A Harlot's Tale Ch. 04byerusian©
The men had made it through the door. Thylisa took Callous' hand. As she was pulled into her own reflection, she heard the men shouting the thief's name as they set about destroying his home.
It was dark. The two were apparently in some sort of crawl space. Callous whispered softly, 'Very quiet...here's the ladder.' He placed her hand on a rope ladder that led upward. The thief led the way.
Thylisa could still hear the men shouting from inside the room as she started up the ladder. There was a soft scraping sound. Moonlight filled the tiny shaft as Callous scurried onto the roof.
'So, Barrod was right! The little rat thought to escape by rooftop,' Thylisa heard a deep, resonating voice from above her.
'We've got him,' another voice, more nasal and strained, called loudly.
Again left with no alternative, Thylisa crept up the ladder and peeked onto the roof. Two warriors were approaching Callous, scimitars held out toward him. Thylisa recognized the black and silver mantles they wore. They were warriors of the Scourge, a new sect of the church or the army, she wasn't sure which. She knew they made her nervous, and she had begun seeing more of them in recent months.
When Thylisa emerged onto the roof the warriors stopped. The larger one edged toward her, glancing over to his compatriot, 'A'right then Tandin, here's the girl, keep an eye on that cutpurse.' The warrior lowered his scimitar and beckoned to Thylisa, 'Now we aren't after doin' ya harm, lady. Kaine jus' sent us along to fetch ya to 'im. Come away from that miscreant, and you'll be well taken..'
'Go!' Callous grabbed Thylisa and pushed her to the edge of the roof, 'Jump across, now!' he yelled. She did. Thylisa landed ungracefully on the roof of the adjacent house. Callous landed behind her.
'Come on!' he said, pulling her after him.
'They've taken to the roofs!' came the call from behind them. Thylisa could hear the men vaulting to the roof. She chased after the thief as best she could, rooftop to rooftop, up stairs and through gardens. The shouts of their pursuers, remaining steadily behind them, were now joined by more of the Scourge on the street.
Callous stopped and spun round to face the men, a knife in either hand. He let the blades fly as the two warriors made the jump to the roof he and Thylisa occupied. The first blade connected with the larger of the two, lodging itself between his collarbones. The warrior was still trying to free the knife as he toppled backward to the street below.
The thief's second blade did not fare as well as the first. The man had seen Callous throw the knives, and tucked into a roll as he reached the roof. He stood and drew his sword, but neither the thief or the girl were anywhere to be found. The stout warrior crouched into a defensive stance, circling as he examined the roof and the surrounding houses.
He tried to scream as Callous' garrote wound around his neck, but the thief was too quick. All the man could manage was a panicked gasp as he slipped into the darkness that is death.
Thylisa crept from the shadows from where she had been hiding with Callous. He motioned for her to follow, and jumped to the next house. She followed, relieved that their rooftop journey was taking them farther away from the shouts of the bloodthirsty men.
Their trek came to an end in a particularly run-down section of the Beggars' Quarter. Callous turned to Thylisa and said, 'Now do you see why I chose to live here? It may not be the Imperial Quarter, but it accommodates quite nicely when one needs a 'road less traveled'. This is, by the way, is our destination.'
He led her to a small trap door. 'Whatever you see in here, keep your head about you.' He opened the small door and started down a small set of stairs. 'Quietly now,' he motioned her to follow, which she did.
The smell was awful. All around, Thylisa saw the bones and carcasses of animals, people, and... well, other things. Some were hanging from hooks set in the dark wood of the walls. Many were strewn here and there about the floor.
Thylisa tried to contain her revulsion. She leaned heavily on the thief. He understood her discomfort and led her to a chair. Her head was spinning in the stench of rot that seemed to come from everywhere.
'Welcome be, Callous,' a woman's voice, barely audible, came from a shadowy corner of the room. A cloaked figure stepped from the corner and approached Thylisa. 'And this must be the one you promised me...'
The woman lowered her hood. Two things struck Thylisa as odd about the gaunt woman that smiled wickedly at her. Firstly, she was bald. Not as if she had shaved or that her hair had fallen out - more likely that it had been ripped from her scalp in clumps.
The second and most disturbing thing about the woman was that her eyes didn't look quite right. Thylisa gasped as she realized that the woman's eyes didn't belong to her at all. They had once belonged to a young prostitute, who had only been trying to help.