Ferris is a coastal town in the land of Khara Thel. Home to the Prince and his servants, the city is the largest in the kingdom and gateway to the land itself. Here, hundreds of men and woman come in by boat from across the rivers and seas to make their fortune in which can easily be called the city of wonders…
Our story takes place within the darkest corners of Rum Town, an ancient part of the city almost forgotten by the Prince and his people, no more than hundred buildings of old stone and creaking wood line the streets all the way to the ‘Old Warfs’ that used to be frequented by boats of all shapes and sizes – now it only servers as a stopping point for the Ferrimen and Fishermen of that make their living on the waters. Rum Town is also closed off by thick and high stone walls from the rest of the city, the only passage one can attain is by boat or by bribe – both of which require coins, and those are very few in the shackles of poverty that is a way of life in Rum Town.
Chapter 1 – Introducing Yve
The girl shuffled out of the ally way, looking closely at the rather well dressed man and his half drunk companion. They both reeked of ale, and she could even smell it from here, over twenty feet away. She slinked into their shadows, stepping softly behind them in the waning light of the sun.
With nothing more than a ‘brush’ of skin on cloth, she was gone, and with her the finer dressed man’s leather pouch.
Yve, a girl of no more than fifteen years, sauntered through side streets and ducked around into a secluded alcove. As Rum Town’s day folk wound down for the night, the more sinister and despicable sort took the streets. Hurriedly she checked the purse, and noted the orangey-yellow colour of the bronze shillings. She smiled to herself; ‘Too Easy’ she thought as she slipped back into the main Bell Road that led passed the markets. Quickly she bought some bread and cheese for her and her father’s dinner. Thanking the shop keeper, and silently thanking the drunken man, she whisked away towards home.
Father was sitting up as he always did waiting for his young daughter to return from whatever it was she did during the day. Mostly she was at home at night, the streets of Rum Town were much to wild for her and very dangerous in the hours of darkness. Unlike much of Ferris, there were hardly any street lamps here, and where there were, it was unlikely anyone would light them or care too.
Father sat quietly. A man by the name of Garian Coalman. He earned his ‘family name’ by working most of three decades in the Prince’s Coal Mines. An accident left him almost crippled, and with weakening lungs forcing him out into the fresh air and unfortunately, down into Rum Town where men like him simply vanished into forgotten history.
It was Garian, whom after but a few days in his shack, took pity on the young girl called Yve. She was perhaps five when they first met, a fact she has long forgotten now and one he is unlikely to remind her of.
The two sat in peaceful company like they did many a night. With a brief hug and a compliment on her meal, Yve washed her father’s feet before tucking him into his bed. She in turn cleaned up what they had of a kitchen – a simple wooden table, two unmatching stools, and an iron stove of sorts. Once she had done, she simply rolled out her bedroll and got herself ready for bed.
Morning came just as every other morning. For breakfast, they ate what was left of the bread and cheese – Yve making sure her father ate well before she took some for herself. It was late Autumn now and Winter was soon approaching. Like the year before, they would not be cold for Yve would make sure her father had something warm to wear and that they had enough coin for fire wood and food. Winter was a very sparse season. Many simply did not venture out and those that did were the unlucky ones that had to. On occasion Yve may have picked something good or someone, but very seldom and she got into a pattern of sorts, working hard in Spring, Summer and Autumn and almost resting …hibernating in winter.
Today, as the sun began to warm up the cobbled streets and the scents of fires, cooking and the nearby river touched her face, Yve was out, walking the streets, greeting those she knew and avoiding those she ‘really knew’. Rum Town was filled of ruffians, and the unsavoury gangs who would slit your throat for it was easier than just taking your purse.
In the last few days, smugglers had gotten themselves slaughtered by a group of mercenaries. The name of Hermghal. A giant they said he was. Able to throw tables and full barrels of Ale with ease! Murdered! Yve scoffed at the idea. ‘Who could kill such a beast’ she thought. Jenc Sonna was there too, an unscrupulous man, slaughtered in his prime apparently. One of Jenc’s “Gangs” – Messos Boys had vanished. No trace. Like the very night just swallowed them up. All because of Grapeleaf Nectar. A poison it is. Capable of making a man mad and a woman even madder. Yve always avoided the Baleful Pick Tavern – too strong and ouderous crowd for her.
‘Yum Breakfast is served’; Yve thought as she quietly took the steaming hot blueberry pie from ol’ Jenkins’ shelf. He never did learn not to turn his back on the window. As she hungrily ate the pie, sparing not even a crumb and burning her soft lips, her keen eyes spotted the ferry men offloading two travellers. Definitely over dressed! She quietly and quickly moved in, bumping into the two and filching the purse of perhaps the elder of the two.
“Begging Ye Parding sir, I did not sees you there” she whined in a high pitched child like plea as she steadied herself for the beating she expected.
The man raised his hand and then cursed, “Be off with you then girl…” pushing her aside as he continued on his travel, blissfully unaware of what had just happened.
