Gorin woke about mid afternoon to the din of Dargonhall life leaking through the window (along with its stench), his stomach tight with hunger as was usual in the morning. He turned on his pallet and rolled to his feet, quickly stretching out the soreness from sleep as he went to gather his clothes from the pile of mostly clean laundry. A pile of clothing on the opposite side of the long attic room from his pile of laundry soiled beyond anything deemed presentable–unless he were looking to be seen as a beggar.
The floor boards tried to squeak under his slight weight, but his movements were practised and he knew each spot intimately in a way that allowed him to manoeuvre from his pallet to the right side of the dim and dusty room without anyone even knowing he had yet to awaken.
His feet padded over his sparsely swept floor until he was able to pluck a pair of leggings and a long sleeve shirt from the confused piles of sorted clothing. Disguises. He chose his usual clothing, a simple pair of breeches and a beige long sleeved shirt, the sleeves baggy on his thin frame and frayed at every edge.
He pulled these things on as he went back to his pallet to retrieve the plain and frayed looking sleeveless tunic and a pair of large, heavy boots that he stored beside his pillow. He was still buttoning up the tunic as he dashed out his door and down the stairs. He pushed out of the apartment building’s rickety front door, it’s hinges a squealing demon to one so used to the sound meaning great error. But, alas, it would be far too suspicious to stop to oil the hinges before leaving. He could put up with the discomfort every once and a while.
He twisted his way through the dingy streets and alleyways, his loot tucked securely and invisibly away in his clothing.
To anyone watching Gorin, he was just any other loser. His straight brown hair—chopped off with a knife to keep it out of his way—tucked under his cap and his breaches, hanging off his malnourished frame, pulled over his boots in the style of a commoner so that only the grey, scuffed edges showed under the too big leg. No one would expect that gold and silver chains were craftily stashed in pockets hidden in the seems of his tunic, or that gems—popped from family emblems and wedding rings—were hidden in compartments near the bottom of his boots.
Gorin splashed down one last alley and climbed over a fence, finally within reach of his goal: A run down stairwell leading to a brothel, The Den. A place Gorin hated going for it stank of sex and infection. But the girls were nice enough—they respected that he didn’t want their bodies—and the loot he sold to their boss kept them fed and clothed so that the money they earned from their work could be spent on other things.
It was a good thing they had going. He got rid of his goods to someone who knew places to distribute them, and who wouldn’t be found suspicious having most of the stolen metals in his possession.
But the man wouldn’t take gems. No, Gorin had to go somewhere else for that.
“Scall,” greeted a tall woman with a plain face and slightly unclean hair. Black and limp hanging down her back and over her shoulders.
“Mornin’ t’ya,” Gorin grinned up at Mauve, “’ow’s it been?”
“’O, I’s good. Thank ye fo’ th’ conc-urn,” Mauve fixed her dress with one hand, “You be lookin’ fo’ m’ boss?” Gorin nodded and took Mauve’s hand so that she could lead him into the back in a way that was completely unsuspicious.
“W’at be ya want, Wench?” Skilks growled out through a fit of coughing and took one last drag from his pope before tossing it onto the table. He glanced over at the two that had entered, squinting through the dim lighting and smoke. His eyes were small and narrow, peering out from the center of his too fat face. Gorin couldn’t help but feel sorry for Mauve as Skilks grabbed her by her skirts and pulled her into his lap. But, Skilks was actually somewhat of a good gut, so perhaps his looks could be put aside momentarily.
“You be a’right, Doll?” Skilks patted Mauve on the back as she nodded and he allowed her to stand up. Under his jelly like, nearly toothless appearance, and sometimes lewd actions, he actually cared for his girls and would kill anyone who harmed them. In this type of world, he was pretty much as good as they got.
“So’s. w’ats ya got?” Skilks readjusted himself on his chair as he stuck a piece of chewing tobacco into his mouth, his yellow teeth flashing as he did so.
“Moon’s worth, as always.” Gorin began producing chains of gold and silver with quick discreet motions, and also pulled out a few kerchiefs (marks picked fresh clean) like a jester at court.
“Ne’er know w’ere’s ya be keepin’ all that swag, Scall—on’est, no man a search you and know th’ cat they caught,” Skilks chuckled heartily as the items were placed on the table in front of him.
“Any othe’ way, I’oud be damned.” Gorin’s grin stretched across his face, lips cracked and rough, but unwilling to bleed.
“Ye at ya prime. ‘s’good hall here,” Skilks plucked through the chains, his chubby fingers astonishing in their nimble sorting. Well, astonishing to anyone who hadn’t known the man as a master, a teacher of the stealthy arts. “Ye bette’ be savin’ some, before ya get stiff-an’ old. I ‘spect ya’ll be talkin’ m’ place soone’ or late’,” Skilks grunted as he pulled himself to his feet and hobbled over to a safe in the wall and pulled out a purse of coins, quickly counting out the contents and passing some over to Gorin. Said boy quickly counted them as he made the larger ones disappear into a hidden pocket in his tunic and placed the smaller in the pouch at his side. He did it this way for he would never think himself immune from other pickpockets, nor would he chance having suspicion brought upon himself for dressing clean and with some glimmer of status, yet not carrying a purse as was common for any above beggar.
Having completed this weekly task, Gorin left the whore house with a wave to Skilks and a quick kiss on the cheek for Mauve. He headed aimlessly through the alleys and found his way to more crowded areas, allowing himself to fall into the easy walk of someone he was in the guise of.
He drifted through the dingy streets with the nonchalance of someone used to his large boots sloshing in the thick grey muck. He fit in here—he fit in everywhere.
That was his art. He was plain, unnoticeable, and unremarkable. Depressin, but a blessing for his chose profession. And this, with this, he was remarkably … unremarkable.
