Catch up with Part 1
Thadeus had left the palace. He was feeling pretty good about it. That poor sap, Menus, would be filling in for him while he’s out on an adventure. Heck, he might never go back. Let the kid enjoy being king for a while. He can’t do that bad a job, after all.
The moon was glittering high in the midnight sky. Thadeus gazed at it a long time. He had forgotten how beautiful the moon was. Why did it look different from the one he saw out his palace windows?
It’s because he was looking at the moon a free man.
He took a deep breath. The air was clear and cold. It chilled his lungs. Thadeus tightened the rough tunic around his chest as he marched down a narrow street.
There were people about. His kind of people. People that had no place to be, so they were just out in the middle of the night. People who wouldn’t be missed at jobs in the morning. People who wouldn’t mind sharing in a bit of mischief. Or a lot.
Light was pouring out an open door. Thadeus peered inside to a party in full swing. Men were leaning against a bar, mugs in hand. A lady was on a table, kicking her feet up in what was supposed to be a dance. As Thadeus watched, a man jumped on a table across from her, mimicking her moves.
Someone threw a bowl at his head, knocking him to the floor.
The place erupted in laughter as the man climbed to his feet. Thadeus thought he would like this place. He went inside.
A few eyes watched him go in, not all were kind. He reached the bar and slapped his hand on the counter. The barman looked up at him. Thadeus noticed the curious look on this face. The barman glanced at the people around him.
“I’ll have a beer,” Thadeus said.
The barman cautiously scuttled over to him. “Er-um. A beer, sir?”
“Yes. Did you not hear me?”
“Are you supposed to be here, sir?” the barman said. He would not make eye contact.
“Is this not a bar?” Thadeus asked.
“’Tis,” the man said.
“Is it not open to the public?”
“Then I’ll have a beer,” Thadeus said.
The barman looked at the other patrons and slowly went to get his beer. Thadeus turned to see the other men at the bar slowly edge away from him. His eyes met one: a large man with a shiny bald head. Grabbing the beer the barman set down, he waved at him.
“Good evening, friend,” Thadeus said. “What’s the good word?”
“No-nothing my lord—I mean, hello,” the man said.
Thadeus let out an awkward laugh. “Lord? Who’s lord? I’m just a regular street rat. Got any leads on a score?”
“A score? Wassa score?”
“You know, a job,” Thadeus said. “I’m a thief looking for a hot lead.”
“Really? You?” the bald man said.
“Yes. Look at me. I don’t have a penny to my name. I need some way to pay for my tab!” Thadeus laughed again. He looked around. None of them seemed convinced. Even the woman stopped dancing to stare at him.
“What are all of you looking at? Can’t a man pop into a bar for a simple drink?”
The barman scuttled back over. He got close to Thadeus, almost in his ear.
“You can have whatever you want, King Thadeus.”
“What makes you think I’m the king?” Thadeus said. “I mean—what king? Who is this king of which you speak? I’m just a humble criminal.”
“We know who you are,” the dancer said. “We see you all the time.”
She nodded toward the open window. Thadeus could clearly see his palace. It dominated the view.
“Hmm… I guess I should have picked a spot further away,” Thadeus said.
“What brings the king out of his palace this night?” the barman asked.
Thadeus cleared his throat. “Heh, I’m just a thief, my friend. No different than anyone else. But, do you happen to know of anyone new to town? Perhaps people who don’t know my face?”
The barman shrugged. “Might be hard. After all, you’re printed on all the coins.”
He held up a gold coin, called a Thatty. Thadeus’ grinning mug was printed on both sides.
“Damn,” he said.
“I do know a ship from Karrux just pulled in this morning,” the barman said. “That’s a long way from here.”
“It is,” Thadeus said. “And they might not recognize me, right?”
The barman shrugged.
“What is this ship carrying?” Thadeus asked.
“I dunno. Spices I guess.”
“Spices. Spices they’ll sell for a nice profit,” Thadeus said. “They’ll already have coin in their possession. Coin that an intrepid thief could carry off.”
“You want to rob a ship? Sounds dangerous, my lord,” the barman said.
“Stop with all that lord stuff,” Thadeus said. “And danger comes with the territory of being a thief. Those Karrux sellers won’t know what hit them.”
“And if you’re caught?” the barman said.
“Just… here’s for my beer. I have work to do.”
Thadeus plunked down a Thatty on the counter and marched out of the bar. He waved to the gawking patrons as he slipped out into the night. The bald man leaned over the counter and spoke to the barman.
“Where’s he going? Back to the palace?”
“No. He wants to knock off that Karrux spice ship,” the barman said.
“That was no spice ship,” another man said.
“No! They was Karrux mercenaries. The bloodiest, most violent men in the Southern Isles. They just came back from burning Kooblican.”
“So no gold on the ship?” the barman asked.
“Not as much as knives and hard men.”
“Huh,” the barman said.
The music picked up and another man climbed onto a table.
To be continued…