On The Move
To those who would know, yet would not want to know. To see what one does not want to see. Hear what they don’t want to hear. During the future or in the past? What is true desire? When does difference become the same? When does it repeat? When did it first draw breath? Creation is always forgotten. Wondrous during its infancy. Adored and then finally forgotten. Time dilutes. Now and then become the same. And yet human beings will never respect what was then in order to better understand what is now.
“Run!” The voice was muffled or maybe just too far away.
It had come from outside and could have been right next to an open window or echoing from down the street. Kaszbein couldn’t tell. There were only two things his mind could extrapolate from the voice; its owner was female and in distress. The homeless man lazily lifted his head from the wooden floorboards of a previously abandoned home and stared out in the direction of the voice. A long yawn escaped him and he managed a quick brush through his short brown hair before rising to his feet. His eyes took in the tail end of the unfolding events. A brief glimpse of a woman with long red hair darting through the crowded town bazaar with three guards in close pursuit was all he could manage before the events moved to another street. Another yawn flowed from Kaszbein’s chest as he scratched the back of his head. Thoughts of his plans for the day quickly began overtaking the brief events he witnessed moments after waking.
Outside, along the busy streets of Nandule, two thieves attempted to make their escape from the pursuing authorities.
“You don’t have to make it so obvious that you’re gonna leave me to the wolves!” Tristina complained.
“Not my fault you choose to sleep in when I go running in the morning,” Miqeul replied nonchalantly.
“You ever thought about running in the afternoon?”
“I thought that’s what we were doing now.”
They turned another corner, one of them barely managing to zig her way past a horse carriage full of hay.
“Go to hell,” Tristina yelled back over her shoulder at the carriage driver in response to his less than polite outburst.
The streets were of cracked and lopsided cobblestone. Parked carriages full of wares lined each side of the road. Dense crowds of customers, traders, and hustlers bustled about their daily routines. Those who read about thieves and bandits like to imagine large crowds and obstacles as advantageous. Though needless to say, the truth always finds its way in the company of obviousness.
“We’re never going to make it with all of this shit in the way,” Tristina growled after bumping off a small time peddler of gold necklaces. “And these goddamned streets…Miqeul, they’re so loose I feel like I’m going to fall through!”
“Calm down, love,” Miqeul said. “We’re almost there.”
“Do you even know how to use it?”
“Trust me. A child could do it.”
Another left turn brought the two within a straight shot towards their objective. The run down stone house didn’t stand out amongst the hundreds of run down stone houses that lined the slums. Yet Miqeul knew the house was unique if only because of the contents beneath its floorboards. Once inside, Miqeul was quick. Like a child ripping through his birthday presents, Miqeul lifted the loose floorboard near the back wall of the front room and flung it to the side.
“Hurry up,” Tristina shouted through labored breaths.
Moments before the town guards burst through the flimsy wooden door, Miqeul made a triumphant shout. “I got it.”
The ranking officer amongst the three guards, Rorbel Stigmantun barged into the house first, his beige colored uniform standing out against the light greys and dark browns of the house interior. His green eyes instantly spotted the red haired thief jumping out of the window.
“There!" Rorbel pointed. "Back outside!”
“Do you have any idea what you’re doing?” Tristina whispered as loudly as she dared.
Miqeul’s eyes rose at the sound of the guards rounding the corner. “We’ll soon find out.”
Rorbel led his men down the alleyway towards the two thieves with a look of anger and frustration covering his face. “All right, hand over the jewelry. You’re coming with us.”
“Now would be a good time, Miqeul,” Tristina pleaded.
Miqeul fumbled slightly with the device in his hands with an intense look of concentration plastered over his face. He ignored the approaching guards. After two more seconds of reassembling, a sharp click from the object in his hands brought the slightest of smirks to his face.
“Got it.” After rising to his feet, Miqeul turned in the opposite direction of the guards. “Let’s go.”
The pair of thieves found themselves back within the bustling atmosphere of the bazaar with hundreds of citizens crowding the streets. They ignored another shouted order from the guards to halt their escape and continued down the road.
“Time to see if any of this was worth it,” Miqeul said before stopping near the center of the road and turning to face the guards.
Rorbel came to a halt with about ten feet and twenty civilians separating him and his men from the fugitive thieves. “Drop whatever it is you’re carrying and get down on the ground!”
All three guards drew thin bladed swords with fanciful hilts ready to defend themselves. Every time Rorbel drew his blade the thought of how little protection town guards were given always crossed his mind. All royal guards were issued a basic leather vest of armor to wear beneath their coverall like uniforms. But this could barely be referred to as adequate protection. A straight thrust from almost any decent blade could easily penetrate the vest. Not to mention the fact arrows and crossbow bolts cut through the armor like paper. Bronze and steel armor were reserved for soldiers on the borders of the kingdom and palace guards.
“No. Don’t think that’s on my to-do list today,” Miqeul responded without a trace of sarcasm.
“Men, advance!” Rorbel commanded.
A crowd began forming around the two thieves and three guards. Miqeul took a step back and then held up the device he retrieved from the house. The object was black and appeared foreign to everyone who laid eyes upon it. Miqeul’s hand tightly gripped the rear end of the device, which fit snugly into his palm. The front end of the black gadget extended about an inch or two outwards with a hole decorating the center of the snout. Miqeul’s finger slid onto a small thin appendage that curved upwards.
Miqeul lifted his hand, aiming the front end of the device towards the sky. “I don’t think you wanna do that.”
An ear-piercing bang erupted from the foreign object causing everyone on the street to jump and scream with shock. The lead guard himself took a reflexive step back with a wide eyed look of bewilderment.
“Is that a…he…” Rorbel almost stumbled as fear began to trickle its way down his spine.
It couldn’t be possible. Only the elite guard and the royal family were permitted to be in possession of firearms within the city. Hell, they were the only ones with the means to reproduce ammunition for the deadly devices. How could these thieves, these peasants, own one of the most dangerous weapons known to man?
“He has a gun! Fall back!” Rorbel ordered.
The bazaar erupted in a frenzy of panic. Screams of fear echoed throughout the crowded streets. The massive mobs scattered in a sea of multicolored clothes and skin tones. The two thieves used the hysteria to vanish amongst the people.
“Amazing, the chaos these things can cause,” Miqeul commented while shoving his way through the agitated masses.
“Especially considering we only had one bullet for it,” Tristina added in agreement.
Above the unfolding events within the city a massive wooden ship with two gigantic propellers extending up from its decks like towers sailed over the city casting its shadow over the fleeing citizens. Two more propellers constructed into the back end of the vessel launched it forward towards the center of the circular city that extended twelve miles out in every direction.
A few blocks down from the frenzied bazaar, as the sun crept closer towards the center of the sky signifying its coming descent, Kaszbein wandered out of the rundown house that served as his home the previous day. Remnants of a loud blast and the following pandemonium of screams and panic dissipated along the cool breeze. As his grey eyes took in the bright rays of the sun shinning across Nandule, the city of his birth, Kaszbein began his journey towards the outskirts. There he would compete in one of the few illegal fighting rings sponsored by a moderately powerful crime syndicate known as the Lutanics. Money was hard to come by these days. Work was scarce and the ruling body of the kingdom known as Vandaria were short on solutions to the problem. However, unlike most of the peasants and beggars scattered throughout the city, Kaszbein didn’t blame the rulers. It was the fault of the people for allowing themselves to be ruled. He would never live his life according to the rules and laws of others. He would forge his own path in life. Even if that meant death would be more likely to claim him.