“It is I, Boton Fairchild. I mean no harm.”
“I never heard of no Fairchild. The gate is closed to outsiders after sundown unless yur a noble. Since ya’in’t a noble, you can come back in the morning.”
“How do you know I’m not a noble?”
“Cus nobles introduce themselves as, ‘I’m so an so of the such an such guild, or family, or the great.’ Now get lost you cur.”
“Why do you close the gates at night?”
“Because there’s only so many of us guards. We’d have to pay more guards to patrol the city if we let every ruffian into the city that wandered by. Now, as it’s my job, and I take great pride in my job, I’m going to have to tell you politely, but forcefully, to leave.” said the guard as he gripped the mace at his waist.
Boton wasn’t insulted. He was used to this kind of treatment. It was perhaps 5 hours until sunrise but the moon was bright. He whittled away the hours by collecting wildflowers, catching butterflies, and practicing his archery on the local fauna that wandered by.
As the morning approached the gate, so did Boton. He smiled at the guard.
“Good morning, stranger.
“Please, call me, Boton.”
“Very well, Boton. You can call me Morger. I saw you were up all night, faffing about.” said the guard.
“Quite the contrary, my good man. Here, have a bouquet.”
“Er, how about not. Listen here, Boton. I don’t like the look of you, not one bit. I’m about to go on break, and when I come back, if so much as one hair goes missing from one of our villagers, you’d better hope the Divine Spirits are looking after you, cus I’ll smash your little bones into a little pile.”
“Very well, my friend. I assure you, you have nothing to worry about.” Boton skipped into town, smiling, and handing out flowers to the maidens in town, both young and old. Morger knew something was up, so he didn’t go on break as planned. He followed Boton into the city, to see if he could catch the rascal red-handed in some dastardly deed. The guard watched as Boton went to the market place. Boton sold a few trinkets for a few gold coins here, bought some grub for a few gold coins there. He sold some ornate, decorative daggers for a heavy purse. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then Boton went to the Ouht Inn, presumably, to sleep for the night. Morger also bought a room. His wife would be worried tonight, but she would be proud once she knew that her husband was the one to catch a criminal. The guard stayed up all night by the door listening for foot traffic. The burning candle on the table in the room showed that it was around midnight when he heard the floor boards creek. The guard cautiously waited a moment, then followed the shadow out the door. He nearly jumped for joy when he saw it was Boton, just like he thought. He felt guilty at how happy it was that this man was about to commit a crime. The two men noiselessly went to the market, which was abandoned at this hour. As this was always a safe city, only precious belongings were locked up at the end of the market day. The rest of the goods were left on the table to make it quicker to set up the next day. The first stall was a food stall. Boton crouched behind it, opened up his sack, and immediately began stuffing it. Cheese wheels, whole cabbages, potatoes, tomatoes, leeks, anything that wasn’t nailed down got stuffed into that sack. Then Boton moved to the next stall. This one was a weapons and armory stall. He grabbed a shield behind the stall, the chipped iron swords on the table, not to mention a handful of arrows. Then he proceeded to open an ornate treasure chest on the table. It must have been locked because it took him some time to do. He held it arrogantly up into the air. A guard appeared, doing his rounds. Boton evaporated into the bushes. Morger tried to wave down his friend, but without alerting the thief. It wasn’t working. Morger picked up a tiny stone and launched it. It hit his friend’s helmet and made a startling, “dong!” Boton froze, unsure if he was discovered. The guard froze, unsure if he was being attacked. Finally Morger got his attention. The guard jogged over, which was not ideal.
“What’s wrong? What are you doing here? Your shift at the gate starts soon.”
“I know, I’m following a criminal into town. I was trying to catch him red handed. I thought maybe I could use your help.”
“Well sure, but how do we catch him. Where is he?”
Morger thought he saw something in the corner of his eye. He turned to look, but there was nothing there. It was probably just the dark playing tricks on him.
“Shhhh, keep your voice down. How about this. I’ll wait for him here, and you come from behind him and scare him with your mace flailing above your head. How’s that? Wait, where’s your mace?”
“Huh that’s odd. I must have forgotten to bring it to work.”
“You forgot t’ bring your mace to work? While you were on patrol duty?”
“No you’re right. I must have brought it. Maybe I dropped it.”
“What? That don’t even make sense. Did you forget to bring your shield too?”
“No I remember bringing my shield. That’s weird I was holding it a second ago.”
Morger felt like someone had dropped a stone into a well in his heart, except the well was so deep, that it never hit the water. Boton must have stolen weapons and armor off of this guard, while he was holding it. Morger panicked.
“Help, help, help! Close the gates! Shut down all exits! Call the guards!”
The first one to show up was Merse the Mercenary, always ready for action. The marring of his sword matched his face. He looked like he had seen better days, a few times, and then none since.
“What’s wrong? Oh, Morger, it’s you. What’s going on?” said Merse.
“There’s a thief in town, and a damn good one. He stole the mace and shield right off of this here guard.”
“Damn! I hate thieves. I’ll kill this one for free. You can count on me.” said Merse. Merse went to unsheathe his trusty sword, but it was missing. “No! My sword! I paid good money to have it enchanted and poisoned! It was my father’s! It was a reward from the Jarl of his hometown. What will I do now! Ohhhhh!”
People came out of their homes to see what all the fuss was about at this ungodly hour.
“What’s wrong? What’s going on? What’s all this fuss about?” the crowd yelled.
Morger felt a breeze and shivered. He looked down. He was naked too. He felt another breeze and realized that it was too late to catch Boton. There was no stopping this master thief.