“Time is an elusive friend and a stoic enemy.”
Saying of Lament, Herald of the North Ridge
Tigs was sitting. He watched the afternoon crowd bustle, everyone seemed in such a hurry. One woman, she wore one of those Crescent Bay style hats. The big ones, where the front drooped down over the eyes, it was bright yellow. A vibrant mustard color that snatched the eyes. She wore a scowl that seemed to part the crowd in front of her.
Of course, it could have been the four brutish fellows that threw folks right out of the way.
That was the way it was in Clarity. At least this part of the city, where the streets were more mud and trash than walk-way. Someone cried out, a harsh shout that was quickly quieted. One of the guards, or thugs, they were certainly paid-for muscle, had shoved a distracted man off the street.
Tigs watched. He chewed on a strand of sugar-grass, it was getting bitter, he’d had it for too long now. At thirty a strand they weren’t cheap. Well, not for Tigs. He spat it out and left it where it fell. First, they got bitter, then bland, followed by a headache, and a storming fierce one at that.
He had been waiting all day.
Not all day, but it felt near enough. Patience is easy once done with, but in the middle of it, when he had to be patient, he hated waiting. Half his day, spent sitting, chewing the same bit of Southern Riverdale sugar-grass. He watched the, terribly easy to see yellow-hatted, woman push and shove her way toward the Garden of Sense.
Today there was some big ho-hub going on. Something to do with a Growth Mage. Torant, something or other. Tigs didn’t pay attention to that stuff. But, the cling and clang of a self-absorbed rich, yellow hat-wearing woman’s silver and gold, now that got his attention.
Besides, he had been hired to relieve her of that very purse. He hoped it was a purse, the other option was much harder to steal.
Tigs leaped from his seat. A stone fountain, the water had long ago dried up, and none had taken the efforts to reshape it. It was the dredges of Clarity anyway, who would.
Tigs would, one day. He trailed behind the group. They were easy to follow, just stay behind the trail of curses. He walked casually as if everything in the world was as it should be. He pulled out another strand of grass and bit the tip-off. The sweet, sugary flavor of it made his cheeks tingle.
Three streets up, he found the moment he was waiting for.
Another group of armed, thick-skulled, muscle-headed mercenaries walked the opposite direction, or whatever they called themselves. Folks had a funny way with names. He slowed. They were nearly next to each other.
The crowd moved around them like a school of fish does their hunter. They pressed in close. Jostled each other to get out of their way. Right at the moment they passed, where the crowd was thickest, most irritable. Tigs was ready.
He had to be careful, and quick. He formed a ball of Moving, he rolled it in on itself, folded over and over, each time it grew stronger, more solid. A bead of sweat bloomed, he glanced around, a good Illuminator could see the workings of the other magics. It was ready.
He held a piece of his attention to that Moving, and formed another, much larger and threw it at the crowd that pressed between the two groups. It was like a wave. All at once everyone was pushed, two, three steps. In different directions.
Shouts and cursing flew. Tigs took the focused Moving, the hardened ball of energy seemed to vibrate, as though it wanted to go, to fly, to move. He held it for a moment.
The guards started to push and shove the crowd, one drew a sword. The wicked, cruel blade hissed as it was drawn. Worse, rust licked up the hilt, dabbed the edges, it was a cursed blade. Before it was fully drawn he released his Moving.
It flew where his attention held. Right at the brute that drew the sword. When it hit, the man crumpled and fell unconscious.
Tigs sprang forward. He flew, his feet seemed to carry him as quickly as the wind. Maybe they did. In the confusion, he struck. Like a flash of lightning, he appeared. The woman shrieked, her hat fell to the muddy ground, a look of terror traced itself to her face. Sure enough, he heard the tell-tale ring of silver on silver.
Tigs smiled at her, it was meant to be reassuring, at least in the way of, ‘Hey, I’m just here to relieve you of your coins.’ Of course, she didn’t see it that way.
He cut the cord that held the heavy purse. He reaches to grab the falling thing, like he always did, and missed. Tigs felt a slow sensation spread, then it washed over him, his head spun, he fell to his knee. One of the guards stood over him, a heavy club in hand. It glistened. He felt sick.
“Shit.” The word felt sluggish too.
The shadow of the man moved, dirt scraped, the sound of shifting weight, of another blow. A thick drop fell from his scalp, landing heavily on the road, his blood wet the ground.
He saw yellow, the hat. Then, next to it, a dark brown leather purse. It bulged, in an odd angle. He reached out and grabbed it. A grunt resonated above him. It was filled with hate and anger. Mostly with a deep want to crush his head.
He had his hand on the purse, it was there in his grasp! As quick as lightning he threw a piece of silver from his hand into the air above him. With all his attention and concentration he poured an Illumination into it.
The guard, the one that swung a deathly blow toward Tigs, screamed in sudden pain. The silver, in a flash, burned as bright as the sun, it blinded the man, permanently, he also dropped his club.
Tigs ran, the blood pounded in his ears, his heart raced, his head bled, he ran until he collapsed.
Sitting in an alley, beneath the awning of a crooked book dealer, as he caught his breath, and the blood dried thick in his hair. Tigs opened the pouch.
It is said, that was the day Tigs found Lightning placed in his hands. None knows what was in that pouch.