2: The Thief
I chased a young Riley man through the streets of the working district. I was gaining on him, my unusual height gave me a decisive advantage in chases. He would round one, maybe two corners, and then I would be upon him.
I remembered that I shouldn’t be chasing criminals. I wasn’t a guard any more, but this had become second nature, I had been doing it for a couple of centuries and it was automatic. If someone runs, leap on them and pin them to the ground. This, however, was the first time I had wanted the ability to run faster.
We rounded a corner.
Go faster! My legs didn’t have the necessary muscle needed to follow the command. I sighed between breaths. I had never trained any part of her body to be anything better than good enough, and I was very cross with myself because of it. I realized this error during my first couple of days off. My mind had wandered, coming to the conclusion that my body wasn’t good enough.
The thief rounded the second corner. I was certain that I would catch him the next time he was in sight, but after turning the corner herself, I realized I was wrong. The thief was scaling one of the few three-storey buildings in the city. It was a government warehouse, and I knew inside was a maze of large metal and wooden containers.
The thief was at the second storey now. I knew I didn’t have the muscles needed to climb either. It was at that moment that I made an oath with myself. An promise to train my body. Never again would my physical state stop me from doing anything ever again. I spat and tried to solve the problem with my mind. I closed her eyes.
Knock him down.
I reached at my side for my day-baton, but realized it was not there. I knelt down, took a fist-sized stone from the ground and hurled it at the climber. It hit him in the head and he fell to the ground.
I ran to him and immediately checked his lifelines. Pulse was there. Eyes functioned, they even looked at me. I ran a mental diagnostic checklist. As a Captain, I had learned a lot about medical care.
The man vomited.
After a few short minutes, I concluded that he had become concussed, and not from the fall. I had given him a concussion. Was it his fault for running? Probably not. I sighed and lifted him up. My arms could do that at the very least. I had been forced to carry a lot of criminals and wounded people in the past.
The man vomited over my shoulder.
I broke into a sprint, and again was disappointed at my speed. I took him to the clinic, and a nurse looked over him.
“I concussed him with a rock. He is not to leave, he is a criminal.”
The nurse knew me, we had met before. He nodded. I don’t think that he realized I was no longer the Captain. It did not matter. I left and went to the tower to find Alice. She would have to deal with this thief.
Then, I would head to the castle and find my father. Surely by now he had all the papers together and I could start working again, as the Agent leader.
“Mariça will be returning soon. Until she returns with her report, I must remain.”
“So, once Mariça returns, then I take over.”
I nodded. I am patient, although not by nature. I did not mind waiting an extra day, on top of the two that had already passed. I wasn’t sure what to do with free time, I had had never developed any hobbies. I decided to go to the tower and see what had become of my thief. I exited the throne room and entered the loud foyer.
The castle was a sort of indoor community centre, the foyer a town hall. Even now, I could hear a foolish man auctioning something off. Usually he sold his shoes, something he seemed to have a limitless supply of. Now he was barefoot and I could hear him shouting. It seemed he was trying to sell pocket lint. I heard someone place a bit and laughed to myself.
“I was not aware that you laughed at such things,” A male voice stated.
I turned to see Vinth. He was the Captain of the castle guard. Once, long ago, he had been my Vice-Captain.
The right side of my mouth pulled back into a frown, “yes Vinth, even I have a sense of humor.”
He seemed hurt at this. I shrugged it off and exited the building. The Tower of Taxation and Enforcement was very close, all I had to do was round the castle to the back. The Solune Royal castle was placed in a very odd location.
The city had a protective wall surrounding it, and the castle was built into the northern walls. Even more unusual was that the main exit brought you out into the field north of the city, meaning you had to walk to the gates and exit the city in order to visit.
Behind the castle was the six Kingdom Halls, but I had only ever visited the tower of Taxation and Enforcement, although soon I would frequent the tower of Law and Poetry, as well as the tower of Academics and Health.
On her way to the hall, I noticed a young woman, no older than twenty, being led through the town by two Solune men. Her wrists were bound with rope. They moved at high speed through the city, but the woman seemed unhealthy, possibly starved.
I kept an eye on them, following them from a great distance. I had done this many times, and this group seemed entirely unconcerned about being followed. At least, the men did. The woman kept eyeing a specific location. What was odd was that the location changed occasionally. They passed the tower, and so did I. I would have to check up on Alice and the thief later.
Finally, I realized something. The woman was staring at a specific location for a reason. I followed her gaze and saw the fearsome outline of Mariça walking along the long wooden bridge that crossed between the six towers. She was trailing them too. I had a feeling that I would have needed backup, and so I was glad that she was there. She did not notice me, but that did not matter. We were both headed towards the same place.