Ghost -- Chapters 1-4 (1)
“Come on Mary, you can do it,” whispered a man to the night. “Silent now, shhh…you can do it…now just push… breathe…that’s right…come on…”
A gasp of pain…
A new born baby…
A girl comes out into the world…
The man held the little girl closely and cut the cord that connected itself to her stomach… the new born girl (as if understanding the need for silence) did not cry out.
“How is she?” questioned Mary, breathing heavily and wincing as she sat herself up from the ground, then falling back, giving birth to the placenta. Cursing, the woman repeated her question to the man.
“She is perfect Mary,” whispered the man giving the tiny baby to the woman
“She will have black hair…like you Krak,” winced Mary.
“She will have your brilliant blue eyes Mary,” Krak replied.
“Do you think she shall have the skill of thieves?” said Mary after a moment’s silence
“With parents like us? Of course.” Krak squatted next to the women looking at the baby “We have to go, are you able?” he said after a few minutes
“She isn’t strong enough…” Krak knew that Mary was crying knew that this was hard for her so he waited till she accepted what they must do.
“She should go to Craig…” Mary whispered.
“He is like us,” Krak replied.
“He will teach her…Craig has talent, he doesn’t get caught…”
“I know Mary, I to went to the academy with him…”
“Will we ever see her again?”
“You name her Krak…”
“Are you sure?”
“I have never been more so.” Mary put the new born baby into Krak’s arms.
“It is a good name…Taylor” Mary replied as if tasting the name.
“Come Mary” Krak stood holding Taylor in one hand and lifting Mary up with the other, Mary gasped in pain almost falling, as her knees gave up beneath her but Krak was strong and held her up.
“Are you sure you don’t wish to stay with Craig as well?”
“You know me better than that” scolded Mary, testing her unsteady feet
“I will have to lie to Craig…”
“You lie all the time, Krak”
“With Craig it is different…”
“He can’t know…this is one adventure he can’t be apart of…”
“I know, here you wait with the horses, I will give Taylor to Craig” at that moment it started to rain…
Craig sat on a stool in front of a fire, with a bottle of whiskey in his hands, when he heard the loud knocking on the door he ignored it, he was too content to move.
When the knocker was persistent Craig reluctantly stood up, and stumbled to the door, dodging the tables and chairs that made up his tavern, and swung open the door.
“We are closed! You f…Krak? What the hell! Come in, out of the rain with you! What is that you got there?” Craig then saw the look in his friend’s eyes, something he didn’t see often…Pain
“It is formally known as a baby…a girl…Taylor…” Krak closed his eyes and shoved the little girl into the unsuspecting hands of Craig “Her mother is dead…” Craig looked at his friend, and immediately knew what Krak would do once he left the tavern…
“Hey come in here, talk to me mate” but Krak just shook his head and stepped out from the shelter of the door step, back into the rain.
“Goodbye my friend” he said then disappeared into the shadows, it was at that moment that Taylor’s life took a turn, in a way for the worse, yet in another way for the best…
Thirteen Years Later
Craig watched the sleeping Taylor, he (as always) felt extremely protective of the girl who was his best-friends daughter, and he felt as if she was his own. He had watched her take her first determined steps, he laughed silently at the thought…
She had not wanted to crawl; she had been absolutely intent on walking, Craig remembered the worry she had caused him when each attempt to walk ended in failure, but she had never cried, not once…
He remembered her first step, she had looked in amazement, her hands had been lightly clutching a pole, she took a third step then a fourth, then throwing away the pole, she had walked determinedly up to him, with a look that said ‘I dare you to laugh’ Craig had smiled, a goofy smile and held her up to the sky…
He remembered her first word at three…
Taylor had been watching him filling a tankard of ale, the girl (since she had learnt to walk a year ago) had followed him everywhere, and when he put her in a cradle, the little rascal always found a way out. In short he had got use to her sitting silently watching him, whether he was getting ale, or breaking up a fight, at the moment she was sitting on the counter observing the room, with her cool blue eyes, suddenly she had frowned, which was unusual (she was all smiles, apart from when Craig scolded her) Craig had followed her eyes to a man in a dark cloak who was just sitting at a table, watching the usual thieves that saw Craig’s Tavern as a safe haven.
“Baa” she had said, frowning “Baaa” she frowned in frustration “Bad!” she nodded her head pointing at the man “Bad! Nooo, Tef” she looked at Craig her brilliant blue eyes cold “Bad! Nooo, Tef, Bad” she said pointing, Craig looked at the man, he wasn’t drinking the ale that he had paid for, and was watching everything that was going on in the room “Twust” she said pointing to herself “Bad!” she pointed to the man again, Craig nodded why not see, if the man was (as Taylor put it) bad (bad for thieves that was).
