Chapter 06

Royal Thief

“How much do you have?”

Dor reached into his pocket and dropped several coins in Rheaux’s hand. She leaned in close to him and inconspicuously dropped the coins down the front of her blouse.

In this crowd, that was safer than any pocket. Dor knew. He’d been picking pockets for most of the morning.

He never took all the money he found, just a few coins. That way, if someone did check their pockets just after Dor passed them, they wouldn’t think he’d stolen anything.

“Is that all?” she asked.

“No.” Reluctantly, he gave her the rest. He’d have nothing left to gamble with later.

“That’s more than 100 quid,” she said. “Good. We can go now.”

“What?” Dor almost forgot to keep his voice down. “We can’t go now. Look around.”

Rheaux looked at the cows, bulls, chickens, horses and crowd of people. “It smells.”

“Livestock does that.”

“This is the king’s room, for god’s sake. They should have done this outside,” Rheaux complained.

“Can’t ask the queen to sit in the sun all day while people present their wedding gifts to her,” Dor said.

“The king’s servants could have built a canopy.” Rheaux focused on the queen. “I don’t know how she does it. Sitting on her throne as if there’s no smell and it’s not stuffy in here. I’m ready to vomit.”

“She’s the queen. Royalty don’t vomit; not in public anyway,” Dor said.

“She will when she sees me do it.” Rheaux pulled on his arm to leave. He pulled back.

“Rheaux, there are so many more pockets.”

“Don’t be greedy, Dor. Stop before you get caught.”

“Look, the wizard comes.” He pointed to the dwarf. “At least, let’s see what he’s brought.”

She gave him that “let’s go now” look.

He gave her his best “please” look. It usually worked.

She gave in. “All right, but we leave when he does.”

“Good enough.”

Rheaux turned from the procession and watched the crowd as she leaned her back against Dor’s side. He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close. She fit as smoothly as if she were silk against his bare body. She laced her arms around his. He kissed the back of her blue-black head of hair.

“I’m safe,” he said. “No one suspects me of anything.”

“I’ll keep watch anyway; wouldn’t want to be caught unawares.”

She didn’t like Dor thieving, but times were tough. Her father was a farmer. Now that the war was over, he and she hoped to move back to the village and their farm.

Dor wanted to stay in town. Now that the war was over, wealth would be returning and thieving would be profitable again. But if she left, he’d go with her and do as she wanted. He’d become a farmer.

The dwarf waddled up the aisle, swinging his arms as if they were propelling him forward. His gnome walked at his side. Dor figured the dwarf must be extremely patient or completely oblivious. Gnomes’ greatest talent was turning the simplest task into a monumental disaster. No matter how hard he tried, the gnome would never be able to master the simplest of spells.

“That dwarf has no class,” Dor said softly.

“What?” Rheaux asked.

“He carries his gift in his hand instead of placing it in a box worthy of Royalty.”

“Can we go?”

“In a minute.”

Rheaux sighed; a sign she wanted him to hurry.

The dwarf and gnome knelt before the king and queen. The wizard dwarf extended his left hand. A black piece of velvet was folded over his hand. Dor saw a bulge under the cloth. With his other hand, the dwarf reached over to grab the corner of the cloth.

The queen leaned forward.

The king watched the queen out of the corner of his eye.

Dor couldn’t tell if he was annoyed with her or pleased. There seemed to be no personal connection between them. They’re newlyweds, he thought. Well, this is a marriage of politics. They’ve only just met. He didn’t court her as a lover might. It will take time for them to get to know one another. He hoped they’d love each other as much as he and Rheaux did.

As the dwarf lifted the black cloth, the queen snatched an orange gem from his hand and hid it in her sleeve.

“Did you see that?” Dor asked.

“See what?” Rheaux looked over her shoulder at the queen.

“He gave her a topaz the size of my fist.” He held up his fist for her to see.

“Is that good?”

“Rheaux, gems are usually the size of my thumb.” He showed her his thumb. “Not the size of my fist.” He showed her his fist again.

“Oh. Can we go now?”

It would be fun to reach up her sleeve to see what else she’s hiding there, and take the topaz, Dor thought.

Rheaux pulled on his arm. “Her guards won’t let you near her.”

“How do you always know what I’m thinking?” He finally allowed her to drag him away.

“I’m your wife.”

“Well, if I can’t search the queen’s sleeve, can I search your blouse for my coins?”

Her mouth curved in that crooked smile he loved to kiss. “You have to take me home first.”

Published in: on May 30, 2011 at 12:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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