“Dursy, a pleasure,” Surah greeted Gorin with a giant grin as he entered her establishment. Now, Surah wasn’t the usual fence. She had something to lose—she had a lot to lose. She wasn’t a fence by necessity, she was a fence by choice. She loved thieves, she thought the trade was amazing and glamorous. She was the only person he had ever met who sympathised with pickpockets and burglars, hid children from police who had been caught stealing bread, and was even friendly with nearly every cut throat fool that wondered into her restaurant. But, she was definitely no fool herself. She was a good sport about being robbed—and this, paired with her good nature towards the thieves, earned her a form of immunity from some, and protection by others.
Gorin grinned as he followed her into the back room, the door being firmly locked behind them. The soft click showing just how well off she was. She had a clean place, good food, and locks. Yet she seemed to give more away than she sold. It had been rumoured that she had once been a noble of a foreign court—if her long red hair and perfect speech wasn’t an indication of her unknown heritage. Very few people in Dargonhall had any hair colour besides the various shades of brown, black, and grey—save the one or two nobles that still carried the fair, blond haired trait that had been passed down by the founders of the great city.
The blond citizens were beautiful, a glimpse of something bright and exotic. Gorin frowned at himself—there was no way he would ever be able to get someone like that, even if he were interested in any of the men or women that lived in the great pathetic city.
“How were you last night?” Surah asked Gorin as soon as they had both taken a seat. She watched as Gorin disappeared under the table for a moment before returning with a handful of jewels, which he placed on the table in front of himself, watching closely—out of the habit to avoid being ripped off—as she sorted, counted, and inspected the jewels. Once completed this daunting task, she took up the gems and moved over to a large locked trunk … and pulled it away from the wall, gaining herself access to the hidden door underneath. She was a smart lady, and had a nearly invisible trap door that opened up into another door, this one obviously that of a safe, and locked tight. With most people she would deposit the gems or whatnot into her apron and escort her ‘client’ from the room. But Gorin was different. A friend, brother even. She had known the boy since the first day he had showed up, dirty and starving. Surah was the one who had introduced him to Skilks.
“Here you go,” Surah grinned as she pushed the box back in place and put a handful of coins on the table. Gorin snatched them up and they began disappearing the same way they had before. But for a few of the larger ones, which he slid back over to Surah before standing and exiting the room, Surah following closely behind.
“Is everything alright out here?” Surah asked her serving lady and stopped for a moment to chat with her quietly before grinning broadly and gripping her shoulder lightly with a nod towards Gorin. The girl looked at him and back to Surah before heading for the back. Gorin watched the exchange with a slightly arch to his scarred eyebrow.
“She is new to us, I informed her that you were a dear friend of mine and asked her to get you some breakfast–on me of course,” Surah said cheerfully and placed a finger over Gorin’s lips as he tried to object, “It’s the least I can do! If you have to repay me, try giving Teradime a nice tip; she’s on her third babe and could use the extra.” With this said, Surah turned with a flutter of her skirt and disappeared into the kitchen.
Gorin let out a sigh and headed towards the back of the establishment, aiming for his usual out of the way corner. A small, two seater table where he had the advantage of being able to see everything that went on, and being in a perfect place that, if need be to flee, he could do so with relative ease. Not that he was too worried about people coming for him specifically. Sure, there were rewards out for him, but, he wasn’t a master, so it was nothing over ten silver Dren pieces for Gorin the house Thief. Enough to get someone bed, board, and hot meals for nearly a month. But, it was far more profitable in the long run for anyone who was in a position to turn him in to keep him safe. He made sure of it. Sure, he wanted fame, but he never left enough of a clue for any of his bigger crimes to be connected with his house burglary. In fact, no one had ever made a connection between Gorin the house thief, and the Shadows—supposedly a couple of twenty year old foreigners that never left a trace, and whose theft was never detected until weeks after. Now, the bounty on ‘them’ was up to five Gold pieces already, that they had only been out and about for half a year. Three burglaries in total, and one coming in a week or so.
It was his pride and joy, a hilarious secret that not even Surah knew.
He tried not to get cocky, but it was an undeniable fact that he was, indeed, good at what he did. These thefts were the first time in his life that he actually took pride in being insulted for his work. The worse people badmouthed him and the more people who called him a coward and a greedy rat, the more he smiled on the inside.
Even Surah thought it was funny. Not that he wanted to chance telling her a thing. Just in case anything ever went wrong, he never wanted her to get involved.
“Here you go,” the server, Teradime, set a plate of eggs, bacon and toast in front of him along with a wedge of grapefruit and steaming coffee. He gave her a nod as he noticed the swell of her belly. He grinned lightly at the sight, even as the thought of a new child being brought into the dreadfulness of the world made his heart sink. No child was free from hardship, and there was little else to the world. But, even so, there was just something about a squalling little babe that made Gorin feel unmistakably human. Teradime noticed the look and ghosted her hand over her bulging belly.
“Midterm and I still can’t think of a thing to name it!” Teradime laughed joyously, “Oh,” she braced her hand on the table and rubbed her stomach. Gorin watched her curiously and she took his hand and placed it on her large belly. He could feel the baby moving slightly beneath the skin and his grin broadened, stretching across his face almost painfully.
“Congratulations,” Gorin said, still grinning as he held out a handkerchief filled with coins, “Consider this my gift to the baby,” he held the coins to her in a way that kept them hidden from the view of any of the few cut throats that dotted the mostly modest crowd that frequented the Swan.
“Oh, I shouldn’t,” Teradime said weakly as she hefted the coins in her hand and slipped them into her pocket. “Th-thank you, I should get back to work now.” Gorin turned to his breakfast with a grin still lingering on his lips.