1. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
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    Northeast England

    Contest Winner! TimHarris! Short Story Contest (132) Theme: an item of great

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Lemex, May 12, 2013.

    Well done Tim, message me for the theme of the next contest and we can get thins going - Lemex

    TimHarris - Immortal
    (2032 words)

    “We are rich,” said Snatch cheerfully as he sat his end of the thick oaken chest down on the floor with a loud thump and closed the door behind him. Grabber did the same thing with his end, and replied. “Now that we are, will you buy me a new back?”.
    Snatch opened the chest, slowly, and watched as the reflection from the the whale oil lamp on the table seemed the give the room a dim orange glow. Grabber dug his hand into the chest and retrieved a fistful of gold coins, before letting them slide between his fingers back into the chest.

    “It was easier then expected,” said Snatch. “Now if only more bankers would be kind enough to build their vaults so accessible from the sewers, poor thieves like ourselves might get to eat more often.”
    Grabber picked up a small chalice from the chest and began to examine it closely in the light, stroking his black beard as he did so. “It would be a kindness if you ask me. Having that much gold must be such a burden.” He turned the chalice around in his hand, and sighed when he saw the initials of Duke Valesandro carved onto the bottom.
    “Some of this stuff might be hard to sell brother.”

    Snatch filled a wooden bowl full of treasures from the chest, like you would fill a bowl of water; then took a seat by the window where he looked out on the empty streets below.
    “I wouldn't worry too much about that. We can always melt it down and just sell the gold. Might even get more for it that way.”
    He began to dig through the bowl to see if there were anything of particular interest within when he spotted the necklace; a matte thing made out of bronze, with a blood red gemstone of some kind inlaid into the center. In the darkness, it almost seemed to give off a faint glow.

    “What do you suppose this is?” he asked, and held it up for Grabber to see.
    “I don't know,” his brother replied. “A ruby of some kind perhaps?”
    “Maybe. Think it might look good on me?”
    He slid the chain around his neck and tucked the medallion down under his tunic, and saw Grabber smile the kind of smile you have when you think of something very funny.

    “Anything you want to share?”
    “Heh, nothing of importance,” said Grabber. “Only this constable who ran into me while you were crawling through shit on all four.”
    Snatch froze. “A constable ran into you? Grabber, what did you do”? The break-in had left him with a feeling of euphoria, but what he felt now was a kind of creeping fear slowly approaching.
    “Oh he did not alert anyone,” his brother said casually. “Came right at me and asked me what I was doing. Told him I was just taking a rest on my way home from the inn. He would have left, but then he noticed the sewer grate was open, and he started to ask questions. Had to act.”

    Snatch raised his voice. “Did you murder a constable?”
    “I suppose I did. No one will know it was us though. Got him clean through the neck with my hatchet and dumped the body in the canals.”

    “Oh you stupid bloody idiot. Do you realize what you have done? Duke Valesandro checks his vault once every month. That means we would have had three weeks to sell the goods before he realized anything was missing. The perfect plan. Of course, once a dead constable comes floating through the fish market tomorrow morning, we might as well have shouted our names from the city gates.”
    Grabber looked stunned. “I, uh, I did not realize that.” He let his hands go from the gold and stood up. “But what does that have to do with us? A dead constable is hardly anything new in this city?”
    “It is a concern to us if he come floating down from the bank district.”

    If a man could be murdered with a stare, Grabber would have been a corpse on the floor by now. He wanted to say something, but Snatch continued before he could interrupt.
    “You realize they will check every vault right? And when they realize the Duke has been robbed, they wont rest until his goods are found. They will check every inn and tavern in the city, and if anyone who isn't a noble is so much as seen with more than a few silvers on them, they will be brought in for questioning. No we only have one choice here Grabber. We need to leave the city. And it must happen tonight.”

    The streets of Dustansa were filled with the thick gray fog that its inhabitants called the night-blanket. They led their mule cart through a narrow alley, dressed in hooded robes and cloaks. The few people outside did not pay much attention to two grain merchants, and getting away from the inn was easy. As they came upon the canals and crossed over one of the small stone bridges that led into the richer districts of the city, the street forked in two. To get to the city gates, they would have to pass near the Dukes castle on either side, using one of the two roads. They could have gone south to the docks of course, but if the ship masters decided on a random inspection it would mean their heads.

    “I suggest we go through the markets,” said Grabber.
    “Lot's o thieves in the markets at this time of the night,” said Snatch. “But I agree. The marble-road will take us too near the barracks. A few thieves we can handle, the city constables, not so much.”
    A cold breeze swept through the markets as they entered, and Snatch pulled his cloak closer around his shoulders. It had started to rain, and the mule shuddered slightly as they walked. The fog filled the streets like thick smoke, and a few whale oil lamps hanging from wooden poles cast queer shadows across the brick houses and empty merchant stalls.

