Captured (short story)
Author: player of Selandriel
The last vestiges of the vision fled his mind’s eye, his sight returning to the night-shrouded world around him and the murky crystal in his hands. Something inside the crystal stirred, a subtle swirl in the texture within refracted through its many facets. His breath misted in the chill air before him. He felt it, the cold, as he often did here. It bothered him.
A wave crashed against the pier below, and he blinked slowly, shifting his gaze up and across the bay sprawled before him. Expressionless, he watched the moving waters, following the swells as they broke across each other, salty spray drifting through the air above them. His eyes swam across the scene, settling here and there for moments before resuming their apparent search of the dark water. Something was there, at the edge of his vision. Something just beyond what he could perceive. There were hints, clues, all about him. His hand absently rubbed the crystal in his hand.
He tucked the shard away, slipping it into the inner pocket of the grey silk jacket he wore. His hand stopped at its seam as he withdrew it, inspecting the fabric with slow sweeping motions. A smirk crossed his features just as a stiff breeze cut across the bay, casting his long blonde hair across his face in a wild flurry. When his locks settled, the smirk was gone, replaced by a slight frown and narrowed eyes.
He stood suddenly, pulling the ample hood of his cloak up over his head. Another breeze, stronger than the last, sent his cloak billowing out behind him. A small golden key swung slowly in the wind, suspended from his neck by a length of black silk. Hastily, he gathered his cloak tightly about his body and made his away off the pier with considerable purpose in his long stride. His senses screamed in his mind. Danger, something is about to happen. But where?
His pace quickened as he neared the end of the pier and stepped into the southern market square of the town. He stepped through the bustling crowds, easily weaving in and out of the many passing folk. Behind you, he thought. He stopped at the fruit cart there before him, picking up an apple as if inspecting it.
Something brushed up against him, moving to his right; the same direction he was just heading. He shifted his gaze slightly. The fisherman from the pier, at least, a man dressed as a fisherman. His movements were too controlled. How could I have been so careless! He cursed himself, turning from the cart and heading away in the opposite direction.
Turning at the last moment, he stepped behind a large mule-driven wagon being moved by its owner, and cut through a narrow alley. The din of the square faded behind him as he lightly swept down the winding streets of South Haven. Softly echoing footsteps followed him at a distance as the occasional Havener returned home for the evening. He quickened his pace again. I need to change, he thought, though I suppose dying while dressed well is not such a bad thing. He chuckled to himself out loud, and a ghost of a smile crossed his lips momentarily.
The whitewashed warehouse stood alone, facing the North 'Haven Quay. He's traversed nearly all of North 'Haven on his way here, doubling back more than once. The idea that someone could have followed him barely registered in his mind. Yet, he crouched there, shrouded in shadow, and waited. Bayside road was deserted now, at this time of night. Slowly, he crept into the warehouse.
Dust had settled around all the boxes and crates inside the warehouse, packing straw strewn about haphazardly. He navigated the maze of boxes, passing many openings before slipping behind the curtain of one. He slipped his hand into his pocket and retrieved a small key and silently unlocked and opened the locker, revealing a great deal of belongings within.
He withdrew a faded grey satchel, placing it on a nearby crate and followed with a leather sword belt and suit of scale armor. He quickly disrobed, stuffing the garments he wore unceremoniously into the locker. He considered the sword belt for a moment, lying next to his satchel, and placed it inside the locker again, followed by the armor, finally removing a second satchel from within.
Opening it, he slowly began removing articles of clothing of nearly-black linen from within. Wrapping for his feet and arms, some loose fit pants, a fitted shirt and a simple cloak. He donned the garments hastily, slinging the dark satchel over his shoulder.
His eyes came to rest on the faded grey satchel sitting upon the crate next to his locker, his face drawn. He opened it, hands shuffling through its contents until producing a soft grifflet pelt wrap. His hands caressed the blanket's soft folds. He closed his eyes for a moment, swaying on his feet slightly. They opened again, examining the details of what he held. He slipped the wrap into the satchel on his shoulder, his face once again expressionless. His hands returned to the bag on the crate, this time guided swiftly and surely, and removed a malachite sickle. He regarded the weapon for a moment before placing it in his linen satchel.
A small cloud of dust rose from the crate as he collaped onto it, head in hands, he sat.