legal. They justify it by saying that it's only what criminals deserve but now black market deals go about where innocent people are being forced into slavery. Even the children aren't spared. At the start there were many who were against the slavery laws. After ten years though there is hardly anyone left who is brave enough to voice their complaints. Especially when they may become a slave themselves. To speak up is to become a target of the black market dealers. 

Of course this being an upper class district there were many slaves mixed into the crowd. Staggering near the fountain was a particularly young slave, maybe around ten or eleven, his tattered rags barely covering his too thin frame. In one hand he held a bag bursting with clothes and in the other he juggled two large red boxes. His skinny arms struggling to keep everything up. His so called master was sitting on the fountain wall having a leisurely conversation with another man. He either didn't notice the little lad's trouble or didn't care; my money would be on the latter. The master could have done with lugging those boxes himself seeing as he was as fat as a pig. Poor kid. He wouldn't have much chance if he did escape. Seeing as his repulsive master had branded his skin - a painful looking shield with a sword running through it marred his right cheek. He wouldn't last a week before they'd catch him. The brutes would deliver him back to his piggish master, beaten and bruised and that is if he was lucky. The alternative was too horrifying for me to think about.

Glancing over the square I locked eyes with Raven. He cocked his head ever so slightly towards an older man who was rummaging through an antique stall. I flicked my eyes towards the drunkard. Raven flashed me a grin before letting out a long low bird call. I stood from my seat near a small book shop, making sure that my hood was covering my face and hair. As casually as I could I strolled towards the butchers which was next to the bakery. Stopping there, I examined some of the over-priced beef and pork. That was the trick. Don't go straight after what you want, don't let anyone know your aim. The drunkard is still searching the square, rubbing his forehead every so often. What is he looking for? I was close enough now, to see that his hands were heavily callused, his fingernails bitten short. If I had to guess I would say he is in his mid thirties to early forties; he has a few grey streaks in his hair that made him seem more distinguished, or as much as distinguished a drunk unkempt person can get during the day. Then it happened.

A stampede of pigs suddenly crashed into the square. There must have been around thirty of them of all different sizes, scrambling in every direction. Absolute chaos ensued as the women tried to pick up their dresses, men cursing and shop keepers scrambling trying to protect their stock. To my utter delight the fat master got knocked into the fountain, cursing and flailing as his clothes clung to his plump figure. I couldn't stop the grin snaking up my face. Now he was a fat and wet pig! Serves him right. The slave boy had managed to get on top of the wall surrounding the fountain. He had skilfully managed to keep all of his master's possessions safe and dry. The drunkard became startled and started to turn and flee. He ran straight into me. I nimbly twisted so that he didn't knock me flying but we still ended up bumping into each other. He flew past the butchers and along the paved golden street behind it, away from the chaos. He was quite swift on his feet. The shock had probably sobered him up. Still there was something that felt out of place that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Something that didn't add up about this stranger. I didn't have time to entertain that thought any further as pigs were bounding everywhere. Foul smelling things they were, absolutely foul. How could something that stinks so badly, taste so good? Dodging the swine was quite hard work. I got passed them mostly unscathed. A few of them had managed to stomp their trotters over my poor feet but no major damage.

Glancing behind me as I neared my exit, I found that the once busy, gleaming square had turned into a desolate and disorganized circle. Feeling the heavy pouch that I'd stashed in my pocket, I decided today hadn't been such a bad day. A lovely sunny day, a sodden master and two nobles that had unknowingly shared their wealth with the poorer folk. Well that is if Raven had managed to play his part too. Knowing him, he has probably already gotten home with the fruits of his labour and is worryingly awaiting my return. Better not keep him waiting then. With a bounce in my step I began heading in the opposite direction from my drunk, towards the still blazing sun and towards home.


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