“I creep into the room, my arms tense and my forehead sweaty. Tiptoeing over to the desk in the middle of the room, I open the second to last drawer. Peeking inside, I see what I was looking for. A gold heart-shaped amulet, covered in amethysts. It was my great-grandmother’s, stolen from her by thieves and put into a pawnshop.”
I creep into the room, my arms tense and my forehead sweaty. Tiptoeing over to the desk in the middle of the room, I open the second to last drawer. Peeking inside, I see what I was looking for. A gold heart-shaped amulet, covered in amethysts. It was my great-grandmother’s, stolen from her by thieves and put into a pawnshop. It then was traded to a king’s servant and given to the princess as a birthday present for her “sweet sixteen.”
I clutch the amulet close to my chest. Silently, I put my fingers into the pouch at my side. I find the fake necklace a blacksmith had made for me, in return for a favor. It was an identical twin to the real one — the exact size, shape, weight, and color. The only difference was that it was made from iron, bronze, and other cheap metals instead of the valuable gold and amethyst like the real one.
Slipping the real one into my pouch at my side, I turn around, prepared to walk outside and get away with the prized possession in my hands. I smile and walk across the room, my confidence blinding me. For a split second, I feel fur under my foot before hearing a loud yowl beneath me. I lift my foot immediately, and the animal stretches into a pouncing stance, hisses coming from the back of its throat. I’m scared for my life, knowing that if I am caught, I’ll probably be killed for entering and stealing such a valuable piece. So, what do I do? I run.
I sprint out of there, taking the old servant’s route up to the back of the castle with the beast at my heels. I wouldn’t call the beast a cat, but that’s what its body is mainly made up of. It is at least five times the size of a normal cat, and at the sides of its body, the black fur turns into feathers and its wings folded at its side. I recognize the beast to be a Lexor, probably the princess’s pet.
The Lexor lunges for me, just scraping my leg. I dart out of the way and make a sharp left. I climb up a ladder and jump off it. The Lexor tries to follow me, but a clear barrier blocks its way. It meows and swats at the barrier but with no avail in getting past. I smirk behind my shoulder and run into the forest. The only way anyone can get through that barrier is with a certain blood type. A kind called Royal blood.
I enter the town and run down a back alleyway that’s known as “home” to Ash and me. Ash is my best and only friend I’ve ever had. I slow down to a walk and plop myself down next to her. Her pale skin shines in the darkness.
She continues to crochet and looks up slightly.
“Did you get what you wanted?”
I break into a bigger smile than I had on before.
I hold up the amulet and let it spin in front of Ash’s eyes. She now completely stops crocheting and holds the amulet a bit closer to her.
“Oh my god,” she whispers. Her dark chocolate eyes stare into my sea green ones. “Where in the world did you get that?!”
I smile back at her. “Remember two weeks ago when we went to the library and stopped by the Record Hall? Well, I looked into my history, and I found out that my great-great- great-great-great-grandma used to own a gold amulet with amethyst on it. It even showed a picture! Then, I remembered that the staff brought Princess Annabelle a necklace. Remember in the news it never said exactly what it looked liked, but it was just ‘really expensive?’ This is it!”
Ash’s eyes were as big as dinner plates. “So you just stole it?! Eve, what do you honestly think they’re going to do when Princess Annabelle finds the necklace missing, and you just so happen to have the one that’s missing?! Oh, they’re going to have our heads…” She trails off and gets up, starting to pace back forth and muttering to herself.
“Don’t worry Ash. They’re not going to find us. And they’re going to take your head over my dead, non-executed body. I put a fake one — same color, same shape, same weight — it’s exactly the same as the one I have.”
She stops pacing and rocks back and forth on the balls of her feet.
“Are you infinity and beyond percent sure, Eve?” She drops to a lower tone. “I can’t lose you over something like this — not when I’ve lost everything else.” Her hands start to shake and even in the pitch black alleyway, I can tell that she’s about to cry. I bounce up and walk over to her. Tears start to form in her eyes and roll down her cheeks. I pull her close to my chest and let her cry in my arms.
“It’s okay,” I whisper. “You’re going to be okay. We’re going to be okay. Alright?” She cries for a few more minutes as I rock her back and forth. Once she cries all the tears left in her, she rests her head on my chest.
“Look,” she says, her voice light and airy. She points to the sun as it starts to rise over our heads, the sky turning from its black darkness and bursting into a bright orange, then turning into pinks and yellows.
I smile and stretch my back. “Today’s a new day, okay? Let’s make it a better day than yesterday.”
She smiles and hands me a basket. “I made new blankets to sell in town.” I smile at her change of attitude and take the basket in my hands. “Don’t forget to buy new wool and bread!”
I nod and start off my journey to market.
