Chapter 09


Dor sat on the back of the wagon and watched as the castle and surrounding town slowly shrank in size. He knew every dark corner good for hiding in. He knew every locked door closed to him and every friendly door open to him. He knew who to steal from and who to stay away from. He’d taught himself how his trade and chose not to take everything available. Castle guards suspected him, but were unsure if he was a thief. It was a game to him and not to get caught. The games were becoming more and more meager.

Over the years, the war had become too much; people left and those who stayed had little to steal. The day of the royal wedding had been unusually profitable. Now that the war was over, people and their money would be returning, but Dor would be gone. He was leaving the games behind.

“You’re too friendly,” Rheaux used to scold.

“If I wasn’t so friendly, we’d have never met,” he laughed.

“I’m serious. How can you steal from your friends?” she asked.

Dor knew almost everyone in town. He had to be extra careful so as not to be recognized or caught.

“If I’m not friendly with them, how will I know who to steal from? Beside, everyone knows no one steals from a friend.” He laughed.

“Someday one of those so call friends will figure it out and then you will see how friendly they are. And you’ll get everything you deserve.” Rheaux didn’t like him thieving. She worried too much at him getting caught. Moving him to the farmland was her way of keeping him safe.

Except, he liked the adventure. It kept him alive.

His eyes outlined the town buildings. There was the tavern where he and his friends drank. There was the eatery where Rheaux worked as a waitress, where they first met. There was the church were they wed, the house where they lived and made love.

“We’ll make new memories,” she’d said.

Dor liked the old ones.

No sooner was the war over and the royal wedding finalized than Rheaux and her father were making plans to return to their farm in the valley. Dor tried to delay their departure, but Rheaux didn’t fight fair.

“I don’t want our children growing up in this filthy town. I want them to grow up on our land,” she’d said. “I want us to go with Father when he moves back to the farm.”

“What children?” Dor argued. “I don’t see any children, because we don’t have any children. I’m not leaving. Maybe, someday, if we have children, just maybe, I’ll think about moving then.”

Instead of answering, Rheaux placed her hands on her stomach and he knew. She was with child. He’d lost the argument.

Now if she’d wanted to move to the city by the sea, he would have gladly agreed. No one knew him there. And there were plenty of rich people to go around. He’d have to join the Thieves’ Guild. They wanted half of everything one stole. They said it was to pay for training and protection from getting caught. But they taught little, and many of the guild found their necks in the hangman’s noose.

Ideally, Dor would have loved to start his own gang. He’d teach them to thieve and how not to get caught. Then he’d take over the Thieves’ Guild. But Rheaux would never say yes to that.

As the town and castle dwindled with the miles, brown buildings and gray castle walls blended into hazy lavender. He could no longer distinguish one building from the other. Even castle towers faded into the afternoon sky.

Dor’s heart felt as if a small iron hook was deeply buried in his heart and attached to a rope. The other end of the rope was attached to the castle and town. As the wagon moved farther away, the imaginary rope became taut and tightened until it pulled at the gaff. His heart shook. The rope would not release its hold. The imaginary hook pulled until it felt as if it ripped from his heart.

His hand sprang to his chest expecting to find a hole where his heart had been. He looked down, surprised there wasn’t any blood. When he looked up, they’d begun descending a hill into the valley. The castle was gone from view.

“No use staring after it any more. It’s gone,” Dor said, to himself. His street life had taught him not to look back. Looking back while running forward often caused one to stumble. Dor didn’t stumble. One could get caught and hanged. “That life is over. Time to move on.”

The town he loved was gone along with all the adventures and dangers it offered. He loved Rheaux more. He could survive without the thieving, but he couldn’t imagine life without her.

With a heavy sigh, Dor stood and, careful to keep his balance, picked his way over bags of clothes, sacks of food, and farm tools, and stepped onto the wagon bench, and sit next to his love.

She and her father moved over to make room for him.

“See how beautiful it is?” Rheaux swept her hand across the view before them.

All Dor saw was grass, trees, emptiness, calm and quiet. No more drunken nights. No more gambling. No more thieving. Keep looking ahead, he reminded himself.

She wrapped her arms around his arm and rested her head on his shoulder. Dor wished he wasn’t wearing a shirt so he could fully enjoy the softness of her red hair cascading down his back. He wanted the touch of her skin against his. He kissed the top of her head, rested his head on hers and let his mind wander to their love making later that night under the stars.

“You’ll love it here,” she said. “You’ll see. Just wait until you sink your hands in the dirt and plant seeds. You’ll understand the thrill when you see that the crop you’ve planted, and care for all summer, and is now ready for harvest.”

Dor’s head popped up. Instead of seeing himself sweaty with love making, he saw himself sweaty and dirty from hard work. He knew he was leaving the town and thieving behind, but until that moment, it had not dawned on him that he’d have to do manual labor.

Published in: on June 19, 2011 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

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