Craig signalled for a thief to come up and buy some drink (an odd twist of the fingers, a different signal was used for every word, it was a language that was taught to every thief who was worth his eyes, ears and mouth) the man nodded his acknowledgement of the gesture, then laughed a jolly laugh and in a drunk slurred speech said “suppose tis my urn ta buy dwinks!” the man stumbled over to the counter exclaiming that there was a baby on the counter, he picked up Taylor and spun in a little circle then seeing Craig’s eyes put her down and ordered a round for his mates and him.
To any other person other than a thief it would have seemed that the bartender and drunken man were merely discussing what drink ‘a round for me a da lads’ actually implied, they were really discussing the man in the corner who didn’t drink, only watched the drinking thieves.
By the time the man stumbled back to his table most the thieves knew the man wasn’t a thief. About five minutes later a fight broke out and instead of breaking it up Craig got involved in it then suddenly someone shouted they had the spy…
Craig shuddered at the memory, among thieves there where many murders and pirates as well as pickpockets…in short by the time the night was through they had found out that the man was indeed a spy and that he had got the coat he wore from a thief that’s home was currently in a dungeon. It didn’t take long for the man to die; it took an even shorter time to get the thief’s cloak its owner back when the owner had seen that a little girl had saved his life he had bowed deeply to Taylor and enquired her name…
“Ghost” said Taylor after a moment’s consideration, Craig remembered her eyes; there had been a dead look in the brilliant blue eyes…
Craig shuddered and then smiled, Taylor was truly her parent’s daughter, at thirteen she knew how to pick locks at a masters level, she knew how to use a dagger (she always carried at least three, and had long since spilt her first blood with one of them), she knew how to wield a sword and bow well enough to make most envious, she knew how to rob a nobles house as well as any good thief, and she knew how to read and write…She was like a sponge drinking up anything he taught her and remembering it, even things that it took most, years to memorize…
Taylor knew Craig was watching her, he always did, and it was as if he thought that somehow she would disappear if he didn’t watch her constantly. She had her eyes closed yet she was wide awake, waiting till Craig left, when he did she would go out and steal, it wasn’t that she needed anything (other than the thrill of the steal) Craig got her anything that she had ever wanted, and more. He let her do anything she wanted with her days as long as she didn’t steal anything.
Didn’t he know that was the only thing she wished to do? She never even kept the things she stole; she either offered them up as gifts to the ‘God of thieves, liars and speed’ or gave them to the people on beggar’s lane, it depended on what she felt like that day. But it turned out that Craig had decided to watch her all night, Taylor silently cursed as the best hours of darkness came and passed, yet Craig was still there, she felt his eyes watching her, she wondered what he was thinking about, then she fell asleep. The next day when Taylor woke she saw Craig, he was still watching her
“Morning Craig” she said stretching “what are you doing?”
“I just came to wake you” Taylor knew Craig was lying even though he showed no emotion on his face, Taylor didn’t say anything just nodded, and Craig left her to get dressed.
After a few minutes Taylor got out of her bed, her long nightshirt came down to her knee’s, she couldn’t remember when she had first got the nightshirt, she recalled that Craig had given it to her, (probably when she was ten) and that he had said that as long as she wore it he would be with her, because it had been his favourite, she remembered the number of other nightshirts that he had brought for her when the one she wore got holes in it, each time it seemed that they disappeared, very mysteriously and the particular nightshirt that he had given her the first time would reappear.
As Taylor got dressed in her usual attire – brown pants, and a lose white tunic, she wore a belt over her tunic, so all could see her sword, and dagger (she had many other daggers concealed all over her) she went down-stairs to the slowly filling tavern (all thieves that had most likely just come back from a night of stealing).
Dodging tables and chairs she made her way to the bar where a plump friendly lady sat, Mara. Mara was old woman and had grey hair, her blue eyes were sharp, and her tongue sharper at times, and she was dressed in a simple brown dress with a white apron tied around the front.
“Mara, how are ya this morning?” Taylor gave Mara a hug and kissed her cheek
“I am fine love, here why don’t you wear a skirt every now and then, and you know that would make me happy! Besides at times I don’t think any boy notices that you are actually a girl!” Mara said her eyes sweeping over Taylor’s attire, she did it every morning so Taylor laughed and poured herself some ale, taking a big swig then shaking her head, she started her morning ritual.