    “Once this is all done, I will get my own little castle up north somewhere,” said Grabber cheerfully.
    “Knowing you, you will have spent it all on wine and girls before the moon turns. That belly of yours will be your doom.”
    “No I wont. Anyways, what do you care what I spend it on. It's my half. I can do with it as I please.”

    As they rounded a corner, Snatch made the mule come to a halt.
    “Shhh,” he whsipered. “I think someone is coming.”
    Indeed someone was. Five or six people, judging by the sound.
    “Should we hide?” Grabber asked, and gave Snatch a sideways glance.
    “You are too fat to hide. We will see who they are. I'm sure it's nothing.”
    Through the fog ahead, they could see two lights approaching, and then the men carrying them came into view. The two with the lamps were city constables. Dressed in brushed steel breastplates covered by a crimson tabard, and with a sable hanging from a leather scabbard in their belts, they were quite distinct. Behind them came two men and a woman, all dressed in black hooded robes.
    “Noblemen,” Snatch whispered. “Just stick to the plan and we will be fine.”
    One of the city constables called out when he spotted the two men and their mule.

    “Who goes there?” With a hand on the hilt of his sword and his lamp held high, the constable came closer.
    “We are traders,” Snatch said, feigning a smile. “On our way to Ulstergrove with sacks of grain. Markets open early so we decided to leave before dawn.”
    In the light from the constables lamp, Snatch could see he was an old man, some sixty years of age. Years of experience would have taught him to be wary of any wanderers in the night.
    “Mind if I have a look at your goods?” he asked.
    Snatch kept on smiling. “No, not at all.” He blinked twice to let Grabber know to get ready should they have to fight. The constables followed him to the back of the mule cart, and peaked beneath the haystack.
    “See? Just sacks of oats and barley for the markets at Ulstergrove, like we said.”
    The constable nodded. “Alright then. Everything seems to be in order. I wish you a safe travel to Ulstergrove.”
    Snatch made a silent sigh of relief. As the constable turned around, light from his lamp washed over the two brothers faces.

    “Wait!” yelled the woman in the company and pointed a long bony finger at Grabber. “I know that scar, that man, he is the one who robbed my husband last month.”
    Grabber panicked, and backed away a few steps. “Was not me I swear he said,” and Snatch laid a hand on his flint lock pistol hidden within his coat.
    “Is this true”? Asked the constable and turned to Grabber. I wonder if grain is all that you gentlemen are carrying back there.”
    He turned back to the carriage and lifted one of the sacks of oats within, revealing the oaken chest.
    “This, this is the signet of the Duke,” he said surprised. “You two stole from the Duke! Seize them.”

    The two robed men flung their cloaks aside, and Snatch saw they too were constables. He pulled the trigger of his pistol, and hit the nearest guard in the chest. As he sank down on the ground next to the cart, Grabber pulled out his hatchet from under the hay stack. Snatch drew both his stilettos and stood ready, one foot before the other. The second guard came at him with his sword held high. He blocked the first downward slash with both his weapons, and gave the guard a kick in the chest. As the guard stumbled backwards, another constable descended upon him, slashing with a sable. It took all his effort to avoid the initial attacks.
    He tried to strike back with his left stiletto, but missed. As he went for a second jab with his right, he were met with a furious uppercut that opened his sleeves from elbow to wrist, and left a deep gash in his forearm. Blood soaked through his clothing, and the pain made him drop his weapons. He backed away towards Grabber who was fighting the two other constables on the other side of the cart, but stumbled backwards. One of the constables sent his sword in a downward arc towards him, but Snatch rolled around sideways, and picked up the dead constables sword as he did, but before he could regain his feet, a sable took him in the shoulder, and he ended up on his knees. Moments later his brother fell down besides him.

    “Brother,” he said. “We died rich men. Who would have believed that of two orphans like us?” Grabber smiled at him, then rolled over on the ground, dead.
    Snatch never saw the sable coming, but he felt the cold steel cut through his torso like a burning poker. Then he fell and landed on his brothers back.

    When he woke up, it was morning. The fog had cleared over the city, and birds were chirping. His head was pounding, and his arm and back felt like torrents of pain. When he opened his eyes, he saw he laid on top of a large pile of corpses with the city walls in the distance. The gash on his forearm was closing even as he watched, leaving a thin strip of fresh pink flesh where the wound had been. He raised a hand to touch the wound on his chest, but found the necklace there instead. It was burning red hot like molten metal, but there was no pain. “The necklace of everlasting life,” he thought. “It has been in the Duke's possession all these years.” He planted both hands on the corpse below him and raised himself into a sitting position. As he spotted his brothers body at the bottom of the pile, he uttered only one word.
  2. CanadianBoson

    CanadianBoson Member

    Mar 25, 2013
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    Very nice story! It kept me engaged through and through :)
  3. shlunka

    shlunka Member

    May 11, 2013
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    Lovely composition, I look forward to the next.

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