Even though the sun came up just a few minutes ago, the streets were already bustling with people. There are only five hours of sunlight in Astoria, so people need to work at least ten times harder when the sun is up. When the sun’s down, people spend that time by preparing for what they have to do for the next day. The school children have at least six hours of homework, four if it was a good day, and ten hours would be considered a lot. The chefs, like most establishments, would continue to serve their customers for at least six hours after the sun fell. Most people working a middle-upper job would work in some sort of building, getting paid by their bosses. The middle-lower class community mostly worked how I worked — in a tent selling what they can. But it was one-hundred percent necessary to work in some sort of job for at least five hours or else you’ll be thrown in jail, quoting law 14.
Our jail doubles as a mental health center, and it was an extremely dirty place. There were hardly any janitors that worked there, and the ones that did were often lazy and put minimal effort into their work. The people who did go to jail were mainly tough men who probably knew how to kill a person in fifty different ways, with their hands alone. Since getting thrown in jail will show up on my resume, forcing me to not be able to apply for a job with higher pay, I can’t afford to go there. Plus, I would probably die in jail anyway. Now, we live off of Ash’s woolen creations to survive, her working day and night while I sell them at the market when the sun is up. Today she created small blankets with a design of butterflies, dragons, and other cute designs, perfect for any small child.
I sprint to the marketplace where all the stands were being set up and prepared for 7:15, when the market was officially open for business, quoting law 23. I took mine on the side of town where the most people passed by. I put the basket onto the table and open it. Inside I find different blankets in different colors measuring about 3 feet by 5 feet, with the designs of dragons and fairies, unicorns and phoenixes. I trace the patterns with my thumb and smile softly to myself, thinking of when I used to have a blanket like this that I carried everywhere. It’s one of the only things from my childhood that I was allowed to keep.
The sounds of horse-pulled carriages driving by snaps me back into reality. I look up as a blue carriage drives by and splashes the edge of the tent with dark, murky water. I glare at the back of the carriage and continue to set up the shop. Once I’m done setting up, I turn the small postcard on the front of my tent to the “open” side. Cupping my hands around my mouth, I start yelling, “BLANKETS!!! BABY BLANKETS FOR SALE!!! ONLY 13 BRONZE PISCES!!!” I soon attract a small crowd of people walking under my tent and looking at what they can buy. I stand in the corner of the tent, quietly looking around at the people, but not really looking at them, but for thieves. There was usually at least one thief trying to steal something per day, and it was usually during rush hour which was either at the very beginning of the day when everyone was trying to get to their jobs or at the end of the day when everyone was coming home. My eyes swept around the shop, noticing a small child with darting eyes and beads of sweat dripping down his face.
“Hey kid,” I call to him. He looks terrified and froze to the spot. His eyes slowly drift to me. I wave for the boy to come here. I kneel down to his level. “You were about to steal from me, correct?” The boy nods and bends his head down. “Do you have a hobby of some sort?”
He nods and whispers, “I like to draw and paint.”
I nod. “Well, if you bring your drawings here, then I’ll be more than happy to sell them here. Then, if you one day can earn ten dollars, then you can have a blanket, okay?” A smile quickly spreads across his face, and he nods at me. “Good. Just bring your paintings or drawings here when the sun rises, and I’ll sell them. Now run off,” I said, making a small shooting motion with my hands. He whispers a thank-you and runs off.
I stand up from the floor and assist the customers that were waiting in the line on the other half of the tent. I place the mirror next to the quill and ink where I write down the orders that people ask for and treat the customers, trading the money for blankets. About halfway down the line, a very attractive lady comes up and points to the mirror that I was checking.
“Is that for sale?” she asks.
“No ma’am,” I respond. This is for checking the rest of the shop when I’m treating customers. Speaking of which…” I trail off and see a middle-aged man with a bald spot in the center of his head, dressed in all black. His hands were drifting over the blankets, and his mouth was pursed in a hard line.
“You!” I yell and turn around.
The thief looks at me, and he looks like the younger boy that just tried to steal from me earlier. I grab a sword from my side and point the tip at this face.
“Put my blankets down. Now.”
The man drops them to the floor and backs up.
“All of them,” I say through my gritted teeth.
He takes one that he was cleverly hiding down his sleeve and drops it.
“All. Of. Them,” I command.
The mysterious man stays in his place. I can feel my eyes glaring at him and walk towards him.
“I said all of them.” I take my sword, Esmeralda, out of her leather casing and put her blade under his chin. “Unless you don’t want your head.”
He drops to his knees and tosses one last blanket that was under his hat onto the floor.
“Good,” I say. “And if you want to actually buy a blanket, then you can meet me at the counter or browse under the tent.”
I let go of his collar that I didn’t even realize I was grabbing and remove the blade from his neck, leaving a small red line. He grumbles and walks towards the tent. I put Esmeralda in her scabbard that was attached to my belt, and I return to the counter. These days, it was every person for themselves or else you might get backstabbed.
I crack my knuckles and pick up my quill.
“That will be ten bronze tokens please.”