First she checked to see that nothing was stolen, which it never was (a thief never stole from a thief, unless they had an extremely good reason), then she went outside were Craig was standing.
“What took you Taylor?” Craig smiled
“First I had to say hi to Mara!” Taylor grinned drawing her sword “Today I beat you Craig!” Craig shook his head with a smile drawing his own blade then the battle begun.
As always a few thieves gathered to watch smiling as they watched the great Craig, one of the greatest with the sword (only being beaten by Krak and Mary, his two greatest friends), battle there little Taylor, they all knew that Craig was playing around and so did Taylor, but that didn’t mean a thing to her, she ducked and dived, trying to get past Craig’s guard but no matter what she couldn’t, he had the advantage of height, and experience while she had nothing.
Eventually Craig flicked the frustrated Taylor’s blade from her hand and bringing his sword up to Taylor’s smooth and pale neck.
“You lose again Taylor; you must remember to keep your temper under control” Craig scolded “Come on now again!”
That night the tavern was full, full of thieves, cut-throats, pirates, and anything else imaginable! In fact the tavern was probably the most dangerous place in the entire city. And Taylor was right in the middle of it serving ale, and food.
“Hey you! Girl, get us some drinks!” Taylor turned to look at the man, his voice suggested that he spent most his days yelling – most likely a pirate. The man had brown eyes, and wild brown hair, he had two earrings in his right ear, he had a tan to envy, Taylor could tell by the way he sat, the confidence in which he spoke that he was a man to be feared, but she merely walked up to him and smiled.
“What do you want and how many?” she said with a sigh ready to commit the number of drinks to memory.
“Three ales! And some of that meat that’s cooking, girl” the man smiled
“Sure thing captain” Taylor replied with a sarcastic salute heading for the bar, when a hand grabbed her arm, she looked down on the pirate who was no longer smiling
“How do you know that I am a captain?” he said coldly
“The way in which you sit fine sir, the way you speak, and of course, you smell of the sea” Taylor shrugged of his hand and went to the bar to retrieve the order.
When Taylor returned to the table, a tray full of ale and meat, the man was still watching her, “what do you know of me?” Taylor looked at the man
“I know that you have just returned from a voyage, close to the West Sea and have brought back many riches, most likely from an unsuspecting town or ship, I know that there is most likely a fine price on you’re head and that you don’t really care about it, I know that your crew respect you and that women adore you, I know that this is your first time in this tavern…I, fine sir, could go on forever what I know about you, captain” Taylor wiped her hands on her tunic absently “Now sir, that will be one silver, and three copper pieces.”
“How do you know these things?” snarled the captain
“One in which the way you dress, the way you speak, the way which you sit…Sir, the very way in which you breathe, but as it is your first time in this tavern you may not have heard, this is a tavern for thieves everyone here is a thief, those who enter who are not are immediately taken care of, you do not have to fear anything” as Taylor turned to serve others, the man hand grabbed her arm…the first time she hadn’t cared, this time she did
Craig looked up from behind the bar in time to see a man grab hold of Taylor’s wrist, he saw Taylor’s eyes flare please don’t do what I think you are going to do but the thought was to late, Taylor flipped the man onto the ground twisted his right arm behind his back and sat on him, the whole tavern didn’t take any notice, Taylor had done this many times, at least once to everyone there, but Craig shook his head and walked over to the struggling man.
“Taylor!” he said sharply “What are you doing?”
“Sorry Craig, once I could handle, but twice?” the thirteen year old looked up at Craig and smiled.
“Taylor, please get off the man or I will have to wallop you one” Craig sighed
“Ok but he started it!” Taylor easily rolled out of the mans reach and stood up with a deadly smile
“Off to work with you!” Craig growled helping the sea captain to his feet “Sorry about that, but you really shouldn’t push that girl.” Craig said to the spluttering man
“I shouldn’t push her?!?” the captain started to utter a few choice oaths
“No, you shouldn’t, but if you like you can see how fighting a thirteen year old will settle you, go ahead push her, every man in this tavern has pushed that girl, and she has knocked sense into every one of them!” Craig shook his head, walking back to the bar, leaving the captain to dust himself off.
“That little bitch!” swore the captain he was a captain! He was one of the most dreaded pirates, and a thirteen year old had, had him on the ground within five seconds!
“Come on captain don’t let a girl like Taylor make you feel bad!” said a man from behind, the captain turned to see a rough looking man, his eyes shining
“What do you know of being beaten up by…by…a little brat!” snarled the captain
“Taylor?” the man laughed making the captain snarl louder “She has kicked my ass so many times I don’t care to count!” the man smiled “No matter how many drinks you have, she doesn’t like you touching her, as many who come and go past her know all to well!” the captain looked at the man trying to figure out if he was having a joke at him.