Yve vanished like she always did. The alleyways, alcoves, side streets were a second home to her. She knew them well. Unfortunately others did too and had picked up her scent. Like two blood hounds, she spotted the youths tailing her, and just like the fox, she whipped around a corner doubling back and coming out a street behind them. The two were young, probably her age or younger. Most likely they saw her deed and were keen on getting their hands on her hard earned money. But neither entered the alleyway, and Yve simply skipped across the cobbled street and vanished once more.
The men had the usual, if not a bit more than she expected of copper and bronze coins. A strange glass bead, orange in colour, not amber but perhaps similar. In its heart it contained a symbol completely unfamiliar to her.
Yve doubled back once more and followed the two passengers as they headed, uncomfortably on purpose, towards the Baleful Pick. “ Why would anyone go there?” Not expecting an answer, Yve watched them from an alley some twenty yards away. Guards and men unloaded the beer wagon taking kegs into the taverns cellar. Yve lost count around twelve. Must still be a busy establishment.
Just then a skittering of pottery, Yve span about gasping to see this rough looking man barely ten feet away. She gasped out a scream and took off down the street like a jack rabbit. Running and bounding for all her might.
He Snuck up on me… armed… RUN!
A sharp pain stung her shoulder and heat and pain almost brought her to her knees. The sling bullet had dug in and dug in deep. Yve cried out loudly, ducking into the first street she could find and diving into what appeared to be an unoccupied building. In the darkness she gasped for breath her fingers touching the sticky warmth on her right shoulder. Blood.
Hiding in the Cellar
A scraping startled her, and she drew her dagger in her weakened right arm. “I am armed… I will fight” she tried to bellow out intimidatingly.
“Ay lass, you be a hurting…” a voice said, old, husky, “I want no troubles… but I can helps you I can. “
“Why…” Yve coughed out… “Why help me?”
“Coz it’s what we do… we help each other. Come, Timsi can help you”
The old man named Moe, a beggar; perhaps a miner too, guided Yve without drawing too close or touching her, through the streets to a wall. A simple push on a brick and out popped a flask of beer… or perhaps something stronger. She tried to make a note of where it was, but looking back the wall simply looked like a wall. Hundreds of stones and bricks. There would be no way now to discover that compartment.
Down one road up another, and finally between two large tenements, they came to a simple courtyard and within was the oddest thing she had ever laid her eyes on. A Boat. A newly and finely crafted one at that. Up on the ‘work horse’ almost as if the creator was waiting for a flood. The last one was more than a decade back and wouldn’t have reached this far to the walls.
Timsi was the carpenter of the boat, and he carefully looked at her wound, and in a matter of moments the bullet was out and the pain was gone. She commented on how good he was, drank the tea that Moe, possible his brother had put on and watched as he disappeared back into his workshop to work. After a moment, she placed a full florin into the ‘donation box’ and gave a shilling to Moe as well. His brother, Timsi seemed to forget what had just happened, and she left, politely thinking a good strange could become a bad strange.
The market was bustling as always, and here she found what she wanted. A doublet, repairable, and would fit her father. Only three copper bits it was. Yve smiled, tried to haggle with the young beggar, and in the end gave in. Another thing caught her eye. Or in this case her ear first. A rather rotund man and his bored guards were arguing over the price of ale with one of the local shop keepers that Yve knew. For some reason she forgot his name as she looked the man up and down and noted his fairly full looking coin purse.
Within moments, and after some interruptions from her, she had his pouch in hand and bought some food for dinner once more. As she stood outside the shop she heard him bellow – “My pouch… Thief… Thief, “ soon followed by the looks of passes by and the definite thud of hard leather boots. Yve ran. She always ran. Never liked confrontations much.
Her decoy failed – a pouch filled with a few spare coppers and some stones for weight – so she ran. And after some time, with the crowd seemingly annoyed at the pompous arse, began yelling at him and throwing stones. Yve smiled, not feeling guilty at all as she walked quietly towards the Crows Beak Tavern…. The haunt of Jacoby Jack – a purveyor of fine goods and a buyer of ill gotten gains.
He was keen on the bauble immediately, although knew not or at least never said where it was from. A shilling? For that, definitely worth it Yve thought and took his offer feeling a bit proud of herself. Seems that pride almost caught her off guard as she stepped through a side street back towards the market for some meat. A gurgling sound startled her in the shadows, and adrenalin rushed into her body. She drew the dagger.
A man stepped out, rough looking, unshaven, a large knife dripping with fresh blood. She could feel her throat begin to close and her stomach lurched. Again. She ran. And never looked back. People died. And they died often here with no one to mourn them. Yve was lucky in a way. Her father was what kept her alive, knowing he needed her more than she needed him now.
Chapter Two – The Job
Mr Harrick… job for me. Mr Jacoby.
Took me to the old harbour master’s.
Event… ok. Something you want me take.
Muggins – not human… Harrick’s servant.
Ring. Ornate – silver, perhaps ivy, deer skull.
I must wear a necklace.. pendant of gold.. amber is a fossilised stick insect. Dont wear it long. Event out of city, Ferry Town. A Surprise…
Magic…. ? spell.. agreement sealed.