Prince of Thieves: Sample Chapter
(last updated: 12 July 2015)
I sigh as I set my tankard on the table. The Boar’s Head inn was supposed to be a safe place, at least for a while.
Not anymore. I know what the tall bearded stranger wants as soon as he walks in.
He holds the door open. “You two. Out.”
The two drunks sitting at the table close to the door scamper outside into the night, their drinks forgotten. The man pushes the door closed after them, not taking his eyes off me for a moment.
It’s just him, me, and the old innkeeper now.
I look the stranger up and down. He is dressed in the crimson uniform of the King’s Enforcers, and his badge shows the rank of Captain. The Duke’s influence must be greater than I thought, if he convinced the King to lend him one of those.
Or, more likely, he’s off-duty, and came here for the money.
I lock eyes with him. “Yes?”
“Spyros Windrunner,” he answers. “We meet at last.”
“Spyros Windrunner, Prince of Thieves,” I say. I made up the title myself three months ago, on my twenty-third birthday. “You will address me properly, soldier.”
The man shrugs. “Whatever. I’ve come to arrest you.”
I give him my most insolent stare. “You and twenty others before.”
“Me and twenty others now.” He doesn’t sound like he’s bluffing. “Twenty-three, to be exact. All armed with crossbows.” He places his right hand on the pommel of his sword. “The inn is surrounded. Come willingly and we won’t harm you. Much.”
He twists his head towards the innkeeper. “You, go away. Now.”
The old man shoots me an apologetic glance, then retreats backwards into the kitchen, closing the door behind him. I am alone with the Enforcer now.
“Careful with that sword of yours,” I say. “One might get hurt.” I’ve killed men with their own weapons before, and he must have heard of it.
“Yes,” he says. “One might. And then my men will cut off your hands. I’m sure you will enjoy that immensely.” He grins. “No more games. You will come with me, now.”
I push my chair backwards and stand up. “Or else?”
“Yes. Or else.” He takes a step towards me. “Come. You have six seconds.”
I smile. Six seconds? I only need four.
I use the first one to consider my escape routes. The Enforcer is between me and the main door, but I can deal with him. The question is, how many of his men are waiting for me outside?
I could jump the counter, rush into the kitchen, and leave through the back door. But they must have thought of that.
Just then, I catch a glimpse of a shadow in one of the open windows. A man with a crossbow. He doesn’t seem too alert, as far as I can tell.
This is it. I make my choice.
I throw a burst of Power at the Enforcer. He staggers backwards, but stays on his feet. They are well trained, these men. The King’s hunting dogs.
The second burst knocks him down.
I put on a burst of Speed and rush towards the window. I duck at just the right time and the crossbow bolt sails overhead.
I jump through the window, head first, unleashing a burst of Power to my left. It sends the crossbowman straight into the wall behind him. I hit the cobblestones with the heels of my hands, roll over my right shoulder, and jump to my feet.
It all took five seconds, not four. I must be getting slow.
I put on another burst of Speed, dash ahead, and take the first right as the man in front of me raises his crossbow. The street is empty, and no noises disturb the quiet night, except for my footsteps and those of my pursuers.
The pain in my hands doesn’t bother me. I’ll Heal myself later.
I take the first left and emerge onto the Long Street, still running at high speed. It is long indeed, almost half a mile long. I know it well; I’ve walked it many times this week.
The stone houses are all dark, their windows shuttered, their doors barred from the inside. Barred against people like me.
A good place for a trap.
It doesn’t matter. My Sight tells me that there is no one ahead, and with my Speed, I will be at least five hundred paces away before the Enforcer’s men can fire their crossbows at me again. And no crossbow can shoot that far, at least not with any pretense of accuracy.
It takes me less than a minute to reach the crossroads, and no shots come from behind. They have given up.
I turn left, drop my Speed to a walk, and smile for the second time that day.
“You can’t catch me,” I whisper. “I am the wind.”
Then something hits me in the back of the head, and I know no more.