“How?” the captain asked
“Taylor has grown up here at this tavern, I myself knew her when she was just a baby, I taught her a few things, like how to throw a dagger, but she learnt hand to hand combat from others”
“How did she know I was a captain?”
“She grew up recognizing the way thieves walked and talked, moved, swayed, breathed, you could put a thousand people before young Taylor, and she could tell you if they were a thief, what there talents were and if they were a good thief or a bad one”
“Is she that mans daughter?” questioned the captain, confused
“Craig? No, but he raised her, her parents are said to be Mary, and Krak formally known as ‘The Tigers of the Night’,”
“Her parents are ‘The Tigers of the Night’!” the captain exclaimed sharply with a whistle as the man nodded, then went back to his drink.
The captain turned to his companions with a smile “That explains why she has so much courage…maybe one with so much skill and courage, should serve someone who isn’t a thief…” he said it so quietly that only his two companions heard they smiled
“Maybe, the girl is young…the one who would want this information would want her to grow” said one
“How old do you think?” the captains eyes held excitement
“Fifteen, she would be old enough to break, yet young enough to get…entertainment, she has sprit, he would like that, it would be amusing to watch her be broken,” said the other companion.
Taylor looked up suddenly from the drinks she was pouring, she met the captains eyes, something was wrong with him…different.
“Taylor, what’s taking so long?” Taylor looked over to the people she was meant to be serving, regulars (Olaer, Rick and Baor) who had been coming to the tavern since before she was born.
“Its coming, its coming, don’t get your knickers tied in a bunch!” the men laughed
“What knickers!” Rick shouted making Taylor smile. Sweeping up the drinks that she had been pouring she went over to the three laughing men, Rick tried to grab her ass as she turned to go, she immediately flipped herself out of the way and threw a knife at Rick’s drink, which started to spill out through the small hole the knife had made.
“You know better then that Rick!” she exclaimed retrieving her knife “next time it will be your hand with the knife in it” she smiled as did Rick, both knowing that although Taylor threatened, to aim for his hand, she would always aim for the drink.
That night Craig didn’t watch her sleep Taylor smiled to herself as she dressing in her tunic, pants, and boots all were tight and black to allow her movement and stealth, she also had her daggers, thieving tools, and her sword, she slipped through her narrow window, she ran along, weaving through some buildings keeping to the shadows with ease, she ran through the poor quarter, then into the rich quarter.
Her eyes narrowed in hate as she looked upon the buildings, they were perfect, no water would find its way into the buildings like it did with the poorer buildings, and the rich didn’t have to worry about where there next meal came from, they didn’t have to worry about a warm bed or a safe one.
She sighed then looked up at the house that she had chosen the people in it were so despicable, so horrible, so corrupt…
The man Mr. Smith, bedded woman after woman, but it wasn’t that which made her angry, it was the simple fact that Mr. Smith stole innocent woman off the streets, or in his house.
The woman Mrs. Smith was different than her husband, yet the same, bedding man whores, and other nobles.
It is time that they learn a lesson thought Taylor as she let herself into the house, she crept through the house, becoming a shadow she went past door after door, but she already knew which one she wanted…where are you…come on…ah there you are she thought with satisfaction as she unlocked the door, the door that held the prize.
She unlocked it with ease and opening the door only enough to squeeze through; she eased herself through the narrow gap, then, barely breathing at all she got down on her knees searching for a trip wire – nothing.
She withdrew a candle out of her pocket lighting it she looked around the room that she was in, Dam! She thought as she went over to a table and saw all the gold pieces. She started to pile them all into the bags she had attached to her belt, then she silently withdrew a note from her pocket she smiled remembering its contents…
To Mr. Smith
It is my distinct pleasure to inform you that you have caught my interest, you have on countless occasions bedded unwilling woman, because of that I have taken what is due to those woman, plus what is due to the men your wife has bedded in turn.
I hope you have an awful day, and get all that is coming for you Mr. Smith, because if you seduce another female who is unwilling…Lets just say I have many talents other than stealing.
…Mr. Smith will pull his hair out over this Taylor thought and wished she could see his face when he finished reading the letter; her smile vanished when she heard footsteps cursing silently she looked for a hiding place, but the only place to hide was in the shadows . Extinguishing her candle and with her midnight black hair tumbling over her face she hugged the wall, till all she was, was a shadow, and nothing more.
Copyright © 2008 S K V Ghost