As the black figure turned sharply into the gap between 2 houses, those behind saw the chance to bring this chase to an end. The loud clang of metal hitting the hard cobbled streets alerted them to the fact he had dropped what he was carrying, at the very least they knew now that the thief had lost his goods, and this one possesion that meant more to them than any other was safe. Some of the group stopped outside the houses where the thief had turned off, and began looking for what he had dropped. In the pitch black thier only option was to scrabble around on their hands and knees, searching desperately, feeling in the darkness. The freezing cobbles uncomfortable to crawl around on, but they had no option.
The others that had not stopped to help search, were now assured of victory against the theif, for they knew the alleyway he had went down was a dead end. The wall at the end has high as the houses either side, the thief was trapped down the far end, though none dared to approach until they could check if he was armed. A small man appeared next to them armed with a lamp, when the chase started everyone was so desperate to catch the thief that none stopped to think. He had run back to his home to fetch the lamp incase there had been need for it. Now, half the group had left, and the remainder sat just out of sight of the alleyway discussing how to deal with the thief, there were 5 of them and one of him. Hungry for vengeance they decided it was best to kill the thief to protect themselves. The object that was stolen was supposed to be under their protection, killing the thief ensured he could never admit he was partially succesful in his crime, so they could say he was killed while attempting to steal it.
The men drew their daggers, and turned to advance down the alleyway. A shadowy figure could now be seen, stood with his back to the wall, and his dagger drawn as well. The men advanced on him and he continued to stand still, his eyes, the only part of his body they could see remained steadfast and peircing in the darkness. The thief watched the shadows cast by the lantern high up the walls as they danced and flickered while closing in. The men realised the figure was resigned to the fate handed to him, and the leader of the group ran forward and plunged the dagger into deep into his chest. The entire village heard the scream that followed.
The thief had considered his plan well, and it had taken months to perfect everything, but then not everything can go seamlessly can it. He had been watching the fountain in the centre of the village for months before, its elegant design and the epxensive jewels that had been set into it were entirely out of place in a village where working class humans lived. A lesser thief may have resigned himself to prising out a few of the gems to sell to a fence, Azose however had a much bigger scope than that. He knew the foutain was hiding something belonging to the emperor of the lands, as his seal was engraved into the fountain at the base. Now the years spent under the emperor had served him well, for he could recognise the seal, and after some dicussion with locals and a few traders he had realised an object he had wanted for a long time was hidden inside the fountain.
The snag in the whole thing was that the mechansim that opened the hidden compartment in the fountain would instantly alert everyone in the town that it had been opened. Nobody in the land knew how it worked, or even knew who had created the fountain itself. However Azose wasn't one to be deterred by this and knowing the value of what he was stealing, he formulated a plan to get exactly what he wanted with apparent ease.
Once a week a stewerd of the emperor would come down and open the fountain to check on the item inside, Azose had to watch the order in which he removed the rubies with a special key made specifically to remove them. He then watched the rubies being replaced in order to access the item inside. The steward had written instructions with him each time, Azose couldn't afford himself that pleasure due to the fact the village square would be pitch black while he did his work. Watching from the rooftops he would see the stewerd remove the item inside setting off the alarm at which point the entire village emptied out into the street ready to defend. For this weekly occurance also served as a test to make sure the villagers were ready.
The night if the heist had come, and Azose had turned up ouside the town, he waited until the early morning when the laterns in the street were burning low, and crept along town putting them out one by. In the darkness he began removing the rubies with his own personal tools, and carefully following his choreographed movements, the entire thing took him several minutes, but eventually he placed the last ruby back into its new slot and cylinder in the centre of the fountain began to grate as it rotated to open and reveal his prize sat in the middle. Now he couldn't just lift it out because the villagers took seconds to leave their houses around the fountain so he would be trapped in an instant. He carefully tied some string around the dagger as it sat in its holder, and retreating back quite a few paces he steeled himself for the moment and then yanked the dagger out with all his might.
Almost instantly he heard the sound of people rushing to get out of bed and running to their doors. He took off down the street in the darkness. With the village chasing he knew he had to get himself safe, and fast. He looked backed and could see nothing, not one villager had even stopped to grab a candle, or latern or torch, he had no idea where they were, and no illumination to see where he was going. As he made his way down the street he saw an area just a little darker than the rest and slipped down the side. The villagers who knew the area much better and could track the thiefs movement much better knew exactly where he had gone.
As Azose had turned the corner, he dropped the dagger onto the ground and retreated down the alleyway, and there he waited. He could not outrun the villagers forever and knew they would be armed, he thought by dropping the dagger he would distract them long enough, but it wasn't the case. Seeing a glint of light from the lantern that had been brought to the scene, he realised he had little time to catch his breath. He pulled his staff out from his robes, and leapt up the side of one of the buildings getting about halfway up before placing his foot carefully on the wall and using all his strength to push himself right up and to the top of the houses. He deftly flicked his wrist round and the staff was now supporting him with an end on each house, across the narrow alleyway. He spun himself up into the air and landed on his staff and carefully walked along it onto the rooftops then pulled the staff over to himself.
He watched as the men advanced onto the straw dummy he had left in his placed, they couldn't tell the difference between the theif and the replica, its glass eyes shining like real eyes in the dim light from the latern. He watched one man rush forward and plunge the dagger into where his heart would have been, then heard the shrill cry as the man realised he had been duped. Azose watched them leave discussing how the theif must have ran past the alley and not into it as they suspected. Nobody can vanish into thin air, or jump onto the rooftops from the ground. They felt assured because they were able to return the stolen dagger to the fountain, well, they would be returning a dagger to the fountain for Azose still had the real one, the villagers were left holding the replica Azose had paid a blacksmith to make just for this occasion.
--- End of Chapter One ---