Theft In Protagopolis

Intended Length: Unending

Genre: Medieval Fantasy

Narrative Mode: Subject to Change Every Chapter On A Whim

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          This writing is fiction. Names, characters, settings and events are either used fictitiously or are products of the writers' imaginations. Any resemblance to real events, settings or people, dead or alive, is coincidental unless stated otherwise.

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PROLOGUE

            The city was sprawled out where the plains met the forest. Every thatched roof and beige-bricked building was guarded behind wooden walls of thick timbers. All was embraced by the darkness of early morning.

            Frrap-a-frap! A knock came at the south gate, a cloaked figure on horseback was tapping their pale knuckles against the wood. The panel slid open, and the figure was greeted on the other side by a maternally stern face.

            "Who are you, and what do you want at this ungodly hour?"

            The cloaked figure scowled, and rasped, "Open the door and step aside, René. I will not let a mere city scribe block my entrance."

            The woman was unsure whether she recognized the voice, though she knew that it was a man. She could smell the alcohol on his breath. Reluctantly, she put a hand on the latch on the other side of the wall. Then, she grinned to one side, "Pay me five stars, and I'll move these bars. You win, I'll let you in."

            "A bribe!? René! What has become of you?" the hooded man's black sleeves rummaged beneath his cloak.

            "I have mouths to feed, vagrant. Need the money, indeed."

            "Four stars!" Haggling with a poet after midnight. Good grief.

            "Five, no less, no more." René simpered, "And, I've... no mess and no war. I won't call the sentry, or speak of your entry."

            "Fine", the man said. He got off his horse, handing her five star-shaped silver coins. "Just stop speaking in rhyme."

            The wooden door swung open, to the sound of a woman laughing, and he led his horse into the shadowy city. The stalwart beast plodded along beside him, with a thick white mane. Clearly, it was a horse of the north, white as the melting snow around them. And it looked worried, as it followed its master's shadow.

            After several quiet moments of ambulating down the city's empty streets, they reached the town square. There was a large, stone well in the center. Above and around it, hung four archways that held up a stone cover over the well. And upon the cover, there was a large statue.

            A heroic figure, Sir Olius, stood in stony silhouette. The statue was made of unpolished brass. It was a lightly armoured knight, leaning on a hefty cleaver.

            The man in the black cloak stopped, and looked up at the intimidating display of chivalrous honour. He was surprised, "Huh. That's new, eh Snowbeast?"

            The torches on the archway flickered. However, they kept the town square bright. The city thrived on water, and this was the main well. Always lit. Always bright. This was the Brightwell.

            Moving about like a wraith, he tied the horse's reins to the archway. The horse whinnied with reluctance. It stomped its powerfully lithe hooves, exposing claws beneath the fur. There was something oddly canine about the horse.

            "I've given you enough treats tonight, my steed" the man said, indicating the bulge at the back of his cloak, "I'll be back for you when I can. Miss Noble will come by and pick you up soon."

            Snowbeast's head fell in desperation, and chewed idly at the grass around the Brightwell.

            "Sorry," he repeated, petting the animal's neck. "I have some crime to be done."

            And the night went on. The horse slept, standing up, and the man in the dark cloak left. Dawn approached, and time grew still. In the distance, birds began to chirp prematurely.

            Then, the temple doors of Protagopolis burst open with a crash! The man in the black cloak walked down the aisle, between the semicircle of pews. He approached the alter, and stopped as he noticed the woman before him.

            She turned, with an innocently cheerful expression. She had been praying. Looking up, blinking with sleep still in her eyes, she gazed into the shadowy depths beneath the man's hood.

            "Priestess, step aside."

            "Please, if you wish to pray," she said calmly, "Or write... sit beside me. We can pray together."

            The man delivered a swift kick to the priestess's shoulder, tossing her body to the side. His leather riding boots were bound tightly, and studded with steel. Then, he turned to the altar. Behold, the Writer's Block!

            The wooden cube before him, with strangely runed symbols on all six sides, sat in a holder like a diamond. It was painted elegantly, and depicted many things. He picked it up from the sepulcher, and held it firmly in both hands.

            The priestess stood up, yelling, "Rachel! Wake up! Someone's stealing the relic!"

            The man in black, his cloak swishing behind him, ran back down the aisle with the Writer's Block clutched in his hands. He was laughing, with great amusement. However, inside, he was fearful. He did not want two priestesses pursuing him. Their magic was dangerous. Darn it, Jillian, can you two back off? I need the Block!

            Two women, one in a linen robe and the other in a priestess gown, chased the black-cloaked man down the streets of Protagopolis. Daggers were thrown. Shots were exchanged. And fire scarred the frosted dirt.

            He escaped, veering into a dark alley, and climbing the market place canopies until he reached the rooftop. Jumping with even strides, he reached the top of the inn, overlooking town square. The priestesses were nowhere in sight. And with one, final, graceful jump, he plummeted into a dirty snowbank.

            "There he is!" someone yelled in the distance, and he got up. He ran towards the Brightwell of Sir Olius. Hastily, he grabbed a torch from beside where Snowbeast was tied.

            The horse whinnied in excitement, and watched as the man jumped into one of the two large water buckets. It went careening down the shaft of the well, his black cloak billowing in his wake.

            He landed with a splash in a shallow, underground river. Then, with the torch, the man burned the rope of the well's pulley system. The rope severed in smoke, and sent the other bucket falling down beside him. It fell with a splash, empty.

            And, having successfully made his escape, the man in the black cloak let down his hood and laughed. His rasping voice, oddly familiar, rose up through the shaft of the Brightwell, echoing over the city streets of Protagopolis.

The End

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